Good news: We now have a shorter wait time until Opening Day than originally thought. OK, only one day shorter, but it’s better than nothing.
That’s right, the Cubs’ opener against the St. Louis Cardinals has been bumped up a day to Sunday night, April 5. The Cubs will have the beginning of the 2015 season all to themselves on ESPN.
It will be the first Opening Night game in Wrigley Field history.
This is going to feel a little weird for me. On the one hand, I’m happy that we’ll get an early start to the season.
But on the other hand, the traditional Opening Day — in which tons of games are going on across the country — is one of my favorite days of the year.
Ever since the invention of the DVR, I have enjoyed a tradition in which I record the Opening Day Cubs game and watch it when I get home from work. I make a point of not checking the Internet or listening to the radio so I don’t find out the result beforehand. Yes, I’m a huge nerd. Don’t care.
This year, the Cubs will have an off-day on that first full day, finishing up the series on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Opening Night should be quite the spectacle, with all eyes on a renovated Wrigley Field, a new exciting manager, and a drastically different-looking Cubs lineup than we saw on Opening Day 2014.
The Cubs are a story again. Let’s enjoy the ride.
Russell over Bryant?
Early Friday morning, Baseball Prospectus published its top 10 list of Cubs prospects. And just as we were all expecting, shortstop Addison Russell came in at No. 1.
Actually, probably very few people expected that, what with having a guy in third baseman Kris Bryant who finished 2014 hitting .325/.438/.661 with 43 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A.
I understand that Russell is no slouch, and he plays a more valuable position than Bryant. But there’s no way I’d leave Bryant out of the top spot.
Russell batted .295/.350/.508 in 2014, and was great after coming to the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija trade. But those numbers were put up in High-A and Double-A. And in only 68 games (Russell struggled through some injuries this year).
I’m sure Baseball Prospectus knew they’d get a good reaction out of people by slotting Russell ahead of Bryant. I must say, it’s exciting that the Cubs have a deep enough farm system to even be having the debate.
Here’s the full BP top 10 list:
1. SS Addison Russell
2. 3B Kris Bryant
3. OF Jorge Soler
4. OF Albert Almora
5. C Kyle Schwarber
6. OF Billy McKinney
7. RHP Pierce Johnson
8. SS Gleyber Torres
9. 1B Dan Vogelbach
10. LHP Carson Sands
How great is it that three of the top six players were acquired in 2014, with two of those players coming in the trade for Samardzija? Sands also was acquired this year, drafted in the fourth round out of high school.
A notable exclusion from the list is C.J. Edwards, who missed most of this year with a shoulder injury. However, he recently wrapped up a very successful campaign in the Arizona Fall League.
Maddon on recruiting and Renteria
New manager Joe Maddon said on Friday that, of the current Cubs players, he has only talked to Edwin Jackson so far. Maddon was appearing on the “Kap & Haugh Show” on 87.7 The Game.
I found it interesting he would bring up Jackson. A lot of people (me included) thought Jackson pitched his last game as a Cub in 2014. But since he and Maddon have a history together from their Tampa Bay days, maybe Jackson can be turned around. At the very least, I’m sure Maddon has a good idea on whether he’ll be able to get through to EJax.
Maddon also admitted that he’s “all for” reaching out to potential free agents to try and sell them on the Cubs. I wouldn’t be opposed to making him Derrick Rose’s life coach.
Repeating something he’s mentioned in previous radio appearances, Maddon said he has called former manager Rick Renteria but has not heard back yet. I’m sure it’s not on the top of Renteria’s list of priorities at the moment.
* Tsuyoshi Wada made an appearance for the MLB squad in the Japan All-Star Series, and gave up two runs in 1.2 innings. The MLB team lost 8-4 to Samurai Japan.
* In an article on the timing of when coveted Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada could become available, Ben Badler writes that the Cubs are “planning to shatter their bonus pool again when the 2015-16 signing period opens on July 2.” For the Cubs to be able to sign Moncada, it would have to be after July 2. Even if Moncada becomes a free agent before that date, the Cubs theoretically could convince him to wait to sign until July 2. Badler points out the Cubs did just that with Dominican RHP Jeferson Mejia in 2013.
* The Royals have spoken with Jon Lester’s agents, according to Fox Sports Kansas City. Don’t really see the Royals landing Lester ahead of the Cubs, Red Sox or Dodgers. They’re probably just doing their due diligence.
* Bidding for Korean LHP Hyeon-jong Yang will begin next week, and the Cubs could be one of the teams to place a bid, according to Mark Feinsand from the New York Daily News. Yang, 26, is projected as a No. 2 or 3 starter.