The Rundown: Cubs Pitching Rumors Swirling, Ohtani Mania Continues

Bring it on down to Playoffville! I couldn’t resist.

In the worst kept secret of the Hot Stove Season, the Cubs and SP Alex Cobb have mutual interest in each other. It is getting to the point where if Cobb signs somewhere else we may all feel like Christmas was stolen right out from under us.

“Oh, life is like that,” per the narrator in A Christmas Story. “Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.”

Signing Alex Cobb, the 39th-ranked SP in terms of WAR last season, could be the first stop on the Northsiders’ Polar Express to Playoffville. Of course, Scott Boras would rather see the Cubs break the bank on every single player he reps, including SP Jake Arrieta (I am not ready to say tag him with “former Cub” yet).

The Cubs, however, seem to be locked in on the former Rays right-hander with Cobb’s first big-league manager already in place. Jim Hickey, the only big-league pitching coach Cobb has known, is also in Chicago now. I also haven’t seen Cobb attached to any other team as far as Hot Stove rumors are concerned, though I am sure the Cardinals are lurking and the Brewers and Orioles shouldn’t be counted out either.

It actually feels like Arrieta is already gone, but in fairness that reality has seemed like a foregone conclusion since his game four victory in the 2017 NLCS. If the mutual courtship comes to fruition and the Cubs actually sign Cobb, they should still have plenty of options and enough money to fill some of their other gaps.

Theo Epstein has a plan. He always has a plan. And when he says Cubs fans should expect a division title in 2018 I believe him just as much as Ralphie Parker truly believed that on Christmas morning the Old Man would deliver his beloved official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot, range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time.

Cubs News & Notes

The Cubs’ coaching overhaul is nearly complete. I am loath to bring this up because I feel the vitriol surrounding Maddon’s forced soundbite while the Cubs were still playing playoff baseball borders on stupidity. He was put in a bad position, period. But here is the coaching ingress/egress so far this winter:

New Coaches

  • Pitching coach Jim Hickey (from Rays)
  • Hitting coach Chili Davis (from Red Sox)
  • Assistant hitting coach Andy Haines (promoted)
  • Bench coach Brandon Hyde (shift from 1B)
  • Third base/IF coach Brian Butterfield (from Red Sox)
  • First base coach — vacant
  • Quality assurance coach — vacant

Old Coaches

  • Pitching coach Chris Bosio (fired, then hired by Tigers)
  • Hitting coach John Mallee (fired, then hired by Phillies)
  • Asst. hitting coach Eric Hinske (left for Angels hitting coach job)
  • Bench coach Dave Martinez (left for Nationals managing job)
  • Third base/IF coach Gary Jones (fired)
  • First base coach Hyde (shift to bench)
  • Quality assurance coach Henry Blanco (left for Nationals bullpen coach job)

The Cubs have had preliminary discussions with the Orioles regarding Zach Britton.

Could the Cubs trade for Zach Britton and re-sign Wade Davis? The Cubs had seven blown saves during the regular season this year and a 5.06 ERA in the 8th inning. Personally I don’t think they will be willing to meet the market for Davis, which should be somewhere in the vicinity of four years, $60M. So it may be Britton and a guy like Mike Minor or Brandon Morrow.

Epstein and Jed Hoyer feel like they have successfully laid the groundwork for next month’s Winter Meetings.

Kris and Jessica Bryant are honeymooning in Austria.

The St.Louis Cardinals believe they are in play for Arrieta. Davis may be a fallback option if the Redbirds cannot sign Greg Holland.

Wednesday Stove

Former Cubs prospect Eloy Jimenez believes he can break camp this spring as a starting outfielder for the Chicago White Sox.

The San Diego Padres have expressed interest in free-agent 1B Eric Hosmer.

At least eight teams have had preliminary discussions with the Miami Marlins about Giancarlo Stanton, including the Yankees, Cardinals and Giants.

Shohei Ohtani is in limbo while MLB owners address MLBPA objections surrounding the posting rule exception Ohtani was granted. I am sure it will be worked out and I am sure he will play at Wrigley Field in 2018.

The Milwaukee Brewers are monitoring Ohtani.

There may be some friction between Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and the front office.

The Pirates have fired top international scout Rene Gayo for financial improprieties.

The Braves are going to lose prospects as punishment for their own international signing scandal.

Signing J.D. Martinez or trading for Stanton could be a huge mistake for the Boston Red Sox.

Remember when the Cubs and Yankees struck out 48 times in an 18-inning game this season?

Thursday Walk Up Song

Can I Kick It? by A Tribe Called Quest

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