“I wish my parents and Ron Santo were alive to see this.” – Pat Hughes
Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. America and all ships at sea! It’s Cubs Convention weekend and I’ve got to get over to the Grand Sheraton so this will be a quick one. I’ll write something more significant this evening.
The Cubs introduced the new roster during last night’s opening ceremonies, and even if Hoyer’s Heroes do not win the World Series they will be the most handsome team in baseball. There would be no place on this team for guys like Barry Foote, Rod Beck, or Carmen Fanzone.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 14, 2023
The first thing I noticed is that Kevin Alcántara is built like an even more sinewy version of Kris Bryant. Alcántara is still growing into his body and he’s going to be terrifying if he adds about 20-25 pounds of muscle. Also, Pete Crow-Armstrong looks surprisingly badass. The first player I thought of when I saw him was Lenny Dykstra (the ballplayer, not the human being). Owen Caissie was among those introduced and he doesn’t look old enough to drive. Ben Brown looks like a kid who would normally be home on a Friday night filling out college applications.
The minor league players didn’t get the crowd reaction I was expecting, but then again the audience was 40% kids, 40% baby boomers, and 18% in-betweeners. The rest of us were Cubs bloggers and podcasters. I don’t think I need to tell you which group had the most fun.
Tucker Barnhart, Cody Bellinger, Eric Hosmer, and Dansby Swanson got the most applause among this winter’s additions. Jameson Taillon reminds me of John Lackey and I think Cubs fans don’t know what to expect from him. If he stays healthy, the short answer is 190 innings and 13-15 wins. Brad Boxberger is the wildcard among this year’s group of free agents just because we do not know his role. That question will probably be answered today, but it’s worth noting he saved 41 games for the Rays in 2015, and 32 for the Diamondbacks in ’18.
Seiya Suzuki and Marcus Stroman were not introduced, so I am assuming neither was available to attend. Ian Happ was very warmly greeted by the energetic crowd, but David Ross got the loudest response of any coach or player introduced. Hughes did, too, which was nice to see for the game’s reigning Ford. C. Frick winner. The Hall-of-Famer was predictably grateful to the team, its fans, and the league, and promised he’ll be more specific during his induction speech later this summer.
Mark Grace and Shawon Dunston are the newest members of the Cubs Hall of Fame, and you can forget about Sammy Sosa. Fans chanted the slugger’s name and Tom Ricketts shot that speculation down immediately.
Of course, the highlight of the night was hanging with peers and readers at Lizzie McNeill’s. Some of us tried to invent a new shot called the Lars Nootbaar, but in the end, we decided nobody would drink it anyway. The evening was very enjoyable nonetheless.
Cubs News & Notes
- Happ and the Cubs have agreed to a $10.85 million contract for this season, avoiding arbitration. Let’s hope the two sides can agree on an extension before the season starts.
- The team also agreed with Nico Hoerner ($2.525 million), Nick Madrigal ($1.225 million), and Codi Heuer ($785,000) after having previously knocked out a $1.9 million salary for Adrian Sampson and $1.55 million for Rowan Wick.
- Hoyer is still pursuing free agent Trey Mancini according to Michael Cerami of Bleacher Nation.
- Hosmer is expected to be the team’s Opening Day starter at first base.
- The Cubs will honor Ryne Sandberg this year with a statue at Wrigley Field.
- Hoerner has no issues with ceding shortstop to Swanson.
I had the good fortune to meet organist John Benedeck for the first time yesterday and he autographed my jersey. Benedeck said he would play a Grateful Dead song for me today. I’ve known Crawly for years and he’s “the goods,” too.
— Crawly's Cubs Kingdom (@crawlyscubs) January 13, 2023
They Said It
- “It was a chance to bring in a guy that has had some really good years, has had a really good career, and there’s a change of scenery element, I think to [Hosmer].” – Hoyer
- “I say 2023 is going to be a great season. We’ve definitely improved our offense, we’ve dramatically improved our defense, and we have a lot of pitching depth.” – Ricketts
- “I think this team will be able to compete for our division. But I also see this club getting better and better as the years go forward. The amount of success we’ve had in the minors the past couple of years has been pretty tremendous. We have one of the stronger minor league systems, and there [are] a lot of guys down there who I think will contribute. I do believe we should be in the mix this year for our division.” – Ricketts