Greetings. Welcome to Cub Tracks' epicurean adventure at the Bleed Cubbie Blue diner. Pancakes and links coming right up.
I'll have the tongue, said the cheek.
At the dish:
- Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago): MLB.com ranks Willson Contreras as baseball's top catching prospect. Roughly a year after the Cubs left him exposed in the Rule 5 Draft, Willson Contreras is now the top catching prospect in baseball.
- Willson Contreras named top catching prospect by MLB.com. The CBS Chicago version.
- Mike Rosenbaum's actual original article at MLB.com, for completists. Contreras replaces Blake Swihart.
Mounds and mounds:
- Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago): Adam Warren brings ''World Series or die" mentality to Wrigley Field. "He's a high-character guy, a great teammate and a really amazing contributor, " Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said after completing the Castro trade. "It was a tough loss to lose him, but you have to give to get."
- Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): John Lackey could have received significantly more elsewhere, projects quite well. The numbers like Lackey a lot.
- Luis Medina (Bleacher Nation): Carl Edward, Jr.'s future could hinge on his change-up. Jason McLeod talks him up, wants more change-ups thrown.
- Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago)i: Cubs hoping Arismendy Alcantara can hit the reset button in 2016. Alcantara is only 24 and a switch-hitter who has flashed an intriguing blend of power, speed and on-base skills while playing shortstop and second base. But last year wasn't so great. "He's still young enough and talented enough that he can kind of put that one on the backburner," Jason McLeod said. "Forget about 2015 and come out and start fresh this year."
- Todd Johnson (Cubs Insider): Chesny Young adding power to his arsenal this offseason. "The first thing you think of when you see Chesny Young is how slight of build he is. The second thing you think, particularly if you’ve ever seen him play, is that the kid can rake."
Hot off the grill:
- Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago): Ryne Sandberg believes the 2016 Cubs are hungry and ready to go. Sandberg lauds the Cubs' late-season effort.
- Luke Norris (Sports Mockery): Ryne Sandberg discusses Cubs' playoff run, youth, and 2016 expectations. "There were a lot of great things that came out of last weekend’s Cubs Convention, but perhaps nothing was better than hearing the news that Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg would be returning to the Chicago Cubs in a team ambassador role."
- Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago): DH inevitable for Cubs, National League. Don't blame Ron Fairley.
- Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune): Change may be coming to National League, even if unnecessary and unwanted. The owners meetings ended Thursday in Coral Gables, Fla., with no discussions on bringing the designated hitter to the National League, but it's probably only a matter of time before it becomes a reality.
- ESPN: Jesse Rogers and Buster Olney discuss 2015 Cubs and 2016 momentum. [AUDIO].
- Chicago Cubs Online: Jed Hoyer talks Cubs on MLB Network radio. Hoyer joined Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette during Front Office Friday.
- David N. Wilson (Baseball Essential): What needs to go right to make the playoffs in 2016? "The 2016 Cubs are poised to make a lot of noise, but they face most of the same challenges any MLB team has to deal with to get back to October baseball."
- Chris Emma (CBS Chicago): Kyle Schwarber embraces work to be better left fielder. "I'm in the best shape of my life," Schwarber didn't say. He’s done yoga and improved his flexibility, with the hopes of having "a more explosive first step."
- Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune): Offseason task at hand: Kyle Schwarber busy working on all facets of game. "There's no blueprint," Schwarber said. "Whatever it is, I'll accept the role."
- Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Buster Olney talks Cubs, says Schwarber reminds him of Tony Gwynn. "...putting anyone in the same sentence as one of the greatest hitters of all time is incredibly high praise and deserves to be used as click-bait." My sentiments exactly.
- Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): Can Kyle Schwarber do more than hit -- and how long will it matter? Wittenmyer openly speculates and Jed Hoyer talks about bats.
- MLB Rumors roundup (ESPN): Market for Austin Jackson heating up. The Cubs might be interested in bringing him back "for the right price," Jerry Crasnick writes.
From the bakery:
- Mike Bertha (Cut4): All the reasons Cubs fans will love Munenori Kawasaki. "Most of what Kawasaki brings to the table can't be taught by a hitting instructor or a fielding coach."
- Tom Singer (MLB.com): MLB trade deadline extended a day because Sunday.
- Grant Brisbee (SBNation): The only teams that aren't afraid of the Cubs are in the NL Central. "Power rankings goeth before the fall".
- Chicago Cubs Online: Cubs/Rays update: Discussions reportedly include six to seven player deals. The Cubs and Rays have been talking about potential deals since at least December.
I'm having the spam:
Jed Hoyer Cubs GM told me this morning that this will basically be the team they take to Mesa Arizona for Spring... https://t.co/dkMmesgCwr— Duane Pesice (@moderan13) January 24, 2016
- Eno Sarris (ESPN Insider -- $): The best pitches in MLB. Jon Lester's sinker, which nearly averages an 80 percent ground ball rate, grades as his best pitch and one of the top offerings in baseball. Not a surprise, however, is Jake Arrieta's curveball also ranking high.
- Chase Hughes (CSN Mid-Atlantic): 2016 Chicago Cubs roster outlook. Balanced look at 2016.
- Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Wrigleyville bar owners hoping Cubs aren't planning to put them under. Some owners are worried that the Cubs will cheap them out in order to attract people into the plaza and then into Wrigley Field.
- Ariel Cheung (DNAinfo): Don't sell cheap beer at Wrigley Plaza...the article the above is based on.
Pass the salt:
- Seth Poho (Baseball Essential): David Eckstein is the ultimate password. The world's smallest violin, playing "Hearts and Flowers."
- Ray Fisher (Sports Mockery): Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Cubs to win the World Series. To say that this extrapolation is stretching things would be to compare Ralph Dibny, who could only stretch, to Eel O'Brian, who could become stuff. But I'll say it anyway. Fantastic.
Food for thought:
- Not to be confused with the pancake breakfast. Parish the thought.
- Top 10 reasons why bacon is good for you. I think it’s finally time to hear what the actual doctors, nutritionists, university studies, and medical tests have to say on the matter of bacon’s nutritional benefits to our health.
- Mr. Boston Bloody Mary recipe. The classic. I add Frank's, because hot sauce counts.
"It has been our pleasure to serve you" -- the Damon Knight foundation.
Please remember that Cub Tracks is an equal-opportunity offender. If you're not upset, be patient. I'll get to you.
Thank you. We're here 24-7.
The tip jar is on the counter.