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Cub Tracks abhors a vacuum

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More Ohtani, Arrieta, astronauts, rotation help, Veeck and the Good Kid, and other bullets

WA v SA - Sheffield Shield: Day 2
go ahead — make your pitch
Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images

Did I fail to mention that I have cats? We use brooms around here, hoping a little ‘stitiously to influence the gods of baseball.

Ba dum tiss.

In our previous edition, Cub Tracks raked the grounds, looking for a blind pig, an acorn, or something resembling Cubs commentary, unearthing a few ‘caveat emptors’ about Jake Arrieta and various other items for your infotainment pleasure...today we are using as few words as possible (literally a thousand) and a few pictures, and maintaining the all-important conceptual continuity.

Dahoo dahoo dahoo dorray...

But there will be words a-plenty, of course, because that’s our stock in trade, and how we follow the news, through our roster of the usual suspects and occasional surprises — as always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1948 - "Sometimes the best trades are the ones you never make" — Bill Veeck, the Indians owner's observation about a possible deal that wasn't made.

Lou Boudreau is selected as the American League Most Valuable Player, becoming the only manager to win a World Series and be named the circuit's MVP in the same season. The popular Indians shortstop, who had almost been dealt to the Browns earlier in the year but for the protest of the Tribe fans, prompts owner Bill Veeck to rethink the transaction.

  • 1961 - Billy Williams (.278, 25 HR, 86 RBI) is selected as the National League's Rookie of the Year.
  • 1970 - The Cubs trade veteran knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm to the Braves for minor league first baseman Hal Breeden, who will be used sparingly before being dealt at the start of the 1972 season to Montreal.
  • 1977 - Dave Kingman signs as a free agent with the Cubs.
  • Happy birthday: Bob Tewksbury

Cubs news and notes:

  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Latest Wrigley Field renovations underway. “New club box and field box seats, improved concourse on agenda.”
  • WGN-TV: Bruce Miles gives his thoughts on the Cubs offseason on Sports Feed [VIDEO].

While the Cubs face the same $300,000 limitation as the Dodgers, it would be foolish to overlook them. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Joe Maddon are known for their dramatic (and often comedic) timing. If they produce a recruitment video, as expected, it will be one of the most elaborate Ohtani sees. The Cubs can sell Ohtani on the history of Wrigley Field, melded with the most recent advances they've made in player performance. Epstein and Hoyer have a good working relationship with Balelo from negotiations on other clients, which should help to facilitate any discussions. Epstein is very familiar with Japanese baseball, having signed Daisuke Matsuzaka during his tenure as Boston's GM and taken the Red Sox to Japan for a season-opening series in 2008. The Cubs' need for starting-rotation help provides a strong baseball basis to pursue the right-hander, as well. — Jon Morosi (MLB.com)

  • David Kaplan (NBC Sports Chicago*): Shohei Ohtani: Theo Epstein's white whale. Call me, Ishmael. Also [VIDEO].
  • Phil Rogers (MLB.com): Don't count out Cubs in Ohtani sweepstakes. “Ohtani is going to make someone's offseason a sweeping success, and the Cubs hope to be the chosen team.”
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Sports Chicago*): Cubs among those waiting as Ohtani, Giancarlo Stanton, Boras dictate market. “Once you see a couple of pitchers sign, you will see teams become more active and players start to fall,” Orioles GM Dan Duquette said.
  • Ryan Davis (FanRag Sports): Which young Cubs player is most likely to be dealt? “Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ,and Albert Almora Jr. are all incredibly talented and have given fans plenty of reasons to cheer over the last few seasons.”
  • Even Altman (Cubs Insider): Cubs reportedly ‘have a few offers on the table’ for pitchers, who are they? Alex Cobb, Brandon Morrow, Bryan Shaw, Lance Lynn, and Yu Darvish?
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs try to stretch pitching dollars to pursue free agents — such as Ohtani? “...their options and urgency to add pitching could be too great to wait...”
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Why the Cubs shouldn't make a blockbuster trade for a starting pitcher. “...the Cubs aren’t looking to sell low...”
  • Ryan Davis (FanRag Sports): Replacing Jake Arrieta will be big task for Cubs. “The painful truth for the Cubs is that over the last three seasons, when Arrieta was good, the Cubs were good.”
  • Sean Holland (Cubs Insider): Jake Odorizzi could be lower-cost trade option for Cubs. “...maybe it’s time to give another Tampa pitcher the old once-over.”
  • Patrick Brennan (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): 2017 player profile: Mike Montgomery. “Overall, he posted better results coming out of the bullpen, but oddly had way better peripherals as a starter.”
  • Evan Massey (Inquisitr): Chicago Cubs must re-sign Brian Duensing in MLB free agency. “He was one of the most consistent arms for Maddon and allowing him to walk in free agency would be a massive mistake.”
  • Randy Holt (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): 2017 player profile: Anthony Rizzo. He’s the face of the franchise and emotional leader of this team.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Kyle Schwarber working to ‘transform’ body this offseason, get back to being a hitter. “...being more lean could allow Schwarber to better turn on the ball and hit through the shift.”
  • Stephanie Lynn (Cubs Den): Jason Vosler on becoming the top third base prospect in the system. “Vosler is still striving for improvement in his overall game.”
  • Mary Craig (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): A game with the 1880s Cubs. “The franchise captured the league pennant in half of the decade’s seasons...”
  • Phil Thompson (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Bryzzo the horse is a long-shot contender for the Kentucky Derby. “USRacing.com gives the 2-year-old 175-1 odds.”

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading. It is always appreciated.

Test Patterns cover (art by Nick Gucker)

This comes out next week. It’s a volume of fictions in the vein of 50s/early 60s TV like the Twilight Zone, the Outer Limits, etc. I’m so pleased I could piddle. Thought you might like the art.