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Cub Tracks lumbers up to the plate

Hubbard has two in HIS cupboard, and other bullets

MLB: World Series-Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers
Rossy and the Ring
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Last time around, Cub Tracks stayed in to complete the play. This time around, a grounder gathers moss. So does my ass, probably, as I’m doing little except write and order in these days. We have same-day grocery delivery here now, and it’s way too easy to take root...

I’ll just leave it at that, and hope it grows on you. I wouldn’t want to go out on a limb... but we have added another branch, as we peer through a knothole at the Hot Stove season. Stay tuned for Outside the Boxcar, coming soon to a blog near you. Not a lot of stuff today, but some meaty bits to chew on.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1935 - NFL standout Cal Hubbard becomes an American League umpire. The former Green Bay Packers offensive tackle will become the only person to be enshrined at both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame.
  • 1940 - Former Washington hurler Walter Johnson, who won four-hundred sixteen games for the Senators, goes down in defeat as a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland.
  • 1957 - With a new balk rule, the hitter now has an option after the call is made. If a player gets a hit, he can accept the outcome of the pitch, instead of being only limited to the advance of the base runner(s).
  • 1959 - Ernie Banks (.304, 45, 143) wins his second consecutive MVP award. 'Mr Cub' garners 10 of the writers' 21 first-place votes, with Eddie Mathews (5) and Hank Aaron (2) of the Braves and Dodger Wally Moon (4) found on top of the remaining ballots.
  • 2001 - In Game 7 of a classic World Series, Arizona rallies for two runs in the bottom of the ninth, defeating the Yankees and their usually unbeatable closer, Mariano Rivera, 3-2. The four-year-old Diamondbacks, the youngest franchise to win a Fall Classic, end New York's string of three consecutive World Championships. Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling are named co-MVPs.
  • 2002 - Toronto Blue Jay Eric Hinske (.279, 24, 84) wins the American League Rookie of the Year award.
  • 2008 - Barack Obama, a long-time White Sox fan, is elected as the 44th president of the United States.

Cubs news and notes: always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

What are the plans for the Cubs?

They already have changed most of their coaching staff. Now, they will concentrate on their roster. They likely will have to replace Jake Arrieta, who is a free agent and unlikely to return. They probably will have to replace closer Wade Davis, who is also a free agent. This might be the offseason that they take offers for outfielder Kyle Schwarber, who could bring pitching in return, and shortstop Addison Russell, who also could bring a pitcher. The Cubs have another shortstop on their roster in Javier Baez. The Cubs have all the money and resources to be great again in 2018, but big changes are possible. — Tim Kurkjian, ESPN

  • Tim Baffoe (CBS Chicago Sports): The Cubs are the Astros are the White Sox. “...I’m a pseudo-Astros fan because they’re a sort of bridge between the continuance of the Cubs and the start of a progression of the White Sox in the New School of baseball operations.”
  • John Silver (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cubs offseason guide: What to expect leading up to spring training. ‘‘We face a lot of challenges,’’ Cubs president Theo Epstein said last month.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Three new coaches bring experience and diverse backgrounds to Cubs. The hope is that they can help “...create a different vibe around the ballclub.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Cubs have questions to answer in offseason. “...three questions to ponder now that the Dodgers and Astros are done battling...”
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Sports Chicago*): Crucial free agency period awaits for Cubs. “The Cubs’ priority is to add two starters and three relievers.”
  • Barry Rozner (Daily Herald {$}): Why a longer winter should pay off for the Cubs. “Cubs players will rest.”
  • Michel Cerami (Bleacher Nation): The Cubs weren’t able to extend their young stars last winter, but they’ll try, try again. “It would be nice. I don’t think it is essential if it doesn’t happen,” said Theo Epstein.
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Cubs prospect Adbert Alzolay has ace potential. "If he reaches his potential, he will someday be one of the five [starters], and closer to [No. 1] than five," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said of Alzolay, describing him as "an interesting high-ceiling starting pitcher."
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Should Cubs wade into deep end, bring Davis back as closer? “The Cubs can’t afford to let that kind of closer get away.”
  • Patrick Mooney (NBC Sports Chicago*): One year after Rain Delay Speech, Cubs still waiting for Jason Heyward’s next breakthrough. “I would like for him to stay on the same path,” Joe Maddon said. “I think he’s growing into the adjustment that he’s made.”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Breaking down a few Free Agent predictions with Cubs ties. “The market is shallow this season, but it’s really broad.”
  • Randy Holt (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Cubs offseason target: Chris Archer. “ far the Cubs would be willing to go into their depth to make such a move possible remains to be seen.”
  • Tommy Meyers (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Cubs offseason target: Curtis Granderson. “...there will be a veteran outfield spot on this team that might be need to be filled if Jon Jay goes elsewhere.”
  • Michael Ernst (Cubs Den): Cubs prospects 2017 statistical overview - the hitters. “There is still plenty of depth throughout the Cubs system.” The pitchers. “...evaluations are still a work in progress...”
  • Tim Huwe (the Zygote 50): Do the Cubs draft poorly? “The Cubs have struggled to get draft picks from the podium to market. Which puts them in line with almost every team.”

Food for thought:

  • Maria Temming (Science News): Artificial insulin-releasing cells may make it easier to manage diabetes. “Injecting the synthetic structures into mice regulated their blood sugar levels for several days.”
  • Erik Stokstad (Science): New great ape species found, sparking fears for its survival. “Pongo tapanuliensis is the first new great ape to be discovered since the bonobo in 1929.”

Thanks for reading.