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Cub Tracks goes to the meetings

the birth of the DH, Chatwood, Schwarber, lots of Epstein, and other bullets

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MLB: Chicago Cubs at Boston Red Sox
“ want who for who?”
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Last time around, Cub Tracks watched it fly, and boy, has it flown. Shohei Ohtani is an Angel, Giancarlo Stanton is a Yankee, Dee Gordon is a Mariner, and the stove is starting to warm up again.

"I don't think we ever sell anything," Theo Epstein said. "When it come to players like Tyler, you just engage in conversations, talk about how we try to go about winning here, how we go about trying to treat our players and hear his perspective, what he's looking for in a team, what he's looking for in teammates and what he's looking for in the front office.

"It's just a good baseball conversation, and that way hopefully the players end up where they want to be and where they're supposed to be and you end up with a type of player and person that you want. It's an exchange of ideas. And you always just tell the truth. You don't get in 'sell' mode. When you start selling something, you've got to be careful what you end up with." — Bruce Miles (Daily Herald)

The Cubs are still looking for pitching and a backup catcher. The Winter Meetings are about to start, and spring training is about ten weeks away. Let’s see what the scribes and twitters have to say — as always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1919 - The National League, spearheaded by the leadership of Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, approves the banning of the spitball, allowing just the current spitballers presently throwing the pitch to use it under a "grandfather" clause.
  • 1972 - The American League votes unanimously to adopt the designated hitter rule on a trial basis for three years. The concept, that permits a team to designate a player to bat in place of the pitcher, will be implemented in some measure by most collegiate and professional leagues with the National League and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League being the notable exceptions.
  • 1975 - The American League owners agree to let Bill Veeck back into baseball by allowing him to reacquire the White Sox when the maverick purchases the team from John Allyn for nearly $10 million.
  • 1990 - Maniford Harper, known to his friends as Hack, is true to his word when he is buried in a Cub uniform, keeping to the arrangements that made him a central Illinois celebrity in 1980. The 75-year-old Washburn (IL) native's devotion to the team began in 1926 when as a polio-stricken 11-year-old, Chicago legend Hack Wilson, who was among several players visiting the local Shriners hospital, put his hand on the boy's shoulder and correctly predicted, 'Kid, stick it out. Someday you're gonna walk'.
  • 1998 - After 24 years and 1,071 appearances, Dennis Eckersley, 44, who has pitched in more games than any other major leaguer, retires as an active player. 'Eck' is the first hurler to have both a 20-win season and a 50-save season in a career, a feat which will be also accomplished by John Smoltz in 2002.
  • Happy birthday -- Ed Donnelly, Steve Renko, Paul Assenmacher, Rick Wrona, Mel Rojas

Cubs news and notes:

“Uber-talented right-hander moving into his prime. He has great make-up. We think his best days are ahead of him. We’re getting him into an environment where we think he can gain consistency with all of his pitches and play to his strengths a little bit more.” — Theo Epstein on Tyler Chatwood.

“He told us he already had made it a priority. He was going to get in the best shape of his life, and realizes now to be the left fielder he needs to be, and be a hitter he needs to be, is something he wanted to do.” — Theo Epstein on Kyle Schwarber

There's always been plenty of "what if" surrounding Archer and the Cubs, who dealt the right-hander away back in 2011 as part of the deal that brought Matt Garza to Chicago. Archer has been on plenty of fan wish lists over the years, too, as he's had a great run in his six big league seasons with the Rays, making a pair of All-Star appearances, posting a career 3.63 ERA and making at least 32 starts in each of the last four seasons.

Archer's numbers have been slightly less appealing in the past two years, a combined 4.05 ERA in 2016 and 2017 after turning in a combined 3.28 ERA in 2014 and 2015. But he's still just 29 years old and considered one of the game's better arms.

Colome, meanwhile, led baseball with 47 saves last season and has saved a combined 84 games over the past two campaigns. He was an All Star in 2016, and he finished that season with a pencil-thin 1.91 ERA.

Archer is under team control through 2021, while Colome is under team control through 2020. — Vinnie Duber (NBC Sports Chicago)

  • CBS Chicago Sports: Joe Maddon’s Offseason Goal? Get in ‘really good shape’ so he can manage for many years to come. Everybody’s going to be in camp in the best shape of their lives™.
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): As winter meetings begin, Cubs' Epstein says Chatwood signing just the start. Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): What will we see from Cubs during winter meetings? “...their moves will mainly be of the garden variety...”
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago Sports*): Cubs still determined to add Alex Cobb, more pitching. “We have plenty more work to do,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said.
  • Eno Sarris (Fangraphs): What the Cubs might see in Tyler Chatwood. “... Chatwood is absolutely a spin-rate guy. What’s interesting, though, is that he hasn’t converted that high spin into plus movement.”
  • Zack Moser (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): For Chatwood, Chicago offers opportunity. “The righty is not an over-the-hump stopgap as much as a long-term cog, or at least that is the Cubs’ hope.”
  • Michael Ernst (Cubs Den): A closer look at Dario Alvarez. “You rarely find 29-year-old journeymen with upside, but that is indeed the case with Alvarez.”
  • Kenny Kelly (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): 2017 player profile: Carl Edwards Jr. “Edwards still strikes out over a third of the batters he faces, but boy, when he loses control, he loses it big time.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Epstein: Leaner Kyle Schwarber looking to dominate 'the controllables'. “...Schwarber’s renewed commitment to fitness was mutually agreed upon...”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Jason Heyward is getting after it early in Arizona … again (Swing Video). Nobody’s gonna say that he isn’t trying to work it out.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): The Cubs now sit at the center of the baseball universe, and that’s pretty awesome for fans. “Despite their global appeal to fans, the Cubs haven’t always held universal attraction to free agents or players who are looking for a way out of their dumpster fire of a current team.”

Food for thought: