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Cub Tracks’ Love, Arizona Style

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It’s me and you, and other bullets

For the love of the game.
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Happy Valentine’s Day, BCB.

Previously on these pages, we took a brief look at the progress of the Cubs’ retooling process. Since then, Travis Wood has apparently defected to the Royals, to join Jason Hammel and Jorge Soler. I’m waiting for them to make an offer for Ben Zobrist now, as their continuum appears to involve repetition of 2015’s success by becoming Cubs-lite.

At least they get to wear blue. Royal blue, at that. And I’m sure Kansas City’s spacetime donuts and potato chips taste just as good as their barbecue. But their principle looks to me like ‘retool and die on the sword’ instead of ‘improve the team’.

I dunno. I’m a National League kinda guy. I start following the American League after the All-Star break. So take my words with a pillar of salt. KC might take the AL Central by storm and leave the rest of the lot in the dust and not look back. Stranger things have happened. But I don’t think so. Cleveland looks likely to repeat.

The Cubs, on the other hand, still have David Rollins and other offseason signees. Whether that is a good thing remains to be seen. The calculated gambles by the Cubs’ front office might be depth, or depth charges. Bosmosis is a topical remedy, not a cure-all. The in-system arms still don’t knock me out.

But pitchers and catchers officially report today, and position players, Friday. Spring is in the air, as are many varieties of pollen and spores. Mind the palo verde if you’re planning to come to Arizona for Cactus League action. I’m going to try to make a game or two myself, if possible. Be on the lookout for a hippie with an oxygen concentrator for a pet. Arrest that man as a columnist sympathizer and serial thread-killer.

Cub love is also everywhere, in Arizona. I see more Cub caps than Diamondback caps on people’s heads, and I’m a hundred miles south of the action. One of the local stations had a brief bit about the expected crowds at Sloan Park.

This is the new reality. Cubs Love, Arizona Style. The original series spun off Happy Days. We Cubs fans hope for happy days too. Here are a few words about this and that. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1887 - Chicago's National League club sells Mike King Kelly to Boston for the unheard-of sum of $10,000.
  • 1976 - The Braves send Valentine's Day cards to their season-ticket holders and the media. The Braves finished in fifth place in 1975, 40½ games behind Cincinnati. Atlanta will finish the 1976 season in last place, 32 games behind the Reds, but they are first in rhyming. Their card reads:

Rose is a Red. Morgan's one, too.

They finished first, like we wanted to.

But last year's behind us; we're happy to say.

Now we're tied for first, Happy Valentine's Day.

  • 2003 - After much speculation, the Chunichi Dragons return Kevin Millar to the Marlins for an undisclosed amount of money for relinquishing its rights. After reconsidering an offer from the Red Sox, the outfielder had a change of heart and didn't want to play for the Japanese Central League team.
  • 2007 - For first time at Wrigley Field, the Cubs will allow ads on the green doors which are located in the ivy in the left- and right-field bleachers, according to Jay Blunk, director of marketing and sales. Although the team has been approached by other companies, Under Armour, whose company spokesman is newly acquired outfielder Alfonso Soriano, is the "right fit" for the 7-by-12 foot signage featuring the performance apparel’s signature logo.
  • 2011 - Avoiding arbitration, Carlos Marmol agrees to a three-year, $20 million deal with the Cubs. The 28 year-old closer saved 38 games in 43 opportunities last season along with compiling a 2-3 record and an ERA of 2.55.

Somethings to talk about:

  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Mike Montgomery scoffs at MLB's extra-inning proposal. “I don’t like it. I haven’t talked to one player who has said, 'yeah, that’s a good idea,'" he said.
  • Dieter Kurtenbach (Fox Sports): The Cubs could start the 2017 season in a revolutionary way. Talkin’ about the six-man rotation.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Montgomery fine with starting or relief roles. "I'm ready to do both. I feel comfortable starting. That's my most comfortable job. Last year, I learned a lot in the 'pen and I learned how to adapt to that as well," he remarked.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): After championship finish, Cubs’ Montgomery ready to start again. ““I’ve always been a starter...” He said, in part.
  • Chris Cwik (Big League Stew*): Cubs no longer sole favorite to win World Series according to odds. The Red Sox also rank high according to oddsmakers.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Jon Jay says Cubs remain hungry after title run. "It's something that changes your life forever," Jay said on Monday. "But you see guys here who are hungry. I see what I saw from winning teams before. They're not complacent. They're getting after it and working out, and that's what you want to see."
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): As spring training opens, Cubs hope this is the beginning of a dynasty. “...the Cubs still feel this is more like the beginning than the end.”
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Cubs' marching orders for spring training: Take it easy. “I’m going to be really aware of resting people,” Joe Maddon said at the winter fan convention.
  • Jim Bowden (ESPN* Insider {$}): Bold predictions for spring training. Jason Heyward in center is the top of the list.
  • John Arguello (Cubs Den): Cubs Prospect Series: The left-handed relievers. “...the last installment of the series.”
  • Todd Johnson (Cubs Insider): Trevor Clifton not very far from home…or Chicago. He’s playing a short distance away from his boyhood home, and has a good chance to appear on the 40-man next year.
  • Nate Greabe (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Alec Mills and how the Cubs got their starting pitcher depth. “...a depth pitcher on the brink of something more.” We’ve seen this pattern before.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Five Cubs under the microscope this spring. Joe Maddon, Jake Arrieta, Jason Heyward, Albert Almora Jr, Kyle Schwarber.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Theo Epstein addresses psychological hurdles facing Cubs in 2017. “When you win, you get pulled in a lot of different directions,” Epstein said.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): Epstein: Cubs’ character gives them chance to win it all again. “The primary reason why it’s hard to repeat is just because it’s really difficult to win the World Series,” he said.
  • Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): Kris Bryant’s older brother, Nick, sits down to chat with Sports Mockery. “...the common denominator between the two boys has always been baseball...”
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Traveling to Chicago Cubs' spring training? Plenty to sink your teeth into. Good recommendations. A couple of those places were there when I was in college at ASU.
  • Steve Zalusky (Daily Herald {$}): Librarians don't mind noisy celebration of World Series trophy in Elgin. “Sunday morning, the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin resounded with the strains of "Go, Cubs, Go."
  • Maureen O’Donnell (Chicago Sun-Times): Cubs Bleacher Bum Ray Meyer dies; family owned Ray’s Bleachers. RIP, Little Ray.
  • WBEZ: Cubs President Theo Epstein on how to repeat: ‘Remember What Got Us There’. plus [AUDIO].
  • David Hill (Fansided): Chicago Cubs History: Ken Hubbs killed in plane crash. 2/13/64. RIP, Ken.
  • Tony Crumpton (Cubs HQ): WATCH: Schwarber, Almora doing drills at Cubs camp. A little video for you.

Food for thought:

  • Sid Perkins (Science): Exploding star yields its secrets. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...
  • Knvul Sheikh (The Atlantic): The Science that could make you crave broccoli more than chocolate. “Neurogastronomy wants to rewire how people perceive flavors—and may be able to help those who have lost their sense of taste.”
  • Kendra Pierre-Louis (Popular Science): Texture is the final frontier of food science. “Tweaking texture could give us healthy versions of our favorite junk foods—and that's just the beginning.”

Smell you Thursday with more madness. Thanks for reading.