It’s been a long, cold winter for Chicago Cubs fans, made only darker by the absence of free agent signings and the recent appearance of Clark the Cub. Could it be about to get a whole lot better?
There’s been a lot of recent buzz about the Cubs making a big play for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. In the past few days, that buzz has ramped up considerably. Behold:
There are nine days left in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes, and the Chicago Cubs apparently are trying to make the biggest splash in what has been a relatively quiet winter.
The Cubs have made little secret of their interest in Tanaka, and they are intensifying their interest, according to a tweet by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
The Cubs still face stiff competition from the pitching-thirsty New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, who agreed to terms with left-hander Clayton Kershaw on a staggering seven-year, $215 million contract.
A team source believes the Boston Red Sox also were lurking, but Tanaka, 25, fits the profile that Cubs President Theo Epstein seeks as a free agent entering the prime of his career.
An international scout whose team isn’t involved in the Tanaka sweepstakes said the Cubs did a thorough job of scouting Tanaka, who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Japanese Pacific League.
The conventional wisdom on Twitter is that Tanaka is pre-destined to be a Dodger, but their ginormous signing of Clayton Kershaw yesterday seems to make that more unlikely, if only a little. Anyway, Californians can never wrap their minds around the fact that someone would choose to live somewhere other than California. Granted, the polar vortex didn’t do us any favors last week, but let’s hope part of the delegation to meet with Tanaka includes Tom Skilling, who can use science to convince Tanaka of how great our summers are. Really, he only has to get through April and he’ll be good!
If you haven’t been following along, all the baby Cubs are in Chicago this week for Cubs Con, and they’ve been making the rounds; taking in a Blackhawks game (where in David DeJesus shot the puck, WTF?) and taking to the batting cages for the media yesterday. We learned from the Cubs’ Jason McLeod (who has an official title but who I like to call “Dude in Charge of Finding Young Dudes –which now that I’ve written it out, sounds kind of dodgy) that Javier Baez will start the season at AAA Iowa, Kris Bryant will start at AA, and the jury is still out on Soler and Almora.
In other news, the Cubs signed outfielder and 2009 NL ROY Chris Coughlan to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. I feel like the Cubs have a shit-ton of outfielders, but we’ll see what happens in Spring Training.
Finally, in a bout of hilarity we haven’t seen for a while from the Cubs, Communications VP Julian Green issued a statement to the effect that the Cubs were “standing by their mascot.” Because, of course, his very existence was threatened by people bitching about him on Twitter. Incidentally, a “we’re standing by our whatever” statement is usually what a team issues right before someone gets canned. He might as well have said “REX IS OUR QUARTERBACK.” Here’s some free advice for Julian and the rest of the crew over at Clark and Addison:
1) Twitter bitching isn’t real bitching. No one is seriously outraged that the Cubs have anointed a cartoon bear team ambassador; and
2) The only sure fire way to add fuel to a Twitter firestorm is to acknowledge it and take a defensive stance. Ignore it and it will go away.
Cubs Con 2014 kicks off tomorrow. Don’t forget our meetup Friday night at 8 pm at Lizzie’s Irish Pub at 400 N. McClurg Court. Hope to see you all there!