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Down on the Farm: Breakout Prospects for 2015

February 28th, 2015 at 3:00 AM
By Tim Duxbury

The Chicago Cubs have one of baseball’s best minor league systems and should be pumping out quality major leaguers for years to come. We are all familiar with the prospects who made their debuts in 2014: Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks and Jorge Soler, and we know plenty about those who are waiting on the wing: Kris Bryant, CJ Edwards, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber. But the Cubs’ system goes even beyond this talented group of young ball players. The Cubs have quality players that most of their fan base hasn’t heard of yet; here are our breakout prospects for 2015.

LHP Carson Sands

The Chicago Cubs used their fourth round pick in last summer’s amateur draft to pickup the 6’3” lefthander and boy was it worth it. Sands, 19, logged 19.0 innings for the Cubs’ rookie league affiliate and was dominant:

Level

ERA

W-L

WHIP

.oba

IP

G;GS

K/BB

Rk

1.89

3-1

1.158

.221

19.0

9;4

20/7

(Stats per baseball-reference.com)

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Tom Ricketts: The Owner Cubs Fans Deserve

February 27th, 2015 at 3:00 PM
By Tim Duxbury

Now that Spring Training 2015 is officially underway, today marks our first Fan of the Week of the 2015 season; Congratulations to Rick Farmer. Rick has submitted the most well-thought out and eloquently argued paragraphs that we have received thus far so without further delay, here are Rick’s thoughts:

I remember sitting with my father at the end of the first (disaster) season under the Ricketts family and listening to a 30-minute diatribe about the “bums” who took over the Chicago Cubs. “Ricketts doesn’t know anything about baseball. He’s too concerned about his image in Chicago. TD Ameritrade is a stupid company name”.

While I have no opinion on my father’s third point, time has shed some light on his first two observations. Regarding the Ricketts family’s knowledge about baseball, I think my Dad was most likely correct. Tom Ricketts is likely nothing more than a FAN of the game and a FAN of the Chicago Cubs franchise. That being said, is that such a bad thing?

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Is Theo Turning the Cubs into the Red Sox?

February 27th, 2015 at 3:00 AM
By Tim Duxbury

Theo Epstein has been at the helm for the Chicago Cubs for three and half years now and it finally appears as though he is on the cusp of pushing his team over the top. But how did he do it? Theo Epstein has been very meticulous in his approach to turning the Chicago Cubs into a winner; he surrounded himself with the right support staff, built up the Cubs’ minor league system, and developed the major league talent that he inherited. Essentially, Epstein is doing the same thing for the Cubs that he did for the Boston Red Sox a decade ago. In fact, it actually seems like Theo Epstein is, literally, rebuilding the system he had in Boston.

The first thing that Theo Epstein did when he arrived in Chicago was surround himself with the same brain trust that helped him build a winner in Boston by prying, both, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod away from the San Diego Padres. Since then, Theo and the boys have made numerous acquisitions and trades, of which a surprising number have involved former Boston Red Sox players:

· RHP Daniel Bard

· 1B Jair Bogaerts*

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The Chicago Cubs Coaching Staff Can Rake

February 26th, 2015 at 3:00 PM
By Tim Duxbury

The Chicago Cubs (coaching) staff has gotten a lot of attention lately with the additions of, former all-stars, Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis but the Cubs actually have quite a few accomplished, former pro’s on their staff. Here is a look at the Chicago Cubs’ all-coach lineup:

Coach

Current Role

Career Stats

Kerry Wood – P

Special Asst. to GM

3.67 ERA, 86 W, 63 SV

Henry Blanco – C

Quality Control

dWAR: 7.2 in 16 seasons

Kevin Youkilis – 1B

S & PD Consultant

3xAS, GG, .382 OBP

Gary Jones – 2B

3rd base Coach

.283, 225 SB in 8 seasons*

Eric Hinske – 3B

Asst. Hitting Coach

ROY, 137 HR in 12 seasons

John Mallee – SS

Hitting Coach

.313 opb 8 SB in 2 seasons*

Manny Ramirez – LF

Hitting Consultant

12xAS, 9xSS, 555 HR,

Dave Martinez – CF

Bench Coach

.276, 1599 H in 16 seasons

Darnell McDonald – RF

Mental Skills Coordinator

20 HR, 83 RBI in 7 seasons

(Stats per baseball-reference.com) *indicates MiLB stats

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Cubs to Implement Mental Skills Training: Importance of the Mental Side of the Baseball

February 26th, 2015 at 3:00 AM
By Tim Duxbury

For a long time baseball has neglected the mental side of the game and for a long time talented players have lost their careers to weak mental states. This week, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Joe Maddon will begin the implementation of the Chicago Cubs’ new mental skills program. The program will be led by Dr. Ken Ravizza, of Cal-State Fullerton, who has worked along side Joe Maddon for nearly 30 years. In a press conference yesterday, Maddon said that both hitters and pitchers will have programs structured based upon their specific needs (as opposed to a one size fits all). Josh Lifrak will serve as the program’s director, former Cubs’ outfielder, Darnell McDonald will be the coordinator, and Rey Fuentes will serve as the Latin coordinator.

When a person is not in the right mental state to be productive it can be devastating to their craft, whether it’s managing a company, building houses or playing baseball. Being off your mental game can be particularly hard in baseball because of the speed at which the game moves; a 95 MPH fastball is hard enough to hit without getting in your own way. Few know this better than Javier Baez, who backed himself into a mental corner in 2014 and hit just .169 with 95 strikeouts in 52 games. By adopting this program the Cubs hope to be able to help players avoid slumps, among other things, that seem endless and hopeless.

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