This year’s Cubs Convention is off to a hot start at the downtown Sheraton, and looks similar to the last few years in some ways. Lots of fanfare, players announced like rockstars, Cubs morale through the roof. As it should be. There’s a lot to be excited about on the North Side, with a hangover-free talented roster hungry to get back to the Fall Classic taking the field in less than 80 days. There’s been a few storylines from Day 1, some big, others small. Lets start with the big.
Kris Bryant (among others including Russell) signed a record breaking $10.85 million arbitration deal with the club yesterday, the most ever for a first year arbitration eligible player. Most of us expected this, but maybe not this much money. At face value, it’s a little surprising, but anyone who has been watching/following Kris in his first three seasons knows he’s worth every penny. An MVP, two time all star and sure to add to that number, and among the league leaders in almost every offensive categories year in and year out.
Kyle Schwarber was asked “If someone were to ask you what position you play right now, how would you answer that question?” The slim looking lefty chuckled and said with a straight face “I’d say left field.” Kyle’s offseason workout results can be seen as soon as he walks into a room. He looks a million times skinnier, obviously something that would help an everyday outfielder. Maybe I’m an optimist, but I think this will be a statement year for Schwarber. He had every headline on him during and following the World Series, with the injury, Maddon deciding to bat him leadoff, and the struggles that ensued. There’s nowhere to go but up for him, hitting .211 but still managing to put 30 balls in the bleachers last season. The lower expectations for Kyle this year will let him do what he does under the radar and reach his “ceiling” that everyone loves to talk about.
Willson Contreras was quoted saying ““I know that I have a lot of talent, and I thank God every day for giving me this kind of talent that I have. In my mind, I want to be the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.” Contreras is poised to be a perennial all star catcher for the foreseeable future. He’s shown the power, and he can hit for average, an attribute that many catchers lack. One thing separating him from the best of the best is how he performs behind the plate. Not a liability by any means, but there’s definitely room for improvement. It was clear during 2017 that he was carrying the slumping Cubs throughout the summer where he caught almost every day, so when he went down in August with a hamstring injury, his absence was clearly seen on the field. No disrespect to Avila, he was a great substitute, but the Cubs were missing that bat. I have nothing but the highest faith in Willy to improve and be up there along with Posey and Molina when we look back at the best catchers of this era.
That’s all I got from day one, thanks for reading, and see you tomorrow.