The Chicago Cubs today announced the club’s minor league coordinators for the 2016 season.
Tim Cossins returns for his fourth season as the organization’s minor league field and catching coordinator following 10 years in the Miami Marlins farm system, including the final six as the minor league catching coordinator. He was also a manager in the Marlins minor league system from 2003-07. Cossins began his coaching career in 2000 and in 2001-02 was the major league bullpen catcher for Kansas City. The former catcher played eight minor league seasons (1993-2000) in the Rangers, Yankees and Expos organizations.
Jim Brower enters his first year as the Cubs minor league pitching coordinator after spending the last three seasons as the pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals Double-A affiliate, Northwest Arkansas. He served in the same role for two seasons at Single-A Kane County prior to joining Northwest Arkansas. Brower appeared in nine big league seasons, going 33-32 with a 4.67 ERA (298 ER/574.0 IP) and 397 strikeouts in 354 major league games (28 starts). The right-hander led the majors with 89 appearances in 2004 with San Francisco.
Andy Haines enters his first year as the Cubs minor league hitting coordinator after spending the last two years as manager of the Marlins Triple-A affiliate, New Orleans. In 2012, Haines led Single-A Jupiter to the Florida State League Championship Series, falling one game short of capturing the title. All told, Haines was a manager in the Marlins system for seven years, compiling a 449-467 (.490) record. Prior to joining the Marlins, he was the manager of the Windy City Thunderbolts of the independent Frontier League, going 68-28, in 2007.
Jose Flores returns for his fourth season as minor league infield coordinator and his 16th year as a coach or manager. Flores spent two seasons as manager of the Puerto Rico National baseball team (2011-12) and was a bench coach for Ponce Leones in the Puerto Rico Baseball League (2010). He handled similar duties for the Gaguas Criollos baseball club in 2008, the same year he managed the Cleveland Indians Dominican Summer League team. After playing six seasons in Houston’s minor league system (1990-95), he began his coaching career in the Puerto Rico Winter League (2001-06).
Doug Dascenzo begins his second year as the organization’s minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator. Dascenzo has 17 years of coaching experience following a career that saw him play in parts of seven seasons in the majors, including five with the Cubs from 1988-92. Prior to joining the Cubs, Dascenzo spent the previous three seasons with Atlanta, including serving as the third base coach for the major league club in 2014. After retiring from baseball, he coached in the Padres farm system from 1999-2011, including six seasons as a minor league manager.
Dave Keller enters his 31st season as a minor league coach or manager, his 13th year in the Cubs organization and his second as minor league Latin America field coordinator. He managed Single-A Daytona in 2013-14 and led the club to the 2013 Florida State League title after he served as Iowa’s hitting coach in 2012. In 2011, he was the Cubs major league staff assistant after seven years (2004-10) as the organization’s minor league hitting coordinator. Keller was a major league staff assistant and bullpen catcher for Cleveland from 2001-03 following two years as the organization’s minor league hitting coordinator. He managed in the minor leagues in the Cincinnati (1987-89), Cleveland (1990-94) and White Sox (1996) organizations, and was named the 1993 Carolina League Manager of the Year with Single-A Kinston. The former first baseman played in the Reds organization for three seasons (1982-84).
Mike Mason begins his third season as assistant pitching coordinator after spending the previous six years as Triple-A Iowa’s pitching coach. He has 24 years of coaching experience following a seven-year big league playing career with Texas (1982-87), the Cubs (1987) and Minnesota (1988). Prior to joining the Cubs, he served as Kansas City’s minor league pitching coordinator (2004-07), while also handling interim pitching coach duties at the major league level in 2004. Mason served as pitching coach for Philadelphia’s Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre club in 2002-03 after serving as Kansas City’s minor league pitching instructor the previous two seasons (2000-01). He began his coaching career in Kansas City’s minor league system from 1991-99.
Tom Beyers returns for his 17th season with the Cubs organization and his second as the minor league assistant hitting coordinator, following two seasons as Single-A Kane County’s hitting coach. He was the short-season hitting coordinator in 2012 following one season as the minor league hitting coordinator in 2011. Beyers joined the Cubs in 2000 and was a minor league manager or coach for 11 seasons, including manager of Single-A Boise in 2004, a season in which he led the club to the Northwest League title and earned league manager of the year honors. A former outfielder, he spent his first 21 seasons in professional baseball with the Dodgers as a player, coach or manager after he was selected by Los Angeles in the 15th round of the 1979 draft.
Josh Lifrak returns for his second season with the Cubs as the club’s director, mental skills program. He is tasked with the development, implementation and supervision of the Cubs mental skills training program for all levels of the organization. Prior to joining the Cubs, he spent 10 years as the Senior Mental Conditioning Consultant for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Lifrak earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Rhode Island in 1994 and earned a Masters of Science, Exercise Science with a concentration in Sports Psychology from Ithaca College in 2005.
Rey Fuentes begins his fourth season with the organization and second as Latin Coordinator, Mental Skills Program, following two years as cultural programs coordinator. In this role, he oversees all educational classes and mental skills programs for the Cubs Latin American players. Prior to joining the Cubs, he coached and taught physical education in the Orlando area. Fuentes graduated from Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida, in 2002 with a degree in Exceptional Student Education.
Darnell McDonald begins his second season as the organization’s mental skills program coordinator and will work with players throughout all levels of the farm system. McDonald served as a Cubs baseball operations assistant in 2014 following his retirement after 16 professional seasons. He was selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1997 draft and played for the Cubs in 2013.
Doug Jarrow begins his ninth season as Chicago’s minor league strength and conditioning coordinator. He previously spent five years in the Dodgers organization, including 2003-05 as the minor league strength and conditioning coordinator and 2006-07 as the major league strength coach. Jarrow began his career as a minor league strength and conditioning coach with Tampa Bay in 1998 and Pittsburgh in 1999.
Nick Frangella begins his 13th season with the organization and his third as head minor league athletic training and performance coordinator. He spent the previous two seasons as Triple-A Iowa’s athletic trainer.
Chuck Baughman enters his 16th year with the Cubs organization, his third season as assistant athletic training coordinator. He spent the previous eight seasons as a rehabilitation coordinator and joined the organization as Single-A Boise’s athletic trainer in 2001. His career in professional baseball began in 1999 when he was the athletic trainer for Single-A Clinton in Cincinnati’s system.
Rick Tronerud returns for his 21st year with the Cubs and his third as minor league rehab pitching coordinator. He spent the previous 13 seasons with Rookie League Mesa, serving as the club’s rehab pitching coach. Tronerud joined the organization in 1996 as the pitching coach at Rookie League Fort Myers after pitching (1972-81) and coaching (1982-89) in Oakland’s farm system.
The Chicago Cubs today announced their minor league managers and coaching staffs for the 2016 season.
Team: Triple-A Iowa
Manager: Marty Pevey
Pitching Coach: Rod Nichols
Hitting Coach: Brian Harper
Assistant Coach: Leo Perez
Athletic Trainers: Shane Nelson, Sean Folan
Strength Coach: Ryan Clausen
Marty Pevey begins his fourth season as Triple-A Iowa’s manager after serving as Chicago’s catching coordinator for three seasons from 2010-12. Pevey served as the Single-A Peoria manager in 2009, his first season with the organization. He has a combined 32 years of professional experience (13 years as a player and 19 years as a manager, coach or coordinator) and was named the 2009 Midwest League co-Manager of the Year. Joining Pevey at Iowa will be newly hired pitching coach, Rod Nichols, who spent the last three years as the Philadelphia Phillies major league bullpen coach. The 2016 campaign will mark Nichols’ 17th season as a coach. Originally selected by Cleveland in the fifth round of the 1985 draft, he appeared in seven big league seasons, going 11-31 with a 4.43 ERA (203 ER/412.2 IP) in 100 games (48 starts). Brian Harper returns for his fourth season as Iowa’s hitting coach after managing Double-A Tennessee in 2011 and Single-A Daytona in 2012. A former catcher, Harper played 16 seasons in the majors with seven teams. Rounding out the coaching staff is former Cubs farmhand Leo Perez, who begins his eighth season as a coach in the organization and second with Iowa. Shane Nelson joins Iowa as the team’s athletic trainer after handling the same responsibility in Tennessee the past two seasons. Sean Folan is the club’s assistant athletic trainer after last year serving as Mesa’s minor league rehab athletic trainer and strength coach, while Ryan Clausen enters his third season as Iowa’s strength and conditioning coach.
Team: Double-A Tennessee Smokies
Manager: Mark Johnson
Pitching Coach: Terry Clark
Hitting Coach: Desi Wilson
Assistant Coach: Osmin Melendez
Athletic Trainer: Jon Fierro
Strength Coach: Mike Megrew
Mark Johnson begins his first season as Tennessee’s manager after last season guiding Myrtle Beach to its first Carolina League Championship since 2000. Under Johnson, the Pelicans finished the regular season with an 81-57 mark, the best record in the Carolina League. In 2014, Johnson helped the Kane County Cougars win 91 games and record a .650 winning percentage, the highest winning mark of any full-season team. The 2016 season will mark Johnson’s sixth in the Cubs organization. Terry Clark begins his first season with the organization after spending the last two as the minor league pitching coordinator for the Seattle Mariners. In 2002, he guided the Double-A Akron pitching staff to an Eastern League-leading 3.09 ERA. Clark appeared in parts of six big league seasons, going 10-23 with one save and a 5.54 ERA (143 ER/232.2 IP) in 91 games. Desi Wilson, entering his ninth season with the organization, returns as the hitting coach for a fourth year after handling the same duties at Daytona in 2012. Osmin Melendez joins as an assistant coach after serving in a similar role last season with Single-A South Bend. Jon Fierro, in his fifth year with the organization, is the team’s athletic trainer, and Mike Megrew enters his third season as the team’s strength and conditioning coach.
Team: High-A Myrtle Beach
Manager: Buddy Bailey
Pitching Coach: Anderson Tavarez
Hitting Coach: Mariano Duncan
Assistant Coach: Juan Cabreja
Athletic Trainer: Toby Williams
Strength Coach: Jason Morriss
Buddy Bailey takes over as the manager of Single-A Myrtle Beach after spending the last four seasons as Tennessee’s manager, going 290-266 (.521). Bailey spent three years as Daytona’s skipper prior to joining the Smokies and helped the team to the 2011 Florida State League championship. Next season will mark Bailey’s 28th year as a manager and his 11th with the organization. Handling pitching coach duties at Myrtle Beach will be Anderson Tavarez, who served as Single-A Eugene’s pitching coach last season. Prior to joining Eugene, Tavarez spent two years with Rookie League Mesa. Tavares played in the Cubs system from 2000-05 and worked as a pitching coach with the Cubs Dominican Summer League team from 2007-12. Mariano Duncan returns for his fourth season as the club’s High-A hitting coach after serving the previous two campaigns as Tennessee’s hitting coach (2011-12). The 12-year major league veteran (1985-87, 1989-97) joined the Cubs in 2011 after spending the previous five seasons (2006-10) as the Dodgers major league first base coach. Juan Cabreja is the team’s assistant coach after serving as the Dominican Cubs manager in 2014-15. Toby Williams begins his third year as a trainer in the Cubs organization and his first with Myrtle Beach after serving as the trainer in Mesa last season. Jason Morriss enters his fourth season in the organization, second with Myrtle Beach, as a strength and conditioning coach.
Team: Single-A South Bend
Manager: Jimmy Gonzalez
Pitching Coach: David Rosario
Hitting Coach: Guillermo Martinez
Assistant Coach: Ricardo Medina
Athletic Trainer: Mike McNulty
Strength Coach: Ed Kohl
Jimmy Gonzalez begins his third season as a manager in the organization and his second with Single-A affiliate South Bend. Gonzalez made his managerial debut in 2014 with Rookie League Mesa after serving as hitting coach with the club in 2013. A former catcher, he played 14 minor league seasons after he was selected in the first round of the 1991 draft by Houston. Handling pitching coach duties at South Bend will be David Rosario, who begins his 12th year in the Cubs system. Rosario served in the same role with Myrtle Beach last season. Guillermo Martinez begins his third season as a coach in Chicago’s organization and first as a hitting coach with South Bend. He spent last season as a coach with Double-A Tennessee. Ricardo Medina joins South Bend as the team’s assistant coach and has been with the Cubs organization since 1999 as a coach, manager or scout. Mike McNulty joins South Bend as the team’s athletic trainer after serving in the same role last season with Eugene. Ed Kohl enters his sixth year in the organization and his second as South Bend’s strength and conditioning coach.
Team: Low-A Eugene
Manager: Jesus Feliciano
Pitching Coach: Brian Lawrence
Hitting Coach: Ty Wright
Assistant Coach: Gary Van Tol
Athletic Trainer: Logan Severson
Strength Coach: Ryan Nordtvedt
Jesus Feliciano begins his third season as a coach in Chicago’s organization and his first as a manager with Eugene. He spent last season as South Bend’s hitting coach and enjoyed a 16-year playing career from 1998-2013, including action in 54 games with the Mets in 2010. Joining the staff at Eugene will be pitching coach, Brian Lawrence, who enters his first season as Eugene’s pitching coach after serving in the same role with South Bend in 2015. Lawrence made his coaching debut in 2012 in the Independent Frontier League and spent 2013 as the pitching coach of Single-A Lake Elsinore in the Padres system. The former right-hander went 50-63 with a 4.19 ERA during a six-year big league career with the Padres and Mets. Ty Wright, who spent seven years as an outfielder in the Cubs minor league system, is the team’s hitting coach after serving as a coach with Mesa last year. Gary Van Tol will serve as a coach after spending the last three seasons as Eugene’s manager. Logan Severson begins his first season as the athletic trainer in Mesa after interning with Triple-A Iowa in 2012. Ryan Nordtvedt enters his fourth season in the organization and his second as Eugene’s strength and conditioning coach.
Team: Mesa Rookie League
Manager: Carmelo Martinez
Pitching Coach: Ron Villone
Hitting Coaches: Jeremy Farrell, Chris Valaika
Athletic Trainer: TBD
Rehab Coach: Lance Rymel
Carmelo Martinez enters his 19th season in the organization and begins his second-straight season as manager with Mesa after also serving in the role from 1999-2003, and again in 2006. Martinez previously served as the Cubs Latin America field coordinator for six seasons and played in the majors from 1983-91 with the Cubs, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Royals and Reds. Ron Villone begins his fifth season as a coach in the Cubs organization and second with Mesa. A former left-handed pitcher, he played in all or part of 15 major league seasons from 1995-2009 with 12 teams. Jeremy Farrell and Chris Valaika are the team’s hitting coaches. Farrell, the son of Red Sox manager John Farrell, begins his first season as a coach after a seven-year minor league career. Valaika, who played in 99 major league games with the Reds (2010-11), Marlins (2013) and Cubs (2014), begins his first year as a coach in the organization. Lance Rymel, a former catcher selected by the Cubs in the 28th round of the 2012 Draft, is in his first season as Mesa’s rehab coach.
Team: Dominican Rookie League 1
Manager: Claudio Almonte
Pitching Coach: Eduardo Villacis, Jose Cueto
Hitting Coach: Carlos Ramirez
Assistant Coach: Antonio Valerio, Jovanny Rosario
Athletic Trainer: Jose Alvarez
Strength Coach: Tomas Sanchez, Amaury Gonzalez
Claudio Almonte is the manager of the Cubs first of two Dominican League teams after serving as the team’s hitting coach the previous two seasons. Eduardo Villacis is the team’s pitching coach after serving in the same role with the Venezuela League team last year. Jose Cueto, who spent four seasons in the Cubs farm system from 1999-2001 and 2004, joins the organization as the team’s assistant pitching coach. Carlos Ramirez joins the organization as the team’s hitting coach, while Antonio Valerio and Jovanny Rosario will serve as assistant coaches. Jose Alvarez begins his third season as the club’s athletic trainer, and Tomas Sanchez enters his third season as the team’s strength coach. Sanchez will be joined by Amaury Gonzalez, who joins the organization as a strength coach.
Team: Dominican Rookie League 2
Manager: Pedro Gonzalez
Pitching Coach: Armando Gabino
Hitting Coach: Franklin Blanco
Assistant Coach: Carlos Rojas
Athletic Trainer: Arnoldo Goite
Strength Coach: Manny Estrada
Pedro Gonzalez is in his first year at the helm of the second Dominican League club after managing the Venezuela Cubs the previous two campaigns. Armando Gabino enters his second season as a pitching coach in the organization after a playing career that saw him pitch in seven games over two seasons with the Twins and Orioles. Franklin Blanco will be the club’s hitting coach and is in his 10th season with the organization. Carlos Rojas joins the organization as an assistant coach following a 10-year minor league career as an infielder from 2003-12, including 2003-07 in the Cubs farm system. Arnoldo Goite enters his third year in the organization and his first as an athletic trainer for the Dominican club. Manny Estrada enters his second full season as a strength and conditioning coach in the organization.
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The Cubs and outfielder Jason Heyward have agreed to terms on an eight-year contract through the 2023 campaign.
Heyward, 26, joins the Cubs as a three-time Gold Glove Award winner and 2010 National League All-Star and Rookie of the Year runner-up who has qualified for the postseason in four of his first six major league campaigns with the Braves (2010-14) and Cardinals (2015). The left-handed batter and thrower has averaged 31 doubles, four triples, 19 home runs, 68 RBI, 72 walks and 17 stolen bases per 162 games, turning in a .268 batting average with a .353 on-base percentage, .431 slugging percentage and .784 OPS in 835 major league games.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Heyward has consistently ranked as one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball. He won Gold Glove Awards in 2012, 2014 and 2015 and has made multiple top 10 finishes in outfield assists (including leading all right fielders in 2012 and 2014), putouts as a right fielder (first in 2012 and 2014), fielding percentage and defensive WAR.
Heyward set career highs in several offensive categories last year with St. Louis, including a .293 batting average, 33 doubles, 160 hits and 23 stolen bases in 154 games, his most since playing in a career-best 158 games in 2012. He posted a .359 on-base percentage, his best mark since his career-best .393 on-base percentage in his rookie season, while his .797 OPS was his best since 2012. His 6.5 WAR ranked fifth among all National League position players, and he captured his third Gold Glove in the last four years.
Selected by Atlanta in the first round (14th overall) of the 2007 draft, Heyward made his major league debut three years later, connecting for a three-run homer in his first-career plate appearance against the Cubs on Opening Day, April 5, 2010. His rookie campaign featured an All-Star selection, though he did not play due to injury, and an .849 OPS, the second-best OPS by a National League rookie since 2010 (behind only Kris Bryant’s .858 mark in 2015). Heyward was named NL Rookie of the Month in April and May and ranked fourth in the league with a .393 on-base percentage.
Heyward set a career high with 27 home runs, 82 RBI, 93 runs scored and six triples in 158 games with the Braves in 2012, also winning his first Gold Glove Award. He capped his Braves career in 2014 with another Gold Glove before being traded to St. Louis on Nov. 17, 2014 as part of the four-player deal that sent pitcher Shelby Miller to the Braves.
Born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, Heyward graduated from Henry County High School in McDonough, Georgia and turned down a scholarship from UCLA to sign with the Braves out of high school. Heyward’s father, Eugene, played basketball collegiately at Dartmouth University.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
The Cubs and right-handed pitcher Trevor Cahill have agreed to terms on a one-year contract.
Cahill, 27, went 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA (4 ER/17.0 IP) in 11 relief appearances with the Cubs last season after signing a minor league deal with the club on Aug. 18 and having his contract selected on Sept. 1. While with the Cubs, he limited batters to a .143 average, a .226 on-base percentage and a .268 slugging percentage for a .494 OPS against. Cahill turned in a 0.76 WHIP and struck out 22 batters in 17.0 innings, for an average of 11.6 per nine innings. In the postseason, he saw action in six games and went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA (2 ER/5.1 IP), fanning eight in 5.1 frames.
The right-hander broke into the big leagues with Oakland in 2009 and was an 18-game winner a season later, going 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA in 30 starts while earning AL All-Star honors along the way. Overall, Cahill won 10 or more games in four straight seasons (2009-12) and is 65-72 with one save and a 4.13 ERA in 212 major league outings (39 in relief) with Oakland (2009-11), Arizona (2012-14), Atlanta (2015) and the Cubs.
Chicago’s 40-man roster now stands at 39 players.
(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty)
The Chicago Cubs today acquired right-handed pitcher Adam Warren and a player to be named from the New York Yankees for infielder Starlin Castro.
Warren, 28, went 7-7 with three holds, one save, a 1.16 WHIP and a 3.29 ERA (48 ER/131.1 IP) in 43 appearances with the Yankees last season, splitting time between the bullpen (1-1, 2.29 ERA in 26 appearances) and the starting rotation (6-6, 3.66 ERA in 17 starts). Combined between the roles, Warren limited opponents to a .236 batting average, a .301 on-base percentage and a .347 slugging percentage, good for only a .648 opponents’ OPS. He walked only 39 batters in 131.1 innings pitched, for an average of 2.7 walks per nine innings.
The 6-foot-1, 224-pound Warren has spent all or part of the last four seasons in the big leagues with the Yankees (2012-15), going 13-15 with 27 holds, five saves and a 3.39 ERA in 147 games, 127 in relief and 20 as a starting pitcher. He has pitched the last two years exclusively at the major league level, going 10-13 with 23 holds, four saves, a 1.14 WHIP and a 3.17 ERA in 112 appearances, 17 as a starting pitcher. Warren has a 3.66 ERA in 17 starts and a 2.76 ERA in 95 relief outings since the start of the 2014 campaign.
In his first full big league season in 2014, Warren went 3-6 with 23 holds, three saves, a 1.11 WHIP and a 2.97 ERA in 69 relief outings. He allowed only four home runs and issued 26 walks in 78.2 innings, an average of 0.46 homers and 2.75 walks per nine innings. Warren ranked seventh in the league in holds, while his .219 batting average against was sixth lowest of any reliever in the majors with at least 75.0 innings pitched.
Warren was originally selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2009 draft out of the University of North Carolina.
Castro, 25, departs the Cubs a three-time All-Star and a career .281 hitter (991-for-3,524) with a .321 on-base percentage, .404 slugging percentage and a .765 OPS in 891 major league games covering the last six big league seasons. He made his memorable debut as a 20-year-old shortstop on May 7, 2010.
Castro batted .265 with a .296 on-base percentage, a .375 slugging percentage and a .671 OPS in 151 games with the Cubs last season.
(Photo by Else/Getty)
The Chicago Cubs and infielder Ben Zobrist have agreed to terms on a four-year contract through the 2019 campaign.
Zobrist, 34, has earned a pair of American League All-Star honors during his career spanning all or parts of 10 seasons with Tampa Bay (2006-14), Oakland (2015) and Kansas City (2015). This move reunites him with his former Tampa skipper Joe Maddon.
He is a career .265 hitter with a .355 on-base percentage and .431 slugging percentage, good for a .786 OPS. Zobrist has averaged 36 doubles, five triples, 17 homers, 77 RBI, 82 walks and 87 runs per 162 games of his major league career. Since the start of his first full big league season in 2009, he ranks fourth in the majors with 566 walks and is fifth with 247 doubles.
The switch-hitting Zobrist has surpassed 75 runs scored in each of the last seven seasons starting in 2009, reached double digits in home runs in each of the last eight years, and surpassed 30 doubles and a .350 on-base percentage in each of the last five campaigns starting in 2011. Overall, he has 265 doubles, 35 triples, 127 home runs, 567 RBI, 641 runs scored and 105 stolen bases in 1,190 career big league games. He has batted .290 (390-for-1,344) with 33 homers and an .823 OPS vs. left-handers and .254 (755-for-2,973) with 94 homers and a .769 OPS vs. right-handers.
The versatile Zobrist has seen time at every position on the field except for pitcher and catcher, with significant playing time at second base (616 games), right field (336 games), shortstop (229 games) and left field (111 games) in addition to 34 games in center field, 17 games at first base and eight games at third base. Last year, he played more games at second base than any other position.
Zobrist batted .276 with 36 doubles, 13 homers, 56 RBI and 76 runs scored in 126 games in 2015 between Oakland and the World Champion Royals. He had more walks (62) than strikeouts (56) while turning in a .359 on-base percentage and a .450 slugging percentage, good for an .809 OPS, surpassing the .800 mark for the fifth season in his career. He helped the Royals to their first World Championship in 30 years by hitting .303 (20-for-66) with a .365 on-base percentage, .515 slugging and .880 OPS. It was Zobrist’s fifth postseason appearance in the last eight seasons.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Zobrist broke into the majors in 2006 and enjoyed his first full big league campaign in 2009 when he was named to the All-Star team en route to setting career highs with a .297 batting average, 27 homers and 91 RBI in 152 games. In 2011, he set a career high with 46 doubles and led all AL players with an 8.7 WAR. Two years later in 2013, Zobrist earned his second All-Star honor, matching his career-best from 2012 with 157 games and leading all AL second basemen with a .993 fielding percentage.
Zobrist is a native of Eureka, Illinois, located approximately 140 miles southwest of Chicago. He originally attended Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, and was selected by the Houston Astros in the sixth round of the 2004 draft out of Dallas Baptist University.
Chicago’s 40-man roster now stands at 39 players.
(Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
The Chicago Cubs and right-handed pitcher John Lackey have agreed to terms on a two-year contract through the 2017 season.
Lackey, 37, went 13-10 with a career-best 2.77 ERA (67 ER/218.0 IP) in 33 starts with the St. Louis Cardinals last year, his 13th major league campaign. He finished ninth in Cy Young Award voting after matching his career high in starts, and his 218.0 innings pitched were second-most in his career (highest since his career-best 224.0 innings in 2007). Lackey ranked seventh in the National League in ERA, as he now joins a starting rotation for next season featuring three of the top 15 ERAs in the NL from 2015 (Jake Arrieta, second at 1.77; Jon Lester, 15th at 3.34).
The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Lackey is 165-127 with 18 complete games, eight shutouts and a 3.92 ERA in 388 major league games, all but one as a starter, with the Angels (2002-09), Red Sox (2010-11 and 13-14) and Cardinals (2014-15). His 2,481.1 innings pitched since the start of the 2002 campaign are fourth-most in the majors while his 165 victories and 387 starts both rank fifth, and his 1,965 strikeouts rank sixth.
Lackey has 12 double-digit win seasons since 2003, second-most in the majors behind only Mark Buehrle (13), and has posted 10 or more wins in every full season he has pitched since 2003. Lackey has reached the 200-inning mark six times, including 218.0 innings last season, and has made 31 or more starts in a season eight times.
The right-hander owns an 8-5 record with a 3.11 ERA (44 ER/127.1 IP) in 23 career postseason games, including 20 starts. His eight postseason victories are second-most among active pitchers, trailing only CC Sabathia’s nine victories. Lackey went 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA in two NLDS outings vs. the Cubs.
In 2013, Lackey went 10-13 with a 3.52 ERA in 29 starts for the World Champion Red Sox after missing the previous campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery performed in November of 2011. He went 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in five postseason games (four starts) during the club’s World Series run.
Named an American League All-Star in 2007, Lackey set career marks with 19 wins and 224.0 innings pitched for the Angels. He led the AL with a 3.01 ERA that season en route to a third-place finish in the AL Cy Young vote. The 2007 campaign also marked his fifth-straight with at least 32 starts.
Lackey made his major league debut with the Angels in 2002, going 9-4 with a complete game and a 3.66 ERA in 18 starts before he went 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA in five postseason outings (three starts). He won Game 7 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants on three days rest, becoming the first rookie pitcher to win a World Series Game 7 since Pittsburgh’s Babe Adams in 1909.
A native of Abilene, Texas, Lackey was originally selected by the Angels in the second round of the 1999 draft out of Grayson County College in Denison, Texas.
Chicago’s 40-man roster now stands at 38 players.
The Cubs Friday announced their 2016 Spring Training schedule, which begins on Thursday, March 3, against the Milwaukee Brewers in Maryvale. The Cubs play their Sloan Park home opener on Friday, March 4, against the Los Angeles Angels. The club’s 31-game schedule includes 14 games at Sloan Park and 17 road games.
The Cubs and White Sox play twice next spring—Saturday, March 12, in Mesa and Friday, March 18, in Glendale. The team concludes Cactus League play on Wednesday, March 30, vs. the Colorado Rockies at Sloan Park. The Cubs will conclude spring training with their annual trip to Las Vegas to play the New York Mets from March 31-April 1 and play one final tune-up against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, April 3, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
Individual game tickets for the 2016 Chicago Cubs home spring training games at Sloan Park will go on sale Saturday, January 9, at 11 a.m. CT at the Sloan Park ticket office, on http://www.cubs.com or by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS. For season ticket and group ticket information, please visit http://www.sloanpark.com or call 1-800-THE-CUBS.
For the complete spring training schedule for 2016, go to Cubs.com.
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
The Cubs today claimed left-handed pitcher Edgar Olmos off waivers from the Seattle Mariners. The club’s 40-man roster now stands at 37 players.
Olmos, 25, went 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA (7 ER/14.0 IP) in six appearances with the Mariners last season, including two starts. He spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Tacoma where he went 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA (13 ER/33.0 IP) in 20 games (two starts). The southpaw has a career 1-1 record with a 5.21 ERA (11 ER/19.0 IP) in 11 major league contests. He also made five appearances with the Marlins in 2013, his only other major league stint.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Olmos was originally selected by the Marlins in the third round of the 2008 draft out of Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, California. He is 16-38 with a 4.44 ERA in 199 career minor league games (73 starts) over eight professional seasons.
Even though I’m certain the best is yet to come for this young, talented Cubs squad, in some respects, I still hate to see the 2015 season come to an end. It was just such a fun ride.
In recent days, I’ve been asked the same question over and over: How do I feel about the way the campaign ended? Even though the Cubs fell to the Mets in four uncharacteristic games in the NLCS, it was hard for me to really be upset or frustrated with the result. Sure, I would have loved to see the boys in blue win it all. But a club most figured to be at least one year away from true contention finished the season in the NLCS. They were one of the last four teams standing. And this was after winning 97 regular-season games and two postseason series. Anyone who saw that coming in 2015, please raise your hand.
Every year, before the first pitch of the regular season, we at Vine Line place a little wager on what we think the club’s final record will be. I predicted 85 wins—and I still contend that would have been a solid season. Anything above .500 typically keeps a team in the Wild Card hunt until the final weeks.
But the Cubs exceeded expectations on almost every front this year. When different members of the same team factor significantly in voting for the MVP, Cy Young, Manager of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards, something has definitely gone right.
After the final out of the season, Cubs baseball president Theo Epstein talked to the media, and he said something during his press conference that stuck with me.
“If you think back to where we were on Opening Day, many members of this team were in the minor leagues in Double-A and Triple-A,” Epstein said. “If you looked out in the bleachers, we had plywood covering all the stands out there. We lost to the Cardinals on a cold and dreary night. Then you fast forward seven months later and look where we were with a young, dynamic, magical team at the big league level. The bleachers were filled with fans going crazy and supporting the team, and [then] beating the Cardinals in a playoff series. It’s just amazing how far the organization came this year.”
The team’s progress between November 2014, when manager Joe Maddon was hired, and the end of the 2015 season was truly remarkable. For this month’s issue, we relive the year’s best moments, and there were plenty to choose from. The team played so well—especially from July on—it’s easy to lose sight of where it all began.
It’s easy to forget that the main topic of conversation when the season kicked off was not the team’s playoff chances but the Wrigley Field bleachers—or lack thereof. It’s easy to forget that the Opening Day roster did not include Kris Bryant, Addison Russell or Kyle Schwarber. It’s easy to forget that coming into the season, people still saw right-hander Jake Arrieta as something resembling a fallible, flesh-and-blood human being.
We dedicated this month’s issue to celebrating everything that went right in 2015. In our pages, you’ll find the best images of the year, a month-by-month season recap and highlights from Epstein’s post-NLCS presser. We’ll also give you a head start on your holiday shopping with our annual gift guide.
Honestly, the best part of this past year is knowing that it was only the beginning. The Cubs went into the 2014 offseason as a team on the rise, but one with serious question marks. They enter this offseason as an experienced, playoff-tested group with few holes and plenty of resources—in both talent and money—to fill those holes.
Another thing Epstein said that resonated with me was that the whole team was loath to see this season end, and that they all wished Opening Day was already here. I think most fans feel the same way.
While you can’t wish away the winter, you can keep track of all the offseason action, from the hot stove to the winter leagues, in the magazine and on Twitter at @cubsvineline. And keep an eye on Twitter for a special holiday offer on the magazine in the coming days.