Your complete Cubs wrap-up from Tuesday's news

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Your complete Cubs wrap-up from Tuesday's news

So we know today got cray here for you all trying to keep track of everything from the MLB Winter Meetings in Dallas. (For those of you not hip, the word "cray" is short for "crazy." That's how the cool kids abbreviate it now.)

To make things convenient, we've decided at CubsTalk here to aggregate all the content into one big post, like we did yesterday. You know, just 'cause we're nice and cool like that.

Things kicked off fast and furious (too fast! too furious!) as the Cubs allegedly put a bid in for Albert Pujols. A team official later denied, but it was just the way the rumors surrounding Pujols went all day.

Word came out that the Cubs thought more of Prince Fielder than Pujols, which makes total sense and may take the award for the most obvious news nugget of the day.

The Pujols drama raged on all day, with the Marlins bursting to the forefront as the lead candidate to sign the slugger and a mystery team emerged offering 10 years that may or may not have been the Cubs (hint: it probably wasn't).

Everybody was hoping the Pujols drama would end Tuesday night, but it didn't look good as of midnight central time.

Meanwhile, the Fielder news was less dramatic and attention-seeking, but still surrounded the Cubs as they emerged as one of the teams in on the "once in a lifetime" player.

The Cubs' top free agent, Aramis Ramirez is drawing plenty of interest from some major contenders, but the Brewers appeared to be the favorite early in the day. Late in the night, it looked as if Milwaukee may soon be alone atop the A-Ram sweepstakes with the Phillies dropping out and the Angels possibly more focused on Pujols.

The Cubs tried to improve their team with some trade talk, as well. If the Marlins do indeed sign Pujols, it would make first baseman Gaby Sanchez available and the Cubs could be a major player for the 28-year-old.

Chicago's rumored deal for the Rockies' Ian Stewart hit a snag as Colorado asked for top Cubs infield prospect D.J. LeMahieu and left-handed reliever Scott Maine.

Theo's crew also allegedly tried to do a little addition by subtraction in sending Alfonso Soriano on a one-way ticket out of town by trying to talk the Orioles into taking the outfielder. But, Baltimore officials said "no chance" to the deal when they heard about the rumors.

Also, the Cubs may be aiming to improve their pitching staff for 2012, but may have to look no further than their own roster as Carlos Zambrano is not out of the team's picture just yet.

And, in a bit of TMZ-esque news, Theo Epstein closed on a 3.25 million mansion just blocks from Wrigley Field, showing his mad money skills at overpaying as the house was on the market for over 250,000 less.

Tomorrow may be the day the Cubs actually make some moves. Or maybe they could make some overnight, as they signed Carlos Pena at roughly 3 a.m. central time last winter meetings.

Stay tuned.

Kris Bryant blasts Cubs to 6-4 win over Dodgers

Kris Bryant blasts Cubs to 6-4 win over Dodgers

LOS ANGELES – The “MVP! MVP! MVP!” chants started at Dodger Stadium late Friday night, Cubs fans celebrating Kris Bryant’s two-run homer in the 10th inning of a wild comeback win.

Until Clayton Kershaw returns to full strength and stares down hitters from 60 feet, six inches and unleashes his entire arsenal, it’s impossible to know how the Cubs would stack up against Los Angeles in October. But it’s still safe to say this would be an epic playoff matchup between two big-market, star-studded franchises, with two iconic ballparks becoming the backdrop, celebrity row after celebrity row.

As a quiet, humble homebody who sometimes sounds boring on purpose, Bryant doesn’t have a Hollywood personality. But this is also someone who loves the big stage and wants to be the best. The Cubs won this round with Bryant, who launched his 34th and 35th home runs in a 6-4 victory, an MVP-worthy season becoming the sequel to his Rookie of the Year campaign.

When a crowd of 48,609 got loud in the seventh after Dodgers cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez drove Justin Grimm’s 94-mph fastball over the right-center field wall for a 4-2 lead, Bryant responded the next inning with a home run off Joe Blanton that landed in the center-field seats blacked out for the batter’s eye. 

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Here’s how Bryant could win it in the 10th inning, and why manager Joe Maddon will want Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward in a playoff lineup:

In the middle of a frustrating offensive season where he’s felt the weight of a $184 million contract, Heyward led off the ninth inning by ripping a double into the right-field corner off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Heyward hustled to third base when new Dodgers catcher Carlos Ruiz couldn’t handle strike three against Jorge Soler. Heyward ran home to score the game-tying run when a Jansen wild pitch sailed toward the backstop.

But a $250 million team is extremely resourceful, even with Kershaw (back) not pitching for two months, one of 27 players the Dodgers have stashed on the disabled list, tying a major-league record. The Dodgers have cycled through 14 different starting pitchers, relying on depth and a strong lineup and an imposing back end of the bullpen to surge into first place in the National League West. 

“How about last year?” Maddon said. “We beat up on the Mets during the season, we go (into the playoffs) and we can’t even touch them. It’s such a different animal. People get hot or people get cold and actually the weather gets cold and everything does change.

“I know what we’re talking about. I’m not going to diminish the fact I’m going to be paying attention. But things change. Trends can be so trendy, to quote Yogi. So I don’t get too far ahead, because things can change very quickly.”   

How Mike Montgomery fits into big-picture plans for Cubs

How Mike Montgomery fits into big-picture plans for Cubs

LOS ANGELES – In their never-ending search for young pitching, the Cubs discussed a Matt Moore deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, but wouldn’t consider trading Kyle Schwarber. To get Moore at the Aug. 1 deadline, the San Francisco Giants had to surrender the runner-up to Kris Bryant in last season’s National League Rookie of the Year race (Matt Duffy), plus two more prospects.

Moore finished one out short of a no-hitter on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, throwing 133 pitches against a deep Los Angeles lineup, two-plus years after having Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Whether or not that helps shift the balance of power in the National League West, the Cubs should still have enough pitching.

To get through October. As long as John Lackey (shoulder) comes off the disabled list in early September and the rest of the rotation stays healthy. Surviving next season and beyond could be a different story, if Jake Arrieta becomes another team’s 2018 Opening Day starter, if Jon Lester breaks down in the middle of that $155 million megadeal and Lackey retires around the 3,000-inning mark.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]          

All that makes Mike Montgomery an interesting lefty swingman if the Cubs are going to maintain The Foundation for Sustained Success.

“I think he is a major-league starter, regardless of what happens tonight,” manager Joe Maddon said before Friday’s 6-4 win at Dodger Stadium. “This guy has the ability to be a solid major-league starter based on his strength level, his delivery, the variety of pitches that he throws. The strike-throwing ability is exceptional. He’s got all those different things going on.

“Just be a little bit patient with (him) and let him get his feet on the ground somewhere, because he’s the kind of guy that can take off if he gets comfortable in his environment.”   

If Montgomery didn’t ace this audition, he didn’t bomb against a first-place team in front of a big crowd (48,609), either, showing the potential the Cubs saw in making last month’s trade with the Seattle Mariners.

Montgomery kept the Cubs in the game, allowing three runs in five innings and minimizing the damage on a night where he didn’t have pinpoint control (four walks, hit batter, wild pitch, 49 strikes across 91 pitches).   

The Cubs are in trouble if Montgomery somehow winds up in this year’s playoff rotation, but he checks a lot of boxes for the future as someone with youth (27), size (6-foot-5), first-round/top-prospect pedigree, a high groundball rate and a service-time clock that won’t make him a free agent until after the 2021 season.

Cubs pay their respects to Vin Scully at Dodger Stadium

Cubs pay their respects to Vin Scully at Dodger Stadium

LOS ANGELES – There will never be another Vin Scully, who joined the Dodgers in Brooklyn as a kid out of Fordham University, moved to Los Angeles and became a face of the franchise, doing the one-man show that still connects and entertains generations of baseball fans.

The Cubs paid their respects to the legendary broadcaster before Friday night’s game at Dodger Stadium, with manager Joe Maddon and catcher David Ross visiting the Vin Scully Press Box for another photo op before the lyrical voice retires at the end of this season, at the age of 88.

“You’re ascending into the clouds to meet Mr. Scully,” Maddon said. “That’s like the window to the world up there when you sit in his booth and he talks about the purple mountain majesties on a clear day beyond the outfield fences here.”

The Cubs presented Scully with a green “67” scoreboard panel – to mark the number of seasons he’s worked Dodger games – as well as a Dodger banner from Wrigley Field. Maddon also gave Scully, who rocks the conservative coat-and-tie look on TV, several T-shirts from his collection, including “Try Not to Suck.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Maddon said he told Scully: “Maybe at the end of the year, sitting by your pool with the sandals on, you can put a T-shirt on where no one can see you and just be Vin.”

As the tributes pour in from around baseball, CSN Chicago will carry Scully’s third-inning call live during Sunday’s broadcast from Chavez Ravine.

“He makes you feel like he’s known you for the last 50 years,” Maddon said. “Just really kind and gracious. And you have to be all of that to survive that many years. Besides being good, it’s his authenticity and how he interacts with people that really (keeps) you on that stage that long.”