After Sveum, is Maddux in play for Cubs?

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After Sveum, is Maddux in play for Cubs?

Dale Sveum didnt know Mike Maddux had withdrawn from the Red Sox managerial search until a reporter mentioned it to him on Monday night at Wrigley Field. They coached together in Milwaukee and remain good friends. They could be competing for the same job.

There are several subplots here, and Sveum and Maddux are at the center. Theo Epstein started researching candidates while he was working for the Red Sox. The Cubs are screening potential managers the same way they are in Boston.

Sveum who already interviewed at Fenway Park went through it again on Monday at Clark and Addison. Family considerations compelled Maddux to tell the Red Sox no thanks. The Rangers pitching coach is still scheduled to interview on Wednesday with the Cubs.

My wife and two daughters are together in the same state for the first time in three years and words cannot describe my happiness, Maddux said in a statement released to Texas reporters. The game of baseball has many sacrifices, but being apart from family is the toughest. I feel there is too much distance between the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and Boston to see my family as much as Id enjoy.

What about Chicago? Sveum praised Maddux as perhaps the hardest-working coach in baseball, someone who will make a good manager someday, if not this year.

But Sveum, who will turn 48 this month, can make his own compelling case to be the next Cubs manager. Near the end of his 12-year career in the big leagues, he played for Tony La Russa, Lou Piniella, Jim Leyland and Joe Torre.

The Brewers hitting coach has been given many responsibilities during his six seasons on the Milwaukee staff, including 12 games as interim manager after Ned Yost was fired. That run helped clinch the 2008 wild card and convinced Sveum that he could do the job.

Sveum emphasizes video work and is comfortable with quantitative analysis. He also has the Boston connection with Epsteins inner circle. He was the third-base coach on the 2004 Red Sox team that reversed the curse. He knows what life is like in the big city.

When youre dealing with the Cubs and any major market, Sveum said, youre expected to win that year. Youre not expected to be rebuilding or doing anything other than thinking about winning the World Series.

The Cubs have a long-range plan that makes it seem unrealistic to sign Prince Fielder to a megadeal this winter. But Sveum would vouch for the first baseman, and his influence on a clubhouse.

You wish you had 25 Prince Fielders playing as hard as he does every night, Sveum said. The leadership that he brings by the way he plays is unmatched by anybody in baseball. (I) dont think I see anybody, day in and day out, play every single game as hard as Prince Fielder.

In keeping with Epsteins vision of bringing in the best and the brightest, the Cubs also announced the hiring of Joe Bohringer as pro scouting director. The 41-year-old DeKalb resident graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has more than two decades of experience in professional baseball.

Throughout the organization, there will be new sets of eyes taking hard looks at the way the Cubs do business, trying to figure out why theyve gone so long without winning it all.

The million-dollar question, Sveum said. Being a baseball player and a coach for all these years, you always bring the Cubs up and why (they havent won). Its almost like a fluke that somebody with this kind of firepower hasnt won the World Series before.

A lot of times there is no formula. Sometimes it takes a lot of luck, a ball bouncing this way (to) win the World Series. You saw what happened to the Rangers this year. One little flyball could have been two feet (the other way) and they win the World Series.

Cubs' Tom Ricketts has 'high expectations' for Aroldis Chapman despite checkered past

Cubs' Tom Ricketts has 'high expectations' for Aroldis Chapman despite checkered past

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts released a statement on Monday following the Aroldis Chapman trade with the New York Yankees

Ricketts addresses Chapman's past domestic incident and the importance of reducing domestic violence.

“Obviously, we are aware of the circumstances surrounding Aroldis Chapman's suspension earlier this season. We are also aware that he cooperated fully with the league investigation and takes responsibility for his actions.

“Today, prior to completing the trade, Theo, Jed and I spoke with Aroldis. I shared with him the high expectations we set for our players and staff both on and off the field. Aroldis indicated he is comfortable with meeting those expectations.

“Finally, my family, this team and Major League Baseball take the issue of domestic violence very seriously and support efforts to reduce domestic violence through education, awareness and intervention.”

Chapman also added the following:

“As you know, earlier this year I accepted and served a 30-game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my actions of October 30, 2015. I regret that I did not exercise better judgment and for that I am truly sorry. Looking back, I feel I have learned from this matter and have grown as a person. My girlfriend and I have worked hard to strengthen our relationship, to raise our daughter together, and would appreciate the opportunity to move forward without revisiting an event we consider part of our past.

"Out of respect for my family, I will not comment any further on this matter."

Cubs make blockbuster Aroldis Chapman trade with Yankees

Cubs make blockbuster Aroldis Chapman trade with Yankees

The Cubs made a blockbuster deal to acquire superstar closer Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees, the team announced Monday, in a win-now move that would cement their status as World Series favorites.

This is why Theo Epstein’s front office spent years collecting long-term assets, so the Cubs could bundle young talent and get the pennant-race game changer they needed, without completely mortgaging their future.     

The headliner for the Yankees will be Gleyber Torres, a consensus top prospect and a defensively gifted shortstop out of Venezuela. Torres is only 19 years old and had already advanced to the high Class-A level, but he didn’t have a clear path to Wrigley Field with middle infielders Addison Russell and Javier Baez already in place.

No one can replace Chapman’s 105-mph fastball, but the Yankees are also planning to bring back swingman Adam Warren to help patch together their pitching staff again. Warren – who had been optioned back to Triple-A Iowa on Sunday to stretch out as a starter – never really carved out a role after arriving in Chicago through the Starlin Castro trade.

Chasing the franchise’s first championship since 1908, the Cubs are also prepared to give up two minor-league outfielders: Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford. McKinney – a first-round pick acquired along with Russell from the Oakland A’s in the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade – had been hitting .252 with one homer and a .677 OPS in 88 games at Double-A Tennessee this season. Crawford, 22, had teamed with Torres at advanced Class-A Myrtle Beach, hitting .255 with 22 stolen bases in 83 games.

The cost is high for a rental player who can become a free agent after this season, but there is no one else out there quite like Chapman, and the Cubs can make sense of the trade by knowing they are still saturated with young position players, and didn’t have to give up Kyle Schwarber, a slugger the Yankees coveted in any deal for All-Star reliever Andrew Miller.     

The Cubs also apparently rationalized the 30-game suspension Chapman served this season under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy after an incident with his girlfriend in South Florida last fall.

This would allow manager Joe Maddon to shorten games and change the entire shape of his bullpen, moving closer Hector Rondon to the eighth inning while freeing up setup guy Pedro Strop and new additions Joe Nathan and Mike Montgomery.     

It’s also a move against the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants, two first-place teams in the market for bullpen help that now might have to face Chapman in October. Good luck with that. Chapman converted 20-of-21 save chances for the Yankees and has 590 strikeouts in 350-plus innings in The Show.
 
There are still questions to be answered about what this all means for the Cubs, but what a way to kick off four crosstown games against the White Sox, beginning Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Cubs closing in on Aroldis Chapman deal with Yankees

Cubs closing in on Aroldis Chapman deal with Yankees

MILWAUKEE – The Cubs are in the final stages of a blockbuster deal that could bring superstar closer Aroldis Chapman to Chicago and would involve sending elite shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres to the New York Yankees, sources familiar with the situation said Sunday night.

The exact details aren’t clear, but the talks reached a point where the Cubs pulled Torres from the lineup at advanced Class-A Myrtle Beach, at least sensing the strong possibility of a trade that would add a 105-mph closer to a first-place team that entered the year as World Series favorites.

Chapman, 28, began this season serving a 30-game suspension covered by Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy after a dispute with his girlfriend in South Florida last fall. In absorbing a supremely talented player with real baggage, the Cubs would believe in manager Joe Maddon’s personality and a strong clubhouse culture, figuring it might only be a two-month-plus rental before Chapman cashes in as a free agent. 

That incident scared the Cubs away during the offseason, when a Chapman trade between the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers collapsed at the winter meetings as those police reports surfaced. The Yankees waited for the price to drop, acquired the flame-throwing lefty at a steep discount and weathered the PR storm. 

Chapman enjoyed the bright lights and performed in New York, converting 20-of-21 save chances and striking out 44 batters in 31-plus innings. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo – who once challenged the Cincinnati dugout to a fight after Chapman buzzed two 100-mph pitches near a teammate’s head – said last month: “The game’s over when he comes in.”

That would be the idea for Theo Epstein’s front office, creating a dominant force that could help carry the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. 

Even Hector Rondon – who’s developed into a very good closer while the Cubs rebuilt their organization (77 saves since 2014) – recently admitted he would understand if the Cubs decided to trade with the Yankees.

“If they bring in a Chapman or (an Andrew) Miller, if they put him in my spot, whatever, s--- happens,” Rondon said last week. “I can’t control that. The most important thing for me is to come into the game, pitch my inning – whatever inning they put me in – and do my job.
    
“If we get one of those guys, I’m fine. It’s better for us.”

Torres is only 19 years old and a consensus top prospect, showing up in the midseason rankings on ESPN (No. 26), Baseball America (No. 27) and Baseball Prospectus (No. 34). The Cubs had signed Torres out of Venezuela during the summer of 2013, giving him a $1.7 million bonus and trying to stockpile enough assets to create a perennial contender. It sounds like it’s almost time to cash in one of those huge trade chips.