Epstein begins putting Cubs pieces together

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Epstein begins putting Cubs pieces together

The Miami Marlins wanted Jose Reyes to feel wanted.

Team executives arranged to meet with Reyes and his camp at 12:01 a.m. on the first day of free agency. They would have drinks at The Carlyle, a luxury hotel in New York. It was cold enough on Nov. 3 for owner Jeffrey Loria to wear a long overcoat, which hid the new Marlins jersey that hadnt yet been released to the public.

A few other people in the bar thought that this was some sort of strange, freaky show, Marlins president David Samson recalled, because this man the owner of the team stood up and literally (opened his coat) and underneath was Jose Reyes jersey.

Samson told this story at a news conference to announce the Reyes signing this week at the winter meetings in Dallas. That is where the Marlins are as an organization, trying to break through the clutter in their market and make a splash.

The Cubs are content with a slow drip of news, seemingly unlikely to make a 100 million-plus commitment to a single player this winter. Theo Epstein is trying to buy low and methodically put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Ian Stewart was the 10th overall pick in the 2003 draft and will be 27 next season. His home run totals with the Colorado Rockies the last three years have gone from 25 to 18 to zero. But the Cubs believe he can be their third baseman.

It does wonders for a guys confidence, Stewart said Friday on a teleconference. Theo Epstein just the name is one of those guys in sports that everyone can recognize just for the success he brought to the Boston Red Sox organization in such a short amount of time. To hear his voice on the phone was very refreshing.

The logic behind Thursdays trade was that the four players involved would benefit from a new environment, even if Stewart didnt necessarily see it that way.

I was never really a big change of scenery type guy, Stewart said. I always felt like I fit in great with the Rockies when I was there. It just didnt seem like all the time I was given the best opportunity to play.

(With Aramis Ramirez gone), this gives me a great opportunity to come in and to be that everyday third baseman and get those 500 or 600 at-bats that I need to be able to be successful. Change of scenery? I dont know. But I think in the long run being in the spot where Im going to be able to play every day is going to be the best thing for me.

Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu wont be part of a homegrown youth movement on the North Side and their athleticism could play well at Coors Field. Casey Weathers another former first-round pick who once played with David Price at Vanderbilt University represents more pitching inventory for the Cubs.

Stewart is looking forward to working with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and showing that a string of injuries (knee, hamstring, wrist) caused a 2011 season in which he hit .156 at the big-league level.

We have opportunity, Epstein said. We can acquire players and give them 500, 600 at-bats, players with real upside and see if they can blossom and reach their potential here. Thats a way of building for the future.

Maybe these names will become answers to a trivia question, or simply forgotten. It depends on how quickly the Cubs can rebuild. The first moves of the Epstein administration have been measured, like the modest commitment recently given to outfielder David DeJesus (two years, 10 million).

You cant necessarily point to anything with David and say, Hey, this guy is going to hit you 30 home runs because hes not, Epstein said. You cant say, Hes going to hit .320. Hes not going to do that either. Hes not going to steal you 40 bags. But I like players whose contributions are consistent across the board.

They help you defensively. They can swing the bat. They have good consistent at-bats. They run the bases well. The totality of their contribution can be equal to or more than the player who does one thing extremely well, like the guy (whos) going to go out and hit you 25, 30 home runs, but really hurts you in other areas.

If we have a club full of well-rounded players, were going to far exceed the expectations, because those subtle contributions really add up.

The president of baseball operations doesnt have to wine and dine superstars, or worry about filling a new ballpark in Little Havana. Epstein credited the Marlins for developing enough players and keeping their powder dry so they could fire away when the time was right. The Cubs arent there yet.

Former Cubs executive Dallas Green passes away

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AP

Former Cubs executive Dallas Green passes away

The Chicago sports world lost another central figure in its history Wednesday.

The day after Jerry Krause died, former Cubs executive Dallas Green passed away at the age of 82.

Green was the Cubs' general manager from 1981-1987. He was considered the architect of the 1984 Cubs, where the team went 96-65 and finished first in the division.

One of his most notable moves was acquiring Ryne Sandberg, who was a minor leaguer at the time, in 1982. Two years later, Green was named Executive of the Year while Sandberg was named NL Most Valuable Player.

Green was also a vital part in rebuilding the Cubs' farm system, where players like Greg Maddux, Rafael Palmeiro, Jamie Moyer and Mark Grace came up under Green's watch.

Kris Bryant returns to his roots ahead of Cubs series in Las Vegas

Kris Bryant returns to his roots ahead of Cubs series in Las Vegas

Before Kris Bryant kicks off only his second full season in the big legaues (hard to imagine, right?), he and the Cubs will visit Las Vegas to take on the Cincinnati Reds in a pair of exhibition games this weekend.

It's a homecoming for Bryant, who was raised in Vegas and attended Bonanza High School in the Las Vegas Valley.

That's where his baseball career began in earnest and also where he met his high school sweetheart, Jessica, whom he married in January.

Red Bull did a photoshoot with Bryant - who is spending a ton of time modeling now as a rising star and one of the faces of baseball - returning to his roots:

They also filmed a video touching on some of Bryant's favorite memories, like the time he pulled a Kyle Schwarber and nailed a car windshield with a homer.

What a week for Bryant, who also earned a spot on the Sports Illustrated 2017 season preview cover:

And just for funsies, here's Bryant the day he signed with the Cubs in 2013 with new CSN Cubs pre/postgame analyst David DeJesus: