In this edition of Cubs Corner, there’s some hot news on the 2021 season, so let’s get right down to it.
Cubs Corner: MLBPA Wins as MLB Caves
As I wrote in yesterday’s column, MLB had proposed shortening the season to 154 games, while delaying the start of Opening Day until somewhere around April 28, 2021. As expected, the union rejected this offer. What wasn’t expected, was that Rob Manfred’s office capitulated.
According to a press release issued on Monday, MLB was prepared to expand the playoffs again (seven teams per league) and include the DH, in exchange for a 154 game schedule. This will still have to be sorted out, but for now, it looks like MLB fans, players and teams will, in fact, enjoy an on-time start.
Stalling the season start is classic Rob Manfred, but remember- Theo Epstein is now serving as an advisor to the MLB Commissioner’s office. Manfred and Epstein seem to be the yin and yang of MLB, so one can only hope that Epstein’s common sense has the ability to override some of Manfred’s… shall we say, less lucid moments.
Cubs Corner: Is Theo Epstein MLB’s Next Commissioner?
As long as we’re talking about Epstein, we may as well take that next leap of faith. With Theo Epstein now entrenched in MLB’s NY offices, is the idea of him replacing Rob Manfred really that far fetched? Look at the history here…
Epstein leaves the Cubs for a “year off and time away from baseball,” hoping to return in some capacity in 2022 after spending a year with his family. By all accounts, that “capacity” would be as a partial team owner, but he’d he first have to find part of a team for sale. Not an easy task.
Next, I have it on good authority that part of Epstein’s reasoning for vacating the Cubs one year ahead of his contract expiration, was that he couldn’t stand seeing all of his work tossed into the dumpster fire that Tom Ricketts has ignited. Theo did stick around through the furloughs and layoffs, but when it came time to cut ties with… well, almost everybody… he announced his departure.
Now, instead of taking that year off, it was recently announced that Epstein would be a consultant for MLB, tasked with putting a better product on the field. Personally, I had him pegged as joining the Mets after Steve Cohen cleaned house, but that never materialized.
Now, with MLB in shambles and tensions running high between the league and union, Epstein has been tasked with putting a better product on the field. Wait… isn’t that the core description of Rob Manfred’s job? I certainly thought so. With a strike/lockout looming for 2022, Epstein may be the guy who saves the day (and MLB) from another shortened season.
Manfred was given a contract extension in November of 2018, reenlisting his services through 2024, but that’s not to say that a change couldn’t (and shouldn’t) take place sooner. While the 30 MLB team owners unanimously approved the deal, it served no purpose other than to get the players and MLBPA riled up over some of the whimsical decisions being made about what Major League Baseball should be.
Epstein knows baseball, and he knows what’s good for the game. His agenda seems to follow more of the baseball purist’s idealogy, while Manfred’s idealogy seems to derail the game and its founding principles at every corner. Ask yourself two questions: (1) Is Epstein best suited for the job? (2) Even if there were a better choice than Theo Epstein, is Epstein not better for the game than Rob Manfred?
Cubs Corner: Cubs Ink Another Starter
Unbeknownst to me (not sure how this one sneaked past me…), the Cubs signed former Twins starter (RHP) Kohl Stewart to a Major League deal. This is another low-cost, high-potential deal, but still fails to fill the void left by Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood, Jose Quintana, and others.
The deal is cheap, just $700,000.00 on a one-year term, but the best part is that Stewart also comes with five years of controllability, which fits the Cubs’ latest mindset of filling the roster with young, cheap, and controllable players.
Stewart has only seen action in parts of the two MLB campaigns (2018 and 2019) but has posted a career ERA of 4.79 in six starts for the Twins. This is an exceptionally small sample size, so time will tell if this latest signing turns into a diamond in the rough, or whether it’s another Hail Mary pass to try and fill a void.
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