Chicago Cubs Wiretap

Gift Ngoepe Becomes First African-Born Player In MLB

Apr 27, 2017 9:55 AM

Gift Ngoepe made history on Wednesday night as the first African-born player to appear in a Major League game.

Ngoepe had a hit and drew a walk in the Pittsburgh Pirates' win over the Chicago Cubs.

"I thought about where I've come from, making the journey from South Africa to pursue my dream of playing in the major leagues someday," Ngoepe said. "I thought about the struggles of being in the minor leagues for 8½ years and then to finally get up here and get a hit in my first at-bat. The whole thing was just awesome. That's the only word I can think of to describe it. It was awesome."

Clint Hurdle pulled a very early double-switch, bringing Ngoepe, 27, off the bench to play second base in the top of the fourth inning.

"I told myself not to cry, because I'm in the big leagues and I'm a big guy," Ngoepe said. "[Francisco] Cervelli hugged me, and I could feel my heartbeat through my chest. It was emotional, and I had to fight back the tears."

Jesse Rogers/ESPN

Tags: Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Misc Rumor

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Jake Arrieta Believes MLB's Drug Testing System Is Working

Apr 21, 2017 9:12 AM

Jake Arrieta estimates that he has been drug tested between 10 to 15 times over the last year for performance-enhancing drugs.

Anthony Rizzo, Arrieta's Chicago Cubs' teammate, called for more testing after Starling Marte was suspended 80 games earlier this week.

"Rizzo and a couple of other guys had a blood test after the game a couple of nights ago," Arrieta told 670 The Score. "I've had it happen before. I think they do a pretty good job of doing it before the game, after the game, so it makes it harder for guys to get around the system. Unfortunately, I think you're going to continue to see some guys try. But it just shows with a guy like Marte getting caught, the system is working.

"The safety of the players and the health of the players is one of the main concerns. Also, keeping the playing field level. I think there are things we can do within the rules to keep us healthy, to help our bodies recover the best of our abilities. Obviously, there are things out there on the banned list for a reason, because they do work."

Arrieta is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA in three starts this season.

670 The Score

Tags: Chicago Cubs, Misc Rumor

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Cubs World Series Rings Selling Well For Jostens

Apr 21, 2017 8:37 AM

Chicago Cubs World Series rings, available for fans through Jostens, have been selling very well since they hit the market on April 12.

"The Cubs' championship story was a story that was like nothing else we've ever seen," said Chris Poitras, the head of the company's college and sports division. "And the fans have reacted in a truly special way."

The rings start at $299 for silver metal and cubic zirconia stones and go all the way up to $10,800 for a white gold ring with 144 diamonds, 55 sapphires and 13 rubies.

Poitras said the most common purchase is the $499 deluxe ring, which comes in 10-karat white gold or sterling silver.

As of Thursday night, Jostens had sold 93 of the $10,800 rings, limited to a run of 108, with the expectation to sell them out by next week.

Darren Rovell/ESPN

Tags: Chicago Cubs, Misc Rumor

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Cubs Trying To Prevent Non-Players From Selling World Series Rings

Apr 19, 2017 9:07 AM

The Chicago Cubs are asking non-players to sign an agreement giving the team the right to buy back World Series rings for $1 in an effort to discourage employees from selling them.

"I signed that thing willingly," Jed Hoyer said. "Everyone except for the players signed it. I look at it as the Ricketts [ownership] were so unbelievably generous in the cost of the ring and the number they gave out, I think it's totally appropriate when you're paying for the ring and helping out with the taxes along with that -- it seems appropriate to say, 'I don't expect you to take the gift I'm giving you and run out to the market with it.'"

The Cubs gave out 1,908 rings and pins in the wake of their historic World Series win.

Players will have to pay taxes on their rings based on their fair market value, but the team is taking on the taxes for many lower-level employees.

Jesse Rogers/ESPN

Tags: Chicago Cubs, Misc Rumor

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First Base From Game 7 Sells For $101,237

Apr 18, 2017 7:44 AM

The first base used for the final two innings of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series sold for $101,237, the most ever paid at auction for a baseball base.

The Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in the memorable game.

The items were authenticated by Major League Baseball and auctioned by the league on its website.

Darren Rovell/ESPN

Tags: Chicago Cubs, Misc Rumor

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Joe Maddon Open To Idea Of Automated Ball-Strike Calls

Apr 17, 2017 8:03 AM

Joe Maddon is one of baseball's most forwarding-thinking minds, but it comes as a surprise that he's open to the idea of automated ball-strike balls.

"At one point, I thought I'd be totally against [automating ball-strike calls], but I can't tell you that I am now. I even think umpires would be fine with it, too," Maddon said. "Because I don't think there's an umpire out there that wants to negatively impact the game with a bad call."

Such a change is unlikely in the near future, but Rob Manfred has shown a ready embrace of structural change early in his tenure.

Johnny Oleksinski/New York Post

Tags: Chicago Cubs, Misc Rumor

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Jason Heyward's Changed Swing Yielding Positive Results

Apr 13, 2017 8:03 AM

Much has been made of Jason Heyward's swing and the changes he made this offseason in an effort to increase his diminished production at the plate.

Heyward had an average exit velocity of 87.4 mph in 2016, ranking 282nd among 379 qualified hitters. He slashed .230/.306/.325 in 592 plate appearances.

The Chicago Cubs began helping Heyward revamp his swing shortly after the World Series, working to lower his hands and make his bat angle more vertical.

He struggled this spring, but has seen some positive results during the first week-plus of the season. His hard contact rate is up and his average exit velocity is on the rise. The sample size is small, but Heyward is hitting .296/.367/.370 in 30 plate appearances this season.

Travis Sawchik/FanGraphs

Tags: Chicago Cubs, Misc Rumor, Stats

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Jake Arrieta Takes Exception To Questions About Diminished Velocity

Apr 10, 2017 8:24 AM

Jake Arrieta wasn't happy with an article published by FanGraphs that discussed his diminished velocity.

"Everybody wants to talk about this," Arrieta said after the Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers. "There's FanGraph articles. I don't care about that.

"I know that kind of stuff can come and go from time to time. I had periods last year where I was at the same spot I am right now. I had one in June, near the All-Star break. It is what it is. I still have good feel for everything. Movement is really good. The command's good.

"When the 95-to-97 comes back, it's going to be tough for teams. And it still is."

Arrieta struck out 10 and walked just two while throwing 98 pitches against the Brewers.

"I'd much rather see what we saw today than 94-95 (mph) all over the map, absolutely," Joe Maddon said.

Patrick Mooney/CSN Chicago

Tags: Chicago Cubs, Misc Rumor

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Steinbrenners Took 72 Hours To Approve Trading Chapman To Cubs

Apr 4, 2017 7:40 AM

Brian Cashman reached an agreement to trade Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs in late July last summer, but he had to sweat out approval from ownership.

While the framework of the deal had been reached, Chapman was still with the New York Yankees and pitched two innings on July 23.

"Chapman went two-plus innings, not something normally [that occurs] if you are going to execute a trade," Cashman said. "[Steinbrenner] waited 72 hours to green light it as he discussed it with his family. It was not an easy decision. I was keeping Theo [Epstein] on hold, essentially. I told him 'I will let you know if ownership says 'yes'.' I said 'I am recommending it. We'll see what happens.'"

The reliever was still a Yankee as the club boarded a charter flight on July 24th to play a series in Houston. When the Yankees arrived in Houston, ownership had approved the deal.

Travis Sawchik/FanGraphs

Tags: New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Misc Rumor, Trade Rumor

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Javier Baez Lost Sight Of Baseball Due To Sign Behind Home Plate

Apr 3, 2017 7:41 AM

Javier Baez says a sign behind home plate camouflaged a baseball headed his way in the third inning of Sunday night's game between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.

With Dexter Fowler on first base, Aledmys Diaz hit a hard ground ball to Baez, who was shaded toward second base. The ball skipped to the left of Baez and into right center field, allowing Fowler to go to third base. Matt Carpenter later drove him in with a sacrifice fly.

"I'm not afraid to make mistakes and when I make them there are no excuses, but I didn't see the ball at all until it passed the mound," Baez said. "I realized it was the sign because he was getting out of the box and I still didn't see the ball."

Baez explained what happened to Joe Maddon, who kept an eye on the sign when the Cubs took the field for the bottom of the fourth.

Once again the white Major League Baseball sign was visible so Maddon asked the umpires to make sure it was rotated out.

"Of all things the MLB App sign was all white and that ground ball he didn't react to he lost it in the sign," Maddon said. "That was a big play."

Jesse Rogers/ESPN

Tags: Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Misc Rumor

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Las Vegas Oddsmakers Predict Cubs To Win World Series
Las Vegas also list the Indians, Red Sox, and Dodgers as other favorites.

ESPN.com

Mike Bryant To LaVar Ball: 'Let Your Kid Play'
The father of reigning National League MVP Kris Bryant, Mike, was asked this week if he had any advice for LaVar Ball, who has been outspoken in support of both himself and his basketball-playing sons

Jesse Rogers/ESPN

Nationals Release Joe Nathan, Matt Albers
Joe Nathan had a 3.86 ERA this spring, and has no plans to retire.

ESPN.com

Kris Bryant Receives Record $1.05M Deal
The Cubs and Kris Bryant have agreed to a one-year, $1.05 million deal for 2017, making the reigning National League MVP the highest-paid player ever in his second year of service time.

ESPN

Kris Bryant Could Shatter Pre-Arbitration Salary Record
The Cubs haven't yet agreed to a deal with Kris Bryant for 2017, but talks are ongoing.

Jon Heyman/FanRag Sports

John Lackey Doesn't View 2017 As His Final Season
John Lackey was among the National League leaders in innings pitched when he was shelved with a shoulder injury last August.

Bruce Levine/CBS Chicago

Cubs To Start Season With Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta
The Cubs have named Jon Lester their Opening Day starter, with Jake Arrieta set to pitch Game 2.

Jesse Rogers/ESPN

David Ross Joins 'Dancing With The Stars' Cast
David Ross, who helped lift the Cubs to a World Series victory last fall, will participate in Season 24 of "Dancing With the Stars" on ABC.

ESPN

Cubs Could Use Two Pitchers In No. 5 Spot
The Cubs could enter the season with two pitchers occupying the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, according to Joe Maddon.

Jesse Rogers/ESPN

Mike Montgomery, Brett Anderson Vie For Cubs' Rotation
Manager Joe Maddon says the two pitchers might both win the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation.

ESPN.com

Pedro Strop Agrees To New Deal With Cubs Through 2018
Pedro Strop is now signed through 2018 with a club option for 2019.

Jesse Rogers/ESPN

Cubs Considering Kyle Schwarber As Leadoff Hitter
The Cubs need a new leadoff man with Dexter Fowler gone and Joe Maddon is considering Kyle Schwarber for the role.

Carrie Muskat/MLB

Anthony Rizzo: Cubs Won't Be Hated Like Yankees, Red Sox
Anthony Rizzo doesn't think the Cubs' success will make them villains much like the Red Sox and Yankees.

Gordon Wittenmeyer/Chicago Sun-Times

Jake Arrieta Hoping To Reach Extension Agreement With Cubs
Jake Arrieta hopes to remain with the Cubs beyond this season, but the pitcher is also aware of how the business of baseball works.

Jesse Rogers/ESPN

Kyle Schwarber Will Catch On Limited Basis This Spring
The 23-year-old reported to camp with pitchers and catchers on Tuesday though he'll mostly be a left fielder when the team opens the 2017 season.

Jesse Rogers/ESPN

Travis Wood Agrees To Two-Year Deal With Royals
Travis Wood will compete for a job in Kansas City's starting rotation.

Jerry Crasnick/ESPN

Nevada Sportsbook Projects Cubs To Win Most Games, Padres Least
The first sports book release of over/under win totals for Major League teams was released on Friday by the Atlantis in Reno, Nevada.

Matt Snyder/CBS Sports

Cubs Lack 'Impact Starters' At Minor League Level
The Cubs are flying high after winning the World Series, but they are well aware of potential holes in their farm system.

Bruce Levine/CBS Chicago

Royals, Jason Hammel Agree On Two-Year, $16M Deal
Free-agent pitcher Jason Hammel went 15-10 with a 3.83 ERA with the Cubs last season.

ESPN.com

Cubs Acquire Eddie Butler From Rockies For James Farris
Eddie Butler, a 2012 supplemental first-round pick, could be another option for Chicago's starting rotation.

Carrie Muskat/MLB