Cleat Geeks

Wrigley Weekly Wrap-up

Last week, Jake Arrieta hinted that he’s worth more than the $175 million deal given to Stephen Strasburg and said he will not give a hometown discount to stay with the Cubs. “I’ll let you judge Jake+Arrieta+Pittsburgh+Pirates+v+Chicago+kTcaYN9T0Galthat,” Arrieta told reporters Wednesday morning about what he believes his market to be. “Just look at the numbers.” Strasburg, who signed a seven-year extension with the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, has never had a sub-3.00 ERA over a full season of starts, though he’s 6-0 with a 2.95 mark right now. Meanwhile, Arrieta has seen his ERA improve dramatically over his three seasons with the Cubs, going from 3.66 in 2013 to 2.53 in 2014 to 1.77 as he won the National League Cy Young Award last season. So far this season, that trend has continued as he’s gotten off to a 7-0 record with a 1.29 ERA. “That’s why starting pitching is so valuable,” said Arrieta, whose agent is Scott Boras, who also represents Strasburg. “There’s not many guys that can pitch at the top of the rotation floating around the league.” Arrieta is making $10.7 million and has one year left of arbitration before he can become a free agent after the 2017 season. The Cubs have won 21 consecutive regular-season games started by Jake Arrieta. That’s tied for the 4th-longest streak by any team for any pitcher in MLB history. “The misconception is that Scott wants everyone to go to free agency,” Arrieta said of Boras. “I made it clear I like Chicago. I think everyone knows that. If I had it my way, I’d stay here. That’s just one side of the story. We’ll see.” When he was asked if he would give a hometown discount to the Cubs, Arrieta said “no” while shaking his head. Arrieta said “aces get 7 years.” So that could be aJake+Arrieta+Pittsburgh+Pirates+v+Chicago+q3MMIrH_D56l starting point and so could $200 million. “Financially I’m fine, regardless,” Arrieta said. “You want to be paid in respect to how your peers are paid. I don’t think that changes with any guy you ask. It happens around baseball every year.” Something to compare: David Price (7 years, $217 million) and Max Scherzer (7 years, $210 million). They both won the Cy Young Award before signing huge free-agent deals with the Red Sox and Nationals. “You pay attention to everything that goes on in the game, but it doesn’t impact us too much,” team president Theo Epstein said Tuesday. “Obviously, it will impact markets and we have to operate in markets, but it is what it is.” Arrieta said he’s open to the sides talking, even in-season, but that a deal isn’t expected. “Most of the focus has to stay on what we’re trying to accomplish today,” Arrieta said. “If we keep winning, those kinds of things work themselves out in time. If they want to talk, they know where I’m at and we can get something going … In a perfect world, I prefer it be done quickly. Let’s get it over with and go play.”

cubs_si_cover_may_2016_baez

The Cubs find themselves on a Sports Illustrated cover again. Roughly eight weeks after Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, Kris Bryant, and Jake Arrieta were put on a Sports Illustrated cover as part of the 2016 MLB preview, the Cubs’ Mother’s Day Walk-Off Home Run celebration got the regional cover treatment. The cover features Javier Baez on his way to home plate with his teammates there waiting for him and the headline reads “Just Maybe…Right?” Baez’s walk-off home run was just the final moment in a week where the Cubs went 7-0 against the Nationals and Pirates. With the Cubs off to a hot start, it’s hard to think about anything else but the World Series right now.

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Catcher Miguel Montero was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday and outfielder Ryan Kalish was designated for assignment as Joe Maddon has decided to carry three catchers. Montero had been out with lower back tightness. He went 0-for-3 and scored a run in his first game back as the Cubs beat the Pirates, 8-2. “It gives us freedom to do things in the latter part of the game,” Maddon said before the game. “(Catcher Tim) Federowicz has forced our hand because he’s played so well and looked so good. It can change, but for right now it’s the right thing to do.” But things could change as soon as Wednesday when injured outfielder Matt Szczur, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury, is eligible to come off the disabled list. At that point, Federowicz will most likely be sent down if he can clear waivers. Ryan Kalish could find himself at Triple-A Iowa if he doesn’t end up with another team. “(Szczur) is doing well,” Maddon said. “(Strength coach Tim) Buss likes his progress. He seems to be going really well.” Montero spent time at Triple-A Iowa last week for a rehab assignment, playing in three games while going 2-for-10 at the plate. “My back feels good,” Montero said before the game Saturday. “The body feels nice and rested. … I got to block a lot of balls. That was the turning point where I felt like I’m good to go now.”

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