#Cubs Maddon celebrates Thanksmas

Cubs manager Joe Maddon will host a Thanksmas charity event tonight at Ava restaurant in Tampa. Starlin Castro and Kyle Schwarber are among the celebrity bartenders to take part, beginning at 4 p.m. CT. Proceeds will benefit the Homeless Empowerment Project. If you’re in the area, please attend. Reservations are encouraged.

Maddon then heads home next week. On Wednesday in his hometown of Hazleton, Pa., he’ll host the fourth holiday celebration for the Hazleton Integration Project. He’ll be joined by Jose Cardenal, Rick Sutcliffe and Chris Bosio, among others. There will be a baseball clinic on Wednesday, followed by a holiday banquet next Friday, Dec. 18. A silent auction of sports memorabilia plus a wine raffle will be included.

The five-day event will end Dec. 20 with the fifth annual Thanksmas at Hazleton One Community Center. Among the items on the menu are Maddon’s famous spaghetti and meatballs, pierogies, “jerk” chicken and roasted pork. The meal is open to all economically disadvantaged families.



Re-sign Dexter, keep Heyward in RF, trade Soler and Baez for Chris Sale. On the Seventh Day, rest.

Aloha James, I just picked up my father and he said well Cub fan you heard the news? It will be interesting to hear about the contract details. I felt the team was strong and could make it if Heyward was not signed. My father was thinking the Cubs could still keep Soler and try him in Left, if Heyward plays Right, and work Schwarber in, knowing he nay behind the plate more. All very interesting. I like Soler and hope he stays but understand the business side too. Take care now. Mahalo!

Aloha k.g. Given that your father is a Yankee follower, I`d be very interested in his opinion of Adam Warren`s value.

Aloha jhosk- my father said he understood where many of us were coming from, in regard to the amazing amount of young talent in this organization now and how the team was already better with Lackey and Zobrist. Meaning the team could have made it without a Heyward. I will get back to him in a moment. In terms of Warren, my father likes him very much and feels he could be the “sleeper” in all these Winter deals. He was explaining to me his velocity and style of pitching, he has seen him pitch and think it was a very good pickup for the Cubs. He said Castro will need to buckle down because he joked whereby Maddon has a “guardian” approach-style with his players and Girardi is like a “god-father” type. My father hopes Castro will succeed at 2nd. Back to Heyward, we both discussed if the Cubs could get him at less than 9-10yrs, under 200mil but would need to probably give him and opt-out clause like Zack G got. Well, wouldn’t you know, it is supposedly reported that he will only get an 8yr contract, under 184mil and not 1 but possibly 2 opt-out options! I know it was a big move for the organization. When we have been talking about the Zimmerman-Price-Greinke-Shark. The fact that Cubs took 2 big players away from their division rival and secured Zobrist is huge. I actually think with the added defense (will save runs), Lackey-Warren-Cahill signings to strengthen the rotation bullpen (lower ERA), better hitting approach-wise (Zobrist & Heyward) at the plate, the team could work with what they have now and let Hammel-Hendricks-Cahill-Richard-Warren battle it out for the last 2 rotation spots. Then if there is a concern or a need next July, they could put a trade together for Gray-type/caliber of pitcher. I do not think they need to move/trade away Soler/Baez right now, rather, see how this could all work and play out. You never know. You take care now. Mahalo!

Pitching ( my thoughts), I really like the Warren pickup. Management must see something in this guy. They are not going to just trade Castro for someone to get rid of him. It may take a year, but we may see another quality starter. Or, they flip him in a trade, who knows?
With Arietta, Lester and Lackey taking those first three spots in the Rotation, the improvements are immense already. ( I am sure they are not done yet)
If not traded, you give that 4th spot to Hendricks. Last year was his first full year and you have to believe he will get better.
5th spot, there already is competition in ST. Cahill, Warren, Hammel and possibly Wood will all be fighting it out for the #5 spot.
The Bullpen will be awesome!!! Rondon now knows he can do it against the best. Strop may have drove us crazy at times, but he did a very good job. Grimm was awesome, Ramirez will be back.
Then there is Richard, Rosscup, Edwards to go along with whoever does not make the Rotation. Wood went 4 for 4 in Save opportunities.
This will be a very good BP once again. Management has picked up several guys this winter that may make this team, like: Acevedo, Brothers, Patton and several signed to Minor League contracts. There are rumors of a Rodney resigning and trade for another Starting Pitcher, so changes are sure to come.

Thanks for that, k.g. Heyward is arguably the best right fielder in the game, but that does not necessarily translate to center. I look for the Cubs to trade for an established centerfielder who is primarily noted for his defense, given partly to the fact that Schwarber in left is a `work in progress.` Did you know Heyward has the fifth best WAR among all major league outfielders behind the likes of Trout and others? Did I mention I think Cubs` fans should love the moves the Cubs have made thus far this off-season?

Make that Heyward has the fifth best WAR among all major league players, not just outfielders. He`s behind Goldshmidt and Beltre in addition to Trout and one other.

Definitely better team with Heyward in CF. (right now)
Heyward OBP will match that of Fowler, being only 26, may get much better, plus the defense.
Zobrist or Zo is a huge improvement OBP wise at 2B. Plus you can move him around against RH or LH Pitchers. Giving Bryant, Russell, Rizzo or anyone in the OF a break when needed. Mostly against RH Pitchers (my thoughts) as you can have La Stella play 2B.
To me, the key in all this is, higher OBP and more contact, less strikeouts in the #1 and #2 positions in the lineup, plus the added defense. I am sure we will see much more run production at the top of the lineup.

Fowler has a weak arm; Heyward`s is outstanding; yes, agreed this will be a major upgrade at the centerfield position. Also, Heyward has never been part of a lineup the likes of the one he`s about to join. He`s going to be surrounded by `plus` hitters, and he`s bound to see better pitches, and his offensive numbers will surely improve.

I’m loving what the Cubs have done! Adding Heyward was a major coup. Not only will he really help the Cubs defensively (hopefully offensively too), but we took him from the division champs, along with Lackey.

Castro’s value wasn’t going any higher so I think getting Warren was another solid move that improves the team. I hope he does well. I don’t think the Yankees or their fans will tolerate his mental lapses.

As much as I’d like to see us add an established closer or another starter, I do NOT want to see Soler traded. His offensive & defensive upsides are terrific, and if somebody gets hurt we’ll need the added depth he provides. Frankly, unless somebody makes us an offer we can’t refuse, I wouldn’t mind seeing us head into spring training with the guys we have now. (Hopefully we’ll lock down Arrieta long term.) Clearly the Cubs have become a very desirable destination for elite players, which will only help our younger guys and the overall expectation to win mentality of the team/organization.

A disgruntled Cardinal fan asked me “How many more games do the Cubs need to win,” insinuating that we didn’t need or overpaid for Zobrist & Heyward. My simple but emphatic answer was “We need to win 8 more games….in October!”
Happy holidays all!!!

Aloha Judson- I am with you. I really really hope the FO keeps the core of young folks together: Soler-Bryant-Russell-Schwarber-Rizzo and now Heyward. Like the Yankees did when they had Posada-Jeter-Rivera-Pettitte. Just watching Soler, you can see the big potential there. He was more patient this past year at the plate, really showed that in the playoffs. We know he has a “canon” for an arm. So, just like Lester needs to work hard this off-season on his move to first, Soler who is a very gifted athlete can gain more of the skills necessary in the off-season to elevate his defense. Because the FO was able to get Lackey and Zobrist then trade for Warren. I felt right there, Heyward or a Gordon would be nice but not having them would not be the end of the world if you know what I mean. I feel by Heyward accepting CF as his main defensive responsibility, Soler will get better. I think the FO can be deliberate now, wait go into ST with what they now have and see how it all plays out. Who knows: Arrieta-Lester-Lackey-Hendricks and (Hammel or Warren or Cahill or..) could work out well and no need this year for another SP. Plus the bp was strengthen with both folks that can go long or short so that helps out the rotation. Well, now we see if the “dust settles” or more is to come. Take care now. Mahalo!

Aloha jasper and jhosk, Amen! I love what I have seen, and how well it was done. Jasper, am in complete agreement, take this team now (including Soler and Baez) into ST. The team’s defense just shot up (jhosk- spot on about this), on base %, up, ground ball outs, up, small ball- manufacturing runs, up! I believe Arrieta, Lester, Lackey, Hendricks and the competition for the 5th spot can hold the line, as well as the bp too. Soler needs to stay put, he can learn so much by being around a Zobrist and Heyward. Again, my father really likes Warren and hopes he blossoms with Bosio and his new team! Not saying another SP wouldn’t be nice but now, that need may not be as crucial as before. Take care and Mahalo!

Yes, k.g. I`m traveling, and my timing is unfortunate, as I would be attending those events in Hazleton later this month, were that not so. There is the strong likelihood one would have the opportunity to meet the Cubs` manager there, and Rick Sutcliffe is one of my `all time favorite` Cubs. Am trusting your father is enjoying his visit with y`all. I`m positively giddy about the moves the FO has made recently. We commented back when Joe Maddon was first hired that the man is a `player`s skipper,` and that free agents and others would be wanting to come to Chicago to play for him. I reckon y`all are seeing that with players such as Zobrist and Heyward. I know Zo was offered more money ($60M) by the Nats, and have heard it said at least one club dangled more in front of Heyward than what he agreed to from the Cubs.

Aloha jhosk, first I hope you have safe travels. We are being blessed with rain!!! Johnny Carson used to joke about Californians driving habits when it would rain! So, hopefully the folks out your way are mindful. My father likes to bring up managers like Bruce B and Maddon and wishes his Yankees could have a person like them. Yes, for Lackey and Zobrist both to accept their offers sent a message which influenced Heyward. A lot of people discount that, they want to just accept what is said in the media, whatever the “talking heads” say, it must be…Well Joe showed what it means to have and cultivate relationships. It is wonderful to watch. Take care now. Mahalo!

I hope the Thanksmas is going well!, Probably the last Cub’s event Castro will attend. Somehow I can’t think of him being anything but a Cub. 3 time all- star and a great contribution to the team, sunflower seeds, short attention span and all! 😍

Aloha White. I am pleased for y`all that Darwin signed a contract with the Blue Jays. I want Castro to succeed in the Bronx too. Starlin will need to focus full time, as I`ve heard it said Joe Girardi will tolerate nothing less. Those two infielders served as our 2B/ss combination for a long while. How circumstances can change abruptly for major leaguers! Hoping you were not impacted negatively by those recent heavy rains in your parts.

Hi jhosk, I too hope Castro will do well! Also glad to see Barney go to the Blue Jays. Things have been bad here in Oregon. Lots of folks have lost their homes to flooding. We had a huge Douglas Fir fall and it missed our house by inches! We have 20 Douglas Firs left in our yard. Scary in weather like this. You are so right about major leaguers – they truly have to be ready to put on a different uniform at a moment’s notice. The wives and kids also have to be ready to pack up and move on! Mixed emotions on all fronts. Who’s next? 🙄

Aloha White-san, I hope you and your family are doing all right. We have been blessed with much needed rain but it is nothing like your area is getting. Was talking with a coach recently, works mainly with teens up through graduation. Has had the pleasure of working with some great kids. He too is a Cubs fan and brought something up I thought was interesting. He like us have watched dutifully over the years of folks like Castro and mentioned that he sees some tell-tale signs, possibly of A.D.D.: Attention Deficit Disorder. As a coach, working with hundreds of athletes has had an opportunity over the years to experience it first hand and hopes if Starlin has not done the testing or gone in for an ADD examination, that he would just to rule it out or if he does have some level of it, that he could get the necessary help. I know that I had been “tough” at times in regard to Castro’s play. I never question that they have the gift to be in the MLB, just like your grand-daughter’s husband. I want Castro to succeed and hope he can with the Yankees. I think it was very big of him to still participate in the Thanksmas event and am glad that you highlighted that because I missed it in Carrie’s article. Hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas. Mahalo!

I was impressed by Starlin taking part in that event also. It suggests he has a good relationship with Maddon even though he was traded. Castro makes his home in Tampa these days, and perhaps he can `pick Jeter`s brain` as Derek resides there as well.

Aloha jhosk, I am sure you have paid attention to what the Giants are doing! If Cain can come back strong and Cueto stays healthy, they have quite a rotation with MadBum, Cueto, Cain, Shark & Peavy. They also have a very good defensive infield. It will be fun watching the Cubs against them because I could see a playoff series in between the two organizations in the near future! Mahalo!

Actually, k.g., I was not aware the Giants acquired Cueto. I`m traveling, and am in the dark without the MLB Network. I`m pleased the Cubs demonstrated no interest in Cueto, as he`s not `mentally tough,` in my view. See how he underperformed when he went to the Royals last season. I did notice Commissioner Manfred denied Pete Rose `reinstatement.` It`s over for Pete Rose. Pete`s mendacity proved his undoing. Rose was caught in more lies, Manfred said, during his face-to-face meetings with the commissioner and MLB attorneys in September. Rose said he placed wagers as a manager, but not as a player. Yet betting records kept by Michael Bertolini, a Rose associate, and uncovered by ESPN, revealed Pete also bet on baseball as an active player in 1985 and 1986. As Fay Vincent has said about Rose, “He never cared overall about the game of baseball. All he cared about was Pete Rose.” As for the Giants rotation, Shark should feel blessed to have received that generous long term contract. After all, his career record is 47-61, with an ERA north of 4.00, and he`s never had a winning season in the big leagues.

Joe Maddon threw his annual fundraiser tonight (Friday) in Hazleton, Pa. He had the help of former Dallas Cowboy Ed “Too Tall” Jones along with the Cubs` current hitting guru, Manny Ramirez. Funds raised go to Maddon`s Hazleton Integration Project (HIP). One of HIP`s biggest projects was opening the Hazleton One Community Center in the city in 2013. It provides after school activities for the area`s economically disadvantaged youth. The next project HIP is considering is developing a complex which would house baseball and softball fields, providing the area`s underprivileged youth with a facility that could be utilized year-round. {If you go to WNEP.com, you can see a video.}

Aloha jhosk- I have to say I am amazed by Joe’s energy. He is always on the move. I hope he gets some rest too! By the way, just purchased some tickets for “Giants” baseball for the series against our beloved Cubs and the rival Cardinals! The tickets in SF are going up and now they sell them earlier saying if you do not lock in your purchases now, the price will go up the closer to the game day. Kind of like Amtrak! I do not know how this model will work but they sold a lot of tickets so far. I am just glad that we can go to at least one game (who will be pitching: Arrieta/Lester/Lackey?). But I also reminded myself that the Giants just spent 220mil on 2 folks! Which means not only will ticket prices go up but so will the garlic fries! Mahalo!

Aloha k.g. You are more than fortunate to be close to a venue where major league baseball is played, and to be able to see the Cubs versus the local opponent, is a bonus. I have to `make do` with minor league baseball; am not complaining, mind you. As for Joe Maddon, he is much more than a remarkable major league manager; he`s a humanitarian who has not ignored his roots; he is part of the millionaire class these days, but grew up under humble circumstances, as have many of us, and he has not ignored that truth. He is making a successful effort to `give back` to that community in which he was raised, and trust me, there are many problems in Hazleton these days, far more than was true in the simpler time Joe Maddon lived there. {By the way, I still believe the Cubs are going to make a deal for a `true` centerfielder. The consensus is Heyward is the best right fielder in the majors, and I reckon Cubs` fans are going to be seeing him in right field for the 2016 season, not center. Did I mention that Jeff Samardzia should thank his lucky stars the Giants signed him to a five year $90M contract? His 2015 season with the White Sox was not just disappointing; it was downright awful.}

Mike Leake is quoted in `USA Today` today, Wednesday, the following way: “Honestly, I wouldn`t mind taking them down.” He`s referencing our Cubs. Mike should be careful what he wishes for after accepting an early Christmas gift from the Cardinals, namely a five year $80M contract. Mike was not overpaid to the degree Shark was, given Leake is a better pitcher, but he was nonetheless overpaid bigtime, and should be very grateful for his good fortune.

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