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Kris Bryant named NL MVP

bryantmvp(Photo by Stephen Green)

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was today named the National League Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Bryant received 29 of the possible 30 first-place votes, and one second place vote, for a total of 415 points. Washington’s Daniel Murphy placed second with 245 points.

Bryant becomes the 11th Most Valuable Player honoree in franchise history, the ninth since the BBWAA began voting for the award in 1931 and the first Cub to win since Sammy Sosa in 1998. Bryant also joins Andre Dawson (1987), Ryne Sandberg (1984), Ernie Banks (two times, 1958 and 1959), Hank Sauer (1952), Phil Cavarretta (1945) and Gabby Hartnett (1935) as BBWAA winners. Rogers Hornsby won the League Award in 1929 and Frank Schulte earned the Chalmers Award in 1911.  Bryant is the youngest MVP in franchise history.

The NL Rookie of the Year a season ago, Bryant has become the first player in franchise history to win both Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player Award at any point with the Cubs. Only four players in major league history have won the MVP a season after winning Rookie of the Year: Bryant, Boston’s Dustin Pedroia (2007 and 2008), Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard (2005 and 2006) and Baltimore’s Cal Ripken Jr. (1982 and 1983).

Bryant batted .292 (176-for-603) with 39 homers, 35 doubles, 102 RBI and 121 runs scored in 155 games this season. He led the National League in runs scored, ranked third in homers, was fourth with a .939 OPS and a .554 slugging percentage and sixth in RBI.  He was the only player in the majors with at least 35 homers, 35 doubles, 100 RBI, 100 runs scored and 75 walks this year. Bryant also led the National League with an 8.3 WAR, the highest mark by a Cub since Sammy Sosa’s 9.2 WAR in 2001.

The 24-year-old was named to the All-Star team for the second season in a row, the first time as a starter. Bryant also became just the second Cubs player to reach 35 home runs in his age 24 season, joining Ernie Banks in 1955.

2017 Cubs Convention Weekend Passes on Sale Friday

Rizzo_Convention(Photo by Stephen Green)

Individual weekend passes for the 32nd Annual Cubs Convention will go on sale to the general public Friday, Nov. 18, at noon CST. As the preferred payment of the Chicago Cubs, fans using a Mastercard can participate in an exclusive Mastercard Presale starting at 10 a.m. in advance of the general on-sale. A limited number of passes are available for purchase through the Mastercard Presale.

Each weekend pass is $108 plus convenience fees and is valid for all three days, January 13-15, at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. A limit of four passes may be purchased per household. Passes will be available for purchase by visiting cubs.com/convention or calling 1-800-THE-CUBS.

The 2017 Cubs Convention will celebrate the 2016 World Series Championship with players, coaches and alumni for a weekend of autograph opportunities, engaging panel sessions, traditional fan-favorite activities and much more. The 2016 World Series Trophy will be on display throughout Cubs Convention weekend.

A portion of the proceeds from Cubs Convention benefits Cubs Charities. To date, Cubs Convention has raised more than $4 million for Cubs Charities.

About Cubs Charities:
Cubs Charities harnesses the passion of Cubs fans to improve the lives of children and families across Chicago and beyond. Cubs Charities’ goal is to provide increased access to sports opportunities and target improvements in health, fitness and education for those at risk. Through grants to quality nonprofit programs, development of parks and baseball fields, and other community initiatives, the Cubs and Cubs Charities help fulfill a commitment to be the best in the game, on and off the field. For more information, visit cubscharities.org.

Cubs make several moves to 40-man roster

The Chicago Cubs today selected right-handed pitcher Jose Rosario from Triple-A Iowa. Additionally, the Cubs have claimed right-handed pitcher Conor Mullee off waivers from the New York Yankees and today activated him from the 60-day disabled list. Also activated from the 60-day disabled list are right-handed pitcher Aaron Brooks, left-handed pitcher Zac Rosscup and infielder Christian Villanueva.

In addition, right-handed pitcher Dallas Beeler has been activated from the 60-day disabled list and outrighted to Iowa. Right-handed pitcher Andury Acevedo and catcher Tim Federowicz have also been outrighted to Iowa.

Chicago’s 40-man roster now stands at 34 players.

Rosario, 26, combined to go 2-1 with 14 saves and a 2.50 ERA (15 ER/54.0 IP) between Single-A Myrtle Beach, Double-A Tennessee and Iowa. After missing the 2015 campaign with an injured right elbow he this past season walked 17, struck out 47 and allowed just one home run while the opposition batted .250.

Originally signed as a non-drafted free agent, April 29, 2008, by Cubs scouts Jose Serra and Carlos Reyes, Rosario is 27-33 with 17 saves and a 4.78 ERA (261 ER/491.2 IP) in 160 career minor league games (64 starts). The right-hander has walked 209, struck out 425 and allowed just 33 home runs.

Mullee, 28, made his Major League debut with the Yankees this past season making three relief appearances (1 ER/3.0 IP) in two stints with the club. He spent a majority of his season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 4-0 with six saves, a 0.99 ERA (4 ER/36.1 IP) and just 11 walks. Mullee landed on the 15-day disabled list, July 2, due to carpal tunnel-like symptoms and was transferred to the 60-day DL, Aug. 13, after he underwent ulnar nerve decompression surgery, Aug. 9.

Originally selected by the Yankees in the 24th round of the 2010 Draft out of St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, N.J., Mullee is 13-6 with 14 saves and a 2.00 ERA (36 ER/162.0 IP) in 103 career minor league appearances, all in relief. He has walked 47 and struck out 164 while having surrendered just seven home runs.

Brooks, 26, landed on the 15-day disabled list, April 3 (retro to March 25), with a hip contusion and was transferred to the 60-day DL, Aug. 19. Brooks was acquired from Oakland for outfielder Chris Coghlan, Feb. 25 of this year.

Rosscup, 28, was placed on the 60-day disabled list, Feb. 26 with left shoulder inflammation. The southpaw made 61 relief appearances over three seasons with Chicago (2013-15), going 3-1 with a 5.40 ERA (28 ER/46.2 IP) after he was acquired from Tampa Bay in January 2011 along with pitcher Matt Garza in an eight-player deal.

Villanueva, 25, landed on the 15-day disabled list, April 3 (retro to March 25), with a right fibular fracture and was transferred to the 60-day DL, May 3. Acquired from Texas with pitcher Kyle Hendricks, July 31, 2012, for pitcher Ryan Dempster, Villanueva in 2015 hit .257 with 20 homers and 95 RBI between Tennessee and Iowa.

Beeler, 27, was placed on the 15-day disabled list, April 3 (retro to March 25), with right shoulder inflammation and was transferred to the 60-day DL, Aug. 19. He was selected by Chicago in the 41st round of the 2010 Draft and made five starts for Chicago spanning the 2014-15 seasons.

Acevedo, 26, made six relief appearances with Tennessee this past season but missed a majority of the year due to a torn left ACL in May. He signed with the Cubs in November of last year following four minor league seasons in the Yankees chain.

Federowicz, 29, appeared in 17 games for Chicago and hit .194 (6-for-31) with two doubles, three runs and three RBI. Signed to a minor league deal in January, he hit .293 (67-for-229) with 12 doubles, eight homers and 39 RBI in 65 games for Iowa.

Cubs decline option RHP Hammel

jasonhammel(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

The Chicago Cubs today announced that the club has declined the 2017 option on Jason Hammel’s contract.

President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein issued the following statement:

“First, I want to thank Jason for all of his contributions in his almost three seasons as a Cub. He was an effective, reliable starter the entire time he was a Cub, and this year he was an integral part of one of the best rotations in club history. We would not have been in a position to win the World Series without Jason’s terrific performance during the regular season. Jason and his family have been outstanding members of our organization and our community, and we are proud of their time with and impact on the Cubs.

“While Jason is healthy and primed to have another effective season in 2017, we have decided to consider other internal and external options for our starting rotation next year. Our hope is that by giving a starting opportunity to some younger pitchers under multiple years of club control, we can unearth a starter who will help us not only in 2017 but also in 2018 and beyond.

“When we agreed with Jason on this two-year contract back at the 2014 winter meetings, the option was included with the intent that it would be exercised if Jason was going to be a Cub in 2017. The intent was never to exercise the option and then trade Jason, so we will not consider that path. Instead, Jason will have the opportunity to enter free agency coming off an outstanding season and the ability to choose his next club. Meanwhile, the organization gains some flexibility and the opportunity to use a rotation spot to develop a younger, long-term starting pitcher.

“We wish the Hammels nothing but the absolute best going forward. We would certainly be open to Jason rejoining the organization in the future, but even if that never happens we will always consider him a Cub and be thankful for his role in delivering a World Series championship to the people of Chicago.”

Hammel had a strong 2016 season despite not making the postseason roster. He went 15-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 30 starts. He also struck out 144 batters in 166.2 innings.

Cubs Lineup: World Series Game 7 vs. Indians

Cubs vs. Indians — Progressive Field
World Series, Game 7
First Pitch: 7:00 CST
Cubs Starter: Kyle Hendricks, rhp
Indians Starter: Corey Kluber, rhp
TV: FOX; Radio: 670 The Score, ESPN Radio

1. Dexter Fowler, cf
2. Kyle Schwarber, dh
3. Kris Bryant, 3b
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1b
5. Ben Zobrist, lf
6. Addison Russell, ss
7. Willson Contreras, c
8. Jason Heyward, rf
9. Javy Baez, 2b

Hot Off the Presses: The November issue recaps the Cubs dominant rotation

1611_cover

By Gary Cohen

Make no mistake: These are not your grandfather’s Chicago Cubs. The franchise’s fans, like the fans of every team, are saddled with years of baggage and love to link the past with the present. But for the last two seasons, these Cubs have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that 2003 and 1969 have nothing to do with the present.

“Nobody really cares in there about a curse or a goat or anything else. You know what I mean?” said Jon Lester prior to Game 4 of the National League Division Series. “It is what it is. It’s what you make of it. If we make a mistake, we’re not going to blame it on a curse or anything else like that. We’re going to blame it on ourselves and be accountable for it and move on to the next play or the next moment.

“Plus, I think we got too many young guys in there that don’t even know what that stuff is. You know what I mean? So it’s almost better to play naive and just go out and worry about us, worry about the Cubs and not anything else in the past or, like I said, any animals.”

Full disclosure: Because of the production schedule of this magazine, we went to press just days after the Cubs finished off the Giants in four games in the NLDS. So whatever happens after that will show up in the December issue.

When Cubs players gather on the field or in the clubhouse to celebrate wins, they often chant, “We never quit.” Along with favored Maddonisms like “embrace the target” and “respect 90,” never quitting is becoming the motto of this new iteration of the franchise. The club came into the 2016 campaign as heavy World Series favorites, but, as Maddon would say, they never let the pressure exceed the pleasure in their run to an NL Central title.

“Expectations is a good word because normally it means that you have something good attached to it at the other side,” Maddon said after the Cubs’ NLDS victory. “Pressure, expectations, I want our guys to thrive on those two words for the years to come. I want the organization to. In the end, that means there’s a lot expected of you. Good. There should be. We should all have a lot expected of us. And then it should manifest itself in the sense that it should bring out the best in you.”

Of course, past Chicago teams have struggled in October, and the postseason is decidedly random. The second you think you have things figured out, a virtual unknown like Conor Gillaspie steps up and becomes a fall hero twice over. But this version of the Cubs is different. No one expected much in 1984 or 2003. The current Cubs, on the other hand, are the very definition of president Theo Epstein’s model of sustained success, and, as of this writing, are sitting on the precipice of Game 7 of the World Series.

In the November issue, we break down a few reasons the 2016 Cubs were a juggernaut. We begin at the top with the starting pitching, which was not only good this season, but historically good. We also look at some of the amazing numbers the club posted and how they defined the campaign. Finally, we talk to former GM Jim Hendry about the organization’s last deep playoff run in 2003.

This season, we’re writing a new Cubs history. I don’t know how it will end yet. We don’t have much longer to wait. But I know we’re all enjoying the ride.

Let’s go. And above all, Fly the W.

Cubs Lineup: World Series Game 6 vs. Indians

Cubs vs. Indians — Progressive Field
World Series, Game 6
First Pitch: 7:08 CST
Cubs Starter: Jake Arrieta, rhp
Indians Starter: Josh Tomlin, rhp
TV: FOX; Radio: 670 The Score, ESPN Radio

1. Dexter Fowler, cf
2. Kyle Schwarber, dh
3. Kris Bryant, 3b
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1b
5. Ben Zobrist, lf
6. Addison Russell, ss
7. Willson Contreras, c
8. Jason Heyward, rf
9. Javy Baez, 2b

Cubs Lineup: World Series Game 5 vs. Indians

Cubs vs. Indians — Wrigley Field
World Series, Game 5
First Pitch: 7:08 CST
Cubs Starter: Jon Lester, lhp
Indians Starter: Trevor Bauer, rhp
TV: FOX; Radio: 670 The Score, ESPN Radio

1. Dexter Fowler, cf
2. Kris Bryant, 3b
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1b
4. Ben Zobrist, lf
5. Addison Russell, ss
6. Jason Heyward, rf
7. Javy Baez, 2b
8. David Ross, c
9. Jon Lester, p

Cubs Lineup: World Series Game 4 vs. Indians

Cubs vs. Indians — Wrigley Field
World Series, Game 4
First Pitch: 7:08 CST
Cubs Starter: John Lackey, rhp
Indians Starter: Corey Kluber, rhp
TV: FOX; Radio: 670 The Score, ESPN Radio

1. Dexter Fowler, cf
2. Kris Bryant, 3b
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1b
4. Ben Zobrist, lf
5. Willson Contreras, c
6. Addison Russell, ss
7. Jason Heyward, rf
8. Javy Baez, 2b
9. John Lackey, p

Cubs Lineup: World Series Game 3 vs. Indians

Cubs vs. Indians — Wrigley Field
World Series, Game 3
First Pitch: 7:08 CST
Cubs Starter: Kyle Hendricks, rhp
Indians Starter: Josh Tomlin, rhp
TV: FOX; Radio: 670 The Score, ESPN Radio

1. Dexter Fowler, cf
2. Kris Bryant, 3b
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1b
4. Ben Zobrist, lf
5. Willson Contreras, c
6. Jorge Soler, rf
7. Javy Baez, 2b
8. Addison Russell, ss
9. Kyle Hendricks, p