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Good morning, frents!
Here's some Midway Minute transaction news: David Brown has been acquired to help with content both in the newsletter and on the site.
If you've followed me back to my Big League Stew days at Yahoo Sports, you know that DB was my partner-in-crime there. A great writer with an even better sense of humor, he is a fantastic friend and I'm thrilled to have him as a batterymate again.
You can read his first piece below. It's fittingly about reunions.
— Kevin Kaduk
Bulls 120, Rockets 100
Hawks at Blue Jackets (6, NBCSCH)
From Maddux to Girardi, how other Cubs did in their second tour of duty at Wrigley Field
By David Brown
Big-bearded righty Jake Arrieta is back with the Cubs after playing for the Phillies the last three seasons.
Yet he's far from the only Cubs player to return to the team for a second time. Heck, he's not even the biggest name to come back for more.
So what happens when ex-Cubs become Cubs again? Here's a look at how other two-timers made out in their second tour of the North Side.
The Cubs were in a different place when Maddux returned as a 38-year-old free-agent before the 2004 season. They were contenders! While he wasn’t pitching like an All-Star, Cy Young or Hall of Famer anymore, Maddux being added to a rotation that included Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Clement seemed like the right path to getting over the World Series hump. Wearing No. 31 again, Maddux pitched effectively over 212 innings and picked up career win No. 300, but the Cubs finished three games out of the wild card. Of course they did. Maddux finished his career with the Dodgers in 2008, which eliminated the Cubs in the playoffs. Because of course they did.
Results: 7.4 bWAR over 90 starts.
Comeback Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (out of five)
Coming from the Phillies before the 1966 season, Fergie Jenkins also wore No. 31 and blossomed into a perennial 20-game winner and Cy Young contender with the Cubs. After two stints with the Rangers and one with the Red Sox, Jenkins came back to the Cubs at age 39 in pursuit of 3,000 strikeouts. He got it May 25, 1982:
Jenkins made 34 starts, logged 217 1/3 innings and posted a 3.15 ERA, and the Cubs lost 89 games. Jenkins declined in ‘83 and was cut in spring training 1984 before retiring. He made the Hall of Fame in 1991.
Results: 4.7 bWAR in 67 appearances (63 starts).
Comeback Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2
Ken Holtzman and Randy Hundley
Left-hander Ken Holtzman and catcher Randy Hundley are fondly remembered members of the ‘69 Cubs and other clubs of the era, but neither contributed much in their respective returns. Holtzman went 6-9 in 1979 and Hundley got just a handful of at-bats in 1976 and ‘77. It was nice for them to retire in Cubs pinstripes, though, and reminisce about the Summer of '69.
Results: -0.9 bWAR in 61 combined games
Comeback Rating: ⭐
No matter the personal reasons he had for retiring at age 34, Ryne Sandberg’s first departure felt like a gut punch to those who grew up worshipping him, or even just liking him a little. He came back after 18 months off and was effective in 1996 with 25 homers and 92 RBI, if not quite as awesome as his peak. He already had a Hall of Fame rèsumé and got a proper sendoff at the end of the ‘97 season. That was Harry Caray's last year too, though we didn't know it yet. The end of an era in so many ways.
Results: 4.0 bWAR in 285 games
Comeback Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
Much of Shawon Dunston’s post-Cubs career was sort of galling, particularly his postseason appearances with the Cardinals and Mets. He even hit a home run in the World Series with the Giants and later became a coach with them (and not the Cubs). Fun times. But most of that occurred after he left town for a second time in 1997, when he hit .284/.300/.411 with nine dingers.
Results: 0.1 bWAR (thanks to leaky defense) in 114 games
Comeback Rating: ⭐⭐
Kerry Wood returned a full 13 years after striking out 20 against the Astros that drizzly day at Wrigley, and fresh off stops in Cleveland and the Bronx. He was effective in 55 games for a mediocre Cubs team in 2011 and went out with a bang against the White Sox in 2012:
Results: -0.1 bWAR in
Comeback Rating: ⭐⭐ 1/2
Doug Glanville was a starting outfielder with a great glove when the Cubs traded him for second baseman Mickey Morandini before the 1998 season. Five years later, the Cubs picked him up for their bench and Glanville came through with one of the biggest hits in team history (to that point) in Game 3 of the NLCS:
Glanville hung ‘em up after his second stint with the Phillies ended in 2004.
Results: -0.4 bWAR in 28 games (not counting the postseason)
Comeback Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Reuschel was the best Cubs pitcher of the 1970s, and was useful as a pinch-hitter and runner too, even though his oversized physical stature made it hard to fully believe. A bad trade to the Yankees in ‘81 ended his first go-round here, but as he recovered from a rotator-cuff injury, the Cubs brought him back for part of ‘83 and ‘84. He was mediocre and the Cubs let him go again. All Reuschel did for the rest of the ‘80s was pitch even better than he did in the ‘70s. Of course he did!
Results: 0.1 bWAR in 23 games
Comeback Rating: ⭐⭐
Glenallen Hill was a highly productive slugger in games, even dominant against left-handers, but batting practice was his time to shine as he took aim at Wrigley Field rooftops across Waveland Avenue. A big weight-lifter dude, Hill flexed bulging muscles often accentuated by cut-off workout clothes, colorful headbands and oversized Oakley sunglasses. He wielded a bat like a samurai would his sword. It was an awesome dose of pregame theater. Hill hit 20 homers in 392 plate appearances in ‘93-94 and returned to hit 39 more for part of 1998, all of '99 and part of 2000. God knows how many rooftop shots.
Results: 2.1 bWAR in 211 games (excludes batting practice)
Comeback Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Cubs fans probably remember the return of Joe Girardi for a morbid reason: The day Cardinals right-hander Darryl Kile died in 2002, the Cubs gave Girardi the responsibility of telling the crowd at Wrigley that the game scheduled for that day had been postponed. It showed what the organization saw in Girardi that went beyond any statistics he put up.
Girardi’s first season back with the Cubs after eight years away, in 2000, was one of great personal success: It brought his only All-Star bid. With the Yankees, Girardi had won three rings (of course he did!) and laid the groundwork for a future managing job. He’s also laid the groundwork for a future managing job with the Cubs, just you wait!
Results: 1.8 bWAR in 274 games
Comeback Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
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Spring Training news
Both teams went through their first full-squad workouts on Monday with beat writers tweeting us soul-nourishing clips of drills being run on snow-free diamonds. It's 37 days until opening day.
Anthony Rizzo had his Zoom day and said he's not focusing on if he or teammates will be traded during the season
- "You just never know. I really stay away from it. When I find out about a trade, it's usually via a text message from one of my buddies. We have enough things to worry about when we walk through this door to raise our blood pressure."
- It also sounds like Rizzo is done with the intense workout regimen that didn't do much for 2020's performance. Rizzo said he's putting the weight he lost back on "the right way" but that he'll never stop eating pizza. Me neither, Tony, me neither.
Eloy Jimenez said he was taking notes during Jose Abreu's MVP season last year and that he thinks he'll win the award one day too.
- "I think one day, I'm going to be the MVP. I don't know what year, but I think it's soon ... If I keep working hard, I know some day it's going to pay me back."
- Jimenez hit .296 with 14 homers and 41 RBI in 55 games last year.
Bulls blow out Rockets
The Bulls scored 46 points in the third quarter alone to win their fourth game in five tries and move to with two games of .500 at 14-16. The Rockets, meanwhile, have lost eight straight.
- Coby White led the Bulls with 24 points, followed by Zach LaVine (21), Wendell Carter Jr. (18 points, 13 rebs) and Thad Young (17).
- The NBA reserves will be announced tonight and Zach LaVine should be the first Bull to make the team since Jimmy Butler in 2016-2017.
- The current buzz on Deshaun Watson is that it'll take a 7-for-1 deal for the Texans to trade him. Which to me seems like no-go territory for the Bears. Or at least it should be. Bleacher Nation
- Are the Hawks redefining what it means to rebuild? Hockey Writers
- How University of Chicago alum Kim Ng became a baseball pioneer. (The pictures in this link are great.) UChicago News
- Notre Dame won't be in the new EA Sports college football game ... for now. ESPN
- How Palatine's Spunky Dunkers used social media to sell 10,000 doughnuts and save their flagging paczki day. Tribune
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