The Rundown: Hammel and Wood Possibly Nearing Deals, Theo Epstein Goes BAM, Minor Cubs Transactions

Though I certainly don’t begrudge guys getting their paper, part of me is going to be upset when Jason Hammel and Travis Wood eventually sign elsewhere. After all, some of my most popular work has been generated by the mystery surrounding the courtship, or lack thereof, of both former Cubs.

It was widely assumed that Hammel and Wood were as good as gone, though the protracted passivity in the market had a lot of fans hoping for a reunion or two. That optimism was evident in the number of people who got all tingly over hearing that Hammel had eaten at Chicago Cut recently. Alas, everyone keeps swiping left on the righty. That could be changing soon, though.

This would be a nice landing spot for Hammel, who’s been unfairly maligned over the past couple seasons. There’s no denying he’s had a hard time staying healthy and maintaining consistent performance, but he’s been a perfectly mediocre starter despite all that. That’s a backhanded compliment, to be sure, but Hammel’s stock was hurt by being the clear No. 5 on what was an excellent rotation.

He’d have been solidly in the middle of nearly every other unit in baseball and should now benefit from a change of scenery and lowered expectations. I’m not sure the same can be said for Hammel’s former teammate, the starter/reliever/left fielder who became a cult hero for his two-way play and refusal to wear sleeves. You can take the boy out of Arkansas, but you can’t take the Arkansas out of the boy.

The only league I’m aware of that allows you to play sans sleeves is the California Penal, but it sounds like Wood has some much more lucrative options.

First things first, good for Wood and his agent marketing him as a starter after he had been somewhat of an abject failure in that role with the Cubs. Sure, he had that one good year, but his real calling seemed to be as a reliever. I’m more than a little concerned about his ability to get righties out. And to last more than once or twice through the order. But hey, that’s not the Cubs’ problem any more.

Speaking of problems and the Cubs, I think we’re all painfully aware of the epidemic of violence facing Chicago these days. While the same is true for many other major metro areas, the Windy City has gotten more than its share of publicity for the matter. As part of an effort to curtail crime, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spearheaded a mentoring program called Becoming A Man (BAM).

Theo Epstein took part in a session this past week and has said his Foundation To Be Named Later will continue to work with BAM in the future.

“I think when we’re at our best, all of us, we are shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and with our sisters, and we lean on them for help and support and encouragement,” Epstein said of his involvement.

When you lay that statement on top of his description of the team he’s built, you see all kinds of parallels. And that goes for the minor leagues as well. Jason McLeod has spoken of the desire to help the young men in the Cubs’ system become productive members of society while also making them better baseball players. That isn’t just lip service, this organization really is dedicated to improving the quality of life in its city.

Some might argue that winning the World Series was a major step in doing just that, but I think we all understand that the world is much bigger than what goes on between the lines. The Cubs aren’t content to stick to sports and I, for one, am very proud of that.

Other notes:

  • Per Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs have signed RHP Williams Perez to a minor league deal
    • Perez is a stout dude (6-0, 240)
    • Depth move at best
    • 5.18 ERA (4.85 FIP) in 170.1 IP over 34 appearances (31 starts) over last two seasons with Braves
    • No relation to Williams Sonoma
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