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brandon morrow signing a good start in rebuild of cubs bullpen


the cubs aimed high in the crowded free-agent relief market and got the man they wanted before the first day of the winter meetings in orlando, fla.brandon morrow, who reportedly agreed to a two-year, $21 million deal, was one of the most reliable middle relievers the last two years and should improve a cubs bullpen that appears likely to lose closer wade davis.president theo epstein told reporters at the winter meetings the cubs still hope to re-sign davis, but that seems like wishful thinking.morrow’s $9 million salary in 2018 is tied for seventh-highest among relievers, so he’s getting closer’s money.either way, epstein said he can be “selectively aggressive” after getting a few deals done early, which suggests the cubs can now focus on in-demand starting pitcher alex cobb while remaini






cubs look to solidify closer situation with brandon morrow, while not ruling out


the cubs knew the odds were stacked against them in their pursuit of shohei ohtani. now they hope to gain some stability in their search for a closer.they could learn as soon as tuesday night whether their two-year, $21 million deal with free agent brandon morrow can be finalized, and they’re not ruling out re-signing wade davis.“it’s fine having someone who hasn’t done it or done it consistently before,” president theo epstein said monday. “but it makes sense to name a closer just so you can establish roles. relievers are human beings and they enjoy knowing what their role is, approximately when they (will) pitch, so they can get ready for that responsibility.”an agreement with morrow, 33, will be announced as soon as he passes a physical. the deal includes a $12 million option (or $3 mil






dodgers pitcher brandon morrow close to signing with cubs


brandon morrow, the right-handed reliever who emerged as one of the dodgers most reliable arms in the 2017 postseason, is close to signing a two-year agreement with the chicago cubs, according to people familiar with the situation.the people requested anonymity because the contract was pending a physical, and morrow dealt with a bevy of injuries before starring for the dodgers in 2017. the contract will net morrow between $10 million and $11 million a year, according to fan rag sports.morrow joined the dodgers on a minor-league contract in january. he opened the year with triple-a oklahoma city. called up in may, morrow finished the season with a 2.06 earned-run average. he pitched in all seven games of the world series.by letting morrow leave, the dodgers have continued a well-established






cubs reach 2-year deal with reliever brandon morrow


in their latest attempt to upgrade their pitching staff, the cubs reached a two-year agreement sunday with free-agent reliever brandon morrow.a source at the winter meetings confirmed the agreement, as the cubs have been looking to sign morrow to possibly fill the closer’s role because of the potential departure of fellow free agent wade davis.morrow, 33, has posted a 1.96 era in 63 appearances over the last two seasons with the padres and dodgers. since making the conversion from starter to reliever, morrow’s velocity has hovered in the upper 90s.morrow helped the dodgers advance to the 2017 world series by posting a 6-0 record and 2.06 era in 46 appearances, striking out 50 in 43 2/3 innings. morrow hasn’t allowed a home run since sept. 8, 2016.the agreement will be official once morrow






cubs reach 2-year deal with reliever brandon morrow


while 2019 seems like a reasonable target for the white sox to begin contending, the future is now for the cubs.their sense of urgency has been apparent, especially after they agreed to terms sunday on a two-year deal with free-agent reliever brandon morrow on the opening day of the winter meetings.morrow’s deal, which will become official after he passes a physical, helps stabilize the back end of the bullpen, which figures to lose closer wade davis. the agreement with morrow comes three days after the cubs signed free-agent starter tyler chatwood to a three-year, $38 million contract to help offset the potential losses of jake arrieta and john lackey.a cubs source said the team was far from done trying to improve its roster, as efforts to sign free-agent starter alex cobb remain strong.






price must be right for cubs in their pursuit of pitching


the free agent pitching market is starting to thaw and the prices could present an expensive situation for the cubs and other pitching-thirsty teams.the biggest beneficiary of mike minor’s reported three-year, $28 million contract is brandon morrow, whose durability and performance was slightly better than minor, who missed the 2015-16 seasons because of a left shoulder injury that required surgery but rebounded in 2017 with a a 2.55 era and 88 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings with the royals.minor, whom the cubs were interested in before the july 31 trade deadline, could revert to a starting role that he held with the braves earlier in his career.morrow, meanwhile, caught the attention of cubs manager joe maddon well before the 2017 national league championship series, in which morrow allowed






brandon morrow shuts down cubs in top of seventh


brandon morrow is still pitching for the dodgers.albert almora grounded to short.addison russell struck out swinging.jason heyward flied to shallow center, with chris taylor making a nice running catch.it's seventh-inning stretch time.






life goes on for cubs after losing out on shohei ohtani


the red sox weren’t built in a day, as theo epstein can attest. shortly after taking over as the team’s general manager after the 2002 season, he lost out on cuban free agent jose conteras to the rival yankees.after his recruiting efforts fell short friday in trying to land prized japanese pitcher-hitter shohei ohtani, epstein will continue to try to retool the cubs pitching staff.ohtani, 23, who possesses a 100 mph fastball and can hit for power, would have been an ideal signing for the cubs — a hard thrower under team control for at least six seasons with power from the left side of the plate.but in the most scrutinized free-agent recruitment of this offseason, ohtani chose to play for the angels over six teams that included the cubs.the cubs have cast a wide net for pitchers who might b






dodgers add depth as veteran pitcher brandon morrow accepts minor league assignm


the dodgers offered a hint at the composition of their opening-day bullpen when manager dave roberts revealed that veteran pitcher brandon morrow had accepted an assignment to the minor leagues.the team paid morrow a $100,000 retention bonus. he can opt out of his contract by june 1. but if morrow pitches well for triple-a oklahoma city, he is likely to reach the majors far before then.with a road trip against the rockies and cubs scheduled after the opening series against san diego, the dodgers are considering carrying two long relievers. both alex wood and ross stripling could fit that role. roberts has said wood is competing with brandon mccarthy for the fifth spot in the rotation, and mccarthy has pitched in relief only once since 2007.morrow, 32, will accompany the team to los angeles






maeda, morrow keep cubs quiet in seventh


addison flied to left on the first pitch. with lefty kyle schwarber coming up, dave roberts pulls kenta maeda for brandon morrrow. i'd stick with maeda, then again, i've never been named manager of the year. and morrow does have better numbers against left-handed hitters.schwarber flied to center. javier baez struck out. like i said, bringing in morrow was the right idea.






dodgers' bulletproof bullpen finally allows hits


alex avila, a backup catcher, succeeded tuesday where 31 consecutive cubs had failed.he got a hit off a dodgers relief pitcher.dodger relievers had retired 29 out of the 31 batters they faced in the national league championship series before avila lined a single off ross stripling leading off the bottom of the ninth inning.albert almora followed avila’s hit with a ground-rule double to left field, ending stripling’s outing after two batters.at that point, manager dave roberts turned to old faithful, kenley jansen, and the next three cubs were retired in order — the final two by strikeout.before avila’s hit, the only two cubs to reach base off the bullpen were anthony rizzo, who was hit by a jansen pitch in game 2, and kyle schwarber, on a walk issued by brandon morrow in the eighth inning






dodgers' bulletproof bullpen finally allows hits


alex avila, a backup catcher, succeeded tuesday where 31 consecutive cubs had failed.he got a hit off a dodgers relief pitcher.dodger relievers had retired 29 out of the 31 batters they faced in the national league championship series before avila lined a single off ross stripling leading off the bottom of the ninth inning.albert almora followed avila’s hit with a ground-rule double to left field, ending stripling’s outing after two batters.at that point, manager dave roberts turned to old faithful, kenley jansen, and the next three cubs were retired in order — the final two by strikeout.before avila’s hit, the only two cubs to reach base off the bullpen were anthony rizzo, who was hit by a jansen pitch in game 2, and kyle schwarber, on a walk issued by brandon morrow in the eighth inning






astros take 5-0 lead in top of second


top of the second.brian mccann walked.marwin gonzalez doubled to right-center.with the infield in, josh reddick grounded to second. runners had to hold.brandon morrow is warming up in the dodger bullpen.lance mccullers jr. grounded to second. the ball was hit slowly, allowing mccann to score. 3-0 astros.george springer homered to left. 5-0 astros.and that's it for yu darvish. morrow is now in the game.alex bregman struck out swinging.






dodgers' bulletproof bullpen finally allows hits


alex avila, a backup catcher, succeeded tuesday where 31 consecutive chicago cubs had failed.he got a hit off a dodgers relief pitcher.dodger relievers had retired 29 of the 31 batters they faced in the national league championship series before avila lined a single off ross stripling leading off the bottom of the ninth inning.albert almora followed avila’s hit with a ground-rule double to left field, ending stripling’s outing after just two batters.at that point, manager dave roberts turned to old faithful, kenley jansen, and the next three cubs were retired in order — the final two by strikeout.before avila’s hit, the only two cubs to reach base against the dodgers bullpen were anthony rizzo, who was hit by a jansen pitch in game 2, and kyle schwarber, who drew a walk from brandon morrow






dodgers are three outs away from first world series since 1988


bottom of the eighth. brandon morrow pitching.ben zobrist struck out looking.cubs' no. 8 hitters have gone 0 for 31 in the postseason.ian happ singled to center.albert almora struck out swinging.kyle schwarber struck out swinging.dodgers 9, cubs 1






spring training: white sox 5, dodgers 2


on the mound: pitching for the second day in a row, bullpen candidate brandon morrow gave up a run after white sox third baseman todd frazier led off with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly. morrow has a good chance to break camp as a member of the team, but manager dave roberts indicated he believes morrow is still capable of producing more fastball velocity. “brandon is certainly in the mix,” roberts said. … kenley jansen and pedro baez pitched in minor league games against members of the white sox farm system. jansen logged 1 2/3 innings in his lone multi-inning stint of the spring. as he returns from a bone bruise on his pitching hand, baez faced hitters for the first time this spring.at the plate: logan forsythe continued his scorching spring with two hits. he is now batting .439.






brandon morrow’s pitches don’t include throwing mariners under the bus


the los angeles dodgers’ reliever was drafted by seattle in 2006 and traded by the m’s to toronto in late 2009. morrow has a 1.08 earned-run average in the postseason entering game 1 of the world series against houston on tuesday.los angeles – you don’t hear resentment in his voice when he talks about his time with the mariners. he enjoyed seattle. he appreciated the fans. he bonded with teammates, and all that good stuff.but los angeles dodgers reliever brandon morrow can’t help but share an opinion when reflecting on his former club. “it was inconsistent developmentally,” said the 33-year-old morrow, who is about to take part in the first world series of his career. “it was awesome not spending any time in the minor leagues and making the team in the first spring training, but long term,






cubs reportedly fire longtime pitching coach chris bosio


the cubs have fired longtime pitching coach chris bosio, an apparent casualty of the 2017 bullpen disaster, according to a report.bosio was the first pitching coach hired by cubs president theo epstein in 2011, and served under managers dale sveum, rick renteria and joe maddon. the firing was reported by usa today. the cubs did not return messages. bosio is the first coach on maddon’s staff to be fired. maddon lauded his coaches last week and said he expected them all to return, making the firing surprising. "rest assured joe will have every coach back that he wants back," epstein said friday.that suggests maddon did not want bosio back. bosio was instrumental in the rebuild, and is credited with fixing jake arrieta’s career and accelerating the plan, while also building up mid-level free






brandon morrow escapes two-on, one-out jam in sixth


bottom of the sixth.brian mccann popped to short. and that's it for tony watson. brandon morrow is coming into the game.george springer grounded to third. justin turner's throw was wide, springer safe at first. error on turner.alex bregman walked.jose altuve struck out swinging.carlos correa struck out swinging.






cubs fire longtime pitching coach chris bosio


the cubs have fired longtime pitching coach chris bosio, an apparent casualty of the 2017 bullpen disaster.bosio was the first pitching coach hired by cubs president theo epstein in 2011, and served under managers dale sveum, rick renteria and joe maddon. the firing was reported by usa today and later confirmed by team sources.bosio is the first coach on maddon’s staff to be fired. maddon lauded his coaches last week and said he expected them all to return, making the firing surprising. "rest assured joe will have every coach back that he wants back," epstein said friday.that suggested maddon did not want bosio back, though maddon's son tweeted disappointment that bosio was out.  bosio was instrumental in the rebuild, and is credited with fixing jake arrieta’s career and accelerating the p






cubs' bullpen faces unfamiliar struggles in 9-8 win over orioles


the cubs escaped what would have been an embarrassing outcome friday night, as addison russell's home run in the ninth inning was the difference in a 9-8 win over the orioles.much of the anxiety prior to russell's homer was the lack of the control by a cubs bullpen that posted a 3.26 era in the first half.the relievers were responsible for five of the seven walks issued, and many of the walks added stress in the latter innings as the orioles erased an 8-0 deficit."we can’t walk that many folks," manager joe maddon said. "we walked way too many folks. i want to believe it’s the rust from the layoff, but the layoff is necessary. it's one of those catch-22 moments. it just the way it is."we got through it. i’ll take it. we did play well. we did a lot of good things tonight. we did not pitch w






mike montgomery, john lackey, brett anderson like shape of cubs' pitching staff


mike montgomery didn’t view his versatility as working against him in the cubs’ decision to place him in the bullpen to start the regular season.and john lackey didn’t mind that he was named to start the third game at st. louis.as for brett anderson, the cubs’ left-hander isn’t taking his new status as the fourth starter for granted.it made for an enjoyable time as the cubs moved closer to starting the regular season with plenty of confidence about their pitching staff.“i’m here to get outs, and it doesn’t matter how or when it is,” said montgomery, who started five games for the cubs last season but earned the save in game 7 of the 2016 world series. “i’m just focusing on what i need to do to get ready for the year.”montgomery said he would be ready if the cubs need a sixth starter.“over






cubs humbled in all facets after being swept by dodgers


neither manager joe maddon nor slugger kris bryant lost his sense of humor or composure after the cubs were swept by the dodgers in a convincing manner this weekend."go ahead and freak out," maddon said with a smile sunday, referring to worried fans. "if you want to freak out, freak out."the cubs knocked out three-time cy young award winner clayton kershaw but still were humbled in a 9-4 loss that completed the dodgers' first three-game sweep of the cubs at dodger stadium since 1992.bryant virtually repeated what he said at dodger stadium last fall after the cubs lost game 3 of the national league championship series to rich hill but came back to win the world series."there's no need to worry," bryant said after the cubs slipped to 25-24. "you're going to have your good years. you're going






cubs humbled in all facets as dodgers complete sweep with 9-4 win


neither manager joe maddon nor slugger kris bryant lost his sense of humor or composure after the cubs were swept by the dodgers in a convincing manner this weekend."go ahead and freak out," maddon said with a smile sunday, referring to worried fans. "if you want to freak out, freak out."the cubs knocked out three-time cy young award winner clayton kershaw but still were humbled in a 9-4 loss that completed the dodgers' first three-game sweep of the cubs at dodger stadium since 1992.bryant virtually repeated what he said at dodger stadium last fall after the cubs lost game 3 of the national league championship series to rich hill but came back to win the world series."there's no need to worry," bryant said after the cubs slipped to 25-24. "you're going to have your good years. you're going






cubs bullish on new bullpen location


the doors leading to the entrance of the bullpen under the wrigley field bleachers were changed recently to allow more crowd noise inside.and that suited bullpen coach lester strode and his relievers just fine.in fact, the cubs have been pleased with their new bullpen after being relocated from the left-field foul line."it's not been an issue," manager joe maddon said of the relocation, in which television monitors have been placed in each dugout so each manager can see who is warming up."i’m not getting any kind of negative feedback like i did in the beginning. i think it was just a little bit, but i think it was just an adjustment period."maddon said they would continue to seek more alterations if needed during the course of the season.






cubs-dodgers in nlcs: who has the edge?


starting pitchingscrambling to win the division series leaves the cubs with a less-than-ideal setup. jake arrieta lacked the stamina to pitch five innings in game 4 against the nationals, necessitating 3 2/3 innings of relief from jon lester, and jose quintana was needed to throw 12 pitches in relief thursday night in game 5. expect lester to make some changes after the dodgers hit him hard in a may start in los angeles. dodgers ace clayton kershaw appears healthy and more effective than when the cubs tagged him in may. one scout noted that yu darvish labored during many of his starts in august and september. but darvish stepped up monday to finish off the dodgers' sweep of the diamondbacks. the cubs haven't seen many left-handers with a big curve like rich hill's. fellow lefty alex wood t






with cubs hitters in a rut, it's time for joe maddon to shake up lineup


for all the understandable angst expressed over the cubs' crummy relief pitching, consider the reality of the national league championship series as it returns to wrigley field.hitters have had ample opportunities to make the bullpen breakdowns a moot point — and swung and missed. repeatedly. cubs relievers giving up epic home runs have obscured the bigger issue that could have erased all of manager joe maddon's miscalculations: the cubs stopped hitting in october.you can debate until last call at murphy's whether the cubs bullpen or their bats have been more disappointing against the dodgers and nobody would be wrong. the bullpen has been bad — 19 runs and 19 walks in 24 1/3 postseason innings — and the bats have been worse. but fixing the bullpen requires an entire offseason for cubs pre






dodgers' brandon mccarthy has tendinitis in right knee but expects to make next


brandon mccarthy expects to make his next start — and avoid a 15th trip to the disabled list — after an mri exam on saturday confirmed that the dodgers right-hander has patellar tendinitis in his right knee.mccarthy was pulled from saturday’s 5-0 defeat of the chicago cubs after throwing 79 pitches over six scoreless, two-hit innings to improve to 5-1 with a 3.28 earned-run average in eight starts this season.mccarthy said the knee has bothered him off and on throughout the season and flared up in the fourth inning saturday.with the dodgers up by five runs and plenty of fresh arms in the bullpen, manager dave roberts didn’t want to risk more serious injury by pushing mccarthy beyond six innings.“there have been really good days and some bad days,” said mccarthy, who missed most of the prev






cubs' albert almora jr., ian happ start vs. brewers' suter


the chicago cubs could use some early offense saturday to give kyle hendricks ample run support and reduce the stress on an effective but well-worked bullpen.albert almora jr. and ian happ will start against milwaukee left-hander brent suter as the cubs try to reduce their magic number for clinching the national league central title.almora jr. is batting .343 against left-handers and happ .272. left-handed hitter jon jay, who is 6-for-12, will bat leadoff for the third consecutive game.the bullpen has thrown 14 2/3 innings in the cubs' past four games but has remained firm. carl edwards jr., who likely won't be available saturday, hasn't allowed a run in seven consecutive appearances, striking out nine in 6 1/3 innings.pedro strop hasn't been charged with a run in 10 consecutive games cove






cubs may not be dominating like 2016, but no one should be concerned


after the cubs fell to 6-6 on sunday following a sweep by the pirates, a headline on espn.com asked, "are the .500 cubs an average team?"it's a little early to assume the world series champs have fallen on hard times two weeks into the 2017 season, but there definitely are areas that need to be cleaned up.going into monday night's game against the brewers, the bullpen had blown four saves after blowing 15 all of last season, the offense was 14th in the majors with a .240 average and the cubs' 11 errors were tied for third-most.when an attendant accidentally locked manager joe maddon's keys in his truck, it was a perfect metaphor for the cubs' stalled start."it's always something," anthony rizzo said. "nothing is ever perfect on any team. guys are going to have good days. guys are going to






cubs may not be dominating like 2016, but no one should be concerned


after the cubs fell to 6-6 on sunday following a sweep by the pirates, a headline on espn.com asked, "are the .500 cubs an average team?"two weeks into the 2017 season is a little early to assume the world series champs have fallen on hard times, but there definitely are areas that need to be cleaned up.going into monday night's 6-3 loss to the brewers, the bullpen had blown four saves after blowing 15 all of last season, the offense was 14th in the majors with a .240 average and the cubs' 11 errors were tied for third-most.when an attendant accidentally locked manager joe maddon's keys in his truck, it was a perfect metaphor for the cubs' stalled start."it's always something," anthony rizzo said. "nothing is ever perfect on any team. guys are going to have good days, guys are going to hav






cubs may not be dominating like 2016, but no one should be concerned


after the cubs fell to 6-6 on sunday following a sweep by the pirates, a headline on espn.com asked, "are the .500 cubs an average team?"two weeks into the 2017 season is a little early to assume the world series champs have fallen on hard times, but there definitely are areas that need to be cleaned up.going into monday night's game against the brewers, the bullpen had blown four saves after blowing 15 all of last season, the offense was 14th in the majors with a .240 average and the cubs' 11 errors were tied for third-most.when an attendant accidentally locked manager joe maddon's keys in his truck, it was a perfect metaphor for the cubs' stalled start."it's always something," anthony rizzo said. "nothing is ever perfect on any team. guys are going to have good days, guys are going to ha






winter confidential: checking in from the mlb meetings


winter confidentiallake buena vista, fla. – early offseason projections had some free-agent relievers receiving $10 million-$11 million a season. relievers have become more valuable in recent seasons, but those projections seemed high. we needed some signings to put them to the test.on sunday, reports surfaced that brandon morrow was signing with the cubs for two years and at least $20 million to replace wade davis as closer. that should help set the market; next is to watch how salaries for good setup men fall in line.the twins don’t have a closer for 2018, although they have a couple of young relievers who could grow into the role. luke gregerson signed with st. louis for two years and $11 million. this is an example of what it’s going to cost the twins.some other tidbits gathered in the






dodgers' best relievers finally falter in spectacular fashion


brandon mccarthy skipped out of the bullpen and across the warning track. the sight of his entry into the game was alarming.mccarthy was the safety valve of the dodgers’ bullpen. if he was pitching, it was because something went wrong.and it had, spectacularly.only six outs separated the dodgers from taking a two games-to-none lead over the houston astros in the world series. they failed protect a two-run lead when brandon morrow and kenley jansen were unable to record the most important outs of their careers.the dodgers and astros exchanged a pair of runs in a furious 10th inning, setting the stage for mccarthy to serve up a two-run home run to george springer in the 11th inning that decided the game.the dodgers dropped a 7-6 decision and the series is now level at a game apiece. game 3 i






astros score a run in bottom of eighth, trail 3-2


top of the eighth. brandon morrow still pitching.alex bregman hit a slicer down the right-field line that tipped off puig's glove and into the stands for a ground-rule double. puig is furious with himself, but most outfielders wouldn't have even touched the ball.and that's it for brandon morrow. here comes kenley jansen for a six-out save. with a day off tomorrow, jansen can pitch two innings today.jose altuve grounded to second, bregman taking third.carlos correa singles to center. 3-2 dodgers.yuli gurriel fouled to first. two out.brian mccann struck out swinging.dodgers 3, astros 2






do the cubs realize how badly the dodgers insulted them on national tv?


it’s not the end of snarktober, but you can see it from here:do the cubs know enough to be insulted by what the dodgers pulled in game 3 of the national league championship series?do the cubs know they got pantsed on their home field on national tv?do the cubs realize the dodgers have so little respect for their offense that starting pitcher yu darvish batted with the bases loaded in the sixth inning of a two-run game?the cubs certainly didn’t respond as if they knew they were insulted. they didn’t respond, really, after the first inning. they didn’t respond the way the dodgers did.the game situation when darvish batted is important here. he was allowed to hit when the cubs were beginning to turn over their lineup for the third time. that’s significant. that’s an inflection point. all seas






fish pee on each other to show who's boss


image: wikimedia commons/tino straussanimals, like humans, communicate in lots of different ways. one of those ways, in animals as in humans, involves urinating on one another.advertisementwell, not right on one another, since the fish are in the water. scientists at the institute of ecology and evolution of the university of bern wondered whether cichlids were peeing simply because they had to, or as a means of communicating aggression. it turns out that angry cichlids let out some pee to tell one another they’re ed. fish literally have ing contests.the first step was to create an experiment to measure when and why the fish were relieving themselves. the researchers built special fish tanks in which two fish are separated by an opaque barrier and a transparent barrier. in some tanks the b