Major League Baseball (finally) approves the Cubs' sale

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I’m pretty sure that Ron Santo was the starting third baseman when the Ricketts-buying-the-Cubs negotiations started. With the exception of a bankruptcy court’s rubber stamp, however, the process is finally over:

Major League Baseball owners welcomed the Ricketts family to an exclusive fraternity Tuesday, unanimously approving its proposal via conference call to become the owner of  the Cubs . . . The Ricketts family still must clear one more hurdle in bankruptcy court before it can assume day-to-day control of the team. The transaction, valued at $845 million, is expected to be closed by the end of the month.

Whether this will mean anything for the Cubs on the field in the short term is debatable. Rick Morrissey, despite what seems like some wild optimism — “I dare say the Cubs could field the same team next season minus Meltdown Bradley (all right, and Kevin Gregg) and be a factor in the playoffs — thinks that there won’t be a lot of offseason personnel moves. The fact of the matter is that they have a lot of big contracts, one of which — Bradley — they’re probably going to just eat.  Ricketts is a billionaire, and you usually don’t get to be a billionaire by making hasty, public-pleasing decisions.  He’s probably going to stand more or less pat this year and see what he has before tearing things up.

But it is a new day in Chicago, and for that Cubs fans should be happy indeed.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.