Rumors are swirling about the Cubs playing in U.S. Cellular Field in 2013

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Not necessarily strong rumors. Not from any baseball insider types who usually chatter about goings on in MLB.  But this story from NBC Chicago about rumors of the Cubs moving to the south side to play in U.S. Cellular Field while Wrigley Field undergoes a renovation is interesting enough.

To be sure, the story leads with the Cubs’ denial of such a thing, with a spokesman for the Ricketts family saying “I have never heard of a done deal of moving home games to the ‘Cell.'”  But of course, that insertion of “a done deal” is an equivocation, no?  If there were a done deal lots of people would know about it.  What we want to know is if it’s actually being discussed as a realistic option.

Because some folks are discussing it:

Workers at U.S. Cellular tell a different story. They say they  are being warned of a much busier 2013 season (as in, prepare for double the games). Bridgeport bar owners tell a similar story.

Could be empty chatter. As Neil deMause of “Field of Schemes” notes, it could be a trial balloon to gauge public sentiment.  And of course, the Cubs don’t even have renovation money secured yet, so it may all be moot for now.

But it would be interesting seeing the Cubs play in U.S. Cellular Field.  If, for no other reason, we’d get to see if anyone would truly care about them without Wrigley Field as part of the equation.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.