The storied rivalry between the Cardinals and Cubs has the opportunity to capture the nation’s attention in 2016 as both clubs enter the year with lofty expectations on the heels of excellent 2015 campaigns, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi opines that St. Louis vs. Chicago has added meaning this year with the Cubs prying Jason Heyward and John Lackey away from the Cardinals and the subsequent comments from Heyward and St. Louis skipper Mike Matheny adding to the feud. Morosi spoke to both Ryan Theriot and Mark DeRosa — two now-retired players that experienced both sides of the Cubs/Cardinals rivalry — about what matchups between the two teams were like from a player perspective and about what it would mean for a player to be on a team that finally succeeds in bringing a World Series victory to the Cubs for the first time since 1908.
Here’s more from the division…
- Cardinals right-hander Mike Leake spoke to FOX’s Ken Rosenthal about his free-agent experience. As Rosenthal writes, stories about Leake wanting to sign with the D-backs were indeed true, although one significant detail of his motivation for that desire was kept out at the time. Leake’s father fell off a roof while constructing a cabin in Montana this past offseason, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, and playing in Arizona would have allowed Leake the opportunity to remain close to his father, Rosenthal writes. However, while both Leake and Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tell Rosenthal that a deal was close at one point during the winter, Stewart said talks eventually “just broke down” between the two sides. Leake, too, discussed his talks with the D-backs. “It got close. It just never came to fruition,” the right-hander explained. “I felt like there were some that wanted it and some that didn’t in the organization.” Leake said the Cardinals were “quiet at first” before coming on “strong” in their pursuit that ultimately landed him in St. Louis. Leake’s parents both supported his decision to sign with the Cardinals even if it meant creating some distance.
- Jordan Walden has thrown off a mound six times since completing a rigorous rehab process on his right shoulder and will do so again today, writes MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch. Today’s session will mark the first time the Cardinals have seen Walden throw since his injury. Walden now admits, in hindsight, that he tried to rush back too quickly from his initial injury last summer, embarking on a rehab stint in July that was cut short due to shoulder problems that ultimately ended his season.
- The Brewers have turned over half of their 40-man roster since the final day of the 2015 season, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. While GM David Stearns tells Haudricourt that he didn’t come into the offseason with a set number of transactions in mind but rather with a goal of accumulating as much controllable talent as possible. “We’re trying to aggregate as much young talent as we possibly can,” Stearns explains. “The 40-man roster is a way we can do that so we have tried to use that tool to add some talent. I don’t know if that exceeds my expectations but we’ve certainly been busy.” (Stearns was recently a guest on the MLBTR Podcast and offered more in-depth comments regarding that quest.) Manager Craig Counsell tells Haudricourt that center field is the most uncertain spot on the roster heading into Spring Training. Haudricourt notes that four of the new additions — Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Rymer Liriano, Keon Broxton and non-roster invitee Eric Young Jr. — have experience there.