Venable listening to other job offers
The 2020 Cubs Convention continued Saturday at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. Here are five things we learned from Day 2.
1. Will Venable is content as Cubs third-base coach — for now. Will Venable returned from Houston, where he interviewed with the Astros for their managerial vacancy after the AJ Hinch firing.
This marked the third managerial interview for Venable, 37, who talked with the Cubs and Giants in October.
“You have to take opportunities seriously and have to think about those things,” Venable said. “I’m a Chicago Cub right now until that changes. I’m super excited to be here, committed to this team until someone gives me an opportunity to have a different job. This is where I’m at. I plan to be here for the year.”
Venable declined to elaborate on his interview, citing the sensitivity of the sign-stealing scandal that led to severe penalties Major League Baseball assessed against the Astros, while hoping the interview experience would enhance his preparation.
2. Theo Epstein can only say so much. Cubs President Theo Epstein was adamant about being transparent to fans but admitted he had to be ambiguous regarding how much he could spend as protection against agents and potential trade partners.
Epstein did acknowledge positioning the team relative to the competitive-balance threshold is a factor and that he faces a struggle trying to improve the team in 2020 while not running the risk of falling off the cliff after 2021 — when some of the team’s best players are on track to become free agents — and provide a better long-term financial picture.
“This is one of those winters where it’s hard to thread the needle,” Epstein said. “We’re doing the best we can. I’d say hang with us.”
3. Wrigley Field will have a little different look — and sound. Protective netting will be extended to the “elbows” of the left- and right-field lines, president of business operations Crane Kenney said.
The Cubs hope to hire an organist to replace the retired Gary Pressy by the start of spring training to perform at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz.
Press-box upgrades include improved heating and air conditioning, which should enhance the team’s efforts to host the 2022 All-Star Game.
4. Andy Green fulfills his dream. New bench coach Andy Green, who was the Padres manager the last four seasons, said his mother used to drive him from Lexington, Ky., to Wrigley Field when he was young.
“I thought there would be nothing cooler than to be a Chicago Cub,” said Green, who admired watching Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg. “I bypassed the Cincinnati allegiance as soon as I went to Wrigley and being a Cubs fan. My family didn’t like that. Simply, I just spent four years in a rebuild. I want to win. I want to win bad and have the confidence (David Ross) can lead us to that.”
5. Mike Napoli has a prolific beard. A fan expressed his admiration for the length of new coach Mike Napoli’s beard, which extends past his collarbone.
“That beard is glorious,” the fan told Napoli during a panel with Ross and his coaching staff. “That’s the kind of beard that would lead troops to battle in the Civil War.”
Napoli played with Ross on the 2013 World Series champion Red Sox but wasn’t certain he would be hired after inquiring about the quality assurance coach position.
“Please call me,” Napoli said of constantly looking at his cellphone. “I’m looking to get back in.”