Yesterday marked the start of the Cubs Convention, and for those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s basically a way the team can make a ton of money during the offseason by making the players accessible to the fans for like 2 hours. They occasionally do cool things like make announcements, such as David Ross coming back to the organization as a special assistant to the front office. They also give fans the opportunity to ask a question to a washed up cubs veteran like Ted Lilly, and get autographs from bench players like Matt Szczur. They also let kids talk to star players and coaches during rotating panels. One time I asked Lou Piniella why he kept Kevin Gregg in as the closer even though he sucked all season.
Here are the questions I would ask the 2017 Cubs along with some of their coaches and front office guys if I had the chance:
Jason Heyward: How’s the swing coming along? (Here’s the footage we have for the readers at home: Jason Heyward’s new swing ) What adjustments have you made, and how do you make sure you’re not overworking yourself so that you aren’t worn out during the regular season because of a lack of rest?
Kris Bryant: I know you’re friends with Bryce Harper, who won the NL MVP a year ago, but struggled this season. Have you talked to him about what went wrong in 2016 and as the NL MVP how do you prevent a season like that from happening?
Anthony Rizzo: Early in the season, we saw you getting shifted on a lot, and you started off the season with a .235 batting average, what changes did you make to hit .316 for the rest of the season?
Javy Baez: You were in Mexico during Kris Bryant’s wedding, were you invited to KB’s wedding or nah?
Willson Contreras: As an everyday catcher, how do you manage your off-time before and after games to focus on both hitting and behind the plate strategy against teams? Would you say you spend x amount of hours watching film of opposing pitchers and y amount of hours in meetings with pitchers planning out how you approach batters in the opposing team’s lineup?
John Lackey: You’ve won 3 championships now, and after your first 2 rings, each team won less than 80 games a season later. How do you approach the offseason and season to ensure that the team doesn’t get complacent? Any experiences from the 2003 Angels and the 2014 Red Sox that you will draw back on to ensure the culture is right in the locker room?
Pedro Strop: Is the sideways hat a fashion thing or a visibility thing?
Ben Zobrist: After a postseason that featured you starting almost every game in left field, have you been practicing the outfield more than in years past?
Addison Russell: Last season, it seemed like there was a lot of talk in spring training about your improved power over the offseason and we saw your numbers surge from 13 homers to 21 homers and your RBI total went from 54 to 95. Is there a certain part of your game you’ve been focusing on this offseason to make you a more well-rounded player?
Wade Davis: You spent some time as a starter in Tampa Bay and in Kansas City, would you feel comfortable coming into the game in the 7th or 8th inning like we saw with Chapman and Andrew Miller in the playoffs if necessary?
Kyle Hendricks: Game 7 of the World Series, how many pitches would you have thrown? How upset were you when they took you out of the game in the 5th?
Justin Grimm: Would you say your confidence coming in to tricky situations is due to the fact that you have the hottest wife on the team?
Kyle Schwarber: At what point in the offseason were you fully healthy, and how do you manage time practicing playing the outfield and playing catcher?
Albert Almora: Which play were you more proud of, the unbelievable catch in game 3 of the NLDS or tagging up in game 7 of the WS?
Matt Szczur: You’ve logged 129 games as an outfielder for the cubs without any errors, including 82 games in left, 32 games in center, and 30 games in right (played 15 games where he switched positions), is there any outfield spot you like the most or feel the most comfortable in?
Jon Jay: You played for the Cardinals for the first 6 years of your career and played in the minors for 5 seasons, where do you feel the winning culture is established? In the majors with the guys in the clubhouse, in the minors as an organization, bottom to top winning culture, during spring training with Tony La Russa and Mike Matheny?
Koji Uehara: You’re 42 years old, older than David Ross and you could be Addison Russell’s father, how do you keep yourself in good enough shape to be competing against the best athletes in the world?
Hector Rondon: You had a Jason Hammel-esque season last year, with a sub-2 era in the first half of the season and an era greater than 5 in the second half, how do you change your approach in the offseason to get back on track and go the distance?
Jon Lester: With David Ross retiring, do you see yourself having a preferred personal catcher? If so, would it be Miggy or Schwarber?
Carl Edwards: Some people think you are the long term solution as the closer for the Cubs, others project you to be a starter, how do you view yourself as a pitcher?
Miguel Montero: How much weight have you lost this offseason?
Mike Montgomery: Do you change how you approach the offseason/spring training if you are expecting to be the 5th starter vs being a middle relief pitcher? Do you have a preference of the two?
Tommy La Stella Would you consider this offseason to be your second offseason of the year after taking so much time off when you got sent down last year?
Jake Arrieta: One of your biggest advantages as a pitcher is your physicality being in top shape, however you regressed a bit last season, losing some command. Are there certain parts of your body you focused on during offseason workouts to get yourself back to peak Jake Arrieta?
Theo Epstein: Any updates on the whole 5th starter thing? Are we getting someone from the outside (Tyson Ross just signed with the Rangers) or is it going to be Mike Montgomery?
Jason McLeod (VP of Scouting and Player Development): In the past years we’ve seen Bryant, Russell, Schwarber, Contreras, and more come up through the minors and make an impact, who do you expect this year’s impact player from the minor leagues to be? Ian Happ? Jeimer Candelario?
Joe Maddon: After a 162 game grind and a 17 game postseason, obviously your team was tired and deserved a break celebrating their postseason run. How do you make sure that these guys take their time off during the offseason to celebrate and recharge their batteries, but also make sure they aren’t falling behind the competition who are working their asses off for 2017? Also, does your approach change with Spring Training and the Regular season to keep these guys from being overworked heading into the postseason?
Lester Strode (Bullpen Coach): How much of a pain in the ass was working with Chapman last year?
Chris Bosio: Have you ever thought of changing the way the bullpen is structured to go after high leverage situations with your pitchers similar to how Andrew Miller was used last year? So, is there a chance we could see Davis going in during the 7th or 8th with Hector closing things out, or are we looking at a traditional closer role?
Jed Hoyer: Ever heard of Travis Wood? He’s still a free agent….