Ross blocks out negatives, locks in on Cubs winning World Series
The 35th annual Cubs Convention is in the books, and the storylines didn't waver much during the three-day gathering at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.
Most -- if not all -- were negative.
With spring training opening on Feb. 11 in Mesa, Ariz., the Cubs still haven't made a significant roster addition this off-season.
They are expected to trade a star player, looking at you Kris Bryant, to avoid going over the salary cap for a second straight season.
They continue to wait for a ruling in Bryant's service-time grievance.
They are still not sure if games on their new Marquee Sports Network are going to be televised on Comcast, the area's largest carrier.
New manager David Ross was grilled on nearly every issue before and during the Cubs Convention. He didn't hesitate to respond with positive spins.
"If you're looking for a negative mindset, that's not going to be me," Ross said. "We're going to talk about winning the World Series. We're going to preach winning the World Series. We're going to do our work to win the World Series.
"Those are the things I focus on. Every mistake we make during the season, there is going to be coaching our way to get to the big dance, and that's the World Series. We've got a really good team. I think we can get even more out of some areas.
"Like Ian Happ last season, he had a phenomenal last month, so maybe some other guys turn the corner. Kyle Schwarber was a really good player in the second half. I think there are a lot of things coming together and a belief in each other that is very powerful."
Schwarber has also heard all about the Cubs' lack of activity this winter, and he is on board with Ross' rosy outlook.
"People want to say quiet but if you don't remember, not too long ago we were the team that was making all the moves," said Schwarber, who hit .280/.366/.631 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI after the all-star break last season. "You've go to keep it in perspective, what we have here still. You look at a lot of people's track records and see what they've done in this game and see what we're still capable of doing.
"I think as we stand here today, if we go out there and go to battle, I would take this team any day."
There was plenty of finger pointing last September when the Cubs lost 10 of their last 12 games and missed the playoffs.
Had Javier Baez not been sidelined for most the final month with a hairline fracture in his left thumb, the Cubs very well might have made it to the postseason for the fifth straight year.
Baez has had plenty of time to heal, but he's still not sure if the thumb is 100 percent.
"I've been working out normally," the Cubs' star shortstop said. "I've been hitting and it hasn't bothered me, but I haven't hit live pitching. If it's going to bother me it's going to be there, seeing live pitching."
It was snowy and bitterly cold at the Cubs Convention this weekend.
Inside the Sheraton Grand Chicago, a definite feel of baseball was in the air.
"I think this is the time right now, this weekend, when you start getting the feeling of getting back at it every day," Albert Almora said. "You see the guys you're with for seven months, eight months out of the year.
"When you get three or four months off, maybe it's been too long of an off-season for us since we didn't make the playoffs, you kind of get that hunger and that itch to get back at it."