The Rundown: Pat Hughes Wins Sportscasting Award, Baez’s Up-and-Down Winter Continues, Cubs Looking for CF?

As Cubs fans, we’re very fortunate in terms of who we have to paint the picture of each game.

Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies do a great job of mixing humor, pop culture and statistics to create an enjoyable Cubs TV broadcast.

And then there’s Pat Hughes on the radio side. Some may find him a tad hokey, but I think he’s an outstanding radio announcer. One of the best.

Yesterday, the Cubs radio play-by-play man was named the 2014 Illinois Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. This was his ninth award, and first since 2009.

Hughes’ new partner Ron Coomer took a bit to grow on me last season, but I think they have a chance to be a very solid pairing. Definitely better than the broadcasts with Keith Moreland.

I may be biased, but I really enjoy the two Cubs announcing pairings. I’m sure things have been difficult over the past few years, with having to cover some abysmal teams.

But I have the feeling that next year should be more fun for them — and, in turn, more fun for the fans.

Other notes

* It has been an up-and-down winter for Javier Baez in Puerto Rico. He started off on fire, but then cooled considerably. However, he has put together some solid performances of late. Over his last three games, he has gone 6-for-14 with six runs scored and a couple of stolen bases. Even when having success, however, he has continued to strike out. His contact issues will certainly be a big storyline to follow in 2015.

* Jon Morosi confirms that the Cubs have discussed a trade for catcher Welington Castillo with the Diamondbacks. It’s only a matter of time before the Cubs unload Castillo; the question is how much they can get in return. The two teams seem like a good match, as the Cubs currently have three catchers and the D-Backs don’t really have any.

* Meanwhile, maybe a Castillo trade won’t be the only other move the Cubs make this offseason. Buster Olney tweets that the Cubs are still hoping to add somebody who can play centerfield. This makes sense to me, as the only option they really have at this point is Arismendy Alcantara. And while he’s a very interesting young player, he doesn’t have a ton of experience at the position (to say the least), and who knows if he will even pan out as a hitter.

* Olney also notes that the Cardinals weren’t willing to offer more than $120 million to Jon Lester, which indicates their current payroll mindset. If true, I’d say it would mean a Max Scherzer signing would be unlikely, despite the rumors.

* Patrick Mooney with some excellent quotes from Jon Lester talking about Anthony Rizzo. The two both came up in the Boston organization, and Lester remembers meeting Rizzo shortly after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Lester battled cancer as well while with Boston). The more I hear from Lester, the more I like him. Between him and new manager Joe Maddon, we should be hearing and reading a ton of great quotes throughout the season.

* Back to the Diamondbacks, Ken Rosenthal is reporting that they have interest in free-agent starter James Shields. He says this is a bit of an indicator for where the market is on Shields, and that the price level must be lower than $100 million because Arizona wouldn’t be interested otherwise. Rosenthal also said Shields was offered $110 million by a team, but he didn’t want to go to that team. If the price on Shields goes low enough, would the Cubs make a move?

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