Yesterday, among many other comments (which will be discussed later), Matt Garza noted that things were already better for the 2012 Chicago Cubs because now “we’ve got better cooks.” He was, of course, referring to the food in Mesa, but I couldn’t help but see the metaphor. The Cubs definitely have better cooks, Matt.
- New manager Dale Sveum says he’s at home in Spring Training, being around baseball. “It seems like I got hired two years ago,” Sveum said. “You’re just waiting for this day to come to finally get on the field, and it took until late afternoon to get out there. When you do this for so many years, the most comfortable spot you’re in is when you’re on the grass and Spring Training and when the balls are being hit and caught and thrown and to be able to talk to everybody. It’s officially baseball season, finally, and that’s when we’re all most comfortable.”
- One of Sveum’s first orders of business? Figuring out what he’s got in Jeff Samardzija, who emerged as a quality reliever last year, but still hopes to have a chance to start. “We just want to look at him and see how he reacts to multiple innings and see what happens by the end of Spring Training to make that decision,” Sveum said on Samardzija’s future role. “We haven’t promised anybody anything. The fact of the matter is to see what we’ve got there. He might wow us – you never know. That’s a power arm and a power body that is obviously built to start.” The question for Samardzija as a starter remains a simple, two-parter: can he keep the walks down, and can he utilize three quality pitches so that opposing lineups aren’t teeing off on him by the second and third time through the order. If he can do those things, he could be an excellent starter. If not, he could remain a very good reliever.
- Sveum confirmed my guess that the only three pitchers locked into the rotation right now are Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, and Paul Maholm, saying that a list of pitchers including Randy Wells, Chris Volstad, Travis Wood, Casey Coleman, Andy Sonnanstine, and Samardzija are competing for those last two spots.
- God’s Wrath may have been camping out in Mesa, just waiting for the Cubs to arrive – lefty John Gaub strained his back lifting weights, and won’t be able to pitch for a few days. It’s not serious, but, hey: this is how it starts. Next thing you know, Starlin Castro is having a finger removed after a surprise outbreak of flesh-eating bacteria.
- Buster Olney says the Yankees have a deal in place with Raul Ibanez, pending a physical, which is a bummer. Did you already forget why? Now that Ibanez has signed a Major League deal (as opposed to having to settle for a minor league deal), the Cubs’ compensatory pick for Carlos Pena falls from number 54 next year to number 56. Not a huge drop, maybe not even a meaningful one. But still stinks, ever so slightly.
- Joe Cowley interviewed former Cubs GM Jim Hendry, who, as always, acquits himself as a super-nice guy. But, I’m getting mighty tired of seeing the kind of inherently conflicted logic that we’ve been seeing for years (in this instance, from Cowley). Namely: You can’t, on the one hand, extol Hendry for being the only GM to take the Cubs to three postseasons, and then, on the other hand, say that the last three years weren’t his fault, since the Tribune Company insisted he spend big money on overpriced free agents and in-house extensions. Guess what? Without those overpriced free agents/extensions, the Cubs don’t make the playoffs in 2007 and 2008. You can’t have it both ways, no matter how much you want to deride fans who criticize a number of Hendry’s decisions.
- Another set of MLBullets at BCB – Chone Figgins as a leadoff hitter? Seriously?