MLB could announce the official addition of two extra Wild Cards for the 2012 season tonight or tomorrow. If scheduling problems preclude the addition this year, the two extra Wild Cards will have to wait until 2013.
- It sounds like 22-year-old corner infield prospects Anthony Rizzo and Josh Vitters are becoming fast friends (and the two were actually friendly before Rizzo came to the Cubs). I’m sure they’d love to see each other across the diamond at Wrigley Field in a couple years – and, if it means they’ve developed well, I’m sure Cubs fans would love to see it, too. This year will be a very important one for Vitters, who was finally mostly healthy in 2011, but whose bat didn’t come along far enough to mask the fact that his glove didn’t really come along much at all at third base. A step forward in both areas this year at AAA Iowa could mean big things.
- Dale Sveum knows Spring Training standings don’t matter, but he still wants the Cubs to win. “I don’t care where you’re playing,” Sveum said, “winning is winning and you want to win all the time. At the end of the Cactus League, will the record matter? Of course not. I think the bottom line is to stress to beat the other team every time you step on the field. It’s not always what the final score dictates. Can you go home at night and say you kicked the other team’s butt besides the final score of the game? You can win a lot of games and a guy can hit a walk-off, two-run homer on a great pitch and you lost the game but you really won 8 2/3 innings, too. There’s a difference between winning and losing sometimes and how you get it.”
- After Paul Maholm dispatched Rodrigo Lopez in the final first round matchup of the Cubs Bunt Tournament, the second round kicked off yesterday. Adrian Cardenas, Blake Lalli, Jeff Beliveau, and Trey McNutt won, while Matt Szczur, Jonathan Mota, Lendy Castillo, and Rafael Dolis were eliminated.
- Geovany Soto is feeling better, but is still at least a week away from returning to the field after a “minor” groin strain. Mmm hmm. Minor. No worries. Feeling good. Precautionary. I’m not at all paranoid about Cubs injuries. Not at all.
- Ron Swanson – the BN’er, not the fictional Director of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department – spent last week in Mesa checking out Spring Training (jealous), and sent me a bunch of great pictures and stories about the experience. I gathered the pictures, with some thoughts on each, over on the Bleacher Nation Facebook page (because that’s one thing that Facebook does very well). I think it makes for a pretty fun read/look, and gives you an idea of what it’s like to be a fan at Spring Training before the games start. Thanks again, Ron. (Start with the first picture, read the caption in the upper right, and then click ahead to the next picture, and so on.)
- Also over on the BN Facebook page (you see why you should “like” Bleacher Nation on Facebook?), BN’er Danny offers his “from the ground” report on last night’s analytics presentation, featuring Cubs’ Assistant to the GM Shiraz Rehman. Among Danny’s thoughts: despite there being an open bar, folks didn’t go nuts; most of the questions came from Cubs fans rather than journalists or bloggers; Shiraz Rehman would be a cool dude to have a beer with. You know who else is a cool dude? Danny. Head over to the Facebook page to see the rest of his thoughts.
- Fluff on Paul Maholm, who is all about letting batters put the ball in play. “I’m going to do everything I can [and] I’m going to have every bit of confidence in the guys to put up runs and make the plays [behind me because] I’m not a strikeout guy.”
- Carlos Marmol, who lost about 15 pounds this offseason, talked at length with Dave Kaplan about his farm in the Dominican Republic. Carlos Marmol: farmer. I dig.
- The Cubs will play a couple intrasquad games at the end of this week (Friday and Saturday at 1pm at HoHoKam, open to the public for free) as they get ready to open up the Cactus League on Sunday.
- More MLBullets over at BCB – was the Derek Jeter “flip” play really that impressive? (Yes. It was, Bobby Valentine.)