Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

I am headed out to Spring Training this morning (by way of a stop in Texas to meet my new niece), which means posting could be modestly erratic today through Monday. I’ll be traveling today, in Texas tomorrow, traveling Friday, going to games Saturday and Sunday, and then traveling again on Monday. We live in a fancy, modern world, so I expect the quantity of posts and quality of coverage to remain about the same this week, but the timing might be a little atypical (like this wee hours of the morning offering). Today’s an off-day in the Spring Training schedule, so that helps.

  • Ian Stewart is still bothered by the wrist injury that plagued him last year, causing him to miss a bunch of time, and produce a lot of nothing. It’s healthy enough to play, but he says he still feels it, and has to heat/ice it after games. I’m glad no one seems to be worried about it, but, like, um, seriously? It’s March. If he’s already icing/heating/whatever and feels it every time he makes contact, I have a hard time believing he’s playing at 100%, and/or will be at 100% come mid-season. Here’s the way Stewart describes it: “I have been happy about Spring and working out in the offseason because it’s all after contact which I can deal better with. If it’s before contact, then it’s hindering my swing. It’s something you treat and don’t let it get too sore and try to keep your head on it …. It’s not like it’s broke or anything. It’s just inflammation and general soreness type stuff. The best chance [to eliminate it] is in the offseason and even then, guys nowadays, we start working out right when the season is over. It’s just one of those things where if I had a whole year off it would probably be better.”
  • Bruce Levine did the chat thing yesterday, noting among other things: (1) Travis Wood doesn’t look anything like the pitcher he was in 2010; (2) Theo and Jed are probably not all that concerned by Bryan LaHair’s rough Spring; (3) Bruce thinks Ian Stewart looks like the most improved Cub; (4) the Phillies should be checking in on Blake DeWitt, but Bruce thinks DeWitt’s value to the Cubs is more than the marginal prospect he’d net; (5) Jay Jackson probably starts in AAA again this year; (6) if Marlon Byrd is traded, it’s likely to be mid-season; (7) the Cubs can’t trade away all of their “good” veterans, otherwise they can’t sell the third highest priced tickets in baseball; and (8) Bruce thinks the Cubs will be making Randy Wells available in trade and could make Rodrigo Lopez the long-man in the pen.

  • ESPN is ranking the top 500 players in all of baseball and they’ve got 401 to 500 up now. An unfortunate number of Cubs are already listed, with Chris Volstad at 402, Randy Wells at 407, Jeff Samardzija at 447, Darwin Barney at 472, and Reed Johnson at 490. At least three of those rankings are utterly absurd (it’s easy to rank Cubs players low, given the overall crappiness of the team in the last three years), and I’ll let you figure out which three I think are absurd.
  • Bruce Miles recounts the Baseball Prospectus tour stop in Chicago (featuring Kevin Goldstein and Colin Wyers), which has a number of really interesting anecdotes/thoughts from the duo. A couple random ones: the two expect the extra Wild Card this year to make for a wacky trade market at mid-season (more buyers AND more sellers, which I gather means more activity), and Goldstein says that, while he doesn’t think the odds of Samardzija succeeding in the rotation are great, the Cubs might as well try it this year. Lots of good stuff there – definitely worth a read.
  • I noted in yesterday’s Miscellany that Carlos Marmol was pulled mid-inning yesterday with what appeared to be a hand problem. Marmol says it was just cramping, and no one seems to be worried. He’s getting an MRI just to be safe, but probably won’t be an issue.

  • The way the schedule is lining up, Ryan Dempster looks like he’s going to get the Opening Day start, not Matt Garza. About Dempster’s solid outing yesterday, Dale offered another Dale-ism: “Very good fastball command, he was able to pitch up in the zone. It was kind of like the Dempster that pitches all the time that I’ve seen shove it up our butt in Milwaukee when I was there.” Ryan Dempster: Shoving it up other teams’ butts since 1998.

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