I’m in Texas today, and my niece is, naturally, adorable.
- Among the many front office changes in the last six months, the Cubs dramatically increased the number of guys they’ve got working with the players on improving their game, include four video guys. “We hired two advanced scouts to be on the road all year and two people in the office to run it,” Jed Hoyer said. “So we’ve really taken a staff of one and turned it into a staff of four.” The Cubs’ overall baseball operations department has increased from about 90 to more than 120. These are wonderful changes about which we hear very little.
- Jed Hoyer thinks overall team performance in Spring Training isn’t terribly important. “Last year I thought the two teams in the Cactus League that struggled the most were Arizona and Cleveland,” Hoyer said. “Arizona won what 96 games? And you look at how Cleveland got out of the gate they were 30-15 and they really struggled in spring training. So it just doesn’t mean anything. I know that sounds awful. You want to win every game.” There is a slight correlation between Spring performance and season performance, but Jed’s right – it isn’t enough to be worried about.
- Jed also says (obviously Jed met with the media yesterday) that Jeff Samardzija’s looked great this year. “He’s been unbelievable,” Hoyer said of Samardzija. “He does look like a different guy than when he did even at the beginning of last year, seeing him from the other side. It’s wonderful. He looks like he’s on a mission to be a starter. Clearly he’s grabbed that competition by the throat this Spring.” Obviously Jed isn’t going to confirm a guy’s spot in the rotation, but it’s pretty clear: Samardzija’s in the rotation at this point.
- Jed isn’t worried about Bryan LaHair’s crappy Spring, and has no intention of pulling the plug on the plan to give LaHair the first base job while letting Anthony Rizzo continue to play at AAA. “The guy had such a great year last year, there’s no reason to think he won’t snap out of it,” Hoyer said of LaHair. “Maybe he’s having the worst two weeks of his year – hopefully he is. It’s not something to worry about.”
- A longer collection of a great many things Jed said to the media yesterday here.
- Paul Maholm threw a successful five innings against a Giants minor league team yesterday on the Cubs’ off-day.
- Carlos Marmol’s MRI turned up nothing, and everyone has safely concluded that his hand issue the other day was just a cramp.
- Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day start for the Nationals against the Cubs, as expected. It’s going to be a long day for Mr. Strasburg. Take that as you will.
- Forbes has released its annual baseball valuations, which it gleans from a variety of sources (and sometimes the teams dispute the numbers), and the Chicago Cubs ($879 million) come in at number four again this year, behind the Yankees ($1.85 billion), Dodgers ($1.4 billion), and Red Sox ($1.0 billion). I’ll have more thoughts on the Cubs’ financial situation as presented by Forbes later.