Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Chicago Cubs management and coaches met yesterday evening to discuss the final roster decision, but, as noted yesterday morning, we might learn about those decisions immediately (and we didn’t, because we’re still waiting to hear – if the Cubs want to make some trades after making their internal roster decisions, you can understand why we’re still waiting to hear the details). Chris Volstad and Jeff Samardzija are expected to get the last two rotation spots, and Blake DeWitt and Joe Mather are expected to get the last two bench spots. The back-up catcher (Steve Clevenger or Welington Castillo) is still up in the air, as are the last few bullpen spots. We should know more soon – as early as today.

  • Speaking of those roster decisions, Randy Wells – who could be the odd man out of the rotation, despite two and a half successful years as a starter coming into this year – was supposed to pitch out of the bullpen yesterday, but instead was bumped into a starting gig on Sunday. What can we make of that? Well, it could be that he’s being stretched out a bit to be a long reliever, rather than a one-inning type guy. I suppose it’s theoretically possible that we’re all wrong, and Wells is actually going to grab a rotation spot, but I doubt that. The other possibility? He’s being showcased as a starter, rather than a reliever, in case teams want to make a final offer for him in trade.
  • On his very successful start yesterday, Jeff Samardzija says he focused much more after coming off a (crappy) start against the Rockies in which he kind of felt like he was on cruise control. “The last start, I was cruising through the whole spring and feeling great and I think that got to my head a little bit,” Samardzija said. “I was throwing instead of really making good pitches. Today, I slowed myself down and stepped off a couple times and took a deep breath and threw the pitch that me and [catcher Geovany Soto] felt was the best pitch.”

  • The new front office is standing behind Darwin Barney as the team’s starting second baseman, at least in conversations with Barney, himself. “They’ve instilled confidence in me,’’ Barney said of early conversations with the new men in charge. “They let me know that they believe that I can do what I believe I can do.’’ Barney added something he appreciates about the new guys: “The good thing that’s different about this year is they are up front with you, and you know you’re going to get honesty,’’ he said, “and as a player that means a lot, whether you like what you’re hearing or not. All I can really say is the communication’s been there with everybody. It’s been there from Day 1. And that’s the most important thing.’’
  • Dale Sveum is trying not to sound worried about David DeJesus’s poor Spring (.286 OBP). “Obviously his numbers aren’t eye-popping by any means,” Sveum said. “It’s just a case of a veteran coming to camp and trying to do too much, maybe a little passive-aggressive instead of [thinking]: ‘You’ve had a lot of success before. Just go out and do it and not worry about where you’re hitting in the order.’ ” I still think he starts the year as the leadoff hitter (against righties), but maybe it won’t last if he slumps for most of April. For his part, DeJesus is working hard, and putting in extra time with hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo.
  • The Cubs released 21-year-old pitching prospect Cam Greathouse, who was the team’s 8th round pick in 2010. Greathouse can strike guys out, but he had hellaciously bad control last year. We probably will never know if that was the only issue that led to his release, but it’s possible the Cubs felt like they couldn’t spare the pitching spot at the lower levels of the minors right now.

  • CSN’s Patrick Mooney wrote a great piece on the social media revolution in historically slow-to-adapt MLB.
  • Stat guru Tom Tango (tangotiger) is putting together his crowd-sourced playing time projections, which are used in his Marcel projections. In other words, you can play a small role in a relatively important advanced statistical projection model. Here’s where you do it.
  • Fluff on Welington Castillo, who for a long time resisted becoming a catcher.
  • MasterCard is running a promotion where you can pledge your support to the Cubs (by way of pledging to do something), and you can win prizes. I pledged to shave my head (in honor of a certain new bald member of the Cubs’ organization) if the Cubs sweep the Cardinals in April (six games). Pretty unlikely to happen, but I do love my hair. So there’s risk. Anyway, here’s my tweet on the thing, and you can follow the link if you want to make a pledge of your own.
  • Have you picked up a piece of Bleacher Nation apparel yet? You should. It’s swell.

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