There’s a fresh podcast episode on the way later this morning, and (TEASER ALERT) it features an awesome guest who offered a great deal of info in which you’ll be interested.
- Scott Baker and Carlos Villanueva got in their scheduled work yesterday in a minor league scrimmage (since it was an off-day). Villanueva dominated the youngsters, while Baker was hit a bit. It doesn’t really matter how they did, because they were just getting in work (that’s especially true for Baker, who was facing hitters for the first time in his recovery from Tommy John surgery). Baker could get into a Cactus League game next.
- Keith Law says, based on what he saw in the Cubs/D-Backs game the other day, Jeff Samardzija looks ready for the season. Law didn’t seem to get a good feel for Brett Jackson, Jorge Soler, or Javier Baez during the game (though he suggests that neither Soler nor Baez looked good at the plate, and mentions that Baez looked good defensively at shortstop), but he was able to speak at length about Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon. Law was not impressed by Rondon’s 90 to 93 MPH fastball without movement, and a “slurvy slider.” Rondon historically has thrown in the mid-to-upper 90s, so low 90s, when the season starts, would be a concern. Law said he didn’t look like more than a 12th man in a bullpen, which, well, if the Cubs just want to stash Rondon, that’s all he needs to be.
- Jim Bowden, in a wide-ranging piece that will be discussed further today, says that if he had to recommend one up-and-comer in baseball to be the next hot GM candidate, it’s Cubs Scouting and Player Development Chief Jason McLeod. Hard to argue with Bowden, given McLeod’s track record (and the fact that he’s worked with and under some of the best in the biz for years – that’s a wealth of knowledge to tap). If an opportunity opens up, you can’t blame McLeod for taking his shot at a top-level job – that’s the one drawback of having a front office full of ridiculously awesome, talented execs: they’re all targets for being poached. I’m not saying there’s a reason to be worried right now, and I’m not saying that Bowden has any particular insight into the movements of the Cubs’ front office. But, in this instance, he’s right: McLeod is a universally-praised, highly-effective executive. Of course he’s going to come up in future GM conversations. (Of course, so will many talented assistants throughout baseball. And the Cubs will just have to do their best to continue grabbing and cultivating the best young front office talent – hey, it’s just like baseball!)
- Paul Sullivan tries to highlight the bright spots so far in Spring Training, with an eye toward how they might suggest surprise competitiveness in 2013. That he was unsuccessful is telling.
- A profile on new Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Derek Johnson, who came from Vanderbilt. Your excitement level about his addition remains high.
- Arizona Phil updated his Dillon Maples injury piece yesterday, saying that Maples threw a bullpen session and looked OK. We’ll tentatively exhale, but obviously he needs a lot more than bullpen sessions to inspire confidence. A solid 3/4 season is what we’re looking for. Phil’s piece also has the current minor league camp rosters, which you’ll see are very inclusive and large – guys tend to move down the chain as camp goes on, so don’t read too much into, for example, Dan Vogelbach being on the Daytona roster. Guys tend not to move up, however, so you can read at least a little something into, for example, Matt Szczur and Lendy Castillo being on Tennessee’s roster instead of Iowa’s.
- Race to Wrigley 5K deets here (it’s May 11). I’m not a runner, but The Wife is, so one of these years, we’re going to do this thing. And by “do this thing” I mean I’m going to huff and puff and feel like I’m going to die while The Wife casually and easily moonwalks beside me, coaxing me along.
- A genuinely cool infographic on Spring Training stuff – locations, distances, sizes, etc. Fun.