I’m thrilled about the Cubs winning their opening series. Let there be no mistake about that. Last year, the Cubs didn’t win a series until taking two of three from the Cardinals from April 23 to 25 – their sixth series of the year. But let’s be clear about what that series was: it was two teams whose offenses look brutally bad, struggling to do anything worthwhile at the plate. Each team scored just six runs, and it just so happened that the Cubs’ six runs lined up more advantageously than the Pirates’. We’ll see how the Cubs look against the Braves.
- In case you missed last night’s big news: the Sun-Times reports that a Wrigley renovation deal is essentially done, and the Cubs are getting most of what they asked for. The details are here. Being that we’ve discussed the Wrigley renovation deal from the funding perspective for months now, I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve forgotten what the renovation is actually about: improving and preserving Wrigley Field. To that end, here’s the post about the renovation announcement from way back in January, which includes pictures of the actual renovation. It’s easy to lose sight of that piece of the story.
- On Carlos Marmol: after yesterday’s very nearly blown three-run save (a couple games after Marmol was quickly yanked in another three-run save opportunity), Dale Sveum is still saying the things you’d expect him to. Marmol got the job done. Marmol’s still the closer. Marmol isn’t always efficient, but he does the job. Etc. I get the feeling, though, that the directive to keep Marmol in as the closer is coming down from the top. Can you imagine a manager sticking by Marmol right now of his own accord? I’m not sure I can (look at how rapidly Sveum went to the bullpen on Monday, when he had arms available). I’m also not sure I agree that keeping Marmol in as the highly-visible, highly-shaky closer is more likely to protect the tiny sliver of trade value he has, rather than simply making him the 7th or 8th inning guy, where he might flourish as a setup man. Teams aren’t going to trade for Marmol as a closer anyway, so why keep trying to pull the wool over their eyes? The Cubs’ front office may have the smartest guys in baseball, but other front offices aren’t stupid.
- Matt Garza successfully threw 25 pitches off of the mound in Mesa yesterday, and if he continues feeling well, he’ll do that again on Sunday.
- Baseball Prospectus asked which prospects are the most likely to make the monumental leap from High-A to the majors, a la Marlins pitching prospect Jose Fernandez, Javier Baez got the most votes, and Jorge Soler also got some consideration. On Baez: “Baez received the most votes, but could be disqualified from the discussion if he reaches the Double-A level this season (as is expected). Not that his approach is anywhere near ready for the big stage, but his elite bat speed and offensive potential give him the best chance to do some damage if pushed to that level. The defensive profile is better than people seem to think, as many in the industry view Baez as a legit option at shortstop for the foreseeable future. When the light goes on and he learns to tame the magnificent beast that is his swing, it won’t take long for Baez to not only emerge as one of the top prospects in the game, but to reach the major league level in short order.”
- Gordon Wittenmyer, on an appearance on the Score, continued his crusade against the Cubs’ current rebuilding process – and, more specifically, the money he believes it is funneling into the Ricketts Family’s pockets. I may not be in a place to comment, given that the nature of this blog is to incorporate news and opinion from a fan perspective, but there’s something unseemly about Wittenmyer, a beat writer, going columnist on the Ricketts. Wittenmyer’s reporting carries with it certain factual authority, and I’m not sure it’s appropriate for him to be casually blending facts with his opinions in this way. It’s kind of a tricky issue, really. I don’t dispute Wittenmyer’s right to have opinions, nor his right to share them (even in his work). But something just feels a bit off on this story. Maybe it’s my bias.
- Subtle, Cubs. Subtle. Scott Feldman, who starts today for the Cubs in Atlanta, noted that he’s never really experienced cold temperatures in baseball season like Cubs just had in Pittsburgh. It makes you wonder if that’s why the Cubs lined up the rotation the way they did, with Travis Wood (who has done the cold weather thing) going yesterday in Pittsburgh, and Feldman starting in Atlanta. It’s just one start, and it’s a small distinction, but why not put Feldman in the best position to succeed, right?
- Dick Tidrow’s Baseball Reference page has a new sponsor. It is nearly as glorious as his mustache. (Thanks to TWC.)