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- In the way only he can, Jon Greenberg praises(?) the rebuilding process, and preaches(?) patience for the upcoming season. As an almost aside, Greenberg makes a fantastic point about roster construction that I hadn’t considered: “A Cubs official told me Sveum changed from the first season into the second. When I suggested that losing does that to a manager, he agreed. I also think that the lack of talent and the losing has hampered Castro and Rizzo’s development. It doesn’t help that opposing scouting reports are focused solely on those two. It showed in 2013.” The point here is about advanced scouting and prep work. If a lineup has almost no one in it that scares you as a pitcher or as a team, you will be able to spend an inordinate amount of your preparation time focusing solely on the one or two guys that might possibly be able to hurt you. And if those guys happen to be youngsters, they’re going to be behind the 8-ball in performance and development from thing one. There are only so many hours in the day for opponents to prepare – wouldn’t it be nice if they had a ton of guys to heavily focus on, rather than just the guys in their early-20s who are still trying to develop?
- (Please note: this is an entirely separate point from the bevy of other reasons it’s a good idea to have quality veterans on the roster to pair with the youngsters – leadership, off-field adjustments, in-game performance, more runners on base can improve results at the plate, etc.)
- Gordon Wittenmyer asked some Cubs players and Theo Epstein about Michael Sam coming out, and how that would be received if it were a Cubs player. Each of the Cubs asked essentially took the same course: it doesn’t really matter, because what matters is playing baseball. Epstein went a bit further, and explained that accepting a gay teammate would put you on the right side of history, because when we look back in however many years, it’s going to be clear what was right and what was wrong. Jeff Samardzija said that, while in the minors, he had a teammate that came out to the team, it was kept private, and everyone simply focused on playing baseball.
- Welington Castillo is already getting specific instruction on pitch-framing, which has been perhaps the one remaining below-average aspect of his game behind the plate.
- Jose Veras is very excited to be a part of the Cubs, per Cubs.com, and, although Rick Renteria has said he’s the closer, Veras isn’t taking any role for granted.
- It sounds like Chris Bosio is still very much a fan of pitching prospect Kyle Hendricks, who was the Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2013. Hendricks will be among the most interesting stories in 2014, having long outpitched his “stuff,” and battling against a scouting perception that he’s simply overwhelming inexperienced hitters with polish and command – which, alone, won’t do the trick at the big league level. Still, Bosio’s comments in that piece from Paul Sullivan suggest the Cubs’ pitching coach doesn’t agree with other folks’ perception.
- Tim Sheridan got some great pictures of Cubs players working out yesterday, and perhaps the best news of all? The Stache is back!
- Jeff Sullivan investigates the largest discrepancies in current fan projections for players in 2014 and projections from Steamer. Interestingly, only two Cubs show up on any of the lists, and it’s two pitchers, both on the “fans are more pessimistic than the projection system” list: Jason Hammel and Jake Arrieta.
- Eno Sarris nerds it up (in a good way) on the issue of pitchers getting batters to swing AND miss – in other words, it’s great if you’ve got a pitch that no one can hit, but if they almost never swing in the first place, how useful is it really?
- I don’t know why this happened, but it’s incredible:
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