Goodbye, Olympics. See you in a couple years in Rio.
- Arodys Vizcaino, already at the switch for a Spring Training hype train, threw live BP for the first time yesterday, and once again impressed. Carrie Muskat says Vizcaino was hitting 97/98 mph on the gun, and Ryan Sweeney says he was shaving 10 mph off of that with a nice changeup. Vizcaino also throws a sharp breaking ball, so you can imagine how much success a hard-throwing, three-MLB-quality-pitch pitcher could be in a relief role. If, long-term, Vizcaino isn’t going to make it as a starter, it won’t be because of ability – just durability. But that’s part of the reason to dream on him as an exceptional reliever (even if he doesn’t make the team out of camp). The important bit on Vizcaino for now: still no setbacks. Everything feels good.
- The story for Jake Arrieta isn’t as bright, even if there’s still no red alarms flashing – probably just a disconnect between the Cubs’ cautious approach and Arrieta’s understandable optimism. Arrieta threw on flat ground yesterday, hoping it would be his final throwing session before he could get back on the mound, but Rick Renteria told Jesse Rogers that Arrieta still has “quite a bit to go” before he’s back on the mound. I’m not worried yet (beyond the normal worry that accompanies even minor issues – Arrieta says he feels fine), because, in the grand scheme of things, Arrieta starting the season a few (cold) weeks late isn’t the worst thing in the world. The Cubs can DL Arrieta to start the year and take a little time making the ultimate rotation/roster decision that his spot will force.
- A profile on last year’s $3.1 million Cuban reliever signing Armando Rivero? Yes please, Patrick Mooney. For whatever reason, Rivero, who flew up the minor league latter late last year with stupid numbers and then pitched in the AFL with mixed results, gets lost in the bullpen shuffle heading into 2014. I suppose for me that’s merely a product of the ability to give Rivero a little more seasoning at AAA, and the glut of decent bullpen arms available to the Cubs out of camp. Rivero is 26, so, with a little more stateside ball, he should probably be ready to go by the second half of the year. Folks seem to think he looked good throwing live BP yesterday, with a mid-90s fastball and sharp breaking stuff.
- More from Mooney on the need for veteran leadership in the clubhouse when the youngsters come up, including quotes from Jed Hoyer concurring in the need, long-term. I offered my thoughts on that subject last week, for those who missed it.
- Mike Olt continues to say he’s seeing the ball well, per Mark Gonzales. Moreover, he’s no longer on special medication for his eyes (which I take to mean he no longer has to use the drops in his eyes for lubrication/allergies). That’s another good sign, even if everything is still cautious optimism at most.
- Praise for Welington Castillo’s continued defensive work.
- Jerry Crasnick reports Javier Baez is looking for a new agent. When word gets around that you can and will break all windows in a single metropolitan area, the possibility of future bucks increases. (UPDATE: For his part, Baez denies he’s shopping around, per Mark Gonzales.)
- If you guessed Barry Bonds would be welcomed back to help with the Giants before Sammy Sosa came back to the Cubs, you’d be right.
- I won’t call it the usual “prospect porn of the day,” since it feels little weird, given the substance. But I will say this is great news:
#Cubs fans won't recognize Dan Vogelbach. He lost 30 pounds this winter. Looks great
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) February 22, 2014