I am on my way to Arizona for a week of Spring Training and sun (but don’t tell The Wife I said that second part). In fact, if all goes according to plan, I am literally on my way as this post publishes. Through the wonders of technology, I pre-wrote these Bullets so that my change in schedule would not impact your usually-scheduled Bullet enjoyment.
- The Cubs will play a makeup game today against the Giants at 11am CT because of the tarp-related rainout this weekend. Jason Hammel will get the start, his first in a Cubs uniform. Mike Olt will finally see the field in that game, although it will be at first base. He’s been dealing with some shoulder soreness, but it seems to be “ramping up for the season” type soreness, not “injury” soreness.
- Speaking of Olt, I discussed it over the weekend, but he continues to draw shadow hype, including from himself. Olt tells Cubs.com: “If I am healthy, I do know I belong in the big leagues. It’s not a matter of thinking about making the big leagues, it’s about going out there and doing my thing. Whatever happens, happens. When I do get the shot, I’ll be ready.” Hopefully Olt’s right. For his part, manager Rick Renteria isn’t committing to anything publicly when it comes to Olt, offering only the standard “we’ll see what happens, just get him healthy, you never know” kind of stuff (CSN).
- Dale Sveum says (ESPNChicago) there’s nothing he would do differently if he had a chance to do it all over again with the Cubs, which seems an odd perspective, assuming Sveum wouldn’t want to get fired again. No, a great deal of what happened was entirely outside of his control, and it’s possible that he could have done everything perfectly and still been broomed. Of course, after he departed, we were told he didn’t do everything perfectly, so I guess there are just some philosophical differences between his vision and that of his former employers. In that way, it’s kind of a bummer, given the depths of that first managerial search.
- Speaking of those philosophical differences, one of the big ones may have been the handling of Starlin Castro, whose performance sunk to new depths last year. The reason for those struggles – the lawsuit back home? bad BABIP luck? an ill-advised change in his plate approach? poor coaching in implementing that change? – will remain something of a mystery, because Sveum wasn’t giving up too much info when he spoke with ESPNChicago about Castro. It could have been a matter of inconsistency (Castro apparently didn’t care for being bounced around the order, and Jesse Rogers reports that the front office and/or Castro’s agent intervened when he was dropped to 8th in the order in August), or a square-peg-round-hole problem. Sveum referenced notorious free-swinger Vladamir Guerrero when discussing what happens when you ask a hitter to try and take more pitches. It makes you wonder: if the approach change was driven by the front office, was Sveum always on board with it? If not, did that impact the way Castro was instructed?
- That said, the change – asking Castro to see more pitches to try and work counts that would give him more pitches to drive (and/or generate more walks) – was ultimately geared toward making Castro the best possible offensive force he could be, so I doubt Sveum was opposed to it.
- The Cleveland Plain Dealer says it’s time to retire Chief Wahoo for good.