The Wife and I watched ‘Gravity’ last night. Pretty good. Amazing visuals. Ultimately a very small story, told in a grand setting.
- Jeff Samardzija got knocked around by the Royals yesterday in an outing that was reminiscent of at least one Spring outing for him in each of the last two years, and the explanation sounded familiar (and it’s really a story as old as time when it comes to pitchers getting knocked around): he left the ball up in the zone. “I felt good, but the ball was up in the zone though,” Samardzija told Cubs.com. “I was kind of battling with it the whole day. When you’re locating pitches but they’re putting good wood on it, usually it’s because it’s up in the zone. A couple of those jam-shot hits that fall in – they’re up in the zone. If you get those down, they turn into ground balls or strikeouts.” While Samardzija’s Spring ERA stands well over 6, you just can’t be worried about it. His velocity is fine and he’s healthy. You can worry about only so many things in the Spring. Speaking of which …
- In articles that shouldn’t exist and you shouldn’t read for $100, here’s a slideshow from Bleacher Report on the “Most Disappointing Chicago Cubs Players in Spring Training So Far.” The slideshow accurately names some guys who’ve had crummy Springs so far, but when you’re writing about a 1-for-10 half of Spring Training being disappointing, you may need to re-think your expectations for what matters. Click-click-click-click-click. Also: Brett Jackson is featured on the list for his disappointing 1-for-9 Spring with five strikeouts. After yesterday’s 2-4 day with a homer, Jackson’s Spring line shot up to .231/.412/.462. So, up next … the Most Amazing Breakout Chicago Cubs Players in Spring Training So Far (Plus Explosions and Hot Girlfriends).
- (Meta: As a rule, I no longer have a fundamental problem with Bleacher Report like I once did. They’ve done a decent job of serious-ing things up a bit in the last year, and the professional staff they’ve brought in is actually pretty good. Even at its roots, I’ve always liked the idea of having a platform for folks to write about sports, even if they have no background in writing or sports. But I think they’ve got to own the fact that slideshows like the one above are a legitimate pox on the brand. Given that the above slideshow has been read 5000 times and shared more than 30 times, however, I don’t think B/R is going to separate itself from that kind of thing any time soon.)
- Jesse Rogers looks at some of the less-discussed storylines of the Spring, with nods to Jose Veras, Justin Ruggiano, and Eric Jokisch. I agree with the names, if not the emphasis on the Spring stats (there appears to be a theme here today). I’ll judge Veras on his April and May, and I think there are reasons to like Ruggiano for 2014 that have nothing to do with his scorching Spring. As for Jokisch, I’m eager to see how he handles AAA in the first half of the year, and whether he’s going to be the next guy like Chris Rusin or Brooks Raley as of a couple years ago: a young arm, back-end ceiling, given a shot to fill-in post-Trade Deadline to see how his stuff translates at the big league level.
- To sum up: Spring stats are made up of small sample sizes against a wide range of players, some of whom are “working on stuff” that makes the results misleading.
- Look for Javier Baez to finally make an appearance at second base on Monday or Tuesday. (Tribune) How many he plays over there remains to be seen, but I actually wouldn’t expect too many games.
- Paul Sullivan reports that the Cubs have let go their team psychologist and are revamping their “mental skills” program.
- Tony Andracki previews the Brewers and the Pirates. My guess? Those two teams wind up having a closer record in 2014 than people expect.