It’s Spring Break for The Wife, who is utterly despondent that the temperatures are projected to be in the 30s for most of the week. No fun in the sun for her, unless she starts driving South quickly.
- The Cubs released a host of minor leaguers this week, according to Baseball America: RHP Carlos Gutierrez, C Yaniel Cabezas, C Carlos Escobar, C Neftali Rosario, 1B Kelvin Freeman, 3B Greg Rohan, and SS Brad Zapenas. Gutierrez is probably the best known, having been a former first round pick the Cubs picked up on waivers from the Twins after the 2012 season, but he’s never quite been healthy. Freeman was a big-time power guy from the 2013 draft, but I guess the Cubs figured there wasn’t enough else there. Rohan is versatile with a nice bat, but he’s dealt with some health issues, and I wonder if it was too much to overcome. The real interesting thing, obviously, is the punting of three catchers from a system that doesn’t have a lot of big-timers behind the plate. As Luke recently explained, though, there’s actually a fair bit of intriguing depth at the lower levels of the system, and none of the three guys released had progressed past A-ball (Escobar is the real surprise, though, because there was potential – apparently the Cubs decided it wasn’t going to click for him in the long-term).
- Starlin Castro could start playing on the defensive side in minor league games soon, per Cubs.com – he’s already batted in a couple games. We’re a week out from Opening Day.
- Kyuji Fujikawa (Tommy John surgery) threw 45 pitches yesterday, and is getting close to doing live batting practice (Cubs.com). If his progress continues without any setbacks, a return in late May remains a real possibility.
- A profile on bullpen hopeful Alberto Cabrera. He’s pitched well enough this Spring, and he’s out of options. If the Cubs think there’s anything there at all, he’ll be making the team.
- Ryan Kalish’s story made it into FanGraphs’ Sunday notes, and, in addition to the discussion of his many surgeries (which could make him the rare exception to the rule that, if a guy is out of the big leagues for three years, he’s probably done), there’s a bit on some mechanical changes he made to his swing.
- Anthony Rizzo is working on his approach against lefties. It’s just Spring, but it’s been a success so far.
- An interesting data analysis over at FiveThirtyEight, regarding the age old question: when does Spring performance matter? The short version is that huge Spring number or abysmal Spring numbers do adjust our expectations for a player ever-so-slightly. It’s basically a 17-to-1 correlation in terms of Spring wOBA to regular season wOBA (as in, 17 points of wOBA above a player’s expected/projected wOBA for the season would raise the expectation/projection by 1 point).
- The Rangers are going to be without second baseman Jurickson Profar for two or three months after he tore a muscle in his shoulder. You can start running down the scenarios in your mind, though I’m not sure the Rangers are going to be too crazy about making another deal with the Cubs any time soon. More on that in a moment.
- The opening series in Australia, from the perspective of an Australian who has never seen baseball before. Quite funny.
- Remember that interesting story about the Astros offering prospect George Springer a seven-year contract extension before he even played in the bigs? Well, now that he was sent down to the minors to start the season (instead of starting in the big leagues, as a contract offer suggested he was ready for), there are whispers about a possible grievance being filed. If nothing else, you can be sure that, if Spring tears up AAA and is not called up until just after the projected Super Two deadline, there will be some hard feelings.
- Your (implied) prospect porn of the day, with the original quote nabbed by AZ Central’s Zach Buchanan:
Rangers GM Jon Daniels on Garza deal w/Cubs. "I thought way too short term w/that deal. That one's got a chance to haunt us + haunt me."
— David Kaplan (@thekapman) March 23, 2014