The kids really enjoyed “helping” us do yard work yesterday afternoon, and it occurs to me: when they’re old enough to help (as opposed to “help”), they almost certainly won’t enjoy it anymore. So I’ll take it.
- Ricky Renteria is hopeful that Jose Veras can turn things around and become the closer again. In comments he made before yesterday’s implosion, RR told Cubs.com that the Cubs still want to give Veras a chance to close once he’s feeling comfortable again. After yesterday’s ugly outing, where too many pitches were once again out of the zone, and the ones that were in the zone were subsequently parked in the seats, it’s hard to say how long it could be before Veras is given a chance to close. How many clean outings would you need to see for it to happen? Three? Five? Ten? I’d probably need to see a stretch of five or so outings where it was clear that the command was back. I wouldn’t so much need to see a scoreless streak, but he’s gotta be able to locate the fastball and the changeup, and that devastating curveball still has to be a wipeout pitch. If I saw those things over a two-week period, I’d probably say, sure, let him try and close again (because of the potential value there).
- Carlos Villanueva, who may soon head to the bullpen to make room for Jake Arrieta (his rehab start tonight at Daytona may be his last), and he says he’s going to just keep looking for ways to help the team. (Cubs.com)
- Jesse Rogers wonders whether Carlos Villanueva should have been starting for the Cubs in the first place this year, since he’s a veteran with one year left on his deal, and there’s no need to see what he can offer in that role. Setting aside any interest in winning some games (in April, even on a crappy team, I’m OK with the manager trying to win games, regardless of development plans), there was always the possibility that Villanueva could have pitched very well, setting up some legitimate trade value over the next couple of months (especially when you consider that he’s making a mere $5 million this year – a successful starter is worth a heck of a lot more than a successful long reliever). That’s a part of the future, too. It’s easy to hindsight the thing now, but even if the Cubs had gone with Chris Rusin – 6.32 ERA at AAA right now – they would have had a bullpen crunch that could have cost them seeing someone like Justin Grimm or Hector Rondon at the big league level. That’s a part of the future, too. To me, Villanueva was the right choice for the rotation fill-in. Should a spot open up again later in the year, however, then I’d probably be more inclined to want to see someone with a chance to be a longer-term piece.
- Len Kasper makes some fantastic suggestions to speed up the pace of baseball games, which have gotten a bit out of whack. The best part about his suggestions? They’re pretty much just about keep the game going the way it’s always supposed to go (enforcing the already-existing 12-second pitch clock with nobody on base (please do this, baseball), and forbidding players from exiting the batter’s box during an at bat to go fiddle around with their gloves or whatever).
- Bruce Levine on Darwin Barney’s evolving approach at the plate, his added muscle, and his value to other teams in trade (Levine reiterates that the Cubs won’t simply give him away).
- In case you missed it in the Minor League Daily this morning, Javier Baez returned to action yesterday, DH’ing for the Iowa Cubs. He struck out three times in four at bats (though Tommy Birch noted on Twitter that one of those at bats included a long foul ball that would have been a homer), and popped out in the other at bat. Birch has a write-up on the game here, and Baez says he was still finding himself at the plate. Consider it like a rehab game for any other guy coming off of injury – you wouldn’t necessarily expect him to blow up immediately. Baez is also still just trying to make adjustments at the plate that will improve his overall game long-term. (Meanwhile, have you seen the stupid numbers Kris Bryant is putting up so far at AA Tennessee? It’s early, but yeesh. Just stupid numbers.)
- Despite what you may have heard to the contrary, the Cubs are doing right by a 100-year-old fan who missed out on participating in Opening Day ceremonies because of some unfortunate traffic (Tribune).
- Completely random fun: