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justin grimmI tried to trick myself into thinking ‘Game of Thrones’ hadn’t taken a week off by re-watching last week’s episode on Monday night. It didn’t work. I am antsy.

  • About two weeks ago, Justin Grimm was having serious control problems (you remember the walk-off HBP?), and the coaching staff had a talk with him about his approach. Since then? He’s gone 3.2 scoreless, walkless, hitless innings with seven strikeouts. He talks about his surprise at being called to face the middle of the Giants’ order on Monday in a relatively close, Jeff Samardzija-started game (Cubs.com), and I think he’s earning back some confidence – both the coaching staff’s and his own.
  • The Grimm stuff got me thinking: we have for years talked about how good the Cubs’ bullpen could be if X, Y, and Z things happen. But I can’t remember the last time the Cubs had so many young power arms with so much upside in the pen (or coming soon). Rondon, Ramirez, Grimm, Strop, Rosscup, Vizcaino, Rivero, Parker (and there are some starters in the minors you could arguably include, too) …. The bullpen will never be the most important part of your roster, and it’s not going to transform a team from a bottom-dweller to a playoff team. But if the Cubs sport an average rotation and an average offense in the coming years (not a tall order)? This is the kind of bullpen that could make an otherwise average team a competitive one. There’s that much potential.
  • … of course, some of these guys could get a chance to start next year, including Ramirez, who’s been the best of the reliever bunch so far. Pitching coach Chris Bosio tells the Tribune that starting is a possibility for Ramirez down the road (and implied that working out of the pen before transitioning back to the rotation worked for Jeff Samardzija, and could be a similar route for Ramirez). Ramirez has dealt with shoulder issues in the past, so working out of the pen could help him develop in the way, too (i.e., ensure things are cleared up before returning to a more rigorous starting schedule). And it’s great to have guys like that lined up: he can compete for a rotation spot, but you don’t have to ensure that there’s a spot for him when you go through your offseason acquisition process. If he wins a spot, it’s totally gravy. If not, he’s shown how dominant he can be in the pen.
  • I dug in yesterday to the Manny Ramirez hiring, and wondered about the possibility of a long-term relationship with the Cubs’ organization. Theo Epstein was asked about that by Patrick Mooney, and he answered perfectly, as you would expect: “We should walk before we run, right?” Theo being Theo. Epstein added that, if things go well, he could see a long-term relationship developing. Mooney’s piece has more on the Ramirez hiring, including thoughts from Mike Olt and Ricky Renteria.
  • Indirectly, Renteria reminds the Cubs of something important about the revised Wrigley renovation plan: make sure the Cubs can see which opposing pitchers are up in the bullpen, and can have a bit of a view of them warming up. (CSN)
  • Speaking on Jake Arrieta’s tough luck outing yesterday, including a blooper on a crazy low pitch by Pablo Sandoval that scored a run, Renteria said this, among other things, to the Tribune: “But he’s a tremendously gifted eye-hand coordination guy and was able to dunk a few balls.” For just a second, I was confused, and thought RR was complimenting Sandoval’s athleticism, and saying he could dunk – like, on a basketball court. And then I pictured that, which made me smile. So I thought I’d share the visual with you.
  • The Cubs and Chicago Cubs Charities are doing something pretty cool along the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue, starting on May 30: there will be 100 custom seats depicting 50 scenes (each seat is in a pair) from Wrigley’s history. Those seats will then be auctioned off for charity. You can see more details here, and I can’t wait to see pictures of the seats, and also to check ‘em out myself.
  • 50 Cent offered up his version of a first pitch that will endure. It occurs to me that first pitches in the Internet era might be one of the best, under-appreciated, under-circulated things about baseball. These kinds of things have got to happen ALL the time. Why don’t we see more? Get on it, people.
  • I just. I can’t even:

  • And in case you’re wondering about that Wrigley 100 patch on his sleeve …

  • Classy, indeed.

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