jorge soler featureAlthough I mentioned it in the Weekend Catch-Up this morning, I want to plug it again here: if you missed the Cubs’ 2015 ZiPS projections, they were released on Friday. Check them out here, and our discussion here. I find those things fascinating, so I may have to give it another dive to highlight some interesting bits. Is that overkill, or are you into it?

  • Sports Illustrated is going through some fantasy player profiles for 2015, which, even if you’re not into fantasy, can be an interesting thing. For example, there’s an effusive profile on Jorge Soler as a fantastic option, which would be true only if SI thought he was primed for a breakout. It’s a fun read if you like being happy about things and enjoying stuff. I particularly enjoyed the conclusion: “Soler is a wildly exciting 23-year-old with a near-elite power-hitting tool who has already attained some success in the majors. He has a premium spot in an improving lineup, especially with the addition of on-base machine Dexter Fowler. Steamer has Soler hitting ..262/.322/.463 with 23 homers and 77 RBI in 130 games. Assuming he stays healthy, he should surpass all of those counting stats. If I can only own one Cubs youngster for just this year, I want it to be Soler.”
  • We talked about Joe Maddon’s weekend visit to Puerto Rico to see Javier Baez yesterday, but there’s a little more on it here in the Tribune, and here at Cubs.com. Maddon was indeed just trying to work on his relationship with Baez, given the latter’s importance to the organization. I love that. I also love this, from Stan, who translates a bit of Baez’s comments here:


  • In yesterday’s game, Baez went on to go 2-4 with a double, a run scored, an RBI, and a walk. He struck out once in his five plate appearances.
  • The cause of Ernie Banks’ death was a heart attack.
  • David Laurila’s latest Sunday Notes at FanGraphs.
  • Without putting too much pressure on him – no pressure! – you folks might be in for a treat this year, because BN’er Spriggs (Dale, if you prefer) is an Arizona local, and he’s been taking in the goings on in Mesa as the Cubs ramp up for Spring Training. Among Spriggs’ notes on what’s gone on the past week:


Randy Hundley’s Cubs Fantasy Camp got under way in Mesa the day after the close of the Cubs Convention. Practice games at the fantasy camp were held on Wednesday under sunny skies with light breezes and game temperatures at a near perfect 70 degrees.

Cubs alumni at Wednesday games were:
60’s – Randy Hundley, Glenn Beckert, Fergie Jenkins
70’s – Rick Reuschel, Pete LaCock, Carman Fanzone, Jose Cardenal
80’s – Bill Campbell, Gary Matthews, Bobby Dernier, Ed Lynch
90’s – not represented
00’s – Bobby Howry, Todd Hundley

In addition to the players noted above, Eddie Vedder is one of the campers and was promptly mobbed by autograph seekers when he reported (late) today!

Camp practice games take place in 3 of the 4 back fields on the west end of the complex. The “championship game” against the Cubs alumni is at the main field on Saturday and is open to the public. If you haven’t been to the back fields of the complex (where the practice games are taking place), the set up is much like that of Fitch Park, where an observation deck is surrounded by four regulation size practice fields with similar dimensions to Wrigley Field.



Unlike Fitch Park however, where the one practice field NOT filled with campers was usually occupied by current Cubs players who arrived for early workouts (such as “Camp Colvin” participants), the current Cubs have plenty of other practice and work out areas to use which are not accessible by fans or the public. So there is rarely a need for any of the current players to venture out into the back 4 fields. As a result, it’s much more difficult for Cubs fans to observe any of the players until they start using the back fields which should be around the time all players report to spring training. So although the new spring training complex is quite impressive and provides for a state of the art – JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING – the fan experience is not quite as enjoyable and is more limited due to the much more restricted access.

Wednesday’s fantasy camp practice probably had around 70 spectators coming and going throughout the day. I would break them down about like this:
15 – friends and family of campers
10 – Cubs fans
10 – people without a clue what was going on
35 – autograph seekers

  • On Saturday, the fantasy campers had their final game at the main field – Sloan Park – which I imagine was tough to do with Ernie Banks having just passed away the night before. Spriggs said there was a tribute to Ernie before the game, the marquee there was dedicated to Ernie, and the flag flew at half mast:




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