If you missed the morning celebration, don’t: pitchers and catchers are reporting today! Let yourself enjoy the end of the offseason!
- He’s the top prospect in baseball (to many, anyway), and he’s one of the most exciting young players the Chicago Cubs have seen in a long time – and it’s not like they’ve been starved for exciting young players in recent years. Further, a breakout from a rookie Bryant this year at the big league level could go a very long way to helping the 2015 Cubs stay in contention later in the year. So, yes, even in a Spring full of dozens of interesting stories to follow, Kris Bryant is going to be right up there at the top. For most fans around here, that story is going to be something like (1) How many windows can Bryant break during batting practice (a la Javy Baez)? (2) How much fun is it to see Bryant in action during Spring Training games? (3) How is Bryant looking at third base? (4) Does he play a little outfield for versatility? and (5) What are the things on which Bryant will nominally have to work in his first few weeks of the season at AAA Iowa?
- But we’ll also be inundated by the question of whether Bryant has a real shot at opening the season at third base for the big league team. Given how much the Cubs stand to gain by delaying Bryant’s call-up for such a short time, it remains incredibly difficult to see Bryant breaking camp with the Cubs. Factor in the chance that, yeah, there might be a small swing tweak or two that the Cubs want Bryant to suss out in AAA games for a little while before exposing him to big league pitching, and a late-April/early-May call-up remains the most likely outcome (though I won’t quite call it impossible that he breaks camp with the Cubs, given that there is a small chance for contract-related negotiations behind the scenes). For his part, Bryant is still saying all of the right things about these issues, telling Cubs.com that he understands the service time aspect, but he’s just going to focus on what he can control. As much as folks talk about the relationship aspect of sending a guy back to the minors, there’s also the other side: everyone involved here is a professional.
- Also on Bryant? He’s meme-able:
— BR (@BR25x) February 18, 2015
— Matt Banna (@MattBanna) February 19, 2015
- An interesting read at FanGraphs on Javy Baez and Tommy La Stella. It’s nice to see the Puerto Rican Winter League stats for Baez – including playoffs – laid out in a clear way, but for so many reasons, I don’t think you should take too much away from them. In particular, we can pretty easily surmise that Baez wasn’t down there solely to put up the best numbers he possibly could. Instead, he was working on some things within the confines of real, professional ball. The fact that his strikeout rate remained elevated, then, could be an indicator of continued contact/pitch-recognition struggles, or it could be the byproduct of the specific things he was working on. Or both. Or neither.
- Jake Arrieta, who was slowed last year at this time because of shoulder stiffness, tells the Tribune that he’s actually ahead of schedule this time around.
- The Cubs are hiring a DJ, and I have but one recommendation. Just keep poaching the Rays. Make sure not to tamper.
- Patrick Mooney on the latest Cubs manager to take the reins, Joe Maddon. Even setting aside the baseball stuff, Maddon is going to be a lot of fun to follow this year.
- Jesse Rogers offers five Spring storylines to watch.
- A little workout video – the pitchers throwing kind, not the Jane Fonda kind – from the Tribune, featuring Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, and C.J. Edwards.
- I very much approve, because why not:
Holy Jason Motte hair. Well done.
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) February 18, 2015