Rest in peace, Minnie Minoso, as the White Sox great passed away this weekend. Minoso was the first black big league player in Chicago, and he’s memorialized in a statue at U.S. Cellular Field. He was also probably a lot better than you remember.
- Top prospect Kris Bryant is impressing his future manager Joe Maddon, but the latter only joked when he was asked about whether Bryant would be ready for the Cubs for Opening Day (“Somewhere,” Maddon said, according to Cubs.com. “There’s lots of Opening Days.”) The question won’t go away until the moment Bryant is returned to minor league camp, at which point it will merely become a second-guessing. As we’ve discussed at length, it remains very unlikely that Bryant breaks camp with the big league team.
- Which means third base is likely open for a guy like Mike Olt to win the job, as discussed here by Patrick Mooney and here by Mark Gonzales. Given his offensive upside and defensive ability, Olt’s the guy you’d like to see win the starting job out of Spring Training. And then you’d like to see him play so well for a month that the Cubs have to figure out what to do when Bryant is ready.
- How “well” is realistic for Olt? Well, his big league strikeout rate thus far has been close to 38%, sufficiently high that he won’t have meaningful value, because he’s simply not going to be putting enough balls in play. If he got that number closer to 30% – which is a stretch, but plausible, given his minor league rates – and if his big league BABIP was .300 (he’s had some weird fluctuations in that department in his career, so it’s hard to figure a baseline), then he’d be posting a batting average in the .230 to .240 range, depending on how many homers he was hitting. A big league walk rate in the 10% range and a big league ISO in the .200 range are not out of the question, so you could be looking at a slash line around .240/.330/.440. That’s some serious back-of-the-napkin stuff, and is probably a best case scenario. Using a WAR calculator, adjusting for the current offensive environment, and pegging Olt at just barely above average defensively, and that’s a 4-win player. Seems like a stretch based on history, but, again, we’re talking the best case scenario that is still within the range of plausible. And it all starts with that strikeout rate.
- If you are wondering about Rick Renteria, Gordon Wittenmyer has a small update on the Cubs’ former manager. Unlike Dale Sveum before him, Renteria didn’t immediately latch on with another organization, and it looks like he’s going to take a year off (although he’s had offers). Although Renteria hasn’t spoken out yet about the Cubs’ decision to bring in Joe Maddon and remove Renteria from the managerial gig, despite a successful first season, folks around him say he’s doing well. Although I think the Cubs did the right thing for the organization, I still feel bad for Renteria.
- Starlin Castro is happy to have Manny Ramirez in camp, because when he tells young hitters how it is, they know he knows what he’s talking about (Cubs.com).
- Pedro Strop recalls his offseason accident in the DR, and, more interestingly, how the local media covered and sensationalized the story (Cubs.com). After that, and some questionable initial coverage of Castro’s incidents, it remains the safest play to take initial reports out of the DR with a grain of salt until the full story comes out. Hell, I suppose that’s true of reports here in the States, too.
- BN’er Dan Duff is an artist, and an awesome one at that. Check this out:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) March 2, 2015
- You can see more of his work here, and get your own prints. This is not an advertisement, mind you – it’s just that he sent me one, and I think it’s incredible. Each of the squares is tiny – there are like four or five per inch – and has a letter or a tiny picture painted in it. The letters, as you can see, make up names and phrases related to the Cubs.
- If you missed any of this weekend’s activity, check out the catch-up here.