If you’re in the Des Moines area, or if you were planning on going to an Iowa Cubs game early in the season, Luke and I will be at the games on Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19. It’s my first trip to Principal Park, and I’m extremely excited. The game on the 18th is a night game, so I reckon we’ll have a get-together before the game at a local watering hole, if you want to stop by and say hello. We’ll have more details as the date approaches.
- Jorge Soler was already a freak of an athlete when we saw him playing for the Cubs in September – listed* at 6’4″, 215 lbs, with the look of a linebacker – and now I’m not sure what the right word is. That’s because he’s up to 242 lbs, and, from all eyes-on accounts so far in Mesa, it’s muscle that he’s packed on. Some of that weight will probably come off of him as the year goes on (so don’t be overly shocked by the huge difference between the end of last year, and the start of this year), but he’s likely to be a hulking strongman for most of the season, and the Cubs will just have to play it safe with his hamstrings after his troubles there last year. In other words, don’t look for him to start every single game, even if he does look like a monster. Seriously, look at the arms:
What's more awesome: the cake or the guns? Either way, a happy 23rd birthday to Jorge Soler. pic.twitter.com/Po2GVgQHKj
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) February 26, 2015
- Now we just hope that Soler’s health and physique combine well with his natural plate discipline, and allow him to adjust to the adjustments he was facing from pitchers at the end of last season. After his scorching first 5 games, Soler hit just .229/.273/.400 (82 wRC+) in his next 19 games.
- (And, assuming Soler does get a little more rest this year than your typical youngster, the roster decisions on the bench become all the more interesting. Carrying lefty Ryan Sweeney, as an example, would afford the Cubs the opportunity to sit Soler from time to time against tough righties, and maybe not lose a ton of production. Then again, with Arismendy Alcantara on the roster, if he’s in a utility role, he could cover a spot in the outfield on those occasions, reducing the need to carry an extra outfielder, even if Soler is sitting regularly. And because of Alcantara’s versatility, this is all connected to what happens in the infield, too.)
- We talked about Kyle Hendricks as a presumed member of the rotation yesterday, but, just to cover all of the bases, Joe Maddon did caveat that pronouncement with the “things can change” mantra (CSN). In other words, as things stand today, the rotation would be Lester-Arrieta-Hammel-Hendricks and the rest of the crew is competing for the fifth starter spot. But if something crazy happens, then maybe someone in that front four is not in the rotation to start the season. Which is pretty much exactly how we have been expecting things to look all along: Hendricks is in, barring an injury or something unforeseen. (Once again, I say: that fifth starter competition is just nuts.)
- Justin Grimm, who arguably was the Cubs’ best reliever in the second half (and that’s a crowded competition), tells Cubs.com that he gained confidence last year as the season went on, and it sounds like he’s embraced his relief role heading into the 2015 season.
- More on the renovations at Wrigley Field from Jon Greenberg.
- When it comes to hitting approach, Dexter Fowler already gets it (Tribune). Don’t miss your pitch when you get it, but wait patiently for it.
- Tom Ricketts spoke with Darren Rovell in a video that isn’t revelatory, but you might enjoy it anyway.
- Speaking of things you might enjoy:
— MyrtleBeachPelicans (@Pelicanbaseball) February 27, 2015
- Over at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan wants to know what you think of the team projected records.
- You can win a DeLorean Time Machine from ‘Back to the Future’ if the Cubs win the World Series.
- *UPDATE: As some of you have rightly noted in the comments, the weight for Soler last year was only his listed weight. He could have been bigger on the actual scales in September.