The Bullets are coming to you from the waiting room in a doctor’s office, where I am wearing one of those masks. The SARS masks. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t have SARS, but it’s an office policy that folks exhibiting cold or flu-like symptoms (as I am) must wear a mask while they wait. I guess it’s a fine policy, but I feel awfully silly, and I don’t care for the feeling of my own breath bouncing back into my face.
- Although Anthony Rizzo is going to bat second today, Joe Maddon emphasized that he likes to try many things, and we’ll see guys in a variety of spots throughout the Spring (Cubs.com). As you may recall, Rizzo was put in the two-hole for a short stretch by Dale Sveum back in late 2013, and he didn’t care for it. His stated reasons, though, had to do with preconceptions about what the “two” batter is supposed to be – slap the ball, move a guy along, etc. In reality, the two hole hitter should simply be the best all-around hitter on the team – good OBP, good power, good approach. That’s Rizzo in spades, and hopefully Maddon has better luck communicating that angle to Rizzo if he’s going to try him out there in the two hole more than once. (Check out this piece out of San Francisco last year, which addresses the issue of why you’d want a great hitter – not a slap and bunt guy – hitting second.)
- For those who don’t know, the theory behind batting your second batter in the two hole, rather than third or first or fourth or whatever, is that it is the spot that combines the following things in the most mathematically efficient way: (1) more plate appearances for your better hitters, (2) utilizing on base skills for middle order hitters, and (3) utilizing power by hitting with runners on base and/or by creating scoring opportunities with extra-base hits and fewer than two outs. The spot is not for providing “productive outs.” It’s the spot for a guy to just be himself: have good at bats, hit for power, and get on base.
- All of this, by the way, would be especially true on days when Joe Maddon opts to bat the pitcher 8th.
- A Q&A with Kris Bryant from Jesse Rogers wherein it is revealed that Rizzo wants to be like Bryant. If the opposite happens, I think we’ll all be happy.
- Joe Maddon speaks with Patrick Mooney on how mechanical hitting has become, and how that’s not necessarily a good or easy thing.
- When it comes to velocity in Spring, you might hear different takes on the importance, depending on whom you ask (Cubs.com). For my part, I’d say that it depends on the pitcher a little bit, because some guys build their velocity up early in the year, and most pitchers are not hitting their high mark in Spring. A huge, huge drop from last year to Spring, however, can be a modest concern.
- We discussed the Cubs’ 41.4% playoff odds, per FanGraphs, yesterday, and Jeff Sullivan notes that it is the biggest swing for any team in baseball from last year. Probably fair, right?
- Bruce Miles on the Cubs’ new leadoff man, Dexter Fowler, who has embraced that role.
- I’m not sure why the Miller Park thing has blown up since Crane Kenney mentioned it yesterday on the radio (the Cubs considered playing a season at Miller Park to speed up the Wrigley renovation). Kenney mentioned it back at the Convention, and it was fully-addressed then: the Cubs considered it, met with the Brewers about the logistics, and ultimately decided it wasn’t the right fit to play a year away from Wrigley. As convenient as it is to harp on it now that there are delays, can you really imagine the fallout from playing this year – this turning point year – in Milwaukee? There’s no way the Cubs would pull in as much revenue (not just from attendance and concessions, but ad revenue – how do you even figure that out?), and what if the Cubs made the playoffs? And how many Wrigleyville businesses would fold?
- The Cubs have added a “B” game to the schedule (think of it like a fake Spring Training game (so … fake squared?)) on March 19 against the Angels (Mark Gonzales).
- Last night, Michael wrote about the Cubs’ spending this offseason, which was tops in MLB if you count Joe Maddon. Which I do. So the Cubs are tops.