Today’s Cubs/Dodgers game at Sloan Park will be live not only on MLB.tv, but also on MLB Network. So, 3pm CT, park yourself in front of a stream or a TV, and watch the Cubs log their first Spring Training win (which they will, mostly so people can stop talking about it). Jon Lester versus Zack Greinke. Nice.
And for anyone in Mesa, I’ll be at the game sporting my blue BN shirt and blue/yellow shoes. If you see me, say hey. I’ll be roaming around the park, periodically parking myself in the right field outfield area.
- Obviously it’ll take a whole lot more for you to start wondering whether he’s a real threat to contribute for the Cubs this year, but Daniel Bard threw a simulated game in which he said he felt the best he has in a long time (Carrie Muskat). The 29-year-old former stud reliever has battled extreme control issues the last two years and had surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome last year. He was reportedly pounding the zone with good velocity. Rick Sutcliffe, who is working with the Cubs this Spring, called it a “real positive” outing. Bard, who signed a minor league deal with the Cubs, is likely to start the season at AAA Iowa regardless of his performance, because the Cubs are bringing him along slowly. It’s easy to pull for him, though. Folks love a comeback story, and his potential remains sky high.
- Speaking of the bullpen, Bruce Levine says that Phil Coke making the team is all but accomplished, calling his minor league deal a mere “roster spot manipulation” – not uncommon for deals signed this late in the offseason, as teams need to sort out the rest of their roster before they can officially open up a spot on the 40-man roster. As Luis and I have each written, Coke does seem to have the inside track on the primary lefty job in the Cubs’ bullpen, given his strong splits against lefties and his veteran presence. The Cubs will want to make sure he’s healthy and effective come decision time – which is to say that it’s not like guys like Zac Rosscup, Joe Ortiz, and Drake Britton have absolutely no shot at winning a job – but Coke is pretty likely to be the sixth member of the Cubs’ bullpen (joining righties Rondon, Strop, Ramirez, Grimm, and Motte). That leaves a huge chunk of relievers and starters to compete for the final spot in the bullpen. Again: assuming health and routine effectiveness. This can all change in a moment.
- Mike Olt’s shoulder feels great (Cubs.com), which is the first time it’s been that way for him in Spring Training in a while. Olt is trying to win the third base job out of Spring Training, and, from there, we’ll see what happens.
- The Cubs affiliates had themselves some fun on Twitter yesterday, and it started with this Smokies tweet, which sent them down the wormhole.
- Jason Motte talks about transitioning into a leadership role with the Cubs in their otherwise very young bullpen (Cubs.com).
- The Effectively Wild podcast took on the Chicago Cubs, previewing their 2015 season.
- Every year, the Heckler has a party on the eve of the regular season, which means this year’s edition will be Saturday, April 4 at the Cubby Bear. There are contests, people being ridiculous, etc.
- Last night, Michael started a two-night dive into swing rates and contact rates, a very important set of statistics that you may have seen from time to time, but didn’t know much about. Check out part one, and then stop by again tonight for part two.