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mccutchen wainwrightI’ll be heading back over the back fields today, hopefully getting more looks at the Cubs’ lower-level prospect core. And also hopefully not accidentally landing in a restricted area.

  • We’re going to have a really good sense of just how competitive the Cubs are going to be in 2015 by mid-May. We already know that the Cubs have one of the tougher roads via strength of schedule, but Buster Olney looks solely at the early-season schedules for NL teams, and determines that the Cubs have the third-toughest early-season schedule, with 23 of their first 39 games against teams with winning records in 2014. That’s not always the best way to determine strength of schedule, but we do know that the Cardinals and Pirates project to be good in 2015, and the Cubs are playing them 17 times in their first 39 games. Whether you consider that “tough” or not, it certainly will go a long way to shaking out the early NL Central race. Here’s hoping the Cubs come out of the gate hot, unlike recent years.
  • Jon Lester pitched to Miguel Montero yesterday, which would certainly be a nice option to have in the regular season, rather than solely having a Lester/David Ross personal catcher situation, since Montero brings the better bat and a possible platoon advantage. Lester has always said he can throw to anyone, and it certainly sounds like the duo had a good day yesterday as they’re feeling each other out (Cubs.com).
  • Jesse Rogers spoke with Jed Hoyer, who, among other things, says not to expect too much in the way of trade activity until late in Spring Training, and also says that Kyle Schwarber is having an incredible camp in every way.
  • More good news on the Cubs’ games within the blackout region: Cedar Rapids folks are going to have access to 69 Cubs games (nice) this year from KCRG-TV9. That’s added to Quad Cities, Rockford, Peoria, and Fort Wayne that we’ve heard about so far. More deals will be coming.
  • With some sloppy play early, Joe Maddon is hammering home fundamentals to the Cubs’ players (ESPN), an issue we seem to see popping up at this time every year over the last half decade. Better to address these things now than in late March or early April. The last thing you want to see is the “sloppy” label getting hung on the Cubs if they’re losing in May.
  • Michael previously looked at the tricky question of why the Cubs always seem to underperform their projections, and Jeff Sullivan adds a little more to the conversation (namely: even if you go by underlying performance metrics, rather than pure wins and losses, the Cubs STILL underperform their projections).
  • Joe Maddon is not a fan of pimping home runs – he’s an “act like you’ve been there before” guy – which is fine (Sun-Times). In the right situations, when it adds to the fun and doesn’t show up the pitcher, I like the pimping. I used to hate it, but I’ve really come around in the last few years. Again, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone, why take more fun out of a game that could stand to have a little more?
  • If you missed it last night, Michael looked again at swing rates and contact rates, but did so within the context of four Chicago Cubs players. It’s a really interesting read, and it got buried a little by the silly Will Ferrell news.
  • MIKE OLT!

  • Wow. When Trevor Bauer tweeted this yesterday …

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