It’s been a busy week around here, especially by typical Spring Training standards. Today figures to be quite busy, too, so strap in and enjoy the deluge. Let’s start with the Bullets …
- Kris Bryant is expected to make his Spring debut in left field tonight against the Angels (6:05pm CT) in a game that just so happens to be on ESPN (Tribune). Although Bryant’s medium term defensive home remains to be decided (to say nothing of where he’ll land, say, next year and beyond), he’s on board for adding versatility, and the Cubs have made that an organizational priority. You just never know where it’s going to make the most sense to play Bryant when he comes up for good on the big league team, and you also never know how he might turn out in the outfield. As we’ve discussed, Bryant’s highest and best value to the team would be as an average or better third baseman, but if the choice is average third baseman or fantastic left fielder (which Bryant could be), then the value question is much closer.
- Although he gave up three runs over five innings, Travis Wood was pleased with his start last night (Cubs.com). Specifically, he felt like he was locating the ball well – which is what I saw, too – and that’s just about the most important thing for Wood’s game. We all saw the primary reason for Wood’s struggles last year. Sure, there was a bit of a velocity dip and a few more walks, but mostly it was an inability to precisely hit spots within the strike zone. Wood will always have to live on the margins, or he’ll get hit.
- Jon Lester is expected to start in a minor league game today around noon CT, so you can expect to hear word on how he looked soon thereafter. The Cubs are being very cautious with Lester, who was dealing with dead arm.
- In this Tribune write-up about Kris Bryant’s practice in the outfield, the tip Joe Maddon gave Dexter Fowler to help improve his defense was revealed: start moving a little bit before each pitch, which can help a player track the ball more quickly.
- You’re really going to enjoy this Cubs preview from Rany Jazayerli at Grantland. Yes, it includes a lot that you already know (it’s written for a broader audience), and yes, it starts with the painfully overplayed ‘Back to the Future II’ stuff. But it’s really well-written, offers a really well-understood take on where the Cubs have been and where they’re going, and is fun.
- You’re also going to enjoy this read from BN’er Tommy Meyers about the correlations between winning percentage and team OBP and wOBA. The results are what you’d expect, but you can learn a little about meaningful statistical correlations in the process if you don’t know much about that area.
- Joe Maddon was a bit perturbed about Edwin Jackson’s misadventure on the road this week, and was disappointed the subsequent outing in which Jackson got shellacked (Cubs.com). Having no time to prepare at the ballpark probably didn’t help, but, as we’ve said, Jackson hasn’t earned the benefit of excuses at this point.
- If you missed it last night, Michael offered thoughts on the updated PECOTA projections, which now have the Cubs at 85 wins – fourth best in the NL.
- The Quad Cities are now entirely covered for Cubs over-the-air games.