Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

javier baez featureThe latest fantasy contest is tonight, so you’ve got time to get a team and play. I decided to be ridiculous and use a team almost entirely comprised of Cubs players. So, you know, go Cubs tonight. There’s a $10,000 prize pool up for grabs, so get in on it.

  • Javier Baez is expected to get back into baseball mode with a stay at extended Spring Training at the Cubs’ facilities in Mesa, Arizona, before returning the AAA Iowa Cubs (Tribune, CSN). Baez, 22, lost his sister, Noely earlier this month, and has been on a leave of absence since then to be with his family. As Tommy Birch writes, Baez’s I-Cubs teammates are ready to support him, and hope that playing the game he loves can be a sanctuary for Baez, who was very close with his sister. At Iowa, Baez will continue working on his approach at the plate, as well as some swing changes designed to help him cut down on the strikeout totals that have prevented him from getting over the hump at the big league level. With Addison Russell now up with the big league team, Baez could see more time back at his natural position, shortstop. Where things go for Baez if and when he shows he’s ready to contribute again remains to be seen, and feels like a conversation for another day. For now, it’s good to see that he’s getting back to baseball, and I hope that it does help him as he continues to grieve.
  • We talked about it after his last start, and Jon Lester mentions it, too ( – he’s been something of a slow starter in his career. Don’t think of it as an excuse (the “excuse”, such as there is one so far, was the interrupted Spring Training and wonky schedule to start the year), it’s just a historical truism for him. That doesn’t mean he’ll suddenly be great tonight and from here on out, and it doesn’t mean if he stinks that it’s all OK. It’s just something to consider as we look ahead into his first season with the Cubs. I just want to see more movement on, and command of, the cutter tonight.

  • Joe Maddon believes clubhouse chemistry can be created (Tribune).
  • Maddon’s thoughts on the Bryan Price rant, and the nature of media reporting information that the manager might not want out there (CSN). Good read, and great understanding from Maddon. There’s information he might not want out there, and, in his mind, it’s his job to protect that information, while it’s the media’s job to try and find it out.
  • Paul Sullivan writes about the idea of having a video of Harry Caray lead the seventh inning stretch on the video board at Wrigley Field, rather than the current practice of havingĀ “celebrities” singing, frequently as part of a promotional tour. Right now, such a plan is not in the works, and you can read the Cubs’ official position there in Sullivan’s article. I can see pros and cons to either approach.
  • Sahadev Sharma writes about Cubs reliever Gonzalez Germen, who’s got a great changeup … when batters whiff on it. Otherwise, they wreck it. Also, he doesn’t throw his fastball for strikes often enough.

  • The largest drop in fastball velocity from 2014 to 2015, so far, belongs to the Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez (96.9mph to 93.9mph). Given that he’s started two of his three appearances this year, and was mostly a reliever last year, I’m not sure the Cardinals have too much reason for concern. Still, it’s something to watch. The young righty has a 2.08 ERA so far this year, but a 5.21 FIP and 3.44 xFIP. His strikeout rate is up, his walk rate is flat – he’s just given up a few homers in a very small sample.
  • How in the world does Giancarlo Stanton hit homers like this? It looks like a line drive to third base … and then it’s out of the park:

  • Why did you sign that extension, Giancarlo? WHY!?!? I WANTED TO FOLLOW THE RUMORS!!!

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