Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

david ross cubsThe Family and I are taking a trip to Austin, Texas to see The Brother and His Family later this week, which means I’ve got a bunch of ducks to get in a row before then so that my other family – you folks – aren’t left in the lurch while I’m on the road. Do you feel the love?

  • The best pitch framer in baseball so far this year? That would be the Cubs’ own David Ross, according to Baseball Savant by way of this Washington Post article. More than 14% of the pitches Ross receives outside of the strike zone are called strikes (the next closest competitors are down at 11.7% (Yasmani Grandal) and 11.5% (Francisco Cervelli)). We knew that Ross – like the starting catcher ahead of him, Miguel Montero – was an excellent framer, but what I find particularly interesting about him leading the entire league is the fact that he mostly catches Jon Lester. It makes you wonder whether a catcher can become especially good at framing when he’s working consistently with a specific pitcher, especially one with excellent command like Lester. Makes sense, right? If this holds throughout the year, it is even more support for both the Ross signing and the personal catcher setup that has clearly emerged.
  • You’re wondering where Montero is, aren’t you? Well, per Baseball Savant, he’s just over 10%, which is 18th best in baseball among catchers who’ve received at least 1,000 pitches, and 11th best among catchers with at least 2,700 pitches received. (Welington Castillo, for the record, is 35th at 9.25%, which is below average among primary starters and back-ups.)

  • Everyone fawns over Jason Hammel’s latest dazzling outing (and rightfully so) here at ESPN. His 11 strikeouts last night were a career high. Naturally, he didn’t walk anyone.
  • Manny Ramirez, a consultant with the Cubs, says that Jorge Soler needs to adjust to pitchers’ current approach (middle away, sliders down) before he can take back off (Tribune). Ramirez also speaks glowingly of Kris Bryant’s approach. On Starlin Castro, Ramirez says (ESPN) he’s also getting nothing but middle-away pitches, and he’s sometimes opening up too quickly (hence the rolled-over grounders).
  • Sahadev Sharma writes about just how ugly things were for Castro in the cleanup spot.
  • If you missed it last night, Michael wrote about Jacob Turner – remember him? – who pitched in an extended Spring Training game.
  • Earlier this morning, I discussed Starlin Castro’s fun, uneven evening against the Marlins. Joe Maddon thinks Castro is “over-boogeying”, as he explains here at CSN.

  • I was on the Wrigleyville Nation podcast, talking Cubs, but also talking about early BN days and what it’s been like to shift the coverage along with the Cubs. Pretty good discussion came out of it, and those are some smart Cubs fans right there.
  • Chris Cotillo reports that Phil Coke has signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays. If Coke makes their big league roster at some point, the Jays will then have to pay a pro-rated portion of the big league minimum, with the Cubs covering the rest of his $2.25 million salary. In other words, if Coke makes it up this month, for example, the Cubs might save about $250,000 to $300,000.
  • Random and interesting tidbit from Michael:

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