Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

javier baez defenseThe kids’ current in-car audio book is ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.’ I have heard it a lot. It is read by an English gentleman. At the end of a long car ride, I am thinking in a British accent. I fear that one of these times, I will inadvertently attempt to speak that accent aloud. I will be embarrassed.

  • Javier Baez started his first game in center field for Santurce in the Puerto Rican Winter League last night, something the Cubs had said was coming. It looks like he saw a ton of activity in the game. All we’ve got right now is words on a screen, so I don’t want to read anything into it, but there were a whole lot of singles to center field. It could be that it just so happened that a number of clean singles came his way, but it’s also possible that he was a little tentative in his first game action. Baez made no errors in the game, went 0-2 with a walk and a strikeout, and was taken out of the game in the 9th inning in favor of a pinch hitter.
  • We’ll see how much more action Baez gets in center field before the season is over. Remember, the winter ball leagues are professional and competitive, and they are not primarily about development – so, then, Baez is only going to see a good bit of time in center if he’s not otherwise harming the team’s chances of winning. From there, we’ll see whether he sees more time there in Spring Training.

  • As I mentioned a few days ago, Jack Leathersich, 25, is indeed staying with the Cubs on a minor league deal as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. You can read about his recovery here at the Salem News, in which he says he’s hoping to be back at the big league level in August. With a starting pitcher, you wouldn’t realistically hope for a guy to be back and contributing down the stretch just 12 months after surgery, but with a reliever, it’s much more possible. That said, command is sometimes the last thing to fully return for a pitcher who wend under the knife, and that was an issue for Leathersich before the surgery. I wouldn’t count on him being a contributor for the big league team in the second half, but, given his considerable upside, I’m quite glad the Cubs were able to get him in-house. Now, the Cubs will be able to evaluate him throughout the year, and, even if he doesn’t pitch in the big leagues, they can decide whether to add him to the 40-man roster at the end of the year and keep him for 2017.
  • I love this read from Jonah Keri on the relationship between Jason Heyward’s contract and his defensive ability, viewed through the historical lens of free agent contracts. I suspect Keri is very much correct that, 10 years ago, Heyward’s contract would have been much, much smaller (even accounting for inflation), and his signing team would have found themselves a real bargain. As it stands, defense and baserunning are much more properly valued (well, we think so, anyway), and it’s hard to find that kind of a bargain, especially in the form of a 26-year-old free agent. Now, if Heyward is to be a bargain to the Cubs, we’ll probably have to see his bat take another step forward. Even if that doesn’t happen, of course, he’s still a hugely valuable player to have under contract – I’m just saying it won’t be the kind of bargain you might have seen a decade ago.

  • Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper received the keys to Las Vegas – ceremonial, of course, lest they pull off a much more mundane Ocean’s 11-style heist – which provides an opportunity to be reminded that Harper is actually nine months younger than Bryant.
  • Julie DiCaro wrote about what it’s like for women on sports Twitter, and I think everyone should take a moment to read it. I get all kinds of crap from trolls, and I have the privilege of honoring the old adage – just don’t feed ’em and they go away (and even after years of practice, it’s still not always easy for me). But for women in sports media, it just doesn’t play out like that. The bile keeps coming (I see it every day and it sickens me) no matter what these women do, and I really don’t know the answer. Because some people will just always be awful. The rest of us can at least develop some empathy, and maybe that’s the best start.

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