Today is the first day of the Cubs’ Cactus League slate, and I am nerdily happy about that. I am also nerdily happy that I got so many excellent coffee-making recommendations yesterday – you are all the best. Now I just have to decide if I’m going to go with the single K-cup reusable filter (which meets my desire to stop creating so much waste), or if I’m going to step up to a pour over or french press, since so many of you seem to swear by them.
And since I’m linking to various Amazon products, it’s only fair that I say Amazon is great – I use it daily – and when you shop at Amazon via links you see at BN, it supports the site in the process.
- Joe Maddon offers a lot of love for Addison Russell’s surprising power (Tribune). If Russell wasn’t surrounded by these huge, hulking sluggers, I wonder if the power would be less surprising from the comparatively smaller Russell. Power can be a big part of Russell’s game, though, as he showed throughout the minors, and even last year. How about this? His .147 ISO in 2015 was the 5th highest in all of baseball among shortstops with at least 500 plate appearances. And this is the guy who is going to be playing Gold Glove caliber shortstop and probably batting 9th! This team, man!
- Jake Arrieta says that if the season started today, he’d already be ready to go (Cubs.com). I guess it’s good, then, that he’s not going to pitch too much in Spring Training! Of his Opening Day start, Arrieta is honored, but not going to build it up to more than it is (CSN). There might be a little extra adrenaline, but Arrieta’s had plenty of practice controlling it and using the energy to his advantage.
- Miguel Montero discusses his first season with the Cubs here at ESPN, noting – correctly – that he had a very good defensive year overall. He’d like to have a chance to face more lefties, which may or may not happen, depending on how playing time behind the plate shakes out. It’s not as if he’ll necessarily automatically lose starts against lefties to David Ross or Kyle Schwarber, but Montero does have a very pronounced career split (.234/.300/.359 against lefties, .270/.355/.437 against righties … though last year it didn’t really show up, for what that’s worth).
- The nice thing is that, with Kyle Schwarber on the roster all year, Joe Maddon will have the flexibility to insert Montero late into games in which he isn’t starting, which will allow for optimizing match-ups, and to get Montero more action. It’ll be a bit like we envisioned when the Cubs were carrying Montero/Ross/Welington Castillo to start the season in 2015, except in this instance, it’s like Castillo is also able to be the regular left fielder when he’s not catching.
- A great interview with Kris Bryant on a range of topics, including making small changes to his swing, mentally dealing with how hard the game is, working on his defense at third.
- If you missed it in the Spring Training Miscellany last night, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo had a little fun with Grandpa David Ross.
- Not too many people are talking about just how ugly the Pirates’ rotation is right now behind Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano. Unless and until a breakthrough youngster like Tyler Glasnow or Jameson Taillon happens, the back three in the rotation project to be Jeff Locke (1.6 WAR last year), Jon Niese (0.9), and Ryan Vogelsong (0.0). I know the Pirates have been able to reclaim some guys in recent years, but woof.
- Speaking of Pirates pitchers, Gerrit Cole was unhappy with the Pirates about what they’re paying him this year, but doesn’t sound like that’ll be an issue for the Cubs’ young players:
Cubs apparently are more generous than Pirates: Kyle Hendricks (1+ yr of service time) will make $541K, same as Gerrit Cole (2+, & an ace).
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) March 2, 2016
Not only does he look good, but this kind of thing is legitimately important for baseball, as it needs compelling, connected stars: