tommy la stella cubsThe first half of my Spring Training trip wraps up today, as Tim (@Aisle424 on the Twitters) and I head to the Cubs/Royals game before he departs, and then The Family (sans The Little Boy) joins me for the next few days. You may, for that reason, still notice a choppier posting schedule than usual, but there should still be plenty to enjoy.

As for today …

  • Jake Arrieta talks about his minor league appearance yesterday here at Cubs.com, and his take sounds about the same as mine was – he looked pretty free and easy, not necessarily maxing out his effort, and still fairly unhittable. I still don’t think it’s fair to expect him to be quite what he was in the second half last year (again: he was, at that time, pitching like the greatest pitcher in history), but I do think it’s fair to expect him to continue to be utterly dominant.


  • And a great read about the relationship between Arrieta and the guy who took his Cactus League start last night, Pierce Johnson (also here at ESPN). The latter pitched very well last night.
  • I mentioned it in the Miscellany, but I’ll point it out here, too: at the minor league game yesterday, although he’s not yet running the bases, Tommy La Stella was really popping the ball. He had four at bats in the game, and smacked a hard line drive each time. It’s kind of what he does, and, although the injury and his available minor league options might keep him off the 25-man roster to start the season, there’s little reason to believe he can’t and won’t have an impact this year at some point (and going forward). When we talk about how comfortable the Cubs’ redundancies have made us with respect to possible injuries (relatively speaking), I think La Stella has to be in that conversation, too. If he had to step in as a full-time starter at second or third base for a while, I really think he could be a very solid player.
  • As you’d expect, the conversations about a succession plan behind the plate involving Willson Contreras are already starting, including this CSN piece. It’s not hard to see how things would line up in an ideal world, given that (1) Miguel Montero’s contract runs through next season, (2) David Ross retires after this season, and (3) Contreras has yet to play at AAA Iowa. So, then, if everything worked out perfectly, Contreras plays mostly at AAA this season, then shares time with Montero at the big league level in 2017, and then takes over as the primary catcher in 2018. But, hey, how often do things in baseball work out as perfectly as you planned them several years in advance? It’s easy to forget after such a huge breakout in 2015, but Contreras wasn’t this firmly on the radar just one year ago. Things change quickly in both directions.



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