The Little Boy has the Cubbie Blue Flu today, clearly faking his fever to stay home for Opening Day. I keep telling him that the game isn’t until 9pm CT, and that he’ll long be asleep by then, so staying home today is of no consequence to him. But he’s three, so he’s just not having it. Also, he’s actually sick, and most of that is just kidding.
In any case, today is Opening Day for the Cubs, and the long march toward tonight begins now. We’ll have plenty for you to read and enjoy in the interim, and then join us here at BN for a live stream at 7:30pm CT to get hyped for the game.
Also, if you didn’t, I’d encourage you to read my “Opening Day is Here” article from earlier this morning. I think it’s a nice setup for the day, and for the season.
- Interesting words of caution from Joe Maddon on Jorge Soler and the need for patience (Tribune, ESPN), including the fact that his cultural adjustment from Cuba, specifically, could be a part of slowing down his development process. There seem to be plenty of counterexamples out there – players from Cuba who’ve succeeded rather quickly – though I guess Soler was a little younger as he went through the process. In the end, everyone agrees that Soler’s upside is as tremendous as anyone on the Cubs (which, yes, is saying a whole lot), but it’s going to be a process getting there. I still love the bat, but I have some concerns about the Cubs being able to keep him in the lineup regularly, not only because the outfield is crowded, but also because I fear the damage his glove could do out there right now. But if he doesn’t even start in Anaheim when the Cubs have a DH available (as suggested is possible in the ESPN piece) … that would be something. In any case, if he doesn’t get regular playing time, even more patience will probably be required, because it’ll be harder for him to really find a groove and make adjustments.
- Something to note: Soler’s numbers in Spring Training weren’t great (.145/.200/.327), but you’re still talking about a sample of 60 plate appearances. Plus his K rate (23.3%), walk rate (6.7%), and ISO (.182) were all just fine. So, offensively, I really don’t think there was anything at all to worry about, even if you set aside the fact that it was Spring Training. I hope he’s in the lineup tonight, and I hope he hits a couple homers. Heck, make it seven.
- If the Cubs need to trade for pitching this year, Theo Epstein will be ready (CSN). You can’t know, right now, whether the need or the fit will develop come July, but if they do, the Cubs will have the pieces – a deep, deep farm system – to make a move. To that end, you are reminded that Luke has been unveiling the BN Top 40 prospect rankings this week, with the latest installment yesterday, and the final installment coming later today.
- The Pirates beat the Cardinals yesterday in their opener, with Francisco Liriano doing his thing (five walks through six innings, but also ten strikeouts). Outside of the general antipathy for the Cardinals, I don’t really have a rooting interest in that series or in any between the teams until midseason or so – they’re both good teams on paper, so each figures to be up there in the NL Central. Until and unless one of them really falls away in the standings, I’m just rooting for extra innings.
- The Cardinals got hit with another injury in the game, by the way, as Tommy Pham left with side tightness and has been put on the DL. Shortstop Aledmys Diaz will join the team (and probably start raking as the new shortstop in short order).
- I enjoyed this read in the Tribune on the many rehabbing pitchers who joined the Cubs as potential contributors in the second half (Aaron Crow, Jack Leathersich, and Stephen Fife among them). Needs always pop up by the time July and August roll around, and it would nice for the Cubs to have some in-house options.
- Apropos of the Cubs’ deeeeeep lineup, I want to remind folks of the exponential nature of offense – in short, the more impact offensive guys you have in a lineup going back-to-back-to-back, the increase in offense is exponential, rather than merely linear.
- The Royals beat the Mets in the first game of their rematch series, and they were aided, once again, by a Yoenis Cespedes goof in the outfield.
- If you missed anything this weekend, there’s a good bit of stuff to catch up on here, including some roster moves.
- Presumably because of Opening Day, there’s a sale at Amazon on a variety of ’47 baseball apparel.
- Social media things designed to make you smile and also make you click “like”/”follow”:
Cubs Opening Day lineup, 2012:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) April 4, 2016
Get pumped. It's OPENING DAY! pic.twitter.com/GABQwWumt2
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) April 4, 2016