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Maddon and Montero, Breaking Bryce Harper, Bullpens Under the Bleachers, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

How’s everybody doing on podcasts these days? I’ve got a long travel day ahead of me tomorrow – flying to Arizona, by way of Nashville, for a few Spring Training days – so I expect I’ll be doing a lot of listening. I’ve got a few random podcasts I’m listening to – ‘Lore’, ‘How I Built This,’ ‘Reply All’ – but I’m always open to any suggestions folks have. I tend not to love sports podcasts, for what that’s worth (I think because I’m otherwise immersed in sports all day that I like to take a break with podcasts – well, except the one I do with Sahadev Sharma about the Cubs).

Shout it out in the comments if you’re listening to any you really like.

  • Whatever the remaining friction between Cubs manager Joe Maddon and now-backup catcher Miguel Montero, it doesn’t sound like either one of them is going to elaborate too much beyond suggesting there’s not much really going on there (Cubs.com). Montero is an outspoken guy, so it was always going to be a story when he hinted at disappointment with his role in the second half and the playoffs last year, but it doesn’t have to become a big, negative story going into 2017. Montero can be – literally – one of the best backup catchers in the game for the Cubs in 2017, and that can just be that.

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  • Speaking of Maddon and friction, did his strategy for pitching around Bryce Harper last year in the Cubs’ May sweep of the Nationals – which drove them crazy – play a part in a surprisingly terrible season for the then-reigning MVP? It was something we talked about at the time lightly, but it’s explored in much greater depth by Eddie Matz at ESPN, and it does seem like there could be something there. The theory (and there’s anecdotal and statistical support) is that Harper started to press as more teams pitched around him like the Cubs did, which then got his swing and approach all out of whack, and he never rebounded. It’s easy to forget how historically good Harper was in 2015, and that he was just 23 last year, so I hope – for the sport – he has a big bounce-back this year. And if he wants that $400+ million contract, he’ll have to pull it off.
  • Cubs reliever Hector Rondon is on Venezuela’s roster for the World Baseball Classic, but it remains to be seen if he’ll actually pitch. He wanted to make sure the Cubs were OK with it, and that he was physically in a good place when the time comes (Cubs.com). Rondon missed time late last year with a triceps injury, and then didn’t seem himself down the stretch and into the playoffs. Hopefully an offseason to rest and reset will bring back the dominant righty to where he was in the first half of 2016, when he was among the 10 or so best relievers in baseball.
  • Lulz: Kris Bryant got pranked by Greg Maddux.

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  • Paul Sullivan writes about the adjustments – for everybody – coming this year, now that the bullpens at Wrigley Field have moved under the bleachers. It’s a bummer for a variety of reasons, but I do understand the multiple rationales for the change, from player safety to some more premium seats added.
  • I joked about this on Twitter, but I didn’t mean it in a mean-spirited way. Just a light-hearted, good-natured-ribbing kind of way … you had a swell year, Indians:


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If you missed anything from another busy day yesterday:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.