I have been alerted to the fact that The Wife will be unavailable at a conference on Saturday, which means I will have the three kiddos to myself. Normally, that’s not really even a notable event for a weekend day, but Saturday is also the start of Cactus League play for the Cubs … and they have two games. Here’s hoping the kids are feeling nice and TV-watchy on Saturday (whether it’s the Cubs or something else, allowing The Dad to do his thing …. )
- It’ll be interesting to see how the Cubs sort out playing time in the first few days of Spring Training, given the oddity of a split squad day on the first day. Joe Maddon admits it will be tricky, because you have to figure out who is going to play right away again on Sunday (Tribune). My guess is that we do see quite a few regulars playing on Saturday between the two games, but I would also guess they are in the game only for a brief appearance. Then some will do the same thing again for the one game on Sunday. Either way, I’d expect to see a whole lot of younger players and prospects, as well as non-roster invitee veterans, this weekend. And that’s fine with me. I want baseball.
- Rick Renteria, now the manager of the White Sox, shares a bit more here at the Tribune about being fired by the Cubs as they took the opportunity to grab Maddon when he was available. He wasn’t ready to talk to Maddon right after it happened, but eventually the two connected, with some help from a mutual colleague Bud Black (now the manager of the Rockies, but who had spent time with Renteria in San Diego and Maddon in Anaheim). Each only had very kind words for each other, and Renteria harbors no ill-will about what happened or how it happened. For my part, I always felt like the Cubs’ front office absolutely did the right thing for the organization at that time, even if Renteria did nothing to deserve being fired after just one year. He was an excellent steward of the young, transitional 2014 club, and in that way, he should be a perfect fit for the White Sox. Hopefully he does well, they do well, and he gets to stick around thereafter to see the fruits of his labor. And maybe the Cubs can give him, like, 1/8th of a World Series ring. (Oh, I will also take 1/8th of a World Series ring because I would like to have that. Thank you.)
- Kris Bryant is not a fan of seeing the four pitches for an intentional walk going away (that’s what’s reportedly set to happen). Bryant tells Cubs.com that he wants to keep any additional pressure on the pitcher, which is understandable for a hitter. Joe Maddon didn’t express a strong opinion either way, but he’s not too keen on worrying about the length of games anyway. More from the duo here at CSN.
- (Obligatory note: shortening the length of games is mostly a byproduct/measuring stick of what MLB has indicated it is more interested in doing, which is increasing the frequency of “action” on the field – i.e., improving the “pace of play.” Reducing dead time should always be a consideration for professional sports leagues, and as MLB’s median fan age increases by one year every single year (think about that), it’s critical that they work proactively to ensure that the game is as enjoyable as possible BOTH to hardcore lifer fans, and newer casual fans.)
- Fun aside on the intentional walk change from Jeff Sullivan: turns out that catchers are supposed to stay in the catcher box until the pitch is thrown, which no one ever does on intentional walks. It’s supposed to be called a balk when they don’t. Who knew?
- A great profile here on Willson Contreras’s conversion to catching, and then meteoric ascent through the minor leagues (turns out, almost nobody saw the bat becoming what it did – if they had, he might have stayed at third base, which kinda makes you think about positional conversions in general …).
- The Cubs hosted a children’s hospital group yesterday at Spring Training.
- Long-time umpire Jim Joyce is retiring, and odds are good that, if you remember him at all, you remember him for one missed call.
- Nicely done, Michael:
- Nicely done, Brett:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) February 22, 2017
- Free advice, though: never put your face directly next to Kris Bryant’s face if you want your wife to look at you the same ever again.
- I would so watch:
— David Ross (@D_Ross3) February 22, 2017
- This is too good:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 22, 2017
- Over at TYL, Luis has your morning Bullets, as well as a range of Jay-Cutler-related rumors.
- Amazon has a Deal of the Day on various shelving and furniture, and we actually need some more shelving. cc The Wife.
It was a busy day around here yesterday, so if you missed anything, catch up with a skim:
- Ian Happ and Eloy Jimenez rocking balls in batting practice.
- The four-pitch intentional walk is probably going away.
- Good Maddon/Montero vibes and the importance of calling up prospects.
- It sounds highly unlikely that there will be a Jake Arrieta extension at this point.
- MLB wants to make batting practice more fan-friendly.
- The Cubs will have a shot at the 2020 All-Star Game.
- Whoops: the Nationals could have had Jake Arrieta.
- The MLB and MLBPA are still duking it out over various rules changes.
- The Cubs revealed their initial spring rotation.
- Lots of fun in the Spring Training Miscellany.