Sorry about the very late-in-the-morning first post/Bullets today. The time change of being out west is messing me up a bit (it’s not even 8am here, lay off me!), and also I stayed up to finish the Cubs game and the Spring Training Miscellany last night.
- Speaking of the Miscellany, the biggest thing in there was probably not anything related to the Cubs game, and was instead about Hector Rondon’s performance in the WBC. Rondon pitched last night for Venezuela in their game against the United States, having just joined the team from Cubs camp. His appearance was extremely exciting … for the wrong reasons. Well, for Venezuela, anyway. Rondon gave up five hits, including two homers, didn’t finish his inning of work, and coughed up the lead in the 8th inning.
- Sure, he was, by definition, facing a loaded lineup, but it was about as bad as the outing could have gone. Meaningful? Meaningless? The outing reminded me a lot of Rondon’s spring last year: plenty of velocity, poor location, team tees off. Do you remember this time last year when everyone was freaking out about how much Rondon was getting blown up? He posted a 12.38 ERA last spring … and then went on to post a 1.70 ERA in the regular season until his triceps injury in August. Normally, then, I’d say that there’s nothing to see here, because maybe he’s just a guy who takes a little while to ramp up or pitches differently when the bell rings. But, I can’t quite go that far this time, because (1) pitching for your country in the WBC sure feels like a “bell rung” kind of moment, so I doubt Rondon was taking it lighter than he would a big league game in April; and (2) we haven’t seen Rondon be effective since that August injury. Sure, he came back and looked healthy, but he was getting smacked around enough that he clearly did not have Joe Maddon’s trust in the playoffs. That is to say, his spring was probably always going to be watched more closely than usual, and an outing last night is a little unnerving.
- That said: it was just one outing against a bunch of stars. You shouldn’t let it completely frame your thoughts on what Rondon will be this season. I wouldn’t say I’m “worried.” I would say I’m “watching.”
- The two big blows against Rondon were these blasts, if you missed them, on pitches he got up:
— MLB (@MLB) March 16, 2017
- Kris Bryant hit a dinger the other day in a non-televised game, so there wasn’t any video – but a BN’er snagged a slo-mo video at the game:
— Given2Fly (@GivenToFly1974) March 15, 2017
- Cubs season ticket holders got their tickets this week, and it came in a beautiful package with beautiful swag:
— MBDChicago (@MBDChicago) March 15, 2017
- With improving relations between the countries, and Cuba allowing some of its players to join other professional leagues in a more controlled way, hopefully the days of terrifying escapes to join MLB will soon be a thing of the past. That hasn’t been the case for the past 20 years, though – most players won’t even discuss their story – and the typically harrowing process just led to the conviction of two men for human trafficking. Because of the nature of the player escapes, and their value to MLB teams, the entire process was rife with corruption, fraud, and threats of violence. You can read the link (and the articles therein) for more background, but former agent Bart Hernandez was one of the two men convicted, and you may vaguely recall his name as one who worked to bring Jorge Soler to the United States before the Cubs signed him in 2012.
- The Mariners are creating incredible commercials in preparation for the season.
- I ran into a couple swell chaps at the back fields yesterday, and they let me step in for a pitch. I am not a scout, but I can see that I clearly had far too much weight on my back foot, which caused me to over-rotate on delivery, and yank the pitch into the dirt on the glove side:
— Blake Zimmerman (@BlakeZ1908) March 15, 2017
- Also, don’t pitch in blue jeans and tennis shoes on grass.
- Michael, you need to not text me when I’m away from home, and feel emboldened to spend:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) March 16, 2017
- Speaking of which, I was already putting together an order at Lids, because they’ve got a 30% off sale right now if you spend $44 dollars (code LUCKY). Lids is a new BN partner, so when you shop there via our links, it supports the site in the process.
- Over at TYL, your morning Bullets.