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La Stella’s Option Willingness, Javy Gonna Javy, Outfield Defense, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

We are ONE WEEK away from the start of the 2017 season. The Chicago Cubs will begin their title defense.

  • We discussed the Matt Szczur trade rumor last night, and there’s something important to confirm in relation to that final roster spot: per CSN, Joe Maddon “confirm[ed] that [Tommy] La Stella has signaled a willingness to go to Triple-A Iowa if necessary.” As you’ll recall, La Stella last August refused to go to Iowa when optioned, for reasons that were personal and never entirely explained.
  • To the extent it’s certain that La Stella would go this time around, then, the fact that Szczur is out of options, and La Stella is not, must be factored into that final bench spot decision. Still, for me, La Stella is the better fit on this particular roster, given his lefty bat and ability to play in the infield (and the depth of outfield talent at Iowa). Remember, the Cubs have two infielders (Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist) who can flex out into the outfield, as well as a catcher (Willson Contreras). Because of that, they can also cover center field with three different outfielders (Jon Jay, Albert Almora, Jason Heyward).

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  • If the choice was La Stella or Szczur for the big league team, without any other considerations, I believe La Stella adds slightly more. If the question, however, is whether I’d rather see the Cubs pick La Stella and then lose Szczur on waivers for nothing, then maybe I’d be picking Szczur and optioning La Stella for the time being, now that it has been confirmed this is an option. Thus, trading Szczur might be the best route for everyone involved, assuming there are teams out there that value him as more than a mere waiver claim.
  • Javyyyyyyy:

  • A great read at the Tribune on the Kipnis family – as in, Jason Kipnis’s family full of Cubs fans – and how they handled the World Series and Game Seven. Remember that 9th inning foul ball Kipnis hit in the tie game, which looked like it had just ended the game off of the bat? I remember it with sheer terror. What’s interesting is how extremely not-a-homer it was, and Kipnis himself could tell right off the bat. But for his family watching – and fans watching – our emotions were blown up in one direction or the other for about 4.1 seconds.

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  • Kyle Hendricks is a big proponent of yoga, which helps him stay focused and not worry about external things while on the mound (Cubs.com). You develop flexibility and balance from yoga, too, but the mental side – especially for professional athletes – can be huge.
  • In projected defensive figures at ESPN, Jason Heyward (natch) projects to be one of the most impactful defenders in baseball once again. Interestingly, Dexter Fowler shows up as one of the most damaging defenders now that he’s with the Cardinals, which would obviously be the opposite of what they were trying to accomplish by bringing him in. As we know, Fowler’s defensive metrics were fairly awful before coming to the Cubs, when they improved a good bit in 2015, and then a ton in 2016 (so much so that he was an average or slightly-above-average rated defender in center field).
  • Jesse Jensen made an awesome Chicago GIF:

  • Rosecrans pretty much nails it:


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  • This reminds me of something we might have seen from the Cubs circa the #Cubes era:

https://twitter.com/flippingbats/status/846002705860608000

  • Also from Baseball is Fun, did you know the Angels threw a combined no-hitter? Much more uniquely and interestingly, ALL THREE outs in the 9th inning were defensive gems. I’ve never seen anything like that.

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  • Earlier this morning, Michael ranked the top 20 baseball movies, and you should tell him why he’s wrong. (Or why he’s right!)
  • One more reminder that you can get the gold gear the Cubs will be sporting to celebrate their WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP in their first two home games of the year:


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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.