One more exhibition game for the Cubs today, and then the regular season is here. It was actually a shorter wait than almost every other year, so I can’t say “finally.”
I am, however, going to say “ready.”
- The Cubs lost last night’s exhibition game to the Astros, though it still generated a ton of fun moments. Brett Anderson, who didn’t have his best command or stuff, gave himself a D- on the performance (Tribune). I don’t think it was quite *that* bad, but did anyone else’s heart skip a beat when he landed awkwardly on the mound a couple times early? The landing spot was apparently not to his liking, and may have thrown some things off. He still managed to go 5.0 innings against a high-powered Astros offense and allow only three earned runs (despite giving up eight hits and two homers). Anderson is not necessarily a huge strikeout guy, though he may have especially been pitching to contact in this one – zero strikeouts. In any case, I’m eager to see him working in front of this defense in the regular season.
- Hector Rondon got HIT again last night, as he was all over the place with his command, and up in the zone. It’s been that same story for him most of this spring, and really, dating back to his triceps injury in August. To that end, I really don’t have anything different to say than I said back when he was knocked around in the WBC: it’s fair to have some concerns here, given what Rondon dealt with late last year. Were it just the Spring Training performance, you could easily point to what he did last year (got knocked around in Spring Training for having no command and pitching up in the zone; then went out and dominated in the regular season) and have no concerns. But we haven’t yet seen Rondon “back,” so I think this year’s spring performance generating concern is a little more justified. I still want to see what happens when the bell rings and the real juices are flowing, though.
- Joe Maddon’s thoughts on Rondon sound about the same: he’s gotta get the fastball command right, but also let’s see what happens when the games count (Cubs.com).
- Also: I don’t think you’re going to see Rondon immediately getting a super long leash in an 8th inning type role, so it’s good that the Cubs have so many other quality setup options in the bullpen if there does happen to be something consistently wrong with Rondon’s performance.
- A very cool moment from the game last night:
#Cubs prospect Charcer Burks said he's dreamed of playing at Minute Maid Park since he was 6 yrs old. Now he gets an at-bat
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 31, 2017
- Burks struck out in the at bat, but, hey, maybe he’ll get another shot down the road.
- Nothing has been decided yet, but street closures around Wrigley Field this season are still a possibility (Tribune).
- These short videos the Cubs have started producing are really fantastic:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 30, 2017
- Luis wrote about Yadier Molina’s impending extension with the Cardinals last night, and Ken Rosenthal adds more particulars on the money:
Sources: Molina three-year extension with #STLCards will be between $55M and $65M.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 31, 2017
- I’m guessing there are a bunch of incentives and options and what-have-you in there that is making the final number a little less certain to pin down than on most deals. And that kinda makes sense, given Molina’s unique value to the Cardinals (and also some of his harder-to-quantify valuable traits). I get that the Cardinals could not let Molina walk. Still, $20ish million per year for a catcher who turns 35 this year, and whose bat has been in clear decline, is a whole lot to commit. Is Molina worth it, when you consider defense, framing, and work with the pitchers? Maybe. But that stuff can’t really slip at all, or else he becomes a lead weight starter or an extremely expensive back-up.
- Though, as Travis Sawchik points out, Molina may stand a chance of aging better than most catchers, and also, the conventional wisdom that catchers fall off sooner than other position players is simply not true.
- Yeah, but why:
— Chris Boghossian (@ChrisBoghossian) March 31, 2017
- Former Cubs reliever Spencer Patton is chronicling his new like in Japan, where he’ll be pitching this season.
- As you’ve no doubt detected by now, Mike Trout is not especially interested in being a superstar headline-grabber. As Bill Baer writes at Hardball Talk, that’s actually a shame for a sport that currently has only 17% of 18-34 year-olds paying attention (that’s dramatically lower than, for example, the 32% watching the NBA or 28% watching the NHL).
- Michael hopped on the radio this morning, and you can listen to his appearance here.
- I knew that Greg Maddux was an infamous prankster, but I had not heard this particular shower anecdote involving Chipper Jones. If Maddux approaches you to talk shop in the shower, apparently, urine trouble.
- If you missed it earlier, it looks like Munenori Kawasaki has returned to Japan. Also: Kyle Schwarber gunned a runner out from behind the plate last night, and then had some fun at first base.
- At Baseball is Fun, Trevor Story made a ridiculous play at shortstop that is even more impressive on multiple viewings.
- Luis has your morning Bears Bullets over at TYL.
- As we approach warm-weather season, check out the big sale on Coleman sleeping bags at Amazon.