Big BN announcement coming later today, so be on alert. And, no, it is not about the color of this dress. (Which is white and gold, obviously.)
- It doesn’t do Arismendy Alcantara any favors to compare him to Ben Zobrist just yet – the latter has been one of the most valuable players in baseball in the last five years, and the former hasn’t even played a full year in the bigs – but it’s definitely fair to compare the two in terms of the options they bring. That’s where Joe Maddon seemed to land in this CSN piece, noting that Alcantara can play all over defensively and switch hits, not unlike Zobrist. Maddon says it’s almost like having an extra guy on the bench – and it’s really true. When the Cubs picked up Dexter Fowler, filling the position at which Alcantara would have otherwise started, it was like adding a reserve outfielder and infielder to the mix (which we’ve discussed several times in relation to a possible Welington Castillo non-trade – having Alcantara in this role makes it a tiny bit more palatable to carry three catchers for a little while, if necessary).
- … and on the other hand, this ESPN write-up makes it sound a little more like Alcantara’s focus right now is second base, with the outfield sprinkled in. If that’s true, then Alcantara could be primed as the fall-back starting option at second base if Javier Baez needs more time at AAA Iowa. It was a tiny sample, but last year, Alcantara did look so very smooth at second base, so it’s hard to argue with him as the primary fall-back there.
- … and, speaking of second base fall-backs, infielder Tommy La Stella has been working out at third base for several months already, because the Cubs told him that they planned to give him a look there immediately upon trading for him back in November (Cubs.com). There are still a lot of moving parts in all of this (throw in the third base aspect, especially with Kris Bryant potentially emerging in late April to take the position over (or maybe going to left field)), and I wonder if the April 5 lineup will look different than we’re expecting. And then the April 29th lineup will be different from that. Alcantara as a super utility guy is something of a metaphor for all of these possibilities: he could be playing anywhere in a given game, and these positions around him could feature so many permutations when the season gets underway.
- Jason Motte has kept the trolling of Cardinals and Cardinals fans to a minimum after he flipped sides in the rivalry (Cubs.com), which, as we learned with Ryan Theriot, isn’t the worst way to approach things. For me, though, what I really want to know is how he’s looking in his bullpen sessions. The Cubs paid Motte a healthy guarantee ($4.5 million) for a guy who missed 2013 with Tommy John surgery, and didn’t seem to be himself in 2014 after he returned (looking at his velocity chart, and it’s ugly – hard stuff way down, offspeed stuff way too fast). That’s how the TJS comeback can look, though, so there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about what’s ahead for Motte, not the least of which is how excellent he was before 2013. Still, Cubs fans are probably feeling burned recently by pricey bullpen additions – Kyuji Fujikawa and Jose Veras come to mind – so hopefully Motte provides newfound comfort.
- Dexter Fowler cracked me up with this response to a question about what he brings to the table in an ESPN Twitter Q&A: “Just a leadoff guy that can get on-base and hit for some power. Maybe I can run down some balls but they say my defense is awful. Sabermetrics. My UZR has me awful. I was like, ‘Really?'” Even Fowler is in on the debate about Fowler’s strange defensive metrics!
- META: The FCC yesterday voted in favor of the strongest form of Net Neutrality, which is a good thing, in my opinion, for the future of the Internet. But, because the FCC went so far in that direction, they will face challenges in court from Internet service providers, and challenges in Congress from those opposed to Net Neutrality. In other words, this saga, which started about this time last year, is going to go on for a while longer.