We had a swell birthday party for The Little Boy, but we woke up this morning to: him sick, The Little Girl sick, The Wife sick, me sick, the dishwasher broken, and six inches of new snow to shovel.
But I still feel pretty happy.
- If David Ross winds up Jon Lester’s personal catcher, it won’t be because Jon Lester lobbied for it. As you can read in this Cubs.com piece, Lester is pretty adamant that he can throw to anyone, and quipped that he had some success before Ross ever came to the Red Sox. We’ll see how it shakes out, but if Joe Maddon wants to optimize his lineups against the opposing pitcher, then Lester may have to pitch to Miguel Montero at times.
- Speaking of which, Montero would start every game if he had his druthers, but obviously that isn’t possible. There’s a good read on Montero here at CSN and here at Cubs.com, and he discusses, among other things, why he thinks his production dipped in the second half last year (and it wasn’t because of how many games he caught). In short? He’s not a numbers-gatherer, and it’s a little harder to get up and perform at his best when he knew how far the Diamondbacks were out of the race and/or how slim there chances were of winning at any given moment. I’m not sure which way that cuts, but I do hope that the Cubs are competitive this year, and we get to see the best version of Montero (and maybe some other players, too). He sounds like a guy who genuinely cares only about winning, and the good news is that, so long as he’s healthy, he’s likely to help the Cubs a great deal behind the plate, whatever he’s doing offensively.
- Also, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point out that, although his wRC+ fell from 107 in the first half to just 62 in the second half, Montero’s walk rate actually increased, and his strikeout rate decreased. His BABIP fell from .291 to just .250 (probably not entirely within his control), which did most of the damage. The rest came from a steep drop in power (ISO down from .154 to .082), which is really the only thing I can see that he was, himself, doing appreciably worse in the second half. And even that is debatable, because his HR/FB ratio sunk to just 4.0% in the second half, which may have been a blip. His line drive rate was basically the same throughout the year, and he hit more infield pop-ups in the second half (again, could be a blip). Probably not worth parsing it all down to this level, but, this is all to say: there may not have been a “reason” for his down second half other than “performance ebbs and flows throughout a baseball season because it’s baseball.”
- If Adam Wainwright has to miss Opening Day because of his abdominal strain, the Cubs aren’t really thinking about it (Sun-Times).
- It sounds like Jason Motte is opening to being used in a variety of roles/innings/situations (Daily Herald), which is what you’d ideally see from most of the Cubs’ back-end relievers. Hector Rondon will remain the named closer for now, but the Cubs have a ton of flexibility from there. The main question with Motte will be whether he’s full back to the guy he was pre-Tommy John surgery. For his part, he says he feels good.
- Jake Arrieta and Joe Maddon are hitting it off. Naturally.
- Kris Bryant hooked up his alma mater with some new gear.