A miscellaneous reminder to those of you who like BN on Facebook: if you could do me a favor and interact with BN items when you see them pop up in your feed (like, comment, click, share), that would be a huge help. That’s how Facebook determines whether something is worth showing to other folks, so that very small action by you, collectively, can actually make a really big difference in spreading BN to the Cub-loving world. Thank you, kindly.
- Jon Lester’s debut performance went as well as it could in a variety of ways, and it matched his apparent attitude: I’m here to do a job, so I’m going to put my head down and do it really well. That’s the sense we’ve gotten of Lester so far – not a super in-your-face guy, but a serious competitor whose drive and focus doesn’t seem to be affected by his huge payday – and that’s what he was yesterday. Two innings of work? OK, boom-boom-boom Reds done, and now I’m off to the bullpen to continue my work.
- You can read Lester’s post-game comments at CSN, Cubs.com, and ESPN, among other places, and you get the same sense. This guy just gets it done. And he’s got a message for the Cubs’ very youthful core: you’ve gotta grow up sometime, and now’s the time. He speaks from experience, having been thrust into a prominent, heavily-scrutinized role in Boston at a young age. His personality and attitude, too, seem to be a great fit for a young team. There are different types of leadership, and having a mix of them – especially coming from big name players, with big success and big contracts to back it up – can only help this kind of team. Different players respond to different kinds of influence.
- Speaking of which: Just as we know that having the right kind (and mix) of veteran leadership matters, and we know that certain intangible qualities in a player have actual value on the field, even if we don’t yet have a great way of quantifying them statistically. If you want to see this kind of thing in action, though, read this Tribune piece on David Ross. You could be the most new-age, saber-focused fan in the world and still see that having a guy like Ross around your team is going to have a positive effect. We’ve said it before: this is a game that involves humans. This intangible stuff clearly matters.
- Whether the Giants want to engage in any kind of retaliation, it sure doesn’t sound like Hunter Pence is bears Corey Black any ill-will about the pitch that broke his arm:
@CblackCHC It happens my friend. Thanks for the concern, it's a part of the game we love. No slowing down!
— Hunter Pence (@hunterpence) March 6, 2015
- Anthony Rizzo answered a mailbag of Twitter questions at ESPN, and I enjoyed his response to a question about how much faith he puts in analytics: “Zero faith. None. For me the game is all feel. Every situation dictates itself. In game situations that the average person and even the numbers may not get. But at the end of the day, I know those numbers don’t lie, but I don’t pay attention at all. ” For a guy like Rizzo, who is clearly open to coaching and adjustments to augment his natural gifts, I’d say that response is perfectly fine. Rizzo doesn’t have to be a sabermetrician – or even buy sabermetrics – to be a hell of a great ballplayer, as he is. What matters is that the organization and coaching staff use analytics to put the players in the best possible position to succeed, that the coaches do a good job of communicating what needs to be communicated (in a way that will work for the players), and that the players are open to coaching.
- It looks like folks think the Cubs’ projected win total at FanGraphs (84) is just a touch too high.
- A great read about Jeff Samardzija has he came up in the minor leagues with the Cubs, working on his pitch mix to try and remain a starter. It’s funny to look back at that time and remember how it seemed pretty clear that he was destined to be, at best, a back-end reliever (maybe a very good one) because he wasn’t going to have the command or the variety of pitches to succeed as a starter in the big leagues. He showed a lot of folks, and it’s a reminder that it does happen.
- Speaking of recently-former Cubs, here’s a deep look at John Baker, the man. Some things about why he seemed like such a cool dude are clicking into place after reading that.