Yesterday was a really tough day. You didn’t notice – I hope – because it was all behind-the-scenes administrative stuff, but boy did it suck. I am very happy that I get to run my own business, and feel very fortunate to be in this position with great support around me, but there are days when I just want to write about the Cubs and do nothing else at all. That isn’t the reality of operating a business like this, though, and most days I’m able to allocate only about 50% of my time to actually clicking on my keyboard about baseball.
I’m not really going anywhere with this, save for the fact that this space atop the Bullets has become my spot to pontificate on any and all things. This morning, yesterday’s headaches were on my mind. I hope today I can focus a whole lot more on writing.
- As Michael noted last night in the Spring Training Miscellany, Joe Maddon and Miguel Montero have put whatever troubles existed between them in the past. As much as he was downplaying issues previously, it’s pretty clear from his comments at Cubs.com that this was weighing on Montero, who went from being the Cubs’ nominal starter last year in the first half, to be something closer to a third catcher by the playoffs. He feels much better now after having spoken with Maddon, and everyone seems to be on the same page about his role, and how he can help the team win. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: given his clear bad luck offensively last year, given an offseason to rest up his back, and given the improved performance that could come from more rest this year and optimized match-ups, Montero is one of my top candidates for an offensive bounce back this year. No, that bounce back won’t impact as many games as – for one example – a bounce back from Jason Heyward would, but in terms of the absolute improvement in his offensive numbers, I’m expecting a big jump from Montero.
- Jed Hoyer tells Cubs.com that he’s a big fan of promoting young talent to the big league team every single year if possible, because “Young guys are great for a veteran team – they provide a spark, they provide new energy. I think Willson [Contreras] was a big part of that last year and provided a great spark. Maybe one of these guys can provide that spark.” Two of the potential “these guys” would be the top two prospects in the system, Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ (whom we watched crushing BP earlier). Others seem more likely to come up first in terms of level and logistics, but there’s no denying that, if a string of injuries were to open up a longer-term spot somewhere this season, the guys who might be the most potentially impactful are those two, even if they are young and relatively inexperienced.
- Carl Edwards Jr. offers up the story behind why he flies the W flag so boldly, over at The Player’s Tribune. It’s a deeply personal story, and will make you all the more proud to have the guy on the team, and all the more excited when he gets to fly the W.
- Jorge Soler is already getting noticed by his new organization, and they’re clearly dreaming on his potential the same way the Cubs did for so many years. Although it would be hard to see him finally bust out with another organization, I know I’d enjoy that a heck of a lot more than him continuing to stay just below that level. Crush the AL, Jorge.
- There’s a new Cubs v. Cardinals exhibit coming to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, developed by the teams and the Hall of Fame.
- The Cubs’ promotional schedule came out yesterday, and here’s the South Bend Cubs’ version:
— South Bend Cubs (@SBCubs) February 20, 2017
- Over at BIF, holy-crap-this-softball-pitcher-playing-dodgeball-is-terrifying:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 22, 2017
- And over at TYL, it looks like the beginning of the end is officially coming for the Jay Cutler era.
- A very serious travel mug is on sale at Amazon, if you’re tired of spills and ill-temperatured drinks in your travels.
If you missed anything else yesterday, catch yourself up:
- The Cubs could have two of the top contenders for comeback player of the year. But who actually gets the nod?
- Tommy La Stella is at Spring Training, but what comes next if he doesn’t make the big league team?
- I remembered Kyle Schwarber’s Spring Training debut in 2015 … you know, the grand slam on his birthday.
- Javy Baez figures to move around a good bit this year, but he’ll be a “starter.”
- Matt Weiters finally signed, joining the Nationals.
- Cubs players had some fun trying to act out emoji faces.
- Among the MLBits, Dexter Fowler followed up on his travel ban comments, and he’s not backing down.
- Commissioner Manfred threw down the gauntlet about what he saw as a lack of cooperation from players about pace-of-play changes (though the intentional walk one seems to be happening).
- A must-read interview of Sammy Sosa, who would come back into the Cubs’ fold … if they asked.
- And a Spring Training Miscellany to wind down the day.