Baez's Huge Defensive Streak, Maddon's Stellar Communication, and Other Bullets

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Baez’s Huge Defensive Streak, Maddon’s Stellar Communication, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

I was not really familiar with the concept of “man-spreading” until The Wife accused me of it this week. Turns out, I am a serious offender, especially now that I have a crutch with me all the time. That thing gets laid out in the position most convenient to me, together with my computer bag – I need to be able to access them easily! – and I’m all splayed out because I usually have to elevate my foot. So I’m taking up a considerable area of space with my body and my crap. Sorry-ish everyone.

  • The advice Joe Maddon gave Javy Baez last year that helped him improve on defense when he had to spend a lot of time at shortstop? Well, it was a version of his famous do simple better mantra (CBS): “We had a conversation that he said really stuck with him last year. I had told him to please make the routine play routinely. He said that had really stuck with him. When the play required craziness, I told him we knew he could do that. The three-hopper to shortstop, come get it, play through it. Make an accurate throw. Apparently, that stuck. He told me once he thought in those terms, it really did slow it down for him.”
  • When we talk about the value of a manager, we often think first about the choices he makes that we can see – lineup decisions, playing time decisions, bullpen decisions. But so much of what we can’t see makes up the bulk of a manager’s value. For example? The ability to communicate a variety of concepts to a variety of players in a variety of ways to find the methods that will stick on that particular concept to that particular player in that particular way. An imperfect data slice on this one? In his first nine games taking over at shortstop for Addison Russell last year, Baez made four errors (think about that insane pace of errors if you spread it out over a season). Based on the description of the error that preceded that chat from Maddon, I think it was the error that came in that 9th game on August 12. After that chat? Baez went 26(!) straight games at shortstop without an error. How about that? In fact, he made only one error the entire rest of the season.
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
  • Willson Contreras took it on himself last year when Jon Lester was struggling a bit (Cubs.com). Contreras immediately went to Lester asking what he could be doing differently, and what he could do to help.
  • A reminder that Cubs single game tickets go on sale at 10am CT this morning. And if you get closed out, you can always check out our partner StubHub via the links here at BN.
  • Hey, the first Cubs lineup of the year is out!
  • This is why you do two things in Spring Training: you get excited about the return of baseball, and you hold your breath on every pitch your team’s pitchers throw. This sucks for Honeywell, the Rays, and baseball, because he was probably gonna be a lot of fun to watch this year:

  • This is a fascinating way to look at the baseball map:

  • By this measure, the Cubs have one of the smallest should-be fan bases in baseball, even if you go by the population that is covered by the area of land this covers. Speaking of which, look at some of the teams that have the largest population within the closest driving time (which is not necessarily a “close” drive for some of those areas, mind you – but still closest). I definitely would have guessed Braves and Yankees up there, but how about the A’s, Reds, and Rays?
  • Annnnnnnnnd my heart has melted:

YES !!!! @vakosem & @arizz_44 !!!!

A post shared by Naya Fowler (@nayafowler) on

  • I enjoy seeing things like this, because I’m sure it especially means a lot to the younger guys:

https://twitter.com/ChrisGimenez5/status/966855340900827136

  • A day later, I’m still blown away by this:

  • Sure, comparing a hi-res photo to a video screenshot is imperfect, I also think the lighting/uniform/body position is making Schwarber look even thinner in that second picture, but even accounting for that … holy smokes. I knew he was looking great, but until you see the pictures side by side, I mean, it’s just blowing my mind.
  • This is good news on the Bears front:

  • LET’S GO:


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.