A Good Night for the Bats and the Bullpen and Other Bullets

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A Good Night for the Bats and the Bullpen and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

neil ramirez cubsToday’s off-day is a bit of a come-down after that win. It was just so good in so many phases of the game. Isn’t it going to be awesome when the Cubs do that more often than not?

  • Anthony Rizzo, who had himself a magnificently advanced-stat-lovin’ night last night, remains optimistic about this team, despite the 9-17 record in April. “This team still has a lot of upside,” Rizzo told Cubs.com. “We’ve shown glimpses of it. A glimpse tonight with our bullpen coming in and locking the game down. It’s pretty impressive. If we score runs – and guys are swinging the bat well – I think we’re going to start winning some ballgames and get back in it.” I think optimism is fantastic, and the Cubs showed that they do have some talent on this roster. I don’t think we’re going to see a shocking, playoff-impacting run, but I do think we could see some of the younger players continue to step up, and change the expectations for 2015. That would be the cat’s pajamas.
  • Welington Castillo thinks his recent groove is thanks in large part to consistent playing time. (Cubs.com) All players want to play, but it can be particularly tricky to get daily starts in for catchers, given the toll the defensive side of the game takes on their body. It’s quite a balancing act, especially without DH availability (yet another mark in favor of extending the DH to the NL … ).
  • Thoughts from Starlin Castro and hitting coach Bill Mueller on the young shortstop’s offensive rebound this year. (ESPNChicago)
  • Wanna see what a fantastic Major League slider looks like? Jay Bruce sure didn’t want to see this one from Neil Ramirez last night:


“Oh, hey, awesome, that pitch is coming right down the mid …. aw, fffffffuuuuuu …. ” (GIF via PitcherGIFS)

  • It’s been only two outings (plus an impressive Spring Training), but Neil Ramirez has almost certainly bought himself a spot in the bullpen even after Jake Arrieta returns this weekend, bumping Carlos Villanueva to the pen, and bumping someone out the door. That someone figures to be Brian Schlitter or Zac Rosscup for now, but the bullpen could be in for a significant shakeup in the near-term. As Jesse Rogers aptly points out, it feels like Ramirez, Wesley Wright, and Hector Rondon have usurped the late-inning roles expected to be held by Jose Veras, Pedro Strop, and James Russell (just look at the way Ricky Renteria used the former three last night in a one-run game; also, you could probably throw Justin Grimm in there somewhere, too). This is, of course, how good bullpens emerge. Relievers are so volatile that you’ve got to let them compete, and let the guys who are getting the job done get the highest leverage innings. Defined roles are not always necessary or productive, and performance doesn’t always carry over from year to year. Just load up on a ton of power arms, and let the chips fall where they may.
  • I’m sorry. I just lost my train of thought watching that pitch again. And again. And again.
  • Arizona Phil says Jorge Soler played in the outfield for the first time in an extended Spring Training game yesterday, which is a good sign. (Also reported in that piece: pitching prospect Anthony Prieto, the Cubs’ 5th round pick in the 2012 draft, has undergone Tommy John surgery. Third rounder Ryan McNeil had TJS last year, and fourth rounder Josh Conway (who was drafted after having TJS) had a separate elbow surgery last year. Rough stretch for the pitchers in that draft.)
  • Sahadev Sharma will be co-hosting again with Connor McKnight on 87.7 The Game on Saturday from 9am CT to 11am CT. You should listen, marvel at his awesome on-air skillz, and then flood the station with compliments for said skillz. I am totally impartial.

META: Your semi-regular net neutrality update. As you may recall, the FCC recently signaled a terrifying willingness to allow Internet service providers to make side deals with content companies (Netflix, ESPN, etc.) to give them a “fast lane” of service when connecting end users to their web sites or services (those deals would be separate from the hosting fees sites/services already pay to be on the Internet, and access fees consumers pay to use the Internet). For folks who like the idea of an Internet where start-ups and little guys can pop up and compete and change the landscape for consumers (and for consumers who don’t like having extra fees passed on to them), this is a really scary proposition. The FCC’s chairman yesterday tried to ease some of those fears, and you can read his comments here. He emphasized that he would not allow ISPs to favor some traffic (i.e., traffic going to sites with which it has a side deal) to the detriment of other traffic; which is to say he does not want to see an Internet where sites/services that haven’t paid for “fast” connections are forced into an artificially slowed or throttled speed lane, which could be the beginning of the end for smaller sites/services. He does not want to see an Internet of “haves” and “have nots.” This is the right attitude, and I’m glad to hear him say it … but we’ll see what actually happens when the rubber meets the road. I’ll keep following this story, because of the obvious relevance here – and, well, because, philosophically, I am a very strong supporter of net neutrality.

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Author: Brett Taylor

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