The Cubs Are into Protecting Their Starters for the Long Season and Other Bullets

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The Cubs Are into Protecting Their Starters for the Long Season and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

jake arrieta cubs roadToday is Presidents’ Day, which is a fairly strange holiday when you really think about it (it’s basically about the formation of the United States, which, hey, that’s a perfectly fine reason for a country to have a national holiday … but we already have it on the Fourth of July). It’s also really strange when you start reading about the history of the holiday and how different it is in different parts of the country.

For example, here in Ohio, the holiday explicitly celebrates both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. In Illinois, where many of you are, it’s just Washington (apparently you had a separate state holiday on Friday for Lincoln’s birthday – you just wanted a four-day weekend, I see). In Alabama, it’s Washington and Thomas Jefferson (who was born in April).

Whatever you’re celebrating today, we’ll still have some lovely content around here for you. We celebrate the Cubs’ presidents today, I guess. So enjoy …

  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was on ESPN1000 recently to discuss a variety of topics (nice recap here at CCO), and one thing that caught my ear was further confirmation that we’re going to see the Cubs even more aggressively managing the innings – especially early in the year – of their pitchers. Among Hoyer’s comments: “I think we are going to start some of our guys a little bit later [in Spring Training]. I think some of the early starts in Spring Training probably won’t be by the guys who threw a ton of innings last year. We will probably get them started a little bit later. And realize that yes it’s a marathon. We need to have guys fresh at the end of the season. A big part of sort of building the pitching depth and bringing in relievers who are versatile is hopefully allowing us to back off those guys a little bit. It is a challenge. You do want to win every game you play in but you have to realize that you have to be careful. You can’t, sort of whip the horse the entire year and expect them to be fresh at the end and so I think that’s important to have that balance. Again, I think that we are aware of that in the front office and I know Joe and Chris Bosio are very aware of that.”
  • Although the context there was Spring Training, it’s not too difficult to see the broader angle there about not “whipping the horse all year” and presume that we’ll see guys like Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and John Lackey managed carefully in the early months of the season. Hoyer even explicitly referenced the “versatile” relievers that the Cubs brought in, and, when considering that together with the idea of protecting starters for the long haul, I really think there’s only one way to take it – shorter starts early in the year for all Cubs starters*, and more multi-inning appearances for the Cubs’ super utility pitchers (Adam Warren, Trevor Cahill, Travis Wood, and/or Clayton Richard). I love it. It’s a long season.
  • *(Also, you have the side benefit of improved effectiveness in those shorter outings. That’s not a goal in and of itself for guys like Arrieta and Lester – we know they can frequently dominated a third and fourth time through the lineup – but, like I said, it can be a fine side benefit.)
  • is back for 2016, with a cheaper price and a single-team option that’s even cheaper (more details here). I am a big fan, and if you’re going to sign up, make sure you please sign up via a link at BN, which automatically supports this here establishment in the process.
  • Yadier Molina (thumb surgery) now has his cast off, and will increase his workouts to see if he can be ready for the start of the season. Although the Cardinals have a very good backup catcher in Brayan Pena, and although Molina probably isn’t the hitter he once was, any time he misses behind the plate is going to hurt the Cardinals overall.
  • When an outfielder catches a slicing, screaming liner at the edge of the stands, it’s impressive enough, but when the Pirates’ ballgirl does it, it’s even more fun.
  • Kris Bryant hits the ball far and high, and maximizes the time we get to enjoy the majesty of his blasts:

  • Yikes – Twins star Joe Mauer says (Pioneer Press) that a concussion he suffered on foul tips behind the plate in 2013 blurred his vision, which was a major reason he moved out from behind the plate permanently. He’s going to experiment with sunglasses this year to try and improve his pitch-tracking ability. Mauer, who is just 32, has seen his wRC+ go from 170 in 2009 to the 135 to 145 range the next few years, to 106 in 2014 and just 94 last year. He never had much power, but what little he had has evaporated. His strikeout rate has increased dramatically, and his hard contact has decreased. Some of that is undoubtedly just the normal effects of aging, but you wonder if the concussions simply made it more difficult for him to hit.
  • Ever seen these Amazon “dash buttons”? It’s literally a device with a button that you press, and it orders something for you on Amazon. I am all about convenience and efficiency, but even I have to ask … is this necessary? Anyone use these, and/or able to explain to me why this is fundamentally better than just placing an order on your phone/computer?

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.