Pirates Could Struggle Against Arrieta, Renteria, Player Development, and Other Bullets

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Pirates Could Struggle Against Arrieta, Renteria, Player Development, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

jake arrieta cubs road blueMichael and I will be at the game today, albeit not sitting together, because he’s a bad friend. I kid – Michael’s got seats in the bowl, so look for him there, and I’ll be out in the right field bleachers (blue BN shirt, blue/red shoes, jeans, giant iPhone in my face). Say hey. We can watch Jake Arrieta dominate the Pirates together.

  • To that end, while you can’t ever definitively predict baseball, I will point out how difficult it’s going to be for the Pirates to square up Arrieta in a day game after they just played (and lost) a night game in New York last night. That’s a very quick turnaround to try and prepare for one of the best pitchers in baseball.
  • In addition to being Jake Arrieta Day, as you well know, it’s also Willson Contreras Day! The rub there, of course, is that it would be very surprising to see Contreras actually debut behind the plate today. Given Arrieta’s uniquely devastating stuff and velocity, it’s incredibly difficult to catch him well, and it might not be something Contreras is ready to do. I don’t think we know for sure – mostly, we just know that receiving skills were among the last bits of polish to be put on his game as a converted catcher (he’s pretty great back there defensively otherwise) – but it’s not a dramatic leap to presume he’ll start out by catching lower-velocity guys for now. We’ll see soon enough. You’d love to have his bat in there against lefty Francisco Liriano, who has tended to be much more susceptible to righties than lefties in his career.
  • Other Contreras-related discussion coming later this morning in a separate set of Contreras Bullets.
  • I loved this read from Carrie Muskat on David Ross, the father, and why it’s very easy to see him walking away from baseball after this season no matter how well he plays.
  • With Robin Ventura on the hot seat with the White Sox, it’s possible bench coach – and former Cubs manager – Rick Renteria may soon get another chance to manage a big league team, according to Jon Heyman. Not that I’m rooting for Ventura to be fired, but I do hope Renteria gets a chance. The Cubs absolutely did the right thing by going after Joe Maddon when they had the chance, but there’s no question that the whole episode was pretty ugly on the Renteria end of things. (I just looked back at one of the many, many things I wrote back in 2014 when that was all going down. What a delicate, uncomfortable, and exciting time that was.)
  • A random note on John Andreoli, the 26-year-old outfield prospect who has been unbelievably hot lately: I don’t know if Andreoli has a big league future, but I think there’s something very interesting going on with his season. We saw in Spring Training that he had what appeared to be a sudden surge of power, which followed a slight uptick in power from 2015, when he made his first appearance at AAA. Andreoli was always one of these guys whom we’ve talked about a lot: plays good enough defense, hits enough, and walks enough to put up good numbers overall, but without any semblance whatsoever of power, the numbers were all evaporate in the big leagues (some natural things that happen to almost all hitters in the big leagues, which are exacerbated by no power, and which collectively crush offensive production: K’s go up, BB’s go down, BABIP goes down, ISO goes down). This year, however, Andreoli’s ISO is up to a whopping .195 after a career of hovering in the .100 range. His strikeout rate, however, is also waaaaay up, to nearly 34%, after a career of hovering in the 20% range. To me, this looks like the story of a guy who knew and/or was told that he wouldn’t have a big league future without more power, and is making a very conscious change to his game to wring more power out. I know nothing of Andreoli’s story beyond the numbers, but it’s a really stark tale that the numbers tell, and I think it’s a fascinating example of how much players in the minor leagues can be working through very major changes to their game.
  • Edwin Jackson has found another-another team, signing a minor league deal with the Padres. This is the last year that Jackson’s $11 million salary (minus the Major League minimum, paid by the Marlins when they signed him before this season; plus the portion of his signing bonus that hadn’t been paid before this season) is on the Cubs’ books.
  • Here’s a tweet so that you’ll follow the Baseball Is Fun account on Twitter by clicking that button, but also because you really should see this:

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.