Travis Wood Drawing Interest as a Starter, Schwarber Catching, America, and Other Bullets

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Travis Wood Drawing Interest as a Starter, Schwarber Catching, America, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

As someone who writes about a sport that is universally welcoming to talented players from all over the world (and who believes the sport is much more enjoyable the more people we allow to come take a crack at it (bring Shohei Otani!)), I am especially sensitive to immigration issues in this country.

I am also sensitive to something about my own place here, full in the knowledge that I didn’t really do anything to “earn” being an American other than having the good fortune of a divine lottery selecting the place of my birth.

We earn being Americans here and now by the choices we make. By deciding that this place is more than a collection of people who happened to be born inside its borders. By deciding that the very thing we are fighting to protect has to say something about what we believe is good and right in this world.

Democrat? Republican? I have no interest in identifying with these groups.

Instead, I am a living thing on this earth, I am a human, and I am an American. It is how I demonstrate my care for the first two of these that I define the third.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

  • Although there were rumors that the Cubs might look to bring back Travis Wood as a swing pitcher if they failed to sign Tyson Ross, those rumors did not continue even after Ross chose the Rangers. Instead, the Cubs appeared to pivot toward Brett Anderson, whom they signed earlier this week. And, while there are rumors that the Cubs might be looking at another lefty for the bullpen competition (presumably on a minor league deal), it seems doubtful at this point that Wood is still on the radar, especially if this is true:

  • It’s a harsh reality about the rebuilding process, and I remember boos at the 2013 and 2014 Cubs Conventions (after the initial Theo-Jed-Jason enthusiasm at the 2012 Convention waned for many fans):

  • I have no doubt the White Sox are doing the right thing, though. Stay the course. Let those small pockets of fans boo. They’ll be cheering in a few years.
  • Kyle Schwarber’s college friend Sam Travis, a Red Sox prospect, was going through ACL rehab at the same time Schwarber was, and the two spoke frequently about the process ( Having Schwarber available in that way helped Travis, and I’d imagine it was good for Schwarber (relatively speaking – I mean, no one wants their friends to go through that), too.
  • Speaking of Schwarber, you may have noticed that yesterday’s Spring Training roster had him listed as a catcher. I wouldn’t read *too* much into that, as we already know that Schwarber, himself, still wants to try to catch, and it’s entirely possible that he preferred to be listed as a catcher right now. I think the Cubs have been relatively clear with the plan for him in 2017: get him to 100%, work on the left field defense, and see where he’s at physically (and how all the needs shake out) before considering whether it’s worth resuming the original 2016 plan for him, which would have seen him starting mostly in the outfield, but available as a catcher in-game, and also starting about once a week behind the plate.
  • That Spring Training roster, by the way, came with the non-roster invitee announcement, if you missed it.
  • A Twitter question about submarining relief prospect Dave Berg sent me down a wormhole of considering Cubs strictly-relief prospects whom we don’t discuss too much (Jose Rosario, James Farris, David Garner, Dakota Mekkes, among them) because big league relievers, internally, so often come from the ranks of starting pitching prospects (it’s really rare that a pitcher who already needs to be converted to the bullpen in the mid-to-low minors turns out to be among the best relievers in the world (aka, MLB relievers)). The conversion to the bullpen is relatively easy, so the ranks of future great MLB relievers tend to still be full of minor league starting pitchers – and thus the pool of great minor league relievers you’re looking at is only a fraction of the guys who’ll actually be considered for big league bullpen jobs eventually. That is all to say: don’t assume that because a guy is a dominant reliever at A-ball or High-A that he can just keep working his two pitches and will succeed up the ladder. We’ll see if, in a reliever-heavy era, teams start identifying big league relievers earlier in their careers and converting them sooner, but for now, in general, a pitching prospect being a relief-only guy in the lower minors is a concerning sign, not an encouraging one (no matter how strong the results).
  • … all that said, I do find all of the guys mentioned in that last bullet interesting for various reasons. What can I say? I’m a hopefully prospect romantic. Rosario, in particular, is worth watching in 2017, as he converted to relief only after Tommy John surgery, soared from High-A to AAA in his first year back from surgery, and comes with premium velocity.
  • More on prospects: earlier this morning, Luke got into the many solid depth options the Cubs will have at AAA in the outfield.
  • Luis and Michael unearthed a Cubs-Cardinals brawl from 1976, which was kicked off when the umpire started calling strikes with no Cubs actually at the plate. It was nuts, to say the least.
  • Your morning Bullets over at The Ten-Yard Line.

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.