Compliments for Heyward’s Adjustments (Again), a Catcher’s Key Duties, and Other Bullets

It’s been a very good morning in the Taylor house already, because, for the first time ever, The Littlest Girl sat up from laying down on her own. It’s the kind of thing a typically-developing kid does in the first six to eight months of life without so much as a thought given to it, much less a celebration. But we’ve been working with this sweetie on it for so many months that I about screamed as I saw her pull it off this morning.

  • Joe Maddon says he likes what he’s seen so far from Jason Heyward after his work with new hitting coach Chili Davis (Cubs.com): “Every year, [Heyward] seems to make a little bit of an adjustment,” Maddon said. “The one now, if we can take it into the game, it will be interesting to watch. I don’t want to get more specific. Me talking to him, I tell him I like what I see. If you start talking mechanics or specifics, then the person starts thinking about it and it goes away. Him and Chili did some nice work that’s showing up already.” I suppose that’s all better than no comment at all.
  • My guess is that your reaction – at best – is the same as mine: that’s all fine and good to hear, but I have lost the ability to get really zesty about complimentary comments on Heyward’s offensive adjustments. By and large, they either haven’t shown up, have regressed, and/or haven’t produced results in his two years with the Cubs. I’ll be happy to see more consistent hard contact if it comes, but until I actually see it over the course of a month-plus – the point where pitchers might have to start respecting the damage he can do a bit more, and you’d see his walk rate finally tick back up – I’m pretty agnostic about what’s coming offensively for Heyward. I’m not trying to be overly negative here, since I do believe it’s perfectly plausible that Heyward could resume being an above-average hitter, as he was for the first six years of his career before coming to the Cubs. He’s only 28, after all. It’s just … well … I need to see it to believe it.
  • (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

  • Would-be back-up catcher Chris Gimenez talks to Bruce Miles here about a range of things, including his interest in the video room, and using it to break down hitters, while also understanding the flexibility necessary on a given day based on what a pitcher may or may not have working.
  • And that makes me think a lot about how the Cubs are notoriously strong game-planners for their pitchers, but what happens when the game plan calls for a lot of fastballs up and in to righties and the starter can’t command that pitch to that side of the plate that day? What if the pitcher is really feeling his curveball – locating it will, tons of spin – but the other team is loaded with guys who feast on curveballs? How do you adjust on the fly between what you know the game plan to be, versus what you’re observing about the pitcher from behind the plate? How do you balance all the objectives? These are the quiet, unseen things a very good catcher can pull off, and draw out the best performance from his pitcher. In fact, some of this might be the most important, most valuable stuff a catcher can do.
  • If you missed it earlier, fun with Kyle Schwarber’s two stolen bases. And it produced this smiley moment:
  • Over at The Ten-Yard Line, the Bears could have a good, low-cost wide receiver target available soon.
  • It’s a big sale day over at Fanatics, with 20% off orders of $20, or 25% off orders of $40. And a Deal of the Day at Amazon on Thermos mugs and cups.
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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