A Hopefully Happy Birthday for Jake Arrieta, Darvish and Hendricks Teaming Up, and Other Bullets

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A Hopefully Happy Birthday for Jake Arrieta, Darvish and Hendricks Teaming Up, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Because of the nature of this job, I ride my laptop pretty hard. It’s on constantly, it’s opened and closed dozens of times throughout the day, it travels, and it (rarely! I swear!) gets bumped and dropped, including the time it completely fell off my lap as my body instinctively jerked with elation when the Cubs came back in Game 4 of the 2016 NLDS. That is to say, it’s impressive that the old girl lasted me three years without issue before finally crashing enough times over the past two days that I knew it was time to get a replacement. And it’s for that reason that I know that the latest 12″ MacBook (June 2017 edition) is on a 15% off sale at Amazon – well-timed for me, all things considered!

  • In the Lukewarm Stove yesterday, Michael noted a comment from Tom Haudricourt that he’s heard from executives that the free agent pitchers – most notably Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn – must sign this week, or else they won’t have enough time to gear up for the season with their new club and be ready for Opening Day. On the one hand, I believe that’s a legitimate timeline. On the other hand, I’m not sure we aren’t already past that point of no return from a bargaining perspective. If the pitchers are really going to dig in their heels, and the teams likewise, then the start of the season is probably not going to be the thing that moves the needle – we already passed that point when teams didn’t get these guys signed in time to report with pitchers and catchers. Instead, I wonder if the only things left are (1) injuries, and (2) contention status. The first one can pop up at any time, but the second one will only start to manifest itself long after the season begins. It might not be a trade deadline situation, but, absent an earlier injury, it might be late May or June before a team like the Twins or Brewers or whoever decides, “Yeah, this is the year we really need to add an arm like Jake Arrieta.”
  • I hope I’m wrong about all of that, of course, and I hope that the dearth of chatter about these pitchers (especially Arrieta) is because t’s are being crossed and i’s dotted, and Arrieta is packing up his gear and heading out to Spring Training somewhere as we speak.
  • A reminder: if Arrieta doesn’t sign before the June draft, the Cubs don’t get that extra draft pick after the second round (plus the added bonus pool space) for him. That’s not going to cost the club a tip top prospect or two, but it would still sting for sure.
  • It would also probably sting for Arrieta, who turns 32 today. That’s no doubt a factor in his particular market struggles, but there are still some productive years ahead of him, even if he won’t be the guy we’ll always remember from 2015.
  • Kyle Hendricks mentioned to Cubs.com that, in his conversations with Yu Darvish, the Cubs’ new righty was asking about Hendricks’ signature changeup, which is one of the best in the game (Cubs.com). Given Darvish’s interest in perfecting his wide arsenal, and the cerebral nature of both pitchers, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Darvish pick up a little from Hendricks on the changeup – he was already specifically working on it this spring to try to improve it. (It also wouldn’t surprise me to see Hendricks pick up a little something from Darvish, too – how about Darvish gives Hendricks a tip or two on the curveball he’s working on?) All of this is one of the latent benefits of bringing in established, veteran, quality pitchers – they bounce ideas off of each other, and sometimes it helps something click in a way that it hasn’t before.
  • Kris Bryant tells the Tribune that his lack of RBIs last year is not something he worries about (Tribune). He believes – correctly! – that he had a very good year in 2017. The last thing you’d want to see is Kris Bryant out there pressing to try to drive in more runs, specifically. Just be you, just do you.
  • Hitting coach Chili Davis with more on what exactly Jason Heyward is working on (NBC): “I think what happened to Jason from the Braves years to the years here … was he probably got away from who he is. He was a natural, gifted athlete with the Braves. So we’re just talking, we talk about getting back to natural, getting back to what makes him a good player.” I do remember there was a bit of that talk last year at this time, too, so we’ll see. Maybe the message lands a little better coming from Davis, and/or maybe Heyward actualizes it in a different way after having another disappointing offensive season.
  • This catch by Billy Hamilton is indeed ridiculous, but a hidden bonus incredible bit? Shohei Ohtani was already to second base by the time Hamilton finished the roll after his catch. Ohtani, like Hamilton, is crazy fast:

  • This isn’t about baseball, and it isn’t even really about sports, but it is good and important, and just seems so perfectly-timed given the discussion we’ve had the last few days about the Cubs’ emphasis on mindfulness and meditation:

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.