I decided to do a little reading today about the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday, itself – how did it come to be, what was the opposition like, etc. I think it’s an interesting aside about that process, and about how Dr. King’s efforts were received long after he was gone.
- It was an inevitable discussion point for a weekend that was always going to be otherwise light on actual baseball discussion: who is going to lead off for the Cubs? Presuming that there are no fundamental additions to the positional group, the Cubs will once again be left with no obvious option, some guys who simply don’t fit, and also some guys who probably just should not be up there from a human perspective. To me, then, if it’s going to be imperfect anyway, just give the job to Anthony Rizzo and be done with it. Would you *rather* have a guy with speed up there? Sure. Would you *rather* have Rizzo hitting a couple spots down? Sure. But when there are no great options, you go with the guy who has shown he’s perfectly comfortable doing it, gets on base among the best clips on the team, doesn’t give in to the pitch, and is overall one of your best hitters.
- If you were asking me today what the lineup should be on a typical day, given the new three-batter rule (alternating guys), what I think the hitters will be like next year, and so forth, I might go something like (against a typical righty starter):
- Rizzo, 1B
- Bryant, 3B
- Schwarber, LF
- Baez, SS
- Happ, CF
- Contreras, C
- Heyward, RF
- Bote, 2B
- You could flip Happ and Heyward and that wouldn’t bother me too much, and Bote is in there as the current placeholder at 2B, which I would expect to feature a variety of guys.
- Another leadoff name came up on the minor league side yesterday, as Farm Director Matt Dorey was asked if there was a future leadoff hitter somewhere down on the farm: “It might be Nico Hoerner, quite frankly. He doesn’t swing and miss. He doesn’t strike out. He didn’t show that enough last year in terms of grinding out at-bats or earning his walks, but he can really run.”
- It’s absolutely possible, based on everything Dorey said, that Hoerner could emerge as a leadoff option for the Cubs in the years ahead. If you hit for a high enough average and run really well, you can be a good leadoff hitter despite not taking a lot of walks (as Whit Merrifield, for an example, has shown). But let’s just see what happens before we anoint Hoerner in that kind of role before he’s actually yet shown the ability to be appropriately selective at the big league level. Right now, if you put him up there, I think you’d find he was getting himself out way too often early in the count thanks to his ability to make contact, and thanks to big league pitchers’ ability to take advantage of that. Hoerner might be that guy in time, but I’m not sure I’d want that added pressure on his plate any time soon.
- A minor, but important, injury update from the Convention: the thumb injury that ended Javy Baez’s season was fine enough for him to have had his normal offseason activities (Sun-Times).
- Carlos Martinez, who hasn’t started since mid-2018, is coming to Spring Training this year expecting that he’ll be in the Cardinals’ rotation. That doesn’t mean he’ll definitely be a starter this year, but that’s his aim, and there’s an opening. It would be a notable shift after he was so successful as a reliever last year.
- Oh, kids – always a delight at the Convention:
- Another addition for Marquee, as they’re bringing Tony Andracki over from NBC:
You know what they say…new decade, new job.
It's been a fantastic, incredible, unbelievable run at NBC Sports Chicago, but it's time for a new opportunity.
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) January 20, 2020
- Folks were having a lot of fun with this one, but I doubt it means anything – Nick Castellanos probably still had some gear with the Cubs, and/or a player just had one of his bats in the mix, which is not uncommon:
— Greg Williams (@GregWilliams28) January 19, 2020