Pitchers and Catchers Arrive, Contreras Couldn't Avoid the Rumors, Camp Battles, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Pitchers and Catchers Arrive, Contreras Couldn’t Avoid the Rumors, Camp Battles, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

It’s officially THE day: pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training today. Of course, most of the guys were already in Mesa, Arizona long before today, but the calendar still makes today a big one.

  • Because I believe baseball – and the coverage thereof – is in the entertainment business, and because I believe the players who play baseball professionally are public figures whose team is a matter of public interest, I do think it’s an important part of our job to track and share and deconstruct transaction rumors. But even as I concede that, it’s not like I’m unaware of the human impacts – I can’t imagine what the last week was like for the various players involved in the Dodgers/Red Sox/Twins/Angels trades, which were done and then not done, and all the while your team is telling you nothing despite the media reports. It’s a tricky balance for the media, no doubt, and a tough spot for the players.
  • I appreciated Willson Contreras, who was attached to rumors in the early part of the offseason – at times, it seemed >50% that he could be dealt – being honest about the impact it had on him:

  • At 11 years, Contreras is now the longest-tenured member of the entire organization, so, yeah, I’m sure it was very difficult for him to see his name out there in rumors. But with catchers, once Spring Training begins, they are virtually never traded, so I’d say he’s safe for a good while yet. And with a new framing infrastructure in place (plus electronic strike zones likely in two years), I would be happy if Contreras is one of the Cubs’ upcoming extension targets. “We’re always going to be open to talking about an extension with the Cubs,” Contreras told Cubs.com. “My agent and I talk a lot about it. We just have to wait for the right time to talk about it.”
  • Also, bonus love to Willson for trolling folks on social media:

https://twitter.com/BleacherNation/status/1227248018044456962

  • We talked about Brandon Morrow’s relative health yesterday and about how you should still have no expectations, and Sahadev Sharma and Jordan Bastian have much more at those links. The bit, from Sharma’s piece, that should leave you appropriately grounded: “Morrow said that there are times when there is pain that’s ‘reminiscent’ of last year, but the difference is he doesn’t feel it when throwing or working out. ‘They had to cut through muscle to get down to it, so it’s all part of the rehab process,’ Morrow said. ‘I’m hoping it’s going to keep getting stronger and the muscles are just relearning what they have to do on a daily basis. I’ve had a couple things where I started bullpens, had some aches and pains and two bullpens into it, I started feeling stronger and better again.'” That is all extremely understandable, and, yes, far better than last year. But it still makes you raise an eyebrow.
  • Bryan went all in with a thread on camp battle stuff to keep an eye on:

  • New Cub watch:

  • I’m not sure you could be more tone deaf if you tried right now, given the climate between MLB and MiLB:

  • But it’s hard to beef about why Lynch never found another high-level gig when he says things like this: “The focus should be on winning the game, not winning statistical events. Strikeouts per nine innings. Velocity. Spin rate. It’s all ancillary. The bottom line is winning the game. I don’t care if you’re throwing just knuckleballs, just win the game. When I was pitching, we would rest our arms until it came game-time, and then we would abuse our arms. We did everything we could to get ready to just brutalize ourselves when the game started. If I had to throw 150 freakin’ pitches, I was going to throw 150 freakin’ pitches. The only thing that mattered to us was winning the game.” There’s just a fundamental – probably unsolvable – disconnect in Lynch’s thinking. Teams today aren’t “not trying to win the game” – they just realize that doing so requires a lot more than simply willing a win into existence.
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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.