The games get underway today, and I lucked out that the Cubs’ Spring opener got bumped to tonight. The Little Girl’s birthday party is this afternoon, so I was going to miss a lot of the game if it were this afternoon. Now? By 8pm eastern, in theory, the kiddos will be in bed, and I can focus on getting waaaaaaay to excited about an Alec Mills fastball at the top of the zone or Robel Garcia laying off a low and away slider.
- Jordan Bastian and Patrick Mooney with quick takes on the roster and positional battles as Spring Training games get underway:
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) February 21, 2020
— The Athletic Chicago (@TheAthleticCHI) February 22, 2020
- As Bastian notes, the big battles are the 5th starter job, half of the bullpen, the second base job, and the end of the bench. Those story lines will get a whole lot of attention over the next month.
- Results in fake games will tell you only so much when it comes to those roster decisions, but how guys perform – how they look, how their health is, etc. – will definitely give you some information as the Spring goes on. The Cubs will also max out the guys they can keep, so you’ll want to pay attention to the out-of-options, non-minor-league-deal guys (a guy like Duane Underwood, Jr., for example), because they probably have the tiebreaker. You’ll also want to keep in mind that many veterans who sign minor league deals are granted an opt-out right if they’re not going to make the big league team (for example, a guy like Jason Kipnis almost certainly has such a right), and the Cubs would have to pay some extra cash to keep a guy like that if he’s not making the big league team. It’s another tiebreaker that won’t be discussed in relation to the results.
- Oh, bonus from the Mooney piece – this is from Kipnis, who sounds like the kind of veteran the Cubs are going to want on the team: “Talking with Rizzo, talking with Theo, talking with Nap, I think I can bring a lot of things. There’s that veteran side to me that’s been around that’s seen things and knows how to handle things. I’m not shying away from any competition. I’m not shying away from whoever’s across that line against us. I’m ready to strap it on and go against them. I think there’s a lot of guys in here who feel the same way. Sometimes you just need a little fire set under you. I’m hoping I can be that guy. There’s not too many tweaks that need to be made to this team. It’s still a really damn good team.”
- Also, that’s the second Cub – Kris Bryant was the first – to drop the “strap it on” line. Clearly, it’s something they are saying behind the scenes, no jokes intended. 2020 Cubs: Strap it on. I think there’s a way to have a little cheeky fun with that one, without being disrespectful …
- A couple informative bits from Eric Longenhagen’s latest FanGraphs prospects chat:
Also relevant to the Cubs. pic.twitter.com/nOGK4NwwaF
— Brad (@ballskwok) February 21, 2020
- It’s particularly notable on Hernandez, who will be the Cubs’ top IFA signing this year – that means Longenhagen is pegging his value as that of a mid-first round draft pick or higher. That’s enormous for an IFA, even one who is considered by some to be the top IFA in the class.
- More on one of the Cubs’ big-time development coaching hires this offseason:
As pitch velocities keep climbing, Rachel Folden wants to create more time for hitters.
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) February 19, 2020
- Keep in mind, new Director of Hitting Justin Stone was extremely sought after by MLB organizations for a full-time gig, and, after the Cubs landed him, the first person he wanted to bring in for an interview was Rachel Folden. They may have really tapped a vein of talent here, because Folden was far from the only new hire. I’m not saying what the Cubs have done on the development side is going to turn them into an immediate development powerhouse, but they have spent aggressively in this space to make it happen. It is not unreasonable to hope that we start seeing surprising pops by various prospects as soon as this year, and then with the fruits really starting to arrive next year. The Cubs are already sliding back up the prospects rankings as it is.
- Speakers, vacuums, air purifiers, mattress pads, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon today. #ad
- A fun tab I’ve had open for far too long and just need to park here:
In a recent piece, @DolphHauldhagen showed how sticky exit velocity on FB/LD's is across years. Here are 2019's leaders:
1 Schwarber- 97.9 mph
2 Soler- 97.2
3 Chapman- 97.1
4 Soto- 97
5 Harper- 96.9
6 Alonso- 96.5
7 Devers- 96.3
8 Bell- 96.1
9 Abreu- 96.1
10 Mancini- 95.8
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) February 13, 2020
- I feel seen:
— The Onion (@TheOnion) February 21, 2020
- I see a ton of confusion and anger out there about the Marquee roll out today – people still can’t find the channel on providers who are carrying it, Hulu isn’t carrying it until some amorphous time later in the Spring despite the announcement, Comcast deal still not done – and it makes me think of this as an opportunity. Having seen this today, the providers and the Cubs now have a month to sort things out so that they don’t experience anger and confusion times 100 on Opening Day.