The Cubs better be good this year, man. Too little good sports team action in Chicago these days, and I’d rather it wasn’t *just* the White Sox creating happy moments this summer (if that part even happens at all).
- We’re gonna see more of the regular starting rotation making their Spring Training debuts soon, with Jon Lester scheduled to start tomorrow and Kyle Hendricks thereafter (Cubs.com). Jose Quintana got hit with the flu that’s been going around, so he’ll do live BP when he’s feeling good again. Yu Darvish is expected to do live BP today, with a Cactus League start sometime later in the week. Frankly, with these front four, they just aren’t going to need much in the way of Cactus League innings to get ready, and I would tentatively expect some of their starts this spring will wind up coming in back fields and/or intrasquad games. Adbert Alzolay is starting today.
- Cubs Pitching Coach Tommy Hottovy offered a bit more detail on Craig Kimbrel’s individualized track, which should have him throwing live BP today (Cubs.com): “We have a lot of guys fighting for spots in the bullpen that we have to get innings with early. Kimbrel’s not one of those guys. So, it’s not really much different than what we would do for most veteran-type relievers.”
- It actually makes a lot of sense that with sooooo many arms to sort out in the bullpen competition (and then bucket quickly into guys who are legit Opening Day bullpen contenders, legit AAA Iowa keepers, and then possible waiver/release types), you’re going to want the bulk of your early Cactus League appearances to go to guys you’re evaluating. So I wouldn’t expect to see too much of Kimbrel, Rowan Wick, Kyle Ryan, and Jeremy Jeffress unless they want the innings.
- More from Hottovy on that competition and how it all fits together:
Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy on bullpen competition pic.twitter.com/RgSyRwLtXs
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) February 23, 2020
- As for Brandon Morrow, he’ll be resting for a bit more before he starts throwing again:
Morrow says the “mild chest strain” is around his collarbone. Has felt progressively better since Friday. Strength tests in area promising. Hopes it’s minor and he’s back to throwing in few days. Doesn’t expect to open season on time. Not making predictions.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) February 23, 2020
- Victor Caratini doubled and homered yesterday, but he also came in for serious praise from starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood (Cubs.com): “He’s unbelievable back there. His target, his anticipation, his game-calling. Behind the scenes, how much work he puts into it. He cares. He cares about what you want.”
Is there a better backstop combo in baseball than Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini? You'd have to make an argument for an extremely top-heavy twosome (Philly? Sox?), but I really don't see it.
I think the Cubs have the best combo catching group in baseball.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 24, 2020
- None of it will matter if his contact rate doesn’t improve to an absolutely enormous extent, but having the ability to play all over would certainly make Robel Garcia a compelling utility option as a switch-hitter with so much power and good athleticism:
Very interesting that Robel Garcia’s second assignment in Mesa is to cover right field, a position he logged exactly 3 innings at in all of 2019 (including winter ball). As someone who advocates for role experimentation at every turn, consider me a fan of the trial.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) February 24, 2020
- As Cubs Insider lays out with a couple clips, yes, as he’d promised, the swing mechanics changes for Albert Almora Jr. are indeed visible. I think the big question remains pitch selection and discipline, regardless of the swing, and that can be the most difficult stuff to ever truly adjust at the big league level. But you never entirely throw out guys with so much natural talent, and maybe a swing change will at least help.
- Heck, for as little as we know about biomechanics and the link to a player’s mind, making swing changes might wind up a backchannel way into hacking some discipline tweaks, too. Like, it’s not impossible to imagine new swing mechanics making it very difficult, physically, to attack certain pitches … that you shouldn’t be attacking anyway. Then you get a little physical-mental feedback loop, and ta-da, some modest discipline changes by way of physical changes. Just thinking out loud here on something I’d never really considered before.
- I would watch a show that was just MLB players trying to make Ian Happ laugh:
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) February 24, 2020
- Networking gear, cookware, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon today. Also apparently it’s Twin Peaks Day? I kinda watched the original when it was on forever ago, but I don’t get the reference. So I’ll have to do some clicking. #ad