Giddy About Darvish, Avoiding Annoying Players, Wieck's Return, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Giddy About Darvish, Avoiding Annoying Players, Wieck’s Return, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I got over the flu about a week ago at this point, but the cough has persisted. Just a constant tingle in my chest. It’ll fade eventually, but man, this whole thing has lasted so much longer than a typical sickness. I was never totally brutalized – functioned mostly normally every day with some DayQuil – but the sickness lasted a week+, and now the after-effects have lasted at least as long. Super annoying.

  • With a veteran like Yu Darvish, seeing him already touching 98 mph this Spring, that just tells me he’s way ahead of schedule in his ramp-up, rather than him pushing too hard or being in a position to throw 100+ this year:

  • More evidence that Darvish is ahead of schedule – his post-game discussion about his fastball wasn’t so much about things like that velo or command or anything typical. It wasn’t even about spin rate. It was about maximizing the spin efficiency of his fastball, so that he can get the most appropriate movement out of his elite spin rate (The Athletic). Basically, if your spin axis is off slightly, your spin – no matter how elite – becomes less efficient, and it won’t actually do what you’re expecting it to do.
  • (Increasingly, we’re learning the *data* behind the anecdotal stuff we see – why is that guy’s really hard fastball so hittable? Why is that guy’s soft fastball so unhittable? And a step further, now we can see a big part of why Josh Hader’s 95 mph fastball with low spin winds up being even more unhittable than 100 mph with elite spin – it’s because the spin is so perfectly efficient out of a weird arm angle.)
  • Anyway, back to Darvish – if he is that far ahead of schedule, and his arm is feeling that good, you might see him even more able to work on other pitches this spring (heck, he threw SIX different pitches in his debut yesterday – not exactly common in a Spring Training debut). That is so very fun when you think about how good was in the second half last year, and how good he could be this season.
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
  • Darvish told he was working with his four-seamer and two-seamer, his slider, his cutter, his hard cutter (three different shapes to a similar glove-side-moving pitch), and his knuckle-curve (a modification of his curveball, which he picked up last year from Craig Kimbrel (and it’s a pitch you’ll note the Cubs have been teaching a lot of relievers in the Pitch Lab)).
  • One of those many relievers who added a knuckle curve after coming to the organization is Brad Wieck, who is expected to start playing catch tomorrow following a procedure to address an irregular heartbeat. He says he was told from thing one that it wasn’t something to be seriously worried about, but that it just needed to be taken care of ( It’s entirely possible that he’d be good to go by Opening Day, but given the volume of competitors for a bullpen spot, and given his minor league option, it’s highly likely the Cubs aren’t going to rush his arm build-up. If healthy and looking at all like he looked in the second half, Wieck is going to be a big part of this bullpen over the course of the full season, but the reality is that a lot of guys are going to rotate in and out.
  • MLB Shop is running their own clearance event today only, so peruse the Cubs gear here.
  • Some of the less-visible considerations when it comes to constructing a clubhouse environment, from new manager David Ross ( “I’m the manager now, so every detail matters. Every guy’s at-bat, whether how I’m looking at it and if they’ve got a chance to make this team, I’m watching it and how they act, how they run the bases, how they carry themselves when they come in the dugout. Skill set’s one thing on the field, but there’s also a component of, does he get along with his teammates? Is he in the training room every day? Is he in the weight room? Is he a hard worker? Does he keep his head down and is he a rookie that comes to work and does his work? Is he too loud in the clubhouse? Is he annoying? Is he not? All that stuff matters.”
  • Is he annoying? You probably don’t think of that much when you’re talking as a fan about how a roster is constructed, but why *wouldn’t* that matter just a little bit? These guys are on top of each other for six+ months trying to achieve at the highest level with razor thin margins – yes, it would impact the group at least a little bit if a guy was annoying as shit every day. And if he wasn’t a high-level producer? Is it worth having him around versus a guy who is comparable but builds his teammates up?
  • This was David Bote, btw:

  • Such a unique guy, even in his era. Would be a cult hero in today’s game:

  • This kid is getting a wholllllle lotta hype this spring:

  • Carlson raked last year, split between AA and AAA, and his development from a 2016 first rounder has taken the path you’d want if you were the Cardinals. He is very likely to see big league time this year at some point, and has the potential to just establish himself right away as a young star. You’ve been warned.
  • Bullols:

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.