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- Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant talk about what it would be like to have the electronic strike zone – which is likely coming in a couple years – and I think it’s interesting to hear about what superstar, established players think about (Marquee). They want calls correct, obviously, but Rizzo mentions correctly that the rule book strike zone is very different from the called strike zone (which moves for different players based on the respect they’ve earned (I confess, that’s a huge part that I *don’t* like)). Bryant mentions that you’d lose the arguments between managers and umps, which can be part of the fun of baseball. We’ve already lost a lot of that with replays, and I do think it’s worth at least discussing: is that something we wanted to lose in service of getting calls right? I think the answer is “yes,” but I admit, the Lou Piniella-style blow-ups are missed.
- Jon Lester actually got a whole lotta whiffs yesterday, but he talks about the importance of pitching to contact here. It’s not just about getting contact, obviously; it’s about getting the right kind of contact in various situations. Obvious stuff? Sure. But it’s a reminder that when we are digging in on a pitcher’s quality of contact, that isn’t just flukey stuff. A guy like Lester – who really understands his craft and can deploy it as well as anyone (to the best of his current physical ability) – is absolutely trying to get certain types of fly balls sometimes, and certain types of groundballs sometimes, etc.
- No update yet on pitching prospect Manny Rodriguez, who left yesterday’s game following an awkward-looking curveball, and lots of subsequent hand-flexing and arm-shaking. He’s to be evaluated further today (Cubs.com).
- More on Dillon Maples, who hasn’t appeared in a game yet, but who is on his own particular ramp-up program:
Ross on Maples (good chance to win job) and Darvish (still no Opening Day announcement) pic.twitter.com/hUQjO0iDGU
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) March 1, 2020
- In retrospect, it’s obvious why Maples is on his own program, because the Cubs know what they have in him. What is Ross supposed to say on the “can he make the bullpen” question, right? I think literally every one of us could answer that one. Is Maples consistently throwing strikes? Commanding his pitches *at all*? Well, sir, then of course he’s in the bullpen. That’s one of the best fastballs in the system, and absolutely the best slider in the system. If he throws them for strikes, then all other considerations – who has options left (he does), who else is in the group, handedness, etc. – go out the window. He’s too good not to have in the bullpen. But if he is doing his usual thing where the control goes in and out, he’ll have to ride the shuttle from Iowa again this year.
- Good Q&A with Steven Souza Jr. here, and he confirms in every possible way that his knee and his overall health is 100%, right back to where he was pre-knee injury. That doesn’t mean he’ll be the hitter he was before the injury, because you can’t guarantee all aspects of the toughest part of sports will come back to you two years later, but being at the same physical place is huge. For the Cubs this year, if Souza could just be a really good fourth outfielder – and periodic starter when injuries dictate – that would be a huge win for both him and the Cubs. If he’s good and healthy, I could easily see him getting 300 plate appearances, and might even mess around and put up a 1.5-win season as a part-timer. That would be fantastic.
- Joe Maddon comes to Cubs camp today, kinda, as the Angels visit the Cubs:
‘He knows how to keep it light.’ As Joe Maddon prepares to return to Mesa to face the Cubs, his Angels players are buying in to his blend of work and fun. https://t.co/3kBLsUISeQ
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) March 2, 2020
- You can expect to hear more today about Maddon’s transition away from the Cubs to the Angels, and about how he’s keeping things light with his new crew. I hope the Angels are great this year, because why not?
- David Ross has been going through some personal stuff I think a lot of us were not aware of (because it wasn’t our business until he chose to talk about it) – this is a good read:
— Steve Greenberg (@SLGreenberg) February 28, 2020
Newspaper clipping of Buck O'Neil joining the Chicago Cubs becoming the first black coach in the Major Leagues pic.twitter.com/McyCJsCra4
— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) March 2, 2020
- Don’t sleep on Andy Weber this year:
Nice work by @andyweber5, getting on base in both his chances in big lg game today, while playing a bit out of position at third base.
Weber’s steadiness was the heartbeat of the @SBCubs championship team; he boasts an excellent IF glove and had a 127 wRC+ last yr after June 11.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) March 2, 2020