Strop Played Through Injury, Bryant Praises Caratini, Prospects in AZ, Kimbrel, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Strop Played Through Injury, Bryant Praises Caratini, Prospects in AZ, Kimbrel, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I will try to set aside the *potentially* bad TV news this morning so I can do some happier Bullets …

  • Ah, like a happy, light-hearted, loving story about Pedro Strop and how

  • OH SON OF A. Not that anything there should surprise you, as it’s been something of a gd anthem for the Cubs the last few years: guy gets hurt, everyone knows he’s hurt, he doesn’t go on the IL, his performance suffers, his performance seems to suffer in a way directly tied to the injury, things don’t just magically improve on their own until the guy is finally IL’d. As we’ve discussed, this isn’t *entirely* on the Cubs and the training staff – some of it is up to the players to take a more honest assessment of their situation, though I have a harder time blaming players who want to believe they can help their team – but I don’t understand why the Cubs haven’t been more aggressive in FORCING guys to sit down when it’s clear to EVERYONE that there’s an issue. Just take the gd two-week break!
  • Note: the Cubs gutted much of their medical and training staff this year. So, you know, we’ll see.
  • As for the other substance of Sharma’s piece on Strop, there’s a lot of really good and nice stuff in there, as Strop was obviously beloved by the organization, by his teammates, and by the fans. There’s also, of course, discussion of the Cubs’ pursuit of Strop, with him admitting that it was tough because the Cubs are “trying to stay below” the luxury tax (he ultimately got $1.85M guaranteed from the Reds, and Sharma reports the Cubs offered something not too much less than that). Like I said all along, the luxury tax is not something you want to see used as a total reason not to retain a guy like Strop, but when you consider the performance risk, his age, and the desire to give innings to new guys (you can’t discover quality new relievers without really giving them meaningful big league innings), I did not have a beef with how this played out.
  • OK, how about just a totally happy read (if you ignore all the praise for Manny Rodriguez and then remember that he just strained his biceps). This from Jordan Bastian is a fun look at which guys have impressed their teammates this spring, and I really like this quote from Kris Bryant on Victor Caratini: “His swing from the right-handed side –  there’s more pop. I don’t know what he’s changed in his swing, but everybody kind of sleeps on him, just because he doesn’t get as much playing time. But, he could be a starter on pretty much any other team. He’s kind of showing it in spring. Numbers don’t really mean anything in spring. But just watching him in BP and his at-bats and catching and receiving and framing, he kind of does it all. It’s impressive. He’s definitely a catcher first, and then hitter. But, he’s a really good hitter, too. That says a lot about just the type of ballplayer he is. He doesn’t get enough credit.”
  • Theo Epstein talked about how the Cubs are preparing for any coronavirus-related impact, but it’s still mostly a wait-and-see situation. Epstein, via the Sun-Times: “When you see [travel-related changes] like that you just want to get the information from experts. We shouldn’t be making decisions based on things we see on cable news. We should be getting the information directly from the experts. MLB’s definitely on top of it. … This is one of those things where there’s such a wide range of possible outcomes that it’s just important to stay prepared for all of them but not jump to any conclusions.”
  • This was Epstein on Craig Kimbrel before his successful spring debut (Tribune): “I don’t put too much emphasis on any one spring appearance ever. But we’re really happy with how he’s looked. He’s had a nice, steady progression from intentionally (going) a little slower to build himself up.” Fingers crossed.
  • As expected/hoped, per Az Phil, the Cubs have brought over their two top prospects from the Dominican Summer League to Arizona for minor league Spring Training, shortstop Rafael Morel (Chris’s younger brother) and outfielder Yohendick Pinango. The two were ranked among the very best prospects in the DSL, and at 18 and 17, are still extremely young. It tends to be that only the best of the best come over from the DSL to stateside spring camp, so they should be on your radar if they weren’t already. Presumably they’ll stick around for extended Spring Training, and if they look ready, they could play on the stateside rookie league teams this year.
  • I laughed. And also I would be extremely sore after this:

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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.