The Three-Man Taxi Squad, Test Delays Keeps Ross and Others Out, and Other Cubs Bullets

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The Three-Man Taxi Squad, Test Delays Keeps Ross and Others Out, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

If you’re just a Bullets reader, I’ll point you in the direction of a comprehensive META post about the state of the site from earlier this morning. Thank you so much for the continued support. This year sucks in so many ways, and we’re really grateful to have the readers and friends we have.

•   Another test-related delay for the Cubs, which is, what, almost every single round of testing? This one is much more limited, and David Ross says he’s not worried that this necessarily means anything bad:

•   It appears that Ross is saying that a delay like this for certain tests doesn’t necessarily indicate there’s a positive test (like, does he mean that these six tests are being more closely evaluated or something?). It’s good that the group is sitting out today until they’re cleared, otherwise you’re risking exposures during the time waiting for test results. But this kind of thing can’t keep happening. We’ve seen players on other teams testing positive, which means any delay in results could risk further interclubhouse exposures.

•   A phraseology thing that I want to make sure we get right before the season starts: the “taxi squad” is not the entire group of players in the 60-man player pool working at South Bend. Instead, the “taxi squad” is *just* the three players who will literally be traveling with the Major League team, but not on the big league roster. These are the three players – one is required to be a catcher, and then I would guess most of the time it’ll be a position player and a pitcher – who travel with the team on road trips to fill in if something comes up that requires a player quickly (i.e., a last-minute positive test or exposure or sickness or injury). The group at South Bend is the pool from which the Cubs can draw replacements, but you’re better off thinking of that as, like, the AAA team. Call-up, option down, etc. The taxi squad is just the three guys from that group who come along on a road trip.

•   OK. So we’ve got that now, and it’s an intro to an interesting discussion from Theo Epstein on how you pick those three players:

•   So basically, you want to have someone with you who will get some value by being around the big league club, not lose development value by not working at South Bend, and also could step in on the big league club if there’s a need. Tentatively, I’d think you would want the guys to all be on the 40-man roster. There are several pitchers that would make plenty of sense. Positionally, Robel Garcia or Zack Short might make a lot of sense (though Short is currently not on the 60-man). It kinda depends on who makes the big league roster, and also how many open 40-man spots there. If Josh Phegley makes the team out of camp, he gets added to the 40-man, and then if/when he’s sent out as the 30-man shrinks to 28 or 26, then he’d be your obvious taxi squad catcher. Otherwise the only 40-man guy there is Miguel Amaya. PJ Higgins is the only other catcher at either camp (currently at Wrigley Field).

•   Of course, the taxi squad might change throughout the season as the big league roster changes. Some parts of the year, you might become particularly concerned about area X, which necessitates bringing along extra player type Y.

•   Baseball has long been back in Japan, and now the fans are joining:

•   I’m glad Bryan got into this, because I also wondered why Duane Underwood’s curveball would be described this way:

•   Underwood started to break out into his relief profile in 2019 on the strength of some extra zip on his fastball (from 92-93 mph as a starter, up to 95-96 mph out of the pen) and his newly-fantastic changeup. That, alone, made him a worthy potential reliever for the big league team. But if he’s mastered the spike-grip curve that the Cubs have been teaching guys (sometimes known as the knuckle curve), then holy smokes. It could be game-changing. Heck, and if he can also still throw his get-me-over curve to freeze guys for a strike? I’m getting excited over here.

•   Air fryers, smart bulbs, and more are among your Deals of the Day at Amazon today. #ad

•   People really seemed to enjoy the first “Where’s Rizzo?”, including Rizzo, himself, so I made another this morning. I’d like to think it’s a little more challenging:

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.