Working With Similar Starter Profiles, Cubs Second Base, Fun is Fun, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Working With Similar Starter Profiles, Cubs Second Base, Fun is Fun, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Perfect timing on a new Super Mario release today for the Switch – The Little Boy’s birthday is later this month, and I was tasked with finding him a game he would like. Boom. Hero dad. Game literally came out today and I saw it while doing my usual early-morning trolling at Amazon. Sometimes, being a blogger with an affiliate relationship with Amazon pays off in parent mode!

•   It’s not *why* you target a particular free agent or draft pick or trade piece, but I sure do love when there are emotional local connections like this:

•   In addition to the family connection to Chicago, Trevor Williams was sold on the idea that the Cubs were the right team to help remake him and get him back on track: “Sometimes, the best thing for your career is to have different eyeballs on you,” Williams told Mooney. “[Pitching Coach Tommy Hottovy] really sold it to me that they have a good team together in terms of analytics, game planning and even guys in the clubhouse that have had success doing it this way. I’m looking forward to learning it. I’m looking forward to really taking advantage of that.”

•   Relatedly, I dig the acknowledgement from Jed Hoyer that, although the Cubs aren’t specifically targeting lower-velo, command-control guys, they certainly have enjoyed success with them: “We’ve really been able to game plan incredibly well with a guy like Trevor Williams. He’s 28 years old. He’s had success in our division. It’s a really good project for us to get him back to where he was. Listen, we’re not trying to corner the market on control/command guys. I think it seems that way with getting Zach Davies this winter and then adding Trevor Williams. Obviously, I love guys that throw 97. But our infrastructure has done really well with these guys. I think he’ll flourish here.”

•   Even more specifically, I’ll note that Williams has said this offseason that he wanted to get back to succeeding with his sinker, and the Cubs have three similarly-profiled guys in the rotation – Kyle Hendricks, Zach Davies, and Alec Mills – who make a lotta hay with their sinkers in an era when not a lot of pitchers are having as much success with the pitch. Does that mean the Cubs will become too homogenous in their look, and it will actually harm the whole group? Since batters are seeing similar profiles? Or will it help them all, because they (and the Cubs) can gain some efficiencies in precisely how to best shape and deploy the pitch? Maybe get really advanced and figure out how to optimize the seam-shifted wake to really turn the sinker into a pain in the ass for hitters to square up? At his best, Williams was owning batters with his sinker.

•   Side note: obviously the Cubs are going to need starts from a lot of guys this year, but consider that the vast majority of the group – including AAA-level minor leaguers – are righties without plus velocity. The only exceptions who could see some starts would be Adbert Alzolay and … Justin Steele? Is Steele even going to get starts, or will he be a reliever this year? Is Cory Abbott experiencing enough of a velo bump to slide out of this category? Keegan Thompson and Tyson Miller are both righties and not quite in Alzolay’s tier of expected velocity. It’s just a whole lot of similar looks, and it gets even moreso if the additional starting pitcher the Cubs add from here is a guy like Jake Arrieta or Jeff Samardzija or Rick Porcello or Julio Teheran. Is all this enough of a reason to prefer to target a lefty like Cole Hamels or Rich Hill?

•   The Cubs have finally announced their virtual version of the Cubs Convention this year, and the reason it took a while appears to be because they (smartly) are pairing it with the first week of Spring Training:

•   Noted as likely happening last night in the mini round-up of transactions, but now it looks even more sure that Brad Miller is headed to the Phillies:

•   If the Cubs aren’t gonna grab someone like Jedd Gyorko at this point (he still hits), then they’re just gonna go internal at second base. So long as they don’t use that as an excuse to make Nico Hoerner the everyday starter before his bat is ready (it was crystal clearly not ready last year), then fine, whatever. Give David Bote a shot. Give Ildemaro Vargas a shot. Give Matt Duffy a shot. Sergio Alcantara feels more like shortstop depth. Could always bring back Jason Kipnis as a complementary option, too (and great in the clubhouse).

•   This is fun:

•   Boog is gonna strap it on:

•   This is just an incredible intersection of baseball and fast food social media:

•   (If you don’t get the reference.)

•   This mom owns:

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.