Nico's New Stance, Winning the 2B Job, When Old Friends Return, Chafinstache, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Nico’s New Stance, Winning the 2B Job, When Old Friends Return, Chafinstache, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

We got this absolutely incredible lasagna and meatballs earlier this week – way more than we could eat in a single sitting – so it’s been a race against The Wife trying to eat as much of the leftovers as possible each day so that I can maximize my take. Sorry-not-sorry, dear.

•   Not only does Nico Hoerner look thicker in his trunk this spring, he’s also opened up the base of his stance to take advantage of his athleticism (and I’d say also the power in his lower half):

•   Hey, here’s the thing: if Hoerner is just ready to roll, and shows significant development in his approach right out of the gate this year, then fine. Let him take the second base job and run with it, because he’s got the upside to be a very good bat, and the glove was top-tier by the metrics last year. I’m really skeptical that a guy with so little minor league experience can take such a huge leap forward from where he was last year all at the big league level, but maybe that’s just because I feel burned by how poorly the Cubs have developed hitters at the big league level the last five+ years. Maybe they’re better at it now? Maybe Hoerner is just different? I’m trying to be open-minded, even as it sure feels like – as a total outsider – that his long-term trajectory would benefit from at least a half season at AAA, where he’s never played a single game, and where the pitchers are experienced enough to try to take advantage of his approach in the same way the big leaguers did last year (that’s the nice thing about working on plate approach at AAA – the pitching quality isn’t nearly as good as MLB, but the ways they’ll attack you and execute on a plan can be very similar).

•   As for second base overall, here’s what David Ross said, specifically naming the three guys we kinda figured were in the mix as potential “win the job” type guys (Cubs.com):

“I don’t know how it’s going to play out,” Ross said. “All three of those guys can really play defense. Vargas is a switch-hitter we’ve got from both sides of the plate. David’s got some years under his belt. Nico’s coming. I think we’ll see how it plays out here in spring, and we’ll see if somebody steps up and kind of wins that job.”

•   A fun look at the Midway Minute on how some notable Cubs did after coming back to the team (i.e., a Jake Arrieta-like return). Well, it’s fun in the sense that it’s great for nostalgia, but you might’ve guessed: it usually doesn’t go all that well. Which, that makes sense given the nature of career trajectories and what must have been true upon a guy’s initial departure (he was really good, and probably at a certain age … then spent years elsewhere, and returned much older and probably not quite as good). The best of the bunch was Greg Maddux, who re-pitched with the Cubs for two and a half years in 2004-2006, basically operating as a slightly-better-than-average starter. Of course, he was approaching 40 at that time, so it was all the more impressive.

•   Kerry Wood’s return rated as one of the worst by WAR, but it did give us one of the best moments in team history:

•   Imagine getting your pants handed to you in the 8th inning by this guy:

•   And teams will, because a healthy Andrew Chafin is quite good, and the Cubs clearly saw a lot in him to bring him back on their biggest reliever deal of the offseason. Also: if he keeps letting the hair and ‘stache go, he could have some serious Rod Beck vibes by midseason.

•   Picture Day scoop? While perusing the new headshots, I see that Kyle Ryan’s headshot shows up on Getty from Picture Day this week, so maybe he’s cleared the COVID protocols and will start participating soon? If so, the Cubs will have to figure out the 40-man spot, since his placement on the COVID list (apparently) took him temporarily off the 40-man to accommodate the new signings.

•   Anker speakers, kitchen fixtures and faucets, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   Undrafted Cubs signing last year out of Driveline, and I just love this attitude:

•   Hadn’t really thought about this, but it would have to be a little unsettling to see the guy you (as a prospect) were traded for becoming THE national story from the postseason:

•   Francisco Lindor is the best:

•   Ronnie:

•   This is the most fun it’s been to be a Bulls fan in a long time, so I highly recommend giving our Bulls coverage a follow on Facebook and Twitter, if you’re so inclined:



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.