The Maples Remake, the Miller Chance, the Shot on Bote, and Other Cubs Bullets

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The Maples Remake, the Miller Chance, the Shot on Bote, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Little Girl made me a Cubs paper airplane this morning, but it’s actually a tube shape (in Cubs colors with a logo). I realized after she made it that I’d heard about that style – it looks like a coffee mug minus the bottom and the handle – but I’m still blown away by how this thing flies. You throw it like a football, and it’s just nuts. It goes like a laser straight across the room. No drop until it hits the wall.

•   The Dillon Maples remake isn’t just the shortened arm stroke, it’s also a totally different leg lift. I mean, this is just an entirely different delivery:

•   If the stuff isn’t negatively impacted and it finally improves his control? God bless! A reminder with Maples: you don’t even need him to have great command of his fastball and slider (both potential plus-plus pitches). He just needs to be able to throw each for strikes when he wants (control). That has been the problem. You couldn’t even start to think about command-level location, because the control hasn’t been there. Get the control – just throw strikes – and he’s a great bullpen piece. Add a little more location ability? Wow. Stud. That’s why the Cubs have never been able to quit him. But now he’s finally out of minor league options, so this is it for the soon-to-be 29-year-old righty.

•   Gordon Wittenmyer writes about how the Eric Sogard addition could make it all the less likely that Nico Hoerner opens the season with the big league team. The short version is that, if the Cubs carry 14 pitchers – leaving just four bench jobs – Hoerner would essentially be competing with Sogard and Ildemaro Vargas for a spot. And while you might prefer Hoerner of those three, you also might prefer him ONLY in a situation where he’s outright won the second base starting job. If Sogard or Vargas were going to see starts, together with David Bote – who will see some starts either way – then there’s little good argument to have Hoerner with the big league club riding the bench. The best argument, for April at least, would be that without a Triple-A season until May, some big league game action is better than none (Michael wrote about this yesterday).

•   The flip side is that the alternate site work may actually involve game action against other teams after all:

•   That’s just a rumor for now, and even if it came to fruition, it might not apply to all clubs. If the Cubs’ alternate site is once again in South Bend for April, however, there could be a number of opportunities for games in the Midwest if teams are allowed to do it. No, it’s not the same thing as real Triple-A games, and no, it’s not even remotely close to real big league games. But it’s more than intrasquad scrimmages. Increasingly, I land on: if Hoerner is gonna be the everyday starter and the Cubs feel his bat development won’t be stifled, cool, he makes the team. If he’s not going to play every day, however, then he heads down to the alt site and then Triple-A to start the year (where, again, he’s never taken a single plate appearance).

•   So, back to second base. In the podcast this week, I also talked about how if there were ever going to be a REAL opportunity for David Bote to show he’s more than a part-time player, it’s right now. Might it not be worth giving him a full and fair shot to really take that second base job and run with it? Consider what happens if he shows he can be a real big league regular, and then the Cubs lose Kris Bryant to free agency after the season. No, Bote probably never replaces Bryant’s level of production, but wouldn’t it be nice to know that you might have a decent replacement in-house? Bote’s bat does have above-average upside. No one doubts that. The question is whether he can do it when exposed to pitching daily. Might be worth a try this year, no?

•   The previously-referenced Wittenmyer piece also mentions the fourth option year issue with Adbert Alzolay. See more on that here in the MLBits, if you missed it.

•   Shelby Miller feels like he’s been in the league for decades, but the guy is still only 30 years old. I guess he’s just been in our consciousness for so long, being a top Cardinals prospect and then a very young pitcher at their big league level, then traded to the Braves for Jason Heyward, then constantly rumored as a Cubs trade target (including the infamous Nightengale report that he’d been traded to the Cubs for Javy Báez), and then sent to Arizona in a massive trade that has gone down as a flop for them. But now he’s with the Cubs on a minor league deal, trying to win a rotation job or a long relief job. Miller dealt with all kinds of health and arm issues since his time with the Diamondbacks, but he tells NBC that he is now 100 percent: “I feel like I’m on the other side of all that stuff now …. I didn’t really throw much last year. It kind of gave my arm even more of a break.” You can’t ever say that a no-risk bounce-back guy is going to become a big contributor, but you can always see the potential in a guy who has done it before, who has great stuff, and who is only 30 years old. Given the needs to cover innings over the course of the season, I tend to think Miller will get a very real and full and fair shot to show he can still be a big leaguer.

•   New guy slow-mos:

•   Anthony Rizzo and Eddie Vedder on a podcast? All right then:

•   Car supplies, chargers, and skin care are among the Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   The Cubs tube plane:

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.