Stroman's Readiness, Holder as an Option, Frazier, Pujols, Canario, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Stroman’s Readiness, Holder as an Option, Frazier, Pujols, Canario, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The kids are on Spring Break this week, and we’re not really going anywhere or doing anything. Which means they’re here. Around me. More than usual. Like right now as I type this, one of them is hanging on my arm while the other two scream at each other. Fortunately, The Wife is a teacher, so she’s here, too, to manage. But yo. Stimulus overload.

•   Marcus Stroman didn’t have his best command early last night, but settled in after the first couple innings (he went four, and then pitched his night up closer to 70 pitches in total in the bullpen after leaving the game). He says he’s still trying to get his mechanics just right ( “I’m just being very, very critical. I want to feel perfect going into the season, so I have a little bit of work to do. … Once it clicks, I’ll kind of run with it. It’s just not there yet.” Stroman figures to have one more Spring Training start before the regular season.

•   I’m not worried about a pro like Stroman, outside of the general concern that applies to pretty much all major free agent signings: just don’t try to do too much. We’ve heard it again and again from guys like Jon Lester and Jason Heyward and on and on: sometimes those huge-money deals make you push just a little too hard early on to justify the team’s signing, and that takes you outside your norm. Again, that’s not a specific worry about Stroman, who is an obsessive preparer. Just a general comment on all pricey free agents, since we’ve seen it before.

•   Jonathan Holder, a non-roster invitee who has been in the Cubs organization since the fall of 2020 but who has been injured, followed Stroman with a clean, two-strikeout inning. The 28-year-old righty was great with the Yankees back in 2017-18, seemed to get some unlucky results in 2019, and then struggled in the pandemic season. He perfectly fit the profile of the kind of reliever the Cubs try to reclaim, hence them signing him to a big league deal after the 2020 season. But he missed pretty much the whole 2021 season with shoulder issues, and then re-signed with the Cubs last fall on a minor league deal. He might not make the Cubs’ bullpen from the jump, but if he’s looking good, he might consider opting out of his deal for an opportunity elsewhere. That’s something to keep in mind with the Cubs’ coming non-roster decisions: the Cubs may wind up deciding to roster guys using a “we just want to keep them in the organization” tie-breaker on the closest calls. It’s conceivable Holder could fall into that group – the injury kinda took him off of our radar last year, but the ability is there.

•   That Clint Frazier double was … man. I’m getting some thoughts. Can’t lie. Not that any one swing should tell you too much, but this is kinda ridiculous against what was probably 95-ish just above the belt, and with good life, as Mahle’s fastball usually has:

•   Every look we’ve gotten at Frazier so far this spring, including his discussion of the concussion issues that derailed things for him the last couple years, has been really impressive. That’s the most he could do at this point, right? Be healthy. Look impressive.

•   Speaking of impressive, I’m still so awed by that Brennen Davis homer. Just a flick of his swing and the thing goes 430 feet to right center. When he gets his arms extended, he can just absolutely destroy the ball with seemingly no effort. What comes next for him, in addition to just continuing to improve contact at the margins, is handling the up and in fastball – that’s where pitchers are going to keep trying to bust him for fear that anything anywhere else is going to allow him to power up.

•   Enjoyed seeing Alexander Canario get a start last night – he was the DH – and he had an RBI single:

•   Canario, 21, is still so young and has barely played at the High-A level. So, in that regard, he’s got a long way to go before you’d worry about his status as a prospect or anything like that. But, because of his unique situation with the Giants, he came to the Cubs already on the 40-man roster, which is going to up the pressure a bit for him to develop a little more quickly, if possible. Basically, you’d really like to see him at least reaching Double-A this year.

•   Ethan Roberts will contribute this year:

•   Manny Rodriguez also got in an inning of work, and, like Roberts, I suspect he will contribute to the big league bullpen this year, but might be optioned out to open the season because of the bullpen crunch (and only so many guys have options left).

•   Nico and Nick, happy to be playing together:

•   Marcus Stroman just retroactively won the 2018 and 2019 MVP awards:

•   The Reds are going to be down a couple starting pitchers to open the season, with both Luis Castillo and Mike Minor getting over shoulder issues. The Cubs don’t play the Reds until late May, so there is probably no direct impact here – just more troubles for the Reds.

•   I will absolutely not say that this is actually kinda cool, I will absolutely not say that this is actually kinda cool, I will not … :

•   Hey, if the Cardinals want to give Pujols enough PAs for a shot at this, I’d be OK with it:

•   This is just a really weird and antagonistic way of saying “we believe in our guys”:

•   This is just such a ridiculous pitch:

•   The Brewers right now have three of the most unfair pitches in baseball right now: Williams’ changeup, Josh Hader’s fastball, and Corbin Burnes’ cutter.

•   And we loved Ronnie:

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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.