Taillon Getting to Work, the Desirable "Problem" of a Crowded Rotation, New Coaching Hires, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Taillon Getting to Work, the Desirable “Problem” of a Crowded Rotation, New Coaching Hires, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Found a new hot chicken place by me last night … and it’s going to be a problem. It was too good. Would it be ridiculous to have it for dinner last night and then immediately get it for lunch today?

  • Pitchers aren’t officially required to report to Spring Training for another four weeks, but new Chicago Cubs starter Jameson Taillon is in Arizona getting to work:
  • As you know by now, every player is more or less right back on the grind within a couple weeks of the season ending, so it’s not at all unusual to see guys at their Spring Training site soon after the calendar flips. Still, it’s nice to see Taillon not only in his build-up process already, but it’s nice to know he’s already there working with the Cubs’ staff and many of his new teammates. There’s gotta be extra value there for a new player.

He’s quickly fitting in, working out with the pitchers at Sloan Park in Arizona. Adrian Sampson, who started 19 games for the Cubs last year, said he was ecstatic when Taillon signed. Sampson was a fifth-round pick for the Pirates in 2012, two draft classes after Taillon, so they go back.

“I knew the type of guy he was and I knew he would fit in right away,” Sampson said. “I talked to Tommy (Hottovy), our pitching coach, I think the day after we signed him and I was like, we got a really, really good guy. Like, he’s just an awesome guy, inside and out. And then at the same time, he’s a great baseball player.”

  • Keep in mind, the addition of Taillon made it more difficult for Sampson to win an Opening Day rotation spot. Yet there’s that positive relationship there, and Sampson also knows that Taillon is the type of guy who is going to work well with the Cubs’ pitching infrastructure (which help Sampson become a solid swing man over the past two years). Sounds like a particularly great endorsement to me.
  • As for the rotation crowding, keep in mind that Sampson – for one example – does have minor league options remaining. So even in the unlikely event that EVERY SINGLE possible starting pitching option is COMPLETELY health by the end of March and LOOKING FANTASTIC, the Cubs will have ways to deal with the crowding (in the rotation, and then bumping into the bullpen, by extension). You’d love to have to deal with that “problem” come Opening Day.
  • (If every starting option was completely healthy and effective, I think you’d see the Cubs go with Stroman, Taillon, Steele, Smyly, and Hendricks as the opening five, and I think you’d see at least three of Sampson, Elias, Assad, and Wesneski open the season in the Triple-A rotation, while Thompson would head to the bullpen. It would not shock me if, by the end of the year, every single one of those 10 guys – and probably a couple more – wound up getting at least one big league start. Kinda makes me start thinking of a fun exercise: guessing who makes the most starts for the Cubs in 2023, and which guys make more than five starts. Boy, this has become a long parenthetical. Hey, how are you doing?)
  • Bryan with an interesting thought on the timing of the Cubs’ next move:
  • The Cubs still have to add Trey Mancini, and they also still have the Manny Rodriguez DFA to resolve (Mark Leiter Jr. cleared waivers last night and we’re just waiting on his decision on the outright). It’d be great if the Cubs could add Mancini and another reliever without having to DFA anyone else, but I’m not really sure you can hold guys off for four more weeks (Bryan’s math was about waiting 17 days, then slow-playing the physical, etc., which would get you to the four weeks before Spring Training officially begins). The Cubs should have at least three immediate 60-day IL placements when Spring Training opens if they want (Codi Heuer, Ethan Roberts, Alexander Canario, though they will probably wait on Canario until they absolutely have to do it, because it counts as a call-up and big league service time).
  • I’m thinking this might be a sneaky significant hire for the Cubs in the years ahead, as Poppe has worked with big leaguers privately (and successfully) for a long time:
  • The Cubs also have a new minor league field coordinator:
  • A bunch from Cardinals ownership, including their reluctance to spend at the very top tier of baseball, and how the RSN model is likely to change sooner rather than later:
  • We all know that Coors Field is at a totally different elevation than other ballparks, but there was something about showing it this way that REALLY hammered it home:
  • Light, silly, fun, Cubs prospects. Checks all the boxes:
  • Joe is doing some good, which I can love and respect even if it’s White-Sox-related. All the best to Liam Hendriks and his family:
  • Big project coming to Toronto:

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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.