Now that sports betting is legal in Ohio, I’m trying my hand at a variety of things with these NFL playoffs. I have mostly been bad at it. The Jaguars big comeback last week did keep me close to even, though, and if they turnaround and get smoked by the Chiefs today, I’ll be back in positive territory. I’ve never been a big sports bettor myself (I like doing little side bets in the stands at Wrigley with friends, but that’s about it), but I can definitely see the appeal – it’s making me care a whole lot more about games I might not otherwise have any kind of dog in, even if it’s only a couple bucks.
- With Trey Mancini officially in the fold, the Cubs have a decent platoon opportunity available at first base with him and Eric Hosmer (while awaiting/forestalling the arrival of Matt Mervis). Because Mancini was not reported as signing until well after Hosmer had agreed to sign with the Cubs, though, you can’t help but wonder what kind of timeshare Hosmer was envisioning when he picked the Cubs on his league-minimum deal. Assuredly he couldn’t have been ASSUMING he would be an everyday starter, right? And assuredly he was aware that Mervis could arrive at any moment, right? Ultimately, I think the Cubs can use all of Hosmer, Mancini, and Mervis, but I do wonder if the Mancini signing at all made Hosmer wonder about his role.
- Speaking of which, my early guess is that, if everyone is healthy, we’ll see Hosmer starting at first base against most righties, Mancini starting at first base against most lefties, and Mancini also seeing a lot of time at DH against both (he’s split-neutral). Mancini probably also spells the corner outfielders occasionally. Mervis will have a chance to force the first base issue on day one, but I think an arrival after a couple months to cement his performance at Triple-A is most likely. Similarly, if Mancini, 30, is really turning it on and raking like he did a few years ago in Baltimore, he could take over more first base starts (whereas I tend to think Hosmer is not going to start against too many lefties even if things are going very well for him). Ultimately, the Cubs have options.
- Jed Hoyer suggested that part of the Cubs’ hope for Hosmer, 33, is the old change-of-scenery thing, pointing to an aspect that I hadn’t quite thought of (Marquee): “We’ll see how he does,” Hoyer said. “He’s got a great reputation as a clubhouse guy. He’s had a really impressive career. And I think getting him at a time when he’s coming out of a situation that obviously they tried to trade him for quite a while on that contract. I think this is a fresh start for him. I know he’s excited about it and I think he can really do a lot of good things for us.”
- When we talk about changes of scenery, it’s usually about getting a different set of eyes on a player and a different set of coaches/staff to communicate, and then also the physical comfort associated with being somewhere else. But something with Hosmer I hadn’t really considered is that he will, for the first time in five years, be out from under the weight of being “that guy who signed a huge contract and then stunk,” and also the constant thoughts about how your team is desperately trying to trade you. Maybe it’ll help. The Cubs won’t be beholden to giving Hosmer a ton of runway – again, he’s on a league-minimum deal – but I don’t hate the idea of seeing whether a bounce-back could happen in his new digs.
- Interesting note from Nick Madrigal’s offseason training program, per Marquee, which is not just about strength, but is about a SPECIFIC biometric issue being addressed:
Madrigal spent the offseason in Arizona, strengthening himself and preparing to stay healthy through the course of the 2023 season.
For Madrigal, part of the solution to a healthy regiment in 2023 comes from advanced data the team has on each player’s biometrics through their running and other movements they make. According to some within the Cubs system, for Madrigal, that means the way he runs — Madrigal’s running pattern has him more upright than other players, meaning he’s putting more stress on his hamstrings, which can, in turn lead to hamstring or lower body injuries.
Spending the offseason to build a workout plan that combats the way Madrigal runs could lead to success for Madrigal in the health department.
- You kinda forget about that concept: that how a player does some baseball thing could necessarily strain his soft tissue in ways that make him more susceptible to injuries. Sure, we think about it with pitchers all the time, but how a position player runs? Honestly, I don’t consider it much, if at all.
- So, good on the Cubs for identifying it and on Madrigal for working on it. Thing is, even if Madrigal is perfectly healthy, it remains a very open question how and where he fits on the roster, and where he’s going to get his regular at bats at the big league level.
- The national MLB game on Tuesdays is on TBS, and the Cubs will have one in the first half – Tuesday, May 16, Cubs at Astros at 7pm CT. The second half won’t be announced until later, and that’s when you’re hoping your team has been good enough to justify more inclusions (well, if you WANT national games, that is).
- Holy crap. Future international prospect Fernando Cruz is 15 and he looks like he has the swing of a well-tooled 20-year-old:
- That is the kind of clip I would see of an international prospect in years past, and I would’ve thought daaaaaaang why can’t the Cubs land that guy? The Cubs are the favorite to sign Cruz, by the way, and now I will be absolutely decimated if they aren’t able. That swing looks incredible at that age.
- The Marlins’ plan for accommodating new addition, Luis Arraez, who can play a number of positions … is to move Jazz Chisolm to center field:
- In other words, Arraez, who is a bad defender at second base, will cause a truly bizarre cascade:
- I wonder if the Marlins think the way to combat the end of the extreme defensive shift is to simply put a second basemen at every position.
- So stacked:
- And his frozen head will steal a base in the 2070s: