Adding Lefty Power, Stealing Control Improvements from the Rays, Joking About the Pitch Clock, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Adding Lefty Power, Stealing Control Improvements from the Rays, Joking About the Pitch Clock, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I saw the new ‘Ant-Man’ last night, and I would say my take was pretty consistent with the reviews. There were things to like, and I’m generally down with what’s being set up – timelines, multiverses, and so on. But as a standalone movie, it just felt a little clunky and was missing the silliness and joy that works so well for that particular franchise. Moreover, as a kick-off for Phase 5, I think it was a disappointment. That’s probably extra true after a Phase 4 that was disappointing in a variety of its own ways. (‘Endgame’ casts a long shadow …. )

  • More coming later on the surprise Edwin Rios signing last night. I had my eyes so affixed on the lefty reliever market that I kinda stopped thinking about the lefty power bat market, where Rios was one of the few remaining opportunities for a Cubs team that really needed it heading into the offseason, but whose only lefty power addition was Cody Bellinger (who may not have that power anymore). Unless you’re counting Eric Hosmer (not really a power guy) or Miles Mastrobuoni (only just started to show the power last year and may not make the roster). So, whatever else I might say about the Rios signing – and I will have lots to say – I don’t want to lose sight of the simple fact that it’s another lefty power bat to have as an option.
  • (Forgive me while I dream about Rios breaking out, Bellinger bouncing back, Ian Happ adding pop, and Matt Mervis coming up, and suddenly the Cubs are in good shape with lefty power options …. )
  • I’ve heard about this concept before, but this read at Baseball America is a good take on it. In short, the Tampa Bay Rays have an established history now of finding pitchers with good stuff and poor control, and then improving their control just enough to allow them to be effective (look at Jason Adam, whose stuff was great with the Cubs, but who broke out with the Rays when his BB rate dropped from 12.0% to just 7.2%). One of the very simple ways the Rays do it? For some guys, the catcher does not set a target other than just straight up setting up in the middle of the zone. Let the stuff do the work, and don’t even worry about trying to locate to a particular spot.
  • How often would you actually throw it perfectly middle-middle, even if you were trying? If you’re the type of pitcher who doesn’t have pristine command to start with, probably not that often! So don’t even try. Don’t worry about it. Just try to throw strikes over the plate (in most situations). It wouldn’t work for every pitcher, and wouldn’t be advisable for guys with great command and mediocre stuff/velo. But for guys who get great movement but just can’t locate it? Screw it. Just trying to throw middle-middle and let the chips fall.
  • So, you know: steal this idea, Cubs. I get that it runs counter to everything a lot of catchers and pitchers have tried to do for their entire lives, but THIS IS HOW THE RAYS GET EDGES. They do things that other organizations are unwilling to press their players to try. And they find guys who can ditch their ego and just buy in.
  • Yan Gomes and Patrick Wisdom taking SHOTS at each other:
  • This is really disappointing. One of the best American pitchers of all-time will not pitch for Team USA in the WBC (assuredly the last of his career) because he couldn’t get reasonable insurance coverage in the event of an injury (a requirement for participation):
  • College baseball highlights are back baby:
  • Extra Boss if you were hoping to get a ticket and missed out on the first round:
  • Yesterday was Michael Jordan’s 60th birthday:

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.