Superior Cubs Outfield Defense, Dodgers “Unlock” Heyward, Everyone Gets a Sweeper, and Other Cubs Bullets
The first Sunday after football season ends is a bummer. Look, baseball is my first and primary love, and the switch being flipped to baseball season this week got my energies up. No question about it. But we’d gotten into certain enjoyable rhythms in our house on Sundays, and I recognize it here this morning … and I realize it won’t include football this afternoon. Gotta wait for next Sunday to put on a Spring Training game in the afternoon …
- There’s little reason to root for anything but success for Jason Heyward:
- That said, we’ve certainly heard this before. Maybe the Dodgers found the right swing approach to compensate for the bat speed deterioration (and the whole thing where his swing path gives him so little margin for error), and maybe Heyward really will be able to bounce back to league-average (or better) contributions at the plate, which would make him a really nice fourth outfielder. By the end of his time with the Cubs, it seemed more or less impossible, but he’s still only 33. If any team out there was actually going to “unlock something,” it’d probably be the Dodgers.
- If Heyward does become a useful player for the Dodgers, we’ll call it an even trade if Cody Bellinger or Edwin Rios does the same with the Cubs. Let’s not even start imagining a world where Heyward winds up outproducing both of those guys in 2023. (And before you ask how the Dodgers could find room for Heyward while casting off Bellinger and Rios, remember that Heyward is in camp with the Dodgers on a minor league deal. No 40-man – or arbitration price tag – considerations involved.)
- Speaking of the outfield and former Dodgers, Cody Bellinger likes his bookends in the outfield:
- I feel like we haven’t talked much about the defense in the outfield as a whole for the Cubs. We’ve talked about Cody Bellinger more as part of the up-the-middle group, and as part of the defensive-additions group, but not necessarily just “hey, how good could this outfield be defensively?” If everyone is healthy and that trio are in there most days, it’s not just that the Cubs added a Gold Glove-caliber defender in center field, it’s that they also could have that tier defender in left and right, too. Ian Happ literally just won a Gold Glove in left, and Seiya Suzuki – while we don’t quite yet know how good he could be defensively in MLB – won five Gold Gloves in Japan. The Cubs could have an extremely good defensive outfield!
- This is hopefully effective, obviously, but even setting that aside … it’s fun:
- You get a sweeper and YOU get a sweeper and YOUUUUU get a sweeper:
- In all seriousness, the sweeping slider is a great pitch if you can execute it, but we’re definitely in the bubble phase, where (1) hitters are going to have had sufficient experience against the pitch to start adjusting, and (2) guys who really shouldn’t be throwing sweepers – and should be focusing on a gyro slider or a cutter or a curveball – are going to be chasing sweeper development when it’s just not there for them.
- THAT SAID, it’s not necessarily cheesy that the Cubs have so many guys working on sweepers at the same time. For one thing, the Cubs have been trying HARD over the last two years to develop organizational expertise on teaching and shaping the pitch. For another thing, you never know how certain ideas, approaches, grips, whatever could work for one new pitcher in your org, and then that guy winds up helping two other guys in ways you couldn’t have anticipated. And then THOSE two guys help others. It’s like the best kind of infection.
- Humorous to me:
- Harry Caray passed away 25 years ago this weekend, and I can’t believe it’s been that long. One of the most important voices from my childhood.
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