The Upside in Taillon's Bad Day, the Extra Outfielder Competition, Sweepers, WBC, and Other Cubs Bullets

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The Upside in Taillon’s Bad Day, the Extra Outfielder Competition, Sweepers, WBC, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

One year ago today, MLB owners and the MLBPA finally came to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, ending the 99-day lockout that started on December 1.

Those three months suckkkkkkkked, and I remember what a relief this day was – well, a relief after being absolutely terrifying. Remember when they were counting all the votes that afternoon, and it was touch-and-go about whether the CBA was going to be accepted or not? Knowing full well that if it wasn’t, regular season games would be lost and there would not be another pressure point for several months? Ugh. Please, please, please don’t do that to us again in four years …

  • Jameson Taillon got knocked around yesterday by the Reds in his short spring start, but he’s looking at it in a positive way. Taillon said that a day like that, in Spring Training, can be a valuable thing, especially when you’re working with new catchers and a new staff. Via Marquee:

But Taillon’s on a new team, with fresh catchers and coaches to work with who must learn how he ticks and how he can adapt when things aren’t clicking.

“[Catcher] Yan [Gomes] was asking questions,” Taillon said. “We were talking, [pitching coach] Tommy [Hottovy] and [assistant pitching coach Daniel] Moskos, just all kinda learning about today and about my repertoire and about what I like to do on days like today where I might not have my best stuff. I think there’s a lot of value in it.” …

That’s the luxury and importance of Spring Training. Yes, it’s important to work on building up the pitch counts and innings or to work on new pitches and fine-tuning mechanics and no one wants to have bad outings, but learning how one another work and how to deal with adversity is just as cherished.

“Today it was a little more like big picture view,” Taillon said. “Generally, when I don’t have my best stuff, there are ways I can get creative and steal some outs. So that’s kinda what it was like today.”

  • Obviously that’s a rosy view, but it’s not wrong. Guys are going to have days when a certain pitch, for example, just ain’t working. And he will have to work together with the catcher and the coaching staff to figure out the best way to adjust – that isn’t necessarily something you can plan in advance for every possible variable. Much of it will have to take place on the fly, combining subtle things the pitcher is feeling and the catcher is seeing. So practicing, generating discussions now, is a good thing.
  • Nico Hoerner on Jameson Taillon:
  • I think the last outfield bench spot is probably going to come down to Nelson Velazquez and Mike Tauchman, with each having some things that go in his favor. Tauchman bats lefty, and the Cubs might prefer that, all else equal. Velazquez has huge power, and the Cubs might want more of that. Both can play all three outfield spots, though Velazquez has done it in the big leagues more recently. Tauchman is not on the 40-man roster yet, so would require an extra move. The Cubs could see more of a future with Velazquez and thus want to give him more of a look than Tauchman … or it means the Cubs might want more development time at Iowa for Velazquez.
  • Gut says, as of this precise moment, if that final outfield bench spot came down to these two guys, the Cubs would go with Tauchman, whose lefty bat might coordinate a little better in right field with the fill-in guys there (Trey Mancini and Patrick Wisdom?). Velazquez would go to Iowa to continue to work on contact against righties, and then if and when there’s another opening, maybe that’s when he gets his next look. I still think he’s a big leaguer long-term, but I do understand that it remains uncertain whether Velazquez will ever quite get to starter level, or if he maxes out as a lefty-masher.
  • Nice catch by Tauchman yesterday, by the way:
  • Appreciate Lance Brozdowski talking as deeply as he has about the sweeping slider this spring, giving us a really good understanding of the what’s and why’s of the pitch:
  • I mean, we knew that a lot of Cubs pitchers were working on the pitch this spring, but we definitely didn’t know that AT LEAST TWELVE of them had ONLY JUST added the pitch THIS offseason. That’s a whole lot of guys with new pitches to evaluate!
  • I’d heard that Funko Pop was going to have to unload some inventory because of some storage issues, and based on the HUGE price cuts on Amazon for their Star Wars ones, I’m thinking, yeah, they are really trying to unload these. So if you’re into ’em, make sure you check out the deals. #ad
  • Ian Happ and vision training:
  • I’ve been watching bits and pieces of the Team Italy-Chinese Taipei WBC game this morning, and the atmosphere is absolutely bonkers:
  • This is a run-scoring single in the THIRD inning, and the crowd explodes – nice to have a home game in the WBC:
  • Jason Kipnis chatted at MLBTR and, among many other really insightful and funny comments, Kipnis said this about the foul ball from the 9th inning of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series:

Jason, thanks for the many great memories you gave us Cleveland fans. One of those memories is the split second when I thought Cleveland won the WS Game 7 before the ball you hit went foul. It looked like it was a good pitch to hit and you just got out in front of it. What did you experience on that pitch?
Jason Kipnis
It was a good pitch to hit, just a tick out in front. People keep saying Chapman was gassed, but the guy was still throwing 98+, tough keep weight back on slider and still catch up to that. So I started to sit fastball but he threw like 5 sliders in a row.

  • Of course, the reason Chapman was throwing so many sliders by the end of that appearance is because he was indeed completely gassed and his fastball had nothing. As an aside: do you remember how Kipnis’s at bat ended? I sure didn’t. Turns out Chapman ultimately struck him out swinging. Glad it worked out, I guess?
  • The latest episode of ‘Onto Waveland’ is up and out:

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.