Ruiz Extension, Gomes the Coach, Bellinger’s Approach, Painter’s Injury, Marlins Signings, WBC, and Other Cubs Bullets
I was losing my mind last night with that Bears trade. I didn’t think there was any chance the Panthers would include D.J. Moore in a trade where they are explicitly trying to acquire a young quarterback (who might need a guy exactly like Moore!). It was very easy to see why the Bears pulled the trigger on trading 1.1 this early, especially before free agency opens. Now they know they have a WR1 in place for Justin Fields, and can focus elsewhere. If you’re at all into football and have been on the fence about getting into the typically-disappointing Bears, I’m just saying … things look really bright.
- This is an interesting extension for a few reasons, but I don’t think it’s an unfair one:
- Ruiz, who turns 25 this year, is a former top prospect who has looked more like an average-ish bat in the big leagues. Pair that with solid catcher defense, and that’s a good starting catcher overall. But to guarantee him $50 million when he has barely a year of service time means that the Nationals are betting there’s a good chance he can get much better with the bat. And maybe he could, as catchers do sometimes take those steps forward a little later than most prospects. It just seems like a lot to guarantee to this particular player at this particular moment. Part of why you do a deal like this is the cost certainty and the club options, but this is a pretty healthy cost and the options come as Ruiz is approaching his mid-30s. Then again, maybe it’s worth it to lock in the lower AAV? It’s not like it’s a TON of money to risk in the grand scheme of things, spread over eight years.
- On Ruiz’s side, he may have locked in all that he’ll earn for his career now. If he’d played things out, maybe he would’ve done better, but it’s not like I’d ding a guy – who is still two years away from real money in arbitration – taking $50 million and saying, I’m good. This deal will run through Ruiz’s age 32 season. If he’s been good, those club options will be picked up and he’ll make some more money. If he hasn’t been great, he probably doesn’t get much of a contract for his age 33 season.
- Enjoyed this Cubs.com piece on Yan Gomes and the hopes for the pitching staff. This anecdote sums up a lot:
Earlier this spring, when veteran Kyle Hendricks was readying for his first light bullpen workout of camp, catcher Yan Gomes made his way to the practice mounds. Gomes was not on the schedule to catch the right-hander that morning.
“It was awesome of him to take time out of his day,” Hendricks said, “to see what it looked like and give me some feedback. I really appreciate that.”
That is the kind of care Gomes has had for his pitchers at every stop throughout his career, and why it took little time for the veteran to win over Chicago’s staff. Now in his second season with the Cubs, Gomes has an increased level of comfort and is looking forward to the “win now” expectations for the season ahead.
- Gomes is really just another coach out there, and I mean that in a very complimentary way. Yet another demonstration of what the Cubs clearly want from their catchers.
- Cubs hitting coach Dustin Kelly on Cody Bellinger’s work at the plate this spring (Sun-Times):
‘‘That’s the next phase of where he’s going, and we’re starting to see him break the surface with pitch selection,’’ Kelly said Thursday. ‘‘He’s really comfortable with his move and setup. He’s comfortable where he’s getting to in a hitting position, and now it comes down to getting the pitch he wants and getting his ‘A’ swing on that pitch and how many times he can do that …. ’’
‘‘He’s seen breaking balls, sliders in the zone that are in his ‘go’ zone, that he’s going to take his ‘A’ swing on, and he’s getting his swing off,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘He hasn’t squared them all up yet. But at least his pitch recognition, that’s a pitch he can go get and put a great swing on it, and he’s done that a couple of times. He hasn’t been frozen or backed up on anything yet.’’
- That’s how it has looked from the outside, too. That Bellinger is very comfortable and confident at the plate, and is taking his big swings at the right pitches/moments. Whether that translates to results when the regular season begins, well, that is a far leap. But this is an appropriate first thing you’d want to see.
- Phillies uber pitching prospect Andrew Painter, who is only 19 and who had a chance to make the Opening Day roster, has a partially-torn UCL. He is going to try to go the rest-and-rehab route, which has worked for some pitchers before. The risk is lost time if the UCL is going to fully snap on you eventually anyway, but the alternative is immediately going for Tommy John surgery. If you can avoid surgery, even one with a 90% success rate or whatever, you generally try to avoid it.
- Seems an even better chance for Painter’s particular injury:
- We never did get to see hard-throwing lefty C.D. Pelham pitch with the Cubs, beyond a handful of innings at Double-A and Triple-A last year. The triple-digit arm has signed a minor league deal with the Padres.
- The Marlins have added Yuli Gurriel and Jose Iglesias on very loud minor league deals:
- Roki Sasaki is just 21 years old and is throwing 102 mph with an obscene splitter, and he remains one of the best pitchers in the world:
- LOL @ 22 whiffs in 3.2 innings:
- (If you were wondering, Sasaki has at least two more years in Japan before he could be posted to come to the United States.)
- And somehow, this is even more amazing than Sasaki:
- Team Japan is missing Seiya Suzuki:
- This … is kinda fun. Can’t lie:
- Getting weird with AI: