The Rundown: First Game Today, Javy Could Get 600 PAs, Contreras ‘Uber Confident’
It’s Friday. And may I add this tidbit by Jayson Stark:
If you're a baseball fan, welcome to one of the great days of the year.
There will be baseball games. There will be box scores.
Next time we won't be able to say that: The all-star break.
Almost 5 months from now.
Let's get this started!
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) February 22, 2018
Before I get into this, I will be without internet access for the next week so I won’t be Rundown-ing again until next Friday. I apologize and will miss you all. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment.
To me, the opening days of baseball — first spring training and then regular season — should be paid holidays. Baseball is as much of an American institution as President’s Day, right? We deserve the right to have a few pops and watch baseball all day and not have to burn through PTO. Winter is over, we’re celebrating. Where are my damn flip-flops?
A lot of new Cubs are excited about the team’s potential for 2018 and beyond.
- Steve Cishek: “Our lineup is stacked. I know it’s only live batting practice, but game situations can’t be fun facing those guys over and over and over again.”
- Tyler Chatwood: “That’s one reason we all signed here, no doubt. They are built to win for a while, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
- Yu Darvish:
— ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) (@faridyu) January 22, 2018
Yeah that Darvish drop was slightly tongue-in-cheek.
Even Indians manager Terry Francona is impressed. “[the Cubs’ front office] always get what they need. That is a good five-man rotation. I would love to face them in the World Series again.”
The Cubs would love to grant Francona’s wish. The team’s rotation and bullpen should be among the best in baseball, they boast one of the best defensive infields, and the lineup is stacked with All-Stars both actual and potential. Many of the bench and role players could probably start for other teams. Be giddy, folks.
Today greets us with a Cubs/Brewers tilt, a perfect way to kick off the 2018 season. A meaningless exhibition game you say? I don’t think so. Game on. Beers at my place, 2:05pm. Play ball!
Cubs News & Notes
MLB dropped it’s Chicago Cubs Minor League Top 30 list yesterday. Todd Johnson has all the ins and outs. No surprises as pitcher Adbert Alzolay and shortstop Aramis Ademan sit atop the rankings. If you’re really a prospect hound, you won’t want to miss Todd’s analysis on what to watch for on the minor league fields in Mesa this spring.
Willson Contreras has the opportunity to establish himself as the preeminent catcher in the National League this season, and is ready to rise to the challenge. “I can’t tell you I’ve noticed anything different except he knows ‘I’m the guy here and I am going to catch, and these are my pitchers,'” manager Joe Maddon said.
“He’s so uber confident,” Maddon added. “He’s been that way from the beginning.”
Add Jon Lester to the Best Shape of His Life all-star team. As the veteran enters the second half of his six-year, $155 million contract, he looks ready to lead one of the better pitching staffs in all of baseball.
Maddon suggested yesterday that infielder Javy Baez may approach 600 plate appearances in 2018.
How About That!
The Athletics and Mariners will open the 2019 season in Tokyo. How did Rob Manfred not select the Cubs or the Angels?
The Rays traded recently waived OF Corey Dickerson to the Pirates for reliever Daniel Hudson, minor league infielder Tristan Gray, and cash. In other team news, rookie Brent Honeywell left a BP session yesterday after 10 pitches with what was described as “arm related and of major concern.”
Astros top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley has been suspended for 50 games, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com. The suspension is reportedly related to drug use, per the report.
The Yankees and the Orioles are well positioned to break the existing single season home-run record set by the Seattle Mariners in 1997.
John Heyman covers all thirty teams in this week’s Inside Baseball Notes. A couple of interesting bullet points from his article include:
- Cubs hitters say they will be ready for the Dodgers’ high-pitch strategy, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.
- The Cardinals are aiming to pitch more up in the zone, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes.
- The Orioles like Alex Cobb if the price is right. He did well in the AL East, and they noticed that.
Hot Takes & Syrup
- Pardon my hot take: Joe Rivera of the Sporting News claims the Mets won the offseason because of signings that include Adrian Gonzalez, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Jason Vargas. I can’t even. The Mets could write a primer on mediocrity.
- Pardon this obligatory hot take: The idea of allowing any player to hit in the 9th inning if their team is trailing never had any legs. Imagine being allowed to instantly change the batting order to improve a trailing team’s chances. This was suggested by Rich Eisen on Wednesday, citing an anonymous baseball executive. Ideas like that are often hatched as a byproduct of these types of meetings.
- Pardon this obvious hot take: The Brewers legitimately need to bolster their starting rotation if they expect to compete with the Cubs this season.
- Pardon this baseball diva hot take: Yasiel Puig is currently without agent representation, and doesn’t really care, even though he is a talented player and is only two years from free agency. Being dropped by The Wasserman Agency probably made him a little too hot to handle.
Friday Walk Up Song
Drunk in the Day by local band Wally Dogger. Call off today. Watch baseball. You have my permission. PS – my good buddy Dale is in this video. Enjoy.