The Rundown: Cactus Cubs Cruising, New Maddonism, Ricketts Says “The Dream Continues”

The Cubs are making it too easy this spring.

Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer has been working on a new slider this spring. He may have a little way to go after the Cubs bullied him for 7 earned in 3+ innings yesterday. Chicago won 11-6 to improve to 9-2 in Cactus League play as the team prepares for Championship Season 2.0.

Kyle Schwarber hit his first bomb of the spring. Albert Almora, Jr. went yard for the second consecutive day.

Maybe Bauer needs a little more work on the new pitch, which Zack Meisel of The Athletic Cleveland reports (subscription required, available through CI at discounted rate) is meant to help the finicky starter realize his full potential. Bauer’s revamped slider is an attempt to mimic the movement of teammate Corey Kluber’s slurve and Toronto’s Marcus Stroman’s curveball.

Jose Quintana, who started for the Cubs, is looking for more consistency this season. The left-hander struck out 12 batters and didn’t allow a run in his first start after coming to the team from the White Sox last July, but he scuffled in August, giving up six home runs and posting a 5.73 ERA for the month.

P.S. — I have been told actor John Cusack is a regular reader of this column and this site. I so hope that’s true.

Cubs News & Notes

Kris Bryant believes he had a great season in 2017, and though his power numbers weren’t as robust as the previous year, he did slash 295/. 409/. 537 with 29 homers last season. Bryant expects better things this season.

“I guess I brought it upon myself,” he said. “It’s always good to have success early. There’s a downside to it. I want to be the best player in the league. There’s nothing that’s in my mind that’s going to stop me. This is how I think. I’m excited to get back out there on the field and get even better and improve in many more areas. There were areas last year that I improved on and some that I didn’t, but year to year, that’s that whole cycle of baseball that makes us happy and kills us at the same time.”

Jesse Rogers of ESPN dissects manager Joe Maddon’s bullpen decisions during the 2016 World Series in an excerpt from his book “Try Not to Suck: The Exceptional, Extraordinary Baseball Life of Joe Maddon.”

Relievers Brandon Morrow and Carl Edwards, Jr. will play key roles in Chicago’s bullpen as the club seeks to play for its third consecutive National League championship.

“Wait till next year” is no longer an appropriate mantra for Chicago Cubs fans. According to team owner Tom Ricketts, “The dream continues” is far more appropriate.

Joe Maddon has a new mantra of his own: e2 = w

The ‘E-squared’ part of the equation represents the two elements that Maddon wants the team to embrace this season, which are energy and enthusiasm, and the W obviously represents the iconic “W” flag that flies over Wrigley Field every time the Cubs win a game.

How About That!

Scott Boras believes that his remaining unsigned free agents, including Jake Arrieta, will sign with teams very soon. “The teams are coming,” Boras said. “But I don’t control time, and I don’t control competitiveness. The question is when do those teams want to commit to winning.”

Yankees top prospect Gleyber Torres will likely start the season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the team’s Triple-A affiliate.

Anthony Rendon is preparing to step into the shoes of OF Bryce Harper if the soon-to-be-free-agent leaves the Nationals after this season.

Tigers SP Daniel Norris said that former Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio has earned his trust.

If you play fantasy baseball, here’s a look at 18 minor league players who may make their debuts this season.

The Diamondbacks have hired hitting and pitching strategists. The hitting consultant is Robert Van Scoyoc and former Cubs starter Dan Haren will be working with Arizona’s pitchers.

I’m speechless.

Hot Takes & Syrup

  • Pardon My Hot Take: The Royals held a seminar on porn addiction for their players. The article rightfully connects the addiction to domestic abuse but also loosely connects it to the DUI charge filed against SP Danny Duffy last August, which is somewhat puzzling.
  • Pardon This Obligatory Hot Take: With many teams talking about going to a six-man rotation, Rays manager Kevin Cash indicated he may use four starting pitchers with a combination of relievers pitching every fifth day.
  • Pardon This Obvious Hot Take: Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen called out all the teams that are allegedly tanking this season. Every year there’s tanking,” said Jansen. “It’s obvious. They just made it more obvious this year.”
  • Pardon This La-La Land Hot Take: Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner of the Dodgers were apparently less than enthused to see their team in the offseason sweepstakes to sign Japanese free agent Shohei Ohtani. Kershaw called it a “gigantic waste of time.”

Thursday Walk Up Song

If I Were John Cusack by Dr. Pants. Hope to see John at Wrigley Field again this summer.

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