When you look at the money the Yankees paid Gerrit Cole this winter, having Yu Darvish at $21 million AAV seems like a steal. Even better, Darvish could have exercised his opt-out after last season and it’s entirely possible he would have earned a larger contract on the open market. Instead, he chose to remain with Chicago.
Now he may be primed for a pretty big season and is a dark horse Cy Young contender.
The veteran righty entered camp as the Cubs’ ace based on a huge second half in which he was as dominant as any pitcher in baseball. He certainly pitched the way Theo Epstein envisioned when inking Darvish to a six-year $126 million contract ahead of the 2018 season.
He looks to be in mid-season form already, and I’m sure Brewers hitters would agree after he was absolutely filthy in his first start of the spring last week.
Yu Darvish, Overpowering 98mph Fastball…
And everyone does a stadium gun check. ? pic.twitter.com/rRRcT3uO52
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 29, 2020
David Ross hinted Wednesday that he knew who his Opening Day starter would be, but he is reluctant to officially name that pitcher just yet. Darvish is a good bet to get the nod, which would likely slate Jon Lester to pitch the team’s home opener against the Pirates on March 30. That would set the Cubs up nicely for the season-opening three-game set against the Brewers in Milwaukee, with Kyle Hendricks and José Quintana likely following Darvish.
Cubs News & Notes
- Darvish has taken extra measures to improve this offseason, going beyond the data the Cubs have provided to dig deeper on his own (subscription to The Athletic required).
- Several Cubs, including Darvish, have been quite impressive in exhibition games. Victor Caratini has been absolutely scorching at the plate.
- Brennen Davis and Brailyn Marquez head the team’s Top 30 Prospects list at MLB.com.
- Anthony Rizzo likes the team’s vibe so far this spring, and reiterated that he wants to finish his career as a member of the Cubs.
- It’s becoming cliché to say, but Kyle Schwarber is primed to breakout in 2020.
- Ross has embraced the challenges that come with being a manager.
- The Cubs and Reds tied 6-6 yesterday. That’s one way to avoid a loss. Teams can elect not to play extra innings in spring training baseball.
- Tyler Chatwood, who is competing for a spot on the rotation, had another great outing yesterday. He struck out five Cincinnati batters in three innings of work, walking none and allowing just one hit (a solo homer).
- For the Cubs to get back to the postseason, they’ll need a big year from their starters, including Chatwood if he nabs the open fifth slot.
- Craig Kimbrel pitched for the first time this spring and he was happy with his performance in spite of giving up a long homer on a fastball.
- Cincinnati reliever Pedro Strop said the Cubs wanted him to return this season but couldn’t match the offer he received from the Reds.
- Despite fears of a coronavirus pandemic, the Cubs-Cardinals series slated for later this summer is still on, according to Epstein.
Odds & Sods
This is actually pretty cool.
Toyota Pays Homage To Negro Leagues In New Highlander Commerical https://t.co/hKgTDd5p4C
— negroleaguesmuseum (@nlbmprez) March 4, 2020
MLB Spring Training Notes
Reds starter Trevor Bauer and commissioner Rob Manfred apparently had a productive meeting yesterday. Bauer has been quite outspoken on a number of issues related to Manfred’s tenure as the czar of baseball.
According to an MLB source, league officials are advising players to limit human-to-human contact, per guidance from the Center for Disease Control. That means declining autograph requests until further notice.
Happy Birthday, big guy!
Kyle Schwarber has hit ? career postseason home runs, including this blast that landed on top of the scoreboard ?
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) February 16, 2020
They Said It
- “I liked data before. But after I came here, I learned a lot on Ivy [Chicago’s scouting database]. I didn’t know how to use the data with Dodgers and Rangers. I think they have it, but not like here. [The coaches here] taught me how to use it and ‘This data means this and that data means that.’ Then I started to use it on my own and I can use Ivy better than anybody in the clubhouse.” – Yu Darvish
- “When you’re done, these guys won’t talk about your numbers. They’ll talk about what kind of teammate you were and how you affected them. Think about the weight you carry when you walk into this locker room, how much your voice means and matters.” – David Ross
- “We have the talent to get back to the World Series and be able to live up to those expectations. … The goal is to win a World Series. That’s what Chicago wants, that’s what we want, and that’s how we go about our work every day.” – Ross
Thursday Walk Up Song
Fantasy by Aldo Nova
- What went wrong? Looking back at this video, one would think we existed on another planet in 1982. This darkly-lit film is a bad take on rock star problems and even features a helicopter landing and the use of laser beams as weapons. Then there’s lead singer Aldo emerging from the chopper in a leopard print suit. Hey, life is just a fantasy.
- How does it play today? Spinal Tap would be embarrassed if they had made this video, does that say enough? That’s a first rate mullet on Aldo though, and the smoke machine is a cheap enough effect that it’s almost a parody video, which was probably not the directors intent. I heard this song was huge in Japan, however.