Spring is here and we have some real baseball to talk about to go with the usual roster maneuvering...
- According WSCR 670, "The Score" (h/t Cliffy), , the Cubs are emphasizing to pitchers to pound the lower part of the strike zone. They're doing this by hanging a string across the plate at knee level. My first thought on this was big Chris Volstad and his propensity to give up home runs. With his big 6'8" frame he can really throw on a sharp downward plane and his solid velocity will make for a heavy sinker. He just needs to make sure he can keep pounding the lower half of the zone. If he can, I think he can have a big year.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America has the breakdown on draft bonuses for 2012. The skinny: The Cubs will have just under $8M to spend overall. They spent $12M last year and about $6.5M of this money was spent in the first 10 rounds. The Cubs will have the 8th most amount of money to spend out of all the major league teams. The Twins have the most at $12M+. The White Sox have just under $6M and the team that seems to be hurt the most by all of this, the Tampa Bay Rays, have the 4th smallest pool at $3.87M. I'm not going to remind people about how I feel and how I think this system will do the opposite of what intended to do. I don't think it will help any team, big or small market. It will only level out the playing field for those teams that didn't want to spend on the draft.
- According to Carrie Muskat, Blake DeWitt has cleared waivers and has accepted a non-roster invite to spring training. He will compete with Adrian Cardenas and non-roster invitees Matt Tolbert, Alfredo Almazega, and Edgar Gonzalez for the 2nd utility spot behind holdover Jeff Baker.
- ESPN's Doug Padilla tweets, "Samardzija locked in on being a starter. Didn't like reporting saying that the bullpen is always there as another option." He may not like it, but the bullpen seems to be the obvious solution if he can't cut it as a starter. It's nice to know he's serious about his goal. This could become one of the stories to watch this spring.
- Rafer Weigel tweets, "#Cubs closer Carlos Marmol confirmed what skip Dale Sveum said, "Cutter I"m not gonna throw anymore. I'm gonna work on my [slider]." It appeared last year that Marmol had lost movement on his slider. However, it now seems possible that it was the cut fastball that was being mistakenly reported as a slider.
- Fangraphs writes about why the Indians took SS Francisco Lindor over SS-3B Javier Baez. Basically, it's his ability to stay at SS and perhaps be a Gold Glove caliber defender there. In the words of scouting director Brad Grant, "We liked Javier Baez a lot. There is a lot of upside to him with his power, his approach, and everything he brings to the table. There is a lot to like, but in the end, what separated it for us was Francisco’s true ability to play shortstop."