Early Morning Dabs: Face

The First Hundred

The Cubs offseason consisted of two major league signings. The troubling trend of quiet offseasons means that positive regression is going to have to be a major component of the 2020 success story. Javier Báez recent comments about the previous decline in performance give the easy narrative to follow and the face of that story is David Ross. The change in the dugout is meant to provide the needed spark with the the cliché switch from player friendly to task masker. Ross provides a friendly face and likely what the front office desired with Maddon in a larger say in matters within the clubhouse. So pervasive were those thoughts that Ross already loudly has had to proclaim his independence from Theo. If the Cubs can surprise, the face of window 3.0 will look very good.  

Innuendo Bullpen Hashtag 

Ross is getting two additions to the big league roster in right hander Jeremy Jeffress and Steven Souza Jr. The pair were the only major league contracts handed out this offseason for a combined total under $2 million. The pair could provide solid value in a low cost fashion, but neither seem likely to be more than useful parts on a surprising club.

The Cubs payroll crunch has been fostered by the twin desires of staying under the luxury threshold and providing a playoff caliber pitching staff. The formula with the core making league minimum was to pay for a veteran staff and that worked for the two most successful seasons in team history back to back. But the core began to make their actual value and that meant the pricey bullpen deals became far more marginally costly than before.

The 2020 campaign not really being given a directive to get under the tax threshold had an obvious place to slash. Allowing the veterans of the previous two years pen to walk freed up a substantial chunk of change. The Cubs had a number of internal options and have added a variety of intriguing lottery tickets. The front office is going into next season with the most untested pen since they actual began trying to win games at the big league level. And that is why the Jeremy Jeffress signing wasn’t that much of a surprise.

Now the exact name wasn’t known, but a buy low, veteran option to add to the Cubs intriguing mix at the end of the ballgame was a no-brainer. Jeffress has posted a number of strong seasons out of the Milwaukee bullpen, but his velocity dropped a tick and a half between a dominant 2018 and less than stellar 2019. His changeup velocity was up slightly resulting in a much smaller margin between the two pitches. Jeffress’ peripherals paint the picture of a pitcher with some bad luck in 2019 as well. A return to form, which happened after a subpar 2017, could turn the 2020 bullpen into a strength.

Jeffress would form part of the right handed trio at the end of the game. Rowan Wick who is looking to prove last year wasn’t an aberration and Craig Kimbrel looking to prove that it was after a full spring could be a hard throwing triumvirate. Big Brad Wieck and Kyle Ryan form a dependable if not intimidating left-handed pair for matchups. Alec Mills is intriguing as a right handed Mike Montgomery. Duanne Underwood Jr. and Casey Sadler round out the arms without options remaining and trying to find a spot in the bullpen. Unlike previous years, there is an interesting battle for the remaining few spots of the 2020 pen to watch. 

I Like It but They Needed to Make Three More Moves

The Daniel Descalso whammy might be placed on Steven Souza Jr., but I like this move. It is a low risk, high reward signing that fits a needed role on the team. The Cubs certainly would be better if they had held onto Nicholas Castellanos, but with the shoestring budget left for additions after arbitration this was the best of a bad situation.

Souza has power and speed* from the right side of the batter’s box. Jason Heyward can show that his reemergence in his late 20s was real and build upon that while being shielded from unfavorable matchups. Souza provides a bottom of the order thumper that can add a little danger against southpaws that was missing most of last season. However, that is counting on a player who hasn’t played a big league game since September 30, 2018. The reason for that was a horrific knee injury.

*It remains to be seen what Souza will be like in the field after the long layoff. There are several factors that point to a successful return given his age when the injury occurred and that it was his left and not right knee. But this is a very high variance move that could payoff big. 

This is especially the case since he was a high variance bat while delivering on the prospect pedigree in 2017. Souza hit 30 home runs, but provided a Ron Deer-like slash line. There is a lot of swing and miss that has to be offset by more damage being done when contact occurs. How the time off has affected Souza is an important factor that early reports in Arizona might actually provide useful insight into.

Am I mostly hoping that he does well so that I can make a lot of John Philip Sousa references in recaps this season? Possibly, but it feels like these low risk, injury gambles have recently been far more snake eyes than hitting the jackpot.

How Dan Winkler Will Save the Cubs Season

It was impossible to know then, but the Cubs 2020 season was saved on December 6, 2019 when Dan Winkler signed a minor league contract. Winkler emerged as a late inning weapon that allowed the Cubs to smother opponents at the end of games. Pitching was supposed to be the Achilles heel of the club, but the emergence of Winkler provided Ross with a four deep pen of high leverage relievers from the right hand side.

Winkler has the least impressive fastball of the group, but his stuff has always been good enough to strike batters out at a high rate. The problem was harnessing the stuff around the plate consistently enough. Winkler has never struck out fewer than a batter per inning in the big leagues, but he has also only posted one season below 3 walks per 9 innings. Also, his command left him worse than usual in 2019.

However, the Cubs pitch lab claims an early success story turning Winkler into the next Rowan Wick. The move was met with little fanfare back at the time, but Winkler’s addition provided the Cubs the needed depth to be more than the sum of their parts in 2020.

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  • I hope that your positive out look, are things that does happen during this next season.

  • I found those comments by Baez to be a bit weak. I mean, there was no one more supportive of Baez than Maddon, and even if Javy was pointing a finger and not Joe, it sure came across as throwing Maddon under the bus. I’ll tell you what, Maddon won a lot of games. I’m all onboard with hoping that extra batting practice is going to mean more wins. Let’s see...

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Also...

    I essentially watched every game. I remember a lot of blown saves or at least the bullpen blowing games. And a lineup that had issues. I definitely had some in-game managerial decision issues with Joe, but not getting the team ready to play? I don’t buy it. And if Baez wasn’t really ready to play then shame on him.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    The really sad and troubling aspect of Baez’s comments is it’s basically deja vu to last year when they got bounced from the wild card game and Baez spoke about similar things before spring training and said others should have held him accountable. Why should others have to hold him accountable? He needs to be accountable for his own actions, and he clearly didn’t take the step forward and take it upon himself. I mentioned all this a year ago and was met by resistance from the Javy fan club. I love Javy, but he’s far from the type of player who can make himself into one of the best in the game (i.e. Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and an up and coming Juan Soto). The Cubs couldn’t coach him up in the batter’s box. He resisted saying he’s “not paid to take walks.” Yet he’s also made comments that he needs to walk more and see better pitches. He’s talked a lot about the improvements he needs to make, yet I’ve never seen it with consistency from game to game while standing in the batter’s box. A broken record...

    Here’s a link to last years article.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcsports.com/chicago/cubs/javy-baez-going-make-sure-cubs-learned-their-lesson-last-fall-mvp-playoffs-bryant-leadership%3famp

    I’m not hopefully about his super slow development that’s running into his 6th or 7th year playing in the major leagues. No way would I commit more than $15M a year to a guy like him who’s play will only get worse as he begins to age and recover slower from the daily grind. Great bat speed won’t make up for poor plate discipline and trying to “ham” especially as his quick twitch assets begin to slow. We especially got a good look at that as he had to play injured this year. That’s insight into how the player will look as he ages.

    This is all why I maintain that he should be traded while he’s at the peak of his value.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    You know my love for Javy, but he doesn't get a pass from me in this instance. I will slightly disagree with throwing Joe under the bus, however. Javy was very candid, explaining a culture that had developed over multiple years. He didn't single out Joe or "they" (the other players); conversely, he repeatedly referred to "I". "I did this" and "I didn't do that". He was simply expressing disappointment in himself and his team. It doesn't reflect well on him, but that culture, especially given time to fester, can have corrosive effects.

    I expect that to change under Ross, and why I believe David was hired instead of more analytically-driven candidates. That attitude was a major problem, and Boss Ross will fix it.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Just curious as to what experience “boss Ross” has in leading a baseball team? How is he going to fix it? You seem to have a lot of faith in “boss Ross” who I might add has never managed before. He’ll be fired midway of second year.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    I've followed him very closely, starting with his time in the Cincinnati organization and extensively while he was with the Braves. I've read dozens of quotes and interviews from highly-respected coaches and former teammates raving about his knowledge, comprehension, and leadership abilities. Several Hall-of-Famers gush that he was more of a manager while he was playing than their actual manager. I know of when he first joined the Red Sox organization and within two weeks, having never played in the AL before, was invited into the GM/manager's meetings while game-planning for the upcoming playoffs, and Red Sox captain Jason Varitek acquiesced to Ross' superior intellect and presence.

    Why do you think he's going to fail?

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    I see no reason to be all this negative about this season. These guys have all they need to win it all. I think they will play for David Ross. Maddon lost this team. Players or many of them stopped believing. It wasn't that they didn't respect him, but he didn't step up when the team needed him to do so. He should have been fired May 1st. Of course, that's hard to do with an Icon like Joe. The front office spent every available dime signing Kimbrel, Castellanos and others, but it wasn't the problem. Maddon was!

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Actually, Ross might be all that they need.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I don’t want to be a Maddon apologist, but the team lost because the team wasn’t very good. The pre-season Petco projections were pretty accurate. The team has made no additions this offseason. But they have lost two key players: Hamels and Castellanos. I like Ross a lot. But the team is going to win because he’s adding more structure? That seems like a storyline that management is pushing. Chicago can be an ugly city if you lose. I hope for Ross’ sake he doesn’t.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    I feel the team lost because of their offensive approach. Feast or famine was the game plan, every day. Work counts, try to walk, swing for the fences. It's been a popular strategy in today's baseball but it doesn't win playoff games. Hopefully, Ross has a different offensive philosophy. A handful more bunts and seeing-eye singles instead of big swinging strikeouts and all of a sudden guys are focused for 9 innings, finding ways to win.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    You mentioned May 1st, so I'll admit to being a little more patient. I was never a "fire Joe" guy, never got into the post-game Monday-morning-quarterbacking. But I finally snapped a couple weeks before the All-Star break and called for his head. It was obvious that the team wasn't playing up to it's talent level, or even ready to play. The season was slipping away, and a change in leadership needed to be made. But like you said, Joe was an icon, he stayed, and the season slipped away.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    As others have noted, Maddon was brought in to take a very young, very talented group of players and bring them up to speed in the big leagues in a hurry. And he succeeded, magnificently.

    However, the approach that worked with the 2015/16 Cubs had gotten stale by 2019. Maddon changed his approach somewhat; for example, he dumped the magicians and the animal acts. However, as the team matured, he could not find an approach that worked with them. The friction with the front office was symptomatic of that; plus the fact that Maddon and the FO could never agree on coaching staff - and the continual turnover in personnel couldn't have helped matters. The deterioration in defense and in baserunning were symptomatic of the team's deteriorating morale: teams that are focused and intense just don't make those sorts of blunders. I don't think that Maddon was the problem, but Maddon didn't have the solution they needed.

    In the end, they brought in Ross, who, I think, will mesh better with a team that now consists of somewhat jaded, somewhat world-weary veterans. I think that this core would like at least one more ring before they scatter to free agency after the 2021 season; but a lot will rest on starters are mostly either on the downside of their careers or have never lived up to their potential, and a bullpen that could anywhere from great to awful.

  • In reply to Nemo:

    Good post! Fans probably should not get to carried away disrespecting Maddon for being true to himself. He has stated that he should have been more aware, but look what he has done for us. Really ,it was just one of those manager 'shelf life' issuers. It s definitely time to move on.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    I'm just happy to be seeing those guys take significant ownership of the way the last two seasons ended up. Yeah they are all professionals - but most of them are still fairly danged young (says the 54-year old) :D. The first step to improvement is admitting what you've been doing wrong.

  • Javy does not get a pass. Shame on him for feeling that he wasn’t fully locked in or prepared. I disagree with anyone that says he is not worth a big deal because of it. He followed the lead. Now the lead has changed. You make those decisions on how he plays and we will find out in about 30 days.

    Jed said Joe’s shtick lost its effectiveness. Some of the unconventional ways were to keep a very young team loose from pressure of playing in big games, big crowds, with national coverage. I get that and it makes sense. The erosion of basic fundamentals in Defense and Baserunning are classic examples of not being locked in or unprepared. Change in leadership was needed and now it is in place. Ross will be a welcome change and get this team back to the grinding mentality of ‘15-‘16. Grinding and hard work with huge talent will be fun to watch.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    This whole discussion sounds like a fine idea for a dedicated article.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Two articles — 1) Javy’s admission and 2) Ross v Maddon with Jed sound bites sprinkled in. LOL!!!!

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I'm working on it now. All these angles sort of intertwine, as well as some Maddon's quotes on the Astros' cheating scandal. That laissez faire outlook didn't work anymore. Like you said, to take the pressure and weight of a century of futility off the shoulders of a new squad? Sure. But that time passed.

  • Javy Baez, and many other Cubs seemed to want superstar treatment after the World Series, and who can blame them!
    Borderline MLB players like Almora, & Russell-seemed to even demand star treatment before they were even established as solid/regular MLB starting caliber players.

    I'm sure Ross will be fine as a manager. The Cubs established core, might be less open to doing things differently. It is easy to say things got stale the first week of spring training. Anything could happen this year, & I hope for the best.

    The lack of additions didn't help Maddon in 2019, and 2020 Cubs did even less to fill real roster holes. Maybe the NL central will be weak this season, because the Cubs need all the help they can get.

  • KB wants to leadoff. I still like him at 2. Maybe Happ or Kipnis against RHP and Willy vs LHP?

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    Bryant at leadoff makes some sense - if he's interested. He's got a solid OBP in addition to some power, he's good on the basepaths even if he isn't a huge base-stealing threat, and it would get him a few extra at bats most games. He makes as much sense as anybody else currently on the roster at leadoff.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I agree that Bryant makes as much sense as anybody. I suggested it years ago when the off season discussion was to lead off Schwarber. Riz can spot him on occasion. It can be a grind.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I just watched an interview with Ross. He said he will hit KB mainly leadoff throughout the spring, and likely to start the season. He's leaning heavily at KB/Rizzo 1-2. In that case, who's #3? Javy?

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    With Schwarber 4 and Willson 5, I guess. Heyward, Happ, and 2B at the bottom - doesn't sound like KB will ever have anyone on base when he bats.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    KB sucks. Good hitters have a bunch of RBI's.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Got it.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    I wonder if, with KB leading off, we will see a lot of pitchers in the the 8-hole. It might give KB more chances to hit with runners on, even if he isn’t ab RBI guy... ;o]
    If memory serves, Russell was well utilized in the 9-hole in 2016, so that he could focus on D and get eased into the lineup. Maybe a good spot for Nico?
    Speaking of Russell, he still doesn’t have a job, right? Non even a MiLB contract with an invite to spring training? Someone please correct in case I have missed something. If so, I can only imagine it is very sobering.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I, personally, dislike this pitcher in the 8 hole idea. It is lame and ineffective. The way to score more runs is to have your best hitters bat more. The 8th place hitter hits more frequently than the 9th place hitter -- a proven fact. With a potential 6/7 of Heyward/Happ -- guys who can get on base when going well, I cannot stand the idea of a pitcher hitting 8th. It's someone who thinks they are smarter than the game trying too get cute--it's no wonder I think LaRussa was the first to try it.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    The pitcher will only bat a couple times anyway, depending on how long he's left in the game. Then it will be pinch hitters hitting 8th instead of 9th. A not necessarily great hitter, but with an OBP just around .300, is likely to get on base twice as much as a pitcher (who probably has an OBP of about .150). That works much better in the 9th spot to get on the base for the top of the lineup, rather than poor hitting pitchers. After all, when all your best hitters are gonna come up wouldn't you rather have a guy who can get on base hitting before them, instead of the easy out pitcher?

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    No, I do not agree with that line of thinking. You would rather punt a big inning early in a game versus putting up some crooked numbers only to have a real hitter infront of KB? You can do a double switch with the 8 hole hitter in that case. You don't give up outs. That is a rally killer. Let the 8 hole hitter bat with the worst hitter at 9. If the other teams elects to walk the 8 hitter and go the pitcher's spot, then fine. You have turned over another spot in the order. Let the pitcher make the final out in an inning when hitting 8th and now you have your worst hitter leading off the next inning. This strategy gives away outs. And, God forbid the pitcher comes up with multiple runners with only 0-1 out (typically early in the game as you pointed out). What a wasted opportunity. You turn your lineup over as much as possible and the way to do it is by having your best hitters hit more often. There has not been 1 simulation or analysis done that shows a team scores more by having a a pitcher bat 8th that I am aware of.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I didn't have a reply button under my comment, so I'm putting more info about my previous post here. Cubs 5 main starting pitchers in '19 had OBP of .148, .093, .089, .188, and .143. Wouldn't you rather have Bote (.362 OBP), Happ (.333), or even Heyward (.343) batting right ahead of the top of the order to set the table for all the best hitters on the team? Any of them is more than likely to be on base more than twice as much for our best hitters. This way, all the best hitters will always get the most chances to hit in the game, but t's more than 2x likely they have a runner on base if a pitcher isn't batting 9th, but 8th.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/26045/baseball-therapy-hit-the-pitcher-eighth/

    Here's your simulation that shows a team can score slightly more runs hitting the pitcher 8th.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Also, it's not putting your worst hitter in the 9th spot, he'd be in the 7th spot. If Almora is playing, he'd be there. The 9th spot should be for a guy who's not a great hitter, but good at getting on base. Hence why I mention Happ, Bote, or Heyward for that spot.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    First reply -- No, I don't want a better OBP guy hitting 9th when the worst guy by a long shot bats 8th. I just do not agree with that. I would never want to give up an out with runners on only to put a better OBP batter in front of a lead off hitter. That is my personal view. If the goal of a batter is to not make outs, then the guy who makes the most outs should bat 9th, not 8th.

    I would love to see this 2014 article re-freshed since there is more actual data today. But the author himself pretty much says there is no right or wrong way wherever the pitcher bats. "I get the fascination with pitchers hitting eighth. It’s new. It looks daring. It just that once you take everything into account, it doesn’t really buy you anything more than a little cool quotient. It doesn’t really help all that much in a best-case scenario and it doesn’t hurt all that much if everything goes wrong. Compared to a traditional pitcher-hits-ninth lineup, it’s pretty much break even."

    At the end of the day sequencing of hits/bb matters most when scoring the most runs which he pointed out.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    If KB leads off, I'd like an everyday lineup of KB, Schwarber, Javy, Rizzo, Contreras, Happ, 2B for that day, Heyward, Pitcher.

    George Springer's career took off once Hench moved him to the lead off spot.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    And knowing what pitch was being thrown. :-D Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Oh, I know. It has been like shooting fish in a barrel.

    The whole situation at the League office is crazy with Manfred saying "that the players weren’t properly informed of the rules, so had the league come down on them, it likely would have led to grievances and grievances that we were going to lose.”

    Then the MLBPA stated "the applicable rules did not allow for player discipline, because even if they did players were never notified of the rules to begin with, and because in past cases involving electronic sign stealing MLB had stated that Club personnel were responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules".

    The reality is the players should be mad at their union for not saying they would not support a grievance filed by a player involved in the debacle.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    I can’t believe players were given immunity. This entire situation from the Commissioner to the investigation to the player revolt just stinks.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    It sounds like Ross plans to bat Rizzo second.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    One thing to watch would be Happ. If he's the guy we saw late last year he could end up being a bigger factor in the lineup. I don't love KB leading off, I'd rather it be Rizzo with KB fourth but given what they have creativity is going to be needed.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Dude, no one here values your opinion. You are so 2010's.

    Get back to us in 2022, or 2028, when we can see the results of your predictions.

    The measure of anyone is the respect they've earned. You got a long way to go, my friend, but several more years to try. Keep it up, TC. You'll get there some day. One of these days we may all look up to you. :)

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    ? This is not the kind of post I'd expect from a Cub's Den contributor. Even if there is bad blood between posters, if shouldn't ever come down to belittling each other.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    You mis-read it...it’s complete faux sarcasm. No bad intention at all.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I hope Happ continues where he left off , but remember he did a lot of that damage when rosters expanded and the talent became diluted.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    That’s a myth. Roster expansion is not like it was in the 70s, 80’s and 90’s. Talent was not diluted. Teams played their best guys.

    Yes, there should be some concern when it comes to Happ, but saying MLB talent was diluted is not one of them. If Happ progresses and plays well, he will be the CF you have rightfully been asking for.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    I hadn't heard this. I love it. I thought that Ross would ask him and if KB says he's up for it, go!

    I too have been one that has wanted to see this, short of acquiring a proven leadoff guy.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    I think a lineup of: Bryant, Rizzo, Baez, Schwarber, Contreras, Hayward is solid, with 7 & 8 being a mix of Almora, Happ, Hoerner, Bote or Kipnis will be pretty good.

    It still come downs to the bullpen. Will it be good enough?

  • fb_avatar

    This winter I've been kind of blah about the Cubs I guess because there was so little movement and last year left a bitter taste in my mouth, but as the season gets closer and the spring training games are about to start I'm beginning to get more enthusiastic about this team.
    I did want some trades, but even if we don't we have a lot of talent and all are in their prime--that used to be from 28-32 and we're right there. Our pitching is a question mark, and surprisingly I include Lester as one of those. He didn't have a great year in 2019, and generally as one gets older one doesn't improve that much unless you're Roger Clements, and John Lester is no RC. Yu pitched well in the 2nd half, Kyle is Kyle, Chatwood was better and Q is really Q. I would try and trade him, but we'll see. I still have hope in Alzolay as my first choice for the 5th starter. Our bullpen has question marks but a lot of pitchers were signed and I believe that it will turn out to be a strength. I also think that maybe Jensen comes up in the 2nd half and does well too.
    I can't imagine us running as poorly as we did last year, and having KB batting first helps--he was one of the best going from 1st-3rd last year. I also think we can play better defense. Ross will have them take responsibility for what they do and that will help.
    This team has talent, is not that old, and has a lot of experience too.
    I will be watching--as long as Comcast signs the deal before the season starts.
    G C

  • The best argument for not leading off with Kris Bryant is that, he is then unable to bat at 2,3 or 4. I like that Ross is allowing Bryant the time to get comfortable there. Going from first to third on a single or first to home on a double is a 'big' deal. Score early win often.

  • He's such a great, instinctive baserunner that opponents will have to hold him at 1B. Rizzo is a such a great situational hitter with 2 strikes, and with the right side hole open we could see a lot classic, old fashioned 1-2 punches. What will be crazy is that Bryzzo are a classic 3-4 combo.

    I actually love this. A new "Daily Double."

  • So here we are yet again failing to address the 800 pound gorilla in the room. For the last 3-4 years cubs have tried to fill the void of a lead off hitter and center fielder. And here we go again taking a guy,Kris Bryant, out of his zone and placing him in unfamiliar territory to try and gill said void. And here we are again with a manager who thinks he is smarter than the rest. May as well hit the pitcher eighth will be his philosophy with Bryant leading off. And he will try to tell us this is good do. Good grief! What does it take to get a lead off/center fielder? Cubs have punted this season away. No wonder I vaulted to the top of season ticket wait list. All the smart people did not renew.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Everybody wants one of those. The trouble is, that few exist, and those that do are unavailable or way overpriced. Bryant's tools actually fit at leadoff even though he plays third.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    A leadoff hitter can play 3b

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    I think that David Ross is a lot smarter, and better at baseball than you.

    Are you Dusty Baker? Leadoff hitters do not have to play CF.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to JohnCC:

    JohnCC ! John !! In my 80 years of baseball background, I'm probably a bit stuck in my ways . But batting one of your big home run hitters lead off never works . Remember Schwarber ??? doesn't work to well does it ? What is that going to do to KB's "Launch Angle Swing " ???

  • In reply to Ronald Dietzler:

    Schwarber in 2017 was basically a rookie who had played a phenomenal, magical couple weeks of baseball at the end of 2016. Kris Bryant is nothing like that Schwarber. Because Schwarbs failed at leadoff in 2017 has absolutely nothing to do with how KB will fare in the leadoff role. If it did...I could argue that Rizzo -- a big home run hitter, was awesome at leadoff in his time there. But that doesn't translate either.

    Separately from the new leadoff thing, KB had reworked his swing over the winter, with his dad, in order to be better against the high fast ball. His "launch angle swing" is his swing.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Bryant will probably be the best lead off hitter (doesnt strike out, makes hard contact, great base runner and hits for power) we have since before Fowler. I think there are enough run producers behind him. With this lineup we are going to start the 1st inning with a lead quite often. I do agree I think I would bat the pitcher 8th. Have an obp guy hit 9th (kipnis, happ, heyward, hoerner somebody).

    Run production wont be the issue, relief pitching will be. We are counting on Morrow & Kimbrel to be healthy. Ryan, Chatwood, Weick and Wick to be good 2 years in a row. Then a group of great arms to catch magic. This is to me the crazy gamble, but I might be pleasantly surprised.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Bryant strikes out a lot. You can take any teams best hitter and they would do a good job leading off. He would still be better suited to bat 2nd or third and may eventually move.
    They aren't counting on Morrow. They have enough bullpen arms to be good.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Bryant does strike out a fair amount, but he had the 2nd highest OBP (.382) on the team next to Rizzo (.405) last year. Bryant also runs the bases extremely well. I think he is the best leadoff hitter they have on the team right now. He fills a glaring hole at the top of the order and he wants to do it. IMO it is a no brainer to put him there. The team has enough power guys to fill in the next 5 spots in the lineup.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Yes,I am.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    I think he was combining two weaknesses together. No they don’t have to play cf.

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    I agree with you Oldno7 ! There must be out there , of all the young baseball players in the minor leagues ,There must be some CF , Leadoff Man , Speed Demon, Switch Hitter , Contact hitter . That they can get AND HANG ONTO for a few years !!!! .

  • In reply to Ronald Dietzler:

    We grow them on trees out here in Neverland. They're plentiful, and CHEAP!

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Good teams seem to find no name players who help.
    The Cubs preferred to be loyal, and kept trotting out Heyward, Russell, & Almora since 2017. For too many days of the seasons 3/8th of your position players were below average hitters.

    Yankees traded for three unwanted hitters all in there late 20's. Two in summer of 2018, one spring of 2019.
    M. Tauchman, L. Voit, & G. Urshela all helped the deep Yankees lineup in 2019. One assumes older guys when given an opportunity they might appreciate it more, and work hard to be a positive member of the team.

    Cubs should of tried Tommy Lastella as the leadoff hitter versus RH starters. I never expected him to hit for power. He was a solid hitter, with a career minor league OBP of .392, and.345 OBP in MLB.

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    I remember that Boston used to bat Wade Boggs leadoff. He was pretty good--his lifetime OBP was .415 and his lowest OBP was .358. He also scored an average of 100 runs/game.
    Kris's lowest OBP is .369 and that was his rookie year. I think it's a great move.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    We are going on our 3rd year in a row of having to find someone to fill in at lead off. Wish front office would have made it a priority to find a leadoff hitter. Hasn’t KB batted leadoff before. How well did that work out? I really like KB but think he is better suited being 3-5 hitter.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Batting KB leadoff has worked extremely well in the past. With the Cubs and in his last year in college. Besides KB we have 5 players with good power to fill spots 2 to 6. Putting KB in the leadoff position is a nobrainer and fills a glaring need. If you put KB in position 3 to 5, who on the team are you going to have leadoff?

  • In reply to John57:

    That is my point the cubs have gone 3 years in a row without finding a solid leadoff guy. Sounds like you are saying he is best option but that doesn’t mean it is a good option. I’d like to know his splits in leadoff spot. When cubs won it in 2016 where did he bat?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I just looked at the article on the Cubs home page and copied this line.
    In 548 career plate appearances to lead off an inning, Bryant has hit .291/.385/.531 with 24 homers, 34 doubles and 144 strikeouts (26.3 percent) against 59 walks (10.8 percent).

    I believe his career OBP is .385 so this sample size just says he does comparable whether he leads off an inning or not. Add to that he is one of the fastest guys on the team so he will not clog up the base paths. IMO this is a very good option.

  • In reply to John57:

    There's been plenty of complaining about KB's lack of "clutch".
    Well, when you leadoff there no one on base. He's gonna tear it up!

    When I played ball, I loved batting leadoff for the same reason he expressed... more ABs.

    Got Marquee today, so it's Cubs anytime now.

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    I agree with WaitTilNextYear . Of all players to make leadoff man !! The proponent of the " LAUNCH ANGLE SWING " . I know Kris will try to be a good leadoff man , But gone are his 31 home runs and 282 batting average .

  • In reply to Ronald Dietzler:

    Why would you think his 31 HRs and his .282 batting would be gone?? How many runs scored do you think he would rack up in the first spot?

    Kris would not just try to be a good leadoff man, he will be a good leadoff man.

  • Lol. Love how you think kB leading off in college translates to any possible correlation to mlb. I think it’s great you feel kb leading off is a great idea. How many players in the last 3 years have batted lead off for cubs? Don’t you think it would be better to just get one player for this? I know I’m bucking the establishment on this site here. Just go get a lead off guy. It’s been 3 years of this crap already.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    You are not bucking the establishment. Everyone, and I mean everyone, here has been saying the same thing you are —- go get a damn lead off hitter. We were LAST in all of baseball from the #1 spot with a 77 wRC+. I almost puked when I read that number.

    The problem is WHO? Traditional lead off hitters just do not exist as in past years. So if there isn’t someone to acquire, then is there really any harm in putting Bryant there? Given the roster as is, It does make a lot of sense. Who would you go get? What are you willing to give up?

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Sterling Marte was available.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Well there does seem to be a strong correlation between his college stats and mlb stats. He was college player of the year leading off. His first mlb season he was Rookie of the Year. His second year he was MVP. Strong correlation to me, maybe not so much for you.

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    We have the 16th pick in the draft this year. There has to be someone who can lead off, although that pick probably won't get to the majors for 3 years or so, then get a power pitcher.
    This has been a source of contention for years and I don't think the Cubs have even drafted for a LO man. I have said in the past that when we picked Schwarber Trea Turner was available and that's who I wanted. Now, looking back, without Kyle would we have won the WS? I don't know, but over the long run Turner would have been more helpful, and he did play CF too.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Turner is a SS not a CF.

  • In reply to John57:

    And right now we have a pretty decent SS.

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    In reply to John57:

    He has played SS and CF.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Brennan Davis is that pick. He has a shot to be the lead off CF we have been in need of. But for now I really like Bryant.

    The big question is what are we going to do heading into 2021? We have a shit ton of guys eligible for FA after that year. Do we trade off a couple or trade of a bunch and start over? I think winning 82-86 is the worst place to be. You probably arent going to go to the world series, you cant draft any top 15 players. It's the worst place to be.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    "Now, looking back, without Kyle would we have won the WS?"

    Nope.

    All moves that caused the Cubs to reach the promised land are justified, including trading Gleyber to get Chapman. We do not win with Hector Rondon (who still has one ring with no Astroisk attached to it) closing, either.

    "Who won the the World Series in 2016?" is my answer when those moves are questioned. And I just repeat the question if the answer is not simply "The Cubs".

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    All teams are increasing the number of Pitchers they carry on their major league squad . Pretty soon half the team will be pitchers . Will we see pitchers playing other positions on the field like so many other position players do . I remember the Cubs had a pitcher who would pitch then go out and play left field and it was quite an big help .. ???

  • In reply to Ronald Dietzler:

    travis wood

  • I'm in a baseball state of mind. My bags are packed. Night game the day we land. Scheduled rest day following, where I picture a mid 80s sunny day, a swimming lined with deck chairs with my old butt sitting in one, holding a dirty martini. Baseball! Don't leave home without it.

  • Upper chest strain being reported for Brandon Morrow already.... So it goes...

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I'm surprised Morrow hasn't strained his sphincter while pooping.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Hence why he's on a Minor League contract - at least this year he's a flier that is mostly cheap and who doesn't necessarily eat up a roster spot.

  • Shocking! In other news sky is blue and water is wet. Back to the trash heap to try and sign another reliever. In other news most of Chicago area can’t watch the game on marquee network. Oh wait there is. Hulu is streaming all cubs games for only $55 a month. Great times for us old, loyal Cubs fans!

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    a return to yesterday with games on the radio.

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    Is it true that Morrow strained himself while reaching for his credit card to pay for Hulu so he could watch all the Cubs' games?

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    He probably strained his chest reaching for the phone to call 1-800-DIRECTV and ask why the Marquee Network wasn't on when it was supposed to be.

    It's still not on! I guess I'll try again in a week.

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    I was born and raised in Chicago , however I now live in Boise Idaho and have watched my Cubs on MLB-TV for years . And guess what ? I watched the Cubs Oakland game yesterday on MLB-TV ... BROADCAST BY MARQUEE NETWORK ... 12-2 Cub win , didn't recognize hardly any Cub players . Mark Grace announced for 3 innings .

  • We cut the cable cord early last fall. And now stream ATT-TV Now.
    The basic package was $60, and that included the four major network stations in Chicago. Not WGN, though. I upgraded the package for $15 more per month to get additional channels. Marquee is included.
    And I'm enjoying today's game and the rest of the network's programming. It's the future. And I'm getting it for less than what I paid for the subscription to cable. You don't need Comcast TV or any other cable company as long as you have an internet connection.

  • In reply to jaykaysr:

    If they don't sign Comcast there will be major backlash against the Cubs

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Don’t the dodgers have similar cable issues? They may have backlash but apparently the team still leads the league in attendance and with the best record. Just imagine if there wasn’t any fan backlash over their cable situation.

    Fortunately I’m out of the Chicago viewing area but I know my family members in Chicago don’t like it any better than you do. You would have thought the Cubs would have learned from the Dodgers fiasco.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    It's not the Cubs organization signing up Comcast to carry the games. It's Comcast agreeing to carry the games at a cost of "X" dollars per subscriber and the Cubs agreeing to receive "X" dollars per subscribers from Comcast. Ever since the cable companies saw the additional money the Yankees cleared on the YES Network, they have been leery on agreeing to any deal unless the cable companies get a 60-70% share of the revenue. The same thing that happened in LA, happened in Houston. If you can go the streaming route, do that. Comcast doesn't care what happens to the Cubs business organization or Cubs fans.

  • Anyone notice so far: Baez is batting 1 for 3 PLUS 2 BBs and Almora is 5 for 5 with a double and a HR? I know its early and it is only spring training games but who would've actually thought either of these situations would have ever happened. Both are great signs that the Cubs players are ready to turn things around. Best of all, if Almora can just maintain half of these results for any length of time (even off and on), we may have found our Center Fielder.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Way, way, way too soon to say anything has changed or improved

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    But it is not too soon to talk negative about the Cubs team? Isn't that an oxymoron? It hasn't stopped a bunch of you from complaining, has it?

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Thank you! The Debby Downers need to hear it. AA must be getting started earlier because he was able to get underneath all of those balls yesterday. Such a good sign!

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    You are welcome and I agree. I really think we will be pleasantly surprised this season with the Cub's. It is not who they have added but who is no longer here. Our core players are actually in their prime and I believe they will be more focused. Some major distractions are gone now and the bullpen has been upgraded.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Correction: Almora is 4 for 4 with a double, a HR and a BB.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Almora made significant changes during the off season. The eye test says his contact looks harder than in the past. If he takes a takes a big step forward........?

  • In reply to Cubmitted:

    Yeah - I saw some of the replay video of his at bats last night. Almora looked good and quite a bit better than he did to close out 2019. If he can keep the hard contact rate up - especially against lefties - he'll have a far more satisfying 2020. Even if he only gets back to the numbers he was putting up during most 2017 and 2018 - that would be fairly acceptable.

  • Got to watch the replay of Saturday's night game against the A's. Was ingtrigued by Jason Adam, big power style pitcher complemented by a curve and changeup. Was a little wild at first, but then Hottovoy came out and obviously told him to attack these guys. Then he just started throwing heat for strikes. As the hitters tried to catch up with it, he started mixing offspeed and it was very effective. Obviously this was late in the game against no legit MLB players, but it makes me hopeful that a couple of those minor league contracts they signed might actually become useful during the long season. Also, excited to watch Dakota Meekes as well.

  • Have the cubs started spring training? Sarcasm. Not one article about it here. What going on?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I've been sick this week.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Hope you fee better soon. Was out and home sick myself the end of last week. There's a lot of 'somethings' going around - typical for the end of Winter.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    You're no Lou Gehrig Michael.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I'm not that mean. Jed Hoyer texted that to D Ross this week.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Hey at least they are actually on DirecTV now.

  • With Wieck possibly starting on the IL, and assuming Ross will want to carry 2 lefties in the pen, who's the favorite for the spot? Steele is on the 40 but he had poor numbers at AA last season.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    Rex Brothers has the be the early leader to replace Wieck if he isn't ready to open the year. Plenty of AAA and MLB experience, misses bats, and is throwing well in games so far. Control has always been his issue, but so far, so good this spring in that regard.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Yeah hopefully they figured something out with him. Wyatt Short has those impressive minor league numbers. I don't think Hultzen has appeared yet.

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