Cubs Pitchers Stretch Out at Fitch Park
Randy Wells, Travis Wood, Andy Sonnanstine, Trey McNutt, Lendy Castillo, Marcos Mateo, Trever Miller, and Rodrigo Lopez threw "live" BP at cool & blustery Fitch Park today, before a sparse crowd under partly cloudy skies.
Wells, T. Wood, Sonnanstine, McNutt, and Lopez threw 45 pitches each, while L. Castillo, Mateo, and Miller threw 30 pitches a piece.
This is somewhat of a change from past years, as the pitchers who are prepping as starters are throwing more pitches per outing earlier than before. I can't remember the last time I saw any pitcher throw 45 pitches in a pre-Cactus League "live" BP session at Fitch.
Lopez has (apparently) been tabbed to start the Cactus League opener versus the Oakland A's at HoHoKam Park on Sunday, and it appears he has a reasonable shot to win the 12th man slot (long reliever/spot starter/garbage man) on the pitching staff. Lopez isn't Cy Young, but he does have the proverbial "rubber" arm and doesn't really need a lot of extra side-work to stay stretched out enough to be able to give his team four passably-decent innings (five tops) when needed.
Best performance at the plate today in "live" BP was by Junior Lake, who hit a couple of balls off the outfield fence, and Josh Vitters peppered Rule 5 draft pick Lendy Castillo's offerings with line-drives back through the box. Otherwise, there were no dingers, as the pitchers appeared to be mostly ahead of the hitters.
1B Anthony Rizzo (acquired from the Padres during the off-season) took some extra ground balls at 1st base after BP. He is a hard worker and the coaches really seem to like him a lot.
Steve Clevenger, battling Welington Castillo and Jason Jaramillo for the back-up catcher job, had an extensive work-out at 3B with the "B" team on Field #2 prior to the "live" BP session. Clevenger played SS in college and was moved to 2B after signing with the Cubs in 2006, before being converted to catcher at Instructs post-2006. Clevenger still has work to do to make himself a major league backstop, but he has the knowledge and aptitude to play anywhere in the infield in a pinch. He's gotten a bit bottom-heavy over the years and he has little range, but having a left-hand hitting back-up catcher who can play other positions in an emergency is a definite plus.
Clevenger has a short stroke that allows him to hit "cold" off the bench without needing a lot of regular playing time to stay ready, and he also is an excellent bunter. He might not have been an Academic All-American (he transferred to Chipola JC after being declared academically ineligible at the U. of Texas), but he has a high "Baseball IQ" and probably will be a manager someday. He understands the fundamentals of the game very well. (The Cubs minor league coaches LOVE Clevenger).
With Geovany Soto unable to do much while rehabbing a groin injury, the Cubs have brought 2010 3rd round draft pick Micah Gibbs (LSU) down to Fitch Park from Minor League Mini-Camp at HoHoKam as a 6th catcher. (See kids? It pays to report early!). Gibbs is probably the best receiver in the organization (albeit with just an average arm), but he has struggled offensively over his first two seasons in pro ball. However, the switch-hitting Gibbs showed tremendous improvement (and an outstanding eye) at the plate at Instructs post-2011, and should be the #1 catcher at Daytona in 2012.
The new regime has demonstrated little patience with mistakes and poor play so far at Fitch Park. Several coaches have stopped work-outs mid-stream to provide a "teaching moment" when a player's performance is not up to par. The players all seem to be enthusiastic and loose, but there is zero tolerance for f*ck ups. And that's kind of refreshing.
Dolorous Jon Lester 12 min 15 sec ago (view)
I think proving the K rate wasn't a fluke would go a long way toward convincing me.
bradsbeard 9 hours 17 min ago (view)
Hey, if you hate the swing there's probably nothing I can say to change your mind. I personally think it's one of the nicer looking ones on the team.
Dolorous Jon Lester 10 hours 32 min ago (view)
Extended period of good hitting? Not striking out at deeply inopportune times? Some baseball IQ in regard to situational hitting?
I think I also just hate his swing. It's so long and loopy.
Wrigley Rat 11 hours 46 min ago (view)
C/1B Alberto Mineo (25) has re-signed with the Cubs organization according to: https://www.mister-baseball.com/alberto-mineo-mino...
bradsbeard 13 hours 29 min ago (view)
Happ has been an above average hitter every season he's been in the majors, and he killed it in his brief return from the minors last year (with better contact and lower K rates to boot). Aside from an extended period with the lower K rates, what else are you not seeing?
Dolorous Jon Lester 13 hours 42 min ago (view)
Bote, for the moment, is adequate. Very unsold on the 2 LH hitting 2B options.
I have never seen it for Happ. I'd love for him to prove me wrong but I dont see it happening.
crunch 14 hours 35 min ago (view)
someone else may have noticed or written something about a possible issue with lefties last year (aside from the obvious disappointing numbers), but i didn't see anything that made him look lost vs them.
myself, i'm not expecting the hard time vs lefties to keep happening (though i can't point to why 2019 wasn't good for him and i may be missing something). also, how well he handled righties has me a bit pumped about his future.
bradsbeard 14 hours 52 min ago (view)
I think it was likely just a small sample size luxuation against LHP last year. His splits were essentially swapped from 2018 to 2019. For his career he's been a little above average against both sides, or essentially no significant split. I'd expect him to hit LHP better than RHP going forward though.
Eric S 15 hours 3 min ago (view)
I'd like to see Bote not get owned by lefties. Not sure what it is about his stroke that's hurting him - struggles against offspeed in general?
crunch 15 hours 36 min ago (view)
huge bote fan over here, and i think he's one of the best longterm investments the cubs have gambled on. cubs have control over him through 2026 if they exercise both his options (both 7.6m).
i'd like to see him penciled in as the main regular at 2nd, but overall i just wanna see him play more than he was late last year when he was red hot. if bryant flames out with the glove at 3rd (clock is ticking on that) we might see bote at 3rd a bit.
Eric S 15 hours 43 min ago (view)
Hopefully KB has worked on his base sliding technique - believe he jacked his knee up last year because of some rough "landings" on the basepaths. He definitely should shine in the role - and provided KB is not traded - Cubs can only go up from their leadoff hitter ranking from last year.
Charlie 16 hours 19 min ago (view)
Bote was a little better than league average with the bat last year and Happ has never been worse than league average with the bat over a full season in the majors. Not too bad at the end of your lineup (though neither is helping out too much on defense). Heyward could end up the #8 if things break OK for Bote and Happ at the plate.
Dolorous Jon Lester 16 hours 45 min ago (view)
That would be a hell of a 1-5. The problem comes from 6-8 being a combination of Heyward, Bote/ Kipnis/ Descalso, and Happ/ Almora.
crunch 20 hours 41 min ago (view)
that should be good for 175Ks, 30 homers, 30 doubles, 60-70 RBI...
wonder who the #2 they're looking at...hopefully rizzo and not heyward.
bryant/rizzo/baez/schwarber/contreras would be a hell of a 1-5.
Rob Richardson 22 hours 41 min ago (view)
Per Bruce Levine, Kris Bryant will be leading off for the Cubs.
crunch 23 hours 17 min ago (view)
"Kris Bryant expects to remain with the Cubs in 2020 after a sit-down with team president Theo Epstein.
"Everything went great," Bryant told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. "It was the best meeting I had with a superior. He just gave me insight as to what kind of happened in the offseason." The star third baseman did later add that Epstein gave him no assurances that he will be kept in the loop if further trade talks were to arise, before stating, "I’m a Chicago Cub.""