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.
First.Pitch.120 1 hour 49 min ago (view)
I actually always liked Andy Masur... liked his call & vibe. The local connections always adds a nice layer (Glenview native, Maine East grad, Bradley alum). I think he'd be a great pick-up. (Though after name-checking Glenview, I do have to add... GBN > GBS. Spartan alum!)
Hagsag 5 hours 39 min ago (view)
crunch 15 hours 53 min ago (view)
it probably had nothing to do with len leaving, but Marquee can get rid of that "we're all wearing suits and we're classy as hell" look.
i loved len and bob...len and jd i was only warming up to in the past couple years. either way, gonna miss len.
crunch 15 hours 58 min ago (view)
*laura ricketts has entered the chat*
crunch 15 hours 59 min ago (view)
the claim is he "really wants to do radio" and "totally nothing wrong with Marquee"...etc etc
but yeah...the team is having a hell of an offseason having theo walk away with a year left on his deal, semi-embarrassingly trying to find a taker for bryant, deciding to not keep schwarber, and now the long-time cubs pbp TV guy leaves for a radio gig across town.
all of this and the cubs are yet to be linked to any FA discussions...or names for a GM hunt...or a pool of teams actually interested in bryant...or anything resembling a 2021 plan so far...
Eric S 16 hours 56 sec ago (view)
Thom Brennaman - a longtime Cub fan favorite - would fit Marquee to a T 🤣
Charlie 16 hours 4 min ago (view)
My appreciation of Len has waned since 2016. But he and JD have been my favorite Cubs broadcast crew in the ~25 years I've paid close attention.
I wasn't thrilled about the few changes that came along with Marquee this year.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 1 hour ago (view)
I believe this is the correct take. It's surprising that Len is leaving. He's good, but he had gotten a little too rationalizey over the past few years for me.
However, it seemed he was heavily invested in the Cubs. His departure feels like there is some Ricketts-ish bullshit going on behind the scenes at Marquee that Len wants no part of. Anyway, I wish him well with the other Chicago team
crunch 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
is everything the ricketts touch just falling to shit in 2021? ....well, except their heavy investments in taking over the state of Nebraska politically with one of the sons and heavy investment in supportive state legislators...
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
This makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks Phil!
(And that HR off Hader was unforgettable)
Hagsag 1 day 6 hours ago (view)
Wrigley Rat 1 day 11 hours ago (view)
Len Kasper is leaving the Cubs for the White Sox radio booth.
Charlie 1 day 15 hours ago (view)
I would be happy to see the Cubs no longer spend DH time on Victor Caratini. Provided there's a Kyle Schwarber or better alternative, of course.
Arizona Phil 1 day 23 hours ago (view)
DJL: I don't think Ildemaro Vargas being out of minor league options is much of a concern to the Cubs because as things stand right now he projects as the team's primary utility infielder in 2021. He can play all four INF positions (1B, 2B, 3B, and SS, plus corner OF, too), and he is switch hitter with some pop, especially from the right side (remember the 9th inning HR he hit off Josh Hader in September?).
Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 39 min ago (view)
I'm a little surprised Ildemaro Vargas was tendered, given that he's out of options. He has value and isn't expensive as he is pre-arb this year, but still a bit surprised. Have to think he's got an inside track to an Opening Day spot at this point
waveland 2 days 9 hours ago (view)
really appreciate the years and years of your updates