Spring training can be a lot of things but one thing is for certain, there are alway lots of moving parts. There are lots of players we don’t get to see during the regular season, leading to lots of different lineups, which can get confusing. Sometimes during the Cactus League games there are lots of runs, fun wins, and big plays. Other times there are few runs, head-scratching plays, bad execution and blow-out losses.
In the end, it’s all about getting in some practice time in game-like situations, which includes reps for the young minor-league guys to show what they’ve got against major league talent (and that’s helpful for the coaches when they need to make call-ups during the season). It also includes time for the big-leaguers to meet and get to know the young guys, build relationships, give advice and set examples. And then, of course, spring training is for everyone to have fun building the ‘process’ and no one makes the process more fun than Joe Maddon.
- Speaking of which, Joe meet on Sunday with the ‘lead bulls’, a group of around a dozen hand-picked guys on the team that he expects to lead the clubhouse. Joe wants the guys to self-manage the clubhouse and doesn’t feel a need to get overly involved there. His way of managing is to treat people with respect, establish trust and communicate a lot or, more simply, treat the guys with the respect they’ve earned getting to this point in their careers. Here’s an interesting article with more by Carrie Muskat (with video).
- Joe talks in an in-game interview (same article above) about a few interesting items. When asked if having so much talent can be overwhelming, Joe says that it’s more interesting and time consuming than anything. Mainly, he has lots of different lineup options at his disposal and lot’s of feedback from ‘the geeks.’ Bottom line – the Cubs have a lot of good problems right now.
- Jon Lester had a good minor league session on the backfields last week and he followed that up with a nice outing yesterday. He went five innings, giving up five hits, two runs (one unearned), one walk and four strikeouts. However, the fielding blunders continued as he picked up a soft come-backer and, with plenty of time, threw the ball wide-left forcing Anthony Rizzo off the bag at first. I’m hoping this gets better and doesn’t end up manifesting itself in the regular season but, at this point, it’s hard for me to feel upbeat about Lester’s fielding (a.k.a., he ain’t no Greg Maddux). Here’s a video of an interview with Jon yesterday after his outing:
- In case you missed it, the Cubs had an offensive explosion in the fifth inning of yesterday’s game against the Royals. Check out the game summary here and some cool video highlights here.
- A hot topic this past week was the bone chip in Jon Lester’s elbow. It’s been characterized as a “grenade” that could blow up at anytime. When your favorite team has an elite pitcher signed to a huge contract and you hear something like this it can create quite a stir. I wrote an article on it on Saturday (read it here) and since then several news outlets have covered the story, with some attempting to reiterate that this is not something that the team or Jon feels has been or will be an issue. Here’s a link to an article from CSN Chicago that delves a little more deeply into the topic.
- The Cubs roster currently stands at 45 players as the Cubs cut the roster last week from 56 players. One of those cuts was a popular guy in the clubhouse, Taylor Davis, who’s made the most of his time in the Cubs organization since signing on in 2011. He was on the DL for much of 2013 and 2014 but has kept chipping away at his big league dreams. You can read more on Taylor here.