I hate this time of year as a writer because I have to reach when it comes to content, so I suppose it’s lucky I have a nearly seven-foot wingspan. Here’s something funny: Doctors blame a lot of my health issues on my long arms and big hands. Okay, then.
The thing is, I’m out of decent topics. I’ve strategically skipped a few days here and there because I can’t just throw 1,500 words at the wall and hope something magical sticks. Every time I sit in front of my blank canvas lately, the devil on my right shoulder is urging me to do a projected lineup. I won’t do it. Theorizing a lineup is the blogging equivalent of winter storm chasers on The Weather Channel. I’m already boring enough that I don’t need to slip that metaphorical Benadryl into your steel-cut oatmeal.
The news cycle is so slow that Rob Manfred looms like King Kong as we wait for pitchers and catchers to report. A Google search of “MLB News” every February 1 presents a plethora of Manfred morsels that are usually as unappetizing as you think they are. He’s like Punxsutawney Phil. If baseball’s commissioner sees his shadow, we get six more weeks of long-winded asshattery. At least there are no labor issues this year, and COVID-19 has either disappeared or is completely ignored depending on which side of the breakfast bowl your newspaper lies.
A quick run through my mental checklist reveals I’ve covered everything when it comes to the Cubs this winter. I probably should have paced myself, because now I’ve got 12 days until Sloan Park is officially open for business and there’s nothing to write about. It’s too early for a cocktail and it’s too late to go back to bed. Thank God I’m not a podcaster.
With that in mind, I decided to dig up some quotes about Chicago’s outfielders of the future. We’ve had plenty of Cubs news to disseminate since the Astros won the ’22 World Series, but next winter should be off the hook. Who knows? Maybe the staff here at Cubs Insider will join the ranks of the popular kids this time next year.
- Brennen Davis (.255/.363/.807) – “On the standard six-tool scouting profile — hit, game power, raw power, speed, fielding, arm — Davis’ speed, arm, and fielding are already considered above average by scouts. Projecting his profile further out, there’s a chance Davis can have all six of these tools grade out as above average at the major-league level. This depends heavily on how his hit tool develops along with his power and whether one becomes the clear ‘plus’ tool.” – Lance Brozdowski, Marquee Sports
- Pete Crow-Armstrong (.318/.388/.907) – “There’s no limit to what he can do. He’s truly got a chance to be a five-tool impact guy in the big leagues. His natural development will dictate when it’s time to let that manifest at Wrigley Field.” – Myrtle Beach hitting coach Steven Pollakov
- Kevin Alcántara (.281/.359/.812) – “He himself is entertainment. Every time he’s on the field, you expect something spectacular. It’s that simple. Whether it’s hitting balls off scoreboards, whether it’s making a diving catch, or whether it’s empowering his teammates, or interacting with the fans, this kid is everything fans are going to want to see at Wrigley on a daily basis.” – Pollakov
- Alexander Canario (.263/.346/.847) – “Obviously the power jumps out at you. I think it’s his ability to cut down on strikeouts throughout the season this year that stood out to us. When you see that maturity at the plate develop, that’s when it’s time to give a guy a reward and that’s what the move to Triple-A is.” – Jared Banner
- Owen Caissie (.270/.378/.808 career slash) – “We’ve had a few 19-year-olds [at South Bend], Miguel Amaya and Davis to name a few. But none of them at [that age] have had a body like Caissie. He’s just big and will continue to grow. When he barrels the ball, it’s going a long way. And from a corner outfield perspective, Caissie has looked comfortable at both positions.” – Brendan King, South Bend play-by-play announcer.
- Yohendrick Piñango (.283/.337/.733) – “For the second year in a row, Piñango pops on the max exit velocity leaderboards among the Cubs’ top prospects, alongside names like Alcántara, Caissie, and Canario. Not only does he hit the ball hard, but he also makes an exceptional amount of contact, right around the levels of PCA and James Triantos. He’s kind of an amalgamation of multiple prospects in the system, the result of which is a really fun player that I don’t think gets enough credit for his performance and underlying metrics.” – Brozdowski
On Saturday, I’ll do the same for the Cubs’ young pitchers.
Cubs News & Notes
- Mark Leiter Jr. has returned to the Cubs on a minor league deal. Expect the 31-year-old reliever to be in the mix for saves if he makes the club.
- Alcántara hopes to show fans that the Cubs got the better of the Yankees in the Anthony Rizzo trade.
- Justin Steele is among four MLB starters that deserve your attention this summer. The others are Carlos Rodón, Blake Snell, and Jesús Luzardo. That’s some nice company to keep.
- Believe it or not, the Cubs are now listed as one of the better organizations for developing pitchers. That’s easily the biggest change since Hoyer took over for Theo Epstein.
- The folks over at MLB.com are very bullish on Nico Hoerner in 2023. In addition to naming Hoerner as the top player on the Cubs, their staff also believes he will become a top 10 second baseman in all of baseball this season.
- The Jason Heyward Baseball Academy is officially open. Heyward, who signed with the Dodgers this winter, is involved in building the curriculum and hiring baseball instructors. He plans on being there in person when his schedule allows for hands-on help.
Odds & Sods
The game sure has changed in the last half-century.
This happened 50 World Series ago and it was perfectly legal. pic.twitter.com/LVYwQqlL5D
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) February 2, 2023
Apropos of Nothing
I saved some of last year’s Cubs games to my Fubo content library. The best thing about rewatching them — other than it’s baseball — is no Paul Giamatti-as-Albert Einstein commercials. Why does Hollywood insist on always making Einstein look like an absent-minded idiot?
The median age of MLB television viewers is 57.
YouTube TV has dropped MLB Network. I just noticed I no longer have it on Fubo, either.
MLB has rejected the RSN streaming proposal from Bally Sports, as expected.
Brian Cranston reverently imitating Vin Scully is the best way to kickstart your weekend.
Bryan Cranston discussing Vin Scully on the latest episode of Hot Ones is making me emotional. pic.twitter.com/qspM4sw9za
— Baseball GIFs (@gifs_baseball) February 2, 2023
They Said It
- “One step at a time, but we all have our goals. I think we’re all like-minded in what we want. We want to win a World Series at Wrigley and we want to do it multiple times.” – Crow-Armstrong
- “I spent my time here as a Cub, as an athlete in this city, But that’s always going to come to an end, right? The playing side of the game — for this city or another. But either way, this will always be here. There will always be new kids. There will always be new families. And to me, that’s something that’s always going to be passed along. I’m just so happy and excited to see what that brings — the opportunities, the fellowship. It’s something for this neighborhood to be proud of.” – Heyward
Friday Walk-Up Song
A long time ago, when MTV first debuted, this was my favorite video. This is David Johansen at the midpoint between the New York Dolls and Buster Poindexter, and it’s straight fire. The keyboardist is Charles Giordano, now with the E-Street Band, and the guitarist is Huw Gower of The Records. If you have a copy of the original pressing of this LP, it’s worth about $200 used (VG+) and over $1,000 new. If you’ve got the Columbia House Record Club version, you could probably get $75 for it.