The Rundown: Cubs Still Seeking Lefty Reliever, Happ Wants to Stay, Trout Intends to Incentivize Ohtani
“I want to live where soul meets body and let the sun wrap its arms around me. Bathe my skin in water cool and cleansing, and feel, feel what it’s like to be new.” – Death Cab for Cutie, Soul Meets Body
Zack Britton or Mike Minor? There is so much talk about the Cubs adding a lefty reliever that you’ve got to believe a deal is in the works. I suppose Jed Hoyer could trade for somebody, too. Amir Garrett is probably available, and wouldn’t that be something when Chicago’s North Side baseballers play the Tigers this year? Minor and Garrett were once traded for each other.
If any of those gentlemen become Cubs, it must be because Hoyer, Carter Hawkins, and Tommy Hottovy see a flaw that can be corrected. None of them had what you would call banner seasons in 2022.
- Britton pitched in three games to a 13.50 ERA in 0.2 innings of work.
- Minor was 4-12 with a 6.06 ERA and gave up a lot of hard contact.
- Garrett had a 4.96 ERA and struggled to keep runners off the basepaths.
When you’re shopping for a lefty three weeks before the season opens, the pickings are pretty slim. If Britton is the guy, he’s got an ally in Trey Mancini. The two played together for the Orioles, and Brotton notched 47 saves during Mancini’s rookie year.
“He’d be a huge asset to whoever signs him,” Mancini said. “I hope it’s us. He’s somebody that I loved playing with. He’s somebody that I definitely looked up to when I got called up. I learned by the example that all those guys set. It was such a great group there at the time. They really taught me a lot. He was at the forefront of that.”
So he’s a good clubhouse guy who’s 37 years old and recovering from Tommy John surgery. If you catch lightning in a bottle, you have a guy that can be a leader in the bullpen. Maybe he’s this year’s version of David Robertson, or maybe Minor’s that guy.
I know we are only into the second week of Cactus League play, but it seems a little late to add a player to the roster. Britton or Minor won’t be ready to pitch for at least a week, so that’s less than a handful of appearances before Opening Day. Perhaps a trade is a better idea, but Garrett doesn’t leave me dreaming of postseason baseball.
Do you know who might look good in the Cubs’ pen? Brooks Raley, the former 6th-round pick who had a stint in Chicago back in 2012-13. He’s bounced around a bit and even played overseas, but he’s a free agent at the end of this year even though the Mets love him. Joely Rodríguez has been connected to the Cubs previously and he could be available if the rebuilding Red Sox let him go at a low price. He’s not much better than Garrett though.
As I said, the pickings are slim, but the Cubs need a lefty and something’s going to give eventually. Britton seems like the best bet as long as Hoyer can wait until mid-April for him to make an impact.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cactus Cubs beat the Mariners 6-2 on Monday as Hayden Wesneski had another solid outing.
- Kyle Hendricks threw his first bullpen of the spring and said he felt good after.
- The Cubs assigned eight players to minor league camp, including LHP Brailyn Márquez, INF Jared Young, and OF Darius Hill. That reduced the spring roster to 66 players.
- Márquez has not yet started playing catch as he continues to come back from surgery nine months ago.
- The Cubs have not named an official closer and manager David Ross is likely to go with a committee until one pitcher stands out. Rowan Wick looked dominant against the Mariners.
- Ian Happ is aware of his impending free agency but the outfielder said he wants to remain with the Cubs.
- USA Today predicts the Cubs will win 75 games this season. I’ll take the over on that and I’ll bet everything I own.
- This is a parody account but they perfectly portrayed Chipper Jones while mocking Dansby Swanson.
- Swanson and Nico Hoerner were not named among baseball’s top 10 lineup duos, and I find that a little bit insulting.
Odds & Sods
Rob Manfred can sleep a little easier now that Steve Stone has signed off on the rules changes. I still can’t get used to Stone working for the White Sox. It seems so unnatural. And by the way, the game may be better, but beer sales will lag, trust me. Priorities, friends.
I’ve been in pro ball for 54 years and change was not my friend as a player. After a few spring games I love the changes. I like the crisp pace. I enjoy more aggressive baserunning. The lack of a radical shift means a few more hits. The bases are okay. The game will be better
— Steve Stone (@stevestone) March 7, 2023
Climbing the Ladder
“Tonight…We are young. So let’s set the world on fire. We can burn brighter than the sun.” – Fun, We Are Young
Which player are you keeping an eye on in the World Baseball Classic? I already know most of the stateside players, and though I’ll champion Matt Mervis, I want to see Roki Sasaki for Team Japan. The 21-year-old nearly threw back-to-back complete games for the Chiba Lotte Marines last season. He threw one and then was pulled after eight perfect innings and 102 pitches in his next start.
I don’t get to spend the time to watch Pacific Rim baseball to provide a scouting report, but from what I’ve read, I’d love to see Sasaki play for the Cubs one day. I’ll pause my schedule to watch when he pitches in the Classic. Games will be available live on FOX, FS1, FS2, Tubi, and FOX Deportes.
Mervis is dedicating the series to his grandmother, who passed away before the 2022 season.
“She’s the reason why I’m playing and why I want to represent Israel,” Mervis said of his participation in the World Baseball Classic. “So I’m really excited and honored to represent her and her country.”
How About That!
Baseball announcers love the pitch clock. I’m sure Phil Rizzuto would feel a little stymied if he were alive and calling Yankee games.
There is no way you can convince me that the new rule changes will make baseball more appealing to younger fans.
Mike Trout said he will do whatever he can to keep Shohei Ohtani playing for the Angels.
Rookies Jordan Walker of the Cardinals and Jasson Dominguez of the Yankees are pounding the ball in Grapefruit League action. Both could be heading north to start the season.
Shift limits are raising the spirits of batters, and their averages as well.
Red Sox infielder Justin Turner took a pitch to the face from Matt Manning and needed 16 stitches.
A fan challenged Yankees skipper Aaron Boone to a game of Rock Paper Scissors in an attempt to get a free baseball.
Apropos of Nothing
Gary Rossington, the last original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, passed away over the weekend. One of my all-time favorite live albums is “One More From the Road” which captures the band’s brilliant 1976 performances at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. Here are my top five songs from that LP. “Play it pretty for Atlanta.”
Cameron Crowe dropped a series called Roadies back in 2016, and though it wasn’t that great, the Skynyrd episode was a fascinating tale.
Mervis should be up by mid-June and he’ll immediately insert himself into the Rookie of the Year race. That said, I’m fine waiting until next season, too. That would mean that Eric Hosmer has played well enough to keep the Cubs in contention.
Matt Mervis rips a double off the wall in left center. pic.twitter.com/rUjPis82Jd
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) February 28, 2023
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- E-Bike batteries are exploding and setting buildings on fire.
- They’ve caused at least 30 fires, 40 injuries, and two deaths in NYC this year as of Feb. 27, according to the New York Fire Department. Lithium-ion battery fires can engulf a room in about 15 seconds, per the UL Fire Safety Research Institute. In addition, the toxic gases they release make them especially difficult to put out.
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the state will stop doing business with Walgreens over the pharmacy chain’s decision not to sell abortion pills in 20 GOP-led states.
- First, we started naming winter storms, and now we’re naming snowplows and salt trucks. I’ve named my snowblower Stormy Daniels, in case you’re wondering. I call my leaf-blower Joe Biden.
- Twitter crapped and missed the bedpan yesterday. Elon Musk called his $44 billion social media site “brittle.” I’d call it something different. I do like my segue from POTUS to incontinence, though That’s why I get paid the big bucks here.
- A lot of you don’t know I write my column using an old Smith-Corona typewriter and then send it via carrier pigeon to the site admins so that they can convert it to digital format.
They Said It
- “As crazy as it sounds, sometimes a lot of pitchers have no idea why they have success and why they have failed. You go out there and you play the game. Sometimes they have to reiterate: ‘This is what you do really well. This is what you do really bad. Maybe shy away from this. Do this more.’ Stuff like that. The Cubs have a big circle of people that can figure out those types of things and then present it to the player.” – Drew Smyly
- “We’re looking for guys to get outs every single inning. It doesn’t matter if it’s the 4th or the 6th every single night. Somebody will get the majority of those opportunities and I think those things kinda play out through Spring Training and through the season. I go back to my first season — Jeremy Jeffress closed out a lot of games for us while Craig was working through some stuff and then Craig kinda took the reins from the last month.” – Ross
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
I love the mix of kids and veterans we’ll be seeing over the next few years.