The Rundown: Cactus Cubs Win Again, Ríos Continues Torrid Spring, Ross names Bote Camp MVP, Powerhouse Tilt Starts WBC
“High on a hillside, the trucks are loading and everything’s ready to roll. I sleep in the daytime and work in the nighttime. I might not ever get home.” – Talking Heads, Life During Wartime
I’m way under the weather so I’m going to skip the preamble today. My annual spring cold came about a month early and it’s difficult to be creative with a runny nose. I’m going to reverse my DayQuil/NyQuil schedule and see if that helps, so I’ll sleep all day and spend all night tonight writing. That’s so very Lester Bangs of me.
I do have one statement to make, however. I hope the Cubs and Ian Happ can reach an agreement on an extension. If intangibles alone are enough, it should be done already. But Happer is also a switch-hitting outfielder with decent power who’s armed with a Gold Glove. He’s entering his prime years, so just get it done. Additionally, the dude would love to stay in Chicago.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cactus Cubbies are now 8-4 after yesterday’s 9-6 win over the Rangers.
- Adrian Sampson was torched in his outing, but he’s not giving up. The fiery right-hander feels like he is close to finding his rhythm on the mound.
- Edwin Ríos has already made me forget about Patrick Wisdom. Ríos sent the first pitch he saw against Texas starter Cole Winn to center field for a no-doubt home run, his second of the spring. He added a single in the 3rd inning and ripped a liner to first base in the 4th that was ruled an error.
- Wisdom is training with a soccer goalkeeper in an effort to improve his defense. Even with a tight competition at third, Wisdom is expected to be on the team’s Opening Day roster.
- For Nick Madrigal, any role that he and the Cubs hope he plays in 2023 relies on one thing — health.
- Luis Torrens hit a pair of homeruns in Tuesday’s win. Get out the tape measure!
- Patrick Mooney of The Athletic writes that Tucker Barnhart and Yan Gomes are polar opposites to Willson Contreras, and that’s a good thing for Chicago’s pitchers ($).
- Barnhart is quite the clubhouse leader, too.
- David Ross has dubbed David Bote the “MVP of Camp” but that doesn’t mean Bote has secured a roster spot.
- If you’re into fantasy baseball, Matt Mervis and Pete Crow-Armstrong are among Razzball’s Top 25 Dynasty Prospects, and Mervis is actually ranked higher.
Odds & Sods
Lance Lynn eats a healthy serving of beans before each start, apparently. Maybe it’s hops-induced flatulence, and we’ve all been there. He is pitching against the Brewers.
Lance Lynn, getting the K and then letting one rip.
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 7, 2023
Climbing the Ladder
“What’s the matter with him? (He’s alright). I’ll see his face (the Lord won’t mind). Don’t play no games (he’s alright), love from the bottom to the top.” – Slippery People
Wisdom had a head-scratching 2022 at the plate. He led the Cubs in home runs (25), improved his walk rate from the year before (8.5% to 9.9%), and brought down his strikeout rate (40.8 % to 34.3%). But his batting average sank to .207.
Ríos is intriguing, to say the least. He has 70-grade power, made his major league debut in 2019, and established himself as a key part of the Dodgers in 2020. He hit eight home runs in just 76 at-bats that year and added two more in the NLCS. He’s consistently topped .500 in SLG and finished with ’21 a .946 OPS. He’s also three years younger than Wisdom. The Cubs signed him in mid-February.
It’s possible Ríos is a late-blooming diamond in the rough who just needs regular at-bats. He has a lifetime minor league batting average of .291 in 498 games, and he also hit .313 in college at Florida International. If he and Mervis reach their potential, that’s a helluva power combination at the corners.
How About That!
Ian Hamilton has a shot at making the Yankees’ final roster. It’s been four years since he suffered a horrifying dugout injury thanks to a 100+ mph foul ball laser that shattered his jaw.
Mike Clevinger addressed the media on Tuesday for the first time since learning he will not be suspended and said it feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.
Bryce Harper would rather see Las Vegas get an expansion team than have MLB relocate the A’s.
Mitch Moreland has officially announced his retirement.
Jung-Hoo Lee wants to be MLB’s next Korean superstar.
Shohei Ohtani playing on an international stage is a great marketing tool for the game of baseball.
Netherlands topped Cuba 4-2 in a powerhouse matchup that kicked off the World Baseball Classic.
Bob Costas humbly admitted that he was “off his game” during the 2022 postseason.
Professor Obvious wants you to know that it’s really hard to hit MLB pitching, even if you know what pitch is coming. We know that from watching Bull Durham. “They throw ungodly breaking stuff in the show.”
We should just start calling Crow-Armstrong “Web Gem.” Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes called it the best catch he’s seen during spring training, and it’s hard to argue.
Pete Crow-Armstrong with an outstanding catch. 😳 pic.twitter.com/YgkZpWggg1
— MLB (@MLB) March 7, 2023
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears are expected to part ways with running back David Montgomery, so it’s fair to wonder how they’ll replace him.
- A flurry of tag day news at quarterback may have made Chicago’s No. 1 pick in this year’s draft even more valuable. Perhaps Ryan Poles will be able to find a stud wideout to pair with Justin Fields.
- Republican Senate leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, criticized Fox News host Tucker Carlson for characterizing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol as “mostly peaceful chaos.” I don’t watch the national news anymore and I can barely digest politics in written form.
- Manhattan is no longer the center of finance in the United States. In fact, larger firms like JP Morgan are moving to Florida and Texas.
- New York City mayor Eric Adams urged retail store workers to make customers lower their face masks upon entering in order to reduce robberies. I’d say crime is a big part of the reason that big finance is moving south. Taxes, too.
- Davie Byrne has finally admitted that he may have mishandled the breakup of the Talking Heads.
They Said It
- “I couldn’t be more excited. I know that’s what everybody says and it’s kind of the cliché thing, but I really mean it, man. I think that the energy and the vibe in here are amazing. And I think as the days go on, we’re all playing together more and we’re practicing together more and we’re also just hanging out and bantering. We have such a solid group of guys in this locker room that there’s just going to be good baseball… And that’s fun, just going out there every single day with your guys and your brothers and having each other’s backs and just playing… And I think that’s why we’re [going to do really well] this year.” – Cody Bellinger
- “With both Yan and Tucker, we’re pretty spoiled here. They care about their pitchers. They do their research and they also do their homework. What I’ve already noticed is that they have kind of a plan going in, but they also watch the game and see what you’re feeling, and talk to you in the dugout. It’s just nonstop communication. It takes a lot off my plate when those guys are doing their homework. I don’t really love thinking out there. I like just making pitches and following them. They’re already earning my trust.” – Jameson Taillon
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
A fascinating concert experience courtesy of Jonathan Demme.