Cubs take note: who leads the bat, Kyle Hendrix’s schedule, roster status, and more

CHICAGO — The annual query of who takes over as captain is a Cubs conference custom. It is sort of fallen by the wayside these days, contemplating Cubs It simply wasn’t ok, and the workforce had many different points. So maybe it is a good signal that the talk has resurfaced with $177 million briefly add-ons Dansby Swanson and former Nationwide League Most Precious Participant Cody Bellinger To a bunch of place gamers with three notable survivals: Ian HappAnd siya suzuki And Nico Horner.

It might be too quickly to start out a lineup evaluation in the course of January, however that is what occurs when the Cubs and their most rabid followers get collectively on the Sheraton Grand Chicago. With the followers assembly again for the primary time in three years, that meant supervisor David Ross took to the sector and, inevitably, somebody puzzled who would lead.

“I believe we have now two other ways we will take a look at it,” Ross mentioned. “Happiness has performed it earlier than. I believe Seiya will match extra within the center, and Stomach will match extra within the center. It is fascinating for Dansby the best way he hits the Fastball. Neko can be fascinating. Relying on the place he (Nick) Madrigal suits and the way he continues to get better After some accidents, there are some guys within the combine for that.”

Ross just about eliminates the Suzuki and Bellinger as choices, which is smart. If Bellinger is at his greatest, he might in all probability match anyplace from third to fifth within the lineup. Ross has expressed that Suzuki is an efficient match as a contemporary No. 2 hitter, however generally it issues what the mentality of a participant is in that place. Suzuki could find yourself hitting third as a result of he has the old-school mentality of what a No. 2 hitter is meant to be like—join, transfer the runners, do not take a look at the slug, and so on.—and that is arduous to alter.

Horner is fascinating, Ross says, however he additionally desires the bottom guys to be on prime. Horner will put the ball into play and swing quite a bit. That does not work very effectively there. Horner topped a complete of zero instances final 12 months. Similar with Hap, which can come as a shock. Nevertheless it was Happ’s greatest season and he did not discover himself on the prime of the lineup to start out a sport as soon as. That is telling and sure signifies that Ross will not put it on the market except he is completely determined.

Madrigal does not also have a assured spot on the record — he has minor choices left — so placing him within the lead place is not a protected wager. He asks the identical questions that Horner asks. To not point out Ross Swanson and his affinity for attacking fastballs. The Cubs’ freshman shortstop has hit fastballs effectively all through his profession, with final 12 months arguably his greatest full season in that class (hitting . 316 with a . 545 share in opposition to the Heaters).

Nonetheless, the counterpoint to this concept is that pitchers do not throw fastballs as usually as they used to. Final season, leadoff hitters noticed 72 % of the fastballs hit their bats to start out the sport. In 2009, that quantity was 79 %. Nonetheless, there are much more of those fastballs than final 12 months hitters noticed in simply the primary inning (61.5 %) and general within the sport (55.8 %).

So maybe placing Swanson on the prime is one of the best ways to drag this record collectively as this record is presently being constructed. The reality is, the long-term reply up entrance might be a 12 months or so away from being on the workforce: Pete Crow-Armstrong. The Cubs think about him because the prototype within the stance with pace, baseline expertise, contact, and batting common together with some pop. If he is pretty much as good as marketed, he’ll simply be their best choice since Dexter Fowler left for St. Louis and this entire debate resumed.

Kyle Hendricks He isn’t the sort of participant who falls into the entice of the symbolism of being a Opening Day starter, the job he is obtained in every of the final three seasons at Wrigley Area. At this level, it appears uncertain he’ll make the Opening Day roster, on condition that he’ll must strengthen his proper shoulder and prep for the season given the runway. The Cubs additionally would not rush a rehab as a result of depth of swing they developed internally and gained through the free agent market. Hendrix, who didn’t play in a sport in the course of the second half of final season, resumed his throwing program on Dec. 1.

“I am paying,” Hendrix mentioned. “I will attempt to get probably the most out of my program, however we actually do not make a time out of it. So if it occurs someday in April or Might, I actually need to be there and be there one hundred pc for these guys. I do know we’ll be there on the finish of the season.” However, clearly, yeah, I need to get as many begins as doable. I need to have a full 12 months below my belt. We’ll take the pitching program because it’s in entrance of me and assault each single day. I ought to get off the heap right here within the subsequent few weeks, no matter. I believe, someday on the finish of February or in March. As soon as I get there, that may set me up for the place I will do a undertaking. Once more, the main target is on the finish of the 12 months, to be as robust as doable.”

Hendrix is ​​coming off an injury-shortened season, not counting his 60-game 2020 season, hitting his lowest complete innings (84 1/3) since as a rookie in 2014 and the very best ERA (4.80) in his profession. That is after coming off a career-worst earlier season in 2021. He is positively seeking to show he can nonetheless carry out at a excessive degree, however speeding the method definitely will not assist that. That he has the benefit of taking his time realizing the Cubs are deep sufficient to cowl his absence ought to come as a aid to him and the workforce.

This story from Jameson Tellon It provides a way of what the cubs need from their correct place after being allowed Wilson Contreras Go as a free agent and pairing up Jan Gomez With a two-time Gold Glove winner Tucker Barnhart.

“I really met Yan in the course of the All-Star break final 12 months,” mentioned Taillon, who was at the beginning of a four-year, $68 million contract with the Cubs. “We have been staying on the similar lodge and I launched myself, and now by coincidence we’re on the identical workforce. I went to dinner with a number of guys (Friday evening). Tucker and Yan have been each there and we actually began speaking about baseball and taking pictures. Tucker, it was me.” I interacted with him when i needed to hit and he grabbed the reds. He texted me every week in the past once I was in Mexico. I used to be on the seashore ingesting a margarita, and he despatched me a screenshot like all of the scouting experiences. It is like, “Dude, I am doing a deep dive on you proper now.” I used to be like, “We’re not the identical…”

Taillon continued to handle the laughs from the reporters: “In all seriousness, regardless of seeing the curiosity he has, once we’re within the midst of an enormous sport in the course of the summer time, that second can be sort of at the back of my thoughts, considering like, ‘This man cares. with me. He did his analysis. Let’s simply belief and go together with what he says.”

A few of the greatest groups in baseball prioritize some of these traits behind the plate over offensive expertise. The Cubs will definitely miss having Contreras within the lineup, however hope {that a} win on this space can cut back that sting a bit. Time will inform if this technique will bear fruit.

when making cubs Eric Hosmer Official package deal, got here with removing Mark Leiter Jr From the record of 40 males. It isn’t clear if Leiter will clear waivers, and even when he does, he might select to be a free agent quite than settle for an project to Triple A.

It might appear insignificant at first look, however Leiter did a fantastic job for himself final season. His general numbers weren’t unhealthy, as his 3.99 ERA was near the league common and his strike price of 25.9 % was stable. Nevertheless it was in a multi-role aid position the place he thrived.

Of the 67 2/3 innings pitched, 53 1/3 of them have are available aid. On this position, he posted a 2.87 ERA, struck out 28.6 % of the batters he confronted and walked solely 8.3 %. He had a powerful 1.03 WHIP and held hitters to 0.577 OPS. He additionally stored the ball on the bottom and was nice at lacking barrels and avoiding arduous contact.

Leiter additionally has an additional edge in splitting, which will get a number of chasing and a powerful quantity of swing and miss. Having this assured pitch offers just a little extra confidence that these outcomes aren’t simply an anomaly.

In fact, that would imply {that a} good workforce on the lookout for a reliever who can eat good innings would possibly snatch him up over the approaching days. However that is the time of 12 months when the rosters refill and it is arduous to discover a spot on the 40-year-old, so perhaps he is simply sneaking by way of it. If that’s the case, the Cubs would in all probability be glad to get that sort of depth.

It is a good indication of the place the cubs are actually. Is Leiter an affect arm that may change the course of the season? No. However does it have potential worth? Positively. The underside of the Cubs roster is healthier than it was once. This isn’t to say that they’re now outpacing the world; They nonetheless want an impression expertise to get to the highest of the league. However depth can be essential. Slightly than spending extra cash on gamers, it’s extra essential to determine and develop high quality extras like Leiter.

Leiter pitched 31 video games in aid, and in 16 of these video games, he had greater than three begins. In years previous, this sort of pitcher was completely important to this workforce. However on this main league record, Keegan Thompson And I managed Zolai They each appear like they may fill these roles. There are additionally a number of Triple-A weapons that may seem as comparable weapons. That the Cubs are snug with the prospect of dropping a latrine reveals simply how deep their model of play is.

• As anticipated, the Cubs haven’t any plans to go after Trevor Bauer, who was lately Launched by Dodgers After 194 video games have been suspended below their joint home violence/sexual assault coverage Main League Baseball The Gamers Affiliation.

• After surgical procedure to restore a serious hip damage, Ed Howard has resumed baseball actions and is anticipated to ramp up his working progress quickly in Arizona. This can be an enormous 12 months for Howard — a first-round pick of Chicago’s Mount Carmel Excessive Faculty in 2020 — to regain the explosive energy he’ll want at brief discover and make up for some developmental time misplaced as a hitter.

“It was positively powerful,” Howard mentioned. “However the trip allowed me to know myself, see the sport in a distinct gentle and preserve working.”

• Tom Clarke, scout Javier Baez After graduating from highschool, he determined to retire from the Cubs group to spend extra time at house together with his household in Florida. Initially employed by Tim Wilken, Clark labored for the Cubs for over 13 years, incomes a status as a gifted, dependable evaluator amid widespread modifications all through the baseball operations division throughout that point. Clark’s affect can nonetheless be seen close to the highest of the final two drafts because the Cubs chosen each Drew Grey (third spherical, 2021) and Jackson Ferris (second spherical, 2022) from Florida’s IMG Academy.

(Photograph by Kyle Hendrix: John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune Information Service through Getty Photos)

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