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 form of fallen by the wayside currently, contemplating Cubs It simply wasn’t ok, and the crew had many different points. So maybe it is a good signal that the talk has resurfaced with $177 million in brief add-ons Dansby Swanson and former Nationwide League Most Useful 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 begin a lineup evaluation in the midst 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 sphere and, inevitably, somebody questioned who would lead.

“I believe we’ve two other ways we are able to have a look at it,” Ross stated. “Happiness has carried out 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 way in which he hits the Fastball. Neko can also be fascinating. Relying on the place he (Nick) Madrigal suits and the way he continues to get well After some accidents, there are some guys within the combine for that.”

Ross just about eliminates the Suzuki and Bellinger as choices, which is sensible. If Bellinger is at his finest, he might most likely 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 typically 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 have a look at the slug, and so forth.—and that is laborious to vary.

Horner is fascinating, Ross says, however he additionally needs the bottom guys to be on high. Horner will put the ball into play and swing rather a lot. That does not work very effectively there. Horner topped a complete of zero occasions final yr. Similar with Hap, which can come as a shock. Nevertheless it was Happ’s finest season and he did not discover himself on the high of the lineup to begin a recreation as soon as. That is telling and certain signifies that Ross will not put it on the market until he is completely determined.

Madrigal would not also have a assured spot on the listing — 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 yr arguably his finest full season in that class (hitting . 316 with a . 545 proportion towards the Heaters).

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

So maybe placing Swanson on the high is one of the best ways to drag this listing collectively as this listing is at present being constructed. The reality is, the long-term reply up entrance might be a yr or so away from being on the crew: Pete Crow-Armstrong. The Cubs think about him because the prototype within the stance with velocity, baseline expertise, contact, and batting common together with some pop. If he is nearly as good as marketed, he’ll simply be their most suitable choice since Dexter Fowler left for St. Louis and this complete debate resumed.

Kyle Hendricks He is not the form of participant who falls into the lure 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 recreation in the course of the second half of final season, resumed his throwing program on Dec. 1.

“I am paying,” Hendrix stated. “I’ll 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 Could, I actually wish 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 wish to get as many begins as attainable. I wish to have a full yr below my belt. We will 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 can set me up for the place I’ll do a mission. Once more, the main focus is on the finish of the yr, to be as robust as attainable.”

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 undoubtedly seeking to show he can nonetheless carry out at a excessive stage, however dashing the method actually 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 crew.

This story from Jameson Tellon It offers 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 truly met Yan in the course of the All-Star break final yr,” stated Taillon, who was at first of a four-year, $68 million contract with the Cubs. “We have been staying on the identical lodge and I launched myself, and now by coincidence we’re on the identical crew. I went to dinner with just a few guys (Friday evening). Tucker and Yan have been each there and we actually began speaking about baseball and capturing. Tucker, it was me.” I interacted with him when i needed to hit and he grabbed the reds. He texted me per week in the past after I was in Mexico. I used to be on the seaside consuming a margarita, and he despatched me a screenshot like all of the scouting studies. 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, after we’re within the midst of a giant recreation in the midst of the summer time, that second shall be form of at the back of my thoughts, considering like, ‘This man cares. with me. He did his analysis. Let’s simply belief and go along with what he says.”

A number of the finest groups in baseball prioritize most 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 scale back that sting a bit. Time will inform if this technique will bear fruit.

when making cubs Eric Hosmer Official bundle, got here with elimination Mark Leiter Jr From the listing 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 task 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 dangerous, 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 function the place he thrived.

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

Leiter additionally has an additional edge in splitting, which will get quite a lot of chasing and a formidable 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 might imply {that a} sensible crew searching for a reliever who can eat good innings would possibly snatch him up over the approaching days. However that is the time of yr when the rosters replenish and it is laborious to discover a spot on the 40-year-old, so possibly he is simply sneaking via it. If that’s the case, the Cubs would most likely be glad to get that form 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? Undoubtedly. The underside of the Cubs roster is best than it was. This isn’t to say that they’re now outpacing the world; They nonetheless want an influence expertise to get to the highest of the league. However depth can also be essential. Moderately than spending extra cash on gamers, it’s extra essential to establish 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 crew. However on this main league listing, 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 comfy with the prospect of shedding a latrine exhibits simply how deep their type of play is.

• As anticipated, the Cubs haven’t any plans to go after Trevor Bauer, who was just 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 significant hip damage, Ed Howard has resumed baseball actions and is predicted to ramp up his operating progress quickly in Arizona. This shall be a giant yr for Howard — a first-round select of Chicago’s Mount Carmel Excessive Faculty in 2020 — to regain the explosive energy he’ll want at quick discover and make up for some developmental time misplaced as a hitter.

“It was undoubtedly robust,” Howard stated. “However the trip allowed me to know myself, see the sport in a unique 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 along with his household in Florida. Initially employed by Tim Wilken, Clark labored for the Cubs for over 13 years, incomes a popularity as a proficient, dependable evaluator amid widespread adjustments 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 Pictures)

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