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 group had many different points. So maybe it is a good signal that the controversy 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 could 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 sphere and, inevitably, somebody puzzled who would lead.

“I feel now we have two other ways we are able to take a look at it,” Ross mentioned. “Happiness has performed it earlier than. I feel 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 be fascinating. Relying on the place he (Nick) Madrigal matches and the way he continues to recuperate 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 greatest, he may most likely match anyplace from third to fifth within the lineup. Ross has expressed that Suzuki is an effective 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 take a look at the slug, and so forth.—and that is exhausting to alter.

Horner is fascinating, Ross says, however he additionally desires the bottom guys to be on high. Horner will put the ball into play and swing lots. That does not work very nicely there. Horner topped a complete of zero instances final 12 months. Identical with Hap, which can come as a shock. However it was Happ’s greatest season and he did not discover himself on the high of the lineup to start out a recreation 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 actually have a assured spot on the listing — he has minor choices left — so placing him within the lead place is not a secure 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 nicely 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).

Nevertheless, 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 %. Nevertheless, there are way more of those fastballs than final 12 months 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 presently being constructed. The reality is, the long-term reply up entrance might be a 12 months or so away from being on the group: Pete Crow-Armstrong. The Cubs think about him because the prototype within the stance with pace, baseline abilities, 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 form of participant who falls into the lure of the symbolism of being a Opening Day starter, the job he is acquired in every of the final three seasons at Wrigley Subject. At this level, it appears uncertain he’ll make the Opening Day roster, provided 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 by way of the free agent market. Hendrix, who didn’t play in a recreation through the second half of final season, resumed his throwing program on Dec. 1.

“I am paying,” Hendrix mentioned. “I’ll attempt to get essentially 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 12 months underneath 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 feel, someday on the finish of February or in March. As soon as I get there, that may set me up for the place I’ll do a undertaking. Once more, the main target is on the finish of the 12 months, 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 best ERA (4.80) in his profession. That is after coming off a career-worst earlier season in 2021. He is positively trying to show he can nonetheless carry out at a excessive stage, however speeding the method actually will not assist that. That he has the benefit of taking his time understanding the Cubs are deep sufficient to cowl his absence ought to come as a aid to him and the group.

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 truly met Yan through 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 resort and I launched myself, and now by coincidence we’re on the identical group. I went to dinner with a number of guys (Friday night time). 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 per week in the past after 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 stories. 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 a giant recreation in the course 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.”

Among the greatest groups in baseball prioritize most of these traits behind the plate over offensive abilities. 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 package deal, got here with removing Mark Leiter Jr From the listing of 40 males. It is not clear if Leiter will clear waivers, and even when he does, he may select to be a free agent fairly than settle for an task to Triple A.

It could appear insignificant at first look, however Leiter did a terrific job for himself final season. His general numbers weren’t dangerous, as his 3.99 ERA was near the league common and his strike fee of 25.9 % was stable. However 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 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 exhausting contact.

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

In fact, that might imply {that a} sensible group in search of a reliever who can eat good innings may snatch him up over the approaching days. However that is the time of 12 months when the rosters replenish and it is exhausting 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 comfortable to get that form of depth.

This can be 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 best than it was. This isn’t to say that they’re now outpacing the world; They nonetheless want an affect expertise to get to the highest of the league. However depth can be essential. Quite than spending more money 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 group. However on this main league listing, Keegan Thompson And I managed Zolai They each appear to be they might 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 dropping a latrine reveals simply how deep their type of play is.

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

• After surgical procedure to restore a serious hip harm, Ed Howard has resumed baseball actions and is predicted to ramp up his working progress quickly in Arizona. This shall be a giant 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 special 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 residence together with his household in Florida. Initially employed by Tim Wilken, Clark labored for the Cubs for over 13 years, incomes a repute as a proficient, 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 by way of Getty Photographs)

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