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 currently, contemplating Cubs It simply wasn’t adequate, 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 Invaluable Participant Cody Bellinger To a gaggle 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 now have two alternative ways we are able to take a look at it,” Ross mentioned. “Happiness has completed it earlier than. I believe Seiya will match extra within the center, and Stomach will match extra within the center. It is attention-grabbing for Dansby the best way he hits the Fastball. Neko can be attention-grabbing. Relying on the place he (Nick) Madrigal matches 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 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 generally it issues what the mentality of a participant is in that place. Suzuki might 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 arduous to alter.

Horner is attention-grabbing, Ross says, however he additionally desires the bottom guys to be on prime. Horner will put the ball into play and swing loads. That does not work very properly there. Horner topped a complete of zero instances final yr. Identical with Hap, which can come as a shock. However it was Happ’s greatest season and he did not discover himself on the prime 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 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 protected guess. 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 properly all through his profession, with final yr 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 begin the sport. In 2009, that quantity was 79 %. Nonetheless, there are way more of those fastballs than final yr hitters noticed in simply the primary inning (61.5 %) and total within the recreation (55.8 %).

So maybe placing Swanson on the prime is one of the simplest 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 pace, baseline abilities, 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 entire debate resumed.

Kyle Hendricks He isn’t the sort 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 Discipline. 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 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 attainable. I need to have a full yr beneath 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 will do a challenge. Once more, the main target is on the finish of the yr, to be as sturdy 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 undoubtedly trying 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 figuring out 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 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 yr,” mentioned Taillon, who was firstly 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 crew. I went to dinner with a couple of 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 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 deal with 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 midst of the summer time, that second will probably be sort of at the back of my thoughts, pondering 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 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 elimination Mark Leiter Jr From the listing of 40 males. It is not clear if Leiter will clear waivers, and even when he does, he might select to be a free agent relatively than settle for an task to Triple A.

It might appear insignificant at first look, however Leiter did an awesome job for himself final season. His total numbers weren’t unhealthy, as his 3.99 ERA was near the league common and his strike price 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 in 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 arduous contact.

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

After all, that would imply {that a} good crew on the lookout for a reliever who can eat good innings may snatch him up over the approaching days. However that is the time of yr when the rosters refill and it is arduous to discover a spot on the 40-year-old, so perhaps he is simply sneaking by it. In that case, the Cubs would most likely be completely happy to get that sort 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 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 vital. Slightly than spending more money on gamers, it’s extra vital 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 very important to this crew. However on this main league listing, Keegan Thompson And I managed Zolai They each seem like they may fill these roles. There are additionally a number of Triple-A weapons that may seem as related weapons. That the Cubs are comfy with the prospect of shedding a latrine exhibits simply how deep their fashion of play is.

• As anticipated, the Cubs don’t have any plans to go after Trevor Bauer, who was not too long ago Launched by Dodgers After 194 video games have been suspended beneath 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 predicted to ramp up his operating progress quickly in Arizona. This will probably be a giant yr for Howard — a first-round pick 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 mentioned. “However the trip allowed me to know myself, see the sport in a distinct mild 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 dwelling 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 through Getty Photos)

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