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 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 Worthwhile 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 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 sector and, inevitably, somebody puzzled who would lead.

“I feel we’ve 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 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 may in all probability match wherever 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 many others.—and that is onerous to alter.

Horner is fascinating, Ross says, however he additionally needs the bottom guys to be on prime. Horner will put the ball into play and swing rather a lot. That does not work very nicely there. Horner topped a complete of zero occasions 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 prime of the lineup to start out a recreation as soon as. That is telling and certain signifies that Ross will not put it on the market except he is completely determined.

Madrigal would not actually have a assured spot on the checklist — he has minor choices left — so placing him within the lead place is not a secure 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 nicely all through his profession, with final 12 months arguably his greatest full season in that class (hitting . 316 with a . 545 share towards 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 total within the recreation (55.8 %).

So maybe placing Swanson on the prime is the easiest way to tug this checklist collectively as this checklist is at the moment 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 abilities, contact, and batting common together with some pop. If he is nearly 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 entice 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, 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 because of the depth of swing they developed internally and gained by way of 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’ll attempt to get probably the most out of my program, however we actually do not make a day trip of it. So if it occurs someday in April or Could, 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 beneath 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 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 mission. 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 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 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 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 truly met Yan in the course of the All-Star break final 12 months,” mentioned Taillon, who was at first 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 workforce. 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 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 reviews. 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 recreation in the midst of the summer season, that second will probably be form of behind 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 these kind of 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 checklist 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 reasonably 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 total numbers weren’t dangerous, as his 3.99 ERA was near the league common and his strike charge 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 saved the ball on the bottom and was nice at lacking barrels and avoiding onerous 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 supplies just a little extra confidence that these outcomes aren’t simply an anomaly.

After all, that would imply {that a} good workforce 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 refill and it is onerous to discover a spot on the 40-year-old, so possibly he is simply sneaking by means of it. If that’s the case, the Cubs would in all probability be completely satisfied 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 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. Moderately than spending extra cash on gamers, it’s extra vital 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 type of pitcher was completely very important to this workforce. However on this main league checklist, 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 fashion of play is.


• As anticipated, the Cubs haven’t 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 significant hip damage, Ed Howard has resumed baseball actions and is predicted to ramp up his operating progress quickly in Arizona. This will probably be an enormous 12 months for Howard — a first-round select of Chicago’s Mount Carmel Excessive College 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 positively powerful,” Howard mentioned. “However the trip allowed me to grasp myself, see the sport in a special gentle and hold working.”

• Tom Clarke, scout Javier Baez After graduating from highschool, he determined to retire from the Cubs group to spend extra time at residence 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 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 by way of Getty Photographs)

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