Teaching at a Chicago urban high school is challenging but can be a lot of fun. Then again, having to deal with the not-so-subtle pot smoker in my afternoon period was not exactly how I intended to end the day. But after that was resolved, I got to play baseball with the kids who wanted to try out for the school team. Now I’m reminded that I’m getting older and that I’m hopelessly out of shape…
AAAAAAAAH my elbow is twingy. #NoTJSPlease
— Rice Cube (@CubicSnarkonia) March 7, 2015
And that also gives me a chance to share this silly video:
Oh the things I can’t say…but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking it! Onward…
That Cuban Guy
According to Ben Badler, Cuban infielder Hector Olivera has been declared a free agent. There was some controversy regarding his ulnar collateral ligament earlier, but Olivera and his agents are pretty adamant that he’s okay. As a 29-year-old known quantity in Cuba who seems to be able to hit pretty well and can at least play second base reasonably, you could imagine many teams would be interested:
Olivera has looked outstanding at his recent open showcases, hitting two home runs in a game in his second showcase, then reaching base all five times he was up including two doubles at his final showcase. Every team has scouted Olivera at his open showcases in the Dominican Republic, though the Athletics, Braves, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Padres and Yankees are the teams that have either held private workouts for Olivera or had their top people in to evaluate him.
I note that the Cubs aren’t listed among the interested teams above, but then again, they have great depth at middle infield so it’s not like they NEED to get another one…but maybe it wouldn’t hurt, especially if he’s the real deal and can help at the MLB level during his prime. Definitely worth following.
The other Cuban guy is Yadier Alvarez (Ben Badler spells it Alvares, but given how many ways we’ve seen people spell Yoenis Cespedes…). It sounds like MLB will not let him sign until July 2, which favors a team like the Cubs who are looking to blow their IFA budget anyway while eliminating the teams who have already blown their loads this signing period. At just 19 as of today, Alvarez has a high-90s fastball and seems to be an ideal target for the Cubs as well.
Too Many Catchers
So everyone still thinks Welington Castillo is going to be traded even though the Cubs have poker-faced and said they could keep three catchers on the MLB roster. We’ve dealt with this issue a few times and I feel like it’d be fun to see how Joe Maddon juggles three catchers.
The idea is that if the Cubs don’t value Castillo’s pitch framing even though he’s shown he can at least be a capable starting catcher, then other teams may not even bother giving up what one would expect for a still-young starting-caliber catcher who can control the running game and block balls. But if the Cubs wait long enough, someone might come calling and give them what they believe is “fair.” Or they might just play with three catchers. We’ll see. But since good catchers are in short supply, maybe that’s not bad. Also, gives me a chance to share this fun article about composing a team just with catchers.
Time to Grow Up
This dude named Jon Lester made his Cubs debut on Friday:
He did pretty well. After the game he said some very interesting and, in my opinion, pretty awesome things:
Lester had a direct message to the kids after throwing two scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut, and it’s exactly what the overhyped prospects need to hear.
“(Got) to grow up sometime,” Lester said. “When I played in Boston, we didn’t have time to grow up. You just had to show up and play and each year you’re expected to win. That’s how I feel. That’s how I want (it to be).
“Every year, they should come in and expect to be not only division winners, but World Series champions. If you don’t have that mindset, then I think you’re playing for the wrong reasons.”
No pressure, prospects! Get that attitude adjusted and let’s win!
In regards to fan and media expectations:
“If you’re worried about what people expect of you – then like I keep saying – you’re worried about the wrong things,” Lester said. “You got to be worried about the task at hand today, whether that’s facing the Cincinnati Reds on March 6 or facing the St. Louis Cardinals on April 5.
“Expectations are what you make of them. It is what it is. That’s for you guys to write and blow out of proportion.”
There are some other great quotes in Patrick Mooney’s article that you should read. Lester sounds like a guy who has a level head and the right attitude. I think the $155MM he got from the Cubs isn’t just to be an ace for a couple years before his decline, but to instill the type of attitude a growing team needs to become the juggernaut we all think and hope they can be. It’s no wonder the Cubs just set another spring training attendance record.
Is baseball back yet? I can’t wait for April, but of course, with expectations out of whack, the tickets for Opening Night are sold out already…
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 6, 2015