1/17 Cubs Convention notes

Some highlights from the Cubs Convention seminars:

* Javier Baez is headed back to Puerto Rico to continue to play for Santurce, most likely through the playoffs. GM Jed Hoyer says Baez is well aware he has to make adjustments.

“He has to earn his playing time,” Hoyer said of the 21-year-old infielder. “He knows he has to make more contact to stay in the big leagues.”

* The Cubs pitching staff actually did well last season but the offense struggled. The Cubs ranked 12th in the National League in runs scored, ahead of only the Reds, Braves and Padres; 13th in on-base percentage; and 14th in batting average with runners in scoring position (.223). Where will the runs come from in 2015? Theo Epstein says he’s counting on better performances from Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara and Luis Valbuena, plus feels they will get more production from the catching position with the addition of Miguel Montero. What about Kris Bryant? Epstein said Bryant definitely is expected to be in the lineup in 2015.

“When it’s the right time for Kris’ development and the right time for the team, he’ll be on the roster,” Epstein said.

* The Cubs may open the season with three catchers: Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo. The Cubs added Ross because they felt he was too good a player and person in the clubhouse to pass on, Hoyer said.

* Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was asked about Sammy Sosa and whether the team can reconcile with the former right fielder.

“I don’t want to get into Sammy,” Ricketts said. “There will be a time and a place for it, and we’ll wait for that time and place.”

* Jon Lester’s ability to pitch at Fenway Park will help him at Wrigley Field, Epstein said. Lester would pitch at Fenway in ways that were counter to the type of pitcher he is, and that was because of the way the ballpark is built.

“We all know Wrigley plays two different ways,” Epstein said. “When the wind is howling in and it’s April, and it’s really hard to hit the ball out of the ballpark, he’ll go right at guys and be extremely efficient. He has the power and the mix to be able to do that. On the days when [the wind] is howling out, he can change things up and work his two-seamer a little more, change speeds a little more often and keep hitters off balance. For a left-handed pitcher having gone through your whole career basically at Fenway Park, that’s a gauntlet and it forces you to get creative.”

* Someone asked Epstein how he was able to lure Lester to the Cubs.

“Well, $155 million,” Epstein quipped.

— Carrie Muskat

6 comments

  1. jhosk

    That stat the Cubs posted in 2014 for hitting with RISP is beyond pathetic. Does it not mean we finished ahead of just one other NL club in that category? I’m guessing it was probably the Friars. We will know our Cubs are on the ascendancy when they improve by leaps and bounds in that statistic. Do y’all follow my meaning? I do not believe Joe Maddon will accept anything less. It’s not part of his DNA.

    • k.g.

      Aloha jhosk- you know this is a statistic that I really look at as it tells me a lot in regard to a team, how they are playing together-chemistry, approach at the plate, patience to take pitches, placement of a ball be it swinging through or bunting. I did not see much of this at all last season and I am looking for this team through Maddon and his coaching staff’s tutelage to make improvements over last season. I do wish there were a veteran ball player-hitter that would come available who would understand his role on the team, as a mentor, etc.. I thought of you and Kenly as I was looking at some of my Clemente cards today, he just got better with age, it was amazing how many 300+ seasons he had up until his untimely death at the young age of 38. In his last year he was an All-Star, received yet another Golden Glove award and received votes for MVP. The younger players loved to watch him, study him, talk with him. I know there is only one Clemente but it would sure be nice to have an addition like that for this younger team. Take care now. Mahalo!

  2. jhosk

    I hear you, k.g. Loved Clemente`s game. Saw. him play at Forbes` Field back in the day. He was cruelly taken from us far sooner than he deserved, as was the case with the memorable actress, Sandy Dennis, and we are all the lesser for that.

  3. k.g.

    Aloha jhosk- that is neat that you actually was able to see Clemente play! I know many times folks will reference what they “know,” so for today younger folks will talk about for example Mike Trout. But I look back then in what my father and many others have called the golden era of baseball and to look towards the end of that period, I feel there were so many more for example outfielders that could hit and play defense then today, even if there are more teams today, meaning more players to choose from. Just look at the center field position, my father always talks about the amazing 3: Mantle-Mays-Snider, over 1500hrs, 7800hits, 4700rbi’s played tremendous defense at their position and all were in New York at the same time! One stat that the younger folks like to talk about today is W.A.R. (wins above replacement for position players). Mantle and Mays are in the top 20 of all-time. Only 3 modern day players crack the top 20 if you include Rickey Henderson (rookie year was I think 1979) and I for certain reasons would not put Bonds and A-Rod up there but they are. Snyder is in the top 100 all-time. Clemente is number 26 on the all-time list. Other outfielders of this period: Aaron, Musial, Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, Al Kaline, Carl Yastrzemski. To think that many folks played at the same time is just mind-boggling (minus Yaz, he came a year after Williams retired). Of course Williams was not known for his defense as much as his swing but because of his offense he could make up for other areas. I would this team to put together a group of outfielders like the Pirates had led by Clemente. Anyhow, enough of the dreaming. By the way, I love jazz and did not know that the actress you named, Sandy Dennis had been with Gerry Mulligan! I am glad to hear the convention went well and folks are hopeful for the upcoming season. Take care now. Mahalo!

  4. steve

    K.G. – always enjoy your posts. Those names sure brought back memories. I grew up watching the Cubs in the late 1960’s and the quality of those players was amazing. The pitching blew your mind back then. Starters expected to pitch complete games.

    • k.g.

      Aloha Steve- That is very cool that you had the opportunity to watch the Cubs teams of the late 60’s! You are right about the pitching, my father was a pitcher and a collegiate coach. One of the things that he loved to mention was how his pitching staff never had any major arm problems. He used different techniques to keep their bodies and arms loose and in shape. He also believed in the approach that a starting pitcher was to go the distance. He understood that that would not always be the case but the mentality was that you go out there prepared to pitch a whole game, no one is going to bail you out. So your comment it right on. A friend of my in the area that pitched through the minors in the 60’s/70’s talked about how good Juan Marichal was but he was bested by the amazing pitching staff that the Dodgers had led by Koufax & Drysdale. It is a different time now whereby many teams use the “100” pitch count as their gauge to pull their starters. No more are the days of Ryan and Tiant pitching 13 & 14innings in a game! But one thing that Ryan stressed was conditioning not pitch-count, that is why he could last so long and into his 40’s where he lead the league in strikeouts at age 42! My father had the pleasure of working with Ryan’s son during the summer leagues and to hear the stories of how father was still “zipping” them in was incredible. Warren Spahn was another that could go long into games. Things have become a lot more “specialized” these days, I do not think we will see as many complete games like in the past. You take care now. Mahalo!

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