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Pedro's back...home already
He was hungry enough to eat a horse, ESPN does what Marquee can't and say no to Sogard
Old friend Pedro Strop made his triumphant return to Cubs camp on March 4. He got a great reaction from his teammates and told reporters:
“It’s always fun when you go home. That’s what I consider the Cubs. This is my home. This is my house and to come over and see my guys, my teammates and the staff, I’m just so happy to be back here.
“It feels good when you know that your teammates, your boys miss you. That means a lot to me. That means whatever I was doing, I was doing it right. I was being a good teammate, a good brother. I was happy to hear that. At the same time, I was a little sad and it was a little weird for me to go to a different side and see my boys from the other side.”
And, yesterday Pedro got sent from his “home” to his house for doing a little indoor dining with Indians’ players Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes, and violating Covid protocols. Well, that was fun while it lasted.
When it comes to Covid rules, the Indians have a pretty established disdain for them. Pitchers Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger got busted in Chicago last season for violating them.
Pedro and his boys got busted when Franmil disqualified himself from Mensa membership by posting a photo of them eating in a restaurant. If only it had been this photo, Pedro could have talked his way out of it.
First off, that’s a garage they’re eating in, at best, and given the quality of that construction, I’m not sure there’s a roof on that building. Plus, Pedro could just explain that nobody eats…what the hell is that, horse?…indoors. That’s an al fresco meal every time.
(Coincidentally, Al Fresco pitched for the Indians in the ‘50s.)
Guys, the more I look at that photo, I’m concerned. Has anybody heard from Derrick Turnbow lately?
Pedro’s a long shot to make the bullpen, though he said he lost weight in his legs (presumably from chasing down whatever that equine is that he was eating) because leg injuries have shortened his last few seasons. But getting sent away from camp isn’t a terribly reliable strategy to use to make the team.
For the second spring in a row ESPN showed up to do a Cubs spring game and did all of the crap that Marquee has claimed it was going to do. Last year, they mic’d Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo at the same time while they were playing and got this:
Last week because of Covid they couldn’t mic the guys up, they just handed them an iPhone in the dugout and interviewed them during the game, with Jason Benetti and Jessica Mendoza asking the questions America really wants to know.
Marquee can bury a stupid camera in the dirt and buy a really expensive wind-meter but until they actually do something with their access, they ought to just shut up about it. ESPN breezes in for a day and does it better.
While nobody needs the Cubs to show every spring training game, like they had planned to do until baseball decided that there would only be home team broadcasts this spring, it doesn’t seem like it would be all that hard to show some road games.
For example, this weekend the Cubs were on the road against the Brewers and D’bags. Saturday’s game was televised by Fox Sports Wisconsin and Sunday’s on Fox Sports Arizona. Are you telling me Marquee couldn’t have worked out a deal to show either or both of those telecasts? I mean, I guess when you can show tennis reruns instead you jump at it. But it really seems like if they wanted to they could have spent a little of that mail order herpes meds money and showed the games. And, I’m sure they could have worked out a trade so that later when the Brewers and Diamondbacks are the road teams at Toilet Flapper Field they could have then aired the Marquee broadcast.
Then again, that would mean Cubs fans in Arizona and Wisconsin (of which there are a lot) would actually get a chance to see Boog and JD. Nah, that’s crazy!
The Cubs lineup is pretty well set, until they start shipping dudes out in July, with one glaring exception. Second base could be manned by Nico Hoerner, Ildemaro Vargas, David Bote or (sighs heavily) Eric Sogard.
Hoerner was a Gold Glove finalist at second last season, but was pretty well overmatched at the plate—albeit no moreso than established stars Kris Bryant and Javy Baez. Hoerner hit just .222/.312/.259 in 108 at bats. He had a Victor Caratini-esque four extra base hits (all doubles). So, it stands to reason that the 23 year old, who has almost as many big league games (68) as he does double-A games (70) under his belt could use some quality time in Iowa. If there is such a thing. If not for a couple of plagues (the pandemic in 2020 and the Cubs shorstopalypse of injuries at the end of 2019) Nico wouldn’t have spent a day in the big leagues so far.
Well, about that. Hoerner is tearing up the Cacti League so far to the tune of .700/.727/1.200/1.927. Granted it’s just 10 at bats, but Nico at least wants to make the decision tough on the Cubs. But there’s another dilemma. There are no minor league games in April. Just a month of extended spring training grab ass.
So, do the Cubs really have Nico hang out in the desert for a month before he even starts his apprenticeship in whatever they’re calling the Pacific Coast League these days?
Vargas is a versatile player who has yet to hit in the big leagues .254/.282/.391, but he did hit a homer off of Josh Hader last year so that’s pretty cool. In his 12 minor league seasons…
Let’s read that again. In his 12 minor league seasons, he’s been a decent hitter .293/.347/.399 and in parts of four seasons at triple-A he’s hit .326/.371/.464. So that’s pretty good, right? Well, in all four of those seasons he played his home games in Reno. If you’re not acquainted with the Biggest Little City In The World, it’s at an elevation just a little bit higher than Chicago’s 597 feet at 4,505 feet. So you have to use the high elevation cooking instructions when you look at his most recent minor league stats.
Bote’s the easy choice at second. He’s already made the team and he needs somewhere to hang out before the Cubs horrify us all by trading Kris Bryant. He led the team in RBI last year (as if that matters) with 29 (none of the Cubs hit for shit, including him at .200/.303/.408).
The Cubs have been rumored to be interested in Eric Sogard for years now, and unfortunately they finally got him when they signed him to a minor league deal a couple of weeks ago. He’ll be 35 in May. He’s hit well for three months in the last three seasons. And he looks like the guy at the computer repair place who goes, “So, you visited some sketchy sites, I assume?”
The Cubs have had enough offensive struggles the last few seasons without knowingly wasting at bats. It’s bad enough when they let Jason Heyward face a lefty, but unless they can find somebody other than a righty or lefty for Sogard to face, why bother?
Roster size is 26, like it was supposed to be last year. You’d think the Cubs would go with eight relievers, but a lot of teams are going to push that to nine because starters didn’t throw many innings last year. That would cut the Cubs bench to four.
For the sake of argument, and since he’s going to be on the roster even though he has options, let’s put Bote at second base.
Austin Romine will be the backup catcher. Jake Marisnick was signed to be the fourth outfielder (though we haven’t seen him play yet because of an injured calf (moo). That leaves two spots for Vargas, Hoerner, Sogard or Cameron Maybin. The team might think they can get away with one outfielder on the bench because Kris Bryant can play out there and when you need a good laugh Willson Conteras can head to the outfield, too.
Given the dearth of actual talent their choices for the final spot(s), the Cubs could very well snag somebody another team tries to sneak through waivers at the end of spring training for one of those spots. The great Luis Valbuena and Reed Johnson were notable additions the Cubs made that way in years past.
There’s no easy choice, but since you’ll be shocked to know that Nico’s not really going to hit .700, my guess is the season starts like last year’s ended (no, not with one run scored in 18 innings—though that’s possible) with Vargas and Maybin on the bench.
Whatever it takes to not waste any time with Sogard.
Shelby Miller made his spring debut for the Cubs and broke out a pretty impressive slider. He certainly impressed the Brewers’ announcers:
Miller didn’t pitch at all last year and hasn’t pitched well since 2017, but the Cubs are hoping he can be a swing man. That seems like a great idea. Take a guy coming off two serious arm injuries in the last five years and have him try to prepare his arm to simultaneously be ready to relive and start.
How could that go wrong?