The Rundown: Geeks Affirm Maddon’s Lineup Choices, Rondon Returns

A nod of approval from the brainiacs in R&D was little more than a formality, but Joe Maddon seemed tickled by the feedback just the same. Remaining coy when it came to specifics, he shared some of the geeks’ findings with the media prior to Sunday’s game.

“Really hot, really hot,” Maddon said. “If that number’s right, I’ll take it.

“I didn’t get an actual overall number. I got a per-game number. That’s what I like.”

While Maddon could have been channeling Paris Hilton or talking about the temps in Phoenix, the steamy forecast in question dealt with the Cubs’ run production. More specifically, the validation of the manager’s decision to bat Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot and the pitcher eighth. CI’s quick projection model illustrated much of the same, though ours was perhaps not as robust a study.

In addition to those little quirks, you have to consider that the Cubs’ young hitters figure to improve and that Jason Heyward will be better than he was last year.

“They gave me a sheet with different scenarios. It was pretty heavy,” Maddon said. “All those things indicate that if we set it up this way, we should have a pretty good offensive year, especially against a right-handed pitcher.”

Maddon even mentioned that he’d wanted to bat Schwarber at leadoff when the slugger was first called up,but that the number-crunchers advised him otherwise at the time. Now, things are different.

It’s difficult for some to think that the best team in baseball might be even better, but that’s exactly what the Cubs are projecting internally. Now it’s just a matter of seeing if they can turn those geeks’ projections into reality.

Rondon back from WBC

After being drummed out of the WBC, thanks in part to Hector Rondon being shelled by Team USA, members of Team Venezuela were back to their respective Spring Training homes. Though obviously disappointed, Rondon isn’t putting too much stock in his tournament performance.

“It was a little tough for me because I missed the location and my balls went up,” Rondon said Sunday. “My arm feels good, and everything was good. My mind is really good, and I’ll take that experience coming here and keep working. I’m really happy where I am right now.”

It did appear as though Rondon’s issues were the result of location and not velocity, so that’s good. Well, better than throwing low 90’s down Main Street. As long as he can get that fastball to go where he wants it to, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

More news and notes

  • Jorge Soler looked rough, getting out in front and whiffing badly on sliders in the dirt. In fairness, that seemed to be somewhat of a theme as hitters are starting to see more secondary pitchers under the lights.

  • Speaking of:

About Evan Altman

Evan Altman is the EIC and lead writer for Cubs Insider and has proclaimed himself Central Indiana's foremost Cubs authority. He is a husband, father, homebrewer, and award-winning blogger with entirely too much pop culture knowledge. Evan's greatest accomplishments include scoring 400 points in Magic Johnson's Fast Break, naming all 10 members of the Wu-Tang Clan in under 3.5 seconds, and winning the Meese Literary Award at Hanover College. You can follow him on Twitter @DEvanAltman.

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