The Rundown: News from Other Camps, Interest in Arrieta, Various Hot Takes

Good Morning. I spent yesterday streaming workouts from the Marlins’ spring training facility in Jupiter. The team has potential and is really coming along. Today I will be keeping an eye on the Rays’ camp in Port Charlotte, though I admit I don’t know what to expect upon my arrival. I’m still trying to keep pace with the daily trades involving Tampa. Yesterday the Rays traded OF Steven Souza to the Diamondbacks in a three-team deal that also involved the Yankees. The breakdown:

  • New York will receive INF Brandon Drury from Arizona.
  • The Rays get pitching prospect Anthony Banda from the Diamondbacks plus two additional minor leaguers TBNL.
  • The Diamondbacks get Souza from the Rays and prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees.

The Rays have made a number of moves in the past three days, and then there was the big trade of Evan Longoria to the Giants in December. It appears the Tampa Tank is in play and it’s entirely possible that Chris Archer and Alex Colome could be traded soon, too.

Cubs News & Notes

Addison Russell spoke with ESPN’s Jesse Rogers about the arsenal of new Cubs SP Yu Darvish. “He almost throws a Frisbee up there sometimes and has like eight different pitches,” said Russell, shaking his head. “I’m just glad he’s on our side now.” If Darvish bombs in Chicago, he may find his way back to California participating in another sport.

Though no longer a Cubs pitcher, it still feels respectful to attach Jake Arrieta news to this part of the column. And though I really hope “The Big Squirrel” signs with Milwaukee, Jon Heyman reported yesterday that there has been ongoing communication between Arrieta and the Phillies. For a number of reasons, I don’t see a fit here. And Jake, if you go to Philly, keep that ball down in the zone, son.

Arrieta is also drawing interest from the Brewers.

Willson Contreras is strongly objecting to some of the pace-of-play changes. Regarding the new limit on mound visits, the Cubs catcher indicated he would be happy to pay a fine or deal with whatever penalties are imposed for excessive visits. “I don’t even care,” Contreras said Tuesday. “If I have to go [out there] again and pay the price for my team I will.”

The Sporting News has a small honey-do list for the team this spring and it includes better plate discipline. In case you missed it, Ryan Davis covered this very topic with a little more breadth in his “Ryan Says” column last week.

Jon Strong attended the blogger forum at Sloan Park and has all the bullet points. It’s a great list, but what stands out the most to me is that the Cubs are striving to be the most charitable team in sports. That goes above and beyond Cubs Charities mission statement and is an admirable goal.

Since the official incorporation of the charity in 1986, Cubs Charities (and Cubs Care) has donated more than $25 million to local and national groups. Further, donations have expanded by more than 40 percent since the Ricketts family assumed control of the team in 2009. Too often we think of spending in terms of free agents and contract extensions. There’s just so much more behind the scenes that flies under the radar. I like that Tom Ricketts has challenged himself and the organization to do more and to be the best.

How About That!

Are you jonesing for some baseball games? MLB Network will be broadcasting 210 spring training games starting Friday. The Cubs open their Cactus League schedule with a tilt against the Brewers at 2:05pm Central Time. Set your DVR accordingly.

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired OF Bryce Brentz from the Red Sox in exchange for cash.

Veteran SP Chris Tillman has opted to return to the Orioles on a one-year deal.

OF Rajai Davis is excited about Cleveland’s chances in 2018. He rejoined the Indians after spending last season with the A’s and Red Sox. Davis hit the game-tying home run off of Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman in the 8th inning of Game 7 in the 2016 World Series.

Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler is being moved to the bullpen to start the season.

Boston’s addition of J.D. Martinez is about October and not about the Yankees. Apparently David Price was instrumental in recruiting the slugging outfielder.

Hot Takes & Syrup

  • Pardon my hot take: Brewers owner Mark Attansio says the team has the talent to end its postseason drought. I don’t think Milwaukee’s top starter could unseat anyone on the Cubs or Cardinals staffs, so I’m going to say “hard pass” on that line of thinking until the Brewers acquire a top-of-rotation starter and a solid No. 2.
  • Pardon this obligatory hot take: Brewers OF Christian Yelich “holds no ill will toward [Derek] Jeter or the Marlins” and said that as a kid “Jeter was his favorite player.” Yelich’s frustration with Miami’s roster teardown became evident in mid-January when his agent described his relationship with the Marlins as “irretrievably broken.”
  • Pardon this obvious hot take: There is no chance whatsoever that Bryce Harper will sign with the Marlins next season and Miami skipper Don Mattingly is probably okay with that.
  • Pardon this hoity-toity hot take: A New York professor of politics and a King’s College post-fellow have co-authored a paper entitled “Making the Rules of Sports Fairer” which argues for the MLB institution of the Catch-Up Rule, an idea that calls for leading teams to take the field after two outs rather than three. It also argues that a team should retire after two outs if it takes the lead in an inning when already down to their last out.

Wednesday Walk Up Song

What Is and What Should Never Be by Led Zeppelin. Naturally.

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