Cubs’ Ricketts Has a Twin in Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

Tom Ricketts, Chicago Cubs

Tom Ricketts

I’m just going to throw that out there never seen anything like that before. It just goes to show that there’s a twin out there for everyone.

Uncanny, I tell you.

The Angels beat the Cubs 8-4 but there was some pretty cool stuff that happened.

Last night’s game against the Angels was interesting. Mike Olt continues to impress with a two run homer and Travis Wood crushed a shot out into the picnickers area.

But the most interesting thing about yesterday’s matchup came when Kris Bryant started left field. I’d really like to see this happen. Mike Olt could have a breakout year but if Kris Bryant winds up at third, then as we all know, that’s not such a bad thing either.

“I asked him to not try to do too much with his arm and just get to the ball quickly, get in it quickly,” Maddon said Thursday of the Cubs top prospect. “He’s all jacked up about it.”

Here’s another thing that’s interesting; Javier Baez in the lead off. The Cubs are having the kind of issues that a great team should have and that is where to put these players?

“Part of it is to try to increase his confidence and let him know we support him,” said Maddon.

Where do they fit into the lineup? A few years ago, the Cubs had issues with finding great players. The problem this time around is where exactly does Joe Maddon put this talented group in the lineup? Baez has one of if not the most powerful swing in the majors. If he can harness it somehow, then he could possibly be out duelling Anthony Rizzo as batting champion for the Cubs. So, by putting him in the lead off position, and don’t get me wrong, I think Dexter Fowler is the guy for that spot; I believe that it will force Baez to build the kind of patience necessary to develop into the talented player we know he can be.

Then here’s another good problem to have. Matt Sczur. Should Chris Denorfia start the season on the disabled list, it could open a great opportunity to see Matt Sczur who continues to impress everyone this spring.

Oh, the problems!

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Cubs Fall To the Rime of The Seattle Mariners

travis wood chicago cubs

Travis Wood

The Cubs came close last night, but still fell to the Mariners, 3-2 and that’s ok.

The pitcher batted in the eighth spot for the second game. Travis Wood drew a walk. I’m liking these moves that Joe Maddon is making. The creativity is exactly what this organization needs. If it continues through to the regular season, that remains to be seen, but it’s this kind of thinking that can lead the team to the post season.

Yesterday also marked the return of shortstop Starlin Castro. He received an infield single.

“I think he is a great manager. He doesn’t try to do too many things. Everything is simple. Play hard and get here every day for one reason. You know, win.”  Castro said.

He might be a great manager, but he wasn’t too pleased with Edwin Jackson’s tardiness the other day.

“That was obviously not good,” Maddon said. “You have time to prepare and understand where you’re going as a Major League person, speaking the language extremely well, and being aware. I wasn’t happy with it, to be honest.”

He’s right. At that level, these players are paid big bucks to be at the park on time. This could either turn Edwin Jackson into two kinds of players;

The one who lets this incident get him down or the kind where he’ll be able to pick himself up, dust the mound dirt off of his pants and get back into the game.

This is up to you Edwin, and that’s all i have to say about that.

“I believe that will never happen again, because he’s a great kid — he’s not a good kid, he’s a great kid, he’s awesome and I love the guy, but that can’t happen,” Maddon said.

Now what about the possibility of Kris Bryant in the outfield? I like that and I hope it works. The Cubs need both Mike Olt and Bryant. It would give them more depth as a team and Bryant is young enough that he could be able to adjust to the position.

“My biggest concern, always, with infielders going to the outfield and vice-versa is arm — that you would hurt your arm because you would chose to use different arm stroke,” Maddon said.

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Edwin Jackson Gets Lost on Way To Complex Situation

Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs, Google Maps

A few months ago I was going to pick up my wife at a United Way meeting downtown where we live. It seemed simple enough. I drove by the place many times before. This time, however, was another story.

Our son was in the back nestled into his child seat playing with his toys. I remember this night really well because it was in the fall and the leaves were still in their full on multi coloured mode.

It was night time and I couldn’t read the street signs too well because the leaves were covering them. For some strange reason I didn’t even go down the right street. You know, it was one of those things where you never paid attention to the name of the street because you’ve driven down it so many times? Quick, what’s your phone number and address? Raise your hands if you knew it.

The phone went off. A lot. I didn’t have to answer it. My wife was phoning. You see, I don’t believe in talking while you drive or texting. If I see anyone do it, I will honk my horn at you.

It must have been a mental block why I couldn’t find this darn place.

The phone kept ringing.

“Daddy, Are we lost?”

“No, we’re not lost but if you can find the United Way building, let me know.”

We came to a stop light and I can hear the power window rolling down from the back. Shoot, I forgot to put the lock on it.

“Hey Mister! Where’s the United States?”

So you see Edwin Jackson, you’re not the only one who can get confused on the way to their respective destination. it happens to the best of us.

“I put in Google Maps and typed in ‘Oakland Athletics Spring Training complex,’ and it took me to the old one,” Jackson said. “I know it’s crazy, but that pretty much sums it up.”

As for the game? We won’t sum that up. If Edwin wants to make the team, he can’t be a starter anymore. Either a closer or reliever but not in the fifth spot.

“At the end of the day, it’s my fault for not looking to see where they’re at,” he said. “I figured, type in the Spring Training complex and the right address would come up, but it didn’t.”

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Joe Maddon is Sinatra of Baseball

Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs, baseball, Spring Training

Joe Maddon Does It His Way

There’s one thing that few people will ever disagree with and that is Joe Maddon is a genius. I’m not talking Albert Einstein smarts either, if Al were standing in the dugout this season, then the Cubs probably all would have E=MC2 on the back of their jerseys.

Then there’s the work of Javier Baez. He’s been striking out this spring. He’s 13 for 37. Not good numbers and certainly not the kind that the Cubs expected, but he’s got power and everyone is agreeing that his defensive skills are turning out to be a lot more valuable than his offence.

“He’s always going to strike out,” Maddon said. “It’s not even about strikeouts, it’s about organizing his strike zone a little better. … If he could somehow get to be a better decision-maker and then test that forceful swing he’s got in the strike zone, let’s see what happens there.”

You see? Joe Maddon’s got all the answers.

You know, even if the Cubs don’t win this season, and I mean win it all, it’s going to be a creative year. It could test fan’s patience but also it could turn out to be a very entertaining year. We all know that the last few years have been less than entertaining. Frustrating? Oh yeah.

Then there’s the question of Walk Up Music

“That’s something for Twitter right there,” Maddon said. “You could put out there, I need three songs — one for yelling at an umpire, changing a pitcher and getting thrown out.”

I have a few suggestions for Joe when it comes to music:

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones- a great song for arguing with the Ump. Let’s face it, arguing with the umpire is like the futility of resistance with the Borg.

“Unkind” by Sloan- When there’s a pitching change. Nothing’s better than hand claps and gang vocals. This one’s for you 

“My Way” by Frank Sinatra There’s nothing sweeter than walking off any field on your own terms, doing it the way you want, when you want it.

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Cubs In No Hurry To Promote Bryant.

In a world that can seem ordinary, along comes Kris Bryant destroying two homers to add to his Spring Training lead of eight. The Cubs cruised(well sort of) to a 12-10 victory over the Mariners.

Now, it’s going to be difficult at third base. Maybe all that hoopla from Scott Boras has a certain ring to it. Here’s the Bleacher Report.

Kris Bryant, Spring Training, Chicago Cubs

Kris Bryant hits  another Home Run in the Chicago Cubs 12-10 win over the Seattle Mariners.

Ok, so I agree with Scott Boras on wanting Kris Bryant to start Opening Day. There’s a lot of frustration if the kid doesn’t start, but in the crazy world of ethics and business in baseball, here’s the real question that should be asked,

“Is it in Scott Boras’s best interest if Kris Bryant should start on Opening Day or Kris Bryant’s?”

There’s no questioning that the kid is going to be a superstar hell, he’s one all ready. However, he’s still a kid and no matter how much money Bryant makes in his career, it’s going to amount to diddly squat if he doesn’t establish the basic fundamentals of the game.

It’s funny how there’s no patience when it comes to the financial aspects of professional sports. As long as Scott Boras gets paid, he doesn’t really care about the welfare of Bryant.

Sure, he can be ready. Sure, he’s got the pop in his bat but agents, no matter how powerful they are have no right or say or determine when a player is ready to play.

In the end, it’s more likely publicity on Boras’s part because he’ll have to sit on the sidelines as Joe Maddon takes out his trusty pencil on Opening Day.

The Cubs want to win, they’re going to win someday and in a perfect world, it’s the players, the fans and the ball clubs that are hoisting the trophy and getting showered with champagne, but sometimes, in the dark corners of the dressing rooms away from the reporters it’s the agents who are smiling.

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Len Kasper, the Cubs and I in The Chatting Cage

This was a great chat with  and the Edward Jones Chatting Cage. Check out the 11:49 mark of the video for a question by yours truly.

Two of the best broadcasters in the game, Len Kasper and  Love em! Hey Jim, my favourite player was Guy Lafleur too!

The Cubs have hit 24 home runs this spring. That’s a lot but then again, there are certain factors to that total. Of course there’s a steady stream of pitchers trying to crack the rotation so it’s not always a case of, “Lights out” stealth.

Yesterday, the Cubs cruised past the team that shares a city the White Sox 10-7.

Players trying to crack the team like Junior Lake, who’ll more than likely start the season in Triple A, hit a two run double. Then there’s Arismendy Alcantara crushed a two run homer in the seventh to break a tie.

Do you think he’ll make the team? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

So, I’m liking the idea of keeping both Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood. I like this idea a lot.

“There’s different ways to utilize both of them,” manager Joe Maddon said Friday. “It’s hard to say they’re both starters, but we’ve talked about different ways to make it fit.”

Why not keep both of them and rotate that five spot.

A)They’re both pitchers going out this season with something to prove.

B)Edwin Jackson has shown flashes of being amazing this spring. Plus he’s a pitcher who can hit.

C)Joe Maddon is known to be a creative guy, so why the heck not?

Another problem is Javier Baez. He’s struggling to find his groove. Should he start in triple A? Perhaps. The numbers don’t lie. Baez is 3 for 30 and you don’t have to be a baseball aficionado to realize that adds up to well, as my son would say,”That’s a potty word, Daddy”

Javier Baez knows it and he’s a pro. If this were the regular season, he’d be in a whole lot of potty words. Fortunately, this is spring training and now’s the time to spend on the potty.

“I talk to him all the time,” Starlin Castro said. “It’s tough. I try to tell him to try to get his confidence. No matter what, if you strike out every day, look for your confidence. When you’re confident, something good is going to happen because you trust yourself. I think he’s a little lost at the plate right now, but that’s what I tell him, try to get your confidence back and you’ll be all right. And don’t think too much. It’s Spring Training, we’re here to learn.”

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Cubs Learn More In Defeat

Jon Lester, St. Patrick's Day, Chicago Cubs

Jon Lester is human. There, I said it finally. It could be the dry desert sun or chalk it up to spring training fatigue, but yesterday, Jon Lester was bad.

Perhaps. Five runs on seven hits? Those aren’t good odds, and that’s all right. Lester has to get used to Castillo. It’s not going to be easy, but the season is 162 games.

“I’d throw a pitch, throw it where I wanted, stay behind the ball, throw it well and two pitches later, I’m back to 2-1 or behind in the count, whatever the scenario was,” Lester said. “Nothing today was crisp, things were flat, up in the zone. I was just not able to repeat and make pitches and minimize damage.

Isn’t there an old saying that goes,”You learn more in defeat than in winning.”  so many people have put their own spin on that phrase. They should bottle that phrase and put it into the spring training definition. That’s the mantra of Cactus/Grapefruit League.

This is the second time that Lester has worked with the Duke Welington Castillo.

“I’m the one chucking the ball,” he said. “He’s not.”

Even though they say the Cubs could carry three catchers, I’m still thinking Castillo will be catching for another team.

Hey, maybe Lester should throw a learning curve ball? To be fair to the Cubs, the Padres are expected to do big things just like the Cubs, so if anyone is going to shake things up for the team, it’s the Padres.

“I have a hard time stepping back and going, ‘It’s just Spring Training,'” he said. “The competitiveness and wanting to succeed is always there, whether it’s now or October.”

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. The day St. Paddy drove the snakes out of Ireland, brought Christianity to it or sat down with a pint of Guinness. It all depends on your take of things but one thing I know is that today, everything is green in the baseball world.

From Green caps to clovers, it’s a celebration of spring and baseball so pick your favourite game and enjoy a pint.

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Kyle Hendricks Experience is Perfect, Edwin’s Got It Under Control and Bryant Goes Yard Twice

Chicago Cubs, Edwin Jackson, Las Vegas

A funny thing happens in spring training baseball. Sometimes, stars emerge where they least expect it. Take for example, Edwin Jackson.

Mr. Edwin Jackson, that unassuming ace of a couple of years ago showed Joe Maddon and the pitching coaches why he should really be considered for the number five spot in the highly competitive Chicago Cubs’ rotation. Yesterday, he kept the Brewer’s at bay and kept the ball under control. In many ways, yesterday was a showcase of a more mature “crafty” veteran pitcher. The numbers weren’t amazing, but it was a true workhorse outing with 51 pitches and 29 strikes.

“That mindframe — when you’re battling yourself and the hitters — more times than not, it doesn’t work out for you,” Jackson said. “The game’s hard enough as it is, trying to get hitters out. You’re making it harder on yourself.”

Edwin Jackson is a veteran and he might surprise some folks this spring. One thing I’ve admired about him is his ability to be accountable for his mistakes. A young Cubs squad needs that kind of leadership going into the season.

Although criticism of Jackson’s performance these past couple of years has been fierce, I don’t believe the Cubs should trade him. The Cubs still need him and he may be able to teach the bullpen about control.

“The big thing with me is if a guy had been hurt, then you have to be a little more concerned,” Maddon said. “But he was not hurt. And for that reason I’m encouraged. Sometimes you have a little bit of a lull and have to figure things out.”

Yesterday’s Cubs also put on display the talent the organization has in Kyle Hendricks (the Kyle Hendricks Experience) and of course, Kris Bryant.

In a 3-1 win over the Athletics, Hendricks was perfect through five innings. Not being outdone with the spotlight, Kris Bryant took the cover off the ball twice despite being scratched for a sore shoulder.

“I’d rather hit two home runs any day than pitch five perfect, I know that,” Hendricks said. “I’ll take what I did.”

So, the competition continues today as Travis Wood takes to the mound against Johnny Cueto.

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What Happens In Vegas

Las Vegas, Cubs, baseball

In many ways, the Chicago Cubs win over the Oakland A’s can surely be viewed as a sign of things to come. Of course, it might not, but there’s no reason not to get excited over the small victories.

Jake Arrieta threw well stretched over four innings of work striking out three. One thing that impressed me was the amount of times the Cubs filled the bags. In most cases it didn’t amount to the kind of offence that was expected but it’s a really good sign that the team is starting to find a groove in their swings.

“I was able to use [the curve] early in the count for early strikes and to set up a couple counts later in the game, third, fourth inning,” he said. “I think I got one, maybe three on swings and misses. That’s what I was looking for today, and just keeping the fastball down in the zone, and both of those areas were pretty crisp.”

It’s almost too scary to think what the lineup will be on Opening Day. With Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Mike Olt (or Kris Bryant). Sure, the Cubs are 2-8, but there’s been a lot of firepower coming from those bats and that’s positive.

Yesterday’s game in Las Vegas was a homecoming for Bryant.

“Everybody on the field looked like it was such a reach for me to be there, and now I’m in that position, playing on this field, on a field where I got a chance to watch players play on,” Bryant said. “It’s a surreal feeling for me. I know it’s only a Triple-A field but it still has a special place in my heart, trying to get foul balls down the line.”

So, Maddon’s in tough. Bryant is surpassing expectations and will provide pressure for that Opening Day.

“You have to see him cope with a Major League season, because it totally turns different,” Maddon said. “The moment the first pitch is thrown, everything changes. People may not understand it, but it’s true — the difference between a regular season and a Spring Training is incredibly different. But, again, this guy’s different. He’s good. He’s going to be really good.”

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Wear a Cup

Will Ferrell Chicago Cubs Baseball

That was the advice Miguel Montero gave Will Ferrel before he takes to the field in today’s game against the Angels.

If you’re not all ready aware, Will Ferrel will honour Bert Campaneris feat of playing every position on the field for five teams in one day.

That’s awesome. No, that’s not awesome. That’s incredible. it’s also for charity to benefit cancer research including Cancer For College.

Which is way cooler.

This is another reason to watch Spring Training baseball. Seeing stuff like this makes it awesome.

It was also great to see the Cubs grab their first win of the spring season yesterday. Jon Lester is going to be great in a Cubs uniform. In three innings of work, Lester struck out two. Even though it’s spring, it was a huge win for the Cubs. To get that under their belt and build the confidence they need going into the regular season.

“It is Spring Training, yes. Does it matter if we lost? No,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “We should be winning. It doesn’t matter how you win or lose, you want to win at the end of the day. … It’s still super early.”

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