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Cub Tracks Puts On Its Thinking Cap

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Don't mind if I do.

Brain Trust
Brain Trust
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn't fit, and it's made of tinfoil, but that's fashion for you.

*denotes video, audio, ostentatious ads, and/or other browser-botherers.

Brain Trust:

  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN): Ben Zobrist returns home with win-only mentality. "His motivation is simple," Joe Maddon said Monday from spring training. "He just wants to win. That’s it. Period."
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Jason Heyward's sixth tool is his brain. "Baseball brainiac" Heyward is a "longtime student of fundamentals". Joe Maddon said, "He's the complete baseball player."
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald): Cubs' Anthony Rizzo says 'belief here is a lot higher' than in past years. Rizzo now knows that talk among many fans is that for 2016, it's World Series or bust. He shrugged off that talk Monday.
  • Rian Watt (Wrigleyville -- Baseball Prospectus): "I want us to think well": Joe Maddon's biggest spring concern. Joe knows Pogo. "The only threat to us is us, and how we’re thinking."
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN): 5 questions with Pedro Strop: Cubs hitter he'd least like to face. Spaceballs: He doesn't want to see them. May the Schwarb be with you.
  • Rob Ogden (Chicago Sun-Times*): Jason Heyward gave David Ross an expensive retirement gift. The new Cubs outfielder is paying for hotel suites for all 82 road games this season.

Mind Over Matter:

Cogito, Ergo Yam:

  • David Haugh (Chicago Tribune): Say hey, J-Hey: Classy new Cub Jason Heyward is serious about winning. The son of Dartmouth-educated parents, Heyward reported a week early and quickly impressed manager Joe Maddon, who called his potential leadoff man a "complete baseball player." New-era numbers support Maddon's assertion.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): Big year for Jon Lester to solve infield throwing problems with David Ross set to retire. Between the Red Sox and Cubs, Ross has been Lester’s personal catcher for most of the last four seasons.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune): Healthy Addison Russell ready to take more responsibility as player, father. Russell, who underwent a lengthy rehabilitation program after a left hamstring strain ended his 2015 season, spoke confidently Monday about incorporating more speed and power into his repertoire.
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago*): Can Jake Arrieta repeat his epic season? Probably not. Can the Cubs right-hander  pitch at or above the same level in 2016? Better question. Maybe at or near. Above? Magic 8-ball says "highly unlikely".

Think Tank:

  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune): Rob Manfred absolves Cubs of tanking allegations. "I believe our clubs are smarter than to pursue a strategy that is inherently self-limiting, particularly if they think other clubs are doing it," Manfred said during a news conference. "I'm not convinced this is a problem that needs an answer."
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald): Why Chicago Cubs believe in creating good chemistry. If baseball has a chicken-and-egg question, it's this: Does good team "chemistry" lead to winning, or does winning breed chemistry?
  • Chris Bahr (Fox Sports): 3 reasons the Cardinals can hold off the Cubs in the NL Central. Umm, yeah. Unsolid projections.
  • Rice Cube (World Series Dreaming): The Arms Race. There were a couple interesting pitching tidbits today.

Tell a Kinetic:

  • Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): New year, new Hammel: Cubs pitcher trying to put 'tale of two halves' behind him. Hammel admitted that his struggles last year were both mental and physical as he dealt with leg injuries that affected his mechanics. He focused on strengthening and conditioning his legs more over the offseason in an effort to stay healthy and durable throughout the course of a long season.
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Jason Hammel reboots for 2016, yielding anticipation for 2017. If you recall, Hammel has a $12 million team option  for 2017. Given Hammel’s ability to be dominant at times, you can bet the Cubs are going to strongly consider exercising that option at season’s end. Depending on what times, how many times, and how dominant...
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald): Schwarber still living out dream as catcher. "This morning I was a catcher," Schwarber said the other day. "I'm still a catcher."
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): So who's Kyle Schwarber going to catch? "...Lackey should be the primary partner."
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago*): The legend of Kyle Schwarber continues to grow. Not only is he in the best shape of his life™, but he's apparently the Sultan of Schwarb.
  • Jared Wyllys (Cubs Den): The difference a year makes. Times change, people change.

Level-headed:

  • SI.com*: Yankees, Cubs have the most expensive season tickets in baseball.
  • Mike Rankin (Cubbies Crib): Cubs hoping to avoid list of odd spring injuries. "Spring training is officially here and while players are in the best shape of their lives™, it doesn't take away from the fact that many still manage to end up on the injury report in the oddest ways.
  • Chicago Cubs Online: Neil Ramirez working way back to be a factor in Cubs bullpen. Having Ramirez take his time this spring building up his shoulder strength could benefit the Cubs in the long run. But he's out of options.

Food for thought: