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Cub Tracks surfs the net

serious allegations, offseason grades, podcasting with Ben Zobrist, and other bullets

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Palm Beach Zoo Debuts Grizzly Bear Cubs
Juneau this one — it’s a grizzly story.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Cubs have waves and waves of talent coming through the pipeline. It’s almost unbearable how good they’ve become. And yeah, I’ve used this title before. I have no more guilt about that than Peter Gabriel does about his first three album titles.

In previous editions:

Cub Tracks stepped up to the plate. Baseball history unpacked March 19.

Today we inquire into serious allegations, read the offseason grades, podcast with Ben Zobrist, and surf the waves and waves of talent.

As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1934 - Babe Didrikson, a renowned female athlete, gives up no hits and walks only one Dodger when she pitches the first inning of the Philadelphia A’s spring training game at McCurdy Field in Frederick, Maryland.
  • 1953 - Senator Edwin C. Johnson offers a bill to give clubs the sole right to ban radio-TV broadcasts of major league games in their own territory. The Antitrust Division of the Justice Department outlawed this practice in 1949. Johnson believes that it started the decline of baseball in small towns and cities throughout the country. His bill will restore the equity between large communities and the small areas. The lawmaker, who is baseball executive Bob Howsam’s father-in-law, presently serves as the President of the Class A Western League and played a significant role in the construction of Mile High Stadium, formerly known as Bears Stadium.
  • 1973 - In a special election held by the BBWAA, the late Roberto Clemente receives 393 of 424 votes to earn entry in the Hall of Fame. The Hall’s Board of Directors had earlier waived the five-year-wait rule for Clemente, who was killed on New Year’s Eve 1972 with four others when a plane carrying supplies to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua crashed. His number 21 will be retired in Pittsburgh 17 days later.
  • 1976 - Leo Durocher, hired to manage the Yokohama Taiyo Whales (Japanese League), is sick with hepatitis and asks for a five-week delay in reporting. The Lip receives a telegram from the Whales stating: Since the championship starts in twenty days, it’s better if you stay home and take care of yourself for the remainder of the season.
  • 1989 - The office of baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth announces MLB is conducting an inquiry into “serious allegations” concerning Reds’ manager Pete Rose and gambling.
  • Cubs birthdays: Emil Geiss, Johnny Butler, Clyde Schoun, Jim Willis, George Altman, Manny Alexander. Also of note: Joe McGinnity (HoF).

Sources: NP, BH, BBRef.

Cubs news and notes:

Pedro Strop (calf) pitched in a minor-league game Monday and will return to Cactus League action Thursday, Jesse Rogers of reports.

Strop continues to progress well from a calf injury that has sidelined him all spring. With a timetable for return finally in place, there’s legitimate reason to believe he could actually be ready in time for the regular season.

Better late than never department:

Countdown to Opening Day*: David Ross11 Cubs homers.

“Some teams maybe have three if they’re lucky, and if you’ve got four, you’re happy,” Maddon said. “Every time you go in the dugout and you look out there and say, ‘Who’s got the advantage on the mound?’ Then you analyze your chances and the chances you may have to take during the course of the game based on advantage or disadvantage.

”This guy [Chatwood], heads up. What you saw the other day was not a fluke, and you’ll see more of that. He’s very driven and motivated right now. He’s listed as a fifth starter, but he’s one of five. This guy could pitch in every rotation in the big leagues. It’s just a matter of where you want to spot him, his stuff is that good.” — Carrie Muskat

  • Jon Tayler (Sports Illustrated*): While the Cubs and other NL Central contenders make splashes, the rest pack it in. Offseason grades.
  • Duncan Wallis (MSABR): 2018 season preview: Chicago Cubs. “The strength of this team is clearly the young, position player core.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Jon Lester’s new security blanket puts Cub pitcher’s yips, base runners to sleep. “This spring training is much easier,” Lester said earlier in camp. “I would imagine especially for Willy as well.”
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Yu Darvish gives Chicago Cubs’ rotation plenty of depth. “Darvish has added a dynamism that makes the Cubs rotation the best in the National League Central and maybe the best in the league.”
  • Bill Thompson (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): A reminder of what the Cubs have in Jose Quintana. “Quintana is an elite pitcher, and I don’t think the majority of Cubs fans realize what they have...”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): First-pitch strikes key for Tyler Chatwood to succeed. “It’s a matter of being unpredictable but being able to execute everything you have,” said Kyle Hendricks, who has been watching.
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Chicago Cubs have their closer, but rest of bullpen will continue evolving. “From Day 1 of the off-season, Cubs president Theo Epstein has talked of need to throw more strikes out of the bullpen.”
  • Ryan Davis (FanRag Sports): The favorites for the last two spots in the Cubs bullpen. Randy Rosario, Shae Simmons, Anthony Bass, Justin Hancock, and Eddie Butler joust for position.
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Youthful lineup looking to reach new heights. “How good can the Cubs’ offense be?”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Maddon wants Cubs to get back to Little League approach. “What am I seeing now and how am I going to beat this guy?”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Victor Caratini makes long-shot, final-week push for Cubs’ backup catcher job. “I’m trying to do everything I can to stay in the big leagues,” said Caratini.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): This could be Willson Contreras’ season to clean up as Cubs’ No. 4 hitter. “It’s not important who is going to be the leadoff guy,” Ian Happ said. “It’s just the guys we have in the lineup. How deep we are is impressive. There’s no bad spot to hit in the lineup.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Is Javier Baez becoming a finished product? ‘He’s getting better’. Joe Maddon believes Baez is making strides.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Javy more comfortable with everyday role, improved communication with Addison Russell. “’s easy to overlook the fact that Baez has never really been an everyday player.”
  • Adam McCalvy and Carrie Muskat (*): Zobrist, Tim Dillard bring laughs, insight on podcast. Podcast above.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cubs’ Kris Bryant channels Hall of Fame third baseman to reach greater heights. George Brett, to be precise.
  • Will Leitch (*): Can Jason Heyward bounce back from subpar seasons? “...who was more projectable than Heyward?”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): 25-man roster decisions loom as Cubs enter last days of spring training. “As of now, there are no plans to put any relievers on the 10-day disabled list.”
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times*): Welington Castillo: White Sox better than 2014 Cubs; World Series coming soon. “I would like to be here when this team wins the World Series. It won’t take long,” Castillo said.
  • Wayne Cavadi (Minor League Ball): Chicago Cubs: Young guns to watch in 2018. “The Cubs farm system is not what it used to be, but there are some arms to watch for...”
  • Satchel Price (Chicago Sun-Times*): Where the Cubs’ top 30 prospects will start the 2018 season. “...the team still has a pipeline of talent flowing from the bottom of the minors toward Wrigley Field.”

Food for thought:

  • Lisa Grossman (Science News): We probably won’t hear from aliens. But by the time we do, they’ll be dead. Space is big.
  • Laurel Hamers (Science News): Some TRAPPIST-1 planets may be water worlds. “Water is a sign of possible life. Too much water may prevent us from finding it.”
  • Justin Halberda (Science): Logic in babies. “The success of science rests on our human ability to reason logically. But where does this ability come from?”
  • Ann Gibbons (Science): Complex behavior arose at dawn of humans. “...toolmakers were highly selective about their raw materials...”

Thanks for reading. Where to get my books.