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MLB: Spring Training-Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs
I just flew in from Vegas...
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Last time around, we looked at Quintana’s delivery, he who hesitates is Darvish, Rizzo joins the ballet, and other bullets. Today we turn up the wattage in your cottage with a little star power and share in the last laugh in the prank war between Tommy La Stella and the Cubs’ brain trust (again), and then some.

Where’s Munenori Kawasaki when you need him? This guy will have to do.

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

Cubs news and notes:

Didja hear about MadBum? All this in an even year. Hoo boy. The Fates have a black sense of humor.

Ozzie Guillen said what?

“He’s working on laying off those things and attacking it if he has to,” Maddon said. “You can’t really do it if you’re all about your arms. You can’t get to the high ball properly. Think of Vlad Guerrero. I always thought he looked like he was hitting a piñata at a birthday party. His hands were always adjusting to where the ball was. That’s what a good, handsy hitter does. I’ve seen more of that.” — Joe Maddon, about Kyle Schwarber

The Cubs have finalized their roster decisions but haven’t announced them all. As expected they will carry 8 relievers and 12 position players. The one spot they were debating was behind the plate. Either Victor Caratini or Chris Gimenez will back up Willson Contreras. Joe Maddon said he has to tell the players before going public with the decision. — Jesse Rogers

STATUS: Buy now

PROSPECT POINTS: 457.1

Potential deadline target as buyers: Brad Hand

Most tradable prospect: Adbert Alzolay

Best trade piece if they become surprise sellers: Ben Zobrist

I’m not sure I see any of the Cubs as a likely sell-off candidate, but Zobrist would be as good as any. He’s older. His job could be ably filled by Ian Happ. His contract is up after the 2019 season. Finally, teams have seen him have a tremendous deadline impact before, as he did for the 2015 Kansas City Royals.

In the more likely scenario that sees the Cubs adding pieces for yet another NLCS showdown with the Dodgers, expect Chicago to target bullpen help, as seems to be the case every year. — Bradford Doolittle (ESPN)

  • NBC Sports Chicago: Jed Hoyer with David Kaplan [AUDIO]. Michael Cerami breaks it down.
  • Sam Miller (ESPN): In 2018, what is a win? A shift in philosophy has changed MLB forever. Excerpt from ESPN The Magazine goes into depth about “giving up something to get something that makes you better.”
  • Sahadev Sharm (The Athletic {$}): Six thoughts, and plenty of reasons to be optimistic, as Cubs camp draws to a close. “Here’s what I’m thinking about with less than a week left until the regular season begins.”
  • Jaymes L. (Brew Crew Ball): 2018 NL Central Preview: Chicago Cubs. “Do I really need to write 1500 words on the Cubs? You’re really going to make me do this? ...FUN.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): The 900 club? Cubs expect big things out of young, improving core of hitters. ‘‘It’s wild to think we have that kind of lineup,’’ right-hander Kyle Hendricks said.
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): The Cubs have one of the lightest schedules this season, but the NL Central should be tough. Right. The Cubs used to be like Irving, the 132nd fastest gun in the West, who was looking for #133. Instead they’re OK at the corral. Originated at Jeff Sullivan’s saloon.
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): Scouting the Cubs’ competition. Nationals here. Mets here. The rest of the list is at the end of the Mets article.
  • Jessica Kleinschmidt and Carrie Muskat (Cut Four): Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer got the last laugh in their prank war with Tommy La Stella. Of course they did. Cold-blooded, too.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): The education of Kyle Hendricks: Lessons from Jake Arrieta and assessing his own future in free agency. “If you do the things out on the field, it’s going to end up taking care of itself,” He said.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Strop’s status delaying Cubs’ bullpen decisions. “Source: Bourjos to be released with no open roster spots.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune*{$}): Cubs don’t plan to push new closer Brandon Morrow. “I think I have a better idea on how to do it now than when I was in Seattle 10 years ago,” Morrow said.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): ‘Sky’s the limit’ for Willson Contreras in 2nd full season. “I think the sky’s the limit,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “He can throw, he can block, he’s super athletic, he plays with an edge. I do think there’s a lot more levels to go as far as his performance.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Kris Bryant believes lineup could be ‘pretty special’. “Pretty much everybody in our lineup could hit 25-plus home runs and if that happens, that would be pretty special,” Bryant said Thursday. “I kind of got goosebumps driving home.”
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Welcome to Kyle Schwarber’s comeback season. “He’s using his hands more,” one National League scout said recently of Schwarber’s swing.
  • Todd Johnson (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Outside of the Top 10, the Cubs have several prospects to watch this season. Five of them get nice thumbnails. Who? Read on.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): What the Cubs saw in Eloy Jimenez and why the White Sox might have the next Miguel Cabrera. “Miguel, just like Eloy, had that kind of ‘it factor,’” Louie Eljaua said.
  • Tim Stebbins (NBC Sports Chicago*): Which Cubs and White Sox players are included in MLB The Show 18’s player rankings? I know, this one should have been FIRST.

Food for thought:

  • Lisa Grossman (Science News): Venus may be home to a new kind of tectonics. “Jostling blocks of crust defy conventional wisdom on how the surfaces of rocky planets work.”
  • Paul Voosen (Science): Want to discover truly alien life? Pack a genome sequencer. “You could have a completely different biochemistry,” says Sarah Stewart Johnson, an astrobiologist at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who led the work. “But you could still see a signal.”
  • Eleanor Cummins (Popular Science): Naps are really beneficial. Here’s how to take them. “Learn how to make any time naptime.”

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tl:dr

Thanks for reading. Where to get my books.