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Cub Tracks smokes the ball

not-quite-random tweets, Cubs birthdays, the Big Thing is Health, and other bullets

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“Today is only yesterday’s tomorrow” — Ken Hensley
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Previously, Cub Tracks made ready for Yu Darvish’s first Cubs appearance. Yu looked pretty decent after he got those wild pitches out of his system — I’m sure we’re all looking forward to more Yu puns and plays on words as the regular season looms. Jose Quintana and the Cubs looked good last night, under the lights in Goodyear Ballpark, against U of A grad Terry Francona and the Cleveland Indians, with (San Francisco) “Don” Bradley Zimmer, who looks like he could be a good one, and a lot of the same people we saw the Cubs narrowly defeat in the final game of 2016.

Ian Happ really looks like he wants that leadoff spot. I thought him an obvious candidate long ago, and his play has done nothing to dissuade me. And the ball rockets off of Albert Almora Jr’s bat, too, as he competes for a spot. Creates the good kind of trouble for Joe Maddon and the Cubs’ braintrust — and how about the wheels on Kyle Schwarber? He’s sneaky-fast like Anthony Rizzo. I love it.

Good stuff — let’s see what the usual suspects have to say. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1900 - The National League decides to downsize to eight teams for the upcoming season by eliminating the circuit’s franchises in Baltimore, Cleveland, Louisville, and Washington. The remaining eight cities will stay the same for more than a half of a century until the Braves leave Boston, moving to Milwaukee in 1953.

*I had no idea Ed Barrow was a Hall-of-Famer. But this says he deserved the nod — “During his quarter-century in the Yankees’ front office, Barrow’s clubs captured 14 pennants and 10 World Series championships – including five Series sweeps.”

“I say there has never been a smarter baseball man than Mr. Barrow,” Hall of Fame executive Branch Rickey once said.

Cubs news and notes:

Shae Simmons left the game with tightness in his right shoulder. He’ll be re-evaluated on Thursday — Carrie Muskat

“I’m into it,” Cubs setup man Justin Grimm said. “I’m thinking about ways to make the entrance fun. Like they call my name, I tell the (driver) to scoot over and I’m driving this rig.

“Or let’s have the teams buy (Ferrari) 458 Italias and roll up in those, know what I mean? A convertible in Cubs blue with some red accents.”

  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): The book on Joe Maddon? Cubs manager not ready to read it. “It’s really strange for me,” he said. “I don’t like to read about me, good or bad. Because then you get slanted both ways.”
  • Jay Cohen (AP via USA Today): Chicago Cubs looking for 2nd title in 3 years. “...the Cubs feel their championship window remains wide open.”
  • Larry Hawley (WGN-TV): From Darvish to Zobrist, long term health remains paramount in Cubs Spring Training. “The big thing is health,” said Maddon.
  • Chris DeLuca (Chicago Sun-Times*): Jake Arrieta deal ‘only a phone call away,’ agent Scott Boras says. “The system wasn’t designed for non-competitiveness,” Boras said. Time is running out, writes Dave Sheinen.
  • Joe Posnanski (*): Over time, Yu became perfect fit for Cubs. “I’ve been so impressed by how deeply he thinks about things,” Theo Epstein.
  • Vinnie Duber (NBC Sports Chicago*): Darvish’s arrival took a starting spot from Mike Montgomery, but he’s still mighty valuable to Cubs’ championship hopes. “It’s something that I’ve learned and been a part of and experienced throughout my career, you realize that it is more beneficial to be someone that is a good teammate,” Montgomery said.
  • Sam Fels (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Bend and change is the new twist and crawl. “Montgomery is something of a weird study.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Why Cubs think Brandon Morrow can be their next Aroldis Chapman or Wade Davis. “It’s a matter of resiliency with him, how many time you can put him out there without beating him up and getting that kind of performance out of him,” said Maddon.
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): No safety net this spring for new Cubs closer Brandon Morrow. “A lot of it is opportunity,” Maddon said. “You just have to give the guy a chance to fail.”
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Despite power dip, Kris Bryant putting up big numbers for Chicago Cubs. “Bryant is the first Cubs player to hit 25 or more homers in each of his first three MLB seasons. He’s also the first Cub to play at least 150 games in each of his first three seasons.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Schwarber working tirelessly on outfield defense. “Everything’s feeling good,” Schwarber said Wednesday.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Ian Happ channels Dexter Fowler in spring prep for role in Cubs leadoff rotation. “The guys that are really great leadoff hitters, they’re confident,” Happ said, “and they understand that if they’re going to have a good day and help the team they’ve got to get on base twice.”
  • Jim Callis (*): Pipeline report: Cubs camp. “Chicago farm focused on developing pitchers.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Pipeline Q&A: Cubs right-hander Thomas Hatch. “I felt like I made some good adjustments and finished the season strong and had a good month in the middle of the season,” Hatch said.
  • Todd Johnson (Cubs Insider): Offseason prospect profile: Fernando Kelli has speed to burn. “58 stolen bases is 58 stolen bases.”
  • Steve Schmadeke (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs dropped as defendant by suing fan blinded by foul ball at Wrigley; case against MLB continues. “A Cubs spokesman was not available for comment.”
  • Luis Torres (Beyond the Box Score): Trade Retrospective: Rangers acquire Ryan Dempster and Geovany Soto from the Cubs. “The Rangers made a good trade, but the Cubs scored Kyle Hendricks in the deal.”

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading.