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BCB After Dark: I don’t know is on third . . .

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks if Nick Madrigal can play third base for the Cubs

Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

Welcome back to a special Valentine’s Day edition of BCB After Dark, the secret hideaway for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Honestly, our Valentine’s Day special is pretty much the same thing we do every Tuesday night. But if you want to share it with your loved one, we won’t mind. Come on in out of the cold. We can take your hat and coat. There’s no cover charge. Bring your own beverage.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

Last night, I asked who you thought would be batting leadoff for the Cubs in 2023. Because it seems unlikely that the Cubs will have one regular leadoff hitter like Dexter Fowler was in 2015-16, the question specifically was who would get the most plate appearances in the leadoff spot. In the end, it wasn’t much of a contest for you as 67 percent said that it would be Nico Hoerner. Ian Happ was a distant second with nine percent of the vote.

Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.

It’s Burt Bacharach week here at BCB After Dark as we celebrate the noted American songwriter after his passing at age 94 last week. Tonight we have Rahsaan Roland Kirk playing “I Say A Little Prayer,” which had been a big hit for both Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin. Kirk’s version was far too weird for the charts—he’s playing a alto and a soprano saxophone at the same time, for example—but that’s par for the course for Kirk. He sometimes played instruments with his nose. But the one thing that Kirk does that neither Warwick nor Franklin did was make it clear that the song was about the Vietnam War. Lyricist Hal David intended the song to be about a woman worrying about her boyfriend or husband serving in Vietnam, but David kept that meaning oblique so as not to freak out any radio program directors worried about controversy. Kirk obviously had no concerns and made it clear that the song was about the war, even if he didn’t use any of David’s lyrics.

Just a reminder that you still have time to vote in this week’s BCB Winter Noir Classic between The Night of the Hunter and The Postman Always Rings Twice. Voting will end tomorrow evening and then we will take up the fourth and final quarter final of the tournament whe Sunset Boulevard (1950) takes on The Big Heat (1953).

Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and the movies.

The players are trickling into Mesa and getting ready for the start of Spring Training. The big story at the moment seems to be Nick Madrigal, who was seen taking ground balls at third base earlier today.

Madrigal was obviously the odd-man-out when the Cubs signed shortstop Dansby Swanson. He’s only played second base and shortstop as a professional and those two positions belong to Swanson and Nico Hoerner. He never played third base in college either. According to that linked article, he didn’t play it in high school either.

There’s a reason why Madrigal hasn’t played much third base. Mostly, it’s because his managers don’t think he has the arm for it. It’s the reason he played second base in college as well. Most amateur teams put their best defender at shortstop and Madrigal certainly had the defensive range to play short. But his ability to make the throw to first base from the left side of the infield has always been a question.

But the Cubs are clearly giving Madrigal a chance in Spring Training to show that he can play third. Maybe we’ve been underestimating his arm all this time. And maybe he’s able to add some arm strength to improve his throws across the diamond.

There doesn’t seem to be much question that Madrigal has the reflexes to play third base, although his 5’8” size would limit his ability to grab line drives over his head. Of course, that’s an issue at second base already. No one questions Madrigal’s desire to put the work in necessary to learn a new position. It’s just whether or not there is a physical limitation that he won’t be able to overcome.

So can Nick Madrigal play an adequate third base? Do you think this experiment in Spring Training will work, or is Madrigal doomed to be a second-base-only infielder?

The poll question is “Can Nick Madrigal play an adequate third base this season?” I’m leaving it up to you to define what “adequate” is, but for me, it means that Madrigal will be good enough to let him play there if his bat is needed in the lineup that day. Or at least he won’t end up costing the Cubs so many runs on defense that David Ross will only use Madrigal to back up Hoerner at second and play him at third base in emergencies only.


Can Nick Madrigal play an adequate third base in 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    (129 votes)
  • 61%
    (207 votes)
336 votes total Vote Now

Thank you so very much for stopping by. I hope that we’ve made this day even more special for you. Be sure to stay warm out there. Get home safely. Tip the waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow night for more BCB After Dark.