Countdown to Pitchers and Catchers: 10 Days
Jake Arrieta changed his off-season routine coming off a career year in order to be better prepared for the upcoming season according to a report from the Tribune.
Including the playoffs, Jake Arrieta completed 248 2/3 innings last season surpassing his previous high of 176 2/3 innings set in 2014 by 72 innings. Arrieta completed 20 innings in the minors two seasons ago before pitching 156 2/3 innings in the majors.
The Cubs wanted Arrieta to “allow his arm extra time to recover while not stunting his preparation.” Mark Gonzales explained Arrieta “performed dry deliveries” that would allow him to work “on his windup and leg drive without throwing a ball.” The dry deliveries allowed Arrieta to maintain his mechanics while not putting stress on his arm.
Arrieta started throwing last month and continued working on his changeup. Arrieta told the Tribune, “It really feels like I never stopped throwing.”
According to the Tribune, Theo Epstein “intimated he would settle for the same quality without the similar quantity from Arrieta.” The Cubs have not outlined their plan for Arrieta in Spring Training.
Epstein said last month, “We’ll be smart about it as to how he goes about his Spring Training and how we try to manage his workload early in the season and ease him up.”
Second Base Slide Rules
According to a report from Buster Olney, MLB and the MLBPA have made progress in changing the rule book about slides into second base.
Olney reported Monday night the change on the way players are allowed to slide into second base could be in place by Opening Day.
“Within the rule alterations being discussed, there is a focus on ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base. Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.”
Olney further explained, “There is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders. The language on the rule has not entirely been resolved, and there is some question about whether slides in question will be subject to instant-replay review.”
Lazarito Armenteros is planning on making a decision by Wednesday (Feb. 10). There are at least nine teams in on Lazarito. The Cubs are believed to be one of the teams. And the 16-year old outfielder could be looking at a rather large signing bonus.
Jesse Sanchez reported Monday at least nine teams “have serious interest” in him.
Lazarito recently told Sanchez he plans on making a decision by Feb. 10 “but God only knows what will happen and when I will sign.”
Yulieski Gurriel and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Two of the biggest baseball stars in Cuba defected Monday, Yulieski Gurriel and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Yulieski and Lourdes are brothers and left the Cuban team in the Dominican Republic. The next step for the brothers is to establish residency and wait for Major League Baseball to declare them free agents.
Jesse Sanchez reported it is possible the brothers are cleared and eligible to sign with teams before the All-Star break.
Yulieski is considered the best player in Cuba and could help a big league team this season, if he receives clearance from MLB. Yulieski is 31 years old and scouts feel he will hit and hit well in the majors. According to Baseball America, Yulieski “has lightning fast hands and classic third base tools with arm strength, body control and plus power.” He can also play second base and shortstop. Yulieski is not subject to International signing guidelines.
As for a possible contract, Baseball America thinks there will be a bidding war for him. Yulieski is considered a better player than Hector Olivera, according to Ben Badler, and he signed a six-year, $62.5 million contract with a $28 million signing bonus.
Lourdes Jr. is 22 years old. Unless he waits until October when he turns 23 he is subject to International signing guidelines. If he is willing to sit out a season, he will likely receive a much higher payday because all 30 teams would be able to sign him.
Lourdes Jr. is considered one of the top Cuban prospects and projects better as an outfielder than a shortstop/infielder. Lourdes Jr. “has shown above-average speed and defensive ability in the outfield” according to Baseball America and above-average power potential at the plate with “some holes in his swing.”
A scout Tim Brown spoke with about the brothers said Yulieski will “for sure” get a Major League contract and that Lourdes “would be a very high draft pick.” And the Yankees are expected to be in the mix for Yulieski Gurriel according to Joel Sherman.
News and Notes
• Jason Heyward is just one of the guys now according to a report from ESPN Chicago.
• Paul Sullivan posted some “new ideas” for Wrigley Field with a new season just around the corner.
• Patrick Mooney reported the Cubs had to think big to keep up with the National League elite.
• The Diamondbacks added a veteran reliever to their bullpen Monday. RHP Tyler Clippard signed a two-year, $12.25 million contract with Arizona. Clippard received a $4 million signing bonus according to Ken Rosenthal and will be paid $4.1 million in 2016 and $4.15 million in 2017.
• The Blue Jays and AL MVP Josh Donaldson avoided arbitration on Monday night by agreeing to terms on a two-year, $29 million contract according to Ken Rosenthal.
• A.J. Pollock also avoided arbitration on Monday when he agreed to terms on a two-year, $10.25 million contract with the Diamondbacks.
• The Royals figured out a way to fill Kauffman Stadium for the first two games of the upcoming season … and give the Mets a little jab all at the same time. According to Adam Rubin, the Royals are splitting their World Series title ceremony to cover both games against the Mets. The Royals will unveil the World Series Championship banner on Opening Night and hand out the rings prior to the second game of the season.
• According to Ken Rosenthal, veteran infielder/outfielder Skip Schumaker singed a minor league contract with the Padres.
• The Yankees had a little fun on Twitter at the Cubs expense on Monday afternoon.
• The Orioles and two other teams were in talks with RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday night, according to Chris Cotillo. One of the other two teams is not believed to be the Rockies.
And last, but not least, in advance of next month’s prospect poll we are testing out a new plugin while looking for input from our readers. If you have a chance, vote in the poll here or in the right side bar. And if you haven’t suggested any players for our prospect watch, click on this link, or you can nominate players on Twitter or Facebook.
This Day in Cubstory
2005 – Cubs traded Kyle Farnsworth to the Tigers for Bo Flowers, Scott Moore and Roberto Novoa
1984 – Dioner Navarro, born
1967 – Todd Pratt, born
1967 – Cubs signed free agent Felix Mantilla
1951 – Eddie Solomon, born
1916 – Freddy Schmidt, born
1914 – Bill Veeck, born
1898 – Chink Taylor, born
1887 – Heinie Zimmerman, born