Ah, spring has sprung (well, ok, almost) and baseball is here, and in Phoenix, the wonderfully young and fun Cubbies took the field for the first time this year, facing the Brewers in Maryvale.
Here is the box from the game, but ten observations:
1) Javier Baez is probably not a centerfielder. Jonathan Villar smacked the first pitch off the center field wall, and Baez was turned around twice while backpedaling and tracking the ball before it bounced off the wall just above him and bounced back for a triple. Two hitters later, Jonathan Lucroy smacked a sinking liner to shallow right center which bounded off Baez' glove for a two-base error. Baez does have some speed but judging the bat off the ball seems to be another question. Either that, or a team should stack their starting lineup with "Jonathans."
2) Miguel Montero can hit, banging a double and then a single, but he was hung out to dry on a come-backer. OK, the ball was hard hit, but Will Middlebrooks dropped the throw from Chase Anderson, and had Montero been aggressive running towards third rather than scrambling back to second, he might have been safe. Worst case, Baez might have made it to second during the potential rundown. As it was, Montero was tagged out by Middlebrooks trying to get back to second.
3) I have to rethink my view of Kyle Hendricks, who did give up a run and a couple of hits but whiffed four batters over his two innings.
4) Keep an eye on Josh Hader, swapped by the Astros as part of the Carlos Gomez trade. The reliever has 398 minor league whiffs over 363 innings along with five saves since being drafted in 2012. He went two innings, with a hit and three whiffs.
5) Kyle Schwarber lined a sharp single in his second at-bat.
6) Kris Bryant blooped a single in his second at-bat.
7) Jorge Soler has a big swing and needs to learn to control it some before he can expect the success we anticipate.
8) Jonathan Lucroy did take advantage of Baez' misplay, but his second at-bat produced a single as well.
9) Catcher Jacob Nottingham started at DH and clobbered a pair of doubles, the first of which meant a run when Lucroy dropped a hit just beyond Villar's grasp. The catcher bounced back and forth between the Athletics and Astros before it seems finding a home with the Brewers, and he has a minor league .804 OPS to go with a .284-23-130 line over 211 games.
10) Chase Anderson got the win and looked fine over his first two frames, allowing a hit while striking out two.