Cubs

Cubs: How Jake Arrieta plans to explode through the wall in 2016

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Cubs: How Jake Arrieta plans to explode through the wall in 2016

MESA, Ariz. - Jake Arrieta hasn't left anything open to debate.

He has admitted several times he ran into a wall in October last season, when he gave up eight earned runs in his final two postseason starts.

Arrieta saw a jump of almost 75 innings from 2014 (176.2) to 2015 (248.2, including playoffs).

It didn't matter what shape he was in or how old he was. Arrieta ran out of gas.

He acknowledged his mindset last year was to try to pitch into the eighth and ninth innings each time out, but understands it's time for a different approach in 2016.

"Going into this season, it's obviously very wise to monitor things early in the season to preserve things for October and so on and so forth," Arrieta said. "As nice as it is to complete games as a starter, it's even nicer to pitch meaningful games in October, as I now know from last year's experiences."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon feels Arrieta is better for the experience of wearing down.

"He gets it now," Maddon said. "Guys like him who have never been through it before, you pretty much feel like you're invincible, like you can do anything.

"So at least now, he's had the experience of what it feels like to be in that position and he knows it now firsthand. My job and (pitching coach Chris Bosio's) job should be somewhat easier in regards to harnessing him just a bit during the season.

"That's it. Not talking about treating him like a kid or backing up, just being a little bit more intelligent about the latter part of the game with the lead and when to get him out."

[MORE: Joe Maddon wants Cubs to embrace target on their back]

Even if Arrieta hadn't run into a wall, Maddon said the Cubs were planning on limiting the right-hander's innings in 2016 anyway, given the significant increase.

It's easy for Maddon and Arrieta to say now that they'll reduce his innings, but will it be tough to do that down the stretch?

"I don't think so," Arrieta said. "Maybe a couple years ago or even last year, a little bit. I think Joe is the leader on this aspect. You gotta check your ego at the door. It doesn't matter individually at this point.

"We were in the NLCS last year. We expect to go one step further this year. So if we want to do that, there's certain sacrifices that have to be made. I'm more than willing to make those sacrifices to be better for my team later in the season.

"... If that means six or seven innings for a certain amount of starts to let our big arms in the 'pen come in and do their thing...those things are much more important than for me as an individual to get eight or nine innings.

"It looks good on paper, but a ring looks a little bit better at the end of November."

Maddon didn't want to tab Arrieta as the Cubs' Opening Day starter until he got a chance to talk to all of his players. But the manager did allow that anybody "could draw your own conclusions about it," pointing to Arrieta's Cy Young and taking the ball in the winner-take-all wild card game in Pittsburgh.

Arrieta is a fitness freak whose workout regimen is becoming legendary, to the point where teammates and opposing players and coaches are asking him about it.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Cubs fans!]

And why not? Everybody saw how Arrieta kept getting stronger as the regular season ended, turning in a second half for the ages with a record-setting 0.75 ERA that included a no-hitter.

Arrieta said he wasn't able to wrap his head around the magnitude of his second half until the postseason had ended and he wonders whether his new record will ever be broken.

Arrieta also understands how luck played on his side, knowing a lot of those numbers were out of his control.

So what could he possibly do for an encore? How does anybody follow up that type of season?

"In regards to pressure or expectations to recreate what you've done in the past, those thoughts are really worthless," Maddon said. "They don't do anything for you right now. That was the crux of my message [to him] was we have to stay in the moment and the process has to be our anchor.

"If we do that, it'll lessen the threat that he's gonna attempt to replicate or recreate exactly what he had done last year.

"Every season, every moment provides new experience. I think he understands that."

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

[MORE: The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason]

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

Listen to the podcast here or via the embedded player below: