Cubs

Listen up: Zambrano tries to motivate Silva

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Listen up: Zambrano tries to motivate Silva

Monday, March 7, 2011
8:40 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. With all kinds of thoughts swirling around his head, Carlos Silva reached out to Carlos Zambrano, another Cubs pitcher who has had trouble channeling his emotions.

The Angels had just torched Silva for an eight-run inning on Monday in front of 6,804 fans at HoHoKam Park. The two have known each other since they were prospects playing winter ball in Venezuela and are represented by the same agent.

But for the most part, theyve avoided talking about the parallels between Zambrano confronting Derrek Lee and Silva getting into it with Aramis Ramirez. Heres how Silva recalled the text message from Zambrano reading:

You just need to forget everything. Go out there and pitch and do your thing. You know how to do it. You did it before. Why cant you do it again?

Mike Quade is being patient with Silva, who is owed 11.5 million this season, plus a 2 million buyout of his 2012 option. The manager knows that 3.1 innings isnt much of a sample size and will give Silva some space.

I dont care whoever your friends are, when you have a tough day, (you) call on them for support, Quade said. Who else? A stranger? Who else is going to comfort him other than a good friend?

Z has gone about his business the right way and has been pitching well. I just believe Silva will be OK. I really do.

The Cubs are trying to protect Silva and get him to block out all his doubts and anxieties. Greg Maddux the front-office assistant and future Hall of Famer watched Silvas last side session and encouraged him after Mondays start, saying that the ball looked good coming out of his hand.

Teammates arent nearly as fascinated by the Silva-Ramirez feud as the rest of us.

Good teams have had scuffles in the clubhouse, pitcher Randy Wells said. You just dont read about it. The fact that it happened in the dugout is the only reason you guys know about it. Its not an uncommon thing when youre with somebody for 200 days out of the year. Youre going to have some differences.

Stuff happens behind closed doors and you take care of it in-house. Im sure people wanted to kick my butt before.

Wells laughed at that last line, and really the Cubs have moved on from the incident. They view this as a media-driven story.

Its spring training we have nothing to worry about, Alfonso Soriano said. Were grown men. I think everybody knows what they have to do.

Satans Corner

Quade had more pointed words for third-base coach Ivan DeJesus, who waved in Marlon Byrd when Aramis Ramirez doubled into the left-field corner in the fourth inning. The Cubs were trailing the Angels 9-0 at the time and Byrd was thrown out at home plate.

Its spring training for everyone, Quade said after a 14-13 win. Zeus probably pulled the trigger a little bit soon. Ive done that many times myself and in a different scoring situation maybe you take a shot, but we were down.

DeJesus took Quades old job when the Cubs reshuffled their coaching staff after Lou Piniellas retirement late last season.

Ivan hasnt done a lot of this, Quade said. Well sit down and talk and see what he was thinking. (I) can tell him firsthand when I see something. I know the difficult situations. I dont know if he knows our terminology, but thats Satans Corner.

Ivans got a lot of work to do as far as just getting comfortable over there.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Behind a refined approach, Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start this spring

Behind a refined approach, Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start this spring

The Cubs have only played three spring training games, and it’s dangerous to use spring results to predict regular season successes/failures. Still, it’s okay to acknowledge Albert Almora Jr.’s hot start in camp.

In two games, Almora is 4-for-4 with a walk, double, home run, four RBIs, and four runs scored. That line is essentially equivalent to a single game in the regular season and could be turned upside down by the end of the week. But it’s a start for the 25-year-old who’s struggled immensely at the plate for the last season-and-a-half at the plate.

In his last 177 games (dating back to the second half of 2018), Almora holds a .235/.270/.347 slash line. The advanced stats paint an uglier picture: 58 wRC+, .261 wOBA and 52.2 percent groundball rate.

Last season was the most challenging of Almora’s young career. He hit .236/.271/.381 in 130 games with a 64 wRC+, .271 wOBA, -0.7 fWAR (all career worsts). On top of that, he was involved in a heartbreaking moment early in the season; an Almora foul ball struck a young girl at Minute Maid Park during a Cubs-Astros game in May.

Almora recently refused to blame his 2019 offensive woes on that incident, though it obviously played a part. He did admit he was in a bad place mentally and used this winter to decompress. Almora also used it to make some adjustments to his swing and the changes are clear as day:

Pre-2020:

2020:

As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes, Almora is now more upright in the box and his stance is more closed. His leg kick is less defined, and he’s rotating his front leg far less than previous seasons. In short, he’s more direct to his swing and has more time to react in the box because he cut out a lot of his pre-swing movements.

Almora said Monday he’s far from where he wants to be, pointing out the MLB season is a 200-day marathon. It’s too early to tell whether his simplified approach leads to sustainable success.

Small sample size be damned, Almora’s made noticeable adjustments. That’s the first step in his mission to get back on track offensively.

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Two of the Cubs' best prospects made Keith Law's annual Top 100 list

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USA Today

Two of the Cubs' best prospects made Keith Law's annual Top 100 list

For those who follow such things, Keith Law's yearly Top 100 prospect rankings is always a highly anticipated read. What would baseball twitter even do with their time if they couldn't spend it vocally disagreeing with subjective lists? Having a handful of Top 100 guys is always a shot in the arm for franchises that maybe aren't doing a whole lot of winning at the major league level; when you know you're not winning a World Series, the debuts of these prospects are high points of the summer. 

There wasn't a whole lot of Cubs' representation this season, which isn't a surprise by any means. Only guys two made Law's list: Brennen Davis at 55, and Brailyn Marquez at 80.  

Law claims Davis has the highest upside of any Cubs' prospect, but isn't necessarily close to a debut: 

Davis is lanky and has barely begun to fill out, so there’s likely to be more power to come, while he’s already shown he can manage at-bats and use the middle of the field to get himself on base. Despite his 6′4″ frame he already has a very balanced swing, and the Cubs will just have to tighten up some mechanical things since he’s got such long levers. A former shortstop, he’s adapted quickly to center field; he projects to stay there and add value with his range. 

He also loves Marquez's stuff – comparing it to Aroldis Chapman's – and says it's the reason why he's team's best pitching prospect since Dylan Cease. You can see the entire rankings, which go pretty in-depth, right here.