Cubs

Mooney: Byrd-Conte connection bothers Selig

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Mooney: Byrd-Conte connection bothers Selig

Saturday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 6:51 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. Marlon Byrd has been upfront about his relationship with Victor Conte, the man behind Barry Bonds and BALCO.

Byrd recently sat down with HBOs Real Sports to explain how he trains with and takes supplements from Conte. The Cubs outfielder also addressed it at length at the beginning of spring training.

The connection bothers Bud Selig, whose legacy as baseballs commissioner is shaped in part by the steroid era.

Weve talked to him, Selig said Saturday at HoHoKam Park. He knows how we feel and its not a situation that makes me very happy.

For Byrd the only player believed to still work with Conte its a non-issue. He trusts Conte and thinks hes the best in the business.

We talked about it in 2009, Byrd said. Its 2011.

Labor peace

In reality, with a collective bargaining agreement set to expire at years end, Selig has bigger problems to worry about. While the NFL works to avoid a lockout, Selig has already met with union leadership and has another session scheduled for next week in Arizona.

Were starting to work quietly and peacefully, Selig said. There used to be a lot of public statements and people banging on each other. While negotiations will be tough and well have difference of opinion, well do it in a constructive manner.

Selig said that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has met extensively with Major League Baseball about renovating Wrigley Field, but he wouldnt reveal any details about those plans.

The Cubs are also preparing to build a new facility in Mesa that could leave HoHoKam and Fitch parks empty by 2014. Selig does not foresee a team moving from Florida to Arizona for spring training.

While there has been speculation that troubled franchises like Tampa Bay and Oakland could be contracted, Selig said the idea hasnt been discussed yet. Hes optimistic about this round of negotiations.

There was so much anger and so much hostility, Selig said, but those days are gone. Other sports now, in some cases, are feeling what we felt in the 1990s. Its painful.
Cease-fire

The pressure that overwhelmed Carlos Silva hasnt touched Randy Wells, who threw three innings during Saturdays 9-4 win over the San Diego Padres. Wells hasnt allowed an earned run in his first five innings this spring.

You cant really control it, Wells said. Either youre going to make the team, or Ill be at Triple-A I got options left. The way Im looking at it is: Yeah, it would suck to go to Triple-A, but there are worse things. I still got a job.

Seriouslyafter a down year and having to fight for a rotation spot, it puts things in perspective.

The Cubs are trying to do the same with Wednesdays dugout dispute between Silva and Aramis Ramirez.

Thats in the past, Alfonso Soriano said. Nobody talks about it anymore. They are grown men. They talked and they know (they) made mistakes. They go from there. The most important (thing) for everybody here is to start playing better and get ready for the season.

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

What Cubs lineup could look like in 2020 if Kris Bryant leads off

What Cubs lineup could look like in 2020 if Kris Bryant leads off

Kris Bryant told reporters Wednesday he's offered to leadoff for the Cubs this season to manager David Ross. And while nothing is set in stone, the 2016 NL MVP is one of the Cubs’ best options for the role.

Bryant isn’t a prototypical leadoff guy but it’s not like we’re discussing a cleanup man moving to the No. 1 spot in the lineup. Yes, he has power, but he’s also an on-base machine (career .385 OBP) who accepts his walks (career 11.9 percent walk rate).

Considering Bryant’s plate discipline, opponents will either have to pitch to him or run the risk of walking him ahead of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez, Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras. Bryant leading off will give those guys more RBI opportunities. He’s also one of the Cubs’ best baserunners, and his ability to take an extra base benefits those hitting behind him.

It’s important to note Bryant wouldn’t change his approach in the top spot — his power won't just disappear. He has a career .502 slugging percentage with the bases empty and could put the Cubs ahead right away with a long ball or put them in business with an extra-base hit.

Bryant will be himself no matter where he hits: an elite on-base guy who almost always puts together a quality at-bat. He’s as good a leadoff candidate as any on the Cubs (no disrespect meant to Anthony Rizzo, aka the “Greatest Leadoff Hitter Of All-Time”).

If Bryant leads off, here's what standard lineups could look like, both against righties and lefties:

Versus RHP

1. (R) Kris Bryant (3B)
2. (L) Anthony Rizzo (1B)
3. (R) Javier Báez (SS)
4. (L) Kyle Schwarber (LF)
5. (R) Willson Contreras (C)
6. (L) Jason Heyward (RF)
7. (R) David Bote
8. Pitcher
9. (S) Ian Happ (CF)

Former Cubs manager Joe Maddon liked to alternate lefties and righties in his lineup. With MLB’s new three-batter minimum rule for relievers, I stuck to that mentality to create a late-inning advantage for the Cubs.

Schwarber-Báez-Rizzo looks lethal and is somewhat interchangeable. Rizzo recently said he prefers hitting third or fourth but will hit where Ross wants him. Ross suggested Wednesday Rizzo will hit behind Bryant; it looks unorthodox but Ross can always adjust it. 

Rizzo has fared well hitting second and hitting him there keeps him and Bryant back-to-back.

Rizzo hitting second (237 plate appearances): .300/.401/.515, 153 wRC+.

I like Báez getting RBI chances behind Bryzzo, the Cubs’ two best on-base guys. And, he mashes in the three hole:

Báez career hitting third (118 plate appearances): .366/.398/.571, 161 wRC+ 

Similarly, Schwarber has been more successful hitting cleanup than any other spot:

Schwarber career hitting fourth (68 plate appearances): .393/.441/.787, 211 wRC+

Those aren't the biggest sample sizes, but the numbers are eye-popping. Contreras and Heyward hitting fifth and sixth brings us back to a more traditional Cubs lineup. The second base competition is wide-open, but I'll give Bote a slight edge after he hit .274 with a .425 OBP post-All-Star break last season.

Bote will also play some third, which is when we'll see Daniel Descalso and Jason Kipnis (if he makes the roster) at second.

RELATED: Cubs roster projection 1.0: Bullpen, second base competitions are wide open

From there, I like a pitcher hitting eighth and Happ hitting ninth as a second leadoff guy. He has a good eye for the strike zone and his ability to get on base will give the top of the order more RBI chances.

Now, for the lineup against lefty starting pitchers:

1. (R) Kris Bryant (3B)
2. (L) Anthony Rizzo (1B)
3. (R) Javier Báez (SS)
4. (L) Kyle Schwarber (LF)
5. (R) Willson Contreras (C)
6. (L) Jason Heyward OR (R) Steven Souza Jr. (RF)
7. (R) Albert Almora Jr. (CF)
8. Pitcher
9. (R) David Bote (2B)

Ross believes in a structured lineup, so this looks pretty similar to the previous order. Heyward isn’t going to sit against every lefty starter, but when he does Souza’s power bat will fit in nicely in the sixth spot.

In this scenario, Hoerner is in Triple-A and Bote is the starting second baseman against lefties. Where Bote hits is contingent on Almora. I’d put Bote ninth when Almora is in the lineup because the former is more of an on-base threat. Almora’s contact-oriented approach could help move ahead any baserunners ahead of him. The same can be said about Bote, but I like the idea of him getting on base for the top of the order.

Happ, a switch-hitter, will also start against righties and I can see him hitting sixth, seventh or ninth. A lot of this hinges on how he, Almora and Bote are performing at the plate. Each will get their at-bats, but the Cubs need one to emerge as a consistent contributor.

Do these groupings look unfamiliar? Sure, but Bryant leading off will put us in new waters. Again, nothing is set in stone, and the Cubs have a ton of lineup combinations for this season. Seeing Bryant atop the order sure looks like an enticing possibility, however.

Kris Bryant to get a shot as Cubs leadoff hitter

Kris Bryant to get a shot as Cubs leadoff hitter

The leadoff spot has been in flux for the Cubs since Dexter Fowler left after the 2016 season. A new chapter in that role could soon be coming.

According to multiple reports, Kris Bryant talked about leading off for the Cubs in a meeting with new manager David Ross and it sounds like he will get a chance to do just that.


The Cubs have been creative with the leadoff spot without the lack of a traditional leadoff hitter on the roster. Anthony Rizzo even has 57 games in the leadoff spot in his career.

Bryant has had seven starts at the top of the order. He hit .321/.387/.464 in those games.


The Cubs' own Twitter account has made it semi-official by poking fun at Bryant as a leadoff hitter.


What this would do to the rest of the Cubs' lineup is going to be interesting. Bryant primarily batted second or third last year. Putting him at leadoff could separate him from Rizzo and Javy Baez in the middle of the lineup. Ross could also continue to change things up and put Baez or Rizzo second to keep the team's best three hitters back-to-back-to-back in the order.

Ross hasn't even managed a spring training game yet, but this could be his first big change. With the first spring training game coming up on Saturday, we should get a clue as to how Ross plans to send the team out. Suddenly the batting order is something to keep an eye on.

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