Cubs

The Yips? Cubs can’t hide Jon Lester’s throwing issue

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The Yips? Cubs can’t hide Jon Lester’s throwing issue

Your move, Jon Lester.

Now that “The Yips” became a viral video, the Cubs can’t simply wave this off as a media creation or pretend like it never happened. Lester airmailing that throw to first base will have to be ingrained into any scouting report on the $155 million lefty.

“Any moment can become a negative situation if you permit it to,” manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday. “I know from the outside looking in, I get it. Listen, I’m not going to deny it. I understand what everybody’s talking about, of course. But now it’s up to us to make the adjustment and make it work.”

That’s why team president Theo Epstein believes this will become a nonissue. Lester – a two-time World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox – isn’t soft or defensive or unproven.

“He’s very much a grown man,” Epstein said. “He faces things head-on. He’s going to work. He’s got some things to work on.”

[RELATED: Cubs show they're bigger than just Lester in comeback win]

Lester admitted as much after Monday night’s 7-6 comeback victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field, joking it had been awhile since he had thrown over to first base (April 2013).

Moments later, Lester thought he saw Zack Cozart leaning one way and got a little overexcited, throwing a ball that wound up bouncing into the visiting bullpen, where Jorge Soler had hustled over from right field. Soler picked it up and made a strong throw to third base to nail Cozart.

Here’s how Bryan Price – the Reds manager who had been a well-respected pitching coach – broke it down:

“More than anything, I think we needed to see a throw over,” Price said. “You almost have to create an environment where he’s going to throw over. The thing that he’s done that really helps him is they have catchers that can throw. We all know that David Ross can throw and (Welington) Castillo really improved last year. I know Montero from my days in Arizona and he’s a good catch-and-throw guy.

“(Lester’s) been really competitive with his times to the plate. So now you go: ‘OK, well, he may not throw over to first base at all or very little. But when he goes to the plate and it’s a 1.15 or 1.17 (seconds), you better get a great jump because those guys will throw you out if you don’t.

“There may be a certain sense of not as much anxiety for the baserunners because he doesn’t throw over, (but) I don’t think like the league’s going to steal 100 bases against him. I don’t think that’s going to happen because he’s too quick to the plate.”

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Jon Lester jersey!]

Lester didn’t throw over to first base last year with the Red Sox or Oakland A’s and still had the best individual season of his career, earning his third All-Star selection and finishing at 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA across 219-plus innings.

“He didn’t do it once last year and that wasn’t exactly a secret and there was not an inordinate amount of steals,” Epstein said. “Would throwing to first base help control the running game? Of course. Is he going to face things head-on and find a way to control the running game? No doubt about it.

“He’s also got to do it in a manner that allows him to make good pitches to home plate while there’s a runner on first. That’s really important.

“He naturally does a good job of varying his looks and his times and is quick to home plate when he wants to be. Always, the best way is to get the hitter out. But he’s working on it.”

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: