The Rundown: Eddie Butler Serves Dodgers, Lester Back to Minors, Who’s Ready for a Goat Roast?

When the Cubs first acquired Eddie Butler, the former top prospect’s name was placed on the same roll as previous reclamation projects the organization had gambled on. While his struggles were owing to more than just the unfriendly confines of Coors Field, it figured that a change might do him good.

As it turns out, the new look may end up being more about Butler himself than his surroundings. Early in his Spring Training work, pitching coach Chris Bosio has suggested that Butler go back to his old delivery, a change that appears to be paying dividends. And Butler’s not the only new pitcher the Wizard of Boz is working on this spring, either.

At the risk of breaking form and suggesting that we should draw salient conclusions from his Thursday outing, it’s hard not to be happy about four innings of one-hit ball against the Dodgers. Oh, Butler also struck out four. And LA opened with a lineup comprised mostly of regulars, not a bunch of prospects.

Though he’s projected to be assigned to AAA Iowa, Butler will likely see action as a swing starter at some point this season. That said, the real value in bringing him aboard may prove to be 2018 and beyond, when the Cubs will be in dire need of rotation help.

Seriously, it’s to the point where people are advocating for a John Lackey extension, which…yeah. That idea needs to be doused in napalm and set ablaze in a very public place for all to see. Which is to say it’s bad.

It’s also unnecessary, given the number of options the Cubs have provided themselves for this year and beyond. They’re not all going to work out, but it’s a volume play they’re hoping will result in at least a couple hits. Or, you know, not many hits. Because we’re talking about pitchers.

With Butler serving up performances like this it’s easy to see things working out well.

Lester on the back fields

Most of the Cubs regulars sat out the game against the Dodgers, so Joe Maddon chose to hold his Opening Day starter back as well. Unconcerned as they are about Jon Lester’s ability to acclimate to the competition of the regular season, the Cubs’ only focus as this point is getting the lefty in shape for what promises to be another deep run.

Lester was able to pitch five innings on one of the back fields against a group of minor leaguers, working mainly on fastball location. The intrasquad contest also allowed time for the new battery of Lester and Willson Contreras to work together. Though it was a productive pairing by all accounts, there were some inherent hazards, as Carrie Muskat reported.

“[He is] a little bit quicker than ol’ Grandpa [Ross],” Lester said. “You just get the hell out of the way. There’s no lollygagging around. It’s bad when [Contreras] throws it harder to second base than you’re throwing to home plate. It’s fun except when it’s coming at your head.”

Mesa goat roast

One thing I found sorta funny about all the stories of people — namely Cubs execs — eating goat after the World Series was how the meal was being treated as some sort of wild novelty. I mean, I don’t eat goat on the reg, but it’s incredibly common in many other parts of the world and is gaining popularity Stateside. But enough of my cultural pearl-clutching, let’s get to how Spring Training attendees can get their own goat.

The Brass Tap in Mesa, AZ — site of Cubs Insider’s meet-up this Saturday — is having a goat roast on March 24, which just so happens to coincide with the Cubs taking on the Indians at Sloan Park. They will be preparing two goats, to be served over a bed of rice with pineapple, peas, and teriyaki, plus a beer, all for $20. The beers of choice are Huss Koffee Kolsch, Huss Magic in the Ivy, Huss Scottsdale Blonde or Huss Scottsdale Blonde.

They’ll also be tapping some specialty beers for the event, including Lagunitas High West-ified (imperial coffee stout), Bells Hopslam, Huss BBA Koffee Kolsch, and Goose Island Bourbon County. Dude, the beer alone is reason to show up. The goat will be ready by 4pm local time, right around the time the game ends, but the beers will all be flowing prior to the game.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out once more that we’ll be out on Brass Tap’s patio tomorrow, consuming some delicious beverages and trying to get rich by selling some of our Theo is my President t-shirts. A portion of the proceeds from our sales will go to charity, like Joe Maddon’s Hazleton Integration Project and/or other local causes. We may even have some other cool stuff to raffle off, who knows.

More news and notes

  • A report into the investigation the boat crash that killed Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends last September concluded that Fernandez was indeed piloting the boat
    • This isn’t a surprise, or shouldn’t be
    • The loss is no less tragic, particularly for those who knew and loved Fernandez, writes Craig Calcaterra
    • Please don’t be a drunk-driving dumbass
  • The NCAA tournament took up all my time, so I’m not sure what else happened
  • Did I mention we’re having a meet-up Saturday
  • If you don’t want to buy our awesome Cubs Insider gear, Fanatics has some new arrivals you might dig
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