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We’ll have the latest on Yoenis Cespedes and the Theo Epstein compensation issue later today (there’s actually a bit to say), but, until then, Bullets…

  • Cubs Hall of Famer Andre Dawson (I’ll always think of him that way, anyway), who is a special assistant to the GM down in Miami is a fan of the new ballpark and the changes to the team. “The [new] ballpark is the big focal point this year, and with that in mind, management has gone the extra step trying to put a more competitive product on the field,” Dawson said to the Tribune’s Fred Mitchell. “They filled some necessary voids on the field and they elected to go forward. They want to win right away. Hopefully the new acquisitions will play a big role in that. We’ve practically raided a few players from both the north and the south side of Chicago that should make a huge impact. There’s a lot of excitement down in South Florida right now, not just about the acquisitions, but about the ballpark and this organization moving forward.” Having heard the whispers of ugliness about how the Marlins procured the funding for their stadium (and how it negatively impacts genuine efforts like that of the Cubs to secure partial public funding for renovations), I can’t help but root, ever so slightly, for the Marlins to fail. And that’s probably stupid – if attendance in Miami continues to struggle post-new-stadium, the narrative about not using public funds for stadium needs will only grow stronger. But, given recent history, it’s even harder to convince myself not to be anti-Marlins.
  • New Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, perhaps receiving too much flack from fans, has pulled back from a plan to possibly consider changing the team’s name commensurate with its move to the AL in 2013. I dig the history and all that, but I was kind of hoping it would happen, if only from a voyeuristic standpoint.
  • Carrie Muskat addresses the Cubs’ proposed batting order, and notes the problem with batting Starlin Castro third (he struggled there, mightily, last year). The real problem? The Cubs have a few top of the order type hitters, but no real three or four. Bryan LaHair being legit, as well as Geovany Soto and Ian Stewart rebounding would sure help things.
  • Dude! I am SO going to summer camp with the Cubs! What? It’s only for kids aged 5 to 13? That’s crap. I’m pretty short and youthful-looking. I think I can pull it off.
  • BN’er Cliffy passes on something he saw on MLBN – in a ranking of the game’s top current center fielders, Marlon Byrd came in at number nine. Decent bat, good defense – I think that sounds fair, if a touch high. Are you paying attention other-teams-who-might-need-a-center-fielder?
  • Phil Rogers emphasizes just how bad the Brewers’ unnecessary extension of Ryan Braun was, and MLBTradeRumors throws up a number of extension cautionary tales from two years ago. Something to consider as we talk, cavalierly, about extending Matt Garza or Starlin Castro.
  • Fishin Phil

    “New Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, perhaps receiving too much flack from fans, has pulled back from a plan to possibly consider changing the team’s name commensurate with its move to the AL in 2013. I dig the history and all that, but I was kind of hoping it would happen, if only from a voyeuristic standpoint.”

    Mehh, just change it back to the Colt .45s and be done with it. You get history and change all wrapped up in one tidy package.

    • david

      Yeah, but the anti gun whiners would complain.

      • DocWimsey

        Guns are for peasants. Gentlemen settle their disputes with swords.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    still not sure why houston goes to the a.l. why not the rockies and then move houston to the west n.l. now both tx teams in same division and league thats like the cubs and white sox in the same division or the cards and royals,mets and yanks…..not to mention its gonna make things that much tougher for the stros as it is for the orioles,put a bad team in that division there looking at several yrs before competing.

    • WGNstatic

      Rightly or wrongly… I think it is about 2 things. First, giving the Rangers a natural rival and another team in the division in their own time zone. Second, because the Astros were being sold it was an opportunity for MLB to force a move.

  • jstraw

    Screw the Marlins.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Muck the Farlins.  2003, never forget.

  • dob2812

    I saw Carrie Muskat’s piece; two things struck me: We shouldn’t be reading anything into the numbers he put up while hitting in different parts of the order and we should want him in the two hole anyway, not the three, because research (The Book, et al) suggests that you put your best hitter at two, and the worst of your 2-3-4-5 at 3. Research also suggests it doesn’t make that much difference where you put anyone, but doing things right never hurt anyone either.

    But let’s not care about what his batting average was from the three hole. It means less than nothing. I’ve found thinking too much about the probable line-up at this stage of the winter tends to dispel off season optimism to an unhappy degree, so I try to avoid it, and recommend same to all.

    • Matt

      I always liked the best hitter at 2. The hitter that would hit for the highest clip and for power at 3. The best power hitter at 4. The 2nd best hitter that would hit for the highest clip and a little power. Give me the 2nd 2 hitter at 6. Speed at 7. Power hitter with horrible average at 8.

      • WGNstatic

        I agree with you 1-6, but I think I would swap 7&8. A low average power hitter with the pitcher behind him would never see a pitch to hit. When I think of a low avg. power hitter, I typically think of a Soriano type who is overly agressive, so that would not play out well with a pitcher hitting behind him. On the other hand, if you are talking Carlos Pena, that is a different story.

        I for one really like speed in the #8 spot. Get that guy on, then let him steal, then, try to bunt him to third. It always drives me nuts when a base stealer is bunted from 2nd to 3rd, but I digress.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You overstate any existing optimism. :)

  • art

    did Dale tell Muskat that Castro would be hitting 3rd?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No. She is just guessing.

  • WGNstatic

    As for the Marlins, I know I am in the minority, but I kind of like what they are doing. Baseball in Miami simply cannot replicate the century + of tradition that exists in places like NY, Chicago, Boston, etc. So, rather than look north to older MLB teams for a model, they are looking south. Their games may feel more like a Winter League game than a game at Wrigley, but that doesn’t bother me. Let each team have their own schtick.

  • Bud Bleachers

    Muck the Farlins, huh? You mean the team that has Carlos Zambrano and only has to pay him $3MM?

    Look at what this whole thing has become this off-season–talking about other teams and, recently, a Cuban free agent. What, nobody wants to discuss that Trever Miller signing? Why not? How about Manny Corpas’s setback? How come?

    For the second year in a row, the Cubs have mailed-it-in. Here we are talking about the batting order. In May, we’ll start wondering if Rizzo and Jackson are ready to play every day.

    By the deadline (or sooner), we’ll start wondering who else we can trade for “assets,” September call-ups, and inevitably start discussing the off-season free agent market and projecting where we’ll most likely stand for 2013.

    People will still go to games to witness the new era and attitude and hope to get a glimpse of Theo Epstein, as if he actually plays the games. Tom Ricketts and family will hang around the games, shake our hands, and take pictures with us just to keep things smooth with the paying customers.

    The Cubs will rake and take your cash, and we’ll be stuck with a so-so (or worse) team with supposed potential and upside for some future date. At least we’ll have some Fenway-like structure and 70′ screen, which has been the second main attraction, next to Theo, thus far this off-season.

    Sorry to sound so glum, but it’s a glum situation. It’s always a glum situation.

    • ferrets_bueller

      “Muck the Farlins, huh? You mean the team that has Carlos Zambrano and only has to pay him $3MM?”

      ….which is about $2,999,999.98 more than what his poor sportsmanship, attitude, and other headaches are worth.

      “Look at what this whole thing has become this off-season–talking about other teams and, recently, a Cuban free agent. What, nobody wants to discuss that Trever Miller signing? Why not? How about Manny Corpas’s setback? How come?”

      ….most likely because most people are smart enough to realize that the Cubs are actually building the core of the team the right way…which would be not through FA.  Anyone who thinks or hopes the Cubs win this year is terribly misguided and shortsighted.

      “For the second year in a row, the Cubs have mailed-it-in. Here we are talking about the batting order. In May, we’ll start wondering if Rizzo and Jackson are ready to play every day.”

      Actually, no.  If they had mailed it in last year, like they should have, then we’d be in a considerably better position both for this season, and for the future.  Unfortunately, due to Jim Hendry’s absurd degree of shortsightedness, we’re in the same position as before, with no core.

      The Cubs will rake and take your cash, and we’ll be stuck with a so-so (or worse) team with supposed potential and upside for some future date. At least we’ll have some Fenway-like structure and 70′ screen, which has been the second main attraction, next to Theo, thus far this off-season.

      Sorry to sound so glum, but it’s a glum situation. It’s always a glum situation.”

      This is the first offseason in a long, long time that it is in fact not a glum situation.  This is the first time things are looking up, and we have actual reason to have hope, instead of blind hope- this team is actually being constructed in the correct, intelligent manner.

      The Cubs will rake in cash, not because people come for no reason, but because the intelligent fans want to see the future, and are eager to see a team develop and be constructed in a smart manner, as opposed to the crap we’ve had to watch under Hendry- a haphazardly thrown together collection of lazy, overpriced veterans.

  • Chaz

    BB from PSD? You, Glum? Lol never

  • hardtop

    Houston Armpits

  • rcleven

    Marlins will draw well for about the first month then the crowds will dwindle to the hard core with 75% of the seats empty.

  • MightyBear

    I hate the Marlins. I hate their owner. He’s a dick.

    • TWC

      I like lamp.

      • ferrets_bueller

        loud noisesssss!!

  • http://justinjabs.com/blog Justin Jabs

    Additional “muck the Farlins” if they overspend and grab Cespedes…

  • DocWimsey

    “Carrie Muskat addresses the Cubs’ proposed batting order, and notes the problem with batting Starlin Castro third (he struggled there, mightily, last year).”

    Tsk, tsk, Brett! I would have expected you to call Muskat on the small sample size (185 PAs, I think).

    ;-)

    Seriously, even half a season of ABs is not a big enough sample size to really project performances. That being written, the Cubs would score slightly more with Castro batting 1st or 2nd than with him batting 3rd, at least with the current lineup. (Put in two high OBP guys and that will change.)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      For me, it wasn’t Castro’s numbers in the three hole I didn’t like (though they were quite bad), it was his approach.

      • DocWimsey

        This might be one case then where the Sox hitting philosophy will help. They preach treating every bat the same regardless of the situation: look for a pitch that you can drive and lay off of the others. (The story of how Papi learned that lesson upon joining the Sox is pretty funny, actually.)

        The Cubs (hopefully past?) propensity to preach “situational” hitting might actually have affected Castro. If the Epstein/Hoyer team has the coaching staff do what they did before, then Castro will take the same approach every PA and this will not be an issue, regardless of sample size.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I could see that.

          One thing is sure – whatever the Cubs have been teaching kids about approach at the plate from 2000 to 2011 has been a failure.

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