Yesterday, the Nationals clinched a winning record just a day after the Cubs clinched a losing record.
- Speaking of those very good Nationals, Cubs manager Dale Sveum weighs in on how they’ve gotten so good. “The bottom line is, [the Nationals mostly built their club] through the Draft and through the organization, then mixed their pieces in, and they obviously made a nice trade and picked up [Gio] Gonzalez, and they had [Jordan] Zimmermann, and [Ross] Detwiler’s come through,” Sveum said, per Cubs.com. “Those kind of things, and all of sudden, you’ve got the best team in the National League. But the bottom line is, most of their core players have come through their organization.” Not every top team has been built so heavily from within, but the Nats certainly serve as an example that – for better or worse – being terrible for a number of years is one strategy that has proved effective at becoming good (especially if you fall backwards into Strasburg/Harper). There are, of course, other successful strategies, but you’ll find that all good teams are a balance of homegrown contributors, traded-for contributors, and free agents. Even the Nats – being as internally constructed as they are – have three major contributors that came by way of free agency: Jayson Werth, Edwin Jackson, and Adam LaRoche. It takes a balance.
- Dale Sveum says Brett Jackson could be a special player, even if he has a ton to work on this Winter. “I’m not going to guarantee anything like that,” Sveum told CSN of the possibility that Jackson could start in center field on Opening Day in 2013. “But he’s shown enough that there’s a lot to work with, and make some adjustments, and then there might be something pretty special. But we all know watching the games that we have to make some pretty big adjustments this winter to handle this kind of pitching on a daily basis. And he knows that.”
- Sveum will be working together with the front office over the next few weeks to make a decision on the team’s hitting coach going forward, which could lead to a full-time gig for interim hitting coach James Rowson. “I don’t think you judge anything like that on numbers,” Sveum said, per CSN. “He’s got the right mentality, the work ethic, all that. He’s done a great job for stepping [into] a tough situation. It’s a process, too, when you have young hitters. And it’s the toughest job, anyway, when you have a big-time lineup and veterans. When you have a lot of young kids and stuff, it magnifies how tough that job is. You not only have to get guys to understand about making adjustments, they have to be willing to do it, and then they have to be able to do it.” The other big name you’ll hear as a possibility is Dave Magadan, the hitting coach for the Red Sox (and one-time Cub). Take a look at his player card and tell me you wouldn’t like to see him somehow graft his approach onto Cubs hitters.
- Sveum calls Jeff Samardzija “a horse.” That’s all I wanted to point out there.
- Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein, and Jed Hoyer were all in attendance last night at Boise’s playoff game (though I’d take the other factual assertions – like the statement attributed to Ricketts that the Cubs will be re-upping with Boise after the season, which came by way of “one fan” – with a grain of salt). With the waiver trade deadline passed, it’s a good time for the crew to take a trip and see one of the most prospect-loaded rosters in the Cubs’ minor league system.
- The Red Sox have called up Chris Carpenter, whom you’ll recall came over as part of the long-awaited Theo Epstein compensation (nope, still no word on the Jed Hoyer/Jason McLeod compensation), after he fully recovered from bone spurs in his elbow. He was dominant in 16 appearances at AAA for the Red Sox, though he still walked a ton of guys. Aaron Kurcz, the other prospect the Red Sox received in the deal, was similarly dominant at AA this year, but also walked a ton of guys.
- The Cubs could call up Rafael Dolis, Anthony Recker, and Jaye Chapman – the reliever received in the Paul Maholm/Reed Johnson deal – today.