Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

I ate at a Brazilian steakhouse for the first time yesterday. The Wife is a vegetarian, so when I have the opportunity to EAT MEAT, I relish in it. The place was all you can eat, so I’m still completely stuffed with meat.

  • Last evening, Mike Trout learned, to the surprise of no one, that he’d unanimously won the AL Rookie of the Year award. The NL race was much closer, with Bryce Harper edging out Wade Miley. This year, we’re able to see exactly how each voter voted (which should be a mark in favor of transparency, and not a tool for derision), and it’s interesting to see some geographic homerism. Given that each voter could drop just three votes, I can’t really gripe that Rizzo received no consideration – each of Harper, Miley, and Todd Frazier, who finished third, were better selections this year – but it still would have been nice to see him get a vote or two if guys like Jordan Pacheco, Yonder Alonso, and Matt Carpenter were getting votes (each received a third place vote from a local writer). Rizzo’s numbers blow Pacheco’s and Alonso’s out of the water, and his are right there with Carpenter’s (with Rizzo slightly more valuable, according to FanGraphs). Those guys get to say they finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting, while Rizzo gets no such honor. Small thing? Yes. Kind of petty? Yes. But it would have been nice to see him rewarded in some small way for his solid rookie season. (And, yes, he did qualify as a rookie.)
  • Friend of the program – and podcast-mateSahadev Sharma has a piece up at Baseball Prospectus on the transformation Alfonso Soriano has undergone over the past couple years, both on the field and in the media. Some notable love for Soriano: “Hard work and leadership are qualities that are nearly impossible to measure. For someone like myself who gravitates toward the numbers side of the game (and the same probably goes for you, considering the website you’ve found this piece on), quantifying the true value of these abstract qualities is an impossibility. But after spending time in clubhouses over the past two seasons, I’ve come to believe that these things—unlike a hitter being clutch or a pitcher having some innate ability to win games—truly exist and can actually be seen if you’re paying attention. They’re traits that can be very important to the success of a team, especially one that’s as young and will be losing as much as the Cubs.”

  • Tony Campana is headed to Venezuela to play some Winter Ball (and to hopefully work on his on-base skillz), and he’ll be joined by Josh Vitters. That’s interesting. Vitters had a fairly full and long 2012 season, and it seems like the adjustment his game needs is to Major League pitching (he always seems to have trouble adjusting, at first, to a higher level). He’ll see some of that in the VWL, but I’ll also be keeping an eye on where he’s playing defensively. He needs work at third, but obviously the rumors of the need for a positional adjustment have been going around with him for years. With Junior Lake likely headed to AAA next year, and possibly needing to see some time at third base, might Vitters be shifted around a bit next year? We’ll see.
  • Carrie Muskat answers questions, and lodges a guess that Spring Training games could begin as early as February 24, thanks to the World Baseball Classic.
  • Cubs minor leaguers Jim Adduci and Juan Apodaca are Cubs minor leaguers no longer, each having been signed to a minor league deal by the Rangers.

  • This isn’t directly Cubs news, but is relevant to the Cubs in a number of ways – Deadspin offers an artful takedown of the descent of ESPN (particularly on the television side) into a Tebow-driven, faux argument-infused, entertainment system.

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