More on the Scott Feldman signing coming later today, plus a new BN Podcast episode. Also the latest thoughts on the roster … until then, Bullets.
- The Cubs might still be waiting on the city of Chicago before starting a full-scale renovation of Wrigley Field, but they’ve already taken care of one $400,000 project: completely remaking the playing surface. After the 2012 season ended, says Dave Kaplan, the Cubs studied the way other ballparks are used, and how the non-baseball activities there impact the playing surface (obviously Wrigley is used for a wide range of concerts, other athletic events, and corporate stuff). From there, they made two determinations: (1) Wrigley Field should be used for fewer non-baseball activities in order to maintain the playing surface; and (2) the playing surface should be completely removed and replaced with new dirt and new sod, which has now been done. The playing surface update comes four years after the last major playing surface facelift, which included the installation of a new drainage system (which apparently was not quite enough, because players still felt the surface was tough). It’ll be interesting to see if we actually notice a reduction in non-baseball activities, as I highly doubt the Cubs are going to cancel any of the most lucrative “extra” events at Wrigley, and, indeed, we’ve heard about additional summer concerts for 2013 within the last couple months. Perhaps the reductions will come in things that haven’t really been visible to fans.
- Cubs’ GM Jed Hoyer says that criticisms of the Rob Deer hiring – to be the assistant hitting coach– because of his high strikeout totals and low batting average as a player are ridiculous. “I always think that mentioning a coach’s stats as a player is one of the least useful things I can imagine,” Hoyer said, per CSN. “No one ever mentions Jim Leyland’s numbers or Tony La Russa’s numbers or any of those guys’ professional stats. Coaching and playing are two very separate things. And just because a guy happened to strike out a lot, or didn’t have a high batting average, it doesn’t effect how well he teaches at all.”
- Hoyer also added some thoughts on the assistant hitting coach position, generally, and how Deer fills that position well: “That’s a position a lot of teams are adding. I think baseball teams in general are starting to realize the pitching coach has 12 guys and he has help from the bullpen coach, and the hitting coach has 13 guys and no help at all. Teams are starting to add a second hitting coach. Candidly, I’m sort of upset, looking back on the years in Boston and San Diego, I feel it’s a position we should’ve added long ago. Dale [Sveum] has a long relationship with Rob, and speaks incredibly highly of him. Our interactions with him are real positive. We’re excited to add him. He can really assist James [Rowson, hitting coach] well and add a nice element to our clubhouse.”
- Carrie Muskat offers a few Winter League updates, including the latest four-inning outing from Alberto Cabrera. Like Michael Bowden, who also comes in for a mention, it’s fair to say that we’re starting to see the implementation of the Cubs’ stated plans to stretch Cabrera out.
- Local Chicago schools can win a stop from the 2013 Cubs Caravan.
- The MLBullets at BCB today discuss, among other things, the Hall of Fame ballots going out today. From those Bullets: “[T]he list of newly-eligible players is as impressive as it is (likely) contentious: Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, and Craig Biggio, among others. You can expect a couple months of debate about the steroid era, about what the Hall of Fame is supposed to represent, and about those players’ careers relative to their counterparts. The results will be announced on January 9, 2013, so get your thoughts in now. Does Bonds belong in the Hall? Sosa? What about Biggio, whose numbers may not be as impressive, but who has never been attached to PED allegations? And what about holdover guys like Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Jack Morris?” So, yeah, what do you guys think? Obviously we are closest to Sosa … is he a Hall of Famer? Would he be without the steroid cloud?