As I watched the Redskins and Seahawks yesterday, I wondered how I would feel as a fan if, for example, the Cubs were in the playoffs and Jeff Samardzija was on the mound (but, like, a version of Jeff Samardzija who was so important that he started every single game for the Cubs) after suffering a serious shoulder injury mid-season. I imagine that he came back and pitched in the final month, but he was clearly not 100%. And, then, in that playoff game, his shoulder exploded. Am I upset because he suffered the very injury that he was at risk for suffering? Or do I accept that the risk was necessary because it was the playoffs? There’s a Strasburg conversation in here, too, I suppose. Interesting theoretical stuff.
- The Cubs are yet to officially add Carlos Villanueva, with whom they agreed to terms on a two-year, $10 million deal last month. The hold-up is probably equal parts the holidays delaying a physical and the currently-full 40-man roster, but I’d think we’d see something official pretty soon. That means it’s time for another round of 40-man roster watching – a quick look shows that Lendy Castillo, Steve Clevenger, and Tony Campana (maybe Brooks Raley or Chris Rusin) are probably the leading candidates for bouncing, though Castillo might be the only one the Cubs wouldn’t lose if they waived. As I’ve said in this situation before, I’m sure the Cubs would prefer to make a trade that consolidates some of their 40-man rather than risk losing guys for nothing, but the problem is always “other peoples’ rosters.” Most teams are facing difficult roster decisions right now as well, and it’s not like they’re salivating at the idea of putting two or three of the Cubs’ fringe roster guys on their 40-man at the expense of their own fringe guys.
- Speaking of the roster dance, it won’t be only Villanueva – the Cubs still would like to add another outfielder, a utility infielder, and possibly another reliever. There’s still quite a bit of movement that could be on the horizon.
- Baseball Prospectus’s Russell Carleton, using Cubs prospect Albert Almora as his seeming muse, discusses the neurological development of 18-year-old kids, and the impact it could have on their baseball development – sort of the unseen side of prospecting, and flaming out. It’s too easy to forget that, in addition to playing baseball, these kids are developing into adults. And it’s a long, long process.
- An MLB.com piece on the Cubs’ rebuild, walking the line between focusing on the future and not being terrible in 2013. In essence, the Cubs are building toward 2014 and beyond, while preserving the possibility of a “lightning in a bottle” season in 2013, according to Jed Hoyer. That’s my take from this quote, anyway: “It’s a line we’re committed to walking,” said Hoyer. “Our goal here is to build a consistently good team … and hopefully a team that wins a championship. In order to do that, we’re not going to sacrifice the future now for wins. But at the same time, every season is precious, and you never know when that team might catch lightning in a bottle. You never want to sacrifice that season entirely.”
- Each year, the Hardball Times’ Chris Jaffe takes a stab at projecting the Hall of Fame vote, but even he confesses that doing so this year is far more difficult than in the past thanks to the unique ballot and the unique issues. For now, he’s got Craig Biggio just barely making the cut at 76% (75% is needed for election), and no one else. Jack Morris and Mike Piazza are closest at 69% and 61%, respectively. Sammy Sosa gets just 13%.
- Speaking of the vote, and of the Hardball Times, Dave Studeman says it’s time to press the reset button on the entire way that we do the Hall of Fame thing.