Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Jeff Samardzija is Inigo MontoyaToday I have a soft spot in my heart for Seahawks fans. Behind Russell Wilson – who probably made the right decision to leave baseball in favor of football – Seattle came back from a huge deficit yesterday against the Atlanta Falcons … only to lose in the final seconds. It’s the worst kind of loss – you feel like your team has no chance, it’s over. You’re depressed. But you keep the game on, because it’s the end of the year anyway. And then, improbably and unbelievably, your team comes back. They take the lead with almost no time left! This is going to be one of your favorite games of all time. And then they lose. Just crushing.

  • We’re getting into the fantasy baseball preparation season, so you’re going to see a great many “how will Cubs players be as fantasy players” pieces over the next couple months. I find them interesting, regardless of fantasy baseball interest, because nobody has as much invested in figuring out just how good a player is going to be, statistically, in a future season than a fantasy baseball player. So, they often have very interesting things to say. Indeed, KFFL’s Cubs piece looks at a trio of players – Anthony Rizzo, Jeff Samardzija, and Carlos Marmol – and it’s interesting to see that external, statistically-focused take on those players.
  • For example, here’s a portion of their take on Jeff Samardzija: “During his rotation transition, he learned to pitch efficiently: That 2012 figure of 15.84 tosses per stanza, while not outstanding, showed his budding comprehension of how to attack hitters. (Note that 60.2 first-strike percentage, a catalyst for inducing hitters to chase at a 34.2 percent pace.) It’s not as if he needed to learn a new pitch; the vet – yes, he qualifies – already deploys four with regularity (including his slider and newly honed, game-changing sinking heat), and he keeps as many as six ready depending on the situation. His average four-seam velocity and opponents’ swinging-strike rate (a gaudy 12.1) remained dominant even while he took on more innings. Sure, the soon-to-be 28-year-old will probably tire a bit after his big IP jump by walking a few more batters; he was textbook efficient in his plate workings, after all. But Chicago managed his innings effectively down the stretch and shut him down early to minimize the degree of downturn. And, of course, he plays in the Senior Circuit. Play into your opponents’ doubts and swipe him as a third mixed arm, which should still make the former Fighting Irish receiver a golden haul.” By my math, that makes Samardzija a top 30 to 36 arm for fantasy purposes – which is encouraging.

  • The World Baseball Classic rosters will be revealed on Thursday, but there is some early word on the United States team – and, as expected, it doesn’t include any Chicago Cubs. It’s a stacked crew, though, including R.A. Dickey, David Wright, Brandon Phillips, Ryan Braun, Joe Mauer, Giancarlo Stanton, Craig Kimbrel and more. I’m such a hypocrite when it comes to the WBC: I want the teams to be as good as possible because it makes for better viewing … but I’m not sure I want any Cubs players to play for fear of the slightly increased injury risk. We’ll see if Starlin Castro or Anthony Rizzo, for example, wind up on other rosters come Thursday.
  • Another Cubs-drafted-Colin-Kaepernick piece.
  • There’s no baseball connection here, other than I suppose the hidden health problems from which some of our favorite players might be suffering, but this Dan Le Batard profile on former NFL star Jason Taylor is really worth a read. Holy crap the health issues that he hid and played through.
  • Over at the BN Facebook page, we’re captioning the best of the Sammy Sosa Pinterest pictures. It’s just so awesomely bad.

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