We’ve got a fresh podcast coming for you later this morning, a handful of rumor bits, and a discussion (both here, and in the podcast) about some Theo Epstein comments, but, until then, Bullets …
- This week, scouts from every organization – including, among others, Tim Wilken from the Cubs – will head to the Dominican Republic for showcases involving prospects who are eligible to sign in the next international amateur class (July 2). Recall, the Cubs will have the second most international dollars to spend next year, behind only the Astros. The Astros are expected to get a pool of about $4.9 million, so you can expect the Cubs’ figure to be just a touch under that. Last year, each team had a pool of $2.9 million. In other words: here’s hoping it’s a really great class at the top. (International pool money is also tradable, so that will also be something to watch.)
- Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, and James Russell, the Cubs’ three remaining arbitration-eligible players, officially filed for arbitration. That’s just the normal step in the process, and is essentially meaningless. But it’s a thing that happened, so I mentioned it. The far more important step in the process comes on Friday, when the players and teams exchange salary figures (the player demands an amount, and the team offers an amount – and, if the case actually proceeds to arbitration, the arbitrator must select one of the two figures).
- This is pretty cool: even if you can’t be at the Cubs Convention this week, CSN and CSNChicago are going to stream the Opening Ceremonies on Friday, which begin at 5pm CT.
- Speaking of that, Rick Morrissey demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what a fan convention is supposed to be about, all in service of ripping the Cubs for – God forbid! – wanting their fans to have some fun despite a miserable stretch of performances on the field. He also falls prey to the lazy old saw about brainless Cubs fans “who will see Rizzo this weekend and fall to [their] knees in homage. I remember how you threw yourself at Kosuke Fukudome, which, by the way, wasn’t your proudest moment.” With apologies, Rick, most Cubs fans allow themselves the nuanced position of simultaneously (1) desiring a winning team (and the attending moves, both short and long term) and (2) enjoying what there is to enjoy about the Cubs while we wait for that winning team to arrive. Wanting the Cubs to win doesn’t require a fan to hate everything about the team simply because they lost 101 games last year.
- Hooray! The Cubs got an ESPN Sunday Night game this year – July 14 against the Cardinals. Here’s hoping they’re competitive, and see an in-season uptick in national games.
- SI is grading each team’s offseason, and the Cubs come in for a B so far. The additions in the rotation and in the bullpen (primarily Kyuji Fujikawa) are generally praised, while the lone offensive addition – Nate Schierholtz – is regarded as pretty meh.
- The Cubs’ “Core” also comes in for a grade from CBS, and that gets them a C+, in large part because so much of the prospective core is so young. Both grades seem pretty fair to me. Hopefully, by the end of the 2013 season – both big league, and minor league – that latter grade will be a fair bit higher.
- The Vine Line Blog took a look at reliever Ty’Relle Harris’s 2012 season and Winter Ball performance. The 26-year-old righty was the victim of a hit-and-run in 2011, and there were questions at the time about whether he’d be able to walk again, let alone play baseball. So it’s been great to see him get back into the game, and have a successful 2012 season. He’s likely to open the year in the Iowa bullpen (though five of his eight appearances late in the year at Iowa in 2012 were starts), and we’ll see what happens from there. If you want a guy to root for, Harris is as good an option as any.
- A profile on third base prospect Jesse Hodges, whom the Cubs signed as an undrafted free agent back in August. He’s another young man I’m really rooting for, admittedly in part because I like the idea that the Cubs were able to find a post-draft diamond that everyone else missed. That applies to a guy like Matt Iannazzo, too, who was also an undrafted free agent signing.
- David DeJesus wrote a piece for the Sun-Times, about his time in baseball, and about the responsibilities he believes come along with that privilege. He talks about his upcoming fundraiser – a fashion show involving Cubs players called ‘Strike a Pose’ – which is taking place on Thursday. (As an aside, I think the DeJesus family has done a pretty great job raising awareness for their event, because I’ve seen information about it in a variety of ways, a variety of media, and in a variety of approaches. Either they’re just good, or they have a good promotional coordinator. Either way, well done.)