Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Kris BryantThe Cardinals beat the Dodgers (and Clayton Kershaw) in a laugher yesterday, which propels them to the World Series. Maybe being so good and so successful for so long will breed so much pressure going forward that the Cardinals will collapse under the weight of expectation, spiraling into a nightmarish descent over the next decade. Yeah, yeah. Pigs flying, monkey butts and all that.

  • Kris Bryant just won the Arizona Fall League’s player of the week award for the first week of the season. But that was nothing. Yesterday, all he did was hit some 800 feet’s worth of homers (that’d be two bombs) and a double. It’s barely worth discussing Bryant’s hilarious AFL line, given the tiny sample and skewed offensive numbers … but it’s fun: .423/.448/.962. I’d take that. And, yes, he’s got the top OPS in the league.
  • The rest of the Cubs were a mixed bag yesterday for the Mesa Solar Sox, who lost for the first time. Albert Almora was 1-6 with a double, Jorge Soler was 2-5 with a couple strikeouts, and Dallas Beeler gave up three earned runs on six hits and two walks over three innings. Armando Rivero also gave up an earned run in his inning of work, with two hits and a walk.

  • Carrie Muskat offers a long write-up on Mike Olt, the third base prospect the Cubs received in the Matt Garza trade. At last check, Olt, who struggled through an extremely down 2013 season due to vision problems, was trying to get the latest vision issues under control. After having some success with eye drops mid-season, Olt had to stop using them for a time, and issues cropped up again. Muskat’s piece, and Olt’s quotes, suggest that the latest round of doctor visits and treatment plans may have been successful in finally getting this thing to a better place. If Olt’s issues in 2013 were truly limited to the vision problems, and if those problems are truly fixed before the 2014 season (I’d still preach caution there, because there’s a lot we don’t know), we all might be in for a very pleasant surprise at third base to start the season. Olt will presumably be competing for the job there in Spring Training, and, at his true talent level, he could easily be a quality starter there going forward. Of course, where that would leave fast-charging Kris Bryant (and Javier Baez) … well, that’s a discussion for another day.
  • By the way, Cardinals: when Vin freaking Scully intimates that you’re being whiny, petty douches with your complaints about how the Dodgers are playing, you’ve clearly crossed the line.
  • Also: both teams do embarrassing things. Sometimes simultaneously.
  • Video of Cubs draftees Tyler Skulina and Rob Zastryzny, as well as bonus baby Eloy Jimenez? Yes, please, and thank you, Baseball America. The best reactions I can give from a minute of video during practice sessions? Skulina is a big kid and it looks like he throws hard. Zastryzny has a little bit of deception in his delivery, which is probably part of why he’s been so effective despite not having huge heat (though he was reported to be able to touch the mid-90s later in the year at Missouri). Jimenez does not look like a 16-year-old kid.

  • Jon Heyman reported that the bonus Dalier Hinojosa is getting from the Red Sox is $4 million, making him only slightly more expensive than Cubs relief prospect Armando Rivero ($3.1 million). A top international arm Hinojosa was not.
  • As expected, vets JC Boscan and Darnell McDonald elected free agency after being outrighted off of the 40-man roster last week.

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