I hope everyone stayed safe from yesterday’s tornado outbreak, and our thoughts are with folks downstate.
- Late in the year, the Cubs took a no-risk flyer on former Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard. You may remember him as the dominant reliever or the washed out starter, but the Cubs hoped they could get him back into form on the cheap. The only risk was the tender deadline for arbitration-eligible players (December 2). In other words, the Cubs had to figure out by December 2 whether he was worth tendering a contract that could pay him around $2 million for the 2014 season through arbitration. The early returns in winter ball are not encouraging. Bard has faced 13 batters over three appearances, and he’s retired one of them. The others? Nine walks and three HBP. That is not a typo. He’s also thrown four wild pitches.
- The Cubs’ decision on a tender to Bard would now seem an easy one – a $2 million gamble is too steep, considering the budget. So, unless Bard accepts less now for a deal, you cut him loose, and you’ve got a couple weeks to make that decision. But that might not be the deadline that matters. Teams have to file their reserve lists for the purposes of the Rule 5 Draft by this Wednesday. That means the players in the Cubs’ system that they want to protect for the Rule 5 Draft have to be rostered by Wednesday. And if there’s a roster crunch (the Cubs are at 37 right now), the Cubs may need to deroster Bard now. At that point, he’d be a free agent.
- Carrie Muskat notes that Luis Valbuena has been playing a lot of second base down in Venezuela this Winter. Meaningful? Not necessarily. Remember: these are legitimately competitive leagues, rather than mere tools for MLB teams. Valbuena could simply be playing at second because that’s where the team needs him.
- The Cubs will not have the top farm system according to Baseball Prospectus when those rankings come out, apparently. Jason Parks, writing the Twins’ list, which came out today, notes that they have the top prospect (Byron Buxton) in the top system in the game. So it’ll likely be Twins, Cubs.
- The slowest strikeout pitches of 2013. The Cubs do not make an appearance on the good or bad side, but it’s fun to watch the yackers.