I’m looking forward to the Super Bowl like most folks, but I’ve got two unrelated gripes: (1) I really wish the Super Bowl was on a Friday or a Saturday, which would allow for a touch more late-night fun than on a Sunday night (that matters a little less for me these days, since I work at home seven days a week anyway, and having two small children doesn’t allow me to stay up too late on any night; but I’m griping for other folks and/or my future self); and (2) why are all the commercials being discussed/showing up online well in advance of the game? Part of the fun is being surprised by the commercials (good and bad). I know the brands want their spots to get as much exposure as possible, but can’t they have the online exposure after the game? You’re ruining the fun.
- Writing for Vine Line, Sahadev Sharma takes a look at a number of Cubs prospects who are close to the big leagues (and he drops the word “waylaid,” which I’ll admit I had to look up). I found the write-up on pitching prospect Dallas Beeler particularly interesting, given his recent addition to the 40-man roster. A notable bit: “A finger injury cut short Beeler’s 2013 season, but he looked good when he was on the mound and built on that success in the AFL. With his velocity ticking up to 94 mph and a newly developed cutter—which helped him fend off lefties, previously his bugaboo—Beeler looked like a new man. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats, but rather relies on his defense, inducing ground balls by staying low in the zone with impressive sinking action on his pitches.”
- Beeler’s ceiling was never, and won’t be, that of an ace. But one of the ways a pitching prospect can surprise to the upside (assuming he’s already got the necessary tools to succeed) is adding or fine-tuning a pitch that proves to be very effective. And Sahadev’s quite right about the R/L split thing: since 2011, righties are hitting just .249/.301/.340 off of him, whereas lefties are crushing him to the tune of .315/.371/.452. His K/BB against righties is nearly 3, whereas, against lefties, it’s just half that. I was already interested to see how Beeler bounces back in the rotation (likely at AAA) after the finger injury, but now I’m extremely interested.
- A profile on Edwin Jackson from Tony Andracki. No real surprises: he wants to be better in 2014, and he’s eager to get back out there.
- A fascinating FanGraphs piece on pulling the baseball. I hesitate to sum anything in it up, because it’s dense and nuanced, but it seems to be the case that the best hitters in baseball tend not to pull the ball quite as much as the league average hitter. That said, it’s easier to have power pulling the ball, so “lesser” hitters can have greater success pulling the ball by taking advantage of that power bump. In other words, the numbers tend to back up some things we’ve believed to be true.
- At BP, Sam Miller takes on opt-out clauses, trying to convince himself that there’s a possible upside for the team (there is an argument out there that, even if a player dominates those first few years of a long-term deal (looking like a bargain) and then opts out, the team should still be happy, because that player is probably going to decline in the later years anyway – I am not persuaded by this argument). Miller points out the hypothetical possibility of situations where the player believes he can do better on the market (and maybe does) and the team no longer values him at his contract rate, hoping he opts out. In the history of opt outs, this hasn’t really happened yet, but I suppose it’s theoretically possible.
- Jason Parks discusses some of the prospects who just missed BP’s top 101 list, and there are no Cubs. The Pirates (Alen Hanson) and Cardinals (Marco Gonzalez) each got one, though.
- I’ve said it before, and Eno Sarris sums it up nicely: being a beat writer is a very, very difficult job. Read that, and then try to remember it the next time you find yourself being a little too hard on one of the Cubs beat writers.
- Two miscellaneous reminders: for the football/Bears fans among you, make sure to check out Jay’s work over at Bears BN. It’s good and stuff. And for the Facebookers among you, make sure you “like” BN on Facebook. It is also good and stuff with pictures and stuff.