The kids were home yesterday, which meant a little extra play time. That’s great. But you combine that with shoveling and my body feels beat up today. I should probably stop letting The Little Girl walk on my chest and then crashing herself down on me, laughing all the while. But she’s just so dang cute …
- Mark DeRosa, Marlon Byrd, and Tony Campana offer their thoughts on being with the Cubs and playing at Wrigley Field to MLB.com. Given how his tenure ended, it’s amazing to hear just how laudatory Byrd is when speaking about Cubs fans. Having been at many of his games, I can say that the center field fans loved Byrd, and he made sure to show them that he loved them back. In the understatement of the year, Campana says the fans treated him very well (I still don’t know that I’ve heard a louder Cubs Convention cheer than the ones Campana received in his appearances there). As for DeRosa, he says that he’ll always consider himself a Cub, even though he played just two years with the team, and played with seven other teams during his career. But, man, what a two-year stretch that was – the 2007 and 2008 Cubs teams were so very good, and DeRosa was a notable part of that success.
- Sahadev Sharma takes a look at a variety of Cubs pitching prospects for Vine Line, including a guy we used to hear so much about – Dillon Maples. In part, here’s what Sahadev had to say: “After a very up-and-down couple of months at Kane County, Maples was sent down to Boise in July and turned his season around. It was the best many in the Cubs front office had ever seen him perform in terms of his delivery. During that time, Maples got his curveball over the plate and down in the zone, generating swings and misses. Not only were the results different, but so was Maples’ attitude. Observers say he looked more confident on the mound in Boise, with a chest-out bravado. He was aggressive in the zone, a stark contrast to the pitcher who seemed to be constantly thinking about his mechanics and worrying about getting hit, which led to nibbling and high walk totals.” Although Maples was a high school draft pick in 2011, he was a bit older than most, and then the Cubs had to rework his mechanics. Plus Maples dealt with some injury issues. That’s all to say that, although he turns 22 in May, you don’t necessarily toss out Maples’ prospect status even though he hasn’t yet had success in a full season league. The upside is still very much there. This is a big, big year for Maples, and you’d simply like to see him pitching consistently well (walks down, reasonable K rate) at Kane County. Doing that would put him right back on our radars.
- Random: thanks to the Baseball Reference Play Index, we can see that, last year, the Cubs set a franchise record in extra-base hit percentage, hitting 487 of their 1,307 hits for extra bases (37.26%). The Cubs also were third from the bottom in the league in OBP, so, despite all the power, they scored the third fewest runs.
- Tony Andracki profiles Kris Bryant, who keeps saying the right things. Here’s how “Cubs fan” I am: it actually concerns me that Bryant had such unbridled success in his pro debut last year. Given his obvious talent and work ethic, I wonder if it would have been better for him long-term to struggle, and then really kick things into high gear coming into 2014. That’s really stupid, Brett.
- Bernie Pleskoff’s NL Prospect Dream Team features four Cubs as starters – Dan Vogelbach at first, Javier Baez as shortstop, Kris Bryant at third, and Albert Almora in the outfield. The other two outfielders were Oscar Taveras and Gregory Polanco, by the way, so Jorge Soler’s exclusion wasn’t exactly a knock.
- A handy legal roundup on baseball suits from around the league by Wendy Thurm. Pay particular attention to the suit about MLB’s blackout restrictions, which has been underdiscussed over the past year. Logic tells me that if MLB’s territorial broadcast restrictions are ruled some kind of antitrust violation (despite MLB’s antitrust exemption), and if folks in Chicago (for example) can watch all Cubs games on MLB.tv, the value of securing the Cubs’ local broadcast rights is going to hit the skids. Part of the reason RSNs are willing to pay exorbitant fees for a team’s broadcast rights is because they know they can then force cable/satellite providers to pay huge carriage fees for their channel – because without that channel, local fans can’t watch their team’s games any other way. But if there were no MLB.tv blackout? Suddenly those local fans have a choice (and it’s a choice that doesn’t put money directly in the team’s pocket – cognitive dissonance!).
- Curt Schilling has cancer, which sucks. The kind of cancer hasn’t been disclosed, but, whatever it is, hopefully he beats it back thoroughly. He’s been one of the few bright spots on ESPN’s baseball coverage the last couple years.
- There are amazing billboard pictures floating around the ‘net – I gathered them here on the BN Facebook page – that the Royals have used the last two years. If you haven’t seen them already, you want to see them.