Today, in addition to being pitcher and catcher reporting day, is The Little Girl’s third birthday. I can scarcely remember my life without her in it.
- This year’s retirement tours will outpace even last year’s Mariano Rivera love-fest: adding to Commissioner Bud Selig’s retirement, Derek Jeter has announced that 2014 will be his final season. Seeing how well things worked out for Rivera last year no doubt influenced Jeter’s decision, and he’s going to get lots and lots of love all year long, as did Rivera. Everyone who was asked said wonderful things about Jeter. I immediately thought about the two-game series the Yankees will play at Wrigley Field this year – May 20 and 21 – and how tickets to that short series will be very, very expensive. (I also think about how the Cubs are probably thinking, “Damnit, why couldn’t that have been a four-game series!?!?”) Who’s gonna hook me up with a bleacher ticket for face?
- Yes, Jeter’s success has been overrated by virtue of playing on the grandest stage, and being a part of the Yankees’ financial renaissance that saw them make the playoffs pretty much every year of his career. But Jeter has genuinely been very consistently good for his career. Outside of last year’s injury-plagued affair, Jeter managed a sub-2 WAR just once in his career – 2011. Heck, in his 17 full seasons before 2013, he fell under 4.0 WAR just seven times, and five of those came in the last six seasons. Jeter’s career is fascinating for, among other things, the notion that if you can play passable defense at a higher-order defensive position – even if “passable” is frequently “bad” – with a great bat, the overall value to your team can be enormous. I also enjoy his career BABIP of .353, with his preternatural ability to square the ball up and to use all fields. How about this: did you know that Jeter stole 30 bases as recently as 2009?(!) I could go on. He really was quite good, and very unique.
- Do you remember when Alex Rodriguez was traded to the New York Yankees? Ah, but do you remember the flurry of rumors that immediately preceded it, which had Rodriguez going to the Red Sox in a three-team trade involving the White Sox? It was the pre-Twitter days, but I remember the swirl of activity well. For those who don’t – or who want to re-live the craziness, which involved Cubs execs Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer – there’s a 30 for 30 short documentary on the trade that wasn’t over at Grantland.
- How has the value of infield defense changed as the three true outcomes (homer, strikeout, walk) have increased as a portion of plate appearance results? Blake Murphy takes a look at the decreasing importance of infield defense … but then dives way, way more deeply into the numbers.
- Patrick Mooney with five storylines heading into Spring Training, and, appropriately (and sadly), very few have anything to do with the Cubs’ on-field performance in 2014.