Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. Smooches.
Although I touched on some of the highlights from the introductory Spring press conference yesterday, I’ll have much more today on some of the interesting bits in their own post(s). For now, the other Bullets …
- Here are some horrible optics for MLB: at the owner’s meetings last month, the owners voted to allow teams the ability to cut pensions for non-uniformed personnel, per a report from Adam Rubin. Although MLB protests and explains that the decision is really about giving teams the choice to provide different kinds of retirement benefits to their employees (401(k) plans, for example), and even though companies across America have been reducing or removing traditional pension plans for years now, this just looks bad. You’ve got a sport that is awash in revenue growth, predicated on the goodwill of the public – MLB is a business only because fans enjoy experiencing the product, and fan positivity about the product is a huge component – and operated by owners that are already perceived by many to be uber rich folks who care only about become even more uber rich. This reeks of penny pinching the line workers to line the pockets of already-wealthy owners. Is that a fair characterization? Well, you know how I fall on these things – there’s always an explanation and another side of the story. But, as I say, whatever the reality, this just looks very, very bad. That’s probably a part of the reason it wasn’t reported for almost a month – MLB wasn’t exactly sending out a press release on this one.
- That all said, MLB merely gave teams the option of cutting pensions. Pro tip for teams that can afford it: keep the pensions for a while, at least. You will look like the better team for it, and that could have advantages when it comes to recruiting business/scouting talent.
- If you analyzed the pitching prospects in the MLB top 100 by FIP in 2013, who would land on top? That would be Cubs pitching prospect C.J. Edwards by a healthy margin, thanks to his hilariously low 1.96 FIP. Pierce Johnson winds up in the top half, with his 3.15 (sandwiched between elite pitching prospects Robert Stephenson and Archie Bradley). While it’s, of course, swell to see, keep in mind: stats in the minors, even advanced ones, are only a part of the story. Everyone knows C.J. Edwards’ numbers last year were stupid good (like, Javier Baez good). The question comes from the scouting side of things: will his polished stuff play up quite as well when he’s facing more advanced bats? Will he be durable enough to stay in the rotation long-term?
- Darwin Barney tells Cubs.com he got a little big last year (not necessarily fat, because he always looked strong), and he cut back this past offseason to try and be a little more agile. At the plate, maybe he ends up with a little less power, but an overall improved approach as a result?
- Jason McLeod was on Sports Talk Live with Dave Kaplan, hitting on a handful of the usual talking points. He got into the draft a little bit, and noted the quality college pitching talent available right now, but cautioned that, at this time last year, everyone thought Sean Manaea was going in the top three and folks didn’t expect Kris Bryant to be up at the top.
- A certain commenter will enjoy something Rick Renteria said at yesterday’s press conference (as logged by Cubs.com): “The reality is, nobody in that [clubhouse] will misconstrue my calmness and my patience for not having fire. I have plenty of fire in my belly. The only ones who need to understand it are those guys in there. I’m hoping that, because they do, what you guys see will be something pretty exciting.”