A periodic and promotional reminder: Amazon is awesome. I just got Season Three of ‘Game of Thrones’ (on the day it was released) so I can re-watch the first three seasons in advance of it coming back in a little over a month. For those of you who also use Amazon regularly, or those of you who want to start, I would encourage you to head over to Amazon via this link – Bleacher Nation Amazon – and you’ll support the BN business. You could even change your Amazon bookmark to bleachernation.com/amazon, and it’ll take you straight to Amazon just like your old bookmark did.
- Wendy Thurm at FanGraphs on how teams are allocating their payroll, from a variety of perspectives. A surprising and interesting tidbit: Thurm shows that the Cubs will have just four pre-arbitration players projected to be on the 25-man roster at the start of the season (really depends on the bullpen), which is the third lowest number in all of baseball. Maybe not what you’d expect from a rebuilding team, but I suppose it underscores the Cubs’ persistent need in the last few years for young, controllable talent. Also, right now, the Cubs’ Opening Day payroll ($87 to $89 million, counting the $13 million going to Alfonso Soriano) projects to be about 20th in baseball, with a median payroll right around $100 million. More interestingly, to me: the Cubs could add $50 million(!) in payroll, and climb to only 8th in baseball. Yes, payroll levels are exploding. (The Marlins by the way, not the Astros, bring up the rear at $42.5 million.)
- If you want to see how the relative payroll levels are impacting World Series odds, you can see MLB Futures odds at TopBet.eu Sportsbook.
- Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney was on with Dave Kaplan and David Haugh yesterday on WGN FM’s The Game, and you can listen to the audio of his appearance here. Nothing earth-shattering, but Kenney says getting the TV rights deal done and the Wrigley renovation deal done are the two main things that need to happen to kick Cubs revenues to the next level to support the team. He adds the usual hope for getting a deal done with the rooftops by Opening Day – that’s the goal, he said, even if it’s not a real deadline.
- A great piece from Patrick Mooney on Mariano Duncan, the hitting coach for the Daytona Cubs, and a former mentor to a 21-year-old Derek Jeter. Now, he’s on the frontline of development for the Cubs’ organization.
- A profile on Cubs closer Jose Veras.
- With the new homeplate collision rule in place, will there be an uptick in TOOTBLANs?
- There are rumors that pre-arbitration outfield Mike Trout – who just happens to be the best player in baseball – is nearing a six-year, $150 million extension with the Angels. Obviously it would be a hilariously huge new record for a pre-arb extension, but, as Jay Jaffe writes, it might well be a steal for the Angels.