Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

welington castilloI’m ready. Laptop is charged. Beer is cold. Remote control finger is cocked. The only thing I haven’t yet decided is what I’m going to eat while I watch the game today. Obviously hot dogs or burgers or whatever would be standard ballpark fare, but that requires me to leave my house to go get. And it’s Opening Day. That’s a holiday. I don’t want to leave my house on a holiday.

  • If you wondered why the Cubs were reportedly going to great lengths early in Spring Training to focus on Welington Castillo’s pitch-framing – a burgeoning area of possible competitive advantage – look no further than BP’s projections on pitch-framing for 2014. According to the model, Castillo projects to be the worst framing catcher in all of baseball next year. In fact, he projects to be so bad that his framing will be worth nearly -19 runs. That’s almost two entire wins lost by bad framing! Is that extreme? Maybe. The modeling for pitch-framing is still somewhat in its infancy (though these things always tend to be more advanced than you might think), and it’s hard to conceive of the Cubs losing 19 runs this year because of poor pitch-framing in 120 games. In any case, here’s hoping that the work has paid off for Castillo – he was leaps and bounds better last year than the year before, so further improvement is reasonable to expect – because the Cubs can’t afford to lose any hidden runs this year.
  • Patrick Mooney speaks to Theo Epstein on the eve of the season, and although I wouldn’t describe Epstein as sounding “frustrated,” his comments do sound really pointed. Like he’s saying, “Seriously, folks, we think this organization is in great shape, and the team is going to be good soon and for a very long time. Seriously. Yes. Seriously, damn it.” Since I agree with his thesis, I can’t really fault him – frankly, I get tired of trying to shout down the haters, too. For Epstein’s part, he says he just ignores the noise at this point, because he knows how good things look from the inside. It’s a good read.

  • Former Cub – which always feels like an odd phrase when a guy hasn’t played in a big league game with the Cubs – George Kottaras has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Indians, where he’s expected to soon take over as the back-up catcher. He’ll probably do his power/discipline thing, and the numbers will probably forever obscure why the Cubs opted for John Baker over Kottaras (which is to say, offensively, they’re probably not going to be close). We’ll just have to assume Baker does all the other stuff much better.
  • Jesse Rogers looks at the Cubs’ story heading into 2014, and ultimately predicts a 71-91 record. That said, I’m inclined to agree with Rogers that at least the roster figures to be a little more intriguing this year to actually watch.
  • The FanGraphs predictions for the National League, and the Cubs are pretty much absent from everything (save for one Javier Baez Rookie of the Year vote).
  • Javier Baez was one of 10 prospects who turned heads in Spring Training this year, according to BP. I would think one session of Javy Baez batting practice would be enough not only to turn heads, but also to cause serious neck injuries.

  • The evolving beer selection at Wrigley Field this year.
  • You may have noticed a new banner over there to the right – the Old Scoreboard on a t-shirt, together with retired numbers. That comes from a sponsor who also happens to be a BN’er, Dennis, so give his shirt a look.

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