travis wood beardI’ll be heading to Chicago this afternoon in advance of tomorrow’s 100th Anniversary Game at Wrigley. I’ll stop by the Captain Morgan Club before the game, if you’d like to stop by and say hello. Otherwise, I hope to see you in the right field bleachers (I’ll be in a blue BN shirt, blue and yellow shoes, in the lower corner by the LED board).

  • Lots of love for Travis Wood in the game recap at Cubs.com. In case you went to sleep an missed last night’s outing, Travis Wood did it all. On the mound, Wood was at least as impressive as he was at the plate, keeping his pitches down all night long, mostly relying on his fastball and cutter, hitting the corners. He struck out nine and walked none. In the wake of his excellent start, extend-Wood-now has been pretty much everyone’s rallying cry. The desire to extend Wood on a reasonable deal existed long before last night’s start, and I’m sure the Cubs are appropriately pursuing that possibility. Wood has two more years of arbitration after this year, and you’d love to see the Cubs find a way to swing, perhaps, a three-year deal with an option tacked onto the end.
  • As always, though, it takes two to tango. Given his performance last year, and starting this year, however, it could be difficult to come to an agreement on what “tier” of starters Wood belongs in. At $3.9 million this year, Wood figures to be in the $6 to $6.5 million range next year, and perhaps up to $9 million by 2016, his final arbitration year. How much should the Cubs be willing to guarantee him for that first free agent year (age 30 season), two years in advance? $12 million or so? With those numbers in mind, maybe the sides could come together on something like a three-year deal (kicking in after this season, but maybe with a signing bonus up front) worth $28 million guaranteed. Wood gets $6 million in 2015, $9 million in 2016, and $12 million in 2017. From there, the Cubs get a $12 million team option for 2018 with a $1 million buyout. I’m very much spitballing here, but I could see that as a reasonable range. From Wood’s perspective, that could be a bit light, given the shorter term commitment and the attractive team option.


  • In making a broader point about pitch-framing – get used to this, folks, it’s a hot topic this year – Jeff Sullivan notes a particular Jeff Samardzija pitch that was right down the middle, and called a ball because of the way Welington Castillo received it. Watching the video, it looks like a ball. But it wasn’t even close to a ball (the crazy movement Samardzija put on it didn’t help, but Castillo received it like it was obviously a ball). Can Castillo get better? We know the Cubs have been working with him on framing, and there is some evidence that the Astros have improved Jason Castro’s technique (and results) quite a bit. So there’s hope.
  • Justin Grimm has gotten good results so far, but he tells the Tribune he knows his innings could be cleaner (i.e., fewer walks). I like that he’s seeking to improve, despite the ERA under one.
  • Starlin Castro looks all-around better this year to my eyes, and the Cubs see it, too (CSN).
  • I was on TV again last week, helping to preview the Cubs/Reds series for a station in Kentucky. I didn’t see the online link until now, so, if you check out the video, please understand that this is a little stale. But still swell.
  • Kyle Hendricks had himself a night last night, and you can read his thoughts here. On the year, Hendricks has a 3.65 ERA (WHIP is near 1.00), and 25 strikeouts in 24.2 innings. Against those 25 strikeouts, he has just six walks. In other words, he’s doing what he always seems to do – but he’s also striking out more batters than ever before (and he’s getting three times as many groundouts as air outs). So far, Hendricks is dominating AAA. Thing is, there was little reason to believe Hendricks couldn’t succeed at AAA. The question has always been whether his stuff – no devastating out pitch, not a lot of velocity – could play at the big league level, given his superior command.


  • The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation’s charity event – Cook-Off for Cancer – will be May 16, and you can see more details here.



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