It hasn’t been a great day and a half, man. Starting in the 9th inning on Wednesday, it’s been a bit downhill. There was that game’s implosion on an otherwise great day (and the development of the attendant sunburn), there was the FCC’s nightmarish net neutrality proposal, there was the C.J. Edwards shoulder thing, the Sammy Sosa criticism, and then the silly cake flap. Oh, and the Cubs lost yesterday, too. I’m wearing a hard hat today, and I’d recommend everyone associated with the Cubs do the same.
- Bloomberg did a “study” and made a fancy chart, purporting to come up with the smartest teams in professional sports, based on how much they’ve spent on payroll and how much they’ve won over the past five seasons, and the Cubs come in dead last out of 122 teams. It’s kind of interesting to look at, but it doesn’t really demonstrate what it purports to – it shows how well your team has done (with heavy emphasis on playoffs and championships) and how much they’ve spent on payroll, but “smart” is probably the wrong word, given the nature of baseball spending and player control (I could find a $5 million free agent contract for a 2 WAR player that is really “smart”; but in this system, it looks far less “smart” than having a 1 win player in his pre-arb years). Really, all this exercise tells us is that the Cubs have been very bad on the field over the past five years, and they had a lot of expensive contracts in the early years of this five-year window that didn’t produce a whole lot for them. Given that window of time, this is pretty much exactly how you’d expect this kind of study to turn out, and pretty much exactly why the Cubs are rebuilding from the ground up. They are behaving “smart” now, if nothing else.
- (The Cardinals, by the way, are second overall, behind only the Blackhawks. No one can argue that the Cardinals haven’t been damn good, and damn efficient, over the past five years. Grumble.)
- The Cubs called up two relievers yesterday to replace Blake Parker and Justin Ruggiano, meaning that they’re at an unusually large 13 pitchers right now. Usually, teams don’t stay with 13 pitchers for more than a couple days (bullpen is taxed, or a roster move is coming, etc.), but Ricky Renteria tells ESPN that the plan is to keep Neil Ramirez and Zac Rosscup in the pen “at least for 15 days with Ruggiano down.” Given that Ruggiano is going to be out a heck of a lot longer than 15 days with a grade two hamstring strain, and given that it’s hard to see the Cubs needing – or appropriately dolling innings to – eight relievers for such a long period of time, I’m not so sure we’ll actually see the Cubs at 13 pitchers for 15 days. I think what’s really going to happen is that, when Jake Arrieta is ready to return next week, and Carlos Villanueva is bumped to the pen, we’ll see the Cubs sort things out at that time, because they’re going to have to make a series of moves anyway. For this week, though, it certainly makes sense to have the extra reliever, given how much the bullpen has been taxed, and how much flexibility they have on the positional side.
- Speaking of the pen, RR isn’t naming a closer, especially after Pedro Strop struggled in his first save opportunity. Renteria called the situation “organic,” presumably meaning that a closer will emerge as the weeks go on, rather than meaning his bullpen is pesticide free and locally grown.
- Anthony Rizzo made Keith Law’s list of the top 25 players under 25, coming in at number 23. Hopefully there will come a day soon when the Cubs have more than one player on the list.
- A very cool map of baseball team fandom across the country. It’s good to be the Yankees.
- Danny Ecker caught up with Bill Wrigley, Jr. for his thoughts on the Wrigley renovation plans (positive), and his piece includes some interesting tidbits about the sale of the team to the Tribune Company – including the fact that Wrigley family could remove its name from Wrigley Field if the Cubs branded the stadium with another corporate name (e.g., Budweiser Park at Wrigley Field), not that the Cubs have indicated any interest in doing that.
- Speaking of that horrible net neutrality decision, some folks asked yesterday where they could register their displeasure: Boing Boing has your answer here.