The Little Boy is still sick, so the story is the same today: plenty of normal content, very little availability for anything else.
- Patrick Mooney on the only Jeff Samardzija storyline that seems to be alive and kicking anymore: when will he be traded, and how is everything he does not affecting that future? It’s a good read, with some great quotes from Anthony Rizzo on the situation. Mooney mentions that Cubs officials “hate” when Homer Bailey’s mega-extension is brought up as a comp for what Samardzija should receive (I don’t see it, either – more on that comparison here). You’ll recall, that deal essentially paid Bailey (one year out from free agency) $19 million per year for the free agent years it covered.
- Interestingly, Mooney’s piece might also be hinting at something fans always love to speculate about, and that might possibly be a legitimate option this time around: could Samardzija come back to the Cubs as a free agent after 2015 if the team is looking like a contender? There’s the local connection, and his history with the team, but when a guy is traded away in advance of free agency, it simply never works out that he comes back. If Samardzija is traded this Summer, that puts a little more distance between the trade and free agency than you usually see in these situations, and, if the primary reason Samardzija doesn’t want to extend right now is because the Cubs don’t look like they’re going to be competitive this or next year (but they do look like they’ll at least be competitive by 2016) … well, I suppose it’s possible that this could be one of those exceptional situations.
- Jake Arrieta offers thoughts on retaining Samardzija versus trading him, and you can understand why he lands on the “retaining him” side – though it’s a little ironic, given how Arrieta (a cost-controlled power arm who could become a core rotation piece in the near future) came to the Cubs. Retaining Samardzija on a reasonable extension has always been my preferred path, but … that no longer seems realistic.
- Thoughts from Justin Grimm and Renteria on the reliever’s wild 12th inning, here in the Tribune. Grimm’s stuff is undeniable, and it looks like he’s going to have the kind of K rate that can offset a relatively high BB rate – but not his current mark, at 9 walks in just 13.1 innings (unless he gets that K rate up into prime Carlos Marmol territory).
- Bruce Miles nets the first update on Kyuji Fujikawa since the reliever left his last extended Spring Training outing early while he recovers from Tommy John surgery last June. He is “ramping up”, according to Jed Hoyer, but there is no timetable yet for a return to game action. It’s been about three weeks since that last outing was cut short. It doesn’t sound like we’ll be seeing Fujikawa any time soon, which is a shame, because it was looking like he was going to surprise and be ready by early May.
- TCR’s Arizona Phil reports that Matt Scioscia has been released from extended Spring Training. You may remember that the Cubs got Scioscia in their swap for Trevor Gretzky, in what always looked like a trade that was designed to get some high profile lesser prospects out of a place that wasn’t going to work out for them. With Scioscia already released (so the Angels didn’t have to do it), it looks like it was, indeed, that kind of trade. Gretzky, by the way, has seen limited action for the Angels’ Low-A affiliate, and hasn’t done much.
- Chris Cotillo reports that Dave Sappelt has headed to Mexico to continue his baseball career.
- There is almost too much to enjoy about this paragraph from David Haugh’s recent column: “It was further confirmation Abreu needed only 32 games to supplant Anthony Rizzo as the city’s most promising first baseman. Rizzo has enjoyed an early renaissance of his own given the way he has improved against lefties, but while he has made strides, Abreu has made history. Only Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio drove in as many runs (32) in their first 29 games as Abreu.” Rather than fisk it all, I’ll just say this: Jose Abreu’s 2014 wOBA is .387. Anthony Rizzo’s 2014 wOBA is .402.
- (Haugh’s not alone in playing that silly game – ESPN writers debate who’ll have the better career, Abreu or Rizzo, and there seems to be a sense that it’ll be Abreu, based on his *one* month of baseball. You know, that month in which Rizzo was the better player. (To his credit, Jesse Rogers hedges a bit, not really giving a clear nod to either player). Also: Rizzo is cheaper, younger, and under team control for longer. None of this is to say that Abreu hasn’t been great, and might not be great for a long time.)
- The Cubs and White Sox couldn’t find a sponsor for their Crosstown Cup series (Crain’s Chicago).
- Over at BN Bears, Jay starts looking at the Bears’ positions of need in the run-up to the Draft.
- Don’t forget to check out BN’er Chris Neitzel’s fantastic book on the history of the Cubs, and the many, many reasons they’ve failed to win it all for so long – reasons that have nothing to do with curses. (I also wrote the foreword, so that part’s pretty awesome, too.)
- BN’er Andy, whom I met at Opening Day, and who was a cool dude, sent me this picture of when he and a few other BN’ers got together (for the first time) to watch some baseball. They did the only logical thing: