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contractAfter grousing yesterday that the kiddos never quite seem to synchronize their wake-ups, The Wife – not necessarily because of my Bullet grouse – offered to take a day off from her morning run so that I could sleep in a bit, and she’d take care of the youngins when they got up. As she pointed out this morning Twitter, the little stinkers of course each decided to sleep in until 7am. I love them, but they’ve clearly decided to troll me.

  • Sam Miller of BP, writing for Fox Sports, just leveled the mega-extension Justin Verlander received from the Tigers last year - two years, notably, before he was actually set to reach free agency. This is a must, must, must read, meticulously deconstructing Verlander’s descent, tied largely to a decline in his fastball’s velocity and effectiveness (I almost can’t bear to discuss his numbers this year, so I’ll just link the relative carnage). Seriously: read the piece, and allow the implications to rattle around your cage for a minute or two.
  • Remember what the story was on Verlander? He was a beast who could do things that other pitchers couldn’t, because he was in such good shape and physically strong. He was as good a bet as any to maintain his ace-level effectiveness well on into his 30s. Sure, I thought the Tigers overpaid a little in the extension, but I didn’t necessarily question the desire to lock Verlander up early (recall, this was at the height of pitcher-extension-mania). Turns out, that was probably the Tigers’ biggest sin. To be sure, the piece is strictly about Verlander, and you risk something foolish if you try to extrapolate too much. But you’d have to be unconscious not to see a thin parallel here between the Tigers/Verlander and the Cubs/Samardzija. I’m still on board with a reasonable extension for Jeff Samardzija, even as I don’t think that’s going to happen. But, I’ll confess: the depth of analysis of this piece has the wheels turning in my head about the entire Cubs/Samardzija/trade/extension situation. And since an extension now looks very unlikely, I suddenly keep coming back to one place … is it Jeff Samardzija, and not the Cubs, who is making the mistake by not signing up long-term now? I haven’t landed on any conclusions just yet, but there’s a lot of thinkin’ goin’ on.
  • Anthony Rizzo, who is having himself a year (more on that in a moment), on one of the things helping him at the plate (Cubs.com): “I just feel very confident and that’s everything in this game. I don’t care what anyone says. Whether your mechanics are good or bad, if you’re feeling confident at the plate, it makes a huge difference.” I’m sure that’s right; I’m also sure there’s a feedback loop in there, into which players love to settle themselves. Your mechanics are good, so you have some success, so you build some confidence, so your mechanics stay strong, so you get good results, so you have more confidence, etc. Being confident doesn’t necessarily produce results, but it allows a player – over the course of the natural ups and downs of baseball – to stay within himself and keep doing the things he needs to do to succeed. Rizzo is showing that off like a mad beast this year, and you can see the confidence he has at the plate.
  • If you’re looking for a comprehensive background piece on the many issues facing the Cubs, particularly the interplay between business issues and the baseball side over the next several years, Patrick Mooney has a great one teed up. It’s a reminder of just how many ways this thing can go over the next five years, from the dream (waves of top prospects exploding in the bigs, huge revenues setting the Cubs up to spend tons of money, which they do spend to keep and complement those prospects year after year) to the nightmare (prospects flounder, the renovation never clears the countless hurdles, the TV bubble bursts, and the Cubs never put together a decent team).
  • I mentioned this yesterday on word that Jose Veras, the Cubs’ $4 million signing, had been released, but it bears noting here: Dave Cameron wrote about the closer contracts that were doled out this offseason, and the results have been u.g.l.y.-you-ain’t-got-no-alibi. Just look at that list of big relievers who signed big-money deals this offseason, and how shockingly bad they’ve been. In that regard, Veras isn’t alone – he just cost a lot less. I can already see it now: the reliever market is going to take a step back next year, as teams observe how poorly that money was spent last year. That’ll either be a wise, and reasonable market reaction … or an opportunity, if you can get the right reliever (of the two that have been good this year – Joaquin Benoit and Fernando Rodney – you may recall that the Cubs did try to land Benoit, before he opted for San Diego).
  • A great piece from Mike Petriello on the interplay between pitch velocity and what a batter can do with it … in the context of how much Derek Jeter is struggling against fastballs this year, presumably because his bat has slowed at age 40.
  • Teh Twitterz:

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