It’s not as though I labored under any illusions that Michigan would be good this year. I’d just hoped they could do reasonably well in a terrible Big Ten. After yesterday? It’s quite clear they fit right in to the rest of the Big Ten this year – and, indeed, might be one of the worst teams in that terrible Big Ten – and change will be coming soon.
- We’re here. The final day of the 2014 regular season, and I am … sad? It’s a strange feeling, and one I haven’t felt on the final day of the regular season in a very long time. In 2006, there was relief. In 2007 and 2008, there was anticipation. In 2009, there was disappointment. In 2010 and 2011, there was frustration. In 2012 and 2013, there was relief. It takes a really rare combination of things to generate sadness on the final day of the regular season because, typically, if your team is not headed to the playoffs, you’re going to be disappointed, frustrated, or relieved that it’s over. I’m not really any of those things. I’m bummed that I won’t get to watch this team again for more than five months (Spring Training). I guess that’s a pretty good sign going forward, and I am legitimately as excited for this offseason as any in recent memory – even that first Epstein/Hoyer offseason, you kind of sensed it was going to be more about turning over the roster than putting together a paper tiger for 2012. Don’t get me wrong: the Cubs won’t necessarily go hog wild this offseason. But, for the first time in the Epstein/Hoyer era, it would be in alignment with The Plan if they did. For me, I expect a top arm, a mid-tier arm, a quality bat, and some ancillary moves. But there could be creative trade talks, too. Just a lot that could happen. OK, some of my last-day sadness has abated.
- (Why that Junior Lake picture? Eh. It happened this year, and I really like that picture. That’s all.)
- Speaking of it being the final day, there are a number of races to be decided, including the NL Central, where the Pirates trail the Cardinals by one game. Fingers crossed for a Pirates win and a Cardinals loss. Then there would be a one-game tiebreaker tomorrow to determine which of them is the Central champion, and which has to go to the Wild Card Game.
- If you missed this morning’s news, Chris Rusin is gone. Stay tuned for more on the 40-man roster tomorrow.
- Edwin Jackson made his bullpen debut last night in a relatively nondescript scoreless inning of work (one walk, no strikeouts). The velocity played up a little bit (96mph), which is something you always wondered about Jackson. With that fastball and his slider, he does have the potential to be a good reliever, as much as he’s struggled as a starter. No, you don’t want to pay $11 million for a middle reliever, but that might be the Cubs’ best fallback option if they get no takers whatsoever for him this offseason. For me, I’d be OK with Jackson coming to camp next Spring to compete for a bullpen spot, but that’s about it. And that’s only if the Cubs absolutely didn’t need his 40-man spot at any point this offseason.
- Kyle Hendricks says the Cubs say he did more than they expected this year, and he’s ready to head into the offseason to prepare for a role next year (CSN). I still don’t think counting on Hendricks for a sub-3.00 ERA next year would be wise or fair (from how many guys can you really expect that?), but I think it’s not at all unreasonable to say that he’s a guy you’re expecting to have a rotation spot next year, regardless of the offseason moves, and regardless of the back-end competition. And there’s real upside there, too.
- The early offseason plan for Starlin Castro is to head home to the DR for a couple weeks, and then return to Mesa, Arizona to continue his ankle rehab and baseball work (Tribune). From there, he’ll go through the same strength and training regimen he did last year, which obviously worked quite well.
- Matt Spiegel with a thoughtful look back at the year in baseball in Chicago.