Cyber Monday probably made a lot more sense when holiday shopping deals didn’t extend from mid-November well on into December, and when the idea of Internet shopping was still edgy enough that you had to tie the word “cyber” to it.
But even if it doesn’t make a ton of sense anymore, there are still good deals all around the web, including a slate of deals over at Amazon (disclosure: BN has a promotional relationship with Amazon, so if you shop there using links like this one, it supports BN in the process).
- Pedro Strop says he’s fine and just preparing for next season after his car accident in the Dominican Republic late last week (ESPN Deportes). If Google Translate is serving me right, it looks like Strop was rear-ended by another car when its brakes failed, forcing Strop’s vehicle into a wall. Strop will be checked out by an orthopedist to make sure everything is structurally sound (my guess is that once the primary concern for Strop’s overall health and well-being was satisfied, it is time to move on to making absolutely sure he’s in good baseball health – he has to be tendered a contract by tomorrow, after all). On the baseball side of things, Strop says he’s still hoping for a chance to be a closer, though he’ll start the year clearly in a setup role behind incumbent closer Hector Rondon (and I’m sure he’s not saying, specifically, that he wants to displace Rondon, so don’t read any conflict into this that isn’t there).
- Speaking of this, though, it’s fun to look at a comparison of the two pitchers in 2014 – they may have been closer than you thought. Strop had the edge on ERA at 2.21 to 2.42, Rondon had the edge on FIP at 2.26 to 2.66, and they were virtually tied in xFIP at 2.81 (Rondon) and 2.82 (Strop). They threw nearly the same number of innings (Rondon – 63.1, Strop – 61.0), had very similar homer and strikeout numbers, etc. I didn’t realize until now just how close their performances were. Rondon was much better at reducing walks,* but Strop had more strikeouts and a better groundball rate. They were both studs. I’d probably give Rondon the edge as the “closer” because of the walks, though, because they can burn you even more as the leverage goes up – and it tends to be the case that save situations are among the highest leverage times in the game. (Of course, I’m not a huge fan of having a set bullpen roles, but that’s a mentality that’s built into the game right now.)
- *(The duo also make for a good example of why K% minus BB% is not always a better shorthand tool for evaluating pitcher performance than K/BB ratio. Their K%-BB% is nearly identical (Strop is at 18.9%, Rondon is at 18.8%), but Rondon’s K/BB is much higher (4.20 to 2.84). Why? Because, although Strop had a higher strikeout rate, his walk rate was nearly double Rondon’s (10.3% to 5.9%).
- Chris Kamka offers 7 fun facts about Anthony Rizzo’s awesome 2014 season. My favorite? Probably that he had more stolen bases (5) than Starlin Castro (4).
- Ken Rosenthal has an interesting write-up on the current Nats-Bryce Harper dispute about whether he can go to arbitration next year or not. In short, beware the seemingly small terms in a contract that you are or are not able to slip in at the last minute – the Nats and Harper finalized their deal with only a minute to spare before the deadline for draft picks to sign, and it sounds like some important Ts were left uncrossed. Thus: fight.
- The Cubs’ VP of Sales and Partnerships Colin Faulkner was named to Crain’s 40 under 40 list. Not unlike his colleagues on the baseball side, it sounds like Faulkner is heavy into data and analytics.
- Bruce Miles on how good Steve Bilko could have been.
- David Laurila has another great set of Sunday notes at FanGraphs. One of them is particularly compelling, on the absurdity of Tim Raines not being in the Hall of Fame yet.
- If you want a glance at what the Cubs hope to do with their farm system long term, check out BP’s new top prospects list for the Red Sox. They had a bunch of top guys come off of the list last year because of graduation or underperformance (it happens), and suddenly there are a new crop of young, impact types popping up from the lower levels. Confession: I’d never even heard of new number three prospect in their system, Manuel Margot. For some systems, that would be a bad thing, but for the Red Sox, it’s a sign that they’re constantly adding very young, interesting players, especially on the international side. When a guy like Gleyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez rockets up the Cubs’ list next year, perhaps there will be a similar reaction around baseball.
- My Cubs sweater has arrived, and I now prepare to wear it for an entire week:
- The idea is going to be that you folks also wear an ugly sweater at some point next week during the Winter Meetings, and send me a picture to share (Twitter being the easiest place to do that). It is silly, pointless, and fun. Although it did raise about $600 for JDRF in about three hours last week, so that’s definitely not pointless. (Folks keep asking me how they can get the sweater, too – I got mine on Amazon (where else? I practice what I preach), but if you just Google “Cubs Christmas Sweater,” there are a ton of places to find it.)