old-computerYou’ve probably heard it from a number of people by now, but, with the first season just wrapping up yesterday, I’ve got to mention it: you should really listen to Serial. The Wife and I just finished our Serial ritual of listening to the latest episode together in the evening as soon as it’s available, not unlike folks listening to the radio around the fire 70 years ago. That’s how good the Serial podcast is. There’s a reason it’s the number one podcast out there, and is getting attention from folks who aren’t into podcasts at all. Although the delivery format is a podcast, it’s much more like a long-form report, told orally over 12 episodes – it’s not like what you probably think of when you think about a podcast, with a couple folks bantering back and forth. It’s the true story of a murder, ostensibly solved 15 years ago … but maybe not.

Check it out, and start from the beginning. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

  • As we get deeper into projection season, Jeff Sullivan writes something at FanGraphs that you absolutely must read if you are someone who believes faithfully in projection systems OR if you are someone who seeks to discredit them. Sullivan does the thing that you always want to see done: how well did the projections in 2013 and 2014 actually square up with performance? Caveat: Sullivan looks at team WAR rather than every single individual player performance, which I would say should be the next step (but is an exponentially more difficult and time-consuming exercise). That wasn’t Sullivan’s focus. The team totals are a good rough sketch, though, because, while players change teams and injuries happen, the majority of the majority of teams (at least the WAR-producing part of teams) stays basically the same throughout the year.
  • Sullivan’s conclusion on the projections? About what you’d expect: there’s a roughly linear relationship between projections and actual outcome, but it’s not perfect. It’s more like a decent guide. But projection systems, which are necessarily conservative, cannot project huge, unforeseen breakouts. They also cannot project injuries. They also cannot project flukey sequencing (i.e., your team could have 40 WAR, but not win as many games as you’d expect from 40 WAR because of the way runs were distributed in your games).


  • Using some of those projections, Eno Sarris looks at some of the biggest remaining lineup needs – and the Cubs show up as one of the three teams with the biggest “need” at a corner outfield spot. A big reason for that is the fact that Steamer isn’t buying Chris Coghlan as an average hitter next year, which may or may not be accurate, given his strange injury journey. As we’ve discussed, it seems most likely that the Cubs add a righty bat to platoon with Coghlan in left (and maybe add another bat in the outfield, perhaps a leadoff type in center if the right opportunity presents itself). From there, if the Cubs don’t add a clear starting bat, the possibility that Kris Bryant winds up in the outfield as soon as this year ticks up slightly.
  • Patrick Mooney writes about Jeff Samardzija’s return to Chicago, and how it can help make the crosstown rivalry a little more fun.
  • Speaking of which, Paul Sullivan writes about something we’ve discussed here a little bit: the buzz for the White Sox and Cubs, and the impact on baseball overall in Chicago. How much are the teams competing with each other for attention and dollars?
  • Jon Lester doesn’t think anyone can really prepare themselves for what it will feel like if and when the Cubs win it all. He’s also focused on making sure he does everything he can to age well (he even mentioned the Andy Pettitte comparison in that interview).
  • The latest turn in the Rays’ efforts to find a suitable stadium situation in the Tampa Bay area was a surprising and disappointing one, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you start hearing threats about selling the team and moving.


  • If you missed the early morning signing, the Giants are bringing back Jake Peavy.
  • And if you missed it later in the morning, the Braves traded Justin Upton to the Padres. Yes, the Padres.



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