jason hammel featureI hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a merry one with family and friends. Ours was lovely, from the moment The Little Girl burst into our room in the morning shouting, “Santa came! Santa came!” to the evening wind down when she could think of only one thing: “How many days until next Christmas?”

I also hope you didn’t miss me too much! It was certainly weird not to be doing things around here for an entire day, and I started to get itchy by mid-day. But it’s good to take breaks, and I’m quite sure you were fine.

Now I just wonder how many of you will be around today, given the awkward timing of the holiday. With work off for most folks yesterday, how many will be on their computers/phones much today? I guess we’ll see, because I expect to have a relatively normal day today. Speaking of which, Bullets …



  • Mike Petriello has a great read at FanGraphs about the Twins’ defense, but it’s of interest to anyone who wants to see the interplay between pitching and defense. It was easy to project before 2014 that the Twins could have an issue, because they sported a terrible defensive group in the outfield, and also sported a disproportionately high volume of flyball/low-strikeout pitchers. Sure enough, the Twins had an historically bad outfield defense last year (at -50 defensive runs saved, their outfield defense, alone, cost them five full wins at least), and it contributed to one of the largest ERA-FIP spreads in the last 10 years. Although we do often look at a team’s defensive ability and pitcher styles, individually, we probably don’t often enough consider the direct relationship between infield/outfield defense and groundball/flyball pitchers. Maybe that’s something we should try to do for the Cubs’ projected crew this offseason. (A quick look at the projected rotation right now has the Cubs as not strongly groundball or flyball-inclined (Jason Hammel was more groundball-inclined until last year, and ditto Jon Lester, for what it’s worth). The bullpen looks pretty strongly groundball-inclined, though (side note: having a bullpen, in particular, that is all about strikeouts and groundballs is awesome).)
  • Five Cubs moments/storylines from 2014 at Cubs.com.
  • The day before the day before Christmas, Javy Baez played in a doubleheader in Puerto Rico (they didn’t play the last two days), and it wasn’t a great set: 10 PAs, 1 H (2B), 1 BB, and 5 K.
  • Joe Strauss writes about the big threat to the Cardinals in the NL Central, and it’s the Pirates, not the Cubs.
  • Trent Rosecrans is a writer in Cincinnati, and he did the Hall of Fame vote thing, complete with the explaining-his-vote column. It turned out to be an excellent take-down of the flaws in the current system, and how he ends up with his ballot.
  • Steve Adams reports that the Cubs’ minor league deal with Anthony Carter is of the split variety – he earns $575,000 when he’s at the big league level, and minor league pay when he’s not. Typically, minor league deals pay the player the Major League Minimum when he’s at the big league level, so Carter would get just a touch more. That kind of split contract goes to better minor league free agents (for example, last year, Chris Coghlan’s minor league deal paid him $800,000 when he was in the big leagues). It’s not a huge difference – especially there for Carter – but if a guy breaks out and sticks, the small difference means more money in future years.


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