chicago_fireworksAh. So that’s why I don’t have champagne at other times of the year.

I hope your New Year’s festivities went/are going well, and I thankya kindly for the nice things you said on yesterday’s end-of-year post. One thing I love about today is that I can finally start just saying “this year” or “this season” and it’s clear that I mean the 2015 baseball season. Last season is now last year, and all is descriptively right with the world.

Bring it on, 2015.

  • The Cubs’ deal with outfielder Chris Denorfia is reportedly a one-year, $2.6 million pact (Paul Sullivan), which is a fairly interesting dollar amount considering that Justin Ruggiano’s arbitration estimates were right around $2.5 million (I could see him getting closer to $3 million, but we’ll see). I’ll have more on Denorfia’s deal tomorrow, but, for today, we can say that the Cubs swapped out Ruggiano for Denorfia at approximately the same cost, and got relief prospect Matt Brazis for the trouble (while losing the extra year of control over Ruggiano in 2016 (for which he may end up being non-tendered, but if he breaks out this season, the Mariners will be happy to have that extra year)). I don’t think we can say, though, that this series of events means the Cubs clearly preferred Denorfia to Ruggiano. That may well be the case – Denorfia probably has the greater offensive upside, and can play better defense at all three outfield positions – but, technically, all we know for sure is that the Cubs felt they could improve upon, or at least effectively replace, Ruggiano as of December 12. In any case, Denorfia is a good add for this team.


  • Jesse Rogers offers the best of 2014 and the worst of 2014. I’d let myself forget about that tarp problem.
  • Vine Line’s top moment of 2014 was … Jorge Soler’s homer in his first at bat. The list came from fans’ votes, and, considering the explosion of excitement when that happened (including in my own house), I can totally buy that as the top moment. It’s also a pretty fitting top moment for 2014, as the Cubs theoretically are turning the corner with their youth. Here’s hoping 2015 features many more Soler bombs.
  • Cubs lefty Joe Ortiz is having a good, but interesting time in the Venezuelan Winter League. The lefty who will be competing with a handful of others for a bullpen spot in the Spring has a 2.75 ERA over 19.2 innings (22 appearances). He’s not really striking out a ton of guys (just 10), but he’s also not walking anyone (4). That’s really been his bag in recent years, which is an interesting mix for a reliever. Usually, especially from a lefty specialist, you want to see a whole lot of strikeouts. But, at the same time, walks in that role are an absolute killer. It strikes me as hard to have a lot of success when there are so many balls put in play, but if he can keep it on the ground and doesn’t walk anyone? I’d give Ortiz a reasonable shot to win a job – at least as much as guys like Zac Rosscup and Mike Kickham, who are the opposite type (tons of strikeouts, tons of walks). All three still have minor league options left, though, so I’d probably put them behind other in-house lefty options like Tsuyoshi Wada, Felix Doubront, and Travis Wood, assuming they’re still around and don’t make the rotation.
  • Keith Law sums up why yesterday’s Marlon Byrd trade was such a head-scratcher for the Reds: given their roster and contract situations, it would have made sense for them to go all in one last time in 2015 (they didn’t), or to start rebuilding (they didn’t). Instead, they treaded a strange middle ground, and the Byrd acquisition is emblematic of it. Heck, maybe they’re hoping he’ll crush it in Great American Ballpark and they can flip him at the deadline for a better prospect than the arm they gave up (assuming they’re non-competitive0>


  • I love this:




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