jake arrietaThe Little Girl got sick at school yesterday, so she joined me at home in the morning. She’s home again today, so I’ll do my best to wear the two hats of nurse and purveyor of swell posts.

Oh, and promoter of goods: today is the LAST day of the 15% off sale at the BN store. So, if you want to get a cheap but awesome shirt, head over to the store and use the coupon code HEART15.

  • The Cubs do not have a top 10 (or even maybe top 15, based on the honorable mentions) rotation in baseball, according to Buster Olney and ESPN. I think there are several teams (Dodgers, Cardinals, Nationals, Mets, Tigers) that pretty clearly have a better rotation, but I’d put the Cubs right in there with several others who show up on the list, including the Mariners (who are way too high at 4th), White Sox, Padres, and Indians. None of that is to say it’s not fair to have the Cubs outside the top ten (though they’ve outperformed pitching projections for years now, *and* they’ve now got top framing catchers in tow), because, after Jon Lester, there are easy questions – can Jake Arrieta repeat? Is Cubs-Jason-Hammel the real Jason Hammel? Is Kyle Hendricks for real? Can the Cubs get a good fifth starter out of the remain crew? For my money, the Cubs have a really strong front of the rotation, and extremely good depth. But the questions are legitimate. My gut says the Cubs’ rotation is probably in the 10 to 15 range right now. But, like the offense, there’s a pretty wide berth of possibilities, because although there are questions, there’s a ton of upside.


  • Corey Black has been invited to big league camp (i.e., non-roster invite), according to Corey Black. That means the big league invites are going out this week, and we may get a bulk announcement soon. Recall, non-roster invitees – could be prospects, could be vets in on minor league deals – participate in big league camp even though they aren’t on the 40-man roster, and fight for a spot on the big league team out of Spring Training (or, in the case of youngsters, learn from the experience).
  • As for Black, specifically, it’s a stretch that he could make the big league team just yet, but the invite seems very appropriate, given that he’s likely to see action at AAA this year, and could be useful arm very soon. It’ll be interesting to see if Black continues starting in Spring Training, given that his clearest path to the big leagues is likely in the bullpen, where he could be an excellent power arm. That said, I’m thinking he’ll stay a starter for now – the conversion is not difficult, and you might as well keep a guy starting so long as there’s a chance he could be a starter down the road. Black, 23, is coming off his first full year at AA, in which he posted a nice 3.47 ERA over 124.1 innings, but his strikeout rate dipped to 22% (from about 24% at High-A), and his walk rate climbed higher from an already-uncomfortable 11% at High-A to an unusable 13.2% at AA. Black has the stuff to be a big league pitcher, but, as we’ve seen with so many quality young arms, it’s the command that will separate.
  • Helping propel his team to a 6-2 postseason record, Javy Baez had another good game yesterday in the Puerto Rican Winter League, going 2-6 with a couple singles, stealing a base, scoring a run, driving in a run (the game-winner), and striking out just once. He’s had a real nice stretch the last couple/few weeks. (And if you want to see a chart on Baez’s strikeout rate adjustments as he’s gotten more experience in a given league, Doc put together a handy, pretty one here in the comments.)
  • New Cubs minor leaguer Andres Santiago pitched a perfect frame for the other side in that one, striking out one.
  • Pat Hughes is the Illinois Sportscaster of the Year for the sixth time because obviously (Cubs.com).
  • Good read from Patrick Mooney on Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo.
  • No, Pedro Martinez did not have the four best pitches in baseball during his day, but it turns out that he did have three pitches that were all among the best.





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