Convention weekend is here! Like any job, this gig has its ups and downs (way more ups than downs – so, thank you again!), but one of the biggest ups by far is getting to come and “work” at events like the Convention. Not only does it tickle my fandom – I like getting geeked up by hype videos, man – but it also gives me the opportunity to cover an important event in person, which I really appreciate getting to do. And, big bonus: it gives me an opportunity to meet and hang with so many of you in person. (Look for me in a gray, striped sweater, with flashy blue and yellow shoes.)
It’s all technically still work, but it’s a lot of fun. Let’s do it!
- Speaking of which, this weekend was already going to feature an explosion of buzz at the Convention, but Anthony Rizzo’s comments yesterday are only going to jack things up further. I expect that his Opening Ceremony cheer volume just increased by about 10%. We might be approaching Tony Campana level. Probably still shy of Mark DeRosa territory, though. Which reminds me, DeRosa will be there this evening, so place your bets now: who gets the loudest cheer tonight? Rizzo, DeRosa, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Kerry Wood, and Joe Maddon are probably the most likely suspects. I’m going to guess Lester. You?
- Be on the lookout for more arbitration deals today after the Cubs avoided arbitration with Felix Doubront yesterday. The deadline for exchanging figures is today. Contracts so far seem to be up across the board around baseball, so this is me tentatively preparing you for the probability that the estimates you’ve seen – from me, and from MLBTR – could be low.
- Speaking of which (clearly my favorite connecting device), it sounds like Jake Arrieta expects to be among those avoiding arbitration today, per his comments to CSN here. As you can see there, though, it doesn’t sound like extension talks are underway. The truth is, I love me some Arrieta for this team, but the Cubs have his age 29, 30, and 31 seasons under team control already, in what effectively amount to three successive cheap team options. There would be some upside to an extension, to be sure, but it doesn’t seem particularly urgent, even as awesome as Arrieta might be.
- Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is now on MLB’s executive council, together with seven other prominent owners. It’s good to see him staying involved, and it’s also nice to know that, although the council is representing the interests of all MLB owners, the Cubs, specifically, will have a voice at that table.
- Nick Cafardo recently wrote about former Red Sox stud reliever Daniel Bard, who had a brief stay with the Cubs in 2013. Bard, just 29, is once again trying to come back from his inexplicable control issues (as well as 2014 surgery), and it’s a good – albeit kind of sad – read. Cafardo mentions that Bard could sign soon. Given their past connection and the likely no-risk nature of a signing, I could see the Cubs being a team that would try and pick up Bard on a minor league deal.
- Friend of the program Matt Trueblood writes a really interesting analytical take on the struggles of young players in baseball with a very healthy section devoted to Arismendy Alcantara. Although his 31% strikeout rate debut last year was troubling, it might not be quite as bad as you think when you consider the current strikeout environment, and the history of big league adjustments by 22-year-old players. That’s not to say it’s a good thing – and Matt gets into the problems, too – but I feel just a tiny bit less concerned than I did before reading his piece (which may not have been his intention, but that’s where I landed).
- I am an unapologetic supporter of “Go Cubs Go,” in all of its absurd, fun, and hopeful goofiness. I don’t take myself too seriously, so I can just enjoy it. And I do. So when I see this column in the Tribune trying to do away with it, I say NO, SIR. Change the line about catching it “all” on WGN, maybe. But that’s it.