It’s been a weird week for Bullets, with the way other items have played out forcing the Bullets frequently into a mid-day slot (the latest on James Shields here, if you missed it this morning). That’s extremely rare, and it’s happened several days in a row. That’s some serious META for you.
- We haven’t heard anything on the Joe Maddon tampering investigation in quite some time, with the last update coming back in mid-January. Bob Nightengale adds something to the mix, and the tweet reads a little ominously: “The Cubs insist there was no tampering involving the hiring of Joe Maddon. The Rays insist they have proof the Cubs tampered. Stay tuned.” At last check, the story was something like, the Rays suspected the Cubs must have tampered, otherwise Maddon wouldn’t have opted out. They asked MLB to investigate, and that was that. But Nightengale is saying that the Rays insist they have proof that the Cubs tampered. Presumably that would be in the form of phone or email records, which you would have thought everyone involved would have been wise enough to avoid if they were doing any shenaniganning. On the other hand, if the Rays do already have proof, why is this still unresolved? Could it be that the “proof” isn’t crystal clear (it rarely is), and that’s why MLB is engaging in such a lengthy investigation? Or could it be that MLB agrees with the Rays, and the time this is taking is all about what penalties the Cubs are going to face?
- I don’t have answers to those questions, but the longer an official resolution takes, the more reasonable it becomes to have a little concern. It could just be that this is so low priority that MLB has it on the back-burner (and/or that there are so many records to review that it is legitimately taking a really long time), so I don’t want to leave you with the impression that, definitively, long time = bad for Cubs. I also don’t want to create any panic about what the penalties could be if the Cubs are found to have tampered. Historically – and there are only a few examples – these kinds of situations have led to financial sanctions, personnel suspensions, and/or relatively limited compensation. Losing a high draft pick or a significant prospect here would be a big surprise. (Again, and that’s only if the Cubs actually did something wrong – which they have always adamantly stated they did not. For his part, Joe Maddon and his agent backed up the Cubs from day one.)
- A great read on Starlin Castro preparing himself for the 2015 season at Cubs.com. He’s turning the corner on a tumultuous couple months (and that season-ending ankle injury). It sounds like he’s at 100% health, so that’s good, and he’s been working out in Arizona – safely – for quite a while. Now it’s just a matter of moving himself and his family permanently to the States, which, as we’ve discussed, is probably the right idea for him, but probably not so easy to effectuate quickly.
- MLB may be moving toward a position that supports allowing gambling on baseball games outside of Nevada (CBS). They are apparently no longer worried that fixing games is a realistic possibility, and the relationship between sporting events and betting is not going away. Some pragmatism is warranted.
- Good on the Diamondbacks, who are not only providing education for some of their Dominican prospects, they are also graduating them.
- If you missed it last night, the Cubs avoided arbitration with Pedro Strop, their last unsigned arb-eligible player.