It’s solo daddy day at the Taylor household, as The Wife is off to a conference, and I’ll be wrasslin’ the kids. Simultaneously, I will do my best to offer you some swell Saturday stuff. These Bullets have been a completely piecemeal experience – write a Bullet (“Daddy, I need to use the potty!”), write another Bullet (“More Lucky Charms, please!”), etc. – so hopefully it all makes sense.
- Tsuyoshi Wada – something of a forgotten man in the rotation competition – is working on a cutter. As Jon Lester showed last year, and Travis Wood showed the year before, for two examples, a quality cutter by a lefty against righty batters can be an extremely effective get-you-out pitch. If Wada can effectively command a cutter, adding it to his (sneaky good) fastball and slider/change mix, that’s a guy who could suddenly start working deeper into games than he was able last year. If it weren’t for the Cubs’ extreme depth at the back of the rotation, Wada might very well be the favorite for the 5th starter job. As it stands, it’s really hard to name a favorite because each of the guys in the mix has a plausible claim to the gig. Wada will have a shot, but he’ll also have a shot to be a long reliever/swing man out of the pen, given his previously-demonstrated ability to dominate a lineup once or twice through the order.
- Something that’s a little unclear to me on Wada: because he technically signed a new contract with the Cubs (who did not pick up their $5 million team option for 2015, instead signing him for $4 million on the day the option decision was due), you would think he cannot be traded without his consent until June 15. That’s the rule for players who’ve signed a free agent contract. But Wada’s was not the typical situation (including the fact that he could get free agency before achieving six years of service time, and the fact that he was re-signed before officially reaching free agency), so it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that his contract is unique in that it allows him to be traded like a player under team control, rather than a player signed in true free agency. I’m just guessing on that one. (And none of this is to say I want to see the Cubs trade Wada. I think he’s among the more attractive swing options the Cubs have.)
- One more bit on Wada: today is his 34th birthday. Wada day!
- Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel spoke with Gordon Wittenmyer about the new pace-of-play rules MLB is putting into place for the 2015 season. Although I don’t necessarily agree with their positions, I do think they articulate good reasons for where they land, and I appreciate seeing the candid discussion. It’s a really good read, and reinforces for me that Arrieta and Hammel are bright, thoughtful dudes. (The big disagreement for me, for what it’s worth, is that I don’t think you seriously risk alienating long-term, hardcore fans by making some smaller changes that are designed to make the game incrementally more attractive to casual and/or younger fans. I like the game the way it is, but it’s not like I will like it any less because it’s faster-paced and higher-scoring (if that’s what happens, for example).)
- Patrick Mooney on what is to be done with Edwin Jackson, and how he’s preparing for the uncertainty ahead. Joe Maddon confirmed (Carrie Muskat) that Jackson will be stretched out as a starter this Spring. Which is obviously the right thing, even if there’s only a very small chance he actually makes the Cubs’ rotation. Shortening up is much easier than stretching out, and it remains possible that another team will have a need open up, and will want Jackson as a starter.
- Tons of Joe Maddon audio over at ESPN Chicago.
- The South Bend Cubs have their new mascot, and it’s the name I liked best, hooray:
— South Bend Cubs (@SBCubs) February 20, 2015
- I missed this last week: the Heckler riffs on the Netflix early release of Season Three of ‘House of Cards’ with an early release of the Cubs’ 2015 season.
- Don’t forget to like BN on Facebook so you can experience additional BN’y goodness in between baby pictures and birthday notices (seriously, sometimes I put extra, little stuff on there that doesn’t make its way onto Twitter or the site – that’s the “value added” proposition). It’s just one click away: