Having fully absorbed green smoothies into my daily routine, it’s now time to make a more concerted effort to embrace the other side of being healthy: exercise. I hate it, and I’m terrible at being regular about it. The one time in my life that I was semi-regular in exercising was when I had an exercise bike (rode it so much that it eventually died). So I hopped on Amazon yesterday, and I bought a new one. My plan is to ride the bike at least three days per week, and go lift at least two days per week. I mention all of this to you because it tends to help with my own accountability when I share things like this with you fine folks (because you sometimes helpfully pester me about whether I’m still doing the thing I said I was going to do).
- Most power-rankings-type-things have the Chicago Cubs in the 10 to 15 range as we approach the start of the 2015 season, and that aligns fairly well with most of the current projections, which have the Cubs right on the cusp of playoff contention. Buster Olney’s ranking bucks the trend, though, placing the Cubs 19th. The rationale is about what you’d expect – the team is young, and bound for some rocky days – and I’m not sure I can criticize Olney for this one. The Cubs are behind only the Pirates and Cardinals in the NL Central, though those two are way up there at 4 and 5, respectively. At 19, the Cubs are ahead of just about every team we expect be not competitive this year (plus the Giants), which seems like a fair enough spot to place them right now – perhaps the lowest they could reasonably be ranked. I’d probably have the Cubs in that 10 to 15 range, myself (with more upside (and downside) than almost any other team in baseball), but I can see why you’d want to actually see them succeeding in the first month before totally buying in to the Cubs as playoff contenders.
- (The Yankees at 11, the Indians at 8, and the Mariners at 3 are the ones that jump out at me as a bit off … except that’s almost exactly where they land in FanGraphs’s projected standings right now.)
- Lefty relief prospect Andrew McKirahan had pitched only a little bit above A-ball when the Marlins took him from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft. He probably wasn’t ready, but that’s how you have to do it if you’re going to get someone of value in the Rule 5 (as the Cubs did, for example, with Hector Rondon a couple years ago – and, by late in the year, he was definitely ready). It looks like McKirahan, 25, isn’t going to make the Marlins, as they’ve placed him on waivers. If another team claims McKirahan, the Rule 5 Draft rules apply to the new team – they’ve got to keep McKirahan on the 25-man roster (at least 90 days not on the DL) all year in order to keep him. If McKirahan clears waivers, he has to be offered back to the Cubs for a nominal fee. At that point, it’s possible the Cubs could take him back, or could work out a minor trade to send McKirahan to the Marlins, free and clear of any restrictions.
- Speaking of prospects, the Cubs had a set of ’em take on Rangers prospects last night, and, although the Cubs lost, C.J. Edwards pitched two perfect innings with three strikeouts (Cubs.com). Also, Kyle Schwarber walked every time he came to the plate and threw out two runners trying to steal.
- A deeper dive at FanGraphs on Javier Baez’s big league debut last year, the nature of his contact rates (or lack thereof), and how his future projection is changed by the ugly debut.
- Speaking of which, Joe Maddon wants guys like Baez to cut down on the strikeouts, obviously, but not at the expense of hard contact (Tribune). That’s the obvious balance for Baez, especially with two strikes.
- Friend of the program Dylan Heuer – the dude who takes the amazing minor league pictures – has a new website that you should check out. For example, the now beloved lo viste prospect picture, which was one of Dylan’s.
- If you missed it last night, the Cubs added Phil Coke to the 40-man roster, effectively saying he’s made the team.
- Jon Lester starts in a minor league game today, which will go a long way to determining not only whether he starts the season on Opening Night, but also what happens with the rest of the rotation.
- Chris Denorfia (hamstring) has taken batting practice, and could play in a minor league game by mid-week (Carrie Muskat). It seems likely that Denorfia will begin the season on the DL at this point, but nothing has been decided yet. Because of backdating, even if Denorfia is on the DL to start the year, he would be eligible to come off within five days.
- The Opening Day contest is less than a week away. Sign up now and tinker with your team.
- UPDATE: Now with new and improved standings flags photo with the Cubs on top, courtesy of the WrigleyBlog Twitter account. Follow them as your thanks.