Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

starlin castro featureBaseball Prospectus has launched its new Cubs-centric site, and, if you read the introduction from site-runner Sahadev Sharma, you probably noticed a familiar, handsome name in there: mine. Yes, I will be contributing from time to time to the new BP venture, and I’ll make sure to tell you here when I’ve got a post up over there (about once a week). I’m excited to be a part of what BP is doing, and to get a chance to work with Sahadev, who is the cat’s pajamas. Also, what if we started doing a podcast again …

  • An underdiscussed aspect of yesterday’s win: Starlin Castro taking second base after an aggressive turn on his single that scored the first run of the game. The play was in front of him and relatively close to second base, but, even though the throw was cut off, Castro still made it easily into second because he was hustling out of the gate and took a smart turn. In that game situation, too, it was likely that a decent throw was going to be allowed to go all the way home (Anthony Rizzo running, scoreless game). Because of the heady effort there, Chris Coghlan was thereafter able to move Castro over, and then Castro scored on a Miguel Montero sac fly. Without that baserunning, the Cubs probably don’t score that second run. No, the Cubs didn’t need that second run to win the game, but is anyone unhappy they got it? On a cold, windy April day, every run counts, and Castro helped manufacture one with his baserunning (after driving in the other run).
  • All I’m saying: It’s fair game to point out Castro’s subsequent error in the field or his earlier failure to put the ball in play with a runner at third and fewer than two outs. But let’s at least notice something subtle like getting to second on that play.

  • Andrew Felper takes a deep dive on Jon Lester’s Opening Night start, which, paired with Michael’s positives, should tell you all you need to know about the outing. I was particularly intrigued by the look at how Lester fared against the Cardinal lefties, who pretty much rocked him by laying off everything away, and waiting for Lester to come back inside.
  • Speaking of Lester, he’s not interested in discussing any issues he may or may not have (he says he has none) throwing to bases, including the lack of any pick-off attempts in 2014 (CSN). The potential issue shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone (we discussed it back in December), and I highly doubt it’s suddenly going to be this huge, brand new problem for Lester at 31. Teams will test him, he’ll likely demonstrate that it’s not a problem, and then it’ll be over. (It was a little funny, though, to hear both The Wife and The Father-in-Law, completely independent of each other, saying to me after Opening Night some variation of, “Did you know Lester never threw over to first base last year?!”)
  • Adrian Gonzalez received his ill-gotten 2014 Silver Slugger Award before last night’s game against the Padres, and, as if to say, “Shut up, Brett,” he homered three times, making him the first player in baseball history to homer five times in his team’s first three games. Further enhancing the Anthony Rizzo connection? Each of the homers last night came off of Andrew Cashner, the righty for whom Rizzo was traded three years ago.

  • Scott Lindholm takes a long look at the possible wind-related impacts of the video board in left field at Wrigley, and the tentative conclusion is that there could be some small impact on some balls, but it won’t be much and they won’t be many.
  • A glorious MLB/Game of Thrones combo from DRaysBay, picking a GOT character for each team – most are just perfect. The Cubs are generously paired with Daenerys Targaryen, who is easily one of the best and most likable characters on the show. Also, she is the Mother of Dragons and Breaker of Chains and OMG I can’t wait for GOT to return on Sunday.
  • MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred approves of DraftKings – a partner of BN’s, and now a partner of MLB – which he sees as fantasy baseball, not gambling. (If you do decide to play DraftKings, make sure you sign up via this link.)
  • Cubs/Cards yesterday took just two hours and twenty-three minutes, faster than all but four Cubs games in 2014. Are we seeing a pace-of-play impact, or was it just the particulars of that game? Jake Arrieta and Lance Lynn both work quickly, and both were really on yesterday. That makes for a fast game, regardless of the rules.

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