Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

castro cubs walk off celebrate mbdToday’s the day to win $1 million. That’s the fantasy contest prize today (together with another $1.5 million in prizes), and I’ve been tinkering with my lineup continuously. The biggest holdup for me is Jeff Samardzija – I know the risks involved in starting him, but his salary for the game is so low and he always does have it in him to bust out a great one. He also could clunk one, and totally sink my entire team.

If you want in on the action, there’s still plenty of time – the contest starts tonight at 6pm CT when the evening’s games get going. Sign up here.

  • You should really read and internalize this article by Patrick Mooney today. It does a great job summing up something I’ve talked about with a number of you in peripheral conversations, but I haven’t written here in a dedicated way: you can’t assume the Cubs will be better, or even this good, next year. Or the next year. Or any year. I often point to the Nationals – as Mooney illustrates well in his piece – as your perfect example of why you can’t assume a paper tiger will have success in any given season. The Nationals were all-universe in 2012, seemed to get even better on paper after that … and flopped in 2013. They were once again all-universe in 2014, seemed to get even better on paper after that … and flopped this year. Even with a youthful core and more money to spend, it can happen to any team. The Cubs will undoubtedly head into 2016 with a lot of “paper” endorsements, but you cannot assume they won’t have dramatic injury and/or performance issues that could scuttle a season. As Theo Epstein once said, and it truly hits home this year: every season is sacred.

  • The point of all of that is two-fold: (1) the front office needs to make sure that it adds and supplements and plans just as well this offseason as it has every other offseason, because improvement – or even steady, quality performance – cannot be assumed, no matter how much individual progression is projected; (2) fans need to enjoy the rest of this season’s ride, because you never know when it will come again.
  • Jorge Soler was 1-4 with a single and a strikeout in yesterday’s Myrtle Beach Pelicans game (which they won, to take a 2-0 lead in the Carolina League championship series), and he’ll remain with the Pelicans through the end of the series. That could come as soon as tomorrow, if the Pelicans win, or as long as Friday if the series goes to five games.
  • A fantastically fascinating read at Five Thirty Eight about Jake Arrieta’s dominance. No, it’s not another rehashing of just how good he’s been – although, hey, who doesn’t enjoy those? Instead, it’s a look at some of the mechanical changes (most notably, a marked shift in his release point) he’s made in the last three years to dramatically improve his performance.

  • Jesse Rogers starts some early speculating on a Cubs playoff roster.

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