Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

david ross cubsI don’t talk about it much, which is odd, because I pretty much talk about everything in this space, but I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury for a very long time thanks to poor tennis-related decisions last year. I think I avoided discussing it because it was the first “injury” I’ve ever had that made me wonder if I was going to be negatively impacted for the rest of my life. It made me feel the process of aging, and I didn’t really like to think about it when I didn’t have to. Doctors, months of physical therapy, and all that stuff.

I mention it now because it’s made me appreciate how crazy it is what some pitchers go through. My injury was rotator cuff damage, but not any kind of total tear or catastrophic injury. And I’m not trying to get back to a place where I can throw a fastball 90+ mph. Yet it still took me nearly six months of physical therapy, and then several (still ongoing) months of dedicated shoulder exercise to get me back to a place where I can at least avoid/tolerate most of the discomfort when I’m playing tennis or playing with my kids. More than ever, I just can’t imagine the work that goes into pitchers coming back from arm injuries, and I appreciate how impressive post-injury performance is.

And, for the rest of you regular folks out there like me: make sure you strengthen your muscles throughout your life. If you don’t, at some point, your joints will rebel.

  • I’m not sure this was ever really in question, but Nick Cafardo confirms with David Ross that the Cubs’ back-up catcher does intend to return to the Cubs next year, honoring the second year of his two-year, $5 million contract. Even if retiring was on the table, Ross would be forgoing $2.5 million to do it, and that doesn’t sound like a great financial decision. From the Cubs’ perspective, they will have the option of simply letting Ross go and eating the rest of the contract, but I suspect they’ll be content to keep Ross on the roster heading into 2016 when his total value is considered. Yes, his bat fell off a cliff last year (.176/.267/.252), and he didn’t even hit lefties well when he had occasion to be platooned, but his defense was as good as ever, he was one of the top pitch-framers in baseball, he was a rock in the clubhouse, and he remains the guy Jon Lester wants behind the plate. On the balance, I’m still comfortable with Ross being the Cubs’ back-up catcher next year, though I’ll admit I do wish the Cubs had the ability to utilize match-ups a little more, rather than having to start Ross every time Lester starts, no matter what. Nothing is assured, of course, and I can imagine a scenario where, by midseason, it looks like Kyle Schwarber should be getting more starts behind the plate, and/or Willson Contreras looks ready to contribute in the bigs, and Ross is let go. But I can also imagine a scenario where Ross simply repeats for all of 2016 the guy he was in 2015, which was a solid – overall – back-up catcher.
  • Speaking of Ross, he was a good sport about his very public (but harmless) gaffe in the NLCS.
  • Clayton Richard was a nice addition for the Cubs this year, and he talks about finally feeling healthy and adjusting to the bullpen (CSN). As we’ve discussed, Richard makes for an interesting arbitration decision – if you buy him as a quality reliever and possible swing guy, then tendering him is a pretty easy call, even if he’ll require a 40-man spot and could make anywhere from $1 to $2 million.
  • Robert Feder writes about the Cubs’ absolutely ridiculous radio ratings last month (WBBM tied an FM pop station! the next AM station was 9th!). The Score has to be very, very happy to be getting the Cubs.

  • Grant Brisbee writes, hilariously and accurately, about the worst commercials of the MLB postseason.
  • I was interviewed on public radio in Illinois about the Cubs’ NLCS loss, and you can give it a listen if you want to get a little somber.
  • If you missed it later yesterday, there was a new Lukewarm Stove.
  • A very cool metric:

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