Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

travis wood cubs featureHow was everyone’s night? The Wife had a class until late, so I was on daddy duty all while trying to keep tabs on what was breaking. Did the kids get a little more TV time, a little more ice cream, and a little less story time in bed than usual? Yup. But I pulled it off. Sorry, kids. I swear it was a unique situation!

  • One random thing to remember about the Starlin Castro trade, if you were underwhelmed by the return (I think Adam Warren is plenty interesting, but whatever): it was just a few months ago that Castro was placed on waivers and went unclaimed. In early August, no team in baseball wanted Starlin Castro for free. Now, there was an argument then that even if Castro had been claimed, the Cubs should not let him go for nothing just to be rid of his contract. But the point is, there was a time not so long ago that many thought this 25-year-old infielder was on a negative value contract. Still, with a move to second base, a good attitude, and an extremely strong finish, Castro was suddenly worth a cost-controlled swing starter who’s posted a 3.39 ERA and 3.69 FIP in his career.
  • One random thing to remember about adding Warren, another swing guy type together with Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, and Clayton Richard: starting pitchers generally tend to lose effectiveness the third time they go through the batting order in a given game. We know this to be true, yet teams have been slow to adjust by pulling starting pitchers MUCH earlier than historically expected – in large part because their bullpens are not built to withstand having to throw three or four innings every single night. But if the Cubs wind up with a bullpen full of FOUR guys who can pitch in both long AND short outings? They might be able to be even more aggressive pulling starters early – when they are most effective – and forcing opposing teams to see a new pitcher every time the lineup turns over. And it’s realistic to carry all of these guys in the pen because they’re not just long relievers – each has demonstrated good one-inning or match-up ability in the past. They are super utility pitchers.

  • (Yes, I’m borderline talking about the very same concept of the four-man rotation, with four piggy-back relievers. I still love this idea as a way to construct a cost-effective, highly-performance-effective group of pitchers. We know this cannot work, realistically, in this league right now because pitchers will generally not sign up to pitch just four innings in a start. We also know that we don’t want to see the Cubs pulling Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester after just four great innings every single start. But maybe what the Cubs are going to do is split the baby, shortening up the Lackey/Hammel/Hendricks starts considerably, and letting Arrieta/Lester go deep. The Cubs kinda did that in 2015 anyway. But the bullpen is starting to look even more capable of pulling it off next year. I get very excited.)
  • Theo Epstein was multitasking to the max last night:

  • Dusty Baker made his first significant appearance as the Nationals’ new manager, and they’re getting what they paid for:

  • One meeting with the media, and the Nats already had to issue a “clarification” on behalf of Baker:

  • This is pretty fun:

  • Joe Maddon won an award of some kind:

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