I just got my ticket for the new ‘Star Wars,’ which I’ll see at noon on Friday. Assuming there are no spoilers this week before it opens, that means I’ll just have to avoid learning any details from the time I wake up on Friday morning until the time I leave for the theater. That might sound easy, but when you live your professional life on the Internet, especially when you necessarily travel in circles populated by gregarious nerds, it’s dicey.
Don’t spoil me, bro.
- You’ll want to check out Patrick Mooney’s write-up on how the Chicago Cubs went from an organization that was credibly talking about the limitations of their offseason just a month ago, to dropping more than $200 million on new contracts for the second consecutive winter. With the Cubs so very competitive, with a free agent class that looks terrible next year, and with new revenues from a playoff run and ballpark sponsorships, it sounds like the baseball side was able to pull in extra spending power from the business side and ownership, something Plan Truthers probably never thought was possible. To their credit, the Ricketts Family has always maintained that the closed circuit nature of the organization would mean increases in revenue would directly result in increased spending power for the baseball side – something they’ve now demonstrated two years in a row, despite artificial limitations imposed by the ownership structure of the team. The baseball moves get all the pub these days, as they should, but the often-dumped-upon business side and ownership should be getting some credit for where the organization has gone.
- (Also, I think it’s interesting to remember that all this spending takes place against the backdrop of an international signing period in which the Cubs have blown their budget, and figure to be in on quite a bit more talent. That’s the less-visible spending, and, to be sure, it’s not going to be a $200+ million enterprise; but in terms of 2015-2016 commitments, it’s going to be a significant chunk. Now that the Cubs have signed two free agents attached to draft pick compensation, and now that we know the Cubs won’t pick in the first or even compensatory rounds of the 2016 draft, adding as much talent internationally as possible is all the more important. Will the cash be there to do that, too? Here’s hoping.)
- Kris Bryant spoke to the Tribune about a variety of things, and you can read about his excitement at the Cubs adding Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist. I was also very interested to hear his thoughts about the service time grievance that was filed against the Cubs about his call-up in 2015, and it reads to me like he confirmed what I was expecting: the action is being driven by the players association as a way to deal with the issue of service time games in advance of CBA negotiations, and Bryant is simply content to be the case for that cause. It’s a tough spot for a young player to be in, but only a young player, by definition, can help the union deal with this issue. It sounds like Bryant is not actively involved in the case – he’s simply doing his part for his union.
- The always interesting Sunday Notes from David Laurila at FanGraphs. I was particularly intrigued by the idea of wanting players with higher contact rates at Coors Field because, with its open spaces and the ball traveling well, you especially want to put the ball in play more often (at least that’s the theory). I am reminded of how difficult it is to build an offensive club for Wrigley Field, where three or four months out of the year you really want some guys who put the ball in the air, and the other two months of the year you just want guys who put the ball in play at all costs (and run well … and take walks). So, you know, you pretty much just want all-around complete and perfect hitters. Clone Anthony Rizzo, and you’re good to go.
- The ZiPS projections are out on the Reds for 2016, and it doesn’t look too good for a team expected to be at the bottom of the league. If guys like Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman are dealt, as has been rumored, then the picture gets even more grim. It’s also quite ugly for the Braves, by the way, though that has less of a disproportionate effect on the Cubs.
- If you missed anything this weekend, you can catch yourself up here.
- The picture error on this Amazon listing is particularly hilarious when you read what the Cubs product is, in tandem with the picture. (Well, hilarious and a little unsettling).