The Wife and I have physicals today. It was about a year ago that I had my last physical (if you’re able to get them annually, you should), and I was a little heavier than I should be, plus some of my blood draw readings indicated I was not in the best of shape. So I made some conscious decisions about eating better and I exercise regularly now. I’ve dropped some weight, and I’m hoping that today’s iteration of the physical shows some improvement. I feel better, and I know I’m healthier, so that’s really where my focus should be. But if there isn’t marked improvement in whatever it is that the doctor is able to measure, knowing myself, I’m going to feel a little discouraged.
- Kris Bryant had a very good first year in the Major Leagues. Given the many awards and honors, given the overall success of the Cubs team, given the dreams on his future, and given the distraction (to fans) of his service time grievance, it has been easy to lose sight of some of the more basic things we’d examine about a young player’s first year in the big leagues. With what did he struggle? How did he deal with slumps? How did he adjust? How did he adjust to pitcher adjustments to his adjustments? What looks to be the next issue looming on the horizon for the sophomore season? If you want to take that step back, I highly recommend this read by Sahadev Sharma on Bryant’s first big league season. Remember when Bryant was struggling with changeups? With low strikes? With not hitting many home runs? He adjusted constantly throughout the season in ways you might not otherwise expect from a rookie. You didn’t need that reminder to know Bryant is special, but it’s a part of his game that will be important for years to come.
- Obligatory: Bryant hit .275/.369/.488 on the year, and posted the 18th best wRC+ in baseball. His 6.5 WAR was the 10th highest in baseball, and he twice hit the video board in left field with monster bombs. I like watching him play the baseballs.
- David Laurila offers a fascinating read on what it’s like in a front office when there’s an institutional change in leadership. A primary focus of the piece, and something that is not often discussed, is that when a new leader – a GM or a President – comes into an organization, sure, he’ll bring in a lot of “his guys” to work alongside him, but he won’t turn over the entire organization. Which means that many folks still in-house will have to bend and shape their approaches to match the philosophy of the new person in charge.
- That makes me wonder if organizations that have had very long, entrenched, successful leaders have an additional advantage beyond that leader, himself, because the rest of the organization has had so long to truly think and act like the leadership in a cohesive way. Organizations with a long-time leader or at least a series of planned successions, then, are probably slightly better able to sustain a successful scouting, player development, and player acquisition model over long periods of time.
- MLB.com likes the Cardinals’ Jedd Gyorko/Jon Jay trade as one of the best six under-the-radar moves this offseason, given Gyorko’s versatility and ability to still hit lefties. That’s all well and good, but if he’s not more than that, the Cardinals will be playing a lot of money for a barely-useful bench piece.
- A ridiculous tree ornament that comes in Cardinals, but not Cubs? I don’t know if I’m happy or offended.
- If you missed it this morning, the Cardinals could be getting close on Mike Leake.