Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

jon lester cubsApologies for the very late Bullets today. I’m having a bizarre, and highly specific problem that has vexed me all morning: every single site loads for me except Disqus. It’s true across all browsers and all devices, and the problem persists even after clearing all cache and cookies, and restarting my modem and router. When I access over cell data, Disqus loads fine. So I know the problem is somewhere in my modem or router, but boy am I having trouble figuring it out. And it’s just Disqus’s sites. Nothing else. Anyone ever experienced anything like this?

(And, as I’m just about to hit publish, it seems to be working again. Two hours of researching DNS and router-level caching and all kinds of settings changed … sigh.)

Meanwhile …

  • David Schoenfield took an interesting look at each team in the NL Central, and how each could make the playoffs. The case for the Cubs – a team already projected for 95+ wins – is not a particularly difficult one to make. What I found most interesting for discussion purposes, however, is this mention at the end of the Cubs’ section: “Is there any chance this club becomes the 2015 version of the Washington Nationals, a World Series favorite that doesn’t even make the playoffs? Sure, it’s baseball. A long list of injuries … the bullpen implodes … Joe Maddon brings a tiger into the clubhouse and he bites off the arms of the entire infield … I mean, I guess there’s a way the Cubs disappoint.” It’s an almost uncomfortable position to be in, having to stretch to think of ways a particular teamĀ won’t compete for a playoff spot, because we all know that anything can happen in baseball. No, the tiger thing probably isn’t going to fell the Cubs, but a rash of independent injuries certainly could. The Cubs have a quality amount of redundancy and depth, especially on the positional side, but it’s not hard to imagine injuries to – for example – Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester very seriously damaging the team.

  • And that makes me wonder: what injuries could the Cubs suffer in 2016 that would be the most damaging to their playoff hopes? Is it the front of the rotation? The Cubs have a ton of starting depth, but the fall off from Arrieta to, say, Trevor Cahill could be enormous. If the Cubs lost Anthony Rizzo, that would sting a great deal, but they could replace him in the starting lineup with a guy like Chris Coghlan or Javier Baez (by shifting others around), and the fall off would probably be less severe than in the rotation. Of course, even if the Cubs did lose both Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester – heaven forbid – they’d still have a formidable offense that might be able to carry them for a while. If they lost all of Arrieta, Lester, Rizzo, and Kris Bryant, well, then, maybe it’s a different discussion. At least the Cubs have put themselves in a position where, on paper, it looks like it would take that level of injury troubles to take them completely out of playoff contention.*
  • *(Which is not to say that, absent losing all four of those guys, the Cubs are guaranteed a playoff spot. A combination of injuries, underperformance, and bad luck could definitely combine to do the trick. It’s just that my mind started thinking about the injuries this morning.)
  • looked at the tremendous rookie class of 2015 and wondered if it might be the best group ever. The Cubs, what with Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, and Jorge Soler, feature prominently in that discussion.

  • After yesterday’s surprising Yankees/Aroldis Chapman trade, Jeff Sullivan looked at the team’s new “laugh out loud” bullpen. Their bullpen is currently projected to be far and away better than any other in baseball – though it’s interesting to see that the Cubs currently project to have the third best bullpen, tied with the Dodgers and just 0.1 WAR behind the Red Sox.
  • An end-of-year legal update on MLB issues from FanGraphs.

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