I have for a long time been beset by requests to do a mailbag/inbox-type Q&A feature at BN, and I’ve always wanted to do it, but there wasn’t enough time to do it consistently and do it well. Thankfully, with Michael in the fold full-time, he’s eager and willing to take it on. The feature will be called Ask Away, and it will run most Fridays – so that gives you the week to send Michael questions if you’ve got them (about the Cubs, about baseball, about Michael, about BN, etc.). He won’t be able to get to them all, but it should be a fun thing to do.
The email address for Ask Away questions is just askaway at bleachernation dot com. If you send them elsewhere, they will vanish into the ether.
- Two Cubs players – Kris Bryant and Jake Arrieta – showed up in the top 25 of a survey of sports fans ages 18 to 34 about the athletes that “matter most” to them (120 Sports, via the Tribune). Given how difficult it has been for baseball players to translate as “stars” in the current era, especially with younger fans, this is absolutely incredible to me. To be sure, self-selected surveys like this are rife with bias, but the list is still dominated, as you would expect, by football and basketball players. So, then, to have a couple Cubs players relatively high is notable. As baseball looks to improve its standing with younger fans, the most important thing it can do is cultivate “stars” to foster connections (think back to when you were a kid and how you got sucked into the game – I guarantee some favorite players were a huge part of it). And if those “stars” happen to be Cubs players? All the better.
- Yesterday, we discussed Commissioner Rob Manfred’s surprising comments about the momentum for a designated hitter in the National League, and I said I wanted to see more context for his full comments before coming to any conclusions. It turns out, it kinda depends on whom you read. This MLB.com piece sounds like it’s definitely not happening any time soon, and this ESPN.com piece is much softer. On the whole, it seems like this will be a topic for discussion in the coming months of collective bargaining. But my early read is that it would be a surprise if the DH is actually implemented for the 2017 season.
- Cubs Owner and Chairman Tom Ricketts has been re-elected to a four-year term on MLB’s Executive Council (Eric Fisher). As a newer owner, Ricketts’ standing and influence in the league will probably still be limited for a little while, but it’s not at all hard to see that he’s going to become an extremely important owner for a good long time.
- Adam Wainwright called into a radio show to express displeasure that he was not taken higher in their fantasy draft. It sounded like mostly tongue-in-cheek, but a liiiiittle serious. While I do think the questions about how well Wainwright can bounce back from his Achilles injury at his age (34) are well-founded, I also think it’s not unreasonable to suggest that he could actually come into the year refreshed, having thrown so few innings in 2015 after years of enormous innings totals. Just nobody show him the Cardinals’ ZiPS for 2016 …
- Speaking of projections, a great read from Jeff Sullivan on the projections’ biggest misses over the last few years. We always hear about how wrong they are on the Royals year in and year out, but it’s actually the Pirates that have been the biggest miss the last three years. A small part of his piece that I found the most interesting: those are the two teams with the highest Win Probability Added in their bullpen the last three years. I’ll keep saying it: from a pitcher-use-perspective, those late innings when games are close and winnable are exponentially more valuable and important than other innings because you already know you can choose to use your best pitcher in the most important spot (as opposed to early innings when you don’t know whether the game will ultimately prove to be a close one or a blowout). Want to outperform projections regularly? Be better in the most important spots in the game. How do you actually repeat something like that regularly? Have a killer bullpen that you can choose to use at the right moments.
- The Cubs’ scout of the year:
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) January 21, 2016