Super Bowl Sunday is here, and I land here with increasingly mixed feelings about the sport. I’ll still watch and enjoy the spectacle, no doubt, but as we discussed earlier in the context of Antwaan Randle El’s admission that he wishes he’d signed to play baseball (after being drafted by the Cubs) rather than play football, I feel a little guilty. Here’s a guy who was a Super Bowl hero saying he wishes he could undo all of that because of how negatively his life has been impacted by this sport that I’ll sit safely on my couch and watch.
Ratings will be huge for the game again this year, but I doubt I’m alone in starting to feel a little uneasy about the whole thing.
- Carrie Muskat’s latest inbox includes a variety of things, including thoughts from Farm Director Jaron Madison on utility prospect Chesny Young. Madison mentions that the jump to AA – which Young should face this year – is one of the toughest in the minor leagues, and a big questions for Young is if he can at least hit for doubles power (he’s not going to be a big home run hitter). If the power comes along a bit, Madison says Young has the potential to be an everyday player. I’d add that his extreme versatility could make him all the more valuable as a regular, even if he’s not a force offensively.
- HOWEVA, I’d like to speak for a moment, in general, about the issue you often see with high-contact, high batting average guys in the lower minors. Guys you see with a good batting average, a great walk rate and a great strikeout rate. Guys you figure put together great at bats, put the ball in play, and are destined for future success. The problem is that, as those types of hitters move up the ladder, a few things happen: the strikeout rate goes up slightly because the pitchers are better and they’re in the zone more, the batting average goes down a good bit because the defenses are better and are positioned more closely to cut down singles (and because of the strikeouts), and the walk rate goes down substantially because pitchers are not worried about making mistakes in the zone against a slap hitter. When you combine all of those things, a guy’s nice .320/.400/.400 line in the lower minors can quickly become .290/.330/.330 as he moves up. A lack of power is damaging in a lot of ways that aren’t simply about how many homers a guy hits or even what his SLG is.
- As for Young, specifically, he does have versatility and speed going for him, and he has fantastic contact ability. That will all help him, and it keeps him on the radar as a legitimate prospect. But if the ability to drive the ball doesn’t come along more (.058 ISO in the minors, and he’s already 23), he could flame out soon, and folks who weren’t paying close enough attention are going to wonder how it’s possible that a guy who hit .320 in the minors never made an impact in the big leagues.
- Paul Sullivan writes about the close of the Cubs’ offseason in the context of what has come before, as well as what comes next.
- A fun read from Jeff Sullivan on how hard it is to hit a homer to dead center at Minute Maid Park. Surprisingly, based on results in the last 10 years at least, Wrigley Field has a tougher dead center, too. At 400 feet, which is about average for center, I’d’ve thought it would be closer to average, but I’m guessing the higher wall (even with the basket) and the peculiarities of the wind (seems like it’s blown in more than out in recent years) are what drag it down.
- If you missed it late last night, sometimes I toss up a random look-back, and it was Jon Lester getting charged by an umpire. Did you remember that happened?
- Over at Baseball Is Fun: that is not a slide, Jean Segura.
- Pearl Jam ticket details:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 6, 2016