That stupid Justin Bieber song. “Love Yourself.” That one. It comes on the radio when you don’t expect it, and then … you don’t hate it. And so you listen to the whole thing. Maybe you sing along a little bit. It gets stuck in your head. And maybe you like it a little bit. And maybe you get a little happy when it comes on the radio the next time.
And then you admit it on a blog.
- David Schoenfield looks at great seasons from players on terrible teams in recent memory and the Cubs’ installment is Darwin Barney on the 101-loss 2012 team. Barney posted a 4.6 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference that year, though the defensive value back then was a little wonky (FanGraphs had him at 2.4 WAR). Wherever the truth of his value lay that year, he was a thing of beauty at second base. It was one of the best defensive infield seasons I’ve seen … in an otherwise bleeeeeeak year. Barney’s 2.4 WAR was fourth among the players on that team, behind Jeff Samardzija (2.7), Starlin Castro (3.1) and Alfonso Soriano (3.5).
- By extreme contrast, last year, the Cubs had nine(!) players with a 2.4 WAR or better: Jake Arrieta (7.3), Kris Bryant (6.5), Anthony Rizzo (5.5), Jon Lester (5.0), Kyle Hendricks (3.4), Chris Coghlan (3.3), Dexter Fowler (3.2), Addison Russell (2.9), and Jason Hammel (2.4). (And Kyle Schwarber was at 1.9 in just 69 games.) Ah, so that’s how one team wins just 61 games and another wins 97.
- The Cubs have been great on Twitter for a good long while now, but they got into a fight with the Yankees … and did not come out on top. It was all in good fun, though, and pretty hilarious.
- At BP, Bryan Grosnick looks at the non-roster invites in the NL that could have an impact this year, and the Cubs’ collection is interesting, but it’s a guy who can’t make an impact right away who gets a mention: lefty Jack Leathersich. He’s recovering from Tommy John surgery (July 30), and isn’t going to realistically contribute this year until August at the earliest. More likely, he’ll pitch in the minors this year and then come up in September when rosters expand to the full 40. But if he’s healthy at that point and if his command has come along, he could definitely be an impact arm.
- Mike Petriello’s look at Brad Ziegler’s success as a mid-80s-throwing submariner had me thinking about Cubs prospect Dave Berg, who dominated in similar fashion at UCLA, but whom many don’t believe can pitch in the big leagues. To be sure, big-time success in the bigs with that profile is highly unlikely. But if you can stay in the zone and keep getting batters to pound the ball into the ground at an obscene clip (without getting abused by lefties), it can happen.
- ZiPS is out on the Marlins, and it doesn’t look terrible. It would be nice if they were lightly competitive this year, making it just a little bit harder for both the Mets and Nationals to cruise to a ton of easy wins (each of the other two NL divisions have only two terrible teams, so, if the Marlins (joining the Braves and Phillies) are terrible, the Nats and Mets get an advantage in the Wild Card race, relative to other contenders, because of the imbalanced schedule).
- Over at Baseball Is Fun, Michael writes about the time Ryan Braun totally bit it while running the bases. I laugh every single time I watch, and I laugh again when I watch the video of his teammates trolling him with police tape the next day.
- If you missed it last night, we remembered Ron Santo with some videos and conversation.
- At Amazon, I tried to find Cubs Darwin Barney shirts or jerseys, just for fun, and there really aren’t many options. But there is a whole bunch of other completely random Cubs Barney stuff on there.