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Theo Epstein on Player Aging Curves and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

theo epstein press conferenceI love cinnamon apples and apple pie (aka: cinnamon apples in a crust), but cinnamon apple oatmeal is pretty meh. Like, I’ll eat it because it comes in the variety box of oatmeals I got, but I’m kinda choking it down so I can get back to the maple and brown sugar.

  • Recently, Cubs President Theo Epstein spoke with CSN New England’s Sean McAdam about a variety of topics, including Red Sox-related stuff, since it was CSNNE. You can listen to the full interview here (Epstein joins around the nine minute mark), and the CCO has a transcript here. Epstein got into a really fascinating discussion about peak ages in baseball, and how they moved much older during the steroid era because of players’ ability to extend their game physically, but, with increased/improved testing, we’re now back right around 27 as the average peak. Anecdotally, that feels right – and is a huge part of the reason we’re seeing the game get younger and younger, in terms of player debuts and emergence at the big league level – and it’s a reminder of how quickly the best window of contention can close for a team even as “young” as the Cubs.
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  • Epstein went on to say that, to extend careers nowadays, players have to not only improve mentally – really understand the game in a way they probably didn’t when they were in their early 20s – but keep their tools working at a high level, physically. Players are just too good and too physical these days for craftiness or headiness, alone, to allow a player to keep succeeding at a high level well into their 30s. That doesn’t mean every 30+ year-old player has to be a fitness freak like Jake Arrieta, but it does mean that they’ve got to do whatever is necessary to keep their tools from eroding, physically-speaking (which might include conditioning). Interesting stuff.
  • Speaking of aging differently: remember the time Cubs slugger Glenallen Hill hit a homer ONTO a rooftop? That is right up there with Kris Bryant’s second video board shot from 2015 as my favorite non-game-changing home run (obviously many game-changing homers are higher). It’s just such a quick, strong swing, and the ball freaking explodes off his bat. Hill would later be implicated in the Mitchell Report on PED usage, and he was 35 at the time of that homer. He played just 16 games the next season with the Angels, and his career was over.
  • Jesse Rogers writes about the Cubs’ new-found starting pitching depth, and how it could lead to some decisions in the spring.

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  • It’s also just good to see that Heyward made his way out to camp with his new club so early. We’ll probably get a steady stream of early-arriver updates in the coming days, in advance of pitchers and catchers officially reporting on February 19.

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  • Daniel Murphy tried to hit the baseball after spinning around a bat to make himself dizzy. He was hilariously unsuccessful.

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor of Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.

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