Man, there are certain times when it is REALLY inconvenient to sneeze. I leave it to you to discern and discuss what those times are.
- I love this read on Jason Heyward from CSN, not only because it’s a reminder of how awesome it is that the Cubs can import a $184 million player and NOT count on him to be the face of the franchise or the hero every night, but also because of the discussion from Joe Maddon at the end. The discussion about Heyward’s future. About his development. Because he’s just 26. Heyward absolutely has the physical ability to become a monster offensively, and he’s still at an age where it would not be bizarre for that explosion to come. And even if it doesn’t come, that’s completely OK – if he’s just himself, with his very good offense, and excellent all-around ability, the Cubs will more than get their money’s worth.
- Remember when USA Today ranked the Cubs’ rotation as the top in baseball, which was probably a bit too aggressive? Well, there’s another of those subjective rankings at Sports on Earth, which has the Cubs at fifth. The caveat there is that the ranking is for the entire pitching staff, not just the rotation. I think fifth for the Cubs is more than fair, and that feels like about the range in which I’d have them. The Cubs are one spot ahead of the Pirates, which I think would make for an interesting debate, as the Pirates do consistently have a killer bullpen, but they’ve lost some parts from it, and they also lost A.J. Burnett from the rotation. Still, with Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon potentially contributing this year, the staff could be excellent, in total, once again.
- The teams ahead of the Cubs include the Indians (fair, because they’re loaded), the Dodgers (fair, because they’re crazy deep), the Mets (fair, because obviously), and … the Cardinals? At the top of baseball? Boy, that’s really, really hard to justify. To be sure, the Cardinals might be decent on the pitching side, but consider the following: Lance Lynn is out after Tommy John surgery. John Lackey is gone. Mike Leake was the only addition to the rotation. Adam Wainwright is 34 and coming back from an achilles injury last year. Michael Wacha wore down considerably and visibly last year after dealing with shoulder issues the year before. Carlos Martinez was shut down at the end of the year with a shoulder issue. Jaime Garcia is very good, but perpetually an injury risk. The depth beyond that group is decent, but not impactful (except Alex Reyes, who is suspended to start the season). The bullpen is solid, but it’s seen a bunch of departures, too. Again, there is a lot of talent there, and the Cardinals could be good on the pitching side. But ranking them, on paper, as the best pitching staff in baseball is a bridge too far for me.
- I know that the headline, and the preceding Bullets don’t really have anything to do with each other in this context. But the Cardinals did beef when Heyward signed with the Cubs, so there’s that.
- Dexter Fowler is, incredibly, still without a job for 2016, and Craig Edwards takes a deep look at Fowler’s defensive performance last year (when he looked like a nearly average center fielder) as compared to the years before (when he rated as a solidly below average center fielder). It’s a very interesting bit of perspective on Fowler, particularly in light of his current free agent status. Sometimes, as fans – even in our best, trying-to-be-objective moments – we get a little too close to the situation and perhaps do not evaluate effectively.
- Buster Olney says the Cubs are the team to beat this year.
- Remember that time Javier Baez swung himself off of his feet against Aroldis Chapman? Michael wrote about it for Baseball is Fun, and the good news is that Baez wasn’t the only guy Chapman did that to last year.
- Also at BIF: Tim Anderson wrecked somebody’s phone with a poorly placed – or perfectly placed – batted ball.
- BN’er Tim asked me to pass along info about his competitive men’s baseball team in the Chicago area to anyone who’s looking to play some actual baseball.
- Someone asked me on Twitter if I had a microphone recommendation for a podcast, and I offered that this is the one I use. Note that I said “I use.” Present tense. As in currently. As in, I am not done podcasting …
- Minor league and independent league teams are the best:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 15, 2016
- If you missed anything this long holiday weekend, catch yourself up here.
- I’m not ashamed: