The Little Boy’s birthday party is today, and I can’t wait to celebrate. It’s a fun month in the Taylor household, because The Little Girl’s birthday comes mid-month, and then The Little Boy’s birthday is at the end. It’s a nice way to break up what is otherwise kind of a drab stretch of the year between the holidays and the holiday of Opening Day.
- If you’d heard about Adam Jones’ comments that Dexter Fowler told him he was coming to Baltimore, Fowler says that’s not the case, and Jones told Fowler he jumped the gun (Tribune). Seems like there was a misunderstanding among friends about what was going to happen, and *if* Fowler signed with the Orioles, he would have been excited to play with Jones. Fowler never agreed to a deal with the Orioles, and, outside of some frustrated words from Fowler’s agent, there is no controversy here. Fowler’s a Cub. Full stop.
- Speaking of Fowler’s re-arrival, his return to center field for the Cubs has the biggest projected impact on Jorge Soler, who was otherwise slated to be the main guy in right field for the Cubs, but now, with Jason Heyward sliding back to right, he’ll have to pick up starts periodically in left (when Kyle Schwarber sits or catches) and in right (when Fowler sits and Heyward plays center, or on the rare occasion Heyward sits). This is very much the situation we were rooting for in the last few weeks when it became apparent that Fowler’s price tag may have sunk to crazy low levels – bring the guy in, and then figure out the details later. Well, we’re in the “later” now.
- For his part, Soler, who has already started practicing in left, is saying all the right things (CSN, Tribune), and, if he becomes the monster we believe he can, this will all sort itself out. Part of that will the availability of rotating players, part of that will be health – in a group of four guys, eventually at least one gets dinged up – and part will simply be the inability to sit a guy with Soler’s offensive potential if he’s crushing the ball and taking walks like he was late in the year and in the playoffs. In those articles, Joe Maddon mentions Soler’s focus in the playoffs, and how he can continue to improve on staying in the moment.
- Jake Arrieta is already looking good (Cubs.com), but Joe Maddon says he’s not going to let it all out just yet. Also in that Cubs.com piece, more on how players are adjusting to the return of Fowler and the impact on playing time (nobody is bothered), and the match of Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell up the middle (Zobrist is loving it).
- Jeff Sullivan has some fun at FanGraphs looking at just how “excited” each fan base is for the coming season, and it’ll leave you wholly unsurprised to know that Cubs fans are right there at the top with Mets fans and Astros fans.
- Dave Cameron proposes a small tweak to the qualifying offer system to clean out some of the problems: if the players signs a one-year deal, the signing team does not lose a draft pick. It certainly would protect players in Dexter Fowler’s situation – or Nelson Cruz, etc. – from having to accept a one-year deal worth less than the qualifying offer he originally turned down.
- For those of you who’ve been asking me about the buyout on the mutual option on Dexter Fowler’s contract, I did the best I could to answer in yesterday’s Ask Away.
- Watching this video of Brewers prospect Brett Phillips laughing on photo day – his teammates clearly wanted to make him laugh so everyone could see it – has me dying. He starts laughing, they start laughing, you realize he has an incredibly crazy laugh, and then you just lose it. I’ve done it five times now.
- Dusty Baker may or may not know Bryce Harper’s name.
- Also at Baseball is Fun: the Savannah Bananas and expert photobombing.