Just a reminder that Michael is out in Arizona right now, and there are due to be some fun things going on there today, including the Respect Bald event – make sure you’re following him on Twitter to see what he passes along.
- Players who haven’t yet reached arbitration are subject to having their contracts renewed by their team – i.e., the team says, “This is what we’re paying you, and you can accept or not play.” The Major League minimum is $507,500, so as long as a team is offering at least that amount, a player has to accept it or he cannot play. Most teams, though, offer small raises to their players as they accumulate service time in those first three years. You may recall the recent flap between Gerrit Cole and the Pirates because, initially, they did not offer him a raise for 2016 after his huge 2015 season, and eventually settled on offering him only the same salary as last year ($541,000). Interestingly, the Cubs are paying Kyle Hendricks, who has less service time and hasn’t had the same elite results, the same $541,000 for 2016.
- In general, the Cubs’ raises to their young players were generous across the board (it’s all relative, mind you, as most of the salaries are there in the $520,000 to $550,000 range), and that was especially true of Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant, who will make $652,000 in 2016. The sides may have had their issues about his initial call-up last year, but the Cubs are absolutely doing right by Bryant in this instance – that’s an enormous raise for a player with under a year of service time, and, after doing some checking and asking around, I believe that is the highest renewed salary ever for a player with under a year of service time. A token gesture, given the relatively small amounts we’re talking about? Sure. But that actually makes it all the more important to do this kind of thing for players you truly value. I’m really pleased about this.
- More from David Ross on his spectacular grab yesterday, including his own surprise at how excited he got. Fun moment. He also gets into his role on the team, and how he’s accepting the “Grandpa Rossy” treatment.
- On Munenori Kawasaki’s karaoke session yesterday, Joe Maddon says it’s all about breaking up the monotony of Spring Training (Cubs.com). You can have fun – even silly, divergent, ridiculous fun – and still put in good work. That’s the balance Maddon strives to achieve, and clearly he’s had plenty of success with it in his career.
- Chris Bosio really tries to get his pitchers to keep the ball down at the bottom of the zone (Tribune). So, about raising the strike zone …
- A 1% stake in the Yankees is for sale, and being valued at $24 million. I would probably pay that much for a 1% stake in the Cubs. Think they take bad checks?
- Speaking of large sums of money, a family found a bunch of super-valuable century-old Ty Cobb cards in a crumpled up bag.
- Matt Szczur (oblique) is expected to try and swing the bat today with an eye toward playing next week (Tribune).
- FanGraphs has the Cubs as a 97-ish win team, tops in baseball, though Jeff Sullivan asked the community if that – and the other projections – was too high or too low. Thoughtfully and correctly, in my opinion, the community said yes, that’s too high (a 97-win projection is just so very high, almost unthinkably high). However, the community came up with a still-super-high 95 wins, highest in baseball. Fair enough. The trick here is that the Cubs winning 95 or 97 or even 105 games would not shock me. They could, especially given how many rebuilding teams there are in the NL right now. I’m only saying that projecting it, because baseball tends to normalize and yet is so hard to predict, is too much. I’d set the over/under line for this Cubs team at about 94 wins, because that’s the level at which I’d have a tough time confidently saying over or under.
- The Brewers held a press conference to assure folks that their mascot dog is not a fraud. That’s a real thing. Not an Onion headline.
- If you missed it last night, Michael got into his first-hand experience at the game – his first ever at Sloan – and it’s a really great read/watch/look.
- Happy 23rd birthday to Kyle Schwarber, who debuted in Spring Training on his birthday last year … and all he did was hit a grand-freaking-slam in his first at bat.
- Just something on my mind …
Too many people think empathy means "political correctness" or "sympathy." It doesn't. Want to make positive change? Develop empathy.
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) March 5, 2016