Friday the 13th!
Hopefully that means something zany will happen today like the Cubs beating up on Francisco Liriano and Jason Hammel completely shutting down the Pirates. Does that even count as zany?
- Miguel Montero has been on a rehab assignment at Iowa this week, and tells Tommy Birch that he feels good, suggesting he could be back with the big league team soon (the I-Cubs play one more at home today, and then head out on the road, so it’s a fair bet, absent a setback, that Montero will be back with the Cubs by tomorrow at the latest (especially given that Jake Arrieta pitches tomorrow, and Jon Lester pitches on Sunday – it would be nice to have those two days go Montero-Ross behind the plate)). Birch’s article also notes something Michael wrote about earlier in the week, namely, that it’s been good for top Cubs prospect Willson Contreras to be around Montero for a little more time.
- An enjoyable read in the New York Times about the Cubs’ early season success, and I especially enjoyed how quickly and thoroughly Theo Epstein bristled when the subject of the Golden State Warriors – the NBA team that, among other things, this year broke the Chicago Bulls’ record for wins in a single season – came up as a possible comparison for these Cubs. Not only did Epstein want to remind folks of how strong the Warriors have been for multiple years now, but he also wants to remind folks that, because of the nature of basketball and its playoff system, building the objectively “best” team can push your odds of winning it all up into the 60% range. In baseball, you can maybe push it to close to 20% (which is where the Cubs are right now (and that’s incredible)).
- Given the Cubs’ pursuit of David Price this offseason, but seeming preference for a Heyward-Zobrist-Lesser-Starter offseason unless they could get Price for a bargain, I think it’s been interesting to follow Price’s performance with the Red Sox. Was there a reason the Cubs were less aggressive on Price than the Red Sox? I’ll concede that the early returns are strongly negative on the monster contract Price received, though it’s too early to say for sure. This FanGraphs read on Price’s potential decline, however, makes for a very fascinating read in this context, though. The best pitchers, generally speaking, do three things: get lots of strikeouts, don’t give up many walks, and limit hard contact. Price has always been good at the first two, but only slightly above average at the third. This year, he’s become slightly below average at the third, and it’s disrupting his entire performance. It’s a reminder that even very good, relatively young, healthy starters can, at some point in their careers, simply start getting hit harder. None of that, of course, is to say that Price can’t or won’t figure something out and turn things back around.
- A batter-specific run expectancy tool? Oh, we could have some fun with this.
- The Cubs’ efforts to become a more patient, high-on-base offense has been a systematic long-game by the front office (ESPN). The reality is that you can’t simply “teach” guys, especially established players, to get on base more. Sure, you can do some work at the margins and improve their overall game, but, by and large, the only ways to increase discipline and OBP in an organization are (1) to draft and sign players with the possibility of developing those skills, and instruct it in the right way at the lowest levels of the farm system (Cubs have done that, but it takes years and years to show at the big league level); and (2) to sign/acquire big leaguers who already have those skills. Check.
- In the realm of house fans, this one looks to be pretty good, and on sale at Amazon now, if you’ve been considering your impending-summer-fan needs.
- META: You’ve probably noticed the new “Related Posts” and “Explore Bleacher Nation” sections after posts. Those are, by necessity, something of a live beta, which is why the “related” posts aren’t always very related, and the “explore” posts are often really bizarre old posts. Basically, it’s an algorithmic system that is learning about BN over a period of time, and will – in theory – improve in its collection of related content, and then also older stuff that is still interesting and you may have never seen (that’s the idea behind the “explore” section). In short, it’s probably going to be a bit weird for a little while, and then hopefully it’ll be seamlessly useful and interesting. I promise, I’m keeping an eye on it.