I got this giant tin of cashews for Christmas, and, although I thought I’d have a few before re-gifting it to my parents (who love cashews even more than I do), I sit here now a couple weeks later, and the dang thing is almost empty. Dangerous to sit it right next to me at my desk.
- Did the Cardinals really try to close the gap with the Cubs in the NL Central this offseason? That’s essentially the question posed in this ESPN piece, reviewing the team’s offseason and noting criticism from fans who’d expected them to do more than add one good outfielder (Dexter Fowler) and one good bullpen arm (Brett Cecil). From where I sit, the Cardinals had a perfectly adequate offseason, given the reality of 2017 (the Cubs are especially loaded, and then there are big questions in 2018 and beyond). Why risk imperiling 2018 and beyond with short-term trades and salary bloat, just for a chance of competing at the top of the NL Central in 2017? In truth, adding another big bat like Edwin Encarnacion (or worse, something like trading Alex Reyes for Brian Dozier) probably doesn’t bring the Cardinals that much closer to the Cubs on paper in 2017. The Depth Charts projections at FanGraphs have the Cardinals a full 9.0 games behind the Cubs, which is not at all insurmountable – it’s only paper, after all – but it does suggest that the talent gap is significant enough that specifically trying to put together a better on-paper roster than the Cubs in 2017 was going to be fruitless. Thus, put together a solid team without sacrificing the future, and then see what happens. It’s not as if the Cubs couldn’t suffer injuries and surprising ineffectiveness.
- Obligatory upon mention of the Cardinals: remember when they were supposed to be punished for hacking the Astros and unlawfully gaining access to internal player evaluations before the draft and the trade deadline? Yeah, I remember. Still hasn’t happened.
- I guess it’s not all Billy Joel and James Taylor and country music (and, to be fair, Pearl Jam):
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 9, 2017
- It’s official: Manny Ramirez is legitimately continuing to play. He’s signed with a team in Japan, at the age of 44.
- David Schoenfield takes a half serious, half lighthearted look at the next Hall of Famer for each of baseball’s 30 teams. Some, of course, have a guy in the pipeline right now, ready to be voted in this month. Others – like the Cubs – are not likely to see a Hall of Famer until/unless someone currently on the roster puts together a Hall-worthy career, retires, and then is voted in five years later. The Cubs’ installment is reigning MVP, Kris Bryant. Certainly possible. Anthony Rizzo could get there first, though, for one example.
- Some Cubs minor league signings dropped on Baseball America and MLBTR today, which means folks are talking about it today – no new write-up here, though: if you missed it when we wrote them up originally, check it out here. (Which is not a dig at anyone – I just get asked about guys when a new signing is published elsewhere, so this is my way of directing you to our prior write-up, rather than re-writing the whole thing.)
- Relatedly, if you missed it this weekend, the Cubs re-signed Munenori Kawaski, and inked another couple players to minor league deals.
- MLB’s Rookie Development Program was this weekend, and I *think* (based on his Instagram) Jeimer Candelario was there. The program is “designed to make up-and-coming big leaguers aware of off-field issues that can arise and teach them how to deal with them. Among the seminars at this year’s program, which ran Thursday through Sunday at the Lansdowne Resort, were discussions about financial planning, inclusion and respect, the media, performance-enhancing drugs, relationships and sexual health.” Because of the timing of call-ups, not every “rookie” gets a chance to participate in a program like this, so it’s excellent when young players can. The individual teams, of course, bear most of the responsibility of properly acclimating young players to the big leagues (in all ways), and it’s my understanding that the Cubs have become among the best at this in recent years. (And you might say the proof has largely been in the pudding.)
- Kris Bryant is now officially off the market, and, together with his bride, is all kinds of glamorous:
- Looking for something to do with the kids when you can’t go outside and play this winter? Peruse the arts and crafts deal of the day section at Amazon, and see if any ideas spring to mind.
- This morning, Luke looked at less-discussed pitching prospect Jen-Ho Tseng (and this weekend dove into Ian Happ’s future). I also wrote about Kyle Schwarber’s incredible World Series, which is mostly summed up by this Baseball is Fun image: