These Bullets are brought to you by Michael Cerami (that’s me!), which means we must engage in a brief chat about movies before getting into the baseball.

Topic 1: Isn’t Die Hard just the best?

Topic 2: Did anyone else feel like this (movie) award season didn’t feel quite as strong as some of the years past? There were some great movies, to be certain, but overall it felt inferior to last fall/winter.

Topic 3: There is, and I’m not messing with you, a new Vin Diesel-led xXx movie called xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Just F.Y.I.

Okay, baseball.



  • At the Athletic, Rian Watt has a really great piece comparing and contrasting Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist, while looking both backwards (on 2016) and ahead (to 2017): “It’s not hard to zoom out and see the broader story of the Cubs’ talented young core, led by battle-tested veterans and supported by a cast of dedicated professionals, reflected in what’s happening at second base.” Through comments from coaches, the front office, and others, Watt explains what makes each player tick, where they excel and what the future holds for them. Both players bring something to the position that’s both measurable (arm strength, first step, etc.) and immeasurable (leadership, experience, unparalleled baseball instincts). If you’re interested in that pairing in 2017 (how could you not be?), give it a look.
  • When I think back to my days in little league, I can vividly remember all of the advice I was given from the well-intentioned, but mostly-uninformed parents and coaches around the team: “Keep your elbow up!” “Put your elbow down!” “Stop eating that dirt!” But one of the most common refrains was always brought up when that one kid who threw hard was the opposing pitcher for the day: “Don’t worry … the faster the pitch comes in, the harder it goes out.” We all know this to be true, right? Well, not so fast:

  • According to Daren Willman, there’s not nearly as strong of correlation between velocity in and velocity out as we’ve all been led to believe. But who knows, maybe the point of that particular saying was to give little leaguers confidence against superior talent. I say we allow the phrase to stand for now, in the spirit of not permitting the pressure to exceed the pleasure.


  • At FanGraphs, Travis Sawchik discusses the difference between risk (the known odds that something might go wrong/right) and uncertainty (risk that is hard to measure; odds that are unknown) as it relates to Tyson Ross and his recent contract with the Rangers. Despite having become one of the more valuable pitchers in the game over the past few seasons, Ross was able to secure a mere one-year, $6 million contract because of the uncertainty that comes with his particular injury (it’s a rare case). Other pitchers with far less Major League success and/or far more significant histories of injury (including multiple Tommy John surgeries for some) received more money and more years this offseason, simply because teams were more willing to pay for the risk they’re capable of assessing. It’s a good, enlightening read and there’s plenty more in there, you’ll want to check it out.
  • CNN named it one of the 15 happiest places on Earth, and in 80 days, we’ll see you there:

  • The Angels have extended 29-year-old right fielder Kole Calhoun to a three-year, $26 million extension with a $14 million option for 2020. The extension buys out the three remaining years of control via arbitration (2017, 2018, and 2019) and potentially one year of free agency (2020), when Calhoun will be 32-years-old. Although arbitration extensions like this one (which buys out just one or two years of free agency) are something we talk about in reference to the Cubs young core a lot (cost certainty is almost as important as locking up players to long-term deals), I’m not quite sure Calhoun’s deal is much of a proxy. He has been worth about 4.0 WAR/season for the last three years (so he is very good), but he is about 3-4 years older than the Cubs core who we’d be looking at for similar deals.
  • He also was drafted with a five-figure signing bonus (unlike the Cubs core, who almost all received big multi-million dollar bonuses) meaning that he’s made a heck of a lot less throughout his career (so far) and was undoubtedly thrilled to lock in life-changing money as soon as he could.
  • The 2017 ZiPS projects for the Phillies are out and they’re one of the more interesting teams to look at, considering what we know of their potential in the near future. It’s not quite clear if they’ll have the arms to seriously compete in the NL East right off the bat, but if things break their way they continue to be the type of team that could flip a switch over the course of an offseason (perhaps post-2017?) using their financial might in free agency and some growth from core players (not unlike the Chicago Cubs did from 2014-2015).
  • If you missed it earlier, the Reds are trading away another starting pitcher. Luis thinks Hall of Famer voters may have missed out on Lee Smith.
  • At Baseball is Fun, Luis ran through a series of Pudge Rodriguez’s best throws from his career – man that guy had an arm – and even shares the video of him getting the call about the HOF yesterday. Awesome and emotional stuff.
  • And to that end, I also welcomed all three of the newest members of the Hall of Fame, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, and Rodriguez – they each have accomplished some truly amazing things throughout their careers.
  • Over at The Ten-Yard Line, here are your Bears Bullets, if you’re ready to start turning the corner on this past season.
  • Last April, I got a puppy named Henry. And on the most recent Black Friday, I bought the best vacuum I could find. The two are not unrelated. And if you do have a little pup of your own, I strongly endorse the Dyson V6 Animal cord-free vacuum. This thing is a tank, and was easily my best purchase of 2016. If that one’s a bit too pricey for you, one of Amazon’s deals of the day is a Bissell 1984 AirRam Cordless Vacuum – I’ve never used it, so I can’t say it’ll be great, but the reviews are pretty good. This is the most I’ve ever discussed vacuums before.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.






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