The Wife is presenting at a conference today – she’s kind of a big deal – so it’s me and the kiddos for much of today. Thankfully, so far, The Big Kiddos have been watching ‘Shaun the Sheep’ while I type, and The Littlest Girl is napping. So I’ve been typing feverishly …
- Jed Hoyer spoke at length with Jesse Rogers at ESPN, and it’s worth a read. Hoyer reiterates that the Cubs are always looking for guys who can make starts for them if the need arises, and specifically mentions the Brett Anderson and Eddie Butler additions. With respect to Anderson, Hoyer talks about the need for six or seven clear starting pitchers, because something always comes up. As we’ve discussed, the nice thing about Anderson is that although there’s a high injury risk there, when he’s healthy, he’s been a mid-rotation-type starter. That’s a pretty nice piece to have available if one of your other five go down in Spring Training. I really can’t wait to see how Anderson looks as he’s gearing up for the season.
- Among Hoyer’s other comments, he tempered enthusiasm for folks expecting to see immediate, significant changes to Jason Heyward’s swing in Spring Training: “He’s been working hard, but it’s going to take some time to lock those things in against live pitching. I mean he’ll still be working really hard at it even after we start playing games. He may come out of the gate with those changes really strong, or it may take some time. You have to be patient when guys are making those changes.” All totally and completely reasonable, as Michael recently wrote about how it’s going to take some time for the mental-muscle-memory to lock into the 2012 swing Heyward’s trying to revert to. That said … of course we’re going to obsess about the swing right away. We can’t not. But I suppose I’ll do my part to keep reminding all of us (myself included) that it’s a process, and Spring Training exists specifically for practice and readiness.
- Mike Petriello talked about how Statcast revealed just how impressive otherwise nondescript Mets pitcher Seth Lugo is – and the exemplary GIF is a killer Lugo curveball that turned into an Anthony-Rizzo-swings-at-a-pitch-that-hits-him special:
— #Statcast (@statcast) February 4, 2017
- It turns out that was the highest spin rate curveball of the Statcast era, so maybe we can give Rizzo a pass on that one. After all just look at where the pitch started, and then where it wound up. That’s really an incredible pitch.
- The giant hole! It’s gone! Voila:
The hole is covered! Opening Day suddenly seems much more possible – great work by these construction crews! pic.twitter.com/hmHm7K9XEJ
— Wrigley Aerials (@WrigleyAerials) February 3, 2017
- A reminder about the new Cubs gear for Spring Training:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) February 4, 2017
- If you missed it earlier today, Commissioner Manfred spoke on a range of topics, including the urgency with which owners are looking at pace of play.
- These two aren’t just survivors, they also do so much to help the cause:
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) February 4, 2017
- There’s an ongoing debate in Illinois about the best way to reconcile certain budget problems (what else is new?), and one of the vehicles offered up by a recent bill amendment would reduce workers compensation payouts to professional athletes after age 35 (unless they’re permanently or totally disabled, then they’d collect as usual (I *think*)). The current interpretation of the law has those athletes getting certain payments until age 67, which is when the typical worker is expected to retire (so, in theory, if a player was partially disabled on the job at age 34, he would collect a huge amount of money until age 67, as though he were still going to be making his pro-athlete-level-dollars until that age (which, unless he was Julio Franco, he wouldn’t)). If I understand this all correctly – it’s very complicated, and it only just landed on my radar – it seems like this change makes sense, so long as the players are still protected like any other worker would be if they are totally disabled on the job. I raise all of this because the Bears and their owners just got blasted by the head of the NFLPA, DeMaurice Smith, for supporting this bill amendment (he went as far as to say he’d steer all free agents away from signing with the Bears if the bill passes). But, as Luis noted in the Bullets over at TYL this morning, it’s not just the Bears who’ve signed on to support the bill amendment – the Cubs have, too. In fact, all the professional teams in Chicago have. Moreover, they collectively say that the amendment is being misrepresented, and does not actually harm athletes in the ways it seems like Smith is suggesting. You can read their letter here.
- All that said, if there’s a chance this could impact Cubs players and future Cubs players, we’re going to have to monitor this one. You don’t even want players starting to wonder whether they’re going to get a raw deal if they sign up to play in Illinois. Hopefully the Cubs, and the other teams, stay out in front of this messaging (and/or do the right thing, depending on how the law is actually interpreted).
- And, hey, it’s the rare Bears story that directly impacts the Cubs, so I get to promote our sister site The Ten-Yard Line without any guilt! Do me a favor, and if you’re at all interested in the Bears, follow us on Twitter, and give the TYL Facebook page a like by clicking that button (and tell your Bears-lovin’ friends):
- Fun times came back to me last night:
What a way to kick off the playoffs, eh? pic.twitter.com/mOGewcA679
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) February 4, 2017
- If you’re looking for some baseball reading to hold in your hands before the season, the BP Annual is now out and available for order at Amazon, and the BA Prospect Handbook is available for pre-order (releasing later this month).