Busy morning already, eh? I was trying to enjoy a fond Jon-Lester-homer memory when I remembered that single game tickets went on sale today. And then, when I was half-way through the Bullets, the Cubs posted their two lineups for tomorrow’s split squad games.
Plus, I’ve been keeping tabs from a distance on the World Series rally that’s going on in Mesa:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 24, 2017
Is it safe to head into the Bullets now?
- Let’s think back today about Game Seven of the World Series. I know. Been there, done that so many times you can’t possibly read about it again, right? Well, first of all, that will *NEVER* be true. Second of all, this time, I want you to think about the game from the Indians‘ perspective. Imagine, for a moment, being an Indians player or fan. Think about that game. About the unbelievable high of the comeback and the Rajai Davis homer … and then the unbelievable low of giving it right back. And then starting a rally in the bottom of the 10th! And then … not enough. And then think about how you’d look back on the whole series with frustration. A 3-1 series lead, and a 90% chance of winning it all. Gone. A 68-year championship-less streak intact. Eventually, the joy of reaching the World Series would be a fond enough memory, but you’d never fully get over just how close it was …
- Ken Rosenthal writes about the game today, specifically the 10th inning, featuring interviews with Cleveland players. It’s interesting to see their perspective on how close they were to getting out of that 10th inning without allowing a run. The Ben Zobrist double was, of course, not a matter of divine fate – it was a grounder that Jose Ramirez juuuuust barely couldn’t reach. And if he does?
- You’ll definitely want to read Mike Petriello’s article, but I wanted to include the tweet version so you could see the obviously awesome chart:
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) February 24, 2017
- Contact rate has not typically been something we worried about in specific reference to Addison Russell. No, strikeout rate and contact rate are not the same thing, but the former is often highly-influenced by the latter, and Russell’s strikeout rate in the upper levels of the minors was downright tiny. As a rookie in the big leagues, it shot up to 28.5% (very high, but shy of troubling), and plummeted this past season to a barely-worse-than-average 22.6%. As Petriello’s piece notes, Russell improved through from 2015 to 2016, and then throughout the 2016 season – not only in contact rate and strikeouts, but in the type of contact he was making. We say this about a lot of Cubs youngsters (well, because it’s true), but Russell, 23, seems primed for a breakout one of these years.
- Like, a big-time offensive breakout. Remember how we recently talked about how incredible it was that Kris Bryant dropped his strikeout rate at the same time he was increasing his power? Well, not quite on the same scale, but Russell did it in the second half of 2016: cutting his strikeout rate 4.5 percentage points from the first half, and increasing his ISO by 42 points.
- I was on Neal McCready’s podcast this week to talk about the Cubs’ seasons behind and ahead, and how our fandom necessarily shifts this year.
- Heads up for those of you wanting new Cubs gear but waiting for a sale – today is a sale:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) February 24, 2017
- Literal LOL on this one:
An oldie but a goodie … "Hey, hey, hey!! Eeek…Oooohh." pic.twitter.com/tvq85C4Ot3
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 24, 2017
- Over at TYL, Luis’s Bullets lead off with a discussion of the top cornerback in the draft, and whether that’s the path the Bears should go in the first round.
- A whole bunch of hand tool sets are on sale today at Amazon.
If you missed anything yesterday, give this list a skim:
- Among the Bullets yesterday, Rick Renteria finally offers some detail about his transition away from the Cubs.
- That Sammy Sosa interview reportedly did not go over well with the Cubs, and they’re closing the door.
- It doesn’t sound like automated strike zones are close in MLB, and I’m OK with that.
- Joe Maddon all but confirmed that Kyle Schwarber will indeed be the Cubs’ leadoff hitter.
- A truly fantastic read on how the Cubs reinvent pitchers, and how Chris Bosio is working with a new set of reclamation arms.
- The MLB Pipeline Cubs top 30 prospect list is out.
- And a Spring Training Miscellany of fun to wind down the day.