The Spring Training schedule is throwing me for a loop these days, with so much to get to in the morning before I can really settle into the Bullets. So, I apologize that they’re showing up later than usual right now, but this might be the new normal until the regular season comes around.
- The annual Respect Bald event is this Saturday, and you can see the details here. The Joe Maddon brainchild is in its third year, and features Cubs players/coaches/execs getting their heads shaved by fans for a good cause. Fans can also get their heads shaved, and donate to Joe Maddon’s Respect 90 Foundation, which supports pediatric cancer research and programs.
- Jon Greenberg sat with Jed Hoyer for a long interview, which you can read part one here at The Athletic and part two is here. I found his comments about the rebuilding process particularly interesting and candid, especially his admission that he does watch others’ rebuilds closely (not even just in baseball), critiquing their decisions in his mind, and learning from how their process goes. Hoyer even used the Bulls as an example of how something big can go wrong in the process, not even be your fault, and it jacks things up completely: “I’ll use the Bulls as an example. I do think Derrick Rose’s injury, that’s something that’s really hard for a franchise to recover from. This is a franchise player, an MVP who was probably never the same player again after that injury. There’s no reset button for that. That was franchise altering. I think you realize in these jobs, things are fragile and when you are rebuilding, they’re even more fragile than normal.” It’s not hard to think about what some of those things could have been for the Cubs, and he goes on to mention some of their draft pick and trade success. One nice thing, though – and this is partly the nature of baseball versus some other sports – is that even if the Cubs hadn’t knocked it out of the park with almost every draft pick and trade (seriously: look at the roster, which is entirely turned over from when the front office took over, and consider how they got 80% of these players), they still probably would have had a winning team in 2015 and 2016. Historically good? Probably not. Win the World Series? Maybe, maybe not.
- Read the whole thing, but one more bit to point out about the structure of baseball operations: although the buck stops with Theo Epstein, Hoyer does explain that there are certain things – discussions with certain teams, certain agents – that he handles. But when it comes to final decisions, they try to make sure it’s an organizational decision. And if either of the two of them deeply, strongly disagrees with making a certain move, it won’t be made. (I hope someday they share a specific move they didn’t make because one of them urged against it, and it wound up being something they wish they’d done. Not because I want to needle anyone about it … I just think it would be really interesting to see what kind of deal it was, and why the urger pushed against it.)
- Kris Bryant offered up one of the post-World Series congratulatory texts that took him back a bit: Peyton Manning. Bryant, who said he didn’t now Manning even knew who he was, says that text stuck out because of Manning’s standing in the game of football, and the fact that he was taking time of out his day to reach out. Perhaps by the time Manning is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he can get a congratulatory text from Bryant, and then Manning will be all, “Dude, no way! Kris freaking Bryant just texted me! Yo, Eli, you gotta come see this!”
- If you missed it early, David Ross is trading his baseball spikes for dancing shoes.
- Jemile Weeks is day-to-day after that collision at second base on Monday (Carrie Muskat). Weeks is competing for a bench job with the big league team, but will likely be heading to AAA Iowa when Spring Training concludes. He is the second infielder in a day-to-day situation, joining Tommy La Stella, who is working through a hamstring issue. All in all, though, the Cubs have been pretty healthy so far in Spring Training.
- Matt Szczur is an artist with a charitable heart:
- Heads up: that Anker portable charger is on a huge sale again today, so if you’ve been thinking about getting one, it’s sufficiently cheap that you won’t kick yourself if you don’t use it much. I like having mine handy juuuuuust in case.
- Over at Baseball is Fun, there’s a video of a dude taking softball batting practice at people running in the outfield … it appears to be some variation of dodgeball. It’s funny. And also a little terrifying.
- And at TYL, it’s an especially busy time, with the Franchise Tag deadline today and the Combine also starting today. Thus, a whole lot to get into already this morning (including the latest Jimmy Garoppolo rumor).