My workout shirt of choice this morning (a Cubs Nike shirt from Fanatics, naturally – I practice what I preach!) was not yet dry from an early morning washing, but it was all I had, unless I was going to wear a regular t-shirt (which I kinda brutal for a hard workout). So I went with the wet shirt, which then never got even remotely dry because I sweated the thing up even more, and now I’m working at Panera thoroughly stuck to my chair. I don’t think I *smell* bad, because the shirt had a lot of “clean-smelling” wetness associated with it before I put it on, but I guess I can’t be certain. Thanks for reading!
- I really enjoyed this piece at The Athletic by Peter Gammons, loaded with interesting bits about the Cubs and from Theo Epstein. For funsies, this part jumped out at me:
Great stuff on the Cubs' process and Epstein from @pgammo at @TheAthleticChi. This part jumped out at me, if for no other reason than the fun of acknowledging here that the Cubs signed Jon Lester … three years ago. https://t.co/27VrIlUGDF pic.twitter.com/xD2y0abz3r
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 18, 2017
- Epstein, of course, was not saying WE ARE DEFINITELY GETTING A BIG NAME PITCHER THIS WINTER, but he knows he’s not speaking in a vacuum. The Cubs have serious pitching needs, and they are three years removed from their last huge free agent pitching deal. Be it this offseason or next, the Cubs will have to roll the dice on a pricey pitcher at some point soon. In the context of this weekend’s reports that the Cubs are in on Yu Darvish, it certainly makes you think, eh?
- Jesse Rogers visited with Kyle Schwarber in Florida after the Winter Meetings, taking in his training regimen firsthand. Lotta great visuals, and information from Schwarber. You can never say for certain that it will translate to performance, let alone results, but Schwarber definitely looks good. Rogers’ piece indicates Schwarber has lost 17 to 20 pounds this offseason, which, yo. That’s a lot.
- The Phillies’ ZiPS does not paint the picture of a team about to surprise in 2018, but they’ve been adding pieces this offseason, with Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter headed to the bullpen and Carlos Santana joining at first base. That latter move, an odd one, will push 2017 breakout slugger Rhys Hoskins to the outfield, where he’d never played until this past season. It’s incredible to think just how far off the radar he was before 2017, as the ZiPS write-up notes at FanGraphs. Hoskins, 23 at the time and having just put up huge numbers at AA, was a fifth round pick in 2014. He came into the system, and all he did was rake. Sometimes, that should be enough to put a guy on the radar, even if you’re not sure he can play defense and you’re not sure if he’s too old for his level.
- A very miscellaneous reminder as you ponder guys like Alex Cobb and Chris Archer for the Cubs: the Rays had the fourth best outfield defense last year (by outfield defensive efficiency at BP). I think often about how Cobb was among the top five starting pitchers in hard contact allowed, didn’t strike anyone out (17.3% strikeout rate, 12th worst in baseball), and still posted an excellent 3.66 ERA thanks in large part to a .282 BABIP. It makes me nervous to wonder about how much having an extremely excellent outfield defense behind him limited the damage. To his credit, though, his mere 30.2% fly ball rate was bottom 12 in baseball.
- I should also note something on Cobb I think we’ve undersold: from June 9 on, the dude was really, truly excellent. Not only did he post an absurd 3.07 ERA, but his walk rate dropped, his strikeout rate increased, and his hard contact rate decreased. And that 3.07 ERA? It came despite one of those starts being a three-inning stint in which he gave up eight earned runs against the Astros. Another one was a 6.1-inning six-earned-run affair. So, over those final 17 starts, he gave up 14 of his earned runs in just two starts. In the other 15 starts? 22 earned runs combined.
- I saw this headline, and I was ready to judge and pounce, but this is why you don’t judge based on the headline:
Stephen Strasburg blames all-star game for landing him on disabled list, may skip next time (and the 2018 game is at Nats Park) https://t.co/cEwhpH119f
— Post Sports (@PostSports) December 17, 2017
Yeah, I think I can see where he's coming from, but at the same time … maybe just chill out on the pitches a bit. The game is just for fun. pic.twitter.com/zpoZqyTTTI
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 17, 2017
- Baseball being fun over at Baseball is Fun:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) December 18, 2017
- If you missed it this morning, there’s yet another discussion of the Cubs trading for Manny Machado and I just don’t get these proposals. And if you missed anything this weekend, you can catch up on the headlines here.
- Among Amazon’s deals of the day today, a sale on Thermos products, which always strike me as a good gift.
- If you – or someone you’re gifting for – has a peculiar affinity for a Cubs player of old, you may want to check out the memorabilia on clearance here, because you could find a steal that might make a friend or family member chuckle (or just flat out smile and enjoy).