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Curse By Necklace, Best Hitting Pitchers, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

It has always killed me that I can’t juggle. I see people juggle, and I know it’s totally doable. I’m coordinated. I can visualize what I need to do. I feel like I should just be able to pick up the balls and go. But I can’t do it. I’m gonna need to actually learn how to do it if I’m gonna juggle. So maybe that’ll be a dumb, do-able New Years resolution for me. I’m gonna juggle in 2018.


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  • The Black Necklace Curse. Apparently, the Cubs’ bullpenners were all wearing a special black “power stone” necklace last season, courtesy of Koji Uehara. Suddenly, the command troubles make sense – the relievers had too much power, and could not locate their pitches. The first time Hector Rondon wore the necklace, according to that Athletic piece was the game where he was needed to close out the Yankees … and gave up a three-run blast to Brett Gardner to blow it. BURN THE NECKLACES.
  • Old friend MIKE OLT! showing up in the news:

  • Olt, now 29, has spent the last two seasons at AAA with the Padres and then the Red Sox. He hit reasonably well there, but the strikeouts have still been there, and his once significant power has not. He dealt with so many injury issues and odd issues (severe allergies causing vision problems, for example) in his few chances in the big leagues that I’ll still be rooting for the guy.

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  • I’m surprised that nearly a quarter of folks actually hoped for more Manny Machado rumors yesterday. I actually voted for the fourth one, because I’m still really curious to see how the high-end of the bullpen market shakes out (I mean, obviously Yu Darvish is more impactful than that, but we’ve heard almost nothing about Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Addison Reed, or the impact reliever trade market):

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • It got me looking back at Zambrano’s career again, and one thing I wanted to note: in the last 20 years, among pitchers with at least 100 plate appearances, Zambrano’s 6.3 positional WAR is second only to Mike Hampton (7.4). Zambrano’s 57 wRC+, however, is only 7th best. Besides Hampton’s 72, know who the other five pitchers are that top Zambrano? No, Madison Bumgarner is not one of them. It’s Noah Syndergaard (70), Dontrelle Willis (75), Brooks Kieschnick (87), Brandon Backe (92), and Micah Owings (104). Unsurprisingly, two of those guys – Kieschnick and Owings – were the last two players to try to go both ways over a meaningful stretch of time. In both cases, it didn’t really work out. Perhaps Shohei Ohtani will be revolutionary in that way, too.

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  • Speaking of Ohtani:

  • Over at TYL, I’m probably more worried about what the Bears are going to do than John Fox:

  • A random, wide range of “Amazon Basics” stuff is on sale today, which is basically their line of miscellaneous stuff you need (chargers, hangers, batteries, pop-up tents, light bulbs, towels, etc.).
  • Clearance has come to the MLB Shop, too, so you should peruse the Cubs collection of clearance stuff here. Tons of fantastic deals as they clear out inventory.

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.