On New Year’s Eve 1972, a 38-year-old Roberto Clemente passed away in a plane crash, and his final act was an attempt to deliver supplies to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua when the plane went down. It was just one of the many ways that Clemente used his platform to support others, and forever remains a symbol for how far someone can go trying to help fellow humans. MLB’s highest humanitarian award is named after Clemente, and you can understand why Anthony Rizzo was so moved to be its recipient this year.
I also think it’s worth reminding everyone just how good Clemente was, even in that final season at age 38. He had plus value on defense and on the bases, and hit .312/.356/.479, with a 135 wRC+. Clemente was a superstar in every sense of the word, and his talent on the field was surpassed only by his efforts off of it.
- MLBTR takes an interesting look at the managers and executives who are in the final years of their deals, something you don’t see too often playing out without a firing, an extension, or a move to another organization before the deal is up. Theo Epstein, you’ll recall, was a rare exception who took his negotiation right up to the cusp of free agency just before the Cubs won it all in 2016. He got a new five-year deal then, making him the best-paid executive in the game, at nearly $10 million annually. Given that he stayed in Boston just 10 years, making comments at the time about that being the right length to stay somewhere before moving on, you should probably already begin bracing yourself for after the 2021 season, when Epstein is a free agent again and probably moves on. To that end, it’s not entirely a coincidence that Epstein himself suggested the Cubs were entering year four of a seven-year competitive window, when a whole lot of guys can leave after the next four years.
- Joe Maddon’s initial deal with the Cubs will be up before then, though. He signed a five-year contract before the 2015 season, which means he’s got just two more years left before free agency. Maddon turns 64 next year, but has not definitively indicated that he wants to hang ’em up after this deal. I’d tentatively expect some extension negotiations to take place over the next year or so, and it may even be the case that he gets a couple years tacked onto his deal so that everything lines up.
- (If it actually plays out like that after 2021, here’s hoping the Cubs have a new head of baseball operations lined up and ready to take over with a ton of advance notice (Jed Hoyer?), with a managerial search pre-planned.)
- The image made me think of a poll question:
MLB managers wearing the uniform:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 31, 2017
- The White Sox ZiPS came out, and in addition to be hilariously woeful, they including one thing that will jump out at you: the 110 wRC+ projection for Eloy Jimenez at the big league level. Jimenez, who just turned 21, has barely played above A-ball, but is going to be a monster in the big leagues, and soon. We have all known this from the moment the Cubs traded him, together with Dylan Cease, back in July for Jose Quintana. I’m at peace with it, and I hope Jimenez wrecks all comers. I’ll still have pangs of wistfulness, though, wishing it was happening with the Cubs. Oh. Does that mean I’m not at peace with it?
- Heh, this is fun:
On New Year’s Eve, if you start the first pitch of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series (iTunes version) at 8:34pm and 35 seconds, @KrisBryant_23 and @ARizzo44 hug it out at midnight. @Cubs @BleacherNation #FlyTheW pic.twitter.com/R2O0bM88Iz
— Brian W Perry (@brianwperry) December 30, 2017
- Don’t forget to check out the end-of-year clearance at Fanatics – buncha steals there as they clear out inventory for next year.
- And speaking of end-of-year deals, it’s not too late to get the Echo Dot at Amazon for just $29.99. I’m not sure when it’s going to bump back up to its normal $49.99 price, but after the holidays seems a logical guess.
- Over at TYL, a whole lot is set to happen today, with head coach John Fox expected to be fired after the game today. If you want to keep tabs on the obsessive coaching search that follows, make sure you follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook: