The Wife woke me up this morning with those dreaded January words: “Car won’t start.” Then, after trying to start it myself, I went to my computer to do what all completely-un-car-savvy people do and Google possible causes, and my computer locked up because the hard drive was full.
I can chuckle about it now, because both were relatively easy fixes – I had an insane volume of baseball GIFs on my computer that I could dump, and the car’s battery was simply dead – but that was a four-minute stretch when my lid was about to be flipped.
- Addison Russell is a “best of the rest” mention on ESPN’s top ten shortstops list, which is fair after his uneven, injury-affected 2017 season. It’s extremely easy to envision him being in the top ten by midseason – he needs only have a league-average bat, together with his top five defense at the position – but the long-expected step forward with the bat is going to have to show up this season, lest fears that it’s never going to come start to set in. The good news is that when the second half started, after he got a breather, Russell started raking, and it was only his plantar fasciitis issue that took away playing time. In the month between the All-Star break and the foot injury, Russell hit .306/.338/.565 (albeit only 65 plate appearances).
- That month that Russell was out, Javy Baez filled in quite admirably as the shortstop, leading many to wonder whether the Cubs would consider a permanent switch this offseason, moving Russell back to second base, where he started his big league career (and was excellent). For me, unless there is a real reason to want to reduce the throws from Russell (he dealt with a shoulder issue for much of the season), I still think Russell is better suited to shortstop, and Baez is better suited to second base. It’s a bit of a half-dozen of one, six of the other, because I don’t know that you can go wrong either way. Expect it to be at least a light topic of conversation as players report to Spring Training next month.
- Matt Garza is having shoulder surgery to correct a labrum issue that he apparently pitched through after a mid-season collision. The 34-year-old righty just finished up the four-year contract he signed with the Brewers after his time with the Cubs. If he’s not able to come back from the surgery – a tall task at his age – his first season with the Cubs in 2011 will prove to have been the best of his carer. The trade that brought him to the Cubs will always be an infamous one thanks to the inclusion of a then-decent low-level pitching prospect named Chris Archer, but the Jim Hendry-led front office certainly deserves credit for correctly identifying a pitcher they could work with and take to the next level. An arm injury wrecked Garza’s 2012 season (and trade value), though, and he never seemed to be the same after that. The real beef I still have with the original Garza trade wasn’t so much the target as it was the timing – it was clear as early as the end of the 2009 season that a serious rebuild was needed, not a series of piecemeal attempts to stay around .500.
- One of the few bobbleheads you’ll see that actually looks like the player, right down to the lack of a smile because of the uniform he’s wearing:
— Dexter Fowler (@DexterFowler) January 8, 2018
- Speaking of me being able to dump my GIFs, that was made all the more comfortable for me because MLB just released an enormous repository of GIFs (and videos) for people to use and share across the web. Not only is that fun for you and me, personally, but I tend to think it’s the kind of subtle thing that helps improve the visibility/popularity/sustainability of the sport. And that’s just smart:
- Come back soon, baseball:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 9, 2018
- The Bears got their head coach, announcing that Matt Nagy is the man. And if you were concerned about the Chiefs’ playoff loss, and his role in it, I took a closer look at the context surrounding the play calls that have been criticized.
- YES! Home massagers are the deal of the day at Amazon, and I don’t even care how that sounds, because I’ve been eyeing these for a month now. This one is gonna be my Christmas present to myself.