With just about a week to go before the Christmas Holiday, I figure this is getting down to the wire for the procrastinating shoppers among you, and therefore think it’s an appropriate time to remind you of how easy, convenient, and price-conscious(!) shopping at Amazon.com is. I just got my brother a bunch of Denver Broncos cups and mugs, and am having them sent to his house in Texas (for free, because I have Amazon Prime). Thankfully, he’s not a Cubs fan, so he’s not reading this right now and having his present spoiled.
Incidentally, when you do your shopping at Amazon, you support BN in the process just by using this link to arrive there. Thanks for indulging these narrative advertisements (but I really do love Amazon!).
- The White Sox have been getting a great deal of attention so far this offseason – ’round here, included – for making a series of solid, win-now acquisitions. Only the David Robertson deal, to me, was too much money. Otherwise, the Jeff Samardzija trade, the Adam LaRoche signing, the Melky Cabrera signing, and (probably) the Zach Duke signing all look reasonably well-calculated. Seeing all of that, even stacked up against a crummy 2014 campaign, it’s easy to get sucked in and presume the White Sox are now serious AL Central contenders. But Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs takes a deep look and says not so. It turns out, as presently constructed, the White Sox are simultaneously in far better shape than they were a few weeks ago … and still not very good. By positional WAR, they still project to be the second worst team in the AL, which is fairly striking until you consider how many AL teams are very clearly not rebuilding. According to the currently-available projections, even after their flurry of additions, the White Sox will need great performances from most of their big league pieces, and big upside from guys like Carlos Rodon and Avisail Garcia to compete. It’s not impossible, but I didn’t realize how they were looking on paper until I read Sullivan’s piece. Maybe the whole “good baseball all around Chicago” thing isn’t going to come to fruition after all.
- As presently constructed, the Cubs (83-79) project to be five games better than the White Sox (78-84) right now, according to FanGraphs’ latest standings projection.
- A fun read from Vine Line on the Cubs’ player development infrastructure with respect to players’ defensive skills. Therein, Director of Player Development Jaron Madison says that, as of the draft, the Cubs were 60/40 split on whether Kyle Schwarber could be a catcher going forward, with 60% thinking he could not. I’m actually surprised the other side was even as large as 40%, given how strongly the industry consensus was that he absolutely, positively could not catch. Now, he’ll head into 2015 as a catcher, with a chance to continue catching, at least part time, in the big leagues at some point. It’s a testament to that 40%, as well as the work the player development staff has put in with Schwarber after the draft – and, of course, the work Schwarber, himself, has put in.
- Joe Maddon interview: with scarf. I really could not be more happy that the Cubs got this guy. (Not just the scarf, I mean. Check out the interview – Maddon is a really good dude.)
- Sahadev Sharma wrote a great wrap-up piece on Jon Lester and the Red Sox, which you may find interesting now that he’s officially with the Cubs.
- This read from Brad Spirrison about the Cubs turning this corner is something, and touched on a lot of things I’ve been feeling over the past couple months. I’m completely excited about what I see as a bright future for the Cubs and a 2015 season where we actually believe there’s a chance that every random April game will matter down the stretch. I always saw this was coming. But it’s producing a little anxiety now that the turn is actually here. The Cubs have sucked these past few years … but that was the point. It was painful to follow in many ways, but it was also very easy. We knew the score. There was an obvious flow and rhythm to the seasons, and there was nothing at stake except the next moment to accumulate more young talent. Now, there’s an actual season of hope at stake, and the buildup has only made that worse.
- The settlement between the Astros and draft pick Jacob Nix we discussed yesterday? Peter Gammons says it was the full $1.5 million for which they’d agreed to sign him (recall, the Astros bailed on signing Nix only because things didn’t work out with top pick Brady Aiken, and honoring their deal with Nix would have subjected them to max penalties and two lost first rounders). That seems like the right outcome for Nix, but seems a little shady for the Astros. They paid the $1.5 million but get to keep the picks. I suppose the just desserts there is that the difference between what Aiken wanted and what the Astros finally offered was also $1.5 million. It was too much money then to make sure they got both Aiken and Nix (and kept draft picks), and now they pay it for nothing.