Happy Leap Day, which is a relatively silly product of the Earth’s orbit, but, hey, it gives us an excuse to say that today is an *extra* day, and that we should use it well!
Maybe do something for someone today – just some small helpful thing – that you wouldn’t otherwise do. Why not?
- There was a bit of a flap this weekend out of Pirates camp, as ace Gerrit Cole voiced his displeasure that the Pirates didn’t give him a raise over the $541,000 he made last year (when he was dominant) when they renewed his contract (Trib Live). Although teams can pay a player whatever they want during the first three years of team control, so long as it’s at least the Major League minimum, they typically give players token raises throughout those years, especially if the player is performing well. Cole says the Pirates initially offered him a reduction from last year’s salary, and then threatened to pay him the minimum if he didn’t agree at $541,000. It’s a very strange, testy situation, and I don’t really understand why it spilled out like this.
- Cole is behind a little bit because of some rib soreness, by the way.
- The Cubs will be settling all of their contracts this week, and hopefully there won’t be any issues with the renewed players.
- The Cubs believe the Ben Zobrist signing was actually the most important of the offseason, when you consider everything he brings to the team (CSN). Given how aggressively the Cubs are going for it in the next two years, I could actually buy that argument, since Zobrist figures to still be an excellent, versatile player of a more immediate impact type, and also figures to be very important in the clubhouse. That said, it’s hard for me to bet against Jason Heyward being the biggest addition.
- Your Cubs camp injury tally so far: Christian Villanueva (broken right fibula), Zac Rosscup (left shoulder inflammation).
- More on Shane Victorino’s return to switch-hitting, something he gave up in 2014 because of a back issue that led to surgery, and prevented him from doing it in 2015, as well. Guys always come to camp saying they feel better than the year before, so you don’t want to take too much from it, but this is the kind of thing that is tangible evidence that Victorino really is feeling better, physically, than he has the last couple years. He doesn’t have to be the 5-win player he was from 2013 and before to be a useful addition to the Cubs. I think he’s still got a fight to make the roster, but there’s a chance.
- David Laurila’s Sunday Notes include a number of interesting bits, including C.J. Riefenhauser’s transaction-filled offseason, which landed him on the Cubs, and Joe Maddon on how you can manufacture team chemistry.
- At The Athletic, Sahadev Sharma goes over the many ways the Dexter Fowler return will impact the Cubs, from the lineup, to the outfield, to the resting of regulars. As Sharma discusses, one thing I’d really like to see the Cubs pull off is lots of rest for their regulars – more than you usually see. With such talented depth, there’s no reason for the Cubs not to do it.
- Another killer bat flip to check out, except this one came on a walk-off grand slam.
- If you missed anything from a very busy weekend, catch yourself up here.
- And if you need a gritted-teeth smile to conclude your Bullets, consider Nick Cafardo’s report that the Rays were originally leaning toward Chris Carpenter (not the Cardinals pitcher, the Cubs pitching prospect who was later sent to the Red Sox as part of the compensation for Theo Epstein) in the Matt Garza trade, but a scout convinced Andrew Friedman to instead ask for Chris Archer. Happy Leap Day!