Lots to get into this morning (that crazy Cardinals comeback, the Minor League Daily, and Justin Grimm heading to Iowa) means these Bullets were really delayed. Also, my computer died. It’s the second year in a row it’s done it just around this time of the year (post-Blogathon stress?), but last time the computer was three years old. This one is just a year old. Come on, Apple. Don’t do this to me. (For now, I was able to get it back enough to use, but it keeps crashing on me, and is extremely hard to get back on after it crashes (by the way, if this kind of thing ever happens to you on your Mac, bookmark this page on your phone).)
- Tim Tebow, professional baseball player. That’s his goal anyway, as the 28-year-old former quarterback has apparently been working out for a year as an outfielder to try and give it a go. He’ll soon work out for Major League teams, presumably in the hopes of signing a minor league deal heading into the 2017 season. Tebow was a great ballplayer in high school through his junior year, but that was 11 years ago, and it’s not exactly easy to become a professional baseball player after such a long layoff. Heck, it’s hard enough to succeed when you go immediately into the sport. He’ll get a lot of flack from people for this (and some of it rightly so, since it kinda comes off as, “I couldn’t make it in football, I got bored of broadcasting, so, what the hell, I’ll just play a little baseball now, since it’s easy enough”). If he wants to try, I say hey, go for it man. But if he fails spectacularly, which seems like the most probable outcome, he probably owes the baseball world a nod to say, “Yeah, wow, this sport is really freaking hard.”
- … how would you feel if the Cubs signed him? For me, the circus would definitely be entertaining, but also really distracting, and eventually annoying. I’m all about the Cubs picking up no-risk athletic flyers – because you never know! – but I’m not sure Tebow, and the attention that comes with him, is the same kind of “no-risk” move as signing a guy out of independent ball.
- Justin Grimm has to head back to Iowa to accommodate Jason Hammel’s return to the roster, and I enjoyed this read at the Tribune, with Cubs players talking about what it’s like to see these kinds of tough decisions happening around them on such a full, talented roster.
- Speaking of which, Carrie Muskat’s latest Inbox sheds just a little more light on the Tommy La Stella situation, which has remained mostly mysterious since the infielder was optioned to Iowa more than 10 days ago, but never showed up. According to Muskat, La Stella “apparently has made a deal” with the Cubs that he does not have to report to Iowa (we knew he’d been given more time than the customary 72 hours, but this sounds more indefinite than that). We know that La Stella was understandably not happy about being optioned out, and when you pair those two things together, it is a fair and logical conclusion that La Stella simply refused to go, and the Cubs decided to keep the peace and say that was all right. An important distinction here: We don’t know for sure if that’s an accurate conclusion, as it remains possible that there’s more to the story. Maybe something came up in La Stella’s life in the interim that made his lack of reporting more understandable. The world is sufficiently complicated that I always like to leave in that wiggle room – so often we find out later that wiggling is necessary. Maybe we’ll find out someday, maybe we won’t. It’ll certainly be interesting if and when he returns to the big league club. He’s still obviously talented enough to be a quality bench player on this team for the stretch run, and perhaps even the playoffs.
- Speaking of which part two, in an interview with BP Wrigleyville, Albert Almora Jr. seems like he took his demotion in stride, and has been getting after it with Iowa, keeping himself ready for that next opportunity, in whatever role the Cubs give him. Almora demonstrated pretty clearly that his glove isn’t just big-league ready, it’s big-league elite, so he’ll be back for sure in September, at a minimum, as a late-inning defensive replacement. And, if the Cubs build a big enough lead in the division, he’ll probably also be used as a spot starter to give guys rest in advance of the playoffs. The big question for Almora (and the Cubs) is whether his time in the big leagues, the adjustments he makes at Iowa, and then his preparation for next season, can together put his bat in a position to be average-ish in the big leagues starting in 2017. If so, he’ll do enough with the glove that he’s a pretty clear big league starter, even on a very good team like the Cubs. Then, after 2017, when he’ll still be only 23, there’s no reason to believe he can’t improve with the bat. He’ll probably never be an offensive star, but add a little power here and a little more selectivity there as he matures, and that could be a 110 wRC+ type player with an extremely golden glove. Want.
- This John Lackey Q&A at ESPN is very John Lackey, and also will make you chuckle. However different we might be, I will say this: one thing I always really like in people is when I can tell that they know who they are, and they live their lives publicly as so thoroughly themselves. There’s no pretense with Lackey. He just is who he is. I like that.
When yet another person says Kyle Hendricks can't be a great starter without huge velocity. pic.twitter.com/YlgVQZvhiY
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) August 9, 2016