I almost never have on random TV at this point. As I’m sure lots of you experience, too, our days/times are just too crunched, and if I’m going to watch TV, it’s going to be something very specific that I’m sitting down to watch in the evening.
But, for whatever reason last night, I had FOX on in the background while I was doing various online tasks. I had no idea what was on at the time, but it was apparently the premier of a new show, ‘Making History’. It’s just a dumb comedy about a couple guys who go back in time for some reason or another (I didn’t really pick up on the actual plot points), but … I liked it. I had a few genuine LOL moments. The reviews have been pretty meh, so maybe I’m just a dope.
- Annually at this time of year, you hear about a little bit of strife between a team and a star player who hasn’t yet qualified for arbitration. You see, until a player has enough service time for arbitration (three seasons’ worth, or being in the top 22% of players with at least two seasons’ worth but less than three seasons’ worth (Super Two)), that player is subject to simply being “renewed” by his team. That is to say, a team can decide to pay a player whatever they like in those first three years, so long as it is at least the Major League minimum (currently $535,000). Ideally, a team and its young players will come together on an agreeable contract – usually slightly over the minimum, depending on experience – and harmony can be preserved. This year, for one example, the Astros and star shortstop Carlos Correa couldn’t agree on a deal, and he was renewed at the big league minimum for a second straight season. It doesn’t seem like a great way to engender positive feelings, but it will probably save them some money through Correa’s arbitration years (salaries are based not only on comps, but also the amount of the raise – so if you start lower, you end lower).
- With the Cubs’ front office, this has not been an issue. For example, last year, with under one year of service time, the Cubs gave then-Rookie-of-the-Year Kris Bryant a deal worth nearly $150,000 over the big league minimum, which was particularly enormous (yes, it’s all relative). This year, Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs are giving Addison Russell more than $100,000 over the big league minimum. These are decisions that, in addition to hopefully creating goodwill, simply feel like the right thing to do. It’s going to cost the Cubs a little more money this year, and will cost them a little more money in the arbitration years, but these young stars are not making millions just yet, and are the core of the club. Showing them that you value them is a very good thing.
- On that front, by the way, Heyman says the Cubs and Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, are still discussing his deal for 2017. With a Rookie of the Year award followed by an MVP, Bryant is a unique case that is going to merit a unique salary. Ryan Howard and Mike Trout are among the players in the last 10 years to do what Bryant has done (Trout hadn’t actually won an MVP yet, but that was … a mistake), and they made $900,000 to $1 million in a pre-arb year. It’s entirely possible Bryant will surpass the $1 million mark in 2017, his final pre-arbitration year before he begins to get serious raises in arbitration. (Bryant will be a Super Two, so he’ll get four arbitration years. We recently discussed what a Kris Bryant extension might look like, if you missed it, and want to dream about the Cubs locking up Bryant for his career.)
- The Cubs have added a “B” game on Thursday morning against the Angels (doesn’t count as a Cactus League game, so it’s, what, a fake fake game?).
- Pitching plans (Jesse Rogers): Eddie Butler will follow Jake Arrieta today, and Rob Zastryzny will follow John Lackey tomorrow (so thankfully that means Zastryzny is indeed just fine after taking that comeback off his leg last week).
- Anthony Rizzo returns to the lineup today after sitting out the last four with back tightness. He actually felt good to go on Saturday (Cubs.com), but, being that it’s early March, he agreed when the Cubs thought it best to give it some extra time.
- The World Baseball Classic is underway, and it kicked off with a thriller between South Korea and Israel, with the underdog Israeli team winning the game in extra innings. More here from David Schoenfield on what to watch for in the tournament.
- Craig Edwards considered how the Cubs stack up against a loaded Team USA and Team Dominican Republic – not too shabby, actually. Although Team USA has superior depth, a loaded bullpen, and a stronger overall outfield group, the Cubs look just about as good as Team DR. On paper, you’d expect the Cubs and Team DR to win about 95 games in an MLB season, and Team USA to win 100+.
- Former Cubs prospect Gleyber Torres had a humorously over-aggressive swing this weekend, which doesn’t make him any less a top five prospect in the game, but might make you chuckle.
- A shiny gold coin to the first MLB pitcher who does exactly this when he gives up a monster homer this year:
TFW: The homer is so deep, you can't help but laugh. pic.twitter.com/n9uUL5jvhM
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) March 6, 2017
- If you missed anything this weekend, catch yourself up here. Also, the Cubs homered three times on Sunday, which gave me an opportunity to discuss a few “power” angles for the three players who dinged the dingers.
- Get yourself an e-reader! Kindles are on sale today at Amazon.
- If you’re hard up for hot stove action, I can’t offer you much on the baseball side, but NFL free agency opens up this week, and things, predictably, get nuts. We have a Bears site called The Ten-Yard Line, and you should check it out, please and thank you. Follow us on Twitter, and also slap that like button right there: