The Little Boy is headed to a birthday party for a classmate today, and I got to pick out the present. Kids like file folders and black licorice, right?
- Joe Ostrowski from The Score, who nabbed those extremely interesting win-total projects from Caesar’s last week, reached out to Luis to share an interview with Jeff Davis from Caesar’s, because it turns out they had to make some VERY quick, VERY big adjustments to their win totals after they first came out. Among the most notable ones, clearly the market/Cubs fans felt 89 wins was too few for the Cubs, whose total bumped up to 91.5. It’s surprising to see the Cubs line moved up amidst an offseason with so little improvement, but I do understand that with such a talented roster, it’s hard to imagine the Cubs not winning at least 90 games.
- That said, it’s not just about any one roster in isolation, since you will play an unbalanced schedule against the rest of your division. And, for my money, the NL Central looks like a freaking bear this year. The Brewers have improved (sigh). The Cardinals have *really* improved (eat it). The Reds were sneaky average for large stretches last year, and now they’ve improved this offseason. The Pirates have the kind of rotation and bullpen that can dominate. The sledding for the Cubs, however talented, is going to be freaking rough. Like going to the one hill in town four hours after the snow stopped falling.
- (True sledding story: when I was a kid, I was sledding on an unfamiliar hill with a friend and his mom. I got to the bottom, where there was a surprisingly harsh bump/drop, laughing and joyful all the way. The friend’s mom asked if she was good to go, and I said yes, without thinking about how that bump/drop would impact a 40-year-old body, since I was just a dumb 12-year-old kid, or however old I was. When she got to the bottom, the jolt from that extra drop was so strong and she was so unprepared that it really hurt her. She was so angry at me for not warning her. We later found out that she wound up breaking her tailbone. I felt awful. She did not make me hot cocoa.)
- The Brewers’ win total made a truly massive jump, from 83.5 wins to 88.5 wins, which sounds a whole lot more right, especially after the Yasmani Grandal addition. I still think the Cubs look *slightly* better on paper than the Brewers, but the difference is very slim, especially because no one knows what Jimmy Nelson is or isn’t going to provide the Brewers in 2019. Also, I still think they’re going to do something like bring back Wade Miley.
- I look forward to seeing the win totals from the projection systems soon, but obviously it’s freaking hard for them when the offseason’s slate of moves are still proceeding in mid-January. A Bryce Harper here or a Manny Machado there, and not only are those signing teams altered in a fundamental way, but their divisions could be tweaked a bit, too.
- Jordan Bastian took a look at some of the numbers behind the Cubs’ second-half slump at the plate, and it really does go back to what Theo Epstein said at his end-of-season press conference about the offense “breaking” in the second half: “We hit more ground balls in the second half than any other team by a huge margin. Our goal is to hit line drives and fly balls out of the ballpark …. We stopped walking, we stopped hitting home runs, we stopped hitting the ball in the air, and we stopped being productive.” And like we discussed yesterday, you can’t help but wonder to what extent that was all the product of an explicit desire by former hitting coach Chili Davis and Joe Maddon to increase contact, even at the risk of losing power.
- Tough it out, guys. You can still play:
Weekends are better with a 1:20 first pitch. pic.twitter.com/w6P78vbem0
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 13, 2019
- This is fun:
Few Cubs connections here.
1) Cubs will be there.
2) Cubs signed @gknumber28 last Driveline pro day.
3) Cub ‘02 (!) 1st rd’er Luke Hagerty is throwing 95 in comeback attempt, 12 years since last pro pitch.
4) Daniel Moskos, in Cubs camp in ‘17, is there after stint in Mexico. https://t.co/TvBYpCqBNd
— Cubs Prospects (@cubprospects) January 13, 2019
- I notice Tyler Matzek’s name on there – I’m not sure exactly what happened to him. He was a young starter on the Rockies back in 2014, putting together a really nice season after being a first round pick in 2009. He had some kind of surgery in 2015, and hasn’t pitched in affiliated ball since 2016. Sounds like a perfect Driveline guy, so good on him for working his way back via that route He’s only 28, so if he’s throwing well, you can be sure there will be a club willing to bring him on board on a minor league deal. That said, he did not get great results this past year in independent ball. Like I said, his was just a name I noticed.
- Blissful memories not:
Miss baseball? Here is the Dusty Baker era coming to an end in Chicago, 2006. (This was after the Mets hit two grand slams in one inning) pic.twitter.com/CM7vOJCfv0
— Alex Patt (@chifanpatt1) January 13, 2019
- Ah, the annual tradition of OMG WHO IS THIS PERSON:
— Brittany Arrieta (@MrsArrieta49) January 12, 2019