Gettin’ me a big ole sundae tonight. Already thinking about it. Lordy it’s gonna be good.
- There’s no question that the NL Central is, right now, the most competitive division in baseball. Yes, there are divisions with better individual teams on paper, and ones that might be more competitive 1 through 3, but from top to bottom, there’s not a tighter division. It’s not just a matter of the teams all being meh, either. Evaluators see the division largely the same way we do – just a lot of really good teams:
Cubs bring everyone back from 95-win team
Brewers upgraded from team that was one win from WS
Cardinals won 88 and added Goldschmidt
Reds have excellent lineup and finally traded for good SPs
Pirates might be last place and would be 2nd in AL Central https://t.co/3pjDglCdA6
— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) February 8, 2019
- As we approach the end of the offseason, I get a lot of comments about what the Cubs haven’t done, and what other teams have done. To that end, going through the entire NL, it’s pretty remarkable how many teams have improved their roster over last year, or at least remained flat:
Padres — https://t.co/NcYN4gRE0c
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 7, 2019
- The Cubs would be one of those flat teams, in my opinion. Given the construction of the roster, they pretty much would have had to add a truly impactful bat and/or an elite reliever to feel like they improved from last year – it’s a little easier to “improve” when you have more obvious open roster spots. Nevertheless, I’d feel a helluva lot better about the offseason at this point if the Cubs would just make sure to go out and get an excellent defensive veteran back-up catcher. Please. I beg you.
- Telling on myself:
We've reached the pathetic part of the offseason where, if the Cubs went out and signed elite defensive and receiving veteran catcher Martin Maldonado to pair with Willson Contreras, my reaction would be borderline orgasmic.
Crazy, I know. But that's where we are.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 8, 2019
- Maldonado is the best (and priciest) option out there, and probably finds a starter job yet. But even if not him, then give me Nick Hundley or A.J. Ellis or Rene Rivera. Come on, man. As we’ve said ceaselessly, the ability to get Willson Contreras more regular rest (and have him work with a veteran who is an excellent receiver) would seem to have a dramatically positive impact on *his* ability to be the best version of Contreras. Throw in the benefit of having an elite receiver catching 25% of the games, and it’s win-win. I don’t dislike Victor Caratini at all – I just don’t know that he’s ready/right to be a big league back-up catcher. That’s a very particular role that is challenging for a young, hungry, unestablished guy to take on.
- Relatedly-ish: Say what you will of the Cubs offseason, but can we STOP saying they “blew” a 5-game lead last year? The Cubs went 15-12 in September, a .556 winning percentage (same as Braves won the East), at a time where they were roasted by a brutal schedule. The Cubs didn’t “blow” it. Brewers *won* it.
- Spring Training offers a nice opportunity to catch up with folks you’ve played with before – even if they’re from another country:
Darvish stops in to visit old pals from the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters Thursday at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale (mgr Hideki Kuriyama with fungo; former teammate Kenshi Sugiya holding batting glove). Photos: John Antonoff pic.twitter.com/1GwCywrlCl
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) February 7, 2019
- On the passing of baseball legend, and transformational figure, Frank Robinson:
— Brian Kenny (@MrBrianKenny) February 8, 2019
- Sure feels like this is one of the biggest “miss” areas for the Cubs in the current era. They’ve done very well on their big-money IFA signings and their top draft picks, but finding those BREAKOUT guys in the late rounds or for minimal bonuses? Those true diamonds in the rough? The Cubs really haven’t had success. Of course, by definition, it’s hard to bust out too many superstars from among the groups that are underscouted and low cost, but occasionally, you’ve gotta do it. And it has been done:
The #Phillies signed Sixto Sanchez for $35,000 in 2015 and used him to land All-Star J.T. Realmuto from the #Marlins today. He's one of the biggest bargains on the #Top100Prospects list. Here are the Top 10: https://t.co/xwgxR1h9Vk pic.twitter.com/HBNTMDljrL
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) February 8, 2019
- Well, you sold me:
105K people follow Prince Fielder on Instagram, and I don’t know why it’s not 105 million. His story currently features him washing a baby pig in the shower. https://t.co/WOWHiQHroM
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 8, 2019
- I want to see a Cubs reliever bust out the celebratory glove spike on a big inning-ending strikeout:
YO, the celebration is even better than the pitch! 😂 . pic.twitter.com/bwPdfayCp4
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 8, 2019
- This is also fun, but let’s not give Joe West any ideas:
Let the umps play?pic.twitter.com/3e44DQkmpK
— Cut4 (@Cut4) February 7, 2019
- Heads up to a sale at our partner Lids:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 8, 2019
- A happy and artful birthday to Joe Maddon:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 8, 2019
- This works on a lot of levels:
— Ben Radigan (@benradigan) February 7, 2019
- Here’s hoping both the Cubs and GOT rebound from sub-par offerings. Yup. I said it.