It’s now confirmed and real and not going away, so I can share it: The Littlest Girl says her first word now. When I appear in the room or she hears my voice or wants me to wave to her from the front seat of the car … “Da-da!” Although she has been impacted by a rare genetic disorder, that is far from the sum of who she is – she radiates joy more than any of us, and yet she works so hard. I’m just so happy and so proud and so excited for all that she’s done. I want to hold onto this feeling forever.
- Ian Happ gets another start at second base today, so Joe Maddon is making good on Happ’s request to get some more time there this spring (in the hopes, then, that he can be serviceable enough there to see periodic time during the season). The way Happ described his request (NBCSC): “[Joe and I] had some really good candid conversations where I was able to say, ‘Look, I would like to be considered for this.’ ‘I would like some time there. Because last spring training, I played all center field and you get to the season and it’s like, we’ll now I have to play them all. So that was my goal this spring — come in, play a bunch of different positions to really prepare myself for what I’m going to be doing here this season.”
- Good on Happ, as you’d love to see his bat in there as often as possible to continue developing (we happen to be big Happ bat believers here). That said, with Ben Zobrist, Daniel Descalso, and David Bote around, starts at second base are going to be hard to come by in the early going. And then after Addison Russell returns, it’ll become even harder – much harder than in the outfield, I suspect. Happ is going to have to look very good there at second base to see regular time.
- Of course, that said, dudes always get hurt, man. So better to be able to have lots and lots of options.
- As for the offensive side of things, it’s no secret that Happ – like so many Cubs – fell off a cliff in the second half (.196/.313/.340, 80 wRC+), but I’m not sure the narratives surrounding what happened to him are quite right. His strikeout rate was unacceptable, but it was equally bad in his very productive first half (35.7%) as his disappointing second half (36.8%). Instead, what really torpedoed his numbers was a drop in hard contact, which sent from elite to meh, crushing his power and BABIP:
- To me, that suggests a little bit of wearing down and a lot of the league adjusting. Remember, this is a guy who didn’t even have 1,000 minor league plate appearances before coming to the big leagues. At just 24, and entering his third-ish year in the big leagues, I like Happ to start making significant strides, because the raw parts of his game – the power and the discipline – are so good that he could quickly become a fantastic bat as he better understands how he’s being attacked.
- Also of note from the lineup today, Tyler Chatwood is appearing after Jose Quintana. Does that mean he’s already in the bullpen conversation? Or is he going to see a couple innings (i.e., still being stretched out as a starter, just in case)? At this point in the Spring, you do still see “starters” appearing later in games, so this is not yet inconsistent with Chatwood being stretched out.
- A random business-y thread I popped out that is worth noting:
I've heard that a really rough guideline for what *fans* should *hope* their team spends on payroll is about 50% of team revenue. There's play in there for teams that have really pricey other baseball ops expenses. But it's a rough checkpoint.
So, yeah. Sorry Braves fans. https://t.co/Dynx298xP4
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 28, 2019
All that said, you can see – FROM A PURE RUNNING-IT-AS-A-BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE – why the baseball ops budget has been perceived as tight right now.
The hope, of course, is that revenues take off with the new TV deal, but obviously the perception of the RSN market has soured.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 28, 2019
- In other words on all of that, yeah, from the outside, I can see how the Cubs have a credible argument that their baseball ops budget was ample (relative to revenue) and was tapped out. That doesn’t mean the org is off the hook in the eyes of many for not adding useful pieces this offseason in a competitive window; I’m just saying, they likely aren’t just straight up lying.
- This is so freaking cool – Cubs Driveline signee Robert Robbins throws a slider at this poor schlub’s face … and then the pitch breaks harder and faster than the batter can poop his pants:
Real time pic.twitter.com/x8CWmm8yaE
— Eric Jagers (@ericjagers) March 1, 2019
- Speaking of nasty relievers to dream on:
Check out the in-person review of Allen Webster’s outing today at TCR. Webster throwing 98 mph fastballs and 90 mph sliders in friggin’ February. Maximizing his utility to the big league roster suddenly feels important.https://t.co/Q8hj7Tvsg9… pic.twitter.com/7N2mcqo8tR
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) March 1, 2019
- Fancy speakers, pressure washers, and much more are your Deals of the Day today at Amazon.
- Also, it’s clearance time at Fanatics, which means discounts on older stuff and free shipping:
🚨 It's that time of year 🚨 Fanatics is clearing out gear for the Spring, which means big discounts and free shipping on older stuff. Jump on it and support BN in the process: https://t.co/KfiEacA7o4 pic.twitter.com/OyDN5UCq1v
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 1, 2019
- Much love to Harry on this day:
The legend lives on. Happy birthday, Harry! pic.twitter.com/TB3gm1NEpL
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 1, 2019
- White Sox president Kenny Williams offering an extremely bizarre take on why Manny Machado did not sign with them:
— Write Sox (@WriteSox) March 1, 2019
- In conclusion, positivity, and a reminder to follow us on Instagram: