Outfield Defense, Extreme Good and Bad in the NL, and Other Bullets

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Outfield Defense, Extreme Good and Bad in the NL, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

wrigley outfield warning trackThe Taylor Family was out at the zoo for Christmas light stuff last night when the Cubs announced the Yoervis Medina/Brendan Ryan news, as well as the John Baker hiring news. Wasn’t able to do an appropriate welcome back to Baker until this morning, so I’m just noting it again up here in case you missed it.

With apologies, the kiddos were literally dancing to music and flashing lights, and that took priority for me.

  • Joe Maddon comes in with huge praise for Jason Heyward at CSN. Maddon compares Heyward in center field to someone Maddon was close with back in his Anaheim days – excellent defensive center fielder Jim Edmonds. Never the fastest guy, Edmonds was simply brilliant at reading the ball off the bat, reacting quickly, and taking an ideal route to the ball*. Maddon believes people slept on Edmonds in center – he was a corner outfielder for much of his time in the minors – because he didn’t “look” like a center fielder and he wasn’t fast. The same is true for Heyward, and Maddon is excited to see what he can do out there.
  • *(That all reminds me of Albert Almora in center field, too, by the way. If Almora’s bat continues the step forward he showed in the second half at AA last year, the Cubs could be looking at a really nice problem to have in a year, if they’ve hung onto all of Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, and Jorge Soler. Also, can you imagine Almora and Heyward playing next to each other in the outfield? They might be able to cover 3/4 of the outfield at an elite level, thus improving the defensive performance of whomever is in left field because it’ll be a much smaller space over which to take responsibility.)
  • I enjoyed this read from David Schoenfield on the World Series odds that recently came out with the Cubs (tied with the Giants) on top. In particular, he notes something you’ve already seen this offseason: the dregs of the NL are much, much worse than the dregs of the AL, and the parity split in the NL is just crazy – you’re either a very good team or a godawfulterrible team. To me, that makes it all the more significant that the Marlins, Padres, and Rockies haven’t entirely sold off yet, and the Braves have angled to get some potentially-immediately-useful big league talent in their sell trades (there’s no hope for the Phillies, who are flatly tanking, which, well, it’s hard to blame them). If there’s going to be this huge parity split in the NL, then, because of the imbalanced schedule, you want your division to feature as many worst-of-the-worst teams as possible so that your chances of seeing one or two Wild Cards come out of your division are improved slightly. So keep selling, Reds and Brewers.
  • Schoenfield also gets into an idea to avoid tanking – your draft position is based on a three-year average of your record, not just the previous season – which is very interesting.
  • Commissioner Manfred had some strange comments on the subject of opt-out clauses, noting that he doesn’t see the logic from the team perspective, since the player will leave if he’s good, or will keep the team on the hook if he’s not. I mean … exactly? That’s the entire point of the clauses, which are demanded by elite free agent players because they are player-friendly and not team-friendly.
  • No, Buck Showalter, Yoda is not a robot.
  • Adam Wainwright is right about this, and, hey, here’s hoping it amps up the rivalry even more:

  • I’m extremely finicky about hats, so I’ve been perusing the Cubs hats on Amazon, because I know that The Wife got me one – sigh unseen – and I’m curious to see what might have drawn her eye. And, because of the finicky-ness, I’m already nervous that I’ll come off like a jerk if I don’t like it. I love the thought, genuinely … it’s just that hats are a risky proposition to get for someone else in my experience.

META: I’m headed to see the new ‘Star Wars’ today, and you’re not going to see me discuss it here until the New Year at the earliest. We tend to be a nerdy crew around here – in the best way – and I think for us, for many of us, anyway, this is a pretty important cultural moment, and, although the Internet makes it nearly impossible to not be spoiled, I really don’t want BN to be the place where it happens for you.

Be advised: if you post a spoiler about the movie between now and January 1, you will be banned. An overly dorky harsh stance? Maybe. But that’s where I’m landing. People only get one shot to be surprised and delighted – and we don’t get a lot of those moments in this life – so I’m going to do what little I can to help protect that. Don’t be the jerk who ruins it for other people. We’re all friends here. Don’t be selfish. Be a friend.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.