Because I have this space at the top of the Bullets to say whatever I want, I’m going to use it today to remind you about our other site, Baseball is Fun. As the name implies, it’s a place for stray, fun and/or interesting baseball stories that wouldn’t otherwise quite fit here at BN. Check it out. Bookmark it. Like it on Facebook and follow on Twitter.
We’re still growing into the site a bit, and feeling out the margins of what it’s going to be long-term. But I really like the idea of having a place where you can just periodically step outside the Cubs-specific world, and see something silly or fun or interesting about baseball, since we all love baseball anyway.
And now for Bullets …
- A fun thing to click around on at FanGraphs: it’s a projected defense visualization tool, which shows every team in baseball and the projected defense at each position, overlaid on a field, because that’s neat-looking. The Royals look just silly good on defense, while the White Sox and A’s look silly bad (interesting to see the A’s project so poorly on defense … might they think it’s overrated? or might they be targeting guys who project poorly on defense but don’t actually hurt as much as we think?). The Cubs are a mixed bag, looking solid to quite good everywhere except left field (understandable) and center field, where Dexter Fowler is among one of the most poorly-projected defensive outfielders in baseball. We know the story there, as we’ve discussed it for over a year now: the metrics hate him, and we think it might have to do with defensive positioning, because as his positioning improved last year, so did his metrics. But that was just one year (and the metrics didn’t even agree on it), so we don’t really know what we know at this point. I tend to think he’s fine – average-ish, not great, but certainly not terrible. We’ll see.
- Overall, the outfield defense should be an improvement over last year, especially if Kyle Schwarber improves (he totally can), and Jorge Soler does, too (he totally can, too). I don’t think it’s going to be a pitcher’s haven out there in left and center, but it’s important to keep in mind that the Cubs’ pitching staff is loaded with strikeout guys and groundball guys. Hopefully the outfield, relative to other teams, won’t be quite as called upon anyway.
- A lot of folks are asking me about the affiliate station guide for the Cubs (i.e., the local stations in the blackout region that are going to pick up WGN-9 and ABC-7 games this year). Last year, the guide came out about two days before the start of the season, so, if that holds, it’ll be announced soon. The best I can do for you now, though, is share with you last year’s guide and surmise that it’ll probably be similar this year.
- Jon Lester talks about his home run here at Cubs.com, and we’re reminded that last year was his first year hitting regularly since he was a high schooler back in 2002. The fact that he could even make contact regularly is impressive enough. (Also: making elite pitchers pick up a bat and hit in meaningful spots for the first time in 13 years totally makes sense, and doesn’t at all remind me why the DH is a good idea. Not at all. Let’s have the vendors come up and take a few swings next!*)
- MLB has a new partnership with Apple, which will bring iPads into the dugout with pre-loaded data for each team to use in-game. Joe Maddon doesn’t hate iPads or anything, but it doesn’t sound like he’s too keen on using them in the dugout when he wants to make decisions more quickly.
- Anthony Rizzo, piano man.
- I loved Munenori Kawasaki’s thoughts on the silent treatment he got from teammates after his home run this week, and on his willingness to go to AAA Iowa to start the season (Cubs.com). But I’m pretty bummed to hear him say that he didn’t realize his flipped his bat on the homer, that he “respects the pitcher”, and that he won’t do it again. I wonder if someone got in his ear with this completely bogus idea that a bat flip is considered disrespecting the pitcher in MLB, and I’m annoyed, both because bat flips are fun, and because this is not the idea of what MLB is about that I want making the rounds. Kawasaki didn’t show anyone up on his homer in the least – it was a fluid motion on his swing, the bat flipping from his hands as he turned to run. To suggest that doing so is unacceptable or that a pitcher would be offended by it (or that, if a pitcher is offended by that, we should care at all what he thinks) is just flat out wrong. Don’t stamp the fun out of the game because of some archaic, amorphous, arbitrary notion of “respecting the game.” Let players have fun and do what they do.
- An ump almost got crushed by a Bryce Harper liner, and made an amazingly quick move to avoid it.
- “Wake up lights” are on a big sale at Amazon today, and I’m kind of tempted to check it out. I love the idea of waking up a little more naturally than having an alarm – or a kid – blasting noise in my ear.
- Did you miss anything yesterday? Check it out:
- So many homers lately for the Cubs at the end of Spring Training.
- More love for Kawasaki and other Bullets here.
- Luke dug in on seven Cubs prospects who just missed the Top 40 cut.
- Jake Arrieta is officially good to go for Opening Day.
- The Commissioner got into a range of important topics.
- Anthony Rizzo gets love for the things he does off the field.
- The initial BP playoff odds have the Cubs up near the top.
- Joe Maddon confirmed that the top two hitters in the lineup will be the guys you expect.
- A bunch of Cubs prospects notes, including Dylan Cease’s massive velocity.
- The Cubs whooped up on the Rockies to close out their Cactus League schedule.
- The first installment of Michael’s Baseball Sunday movie series went up last night for your enjoyment.
*(OK, actually, that kinda sounds fun. Just don’t flip your bats, vendors. Nobody likes a showboat.)