AFL Dominance, Limiting Catcher Exposure, and Other Bullets

willson contreras cubs catcherHello, friends. It’s time to be very real: I’m off to get a certain procedure done that you might expect a 35-year-old guy who just had his third kid to go get. Yes, it’s time for me to hang ’em up, and I offer you this information not solely because I am a serial over-sharer. Instead, I offer it up because I had to write these Bullets last night and schedule them for posting this morning. I don’t know exactly when the procedure will be today, or how long I’ll be out of commission (it’s not like it’s a big deal of a procedure, I’m just not sure on the logistics of when will be all done and sitting somewhere I can type … with an ice pack).

Michael is out of town right now, so I’ve had to schedule a variety of things for today, like these Bullets, that will hopefully still be interesting and relevant at the time they publish.

As for breaking news and rumors, I’ll get to anything and everything as soon as I’m able. And I’ll keep you fine folks apprised of my progress, at least insofar as it’s relevant to the coverage here and/or is hilarious.

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  • Ian Happ, who had a ridiculous final game in the Arizona Fall League this year, comes in for some love from Jim Callis, noting Happ’s good bat speed and balance from both sides of the plate, and obvious power. There remain questions about whether he can really play second base at the next level, but Callis does think he has the ability to be very good in the outfield.
  • Speaking of the AFL, former Cubs prospect Gleyber Torres won MVP honors, as expected, making him the youngest prospect ever to take home the hardware in the league. (It was still a good trade, Brett. It was still a good trade.)
  • One more on the AFL: remember that time Kyle Schwarber played in the AFL this year?
  • I thought this read at Baseball America was really interesting and illuminating about the changing dynamics behind the plate in MLB. We already knew that “starting” catchers were not catching as frequently as they used to, but the drop-off has been more stark in the last 10 years than we may have realized. It was even more pronounced than before in 2016, when just seven catchers caught 120 or more games, and just one – Yadier Molina – caught 130 or more. In fact, no more than seven catchers have caught 120+ games in any of the past five seasons. Heck, there were only 15 catchers who caught even 100+ games in 2016. Looking ahead to 2017, it’s still up in the air whether Kyle Schwarber will be able to catch (or whether the Cubs will be interested in it, even if he’s able), but if he is, it would be nice to see him get a period start to further lighten the load on Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero – it’s such an advantage to have a third catcher on the roster who doesn’t just have to ride the pine as a depth guy. Given Contreras’s relative youth and athleticism, and Montero’s age and back issue, I worry just a touch about too much being asked of Contreras in his first full season catching in the big leagues. As in, he’s got the look of a guy who can catch 130+, but you do wonder if that’s the best thing for his longevity and performance in September/October. Teams have gone away from such heavy reliance on one catcher for a reason.
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  • I missed this back when it first came out, but, yo, this is really, really good:
  • In case you thought what-have-you-done-for-me-lately-style lamenting and pining for a million free agent signings was a uniquely Chicago thing, here’s one out of St. Louis. Please don’t make me defend the Cardinals and their ridiculously long track record of organization success.
  • Anthony Rizzo can play the piano, folks.
  • So very awesome:
  • Your weekend catch-up his here, if you didn’t see the many bits from this past weekend.
  • Thinking outdoor goods for gifts this season? Check out Amazon’s Black Friday Deals Week on outdoor goods.
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    written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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