I met a buddy at a local bar for beers and burgers last night, and unbeknownst to us, it was music trivia night. We were there, so we figured what the heck, we’d give it a go, despite the fact that the other teams were much larger, and were there specifically to play trivia. I’m proud to say that we finished in 5th place, and my contribution of knowledge primarily from the late-90s and early-2000s was key (you ain’t foolin’ me on ‘Toxic’, DJ!).
- In the context of discussing his client Edwin Encarnacion, agent Paul Kinzer mentioned in a radio interview (h/t MLBTR) that part of the reason he didn’t want to negotiate an extension in-season with the Blue Jays is because the 2012 extension for Starlin Castro with the Cubs was a distraction that affected Castro’s eating and sleeping habits. Interestingly, Castro did really struggle at the plate in the two months prior to the extension being announced in late August, hitting just .224/.287/.366 during that stretch. As an aside, that 2012 season was Castro’s last topping 3.0 WAR. The 2013 season, which featured significant attempted approach changes at the plate was brutally bad, and, although he bounced back in 2014, it was injury-shortened. Then 2015 happened, and the rest was history. You certainly wouldn’t want to say the extension was clearly a bad decision at the time (for either side, though obviously it didn’t work out too well for the Cubs), but this does underscore the idea that there could be on-field implications for off-field negotiations in-season. And this is why some players simply don’t want to worry about it when they’re trying to focus on a given season. Castro, by the way, is still just 26 years old, and I remain hopeful that he carves out a nice, long, successful stretch with the Yankees.
- All of this also just makes me think about the possible coming extensions for current Cubs youngsters. That Castro deal looked fantastic for the team the day it was signed. Sometimes, you just don’t know how it’ll play out. (And other times, you get a deal like the Anthony Rizzo extension.)
- Trevor Cahill is very unlikely to return to the Cubs at this point after a season and a half of really excellent work out of the bullpen. He’s getting a lot of interest, and he’ll have the opportunity to start elsewhere if he wants:
Free agent Trevor Cahill has attracted interest from 6 clubs. Three view him as a starter, and the other three in more of a relief role.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 21, 2016
- As we talk about the Cubs’ lack of starting depth, it sure was nice to have Trevor Cahill around in the super utility pitcher role, but we also saw how it can be tricky to effectively stretch a reliever out in time to fill in for a start when it pops up unexpectedly. To that end, all else equal, it’s preferable to have those quality up-and-down types ready at AAA. (It’s just that, if you don’t have really good options like that at AAA, then “all else” is not equal …. ) With the Cubs now being so right-handed in the bullpen, and with Cahill figuring to score a nice deal, I’m not too surprised it looks like he’s moving on.
- Joe Maddon sounds excited to be reunited with Wade Davis, whom he managed in Tampa Bay. Interestingly, Davis was mostly an ineffective starter in Tampa Bay, and moved to the bullpen only in his final year there (2012). It was a success, but the Royals moved him back into the rotation after acquiring him as part of the James Shields trade. The Royals moved him back into the bullpen in 2014, and that’s when he erupted (velocity ticked up, reliance on his nasty cutter increased, etc.).
- This FanGraphs piece is about how the Angels project to have the best outfield in baseball, yes, almost entirely thanks to Mike Trout, but I couldn’t help but notice the Cubs project to have the 7th best outfield in baseball … and that’s the part of the offensive side that we worry about!
- Also, this read on Trout at FanGraphs is great – he’s so consistently insanely great, but we’ve not yet seen him have a “peak” season. And good gravy, what if that happened? (Actual statistical answer based on reasonable calculations: a realistic “peak” Trout season would be worth just shy of 13(!!!) WAR. As in, he alone would make a slightly sub-.500 team into a near playoff lock.)
- Speaking of Mike Trout and his ability in the outfield … it’s like an Anthony Rizzo wall/tarp catch, except in the outfield:
Let's see @MikeTrout pull this one off.
(No, seriously, I'd like to see that.) pic.twitter.com/O5YRapZdTt
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) December 21, 2016
- I had never seen this play until Michael found it and wrote it up at Baseball is Fun, because it sounds too ridiculous to even be possible: Sean Casey was once thrown out at first base on a would-be hit to *LEFT* field.
- The Pirates have re-signed Ivan Nova, who was really good with them in the second half. And they’re still trying to get Jose Quintana. So, viva la competitive NL Central!
- More Jason Heyward swings, including a ‘Happy Gilmore’!
- If you missed it earlier, today’s “Remember When” involves relievers in the outfield, a huge number of innings on the board, and a grand slam to end it.
- Today’s deal of the day at Amazon (well, the one I felt like sharing because it lets me say “robot vacuums”): robot vacuums!