Darvish Humor, Recruiting Process, Smyly's Progress, 6-Man Rotations, and Other Bullets

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Darvish Humor, Recruiting Process, Smyly’s Progress, 6-Man Rotations, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Hey, Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers and friends and family out there. A few days ago, I was showing The Little Girl my “Fly the Double Yu” tweet and picture, and explaining to her why it was a joke. She kept feigning like she wasn’t getting it, but she proved that she was the next morning when I came downstairs and she greeted me with, “Dad. I have an idea for one of your Yu jokes on the internet.”

She told me to make this for Valentine’s Day:

  • The funniest moment of yesterday’s introductory press conference featured a question about the impact of the Cubs signing catcher Chris Gimenez on the Yu Darvish pursuit, to which Darvish responded: “I like Contreras better.” He barely even cracked a smile as he said it. He’s a sly dog. And Gimenez had one right back for him:

  • Away we go:

  • Note in there that Drew Smyly is listed as throwing a side session. He had Tommy John surgery just seven and a half months ago. Usually, you don’t see guys getting back on the mound until around nine months. That’s not to say Smyly will definitely pitch off the mound today – “side sessions” don’t necessarily *have* to be off of the mound. It’ll be interesting to see how his return progresses. The expectation is still that, at most, Smyly might contribute out of the bullpen in August/September if he’s 100% and there’s a need, but I suppose crazier things have happened than a young-ish guy making a super-fast recovery from Tommy John, and then stepping in as needs develop in the second half (in the bullpen or in the rotation). I would *not* count on it, but it’s going to be something to follow.
  • Too bad, Clayton – it turns out that Darvish was a spy for the Cubs all along:

  • I love this writeup from Patrick Mooney at The Athletic about the recruiting and negotiating that went on behind the scenes between the Cubs and Darvish. Among the many, many tidbits you pick up: it sounds like, in conjunction with telling Darvish that they wanted to get a deal done before Spring Training started so that he could come in on Day One and just be “one of the guys,” the Cubs may also have upped their offer at that moment to seal the deal. That squares with some theorizing we’d done in recent weeks: the offers were all kind of settled and known, and perhaps the Cubs had not separated themselves from the pack in that way, knowing that they would have eventually have a final shot to say, “Here’s our best offer, let’s get this thing done.” When you believe yourself to be the “team to beat” in a negotiation, there’s no sense in putting your best offer out there (or even beating the field with your offer) until it’s the moment to finalize. This weekend was the moment.
  • Bonus fun from the Mooney piece:

  • Of the decision, Scioscia told Angels.com: “I think a lot of times it’s hard to find that fourth or fifth starter in the rotation, but if everyone comes back and is healthy for us, we’re going to have some exceptional depth. I think with a six-man, it’ll take a little bit of the burden off of guys to have to bounce back. We’re going to be flexible, but right now that looks like the way we’re going to map things out.” The rationale, then, outside of “we’re doing it because we told Ohtani we’d do it”, is not entirely clear. But if the Angels manage to keep guys fresh, performing well, and healthy? You’re going to see other teams more seriously considering this approach since they’ll be able to tell their pitchers, “See? It works.” At a minimum, it’ll make it much more plausible for the Angels to get Ohtani some starts at DH without over-taxing him.

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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.