Speaking only generally, I tend to think the five-plus hours that the first two rounds of the draft took last night is probably too much for all but the most extreeeeeeeme of baseball fans. I understand that some time between picks is necessary for last minute confirmations on signability and what-have-you, but there’s gotta be a better balance.
Today’s chunk of the draft – Rounds Three through Ten – will kick off at noon CT.
- Meanwhile, there’s actual baseball resuming tonight, with the Phillies coming to town. After an impressive start to the season that saw them briefly lead the NL East as recently as May 26, the Phillies have lost 7 of 10, and now face a nice long stretch of very competitive teams, starting with the Cubs in Chicago.
- The big side story here, of course, is the return of Jake Arrieta, who signed a complicated three-year deal with the Phillies at the end of the offseason after the Cubs had offered six years and $120 million on a take-it-or-leave-it (per Arrieta) basis the day before signing Yu Darvish to a six-year, $126 million deal. Arrieta will not be pitching in this series, which is a narrative bummer, though I’m not so sure it’s a bummer from a competitive standpoint. Just feels like Arrieta would have pitched very well.
- As for the separation between the two sides, Arrieta re-shared his version of events with USA Today, and it kinda sounds like he hopes to have a chance to talk to Theo Epstein about how things played out, not because he’s upset, but because he just wants more information. Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, made it very plain why he saw the sides not marrying back up: “My understanding is that the luxury tax prevented Theo from signing Jake. The door was closed. They didn’t want to go above Lester and wanted to stay around the $21 million (annual) level. This wasn’t Arrieta versus Darvish. It was Jake versus the luxury tax. When Theo called, he pretty much wanted to let him know that if you want Darvish money, then I might want you.’’ And, to be fair, there’s a pretty significant difference between the $25 million annually that Arrieta is getting and the $21 million annually that Darvish is getting. Sure, $4 million isn’t a lot in absolute terms, but it could be the difference between saying under the tax level and going over – which doesn’t just mean a little bit of an extra financial penalty, it means draft-related consequences that the Cubs and many other clubs deeply want to avoid where possible.
- One more bit of Arrieta: a fantastic read from Sahadev Sharma on how the big righty came to the Cubs, how he evolved, and what he meant to the organization. This quote from Cubs catching coach Mike Borzello really sums up what it was like to follow the Cubs in the second half of 2015: “There was a stretch there where when he stepped out there, the game was over before it started. You don’t ever have that feeling. You can feel pretty good about it, but for an entire second half, it didn’t matter who was pitching on the other side. All we had to do was find a way to score one. It was as locked in as I’ve ever seen a pitcher and I’ve been around Clayton Kershaw, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina … I’ve seen some really good ones. But that second half was in another stratosphere.” That’s truly what it was like. There was zero doubt each time he went out that he was going completely dominate. Like I said, that is a great read, and I highly recommend it.
- I’m looking forward to whatever tribute the Cubs put together for Arrieta.
- The Cubs drafted four youngsters last night, and you can read all about them here from Luke.
- Among Ken Rosenthal’s latest notes, he says Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis told him Ben Zobrist is analytically studying relievers for the first time in his career, trying to formulate a game plan against each one he might face in a given game (and, so far this year, he’s absolutely raking against relievers, with an OPS near .950).
- That’s because St. Louis cornbread is smug and self-righteous and objectively worse at baseball than Chicago cornbread:
- Fishing gear, camping chairs, and light-up sports balls (yup) are among the Deals of the Day at Amazon today.
- MLB Shop is doing a 20% off orders sale today, so check it out here:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) June 5, 2018