Obligatory cliche comment: I’m done with you, winter. No more freezing cold. No more absurd snow. Cut it the eff out.
- You gotta love to see this happening at Cubs camp:
Willson Contreras is catching Darvish's live BP session. David Ross, standing next to catching coach Mike Borzello, is giving Willy words of encouragement when he properly receives a pitch. "Nice and quiet, Willy!" Ross was saying.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) February 19, 2019
I heard David Ross trying to help Willson Contreras stay focused on his catching mechanics and later caught up with him on Willy's desire to get better at framing, how he led with love and criticism & how Cubs need someone to fill his previous role https://t.co/kzPhe9oKLF
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) February 20, 2019
- The way David Ross described a conversation with Willson Contreras yesterday (The Athletic): “It was giving him feedback of what he’s working on, what he looked at in the offseason, the things he’s trying to improve on. When he does them well and then every once in a while, ‘Hey, the one time when you were locked in on Yu Darvish and how his pitches were going, you went back to your old habits. Make sure you focus on you also and make sure you get you first and then watch the pitch.’” You are reminded instantly just how much a catcher has to work on constantly behind the plate – remembering and deploying the game plan for each hitter, evaluating the pitcher’s performance that day on various pitches to adjust on the fly, working emotionally with the pitcher to keep him at a high level, dealing with defensive issues as the game develops … and then also framing every single borderline pitch with a technique that requires a great deal of focus.
- If Willson Contreras can simply improve to framing-neutral (let alone above-average), the change to his overall value will be really significant. The good news is that time has shown that catchers can improve at this skill, sometimes as rapidly as over the course of a single offseason.
- Interestingly, the band of value provided by pitch-framing is shrinking, as everyone improves/gets weeded out:
Fascinating article by @No_Little_Plans. In the short time teams have been able to quantify catcher framing, they've weeded out awful framers and taught bad framers to improve. The result? The gap between the best and worst framers has shrunk dramatically. https://t.co/I8vrM8r6nx
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) February 15, 2019
- Tom Ricketts spoke with Al Yellon of BleedCubbieBlue on a number of the topics addressed at his press conference this week, but getting into a little more depth. Among the most notable items that stood out to me, Ricketts indicated that they are considering the Hickory Street Capital projects (i.e., the hotel and other Ricketts Family developments outside the ballpark) as “kind of outside the team, at the moment.” (My perspective? Ricketts and the Cubs have to be careful how they talk about those external assets, because the revenue they generate are not subject to MLB revenue-sharing, as I understand it. So they have to be separate from the team, even as those assets clearly benefit from being geographically and mentally attached to the Cubs.)
- Ricketts also would only go so far as to say he hoped the new TV network would eventually generate more revenue than the current situation, but “I’m not going to promise extra dollars for player payroll, but it will allow financial flexibility.” (My perspective? Given the necessarily risky nature of creating your own RSN, the Ricketts Family can’t realistically be out there saying this will guarantee huge new revenues, even as that’s obviously the hope. The market has simply changed that much in the last few years – remember those halcyon days when it was a lock that the new tv deal would take the Cubs into a totally new stratosphere?)
- Speaking of halcyon days:
Cubs GM (and former Padres GM) Jed Hoyer, on San Diego landing Manny Machado… pic.twitter.com/vr8CuuPktb
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) February 20, 2019
- I totally get the positive side of this sentiment, but I also don’t want any important Cubs to blow out a hammy trying to bust it up on the line on a comebacker to the pitcher. Playing smart is as important as playing hard:
Javy Baez, on the Cubs bringing it on a daily basis: "I think it's the little things. Last year, I didn't run full speed to first base and I would get back to the dugout and no one would say anything. This year, if I don't do it, someone will hopefully say something."
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) February 19, 2019
- Commissioner Manfred yesterday discussed, among other things, the timing of free agent signings and the cantankerous back-and-forth we’re seeing publicly among the players. He feels like the stories have been sensationalized, and the market is just behaving like the market – and if guys are ultimately signed before the season starts, it’s a “no harm, no foul” situation. As you might expect, he doesn’t want that stuff to spill into public view, believing it’s not good for the game (the cynical response, were you inclined, is that the owners have always held the upper hand in the PR battle with fans, so it doesn’t serve Manfred’s purposes to have the players out there turning the tide a bit).
- It’s a trap dot gif:
— New York Post (@nypost) February 20, 2019
- At some point you’ve gotta accept certain realities if you’re gonna swim in the deep end:
White Sox offer to Machado changed on Monday. GM Rick Hahn said he had a restless night of waiting .The Sox offer did not have an out clause. The organization does not believe in that philosophy .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) February 20, 2019
- The Father-in-Law swears by the Orbi, which is among the Deals of the Day at Amazon today.