It’s a hug-your-loved-ones kind of day. Maybe that’s every day? But I’m just feeling it today. Heck, I kinda feel like hugging all of you if I could.
- Really great, deep read from Mike Axisa at CBS on the crapload of notable players coming back from injuries this year. The Cubs are actually one of the few teams that don’t have a prominent player mentioned in there coming back from a major injury, though I suppose you could list Javy Baez if you were inclined. I feel like folks forget that, even after playing through the heel injury for most of the season (sigh), Baez missed most of the last month of the season with a hairline fracture in his thumb. It’s not the kind of injury you think about having to “come back” from, so maybe that’s why we don’t talk about it? But it was an injury that cost a key player a whole lot of time to end the season.
- There was also Kris Bryant’s knee issue, though that didn’t necessarily cost him a ton of “time,” and it didn’t end his season or anything (then again, his season DID end early with the sprained ankle). Anthony Rizzo obviously also had the ankle injury, though he pulled off a miracle comeback before the season even ended.
- The list of injury recoveries includes a trio of important Brewers relievers: Corey Knebel (Tommy John), Brent Suter, and Bobby Wahl (ACL). If totally healthy, Knebel could actually return to closing duties (remember how good he was?), Suter could be a quality swing guy, and Wahl could finally emerge as a good big league reliever. That’s a huge range of outcomes for a club that is so heavily reliant on getting impact out of these types.
- Among the unsigned guys discussed by Axisa? A whole bunch of pitchers the Cubs should be targeting as low-cost, high-upside plays – Alex Wood, Taijuan Walker, Danny Salazar among them.
- Michael Rucker saw his stuff and velocity tick up late in the year as the Cubs transitioned him to a relief role at AA and AAA, but after taking him in the Rule 5 Draft, the Orioles might give him a chance to go back to starting … in the big leagues, even after he relieved last year and spent just 4.0 innings above AA:
Rule 5 pick Michael Rucker is a candidate for a rotation that has only three certainties right now. https://t.co/8fJcdJYq9e
— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) January 7, 2020
- Hey, God bless if it works. As a Cubs fan, you’d like to see them get a chance to get him (and Vimael Machin) back, but you also just like to see these kinds of success stories for guys who were approaching “stall out” territory with the Cubs.
- A big-time draft prospect just moved up a year:
Big time draft news:
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) January 8, 2020
Big MLB draft story from @CarlosACollazo.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) January 7, 2020
- The top of the draft is still a very fluid thing in January-March, before the seasons get going, but it’s going to be fun to dream on the Cubs contending for one of the top names. They pick 16th this year, 11 spots higher than last year, and their highest pick in five years. New scouting director Dan Kantrovitz will arrive at just the right time to start making an impact.
- Coffee makers, groceries, fancy toothbrushes, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad
- The Cubs’ director of hitting:
Part of an impromptu chat last weekend w/ @elite_baseball & a youth athlete. It's not uncommon amongst young players that mobility capability not matching up to functional strength. How can this be addressed? "Should just be out playing…having fun..being a kid"-Justin pic.twitter.com/6SNzs5TmH2
— EliteBaseballTV (@EliteBaseballTV) January 8, 2020
- When the Cubs/Marquee/Comcast discussion reaches FanGraphs, you know it’s getting closer than ever to spilling over into one of those very public carriage disputes:
Cubs, Sinclair, Marquee, and Comcast Combine Forces for a Potential Blackout for Cubs’ Fans https://t.co/OIu7N8OQOI
— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) January 7, 2020
- Again, at this scale, some public battling over carriage and rates is pretty much par for the course, rather than something to actually worry about. Yet. But with Marquee launching in a little over a month, this will increasingly become a big story around here.
- Following yesterday’s report that the Red Sox were also doing some shady sign-stealing stuff, an interesting read out of LA about whether the Dodgers, too, were stealing signs at some point over the past few years. I wasn’t aware that the Brewers had been publicly suspicious of the Dodgers using video to steal signs back in the 2018 postseason. So add the Dodgers to the list of teams to investigate?
- To be sure, where this whole thing gets tricky is that players steal signs all the time. That’s just part of the on-field game. I have absolutely, unquestionably seen Cubs runners at second base trying to signal the batter in recent years. Sorry if that offends, but I’ve seen it. Where you cross a line, in my opinion and in the opinions of just about everyone connected to baseball, is when you use off-field personnel and/or electronic equipment as part of a sign-stealing process.
- This quietly destroys a whole lot of baseball analysis and narrative craft:
If 1024 fair coins are each tossed 10 times, chances are good (> 63%) that at least one will come up heads 10 times in a row; and that coin will be proud to explain how its skill, faith, guts & determination made its achievement possible, and how that combo can work for you too.
— Marian Farah (@bayesiangirl) January 8, 2020
- What it sounds like when a mic’d up player takes one to the nugs:
— KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) January 7, 2020
- Random throwback to enjoy:
You don't need an alarm clock. You just need Kris Bryant homering, as called by Thom Brennaman of the Reds' broadcast. pic.twitter.com/XsjFVTavZk
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) August 12, 2019