Arm Health, Leaks, Buck Stuff, Despaigne Dominating, Signal Risks, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Arm Health, Leaks, Buck Stuff, Despaigne Dominating, Signal Risks, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Early morning confession time: I never really hated Joe Buck like many Cubs fans, and then especially after his perfect call at the end of the World Series, I kind of love him. He’s great. He’s very, very good at what he does now.

•   Jon Lester spoke with 670 The Score about the ongoing league/player negotiations on a return to play, emphasizing that he wishes the leaking would stop. (Same. Although I have to write about it when it happens, it was a little annoying to me to see, for example, a coordinated “leak” of the financial proposal yesterday, and then a coordinated “leak” response coming from the union (when every national reporter uses the same three phrases … ) I’ll always be naive, but I was hoping we might learn the details of the proposal – just the facts, no spin – and the players would respond only that it’s under consideration and they aren’t going to comment on the negotiations until there is an official response). 

•   In the interview, Lester underscored the challenge of keeping just-ready-enough as a pitcher right now: “We have had some phone calls with (manager David Ross) and other players. Also meetings with our pitching coach Tommy Hottovy. [Health] is everyone’s concern. But for me, I don’t want to get ramped up for an unknown date and then have to turn it back down. It’s a fine line between keeping my arm moving and playing some catch. Doing a little and enough stuff so once we get this date, I am ready to build. Once that date hits, we can say, ‘Now I can go.’ That has been the challenge of balancing the unknown. Every year going toward February 8, you have that date in mind in November and December when you are building up to spring training. Right now, there is no date to build toward. However, when we get there, I know our medical, training staff and coaching staff will be erring on the side of caution. There is just that fine line.”

•   And that caution will hopefully be applied liberally across the board to all the Cubs’ pitchers, not just an older guy like Lester. I suspect it’s going to be a lot harder for younger and/or unestablished guys to not push too hard too fast – remember, some guys are going to be trying to win a job over a very short Spring Training – so, like I’ve said before, I hope the organizational communication and reins-holding is going to be really strong. That’s not even just an altruistic point about player health, it’s a critical organizational point in a shortened season. When guys get even just a little dinged this year, it costs a much larger chunk of the season.

•   We talk about the importance of baseball and other sports as serving as a signal to the public – about the importance of social distancing, about the ability to experience joy and distraction again, about community – but we also have to remember that there are *risks* in that signaling, too. Like, if the signals the sport sends turn out quite bad. 

•   From a writeup at The Ringer on the league’s possible health and safety protocols, and what happens throughout the season:

With such stringent safety guidelines in place, it’s possible that MLB could start back up and run through the World Series without major incident; that’s certainly the league’s intention. But assuming anything right now is foolish, and MLB has to consider the circumstances under which it would stop. If not, the consequences could be dire, in both humanitarian and economic terms.

“My fear in this moment for the economy is not continued blackouts,” [epidemiologist Abdul] El-Sayed says. “My fear for the economy is brownouts. It’s that you start up too early and you destroy the public’s trust in our capacity to start up at all, because it doesn’t go well. Institutions are not made to start and stop like this. … The signal that sends, the impact that has, not just on the institution and Major League Baseball, but just the headline: ‘Major League Baseball starts up and then it has to shut down again.’ That’s devastating.”

•   In other words, setting aside everything else – and it’s a lot to set aside for the sake of discussion – the mere fact of MLB starting back up and then suffering setbacks so severe that it has to shut back down? That could be psychologically devastating to the country in ways that manifest in consumer confidence, employment, and mental health. The league cannot start back up again unless confidence is supremely high at this moment that shutting back down is very unlikely.

•   Basically: no stopping and starting again for pitcher arms and for the league as a whole. 

•   It’s still TBD – if there’s a season – whether broadcasters will be there at the parks, or whether they will call the games remotely. ESPN’s Matt Vasgersian is guessing it’ll be remote for Sunday Night Baseball, though he’s not been formally told as much. Ideally the broadcasters will be there in the park so they can see the whole field and there won’t be any considerations with a delay or related tech issues, but if that latter part could be worked out, the difference for the viewing fan might not be super noticeable. Moreover, if doing it remote allows for X number of people (broadcasters and support staff) to stay away, maybe that’s worth it.

•   The newest Echo Dot is now 20% off at Amazon. #ad

•   Admittedly, the Brewers did have an exceptional run of drafts back then:

•   Wow, Odrisamer Despaigne is kicking out there and actually dominating (94mph? Where’d that come from?!) over in the KBO:

•   Despite my thinking that Despaigne was probably already well up into his 30s, he actually only just turned 33. He was a junk-balling, high-contact guy who never really found success in the big leagues with a variety of teams despite being a high-profile Cuban defector. Thing is, his velocity was trending up by the end of his MLB days, and as you can see there at 94 mph, it’s climbed even more in the KBO. He’d have to look like this all year to get another shot in the big leagues, perhaps on a minor league deal, but it’s nevertheless always cool to see guys finding success elsewhere. 

•   I made a Twitter joke:


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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.