The Little Boy is super into making fires in the backyard right now – I think I’ve mentioned this – but with the temperatures daily in the 90s for the past week+, the fire-making enterprise has been particularly grueling. I mean, I’m happy that he’s happy, but it’s like, how hot can an area get? It’s like an outdoor sweat lodge, if such a thing existed.
• Will Leitch asks two questions for each NL Central team, and the two for the Brewers are definitely the EXACT ones I would’ve asked: can their extremely-heavy bullpen and fringe-arm reliance keep working, and where can they get consistent offense besides Christian Yelich? The Cardinals questions focus on veteran bats and lack of depth in the bullpen (fair enough), and the Reds questions are about Joey Votto bouncing back and whether their aggressive additions were worth it (also fair, even if I’d probably have the defense in there somewhere).
• For the Cubs, if I had to come up with only two big questions, I’d go: (1) can the Cubs patch-work approach to bullpen creation work QUICKLY enough that they don’t lose too many games in July and August? (2) is the age of the rotation going to present too many injury/ineffectiveness issues (and that would’ve been pre-Quintana)? Leitch’s questions, by the way, are whether Yu Darvish can be an ace again (of course he can!), and what is the Cubs’ medium term plan (it was only barely clear BEFORE the pandemic, so … ).
Not one of the major big-picture questions, in my opinion, but one I’m quietly curious about: with better deployment under David Ross, is Jason Heyward going to have his best offensive season with the Cubs and continue his positive progression (the last column is wRC+, and it’s improved every year with the Cubs):
• More from Anthony Rizzo’s solo adventure in the bleachers last night, carrying his bat with him, and watching his teammates play:
Big Cubs fan. pic.twitter.com/q0zdnPL3DZ
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 10, 2020
Now, Rizzo is watching the game from the left field warning track, and probably telling Schwarber how he would've thrown that home run ball back. pic.twitter.com/X6hOM51pmu
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 10, 2020
• Hopefully Rizzo’s back issue, which has kept him out of games/workouts for a few days, is easing up on him. Like I said yesterday, an abundance of caution remains totally fine, but with the opener in two weeks, you want to see him getting some live swings again soon.
• If you missed it, Yu Darvish briefly got a visit from the trainer last night because of a fingernail issue, but it’s not believed to be a problem going forward.
• Former Cubs catcher – he of the heroic John Baker Game – and current Mental Skills Coordinator John Baker played umpire at last night’s intrasquad game, and he is such a f***ing legend:
Tonight I became the only man to bat, pitch, catch, and umpire Major League Baseball at Wrigley Field. https://t.co/NZ1CIGhPnq
— John Baker (@manbearwolf) July 10, 2020
• Also, he wore a mask under his mask:
— John Baker (@manbearwolf) July 10, 2020
• If you weren’t aware, consider this a reminder that minor league players are not only compensated poorly overall (though teams like the Cubs are improving minor league wages at least somewhat going forward), but they also receive almost nothing for their time at Spring Training. And when that “Spring Training” is actually a geographically relocated Summer Camp in the middle of a pandemic, the compensation looks all the more absurd (the numbers are not precisely correct, and guys on the 40-man received some season money up front, but the point stands):
This is what it's like for minor leaguers in Spring Training every year, & it's all the worse during a dang pandemic. Just your latest reminder that minor leaguers, in particular, are just not taken care of.
Even after human element, it's like: how is this good for the sport? pic.twitter.com/ONYP7Bo6cL
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) July 9, 2020
• The guys who wind up at the reserve site in South Bend when the season starts will begin receiving more pay (minor league pay, essentially), but until then, it’s just a small per diem. Alzolay, one of the Cubs’ top pitching prospects, later deleted those tweets and hopefully this means the Cubs quickly moved to improve the situation:
We worked it out
— Adbert Alzolay (@adbert29) July 10, 2020
• META: You may have noticed the BetRivers Illinois post on the site, and yes, we are going to be periodically offering up sports gambling content now that it’s legal in Illinois and some of the other states where are readers do their thing. It’s such a huge part of the sports landscape (and it’s only going to get more intimately intertwined with the sports, themselves, as you’re gonna see in the coming years) that we want to make sure we aren’t left in the dust. Plus, let’s be quite clear and honest: there are affiliate revenue opportunities for us if we helpfully point people in the right direction, and given the state of things, that’s not something we can afford to miss out on. So, hopefully you find the stuff we put out useful – thanks to Kyle Scott for his assist this morning, since we’re newbs – or easily ignored if it’s not your thing. As always, and especially right now, we appreciate your support.
• Absolute tanks:
— Emma Humplik (@emmahumplik12) July 8, 2020
• After a hiatus, I was back on the ‘Onto Waveland’ podcast with Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney:
• Luol Deng, not holding back:
Luol Deng Has Harsh Words for a Certain Former Front Office Member Who "Ruined the Team" https://t.co/5vxEKdzZ2c
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) July 10, 2020