Like a lot of you, I’ve watched a good bit of ‘Jeopardy!’ over the years. Just good, smart, wholesome fun, and Alex Trebek was as kind and clever and on-point as a game-show host could be. The loss stings. I’m reminded of the Kris Bryant ‘Jeopardy!’ answer that nobody got. Much love to Trebek’s family, and to anyone feeling the loss.
• Bryan heard that most Cubs prospects were dismissed from Instructional League over the weekend, heading home for the winter. Some guys will probably continue working in the Arizona area given the way the year played out, and maybe some others will now head out to play winter ball, which is happening. Otherwise, it might be a minute before we know when prospects will return for Spring Training. In recent years, the Cubs had moved their instructs to just before Spring Training, but obviously that got blown up this year, and it’s not clear whether they can do regular instructs next January/February, or whether capacity in Mesa will be limited. Moreover, we don’t yet know what the minor league schedule will look like next year, which could include staggered Spring Trainings for different levels of prospects. Lotta TBD for now, but this more or less marks the end of the 2020 “minor league season.”
• Speaking of things we don’t know about the minor leagues for next season, Ballpark Digest got the scoop on some of the level rejiggering that’s going to happen, and it could mean some big changes to the Low-A and High-A levels (necessary to accommodate the elimination of the short-season Low-A level and some geographic considerations). Although AA and AAA might remain mostly like what you’d recognize (with some individual teams/affiliations changing), the lower levels could see significant changes in leagues:
Florida State League
New Mid-Atlantic League
• You can immediately see the issue as it relates to the Cubs current structure: both the Midwest League (South Bend Cubs) and Carolina League (Myrtle Beach Pelicans) are at High-A. If that holds, then the Cubs will either have to change an affiliation, or try to get an affiliate into a different league (but then you run into other coordination issues). At present, the Iowa Cubs have a long-standing, good-geographic relationship with the Cubs. The Tennessee Smokies are also just about as good as the geography can get for the Cubs at the AA level (and they’re trying to build a replica of Wrigley Field and Wrigleyville). If this all holds, you can’t help but wonder if the Cubs will effectively be forced to find a new Low-A affiliate, while maintaining only one of South Bend or Myrtle Beach (likely South Bend, given geography, some co-ownership, and the facilities).
• There’s a ton more at Ballpark Digest if you’re very into the minor league machinations. Kinda like my first Bullet, there’s a lot still up in the air.
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• David Ross talking to Ryan Dempster on his first season managing, which came under unusual circumstances:
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) November 9, 2020
• Ross may not win NL Manager of the Year tomorrow night, but he clearly deserved at least recognition as a finalist. Not only did his Cubs win the NL Central, but they also remained the only team in all of baseball that did not have a positive COVID test from intake to the postseason. No, that wasn’t all due to Ross, but really, you think some of it wasn’t? Of course it was – he’s the guy who sets the tone for the entire clubhouse.
• Also, the featured image made me think of it: Ross probably deserves some credit on the defensive/framing improvements by Willson Contreras, too. Yes, there were others heavily involved – including framing guru Craig Driver – but Ross was an elite framer, and having him back in the mix had to help.
• Oh, also, I’m ready to hang that 2020 NL Central Champs banner. Yeah, the postseason was wildly disappointing, but it’s not like any other team in the Central did any better. GO CUBSSSSSSS!!!
• Miscellaneous memories:
• If you dare start dreaming on next year’s Spring Training schedule:
Dare we start the countdown? pic.twitter.com/ZKJbu0xbOn
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) November 9, 2020