The snow this week has been juuuust right for me. Not so much that it completely screws up the roads. Sticky enough for snowballs. Holds to the trees to make them look beautiful.
• Consider it the ultimate olive branch to hopeful (but realistic) National League traditionalists. This is the Very Good Internet Idea that has been bounced around for a couple years now, and I’m thrilled to hear that it’s maybe actually being discussed:
Bud Black brought up an interesting take on the DH that he said is being discussed: Having the DH eliminated once the starting pitcher is pulled. As he pointed out, that would discourage the use of openers. It also would allow for the traditional NL strategy late in games.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) December 16, 2020
• In this approach (which would be the rule for both leagues going forward), your DH is basically just the bat for the starting pitcher. They are one person. Starter goes out, well, you just pulled the other half of his body – the DH – also. In a way, it’s kinda just the normal National League rules, except the starter lets a friend take his (and only his) at bats for him. The AL gets to keep the DH, the NL gets to keep the “strategy,” and now both leagues play with the same rules. It’s really, really a good idea. This approach not only does the things mentioned in that tweet, but it also DRAMATICALLY increases the value of starting pitchers who can go long, because you’d love to keep them in as long as possible to retain your DH.
• Obviously there’s always a flip-side to points like that, and it’s going to be the fear of injuries. Say a starter is pushing 110+ pitches, but his spot is up third in the next half-inning. You’d love for your stud DH to get that at bat, so do you risk the starter’s arm a bit? Ultimately, I tend to think teams will will protect pitchers in those situations, because that’s got a whole lot of value, too. Plus, you lose the DH, yes, but you can still pinch-hit just like you would any other National League game.
• Speaking of starting pitchers, Jed Hoyer reiterates the challenge of building a rotation a year after nobody threw more than 60-80 innings last year:
The Cubs' plan for the 2021 rotation.
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) December 16, 2020
• The starting pitching market in free agency has been surprisingly well-paying, at least on the short-term deals. That is probably in part a recognition of this reality – that the teams that compete best in 2021 are probably going to have to have a lot of effective starting pitchers, beyond the normal volume – and also probably just a matter of that market being weak. The question for the Cubs has always been, knowing that they weren’t going to spend even $5+ million on a starting pitcher, how well can they choose from among the fringe group to find guys they can tweak? And/or can get they get a younger, longer-term arm in a trade? I dig the arms the Cubs do have, and I think they have enough volume of MLB-ready pitchers that they could probably get away with adding just one more traditional starter. But even if they add a “third starter,” the Cubs are one injury away from a potentially really rough rotation if they’re asking legit, but non-top-tier rookies to cover half the seasons’ innings.
• To all that end, I remain not-so-convinced the Cubs won’t try to re-up with at least one, and maybe more than one, of the outgoing Lester-Quintana-Chatwood trio.
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• I love this:
Jason Heyward mentoring Cubs prospect Ed Howard on and off the field.
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) December 17, 2020
• Also from that? Can I just say that I really like Curtis Granderson? Has always seemed like such a good and kind and thoughtful dude. He’s from Chicago, and you wouldn’t hate the Cubs figuring out some way to incorporate him into the organization if his playing days are behind him.
• Miguel Amaya keeps raking in Puerto Rico. He had two doubles last night, which both looked exactly like this:
Miguel Amaya: 2nd verse, same as the 1st. He's an extra base machine tonight. pic.twitter.com/oeabknoNTZ
— Ikhnaton and Itsacon (@thats_so_cub) December 17, 2020
• Amaya crushing PR isn’t going to convince us of anything we did or didn’t already think about him as a prospect, but he’s just 21 and playing against pros and other top prospects, so it’s still nice to see. Moreover, if he *weren’t* hitting at all, you might have more concerns about how the year away from competitive action treated him, and his readiness to hit at AA/AAA next year. As it stands, he’s already pretty impressively ahead of the curve when it comes to the offensive development of catching prospects.
• Seems like a nice place to be:
No masks or social distancing in Sydney for the start of the @ABL ⚾️ season…
…they have just 12 new covid cases in the whole country, well played, Australia! pic.twitter.com/D84wihv5QE
— Baseball Brit (@BaseballBrit) December 17, 2020
• It’s still preseason and yada yada, but the young Bulls are definitely giving people something to be excited about.