Trying to decide how long I can make it into the day without seeing any Mandalorian finale spoilers. (Don’t put ’em in the comments!) Can I at least make it to lunch?
• It remains deeply absurd that Kyle Hendricks did this on Opening Day after the shutdown and reboot:
12 Days of #Cubsmas 🎄
𝟵 shutout innings on Opening Day 🔥 pic.twitter.com/8zSGQLWY77
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) December 17, 2020
• Whatever happens with the rest of the roster this offseason, David Ross has to be thrilled that he at least gets that guy and Yu Darvish at the front of his rotation … assuming no trades (The Athletic): “Theo’s comments were spot-on [about the front two being among the best in the game]. I think that’s still the scenario, right? Yu and Kyle are huge pieces to us going forward. Now, if there’s something that makes sense from a GM standpoint — honestly, I do stay out of that stuff, I’m not giving you guys any fluff — I try to stay in my lane. But I think Jed’s committed to working in the boundaries that are provided for him and trying to make us the best possible team we can be. There’s a lot of different ways to look at that.” Yes, it’s possible one of those two could be traded if the right monster offer comes up, but that’s rare and therefore unlikely.
• That shutout was the start of the Cubs going 13-3 to open the season. Remember that? I guess that means they went 21-23 the rest of the way, though. Oh also, that shutout was followed by Hendricks’ sole really “bad” start of the year, a 4.1-inning, 6-run clunker in Cincinnati.
• Yesterday, when writing up the Cubs’ Jonathan Holder signing, I mentioned that he was their second see-what-they-can-do relief addition of the offseason in addition to waiver claim Robert Stock, and that was a whoops on my part. He’s actually the third, together with Rule 5 pick Gray Fenter. The fact that Fenter hasn’t pitched above A-ball and feels more like a prospect is probably what had stuck in my head, but as a Rule 5 pick, the whole point is that he’s gotta make the big league roster or be offered back to the Orioles. That said, the Cubs may be hoping that they can pull off what they did with last year’s Rule 5’er Trevor Megill: pull off a minor trade to get to keep him. Last year, even though the Cubs weren’t going to retain Megill on the big league roster all year, they wound up sending cash to the Padres to “acquire” Megill, which then allowed them to outright him to the alternate site. So, anyway, don’t forget about Megill as a guy the Cubs are still working with. He’s another huge arm the Cubs still want to untap.
• Fun read at The Athletic about the relationship between player popularity and performance, and you’ll be unsurprised to learn that – based on projected performance and players traffic at FanGraphs – the Cubs have a whole lot of guys who “outperform” their expected popularity, so to speak. That’s true for many of the big market clubs, but there are also some guys who just get way more attention than their expected performance might otherwise dictate: Shohei Ohtani, Kyle Lewis, Wander Franco, Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols, Nick Castellanos, Keston Hiura, Sam Hilliard. I can come up with some pretty easy explanations for most of those guys, but Castellanos and Hilliard? Can’t figure why those would be outliers.
• On the flip side, some really good players who don’t get as much attention as you might think? Alex Bregman, Yasmani Grandal, Alec Bohm, Nick Madrigal, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Luis Castillo … you can actually play around with the chart here.
• Marquee/Raine have launched the IPO for their new SPAC, and Tom Ricketts spoke about it here on CNBC. There aren’t really any details there from him – it’s kind of the nature of a SPAC, as you don’t really know what they’re buying/operating until it happens – but it’s something to watch closely. If the IPO goes well, Marquee Raine Acquisition Corp. will have $325 million to spend on acquiring target company(ies) in the tech, media, gaming, and/or telecom space. It’s not at all hard to see how that’ll wind up impacting Marquee and the Cubs, which is why we keep an eye on it. My gut says the aim is to get into the gaming (i.e. legal sports betting) space in some way that the Cubs, as an entity, cannot directly (maybe even starting their own digital sportsbook company?). Nothing Ricketts said dissuades me from that guess, as legal sports betting is such a monumental shift in the way sports can operate, and the Cubs already have a relationship with DraftKings. Though there could be other areas into which the Cubs/Marquee tentacles will reach. I’m fascinated by it, and what it will mean for how fans consume the Cubs long-term.
• Yes. Stop hitting Cubs prospects, please:
Nice debut for DUJ in LBPRC.
Checking on the other Cubs in that game, we had:
– Luis Vazquez with a single, walk, steal and sac fly.
– Trent Giambrone with a HBP.
– Miguel Amaya with 2 HBP.
Stop. Hitting. Cubs Prospects. With. Baseballs. https://t.co/Zg47Dyw3KE
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) December 18, 2020
• Toys, housewares, Echo Dot, and more are deals today at Amazon. #ad
• I know it’s needlessly petty, but this makes me laugh:
— Lucas Giolito (@LGio27) December 18, 2020
• Early heads up:
Early heads up on a no-brainer for Opening Night! You can get 75 points on ANY team. So, I don't think I can say you'll definitely win, but, I mean … you'll win. Details: https://t.co/yf3JvAyiKB
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 18, 2020
• Our Hawks coverage is coming in 2021, but until then, tweets:
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) December 17, 2020