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The (Basically) Cubs Win the AFL, Epstein on Rules Changes, Fergie Statue Progress, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Since I started musing about this November proceeding like a “normal” November (that is to say, the kind we used to see 7+ years ago, with a significant volume of rumors and a decent volume of activity, rather than a pure chill), I’ve been thinking about what certain stretches would look like if this were indeed a “normal” November. Typically, you’d see what we saw this past week in the lead up to the rostering deadline (lotta DFAs, a handful of minor trades), and then over the next week you’d see a lot of waiver claims and a few signings before Thanksgiving. Then, you’d see quite a few more signings after Thanksgiving, but before the non-tender deadline on December 2 (which, in turn, would be accompanied by some more trades).

So, if this is “normal,” we’re going to see some more movement around the league over the next few days. And none of that, by the way, contemplates that this November could wind up abnormal in the other direction: if a lotta players and teams want to have certain deals locked down before they’re locked out. Stay tuned …

•   The Chicago Cubs, er, the Mesa Solar Sox won the Arizona Fall League championship last night, getting major contributions all season long from Cubs prospects Nelson Velazquez, Andy Weber, Luis Vazquez, and Caleb Kilian. All four started last night’s game, and as Bryan explored earlier, Kilian was as good as a pitcher can possibly be. He took MVP honors for the game, though Velazquez got league MVP honors before the game:

•   Appropriately, Velazquez got to squeeze the final out and kick off the celebration:

•   Wild stray note from Patrick Mooney: the Cubs have just eight players remaining in the organization from their Opening Day 26-man roster. (Can you name them without looking?)

•   Among the Early Black Friday Deals today at Amazon: weighted blankets. For me, personally, that’s a huge recommend. I could not sleep nearly as well without mine. #ad

•   This is so awesome to see – Fergie getting to check in on the construction of his own statue:

•   Theo Epstein was on Marquee discussing, among other things, the league’s work to improve the version of the game we get to see on the field:

•   Epstein says that, while there are differences of opinion on individual rules changes, there is broad consensus in the game and among fans that they want to see a faster pace in the game and more action in the field. Interestingly, Epstein cited the “how long between balls in play” stat thingy we have been talking about a lot more since the postseason really brought it to the fore. He says a viewer has to wait, on average, over four minutes between balls in play. That’s a problem. According to Epstein, surveys indicate that fans’ favorite plays are things like triples, doubles, stolen bases, and great defensive plays. I don’t think he’s wrong about any of that.

•   As for how to do it, Epstein spoke VERY highly of the new version of the pitch clock (15 seconds no one on base, 17 seconds runners on base, and hitters have to be ready to hit throughout). He also praised the change in the shape of the strike zone at some of the lower levels, like lowering the top of the strike zone to create more contact. And the rules designed to increase baserunning (pick-off rules, larger bases, etc.) came in for praise. Notably, no mention of the shift limitations, which was one of the rules changes that didn’t seem to bear immediate fruit.

•   Keep showing him the love, Cubs fans:



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.