The Chicago Bulls continue to carry the Chicago sports load of the moment (… eh, yeah, I see it, but I’m not gonna re-type it). Another big win last night, even without so many key players. I’m enjoy it myself, sure, but I’m also really happy that Eli gets to cover a great team after the Bulls’ performance in his first couple years here were so ugly. The turnaround started, of course, with a massive front office and coaching staff overhaul. Just noting it for any other Chicago teams out there that want to mull it.
• Cubs outfield prospect Yohendrick Pinango, who gets a lot of love around here and who is considered by most to be a top 15 prospect in the system, has undergone surgery:
Cubs OF prospect Yohendrick Pinango is on the path to recovery. No details yet, but wishing him all the best in his return. pic.twitter.com/VI5wOoSfOW
— North Side Bound (@NSideBound) December 6, 2021
• We don’t have the particulars yet, but we all know what the standard post-Tommy John picture looks like. That isn’t to say that’s the procedure Pinango had for sure, I’m just saying, well, that’s what the picture always looks like when a baseball player has that procedure. In any case, it looks serious enough that Pinango, who was just working out in Arizona without any visible issues, will be out for a while. Your hope, as with Miguel Amaya (who recently had Tommy John surgery), is that Pinango can at least hit competitively at some point in 2022, even if not play in the field. Pinango, 19, reached High-A last year in his first stateside action, which is kinda crazy. It’s an absolute gut punch to see any of his development time interrupted.
• Kevin Goldstein’s latest chat at FanGraphs is always recommended reading, as I feel like I pick up little tidbits every time. For example, teams do get full medical reports when they claim a player on waivers (as well as any additional “new” injury information from the former team that isn’t in the medical reports). The question was asked in the context of the Cubs’ Wade Miley claim – without medicals at the time of the claim, the Cubs could’ve been left holding the bag if they claimed him, got him in the door and realized he was broken, and then had to pay the $1 million buyout a couple days later. You can’t request a full physical when making a waiver claim, but you do get those full medical reports from the former team to provide at least some comfort.
• Also from Goldstein: he says MLB sent a “VERY VERY firm memo” to teams about not doing backchannel communications during the lockout (i.e., setting up deals to be executed as soon as the lockout ends), and he thinks teams will mostly abide by it. But he put out a stray 10% guess on how much of “normal” chatter is still happening. You sneaky, sneaky teams! (Also, like I said yesterday, you could also plant some seeds using the media.) Take a lesson from the Bulls, though, and if you’re (allegedly) gonna do some (possibly) illicit negotiating during the lockout, maybe don’t announce your brand new deal the second the lockout ends.
• As noted by Duane Pesice at BCB, today is a double anniversary in recent Cubs transactions: On this day in 2016, the Cubs traded Jorge Soler to the Royals for Wade Davis. On this day in 2017, the Cubs officially signed Tyler Chatwood to a three-year deal. I think both deals are probably regarded more negatively than they should be, even if you could say neither worked out perfectly (especially the latter). Soler wound up breaking out, finally, with the Royals long after the trade, but primarily as a designated hitter. I’m not sure how that ever would’ve happened with the Cubs, and Davis did help the Cubs reach the NLCS. But hey, good on Soler for his breakout with the Royals, and then his hot stretch with the Braves this year, including World Series MVP honors.
• As for Chatwood, the Cubs clearly underestimated the control/command risks with Chatwood’s delivery and pitch movement, and while they still got a little value in 2018 when Chatwood became a swing guy, they had prioritized him as a key member of the rotation because of the age (very young for a free agent) and the stuff (absolutely superlative metrics). That was the Cubs’ last three-year starting pitcher signing until Marcus Stroman last week (Yu Darvish, who signed the next year, got six years). Chatwood’s deal was worth $38 million, which was considered a surprising amount at the time. By contrast, Stroman is getting $71 million guaranteed for a reason, as he is a much, much safer kind of play. That’s not to say there aren’t always risks when bringing in a new player, but whereas Chatwood was a bet on being able to facilitate a breakout, Stroman is a bet that you’re simply going to get what you’re expecting.
• Oh, hey, Soler and Chatwood are both free agents again, so the Cubs can now bring them both back! (I mostly kid, as both fits are now pretty imperfect. But whatever, right?)
• Craig Calcaterra asks a good question about the two baseballs report, but I suspect the reason we haven’t heard more is because (1) last week was bonkers with transactions and the lockout beginning, and (2) the extra reporting is probably happening behind the scenes as we speak. I think more is coming soon:
Today I offer surprise at how little coverage there has been of MLB's use of two different balls in 2021. Business Insider, NPR, Yahoo, B/R, the Times of London (?!) and outsiders/aggregators like me, but the bulk of the MLB press corps has not touched it. https://t.co/QMQNXQdtdn pic.twitter.com/A0cxk5ByDm
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) December 6, 2021
• Board games, arts and crafts, massagers, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad
• The Mets’ managerial search process is in the interview phase, with big names like Brad Ausmus and Buck Showalter on the docket, as well as frequent interview targets like Joe Espada and Matt Quatraro.
• Happy birthday to the Professor:
A very happy 32nd birthday to Kyle Hendricks, who plans to celebrate with two crossword puzzles and a shot of Dr. Pepper. pic.twitter.com/c9dobYbpoC
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 7, 2021
• Yesterday was 12-6:
Today’s date had us thinking … pic.twitter.com/3r3sT3CO3P
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) December 7, 2021
• Almost forgot about this even though it wasn’t that long ago:
Carlos Gonzalez was a Cub for 15 games in 2019. That's the tweet. pic.twitter.com/Y4LFk0OfRp
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 6, 2021
• Willson’s little brother William Contreras won a Home Run Derby (which featured Cubs legend Ildemaro Vargas in the first round):
William Contreras takes down the Great Balbino to win his 2nd consecutive Venezuelan Winter League HR Derby! pic.twitter.com/b0SHNq2K91
— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) December 7, 2021