On year ago today, the day after Christmas, we got our first serious whiff of Cubs-Padres trade talks on Yu Darvish. Of course, the Padres shortly thereafter traded for Blake Snell, and folks understandably thought that was that. But it wasn’t. That was a very crazy few days after Christmas last year. Probbbbbbably won’t be as crazy this year.
• Something weird about the way Wade Miley pitches. We already knew that he’d become extreeeeeemely reliant on his exceptional cutter against both lefties and righties – that, alone, is a little weird for a starting pitcher – but how about this:
What leaderboard is this? (MLB pitchers in 2021, min 250 batters faced)
1. Wade Miley, +23.3 pct pts
2. Bryan Shaw, 19.0%
3. Brad Boxberger, 16.7%
4. Nestor Cortes, 13.2%
5. Nick Wittgren, 13.1%
269. Germán Márquez, -33.5%
270. Miguel Castro, -34.1%
271. Andrew Chafin, -34.8%
— Lucas (@DBITLefty) December 21, 2021
— Lucas (@DBITLefty) December 21, 2021
• There’s some superficial sense in it for Miley, and it looks something like this: it’s not necessarily that he is trying to massively ramp up the fastball in two-strike counts so much as he’s probably not as eager to use the cutter – a contact-generating pitch – in two-strike counts. If you’ve got a guy at two strikes, you’d like to at least give yourself a shot at getting strike three without a ball being put in play. Historically, Miley got a load more whiffs on his four-seamer than his cutter, though the whiffs on the four-seamer dropped significantly this past season (he used to throw it about 92mph, now it’s more like 90mph). All in all, the mix does make some sense.
• I wonder if we’ll see a little adjusting in the sequencing from the Cubs. You’ll almost certainly still see cutters early – it’s one of the best early-crappy-contact pitches in the game – but I wonder if the slider gets even more play late against lefties, and the changeup gets more play late against righties. (Of course, that’s all easy enough to say in a rough look, but you do have to remember that it matters how he’s feeling the pitches and how well they’re tunneling.)
• A stray couple thoughts on a Carlos Correa question:
Again: this is all "on paper." Cubs' goal should be to generate a roster that, "on paper in March," gives them a shot at playoff contention if they do get those good bounces and positive internal developments.
Remember: 82-win teams "on paper" go out and win 90 games sometimes.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 23, 2021
• I’ll have a lot more on this topic – where the Cubs could and should realistically get themselves “on paper” by the time Spring Training rolls around. They don’t have to add Correa to be a mid-80s-win team on paper, but I do think we have to take a critical eye at the roster as it stands and be honest. It’s not quite where it needs to be if the goal is to at least have a realistic shot at being in playoff contention by late July. Right now it’s merely a “hey, anything is possible!”-type roster.
• Seems like the Cubs have some answers here:
What sports season gave you the most joy in your life?
ONE CAVEAT: It can not be a championship season.
2006 Twins for me.
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) December 26, 2021
• For me, if not for the ending, the 2003 Cubs would be a really easy answer. But, such as it was, the 2015 Cubs become the also-rather-easy answer. Unlike in 2003, when the ending felt absolutely crushing, the 2015 ending – the NLCS sweep by the Mets – felt very disappointing, but also somehow appropriate after the NLDS win over the Cardinals. It felt like that was how that story was supposed to be told, particularly given what happened thereafter in 2016. Your thoughts? Most enjoyable non-Championship season? Cubs or otherwise?
• Marcus Stroman, still loving Cubs fans:
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) December 25, 2021
• That is wild:
At the North Pole I planted my own pole and raised a flag. All I asked for Christmas was @TeamCJCorrea and @STR0 to be @Cubs Seriously guys. This is the North Pole. And yes Cubs fans are diehards. @BleacherNation @WatchMarquee
Yes we are crazy. Yes we are the best fans! pic.twitter.com/0Ukpk70t8e
— Alexander Pancoe (@AlexanderPancoe) December 25, 2021
• Just end it already:
The Bears Could Take Advantage of the NFL's New Head Coach Interview Rule By Firing Matt Nagy on Monday https://t.co/BbXU6TLnhR
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) December 26, 2021