If you at all struggle with anxiety/depression, maybe this is the year you do something about it? It is daunting to reach out to a provider (it took me like 35 years … ), but you will look back and see that it was worth it. You might be amazed at how much better things can be. We’re all working on stuff, and we don’t have to do it alone.
• Cubs lefty reliever Brad Wieck says he’s feeling good and is ready to go for 2022 after a second heart ablation procedure ended his 2021 season early. You can’t ever call a successful heart procedure a terrible thing, but the timing was certainly unfortunate for Wieck, who’d gotten himself otherwise healthy, who’d gotten his fastball velocity back, and whose mechanics were clearly locked in. He made 15 appearances (17.0) innings last year, and did not allow an earned run. He struck out 39.4% of the batters he faced (14.1% walk rate), didn’t allow a homer, and looked dominant to the eye. Most interestingly, he did it while throwing his fastball a whopping 84.6% of the time. If you can have that much success with your fastball, and keep your wipeout curveball in your back pocket for putaway situations, you’re going to dominate in short relief.
• Wieck, 30, is an enormous dude, imposing with great extension. It probably makes it a little harder for him to keep the mechanics clean, and we know there have been some injury challenges. But when it is all clicking, clearly it works. You cannot assume health and effectiveness given the limited track record, but Wieck could be a sneaky important part of the bullpen next year, who rarely gets mentioned in the top setup group.
• Another I’ve-said-it-before-but-we-can’t-sleep-on-it? The possibility that, some game in the next few years, could be started by Jordan Wicks, relieved by Brad Wieck, and closed by Rowan Wick. It must happen someday.
• Former Cubs 1B/OF Larry Biittner passed away this weekend:
We mourn the loss of Larry Biittner, who spent 5 years in the #Cubs organization during a 14-year MLB career.
Sending love to Larry's family and friends. pic.twitter.com/LeT2OMTaKb
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 2, 2022
• Biittner joined the Cubs in a mid-1976 trade from the Expos, and posted mixed results at the plate in his four and a half seasons with the Cubs. He started picking up more pinch-hitting duty in the later years, and was pretty good at a tough role.
Opening Day 1978. My father let me skip school to join 45,000 others for the #Cubs. Stood outside the gate at Addison/Sheffield for 3 hrs to buy tickets. Crowd became a crush, so I sat on my 67 y o father’s shoulders the whole time. I wasn’t skinny. Strong guy. @BleacherNation https://t.co/AMdbO56p1L
— MBDChicago (@MBDChicago) January 3, 2022
• I’ve long thought Bobby Abreu was getting short shrift in Hall of Fame discussions (to say nothing of votes – he gets very few), and I appreciated David Laurila getting into it here at FanGraphs. By way of comparison to Ichiro Suzuki, a guy everyone agrees is a clear Hall of Famer, Laurila demonstrates that by almost any Hall-worthy measure, Abreu is right up there with (or better than) Ichiro. I probably wouldn’t do the Suzuki comparison, myself, because the vast defensive difference makes it a little difficult and because Ichiro’s time in Japan – while not explicitly part of his MLB Hall of Fame case – gives his whole career a different flavor (Ichiro didn’t arrive in the States until his age 27 season). That said, the point here is that Abreu’s offensive career was probably quite a bit better than Ichiro’s/quite a bit better than people are giving credit. I mean, the guy was in the big leagues from age 22 through age 40, and still posted an OBP near .400! His 129 wRC+ was, for some context, five points better than Sammy Sosa’s.
• Michael Hermosillo was on The Bain Campaign:
Jam-Packed full of quality content ⬇️
— Max Bain (@mbain_38) January 3, 2022
• A little baseball history on this date:
• I was kidding:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 2, 2022
• A little history for the Bears yesterday in an otherwise meaningless win – Robert Quinn sets the franchise sack record (by taking down old friend Mike Glennon):
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) January 2, 2022