Player Response Coming, Fowler Anniversary, Pitching Depth, and Other Cubs Bullets

Wound up down a rabbit hole this morning on extraterrestrial intelligence, and I was reminded of the problem of The Great Filter. That “answer” to the Fermi Paradox (if life is mathematically abundant in the universe, why haven’t we observed any yet?) has always struck me as pretty logical, but also kind of depressing, since it means either that human-type life is extraordinarily rare … or that it is doomed to crap out before we reach interstellar travel. I mean, it sort of doesn’t matter, because I (and my kids, and my kids kids kids kids) will long be deceased by the time any of this would be relevant to our experience. I just like to think about it, I suppose.

•   I am annoyed at myself, and apologetic to you, that I missed this when I was updating the state of the lockout last night:

•   A CBA response from the players was hoped for by the end of this week, and I wrote as much, but it would’ve been nice to include the report from Heyman that a response was indeed likely coming within that time frame. Everything else I wrote last night is still applicable. I suspect at this point that changing free agency is just not going to happen under any circumstance for the players, and although I would like to see it for them, it might be time to instead just hammer harder on luxury tax, higher minimum, and earlier arbitration for more players. It’ll be really interesting to see if earlier free agency is still in the players’ counter.

•   It’s been seven years since the Cubs first acquired Dexter Fowler from the Houston Astros in a deal for Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily. It was a little hard to part with Valbuena, who had become a fan favorite not only for his bat flips but for his strong production. He went on to have two really solid years for the Astros before heading on to the Angels and later passing away. Straily, who was only briefly a Cub for part of 2014 (he came as part of the Samardzija-Hammel/Russell-McKinney trade), struggled with the Astros and then bounced around as a near-league-average starter before heading to South Korea the last couple seasons.

•   As for Fowler, well, you know the story: he was the perfect addition atop the Cubs’ lineup for 2015, and then when a deal fell through with the Orioles that offseason, he made the surprise return to the Cubs during Spring Training, and helped lead the 2016 team to the World Series, where he homered to lead off Game freaking Seven, the first in World Series Game 7 history:

•   It all started with a trade seven years ago, and I would say that was a pretty good one for the Cubs. Fowler went on to get PAID by the Cardinals, and then was moved to the Angels before the 2021 season. There, unfortunately he tore his ACL early in the season, and has been out since. It’s not clear if he’s going to attempt a comeback, though his initial statements at the time of the surgery certainly suggested it. At 35 and coming off some down years and a knee injury, Fowler would have to take a minor league deal – if he can get it – and show out in Spring Training to make a big league roster. Extremely easy to root for him, though, so whatever happens, I hope he does great.

•   The Braves ZiPS are out, and they pretty much say the Braves will be just fine again if they add (or retain!) a first baseman:

•   You can see the Braves could stand to add an outfielder, too, and they probably will coming out of the lockout. But at a minimum, you can book them for re-signing Freddie Freeman, trading for Matt Olson, or signing Anthony Rizzo.

•   On the pitching side, the depth is obscene. Just obscene. You know how many pitchers the Braves have throughout their system that ZiPS projects to be just about league average or better (let’s call it 95 ERA+ or better) if they were given big league innings in 2022? It is THIRTY THREE. I can’t even wrap my head around that number. The Cubs, for a picture of what the other end of the spectrum looks like, were at just 17.

•   Chargers, cables, coats, ear buds, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   Some extreme nerdery from Lance Brozdowski, and a lesson on how some pitchers could actually benefit from ditching the sticky stuff:

•   Congrats to Bob:

Another data point (probably) on the Coors Hangover Effect:

•   I’ll still listen to this any time I can:

•   Heads up to folks looking for gigs in sports/sports media/sports data, SIS is hiring here, and also Sports-Reference:

•   The good news is that the Bulls pulled out the win last night, but the rough news is that injuries are just so dang unfair:

•   The Blackhawks rumors are coming:

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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