I have not seen a single Olympic highlight on Twitter. Literally not a single one. And I *live* on Twitter, almost exclusively in the sports section. I understand that the IOC is notoriously strict about clip-sharing – they force a takedown on any clip they see – and boy is that foolish. I barely even knew the games were on, and I certainly haven’t been nudged into checking them out by the hype that can build through the sharing of those clips. Other sports have definitely gotten better about that issue, but the NBA is still the gold standard of understanding that whatever you lose in not being able to monopolize your highlights, you gain in the wider spread and interest in your sport.
• I’d been wondering whether the Rule 5 Draft would just be scrapped this year if and when the lockout ends, given how crunched everything is going to be. But someone asked Kevin Goldstein in his latest chat, and he answered confidently that it’ll still happen (which, in hindsight, is kinda obvious, since it is pretty huge for the players to have it – helps get more minor leaguers onto 40-man rosters – and teams generally want it to happen, too). What’s going to be wild is that it might take place AFTER minor league camps have opened. So, combined with winter ball and prospect mini camps, teams will have had SO MUCH MORE scouting opportunity than they typically would’ve had before a Rule 5 takes place in early December. I wonder if that means we see a lot more picks of guys who, on paper, look extremely un-ready, or who had significant questions about their health back in November/December that have since been answered.
• Other minor league things that Goldstein still thinks, for what it’s worth: the amateur draft might wind up sticking in July, and the international draft is still probably coming in 2023 (which might suck for the Cubs, because they reportedly are attached to one of the top prospects in next year’s class (or possibly the next year, it’s a little unclear), and that might be the first class that goes into the draft).
• Oh, one more from Goldstein’s chat (there’s actually a ton more – I always recommend checking his out) – his current pulse check on how long those in the game think we will need in runway before Spring Training officially begins is 7 to 10 days. Two weeks has kinda been the long-held thought for Offseason Part Two, but at this point, that’s definitely going to be squeezed as much as possible, with any other business being cleaned up after Spring Training starts (which absolutely sucks for the players who might get an even SHORTER Spring Training to ramp up for the season). A reminder that it isn’t just getting remaining free agents signed – which is an enormous undertaking, given how interrelated it all is, and how there are trickle-down effects to figuring out minor league deals and non-roster invites – it’s also about wrapping up trade talks, starting and finishing arbitration, engaging in any extension talks, getting international players into the country, and the aforementioned Rule 5 Draft.
• I’m bracing myself for the most absurd week of frantic coverage ever. It’s gonna be like if you parked a Trade Deadline in the middle of the Winter Meetings. A week-long borderline Blogathon. My family is going to hate me. Body, too.
• The following question was about which teams have been overrated the most by ZiPS over the past 17 years, and the Cubs stand out considerably. Sneaky suspect this actually tells us something about the Cubs’ historic struggles with soft factors (i.e., not putting their players in best position to meet statistical expectations):
Over 17 years:
Nats -36 https://t.co/y62wQvJyP8
— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) February 7, 2022
• ZiPS is just projecting outcomes based on the collection of players on the team, using a complex formula with historical comps. In theory, especially over a 17-year sample, there shouldn’t be any huge outliers in over/under-performance. But since the Cubs do stick out like a sore thumb, it does make you think they have – for at least parts of those 17 years – struggled at doing something at an organization level, which makes them get fewer wins than the individual players on the roster suggested they should have gotten going into the season. Things off the top of my head that could be factors: some peculiarities about the ballpark, the more frequent day games (and constant body re-adjustments), some oddities about the other teams in the NL Central that skew the Cubs results, and/or a tremendous ability to land guys (or fail to develop guys) who decline earlier than projected.
• At +48 wins, the biggest outlier on the underestimated side? The Houston Astros. Sure seems like we could come up with some theories on why they have won so many more games than the individual player projections would’ve suggested going into a season, eh? (I don’t even just mean the various forms of (probably) cheating. I also mean that they have just become hella good at developing players.)
• If you missed the big and atypical intracity news, the Blackhawks have interviewed a Cubs assistant GM for their own open GM gig:
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) February 7, 2022
• As always, you wish a guy the best when he has the chance for a promotion (and maybe Jeff Greenberg has always loved hockey a little more than baseball or something, and maybe this is his dream?). But it would stink to lose a guy who has steadily climbed the front office ranks over the last decade, all the way up to AGM. The Cubs are big Greenberg fans.
• An amazing colorized picture of Babe Ruth is making the rounds, which is eminently memeable:
When they tell ya Jacob deGrom is starting. pic.twitter.com/zQefxTzsvx
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 8, 2022
• The story behind the picture, and another that shows Ruth laying down next to the wall, is that he was knocked unconscious for FIVE minutes after trying to make a catch up against the wall in foul territory. When he came to, he was sent to the hospital for further testing and rest … just kidding, it was 1924, so he was sent back into the game on his request. He had a limp, and notched two more hits.
• Amazon is doing a bunch of sales on its devices for Valentine’s Day. I don’t entirely get the connection, but it’s kinda like who cares. If you (or a loved one?) are looking for a new Echo or Kindle or Fire tablet or whatever, check it out. #ad
• Justin Fields, already owning Wisconsin:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) February 7, 2022