Actually Normal Spring Training on the Way, Rooting for Weaknesses, MLB Broadcast Rights, and Other Cubs Bullets
Spring Training begins THIS WEEK. Time to get unreasonably optimistic, because otherwise, what the hell are we doing with our sporting selves? This week, and for at least the next couple months, every team has a chance.
Except the Rockies. The Rockies do not have a chance. Sorry, Rockies fans. I hope you’re into the USFL.
- Speaking of Spring Training, the Chicago Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report in just two days, except for the gents participating in the World Baseball Classic this year. Generally, those guys have to report a couple days earlier, so we might actually see some “official” reporting today. Of course, so many guys are already in Mesa that the line gets blurry anyway.
- You know what’s NOT blurry this year, though? It’s the first NORMAL Spring Training for MLB teams IN FOUR YEARS. Obviously 2020 got blown up by the pandemic, then 2021 was condensed and shifted back because of the COVID waves that persisted, and then 2022 was condensed and shifted back because of the lockout. So, with the exception of the guys who’ll step away for a week or two in March to play in the WBC, this Spring Training, finally, is completely normal. Heck, some young players have literally never had a normal big league Spring Training!
- (Couple days left to get extensions done “before Spring Training,” Jed … )
- Sahadev Sharma writes about the Cubs’ possible path to the playoffs this year by way of analyzing the weaknesses among the top-of-the-class NL teams. In other words, if the Cubs are going to make the playoffs, AT LEAST one of the Braves, Mets, Phillies, Dodgers, Padres, or Cardinals would have to MISS the playoffs (to say nothing of any other team). That, uh, is kinda rough when you think about it, because those teams are loaded. For a lot of the teams, the potential weakness comes down to imagining rotation problems (i.e., really old guys getting hurt (Mets), guys being worn down from a deep postseason run (Phillies), or a lack of quality depth (Padres and Cardinals)).
- Here’s how Sharma frames the possible weakness for the Cardinals:
But the pitching is a legitimate question mark. Adam Wainwright is 41, Miles Mikolas had a career year at 33 — is he really going to repeat that? — and Jack Flaherty and Steven Matz are coming off injuries. They do have some depth at Triple A with Matt Liberatore, Jake Woodford, Zack Thompson, Michael McGreevy and Gordon Graceffo. But still, this is an obvious potential weakness.
- The problem, as Sharma alludes to, is that guys like Liberatore, McGreevy, and Graceffo (and maybe even Tink Hence) are sufficiently legit prospects in close enough proximity to the big leagues that they could fill any gaps with surprising success. I think it’s absolutely true that there are risks throughout that rotation, and they don’t have the same quality depth as – for example – the Cubs, but I could certainly see a young guy or two stepping up.
- It snuck up on me, but this season is Craig Counsell’s last under contract with the Brewers as manager. Usually he has an extension in place by now, but with the Brewers seemingly constantly in cost-cutting mode, and with Counsell generally regarded as one of the most valuable managers in baseball, maybe there is a little negotiation friction there. He says he’s had conversations with Brewers ownership (not the GM?), and he’s happy where he is, but is focused on 2023 (MLBTR). Boy, it would be fine with me if they couldn’t work something out.
- *IF* Diamond Holdings goes into bankruptcy and *IF* that does interrupt the broadcasting of MLB games for the teams on the Bally RSNs, then Commissioner Rob Manfred says MLB stands ready to step in and take over the production of those games (ESPN). My gut says that’s exactly what MLB is hoping will happen, because I think they want to take back those teams’ local broadcast rights anyway so that they can integrate them into their hoped-for national product. That’s all still going to be a many, many, many years project, but if they could use a Diamond bankruptcy to accelerate their acquisition of rights on half of MLB’s teams, I am thinking that’s what they want.
- Absolutely bonkers knuckleball. Thing did not spin even one single revolution. Even after the foul tip:
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