Depth and Variance, No Happ Trade Talk Right Now Thanks, Sticky Stuff Enforcement Coming Back, and Other Cubs Bullets
They just announced that the upcoming fourth season of ‘Succession’ will be its last and MUH HART IS BREAKING. How can I lose ‘Better Call Saul’ and ‘Succession’ in the same calendar year? What did I do to deserve this? At least Cubs games start TOMORROW to cushion the blow …
- I was having a side conversation with friends about how much individual variance the Cubs have on this roster (i.e., guys who could perform quite well, or quite poorly), combined with the higher floor that having so much depth creates. One thing it makes me think about is that the Cubs – and David Ross – will have to be VERY GOOD this year at identifying who is surprising to the upside or downside, and acting on it very quickly to make appropriate lineup/roster changes. But you can’t pull plugs TOO quickly, because it’s baseball, and sample sizes matter. Really tricky balance when you have this much depth AND this much variance.
- Paul Sullivan talked to Ian Happ about extension stuff and possible mid-season trade rumors, but Happ wasn’t going to dig in too deeply. Happ’s answer on the trade stuff is what I’m going to keep saying, too: “Long way away,” he said. “We’ll figure it out when we get there.” Yeah. That. I do *NOT* want to be talking about possible selling off in May or June this year, man. I’ll do whatever the job requires and I’ll be realistic about the Cubs’ chances and best approach and all that. But, as a fan, I have ZERO interest in covering another sell-off this year, and I’ll be all to happy to punt on questions about Happ’s availability (for example) for as long as possible.
- … of course, if the Cubs could get an extension together by the end of Spring Training, then that all goes away preemptively. At least with respect to Happ.
- Sticky stuff enforcement is coming back. Er, that is to say, it never went away, but Jayson Stark reports that MLB is once again making it a point of emphasis going into this season. Given what happened with spin rates over the past couple years (dropped meaningfully for 50+% of pitchers after the initial wave of enforcement … and then crept back up to previous norms over time), it’s been fair to suspect that a lot of pitchers have figured out new methods and/or new substances. So umps will be doing more random checks (as in more randomized), checking more gear, and also being more active in checking when they see suspicious behavior.
- Latest podcast is out:
- An element of the new pitch clock you may not have yet considered: how do TV broadcasts incorporate it? Jeff Agrest writes at the Sun-Times about that very question, and it’s a little bit still up in the air (Marquee didn’t even offer a thought just yet on how they will or will not include the clock in broadcasts). Some broadcasts will try it in their score bug, or next to it, or even on the back of the pitcher’s mound (where the mound ad sometimes is). You want it to be available for fans to see – at least when the count gets low enough – but you don’t want it to be distracting, since it’s constantly in motion.
- The sweeper now shows up as its own pitch classification on Statcast. I’m not sure it’ll be perfect, though, because we know that it’s going to bleed together with some traditional sliders. Might take time for the systems to get really good at nailing down the classifications (for example, I noticed that Hayden Wesneski’s slider, which moves exactly like a sweeper, is still classified as a slider … which is it?).
- Some Cubs uniform history knowledge:
- I am #NotAScout, but don’t these look freaking nearly identical, even after 20 years:
- Mariano Rivera remains to this day one of the most impressive pitchers ever, for obvious reasons. The guy basically threw one pitch for his entire career and hitters just couldn’t do jack about it.
But What About a Happ Extension, Suzuki Defense, Busy Day, Rucker, Replay Timing, and Other Cubs Bullets
FOLKS! The Cubs Are in “Advanced Discussions” on a Nico Hoerner Extension!!! (UPDATE: It’s Happening!)