MLB Free Agency is Better, Team USA Explodes, Slaughter’s Power, Pepitone Passes, and Other Cubs Bullets
It snowed like crazy yesterday, all while I was driving, and that is simply not something I was prepared to deal with in mid-March. Ditto 20-degree temps and a snow-covered landscape this morning. PASS.
- When MLB free agency had become this total iced out slog, where almost nothing happened when we expected it to, and too much of the activity spilled over into January and February, I was not a fan. Comparisons to the fast-paced action of other leagues’ offseasons was a regular occurrence, and was pretty fair at the time. But, largely thanks to the new CBA, this past offseason was far more normal for MLB, and was exactly how I like it: slow burn of rumors and activity through November, increasing bit by bit as you pass Thanksgiving, very hot that first week of December, and then EXPLODING for the Winter Meetings and just after. Then, a trickle of activity through the new year, and modest activity in January and February. That, to me, is perfect.
- I mention all that because NFL free agency (legal tampering period) opened up yesterday, with so much of the activity done immediately, and certainly by the time it fully opens on Wednesday. I just don’t love it. Sure, yesterday was thrilling and crazy to follow (happy about the Bears’ moves so far, though I was definitely hoping for an OT and DT by now … ), and the next couple days will be cool, too. But then that’s basically it. I like to think about this stuff for a much longer period of time, having rumors and moves pop up over a period of enjoyable weeks. I know that people had RIGHTLY gotten annoyed by how MLB free agency had gotten, especially when compared to capped leagues like the NFL and NBA. But this past offseason, at least, MLB got it right. It was really an awesome and fun offseason when I think back on it.
- Speaking of offseason goodness …. The Cubs new middle infield combo goes deep on middle infielding together:
- Rangers prospect Mitch Bratt, just 19, was tasked with facing Team USA last night for Team Canada. It did not go well for him, as the super-duper-over-loaded lineup of stars wound up walloping Bratt (and the pitcher who followed) for nine runs in the first inning. But, seriously, he deserves nothing but praise for stepping up:
- USA wound up winning 12-1, mercy-ruling Canada in 6.5 innings. I blame Canada’s decision not to start Owen Caissie. That one run was a Jared Young homer, though, so the Cubs still factored in.
- Holy crap, that Jake Slaughter homer the other day was way more monstrous than I realized:
- The fact that Slaughter has that in him – especially the 111 mph exit velo – is really something. Generally speaking, guys who can top 110 mph in max exit velo have a better chance of reaching the big leagues, all else equal. It’s kind of a marker you pay attention to.
- With his versatility, power, and speed, you REALLY want to see Slaughter emerge as a possible bench guy over the course of this season. But I just find it very curious that the Cubs didn’t invite Slaughter, who is already 26 and put up bonkers numbers at Double-A, to big league spring training this year. Don’t get me wrong, the Cubs are overloaded with utility options, and I don’t see any way Slaughter was going to make the team. But if you thought there was a CHANCE he could become quality depth this year, wouldn’t you want him to get that big league coach/teammate exposure? You get some of that by coming up for the day (as he did in the clip above), but it’s not quite the same thing. I can’t shake the thought that it means the Cubs see it as unlikely that Slaughter duplicates his huge Double-A performance at Triple-A this year. If he does, though, and if there is an injury or two, maybe he gets a look. Slaughter is beloved among his teammates, too. Rooting for him to keep turning heads.
- Bonus – a good line from Bryan on Slaughter:
- Long-time Yankee and brief Cub Joe Pepitone has passed away at the age of 82:
- Just an Aramis Ramirez away:
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!)