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:
  • 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.

    more cubs news

    Chicago Cubs Org Homer Party: 13 Homers for the Organization

    The big league Cubs last night beat the Astros largely on the strength of the long ball, scoring six of their seven runs that way. Cody Bellinger kicked things off with a monster two-run shot, and Mike Tauchman followed with...

    Oh, Come On: Cody Bellinger Lifted Mid-Game with an Apparent Injury (UPDATE: X-Rays Negative)

    The Cubs cannot catch a break this year, man. They've already dealt with injuries to Jameson Taillon, Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks, Drew Smyly, Julian Merryweather, Seiya Suzuki, and Ian Happ (did I forget anyone?). And tonight, it seems maybe something...

    Enhanced Box Score: Cubs 7, Astros 2 – April 23, 2024

    Well there was one big thing not to like about tonight's game - Cody Bellinger was lifted with a right rib contusion after colliding with the outfield wall - and about a million things that were great. And since we...

    Mike Tauchman Did it AGAIN – Second Oppo Homer of the Game!

    Nothing like a little insurance late. Mike Tauchman, who already hit his first home run of the season earlier in this game, just hit his second home run in the 8th! Another opposite field blast for Tauchman, who's been hitting...

    James Triantos Homers TWICE for the Smokies

    It really is a Cubs homer party up and down the system. In Chicago, Cody Bellinger and Mike Tauchman have gone deep. At Myrtle Beach, Christian Hernandez and Jefferson Encarnacion each homered. At South Bend, Yohendrick Pinango homered. And at...

    Kevin Alcantara Led Off Tonight’s Game with a Bomb (UPDATE: And Then Did It Again!)

    Kevin Alcantara wasted no time giving the Tennessee Smokies the lead on Tuesday night (or maybe he just wanted to be a spiritual part of the homer party going on at Wrigley Field). Facing off against the Rocket City Trash...

    Mike Tauchman’s First Homer of the Year Caps Off a 5-Run Cubs Ambush!

    I don't like to use "ambush" lightly. But what would you call it when the Cubs put five balls in play over 100 MPH, including a single, a double, and two home runs en route to putting five runs on...

    Ian Happ Hit Missed a Homer by a Foot, So Cody Bellinger Launched One into Space to Pick Him UP

    Ian Happ was back in the Cubs lineup tonight after missing a few games with a sore hamstring. And in his first at-bat back, he sent one 412 feet to dead-center field for a VERY long double (Statcast says it...

    Pre-Gamin’: Astros at Cubs (6:40 CT) – Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

    CUBS LINEUP — The Chicago Cubs are back in action tonight for the first of three games against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field. Here's a look at the Cubs lineup for Game 1. Chicago Cubs Lineup: Nico Hoerner, 2B...

    Jefferson Rojas Has the Longest Active Hitting Streak in High-A

    I know what you're thinking – what the heck is this basketball junkie doing over here on our turf!? He normally only shows up when he accidentally puts his Bulls articles in the wrong category! I need a little palate cleanser...

    Latest News

    Today’s Best NBA Player Prop Bets – Wednesday, April 24, 2024

    Today's NBA playoff schedule has two exciting matchups in store. Among those games is the Miami Heat taking on the Boston Celtics.One of the most fun ways to wager on the NBA is via NBA player prop bets. There are...

    Reggie Bush FINALLY Gets His Heisman Trophy Back

    It was always ridiculous that Reggie Bush had his 2005 Heisman Trophy "taken away" in 2010. The USC football program was being handed down several sanctions for recruiting violations - some of which included improper benefits during his USC tenure...

    Guardians vs. Red Sox Probable Starting Pitchers – April 24

    After winning their past five games, the Cleveland Guardians (17-6) host the Boston Red Sox (13-11) at Progressive Field on Wednesday at 6:10 PM ET.This contest's pitching matchup is set, as the Guardians will send Carlos Carrasco (1-1) to the...

    Seattle Seahawks 3-Round Mock Draft: Exploring Potential Picks and Trade Back Options

    Seattle Seahawks 3-Round Mock Draft - With the 16th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, General Manager John Schneider has a crucial decision to make – continue the rebuild by focusing on defense for new head coach Mike Macdonald, or invest in...

    Chicago Cubs Org Homer Party: 13 Homers for the Organization

    The big league Cubs last night beat the Astros largely on the strength of the long ball, scoring six of their seven runs that way. Cody Bellinger kicked things off with a monster two-run shot, and Mike Tauchman followed with...

    Celtics vs. Heat: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The Boston Celtics will play the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the opening round of the NBA Playoffs.These two teams match up for the second straight game after the Celtics beat the Heat 114-94 on Sunday. Jayson Tatum paced...

    Orioles vs. Angels Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Wednesday, April 24, 2024

    The Baltimore Orioles (15-8) visit the Los Angeles Angels (10-14) Wednesday to close out a three-game series. The Orioles are favored (-132) to win the rubber match, which starts at 4:07 PM ET from Angel Stadium of Anaheim.Baltimore's Dean Kremer...

    Giants vs. Mets Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Wednesday, April 24, 2024

    The New York Mets (12-11 look to avoid the sweep when they visit the San Francisco Giants (12-13) in the final game of a three-game set. Oddsmakers have listed the Giants as -130 favorites, while the Mets are +110 underdogs...

    Giants vs. Mets Probable Starting Pitchers – April 24

    Following a three-game losing streak, the New York Mets (12-11) face off against the San Francisco Giants (12-13) on Wednesday at 3:45 PM ET.The probable starters are Blake Snell (0-3) for the Giants and Sean Manaea (1-1) for the Mets.Giants...

    Orioles vs. Angels Probable Starting Pitchers – April 24

    The Baltimore Orioles (15-8) visit the Los Angeles Angels (10-14). The matchup at Angel Stadium of Anaheim begins at 4:07 PM ET on Wednesday.The Orioles will look to Dean Kremer (0-2) versus the Angels and Tyler Anderson (2-2).Orioles vs. Angels...

    more cubs news