A Big Game Tonight, What Braves Move Says About Swanson (If Anything), and Other Cubs Bullets

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A Big Game Tonight, What Braves Move Says About Swanson (If Anything), and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The kids are home for Spring Break this week, and we’re not doing any traveling. So they’re just … around. God bless ’em and God bless The Wife for all that she’ll do this week. I just might wear my headphones out …

  • The Japan-USA finale of the World Baseball Classic might be the rare situation where the actual two best teams meet in the championship of a baseball tournament. The inherent flukiness of baseball means that, once you get to the single-elimination part of a tournament, you’re definitely going to have some upsets. Heck, we see it in basketball this month plenty. So it’s pretty cool that these are the two teams that made it, with all due apology to Team Dominican Republic, who otherwise probably would’ve had a claim to being one of the best two teams in the WBC.
  • The game is tonight at 6pm CT, and the only real stinger is that the game will be on Fox Sports 1 in the United States, a channel that many baseball fans can’t access. I understand why the game isn’t on network broadcast, but it’s a shame that it isn’t. In Japan, this game is going to be seen by literally more than 60% of the households in the country. It’s going to eclipse the household viewership rate of the Super Bowl here in the States. It’ll also be heavily viewed all over the baseball-watching world. In the US, though, the game will be seen by, what, a couple million people total? Here’s hoping there is at least a legal streaming option made available. And maybe I’m underestimating the numbers. I just think it’s going to be so exciting.
  • (Bummer that there are no Cubs players involved on either side tonight. Seiya Suzuki’s jersey will be in the Team Japan dugout somewhere, though.)
  • It has absolutely felt like an inflection point to me, but I can’t tell if that’s just because I’ve been so into it, or if it’s because it really is capturing more of the international consciousness than ever before:
  • The Atlanta Braves made only a half-hearted attempt to retain shortstop Dansby Swanson in free agency this offseason, at least according to reports. The thinking there was that, in addition to long-term budgeting considerations after everyone else on the roster got extended, the Braves had young infielders like Vaughn Grissom and Braden Shewmake available to slide into a starting role. It was a little weird – Grissom has barely played above High-A and had small sample success at second in the big leagues last year (many though without the glove to handle shortstop), and Shewmake might play average defense at shortstop, but the bat hasn’t been above average anywhere in the upper minors. But it sure seemed like that was the route the Braves were going.
  • Instead:
  • Arcia, who is still only 28, is passable at shortstop and was a slightly above-average hitter last year in a very small sample for the Braves. His career before that, though, was of a guy 30% worse than league average at the plate. Adrianza, 33, is similarly ineffectual at the plate in his career, but can play capable defense all over. I get wanting to keep him on your roster. I don’t entirely get, however, planning your shortstop offseason around Arcia being legit.
  • So I will ask the obvious follow-up question: if the Braves weren’t really letting Swanson go because they thought they had his heir apparent in Grissom, does that mean they are really down on his future? After all, the Braves should know Swanson as well as any team, and they weren’t willing to come close to the seven-year, $177 million deal he got from the Cubs. My response is, yeah, the Cubs likely had to beat the rest of the market by quite a bit to land Swanson – we know that’s how it tends to work – and it’s not that the Braves didn’t want to keep Swanson AT ALL. It’s just that they didn’t want to go to the level the Cubs did. So it could very well be that they were just hoping Swanson would eventually take a hometown discount, and they would be happy to have him for the next, say, five years. I’m not sure how 1-to-1 related these things are.
  • You should not be able to hit a ball there:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.