I suppose there are worse things than waking up every hour with Eric Clapton’s “Bell Bottom Blues” stuck in your head and checking the following:
- Weather (for April 10th)
- Investment portfolio (to see if I can afford to StubHub home opener tickets)
- Cubs spring training Record (wait, they haven’t played 100 games this spring?)
- Home Opener countdown clock
Spring is here and it’s eight days until baseball, dig? This spring training feels like it has gone on forever because there is only a battle for one or two roster spots. I know some of you like to root for the underdogs like Ryan Court, but not me. Rooting for underdogs means your favorite team has a hole with no true major leaguer to fill it. The Cubs’ worst position player will be their backup catcher — Chris Gimenez, in all likelihood — and even he is slightly better than replacement level. Yawn.
As if the drudge of spring isn’t bad enough, the Cubs open the season with a 10-game road trip, the first six of which come against the Marlins and Reds. It will feel like spring training well into April. Believe it or not, the Blackhawks’ miserable season will end before a single pitch is thrown at Wrigley Field. No playoff beard this year.
So what do we do with ourselves this week? Taking a break from baseball is not an option, but it seems like the right thing to do. After all, by Father’s Day you’ll know your favorite Cubs players better than you know your own children and you’ll already be speculating on magic numbers and clinch dates. And though I am hoping for a challenge this season from the Brewers, I think they are a complete starting rotation from competing at the same level as Chicago. The Cardinals? That’s a .500 team at best.
Here in Chicago it is 31 degrees outside as I write this. I hope April gets here soon and brings June weather with it. Brrrr.
Cubs News & Notes
I’ve never heard the expression “he could hit a ball from his nose to his toes,” but that’s how Joe Maddon explained Kyle Schwarber while comparing the Cubs outfielder to Vladimir Guerrero.
NBC Sports previews the 2018 Cubs season and predicts a record of 96-66. I made that same prediction on Twitter about two weeks ago but I am disinclined to search my archives for textual reference so you’ll just have to trust me.
Willson Contreras is best suited to hit fourth for the Cubs behind Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. Contreras batted .307 with 13 home runs and 38 RBI in 44 games batting cleanup.
MLB.com says the Cubs have the sixth best lineup in baseball. The top five? (Discuss amongst yourselves).
- Red Sox
Ian Happ could be set to truly break out this year.
How About That!
How much of each team’s payroll is wasted on players who no longer play for those teams? Craig Edwards of FanGraphs has a look at the levels of dead money throughout baseball.
Jose Altuve’s new contract with Astros not only guarantees him $151 million, but also includes full no-trade rights.
Giancarlo Stanton has no personal problem with Derek Jeter, hates the Marlins’ home run sculpture, and thinks Aaron Judge might have been able to kill the trade that brought Stanton to the Yankees, according to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Ben Reiter.
By both Baseball Prospectus’ and Fangraphs’ forecasted standings, the top seven clubs heading into 2018 are the Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, Indians, Nationals and Red Sox. BP does not project so much as a single divisional race ending with a margin narrower than seven games.
Hot Takes & Syrup
- Meet Blaze Jordan, the 13-year old who hit two 500-ft home runs at baseball’s Power Showcase. He’s 15 now and still raking. “He has a God-given ability to hit home runs.”
- Former MLB pitcher Greg Reynolds, who broke his pitching hand punching a crazed naked man high on LSD, was awarded $2.3 million on Monday.
- Ryan Zimmerman is morally opposed to spring training so he simply refuses to participate.
They Said It
- “Just think about Vladimir Guerrero. He could hit a ball [from his] nose to his toes and it was all about his hands. I thought it was like hitting a piñata at a birthday party. His hands are always adjusted to where the ball was. That’s what a good handsy hitter does and that’s what I’m seeing from Schwarbs.” – Joe Maddon
- “I’m not going to be forced somewhere, on a deadline, just because it’s convenient for you guys. I’ve put up with enough here. Derek, I know you don’t fully understand where I’m coming from. But (general manager) Mike (Hill) does. He’s been here. He can fill you in. This may not go exactly how I planned. But it’s definitely not going to go how you have planned.” – Giancarlo Stanton, on refusing to be traded to the Cardinals.
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Money by Pink Floyd. Saving that stash for Bryce Harper.