The Rundown: 9 Days Till Camp, Plenty of FA Options Still Available, Spring Boycott Unlikely

Good morning, Starshine, the Earth says “Hello!”  

So…it’s baseball season, right? Hard to believe spring workouts will begin in just nine days.

The five-hour Super Bowl was a welcome reprieve from the wretched malaise of this uneventful winter, am I right? For the still-unsigned veterans, this offseason has been nothing short of a bizarre nightmare, and it might not be getting better anytime soon. With the ridiculous contracts free agents are demanding, owners and front offices probably see those players and their agents as an implausibly large group of face-painted jesters trying to squeeze in and out of the same vehicle.

The Cubs are said to be looking for pitching depth — read into that what you may — and the Brewers are happy going to camp with the pitchers they have. Perhaps that means Yu Darvish signs with the Twins or maybe he signs with nobody. We have to be realistic here, camps are going to open with a large number of players still looking for jobs.

Tanking is a legitimate strategy now, and competing teams are looking at options that likely do not include aging marquee players, at least not at the rate those players are demanding.

Too bad for Mike Trout that the only championship he will be celebrating in 2018 will be the one his beloved Eagles captured last night. Congratulations to Philadelphia on a great upset. The game was so fast-paced I actually had a hard time getting into it. I am not sure if last night’s game will be more remembered for the Eagles’ upset or for SelfieKid. Regardless, I hope your Super Bowl party was as good as mine was. It was nice to not have to check for baseball news for an evening.

Cubs News & Notes

Team gear is on its way to Arizona! The Cubs started this winter hoping to overhaul their bullpen and add starting pitching, and the signings of Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek, Brian Duensing, and Drew Smyly helped the team meet those goals. Despite the lack of a marquee free-agent signing, and notwithstanding improvements by both the Cardinals and Brewers, the Cubs will open camp as the favorites to win their third consecutive NL Central title.

Steve Cishek could be an option at closer for the Cubs should they prefer to deploy Brandon Morrow in other high-leverage situations. As far as the team’s starting rotation is concerned, maybe one of their minor league pitchers will get a shot this spring.

Seeing Bradley Cooper in the Eagles’ suite yesterday reminded me a lot of Eddie Vedder hanging out with the Cubs front office when they won the NL pennant in 2016.

Weekend Stove

What are the chances that players boycott spring training? Probably slim to none despite the chatter you may have heard to the contrary. The biggest reason for the lack of spending this winter is very simply that the players got beat at the bargaining table when they signed this CBA some 14 months ago. The players have only themselves to blame. The union lost the CBA negotiations because it was obsessed with “quality of life” issues, such as days off, empty seats on buses, and clubhouse chefs, and because many players railed against the idea of an international draft.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto would like the Marlins to trade him before he reports to the team’s spring training facilities.

If the Cardinals acquire a proven 30-start rotation piece and a closer with a backbone for finishing games, they could be the favorites to win the NL Central.

The Rangers and pitcher Bartolo Colon agreed on a minor-league contract over the weekend. Colon will be invited to the major league camp as a non-roster player.

The Indians have been open to trading Danny Salazar this winter, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if they were open to moving other starters as well.

A game of baseball played on ice skates? Believe it or not, it actually happened on a frozen pond in Brooklyn in 1861.

Monday Walk Up Song

Let It Ride by Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles on their first NFL championship since 1960.

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