The Rundown: A Disappointing Press Conference, Kris Bryant Stands Ground, Jeff Samardzija Scolds Younger Players, New Spins
If for some reason you missed any or all of the last stop of the Tom Ricketts World Tour, let me get you caught up with a speed-dial version of yesterday’s catastrophe.
It was a disaster. FUBAR. A shitshow, if I’m being perfectly frank. I believe Ricketts’ heart was in the right place, but his delivery was incredibly off. At times it looked like he was trying to hit a bowling ball with a wiffle bat. But at least some good came of yesterday’s presser.
Some bullet points:
- I don’t want to get into the politics part of it, so I am not going to dive too deeply into the broadcasting deal with Sinclair. Television is something we all spend a minimum of 40 minutes per day ingesting, and every station has a biased corporate agenda whether blatant or subliminal. All you need to know about TV is that 59 percent of Americans can name The Three Stooges, but only 17 percent can name three Supreme Court Justices. I have worked with Sinclair Broadcasting in my career and they were just a little too Christian for me. They rejected a PG-13 craft beer show in case you are wondering what their platform may look like.
- The Joe Ricketts fiasco was a big part of yesterday’s presser. Wrigleyville’s first family is backed into a corner here, and say what you want, but none of us with even a smidgen of familial loyalty would throw their father into a herd of hungry cannibals no matter how idiotic or hurtful he is to people. It doesn’t take a lot of translating effort to cut to the chase. Ricketts basically said “Yeah, my dad is an insensitive buffoon and an embarrassment to the family, but he’s still my dad.”
- The baseball operations budget was a popular topic, and much to the surprise of no one, the Cubs owner said there is no money available. I get it. But I also don’t get it. At some point you need to slam the brakes and unfortunately the crosswalk got a little too close after last winter’s spending spree. Regardless of the promises that there would be money in the budget for this year, there isn’t. I am going to cut Theo Epstein some slack, though. The bottom line is it is not about how much the Cubs can or cannot spend, but how much they choose to spend.
Evan Altman believes that the team has tinkered with the goal posts and that’s probably spot on. I’ll say that Epstein more likely believed at the time of the Yu Darvish signing that he would have moved some of the team’s excess payroll coming into this winter, possibly Jason Heyward or maybe even Ben Zobrist. There is no way he would have earmarked $20 million for another starting pitcher. That all adds up to a checkbook that has more checks than funds.
I can’t cover everything Ricketts said yesterday. Beside’s Evan’s terrific analysis, The Athletic ($) provided great coverage by both Jon Greenberg and Sahadev Sharma. This is your team, Cubs fans, whether you like it or not, agree or disagree.
Cubs News & Notes
- I think a projection of 92 wins is a Cubs forecast we can all get behind.
- Monday marked the first full day of workouts for Cubs position players and it was a little wet.
- Cubs players weighed in on the slow free agent market yesterday. Anthony Rizzo is trying to do his part. “So this is what happened,” Rizzo said. “I offered [Harper] half of my 12 [million] that I’m making this year. But he turned it down. Put that report out.”
- Joe Maddon continues to promote his unwavering support for Addison Russell to anyone who will listen.
- Maddon also indicated that the fatigue that Willson Contreras fought to play through last year was more mental than physical.
- All of the offseason storylines may serve to put a bigger chip on the shoulders of this year’s team.
- The Cubs were a budding dynasty just two years ago, but the good times of 2016 seem to have faded pretty quickly. Kris Bryant killed that narrative immediately. “It’s beating a dead horse talking about last season,” Bryant said. “I don’t really care to talk about it. I know we won 95 games, and this and that, but it’s time to move on. We’ve got a new season ahead of us.”
- It’s been a good month since he dropped the mic on Cardinals fans and St. Louis is still as boring as ever, at least to Bryant. Still, he is wiling to “clear the air” with Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina.
Kris Bryant held court this morning. Here he is addressing his winter comments on St. Louis that “exploded” during Cubs Convention. More later on https://t.co/XyV3Piiv8X. pic.twitter.com/W7VNa18V3v
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) February 18, 2019
Spring Training Notes
Per Bob Nightengale, the Padres have offered Manny Machado an eight-year $240 million contract. Do we believe that? Well, if Machado is still available and the rumor is correct, another team is likely offering something better.
The White Sox remain serious contenders to sign Machado. I think they’re the favorite.
Harper’s contract is rumored to be bigger than the $325 million deal that Giancarlo Stanton signed with the Marlins a few years back. Yup, count the Cubs out.
Fire up those Harper-to-the-Nationals rumors again. Washington manager Davey Martinez told a local radio station that he and Harper have a “special relationship.”
The Angels have had internal discussions about extending the contract of Mike Trout. I would personally like to see Trout finish his career in Anaheim.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced he will retire after this season. He probably realized Harper will not be coming to San Francisco.
Jeff Samardzija wants younger players to reconsider the futures of their baseball brethren before agreeing to long-term contract extensions that kill arbitration and dilute demand for free agents.
It will be Rob Manfred’s decision alone if baseball keeps the pitch clock once the regular season starts.
MLBPA leader Tony Clark addressed comments made by Manfred the other day and responded in kind. He didn’t hold back at all.
Red Sox owner John Henry spoke to the media Monday at JetBlue Park, and when informed of Adam Wainwright’s comments that the MLBPA could orchestrate a walkout this season, he was befuddled. “Midseason, this year?” Henry asked. “That’s crazy.”
Alex Bregman is a genuinely cool dude. Read through the thread of this post to see what I’m talking about. And check out this kid’s swing. A little noise before loading, but otherwise he looks like a young Kyle Schwarber.
9 Year old Jax Nystrom hitting in his Pitching Ninja T Shirt. ? pic.twitter.com/zw5s0LMOoX
— FlatGround Hitting (@FlatgroundBats) February 18, 2019
This Weeks New Spins
- Batman OST by Prince — I have to admit, I love the dialogue samples by Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton but the best part is when Kim Basinger says “Vicky Vale!” and then Prince busts out with “Ooh yeah, Ooh Yeah, I’m gonna bust that body. Ooh Yeah, Ooh Yeah, I’m gonna bust that body right.” And of course he did, because he allegedly dated Basinger during and after the filming of the movie.
- The Stranger by Billy Joel — Just when the record label was about to drop his ass, Joel released the monstrous The Stranger and followed it with the even better 52nd Street, after which insane record sales of both apparently afforded him to make less than stellar music for the next two decades. But those two albums are definitely keepers and Scenes From An Italian Restaurant is without doubt the best song from either. Brender and Eddie, baby.
- Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones — I don’t want to get into the argument that Sticky Fingers is actually better than Exile On Main Street because the elitist, yuppie, pseudo-Stones fans will try to sway your opinion that Exile is better because Rolling Stone Magazine declared it so. It’s not, and you should just believe me. Period. Drop the top, crank that shit to 11, and cruise around listening to Brown Sugar, Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’? and Bitch. Your life will change.
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Lost in Place by Gram Rabbit. An apt description of baseball’s 2018-19 winter folly and the Cubs lousy PECOTA projections.