Blurbs and sub-blurbs
Of course that’s not half as odd as the continuing story of Harper’s Bazaar. Will it ever end? I’ve given up on it, to be honest. Apparently there are more bidders now than at any other given point in the process, and all are considering up to 10-year deals. Meanwhile, the Phillies have been played like a flea market fiddle, or so it appears.
Harper’s once-excellent adventure has been playing out as baseball’s version of American Horror Story.
Cole Hamels wants to pitch until he is 45 years old, or close to it, though he didn’t say he wanted to pitch for the Cubs up to that ancient age. Some guys have genuinely succeeded at the major league level into their mid-40’s.
“I played with Jamie Moyer,” Hamels said yesterday. “He was the epitome of a guy who played and took it seriously in a sense when you’re 35, 40, 45, you’re not down and out. That’s my motivation.”
Right fielder Jason Heyward worked out at the Cubs’ complex yesterday, but his return to the lineup remains questionable as he deals with a personal matter. So you can cut the cord on any potential trade rumors. Manager Joe Maddon said there is no timeline for Heyward’s return.
“He’s going to make the call on that,” Maddon said. “But he is well. It’s very personal. But he’s healthy and fine.”
The Cubs played the Rangers yesterday, so it meant Jesse Chavez could catch up with some of his former teammates. Chavez bolted back to the Rangers about two-and-a-half minutes after free agency officially began. The reliever stated that loyalty to the Rangers organization was his motivating factor, but I’d guess getting about twice what I’d expected in years (2) and dollars ($8 million) had a lot to do with it too. The 35-year-old was lights-out for the Cubs at the end of last season.
About those PECOTA projections: The National League will be a lot more compressed this year. A number of teams have improved and the only gimmes on the schedules of each Senior Circuit team are the Marlins and possibly the Giants, even if they do sign Harper. It’s unlikely that the Cubs finish the season in the 78-80 win range, but they’ll have to be at their best, especially when facing divisional opponents. Additionally, the Cubs play the AL West in interleague competition this year. The theme of urgency is about this season’s schedule as much as it is about last season’s failure to close.
There were two divisional tiebreakers in the National League last year and it’s not going to get any easier this season. I still say the Cubs are a 90-win team, but they’ll have to earn every one of them. Keys will be the health of the starting rotation and a bounceback year for Willson Contreras. He’s off to a good start so far.
Cubs News & Notes
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 27, 2019
- The Cubs beat the Rangers 9-5 yesterday behind a strong start by Hamels in his 2019 debut. The starters have looked good so far this spring, despite the standard late-February rust. As the man once said, rust never sleeps.
- Speaking of Neil Young, and apropos of nothing, Like a Hurricane is a severely underrated Neil Young Song. His guitar on the bridge is near-perfect.
- Infielder David Bote showed no ill effects of getting beaned by a pitch Sunday by Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, smacking two singles in his first two at-bats
- Hamels hired a posture specialist to help make his exercises more efficient.
- Kris Bryant is emerging as a leader of this Cubs team in words and actions. It’s a pleasant surprise. A pissed-off Bryant might terrorize all of baseball with is bat. Look for a peak year from the all-star third baseman.
- The Cubs are trying to get Yu Darvish to speed up his tempo to help keep his defenders alert. “Sometimes he will get caught in the moment and revert and get into a little slower pace between pitches,” Maddon said. “I’d love to see him speed things up.”
Spring Training Notes
Shifts are part of the game now, whether you embrace the idea or not.
Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins says Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is “not a major leaguer” at this point in his development. I’m sure baseball’s top prospect will file that away to use when he hits free agency.
Meanwhile, the Jesús Luzardo hype train is operating at full speed. The rookie looks like a lock to break camp with the Athletics.
The Cardinals expect to win the Central Division and contend for the World Series.
Danny Farquhar threw his second simulated game yesterday, another step in his dramatic comeback from a life-threatening brain hemorrhage suffered after walking off the mound against Houston last April.
I am looking for two more players for our rotisserie league this year. It’s a dynasty format and we have one opening in the National League and one in the American League. Find me on Twitter and private message me for more details. You will have to be in Chicago for our minor league draft and auction on March 30-31 if you are interested.
The Salem Red Sox will have the first all-female broadcast booth this season. This is truly a good thing for baseball, high fives all around for the Red Sox organization.
WE HAVE BIG NEWS! ?@MelanieLynneN will be the new broadcaster for Salem in 2019! The Sox now have the first all female broadcasting booth in all of @MLB and @MiLB, with the duo of Newman and @SuzKewl.
— Salem Red Sox (@salemredsox) February 27, 2019
Thursday Walk Up Song
Harvest Moon by Neil Young – I kept hearing Sue’s voice yesterday for some reason so I missed her more than most other days. This was our song. A great close to February’s theme of hauntingly beautiful songs.