The Rundown: Winter Blues, Cubs Projections, Russell Wilson Traded, Rob Manfred Unfit

Good Morning everybody! I’m trying desperately to fight through Seasonal Affective Disorder and with the winter storms we have coming. I’ll probably be looking at a short bout of cabin fever, too. The whole J.D. Martinez saga has thrown me off my game and my love for baseball at the moment. I guess I have the writer’s equivalent of dead arm Syndrome. That’s a lot to deal with all at once, and I am honestly not sure that the start of spring training is enough to cure it all. At least the Winter Olympics are here.

It’s not fun to write about the current state of the game. We haven’t seen labor strife since 1994 and I find myself longing for the days when Bud Selig ruled baseball. Truth be told, I don’t have much faith in Rob Manfred to successfully navigate the rough waters ahead. He tends to speak with no filter, he promotes acrimony, and he seems more concerned with radical changes that may one day make his name synonymous with one of the darker eras of the game.

Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, called the dearth of free agent deals “a fundamental breach of the trust between a team and its fans” that has threatened “the very integrity of our game.” Agent Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA chimed in last week indicating that the behavior among owners “feels coordinated.” Baseball as a whole vehemently disagrees. The company line remains that front offices are loath to pay peak dollars to free agents for non-peak years.

Mike Montgomery is equally concerned, as are most MLB players. He wants to get paid. The financial ecosystem of the game is set up in a way that players are supposed to be rewarded in their age-30 seasons and beyond, but front offices have pumped the brakes on that type of fiscal irresponsibility. Players tend to peak between the ages of 27 and 29, they reason, and evidence supports that. Only nine players have signed contracts of three or more years this winter.

It all adds up to an impending showdown when the current CBA expires after the 2021 season. For fans, that may mean dealing with the business of baseball rather than the game itself much more than we want to for three more seasons.

Cubs News & Notes

According to the new PECOTA projections Baseball Prospectus released Wednesday, the Cubs are forecast to win 89 games this season, enough to take home their third straight National League Central title.

Meanwhile, Brendan Miller took a look at ZiPS projections for the team, indicating that last season’s power surge will continue, while the pitching staff projects to be better than many of us have expected.

The Cubs had baseball’s most improved offense in the second half of the 2017 season.

WGN-TV announced its 71st season as home of Chicago Cubs baseball with the release of its 2018 broadcast schedule. The Cubs’ flagship will air 49 baseball telecasts, including four preseason and 45 regular-season games. The station will celebrate its 70th anniversary of the very first televised Cubs game during the April 16 telecast vs. the Cardinals.

Wednesday Stove

Pitchers and catchers report in six days. Man up, everybody!

The White Sox sent a not-so-subtle reminder to the folks at Wheel of Fortune that they truly are a Chicago professional sports franchise, despite any notion to the contrary.

Could the hot stove finally be warming? Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was traded to the Yankees and Blaine Boyer, Ryan Flaherty, and Craig Gentry all signed minor league deals yesterday. I love when veterans sign minor league deals.

The MLBPA is scouting sites and making preliminary arrangements to conduct its own spring training for as many as 100 unsigned free agents, sources said Wednesday.

Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser of ESPN’s PTI aren’t buying the MLB players’ complaints about the “free agent freeze” this offseason.

The Red Sox and Indians have discussed a trade involving Edward Encarnacion and Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Both the Twins and the Orioles have shown interest in pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Colin McHugh.

The top two shortstop prospects in baseball are Gleyber Torres, formerly of the Cubs, and Fernando Tatis Jr., formerly of the White Sox. Torres was traded to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal and Tatis regretfully went to the Padres for James Shields.

I came across this older article about Ty Cobb. Apparently he was not as awful a human being as some of the legendary tales about the man indicate.

Thursday Walk Up Song

Scooby Snacks by Fun Lovin’ Criminals. Players just wanna get theirs.

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