The Rundown: Matheny Miffed at PECOTA Projections, Cubs Avoid Arb with Strop, More from Around NL Central

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I should inform you right off the jump that I’m not Mike Matheny’s biggest fan. And it’s not just because he’s the Cardinals’ manager, either. No, it’s more that he strikes me as sort of an anti-metrics meathead, the kind of guy who actually has baseball’s unwritten rules committed to a notebook that he keeps in his back pocket for easy reference. And there it rests right on top of the “Cardinals 4 Lyfe” tattoo on his left butt cheek.

Okay, I made up the part about the notebook.

Strict observance of The Cardinal Way and questionable ink aside, I can’t imagine any manager of a recently successful team being happy seeing a PECOTA projection of 76-86 record for 2017. As Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, though, the Cards’ manager has a particularly sore bum.

“That’s unbelievable,” Matheny said. “Yeah, I saw (the projection). I hope the guys saw it, too. I’m not going to make a big deal of it, though.

“I’m not going to beat up what the rest of the world is saying — trying to prove everybody wrong,” Matheny continued. “I just want to make sure our guys take a good look around and see what we really are and what we have.

“We’ve got guys who are motivated. Guys have an edge as to how it finished last year. We’ve got the makings of a fun, fun season.”

And here I thought Cubs fans were salty about their team being projected for only 91 wins.

Cubs avoid arbitration with $5.5M deal for Strop

Hats to the left! Pedro Strop had been seeking $6 million for the upcoming season and the Cubs’ initial offer had been $4.6 million. So the $5.5 million figure they arrived at is just a skosh more than the midpoint, which seems just about right. After all, what’s a couple hundred thou between friends?

Strop figures to be a big part of a bullpen that could be one of baseball’s best, but that Craig Edwards of FanGraphs says could be plenty volatile. While Edwards didn’t come right out and say that the Cubs were particularly susceptible, the historical data referenced indicates that their collection of relievers could be in for a roller coaster season.

For more on the specifics of that, head over to Bleacher Nation and see what Brett Taylor — who’s probably feeling a little like Matheny, fresh from the proctologist with a clean bill of health — had to say about the Cubs’ risks aplenty.

More notes

  • Most nondescript relievers toiling away on bad teams don’t become household names. But Michael Lorenzen went viral after hitting a home run in his first at-bat following the death of his father. It was a great human interest story at the time and it’s been given even more depth in a fantastic piece by Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. You should take some time to read this.
  • In other NL Central news that also involves substance issues, it’s being reported the the Pirates Jung-Ho Kang will miss the start of Spring Training due to a February 22 court date stemming from a December arrest for drunk driving and leaving the scene of a DUI crash. I’m waiting for news that Chris Coghlan had a time machine and was just trying to exact a little premature justice.
  • Spring Training is nigh and some of you are probably headed out to Mesa in the near future. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a grizzled veteran of the scene, check out our Insider’s Guide for tips and tricks to make your stay a great one.
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