The Rundown: Candidates for Regression, Addison Russell’s Back, More Stuff

What follows is not based on any reputable projection system or even extensive perusal of one of them there newfangled stats sites. Nope, these calls are coming straight from my gut, which is about as reliable as Kyle Hendricks’ after a trip to a Vegas taco shop. Probably the most runs he’ll give up this season, though, so that’s something.

Which, speaking of, I’ve got a hilarious story about a late night/early morning incident at Pinches Tacos on Sunset in West Hollywood. Without getting into all the minutia, it involved chants of “Shrimp Dick,” a food fight in which my buddy’s burrito was stolen right off his plate, and then an actual fight out in the street. LA, man.

Anyway, on with my post. But seriously, the look on my friend’s face when our fellow patron snatched his snack was hilarious. He couldn’t have been more crestfallen had someone told him his dog had just died. Okay, now I’m ready to go.

Let’s get to my candidates for regression:

Jon Lester

Here’s the thing about Lester: He wasn’t as good last season as he was in 2015. He was more consistent and the Cubs were lighting the world on fire, so no one really bothered to look at the peripheral stats. While the veteran southpaw’s ERA was better, he had a higher FIP to go with fewer strikeouts, more walks, and more home runs allowed.

Lester also boasted a .256 BABIP against, the lowest of his entire professional career. Much of that is surely owing to his excellent “tunneling,” or ability to make his various pitches look the same coming out of his hand. But you also have to look to the historically good defense playing behind him and turning hits into outs.

Pitchers don’t generally get better after 30 and Lester is three years past that particular line of demarcation. He’s still very good and I’m not talking about him just falling off a cliff. I don’t think we’ll be talking Cy Young candidacy, either.

Jake Arrieta

We’ve detailed Arrieta’s issues pretty extensively at this point, so I’ll not delve deeper into that business. What I will say is that, though I think he could very well get close to his 2015 form, he could just as easily backslide a ways. It’s all about maintaining a consistent release point.

Ben Zobrist

After a scorching May in which he hit .406, Zobrist put up marks of .221 and .212 in June and July. He then hit .270 in August and followed it up with .238 in September. He was clearly fine in October en route to the World Series MVP, but I get the feeling we’ll see an overall drop-off. Some of that may come from Javy Baez’s ascendance too.

Again, I’m not trying to fire off some hot take about these guys all of a sudden becoming duds. But when you’ve got such a young core group, many of whom can and will get better over the next few years, even minor erosion elsewhere is noticeable.

Chicago politics, man

I’m a couple days late on this one, but today’s announcement of updated broadcast partners reminded me of the threat Southwest Side Alderman Edward Burke leveled at the Cubs.

Though we’re still a couple years away from the formation of a possible Cubs Network, the politician warned of the potential ramifications of a move that might endanger Chicagoans’ ability to watch their team. While doing something to protect the interests of constituents who’ve seen costs for tickets and cable rise rapidly is noble, Burke’s methods were a little off-putting.

“We can urge, but they, I’m sure, are going to be coming back here in the future, and it’s something to be considered,” the alderman said.

Not only is there nothing the city can do to actively prevent the Cubs from forming a network, the way we consume television will have changed significantly by then. Just think of how much it’s changed in the last few years. Now, if you don’t mind flashing that shiny object over there so I can forget about this silliness.

Russell’s back

See what I did there? Because Addison Russell is back after sitting with a stiff back? It’s funny, see. Nothing humorous about his performance, though.

More news and notes

  • Cardinals and Yadi Molina reportedly finalizing a 3-year, $55-65 million extension
    • Even at the low end, this puts Molina close to Buster Posey’s $18.5M AAV
    • This is super Cardinalsy
  • The Phillies released Chris Coghlan because he wouldn’t sign a 45-day advance consent form
    • Applies to vets with 5+ years service
    • Allows team to cut player for any reason w/in first 45 days of season
  • Francisco Lindor extension talks don’t have traction
  • Neil Ramirez expected to opt out w/ Giants if not rostered
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