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Starring Jonah Hill as Bo Rambler. Plus: New Bears Free Agent Haul Replaces Old Bears Free Agent Haul; Score Card; Grimm Reaper; White Sox Boo-Boos; Fire Fail; Tick-Tock, Blackhawks Clock; and Diva Delle Donne.
:24: Go Hobos!
* President Chalk.
* ESPN Tournament Challenge: "To our gamers' credit, they were high on Loyola-Chicago in their brackets. Not only did 35.6 percent of brackets pick this upset, but more brackets picked No. 11 Loyola-Chicago (9.5 percent) to make the Sweet 16 than for all of the No. 7s, No. 8s, No. 9s and No. 10s except No. 8 Missouri and No. 10s Butler and Texas."
* SEC Country: Tennessee Match-Up Issues With Loyola.
* Our choice for Bo Rambler:
36:30: Score Card.
* More white, more male, more douchey!
52:45: Grimm Reaper.
People forget how dominate Justin Grimm was for us in the 2015 season. Posted a 1.99 ERA allowing only 11 runs while appearing in 62 games. He also struck out 67 batters out of the 204 he faced & didn't give up a run during 7/21-8/29. Very impressive stuff. One of the go to guys.— Cubs Live (@Cubs_Live) March 15, 2018
58:13: White Sox Boo-Boos.
59:34: Fire Fail.
1:02:28: Tick-Tock, Blackhawks Clock.
* Kaner on Panarin: "I had chemistry with a player like I never had chemistry with anyone before. That player's gone now."
1:05:44: Diva Delle Donne.
* Tribune: "When the Sky hired Amber Stocks, the new coach called for a championship culture. 'They're looking for players who are truly passionate about this team, I realized. Yet there's a little voice in my head saying that that's not me.'"
Cubs Web Special!
* BRYANT: "In a span of three years, Kris Bryant has suffered the disappointment of not gaining a spot on the Cubs roster he and his teammates strongly believed he deserved and watched former ace Jake Arrieta wait 4 1/2 months before signing with another team as a free agent.
"Those incidents piqued Bryant's interest in labor issues to the point that he has become the Cubs' player representative to the Major League Baseball Players Association. Bryant anticipates plenty of dialogue Thursday when he and his teammates meet with Executive Director Tony Clark and other MLBPA officials . . . The Cubs' decision to send Bryant to the minors for 12 days at the start of the 2015 season delayed his eligibility for free agency until 2022 instead of 2021 -- the last year of the current CBA. Bryant said he and his teammates will watch closely how teams manipulate players' service time.
"(My type of situation is) something that probably should be brought up in the next CBA negotiations so that doesn't happen again," Bryant said. "I've been through it and it wasn't a fun thing, knowing that I earned (a roster spot and didn't get it).
He's still mad about it. As he should be. The media gave Theo a pass on this; we didn't.
* HAPP: "Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ is hitting the cover off the ball as he tries to win the team's lead-off hitter role, but his 2018 contract is creating a bit of buzz in camp.
"That's because Happ, who hit 24 home runs and drove in 68 RBI in his rookie season, became the first player with three or fewer years of MLB experience during Theo Epstein's regime in Chicago to have his contract renewed instead of simply agreeing to a new one with the team.
"The technicality means that Happ and his representatives couldn't come to an agreement on a salary with the Cubs, and the team opted to simply renew his deal at $570,000, according to reports."
The Cubs are getting their core players at bargain basement baseball prices.
* RUSSELL: "The throws that occasionally would tail and dip now head toward the chest of first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
"And the chatter regarding a position switch involving Cubs shortstop Addison Russell has subsided for now.
"Thanks to an increased emphasis on fundamentals and offseason work, Russell's right shoulder appears as strong as it has been since he switched from second base in August 2015."
* ARRIETA: "After a dreary first half last season, Arrieta had a 2.28 E.R.A. in 12 starts after the All-Star Game and earned the Cubs' only victory in the NL Championship Series. But there were troubling signs: according to Fangraphs, his average fastball last season was 92.1 miles per hour, down from 94.6 m.p.h. in his Cy Young season.
"Though he pitched well enough to make the NL All-Star team in 2016, his ERA and FIP rose to 3.10 and 3.52, respectively, and his strikeout and walk rates both moved in the wrong directions (from 27.1% to 23.9% for the former, and from 5.5% to 9.6% for the latter). His WAR fell to 3.8.
"And most of those numbers were even worse in 2017: 3.53 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 23.1% K rate, 7.8% BB rate (an improvement!), 2.4 WAR. His three-year innings trend, from 228.0 to 197.1 to 168.1, told its own story, with those 52.2 innings in October perhaps responsible for the declining peripherals; meanwhile, his home-run rate tripled, from an unsustainable 0.4 per nine in 2015 to 1.2 in 2017. And then there's the velocity: via Pitch Info, Arrieta's average two-seamer velocity fell from 95.3 in 2015 to 94.4 in -16 to 92.4 in -17, with his four-seamer dipping from 94.9 to 92.6 in that span, and his secondary pitches losing a couple of mph as well.
"Arrieta did offer a glimpse of his top form via an 11-start run in July and August, during which he recorded a 1.69 ERA, though his 3.49 FIP in that span was more telling; he whiffed just 21.8% of hitters in that interval and rode a .217 BABIP as far as it would take him. A right hamstring strain wrecked his September, but he was solid in two postseason starts, the last of them the team's lone victory over the Dodgers in the NLCS."
THE EX-CUB FACTOR
* "Dave Martínez was very complimentary of the work Miguel Montero has done in Nationals camp. Said that he got a bad rep last year with the Cubs, but that he really knows Miggy's competitive spirit and that he's been working well with his new teammates. Montero is competing for the backup catcher job in DC." (Marlie Rivera, ESPN)
* "The Chicago Cubs have named Chris Denorfia as a special assistant to the president/general manager. They've also hired Matt Murton as a baseball operations assistant."
* "Koji Uehara has agreed to a one-year, $1.87M contract with the Yomiuri Giants. The 42-year-old right-hander spent 10 years with the Giants, working mostly as a starter, before coming stateside in 2009."
* "The only sure bets to crack the Marlins' season-opening rotation are Dan Straily and Jose Urena, leaving 10 candidates for three spots."
* "Arodys Vizcaino, Braves closer. He was traded to the Braves for Tommy La Stella on November 16, 2014. On July 30, 2012, Vizcaíno was traded along with right-handed pitcher Jaye Chapman to the Chicago Cubs for left-handed pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson." (I can't locate the link/source for this, sorry!)
* "Gleyber Torres, the team's top prospect and likely second baseman of the future, has had a rough time at the plate, hitting.150."
WRIGLEY DUGOUTS, WTF? "The dugouts will be moved 28 ft towards the foul poles to help accommodate the new 1914 Club." (Jesse Rogers, ESPN Chicago)
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