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Defense to get more aggressive, incur more penalties. Plus: The Cubs Did Not Respect 90 Last Year And No One Was Held Accountable; Budget Bullpen Breaks; New Rules, Fools!; Sister Jean Has Down Year; College Admissions' Side Doors; Duncan Keith, Biohacker; Alma Otter!; Puck Drop; and Schweinsteiger!
:42: Bears Make Big Little Moves.
We've got 6 more months of the Amos/Clinton-Dix argument...— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) March 15, 2019
* Buster Skrine, The Penalty Machine.
Buster Skrine since 2011 has most penalties in entire NFL— Esox_Actual (@Esox52min) March 12, 2019
* Kevin White, The Unfortunate Injury Machine.
Zero expectations for Kevin White with #Cardinals but probably no better position-group teammate for him than Larry Fitzgerald.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) March 14, 2019
* Josh Bellamy, Pass-Dropping Machine.
Wondering who Josh Bellamy is? A 29 yr old WR from CHI who's career stats are 76 rec, 999 yds, and 5 tds. Pretty sure this guy will be there in a few days... focus Mac! #Jets— Sports w/ The Beard (@SportsWithBeard) March 12, 2019
* Mike Davis, Third-Down Machine.
New #Bears RB Mike Davis coming off career highs in yards per carry (4.59) & catches (34). #Seahawks third-down back for most of last year. Could be good landing spot for fantasy; Chicago returns all 5 OL starters & trying to trade Jordan Howard.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) March 11, 2019
* Ted Larsen, OL Depth Machine.
* Ben Braunecker, Last TE On The Roster Machine.
* Cordarelle Patterson, Running Wide Receiver Machine.
Over his six-year career, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has been hugely effective running the ball:— Bears Barroom (@BearsBarroom) March 15, 2019
86 rushing attempts
(regular season stats)
Way to go @ceeflashpee84 pic.twitter.com/F0aOT248xY
* Packers Publicity Machine.
The Packers have one of the league's best teams on paper and I don't think you could convince me otherwise. QB and OL are very good (which is huge) and the D is terrific up front, especially after today's edge overhaul. Young CBs have a ton of upside, too.— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) March 12, 2019
32:50: The Cubs Did Not Respect 90 Last Year And No One Was Held Accountable.
"I used to get to the ballpark, like I did in 2017, and I'd usually get on the elliptical or bike or stretch or lift," Contreras said. "To be honest, I didn't lift at all [as 2018 went on]. I came out of my routine completely. I didn't deserve to have a good year last year. That's what I told myself. I've learned from it, I took it as inspiration and now I'm here.
"Everything is easy when you're going well, when you're not thinking too much and hitting homers and doubles with guys in scoring position. I was too comfortable last year, to be honest. It kills me - I was like way too comfortable. I talked to my family and my wife about this.
"I didn't do my best on my routine because the season before, I hit 21 homers and I told myself, 'OK, if you hit 21 homers one year, you can do it again next year.' But it doesn't work like that.
"This game taught me that you have to keep working hard like you did the last year and don't get too comfortable because you're gonna fail and fail and fail. We learn and we move on."
+ Javy Baez:
"Last year, I didn't run full speed to first base and I would get back to the dugout and no one would say anything. This year, if I don't do it, someone will hopefully say something and it's not to show you up, it's to make our team better."
* Gonzales, Tribune: "For now, the Cubs seem content with Victor Caratini as their backup catcher."
Really? From MLBTradeRumors.com:
"The Cubs made an offer to Brian McCann this offseason that was worth more than the one-year, $2MM deal that McCann eventually received from the Braves, The Athletic's David O'Brien reports (subscription required). The money wasn't the primary factor in McCann's choice, however, as the catcher wanted to either return to the Astros or to the Braves, his original team. It doesn't seem that any other suitors were given serious consideration, as McCann 'had no interest in being a hired gun and going elsewhere to play what could be the final season of his career,' O'Brien writes. Between this item and reports from earlier today that the Cubs had interest in Martin Maldonado, it seems as if Chicago was a quiet player in the catching market this offseason. Willson Contreras is the incumbent starter, though the Cubs are looking for more depth beyond Victor Caratini and minor league signing Francisco Arcia."
"I've experienced an average of 97 wins the last four seasons. The year before that, we almost went to the World Series. The year before that, we won 103 and won the World Series. And the year before that, we won 97. I just think there's a big disconnect between the results and the narrative right now."
"Like a lot of Contreras' game after his rookie season, his pitch framing has dropped to the bottom of the league. In 2017, he ranked 49th out of 54 catchers (minimum 50 games). Last season, he ranked 45th out of 51. Perhaps improving there will spill over to his offense, as Contreras is committed to being better . . .
"According to FanGraphs, he has been among the Cubs' three worst baserunners every year of his career. He was second-worst on the team in 2018, with a minus-5 in the FanGraphs baserunning metric (which translates somewhere between poor and awful)."
"The Athletic's Patrick Mooney explores in an in-depth look at the Japanese star. Darvish 'didn't feel any power in [his] body' last season, easily the nadir in the righty's decorated seven-year MLB career thus far. The righty's season-long search for the root of his struggles came to a head in August, when he was ultimately diagnosed with a stress reaction in his right elbow. Limited to just 8 starts last season."
* The Cubs Are ? And The Mysterians.
46:39: The Cubs' Bullpen Is A Mess, Too.
* Pedro Strop Has A Hammy.
Pedro Strop has faced 1,334 batters in his #Cubs career and has held them to a .181/.273/.276 slashline. One of the best relievers in franchise history.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) March 13, 2019
"Cubs reliever Xavier Cedeno is likely to miss the start of the season on account of a wrist injury, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. It doesn't seem overly serious, though, as Cedeno's only expected to sit out the next seven to 10 days. Cedeno, whom the Cubs signed to a minor league contract in February, had been competing for a bullpen spot after several productive seasons divided among the Astros, Nationals, Rays, White Sox and Brewers. Over 175 1/3 innings, the 32-year-old southpaw has logged a 3.69 ERA/3.80 FIP with 8.91 K/9, 3.54 BB/9 and a 50.4 grounder percentage, and has held same-sided hitters to a weak .218/.285/.298 line."
* Get Kimbrel!
50:58: New Rules, Fools!
* Sullivan, Tribune: "Major League Baseball recently outlined some rule changes on technology use and replay systems, demanding all TV monitors available to players and coaches be placed on an eight-second delay during games. The rule is meant to prevent sign stealing. But it also means most relievers will be unable to watch games live at Wrigley Field, where the bullpens are fully enclosed and situated under the bleachers."
1:08:23: TrackNotes: Diagnosing Death.
1:08:53: Alma Otter!
1:09:23: Puck Drop.
* via the Minneapolis StarTribune hockey newsletter:
"Give yourselves a hand, Minnesota. The announced attendance for Thursday's Class 2A state tournament quarterfinal sessions was 18,559 for the afternoon and 18,735 for the evening. The night crowd ranked third and the afternoon fifth among the 13 games in NHL arenas on Thursday."
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