I was taken aback to learn that Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe passed away yesterday. He was one of my favorite baseball columnists and I have patterned The Rundown after his Sunday Baseball Notes column. It is said imitation is the highest form of flattery and this daily is certainly proof.
His last article was about 35-year-old journeyman and World Series hero Steve Pearce, who remains productive and in-demand despite the game skewing younger and becoming more analytics-driven. Yesterday was an unspeakably sad day after the news broke that Cafardo had died.
We mourn the passing of our friend and colleague, Nick Cafardo. pic.twitter.com/BFAdAzPHiZ
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 22, 2019
“A lot of people have reached out about Nick and on behalf of the Globe, thank you. Nick loved his family, his friends, the paper and baseball and being around him for 10 years as a colleague was a joy. We had so much fun. This won’t be the same without him. Just an awful day.” – Peter Abraham, Boston Globe
Cafardo covered one of baseball’s most storied franchises and he had so many stories to tell. I’ll never hear the phrases “apropos of nothing” or “updates on nine” without remembering the Red Sox beat reporter. Cafardo was at JetBlue Park on Thursday, even though it was a rare day off, when he died of an apparent embolism. The Red Sox medical staff was on hand but unable to revive him. Cafardo was 62 years old.
He’s a journalistic peer whose style I will continue to emulate in my daily column.
Cubs News & Notes
- Apparently Albert Almora Jr. has been putting on quite the display of power in Mesa. His role on the team this year probably won’t change much from last year, according to Joe Maddon. “Albert probably can handle more, but we’re going to continue to do pretty much what we saw last year in moving guys in and out based on matchups,” Maddon said.
- Kyle Hendricks has an impressive array of pitches that he relies on to compensate for his less-than-elite fastball, including two variations of his changeup.
- The Cubs, who struggled all of last season with men in scoring position, actually hit .328 from the leadoff spot when batting a pitcher in the traditional ninth spot in the order, with a .417 on-base percentage, an .881 OPS, and 79 RBI.
- The continued absence of Ben Zobrist allows Maddon and the coaches to take longer looks at Daniel Descalso and Ian Happ at second base.
- The raging debate regarding preseason projection systems continues.
- To a man, the team finds this year’s PECOTA projections laughable. That includes Theo Epstein: “Our internal projection system is a lot more accurate,” Epstein said. “We’ve been within a game or a game and a half just about every year. Our system [this year] has us exactly in the right place in the division…we’ve outperformed it over the last four years by 35-plus games.” Kinda gets you amped up when Epstein and Jed Hoyer say they can’t wait for the season to start.
- Many Cubs fans feel that the offseason will be defined by opportunity wasted and that projections that call for the team to finish as low as last place in the Central Division are more than warranted.
- The Cubs may maintain a closer-by-committee approach to their bullpen even after Brandon Morrow returns from injury.
- Reliever James Norwood was consistently good across three levels of the Cubs system last year, which included a couple stints with the big league club.
- MLB Pipeline published their annual Cubs Top 30 Prospects yesterday.
- It was announced yesterday that the Ricketts family is part of a $17.5 million investment in an online sports-betting startup.
- Spring Training games start tomorrow. Allow me to whet your appetite for some Cubs baseball.
Bottom of the 9th, two outs, two strikes, bases loaded, down three, rookie pinch-hitter:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 13, 2018
Updates on Nine
- The Padres remain interested in Bryce Harper. Padres ownership will reportedly meet Friday to discuss the free agent right fielder. Signing him is “not seen as a likelihood, but apparently not out of the question, either.” Despite rumors to the contrary, it has been said Harper has no issues playing for the Phillies. It’s probably not very good fiscal sense to remove an actively bidding team when you are vying for the richest contract in baseball history.
- Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez is suffering from shoulder weakness, but president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said that his staff will not pursue outside pitching help, even though free agent starter Dallas Keuchel remains available.
- The Twins remain interested in all-purpose free agent Marwin Gonzalez. Gonzalez does a lot of things well, but has no elite skill. His market has likely been tough to define because of that.
- The Padres officially announced the Manny Machado signing yesterday. The reported $300 million contract, which is the , includes an opt-out clause after the 2023 season, a limited no-trade clause, and no deferred money. It was announced that Machado will start the season as the team’s everyday third baseman.
- Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon is truly committed to his agent. He went on record yesterday as saying that Scott Boras will call all the shots when it comes to his next contract. Rendon is entering the final year of his current deal.
- Ten days after pitchers and catchers reported to camp, Nick Vincent agreed to a minor league deal with the Giants. Vincent’s situation is a stinging example of baseball’s fractured open market. The seven-year major league veteran strikes out a batter per inning, but couldn’t find a guaranteed contract with any team. “We’ve got to sign minor league deals,” Vincent said. “We’re not Bryce Harpers.”
- The Indians and reliever Tyler Clippard have reached an agreement on a minor league deal. He’s 52-46 with a 3.16 ERA and 68 saves for eight clubs over 12 major-league seasons and has also appeared in 14 postseason games, three in the 2015 World Series with the Mets.
- The Dodgers will honor the late Don Newcombe by sporting a number 36 patch on their uniforms this season. “Don Newcombe played a major role on and off the field for the Dodgers and we want to honor his legacy to our organization and all of baseball by recognizing him throughout the 2019 season,” team president Stan Kasten announced.
- Tony Clark, head of the MLBPA, began his annual tour of the 30 spring training camps with a visit to the Angels before their workout on Thursday. Even after Machado agreed to his contract, Clark said free agency is far from fixed. “We’re glad Manny found a home,” Clark said. “We’re curious as to why it took as long as it did. And we’re still concerned about the players that are out there and their phones aren’t ringing.”
Apropos of Nothing
A Roster Resource intern has really put his money where his mouth is. He’s donating $1 for every like of his tweet to an unnamed Philadelphia charity if Harper signs with anybody but the Phillies. Betting one team against the entire field is usually a recipe for disaster, even when the field is supposedly narrowed down to just a few potential suitors. I hate to root against him, but I would personally rather see Harper resign with the Nationals or agree to a contract with just about any other team. It will be interesting to see if he is financially capable of honoring his commitment, which as of this writing has eclipsed $11,000. I’m guessing FAFSA will not help him cover that.
Nick Cafardo was the person most responsible for getting me to the Globe after I gave up on what was my dream job.
When I thanked him, he waved me off every time.
I'd give anything to do it again.
So if somebody has helped you, thank them again before you miss another chance.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) February 22, 2019
Friday Walk Up Song
Tear Stained Eye by Son Volt. Godspeed, Nick Cafardo.