The Cubs are following in the Red Sox’ footsteps

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We know they’ve hired Theo Epstein and are looking at the same managerial candidates, but one other way in which the Cubs are aping the Red Sox is in their approach to their historic old ballpark:  they wanna make it a cash cow.

We’ve talked about that a lot over the past couple of years, but this story in the New York Times from over the weekend outlines and updates that nicely enough.  Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is even quoted in their saying that Epstein’s experience with the renovation in Boston was a plus for him being hired in Chicago.  I’m assuming it’s because he knows how to do drywall or something, because otherwise I presume renovations will be handled by building professionals, not baseball executives.

Anyway, the Cubs are going to be interesting to watch over the next five years. I don’t think Epstein is a god or anything, but I really get the feeling that something new is happening and that the Cubs aren’t going to continue to be an easy punchline for organizational ineptness going forward.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.