As we discussed on "Baseball Tonight" last weekend, people inside baseball are having a tough time mustering the same warmth and fuzziness for Wrigley Field that they had for Fenway Park's 100th anniversary.
Publicly, you'll never hear anyone say a bad word about Wrigley. But privately, there are big worries about the 98-year-old park's deteriorating infrastructure, which Chicagobusiness.com reported this week would cost $300 million to repair.
The Cubs continue to talk about potential renovations, but one baseball official who has inspected the park told Rumblings: "I'm not sure it can be renovated." Because of the location and the way Wrigley was built, the same official said: "I just don't think you can do with Wrigley what they did with Fenway."
There are tentative plans for what Chicagobusiness.com described as a "parking, entertainment and multi-use structure" beyond the west wall. But it would cost huge dollars, with all sorts of hurdles the Cubs would have to navigate to make it happen. If they can't, the question the Cubs and MLB could face -- way too soon -- is: Then what?
• We wrote two weeks ago about MLB's push, behind the scenes, for a major overhaul of the replay system. If that change takes place in a year, as expected, and calls can be reviewed quickly by a full-time replay ump, sources say it could lead -- finally -- to the review of a wide spectrum of plays.
The plan, in 2013, would add fair/foul and trap/catch calls -- but not with the current system, which features the uplifting sight of umpires jogging off the field to check the monitor. Instead, it's likely that those calls, and disputed home runs, would be reviewed by a crew of replay umps, probably all watching games in some central location.
If that goes well, it would clear the path for baseball to talk seriously about what one source called "the next phase" of replay. It isn't certain yet which calls would fall under that phase. But managers and GMs are said to be lobbying for reviewing plays at the plate and certain calls on the bases. As we've said before it's about time.
• The Angels are actively looking for bullpen reinforcements, says an executive of a team that has spoken with them. "They've got to fix the bullpen, and they know that," he said. At the moment, the Angels are just dangling second-tier prospects. But as Mike Trout (last seen hitting .403/.467/.623 in Triple-A) pushes his way toward Anaheim, the guy other teams have their eye on is the current center fielder, Peter Bourjos -- a player the Angels balked at dealing all winter.
• The Angels aren't the only team already wheeling their cart around The Bullpen Shoppe. Other clubs report the Red Sox are "canvassing every bullpen option out there." And as Buster Olney has reported, one potential target is current A's closer Grant Balfour.
"He's a veteran arm to put in the mix, but his stuff is not that good," said one exec. "He's not your classic slam-dunk power guy. I don't see him as a pure closer. But he'd be a better option than some of the guys they've got."
• The Braves said all the right things about giving Jair Jurrjens "a chance to work through his difficulties" when they sent him to the minor leagues. But when you think back on how available they made Jurrjens last winter, how could you not see this coming?
"They've been trying to trade him, and that's always a red flag for me, when THAT team is looking to trade pitching," said an executive of one club. "One thing I'm certain of: The Atlanta Braves don't try to trade a [controllable] starting pitcher like that unless there are some issues."
• It isn't just the standings that tell the story of a season. It's also the disabled list. As one AL general manager observed recently, "If you look at DL time by quality players, it's very often the teams that have the fewest DL days that are at the top of the standings." Hey, good point. So here are the current Most Dollars on the DL rankings: