Listen, we know it's tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage, and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn't easy. It's okay, though, we're going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning, and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.
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Jake Arrieta's rise to success for the Cubs encapsulates the team's run to its first playoff berth since 2008. Arrieta was somewhat of an afterthought for much of his time with the Orioles, but with a solid foundation and some slight adjustments, the righty began to make a lot of noise in 2014 with a strong campaign that put him on the radar as an absolute steal in the trade for Scott Feldman. In 2015, Arrieta has exploded onto the scene as one of the elite pitchers in the game, proving that trade with the Orioles involving Feldman was not just a steal, but a straight up Ocean's Eleven-level heist.
Team president Theo Epstein built up the Cubs from the bottom up, establishing a young, team-controllable foundation that will remain the team's core for the foreseeable future. The Cubs traded for Anthony Rizzo, one of the best offensive first basemen in the game, and Addison Russell for what now looks like well-below market value. The team's ability to draft talents such as Bryant and Kyle Schwarber. The icing on top was getting that big free-agent leader to anchor the clubhouse and rotation: the Cubs found that in Jon Lester.
The Cubs are heading back to the playoffs and they're ready to make noise. The Cubs' screaming success in 2015 was a surprise to some out of the gate, but in retrospect, the team that Epstein was more than ready to compete for a championship right now. On the backs of a rotation anchored by Cy Young candidate Arrieta and Lester with a lineup anchored by a collection of young studs in Rizzo, Bryant, Russell, Schwarber and Castro, the team is not only set to make a major run in the postseason this year, but for years to come.
- The Cubs celebrated their playoff berth in style on the interwebs.
- The plan laid out by Epstein at the beginning of his tenure with the Cubs is now coming into full fruition with the development of prospects, the success of trades and the team's multiple free-agent signings.
- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve left Friday's game against the Texas Rangers after colliding with shortstop Carlos Correa. Correa is being tested for a concussion.
- TIM HUDSON AND BARRY ZITO ARE FACING OFF TODAY AND IT'S REALLY EXCITING. For Athletics Nation, Noah Frank wrote a great piece on why the Big-3 of Hudson and Zito mean so much to him.
- One game separates the Mets and the playoffs.
- Rich Hill has low key been one of the best stories in baseball since signing a minor league with the Red Sox out of the Atlantic League. Hill became the first pitcher since 1990 to make his season debut in Sept. or later and have a 10 strikeout performance in his first three games of the season.
- After a rough season, The Tigers have a "no quit" attitude on the team.
- The Red Sox hired Frank Wren as the senior vice president of baseball operations. The Red Sox promoted Mike Hazen to senior vice president and general manager on Thursday and it's somewhat unclear how the three will work in conjunction.
- We know that Carlos Correa is really good at baseball, but how good is he really?
- With the success of Yan Gomes, major league teams could look to Brazil as the next place to look for major league talent.
- Lance Berkman is supporting a proposition that would protect Houston residents from discrimination in work, public spaces or housing because he doesn't want men in women's bathrooms. Yeah, I don't know.
- Jimmy Rollins, channeling his inner Bumgarner, had a comical staredown with umpire Joe West.
- Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia combined for one of the most unusual slides you'll see.
- Jeff Foxworthy and Ned Yost are tight.