Cup of Coffee: March 14, 2024

Cease to San Diego, Gerrit Cole is out, Lucas Giolito is braced, ESPN's content machine, TikTok, Boeing, Liam Gallagher, and Repo Man

Good morning! And welcome to Free Thursday!

And away we go.

 The Daily Briefing

White Sox trade Dylan Cease to the Padres

The Yankees and then the Rangers had been in trade talks with the Chicago White Sox for starter Dylan Cease in recent days but neither of those clubs are getting him. The San Diego Padres swooped in and did so instead. The deal:

  • Padres receive: Dylan Cease

  • White Sox receive: Right-handed pitcher Drew Thorpe, righty Jairo Iriarte, outfielder Samuel Zavala and righty Steven Wilson.

As for the haul heading to Chicago: Thorpe was a top-five prospect in the Pads system and top-100 overall who will probably see time with the White Sox this season. Iriarte was a top-ten club prospect whose more optimistic projections have him as an eventual mid-rotation starter. Zavala is just 19 but he was top-15 prospect based on his plate patience and power potential. He strikes out a lot, though, and he’s obviously still raw. Wilson is obviously not a prospect, as he’s pushing 30 and has made more than 100 appearances for the Pads over the past couple of seasons. He’ll likely be showcased in the first half in order to be flipped to a contender mid-season.

The focus of this deal is Cease, of course. The 28 year-old starter was the runner-up for the American League Cy Young Award in 2022, he has struck out at least 200 batters in each of the last three seasons, and he has a career ERA+ of 113. He had a rough 2022 by most measures, however. His strikeout rate declined for the second year in a row and he was eminently more hittable. His velocity and his more Stat-Casty metrics didn’t look too bad, however, and the move from New Comiskey to Petco can only help him. He’s under team control both this season and next.

As for the Padres as a team: their rotation from 2023 was mostly blown up this past offeason. Slotting in the reliable Cease behind Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove and just ahead of newcomer Michael King and you got something. As for the Sox: three decent prospects and a useful reliever/trade chit. Cease would not have been around to pitch for the next contending White Sox club so getting rid of him with two years of team control maximizes the return. They can’t complain here.

Gerrit Cole out at least 1-2 months

Yesterday the New York Post reported that reigning Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole will miss at least 1-2 months. The Yankees haven’t said anything official yet, but Heyman reports that Cole’s MRI showed inflammation and swelling in his UCL but that it did not show a tear. That said:

  1. There is still no official diagnosis, as the swelling makes arriving at one difficult; and

  2. He plans to get a consult with noted sports surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, so this has not all fully played out yet, of course.

It should be noted that the 1-2 month timeline is a best case scenario. If Cole’s followup with the surgeon confirms the lack of a tear you figure they give him a week or two for the inflammation to subside, then he begins throwing. Due to lack of work he’ll need a few weeks to build up to in-season pitching strength, erring on the side of caution due to do the previously unexplained swelling. There’s your 1-2 months. If Dr. ElAttrache finds something amiss short of a tear it could obviously take much longer for him to come back. If the closer look by the good doctor reveals a tear it’s goodbye 2024 and part of 2025.

Like I’ve been saying all week, I have little confidence in health reports coming from the Yankees these days. This is the same club who ran Anthony Rizzo out for months last year before acknowledging — or realizing — that he had a concussion. It’s the same club that, earlier this week, said that Aaron Judge was just sore when he was actually getting an MRI for a possible abdominal injury. They simply have no credibility when it comes to this stuff at the moment, so while I’m hoping for the best here, I’m still expecting the worse.

In the meantime, this is a huge hit for the Yankees, whose rotation now goes something like 1. Marcus Stroman; 2. Carlos Rodon; 3. Clarke Schmidt; 4. Nestor Cortes; and 5. either Cody Poteet or Luke Weaver, who himself is banged up at the moment. At the moment that does not strike me as a contending rotation.

Lucas Giolito avoids Tommy John surgery

If I was a betting man I would’ve lost that bet: Red Sox starter Lucas Giolito underwent elbow surgery Wednesday but managed to avoid Tommy John surgery. Rather, he had the less-invasive “brace procedure” performed. In those cases, rather than replacing the ulnar collateral ligament, a bracing tape that can help stabilize the elbow joint is applied. Hi, I’m Craig and I went to “I just Googled it medical school.” Anyway, less slice-and-chop, more sticky-paste.

As Chris Cotillo of Masslive notes, it still remains highly unlikely that Giolito will pitch in 2024. But since recovery from the brace procedure is marginally shorter, it should allow Giolito to have a mostly normal 2024-25 offseason and be ready to go full speed for next year’s spring training. With TJ there’s a good chance he’d not be ready for the start of next season given that teams are a bit more conservative with rehab on that these days.


The other day ESPN did a “Top 100 MLB players” ranking. Which, fine. It’s spring, nothing is really happening yet, and you can only do so many stories about how some pitcher has added a changeup and is feeling good about the upcoming season. But then they did the most ESPN thing ever: after running their top-100 ranking they ran a story about people disagreeing with their rankings.

There are more cynical things in the world than a media brand manufacturing content about what was wrong with its previous content but it drives me nuts every time they do this shit.

Other Stuff

Today in cringe

I don’t really use TikTok, and I don’t necessarily have a dog in the political hunt going on right now to ban it, or to threaten to ban it so that Chinese interests aren’t involved, or whatever else is going on with it. But I’m gonna tell ya, watching octogenarian lawmakers make fools of themselves while talking about it is about the best argument I’ve seen for Congressional age limits yet.

Do none of these people have grandchildren they can run their speeches by before humiliating themselves like this? Might it not be a good idea for us to, one day, actually get a government that is not run by people who have living memories of the Truman administration?

More on Boeing

Yesterday I gave Boeing at least some benefit of the doubt, opining that the incident on the flight to Auckland, New Zealand in which major turbulence caused multiple injuries was not likely connected to the company’s recent run of technical/mechanical problems.

Then I read this:

After a terrifying nosedive during a flight from Australia to New Zealand, a pilot admitted to a passenger that he'd lost control of the Boeing 787 due to the plane's instruments going "blank" . . . Eventually, the pilot steadied the plane, and when [a] passenger approached the pilot — whose name has not yet been published — he was shocked by what he was told.

"I immediately engaged with him," Jokat recounted, "and said, 'What was that?' And he openly admitted, he said, 'I lost control of the plane. My gauges just kind of went blank on me.'"

"He said for that brief moment he couldn’t control anything and that’s when the plane did what it did," the passenger continued. "Then he said the gauges came back and it reengaged."

Happy flying, everyone!

“But it's also just funny because we're all just out here. I'm on fucking TikTok. I have a fucking newsletter.”

Last week Alabama Senator Katie Britt gave the Republican response to the State of the Union Address. It was a train wreck for a number of stylistic reasons which were widely mocked. But the larger, more damning takeaway was that she blatantly lied about the experience of a Mexican immigrant who was the victim of sex trafficking in an effort to smear the Biden Administration’s border policies. The upshot: she told the story of a woman who was trafficked and abused in Mexico, hundreds of miles south of the border, over 12 years ago but claimed it happened in the United States as a direct result of Biden policies.

Senator Britt’s lies were not uncovered by fact-checkers from any major media outlet. Her mendacity was not next-day news in the New York Times, Washington Post, or even in any Alabama papers which, presumably, have reporters specifically dedicated to covering her. Rather, her lies were discovered and reported by freelance journalist Jonathan Katz in a TikTock video. The video went immediately viral and, eventually, led to mainstream media coverage of Britt’s bullshit.

Earlier this week Maria Bustillos from a website called Flaming Hydra interviewed Katz about his story. The reporting itself, Katz explained, was super easy. He was simply watching the speech, took note of an assertion that Britt made which seemed somewhat off but was easily checkable, and he checked it. Within a couple of minutes he was able to piece together that it was a big fat lie, he recorded his video, and the rest is history.

The key takeaway, as Katz and Bustillos discuss, was not the reporting itself which, again, was simple. It was the fact that no one employed by a major news outlet bothered to do it. The media isn’t interested in it, doesn’t have the people who can do it thanks to massive layoffs and the closure of media outlets, or some combination of both of those things.

Katz, who still freelances for major outlets, was a lot more diplomatic with respect to the mainstream media than I would’ve been, but he still finds it amazing that no one else picked up on this stuff, saying “it's also just funny because we're all just out here. I'm on fucking TikTok. I have a fucking newsletter . . . There should be newspapers that we work at where we do this.”

Except there aren’t. At least not many of them anymore. We’ve discussed the ongoing destruction of a powerful and legitimate media at length in this space. We’ve also discussed what has been left and how its top priority seems to be horserace coverage and the uncritical reporting of politicians’ assertions as opposed to real discussion of the stakes facing society as a result of elections and the people who get elected. Calling out a sitting U.S. Senator for telling a baldfaced lie doesn’t fit into the prevailing coverage matrix. At most her words are to be transcribed and dropped into the “Democrats say/Republicans say” MadLibs that make up modern political reporting.

We talk a lot about how politicians are increasingly unconcerned with even the pretense of honesty. A big part of that is because there is hardly anyone or anything incentivizing them not to lie.

Liam Gallagher + kids = magic 

I follow Liam Gallagher on Twitter because he’s hilarious. Not intentionally so, I don’t think. He just sort of empties his id onto social media, often in unintelligible ways with huge helpings of profanity. About 95% of his tweets are about the football club he supports — Manchester City — and about how he hates his brother Noel. The rest of is it consists of non-sequiturs. This, for example, is a pretty typical Liam Gallagher tweet:

Which is why I was surprised when I watched a video of Gallagher talking to a bunch of elementary school kids and it was . . . absolutely adorable?

I’ll admit, I was a bit worried when a couple of the kids started talking about his brother and his brother’s band, but he managed to (mostly) hide his testiness about that. He was less able to hide his testiness when a kid mentioned that he was a Manchester United fan, but he reeled it back.

Good stuff if you, like all right-minded people, understand that Liam, contrary to what many of us assumed back in the 90s, is the good Gallagher brother.

“The life of a repo man is always intense”

If you haven’t seen the movie “Repo Man” I’m not sure that any description I could offer you would do it justice. It’s movie that could have only come out in that brief, special time in America when Reaganism was ascendent but the punks still had some fire in their bellies. It’s the ultimate late night movie. It’s the ultimate Los Angeles movie. It’s the best thing Emilio Estevez ever did and may be the best thing Harry Dean Stanton ever did. And with a respectful nod to “Sid and Nancy,” it’s the best thing writer/director Alex Cox ever did, because unlike “Sid and Nancy,” “Repo Man” is both fun and eminently rewatchable.

The other day a website called Inverse published an oral history of the making of “Repo Man.” When you learn about how it all came together you pretty much understand how it ended up the unique masterpiece that it is.

Film school punks who set up shop in an abandoned funeral home and who didn’t want to graduate because if they did they wouldn’t get to use the UCLA equipment for free. Some real world auto repossession experience, both from the creative team who did ridealongs and from the film’s producer/former Monkees member Mike Nesmith, who wasn’t always good with his money, got his Bentley repossessed one day, and thus had some kinship with the material. Most of all, the movie owes its existence to a combination of a sideways, 1980s sort of nihilism which allowed almost anything to go and nearly non-existent studio oversight because the movie was so cheap no one was all that invested in it. Just wonderful, inimitable serendipity, the likes of which are almost impossible to imagine resulting in a movie you could actually go and see at a movie theater today.

Oh yeah, and it had maybe the best soundtrack in the history of motion pictures, too.

Have a great day everyone.

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