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The Daily Belli watch: 16 days to the Cubs Spring Training opener

Today I will share a rumor, and tell you why it’s probably nothing.

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Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Since we last met here, a day ago, there has been much kerfuffle made about what appears to be a throwaway comment buried way at the bottom of a long Sunday notes column by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

Several executives think the Philadelphia Phillies could be a sleeper for one of the remaining marquee free agents in starter Jordan Montgomery or center fielder Cody Bellinger. Their lone big move has been re-signing Aaron Nola, and Bellinger certainly would provide Gold Glove-caliber defense and another bat to balance the lineup. Montgomery would strengthen the top of the rotation.

Yet, unless their price-tags drop, the Phillies plan to remain patient.

Okay, let’s unpack all that. Comments:

  • Nearly 1,500 words appeared in that column before this mention of Cody Bellinger. Can’t be that important, then, right?
  • “Several executives think” — that’s speculation, pure and simple.
  • “A sleeper” — come on, now, this is just another way of writing “mystery team.”
  • Tossing in two random names among the “remaining marquee free agents” — again, speculation, or perhaps an attempt by Scott Boras to increase interest in his clients. They could have just as easily mentioned Boras’ other top clients this winter, Matt Chapman and Blake Snell.
  • And lastly: Bob Nightengale.

Bob Nightengale, and others, should read this article I posted here after the Shohei Ohtani follow-the-plane debacle. Specifically, here’s one very good passage from an online article I quoted in that December 10 post:

It’s time we take a deep breath, and check ourselves before we further wreck ourselves.

We’ve caused enough damage, provoked heartache and have been irresponsible with fans’ emotions.

It’s a time to slow our roll – myself included – before we lose all of our credibility.

If we learned anything in this Ohtani hysteria, we should remind ourselves of the values and ethics of journalism that we learned when we broke into this business, and become more cautious, careful and accurate when delivering news.

It’s time to restore our values.

Let’s make sure our embarrassing Black Friday never happens again.

Who wrote that? (checks notes) Oh, yes. That’s a quote from an article Bob Nightengale wrote himself. It would be a good thing, in my view, for Bob to take his own advice. Also, a reminder that this is the same Nightengale who claimed, last November, that the Cubs wouldn’t bring back Bellinger:

“I don’t think Bellinger is coming back there. I think he’s more of a Yankee, I don’t rule out San Francisco. I’ll go Yankees or San Francisco with Bellinger,” the USA Today MLB insider said. “I just don’t see them bringing him back at $200 million plus. I think they say you know what, we got a ton out of him, the most we could, let’s move on from there and help construct their team in different ways by getting pitching, getting offense.”

Again, that was just more speculation.

I hereby declare the so-called rumor null and void, move on, nothing to see here, can’t believe the number of places I’ve seen online who have breathlessly reported this as... well, if not “fact,” then something akin to fact.

I would say, however, that it’s way past time for Scott Boras to stop playing these games with reporters, sit down with teams and hammer out deals that are fair to both his clients and the teams who sign them. All this waiting isn’t good for anyone in baseball — players, teams or fans.

Get it done, already.