As I type, the Chicago Cubs are in the middle of an exhibition match-up against Team Italy in Mesa.

And for some added fun, one of the Cubs’ own outfield prospects, John Andreoli, got the start in right field for Team Italy, where he’s rostered for the World Baseball Classic.

Here’s hoping he does well (he’s already scored a couple runs), stays healthy, and makes his way back to the blue team.

Oh wait, that might be a little bit more confusing than it should be:

On to some news from around the league …

  • Do you remember Jose Bautista’s now-infamous bat flip following the go-ahead three-run homer during Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS? Of course you do, but how do you feel about it? I’ve always supported, quite strongly, his right to flip that bat, especially in a moment as grand and cinematic as that one. Obviously, not everyone feels the same way, including a number of current and former players. But, well, they’re wrong, and Noah Syndergaard agrees.
  • In an article at the New York Post, Syndergaard flatly states that Bautista wasn’t “disrespecting the game at all,” and that he simply sees it as a guy going out and having fun. In fact, Thor suggests that in those sort of moments, a player can essentially black out from the emotions and sheer excitement. Agreed. How many Norse Gods do you have on the “anti-bat-flipping” ticket? That’s what I thought.
  • Apparently, about one-fifth of the home field advantage is due to the fact that the home pitcher gets to take the mound first. Put differently, from 2002-2016, the away team has done a poorer job of creating offense in the first inning (.323 wOBA) than the home team (.347) by a larger margin (-.024) than all other innings throughout the game (-.010). The general theory here is that the length of time between warm-ups and first pitch is usually quite a bit longer for the away team than the home team. So what am I getting at?
  • Well, at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron takes a closer look at this phenomenon (with much greater detail) and suggest that away teams might consider starting the game off with a reliever. Aside from the potential platoon advantage for the pitcher (you’d obviously pick someone who matches up well with the leadoff man), “the starting pitcher could finish his warm-ups during the first batter at-bat, and come straight into the bottom of the first inning without any cool-down period.” More at FanGraphs.
  • Obviously, the majority of starters would probably hate that and there are numerous potential money-related obstacles to overcome (arbitration, performance incentives), but it’s an interesting idea – especially, as Cameron puts it – in September when rosters have expanded. Just food for thought.
  • You may not love the guy, but this is going to be fun either way:

  • Along with the Rays, the Chicago Cubs are among a short list of teams who’ve invested deeply in third party vendors to find a competitive advantage any way they can. Kinatrax, as it were, is a startup that sells a “markerless motion capture system reliant upon high-speed imaging sensors that are mounted throughout a stadium to capture video at 300 frames per second.” Put more simply, their equipment helps teams measure biomechanical data to help better understand and prevent injury. Read more about Kinatrax, the Cubs, and finding competitive advantages at CBS sports. It’s a deep dive, but worth it.
  • Brett reminded me, before writing this bullet, that it’s always important to reexamine our preexisting beliefs, regardless of how strongly we adhere to them. So, to that end, I present to you Jayson Stark’s “Miguel Cabrera and the Dying Art of the RBI.” At ESPN, Stark makes an argument using quotes and stats from Cabrera, that the baseball community’s pendulum may have swung a bit too far in the opposite direction when it comes to RBI. I certainly did not leave convinced of anything in particular, other than reminding myself how freakin’ amazing Miguel Cabrera is as a hitter, but it was worth the read. Give it a try.
  • I’m on board with this, are you?

  • I think he does a great job, and I look forward to seeing more of him when the Cubs are back in the playoffs in 2017.
  • I had a little fun on Twitter this afternoon:

  • And the Cubs had a bit of fun right back:


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