Robot Umps Sort of Coming, Zagunis Power, Why Chavez Left, and Other Bullets

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Robot Umps Sort of Coming, Zagunis Power, Why Chavez Left, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Little Boy missed being a Leap Year baby by a single day … well, and a whole year. He was born on February 28, but it wasn’t actually a Leap Year, so there was no real risk of him getting that most special – or disappointing? – of birth dates on February 29. I tend to think it would be really cool to have your birthday on a day that comes only once in four years, but I could imagine, for a kiddo, it would be less enthusing. I guess we *might* have still thrown him a party on March 1 or something …

  • As part of this week’s counteroffer to the Players Association about various rules changes, MLB also announced an agreement with the independent Atlantic League to use it as a testing ground for other rules changes and technological changes. According to Baseball America, two of the first tested changes are HUGE ones: electronic strike zone and moving the mound back. Robot umps for home plate have long been a rallying cry for fans frustrated by the inconsistent nature of the “human element” and the slightly-annoying importance of pitch-framing. Many have argued that the technology actually isn’t quite there to make a real improvement, but now we’ll have some data. As for the mound movement, it’s something we’ve talked about around here as an idea to curb the exploding strikeout rate in baseball as ever-increasing velocities make it harder on hitters (who wind up selling out for power at that point, because why not? – that means more homers, but also even more whiffs).
  • I love the idea of testing these things out in a professional baseball league, though it seems like it would be quite a long time before either of these things could realistically be implemented in affiliated ball, much less MLB. It’s possible it could come up in the next CBA talks (post-2021) if things have gone really well in the Atlantic League, but I suspect it’s an even more long-term discussion than that.
  • Here’s Mark Zagunis’s shot from yesterday’s game, quite a dong to straightaway center:

  • Like I said yesterday, Zagunis has the plate discipline of a big league hitter, but the power has to really come along, consistently, for him to make it as a corner outfielder (even as a bench bat). Each year, he looks a little thicker, which maybe could help the power a bit, but it’s always hard to project that out, since bat speed and barreling are quite a bit more important to power. This is Zagunis’s final option year, so if he’s going to make it in the big leagues with the Cubs, he’s got one more year to make it happen. Zagunis turned 26 earlier this month, and hit .272/.395/.375 (111 wRC+) last year at AAA.
  • A little more on former Cubs reliever Jesse Chavez, who had said immediately after last season he would retire if he wasn’t back with the Cubs, and why you can’t actually hold him to that:

  • So, then, the Cubs may well have been interested in retaining Chavez, but at two years and $8 million at the very outset of the offseason, they weren’t ready to commit. Given how the market played out, they were probably right on that front (even if it was more obligation than choice). Similarly, Chavez was very, VERY right to take that deal immediately.
  • Kris Bryant ain’t holding back:

  • There is no reason for sharing this Javy Baez inside-the-park homer, other than my desire to watch it:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.