Javy's Elite Arm, Yu's Home Run Problem, MLB Fighting Gets Very Political, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Javy’s Elite Arm, Yu’s Home Run Problem, MLB Fighting Gets Very Political, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Bears have a pretty huge game today, and I’m gonna miss it for The Girls’ (Little and Littlest) Nutcracker shows today. Hey, if I had to choose, I’ll go with the Nutcracker. But I don’t have to choose – it’s Nutcracker, no question. (But go Bears, and such.)

  • The public fighting between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball has exploded this weekend, following what must have been not-so-great negotiations on a new deal this past week at the Winter Meetings. As a reminder, the agreement between the two entities (you provide the teams and facilities, we’ll provide the players) expires in September, and if MiLB doesn’t agree to significant financial concessions and the elimination of upwards of 42 team affiliations (which, let’s be honest, would just eliminate those teams entirely), MLB has threatened to walk away and just run their own system.
  • J.J. Cooper does a great job summing up where things stand, and why MiLB is in a bad spot (but MLB still winds up looking like the villain):

  • Meanwhile, the political heat is ratcheting up (it’s really all the leverage MiLB has), and it’s connecting directly to player salaries:

  • Also, as you can see in Bernie Sanders’ letter, MLB currently enjoys an artificial antitrust exemption that Congress could theoretically eliminate at any time.
  • Bonus fun? If you think this fight is ugly, just wait until the league and the players start really negotiating their next CBA in a year.
  • Trevor Bauer has never been shy about saying things on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/BauerOutage/status/1205948929772179456?s=20

https://twitter.com/Cubs/status/1206008776161210368

  • Oh, he’s also really good at baseball:

  • Not that you needed data to confirm what your eyes could tell you on this particular front, but Javy Baez’s arm is elite – it rated as the top arm at shortstop by a mile, and, as the tweet notes, tied with Matt Chapman as the most valuable infield arm in baseball.
  • A random thing that occurred to me as we think about the impact of the juiced baseball, and how it’s possible it will not change that much in 2020. On the year, Yu Darvish seemed to be one of the pitchers most bit by the spike in balls carrying, with his HR/FB ratio climbing to 22.8% (it was just 12.0% before he joined the Cubs). The league average mark obviously jumped in 2019, too, but only to 15.3%, from 12.7% in 2018 and 13.7% in 2017. We talked about the homers a lot during the season, so this isn’t a new revelation. I’m just teeing it back up when I think about the ball.
  • I’m still wondering if there’s a reason there, or if it was just kinda weird, and maybe flukey – I’ll need to dig in further. Remember, we’re talking only about the PERCENTAGE of fly balls that leave the park, so these fluctuations shouldn’t solely be about the fact that Darvish is, historically, a fly ball pitcher. Moreover, Darvish actually wound up posting an *above-average* groundball rate (45.5%) this year, his best since he was a rookie.
  • Also, consider this: Darvish’s season turned on a dime with his May 15 start in Cincinnati, and accelerated toward awesomeness from there. But his HR/FB? It was still really elevated during that whole stretch (21.2%). So either what he was doing to succeed on the K/BB and contact front was also, unfortunately, lending itself to slightly deeper fly balls with the juiced ball, or it was just a total fluke.
  • My gut? It was like 35% fluke and 65% batters selling out for hard contact in the air, knowing that Darvish might strike them out anyway (the Josh Hader problem). And with juiced balls, it’s a strategy that can work. Again, we’ll have to dig in on this more, but I’m thinking that adjustments will be necessary in the offseason – not so much to mechanics or anything like that (please don’t mess with it!), but maybe to sequencing and pitch mix in certain situations.
  • Among Amazon’s last-minute deals, their devices are discounted fairly heavily, so make sure you check that out if you were in the market. #ad
  • By the way, if you see the buzz out there or in the comments about the Cubs-Castellanos rumor, I wrote about it early this morning.


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.