Protocols, Villar Signs, Remaining Free Agents, Fly Ball Impact, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Protocols, Villar Signs, Remaining Free Agents, Fly Ball Impact, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Thanks for all the snow again, winter. We didn’t have enough already piled up.

•   The health and safety protocols are now in place for Spring Training and the season ahead, but there is no agreement on the designated hitter or expanded playoffs as part of those protocols (they are viewed as financial issues, even though you could certainly make the argument that the DH is a health and safety issue). It remains the case that the sides could agree on those things at any point during the spring and kick it in for the regular season. So it’s still just status quo on that front.

•   Also status quo? 26-man rosters. I am surprised that there was no agreement to expand at least slightly to account for what’s going to happen with pitchers, but again, since there are financial implications, the sides just weren’t going to agree. That’s the state of things. More details on the health and safety protocols here at The Athletic, including a note that Spring Training games this year can be shortened in length if the managers both agree to it. As expected, in-game video returns for players (though not at community video stations, and only on iPads that will somehow make the video not usable to steal signs).

•   The rumors of the Reds finalizing a minor league deal with Jonathan Villar turned out to be way premature, because he’s actually getting a big league deal with the Mets to serve as a utility infielder, per Jon Heyman. I already see some Mets fans questioning the signing because the infield is full up around the horn, but maybe J.D. Davis doesn’t play every day at third, and maybe you want a better back-up shortstop on the roster than Luis Guillorme, and maybe you just want some speed available on your bench. I like it for the Mets, and would’ve liked it for most teams.

•   Take Villar off of this list, but as you can see, still lots of options out there with a week to go before pitchers and catchers report:

•   Also on the Mets, Albert Almora winds up getting close to his arb number, which is surprising to me, but hey, good for him:

•   With word that MLB is going to deaden the baseball’s bounciness a bit this year, a look at the pitchers and hitters who were the most impacted by fly balls that COULD theoretically be changed (that is to say, maybe this helps these pitchers disproportionately, and hurts these hitters disproportionately):

•   No Cubs (or Cubs targets) there on the batter list, but hey, there’s Alec Mills on the pitcher list. For what it’s worth, Mills was already a touch unlucky on his homers last year by Statcast, which placed his expected homers (based on contact quality) at 12.5, rather than the 13 he gave up. Kyle Hendricks actually shows up higher on the list of spread between expected and actual, having given up 11, but expected to give up just 9. That was one of the largest spreads in baseball. On the other end of the spectrum, Zach Davies was a difference of about two in the other direction (and I immediately notice in looking at that list that the vast majority of pitchers on that side of the list were pitching in the vast parks of the NL West).

•   Rob knows how to get me going:

•   This is still one of the best plays of the last five years at any level:

•   Hack Wilson was just so unique, even at his time:

•   The sad loss of Pedro Gomez:

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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.