The first pitcher and catcher workout of the spring is tomorrow for the Chicago Cubs, which means today is the official reporting date. It kinda snuck up without a lot of the normal fanfare for obvious reasons, but today is the beginning of Spring Training. The 2021 MLB season is now kinda-sorta underway – let’s hope it can continue safely from here!
• The signing is still not official yet (nor the Jake Marisnick signing), so you can still expect a couple 40-man moves this week, but Cubs President Jed Hoyer is already talking publicly about Jake Arrieta, so it’s a done deal:
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) February 15, 2021
• The rotation at this moment would be something like Kyle Hendricks, Zach Davies, Jake Arrieta, Trevor Williams, Alec Mills, and Adbert Alzolay. Yup, that’s six names, and the two things about that: (1) you like to enter Spring Training with at least six sure-fire starters if you can, because odds are good that at least one of them will not be ready to start the season on time (it just happens, unfortunately); and (2) even if all are ready to go on April 1, we know that innings are going to be limited this year. Guys will max out in the 130 to 150 range, tops, and one of the ways you could kinda limit that work early on is by bringing guys along slowly in a six-man rotation. You have to figure out how to make the bullpen work, since MLB didn’t see fit to expand rosters to 28 to account for the health of pitchers, but it’s possible you could pull it off with enough up-and-down guys and the 10-day Injured List. You also have to account for pitcher routines, which I don’t want to discount – it’s possible that a six-man rotation just won’t work for a lot of guys. But if they can pull it off and take advantage of the rest – rather than be bothered by it – then this is the approached I’d like to see the Cubs take if everyone is healthy.
• The Marlins are the latest team to confirm that they will allow limited capacity to open the season, and for them, it might be business as usual:
Marlins Park capacity: 36,742
25% of cap: 9,186
Avg attendance by year:
2014 – 21,386
2015 – 21,632
2016 – 21,405
2017 – 20,395
2018 – 10,013
2019 – 10,016
— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) February 15, 2021
• As we’ve discussed, it seems likely that most, if not all, MLB teams will be at some level of capacity very early in the season, barring a dramatically negative shift in the pandemic from here. Moreover, for planning purposes, teams are probably going to be pushing states/cities to give them final clearance sooner rather than later, even if Opening Day is still a month and a half away. I anticipate hearing about more teams in the coming 10 days or so.
• For reference, here’s how Illinois’ COVID case count is looking at the moment (though, increasingly, as vaccines roll out, it’s going to be hospitalization numbers that are tracked most closely):
• This (informative) exchange involving new Cubs reliever Robert Stock made me chuckle:
You contributed 23 pitches to that number. Have you considered that you're part of the problem?
— Foolish Baseball (@FoolishBB) February 16, 2021
Every time I strike out a big league batter in 2020 I thank my lucky stars I’m not facing a hitter from the 70s who knew how to “use the whole field”. https://t.co/4kwy0L4IMx
— Robert Stock (@RobertStock6) February 16, 2021
• This is fun, with sleeper Cubs pitching prospect Benjamin Rodriguez showing off his new/old teammate:
— Benjamin Rodriguez (@brodriguez227) February 15, 2021
• Rodriguez, recall, is the dude who was showing off eye-popping flat-ground velo earlier this offseason. He’s a potential breakout guy that few will see coming, but hipsters will tell you they’ve been tracking for years. (Bryan really has, though … )
• Bic writing stuff, massagers, and STEM toys are among your Deals of the Day at Amazon today. #ad
• And I was there for it:
The Cubs Manager caught a No-Hitter from the Cubs newest pitcher. People forget that.
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) February 15, 2021
• They should still play IMO:
There’s about 12-15 inches of snow on the ground at Wrigley pic.twitter.com/UJcWl89uJm
— Matt Lindner (@mattlindner) February 16, 2021
• For the Hoge & Jahns fans among you:
It happened. Excited to partner with @obvious_shirts on our first collection of Hoge & Jahns shirts. For the rest of February, a portion of the proceeds will benefit @22qFamily. Get them here! https://t.co/NdEAjuY3e1 pic.twitter.com/QAkEKi2Zre
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) February 16, 2021