I just saw the new trailer for ‘Cruella,’ and, with all appropriate respect to Disney usually getting things right … who is that movie for? Maybe I’ll be wrong, and it turns out to be a great, gritty take on someone who – when you really think about it – is exceptionally awful. But, a Disney movie of that? I don’t get the angle.
• With Spring Training activities beginning today, teams are now permitted to place injured players on the 60-day IL, if necessary. Doing so removes the player from the 40-man roster for the duration of his stay on the IL, so it’s not hard to imagine why teams may be eager to make those moves as soon as today: it would open up spots on the 40-man to allow them to make other additions via free agency, trade, or waiver claim. The catch, obviously, is that the player cannot come off the Injured List any sooner than 60 days once he goes on. But if you know you have a player dealing with an injury now – or rehabbing one, and then building back up – that means they’d still be eligible to return in late April, without having missed much of the actual regular season.
• So, then, for the Cubs, this is worth keeping an eye on. Consider that they have a full 40-man roster, but THREE additions coming soon: Jake Arrieta, Jake Marisnick, and a mystery reliever who is getting a big league deal, according to Jed Hoyer (UPDATE: That guy is Brandon Workman). That doesn’t mean three players are going to hit the 60-day IL today, but it’s possible that some will (which would save the Cubs from having to DFA someone(s)), and it might be the first indication we get of a player injury. For example, I wonder if the discussion yesterday of Rowan Wick (intercostal issue) being delayed could wind up turning into a 60-day designation. Again, he wouldn’t miss THAT much more time than he might if he were delayed in his ramp-up anyway. Also, guys might not be able to throw a full six months worth of appearances (plus playoffs) after the shortened year. Also also? The Cubs have a wholllllle lotta reliever candidates in the house who do not have minor league options available. So maybe delaying Wick, for example, would be a win-win-win-win situation?
• Based on their moves later in the offseason, including the Kolten Wong signing and the attempted Justin Turner signing, I think the Brewers must have known this deal was getting done:
NEWS: The Brewers and Sinclair Broadcast Group today announced a new multi-year media rights agreement for FOX Sports Wisconsin (rebranding to Bally Sports Wisconsin in the coming months) to continue as the team's television home.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 16, 2021
• Until then, the Brewers had no TV deal locked in for 2021, which would’ve put them in a uniquely atrocious financial situation. There’s no word yet on the terms of this deal, other than the fact that it’s for multiple years. As we’ve discussed before, Sinclair has indicated that it plans to offer its FOX RSNs (which are becoming Bally-branded RSNs) as a standalone product as soon as this year. If that’s going to happen in time for baseball season, it would have to be announced very soon. I wonder if they were simply overly optimistic on that front.
• Speaking of being overly optimistic. Thanks to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine now projected to have much fewer doses initially available than previously expected (remember the administration telling MLB they thought young and healthy players would be eligible in April, primarily because of the availability of J&J?), it now looks like it won’t be “open season” on vaccines until more like May/June, rather than April. So that really sucks. There are efforts to increase production/supply on the Moderna vaccine in the news recently, but the key with the J&J vaccine is that it is a single-dose shot. So the rapidity with which it can inoculate folks is, well, literally doubled.
• My takeaway from the rapid about face (how could they not know how many doses they would have?) is to just not get my hopes up on the vaccines having a dramatic impact on player/coach/personnel safety *or* attendance until maybe July. Yes, it could come much sooner than that – I am personally hoping I can get it before then! – but if there are still so many uncertainties about production and supply chain, I’m just not going to take too much at face when it comes to things a couple months away. Too much can change too rapidly.
• Cubs content plans for next week:
Get ready to #CubTogether with new content, fan giveaways and more!
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 16, 2021
• A COVID protocol note as Spring Training begins:
2/The decision to return requires clearance from the team physician and the Joint Committee (similar to the concussion protocol). So it is possible (likely?) Some players will learn today that they are going to miss more than a week of spring training time.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 17, 2021
• Michael did almost too good of a job making this JOKE image:
Wow, it's truly real now. pic.twitter.com/b2c3DTW39x
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 16, 2021
• Super cool, indeed:
Ernie Banks and his dad Ernie Banks Sr. Super cool. pic.twitter.com/sGtQQmdK8I
— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) February 17, 2021
• Game recognize game:
HEADS UP! Our friends at @obvious_shirts, makers of the best shirts in existence, are doing a 20% off baseball sale (free shipping, too). Go, peruse, enjoy: https://t.co/JVZEKnLcBK pic.twitter.com/DoT7atHsxM
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) February 17, 2021