So, do the Kansas City Royals have to change their name now?
• Pedro Strop will be out for a while now as he goes through a quarantining and testing process after breaking the COVID-19 health and safety protocols to apparently go out to dinner indoors with Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes. According to manager David Ross, who will address the team about the subject, there won’t be additional discipline from there (Cubs.com): “From what I understand,” Ross said, “it’s just, you’re going to have to sit out, which is almost punishment enough for a guy that’s trying to make a team, right? That’s a big deal.”
• Strop was already a little ways off from appearing in a game and demonstrating readiness to pitch in big league level action, so missing time now – in a very crowded bullpen competition – is indeed a considerable kind of natural consequence. It was already difficult to see him making the Opening Day bullpen. It just got close to impossible. He’s in on a minor league deal, so the Cubs could keep him around to contribute later on in the season – there will be plenty of churn in the bullpen. But, as a veteran, Strop will be entitled to a retention bonus if the Cubs actually want to keep him in the minors after the end of Spring Training. Will they pay it if he doesn’t make the team? Or will they negotiate with him to “release” and “re-sign” him without the bonus? The situation with an organizational favorite son just got a little more complicated.
• According to former-and-once-again teammate Jake Arrieta, the team isn’t going to be angry with Strop – it’s just a reminder of how important it is to honor the the protocols for season reasons, for competitiveness reasons, and for serious health reasons:
“None of us are going to be mad at Pedro. It’s just a little slip-up,” said Arrieta, per NBC. “It’s a moment for us to realize that we need to take the protocols seriously and keep everybody as safe as possible so we can play all 162 this year ….
“It’s unfortunate. We’ve got to take it upon ourselves to continue to be diligent with this, follow the protocols. Everyone understands that it is tough to be in the situation that we’re in, but there’s not much we can do about it. The most important thing is to keep everybody safe, and make sure that we don’t have to put guys on the COVID restriction list to where they miss time or they’re set back to where they can’t get ready for the season ….
“The way I look at it, is that if I were to get it, the last thing I would ever want to do is give it to somebody with pre-existing conditions or who is elderly, and then it gets really bad for them.”
• As for Arrieta’s Spring debut, he says it was good to get it out of the way, and now will get into syncing up his upper and lower body (it requires more precision for his delivery in order to have good command). The good news is that Arrieta was averaging about 92 mph on his fastball, which is actually his new range of normal. So, then, you can presume he really is fully healthy, and who knows – maybe a click or two from here with a really fresh arm?
• Sahadev Sharma writes about how the Cubs’ hitters are using technology and data to improve their game, and the relationship there with the Cubs’ team-wide approach at the plate in recent years (increasing passivity, not taking advantage of good counts, too much lack of contact in good pitchers’ spots, etc.). A notable issue last year: “Last season, this group swung at breaking balls in or on the edge of the zone at the fourth-highest rate (16.4 percent) in baseball and were just 20th in wOBA against breaking balls overall. In contrast, they tied for the lowest swing rate at fastballs in or on the edge of the zone, taking hacks at just 34 percent of those pitches. That led to ninth-worst wOBA against fastballs overall and as the struggles mounted over the course of the short season, the second-lowest wOBA in baseball against fastballs last September. By contrast, from 2015-19, they were 15th in swing-rate (37.9 percent) on fastballs in or on the edge of the zone and had the eighth-highest wOBA on fastballs (.344, tied with the Dodgers) during that span.”
• David Ross has said that there’s little reason to think Ian Happ won’t be the regular leadoff hitter again this year, so naturally people ask, hey, who hits number two? Well, Ross ain’t giving that up. It could be Kris Bryant. It could be Anthony Rizzo. It could be Willson Contreras.
• Gaming gear, sterilizers, and supplements are among your Deals of the Day at Amazon today. #ad
Yu Darvish was asked about sharing his knowledge with young pitchers. "I'm not sure if this is the proper way to put it," Darvish began, "but they're cute, in a sense."
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) March 7, 2021
• Just having some fun … mostly:
Obsessive Russell Wilson Watch: Season Ticket Holder Letter Omits a KINDA IMPORTANT Player https://t.co/MabrhAY6He
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) March 8, 2021