MLBits: The CBA That Almost Wasn’t, Pirates (Lack of) Spending, Astros Jerseys, More Homers at Wrigley? More

The Chicago Cubs have some funky start times coming up over the next few days. Consider this your warning:

Tuesday @Pirates: 3:12 pm CT
Wednesday @Pirates: 11:35 am CT
Thursday @Rockies: 7:40 pm CT

Here’s some news from around the league.

Nitty-Gritty Background on the CBA

If you have the stomach for more on the CBA that almost wasn’t, this behind-the-scenes look at ESPN is a really excellent read. It includes a ton of interesting details. For example, owners of the Diamondbacks, Reds, Tigers, and Angels actually voted AGAINST the owner-proposed luxury tax jump … to $220M (remember, it ended up at $230M), underscoring how divided that side of the table actually was.

Also … are you guys freakin’ kidding me? Especially Angels owner Arte Moreno, one of the richest individual owners in MLB.

But it’s not like the players were without blame – at least, according to this write-up. There are stories of certain players being extreme hardliners near the end of the process, and others coming out of the woodwork to put their foot down on certain issues (like the international draft) at the zero hour.

Fortunately, there were some key negotiators on both sides that found creative ways to extend the negotiating window. Because, seriously, based on this article, it sounds like we were perilously close to missing a LOT of baseball:

“I thought we were going to be out months,” one official directly involved in negotiations said.

Another official characterized the climate similarly: “I would’ve bet 90% we were missing a month at the very least.”

Reading this was enlightening and interesting, but I’m in a bad mood again, thinking about how close we were to missing even more baseball.

Pirates Spending + Ke’Bryan Hayes

Listen, I don’t expect the Pittsburgh Pirates to come anywhere close to the payroll capabilities of baseball’s biggest teams, or even baseball’s medium-ist teams, but this inadvertent attempt to justify their complete lack of spending is a little transparent.

I’m pretty sure the question hasn’t tormented fans. They should spend more. Or they should sell the team to someone who will. It’s one thing if you’re dollar-savvy like the Rays and Brewers, often showing restraint, but occasionally making the big move and maintaining competitiveness. But the Pirates are mostly just cheap *and* bad at compiling good baseball teams. It’s not good for MLB.

Yes, it is certainly expensive to run a baseball team, and the Pirates are (almost) never going to generate consistently high revenues relative to their peers. But I’m just not interested in any argument that justifies anything they’ve done over the last half-decade or so. Right now, that team and their total lack of free-agent investment is bad for baseball. Full stop.

At least they finally made an internal investment, I guess?

Hayes’ first full season in 2021 (88 wRC+, 1.5 WAR) wasn’t nearly as promising as his 2020 debut (195 wRC+, 1.6 WAR), but he could still be a very good player for a long time. And now that the Pirates have some nice cost certainty, they should totally be able to build around him, right?

Astros City Connect

The Cubs City Connect jerseys (the dark blue “Wrigleyville” fit) really did grow on me since I first saw them, but I stand by my initial complaint: They just didn’t get creative enough. The final look was way too conservative for this sort of once-in-a-blue-moon-opportunity, and I really think they missed a shot to sell a LOT more than they did.

The Astros, by contrast, did not miss their shot. These “Space City” jerseys are awesome. I am jealous.

More Humidors, More Homers!

MLB is adding humidors to every park in MLB this season, which will aim to standardize the humidity in the baseball storage area to a single average across the league. That means bouncier balls in more humid parks and less bouncy balls in drier parks. But again, the goal would be an equal overall offensive experience across the league.

“Currently the Rockies, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Mariners, Mets, Astros, Marlins, Cardinals, Rangers, and Blue Jays use the humidor in their home parks. That leaves a plethora of humid parks that might see their park performance change this year as hitters will hit drier balls into the air in those venues.”

Given that Wrigley Field is one of the top-10 most relatively humid parks in MLB, we should expect to see an increase in the bounciness of baseballs. That could/should lead to an increase in home runs (for both teams, obviously, but the Cubs play 50% of their games at Wrigley Field). That’ll be something to keep an eye on as the season plays out.

Blake Snell Injury

Being a Padres fan must feel like riding a nonstop roller coaster. The sheer volume of rumors that didn’t materialize into deals and late, unexpected transactions that did – all while sharing a division with the Giants and Dodgers after shockingly underperforming last season – just to wake up yesterday to news of a Blake Snell scratch/injury … yeesh. My head is spinning from 2,000 miles away.

Here’s the latest on Blake Snell via MLB.com:

Padres left-hander Blake Snell was a late scratch from his start on Sunday against the D-backs because of left adductor tightness. He is likely headed for a stint on the injured list, San Diego manager Bob Melvin said, though the team will wait to make that decision until after Snell plays catch on Monday in San Francisco.

As late scratches go, this one was late. The injury arose just as Snell was finishing his pregame bullpen session ahead of the Padres’ 10-5 victory at Chase Field.

It’s the same injury Snell dealt with last September, which caused him to miss his last couple of starts. Snell said this flare-up was “way more minor” in comparison, and he’s hopeful there’s a chance he can make his start Friday against Atlanta.

Snell says he didn’t feel anything all spring, implying that the injury isn’t too serious, but the Padres already have an uphill battle in the NL West, and losing Snell for any period of time isn’t going to help. “At one point, it looked like we had almost too many [starters],” Melvin said. “And here we are four games into the season, and it’s not too many. Good job by A.J. to go out and get Manaea, for sure.”

Without Snell, the Padres have Yu Darvish, Sean Manaea, Joe Musgrove, Nick Martinez, and then maybe/eventually Mike Clevinger, who’s rehabbing from TJS, and Mackenzie Gore, whose star has greatly diminished over the last 1.5 years.

Odds and Ends

•   Reds starter/top prospect Hunter Greene is going to be one hell of a pitcher (and thorn in our collective rear end). Dude brings the HEAT.

•   … What the hell. How is someone supposed to handle this? Like … wow.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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