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   1. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2018 at 01:35 PM (#5676531)
Of all the guys that have cycled through that last bullpen spot, Hancock has been the most impressive. His stuff seems the best, and he seems to have a better idea of where the ball is going. It was also hard not to be impressed with Rosario on Saturday, and I'm sure he'll get some time when the Cubs decide guys down there could use a DL vacation (I kinda wouldn't mind the Cubs start doing something like that to give guys a break).
   2. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2018 at 01:35 PM (#5676533)
Also, for the record, I don't want the Cubs to trade Russell for Machado, even if there is a small part of me that salivates at that lineup.
   3. Brian C Posted: May 21, 2018 at 02:06 PM (#5676571)
I wonder what the deal is with all the walks issued by the staff this year. As a staff, they're up almost a full walk per 9 innings, with basically the same personnel, and at any rate the new guy with the most innings pitched has ballooned his rate over last season anyway. The MLB overall rate has only marginally increased.

It's weird and I don't like it. But it doesn't seem like it can possibly be just coincidence. So what's the deal?
   4. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2018 at 02:20 PM (#5676590)
That's a good question.

I think it's been better in May than April*, so we might never get a real reason. There was a lot of talk early about "rhythm" and all the rain outs screwing up the SPs, but no real explanation for the RP. I would guess it's a pitching approach/game planning thing that hopefully is just taking some adjusting.

*If I have a little time later, I'll try to prove myself right or wrong on this one.
   5. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 21, 2018 at 02:54 PM (#5676629)
*If I have a little time later, I'll try to prove myself right or wrong on this one.


BB/9 are actually up very slightly in may, 4.34 vs 4.27.
   6. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 21, 2018 at 03:04 PM (#5676638)
BB/9 are actually up very slightly in may, 4.34 vs 4.27.
...probably entirely because of Wilson's bed-befoulment Saturday.
   7. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2018 at 03:31 PM (#5676667)
BB/9 are actually up very slightly in may, 4.34 vs 4.27.

Awesome.

Regardless, BB/9 by pitcher; April/May
Lester 3.55/4.76
Hendricks 2.17/1.35
Darvish 4.56/5.02
Quintana 4.1/5.4
Chatwood 6.91/7.54
Morrow 2.7/4.5
Edwards 3.29/7.36
Strop 2.25/1.13
Cishek 6.75/2.35
Duensing 4.32/8.53
Wilson 10.61/5.87
Montgomery 4.5/2.08

So not only was I wrong, I look to be really wrong*. But so it ElRoy, so, I don't feel so bad.

*Well, for those 12 guys the number are 4.43 in April and 4.32 in May, so I'll take a small victory.

I could have made some mistakes here though.
   8. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 21, 2018 at 05:40 PM (#5676778)
But so it ElRoy, so, I don't feel so bad.
Hey now. The fact that Wilson was actually worse in April doesn't necessarily mean his defecation on the mound didn't make the difference between 4.27 and 4.34. Take away three walks from the May numerator and what do you have? (Not that I wasn't exaggerating somewhat out of frustration to begin with.)
   9. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2018 at 05:50 PM (#5676782)
Wilson has improved the most from April to May! That's just hilarious, btw.

CJ is going through a bad spell now, which he tends to do, but Duensing and Morrow are flying under the radar here in regressing since last month. The only SP better this month has been Hendricks; if Chatwood didn't just have that 1 start with the few walks his increase would have been even more extreme which is hard to imagine. I had posted some worry about Cishek before, so it's good he's improved. We're still talking a small number of innings overall though, especially for the RP.
   10. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2018 at 05:56 PM (#5676788)
Heh
   11. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2018 at 05:58 PM (#5676789)
   12. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 21, 2018 at 07:34 PM (#5676843)
Rizzo - it’s gotta be his back, right? It’s still bothering home, or at least I hope it is (in the sense that it explains this). As I posted in the comments of the last thread, he’s hitting the ball hard and is pretty unlucky - except when runners are on.

Should that word be "especially"?
   13. Walt Davis Posted: May 21, 2018 at 07:43 PM (#5676850)
Anybody know what the Machado-Almora connection is? (#10)

I admit to not knowing what this usually looks like for a "high offense" team but a Len-JD factoid from the other day:

The Cubs have scored 8+ in 15 of 44 games. That seems crazy high. But some downsides. They've scored 160 runs in those 15 games leaving just 77 for the other 29 games (2.65/g). They also won all 15 of those games, leaving them 10-19 in the others -- probably not that bad a record really for 2.65/g. Anyway, we would seem perfectly correct in our feeling that the offense is incredibly inconsistent. We have had big games against Milw, Pitt, Atl and Col so it's not just beating up on bad teams but it's mostly been that.

It's not obviously tied to an all-or-nothing approach. Cubs have the 3rd lowest K%, 4th best BA and average HR% and HR/FB in the NL. (Arizona has a BA of 219 -- WTF.} It probably does explain why we're already 4 games under pythag.

Keeping us afloat (and holding them back) is our 7-1 record against the Brewers. Still, not necessarily anything to panic about. Most teams tend towards 500 in "close" games and have about the same proportion of "blow-outs" and what distinguishes "good" from "bad" teams is (shocking!), the good teams are usually on the winning side of the blowouts. Cubs are 10-3 in blowouts (5+ run differential at b-r) putting them 15-16 in the close ones. Right now we are about on the same pace for # and win% of blowouts as 2016 but are lagging well behind 2017 on win% in non-blowouts (62-49). Make of those small samples what you will.

(To be clear, winning teams are also over 500 in the close games ... many of which aren't that close ... so the Cubs' 15-16 is not promising.)
   14. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2018 at 09:49 PM (#5676971)
Should that word be "especially"?

Actually:

After adjusting to this data, I’m now starting to wonder if the Cubs team-wide problem of sacrificing too much power for contact when runners are on base is something affecting Rizzo more than most. After all, more than half of Rizzo’s plate appearances (52.4%) have come with runners on base, and if the team as a whole were trying to move toward much more contact with runners on base, Rizzo is the kind of capable hitter who could no doubt increase his contact if that’s specifically what he was looking to do.

At first glance, you see a .262/.347/.385 slash line with runners on base and a .121/.250/.328 slash line with the bases empty, and you assume he’s doing much better with runners on base. But then you see the contact rates and the absurdly low BABIP with the bases empty, and I think those slash lines are a bit misleading.

So let’s talk about some of the quality of contact stuff.

Well, as we could’ve probably guessed, Anthony Rizzo’s .163 ISO (overall) is the lowest of his Cubs career. However, his 34.0% hard-hit rate is actually better than his career average (and right in line, if not better than, his best seasons) while his soft-hit rate is actually lower than ever. So, again, in general, Rizzo is still hitting the ball hard. That’s a good sign.

When runners are on base, however, Rizzo’s hard contact rate absolutely plummets to 22.2% – and, remember, that has been in over half of his plate appearances. Naturally, his ISO (.123) and SLG (.385) both drop with it. That tracks what’s happening with the team as a whole, but when it’s happening this extremely with one of the most important hitters in the lineup, it really stands out.

So maybe it is really this simple (and frustrating). Maybe the problem Brett discovered yesterday is just impacting Rizzo more than most. After all, when the bases are empty, Rizzo’s hard-hit rate rockets back up to 46.9% while his ISO sits at .207. Moreover, he’s actually been extremely unlucky during those base-runner-less plate appearances (.067 BABIP), especially given how hard he’s been smoking the ball.


I had linked the first article, but must have forgot this one. Not sure what it says, but it's interesting to say the least.
   15. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2018 at 09:53 PM (#5676977)
Anybody know what the Machado-Almora connection is? (#10)

From 2014:
Manny Machado and Albert Almora aren't actually related by blood, but they call each other cousins after growing up together in South Florida.

Machado thought of their Hialeah connection over the weekend at Wrigley Field, where Almora hopes to be an instant-impact player, the same way the Baltimore Orioles got a jolt from their All-Star third baseman.

"He's dying to come up here," Machado said. "He's had a couple injuries that have kinda held him back a little bit. But I tell him, 'You gotta stay strong. I'm going on my second knee surgery and you gotta stay positive.'


Almora the other day:
"Growing up, this is how much confidence we had in our abilities, we were always like, 'Man, if we were playing together now, imagine when we play together in the big leagues,'" Almora said on the McNeil & Parkins Show on Tuesday afternoon. "We would have these conversations. Now, it's actually a possibility. It's pretty cool, man. If it were to happen, you'd see both of our families up here enjoying that moment together."


So kinda like the Bryant/Harper thing, but maybe even a little closer. The Cubs adding both of them in FA will be awesome. Who on the team is a childhood friend of Kershaw's?
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 21, 2018 at 10:05 PM (#5676993)
Kershaw is too much of a risk for what he's going to sign for. I'd be more interested in finding out who Heyward's worst enemy in Little League was, and what he's up to these days.
   17. Quaker Posted: May 21, 2018 at 10:21 PM (#5677014)
How much of Bryant's value is sacrificed if he were to move to the OF more or less full-time? I.e. if the Cubs gave up someone other than Russell for Machado.

   18. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2018 at 10:38 PM (#5677022)
I bet he'd be a pretty decent, plus defender in LF, so maybe not that much. What's the adjustment 3b to LF?

So schwarber instead of Russell? I'd do that. Well, I'd dislike it less.
   19. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 22, 2018 at 11:56 AM (#5677250)
Some good stuff here on Happ and Almora:

Be it pitch-recognition (o-swing rate) or mechanical tweaks (contact rate), Happ is trending in the right direction at the plate, and it’s very encouraging. Indeed, over these past seven games, he’s swinging at just 11.1% of pitches out of the zone(!) compared to 27.4% of the out-of-zone pitches for the season and making contact with 81.8% of the pitches in the zone, compared to 67.5% for the season.


This season, however, Almora’s walk rate has climbed to 8.8%, which is exactly league average. And it’s not like that’s all coming against southpaws, either (9.5% against lefties, 8.5% against righties). That is, like Happ organizing his strike zone, a notable, encouraging improvement.
   20. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 22, 2018 at 02:23 PM (#5677387)
Zobrist RF
Almora
Bryant
Rizzo
Conteras
Schwarber
Baez
Russell
Chatwood

I might swap Baez and Russell, but this is maybe my favorite lineup so far this year. I mean, I'd like to see Happ playing also, especially after that weekend, so were this in Cleveland he'd go in the bottom 3 anywhere and Schwarber would DH. Let's hope we see that lineup in the playoffs this year...
   21. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 22, 2018 at 05:56 PM (#5677590)
Good lord, Jim Bowden. Stay away from the Cubs, you awful GM:

Cubs | 3-1

They are probably the best fit for the Orioles because they could offer former All-Star shortstop Addison Russell in a deal. The Orioles would control Russell, 24, through 2021, and he hasn’t even reached his prime years or his potential. Most evaluators think he’s capable of winning a Gold Glove, and he’s already proven he can hit 20 home runs and drive in 95 runs — because he did it in 2016. Combine Russell with two of the Cubs’ top pitching prospects out of the group of Adbert Alzolay, Oscar De La Cruz, Brendon Little, Alex Lange and Jose Albertos, and there is probably a deal to be made. The Orioles should even consider expanding the deal if they can’t extend free-agent-to-be Adam Jones, adding him if they can get Ian Happ back. There are many ways these two teams can come up with a creative deal that works for both sides.
   22. Brian C Posted: May 22, 2018 at 06:23 PM (#5677605)
Honestly, if the deal were to be made, Russell should be more than enough, straight-up.

The idea that Happ is an appropriate throw-in to get Jones is probably the stupidest thing I've read about the Cubs in years. Happ is a better player than Jones is right now, full stop. And there's probably not a front office left in MLB who would think otherwise. It's just a ridiculous idea thing to say, and it makes me angry that someone can get paid writing about baseball while throwing something so ridiculous out there.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: May 22, 2018 at 07:59 PM (#5677664)
It's like Bowden's still living in the reserve clause days ... and even then, I'm not sure that's a good trade for the Cubs.

For the record, while I'm not highly confident in this statement, I don't have faith in Machado as a long-term SS solution for any team. Therefore, I wouldn't trade a good SS for him (unless I had two good SS) ... or at least I'd be parting with other stuff much more easily than I would with my good SS. That the Cubs need neither a SS or a 3B makes them a poor fit for Machado although obviously I'd be happy to have that problem (dependent on cost).

On Bryant to the OF: (1) according to fancy stats, he's been excellent out there. In about half a "full" season, Rtot puts him at +9 and Rfield at +7. They really like him in LF, average in RF and clearly has the arm for RF (the Cubs' bigger need at the moment). And that's in part-time play so give him a chance to play it full-time and I'm confident he'd be above-average at least through 30.

Of course fancy stats like his 3B defense as well in a much larger sample -- nothing amazing, a bit above-average. I'm completely comfortable with him over there. But there is some history of big guys aging poorly at 3B and there's a reasonable chance he won't be there after age 30 anyway. (There's also a reasonable chance he'll be there into his late 30s like Chipper or Boggs.)

All told, there's almost nobody I'd move Bryant to the OF right now long-term to accommodate but Machado is one. Maybe Arenado. If there was some sort of sensible deadline pick-up of some other pending FA 3B, I'd consider it for the last two months without too much hesitation. (I don't know that such a beastie exists this year.) I suppose in theory there are some 2B (Altuve) that I might move Baez to 3B and Bryant to the OF to accommodate but it's probably just as likely I'd bench/trade Baez in that circumstance. (I also suspect Baez could become an excellent OF if necessary.)

But hey, former All-Star Gold-Glover Jason Heyward is only 28 and under team control for another 5 seasons so if the O's are looking to rebuild ...
   24. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 23, 2018 at 09:52 AM (#5677973)
Guess the Cubs were due for a blowout loss, though I'll still blame Walt for bringing that up.

Even with that, the Cubs had 10 hits and 3 walks. Chatwood and Montgomery still could have gone all Chatwoody over that game, but it could have gone a lot differently in the Cubs push across some of those stranded runners early.

I guess you gotta keep starting Happ (and Almora) though, huh?
   25. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 23, 2018 at 10:21 AM (#5677993)
Is Tyler Chatwood broken? 40 walks in 45 2/3 innings is... something, even if he has a normalish ERA.
   26. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 23, 2018 at 10:27 AM (#5677996)
He's hard to hit, and has only allowed 2 HRs. He just absolutely has no idea where the ball is going any of the time. When teams show any amount of discipline and just take pitches, he beats himself.

I've read quotes where he's talking about his arm angle and release point, so it sounds like he and everyone "knows" what is causing the problem, but he just can't consistently do what he's trying or supposed to do. One of the other things people talked when he signed where he should benefit being aware from Coors was his curveball, but he's throwing it even less this year than last.

The walks thing is a team wide problem, in that just about everyone is worse than they've ever been. So I do wonder about the coaching/game planning aspect and how it's impacting everyone.
   27. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 23, 2018 at 10:30 AM (#5678000)
Also, with this talk of Machado and Harper as pending FAs, we've got to really worry about Thed's FA signings, don't we?

You can call Lester a win, but every day I find myself wondering if they should have gone harder after Scherzer instead. Jackson and Heyward are both awful failures. Zobrist is a TBD - 2016 makes it hard for me to call it a loss, and he was hurt last year but that shouldn't be a surprise. It's way too early to talk about Darvish or Chatwood, but these starts could hardly be worse. Lackey was what he was, but he was awful last year. Hammel was fine, both times. So far, ok on Morrow.

That's still a pretty poor success, even if you call all the close ones wins.

The effect of all this, of course, is that the Cubs are locked into so many guys for so long; if Chatwood and Darvish bomb... Unless the Ricketts really want to become the Dodgers or Yankees, these deals are going to start hindering the Cubs from improving and/or keeping their guys.
   28. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 23, 2018 at 10:36 AM (#5678004)
I would call Lester, Zobrist, Hammel, and Lackey all wins. Jackson and Heyward are failures. It's too early to tell on the others, IMO.
   29. McCoy Posted: May 23, 2018 at 10:55 AM (#5678019)
If Zobrist stays healthy he can even come back to Earth a bit this year and it will be a win for the Cubs. It won't be a great deal but they'll have basically paid around market rate for his production. He could totally bomb next year and change that assessment but if he puts up a 4+ WAR season this year it will be very hard to change the outcome of this signing.
   30. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 23, 2018 at 10:56 AM (#5678022)
Watching the Cubs makes me think the walk increase is a byproduct of a strategy. (Player acquisition? Approach? Both?) In fact I suspected it was a trend league wide, so I looked at some numbers. Last year the correlation on a team level between BB/9 and RA/9 was .77. So far this season it's .35. Maybe some teams are deciding that if walks are the cost of avoiding other bad outcome, then it might be a worthwhile trade off. Not necessarily for the viewer at home, though.

Interestingly, the BB/9 to RA/9 correlation was in the .5-.55 range in the 2010s before 2015 when it jumped to the .7s.
   31. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 23, 2018 at 11:46 AM (#5678076)
It would make sense to me that the Cubs have taken on a strategy of trading home runs for walks when down in the count. But, man, that is a whole lot of walks. So far it's working in that the Cubs in the top group of runs allowed in the NL despite allowing the most walks. But the Cubs are also second in batting average against which may not persist.

We shall see.
   32. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 23, 2018 at 03:03 PM (#5678305)
Happ CF
Schwarber
Bryant
Rizzo
Contreras
Baez
Russell
Heyward (sigh)
Lester
   33. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 23, 2018 at 03:10 PM (#5678320)
Heyward (sigh)
I hope they eventually put this on the back of his jersey.
   34. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 23, 2018 at 04:48 PM (#5678402)
George Ofman @georgeofman 5h5 hours ago

Word is this is what the Orioles could be seeking from Cubs in package for Machado: would want some of these players including Russel...
Alzolay, De La Cruz, Little, Lange or Alberto’s. Do not know whether Happ factors in any possible deal.
@WBBMNewsradio


George Ofman is still a thing?
   35. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 23, 2018 at 05:20 PM (#5678424)
I understand the Cubs parting with Russell in any potential Machado deal. I do not understand the idea that the trade would be Russell + other stuff.
   36. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 23, 2018 at 05:34 PM (#5678432)
Right, me either. I'd also like to say the Cubs wouldn't do that, but they have, even if there were slightly different circumstances last time. So part of me is afraid of something crazy happening.
   37. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 24, 2018 at 09:00 AM (#5678701)
So I think I'm pretty close to being ready to declare that the feast/famine offense is not just a frustrating vagary of run distribution, and that there is something causing it. And that something needs to be fixed, posthaste.
   38. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 24, 2018 at 10:06 AM (#5678781)
Yes, I think last night finally pushed me over the edge. 4 walks in the first 2 innings, and then not a single baserunner for the next 4 (not to mention, obviously not getting any of those guys in).

Then the 7th inning Maddon utterly, and inexplicably completely ###### it up. He talked about Miller having "long legs" which somehow means he's incapable of fielding a bunt or something. I understand the idea of trying to avoid Javy striking out, but even a DP in that situation was better than what happened. I don't understand playing for 1 run there - which is essentially what a bunt is doing; I wouldn't have been happy about it, but at least a bunt with 1 out makes more sense.

Then to let Heyward hit with 2 on and 2 outs, with Zobrist and Almora still on the bench, is totally inexcusable. It's way past time to be giving Heyward a chance in these situations. He is clearly the 5th best OF on the roster, and has an obvious platoon disadvantage (which is even way more pronounced this year). The money is gone, the contract is terrible, just accept it. He's not coming around, deal with it. Plus the defense just isn't what it was - which I've pointed out many times this year (he's turned at least 5 easy outs into extra base hits, only 1 was an error). He can start against the occasional RHP when Almora needs a day off, but immediately should be PH for if facing a lefty close and late. He can pinch run, and sub in defensively late to preserve a win. And that's it.
   39. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 24, 2018 at 10:57 AM (#5678850)
FG on Quintana. They also wrote up Chatwood, before his disastrous start Tuesday.
   40. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 24, 2018 at 12:11 PM (#5678927)
I will be very surprised if the Machado thing happens, and wish people would stop talking about it. Come July, the Orioles will get a better offer from a different team, a team that can afford to give up a few of the several prospects they have that are better than the Cubs' best prospects.
   41. Quaker Posted: May 24, 2018 at 12:32 PM (#5678941)
Happ/Russell/Heyward for Machado/Jones...who says no?

I think both teams might.
   42. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 24, 2018 at 03:27 PM (#5679099)
ZIPS now projects the Central as a toss-up between CHC and MIL, with STL only 2 back. BPro too. FG puts the Cubs 3 up on STL and 5 on MIL.
   43. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 24, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5679123)
And that something needs to be fixed, posthaste.


At an absolute minimum, you have to bench Jason Heyward and make him the most expensive late-inning defensive replacement in major-league history. Schwarber has earned the full-time job in LF. Almora has earned the full-time job in CF. And Happ and Zobrist have both earned enough playing time to cover RF full-time while allowing one or the other of them to fill in as the 5th infielder.

EDIT: Coke to Moses for his last paragraph in #38.
   44. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 25, 2018 at 10:30 AM (#5679504)
Zobrist RF
Almora
Bryant
Rizzo
Contreras
Baez
Happ
Russell
Hendricks

Still would rather see Javy hitting 8th, if only to get an IBB now and again. But at least it's not Heyward against a LHP.
   45. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 25, 2018 at 11:19 AM (#5679536)
Theo on Machado rumors:

“I understand it’s natural for people to connect the dots and there to be this kind of frenzy from time to time, but it’s honestly something we’re looking at and just rolling our eyes at,” said Epstein. “It’s not like July, where every now and then there’s lots of coverage on deals that are actually being discussed or actually might happen. This one is just out there in fantasy land at this point.”
   46. McCoy Posted: May 25, 2018 at 11:22 AM (#5679540)
So they'll be announcing it next week?
   47. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 25, 2018 at 11:25 AM (#5679542)
I'm surprised it didn't happen while he was giving that interview.
   48. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 25, 2018 at 12:52 PM (#5679623)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 7m7 minutes ago

Theo: “There’s nothing going on right now.” ... “Zero trade talks.”


Bruce Levine @MLBBruceLevine 4m4 minutes ago

Theo Epstein right now - There are zero trade talks going on with the Cubs . Epstein is not happy about unsubstantiated trade rumors, insisting May is still a time to process and evaluate your own club.
   49. Brian C Posted: May 25, 2018 at 02:56 PM (#5679668)
So I think I'm pretty close to being ready to declare that the feast/famine offense is not just a frustrating vagary of run distribution, and that there is something causing it. And that something needs to be fixed, posthaste.

Are the Cubs actually more inconsistent than normal? I mean, all good offenses go through dry spells from time to time.

That said, if someone were to make the argument that the Cubs have more than their fair share of particularly streaky hitters, I'd be predisposed to believing it. Basically everyone in the lineup is pretty high-variance other than maybe Zobrist (rarely too high or too low) and Heyward (low-variance bad). It's spectacular when everyone's on and frustrating when they're not.

So I guess my point is, I'm not sure I believe that there's something "causing" it, as much as, if anything, it's just the way they are.
   50. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 25, 2018 at 03:50 PM (#5679684)
Are the Cubs actually more inconsistent than normal?
Yes. Fact.
   51. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 25, 2018 at 04:01 PM (#5679692)
Maybe? ($)

So I took the top 10 teams by wRC+ (which I believe is probably the best all-encompassing offensive statistic) in baseball and averaged out their run distribution and compared it to the Cubs’ run distribution this season. With the league average at 4.42 runs per game, ideally, we’d want to see a rough bell curve with a lot of scoring generally in the four, five, six and seven regions. This is how the Cubs look against the average of the top offenses in baseball this season.


---there's a chart here---

That’s pretty much the opposite of what we want to see. It’s almost an inverted bell curve, or a bimodal distribution, with a major dip in the in the middle area. So, thus far, the Cubs have been the maddeningly inconsistent team we thought them to be. But it’s 44 games into the season, so there is plenty of time to even that chart out and make it look more like the rest of the top offenses.

Except, we also have 162 games from last season in which the Cubs were inconsistent as well, right? Well, perhaps not.


---another chart---

Taking into account the entire 2017 season, there doesn’t seem to be any real bad pattern here. It just kind of looks like what the rest of the good offenses were doing. There’s nothing that truly suggests the Cubs were any worse than baseball’s strongest offensive teams when it came to scoring distribution.
   52. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 25, 2018 at 04:54 PM (#5679718)
Christopher Kamka @ckamka 1m1 minute ago

Ian Happ has a current 15-game on-base streak, during which he has reached base 29 times (12 hits, 16 walks, 1 HBP) #Cubs
   53. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 27, 2018 at 04:09 PM (#5680381)
Day late, but darvish to the DL with triceps soreness, Montgomery to start tomorrow. Also Caratini to AAA and Gimenez up. Guessing they want Caratini to okay more?

Also, #### heyward starting tonight against a LHP.
   54. Walt Davis Posted: May 27, 2018 at 07:24 PM (#5680429)
You guys get to see him more than I do but I have to mildly disagree (or mildly agree) with the evaluation of Heyward's defense this year. It hasn't been brilliant but I haven't seen any easy outs played into hits. He's not made some plays that he has made in the past and I recall one terribly timed jump at the wall (after closing a lot of ground to get there in the first place) and he had some trouble with the sun in the first couple of weeks (but I think made all those plays anyway).

Statcast mostly agrees putting him one out below average (recall, that's compared to all OFs so that should still be about an average or better RF I'd guess). That's much worse than he usually does (he's usually around the 2nd tier of CF). They put him 0 for 3 opps in 5-star catches, 0 for 0 in 4-star, 13 for 17 in 3-star (that's good) ... but only 3 for 5 in 1-star (91-95%) which is bad. These are presumably 2 of the 5 that Moses is thinking of in #38.

That said, nothing to disagree with in regards to his usage. Happ in CF and Heyward in RF just doesn't make sense anymore -- if you want Happ's bat but don't want the defensive hit of Happ with Zobrist, then it should be Almora in CF and Happ (or Zobrist) in RF. I don't mind Heyward starting occasionally in RF against RHP but do it to doubly boost the OF defense. I agree that Almora's earned the starting CF job (at least in terms of starting against all LHP and something like 2/3 of the RHP ... Joe will always be rotating guys). And obviously Heyward shouldn't start against LHP except in extreme circumstances and should get pulled for a PH in almost any late & close situation. This is the third season the PH move has been needed so I'm giving up on Joe making that move. If anything, he manages to ensure Heyward comes up with the game on the line.

Note, Statcast isn't that impressed with Almora, putting him at +2. That seems well down the CF rankings (Gardner, Conforto, Nimmo, Martin), maybe he'd move up a bit if we adjusted for PT but probably not a lot. I think he's looked quite good out there. Happ is -4, Schwarber -1, Zo +1 ... note Schwarber is not getting credit for throws here, his positive Rfield is all due to throws.
   55. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 27, 2018 at 11:46 PM (#5680612)
If I have time this week, I'll try to track down all these heyward misplays. I've been talking about them when they happened, I'm sure they're out there somewhere.

Apropos of something maybe, but not:

#Cubs this season
Games Almora starts: 20-10
Games Almora plays, but doesn't start: 7-7
Games Almora doesn't appear in: 0-5
   56. Walt Davis Posted: May 28, 2018 at 08:15 PM (#5680842)
Put me down 100% for more PT for Almora. I'm perfectly fine with him playing every single day but Joe's never done that except with Rizzo and Bryant so I'll be happy if we can get Almora up to at least 75%. I'd also like to see Russell with more than 42 starts in 50 games -- Joe's now skipped him 7 times in the last 32. What can I say, I like putting the best defensive team out there unless there's good reason not to (such as Heyward batting suckitude).

Speaking of Almora, go to the Cubs b-r page. He's now #2 in WAR so his picture's right next to Bryant's -- twins. I'm also guessing that Bryant and Russell have seen smile coaches.

Schwarber as "full-time" LF: Still hasn't hit LHP but is getting lots of walks this year (269/406/346). But if we're going by small samples, Happ has hit LHP quite well this year (273/351/485) and Zobrist has done fine (289/341/368). Heyward ***/***/*** (EDIT: nanny got to that, better that nobody sees).

Bryant vs LHP 2018: 442/489/953
   57. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 29, 2018 at 09:36 AM (#5681183)
I've been a pretty vocal non-believer in Almora's bat but the dude is a career .300 hitter in a full season of PAs by now. I think it's time to start treating him as a starter.
   58. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 10:10 AM (#5681208)
Baez is playing 95%+ of the time, basically only getting the random day off like Rizzo or KB (he's appeared in 48 of the 50 games, one of those 2 he didn't appear in was the 2nd game of the DH when he was benched for not running out a ground ball). Russell has started coming out of his slump (.327/.431/.510 last 14 games), so I think Joe's been spotting him some against certain SP (plus getting TLS and Zobrist more starts at 2nd). He's had a few weird defensive mistakes/misplays (or like the groundball Sunday night he turned into an infield single by triple clutching), but I'm sure his PT will pick back up with his increased production. I've been asking for Javy to get a day off for a while now; he's still popping the HRs but still hasn't walked since April 11th.

Contreras is 3rd on the team in PA (just ahead of Rizzo, who did have that DL trip), which is a little worrying for him holding up through the season. Maybe Joe will be comfortable playing Gimenez more, but it might be time to give him more breathers.

Schwarber's defense has really improved this year. He had a couple bad games early, but you can really see the difference in his reaction times and how he's cutting balls off. He's also really been showing off his arm. I don't think he even tries sliding for this last year.

Now to try and find those Heyward defensive highlights.
   59. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 10:37 AM (#5681236)
1. Go to 11:12 minute mark. In retrospect, I maybe was too harsh on him here, but he started in then took an S-shaped route to the ball and got too close to the wall. Brewers took the lead, but the Cubs came back in the 9th to win.

2. Go to 2:18 of video. This was back to back days, so I think it was the first time I complained about it.

3. Lost in the sun

4. This was called an error, and it was windy.

Based on my count in posts here, there's another one between #3 and #4, but I can't recall when or find it. I'm probably being too hard on him, but the larger point is that there are plays we usually see him make that's he's not making. He's still not hitting, so if his defense is slipping - and it appears it is - he shouldn't play. Unlike last year when Zobrist was hurt/sucked and Schwarber sucked, I understand you'd rather have the sure glove. This year though, that isn't a problem with plenty of guys hitting to cover.
   60. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 29, 2018 at 11:00 AM (#5681260)
Despite the .300 career BA, Almora seems like a guy who needs to focus a bit more on contact and not take so many big swings -- his skill set for making good contact is clearly there but it would be great to see fewer strikeouts, more walks, more contact. He's still got a big L/R split, but he's hitting .309 against righties so far this year, which I interpret as progress on that front.

Very important consideration: the dude just turned 24. There is time and room for that development to happen. In any case, it's been really nice having him at the top of the order.
   61. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 12:25 PM (#5681361)
I'll be honest, I don't think Almora really takes that many big swings. He swings a lot early in the count, and those can be big, but maybe my definition of a big swing has been warped by Javy. Almora does a fantastic job taking outside pitches the other way (his spray chart), he doesn't really have an upper cut swing so he might never really be a big HR guy anyway.

I mentioned it before, but Almora has the highest BB% of his career, including minors. I'm sure he can cut his K% too, but it's not like it's a weakness by any stretch - he's basically even with KB for the year; it's up a tick from last season
   62. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 01:27 PM (#5681406)
Szym with some ZIPS projections/comments on 2017 first rounders:

No. 27 LHP Brendon Little, Chicago Cubs
Minor league translation to date: 6.49 ERA, 51 ⅓ IP, 64 H, 9 HR, 21 BB, 32 K

The consensus among prospect-watchers going into the draft was that Little wasn't as polished as some of the other college starting pitchers in the early rounds. He hasn't been terrible but just a little worse that you'd like to see across the board. Law speculated last year that Little's fastball didn't have enough life, and you're seeing that in the stats to a degree; he isn't dominating hitters, and he's allowing a lot of fly balls. Seven homers is too many for 50 innings in the low minors.

No. 30: RHP Alex Lange, Chicago Cubs
Minor league translation to date: 3.97 ERA, 47 ⅔ IP, 50 H, 3 HR, 16 BB, 36 K

On the flip side, ZiPS couldn't be happier about Lange's first professional season, now projecting him significantly above Little -- enough that his future WAR projection right now would have put him in the ZiPS top 100 this winter. ZiPS sees Lange peaking as a 105-110 ERA+ midrotation starter for a while, though without a high upside.
   63. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 29, 2018 at 02:17 PM (#5681459)
I just posted this in the Omnichatter from yesterday, following up on the Rizzo slide, but I want to throw it out to the Cubs group: Is anyone else disgusted by the response to this too?

Maddon is a horrible person. He already drives me crazy with all his "Look at me, I'm managing!" tactics, but that reaction is beyond the pale.
Agreed that Rizzo and especially Maddon's response was predictably awful. They seem to think the Utley Rule was never written:

"That's how you should teach your kids to slide and break up a double play — the catcher's gotta clear a path," Maddon said. "You have to teach proper technique. He's gotta get out farther, he's gotta keep his foot on the plate clear because that's absolutely what can happen."
No, Joe. The Utley Rule makes it clear that it is not the fielder's responsibility to get out of the way or get clobbered.

My concern there was that they were going to attempt to review it in the same way you review it at second base, whereas there's no base sticking up that you can hold on to.
No, Joe. The "maintain contact with the base" prong of the rule already does not apply to home plate. The violation was of the fourth prong of the rule.

But when that happens, if that play gets turned over, there's no base sticking up, they're saying something about diverting to hit the catcher purposely or cleats in the air.
Yes, Joe. That's exactly what they're saying. Because that's exactly the prong of the rule that Rizzo violated.

You're worried about not getting people hurt
Are you really, Joe? Are you?

but then Rizzo — in the eyes of the Pittsburgh fans — did something wrong or dirty and that is absolutely incorrect."
Ah. No, you aren't really worried about not getting people hurt at all. And you're dead wrong.
   64. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 02:51 PM (#5681505)
Disgusted? I mean, that feels too strong to me. It's Joe playing to type; I'll at least give him that he's consistently been against the Utley rule. The various mental gymnastics he performs here (and before) are in that small intersection between him getting to talk about why he disagrees with a rule in a condescending manner with him publicly doing backflips to "protect" his players.

Where I do think he has a point here is that the rule is absolutely called inconsistently (randomly) and does allow plenty of leeway for there to be "controversies" in the application of the rule. I mean, it was reviewed, and came back upheld. So if nothing else, that implies to me that the way the rule is written isn't aligned with the way they want the rule interpreted. It's a toothless rule where they want to avoid the catastrophic injuries while trying to still allow takeout plays.

If nothing else, Joe has guaranteed Rizzo is going to get one in his ribs (or worse) today or tomorrow, because the Pirates absolutely do retaliate for even the most minor of perceived slights (so GMAFB about Hurdle wanting to make sure guys don't get hurt).

Watching the play live, I thought they'd call Rizzo out and Joe would argue/get ejected. I also happen to think that through my blue tinted glasses that Diaz sold the contact (there was absolutely contact) expecting that to earn him the call. Then the more I thought about it, I can't recall the last time I saw someone called out on the Utley rule play.
   65. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 29, 2018 at 02:59 PM (#5681522)
Disgusted? I mean, that feels too strong to me.
I'm disgusted in the same way that I'm disgusted when politicians shamelessly lie to people's faces even when confronted with facts, their own previous contradictory statements, whatever. The Utley Rule exists, and Joe can't just blabber it away.
   66. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:02 PM (#5681529)
After yesterday, I question if the rule actually does exist.
   67. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:04 PM (#5681532)
After yesterday, I question if the rule actually does exist.
Heh. American democracy circa 2018.
   68. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:11 PM (#5681543)
Breaking: Source indicates the league believes interference should have been called yesterday re Anthony Rizzo's 8th inning slide at home plate. Both teams have been informed of that decision which differs from the call on the field and the umpires video review.


Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
5m ago


So it maybe exists in some places, but not others?
   69. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:15 PM (#5681547)
Interesting. I wonder what that means - a player can't be suspended for an illegal slide, can he? Would they only inform the teams for "FYI, next time the call should be different" purposes?
   70. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:19 PM (#5681554)
Breaking: Source indicates the league believes interference should have been called yesterday re Anthony Rizzo's 8th inning slide at home plate. Both teams have been informed of that decision which differs from the call on the field and the umpires video review.


Watching that play initially, with fan-boy glasses on, it seemed to clearly be legal to me - Rizzo didn't start his slide noticeably late and he was able to maintain contact with home plate. Looking back a bit more objectively, I still think the play was "legal" but it was also pretty clearly "dirty" in that Rizzo pretty clearly altered his path to be sure to slide into the Pirates' catcher (sorry, I forgot his name). And I tend to agree with Billy's view of Maddon's comments after the game. Joe tends not to put his best foot forward when the topic of conversation is Cubs' baserunners breaking up double plays by sliding into Pirates' fielders.
   71. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:20 PM (#5681555)
Don't the umpires and their union get all prickly and defensive when the league hangs them out to dry like this?

I'm guessing the intent here is to gently, but publicly, correct the umps and soothe over any bad feelings by the wronged team. I'm guessing it will fail in both counts.

I don't think there's any risk of suspension here, but these things may or may not be being made up as we go.
   72. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:24 PM (#5681560)
Looking back a bit more objectively, I still think the play was "legal" but it was also pretty clearly "dirty" in that Rizzo pretty clearly altered his path to be sure to slide into the Pirates' catcher (sorry, I forgot his name).

I'd flip the adjectives. I wouldn't call the slide dirty; to me, dirty implies some sort of intent. I really think Rizzo was just trying to force a bad throw/break up the DP - which in his defense, is something that's been accepted in baseball forever (I'm not saying I agree with it, but it's also a part of Joe's ramblings on the topic; of course intent doesn't mean an injury can't occur).
   73. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:28 PM (#5681564)
I still think the play was "legal" but it was also pretty clearly "dirty" in that Rizzo pretty clearly altered his path to be sure to slide into the Pirates' catcher (sorry, I forgot his name).
But how do you then come to the conclusion that it was "legal," when you're almost verbatim describing a violation of the fourth requirement for a bona fide slide?
   74. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5681566)
I wouldn't call the slide dirty; to me, dirty implies some sort of intent.


Well, I put "dirty" in quotes to sort of soften it a bit. Rizzo wasn't trying to injure anybody, but I think he clearly slid in with the intention of making contact with the Pirates' catcher so as to disrupt the throw to first. It's not clear to me if the "spirit" of the "Utley rule" is to discourage any contact with the fielder on such plays. I'd be very surprised if Chase Utley's intention on the play that led to this rule was to break the other guy's leg.
   75. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:31 PM (#5681567)
I'd flip the adjectives. I wouldn't call the slide dirty; to me, dirty implies some sort of intent. I really think Rizzo was just trying to force a bad throw/break up the DP - which in his defense, is something that's been accepted in baseball forever (I'm not saying I agree with it, but it's also a part of Joe's ramblings on the topic; of course intent doesn't mean an injury can't occur).
I guess it depends on what you mean by intent - judging by the after-the-fact commentary, it seems like he didn't intend to injure Diaz, but he definitely intended to slide in a way that, whether he accepts it or not, he knew or should have known was specifically outlawed by the Utley Rule. I think that could reasonably be described as "dirty," unless only intent to injure qualifies as dirty.

EDIT: Koke to Kiko.
   76. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:35 PM (#5681571)
But how do you come to the conclusion that it was "legal?" You're almost verbatim describing a violation of the fourth requirement for a bona fide slide.


My understanding of the rule - which is vague and not necessarily fully formed (i.e., my understanding is the same as everybody else's, including MLB umpires and replay officials) - is that there's an area around the base where it's legal to make contact with the fielder if it's done within the context of a normal slide and that area is defined by whether or not the baserunner can maintain contact with the base. I thought the contact from Rizzo was natural contact given where he slid and his slide fell within the area where it was legal - i.e., Rizzo's "offense" was where he chose to slide, not how he slid, and I think he stayed on the "legal" side in terms of where he slid. I could be convinced otherwise, and I'm not an unbiased observer of the play even in retrospect, but that's how it looked to me.
   77. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:44 PM (#5681578)
You're talking as if the Utley rule eliminated these types of plays and contact/hard slides on DPs, and it's almost like you're assuming there's clarity on how the rule should be applied. I don't think Rizzo did anything out of the ordinary to what still occurs and the call was upheld. It's just not as black and white as pointing to the 4th bullet point in the rule.

So intent here, in my usage, would be Rizzo *knowing* he'd be called out and sliding like that anyway. I don't think that happened, because Rizzo believed he was making a legal play. He also didn't do any of the things that usually get called out as dirty - spikes up, sliding too close to the bag, etc.

Which I think points to one of the problems with the Utley rule, because the have to be able to be in contact with/stay on the base part sort of contradicts with the not changing your line part. IOW, your path would never change if you couldn't slide wide and just reach out and grab the base with your hand yet that consistently happens.

I honestly can't remember seeing this happen at home (or 3B) though.
   78. Brian C Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:45 PM (#5681580)
I don't see how Rizzo violated the Utley Rule. We've seen this time and again at other bases and slides like his have never been called for interference. If you're within reach of the base, and don't come in super-late and barrel roll the guy, then you're not going to be called. Rizzo got the whole part of the plate with his body. I don't see an argument that he changed his path, although he did alter his slide. But that's not the same thing, and this has always been allowed at second base.

I wonder if you guys are forgetting how gratuitous takeout slides used to be before the rule. This was never the kind of slide that the rule was meant to prevent. I mean, geez, just go look at the Utley slide. It's not even remotely similar to what Rizzo did.
   79. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:47 PM (#5681582)
In other news

Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 13m13 minutes ago

Adbert Alzolay was removed after four perfect innings today with a grade one lat strain. He'll be re-evaluated in a few days.
   80. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:50 PM (#5681588)
Zobrist 2b
Schwarber
Bryant
Rizzo
Conteras
Happ
Russell
Heyward
Lester

So Baez does get a day off, but WHY THE #### IS HEYWARD IN THERE AGAIN (editor's note: he didn't start yesterday, even though it does seem like he's starting everyday).

   81. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5681591)
You're talking as if the Utley rule eliminated these types of plays and contact/hard slides on DPs, and it's almost like you're assuming there's clarity on how the rule should be applied. I don't think Rizzo did anything out of the ordinary to what still occurs and the call was upheld. It's just not as black and white as pointing to the 4th bullet point in the rule.
Well, I think there is clarity when a runner clearly alters his path for the purposes of making contact with the fielder, and that language is unambiguously written into the rule. You're probably right that other clear violations of the rule don't always get enforced, but that doesn't make them (or this one) any more legal.

He also didn't do any of the things that usually get called out as dirty - spikes up
From at least one angle I saw yesterday, it definitely looked like his left spike was up for at least a while, but maybe that wasn't right.

Which I think points to one of the problems with the Utley rule, because the have to be able to be in contact with/stay on the base part sort of contradicts with the not changing your line part. IOW, your path would never change if you couldn't slide wide and just reach out and grab the base with your hand yet that consistently happens.
Totally agree - if you read the whole rule in context, I would argue that the "maintaining contact" provision was intended to apply to sliding to vs. through the bag rather than lateral movement (the home plate exception, for example, speaks to being able to slide through), but it's terribly written.

   82. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 29, 2018 at 03:56 PM (#5681596)
"That's how you should teach your kids to slide and break up a double play — the catcher's gotta clear a path," Maddon said. "You have to teach proper technique. He's gotta get out farther, he's gotta keep his foot on the plate clear because that's absolutely what can happen."


To me, this is the most disgusting part of Maddon's response - not only is he blaming the victim for not "clear[ing] a path," but he's lying in order to do so.

Gosh, Joe, do you really not see "a path"? How much "farther" does the catcher "gotta get out"?
   83. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2018 at 04:06 PM (#5681607)
Rob Biertempfel @RobBiertempfel 8m8 minutes ago

#pirates Hurdle: “The best retaliation is to beat them.”

Diaz: “It’s in the past. It’s time to move forward.”


Pirates P HBP by year, rank in MLB under Hurdle
2018: 23, 16th
2017: 58, 17th
2016: 68, 5th
2015: 75, 1st
2014: 88, 1st
2013: 70, 1st

Huh, I guess that was a well-earned reputation that perhaps the Pirates have grown out of. If so, I'll give them credit for evolving.
   84. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 29, 2018 at 04:20 PM (#5681636)
Diaz: “It’s in the past. It’s time to move forward.”
"...but I'm totally gonna fart when Rizzo is at bat."
   85. Walt Davis Posted: May 29, 2018 at 08:52 PM (#5681795)
#s 57, 58, 60 ... I have my doubts about Almora vs RHP too. But for now it's really him vs. Heyward (or Happ when we want maximal defense). Heyward has been solid vs RHP this year (253/337/425) ... somehow, still as ugly a swing as you'll see from a non-pitcher in the majors ... but I'm happy to gamble on Almora's offense.

I hadn't noticed the heavy Javy usage -- I mean, he'd obviously become a "full-time" starter but hadn't noticed he wasn't getting a standard Maddon 3-4 days off per month.

Willson ... 41 starts in 50 games puts him on pace for 133 starts. He might well wear down but that's kinda the upper end for a "big-time starting C." Molina got about that many starts pretty much every year from ages 26-34. It's in line with McCann for ages 23-26, Martin for ages 24-26, even Kurt Suzuki for a couple of years. He is leading the majors in GS at C, but just by one over Lucroy and 2 over Barnhart, Cervelli, Chirinos, Maldonado and the other McCann. I don't know that it bodes well for his long-term future and I'd be happier around 120 starts but somewhere a bit more than 1 per rotation turn (about 130 starts) is reasonably common.

#59: Unfortunately the videos won't load for me (could be a country thing, MLB sub or no) but I believe you. I agree, he's not making some of the plays that he used to and what I've seen has been more average -- still a couple of nice plays but lots of fairly standard stuff and I don't think any miracles. And as I noted, statcast has dinged him for missing a couple of pretty easy plays (low 90s %) while making a good number of above-average plays. And I completely agree that if he's not gonna provide excellent defense, the PT has to be cut, most obviously vs LHP.

Somebody mentioned Schwarber's defensive improvement and I, Rfield and statcast all agree. He's looked pretty average-ish out there in terms of range and he's thrown out a good number of guys. Rfield puts him at 0 in terms of +/- and +4 on arm (assists and holds) which seems about right to me. Runners used to take advantage of him more in terms of him being slow getting to the ball; now that he's getting there in average-ish time, his arm comes into play more. Teams will probably adjust and the assists will become holds but that's OK. Statcast is only measuring range on FBs and has him at just -1 out relative to average OF which is probably average or better for a LF.

No real opinion on the slide -- didn't see it live, don't care enough to look up the video. Joe's a strident jackass on this though -- a simple "There was no intent to injure, it was not a dirty play. The umps and review agreed my guy did not violate the rule." (Objection? "You should take that up with the league.") If pressed: "if MLB wants to clarify the rule and provide guidelines to the teams, we will of course make our players aware of them." If pressed again "I've already answered that."

(I know, that's kinda what he said but he comes across as petulant and pedantic.)

   86. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 29, 2018 at 09:43 PM (#5681843)
Pirates P HBP by year, rank in MLB under Hurdle
2018: 23, 16th
2017: 58, 17th
2016: 68, 5th
2015: 75, 1st
2014: 88, 1st
2013: 70, 1st


A lot of this (though not all of it) is explained by the number of Charlie Mortons the Pirates had in those years (0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1). Charlie Morton plunks an absurd number of hitters; he has led the league in HBP more times than he has qualified for the ERA title (3-1). In 2013, he hit 16 batters in 116 innings. He's tied for 4th among active pitchers in career HBP; all of the other members of the top 5 have at least 60% more innings than he does, and three of them double him. (CC Sabathia triples him, actually.) Morton has remained a prolific plunker since leaving Pittsburgh; he led the AL last year.

AJ Burnett was also there in two of the three league-leading years, nailing 9 hitters in 2013 and 11 in 2015. He was hitting batters at almost exactly his career average rate while with the Pirates (slightly below, actually).

So this may have been more a personnel issue than one of intent (at least in part).
   87. Brian C Posted: May 29, 2018 at 10:33 PM (#5681899)
I like the way the Cubs offense has been working the last 5 games - it's a lot like the 2016 offense was running for most of the season. It's not so much that they're putting together a ton of big innings, it's just that they're getting a ton of guys on and putting up a bunch of 2 run innings. And by the time you know it, they've scored 7 or 8 while feeling like no big deal. I mean, they didn't even get runners across all that efficiently tonight - 20 baserunners, 11 left on base - but it just feels like they're clicking in a sustainable way, especially now that they've become a team that doesn't strike out a ton.
   88. Walt Davis Posted: May 30, 2018 at 02:52 AM (#5681975)
Always hard to tell whether the relationship between walks and runs is spurious -- i.e. crappy pitchers give up lots of walks and therefore lots of runners and therefore lots of runs.

Anyway, the Cubs have drawn 5 or more walks in 20 of 50 games his year (not including today's). Interestingly, just those 20 games also include 12 HBP and 6 RoE which further suggest there is overall crappy opponent performance. The run breakdown on these 20 games:

8+: 10 games
4-7: 5 games
<4: 5 games

There are some embarrassing ones in there -- the early season one against Miami (8 hits, 8 BB, 1 HBP but over many innings); 6 hits (including a double and HR), 6 BB and 2 HBP but only 3 runs against the Cards; that 5-4 loss to the Reds with 14 LOB.

Anyway, they've gone 15-5 and averaged 7.25 R/G in those 20 games. They've averaged nearly 9.5 LOB in those games which seems not so awesome. A lot of this is against lousy teams -- 12 against the Reds, Sox and Marlins combined. They are ... pinch me! ... 3rd in the league in walks while having the 2nd fewest Ks. They've also played the fewest games so the K-ranking will get worse but the BB ranking will get better. They are averaging 7.7 LOB/game against a league-average of 7 but we're also getting a bit over 1 more baserunner compared with league average so that's not so bad.

Cubs lead the league in overall WAA, a bit ahead of Atl. Starters are average, pen has the 2nd best WAA (Ariz) which adds up to a bit above-average overall. There are only 3 NL teams substantially above-average when it comes to position players -- Cubs 5.9 WAA, Atl 4.3 and Milw 4. Milw 3 games over their pythag, Cubs 5 games under -- adds up.

News flash: Travis Shaw is half a WAR ahead of Bryant. Boy did the Red Sox (and I!) get it wrong on that guy.

Anyway, if the Cubs are gonna do it, looks like they'll be slugging (and walking and not striking out) their way to a title.
   89. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2018 at 10:10 AM (#5682090)
So this may have been more a personnel issue than one of intent (at least in part).

Thanks for that context. Whether fair or not, the Pirates did have a bit of a reputation in that regard, though wildness is always a very likely subject.

Also, maybe Hurdle is just really crafty with his revenge. Last night, Contreras got hit twice and remember Hurdle called him out publicly earlier this year. With all the heat on Rizzo, he had plenty of cover to target Willson now without anyone suspecting it. By the next Cubs/Pirates controversy, he'll be safe to throw at Rizzo. It's brilliant!
   90. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2018 at 10:14 AM (#5682092)
I hadn't noticed the heavy Javy usage -- I mean, he'd obviously become a "full-time" starter but hadn't noticed he wasn't getting a standard Maddon 3-4 days off per month.

Javy ending up PH and staying in the game for defense last night. His off nights are really off nights even.

Willson ... 41 starts in 50 games puts him on pace for 133 starts. He might well wear down but that's kinda the upper end for a "big-time starting C." Molina got about that many starts pretty much every year from ages 26-34. It's in line with McCann for ages 23-26, Martin for ages 24-26, even Kurt Suzuki for a couple of years. He is leading the majors in GS at C, but just by one over Lucroy and 2 over Barnhart, Cervelli, Chirinos, Maldonado and the other McCann. I don't know that it bodes well for his long-term future and I'd be happier around 120 starts but somewhere a bit more than 1 per rotation turn (about 130 starts) is reasonably common.

All fair, and his bat makes it hard to sit him. I thought we'd actually see Caratini more, but perhaps all the rainouts worked against him. That way Contreras was still able to play all those games, with plenty of rest built in. It's more my concern is just him wearing down as the season goes on and those nagging hurts and whatnot impacting his bat.
   91. Brian C Posted: May 30, 2018 at 10:48 AM (#5682137)
All fair, and his bat makes it hard to sit him. I thought we'd actually see Caratini more, but perhaps all the rainouts worked against him. That way Contreras was still able to play all those games, with plenty of rest built in. It's more my concern is just him wearing down as the season goes on and those nagging hurts and whatnot impacting his bat.

This is probably what Gimenez is doing up, though, right? No way to know for sure, but my assumption is that the need to get more rest for Contreras is getting obvious now that we're getting to the heat and more infrequent off-days, and the staff wasn't sold on Caratini's catching skills.
   92. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2018 at 12:11 PM (#5682233)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 1m1 minute ago

Darvish MRI revealed no structural damage , just right triceps inflammation and will begin a throwing program late this weekend or early next week.


Sure took their sweet time on this, didn't they?

---

This is probably what Gimenez is doing up, though, right? No way to know for sure, but my assumption is that the need to get more rest for Contreras is getting obvious now that we're getting to the heat and more infrequent off-days, and the staff wasn't sold on Caratini's catching skills.

Right, but I thought the fact that they chose Caratini over Gimenez in ST meant either he'd improved enough or they were comfortable with him now. Obviously not, it turns out. Though he's barely played, it's hard to really have that much new info on his performance.
   93. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5682318)
After coming out of April with an absolutely dreadful 32 wRC+, he’s [Rizzo] now up to 109. In May, he’s posted an MVP-like 170 wRC+ while reducing his strikeouts and upping his walks to the point where he now sits at a 12.2 percent strikeout rate (that’s lower than last season’s impressive numbers) and a 10.7 percent walk rate.

In March and April, Rizzo wasn’t hitting anything. It didn’t really matter what the pitch was, he was struggling. But let’s focus on fastballs for a moment, since that’s always what any batter will see the most. In the season’s first month, Rizzo saw 138 four-seamers and 41 two-seamers, according to Pitch Info. He hit .143 with one extra-base hit (his homer on Opening Day) off the four-seamers and .250 with no extra-base hits off the two-seamers. This month he’s hitting .297 with a .541 slugging percentage off four-seamers and he’s absolutely destroying two-seamers to the tune of a .500 batting average and 1.083 slugging percentage.

It’s a deep offense that leads the National League in on-base percentage, slugging and ISO. The Cubs are second in batting average, third in walk rate (this after they were sitting dead last in the NL on May 6), 13th in strikeout rate and according to FanGraphs’ advanced base-running statistic (BsR), far and away the best base-running team in baseball.


Athletic ($) - I highly recommend subscribing. That bolded part is amazing.

Lester didn't have a great game yesterday - he wasn't bad, but he was off just enough (and Happ Heywarded a ball in the sun that ended up leading to a couple runs in the first) - but he didn't walk anyone, neither did any of the RP. Montgomery also didn't walk anyone in his start.
   94. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 30, 2018 at 03:16 PM (#5682470)
My thought on the slide (missed that part of the game on Monday):

Stupid, stupid play by Rizzo. If the call had been right, it's a rally-killing double play. if the catcher had been wearing spikes, he's sitting in the dugout tonight with a cast on following surgery to repair his calf.
   95. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2018 at 03:47 PM (#5682512)
Almora
Baez
Bryant
Rizzo
Conteras
Schwarber
Russell
Heyward
Hendricks

Not sure why Baez is 2 and Schwarber 6 vs. a RHP.
   96. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2018 at 04:41 PM (#5682560)
Edwards to the DL, shoulder inflamation (already had an MRI, so seriously, wtf did it take 5 days for Darvish to get one?), Mazzoni back up. Surprised it's not Hancock.
   97. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 30, 2018 at 05:06 PM (#5682577)
Surprised it's not Hancock.


Isn't there some rule that a player has to stay in the minors for a certain amount of time before he can be recalled? Shame about Edwards, although if it's nothing serious, it's probably not the end of the world for him to get a couple of weeks off here - hopefully keep him fresh for the second half of the season.
   98. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2018 at 05:12 PM (#5682581)
Isn't there some rule that a player has to stay in the minors for a certain amount of time before he can be recalled?

Yes, 10 days. However, that doesn't apply if they're replacing someone going on the DL - or apparently to be the 26th man for a double header; each scenario applied to Rosario's last 2 call-ups.

5/17/18 Chicago Cubs recalled Randy Rosario from Iowa Cubs.
5/18/18 Chicago Cubs activated RF Jason Heyward from the 10-day disabled list.
5/18/18 Chicago Cubs optioned LHP Randy Rosario to Iowa Cubs.
5/19/18 Chicago Cubs recalled Randy Rosario from Iowa Cubs.
5/20/18 Chicago Cubs optioned LHP Randy Rosario to Iowa Cubs.
5/26/18 Chicago Cubs placed RHP Yu Darvish on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to May 23, 2018. Right triceps tendinitis.
5/26/18 Chicago Cubs recalled LHP Randy Rosario from Iowa Cubs.
   99. Walt Davis Posted: May 30, 2018 at 06:31 PM (#5682624)
Cubs walk rate thru May 6: 7.98%
Cubs walk rate since: 12.74%

Hardly seems possible but they've had as many walks since May 6 as they did up to that point. Overall a line of 287/381/481. That will win some ballgames. Still, 62 of those 99 walks came in 10 games against Mia, CWS and Cin ... leaving 37 (still solid) in 9 games against Atl, SF, Cle and Pitt. They also scored 81 runs in the 10 games against the losers, 35 in the other 9 games, mostly against SF and Pitt. (For some reason, yesterday's game isn't in the b-r game log yet.)

NL walk rate is kinda nuts, up to 9.1%, up from 8.7 and 8.4 the last two years and compared with 8.5 in the AL. I used to think of a 10% walk rate as a high walk rate but I guess I have to adjust my evaluations now.

And of course if you adjust the Cubs' recent walk rate for the fact that Javy hasn't walked since the Garfield administration ...
   100. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 31, 2018 at 11:47 AM (#5683028)
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