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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Monday, September 30, 2019

Regrets

Even though I was one of the people saying the Cubs should move on from Maddon, now that it’s official I find myself second-guessing how strongly I thought it was the right move.  Obviously, my opinion doesn’t matter at all and this would be the reality regardless of how I felt, but now I feel much less sure that it was the right move.  Maybe I’m just being nostalgic for how great those 5 years were.  I always bristled at the general (or non-Cubs) fan who said keeping Maddon was a no-brainer because of how good the Cubs have been under him and the fact that the next manager is likely to be, at best, less accomplished, and at worst, clearly inferior.  Regardless, I still will always have fond memories of the Maddon era, and not just the absolute highs of 2015-2016.  The 2nd half of 2017 and the NLDS against the Nats were also great, and there are plenty of guys who likely wouldn’t be who they are without him as a coach (mainly Javy; a lesser or more insecure manager would have tried to change Javy in a lot of ways that would make him less fun and likely not nearly as good). 

However, all good things end, and so now the question is who’s next.  I really have a hard time understanding why David Ross is such a wide-spread favorite - I mean, I “get” how popular he was (though honestly, I really don’t understand the why of that either), plus the Cubs have given him tons of free PR.  Maybe there’s a scenario where he is the best choice, but I’ll have a hard accepting it initially unless the Cubs are a lot more open in their interview process than I expect them to be.  I feel like Joe Girardi has not so quietly been publicly campaigning for this year since the Yankees fired him, and I don’t think I’d have much of a problem with him.  If the Cubs really are serious that the team needs some sort of culture change, it probably rules out “future managers” like Will Venable and Mark Loretta, though I the Cubs have been grooming both to be candidates.  There probably is a lot to be said for targeting a coach from outside the org, especially if they’re coming from one of the teams that have been successful lately (meaning, someone from the Astros, Dodgers, or Red Sox).  I have to think at least Tommy Hottovoy is safe - the Cubs have plenty of precedent in keeping pitching coaches across managers - and maybe even the hitting staff is safe too (if only because they’ve changed guys there every year for 3 years now).  Maybe that ends up ruling out Girardi and has them leaning towards a first time guy.  I’d absolutely love Francona, if the Indians decided they needed a change, too. 

Sometime in the next month or so, maybe I’ll be ready to do some sort of season recap, but I’m not there yet, plus they’re likely to hire a new manager well before any player moves start happening.  In the meantime, any rumors I see I’ll be sure to post here.  If nothing else, it’s time to move on from that cursed thread.

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 30, 2019 at 09:21 AM | 115 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 30, 2019 at 02:56 PM (#5884697)
I said later, but off the top of my head, some quick thoughts on the biggest positives/negatives this year

Positives:
1. Darvish. Has to be the top spot here, because from 2/3 of the season he was a legit ace and was living up to that deal. Technically, he has an opt out, but he probably won't beat 4/$80mil at his age with his injury history.
2. Schwarber. He was pretty bad again early, but damn near great the 2nd half. Had I written something like this around mid-season, I would have definitely predicted him as being moved this offseason. He still could, but I think his bat in the 2nd half (.280/.366/.631) was finally what the Cubs were hoping it would be.
3. Nico - I don't know if he's ready or not, but he's at least shown he can probably be at least a league average starter. That's big for the Cubs.
4. Castellanos. I have no idea if it makes sense to keep him or not, but he was awesome, and I'd have no problem bringing him back if that's how it plays out.
5? I don't know quite what to make of Happ, but he really finished strong. His overall season numbers look really good now, but he did nothing in AAA. Maybe he has some trade value now? Maybe the Cubs are more comfortable with him as the 4th OF/5th IF going forward?
6. Parts of the pen. The pitching lab maybe works some now - Wick and Wieck look like keepers.

Negatives:
1. I'm assuming Zobrist will retire. He'll probably be gone if he doesn't, but he kinda got his farewell yesterday. It's a shame this season went the way it did, but he was somewhat useful this year and overall I'll have fond memories of his time here.
2. Heyward. I mean, sure his bat was finally almost league average (98 OPS+), but that's in easily his best year and just as his defense is starting to go. I kinda hope the Cubs can get someone to take him off their hands this year (well subsidized, of course).
3. Kimbrel. Ugh.
4. Quintana. I'm probably worrying too much - his FIP wasn't terrible, but that last month scared me.

There's more, but that's off the top of my head.
   2. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 30, 2019 at 03:24 PM (#5884714)
I really have a hard time understanding why David Ross is such a wide-spread favorite - I mean, I “get” how popular he was (though honestly, I really don’t understand the why of that either), plus the Cubs have given him tons of free PR.
If the Cubs are serious about wanting a “firmer hand”, as numerous news report suggest, going with a recent teammate with no managerial experience would seem a bit strange. Maybe Ross is the rare individual who could pull that off, but seems risky.
   3. Brian C Posted: September 30, 2019 at 04:39 PM (#5884744)
Ross had a reputation with the Cubs for keeping guys in line, for what that's worth, but I too question how that would translate to being the actual manager.
   4. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 30, 2019 at 06:07 PM (#5884774)
In a press conference today, Theo spoke repeatedly about how the team - mostly the front office, but at least once he said this might be true of the players - of falling into a "winner's trap." We did it - we won it - so let's keep doing it.

If he really thinks that's the case, that mitigates against bringing in Ross as manager. "We've leaned on 2016 too much. We need to do that less. So let's hire Grandpa Rossy as our manager." Doesn't quite flow.

'course, it could be that they feel Ross's personal attributes and strengths outweigh that. But hiring him would cut against what Theo said today.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: October 01, 2019 at 06:35 AM (#5884842)
On Schwarber ... it's certainly promising. The 2nd half surge wasn't due to a crazy BABIP (well, 287 is a bit crazy in the wrong direction). It was about a 50-HR pace which probably isn't sustainable but Schwarber as a 40-HR guy is not a stretch. I suppose there could be some concern that it's more that it took him a half-season to adjust to the new ball. He had much better numbers against LHP than before.

Alas on the other hand, it all adds to about the same as last year. The overall rate stats are really close oddly enough. One issue with 2018 was a high G/F and this year he was back to standard. His HR/FB was the same as last year, it was more flyballs. Still, for sure, I'd like to see what he does next year ... but for a reasonable deal, I'd be willing to see him do it for another team.

Happ's another interesting guy -- too small a sample and he added about 180 points to his OPS over the last 8 games. Nearly all OK to good performances are some mix of really good and pretty crap stretches so maybe he's at a new level or maybe he just ended on one of those hot stretches. Possibly somebody the Cubs really need to decide on -- if Schwarber is traded he has a big role; if not and Castellanos is re-signed, then he has no role. But LF, RF, some CF, injury insurance for Rizzo, 2B if Hoerner/Bote flop would be a nice thing to have if he's productive.

In the spirit of offseason optimism, I'll add two more positives. Contreras' bat bounced all the way back which I'll admit I didn't really expect. Obviously more health would be very nice. And Rowan Wick looked good. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I doubt that 0 HR in 33 innings is sustainable but it is promising; the walk rate's higher than you'd like and the very low H/9 probably can't be sustained either. But he could be the next Steve Cishek or similar.
   6. McCoy Posted: October 01, 2019 at 08:45 AM (#5884849)
Seasonal splits mean virtually nothing and probably next to nothing for non 19 year old rookies.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 01, 2019 at 09:05 AM (#5884852)
The 2nd half surge wasn't due to a crazy BABIP (well, 287 is a bit crazy in the wrong direction).

Is .287 really below what you'd expect for a slowish lefty in the era of the shift and launch angle? A pretty high percentage of his hard hit balls leave the park.
   8. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 01, 2019 at 09:21 AM (#5884860)
Mooney sounds convinced Theo wants Ross as a manager, that's after Sharma called him the favorite yesterday. Key part:

Sitting in the same spot where Maddon did his two-a-day media briefings on gamedays at Wrigley Field, Epstein wouldn’t go that far and label Ross as the favorite. But in answering questions for nearly 82 minutes on Monday, Epstein confirmed that Ross will be a candidate.

“David Ross has a lot of great things going for him,” Epstein said. “I would say his connection to the players on this team – and especially his connection to the 2016 team – are not necessarily assets that distinguish him. Those are not necessarily things that are going to be important to us.

“Rossy is a really attractive candidate, and he’s going to be evaluated on the merits, what he can bring to the table as a major-league manager, given his skills, given his experiences, given his worldview, given what he knows about winning. All those things, just as every other managerial candidate will be evaluated.

“But we’re looking forward. We’re not looking backwards. In some ways, there’s been almost too much emphasis on 2016 and looking back, so his connection to that team – or even some of our existing players – will not be a significant part of the evaluation.”


I agree with Dag (and Clapper) here about the differing things being said. There's also been too many times the last few years where the Cubs talked about missing someone like Ross for me to be completely comfortable that they're really considering him with the proper amount of perspective. I'm very skeptical that any objective evaluation of him as a manager candidate is really possible, and I'd highly suspect him being the choice would include too much of a 2016 impact.

Also from that piece:
Epstein said the Cubs have not yet called to ask for permission to speak with a coach or executive from another organization. Epstein hinted that at least one candidate works for a playoff team (Dodgers special assistant Raúl Ibañez?) and at least one member of the current coaching staff (presumably bench coach Mark Loretta) will be considered for the manager job.

Epstein declined to comment on perennial Cubs managerial candidate Joe Girardi, though it’s probably telling that the Yankees cut him loose and wound up hiring Boone. Epstein also had previous interest in Mark DeRosa joining Maddon’s staff, but the ex-Cub didn’t want to leave MLB Network for just a coaching job.


Some of Theo's extended quotes, which Dag mentioned:
“If you want to say we were stubborn with this group, I think that’s fair,” Epstein said. “We had a real belief in this group. To be self-critical and honest and accountable, I think there can be a bit of winner’s trap dynamic sometimes. When you’ve had great success — that group at that time had won more games than anyone in baseball over those four years. When you look back at the methods, players and everything that had gone on, you attribute the success to them, rightfully. But it can lead to maybe attributing too many good qualities or placing too much faith in that. It requires real leadership to move beyond that, a scenario that I need to do better job as a leader. Letting go of the past and focusing on the future. This is clearly a moment of transition.”


Some editorializing from Sharma:
While Anthony Rizzo or Javier Báez being traded would come as quite a surprise, there are other valuable players who could be made available. Happ and Schwarber are easy to point to, but it’s certainly not out of the question that either Bryant or Contreras is traded.

While Epstein was effusive in his praise of Contreras, his description of him also almost sounded like a sales pitch to teams who may be interested. And as good as Bryant is when healthy, he has two years remaining on his contract, meaning now may be the best time to maximize his value on the trade market.


Someone somewhere wondered if the Cubs would consider trading Contreras to sign someone like Grandal in a thread somewhere, I guess that's probably more realistic than the trade Bryant/sign Rendon idea.
   9. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 01, 2019 at 06:18 PM (#5885117)
Not sure why I clicked on this, but this is one beat writer's guesses at who will be back next year and who will be gone. Some interesting guesses in there.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: October 01, 2019 at 09:36 PM (#5885207)
Rossy

That right there should disqualify -- not the stupidity of the nickname (alas, common) but that the GM and presumably many of the players still think of him as "Rossy the teammate."

Is .287 really below what you'd expect for a slowish lefty in the era of the shift and launch angle?

No but I didn't want to get into the detail. His career BABIP is only 273. However, that is an issue with him. A low BABIP for a power, fairly extreme FB hitter is fine. I did make a small boo-boo on describing his G/F -- I was accidentally looking at GO/AO thinking it was GB/FB and thinking that was a lot higher than I thought and higher than league average. It's still true that his G/F this year was back in line with his career which is much lower than league average while in 2018 he was league average. With the same LD%, HR/FB% and IF/FB% as last year, the difference to 2018 is about more FBs and more contact (mostly big drop in BB rate vs 2018).

EDIT: Also I missed Moses' mention of Wick so I only added one bit of optimism.

EDIT2: As to Theo's comments -- what do people expect him to say? If he says "Ross will not be considered" it (a) is exceptionally rude and blunt and (b) creates a media shitstorm. Really all he says is he'll be considered, he's an attractive candidate (which he probably says about anybody) but that he'll be judged on the merits like everybody else. If he really is the favorite right now, it's probably because Theo knows more about his "merits" than any other candidates except maybe Loretta and Venable.
   11. Zonk Was In The Loop and Followed POTUS Orders Posted: October 01, 2019 at 10:38 PM (#5885248)
So, I'll provide ya'll some happy tidings....

The Zonk OOTP 2019 Cubs are now looking to defend their 2019-2020-2021 three-peat. And sitting at 79-26 near the trading deadline? We're in good shape. We recycled a bunch of veterans through the rotation and nabbed draft picks from their FA departures (Bumgarner, Teheran, Tanaka). We ditched Yu for 120 saves from Kenley Jansen.

Ian Happ has developed into a 5 WAR high K/high BB slugger. Kris Bryant has settled into a nice Evan Longoria role - and agreed to 25 million for another 3 years with team options thereafter. Rizzo won an MVP in 2020, but sadly, we had to let him to walk to LAD because he wanted 35m+. But - a three-headed monster of Brendan McKay, Forrest Wall, and Daulton Varsho is more than filling his lineup spot. Willy got moved for a JT Realmuto rental (+ draft pick and Dylan Cozens and Adam Haseley). Schwarbs posted a couple 35 HRs seasons before heading a package that fetched Jacob deGrom.

Durbin Feltman, Wyatt Mills, Richard Lovelady, Jared Miller, and Zach Pop have formed the greatest bullpen of the 20s... The rotation includes a couple of imports and Griffin Canning, Cal Quantrill, and Mackenzie Gore on the way - all under team team control for another 5 years.

The offense has more pieces than we know what to do with - Austin Hays made the 2022 ASG despite the fact that he's a 4th OF playing behind Happ, Christian Yelich, and Joc Pederson (who he should really be starting over, but I'm arguing with my manager on that at the moment). Nick Solak has turned into Joe Morgan.... and what's more - we've got the top SS prospect (Brayan Rocchio), top corner IF prospect (Keoni Cavaco), and a few top 100 prospects (Corbin Carroll, Riley Greene) in the OF.

In short? Three-peat 120 win championship seasons, the best farm system in baseball, and no bad contracts to worry about....
   12. Brian C Posted: October 01, 2019 at 10:57 PM (#5885267)
As to Theo's comments -- what do people expect him to say?

This. Anyone is going to get nice things said about them if the media presses Theo on him. This is the way basically every managerial/coaching search in every sport has always gone since forever. Theo even went out of his way to discount the 2016 connection and still it's, "he's probably the favorite because of 2016."

Facts are, 1) we don't have the foggiest idea what the FO is thinking and 2) the media has nothing to do but spin their wheels over it for the next couple weeks. So we're in for a spell of all kinds of nonsense. Already I just want it to be over.
   13. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 02, 2019 at 10:27 AM (#5885395)
Totally agree, I was trying to criticize Mooney there, not Theo.

Cubs also confirmed they'll interview Venable and Loretta.
   14. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: October 02, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5885408)
Cubs also confirmed they'll interview Venable and Loretta.


"Look, we all know that Loretta can't be manager, which is nobody's fault, not even the Romans, but that he has the right to be manager."
   15. Blastin Posted: October 02, 2019 at 12:22 PM (#5885434)
Will Venable was a few years ahead of me in college. Very smart guy. No idea how he would be as a manager but based on intellect, definitely he ought to be considered.
   16. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 02, 2019 at 12:26 PM (#5885435)
He worked for a year or so in the Cubs FO, and then they moved him to Maddon's coaching staff. I seem to recall a few articles at different points touting him as a future managerial candidate. Loretta also has some brief FO experience (not with the Cubs) and moved to Maddon's coaching staff; he also got future manager buzz when the Cubs hired him. Both guys went to good schools, too, so yeah, similar resumes.
   17. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 02, 2019 at 12:31 PM (#5885437)
so yeah, similar resumes.
Venable might have better genes, in that he's the son of a man who was smart enough to somehow figure out how to play (at least part of) 12 seasons in the major leagues as an outfielder despite a career OPS+ of 81.
   18. Spahn Insane Posted: October 02, 2019 at 12:34 PM (#5885439)
Huh--Will Venable is Max Venable's son. I didn't realize that. I mention it only because Max hit the first visitor's home run I ever witnessed at Wrigley. (It probably wasn't even the most unlikely home run of the game; Tom Veryzer hit his only Cub homer that day.)
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 02, 2019 at 12:43 PM (#5885446)
And Max Venable's actual name is William McKinley Venable, which I learned today. Not sure where "Max" came from. I remember him from baseball cards of my childhood, sporting the kind of glasses that hipsters wear ironically these days.
   20. Zonk Was In The Loop and Followed POTUS Orders Posted: October 02, 2019 at 01:09 PM (#5885456)
Huh--Will Venable is Max Venable's son. I didn't realize that. I mention it only because Max hit the first visitor's home run I ever witnessed at Wrigley. (It probably wasn't even the most unlikely home run of the game; Tom Veryzer hit his only Cub homer that day.)


I didn't realize that they were two different people.

I mean, I suppose I should have - but somehow my mind kind of went to Max and Will being the same person.... My mind kind of forgot that this would mean a 30+ year career.
   21. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 02, 2019 at 02:10 PM (#5885491)
Old, old, old.

---

More on Theo talking about accountability, no stone left unturned, etc. All very similar to last year, to be honest. More can be read between the lines here, but nothing new per se:
Ultimately, the Cubs want more collaboration throughout the organization, especially between the various departments in the front office — research and development, player development, amateur and pro scouting — and the big-league staff.
---
It’s clear that something changed for the Cubs after the 2016 World Series. The front office heard feedback over the last few years from veteran acquisitions about complacency and a lack of accountability from a group that was once lauded for its culture. There is a belief that too many players expect greatness to come much easier. Nothing was easy in 2016, and it certainly isn’t now.

If these issues sound similar to what Epstein focused on last offseason, they are. While he was encouraged by the work the entire organization put in last winter and spring to fix those issues, ultimately, these problems require further action.

“We have to try to create a winning culture for now, not what was a winning culture a few years ago,” Epstein said. “I think that we’re intent on doing better in that area. All of our players are. They all want to be part of something that’s the best culture in baseball. That should be the standard. I look at a couple organizations in particular with envy in a way I’m sure they look at our organization in a lot of ways with envy.”
---
“We want to have a culture where when a player steps in here midseason, he’s not providing energy, there’s already energy” Epstein said. “When a player steps in here midseason, he’s uplifted by the culture. He looks around and says, ‘Wow, every single one of these players is getting the absolute most out of his ability. He’s putting in incredible hours and making sacrifices and making great decisions to be the best version of himself as a player. Now that’s what I’m expected to do as a Cub.’ That just uplifts everybody and we’re going to continue to strive to get there.”


Sharma does speculate on the Cubs keeping Hottovy and Iapoce.
   22. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: October 02, 2019 at 02:22 PM (#5885498)
And Max Venable's actual name is William McKinley Venable, which I learned today.


Me too! And he is now the only player I know of who has the full name of a president, or major party candidate, who didn't play for the Cubs:

Theodore Roosevelt Lilly
Grover Cleveland Alexander
Calvin Coolige...McLish
Samuel J Tilden Sheckard
William Jennings Bryan Herman
   23. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 02, 2019 at 07:06 PM (#5885616)
Heyman (so who knows):
A fair number of people around baseball believe the Cubs’ job is David Ross’ if he wants it. The bigger question may be: how badly does he want it?
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 02, 2019 at 07:10 PM (#5885618)
That right there should disqualify -- not the stupidity of the nickname (alas, common) but that the GM and presumably many of the players still think of him as "Rossy the teammate."
Seconded.
   25. Brian C Posted: October 02, 2019 at 07:25 PM (#5885625)
I mention it only because Max hit the first visitor's home run I ever witnessed at Wrigley.

Mine was Bob Brenly, of all people.
   26. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 04, 2019 at 09:26 PM (#5886678)
Cubs have begun managerial interviews. Mark Loretta interviewed yesterday. Joe Girardi, David Ross and Will Venable will interview next week.
   27. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 05, 2019 at 09:40 PM (#5886980)
So all year long I felt like the Cubs offense was too inconsistent - too boom/bust.

But I decided to actually check. They scored 814 runs in 162 years. In the last 40 years, 31 different teams have played 162 games while scoring 809-819 runs. So that's a good control sample.

Those 31 teams were shutout an average of 6.4 times per season. The 2019 Cubs were shut out eight times.

Those 31 teams were held to exactly one run 13.7 times per season. The 2019 Cubs were held to exactly one run fourteen times.

Those 31 teams were held to exactly two runs 18.8 times. The 2019 Cubs were held to exactly two runs 26 times.

In all, the control group was held to 0-2 runs 38.9 times per year. The 2019 Cubs? 46 times.

In fact, none of the 31 other teams were held to 0-2 runs as many times as the Cubs were. Two of them (1988 Red Sox and 2006 Rockies) were held to 0-2 runs 45 times, just one less. And those teams were shutout the most times (13 for the Red Sox, 12 for the Rockies). The eight times the Cubs were shutout? Well, it's just 1.6 more than average, but only four teams were shutout more than eight times, and just two others exactly eight times. For that matter, the Cubs 26 times scoring two runs was the second highest total overall (28 for the 1980 Brewers).

Upshot: Yeah, they were too boom/bust. Scoring 0-2 runs makes it tough to win and they scored at that level more than they should've given their overall offensive production. The same was true of the team in 2018.
   28. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 07, 2019 at 11:11 AM (#5887306)
Considering the offensive environment, I'd think that means it's actually more pronounced that this appears, right?
   29. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: October 07, 2019 at 02:20 PM (#5887404)
Apparently Max Venable was a huge hockey star in high school. I didn't know they played high school hockey in California, but there you have it.
   30. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 09, 2019 at 02:02 PM (#5888336)
Great article from Sharma on Contreras and framing.

Epstein isn’t wrong when he says Contreras’ framing has started to come along as well. With data provided by Baseball Prospectus, I was able to get Contreras’ monthly framing data over his career. Baseball Prospectus’ statistic is called Framing Runs Above Average and Austin Hedges led baseball with a 28.2 FRAA, meaning in theory, he saved his team 28 runs more than the average catcher. Willson Contreras was 101 out of 113 catchers at -7.7.

FRAA is created by using Called Strikes Above Average (CSAA) and this statistic doesn’t make it easy to visualize the difference between the best and the worst framers. For example, Hedges was tops at 0.029 and Andrew Knizner was worst in baseball at -0.027. The gap doesn’t seem huge, but it is. As for Contreras, in April, his worst framing month, he was at -0.0158. In September, his best month, he was at -0.0006.


There's also a few GIFs in there showing the differences he's made.
   31. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 09, 2019 at 02:07 PM (#5888339)
Apparently Max Venable was a huge hockey star in high school.
Could he blow that speedshot by you (and) make you look like a fool?
   32. Red Voodooin Posted: October 09, 2019 at 03:24 PM (#5888353)
So, Free Agent Center Fielder Shogo Akiyama Might Be a Perfect Fit for the Cubs

Shogo Akiyama, 31, is a quality defensive center fielder who has posted the following slash lines in NPB since becoming a regular five years ago:

.359/.419/.522
.296/.385/.422
.322/.398/.536
.323/.403/.534
.303/.392/.471
   33. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 09, 2019 at 03:35 PM (#5888355)
Intriguing...I don't know that I would take a major risk on him, but TFA mentions that he has a "5-year/$23 million" offer to stay in Japan. If that's $23 million total over five years (as would be consistent with how TFA's description of the Fukudome contract is worded), yeah, I would happily top that to see what he does in MLB. If it's $23 million per year, then no.
   34. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 09, 2019 at 03:43 PM (#5888356)
What if it's only 23 million yen?

Regardless, on the surface, he seems to be clearly the best CF FA out there.
   35. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 10, 2019 at 10:36 AM (#5888794)
MLBTR arb projections (also linked on the main site):

Cubs (7)

Kris Bryant – $18.5MM
Addison Russell – $5.1MM
Javier Baez – $9.3MM
Kyle Schwarber – $8.0MM
Willson Contreras – $4.5MM
Albert Almora – $1.8MM
Kyle Ryan – $1.1MM


Bryant seems high - up from $12.9. Russell will be non-tendered (maybe resigned after that, but I sure hope not). Javy up from $5.2mil, I could see that but I'm much more hopeful he just signs a long term extension. Schwarber up from $3.4mil, so that's definitely too high. Contreras's first year in arb, but I could see him getting that much. Almora and Ryan are probably pretty close, not enough to have a strong opinion one way or the other.
   36. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 10, 2019 at 12:13 PM (#5888878)
Also, Joe Espada and Carlos Beltran are also official candidates for the manager job.

Everyone assumes Maddon will go to the Angels, but with the Mets and Phillies jobs open he might be able to squeeze enough money out of Moreno to not take a pay cut (or even get a raise).
   37. Walt Davis Posted: October 11, 2019 at 07:22 PM (#5889517)
They scored 814 runs in 162 years

It certainly felt that way.
   38. Walt Davis Posted: October 11, 2019 at 07:35 PM (#5889524)
Considering the offensive environment, I'd think that means it's actually more pronounced that this appears, right?

Probably not. For "count" distributions, the mean and variance are strongly related but there's no particular reason to think it matters much what the distribution of other teams is. Pretty much any 5.0 r/g team would have about the same variance in scoring. Possibly there's some connection between HR-driven offenses and variation but I'd guess that acts to increase variance not decrease it.

I wouldn't read much into Dag's numbers -- it's basically 7 too many exactly 2-run games. It's more the timing -- between Sept 17 and Sept 25 (8 games), the Cubs scored exactly 2 5 times and 1 run once, losing all 6 games (and of course also the 2 games in which they scored some runs). Everything, including the distribution Dag found, was looking pretty normal until that stretch.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: October 11, 2019 at 07:49 PM (#5889528)
Shogo Akiyama, 31, is a quality defensive center fielder

Interesting. But the history of NPB position players coming over is not good. Ohtani of course has hit very well. Before that you have Nori Aoki who came over in 2012 at age 30 and put up a 285/350/387 line (102 OPS+ which would be fine for a solid defensive CF and the 350 OBP would look fine at leadoff). Before that it is Fukudome in 2008 and 258/359/395, 99.

FWIW, in their preceding 3 years in Japan:

NA: OPS around 850, SLG around 440
KF: OPS>1000, SLG around 580

Aoki actually had a terrible final season in Japan (718 OPS). He went back for 2 years, age 36-37, and averaged about a 850 OPS.

I assume NPB 2017-19 is not the same as NPB 8 and 12 years ago so you'll have to find somebody who knows what he's talking about to say how Akiyama's numbers comp to those two but they're reasonably similar to Aoki's in raw terms. As long as the glove is good enough, that would be fine.
   40. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 14, 2019 at 01:26 PM (#5890377)
Also, Joe Espada and Carlos Beltran are also official candidates for the manager job.

Espada is interviewing today. Beltran turned down an interview and only will interview with the Mets.

Cubs are going to interview Gabe Kapler this week.
   41. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 17, 2019 at 02:57 PM (#5891377)
Wittenmeyer:
After an interview Monday with Espada that sources say impressed Cubs executives, insiders suggest it’s a two-man race for the Cubs job, with in-house candidate Ross holding the edge.

Ross, a special assistant to the front office since retiring as a player after winning the 2016 World Series, has been the Cubs’ presumptive manager-in-waiting since Epstein tabled contract extension consideration for Maddon a year ago.

If the Cubs go with Ross, an announcement could come by Monday’s eve of the World Series opener.

If they go with Espada, that could get pushed back until the end of the month if Houston advances to the World Series.


David Kaplan @thekapman

Houston source tells me Astros coach Joe Espada had a sensational interview w/Cubs front office. “He gave Theo + Jed a lot to think about. They really liked him + came away exceptionally impressed. Was it enough to overcome David Ross’s relationship w/Theo and Jed? We’ll see.”


Whether or not Thed see Ross as a favorite, it's clear everyone in the media does and that leaks into every story/tweet about the search. They supposedly aren't interviewing anyone else (Wittenmeyer's article says Girardi really wants the Mets job).

---

Cubs announced a bunch of Front Office changes/promotions today. Just like Jason McLeod, Jaron Madison was moved out of the scouting/player development side. Those two were the names talked about most, and that's the area that Cubs have been worst in. End of the release says there's still external hires to be announced.

CUBS ANNOUNCE PLAYER DEVELOPMENT LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE, INCLUDING NEW DIRECTORS OF PITCHING AND HITTING ROLES
Thursday, October 17, 2019

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today announced a new player development leadership structure within their baseball operations department.

Matt Dorey has been named Senior Vice President, Player Development. This marks a shift to player development for Dorey, who has spent the last six years as the club’s director of amateur scouting (2014-19) after joining the Cubs in 2012 as a national crosschecker. Dorey was an area scout with the Boston Red Sox from 2008-11, earning their Scout of the Year honor in 2010, and was a college coach prior to joining the professional ranks. The 2020 season will mark Dorey’s ninth in the Cubs organization and 13th in pro baseball.

Bobby Basham has been named Director of Player Development. He most recently served as Director of Special Projects/Assistant Director of Player Development (2018-19). Basham joined the Cubs in 2012 and has held a variety of roles, including major league scouting coordinator (2012-13), assistant director of advance scouting and major league strategy (2014) and assistant director of minor league operations (2015-17). Basham pitched for six seasons in the Reds and Padres minor league systems (2001-03, 2005-07).

Craig Breslow has been named Director of Pitching/Special Assistant to the President and General Manager. As Director of Pitching, Breslow will be tasked with the strategic management of the club’s minor league pitching infrastructure. He will also contribute to the organization more generally as a Special Assistant to the President/GM. Breslow joined the Cubs last January as Director of Strategic Initiatives for Baseball Operations after completing a 12-year major league pitching career that saw him make 576 appearances, all but two in relief, with seven different clubs, including a 2013 World Championship with the Boston Red Sox. He is a 2002 graduate of Yale University with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry.

Justin Stone has been named Director of Hitting. Stone, who has served as a biokinematic hitting consultant for the Cubs since 2018, has 20 years of coaching and teaching experience and started Elite Baseball Training in Chicago in 2011, a technology-infused baseball and softball instructional company, to provide hitting instruction by merging and embracing baseball and technology. In this new strategic management role, Stone will lead the club’s minor league hitting infrastructure and play a critical role in tracking the progress, adherence, and success of the club’s minor league hitting development plans while also serving as hitting coordinator at the lower levels. Stone previously was the General Manager at the Chicago White Sox Training Academy from 2001-11 and coached at Indiana State University from 1999-2001, where he also earned his Master’s Degree in Human Performance, specializing in kinesiology, physiology and biomechanics.

Jeremy Farrell has been named Assistant Director of Baseball Development, tasked with working across all areas of player development to maintain the club’s organizational philosophy with respect to fundamentals and competitive standards. Farrell spent the 2019 season as the club’s minor league field coordinator, his fourth season in the organization overall, as he has also served one season as minor league infield coordinator (2018) and two seasons as a minor league hitting coach (2016-17). Farrell moved into player development following a seven-year minor league career as an infielder in the Pirates (2008-12) and White Sox (2013-15) organizations.

——

With the announcement of the club’s new player development leadership structure, Jaron Madison has been named Special Assistant to the President/General Manager, a player evaluation role with emphasis on professional, amateur and international scouting. Madison has 18 years in pro baseball, including the last eight seasons with the Cubs as director of amateur scouting (Aug. 2012-13) and director of player development (2014-19). Before the Cubs, Madison was director of amateur scouting for San Diego (Dec. 2009-July 2012), assistant director of scouting for St. Louis (2008-09), assistant to the director of scouting for San Diego (2005-07) and an area scout for Pittsburgh (2002-05).

The Cubs will announce further player development hirings and a new scouting leadership structure at a later date.
   42. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 18, 2019 at 12:51 PM (#5891641)
There's been more discussion of those FO in this thread, and I linked to The Athletic's write-up there also, but one other note in that piece is:

But these changes don’t mean the Cubs are in a rush to make their managerial hire. There is a chance they could get it done before the World Series, but they aren’t setting a deadline, instead focusing on making sure this process is done right. David Ross and Joe Espada are highly thought of candidates, but it hasn’t yet reached a level where they’re the two finalists. Other names remain in play, and there’s a possibility one more candidate is interviewed.


MYSTERY CANDIDATE!!!!
   43. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 21, 2019 at 12:00 PM (#5892515)
Sharma:
As Astros bench coach Joe Espada travels to Chicago for a second interview with the Cubs, David Ross looks less like the slam-dunk candidate he was believed to be. While Ross is still considered the favorite by many, Espada is the hottest managerial candidate in baseball with Joe Maddon officially off the market.

Ross is certainly familiar with the clubhouse and organizational dynamics that come with the Cubs job. But Espada also has numerous connections in the Cubs organization. He worked with former farm director, bench coach and current Orioles manager Brandon Hyde when both were with the Marlins. The two are also brothers-in-law (their wives are sisters). Hyde is held in high esteem by Theo Epstein and the Cubs front office.

Espada also worked with Andy Haines, Anthony Iapoce and Tim Cossins in Miami, all of whom have worked or currently work for the Cubs and whose word also carries weight with the front office.

As A.J. Hinch’s bench coach the last two years, Espada has had a front-row seat to an Astros team that has surpassed the Cubs in many ways over the last few seasons, from cutting-edge strategies in player development to a pitching staff that led all of baseball in strikeout rate.
   44. Brian C Posted: October 21, 2019 at 04:34 PM (#5892617)
I never understood where "David Ross, slam-dunk candidate" came from. But I suppose we should be thankful - this managerial search has been a lot calmer on the media side than I expected and a lot less dumb, and I'm guessing that's because everyone just assumed Ross was the guy.
   45. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 21, 2019 at 04:46 PM (#5892624)
This whole "Manager Rossy" thing is like, I think it was one of the Saved by the Bell spinoffs, where one of the students from the original series a few years before was now the teacher or something like that.
   46. Itchy Row Posted: October 21, 2019 at 06:19 PM (#5892652)
I still don't understand why everybody knows who David Ross is. He seems nice, but backup catchers kind of have to be at least somewhat personable.
   47. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 23, 2019 at 09:56 AM (#5893301)
David Kaplan @thekapman

Highly placed source has confirmed to me David Ross is expected to be named Cubs manager this week. His agent has been discussing contractual terms with Theo Epstein. Deal is almost done. More on @ESPN1000 at 9 am. On @NBCSChicago + http://NBCsportschicago.com throughout the day.


I remain...skeptical...that this is the right move.
   48. WKRP in Cincinnatus Posted: October 23, 2019 at 11:46 AM (#5893377)
At least he'll be cheaper.
   49. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 23, 2019 at 01:55 PM (#5893478)
I still don't understand why everybody knows who David Ross is. He seems nice, but backup catchers kind of have to be at least somewhat personable

The guy's last career plate appearance was a home run in game 7 of the world series. Which is a nice way to boost your legacy.
   50. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 23, 2019 at 02:14 PM (#5893490)
The guy's last career plate appearance was a home run in game 7 of the world series.


The problem with the perfect ending in real life is that it encourages you to keep going and not make it the ending. What are the odds now that David Ross gets carried off the field in his last game wearing a major-league uniform?
   51. Panik on the streets of Flushing! (Trout! Trout!) Posted: October 23, 2019 at 02:54 PM (#5893514)
This whole "Manager Rossy" thing is like, I think it was one of the Saved by the Bell spinoffs, where one of the students from the original series a few years before was now the teacher or something like that.


Spot on.
   52. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 23, 2019 at 03:00 PM (#5893515)
Thanks. And I think that show didn't even last a season before it was canceled, so...
   53. Panik on the streets of Flushing! (Trout! Trout!) Posted: October 23, 2019 at 03:08 PM (#5893517)
As a Mets fan going through our own managerial search, I find myself just hoping they don't replace one inexperienced manager with another. At the same time, is Joe Girardi really gonna move the needle? Sometimes I think the function of a manager (on a fan level anyway) is to just let you feel comfortable and not like the whole thing is held together by some tenuous thread. A Cub fan friend of mine simply said "if David Ross doesn't bat Almora and Kemp at the top of the lineup, it's already an improvement" and it's hard to argue.
   54. Zonk Was In The Loop and Followed POTUS Orders Posted: October 23, 2019 at 03:15 PM (#5893519)
Shows what you know, Face... There were two Saved by the Bell spinoffs - one ("the College Years") did indeed last just a single season. This was surprising, because Bob Golic was added to the cast - AND, their college conveniently had a very nice beach so Tiffany Amber-Thiessen could do what TAT do.

There was another - The New Class - that lasted 7 seasons somehow... Which is somewhat amazing because it only included Mr Belding and Screech from the original.... Neither of whom looked as good in swimwear as Tiffany did.
   55. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 23, 2019 at 03:17 PM (#5893520)
I stand corrected. I think I'm OK with being less of an expert on Saved by the Bell spinoffs as you are.
   56. Zonk Was In The Loop and Followed POTUS Orders Posted: October 23, 2019 at 03:19 PM (#5893522)
I am an expert on Tiffany Amber-Thiessen... for a long time, that meant you also gained significant SBTB knowledge.

To clarify - I only have the depth of knowledge of the second spin-off because I kept waiting for Tiffany's guest appearance.... that never came.
   57. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 23, 2019 at 03:33 PM (#5893530)
So what are your thoughts on "Fastlane" and its premature cancellation?
   58. Zonk Was In The Loop and Followed POTUS Orders Posted: October 23, 2019 at 03:42 PM (#5893532)
The fact that far too few episodes involved beach settings prevents the cancellation from being a crime against humanity.... but not by much.
   59. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: October 23, 2019 at 07:09 PM (#5893590)
where one of the students from the original series a few years before was now the teacher or something like that.


"Good morning, fellow Cubs."
   60. Walt Davis Posted: October 24, 2019 at 03:36 AM (#5893849)
What are the odds now that David Ross gets carried off the field in his last game wearing a major-league uniform?

Maybe he'll manage in a suit.
   61. Walt Davis Posted: October 24, 2019 at 03:39 AM (#5893850)
DUDE!! It's Tiffani ... some ####### expert you are.
   62. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 24, 2019 at 08:24 AM (#5893864)
I'm fine with Ross being the manager. The Cubs didn't go with the "next great manager" guy, but managers are pretty much impossible to handicap. What we do know about Ross is good -- he's a smart guy, the players like him -- and what we don't know? Well, we're going to find out, just like we would from anyone, including those with previous experience.

This is a different situation than what we're used to. The last time the Cubs let a manager go after a winning season was Jim Lefebvre in 1993. I can see how the guy who was viewed as a, if not the, clubhouse leader could return to get a little something extra out of a pretty decent roster that's looking a bit tired. Ross seems like he will be a little more of a details guy and less of a clubhouse philosopher than Maddon, which seems like a positive change. He's young, and he played with eight major league teams -- that is worth something. My guess is that he's willing to embrace a sabermetric approach, having been vetted by Epstein and Hoyer. We'll see what we get, but I don't see any red flags. My biggest concern for the off-season is the roster, not the manager.

I also think Maddon is a good match for the Angels.
   63. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 24, 2019 at 08:31 AM (#5893866)
There was a "high school student goes back to his old high school as a teacher" sitcom that far pre-dated anything to do with Saved by the Bell. And it was a major hit.

Perhaps it makes sense that a baseball exec named Epstein would go for that old trope.
   64. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 24, 2019 at 10:57 AM (#5893916)
he played with eight major league teams -- that is worth something.

He's played for Maddon, Francona, Bobby Cox, Dusty, and Bochy (among others), so he has seen a lot.
   65. Spahn Insane Posted: October 24, 2019 at 11:31 AM (#5893929)
The guy's last career plate appearance was a home run in game 7 of the world series. Which is a nice way to boost your legacy.

Last official AB. He walked in the 9th, Coghlan ran for him. (Your point stands of course.)
   66. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 24, 2019 at 01:54 PM (#5894015)
One random thought - did Ross interview anywhere else? I don't recall seeing that he did. If he didn't, was it because no one else was interested or he turned them down because he was only interested in the Cubs?

Not that it matters either way...
   67. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 24, 2019 at 05:10 PM (#5894106)
Rizzo, Heyward are both gold glove finalists. Heyward is a legacy pick - he was much better in RF than CF but I think he's not what he used to be. He also 105 games in RF (not all of which were full games).

Javy is a snub, but probably not a huge one considering he missed almost a month end of the year. Ahmed, Story, and DeJong are the 3 finalists.
   68. Quaker Posted: October 24, 2019 at 07:02 PM (#5894144)
Kapman says he doesn't think Cubs will be big players in FA, and theymay look to re-set their luxury tax. Kap also said he thought at least one of Baez/Bryant/Contreras would be gone before the Cubs reconvened in Mesa. When pressed to guess which of the three would leave, he said Willson. Finally, he said sources had told him that Bryant would be amenable to an extension "if the Cubs come correct."
   69. Brian C Posted: October 24, 2019 at 07:05 PM (#5894148)
I guess I was wrong and Ross was a slam-dunk after all.

My view on this is that ... fine, but he'll have to justify it. It's reasonable to suspect that his 2016 magic played an outsized role in getting the job, so, prove me wrong.

I also think that Andere makes a good point that Espada would have been an unknown, too, so there's really no point in comparing them. So we'll see how it turns out.

Still seems suspect, though. How can it not?

Frankly, though, about 60% of what I feel about it is just relief that it's not Girardi.
   70. Brian C Posted: October 24, 2019 at 07:07 PM (#5894150)
Have I just missed something or is there a reason Willson is the focus of so much trade speculation? How is he not a guy we'd want to make a priority to keep?
   71. Quaker Posted: October 24, 2019 at 07:16 PM (#5894153)
He's young, has three years of control remaining, there's a suspicion that his framing takes away some of the runs his bat creates and Caratini wasn't bad this year. So essentially, WC would 1) bring back a good return 2) other teams might overrate him if they focus solely on offense and the framing is a real problem and 3) his replacement is likely to be competent, if not great.
   72. Brian C Posted: October 24, 2019 at 07:31 PM (#5894161)
He's young, has three years of control remaining, there's a suspicion that his framing takes away some of the runs his bat creates and Caratini wasn't bad this year. So essentially, WC would 1) bring back a good return 2) other teams might overrate him if they focus solely on offense and the framing is a real problem and 3) his replacement is likely to be competent, if not great.

OK, but this is ... I'm sorry, but this is just dumb.

The first two reasons are reasons that you'd keep him, not trade him away. And while he might bring a good return, he won't bring a return in *present value* that's substantially better than what he himself provides. If the Cubs were bad, and needed to rebuild, then sure you trade the great present value for future value, although even the limits of that are tested by a guy with three years of control left. But a win-now team like the Cubs can't do that.

So sure, maybe they can trade for equal present value at a different position. But that still leaves you with the problem that Willson is a really good catcher! And while Caratini "wasn't bad", he wasn't all that good - a decent bat, indifferent defensively. Basically, he was a solid backup, and there's no reason to think he can be a full-time catcher that provides anywhere near the value Willson does. This is the kind of trade you make when you have another prospect stud waiting to take over that's being blocked, not when you have Victor Caratini next in line.
   73. Walt Davis Posted: October 24, 2019 at 11:59 PM (#5894268)
In addition to #71 ... the Cubs are reportedly looking to shake some things up. Maybe that only means "change the manager." But if you're looking for tradeable players to shake things up ... Willson is about the only one with value that kinda has an in-house replacement (and that prospect around #100 ... and Grandal will probably be out there as an FA or Chirinos as a short-term stopgap) ... and while it would raise a stink, a lot less stink than trading Bryant or Rizzo or Javy. The Cubs just don't have that many players other teams really want at the price they'll be paid. (And who's gonna trade for Bryant until the grievance is resolved?)

But agreed, you don't trade just for the sake of trading. Cubs' main needs are 2B, CF, pen, one SP but there are no good FA options at 2B and CF. If they can land a real solution at one of those, a Contreras trade might be worth it.
   74. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 25, 2019 at 12:26 AM (#5894269)
In addition to #71 ... the Cubs are reportedly looking to shake some things up. Maybe that only means "change the manager." But if you're looking for tradeable players to shake things up ... Willson is about the only one with value that kinda has an in-house replacement

Two in-house replacements, if they make Ross player-manager. ;)
   75. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 25, 2019 at 12:09 PM (#5894452)
So sure, maybe they can trade for equal present value at a different position. But that still leaves you with the problem that Willson is a really good catcher! And while Caratini "wasn't bad", he wasn't all that good - a decent bat, indifferent defensively. Basically, he was a solid backup, and there's no reason to think he can be a full-time catcher that provides anywhere near the value Willson does. This is the kind of trade you make when you have another prospect stud waiting to take over that's being blocked, not when you have Victor Caratini next in line.

Not to pile on and merely to play devil's advocate, but maybe the Cubs see Amaya as closer than we think. Caratini is far from indifferent at defense compared to Willson - in fact he's a pretty decent improvement per both FG and BPro. He's not good at throwing out basestealers, but that is pretty much the only thing Willson is better at defenisvely. Willson had 2.7fWAR last year in 409PAs and Caratini was at 1.4 in 279, so it's much closer that we like to think. Now, how much of that is framing - something Willson is objectively terrible at and Caratini is decent?

So the idea would be to trade from excess to fill another hole (be it SP or 2b or CF). A slight downgrade at C for a big upgrade elsewhere is worth thinking about. I think Willson will bring back the most value - probably even more than Bryant considering cost and the extra year of control. He's also already 27 and has had some injury issues.

Now, to be clear, I'm not hoping they trade him, and even if they did it could still turn out to be a terrible trade. I think he makes the most sense of any of the names that could be traded (in addition to Bryant, Schwarber just isn't getting you much back in return, Javy is much harder to replace, etc).
   76. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 25, 2019 at 12:15 PM (#5894460)
I think these few years will eventually be shown to be a period of massive overcorrection for the initial dismissiveness toward pitch framing - it seems to me to be seriously overrated in terms of importance. Maybe I just haven't seen the right data, and I acknowledge the other reasons for a potentiall Willson deall. But if they do end up trading him based in large part on framing, I think that's a blunder.
   77. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 25, 2019 at 12:25 PM (#5894471)
If we get robot umps, then the framing issue goes away completely. I don't know that anyone is (publicly) properly valuing framing, but Willson is absolutely the textbook example of a bad framer and it comes into play virtually every game. That impacts the pitcher, etc etc, so I don't think it's unfair to say that framing does make Willson a slightly worse catcher than he should be - but I have no idea how much and I'm sure different teams value/measure it differently.

I think there's enough other reasons to consider moving him that I doubt the framing could be considered the main one.
   78. Walt Davis Posted: October 25, 2019 at 11:56 PM (#5894832)
To be clear, I suspect the drop-off from Willson to Caratini is pretty large. Caratini certainly had a nice season but it's the first time he's done this in the majors. Willson has been an excellent hitter for a C since his arrival, with the exception of the last 3-4 months of 2018. Caratini's AAA numbers give me some faith but I'd still bet on Willson outhitting Caratini by 15-20 points of OPS+.
   79. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 28, 2019 at 12:24 PM (#5895431)
Listening to Ross's press conference...

-Theo intro talks about winning culture, natural leader, and Ross has done a bunch behind the scenes to get ready to be a manager
-Early on, but his comments/answers are pretty...generic and shallow? He also sounds pretty nervous, to be honest
-Ross mentions he got a list from Theo when he retired of things he needed to do as a special ass't and he checked them all off, nothing specific though
-Cliche, cliche, cliche
-One answer he mentions the "Grandpa Rossy" image 3 times he has and how that's not all he is
-He didn't have any doubts during the interview process that he'd get the job; maybe he's answering the question differently than it was asked but that's what his answer sounded like
-Theo says you wouldn't hire Ross if you want a puppet for the FO and doesn't think he'll be a yes man
-Cliche, cliche, accountability, cliche

Alright, I'm out. This is just worthless and I'm wasting me time.
   80. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 31, 2019 at 05:21 PM (#5897559)
Can confirm @JonHeyman's report that Yu Darvish will not opt out of his contract with the Cubs. Not a surprise there. Once over injury setbacks and comfortable, Yu thrived down stretch.

K-BB% leaders in 2nd half:

Cole: 39%
Verlander: 36.6%
Darvish: 35.6%


Good.

Joe Maddon told the Tampa Times that his departure from the Cubs was a bilateral move.”I didn’t want to be back either.it went down to the last few games for both sides to see that”He said he will keep Maddon’s post in Wrigley open but that business needs to improve


Sounds like Ross might want John Farrell to be his bench coach. Everyone assumes pitching and hitting coaches will be back.
   81. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: November 01, 2019 at 01:57 AM (#5897650)
YOU CAN'T BREAK UP WITH ME, I'M BREAKING UP WITH YOU!
   82. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 04, 2019 at 10:00 AM (#5898463)
Rizzo won gold glove, Heyward didn't (which makes sense, since he spent half the year in CF anyway).

Cubs officially picked up Rizzo's and Quintana's options, but declined Holland's and Morrow's; all were no-brainers but the Cubs could still theoretically trade Quintana. Cubs also declined Graveman's option; he spent all year last year rehabbing from Tommy John and his option was only $3mil, so his rehab must have been going pretty terrible (or the Cubs are counting every penny again).

3b coach Butterfield and strength/conditioning coach Buss both followed Maddon to the Angels. Butterfield was a Maddon hire, but Buss has been with the Cubs since I think 2001 (though obviously not always that same job).
   83. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 04, 2019 at 07:31 PM (#5898613)
The Cubs have officially exercised Anthony Rizzo's 2020 option while declining options for Tony Barnette, Kendall Graveman, Brandon Morrow and David Phelps. They've selected the contract of Colin Rea from Triple-A Iowa and outrighted Allen Webster to Iowa. 40-man at 32


Had Phelps pitched in 2 fewer games, his option would have been $3mil not $5mil, which I bet the Cubs would have picked up.

Source: Cubs did not make a qualifying offer (one year, $17.8M) to Cole Hamels. There will be no compensatory Draft pick linked to his signing elsewhere.

@ESPNChiCubs was on it first.




   84. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 04, 2019 at 07:35 PM (#5898615)
Designated RHPs Jacob Nix and Eric Yardley for assignment.

RHP Carl Edwards Jr. cleared waivers and elected free agency.

The Padres’ 40-man roster stands at 40.


CJ a FA.
   85. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 05, 2019 at 10:24 AM (#5898750)
Athletic on more behind the scenes changes, most of which aren't things we really know much about. One note in there:

At the major-league level, the Cubs are saying their bench coach job is open. Mark Loretta, Maddon’s bench coach this year, will be considered, but other candidates are interviewing. Sources say former San Diego Padres manager Andy Green is one of several names on the team’s radar, while John Farrell — a former Red Sox pitching coach and manager and current Cincinnati Reds special assistant — is not being considered for a role on Ross’ staff.
   86. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 06, 2019 at 01:48 PM (#5899173)
Sharma: Cubs seem ready to make big moves, but don’t count on them spending big money.

It sounds good on paper, but while the Cubs are not as restricted financially and their trade chips are significantly more valuable compared to last winter, early indications are they will not be shopping in the Cole, Rendon or Strasburg section of the free agent marketplace. Think cheaper.

Despite obvious flaws on the roster that could be fixed by lavish spending, ownership prefers the front office find ways to extend their window of contention through more modest means.

The Ricketts family also has no interest in a complete rebuild like the one Epstein and company undertook when they arrived in Chicago eight years ago. The Cubs have numerous players whose contracts run out in 2021, including Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Báez and Kyle Schwarber, and they want to find a way to keep the team competitive for the foreseeable future, rather than taking a large step back two years down the road.

The focus now is to keep open the Cubs’ window of contention, even if that means taking a step back in 2020. If the goal is to refresh things and get better in the long-term, the front office will have to be open-minded with its strategy.

Financial flexibility going forward is just as much a focus as an influx of youth. Epstein is reshaping the organization as a whole, trying to ensure that they get back to producing high-end talent out of their farm system and use free agency as a way to supplement their roster rather than to cover gaping holes.

To avoid a sudden and dramatic drop off for the organization once the 2021 season ends, the Cubs will have to look to the trade market. Unless players start signing contract extensions — Báez seems most likely — then the Cubs might entertain some ideas that outsiders may see as dramatic, but would serve their long-term interests well.


Who knows.
   87. Brian C Posted: November 06, 2019 at 03:35 PM (#5899201)
We'll see. I feel like we heard a lot of the same stuff last offseason and nothing happened. Plus they just made a manager change that was conspicuous for its lack of a new direction. And they've shuffled a bunch of titles in the front office without making any real changes too.

Which, is fine in the sense that this is a successful organization and I'm not sure that a lot of radical changes are needed. It's just that they won't shut up about all these big changes that never seem to actually happen. At some point, it's got to affect morale within the ranks that there's so much talk and so little action.
   88. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 07, 2019 at 11:33 AM (#5899389)
Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Catching up on credit: @ESPNChiCubs 1st on Lester Strode not returning as Cubs bullpen coach (he was offered another position in org)

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Chris Denorfia won’t be back as quality assurance coach with the Cubs. With a new regime there are obviously changes. Denorfia, the former outfielder, is extremely well-respected throughout the game.

Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma

Former Phillies pitching coach Chris Young will be the Cubs next bullpen coach. Before getting an in-uniform job with Philly, Young was a pro scout with the Astros and Padres.

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

Scott Harris, #Cubs assistant GM, is among candidates for #SFGiants’ GM opening, sources tell The Athletic. Unclear where search stands, how close SFG are to conclusion. Finalists for manager, per @PavlovicNBCS: Joe Espada, Pedro Grifol, Gabe Kapler.


Which, is fine in the sense that this is a successful organization and I'm not sure that a lot of radical changes are needed. It's just that they won't shut up about all these big changes that never seem to actually happen. At some point, it's got to affect morale within the ranks that there's so much talk and so little action.

From the outside, there's already been a ton more changes this year than last, and not just Maddon/coaches that turn over there. Even if everyone of these moves is the perfect move for the team, from the outside we might not be able to tell at all anytime soon. As for the players, yeah, I'm very much in the "wait and see" mode, because I surely expected a lot more turnover last year that never happened.
   89. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 07, 2019 at 01:18 PM (#5899450)
   90. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 07, 2019 at 01:41 PM (#5899463)
Elroy, any thoughts on this proposal?
Hmmm...it's an interesting idea, and credit to the author for thinking outside the box. But my first reaction is that whatever improvements it would offer in terms of TTO and fan engagement would be more than offset by worsening the pace of play, potentially dramatically. I mean, imagine if we allowed the prisoner to call time out right before receiving the lethal injection. That would probably slow things down a lot, right? And that's what would happen pretty much any time a batter got to a two-strike count - the incentive would be to prolong what may be his last moments on earth (even if the odds of his actually being shot would be quite small).

So that's one problem, and the other that comes to mind is how the plan would interact with contract obligations. If a team's player gets shot dead following a strikeout, is the team still on the hook to the player's family for the whole contract? If not, you'd see teams trying to maximize, say, Heyward's at-bats against Josh Hader, in hopes of getting lucky. I'm not so sure that's what we would want.

All in all, I still think the most elegant solution is to have a pitch clock and to require the batter to remain in the box, both enforced by wolverines.
   91. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 07, 2019 at 02:16 PM (#5899488)
One of the comments had a good idea - the umps always shoot the batters when they strikeout, but most of the time it's a blank and no one knows when/where the live bullet is. I think that might reduce the pace of play concerns, because by say the 2nd week of the season the gunshot becomes part of the routine you'll have fewer players trying to run away from the umps. IOW, no timeouts granted. Well, the victim could try to call time but the ump doesn't have to grant it.
   92. Itchy Row Posted: November 07, 2019 at 02:25 PM (#5899493)
I wouldn't trust an umpire with a gun. Arming the wolverines would be better, because wolverines generally don't know much about baseball. There's a chance they'll shoot the catcher or the umpire instead.
   93. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 07, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5899494)
I wouldn't trust an umpire with a gun.
Don't let Rob Drake hear you say that. He'd probably shoot you. Because freedom!
   94. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 11, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5900352)
Giants did hire away Harris to be their GM.

Cubs did hire Andy Green as bench coach; well, I guess it's not official but it's not longer being reported as just likely.

---

There sure seems like way too much smoke on moving Contreras now. Sharma makes the case for it. I've seen a number of places talk about the teams that are/should be most likely to trade for him. Again, in a perfect world, I wouldn't do this. But I think I can be convinced it has its merits, but obviously a ton depends on the return/veteran addition.
   95. Meatwad Posted: November 13, 2019 at 12:56 AM (#5900735)
Dont the cubs have a ton of catching prospects in the minors? Wouldnt moving one of them make more sense and not create a huge hole that is currently filled by a cheap player.
   96. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 13, 2019 at 12:49 PM (#5900888)
They wouldn't get nearly as much back for any of the catching prospects as they would for Willson. I think the argument - and again, I am pretty sure I'm against it - is that of the tradeable players the Cubs have (Bryant/Baez/Rizzo/Contreras/Schwarber/Nico/whatever), Contreras is the guy who could be replaced most easily (not completely, but somewhat so) both in the short term (Caratini/random veteran backup) and long term (Amaya/etc) *and* bring the most back to fill in other holes (rotation or 2b/CF) that would theoretically be enough of an upgrade at that spot to make up for any downgrade at the traded players spot. I mean, I get the idea, it's just not the ideal way to go about it for the Cubs, IMO.

---

“I don’t believe Brandon would sign with anyone else until the Cubs decide what they want to do,” Morrow’s agent Joel Wolfe told the Sun-Times. “The Cubs invested a lot of time into Brandon, and money, of course, and Brandon feels a certain sense of loyalty and obligation back to the Cubs to stay with them if they want him on a minor-league contract or something like that. He signed with the Cubs because he thought they were the best organization out there for him, and he still believes that.”


I'd absolutely take a flier on him with a minor league deal.
   97. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 13, 2019 at 03:22 PM (#5900927)
Bruce Levine @MLBBruceLevine

Breaking news - Cubs will name Dan Kantrovitz their new VP of scouting later today . Kantrovitz was asst GM of Oakland last vice years 2012-14 director of scouting for Cards . ( Flaherty - Kelly - Weaver )


I'm surprised he hasn't tweeted a followup that's a little more clear, but this is a pretty important hire.

Jordan Bastian @MLBastian

Can confirm reports that Dan Kantrovitz will be the Cubs' new scouting director. He was most recently an assistant GM for the A's. @MLBBruceLevine was first with the news.


At least Bruce was right.
   98. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 13, 2019 at 04:35 PM (#5900941)
They wouldn't get nearly as much back for any of the catching prospects as they would for Willson. I think the argument - and again, I am pretty sure I'm against it - is that of the tradeable players the Cubs have (Bryant/Baez/Rizzo/Contreras/Schwarber/Nico/whatever), Contreras is the guy who could be replaced most easily (not completely, but somewhat so) both in the short term (Caratini/random veteran backup) and long term (Amaya/etc) *and* bring the most back to fill in other holes (rotation or 2b/CF) that would theoretically be enough of an upgrade at that spot to make up for any downgrade at the traded players spot. I mean, I get the idea, it's just not the ideal way to go about it for the Cubs, IMO.

It pains me to say it because I like Willson quite a bit but I think it is a rational conclusion depending on how the rest of MLB views pitch framing. Or, I guess, if at least one catcher-needy team with value to give isn't concerned about it.

Dont the cubs have a ton of catching prospects in the minors? Wouldnt moving one of them make more sense and not create a huge hole that is currently filled by a cheap player.

The Cubs are looking to alleviate the issue of everybody hitting FA at once. Trading minor leaguers won't help with their looming balloon payment on talent.
   99. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 14, 2019 at 10:53 AM (#5901082)
It pains me to say it because I like Willson quite a bit but I think it is a rational conclusion depending on how the rest of MLB views pitch framing. Or, I guess, if at least one catcher-needy team with value to give isn't concerned about it.

Right. Theo has talked about how Contreras improved as the year went on, and the numbers support that. I'd hate to see him go, but in the right deal could eventually accept it.

----

I guess this is a pretty good endorsement for the Cubs new VP Scouting:
Team president Theo Epstein had been searching for a well-rounded mind to lead the department and Kantrovitz brings both extensive experience as a scout along with a strong understanding of analytics. Before becoming assistant GM in Oakland, Kantrovitz ran three drafts in St. Louis. If the Cubs want someone who can combine both the old- and new-school approach to drafting, current Cardinals general manager Michael Grisch believes they’ve found the perfect fit.

“He’s got an analytics background and he’s been out scouting from 2006 until today,” Grisch said. “He’s been out scouting not just elite college talent, but young international raw talent with raw tools. When he was with us, that’s how we run our draft room, combining all the resources we can to get the right answer. He had success with us and was part of building that in the mid-2000s and was the scouting director from 2012-2014. I think he’s exactly the kind of guy that has a background in doing that and is going to be an annoyingly good fit for the Cubs.”

Kantrovitz has been considered a potential fit for various general manager jobs, so bringing him into this role by giving him a VP title and handing him the keys to the draft could be a bit of a steal for the Cubs.

“To be able to hire somebody to run our drafts who’s already held that position and run successful drafts in the past, it’s a unique opportunity,” Epstein said. “Guys don’t usually go back once they reach the assistant GM level. But in Dan’s case, he’s discovered that his passion is running the draft.”
   100. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 14, 2019 at 11:09 AM (#5901092)
"I think he ... is going to be an annoyingly good fit for the Cubs.”


I don't know anything about Kantrovitz, but I love this quote of endorsement from a member of the Cardinals front office.
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