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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Cubs are living to regret Craig Kimbrel’s $43 million contract

Over his first nine seasons in Major League Baseball, no moment seemed too big for Craig Kimbrel.

The flame-throwing closer dominated in stints with the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox, racking up 333 saves, 868 strikeouts and seven All-Star appearances.

It’s been a different story in 2019.

The now 31-year-old veteran hasn’t just looked human on the hill. He’s looked overwhelmed. As if there were no answers as to why his dominance has disappeared after signing a three-year, $43 million contract with the Chicago Cubs back in May.

Is it just me, or does that title have somewhat unfortunate implications?

 

QLE Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:18 AM | 52 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: contracts, craig kimbrel, cubs

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   1. Brian C Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:44 AM (#5881798)
I just don't know why they're still letting him pitch, and in crucial situations to boot. Shut him down, see if he can regroup for next year. Sucks if you're the Cubs that you have to pay him to be terrible but obviously just pretending like he's still a viable closer isn't working. He's had two DL stints already, clearly something's wrong, just ####### make it stop already.
   2. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:58 AM (#5881800)
As a Red Sox fan: I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.
   3. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: September 22, 2019 at 02:42 AM (#5881808)
I didn't like the signing, mostly because he seemed maddening to watch based on his 2018 postseason appearances.

Hopefully he's just not healthy, because he's not just been bad, he's been astonishingly quick to cough up runs.

On Thursday night, I was listening to the tail end of the Cubs' ninth-inning comeback in the car. I got home and turned on the radio and I'd already missed the go-ahead homer. This afternoon, I was waiting for a wedding reception to start and my cell phone service was spotty. I lost service right after Castellanos grounded out to end the eighth. When I got service again, I noticed there was already a guy on first base. I thought, man, that was quick. Then I realized that the Cardinals had also taken the lead via the two solo homers.

Just a crushing loss in a week that was filled with them.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: September 22, 2019 at 03:17 AM (#5881809)
We certainly regret these 20 innings. On the bright side, it's just 20 innings. On the dark side, they've been so bad (9 HR) that it's unlikely to be a fluke. Something's wrong, now can they fix it?

Unfortunately, lately it hasn't mattered much who we send out there in the 9th or extras. Somewhat amazingly, this is only Kimbrel's 3rd blown save (vs 13 saves) which is average enough. The bullpen has actually pitched great overall in Sept (and is best in the NL by bWAA) yet we are 0-6 in 1-run games in Sept, including 4 in the last 4 games. That's just .... unfathomable.

The ugly details

walk-off in Milw (Kintzler, error and double)
walk-off in the 10th in SD (Cishek, 3 walks and a hit in 5 batters)
10th inning at home to the Reds (Norwood, single, WP, walk, double, walk with 2 outs)
10th inning at home to the Cards (Kimbrel, HR to 2nd batter after a big 3-run comeback)
Whew ... at least we gave up the winner in the 6th inning
9th inning at home to the Cards (Kimbrel, 2 HR in 2 pitches)

4 of those are more on the offense for not scoring runs to begin with ... and I think this last one is the only blown save in the bunch so I suppose we haven't been handing away wins. But 4 straight 1-run losses, all at home, in a divison/WC race ... I wouldn't be surprised if they lose almost all of them from this point and make PECOTA look somewhat prophetic. Not that I can tie any of it to him but I'm pretty sure Maddon is a goner.

   5. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: September 22, 2019 at 05:31 AM (#5881811)
We certainly regret these 20 innings. On the bright side, it's just 20 innings. On the dark side, they've been so bad (9 HR) that it's unlikely to be a fluke. Something's wrong, now can they fix it?

Outside of him just being broken (I haven't really watched much of the cubs, so I won't comment on that), that he seems like a prime candidate for being hurt by the lively ball, and the HR explosion. Yeah, he strikes a lot of guys out. Be he walks the entire ballpark, and gives up flyballs at a pretty astronomical rate, when players do make contact. Giving up lots of fly balls with runners on base does not strike me as a place you want to be in 2019.
   6. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 22, 2019 at 09:37 AM (#5881820)
Signing free agents in late May or June seems to always turn out terribly.
   7. CFBF's Overflowing Pathos Posted: September 22, 2019 at 10:05 AM (#5881824)
Working out well enough for the Braves and Keuchel.
   8. Darren Posted: September 22, 2019 at 10:29 AM (#5881828)
Reminds me of the disastrous Gagne acquisition that Theo did in 2007, in that just kept running him out there long after it made sense. Worked out in the end, sorta.
   9. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 22, 2019 at 10:36 AM (#5881829)
Watching him in Boston a couple of things jumped out;

1. His control really has gone in the shitter. Other than 2017 (that caveat belongs in pretty much every point here) he hasn’t consistently thrown strikes in a long time now.

2. The thing that struck me during his time with the defending World Series champion Red Sox (getting it in while I can) is you pretty much just watch the first curveball he throws in any inning. If he throws a strike, or at least a good one that’s close, you’re OK. If he spikes it then you’d better hang on tight.

3. As hard as the fastball is he doesn’t locate it particularly well. MLB hitters can hit 98MPH down the middle.

4. The overall performance in the post-season really didn’t come as a shock to any Red Sox fan. The results were worse than the regular season but the style of putting a couple guys on base, going to deep counts, edge of the seat ride to the finish, were consistent with what he did all season.

I was delighted when the Sox didn’t sign him last year. I’d have happily taken him on a one year deal but investing three years in the guy seemed like insanity to me.
   10. Howie Menckel Posted: September 22, 2019 at 10:36 AM (#5881830)
Working out well enough for the Braves and Keuchel.

yes, Keuchel has a 126 ERA+ this year after a 110 in 2018 (and a 141 in 2017 and an 86 in 2016, following years of 132 and 157).
   11. The Duke Posted: September 22, 2019 at 10:46 AM (#5881836)
The cubs have been bitten by injury bug big-time. Kimbrel has to be hurt. He declined a bit last year but no way he’s declined this much. The cubs have moved from a 95+ win team to an 88-90 win team. When you do that, you risk luck doing you in. I’d stand pat, try to build a better bench and add a couple relievers and give it another go in 2020. Calling for Theo or joes head is counter-productive
   12. bunyon Posted: September 22, 2019 at 11:46 AM (#5881848)
I get why folks are calling for their heads. But, it seems to me, if you get their heads, you’re basically committing to a partial rebuild. How likely is that to work?

That is, I’d keep at least one of them. Which? I don’t know.

I think keeping both and trying to figure out the acute problem is probably the best path.
   13. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:00 PM (#5881851)
The Cubs should fire Theo and as punishment he should come back to Boston.

Pleeeeeease let this happen. That would teach everyone involved.
   14. McCoy Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:15 PM (#5881854)
Cubs look to be in a typical Theo run cycle.
   15. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:23 PM (#5881857)
getting it in while I can


Sorry, too late. They've been eliminated from playoff contention, so the title defense is already over.
   16. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 22, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5881859)
They are still the defending champions. They aren’t going to successfully defend it but until someone else wins the World Series the Sox are the defending champs. Or maybe “reigning World Series champs” is more accurate. I’m fine with either.

Red Sox rule everyone else drools!
   17. Zonk is not as Outlandish as he could be Posted: September 22, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5881868)
Last year wasn’t a collapse.

This was a collapse.

What was it, Tuesday? That the Cubs were riding 5 straight wins, hoping to sweep the Reds, and setting up titanic final week h2h against the Cards....fizzled against the Red, but got what should have been a storybook booster from Rizzo.... and now it’s wait till next year.

The last five days - and the last three in particular, are somewhere in the annals of Cub Oy-dom.....
   18. Walt Davis Posted: September 22, 2019 at 05:42 PM (#5881957)
Make it 5 1-run losses in a row, another giving up a 9th-inning lead.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: September 22, 2019 at 05:47 PM (#5881960)
On keeping Maddon -- his contract is up. Committing to him for 2020 likely means committing to him for 2021-22 at least. Presumably at $5M+ per year. I doubt there's a team in baseball that wouldn't move on from him under these circumstances.
   20. bunyon Posted: September 22, 2019 at 06:16 PM (#5881970)
Good point.

Any candidates?

   21. Walt Davis Posted: September 22, 2019 at 07:08 PM (#5881982)
Javy Baez as player-manager! :-)

No idea whatsoever. I don't know the contract status of other managers out there right now but I can imagine they'd be quite interested in Kevin Cash in Tampa, maybe Francona or Snitker if they're available. I suppose most likely is some up-and-coming "thinker" who's currently somebody's coach. They seemed perfectly pleased with Rich Renteria before Maddon became available so somebody like that.

I should add that "these circumstances" are (at least primarily) of Theo's making. He's chosen not to extend Maddon during the last couple of seasons when maybe he could have gotten just a couple of extra years. Maybe the high-end market for managers is sufficiently weak that Maddon would agree to stick around on a 1-2 year contract now but I don't expect that (while also having no real idea where else he might go). SD may be the best fit but I'm not sure they'll meet his salary; SF maybe; I suppose whoever takes over Bos will want a new manager but that timing seems tight.

   22. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 22, 2019 at 07:30 PM (#5881987)
MLB Managers have been fired for players not performing, and/or front offices not bringing in enough talent, forever, but I’m skeptical that is the right move when you have a proven managerial talent who just happens to miss the playoff in some season. Firing good people willy-nilly doesn’t work that well in most industries. Maddon will land on his feet somewhere, if not Chicago - not so sure about the David Ross led Cubs.
   23. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 22, 2019 at 07:36 PM (#5881989)
I think managers have a shelf-life with teams. The trick is getting it right with the next guy. I've always felt that the mistake the Red Sox made with Francona wasn't in firing him, it was hiring Voldemort. See the Yankees with Torre/Girardi.
   24. JJ1986 Posted: September 22, 2019 at 07:40 PM (#5881991)
Mark Loretta's apparently on the Padres list. Is there any thought he might get the Cubs job?
   25. My name is RMc and I feel extremely affected Posted: September 22, 2019 at 08:29 PM (#5881998)
This just in: it's a bad idea to give bazillions of dollars to a guy based on a handful of innings.
   26. Brian C Posted: September 22, 2019 at 08:35 PM (#5882001)
This just in: it's a bad idea to give bazillions of dollars to a guy based on a handful of innings.

I'm sorry, but what kind of nonsense is this? Kimbrel was an elite reliever for almost a decade, and was still very good last year despite a moderate decline. If the Cubs would have been influenced one way or the other by "a handful of innings," they would have passed based on his performance in the playoffs last year.

Which, perhaps would have been a good idea. But it's the opposite of the point you're trying to make.
   27. Tin Angel Posted: September 22, 2019 at 08:38 PM (#5882002)
The Cubs should bring Dusty Baker back. Or Bruce Kimm.
   28. greenback slays lewks Posted: September 22, 2019 at 08:48 PM (#5882003)
The Cubs should bring Dusty Baker back.

Yes, this, absolutely. Even if it's just one week in mid-November. The meltdown here would be epic.
   29. cardsfanboy Posted: September 22, 2019 at 09:11 PM (#5882008)
MLB Managers have been fired for players not performing, and/or front offices not bringing in enough talent, forever, but I’m skeptical that is the right move when you have a proven managerial talent who just happens to miss the playoff in some season. Firing good people willy-nilly doesn’t work that well in most industries. Maddon will land on his feet somewhere, if not Chicago - not so sure about the David Ross led Cubs.


Agree... He might have been a bit too hands on this year... but it doesn't diminish his ability to work with the players, his relative understanding of the game etc..

I think managers have a shelf-life with teams. The trick is getting it right with the next guy. I've always felt that the mistake the Red Sox made with Francona wasn't in firing him, it was hiring Voldemort. See the Yankees with Torre/Girardi.


Don't disagree, but that shelf life...for a good manager, is more than five or so years... you can usually expect quality performance out of a good manager for a decade, unless he's one of those guys hired to immediately turn things around...then that is a different story....but if you look at the history of the game, you'll see good managers on the same franchise for about a decade being good... after a decade, I do think there is a decline, as I think the manager might think they are the main cast member in the story, instead of a supporting character... but franchises(and dynasties) are built on good managers, and the consistency they provide...
   30. Walt Davis Posted: September 22, 2019 at 09:59 PM (#5882022)
But built into this is the Cubs have essentially been stagnant for the last three years in terms of personnel. The position player lineup is essentially unchanged, the manager of course has been unchanged, the major pitching changes have been the Q trade, Darvish, various relievers (who will always churn regardless of team). So they've done the "stand pat" thing for 2017-19 and the trend is not upwards. Moreover ... in that time ... Bryant is less productive, Russell made no progress, Almora became useless, Schwarber spun his wheels ... the major success story is Baez and possibly Contreras ... maybe Heyward's bat has been pushed back to league average just in time for his glove to decline.

As with any team, it's a mixed bag. There are no egregious sins but, as we stand, the "plan" is same ol', same ol' and that hasn't been working so well. A shake-up of some sort seems in order. They've already gone through two rounds of new coaches so not re-signing the manager is the obvious, easy next shake to try. Of course usually the GM is next to go.

I assume Loretta would at least be under consideration but if he's seen as a close Joe protege, not sure that consideration will be too serious. As a big market team, I suspect they'll go as "big name" as they can (e.g. Cash) so maybe a Dave Roberts assistant will be in the mix.

if you look at the history of the game, you'll see good managers on the same franchise for about a decade being good

For good or ill, I'm not sure "history" is a good place to look for guidance regarding the thinking in the modern game. Roberts and Hinch are now the "consistently winning" managers. Cash, Boone, Snitker (already 63), Baldelli, Counsell are the other successful guys. Bochy is retiring meaning the only two guys left who meet currently your description are Francona (who might sneak in this year) and the eternally anonymous Bob Melvin.

Other current managers over 50: Charlie Montoyo (guess the team), Renteria (CWS), Yost, Gardenhire, Ausmus, Servais, Martinez, Mattingly, Schildt, Hurdle, Lovullo, Black ... I don't think anybody would be particularly interested in hiring those guys if they were available.

In that group are two guys sorta matching your description in Yost and Gardenhire. It probably wouldn't have done any good to get rid of him but having Yost in KC the last 4 seasons hasn't achieved a lot either. Gardenhire did have an outstanding run from 2002-10 and it likely would have been a mistake to let him go after, say, a 3rd place finish in 2007. (Note, Black never won in SD; he's nibbled the postseason in 3 seasons with the Rox.)
   31. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 22, 2019 at 11:11 PM (#5882038)
As with any team, it's a mixed bag. There are no egregious sins but, as we stand, the "plan" is same ol', same ol' and that hasn't been working so well. A shake-up of some sort seems in order.

This fits the way the team feels to me as well.....but when I look at it, I'm not sure I trust that feeling. They went from World championship to NLCS team to wild card game loser to team that's probably going to miss the playoffs (barring the highly unlikely)> That's a clear downward arrow. But that's also how you present it.

Look at 2018. Yup, they lost the division to the Brewers. But they had the 2nd best record in the entire NL. And the Brewers had to catch unholy fire down the stretch to catch them - and still had to win the tie-breaker Game 163. The postseason is in part a crapshoot and last year the Cubs crapped out.

They're nowhere near as good as they were in 2016. They're nowhere near as consistently as good as the Dodgers or Astros. But that's a #### of a thing to expect them to be. Should we tear it all down because they can't consistently cruise to the postseason? OK, this year is several steps lower than that. They're not even going to make the postseason. But #### man, if a team goes 19-27 in one-run games, loses every extra inning game they play in the 2nd half of the season, and loses 12 of their first 21 games in September despite outscoring their opponents by 37 runs in those games -- is that a sign that there is something wrong with this team that requires a rebuild or a team that just had random variation poo all over them? Emotionally, it's incredibly unsatisfactory to say the season is just bad luck, that last year's barely-there postseason apperance was just a postseason crapshoot, but the Cubs could be the classic case of a team that overreacts to the situation.

Having said all that, emotionally, I'm personally fine with a rebuilt. I just can't justify it to myself intellectually, expect to wonder about Bryant's problems over the last few years with his health.

Cubs over the last four years:
2016: They're offense scored 0.55 more runs per game that league average.
2017: It was 0.49 more runs per game. About the same
2018: It was down to 0.30 runs per game.
2019: It is (prior to today) 0.29 runs per game. So a dip from 2017-18.

Pitching:
2016: They allowed 1.05 fewer runs per game than league average (!!)
2017: -0.34 fewer runs per game than league average.
2018: -0.38 fewer runs per game
2019: -0.38 fewer runs per game.

It's all about the fall from 2016-17. And 2016 was the year everything went right. From memory, they had 3 of the top 4 ERAs in the NL.

If you go by OPS for hitters, their hitters are 31 points over league average in 2019, more than 2018 or 2017 (22 and 27) but behind the 38 they had in 2016.

If you go by FIP for pitchers, they are -0.30 below league average, which is better that 2018 or 2017 (+0.07 and -0.12) but below 2016's mark (-0.36).



As for Maddon, easy prediction: the Cubs do to him what the Yankees did to Joe Torre. They offer him a contract that is millions less than what he got paid and say bye when he walks away. Maybe he'll be on the South Side. Replacing Renteria - again.

Baseball front offices over the last few years have really changed how they view managers. In the statcast era, they aren't less valued - financially and otherwise.
   32. Brian C Posted: September 23, 2019 at 12:12 AM (#5882052)
Baseball front offices over the last few years have really changed how they view managers.

No kidding. Apparently now if you win fewer than 90 games just one time, then #### you.
   33. Howie Menckel Posted: September 23, 2019 at 12:23 AM (#5882054)
would this offense core really show up for spring training 2020 feeling as if it's circa 2016 all over again and we've got this?

if they bring it all back, I think it will be an unusual modern historical roster circumstance.
   34. Walt Davis Posted: September 23, 2019 at 12:38 AM (#5882056)
I don't really disagree with any of that (I mean, it's pretty much all factual, hard to disagree with). There are perfectly fine arguments for same ol', same ol' -- the same ones I used coming into 2018 and 2019. So with that track record of success, obviously I should be listened to now. :-) Anyway, I did write off last season's collapse to just random pooping and maybe getting worn down with all those games without a day off. 95 wins is 95 wins. I was expecting more of the same this year ... and now we're gonna be kinda lucky to end up on 85 wins. Of course almost no team projects to 92+ wins and the Cubs will finish the season only 4-5 wins short of consensus projections which is not a big deal.

But, y'know, random variation after random variation and even I start to wonder if it's something other than random variation.

Beyond that -- sure, following on 2016 I was expecting us to be more like the Astros and Dodgers. We were spending the payroll, we had a full, young lineup, we'd gotten lucky on pitching in 2016 but it certainly wasn't going to be bad. Plus, our division looked pretty weak with no major payrolls to contend with. Now we're about to finish 3rd in that division and maybe even behind the Mets. The "plan" as I saw it was that while the pitchers would likely decline, that powerful young lineup would continue to dominate.

Besides, I'm not really advocating for Maddon's departure. I don't know that anything needs to be done, I'm not sure what to do (again beyond the obvious of let's get better players at some positions magically without limiting future acquisitions or giving up talent -- hey, it worked in the Feldman for Arrieta/Strop trade :-). But I also think it's moot -- I am highly confident Theo is going to do something to shake this team up. If he does nothing and this happens again, then he's out of a job.

Also I ain't talking "rebuild", I'm talking new manager and maybe a "big" trade to be determined later.
   35. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 23, 2019 at 12:44 AM (#5882057)
Pitching:
2016: They allowed 1.05 fewer runs per game than league average (!!)
2017: -0.34 fewer runs per game than league average.
2018: -0.38 fewer runs per game
2019: -0.38 fewer runs per game.


The BABIP allowed each year:

2016: .257
2017: .288
2018: .287
2019: .301

   36. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: September 23, 2019 at 01:28 AM (#5882062)
   37. Brian C Posted: September 23, 2019 at 02:29 AM (#5882074)
I was expecting more of the same this year ... and now we're gonna be kinda lucky to end up on 85 wins.

This is kinda minor to your point, but it's a perfect example of how the emotion of the moment is coloring the analysis of people who should really know better. Why would be kinda lucky to end up at 85 wins? That would require a 3-3 record against the Pirates and Cards. Isn't that precisely what we should expect from this team over 6 games against pretty average competition (balancing the Bucs and Cards together)? Should we expect their record to be worse over the next 6 games just because they've lost 6 close games in a row? We all full well know that's not really how it works.

But so it goes in Cubland these days.
But, y'know, random variation after random variation and even I start to wonder if it's something other than random variation.

What "random variation after random variation"? You yourself just got done saying they won 95 games last year. Do you honestly believe that number was somehow suppressed by "random variation"? I know you're too intelligent to believe that losing a one-game playoff (or even two) counts for squat as far as "random variation" goes in baseball.

The Cubs over the last 5 years are a pretty interesting case because they've fielded basically the same team (or as close as anyone gets these days) with the same FO and same manager. And here's what they've done:

2015: 97 wins
2016: 103 wins
2017: 92 wins
2018: 95 wins
2019: 85ish wins

What I'm seeing there is, out of 5 seasons, one positive outlier and one negative outlier, but neither very extreme as outliers go. The other three seasons are all basically in the middle. Essentially, it looks exactly like what you'd expect to get if you stipulated a mid-ninety win "true" talent level and then let random variation play out. In fact, it's almost too perfect, like someone made up the win totals as an example to illustrate the point of how statistical variation works.

So what I'm getting around to is that we Cubs fans - and it must be said, quite possibly the front office as well - have most likely made the mistake of thinking that the 2016 team was the benchmark of where this team oughtta be. But that's probably not the case ... the reality of the situation is that the 2016 team probably overperformed, just a year where the breaks went our way. And likewise, this is a year where the breaks just didn't.
   38. bfan Posted: September 23, 2019 at 09:35 AM (#5882116)
Some themes just confuse me, Bryant's health being one.

In the last 4 years (all of Bryant's MLB career, so no selective end points, unless you consider forever to be selective), Bryant has played 155; 151; 102 and 147 (and counting; he will almost certainly get to 150) games.

In those same 4 years, Baez game totals: 142; 145; 160; 136 (and presumably locked at this point).

Why are we talking about Bryant health issues, when (a) in 3 of 4 years, he has played significantly more than Baez; and (b) I think in modern baseball, and with an easier (shorter) injured list option, 150 games seems to hit "iron-man", Bryant has had 1 season where injury had an impact?
   39. Zonk is not as Outlandish as he could be Posted: September 23, 2019 at 09:49 AM (#5882124)
Baez wasn't a full-time starter in the first two years of those runs, FWIW (or at least, the first year).

In any case, I tend to agree that Bryant's "health issues" are overstated -- I think they're a factor of two things:

#1 - He has had various "nagging" injuries that cost him a game here and there and sometimes seem/get claimed as sapping his productivity. I think it's selective picking of nits, but it gets talked about a lot.

#2 - Going back to when he was drafted, there was a lot of discussion over fears of his propensity to have back issues if he stayed at 3B. He's a very tall guy -- at least 6'5" -- and it wasn't only his defense that made folks question whether he would stick at 3B or be better off in the OF. I think that's stuck around with a lot of people...

   40. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 23, 2019 at 09:49 AM (#5882125)
What I'm seeing there is, out of 5 seasons, one positive outlier and one negative outlier, but neither very extreme as outliers go. The other three seasons are all basically in the middle. Essentially, it looks exactly like what you'd expect to get if you stipulated a mid-ninety win "true" talent level and then let random variation play out. In fact, it's almost too perfect, like someone made up the win totals as an example to illustrate the point of how statistical variation works.

So what I'm getting around to is that we Cubs fans - and it must be said, quite possibly the front office as well - have most likely made the mistake of thinking that the 2016 team was the benchmark of where this team oughtta be. But that's probably not the case ... the reality of the situation is that the 2016 team probably overperformed, just a year where the breaks went our way. And likewise, this is a year where the breaks just didn't.


This is very very well said.
   41. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 23, 2019 at 09:53 AM (#5882127)
Why are we talking about Bryant health issues

Because his health issues not only limited his games, but seemed to negatively impact his play when he was able to get on the field. Javy didn't seem to have the same issue.

His 2016-17 bWAR were 7.4 and 6.1, but 2018-2019 injury years dropped to 1.9 and 3.5.



   42. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 23, 2019 at 09:53 AM (#5882129)
The biggest outlier of the Cubs run was the other-worldly fielding in 2016.
   43. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 23, 2019 at 10:16 AM (#5882137)
#1 - He has had various "nagging" injuries that cost him a game here and there and sometimes seem/get claimed as sapping his productivity. I think it's selective picking of nits, but it gets talked about a lot.

It's claimed that they sap his productivity because it's the most likely scenario. And if that's not the problem, then I don't know what's going on with him. This year, he banged up his knee in late July. And in his last 49 games, he's posted an OPS of 761. That's by no means horrible, but pretty well below what you'd expect of your former MVP/cornerstone player in his age 27 season.

Throw this in: by WAR, his defensive ability has really fallen off badly. This year, among 18 players who have played at least half of their games at third & have enough PA to qualify for the batting title, Bryant ranks next-to-last in dWAR. His -1.2 WAR is just barely better than Hunter Dozier of KC. 16th place (Moncada w/ CWS) is at -0.6. 13 of the 18 score positively in dWAR.

EDITED TO ADD: I'm not saying that his defensive drop is caused by injuries (I mean, maybe it is - I have no idea). This post is basically two separate points, though. The second shouldn't be seen as a continuation of the first point)
   44. jmurph Posted: September 23, 2019 at 10:29 AM (#5882142)
I can't believe the Cubs have a +111 run differential and the Brewers have a -2. And the Brewers are 4 games up. That's wild.
   45. Zonk is not as Outlandish as he could be Posted: September 23, 2019 at 10:30 AM (#5882143)
It's claimed that they sap his productivity because it's the most likely scenario. And if that's not the problem, then I don't know what's going on with him. This year, he banged up his knee in late July. And in his last 49 games, he's posted an OPS of 761. That's by no means horrible, but pretty well below what you'd expect of your former MVP/cornerstone player in his age 27 season.


It's entirely that he simply peaked in 2016. We know that the old aging curve idea is dated... and the problem here might be that people saw the MVP year as a launching pad to even better things when it might well have been his peak. His K rates, BB rates, etc haven't really moved - his ISO is back to pretty much where it was prior to last year's lost season.

He was always streaky - even in 2016.
   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 23, 2019 at 10:39 AM (#5882145)
So what I'm getting around to is that we Cubs fans - and it must be said, quite possibly the front office as well - have most likely made the mistake of thinking that the 2016 team was the benchmark of where this team oughtta be. But that's probably not the case ... the reality of the situation is that the 2016 team probably overperformed, just a year where the breaks went our way. And likewise, this is a year where the breaks just didn't.


This is very very well said.

I agree with Barry. It's also true that you have a bunch of big market teams (CHC, LAD, BOS, NYY, HOU) all thinking they should have a perpetual dynasty. Of course that means it's impossible for more than one of them to be happy.
   47. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 23, 2019 at 10:39 AM (#5882146)
I can't believe the Cubs have a +111 run differential and the Brewers have a -2. And the Brewers are 4 games up. That's wild.

Record in one-run games, NL teams with winning records overall:

ATL 28-15
MIL 27-16
STL 25-21
LAD 26-22
PHI 19-18
NYM 22-23
ARI 21-26
DCN 16-21
CHC 19-27
   48. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 23, 2019 at 11:01 AM (#5882157)
It's entirely that he simply peaked in 2016. We know that the old aging curve idea is dated... and the problem here might be that people saw the MVP year as a launching pad to even better things when it might well have been his peak. His K rates, BB rates, etc haven't really moved - his ISO is back to pretty much where it was prior to last year's lost season.


As a hitter, Bryant has been pretty consistent; his OPS+ have ranged from 121 to 146. It reminds me of what Brian said about the Cubs being a mid-90s win team that has shown normal variation of the past five years. Bryant is a 136 OPS+ hitter who has shown very normal random variation over his career.

Defensively, well, I never understood the point of Maddon moving guys around the field with abandon. It seemed to me that if you want to develop a guy's defensive skills, you tell him he's your third baseman and you let him work on being a third baseman. I don't know how Bryant is supposed to get any better playing third base when he's out in the outfield a quarter of the time.
   49. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 23, 2019 at 11:19 AM (#5882161)
I don't know how Bryant is supposed to get any better playing third base when he's out in the outfield a quarter of the time.
Send him to Iowa for a couple weeks?

Seriously, though, you don't think playing third base in the major leagues 100+ times a year could make you better at it, even if you also play some in the outfield?
   50. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 23, 2019 at 11:21 AM (#5882162)
This is kinda minor to your point, but it's a perfect example of how the emotion of the moment is coloring the analysis of people who should really know better. Why would be kinda lucky to end up at 85 wins? That would require a 3-3 record against the Pirates and Cards. Isn't that precisely what we should expect from this team over 6 games against pretty average competition (balancing the Bucs and Cards together)? Should we expect their record to be worse over the next 6 games just because they've lost 6 close games in a row? We all full well know that's not really how it works.

But so it goes in Cubland these days.


A road trip of .500 would be an overperformance for this team, right? :)

In the last 4 years (all of Bryant's MLB career, so no selective end points, unless you consider forever to be selective), Bryant has played 155; 151; 102 and 147 (and counting; he will almost certainly get to 150) games.

Bryant got hurt yesterday (fluke slip on first base); I doubt he plays again this year. Though to be fair, I said the same thing about Rizzo last week.

In those same 4 years, Baez game totals: 142; 145; 160; 136 (and presumably locked at this point).

To add to the full time starter bit, Baez has appeared in the last 3 games and says he wants to start tomorrow.

---

I'll echo other, and say I do think Brian's post 37 is a great post. I don't think it means the Cubs should just try rolling back this same group again to see what happens - there are plenty of obvious holes they have. Regardless, I think it's a great point, and one that is easy to forget. I'd like to think I'm not overreacting - though I know part of me certainly is - and would hope the team realizes that also.

At the same time, I think that can all be true and you could still make the argument it's time to move on from Maddon or make some other sort of trade to change the roster. It doesn't mean deciding to trade Bryant or Contreras or anyone just for the sake of trading them or trying to shake things up. I'd rather the Cubs found a way to add to the group to fill in the existing holes without moving any of the good young players, but that's much easier said than done.
   51. Zonk is not as Outlandish as he could be Posted: September 23, 2019 at 11:21 AM (#5882163)
Since it's become pointless to watch the rest of the Cubs season, I have become more focused on my OOTP dynasty and I can tell you that Bryant - now as I look to 2022, with Bryant in year 3 of an 8 yr/200 contract - is most definitely on an Evan Longoria glide path... He's still worth the money - but I'm glad the last two years are both team options with reasonable buyouts. He's settled into pretty consistent replicas of his IRL 2019 (oddly enough, his OOTP 2019 was closer to his 2016 MVP season - but he was runner-up to Cody Bellinger in the 2019 MVP race).
   52. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 23, 2019 at 11:48 AM (#5882167)
Seriously, though, you don't think playing third base in the major leagues 100+ times a year could make you better at it, even if you also play some in the outfield?


No, I don't think that. The human body only has so much physical and mental energy to expend. I'll bet Bryant puts at least as much focus on his outfield defense, since it's fairly unfamiliar to him, as he does his third base defense.

If Bryant had never had to worry about any defensive responsibilities other than playing third base, don't you think that would make him a better third baseman than he is now?

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