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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mooney: Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks aren’t showing any nerves with Cubs

With Monday’s 4-1 victory over the New York Mets, Hendricks (5-1, 1.66 ERA) became the franchise’s first rookie to put together six consecutive quality starts since Kerry Wood in 1998.

“I reserve the right to (not) pigeonhole him or compare him to anybody,” Renteria said. “I think he’s establishing himself. I know it’s a short snippet, but he’s been very, very good. He is Maddux-like, a little bit, in his execution, his approach.”

Hendricks – who’s posted a 0.97 WHIP through almost 50 innings – has never looked rattled or in awe of his surroundings.

Baez hits another homer that went 434 feet and Kyle throws another gem.  With Billy Hamilton slowing down is Kyle’s only competition for ROY Jacob deGrom?

 

McCoy Posted: August 19, 2014 at 09:49 AM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, rookie of the year

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   1. Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor Posted: August 19, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4774545)
You're already writing off Baez for ROY? And Szczur? For shame.
   2. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2014 at 12:28 PM (#4774553)
So if deGrom doesn't come back from his DL stint who is the ROY this year in the NL?
   3. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: August 19, 2014 at 12:34 PM (#4774559)
I think DeGrom is likely to be returning from the DL soon.
   4. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2014 at 12:38 PM (#4774564)
I meant if he doesn't come back to form.
   5. zonk Posted: August 19, 2014 at 12:46 PM (#4774567)
I've been tempted several times to drop the 'M' name comparison but have held back because it's utterly silly to talk about a guy who's had a very, very good 6 weeks with an all-time great SP.

Maddux was a second rounder, a decent prospect (though nobody thought he'd become what he was), and was up to stay by age 20/21.

Hendricks doesn't have that pedigree.

Still, when I see him pitch - and I've watched four of his starts pretty much start to finish - it's impossible not to let my mind go there... He doesn't have any one overwhelming pitch - and certainly doesn't have that masterful two-seamer Maddux fancied as his fastball stalled in the low 90s, but he goes after hitters the same way. He guards the corner, throws strikes, and makes you beat him. He just doesn't make bad pitches. He stays ahead on the count then makes you try to hit what he wants you to hit.

No, I don't expect him to be Maddux... but I honestly do think he could be a miniature version... Maybe somewhere in between Maddux and say, Kyle Lohse.
   6. zonk Posted: August 19, 2014 at 12:50 PM (#4774572)
Oh - and I love Baez.... and the power is most definitely every bit as advertised, but he's striking out at a higher rate than Olt was... I'm not terribly worried about that - Olt K'd a ton because his swing is just looooonnnnnggggg..... Baez has a lightning quick stroke - he just doesn't seem all concerned with swing and misses.

A lot of high K guys with power are mistake hitters - Baez isn't. The first Wrigley homer was a decent enough slider. Bad pitches, good pitches, etc - he can whack the crap out of all of them.
   7. Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor Posted: August 19, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4774585)
Isn't it seen as Billy Hamilton's award to lose, regardless of whether or not he deserves it?
   8. Spahn Insane Posted: August 19, 2014 at 01:09 PM (#4774587)
My Kyle Hendricks mancrush is well-established, dating back to soon after the Cubs traded for him. I agree he doesn't quite have the pedigree that Maddux had as a prospect, but he plays an awful lot of Maddux's game. He's almost to the point of spoiling us with these repeated 7-inning/one-run starts of his.
   9. Spahn Insane Posted: August 19, 2014 at 01:11 PM (#4774590)
A lot of high K guys with power are mistake hitters - Baez isn't. The first Wrigley homer was a decent enough slider. Bad pitches, good pitches, etc - he can whack the crap out of all of them.

Sort of a bizarro combination of Sheffield's bat speed and Vlad Guerrero's bad-ball hitting ability. The Cubs would of course be very fortunate to have Baez turn out to be as good as either. (And of course, neither of those guys were particularly high K guys for power hitters.)
   10. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4774597)
I think if Baez were to calcify and never improve his game then he wouldn't be a major leaguer. He's got the bat speed and the ability so I hope he and the Cubs use this time up in the majors to work on his game and that he improves.

As for Hendricks it looks like pitches on a razor's edge. It will be interesting to see what he does when he's fatigued as well as what he does next year.
   11. Spahn Insane Posted: August 19, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4774602)
As for Hendricks it looks like pitches on a razor's edge. It will be interesting to see what he does when he's fatigued as well as what he does next year.

Yeah, it'll be a test of his adaptability when teams start facing him for the second time. He's apparently quite a smart guy, so I suspect he'll learn to make adjustments.

As for fatigue, he seems pretty economical with his pitches (he's gotten through 7-8 innings under [or just over] 100 multiple times), he's got a pretty free and easy delivery, and it's not like he's got a fastball to lose anyway. I don't see any reason to think fatigue'll be more of an issue for him than it would be for anyone.
   12. Spahn Insane Posted: August 19, 2014 at 01:32 PM (#4774609)
I think if Baez were to calcify and never improve his game then he wouldn't be a major leaguer.

Well, he wouldn't be a star, but even now he's holding his own. In any event, his track record has so consistently been one where he struggles at a new level before mastering it after an adjustment period of a month or two, he gives us every reason to think he *will* improve his game. I'm glad to see him getting a chance to do it.
   13. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4774614)
I don't see any reason to think fatigue'll be more of an issue for him than it would be for anyone.

Except I think he has less give before being utterly hittable. A flamethrower who gets fatigued loses control and maybe a mile or two off his fastball. A guy like Hendricks who gets worn down starts leaving very juicy looking balls in the zone.

Well, he wouldn't be a star, but even now he's holding his own. In any event, his track record has so consistently been one where he struggles at a new level before mastering it after an adjustment period of a month or two, he gives us every reason to think he *will* improve his game. I'm glad to see him getting a chance to do it.

The occasional homer is keeping him barely afloat but if he doesn't improve those are going to go away. Like I said, I'm glad the young guys are up now and get to work on their game at the major league level and I hope that it proves fruitful.
   14. Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor Posted: August 19, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4774628)
I've been busy the past couple of days, did the Cubs or anyone explain the thought process for promoting Szczur now, ahead of someone like Soler? I'm guessing they still want Soler to work on some things, though I've seen plenty of people predict/expect him to be up in September. There's not a whole lot to like in Szczur's minor league numbers, so I guess it doesn't hurt to see if he can do anything - though any success might as well just be a fluke all things considered.

I also wonder how serious the Cubs are about pursuing Rusney Castillo, most stories seem to paint them as a serious suitor. With the contract he'll get, they'd be firmly locking up another position - likely OF, I'd guess - for some time.
   15. Spahn Insane Posted: August 19, 2014 at 01:56 PM (#4774636)
There's not a whole lot to like in Szczur's minor league numbers, so I guess it doesn't hurt to see if he can do anything - though any success might as well just be a fluke all things considered.

Maybe hoping he produces a few flukey good weeks, so some team'll bite on him as a trade chit? I dunno...I haven't heard anyone talk about him being any sort of centerpiece of The Next Good Cub Team™, so makes as much sense as anything...
   16. Spahn Insane Posted: August 19, 2014 at 02:18 PM (#4774662)
With the contract he'll get, they'd be firmly locking up another position - likely OF, I'd guess - for some time.

The article in the Castillo thread says he's an "outfielder;" anyone know if he can play center?
   17. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 19, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4774684)
i know folks are enamored with the results and the k/bb numbers but hendricks has all the earmarks of a guy who once he gets a full tour aorund the league is going to take his lumps. now, if he adjusts then he has a chance to be something.

but to date he hasn't been in any one place long enough to have that middling fastball exposed.

he's going to get his bell rung next year. hopefully for cubs fans sake he has the smarts to compensate
   18. Cabbage Posted: August 19, 2014 at 03:13 PM (#4774712)
Sheffield with lots of K's starts to look an awful like Giancarlo. Even if Baez never rounds into a masterful slugger, Dave Kingman numbers from the middle infield is still pretty damn useful.

There is plenty of reason for optimism. Baez has shown the ability to adjust and improve. Fangraphs had something up the other day showing that he's already seeing some of the junkiest stuff in the majors, but still managing results.
   19. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 19, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4774722)
I also wonder how serious the Cubs are about pursuing Rusney Castillo, most stories seem to paint them as a serious suitor. With the contract he'll get, they'd be firmly locking up another position - likely OF, I'd guess - for some time.

His contract would run its course during the "cheap" years of the other position players. Even at $10 to $15 million a year that's pretty edible under those circumstances, right? The Cubs will probably have trouble leveraging their cash to add talent after a certain point if the youth movement starts working.

Castillo is a CF.
   20. zonk Posted: August 19, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4774730)
I've been busy the past couple of days, did the Cubs or anyone explain the thought process for promoting Szczur now, ahead of someone like Soler? I'm guessing they still want Soler to work on some things, though I've seen plenty of people predict/expect him to be up in September. There's not a whole lot to like in Szczur's minor league numbers, so I guess it doesn't hurt to see if he can do anything - though any success might as well just be a fluke all things considered.


you got me... My guess is that they'd like Soler to stay healthy for a good month and maybe him bring up in Sept... Since he's on a major league deal, service time doesn't really matter.

Szczur can also play CF -- though, so can Ruggiano and Sweeney, so it's not like they're looking for Alcantara protection.

my guess is that it's just time to fish or cut bait on Szczur. He was something of a prospect a few years back and does have some tools (OK, a tool... speed). He is a good story - I think he came back from cancer, no? Or maybe I'm thinking of Campana (or maybe it was both).

Anyway, since he was already on the 40 man, I have no real angst about him being up over Soler. I suspect we'll see the latter in a couple weeks.

There is plenty of reason for optimism. Baez has shown the ability to adjust and improve. Fangraphs had something up the other day showing that he's already seeing some of the junkiest stuff in the majors, but still managing results.


Yeah - without analyzing his MilB numbers a ton, it looks just in passing that Baez does tend to cut down his K's the longer he progresses.

Like I said upthread, I'm just not as worried about his K's... That bat is just sooo, so quick. He likes to guess and he's strong enough to give it a ride even if he guesses wrong. His is just not a long swing that I fear will exposed by scouting reports and pitchers continually having him flail away at pitches out of the zone - another plus, he seems to be very good at going the way. He's not pre-66 HR Sammy Sosa where he gets all pull happy and tries to yank a slider down and away to left. He's perfectly content to drive pitches away to RF if need be.

That said - if he doesn't learn a bit of patience, I think he's guy who - if he does become a star - could fall off the cliff really quickly. Just a little bit off that bat speed and suddenly a lot of those HRs become foul tips and the already high K's become really problematic... but that's a problem for 5 years from now.
   21. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4774736)
but to date he hasn't been in any one place long enough to have that middling fastball exposed.

Last year he played Huntsville 4 times. His first time against them he gave up 3 runs in 2 innings before getting pulled. In his 3 remaining starts against them he pitched 19 innings and gave up 3 runs, 11 hits, and 5 walks. He faced the Jackson Generals 4 times as well and never gave up a run to them.
   22. PreservedFish Posted: August 19, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4774744)
I like how Fangraphs breaks pitching down. Hendricks is at 2.1 WAR using pure runs allowed. Of that number, 0.8 wins are due to outperforming BABIP, and 0.6 wins are due to sequencing (pitching well with guys on base mostly, I think). That leaves him at 0.7 WAR. I'm not a hard DIPS adherent but I think the 0.7 WAR number is much closer to the dude's real talent than the 2.1 WAR number.

0.7 in 50 IP sounds like an average starter, which is pretty darn good from a guy that throws 88 mph.
   23. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 19, 2014 at 03:54 PM (#4774750)
post 21

i will likely regret responding but huntsville and jackson both had poor offenses in 2013 relative to the league. so yes, he managed to handle subpar offenses despite repeated exposure.

i will hold to my original point and will gladly accept the blowback if he continues to shove around major league hitters
   24. Comic Strip Person Posted: August 19, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4774772)
I just noticed this morning that Baez is the youngest player in the NL (displacing Bryce Harper), after having started the year as the youngest player in the PCL. So yes, he's got to adjust, but he's way ahead of the curve.
   25. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: August 19, 2014 at 04:30 PM (#4774790)
“I reserve the right to (not) pigeonhole him or compare him to anybody,” Renteria said. “I think he’s establishing himself. I know it’s a short snippet, but he’s been very, very good. He is Maddux-like, a little bit, in his execution, his approach.”


"I'm not going to burden this kid with high expectations. But now that you mention it, he reminds of a 355-game winner."
   26. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: August 19, 2014 at 04:30 PM (#4774791)
Also, don't look now but the sun is peeking through the clouds a bit for us Cubs fans ...
   27. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2014 at 04:35 PM (#4774794)
0.7 in 50 IP sounds like an average starter, which is pretty darn good from a guy that throws 88 mph.

Yes and no. I don't know if it is true but I would think you'd want the baseline for your starter to be higher than that after 50 innings.

He's at 0.7 without hitting any rough patches yet. I don't know what a good baseline number would be but I suspect it should be higher.
   28. Spahn Insane Posted: August 19, 2014 at 05:18 PM (#4774842)
I'm not an expert on the advanced pitching metrics, but it doesn't seem fair to give Hendricks NO credit for the outperforming BABIP and overperforming with men on base.

It might be that a guy who has exceptional command/ability to locate his pitches within the zone induces particularly weak contact, which could explain a lower-than-expected BABIP, no? Just judging based on the few times I've seen him pitch, that seems to be his game--he gets a lot of swings resulting in contact early in the count because he's always around the zone and doesn't throw very hard, but batters have trouble doing much with that contact. Without looking it up, anyone know if there's any research out there on "control" guys versus "power" guys performing better than other pitchers in terms of BABIP?

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how much of this he sustains going forward (no, I don't mean to suggest there's any nonzero chance he sustains a ~1.6 ERA, but a level of "clear excellence"). I think he has the potential to be a very fine pitcher for a long time, but I'll admit to being a fanboy.
   29. Spahn Insane Posted: August 19, 2014 at 05:26 PM (#4774852)
Also, don't look now but the sun is peeking through the clouds a bit for us Cubs fans ..

Appears that way, doesn't it. Kind of nice for us to finally have something to talk about other than the good stuff other teams are doing.
   30. PreservedFish Posted: August 19, 2014 at 06:44 PM (#4774894)
Without looking it up, anyone know if there's any research out there on "control" guys versus "power" guys performing better than other pitchers in terms of BABIP?


I do not know myself, but it's not something I'd bank on. He had a .322 BABIP in AAA this year. (He was always better than that in previous years.)
   31. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 19, 2014 at 10:13 PM (#4775036)
Without looking it up, anyone know if there's any research out there on "control" guys versus "power" guys performing better than other pitchers in terms of BABIP?

I think power pitchers are more likely to over-perform BABIP, because strikeouts are correlated to fly balls which have a lower BABIP than ground balls. But (a) I don't recall it being a large effect, and (b) I'm working from memory anyway.
   32. Ziggy Posted: August 19, 2014 at 10:45 PM (#4775059)
"It might be that a guy who has exceptional command/ability to locate his pitches within the zone induces particularly weak contact, which could explain a lower-than-expected BABIP, no?"

I'll give this a "maybe", it sure seems like Mariano made a living on it. (Though the pitch that he could locate was a cut fastball, not junk in the 80s.) That said, even if it's a thing, it would take a long time to figure out if Hendricks is one of the guys who can do it. Most players tend so hard towards 300 on balls in play that any reasonable projection is going to need to heavily regress BABIP over-achievement until there's a lot of data available. 50 innings isn't going to do it.
   33. Spahn Insane Posted: August 19, 2014 at 11:48 PM (#4775087)
Well no, I wasn't suggesting we have enough data on Hendricks to draw any firm conclusions; I was more asking if the existing body of knowledge tells us anything about pitchers of his type generally with respect with BABIP.
   34. zonk Posted: August 20, 2014 at 09:29 AM (#4775202)
FWIW regarding Szczur over Soler --

Didn't realize until I saw the Trib's "future four" (Bryant, Russell, Soler, Almora) report this morning - but Soler's in a bit of slump... just 2 for 31 after his hot start at Iowa. His overall line is still quite exciting, but could be that the Cubs just didn't want to give him his first taste in the midst of a slump.
   35. Charles S. will not yield to this monkey court Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:14 AM (#4775239)
regarding Szczur over Soler

I think they just don't want too many of the important kids coming up at once. Alcantara came up in July, Baez in August. One per month is probably as fast as they want to move, so Soler in September. Szczur is a solid fifth outfielder/defense and baserunning specialist. Having him on the bench allows the Cubs two veteran outfielders to accompany Alky, and gives Lake a chance to get some much-needed at-bats in Des Moines.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that they don't think Soler has enough MiLB at bats yet. Remember he's missed a bunch of time with injuries over the past couple of years. They want him to play in the PCL playoffs, and there's even talk that he may head back to the AFL if he doesn't get a call-up.
   36. Charles S. will not yield to this monkey court Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:16 AM (#4775241)
hopefully for cubs fans sake he has the smarts to compensate

Harv, he's a Dartmouth guy, and so far it appears his book-smarts translate well to the ballfield. If anyone's got the smarts, he does.

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