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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Off Day Musings

Just a quick post about a couple of things on my mind lately.

Addison Russell

On May 14th, Addison Russell was hitting .263/.375/.447 and was looking like he was on his way to a legit breakout season.  He was in the middle of an amazing hot streak, going .323/.447/.597 over his previous 17 games.  However, since that game, he’s hit .184/.225/.211 with 30Ks in 76PAs.  His season K% is now only down slightly to 30% after 31.3% last year.  It’s not so much the slump that concerns me, but the fact that he appears to have regressed a bit controlling the strike zone since last year (his K% actually went from 31.1% in the first half last season to 25.8%.  He got the day off yesterday, so perhaps Joe recognizes this.  He’s still flashing the leather though.

Coghlan

As I was typing this, I see the Cubs just re-acquired Chris Coghlan for Arismendy Alcantara.  I’m very sorry to see Alcantara go, and a little disappointed he never got a look this year.  But he really was awful last year, and Maddon fell in love with Baez and his versatility.  Coghlan has been awful this year though, hitting .146/.215/.272, so I don’t know what the Cubs hope to get out of him.  I also suspect this means Almora is heading back to AAA, which is a shame.  Actually, now I see LaStella is going to the DL.  Hmmm.  Not that Coghlan was that bad at 2nd last year, but I’m also not hoping Joe pushing his luck.

Maddon

Had I not been sick yesterday, I would have had a whole post on how I think Maddon completely mismanaged the game on Tuesday, leading to the 3-2.  Bringing in Richard to give up the insurance run was the obvious part - and seriously, how can RIchard not even pick off a guy that he caught going?  It was strange to see Szczur pinch run for Montero, but only after Montero got to 2nd, thus ensuring Szczur wouldn’t get an at bat and Ross was left to make the last out of the game.  Of course, the win yesterday also took a little wind out of my sails for complaining.

Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 09, 2016 at 05:18 PM | 47 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 09, 2016 at 05:45 PM (#5240318)
Updated the post to include Coghlan/LaStella news.
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 09, 2016 at 05:48 PM (#5240323)
Seems like if they needed to bring in someone who could be a warm body at 2B/3B and not contribute offensively while LaStella is out, they could have just brought up Alcantara.
   3. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 09, 2016 at 05:58 PM (#5240332)
I think they're ok at 2nd/3rd with Baez around, I guess Coghlan is not just the lefty PH and gets an occasional LF start. If he really sucks now as much as he's sucked in Oakland, he'll be gone when LaStella comes back. Or maybe when LaStella comes back, Federowicz is finally put out of our misery.
   4. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: June 09, 2016 at 06:00 PM (#5240333)
Alcantara feels like an overpay for Coghlan? Maybe I just have his hot start from the past in mind. Does seem like Aaron Brooks for Alcantara would have been underpay, though.

Coghlan just a temporary replacement for LaStella I imagine.

EDIT: Yay, able to get a post here! wasn't allowed to on some of the previous topics, for some reason. Didn't let me log in for the Gonfalon Cubs bit.
   5. McCoy Posted: June 09, 2016 at 06:04 PM (#5240336)
re Russell: I said it back then, 30 games don't mean squat.



As for the transaction I'm guessing Maddon is assembling the Super Friends or something because otherwise I don't see the reason for this trade. It reeks of old-timey MacPhail/Hendry type trades.
   6. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: June 09, 2016 at 06:24 PM (#5240342)
EDIT: Yay, able to get a post here! wasn't allowed to on some of the previous topics, for some reason. Didn't let me log in for the Gonfalon Cubs bit.


I've had issues with the same thing. I usually just keep trying until the site is nice to me.

As for the transaction I'm guessing Maddon is assembling the Super Friends or something because otherwise I don't see the reason for this trade. It reeks of old-timey MacPhail/Hendry type trades.


The only good reason I can think of is that they feel that they fixed Coghlan's swing last time he was in Chicago, and are seeing the same issue crop up in Oakland as before and think they can fix it again. Unless that's true, it basically is the old-timey MacPhail/Hendry type trades.
   7. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 09, 2016 at 07:15 PM (#5240381)
re Russell: I said it back then, 30 games don't mean squat.

Maybe. But then we'd just be talking about him regressing from last year. What's better or worse?
   8. Charles S. is not doing chainsaw bears any more Posted: June 10, 2016 at 10:05 AM (#5240712)
The seems like Maddon looking for someone he can trust to fill in for LaStella and be insurance if Soler's injury lingers and Almora can't get it done. Most of us had already figured out that Alcantara just wasn't in the plans. Shame, because I always liked him, and his versatility would seem to be right up Maddon's alley, but Joe never saw the good Mendy.

I don't mind seeing the manager have significant input on the bottom of the roster, and that's what I see happening here. Good luck to Alcantara. I think he'll be a fun player for the A's fans to cheer for.
   9. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 10, 2016 at 10:32 AM (#5240735)
Agreed, Charles. I'm just worried Coghlan has turned completely back into a pumpkin. I've also seen a number of "highlights" of him defensively this year, looks like he's completely regressed on offense and defense since he left. Mentally, I'm sure it sucked for him going from this Cubs team to Oakland and their ####-filled clubhouse.
   10. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 10, 2016 at 10:35 AM (#5240739)
EDIT: Yay, able to get a post here! wasn't allowed to on some of the previous topics, for some reason. Didn't let me log in for the Gonfalon Cubs bit.

I have that problem too. If I post something, leave and come back, I have to login again. But it doesn't keep me logged in, and I'm logged in on the main site.
   11. Charles S. is not doing chainsaw bears any more Posted: June 10, 2016 at 10:48 AM (#5240752)
But it doesn't keep me logged in, and I'm logged in on the main site.

That happens to me as well, but not always. The internet is a magical, mysterious place.
   12. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: June 10, 2016 at 10:53 AM (#5240759)
Ugh.

I really, really hate this deal. It's beyond me why Maddon and the regime soured so much on Alcantara. He's still just 24 and does have nice tools... plus, he's a guy who has experience at 6 different positions, including some true CF time. AND he's a switch-hitter.

Echoing others, sure - it's obvious he was no longer in the Cubs plans, but with his pedigree (he touched a few top 100 lists not that long ago), his tools, his versatility, AND the fact that he seems to have somewhat righted the ship offensively the last month or so at Iowa... you'd think he'd fetch something more useful like Claymore Wretched's replacement.

I know it wasn't a dirty slide, but I have to admit that I'm also... uncomfortable... with Coghlan over that Kang stuff.

First time in a LONG time that I'm really unhappy with a move this team has made.
   13. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 10, 2016 at 10:57 AM (#5240761)
Alcantara would be a perfectly cromulent 25th man, and he's the guy you'd use as a pinch runner - which you should always use a pinch runner for the catcher late in a close game when you have 3 catchers on the roster. Plus the defensive versatility was made for Maddon.
   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 10, 2016 at 10:59 AM (#5240766)
I know it wasn't a dirty slide,


Well, it was a dirty slide, it was just stupidly not acknowledged as dirty by the rules and norms at the time.
   15. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: June 10, 2016 at 11:01 AM (#5240769)
First time in a LONG time that I'm really unhappy with a move this team has made.


So the Cubs essentially traded AA for Aaron Brooks, a 25 YO pitcher with a career ERA of 8.38, who appears to be out of baseball.

Well done!
   16. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 10, 2016 at 11:08 AM (#5240776)
AND he's a switch-hitter.


Neifi Perez was also a switch-hitter. I agree about the defensive versatility and baserunning and I liked the guy, but Arismendy Alcantera hasn't given any indication that he can be a major-league hitter. He's batting .264/.315/.437 in his third go-round at AAA.

But mostly, it's a pet peeve of mine to try to sell bad hitters as useful because they can hit terribly from both batters' boxes.
   17. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: June 10, 2016 at 11:22 AM (#5240797)

But mostly, it's a pet peeve of mine to try to sell bad hitters as useful because they can hit terribly from both batters' boxes.


Meh - he's pretty good against LHP (244/310/410 in 2014 when he was up).

I'd note, too, his ISO was .162 in 2014 -- even while he was basically at the Mendoza line... for a guy who play CF/SS/2B and runs well, that's pretty good.

I could easily see him having a poor man's Bill Hall career - maybe without the 2006 career year.

Even with the injuries, so long as Baez is still around as the first guy off the bench/resting the starters -- I think he's more useful on this team than Coghlan. Indeed - while I'm sure the Cubs would prefer Almora getting PAs every day at Iowa, the fact that Almora is something of a free swinger probably makes him a better PH than most kids.
   18. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 10, 2016 at 12:10 PM (#5240839)
I think he's more useful on this team than Coghlan.

Coghlan's role is probably main lefty pinch hitter. Assuming Coghlan's bat really isn't this bad (not a safe assumption), he is definitely more qualified for that than AA.
   19. Dan Posted: June 10, 2016 at 12:29 PM (#5240861)
Coghlan's role is probably main lefty pinch hitter. Assuming Coghlan's bat really isn't this bad (not a safe assumption), he is definitely more qualified for that than AA.


This seems accurate to me. It sounded like an odd move when I read about it, but after seeing that LaStella was headed to the DL it at least made sense, even if it looked like an overpay.

I wonder what Alcantara did to make it onto Maddon's #### list? It really seemed like he was never going to get a shot under Maddon despite his versatility, tools, and former pedigree.
   20. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: June 10, 2016 at 12:43 PM (#5240873)
I wonder what Alcantara did to make it onto Maddon's #### list? It really seemed like he was never going to get a shot under Maddon despite his versatility, tools, and former pedigree.


Yeah, I really don't know... though - I'm sure his 1 for 33 (or whatever) before getting sent down last year didn't help.
   21. Charles S. is not doing chainsaw bears any more Posted: June 10, 2016 at 12:44 PM (#5240875)
I wonder what Alcantara did to make it onto Maddon's #### list?

It might be nothing more than the -11 OPS+ in 32 plate appearances last April. If you weren't around for the stretches of decentness in 2014, that's a pretty strong stench.
   22. Dan Posted: June 10, 2016 at 12:59 PM (#5240887)
But Maddon really doesn't seem like the type to completely judge a player based on 32 plate appearances. He looked utterly dreadful, but even so I find it hard to believe it was just that which wrote him off for Maddon.
   23. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 10, 2016 at 01:08 PM (#5240897)
But Maddon really doesn't seem like the type to completely judge a player based on 32 plate appearances. He looked utterly dreadful, but even so I find it hard to believe it was just that which wrote him off for Maddon.


But he didn't do anything in Iowa since then to suggest that he's being held down unfairly. Upon acquiring him, the Oakland A's, who are 25-34, assigned him to Nashville. I know we all love the little guy, and he'd be more useful to the 2016 Cubs than Tim Federowicz, but he's just not that good.
   24. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 10, 2016 at 01:15 PM (#5240903)
But Maddon really doesn't seem like the type to completely judge a player based on 32 plate appearances. He looked utterly dreadful, but even so I find it hard to believe it was just that which wrote him off for Maddon.

I don't think he had a good spring last year, and it wasn't that good again this year. In the 2015/106 seasons, AA has really only had one good month (this past one). It doesn't mean Maddon didn't like him or gave up on him - Maddon had some really glowing quotes about AA the beginning of ST 2015 - as much as Baez had overtaken AA in that particular role. I think Maddon is likely right that AA isn't a starter, and it's also to see why one would prefer Baez and his specific, impressive talents, over AA.

All of that can be true, and right, and it still could turn out this was a bad trade if Coghlan is really bad.
   25. Dan Posted: June 10, 2016 at 01:38 PM (#5240928)
But he didn't do anything in Iowa since then to suggest that he's being held down unfairly. Upon acquiring him, the Oakland A's, who are 25-34, assigned him to Nashville. I know we all love the little guy, and he'd be more useful to the 2016 Cubs than Tim Federowicz, but he's just not that good.


I never said he was being held down unfairly, but being given away for a few months of a bench player is a pretty clear signal the Cubs have completed given up on him ever amounting to anything.
   26. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: June 10, 2016 at 01:59 PM (#5240954)
I really don't want to make too big a deal out of it - because of course, there's simply not much to complain about with this team and how it's been built -- but hey what else are we gonna talk about :-)

-- But I will say this... Going back to my early regime complaints over the rule 5 - I really DO think Thed and company have had a poor track record with these sort of versatile, utility players who DO have a modicum of value. Again - not making a mountain out of a molehill, and if the worst thing your FO does is have a problem keeping cheap and free utility guys, you're in good shape.... not to mention, this team really isn't even hurting for bench players anyway.

I'll just say it seems likely they misidentified DJ LeMaheiu - yes, he's no great shakes, but he's 1-2 WAR player (albeit much on defense)... Ryan Flaherty and Marwin Gonzalez are both just utility guys, but they're having major league careers as utility guys.

I guess I'm just looking at it thusly -- why bother giving a Jonathon Herrera a million bucks or trading FOR a Tommy La Stella or Chris Coghlan if you've got lots of guys in your own system who can easily fill those roles?

Like I said, I do think Alcantara will end up having a career... and 10-20 years from now, no one is likely to care that LeMaheiu, Alcantara, Flaherty, Gonzalez, et al were Cub products -- I'm just saying that I wish they did a better job of identifying the in-house talent to fill those 24th/25th man roster spots.

I'll emphasize again, though - this is the equivalent of complaining there are too many carrots in the giardiniera on the best Italian beef you've ever had...
   27. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: June 10, 2016 at 02:51 PM (#5241001)
FWIW -

Not a lot of excitement around the draft this year since the Cubs don't pick until the 3rd round/#104 and have the smallest draft pool money available, but they're finally on the board -

They took Oklahoma State junior RHP Tom Hatch. Hatch was the big 12 pitcher of the year this past season - was previously drafted in the 32nd round a couple years back. He missed all of 2015 with a sprained UCL, but came back strong this year. He's an undersized fireballer - listed at 6", but perhaps a generous 6 ft. His fastball gets into the mid 90s, but can be inconsistent. Reports put his whole repertoire at average/above average.

In the 4th, they took Tyson Miller - another college Jr - out of Cal Baptist. Miller is the opposite of Hatch - "projectable" - he's tall and lanky, but has a good fastball with excellent movement. He's got a good change, but his breaking pitches are flat. Miller was a darkhorse coming into this season - though pitching in division II - for the college Golden Spikes Award. Several lists had him in the top 100 coming into the year - but he had a somewhat disappointing season. CBU has recently become a bit of div II pitching pipeline of note.

Solid picks, given the constraints, I guess -- two college arms... one pretty advanced, another that needs a bit of work.
   28. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 10, 2016 at 02:55 PM (#5241006)
I'll just say it seems likely they misidentified DJ LeMaheiu - yes, he's no great shakes, but he's 1-2 WAR player (albeit much on defense)...

You must have missed my response, since you're still hung up on it, but he looks like a complete Colorado mirage*. I wouldn't hold that one against them. And like you keep repeating over and over, you're complaining about the margins. So the Cubs can pick a guy that has a specific skill or two that they want, and maybe there's a reason they like LaStella and came back to Coghlan over these other types.

*DJ in Coors: .316/.367/.425
Everywhere else: .256/.297/.329

That's not a guy you lose thinking about sleep over.
   29. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: June 10, 2016 at 03:05 PM (#5241014)
You must have missed my response, since you're still hung up on it, but he looks like a complete Colorado mirage*. I wouldn't hold that one against them. And like you keep repeating over and over, you're complaining about the margins. So the Cubs can pick a guy that has a specific skill or two that they want, and maybe there's a reason they like LaStella and came back to Coghlan over these other types.


What can I say... I'm a min/maxer... the sort that picks up pennies on the street and puts them in a jar.

I had wasting around the margins.
   30. Brian C Posted: June 10, 2016 at 03:10 PM (#5241016)
I can understand a little bellyaching about LeMahieu, because he did turn out to be the best player in that particular trade (although still not really good enough to care).

But Flaherty? Who on earth would argue that the Cubs should have held a 40-man spot to avoid losing a guy that's gone on to post a 75 OPS+ in over 1100 career PA? That's just silly, especially to then say that they should have done so to avoid having to acquire LaStella, who's ... better.
   31. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 10, 2016 at 03:22 PM (#5241028)
For today, Baez is at 3rd and Bryant in LF. I'm not gonna nitpick specific lineups, but I mean, let Almora hit against the AAA Braves...
   32. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 10, 2016 at 03:27 PM (#5241031)
For today, Baez is at 3rd and Bryant in LF. I'm not gonna nitpick specific lineups, but I mean, let Almora hit against the AAA Braves..


Even w/ a healthy Soler, this might be the Cubs' best overall lineup. But I'd definitely like to see Almora get enough playing time to at least give us some idea of how good he is / could be (and yeah, getting his feet wet against bad MLB teams works out pretty well).
   33. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: June 10, 2016 at 03:30 PM (#5241035)
Cubs take yet another college jr -- Duke RHP Bailey Clark - in the 5th round.

Clark has good size and supposedly "grew into his velocity" this year. Most folks seem to think he grades out as a bullpen arm rather than an SP due to lack of secondary stuff.
   34. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 10, 2016 at 03:37 PM (#5241041)
Even w/ a healthy Soler, this might be the Cubs' best overall lineup. But I'd definitely like to see Almora get enough playing time to at least give us some idea of how good he is / could be (and yeah, getting his feet wet against bad MLB teams works out pretty well).

Well, it would be if Heyward wasn't hitting 2nd...
   35. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: June 10, 2016 at 04:19 PM (#5241075)
...and yet another college junior...

Chad Hockin out of Cal-State Fullerton - good fastball, another guy who grades out as a reliever. I believe he's also Harmon Killebrew's grandson.
   36. Meatwad Posted: June 10, 2016 at 04:40 PM (#5241086)
I was worried they would give coghlan the start today.
   37. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: June 10, 2016 at 04:55 PM (#5241096)
First position player taken --

Juco catcher Michael Cruz... bats lefty, apparently glove-first with a really quick release behind the plate.
   38. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 10, 2016 at 04:57 PM (#5241098)
Rizzo a late scratch with back tightness. Baez to 1b, Almora to LF, Bryant to 1b. I'd just leave Baez at 3rd and move Bryant to 1b (or Baez to 2nd, Zobrist to first*), but again, I won't nitpick...

*He's actually barely played there. Of course, that's still more than Bryant or Baez have played over there.

Fowler CF
Heyward RF
Bryant 3B
Zobrist 2B
Montero C
Baez 1B
Russell SS
Almora LF

Thanks goodness it's the Braves...
   39. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: June 10, 2016 at 05:02 PM (#5241100)
Maybe Maddon has Baez in his roto league and wants to get him position eligibility at 1B for some reason...
   40. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: June 10, 2016 at 07:14 PM (#5241163)
Rizzo a late scratch with back tightness. Baez to 1b, Almora to LF, Bryant to 1b.

Rizzo is tough to replace, but I think it's a mistake to put two guys at first base.
   41. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 10, 2016 at 08:20 PM (#5241188)
Rizzo is tough to replace, but I think it's a mistake to put two guys at first base.


It's the next wave of shifting. I'm sure it's data-driven.
   42. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: June 10, 2016 at 08:39 PM (#5241202)
   43. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: June 11, 2016 at 10:13 AM (#5241453)
I missed the game last night. Looking at the play by play, Almora apparently had another DP, yet while his BBREF page shows 2 DP, it shows only 1 assist. An unassisted DP for an outfielder would be really strange, so I went to the MLB.com video highlights, and on the play in question, Inciarte's sac fly to left with runner on first and third one out, all it shows is a routine catch, and Almora's lob to Zobrist with no play at second, the runner remaining at first. All the play by play recaps I looked at said it was an inning ending DP. What gives?
   44. McCoy Posted: June 11, 2016 at 10:43 AM (#5241464)
Smith called out

Mallex was running with the pitch and on his return he failed to touch second base.
   45. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: June 11, 2016 at 11:49 AM (#5241491)
Mallex was running with the pitch and on his return he failed to touch second base.


Ah, OK. Weird that Almora gets credit for a DP then, without credit for an assist. I mean, the putout was 1-4. Unless the putout was 7-4. I noticed Zobrist purposefully stepped on second after the catch and looked directly at the umpire. If the ump knew Smith didn't re-touch second, and apparently he did because he rung him up on appeal, then Zobrist stepping on second after the throw from Almora should have sufficed.
   46. Jerry Mumphrey Posted: June 13, 2016 at 11:51 AM (#5242409)
I really, really hate this deal. It's beyond me why Maddon and the regime soured so much on Alcantara. He's still just 24 and does have nice tools... plus, he's a guy who has experience at 6 different positions, including some true CF time. AND he's a switch-hitter.

Echoing others, sure - it's obvious he was no longer in the Cubs plans, but with his pedigree (he touched a few top 100 lists not that long ago), his tools, his versatility, AND the fact that he seems to have somewhat righted the ship offensively the last month or so at Iowa


Pedigree?! Coghlan won the ROY. The major league one.
   47. Walt Davis Posted: June 17, 2016 at 12:10 AM (#5245568)
I noticed Zobrist purposefully stepped on second after the catch and looked directly at the umpire. If the ump knew Smith didn't re-touch second, and apparently he did because he rung him up on appeal, then Zobrist stepping on second after the throw from Almora should have sufficed.

Sorry, very, very late to this party. They gave the answer during the broadcast. Apparently Zobrist has to inform the ump that he is appealing that Smith didn't retouch, then step on the bag. If he had, Smith would have been called out then and there (and Almora probably gets an assist) but instead Zobrist just stepped on the bag. Apparently then thinking they had to appeal in the convoluted way, the Cubs did that and Smith was called out. Seems weird to me but apparently those are the rules. It was a pretty big deal in its way because, for reasons I still don't quite get, the run counts if appealed through the pitcher but would have not counted if Zobrist had appealed while the play was still live.

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