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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Roster Construction

I tend to be quite forgiving of most moves that Maddon or the Cubs make these days.  I mean, in some sense they’ve earned that benefit of the doubt, and it’s nice feeling comfortable that there appears to be an underlying reason for everything they do even if it doesn’t appear obvious or isn’t fully explained publicly.  However, the Cubs appear to be doing a less-than-perfect job of maximizing their 25 man roster.

The most obvious culprit is currently rostering 3 catchers.  I partially understand the initial hesitance to send down Federowicz when Montero came off the DL; if Montero had another flare-up with his back, it would suck to have to dip into emergency catcher situation.  Perhaps they fear losing Federowicz if they send him down (I’m assuming he doesn’t have any options left, but please correct me if I’m wrong).  We had a similar issue last year when they couldn’t find an acceptable trade partner for Wellington Castillo.  At least in that case, Castillo had a major league quality bat and wasn’t underqualified to pinch hit.  As I’ve talked about before related to sending Soler back to AAA, there just isn’t an obvious better candidate until Szczur comes off the DL (he’s heading to Tennessee to start a rehab stint, so hopefully it’s soon).  There was nothing wrong with keeping Kalish around until Szczur was ready.

I don’t really have a problem with Maddon’s overall bullpen usage, but I think it’s a waste on this team to have 8 relievers.  Eventually the Cubs starters will need more of a break, but right now there’s just not enough innings to go around.  Ramirez is constantly going long stretches between appearances.  While he hasn’t shown a whole lot when he’s been in there, it must be hard when he’s pitching so infrequently.  I’m pretty convinced Richard isn’t a LOOGY, although that is how Maddon is using him (5 2/3 innings in 10 appearances); there’s really no need for a fourth long reliever.  Again, I can see the reasoning here, and there’s no one in the pen left with options, but isn’t that a negative overall with the roster?  Most teams have a guy or two that can be on the major-AAA shuttle, and I think there’s a real benefit to roster flexibility to that. 

These complaints are obviously relatively minor - essentially the negative version of a silver lining - and hopefully they have no impact on the overall team performance or come into play for the postseason roster.

Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: May 19, 2016 at 07:00 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: May 19, 2016 at 01:45 PM (#5224801)
I have nothing to add to this other than Jason Heyward has been a huge disappointment, and I wasn't even that excited about him in the first place.
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 19, 2016 at 02:09 PM (#5224820)
I don’t really have a problem with Maddon’s overall bullpen usage, but I think it’s a waste on this team to have 8 relievers.


Maddon's bullpen use is getting increasingly LaRussish. Get rid of at least three relievers.
   3. McCoy Posted: May 19, 2016 at 03:37 PM (#5224908)
If Timmy! has to pass through waivers and the Cubs are afraid he won't that is on the Cubs for signing him. I get that Schwarber going down spreads them thin in the catcher spot but a) you've got Montero as your starter-an older catcher who is going to spend time on the DL and b)your back up is an even older guy. At this point you've got a perfectly adequate replacement down in the minors should Timmy! get snagged and Ross or Montero go on the DL. The solution certainly isn't to keep 3 catchers on the roster for the rest of the year or even another month.
   4. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: May 19, 2016 at 03:42 PM (#5224912)
If Timmy! has to pass through waivers and the Cubs are afraid he won't that is on the Cubs for signing him. I get that Schwarber going down spreads them thin in the catcher spot but a) you've got Montero as your starter-an older catcher who is going to spend time on the DL and b)your back up is an even older guy. At this point you've got a perfectly adequate replacement down in the minors should Timmy! get snagged and Ross or Montero go on the DL. The solution certainly isn't to keep 3 catchers on the roster for the rest of the year or even another month.


I agree completely. Contreras seems to have a MLB ready bat. Don't know about his D, but it's not like Tim is Yadier back there.
   5. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: May 20, 2016 at 04:43 AM (#5225185)
Maddon's bullpen use is getting increasingly LaRussish. Get rid of at least three relievers.

You are the Bernie Sanders of bullpen usage. Keep up the good fight!

Contreras seems to have a MLB ready bat. Don't know about his D, but it's not like Tim is Yadier back there.

I said before, I think Timmy was ok, but he had that one really bad game that's soured everybody on his D. From Cubs Den:

Consistency. Patience. Power. So many one word descriptions fit Willson Contreras (.339/.436/.509, 12.8 BB%, 10.5 K%) and his performance it would be difficult to choose just one. If forced to settle on one though, the best that comes to mind: Rock. In terms of his consistency, as well as physique, it is tough to imagine a more solid player than Contreras. He is the foundation upon which the dynamic Iowa offense is built. He has reached base in 29 of his 30 starts on the season. For those that don't follow the minor league recaps closely this consistency at the plate is not a new phenomenon for Contreras. The last time he went three consecutive games without reaching base was early July... of 2014. It was hard to imagine him improving on his Southern League batting title (.333) and career high BB/K ratio of 0.92 last season, but so far he has posted even better numbers to begin this year, and is now walking more frequently than he is striking out (1.21 BB/K).

His defense is still a work in progress. One of the key components he has worked hard to improve upon has been his communication skills and gaining the trust of his pitching staff. The 24 year old Venezuelan has made great strides in learning English in the past year, understanding the important role that ability will play in his future handling of Major League staffs.

He has run into a few outs on this bases that I would like to see eliminated, but most of his miscues are mistakes stemming from over-aggression. During his development he has managed to tone down the aggressive approach he once showed at the plate, becoming one of, if not the most calm and balanced hitters in the system. I predict we will start to see the same transformation take over the other parts of his game in the years to come.
   6. Charles S. is not doing chainsaw bears any more Posted: May 20, 2016 at 10:06 AM (#5225275)
The solution certainly isn't to keep 3 catchers on the roster for the rest of the year or even another month.

Just because I want to post this once in my life:
I completely agree with McCoy!
   7. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 20, 2016 at 11:48 AM (#5225415)
You are the Bernie Sanders of bullpen usage. Keep up the good fight!


Heh. I'm taking this crusade all the way to California!
   8. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 20, 2016 at 02:26 PM (#5225595)
Just to chime in, I think 13 pitchers is a terrible idea under any circumstance where you have anything approaching a functional starting pitching staff. To do it when your starting staff leads the league in IP/GS is nuts. To do it when that is true AND burn three of the remaining position players on catchers is beyond comprehension.
   9. McCoy Posted: May 21, 2016 at 07:31 AM (#5225841)
I would use the Heyward dive as an excuse to put him on the DL for at least 15 days.
   10. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: May 21, 2016 at 08:42 AM (#5225859)
Sounds like he avoided a serious injury, but MRI today still. I tend to agree, I'd have to think rest is best for his wrist. Szczur should be about ready to come off the DL. Though the Cubs really, really, really need to get someone else up for Federowicz; maybe Kalish again.
   11. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 21, 2016 at 01:57 PM (#5225959)
I hadn't put it together until Heyward's injury, but if you consider Kris Bryant's primary position to be 3B, the Cubs have as many catchers on their roster as outfielders. And with Heyward injured, they have fewer healthy players whose primary position is outfield than there are outfield positions. Yes, yes, Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist are perfectly cromulent outfielders and Javier Baez and Tommy La Stella are perfectly cromulent major-league hitters. But good god is that still bad roster construction!
   12. Red Voodooin Posted: May 21, 2016 at 05:59 PM (#5226078)
Heyward not going on the DL, day-to-day with a "contusion".

Szczur activated from the DL.

Neil Ramirez DFA'd.
   13. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 21, 2016 at 06:06 PM (#5226088)
Neil Ramirez DFA'd.


I liked Ramirez and thought he could be something, but this is the right move. Well, I'd have probably DFA's Richard before Ramirez, but there's just not enough work for an 8th-overall, 6th-right-handed reliever for the Cubs. I'd still also swap out Fedorowicz (sp?) for Kalish, especially as long as Heyward isn't 100%. But it's a start. And glad to see Sczcur back. I hope he picks up right where he left off.
   14. McCoy Posted: May 21, 2016 at 06:08 PM (#5226090)
Geezus. What kind of pictures does Timmy! have?

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