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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Monday, May 06, 2019

That was fun

The first road trip of the season feels so long ago now, doesn’t it?  Coming into the season I was on the more optimistic side of people around here; I still overreacted a little to that piss poor start.  As plenty of people have said, teams are never as bad as they look at their worst or as good as they do at their best.  However, I see no reason to think the Cubs aren’t much more likely really this good - well, not .800 win percentage good, but 95 wins good.  The Cubs have the best run differential (and best on a per game basis by a nice margin); they’re just 0.01 r/g behind TEX for the ML lead (5.9 r/g), and are all the way back up to 3rd in the NL in ra/g (4.26, but it’s 2.77 since that 9 game opening trip). 

There obviously is plenty of offensive regression coming - Contreras, Heyward, and Bote are the obvious candidates, not to mention the utter unpredictability of the entire bullpen.  Javy is a different story, and I’m not going to even begin to try and predict what’s gong to happen with him; he has clearly made improvements yet again from last year (going the other way a ton more), but he’s basically a baseball wizard so he can just do whatever he wants I guess.  Rizzo has rebounded nicely (.340/.438/.774 last 14 games), Bryant’s also rebounding - though more quietly (.277/.444/.596 last 14), and even Schwarber looks better if you cherry pick enough (.320/.419/.560 last 9). 

On the pitching side, only Lester appears to be significantly out-pitching his FIP, but as I mentioned in a comment in the last thread his peripherals are much closer to his good 2016 than his luckier 2018.  Hamels and Quintana appear to be back to the solid, reliable selves and good for Pops giving Hendricks his vote of absolute confidence right before Kyle threw his Maddux.  Darvish continues to be absolutely maddening (is it me, or is he going really out of his way to try and completely avoid all contact?), but the stuff appears to be there - unlike last year, where it seemed like he never had it.  IOW, I think it might be mental with him, and I think the Cubs absolutely should be doing everything they can to try and straighten him out, as he has an upside none of the other SP options can touch.  I saw some conversation in the game chatter yesterday about either a 6 man rotation (wouldn’t be the worst idea, though no one has said anything about it yet) or either Chatwood or Montgomery taking his spot.  First off, I think the Chatwood suggestion is ludicrous; he’s closer to being just released than given a rotation spot again IMO (I’m not completely opposed to a spot start against the right opponent).  Montgomery is just a guy, and I’d only put him in over Darvish if Yu was hurt or completely worthless (and he’s not close to that yet; again, a spot start or 2 is fine).  I’ll be happy to change my mind if Davish doesn’t show any signs over improvement over the next 4-6 weeks. 

The bullpen has once again been a surprising strength.  Almost everyone has had a blowup or two, but everyone’s overall numbers look pretty good which means that they’ve been really good outside of the obvious hiccups.  Kyle Ryan is really flying under the radar, but he looks like he’s solidified a spot in the pen for the rest of the year to me; he’s not just a LOOGY either.  Strop is basically a metronome at this point, one that is consistently underappreciated.  Brach is another version of Cishek, and both have been solid.  Kintzler has bounced back nicely, and I’m inclined to believe what he’s doing is “real” as his bad stretch last year is really the outlier.  I’ll continue to dream on Maples, while also accepting it’s probably a long shot if we ever see Morrow in a Cubs uniform again. 

This team is the 2016 team, and isn’t approaching that level of domination.  But today, you can make a strong argument that the Cubs are in the discussion for the best team in baseball.  That’s about all you can really ask for, and so I’m going to enjoy this ride while it lasts. 

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 06, 2019 at 10:11 AM | 488 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   301. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 25, 2019 at 05:02 PM (#5855820)
Yep. I hope people can differentiate between this and actual celebrating for "Let the kids play" purposes.

Sure. As one of the LTKP main backers, I still say the overwhelming majority of these are celebratory. Even Contreras's exuberant moments can come across as angry, but there was no mistaking last night. I'm sure things will go smoothly tonight with McCann catching...
   302. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 25, 2019 at 05:05 PM (#5855823)
vs LHP tonight:

Schwarber
Bryant RF
Rizzo
Baez
Contreras
Bote 3b
Russell
Alzolay
Almora
   303. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: June 25, 2019 at 05:26 PM (#5855828)
So, 2 AA players at the bottom of the order. Not good.
   304. Walt Davis Posted: June 25, 2019 at 07:01 PM (#5855851)
Unless he's a strong defender on the infield, I'd like to see Robel Garcia get some time in a corner OF spot before any call-up. He doesn't appear to have ever played it in the minors but he's going to do the Cubs more good if he can take some corner OF against LHP at least (I see he's a BHB) ... and if he has a future in MLB, it's probably as a rover anyway.
   305. Walt Davis Posted: June 25, 2019 at 08:20 PM (#5855870)
A name to add to the list is Corey Dickerson. He's been hurt most of the year but seems to be off the IL so just needs to get some rust off and hit decently. He's an FA at the end of the year, the Pirates might prefer not to trade him inside the division but will mainly just go with the best offer I'd think. He's likely no better than average so not a major step up from what we've got and he has pretty much only played LF and he's LHB so would displace Schwarber ... so unlikely.
   306. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 26, 2019 at 10:02 AM (#5855972)
Garcia hit his 20th HR last night, which is his 14th in AAA. Sounds like he's more of a utility IF type, so I'd guess he could play 2b, Bote 3b, and Bryant RF.

---

Another disappointing offensive showing - 5 walks, 4 hits and only 2 runs. Not to mention the double TOOTBLAN in the 2nd. Montgomery actually looked ok until the HR, but he really hasn't been sharp all year. Brach had 2 really good innings, and Alzolay was really impressive again. Only 3 hits allowed, but all 3 of those guys scored (Cubs also walked 5 guys but stranded all of them).
   307. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: June 26, 2019 at 12:04 PM (#5856024)
I've been a bit of an Alzolay naysayer.... 6th year (or is it 7th?) in the org.... he's not young.... not a particularly impressive minor league track record.

I sort of put him in the same pile as a nearly endless list of INTL FAs -- Luis Liria, Jose Rosario, Starling Peralta, Oscar de la Cruz, Juan Paniagua.... too many guys to count who were supposed live arms teens whose breakout season was just around the corner. Most of them flamed out before they hit AA.

That sterling K/BB ratio this year - albeit in a fairly small set of innings - made me think "meh, maybe this guy will throw a few months of decent bullpen work".

However, he's rapidly making a believer of me.... He looks legit.
   308. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 26, 2019 at 12:14 PM (#5856039)
However, he's rapidly making a believer of me.... He looks legit.

It sounded like the Cubs thought he was basically MLB ready last year before he had the lat issue. There are quotes from when he got shut down in May of 2018 that the Cubs were considering him for the rotation. By that time Alzolay only had 15 starts above A ball.

So the Cubs believed in his stuff before he took another couple steps forward in performance.
   309. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 26, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5856059)
The Baseball Gods seem to disapprove of Addison Russell.

Cubs drop to 9-16 with a -16 run differential with Addison Russell in the starting lineup.


And in answer to the question, "What's the record when he doesn't start since he's been back?"

14-7 with a +26 run differential
   310. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 26, 2019 at 01:06 PM (#5856061)
I'm sure Russell sees that as just more adversity that he, the protagonist, must overcome.
   311. Walt Davis Posted: June 26, 2019 at 06:21 PM (#5856214)
That record might (or might not) have something to do with the SPs that Russell has faced:

Arrieta, Eflin, Rich Hill, Kershaw, Mahle, Mikolas, Miley, Ryu, Strasburg, Urena, Wainwright, Buehler, Cahill, Cole, Fried, Gio, Gray, Lambert, Vargas, Wheeler ... obviously 5 more somewhere. That's a pretty tough string of pitchers not made better by the Cubs rolling over for Lambert twice (8 IP, 11 R in his other two starts). I'm not sure we'd expect much better than 9-16 against that bunch.
   312. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 27, 2019 at 11:54 AM (#5856361)
Something I've been thinking/noticing, but hadn't quantified before is that the Cubs seem to make a lot more dumb plays this year. This would imply that's true, and it's not been just one area - baserunning, defense, everything. Bunch of Maddon quotes from yesterday say the same thing. And there's a bunch of points in here too:
They’re 10th in baseball in defensive efficiency, 12th according to Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and fourth by Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). But there just seem to be times when there are lapses in these types of fundamentals. Not solely errors, but sloppy play that hands the opposition runs or extra baserunners, taxing the pitchers and forcing them to get extra outs. But there are still flashes of defensive brilliance.

A team that has prided itself on its baserunning is 22nd in baseball in BsR (FanGraphs’ advanced base-running stat) at -2.5. But sometimes aggressiveness on the basepaths can be forced by an offense that isn’t capitalizing enough on the runners it has on base. The Cubs certainly are victims of that issue. After an 0-for-5 night with runners in scoring position, the Cubs are now batting .243 in those situations, last in the National League.

The Cubs now have hit into 64 double plays this year, third-most in the NL. Keuchel forced 11 groundouts, and the Cubs had 14 on the night. They’re now second in baseball with a 47.1 percent groundball rate.

Bryant already has 5 GIDP, and looks to easily surpass his career high (8).

---

Chicago Cubs @Cubs 11m11 minutes ago

The #Cubs today recalled RHP Craig Kimbrel from @IowaCubs. RHP Tony Barnette has been optioned to Triple-A.


Robel Garcia played OF last night, for the first time. He also hit another HR.
   313. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 27, 2019 at 12:18 PM (#5856365)
Good god

Schwarber
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Heyward
Caratini
CarGo
Descalso
Chatwood
   314. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 27, 2019 at 12:22 PM (#5856367)
Have you heard any reports on the quality of Garcia's defense? I see he has six errors in 300 innings between second and third base this year (5 of them being at third base) which is high but hard to put much stock in due to sample size.
   315. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 27, 2019 at 12:44 PM (#5856374)
I said it in the chatter last night after making sure you weren't around, Moses, but today I'll bravely say it to your face: This Cubs team just isn't all that good. They're decent, above average, but this team as currently composed is not one that is going to reel off a monster second half or make us comfortable that they can be consistently a couple notches above other teams.

I know, I know, but hear me out before you start throwing things at me.

The core of the team has more or less developed. We knew Rizzo and Bryant were going to be good, and Baez, Contreras and Hendricks have developed into the players that everyone hoped (albeit a little more hit or miss than we would want). But pretty much no one else has. They haven't been able to develop a second line of above-average contributors - none of Russell, Almora, Schwarber, Happ (remember him?), Edwards, etc. have become anything particularly useful. And the FO's attempts to bring in complementary players via FA or trade have been, all in all, significantly more negative (Heyward, Morrow, Quintana, Darvish, Chatwood, Brach, Descalso) than positive (Lester, Hamels, I guess Cishek).

They have problems consistently scoring runs because, guess what, there just aren't enough good hitters in the lineup to "keep the line moving" on a regular basis. The pitching is inconsistent because most pitchers are inconsistent, and the Cubs have neither (a) the type of dominant top-line pitchers that you can indeed rely on virtually all the time (granted that there aren't that many of them in the league these days), nor (b) the depth of the Astros/Dodgers model, because they've failed to develop any useful pitchers whatsoever, other than partial credit for Hendricks and the hope of Alzolay.

The team isn't a disaster. It's good enough to contend, if not to inspire any particular confidence. But it's becoming very clear that it's nowhere near what we had hoped it would become, and that's on the players who didn't develop, the personnel and/or system that didn't get the most out of them, and the FO for questionable player/contract evaluation.

   316. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 28, 2019 at 09:25 AM (#5856638)
By BB-Ref's overall team quality measure (SRS) the Cubs are the second best team in MLB. By BPro's third order standings the Cubs are the fifth best. I think the latter is more correct than the former but let's not lose sight of the fact the Cubs play in what is probably the toughest division in baseball and the AL is no longer the dominant league.

OK, Fangraphs only projects them to 88 wins by the end of the year and that would feel disappointing and they're nowhere near the Dodgers (or Astros, IMO). So I guess it depends on where you set your standards. At least 2016 happened.
   317. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 28, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5856667)
I think there's a lot of truth to what you're saying, Elroy. The Cubs didn't turn into the monster we'd hoped or expected, and haven't been able to sustain the same level the Dodgers and Astros have. From a super high level, I think the Dodgers/Astros have also been luckier than the Cubs (not only where the guys who were supposed to be good/great worked out, but they've gotten a lot else in addition to that work out for them - Muncy, Morton, etc, etc); but at the same time, maybe it isn't all luck and there are things they are just better at. The Cubs had one big wave, and then nothing else in the pipeline; those 2 are just replacing anything they lose with something better. Their trades have almost across the board better better than the Cubs, same with their FA signings (that's not to say they've been perfect, but the mistakes have hurt them less). And, quite frankly, the Cubs haven't played like a good team outside of a brief stretch.

However, I also agree with Pops and those underlying measures that show the Cubs are better than they've looked. They're 3 games under their pythag, which would have them on pace for 94 wins. The fact that they did have that really good stretch, plus the fact that they've reeled off monster stretches each of the past 4 years is going to keep giving my optimistic side life. The team has shot themselves in the foot a lot so far, but we know they can be better at that (meaning the baserunning and defensive mistakes, the bullpen will almost assuredly be better in the 2nd half).

The team isn't a disaster. It's good enough to contend, if not to inspire any particular confidence. But it's becoming very clear that it's nowhere near what we had hoped it would become, and that's on the players who didn't develop, the personnel and/or system that didn't get the most out of them, and the FO for questionable player/contract evaluation.

So yeah, I agree here. I just still err to the side of there's still a really good team in there and naturally gravitate to the positives. With the top 5 they have offensively, the defensive/baserunning talent they have, plus the way a postseason pitching staff would look, they absolutely could win any or all the postseason series they play. Is that likely? Well, is it ever really likely?
   318. Meatwad Posted: June 28, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5856720)
Looking over the Cubs schedule from today through end of July, they have 4 days off not counting the all star break. They play the Pirates 7 times Reds 6 white sox twice. They also get 3 against the Padres as well as the Giants, end with 3 Against the Brewers and 2 against St Louis. They need to make a run by the end of July and pile up wins.
   319. Meatwad Posted: June 28, 2019 at 02:00 PM (#5856722)
And to follow up of the remaining 81 games 52 are against the NL Central.
   320. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: June 28, 2019 at 03:04 PM (#5856761)
Doing the math on meat's points...

The 52 games left against the NL Central? 10 vs. St. Louis, 13 vs. both Milwaukee & Cincinnati. 16 vs. Pitt. Average opposing winning percentage for those games: .494.

7 interleague games left (3 vs. OAK, 2 vs CWS, 2 vs. SEA). Average opposing winning percentage: .484.

9 games left vs the NL East (3 each vs. NYM, PHI, and DC). Average opposing winning percentage: .494

13 games left vs. the NL West (6 vs SF, 7 vs SD). Average opposing winning percentage: .465 (!)

Overall average opposing winning percentage: .488.

The main downside: 45 of the 81 games are on the road - including 17 of the 26 games taking place between now and the end of July. The home/road game numbers are pretty even once you leave July.

Average opponent winning percentage in June/July: .480 (9 home games, 17 road games)
Average opponent winning percentage in August: .491 (14 home games, 14 road games)
Average opponent winning percetnage in Sept/Oct: .494 (13 home games, 14 road games)

So June/July looks like the real key time, indeed. They need their ability to beat bad teams to overcome their inability to win on the road.

The play the Brewers 5 times in August & another 5 times in September.



   321. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 28, 2019 at 03:59 PM (#5856802)
I think just going by win% probably underrates the Reds, but overrates the Pirates.

---

Scharber
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Contreras
Heyward
Russell
Almora
Hamels

Russell is hitting .208/.298/.271 this month, Almora .200/.241/.218. Bote isn't much better, but still better at .200/.284/.400. Assuming Garcia can handle SS, I'd think long and hard about demoting Russell and getting him up ASAP to see if there's anything there. Otherwise, the Cubs absolutely need to add at least one position player from outside the org that is less dead than CarGo. Not having the waiver wire deadline makes time of the essence, here, IMO.
   322. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 28, 2019 at 04:21 PM (#5856815)
Otherwise, the Cubs absolutely need to add at least one position player from outside the org that is less dead than CarGo. Not having the waiver wire deadline makes time of the essence, here, IMO.


The obvious best fit among players I've heard referenced as potentially available (i.e., Mike Trout is obviously the best fit, but, yeah) is Whit Merrifield, who plugs a hole at 2B and at leadoff hitter (if you believe that's a hole). That said, (a) while I've heard people talk about Merrifield being available, I don't really understand why he would be, and (b) if he really is available, I have to think that somebody else can give the Royals a better deal than what the Cubs can do - unless for some reason, the Royals really want guys with major-league experience (e.g., Almora, Russell, Happ).

Otherwise, if it was me, I'd call up Garcia, demote Russell, DFA Descalso, promote Happ and hope he hits better in Chicago than he did in Iowa, and plug Bote in as the everyday 2B and just hope for the best. Honestly, I'd do the first three of those things even if the Cubs acquired Merrifield (I keep wanting to type Whitfield).
   323. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: June 28, 2019 at 04:26 PM (#5856819)
I hate to say it.... especially because you can probably do a search and find me raving about each of the classes to some degree :-) --

But given we're in year.... 8? of the regime.... we probably need to start talking about how miraculously.... bad.... the Cubs have drafted. Look - getting your first rounder to majors and being a producer is actually harder than you'd think, even if you get top half picks. But beyond the Almora/Bryant/Schwarber/Happ (I don't recall. Was Baez a sort of under the covers agreement or was that all Hendry regime?) -- it's either ENORMOUSLY unlucky or just really really really really bad drafting. It takes time for picks to develop - so granted, there's still time for drafts of even recent vintage to bear some fruit - but man.

Let's review...

2012 (Almora draft).
Beyond Almora - you have David Bote who does increasingly look like a solid player to have around. Pierce Johnson was a bust. Duane Underwood will be/is already. Paul Blackburn is fodder in Oakland.... There were a couple JuCo guys who were occasionally talked about as darkhorse interesting, but none of them even made the majors.

2013 (Bryant)
Rob Z is basically AAA filler with the Dodgers.... Zak Godley (Montero trade) ate some innings in AZ... Guys who got a random writeup here or there as nice sleepers (Charcer Burks... and sigh... my guy Trevor Clifton) are just org fodder. Tyler Alamo and Will Remilliard have developed reputations as Taylor Davis (or Crash Davis, if you will) sorts, I guess.

2014 (Schwarbs)
Zagunis and Norwood are cups of coffee who might be spare parts. There's Dylan Cease, of course (and sadly). But Carson Sands never made it back from injury and is done. Jake Stinnett stalled out. Justin Steele made a brief appearance as another of the HS injury bonus babies who might be worth something last season, but he's suddenly hit a wall. Chesny Young and Kevonte Mitchell were toolsy lottery tickets who didn't bingo.

2015 (Happ)
The next batch of picks - Donnie Deweees (OF), Bryan Hudson (SP), DJ Wilson (OF) - have all turned into org fodder. There are handful of guys who might be back of the bullpen filler (Hudson included) but nobody who looks on track to be anything more than that.

2016 (Thomas Hatch)
Hatch has pretty much hit a wall at AA. It's still way (way) too early to put a capstone on this draft, but Hatch doesn't look like he's got a big league future. There's a reliever - Dakota Mekkes - you may see in the pen at some point. A couple of utility IFs in the David Bote mold (Zack Short and Trent Giambrone) that have a chance.

I won't even bother with 2017/2018 -- but the early returns on both drafts are just.... not promising. Brendan Little was always going to be a project, but he's not progressing. Alex Lange has been disastrous. The only guy who might be worth watching is a HS OF out of Puerto Rico named Nelson Velazquez who's holding his own as a 20 yo in A ball and has some power potential.

Hey - the Cubs did actually manage to "hit" on a pretty impressive string of 1st rounders. Seriously - you don't often see a string like Baez-Almora-Bryant-Schwarber-Happ. 5 straight first rounders not just hitting the big leagues - but playing some fairly significant roles and two of them even becoming stars is pretty impressive. I don't care where you're drafting.

But man.... it's like a barren desert of a vacuum of almost nothingness beyond that. It's almost curse-level bad luck AND really shitting scouting drafting.

David Bote might well be the ony non-1st rounder (well...and Dylan Cease) to be even remembered 5 years from now. Granted, you need a good 5 years or so to TRULY judge a draft, so even some of the 2014/2015/etc drafts COULD turn around.... but the thing is? None of the lottery tickets and advanced guys and whatnot look like they have a future - even as spare parts.

Until I looked, I didn't actually realize it was as bad as it's been.... but yeah.... it's been bad. REALLY bad. That's been overshadowed by a nice run of first rounders - but seriously... even by accident... you almost have to really try - and get some bad luck too - to see such a post round 1 dry spell.
   324. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 28, 2019 at 04:29 PM (#5856821)
I don't recall. Was Baez a sort of under the covers agreement or was that all Hendry regime?

Hendry knew he was fired at the time of the draft though it wasn't public, but I don't think there was much of a whisper that Theo would even be available at that point (beer and chicken was months away still).
   325. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 28, 2019 at 04:31 PM (#5856822)
Until I looked, I didn't actually realize it was as bad as it's been.... but yeah.... it's been bad. REALLY bad. That's been overshadowed by a nice run of first rounders - but seriously... even by accident... you almost have to really try - and get some bad luck too - to see such a post round 1 dry spell.


Yeesh. Yeah, that's ugly. Boy, the early debuts by Schwarber and Happ really masked how barren these drafts have been. Meanwhile, the Dodgers - who presumably have been drafting in the bottom third of every round for a decade - have enough guys turning into useful major-leaguers that they got three consecutive walk-off home runs from three different rookies at one point last week.
   326. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 28, 2019 at 04:36 PM (#5856825)
There's always a chicken-and-egg thing with trying to isolate a team's ability to draft vs. their minor-league development system. But I kind of think this is probably more an indictment of the latter for the Cubs. As zonk says in #323, "you almost have to really try" to avoid lucking into an average major-league player somewhere after the first round over the course of 5 or so drafts (granting that it's too early to judge the last 2 or 3 Cubs drafts) (maybe David Bote qualifies here?). Along these same lines, it's probably also worth noting that Schwarber and Happ were both viewed as major-league ready hitters when they were drafted, more or less proved that to be correct, and haven't really developed as much as one might hope since then (huge understatement re: Happ, obviously).
   327. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 28, 2019 at 04:40 PM (#5856829)
Hendry knew he was fired at the time of the draft though it wasn't public, but I don't think there was much of a whisper that Theo would even be available at that point (beer and chicken was months away still).

Hendry's underlings were running that draft but Hendry was not involved.

I won't even bother with 2017/2018 -- but the early returns on both drafts are just.... not promising. Brendan Little was always going to be a project, but he's not progressing. Alex Lange has been disastrous. The only guy who might be worth watching is a HS OF out of Puerto Rico named Nelson Velazquez who's holding his own as a 20 yo in A ball and has some power potential.


2018 draftee Nico Hoerner is the #64 prospect in baseball per MLB.com's list. He is more than holding his own in AA.
   328. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 28, 2019 at 04:46 PM (#5856833)
Yeah, but Hoerner was the first rounder.
   329. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 28, 2019 at 05:17 PM (#5856837)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 8m8 minutes ago

Cubs rotation for PIT: Alzolay (M), Darvish (T), Hamels (W), Quintana (Th)


Good. Back to the dustbin with you, Chatwood.
   330. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: June 28, 2019 at 05:30 PM (#5856844)
Honestly, when I started typing the above -- the point I was going to make was "middling".... and then I started looking at the draft lists.... and then I started thinking "Yeah not good outside the 1st round, but a HSer drafted in 2012 is about 25 now so let's not go overboard".... and then I started looking at other teams in the same timeframe (Dodgers, sure... Cardinals... then I looked at the Phillies, who actually HAVE A reputation for shitty drafting and development of recent vintage.

And yeah, folks... it's bad. You can't really even take the 1st rounders and say "yeah but" -- I mean, crappy as the Phillies have been in terms of drafting and player development - they've got Aaron Nola to show for it, too.

Even beyond just the pure MLB IP/PA and WAR -- you can look at say, the Dodgers -- and see a guy like Willie Calhoun (Dodger 4th rounder in 2015). He's been exposed as a bit limited - but still has a chance - but he became a highly regarded prospect that they flipped into the Darvish rental.

The Cubs don't really even have that -- sure, Dylan Cease (and Eloy) for Q.... but outside the first round, Bote and Cease as a trade chit (Godley, too, I guess - but Jefferson Mejia was the lotto ticket the Dbacks wanted for the Montero salary dump).

I'm not the guy to produce some kind formula that combines WAR, age/level drafted, "chit value" for trades, etc... and I just spent an afternoon doing comparisons, nothing more.

But yowza. It's bad. Hey - at least Bryant is something (plus Schwarbs, et al)... and the INTL has been more fruitful.... but I suddenly think the Cubs really have a problem in the scouting and player development department.
   331. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 28, 2019 at 10:11 PM (#5856901)
Hamels leaving tonight's game was very not good. No word yet, besides left side bothering him. They can't afford to lose him right now.
   332. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 28, 2019 at 11:43 PM (#5856920)
Hamels to IL with oblique strain. Ugh.

Also:
No official moves by Cubs, but expecting them to call up two arms Saturday. In clubhouse, veteran Carlos Gonzalez was gathered with some teammates. Received a few handshakes and hugs.


It was time. Let me guess it'll be Mills and Wick up, with a short bench for a while. Or maybe Garcia and another bullpen arm goes down (Monty?)
   333. Meatwad Posted: June 29, 2019 at 01:25 AM (#5856934)
Well at least joe didnt play cargo every game but yeah its tine to move on. Lets hope delcaso is next.
   334. Meatwad Posted: June 29, 2019 at 01:22 PM (#5856997)
Cargo dfa'd wick and maples are up.
   335. Meatwad Posted: June 30, 2019 at 01:05 AM (#5857195)
Tomorrows game should beinteresting and well any game that strop faces the reds will be interesting. Though it was funny to see him call puig dumb as ####.
   336. Meatwad Posted: July 01, 2019 at 02:00 AM (#5857619)
Kyle to pitch tuesday no rehab start so thats some good news at least.
   337. Walt Davis Posted: July 01, 2019 at 05:59 PM (#5857950)
#315: Hard to argue with results. And while I agree with Moses in that they do have a history of getting hot -- and usually when I've pretty much given up on it happening -- I'm at the point of pretty much giving up on it happening. The heavy road schedule in the 2nd half ... the marathon finish in Aug/Sept (although the Brewers do too I believe) ... the way we're meandering in this marathon stretch. Mainly, we couldn't expect better overall first halves from Baez, Bryant, Rizzo, Hendricks and Hamels and Contreras has been well above expecations ... and we're still kinda meh. Who are the breakout candidates to lead us on a 2nd-half surge? Seems far more likely Contreras will come back to earth, Heyward will struggle, Hamels maybe stays hurt ....

And this long stretch of games leading up to the AS break were the absolute worst time to decide to go with a roster with two completely empty spots (Descalso and CarGo) -- not that Almora and Russell were really any better.

Anyway ... longer-term, clock is ticking, getting to the pointy end of arb with the young guys, still no young players signed to long-term extensions (Hendricks I guess). It's looking very tear-down-y. At least an easy decision on whether to tender Russell this offseason.

It's really the inabiity to develop pitching. Not just top-flight SPs but useful bullpen arms. We are constantly sourcing FA/traded relievers and it's a few years now of a situation where a collapse/injury even from relatively mediocre pitchers like Montgomery, Duensing, Edwards, Strop can't be papered over. (To be clear, Strop is well above mediocre -- he's the "injury" example there that when he went down for just a few weeks, it seemed to throw everything off.

It is odd how roster stagnation always seems to lead to this. As I've noted several times, the Cubs had an entire lineup plus Happ under control for several more years and the oldest guys (Rizzo, Heyward) were still under 30. Added in the SPs under control. All pretty solid players, mostly young players, it's supposedly what any team would want ... yet somehow that steadiness always seems to stagnate in baseball. Not that 20/20 hindsight unveils anything beyond it would have been genius to trade Russell at his height (which I would have criticized heavily). And I suppose it would have been nice if TLS had started roiding up before he left. :-)

The draft/develop question beyond the first round is interesting. Theo had a lot of success in later rounds with the Red Sox but that hasn't transferred. Of course we have to add Gleyber and Eloy (and Soler ... and whoever I've forgotten) to the list of young players which makes things look even more impressive in terms of identifying top-flight talent. (Who gets "credit" for Vogelbach? :-)

So ... don't let Theo sign guys to FA contracts, don't let him draft after round 1, let somebody else make the closer acquisition decisions.
   338. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 01, 2019 at 06:40 PM (#5857960)
#315: Hard to argue with results. And while I agree with Moses in that they do have a history of getting hot -- and usually when I've pretty much given up on it happening -- I'm at the point of pretty much giving up on it happening.

Didn't a lot of preseason projection systems have the Cubs around .500 before the season began?
   339. Walt Davis Posted: July 02, 2019 at 02:04 AM (#5858056)
Let's hope that was a week's worth of terrible pitching out of the way all at once.

Didn't a lot of preseason projection systems have the Cubs around .500 before the season began?

Just Pecota I think. Few teams project really well so 88 wins might still be "around 500" but that would just mean that nearly all good teams are projected to be around 500. Fangraphs still projects them to 88 wins, 8 over in the 2nd half (may not include today's debacle). That's 3-4 better in the 2nd half than anybody else in the division and a bit better than the Braves.
   340. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 02, 2019 at 09:24 AM (#5858075)
Fangraphs (ZiPS) had the Cubs taking the division with 87 wins. It did project 6 teams for 90+ (Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Dodgers and... Nationals?). The Phillies, Braves, and Mets also projected to 87 wins.

Those are usually the two systems I care about so I'm not sure what others are worth looking at.
   341. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 02, 2019 at 10:54 AM (#5858135)
Garbage. Just, garbage. Alzolay was bound to struggle, guess it's a good thing the rest of the pen also decided to be garbage at the same time. Hopefully that was Kimbrel getting it out of his system.
   342. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 02, 2019 at 04:07 PM (#5858357)
Russell starting at 2b again tonight, which makes it 5 of the last 6 he's started (one at SS). Bote isn't hitting much either, but it's more than Russell and he's hitting RHP.

---

Hendricks off the IL to start tonight; Alzolay/Wick down, Rosario back. I know it's a lot of shuffling, but at some point the lack of another bench bat is going to hurt the Cubs. Alzolay got bombed last night, but I still want to see more of him so I guess he'll be back after the AS break when they next need a 5th starter (7/17?).
   343. Walt Davis Posted: July 02, 2019 at 05:39 PM (#5858402)
the lack of another bench bat is going to hurt

For sure but the pen has pitched 32.1 innings in the last week (thanks Q!) so a reasonable call for extra reinforcements.

I'm not sure about the Bote/Russell call either but Rfield loves Russell's defense to the point where he's well above-average overall and Len/JD were raving about it the other day today. Which is not a knock on Bote's defense which is also very good (and highly=rated by Rfield at 2B).

Our best lineup right now is probably a RH-heavy one with Bote at 3B and Bryant in LF.
   344. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 03, 2019 at 03:46 PM (#5858698)
Theo Epstein on #Cubs' woes: "If it continues, a ton of change is in order."


Can't say I'd disagree.

Maples down, Garcia up.

Who's more likely to play for the #Cubs this season: Brandon Morrow or Ben Zobrist?

Theo Epstein: "I think they both will."
   345. Brian C Posted: July 03, 2019 at 07:20 PM (#5858754)
I wonder what the corresponding 40-man move is. Official site shows 41 including Garcia.

ETA: Nevermind, it still shows Barnette on the 40 even though he’s on the restricted list.
   346. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 03, 2019 at 10:39 PM (#5858840)
Also Cargo is gone. I think they're still only at 39.

...

Defense blew that one, not Kimbrel.
   347. Spahn Insane Posted: July 03, 2019 at 11:51 PM (#5858842)
I've been mercifully spared actually watching this trainwreck lately, so maybe i've missed something, but wtf was Contreras doing in RF in the 9th inning of a one-run game? (If "wtf was he doing in RF at all" isn't acceptable..)
   348. Walt Davis Posted: July 04, 2019 at 12:47 AM (#5858849)
He started in RF ... now if the question is what was he still doing there ... seems a good question. Probably back in March Joe wrote down that Bryant and Heyward would get the game off on July 3 and, golly, you can't just change plans willy-nilly!

Given Contreras and Caratini were virtually the entire offense today, I won't complain.
   349. Spahn Insane Posted: July 04, 2019 at 04:45 AM (#5858859)
Yes, why he was still there, in that situation, was my question.
   350. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 04, 2019 at 09:43 AM (#5858871)
They said both Bryant and heyward were banged up which is why both had the day off. Both got hurt the game before. I bet one of them could have played defense in the 9th, but maybe they actually couldn't. Haven't seen quotes about that though.

Contreras did make an amazing throw to nail the tying runner at the play in the 8th. I know Garcia PH, but he probably has played about as much RF as Willy.
   351. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 04, 2019 at 12:25 PM (#5858895)
Who will have a better record at the season's end: Cubs or White Sox?
   352. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 04, 2019 at 12:48 PM (#5858898)
Cubs, and I'm extremely confident.

....

Schwarber
Baez
Bryant RF
Rizzo
Contreras
Garcia 2b
Bote 3b
Almora
Quintana

So no heyward again, guess he really couldn't play last night. He's been very good lately, defensively too.
   353. Brian C Posted: July 04, 2019 at 02:06 PM (#5858910)
Ironic that they could have really used CarGo last night in the 9th.

That was a really terrible loss last night - bad pitching, bad defense, and a crippling mental error by Russell in the ninth. It was basically everything that people have been complaining about, all in one inning.
   354. Walt Davis Posted: July 04, 2019 at 09:17 PM (#5858994)
Robel!! Clearly the greatest Cub player since Tuffy Rhodes. :-)
   355. Walt Davis Posted: July 04, 2019 at 10:37 PM (#5859007)
Walks asked this at the end of yesterday's chatter and seems the right place to speculate, regarding the Cubs and RISP

OK, so then what would you attribute it to? You agree that the Cubs seem to have a really hard time hitting with RISP dating back to last season, yes?

Or no ... this year NL average with RISP is 264/351/451 with a 21.4% K-rate; the Cubs are at 246/351/451 with a 21.2% K-rate. Now we'd like to have an above-average offense overall so we'd like to be above-average with RISP but league-average is league-average. We have a slightly lower BA, higher walk-rate, higher ISO. The shortfall there is BA which is all down to a 276 BABIP vs. a league average of 306. So, if anything, the Cubs are making too much weak contact with RISP possibly because they're pressing too much in a belief they're bad with RISP. (Those numbers are from before the big-scoring game against Pitt but presumably that didn't fix everything.)

The shortfall in BA/BABIP amounts to about 12-15 singles (at least nearly all singles) -- with RISP of course a single probably averages out to a run (a mix of whether it's 2-3 or just 2 or just 3 and the runners involved, how hard the ball's hit, etc. but I'm guessing it comes out to a run). That would obviously be great but on average that's an extra win. Each one counts but it's hardly destroying the season.

The BA problem has been particularly bad with men on third and two outs ... but part of that may be that we get pitched around more as we lead in walks in that scenario and have a better than league-average OBP despite hitting 40 points lower. Again pretty much totally a BABIP thing.

We have been below-average with ment on third and less than two outs ... again mainly a BABIP thing, again more walks, again league average Ks. Still, we're hitting 305/360/496 in that situation so not exactly a travesty. We're about 4 hits short of league average.

2-outs RISP: NL 246/354/426; Cubs 235/367/470

Late & close: NL 233/314/397; Cubs 214/309/375 ... again pretty much all BA, about 9-10 hits; most of the PAs come with nobody on.

"High" leverage: NL 251/326/435; Cubs 252/336/455 ... note this is pretty much any PA in a late/close situation plus others, nothing to do with men on base.

obviously we'd like to be above-average in each of those ... we're 30 points ahead of NL OPS, it would be nice to be 30 points ahead in all of those too. But we are 30 points ahead in "high" leverage which ideally is the best measure -- i.e. you gotta get on to begin with and nothing wrong with HRs in high leverage. Still, at worst, this performance has cost us 1-1.5 wins against average, maybe 2 wins vs where we might expect to be.

Like bullpens blowing leads, offenses stranding runners late is remembered far more often than the times they pushed across an insurance run or tied a game they later lost or ...
   356. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: July 05, 2019 at 12:02 PM (#5859089)
Theo Epstein on #Cubs' woes: "If it continues, a ton of change is in order."

Can't say I'd disagree.


Hate to say it, but I think it's time to consider that those changes should be made in the FO.

The more I look at this org of recent vintage, the more I think that they're just increasingly not getting it right at the top.

Some of that, you almost HAVE to say is just really weird bad luck. I liked the Heyward signing - it's been only slightly better than a debacle. I liked the Darvish signing. It HAS been a debacle. I liked Chatwood, it's been orders of magnitude worse than a debacle. I didn't like the Morrow signing. It's been a waste. I didn't like the Chapman deal, though I accept it may well have proven to be necessary. Who would have expected TLS to turn into vintage Robbie Cano? But - they shed TLS to save money to sign Descalso.

Add it to the poor (post-1st round, at least) drafting?

The appreciation for 2016 - and even the season before and after - will never dim.

But - it's time to puff the objective pipe and recognize that this FO seems to be on a multi-year awful streak.

I wouldn't expect those changes mid-year - and sure, it "could be worse"... but I'm increasingly thinking the problem is less "Thed should..." and more "The Cubs should..."
   357. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 05, 2019 at 01:54 PM (#5859133)
Well, the Cubs just finished their stretch of playing 50 games in 52 days. Let's look at that overall....

They went 22-28 in that span. It ain't like they fell apart as it went along - they were a middling team throughout.

16 games before the first day off: 7-9 record
17 games between days off: 8-9 record
17 games after the 2nd day off: 7-10 record.

3 extra-inning games. They lost all three.

They were 14-10 at home.
They were 8-18 on the road. They actually won 3 of their first six road games. 5-15 since then on the road.

They played 15 series (plus a one-off makeup game against the Angels). They won three of those series (at DC, vs. COL, and a sweep vs. STL).
They had an even split in four of the series (all at home: PHI, NYM, ATL, CWS)
They lost the other 8 series. This includes 7 of their 8 road series. Thank God for that three-game set in DC!

They were 7-12 vs. their own division
They were 8-7 vs. the NL East
They were 4-6 vs. the NL West
They were 3-3 vs. the AL

They were 5-11 in one-run games
They were 5-7 in two-run games
They were 2-4 in three-run games
They were 3-2 in four-run games
They were 7-4 in blowouts.

Average opponent winning percentage (based on % heading into today's games): .525

If you want to look at it glass half-full, they lost a disproporionate number of close games while playing unusually good teams for a sustained stretch.

The glass half-empty: they've been a consistently bland team for 7+ weeks and are brutally bad on the road. And I'm not sure strength of opponent is much of an excuse when you get your ass handed to you by the Reds in three consecutive serieses.
   358. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 05, 2019 at 02:16 PM (#5859137)
Hate to say it, but I think it's time to consider that those changes should be made in the FO.

The more I look at this org of recent vintage, the more I think that they're just increasingly not getting it right at the top.

Some of that, you almost HAVE to say is just really weird bad luck.


Concur on this. The best defense I can make for Clan Theo is this: Luck has evened out. I remember around 2016 people noting that, "Look, no one's this good." Meaning that they had a run of all sorts of young'uns come to the majors and contribute right from day 1: Baez, Soler, Bryant, Russell, Schwarber, Contreras, and even Happ when he first came up. Not all were great (Soler) they had all provided value, and pretty much all did it right from day one. So that's the defense.

But I'm not sure I buy that defense. It isn't just the poor free agent signings. We're seeing a lot of their prize pupils regress at the same time. Happ, Russell, and Almora most obviously.

Right now, I'm reading the book The MVP Machine (really good, by the way). It looks at the most cutting edge front offices and how they use advanced tech and all that to improve player development. And the book is litered with stories about guys have used new info and all that to improve their swings or their pitches or whatever else to improve and develop: Justin Turner, JD Martinez, Trevor Bauer, Charlie Morton, Ryan Pressly, etc.

And I'm reading all of these stories of successes in player development while the team I root for has a giant stall in their player development pipeline. The book focuses on the franchises on the cutting edge frontier - and the Cubs are scarcely to be found. It's all on the Astros and the Dodgers and the Red Sox. (And also the Indians, but that's pretty much just Trevor Bauer, who is essentially a self-starter on this). Anyhow, these are clubs that aren't just consistent playoff teams these days. These are clubs that consistently make the playoffs easily. Look at the Dodgers. Look at the Astros. This is what we expected from the Cubs a few years ago, instead the Cubs are just ekeing their way in (2018) and/or playing exhausted in October (2017). (Yes, I know Boston's having a down year, too. Still, they've had a longer run than the Cubs - and three titles).

Maybe this isn't fair. I'm getting down on the Cubs because they're not one of the teams at the elite of the elite. But ... that's the standard the Cubs set for themselves. It's the standard they achieved in 2015-16. It's the standard they've slid from while others haven't.

Speaking of not fair, the book doesn't go into much detail on the failures of the franchises it looks at most closely. It does acknowledge them (and discuss it a little bit) so there is a bias. Even the best franchises have players crap out on them. You can argue that Yu Darvish is an example of that. I remember when he came here, one reason the Cubs were so high on him were that they'd looked at his advanced statcast numbers and had ideas how to improve himself. This is exactly what the Astros did with guys like Morton and Pressly. Hasn't quite worked out the same. But that happens. It just happened with a guy who they paid top dollar for. The Cubs over the last few years are defined by their flops, not successes. And when they're having trouble developing their players and targeting free agents - and they're doing it at an era where other teams are exploiting advantages in player development to build monsters. Well, that doesn't make the last month more enjoyable, now does it.

Again, maybe this isn't fair, but I remember when Theo came. There was a sense that they not only have a great boss, but a guy who thrives by staying one step ahead of the league. A guy who figures out in advance where the next edge or advantage is and exploiting it. Well, at the very least the Cubs front office is not at the cutting edge. Others are leading and the Cubs are trying to follow. The book makes me think the Cubs currently have a second-tier front office. Or, to be more exact, reinforces that notion - because the last 20 months or so the Cubs front office's performance sure as heck ain't top tier.
   359. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 05, 2019 at 05:19 PM (#5859172)
Co-sign Dag’s post 100%. It’s a more eloquent version of what I was originally trying to say in 315.
   360. Brian C Posted: July 06, 2019 at 11:19 AM (#5859340)
(Yes, I know Boston's having a down year, too. Still, they've had a longer run than the Cubs - and three titles).

And also three last-place finishes sprinkled in with those 3 titles.

I think you guys are comically overreacting to a tough stretch. Five years ago each and every one of you would have killed to have it this good. And now being a half-game out of first in a tough division after a bad couple weeks is a crisis requiring a full organizational housecleaning.

Get the hell over yourselves already.
   361. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 06, 2019 at 11:37 AM (#5859345)
Well, I figured someone would have that reaction. But do you have anything to counter the substance of the argument? “They’re better than they used to be, so shut the hell up” doesn’t really get there.
   362. Brian C Posted: July 06, 2019 at 11:57 AM (#5859354)
There is no substance to the argument. "Yeah I guess they're good and all, but what I really signed up for was world domination, my one title isn't good enough boo-hoo" is pure d-baggery.

Every franchise has some unproductive drafts. Every franchise makes some bad signings. The Dodgers and Astros are riding high now but it's not like they've hacked the sport and found the key to everlasting glory - they're just riding high at the moment and they'll have their struggles too at some point.

Cleaning house every time the team underperforms is not the way to build a successful organization. It's a hallmark of basically all the worst franchises in sports.
   363. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 06, 2019 at 05:18 PM (#5859435)
I can't respond acceptably on my phone. I see the points and think Theo,etc have been far from perfect. I also thinks it's quite the overreaction to say they should lose their jobs. If the standard is Hou and LA, every FO should be replaced.
   364. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 06, 2019 at 05:30 PM (#5859438)
I don’t think anyone is saying “throw the bums out.” Just discussing the issues, and acknowledging that maybe the FO is due some of the blame for the team’s failure to live up to expectations (set by the promises of the FO themselves). Apparently that’s not an acceptable discussion to have for some.
   365. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 06, 2019 at 06:43 PM (#5859464)
I read Zonk's post as saying that. Dags is a sort of a concur.
   366. Walt Davis Posted: July 06, 2019 at 08:15 PM (#5859479)
And even the vaunted Astros started the year a solid but not startling 19-14, then went nuts (29-9 getting to 48-23) ... and are currently in a 7-10 stretch with 3 of those wins against the hapless Ms. Their run differential is +76, the Cubs is +54. B-R's SRS thingy puts the Cubs at 0.9, 2nd best in the NL ... the Astros also at 0.9 and so are the Yanks. The Astros are 2 games over their pythag, the Cubs 3 under which is most of the difference in 2019 outcomes. (Not that I think we are as good as the Astros.)

But sure, the FO and the minors pipeline has certainly hit a lull. The early praise, deserved or not, was also about trades for Arrieta, Hendricks, Strop with the Arrieta turnaround every bit as impressive as Charlie Morton or other recent examples.

Some of the disappointment in the young players is over-stated. I wouldn't characterize it as "regressed" but rather "stagnated" but sure Russell, Almora and Schwarber have not taken any real steps forward since 2016-17. But then Russell and Almora are both still defensively excellent making them average or better overall. Not sure why anybody is particularly disappointed in Almora. He had a brief flirtation with the higher end of the prospect lists back with he was 19-20 but his 291 OBP in 2014 (at age 20) put a stop to that. He's been an average MLer which is still a fine outcome for somebody ranked down in the 60s. I don't know that any of us here ever went much beyond hoping Almora could be an overall average hitter in a full-time role.

Still balance that against Bryant, the awesome development of Javy, the awesome development of Contreras (at least as a hitter), the at least partial credit for Hendricks ... plus having a hand in on Torres, Eloy, Cease even Soler (he's become an average corner hitter with lousy defense).

2019:

Bryant 2.7 WAR
Baez 3.3
Contreras 2.4
Almora 0.5
Russell 0.6 (in 141 PA)
Schwarber 0.4
Bote 1.4
(Torres 2.6)
(Eloy 0.2 ... 0.8 oWAR)
(Soler 0.2 ... 0.9 oWAR)

That's 8 ML starters plus Almora and Bote on the bench and the oldest is Contreras at 27. This is what we're complaining about?



   367. Walt Davis Posted: July 06, 2019 at 08:32 PM (#5859485)
On a less contentious note, time for an update

Javy 23-26 and Sosa 23-26 (nearly equal PAs now)

282/321/506 ... 272/327/490
OPS+ 113 117
HR 93 102
Rbat 28 36
WAR 15.6 13.8

Sosa is still 3 years from going nuts but the 35-40 HR power showed up 24-26. Soriano is probably the better hitting comp going forward but he didn't have major ML time until age 25 and didn't become that guy until 26 so he's not a good age comp for Javy.
   368. Brian C Posted: July 06, 2019 at 09:30 PM (#5859501)
I don’t think anyone is saying “throw the bums out.” Just discussing the issues, and acknowledging that maybe the FO is due some of the blame for the team’s failure to live up to expectations (set by the promises of the FO themselves). Apparently that’s not an acceptable discussion to have for some.

Oh please. Zonk's post specifically said that changes were needed in the FO, and Dag's post specifically quoted that part of Zonk's post and concurred, and then you specifically co-signed Dag's post 100%.

If this was just a conversation pointing out that "maybe the FO is due some of the blame", then I wouldn't have an issue. Obviously not everything has worked out as planned. But Zonk explicitly called for a shakeup of the FO, which is ludicrous - so much so, apparently, that as soon as someone points that out, you pretend like it's not what was being discussed.
   369. Brian C Posted: July 06, 2019 at 09:39 PM (#5859507)
On a more positive note: after years of trying, the Cubs finally have a special holiday cap that looks nice.
   370. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 07, 2019 at 09:00 AM (#5859562)
Lucas Giolitto when facing the Cubs in 2019:
2 starts. 0-2 W-L, 8.2 IP, 11 H, 3 HR, 8 BB, 14 K, 2.192 WHIP, 12.46 ERA.

Lucas Giolitto when not facing the Cubs in 2019:
15 starts, 11-1 W-L, 91.2 IP, 58 H, 6 HR, 30 BB, 106 K, 0.960 WHIP, 2.26 ERA.
   371. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 07, 2019 at 09:06 AM (#5859563)
Was my post overdoing it? Yeah. That'll happen when you vent.

I don't want a complete overhaul of the front office. I'm aware that they've done a lot of good. That said, it rubs my the wrong way when Theo threatens major changes when the biggest problems in recent years are bad free agent signings. That several of their young players have gone backwards at the same time makes me wonder if there's something in the Cubs overall player development program, though it could just be on the players.
   372. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 07, 2019 at 11:04 AM (#5859574)
Oh please. Zonk's post specifically said that changes were needed in the FO, and Dag's post specifically quoted that part of Zonk's post and concurred, and then you specifically co-signed Dag's post 100%.

If this was just a conversation pointing out that "maybe the FO is due some of the blame", then I wouldn't have an issue. Obviously not everything has worked out as planned. But Zonk explicitly called for a shakeup of the FO, which is ludicrous - so much so, apparently, that as soon as someone points that out, you pretend like it's not what was being discussed.
Oh please yourself. This is what Zonk actually (and specifically) said: “Hate to say it, but I think it’s time to consider that those changes should be made in the FO.”

If “I think it’s time to consider” equates to “throw the bums out,” then Rob Manfred is a man of immediate, decisive and perpetual action.
   373. Brian C Posted: July 07, 2019 at 11:31 AM (#5859577)
Dag had the decency to acknowledge that he overdid it, but you’re doubling down on hair-splitting pedantry. Incredible.

But fine ... I still think that “considering” a front office shakeup is ridiculous, for all the same reasons.
   374. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 07, 2019 at 11:37 AM (#5859579)
If you think it’s ridiculous to even consider making changes, despite the growing evidence that there are other FOs who are doing the job better, that’s fine. But you don’t have to call people names for daring to even broach the subject.
   375. Brian C Posted: July 07, 2019 at 11:47 AM (#5859582)
I didn’t call anyone any names. I did call a particular sentiment “d-baggery” but I’m sure you understand the difference between calling an argument stupid and calling the person making that argument stupid.

And as Walt pointed out, the “ample evidence” you refer to is pretty thin. And on top of that, the Cubs are in year 5 of sustained contention, a couple years longer than Houston, so jury’s still out on whether they’re “better” or just “better right now”. The Dodgers have been a juggernaut in the West for longer, but I wouldn’t trade their overall record to this point with the Cubs’ - would you? At any rate, I personally can’t imagine the griping (here and elsewhere) if the Cubs had gone 8 straight years of division titles without a championship.
   376. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 07, 2019 at 12:06 PM (#5859586)
Well, speaking for myself, I think I would prefer being in the Dodgers’ position right now, with their track record of player development. I’m a big believer in the postseason being a crapshoot, so I would want the confidence that the team is a couple of notches better than other teams over the long run of a full season. Would I trade 2016 for that? No, but that’s more or less immaterial if you think postseason outcomes are pretty much out of a team’s control.
   377. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: July 07, 2019 at 10:29 PM (#5859731)
Excuse me?

The fact is that the Cubs drafts do look awfully shitty under the Thed regime - especially with Happ, Schwarbs, and Almora looking increasingly like spare parts. Sure, there's still time -- the Lange/Little draft still has another year before 40 man roster choices need to be made, but the fact is that there's literally nobody from six years of drafting now who looks like a smart value pick or a case of uncovering a gem. Kudos for not messing up taking Bryant 2nd overall - and I guess we'll just ignore the rumors that the Cubs were ready to jump on Appel if the Astros hadn't taken him 1st.

Beyond that, what's the last good FA signing? Steve Cishek? Before that? You have to go back to Lester/Zobrist. Darvish, Heyward, and Chatwood (and Morrow, unless you want to say that they got 30 nice innings for their 20 million) all rank among the biggest FA fails of the last 3 offseasons. Yeah - I liked the signings too.... but I'm just a guy who reads BA, FG, etc in his spare time. I'm not being compensated for my opinions.

Trade-wise? The best you can say is that Quintana deal remains defensible, the Chapman trade was a logical, and getting Hamels for salary relief was too.

Waiver chaff pickups? Well, they got a nice year from Duensing.... and then signed him to a two-year/7 mil extension. Oh, and Robel Garcia hit an HR.

Beyond that, you can look at the Davis debacle... or the newly revolving door of pitching coaches.

I'm not hoisting a pitchfork - I said that it's time to consider that the FO may be out of gas... Sure, who would replace Jed (or Theo or McLeod)? I'm not demanding changes, I'm just saying it's time to do a sober assessment of their performance.

You have to really fanboy blind to look at the FO performance since, say, the winter of 2014-2015 and grade it out as anything better than a D+. They've drafted poorly. The FA signings have been horrifically awful. The trades have been so-so, at best (and even that requires "nobody could have foreseen..." with regards to say, TLS, which is fair.... but still). The extensions have been largely uninspired. They haven't done much special plucking reclamation projects off the waiver wire.

Flags fly forever - but exactly what has the FO done since 2015 that makes you say "Boy, that was a GREAT move... a smart trade... a good job scouting... a wise extension..."?

I doubt there will be any changes until the team falls below .500... but exactly what moves would compliment this FO about, Brian? What finds has McLoed uncovered? What FA signings or trades tickle your fancy?
   378. Brian C Posted: July 08, 2019 at 01:35 AM (#5859755)
Flags fly forever - but exactly what has the FO done since 2015 that makes you say "Boy, that was a GREAT move... a smart trade... a good job scouting... a wise extension..."?

Trade-wise? The best you can say is that Quintana deal remains defensible, the Chapman trade was a logical, and getting Hamels for salary relief was too.

I mean, if you're just going to hand-wave away the good moves, then yes, you're left with bad moves.

I'd say that the Quintana deal was more than defensible. It's a move that everyone is afraid will turn out badly more than it's actually turned out badly. Jimenez could still turn out to be someone, but he would offer no value to this year's Cubs team at all - he'd be a guy who can thump an occasional homer and not do much else (while contributing bottom-of-the-barrel caliber defense). Quintana, on the other hand, has been a solid-but-underwhelming mid-rotation starter. Yes, I know we wanted him to be more than that, but he's still providing real value, and Jimenez is not and may not have the skill set to do much more given his questionable plate discipline and horrendous defense.

I don't see how getting Hamels was not a GREAT move.

You're vastly overstating the degree of fail with Heyward. He's been a positive contributor on the whole, and he's even been downright solid this season.

Kintzler was kind of a disaster last year but has turned it around this year. Up to you how you want to average that out, but they got him for nothing so I'm good.

Kyle Ryan sort of drives me nuts, but all in all he's been a solid middle-relief guy (albeit overtaxed when thrust into a bigger role, but I'm sure you'll agree that's the nature of middle-relief guys).

Jesse Chavez was a nice pickup last year.

The Wade Davis trade in 2017 looks good to me; Soler is a semi-useful spare part for the Royals (when he's not hurt) but the Cubs don't miss him.

Zobrist's first year was 2016, so that's technically after your 2015 cutoff date, to go along with the Chapman acquisition and the Lackey signing.

I think the big flaw in how you're approaching this can be found here:

Sure, there's still time -- the Lange/Little draft still has another year before 40 man roster choices need to be made, but the fact is that there's literally nobody from six years of drafting now who looks like a smart value pick or a case of uncovering a gem.

Emphasis added. It's always seemed to me like you're not really concerned with prosaic stuff like constructing rosters - what you're really looking for is for the front office to do a bunch of SUPERGENIUS stuff that sends a tingle to your naughty parts. You want "smart value picks" and "uncovering gems" - buzzphrases that I'm pretty sure you picked up from Christina Kahrl columns on BPro 20 years ago and have been parroting ever since.

But nevertheless, they've really done a pretty good job of putting together solid baseball teams. Schwarber and Almora, among others, may be "spare parts" in a sense, but to the extent that's the case, they're guys that they've carved out productive roles for. They've cobbled together functional bullpens out of parts that none of us were too excited about. Whatever training/conditioning regimen they've put in place has mostly kept guys healthy.

And since they've done a pretty good job of putting together solid baseball teams, in the four years of what you call D+ performance, they've won 103, 92, and 95 games, won a championship, advanced to another NLCS, and are contending again this year.

So really, the results speak for themselves.
   379. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: July 08, 2019 at 09:36 AM (#5859784)
I mean, if you're just going to hand-wave away the good moves, then yes, you're left with bad moves.


I didn't handwave away the good moves - I said that they've been few and far between for 3-4 years now and it's time to face that fact.

I'd say that the Quintana deal was more than defensible. It's a move that everyone is afraid will turn out badly more than it's actually turned out badly. Jimenez could still turn out to be someone, but he would offer no value to this year's Cubs team at all - he'd be a guy who can thump an occasional homer and not do much else (while contributing bottom-of-the-barrel caliber defense). Quintana, on the other hand, has been a solid-but-underwhelming mid-rotation starter. Yes, I know we wanted him to be more than that, but he's still providing real value, and Jimenez is not and may not have the skill set to do much more given his questionable plate discipline and horrendous defense.


You're entirely forgetting that also going the other way was Dylan Cease - who came into this year as BA's #38, MLB's #21, and BPro's #21 prospect, just made his debut, and looks like he's going to stick as an SP. As for Jiminez, he's hitting 241/303/482 (good for a 105 OPS+).... As for offering no value - Schwarber is hitting 227/320/457 (98 OPS+). The former is 22, the latter is 26. They've also found PAs for the husk of Carlos Gonzalez, something called Mark Zagunis, and even Jim Friggin Adduci. I think they'd find a place for him.

It's defensible because the wanted a cost-controlled SP... but compare the haul the Sox got to say, what the Mariners got for James Paxton (Sheffield is marginal top 50 prospect... Swanson is chaff... Thompson-Williams is a decent prospect, but no star in waiting).


I don't see how getting Hamels was not a GREAT move.

Fine, it was a great move.... to fix the problem of spending ~35 mil on Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood.

You're vastly overstating the degree of fail with Heyward. He's been a positive contributor on the whole, and he's even been downright solid this season.
Yes, he's having a solid season.... but you and I both know that there isn't a team in baseball that would take on Heyward at even half his contract for a bucket of baseballs.

Kintzler was kind of a disaster last year but has turned it around this year. Up to you how you want to average that out, but they got him for nothing so I'm good.
Kyle Ryan sort of drives me nuts, but all in all he's been a solid middle-relief guy (albeit overtaxed when thrust into a bigger role, but I'm sure you'll agree that's the nature of middle-relief guys).
Jesse Chavez was a nice pickup last year.

Yes, Kintzler has had 36 nice innings this year after 18 bad ones last year.... but we're talking about 4th/5th relievers having spurts of usefulness here. Chavez's 39 godsend innings last year and becoming the team's most reliable reliever down the stretch is an indictment, not an acquittal.

The Wade Davis trade in 2017 looks good to me; Soler is a semi-useful spare part for the Royals (when he's not hurt) but the Cubs don't miss him.

I'll give you Davis - a year of rent-a-closer was a smart move and it worked out quite well. I simply overlooked this one.

Zobrist's first year was 2016, so that's technically after your 2015 cutoff date, to go along with the Chapman acquisition and the Lackey signing.

And now we're talking about a FA signing from the first week of December.... in 2015.

Seriously... do you see the problem? The defense is basically cherrypicking a few bullpen arms (and ignoring Justin Wilson, the Duensing extension, Brach, Morrow, etc).

If you squint hard enough - the bullpen moves wash out.... and this is your defense of the FO moves over the last 3-4 years?


I think the big flaw in how you're approaching this can be found here:
Sure, there's still time -- the Lange/Little draft still has another year before 40 man roster choices need to be made, but the fact is that there's literally nobody from six years of drafting now who looks like a smart value pick or a case of uncovering a gem.

Emphasis added. It's always seemed to me like you're not really concerned with prosaic stuff like constructing rosters - what you're really looking for is for the front office to do a bunch of SUPERGENIUS stuff that sends a tingle to your naughty parts. You want "smart value picks" and "uncovering gems" - buzzphrases that I'm pretty sure you picked up from Christina Kahrl columns on BPro 20 years ago and have been parroting ever since.

But nevertheless, they've really done a pretty good job of putting together solid baseball teams. Schwarber and Almora, among others, may be "spare parts" in a sense, but to the extent that's the case, they're guys that they've carved out productive roles for. They've cobbled together functional bullpens out of parts that none of us were too excited about. Whatever training/conditioning regimen they've put in place has mostly kept guys healthy.

And since they've done a pretty good job of putting together solid baseball teams, in the four years of what you call D+ performance, they've won 103, 92, and 95 games, won a championship, advanced to another NLCS, and are contending again this year.

So really, the results speak for themselves


Find me another team that has had such a poor run of drafts.... MAYBE the Phillies? But then again, they got their Aaron Nola in the Bryant draft - and snagged Rhys Hopkins a few rounds later. They've got a Kingery to match the Happs, and even a Hasely who looks like an Almora. Seriously.... this isn't "Why haven't they found a diamond in the rough!".... it's Why have they flailed and failed as badly as any other team.

In any case, yes - the results speak for themselves. They've easily been the most accomplished front office in any of our lifetimes... that doesn't change that, after making some great moves to set up the run -- you're hanging your on "Well, some of the relievers haven't always sucked... just ignore the ones who have."
   380. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 08, 2019 at 11:18 AM (#5859813)
It's defensible because the wanted a cost-controlled SP... but compare the haul the Sox got to say, what the Mariners got for James Paxton (Sheffield is marginal top 50 prospect... Swanson is chaff... Thompson-Williams is a decent prospect, but no star in waiting).
Just thinking out loud here, but maybe one of the things that has me/us thinking that the FO is not on the cutting edge is that they've pretty badly misread or failed to anticipate two of the biggest changes in the market over the past few years. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but it's looking like the Torres/Chapman and Cease + Jimenez/Quintana deals may well go down as two of the very last "huge prospect haul" deals as teams have gotten smarter about the value of cost-controlled players.

Similarly, the Cubs jumped in early to sign Chatwood to a big deal, and then watched as other teams finally wised up about doing stuff like signing Tyler Chatwood to a big deal.

Then the next offseason, they were the team to finally cave to Darvish's demands after a long standoff that made it pretty clear that other teams had learned the lesson about those types of deals for pitchers.

I dunno, maybe that's just picking the rotten cherries, but it does kind of feel like they've been a little behind the leaders in terms of market rationalization.
   381. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: July 08, 2019 at 11:31 AM (#5859824)
Yup - I'd agree 100%... they're behind the curve now on both trade valuations and reading the FA market. For an analytics-driven FO, that is a really damning thing.

In any case, let me soften my criticism a bit by saying that if I were Tom Ricketts? No, I would not be canning Theo or even Jed.

However, since this little fight all started by pointing out the draft fails -- I'd point out that the Cubs have had the same core in their Scouting and Player Development vertical since 2011. Jason McLeod, Matt Dorey, and Jaron Madison have all been the core of the scouting and development operation - and it's time to consider whether one or more them isn't pulling his weight.

The bright spot in the Cubs scouting and development has been on the INTL front -- so, without having a graphical representation of the org chart - I'd look at Alex Suarez (who currently heads up INTL scouting and has been in that department for a while) as someone who probably ought to be replacing someone in what amounts to the VP level roles of that vertical.
   382. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 08, 2019 at 11:39 AM (#5859826)
However, since this little fight all started by pointing out the draft fails -- I'd point out that the Cubs have had the same core in their Scouting and Player Development vertical since 2011. Jason McLeod, Matt Dorey, and Jaron Madison have all been the core of the scouting and development operation - and it's time to consider whether one or more them isn't pulling his weight.

That is pretty surprising when you consider how especially abysmal things have been on the pitching side. If nothing else, scouting and development of pitchers warrants an overhaul because they have not even turned out bullpen filler.
   383. Brian C Posted: July 08, 2019 at 12:16 PM (#5859845)
You're entirely forgetting that also going the other way was Dylan Cease - who came into this year as BA's #38, MLB's #21, and BPro's #21 prospect, just made his debut, and looks like he's going to stick as an SP

I didn't ignore him, it's just TINSTAAPP. He's got miles to go before he matches Quintana's value. I'd rather have Quintana both now and going forward, and the only real reason to prefer Cease is that shiny new-prospect sheen that odds are is illusory anyway.
They've also found PAs for the husk of Carlos Gonzalez, something called Mark Zagunis, and even Jim Friggin Adduci. I think they'd find a place for him.

They've found less than 100 PAs for those three guys combined, none are on the active roster, only Zagunis is even on the 40-man. Not a factor.
And now we're talking about a FA signing from the first week of December.... in 2015.

Well, sure, why not? Because earlier you said this:
You have to really fanboy blind to look at the FO performance since, say, the winter of 2014-2015 and grade it out as anything better than a D+.

If you actually meant the winter of 2015-2016, just say so. But you want to have it both ways, deducting points for Heyward while also ignoring the good moves made that winter.
Seriously... do you see the problem? The defense is basically cherrypicking a few bullpen arms (and ignoring Justin Wilson, the Duensing extension, Brach, Morrow, etc).

Well, "cherrypicking" is a weird complaint since you asked me to list the good moves. And I've never said that there haven't been questionable moves also, just that every FO has those on the ledger over time.

But also ... yes, the Cubs have obviously have the core of a perennial playoff team, so the moves they've made have largely involved role players and especially relievers. That's a function of their success. Even this year they have a well above-average offense.

At any rate, you're still stuck trying to give an FO a D+ grade when they're regularly churning out playoff teams.
   384. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: July 08, 2019 at 12:53 PM (#5859884)
I didn't ignore him, it's just TINSTAAPP. He's got miles to go before he matches Quintana's value. I'd rather have Quintana both now and going forward, and the only real reason to prefer Cease is that shiny new-prospect sheen that odds are is illusory anyway.


I think not even mentioning in the defense of the Quintana trade - which, I'll remind you - I said remains defensible is the very definition of "ignoring him".

They've found less than 100 PAs for those three guys combined, none are on the active roster, only Zagunis is even on the 40-man. Not a factor.


Or - about half of the PAs Eloy has gotten playing full-time on the south side (service time shenanigans included, of course).

If you actually meant the winter of 2015-2016, just say so. But you want to have it both ways, deducting points for Heyward while also ignoring the good moves made that winter.


Fine. They got two good years from Zobrist and all things considered, getting about 7 WAR for ~50 million isn't half bad.

Well, "cherrypicking" is a weird complaint since you asked me to list the good moves. And I've never said that there haven't been questionable moves also, just that every FO has those on the ledger over time.


The problem is that the "questionable" moves have exceeded the bad over the last 3-4 years. Some of them have derided from the point they were made, some were lauded but quickly became pumpkins.

At any rate, you're still stuck trying to give an FO a D+ grade when they're regularly churning out playoff teams.


No, hazy starting point for grading aside - I'm giving them a D+ since the team 'arrived'. What that ultimately averages out to be over the course of the entire regime, I don't know and it may not even be possible to grade... Winning a title and three straight NLCS appearances gets you a lot of credit and I've never said otherwise. However, acing the first half of a test doesn't make up for getting almost answer wrong on the back half, either.

All that I'm saying is one really cannot look at the body of work from the front office since building the contender and be happy with it. It's been more mistakes than successes by any conceivable and honest assessment. The scary part is that I'm not entirely sure if it's a matter of quantity of bad moves over good moves or the quality of bad moves over good moves.

Yes, every team makes bad moves... but unless the ratio of bad moves to good moves (and the 'price' of bad moves to good moves) changes dramatically, this is not a FO going in the right direction. At best, it's a team adrift thanks to the good moves made 4 or more years ago and the inertia of them.
   385. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 08, 2019 at 01:24 PM (#5859905)
Have you read this piece before, Zonk? It's from the offseason, so I'd argue the FO has does a bunch of this "sober assessment of their performance" that you're demanding. So I think the Theo quote I posted that may have kicked off this little discussion can be pretty telling and/or ominous if they do end up making any big changes this month.

“We just have to do a better job with our decision-making,” Epstein told 670 The Score, the team’s flagship radio station, last week. “Off the field, (it’s) making sure we give ourselves every little competitive advantage that we can (along) with our preparation on the field. And then I think overall, as a group, we need to just have more of a sense of urgency.

“It’s a special opportunity, so we all need to put our absolute best foot forward, including myself, including everyone in the organization. I think that’s really the theme. Talking to players, talking to coaches, talking to the front office, I think we’re all sort of hunkering down and making sure we leave no stone unturned, making sure that we do our jobs the absolute best way that we all can. And that we all set up our lives in a way that leaves nothing undone to try to help the Cubs win a championship (this) year.”


This piece got all the attention, what with the mandatory BP, series lineups, etc. I can't find it now, but there was another one that talked about things they changed in their scouting - specifically amateur - and what they needed to change as a result of guys they passed on being successful and their picks not.

---

Although I'm more on Brian's side in this discussion, I'll also co-sign 380 and say I think everyone acknowledges they've made their fair share of mistakes lately. I still do find myself on the "look how damn successful they've been" boat, while knowing there likely is a cliff somewhere in their future (maybe not until after the 2021 FA group/likely Theo "10 years and I'm out" change; maybe it's already begun this year and the pitching timebomb is going to go off sooner rather than later). The doom may be around the corner, but even this stretch from 15-now is still pretty damn awesome all things considered.
   386. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 08, 2019 at 01:32 PM (#5859910)
Lucas Giolitto when facing the Cubs in 2019:
2 starts. 0-2 W-L, 8.2 IP, 11 H, 3 HR, 8 BB, 14 K, 2.192 WHIP, 12.46 ERA.

Lucas Giolitto when not facing the Cubs in 2019:
15 starts, 11-1 W-L, 91.2 IP, 58 H, 6 HR, 30 BB, 106 K, 0.960 WHIP, 2.26 ERA.


OTOH:
Tony Andracki @TonyAndracki23

2019 Ivan Nova vs. Cubs: 0.84 ERA, 1.12 WHIP

2019 Ivan Nova vs. rest of MLB: 6.14 ERA, 1.58 WHIP


I guess that evens out?
   387. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: July 08, 2019 at 02:26 PM (#5859940)
Have you read this piece before, Zonk? It's from the offseason, so I'd argue the FO has does a bunch of this "sober assessment of their performance" that you're demanding. So I think the Theo quote I posted that may have kicked off this little discussion can be pretty telling and/or ominous if they do end up making any big changes this month.


I did actually - but there's very little about the "front office" in it.... it's almost exclusively about coaches and instructors -- and it's more the numbers crunchers and the suits that I'm talking about here. Granted - it's hard to imagine even a place like the Athletic getting the details on say, "we've replaced our SQL dba with a guy who is not only dynamite with queries, but comes from well-thought of AI incubator" -- but the only item that touches on the sort of guys I'm talking about is a mention of some interns being getting what I imagine are full-time jobs as analysts. And I just feel like THAT is where the Cubs are failing badly of late.

IOW - how the hell did the Dodgers know Chris Taylor was actually anything more than a 4A spare part? Or how did they manage to grab Max Muncy? Or how did they get it right in the Darvish/Machado trades by managing to hang onto Verdugo and Buehler and getting the Rangers/Orioles to settle for Calhoun/Diaz?

Luck always plays a role, I'm sure - but at some point, when one team seems to always be getting extraordinarily lucky and another seems to have a knack for being extraordinarily UNLUCKY.... you have to seriously consider that it's the analytics and scouting guys in the suits who are shitting the bed.

Brandon Morrow in many ways perfectly encapsulates the FO fortunes of the two teams over the last few years.... The Dodgers plucked him off the heap for something like a non-guaranteed 1.5 million and he goes on to be a key part of the bullpen. The Cubs sign him afterwards for 20 million and well....

Now hey - I'll stick take the ring over the juggernaut the Dodgers have built, forever seeming to hit the jackpot on fodder acquisitions, always seeming to have a brimming farm system AND managing to get the "untouchables" right, while getting the best the trade market has to offer for their "how about X instead" offers, etc. Hell, even their albatrosses - Rich Hill, the QO to Ryu, taking back and then shedding Kemp, etc seem to work out nominally well in the end.

Like I said, I get it - you find precious little about the suits making the player acquisition and drafting calls until they get interviewed for the big chairs.... but - again, the executive suite in the Cubs org for those purposes has pretty consistently been Theo, Jed, McLeod, Madison, and Dorey since 2011 or so. At some point, What Have You Done For Me Lately needs to be asked... and that question cannot and should not be answered with a "Well, that guy we drafted (5 years ago) was a key part of the team that won the division this year and that guy we traded for (6 years ago) along with that guy we signed (5 years ago) are our two best SPs".

   388. Brian C Posted: July 08, 2019 at 02:50 PM (#5859950)
I think not even mentioning in the defense of the Quintana trade - which, I'll remind you - I said remains defensible is the very definition of "ignoring him".

Quibble with semantics all you like, I've explained my reasoning.
Or - about half of the PAs Eloy has gotten playing full-time on the south side (service time shenanigans included, of course).

About a third, actually, with the gap growing every day since, again, none of those 3 guys for the Cubs look to be adding to their total anytime soon.
No, hazy starting point for grading aside - I'm giving them a D+ since the team 'arrived'.

I get it. But what I'm saying is that they deserve something more like a B-. D+ front offices ruin organizations. But for the Cubs, a few moves have worked out OK, some haven't all that well, but all in all the damage from the ones that haven't has been pretty contained. They have a fine starting rotation when everyone's healthy (and it's not like they're dealing with major injuries this year), and 3 of those guys were acquired after 2016. That makes up for a lot of misses on relievers and bench guys, even if they do look silly for paying their fifth starter like an ace.

So it's not so much that what you're saying is wrong, exactly, although I don't think you're being all that sober in your assessment yourself, especially given that you've been (as you've acknowledged) one of the bigger cheerleaders here on many of the moves in question. But moreso, it's just that I think you lack perspective and are making some nitpicks at the edges of things into huge major awfulness. And I'm just not on board with it.
   389. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: July 08, 2019 at 02:53 PM (#5859952)
A B-?

Yeesh... what do the Mets get, a gentleman's C?

That's a helluva of a curve.
   390. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 08, 2019 at 03:32 PM (#5859969)
Keri says what a lot of us here have been saying/thinking since last offseason:

Speaking of trade candidates, few potentially available players would be a better fit than Whit Merrifield on the Cubs.

Merrifield might have shifted to the outfield this year, but he’s a plus defender at second his entire career, his park-adjusted hitting numbers are on par with Mookie Betts’ in 2019, he’d be a plus baserunner and good contact hitter for a Cubs club that could use help in both those areas, and he’s owed the ludicrously small sum of $21.5 million through 2023 (plus a few incentives that wouldn’t negate his contract being extremely team-friendly).

The Royals’ asking price might well come in too high for the Cubs’ liking. But given the Cubs’ need at the deuce, and the Royals’ need to collect younger talent for their next run (Merrifield’s a 30-year-old late bloomer), at the very least it’s an avenue that’s worth exploring, for both teams.


I honestly don't know if there's a trade here that works for the Cubs, or at least one that wouldn't really hurt. I think most of us would have no problem sending them both Russell and Happ - the question then becomes how much more it'll take in addition to those 2 (and, in light of the current discussion, do we trust the Cubs to make a trade at least some of us won't regret in a couple of years).
   391. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 08, 2019 at 03:38 PM (#5859971)
Hmmmm....

Look at where Contreras (-8.3) ranks on Baseball Prospectus in terms of framing runs this season: 93rd out of 95 big-league catchers. As a pitch framer, FanGraphs ranks Contreras (-7.4) last out of the 15 qualified catchers in the majors. It’s the one statistic that diminishes a catcher who could become a perennial MVP candidate.

To better understand Contreras as a receiver, Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy begins with a question: What is the concept of pitch framing?

It’s to get a called strike – and Hottovy points out that the Cubs lead the majors in called strike percentage (27.5).

“What encompasses getting a called third strike?” Hottovy said. “Obviously, catcher framing, but pitch-calling, sequencing, knowing a hitter’s weaknesses and strengths. (And Willson’s) excellent (with) game-calling, really good at understanding sequences of how we want to pitch and getting the calls that we need.

“You can’t technically have a catcher who’s a ‘bad framer,’ but also at the same time have the most called strikes in all of baseball.”


I don't think any of us would disagree that he appears to be bad at "framing" - it's so frustrating to see so many borderline calls appear to hurt the Cubs in any given game. I hate the idea of framing anyway and am more roboump than probably the average person here. I also have a hard time at much the negative framing always hurts Contreras in his WAR totals - he's 4th in C fWAR though very easily first in their offensive component (a negative defensively, which I really don't think he is).
   392. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 08, 2019 at 03:53 PM (#5859979)
I have always been highly suspicious of catcher framing metrics. There's a reason people credited the extra inch or two off the plate to Greg Maddux and not to Charlie O'Brien.
   393. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: July 08, 2019 at 04:01 PM (#5859984)
Not sure I see how or why the Royals would want Russell... even sans his other issues - he's actually making 3 X as much as Merrifield this year, probably would make close to Merrifield's contract next year (unless he's non-tendered) and has a year less of team control.

Hard for me to see any team particularly interested in Russell as a part of a trade - I suspect his value in any such deal is more or less "fine, we'll take him to make the salaries work for you".

Hate to say it, but even without the PR issues - Russell has just a couple of years of team control left and he's a slick-fielding MI who has a career 242/313/392 (87 OPS+) slash in 2100 big league PAs. He is what he is. A decent enough stopgap if you've got a strong lineup otherwise a GB-oriented staff that needs his glove.
   394. Brian C Posted: July 08, 2019 at 04:35 PM (#5859994)
Contreras always looks to me like he overframes. Like he’ll catch a pitch pretty much off the ground and then frame it belt-high, instead of subtly holding it at the bottom of the zone. Or a pitch six inches outside he’ll snap back and hold like it was down the middle. Ump’s gotta be like, I’m not an idiot.

But I’m more or less with Pops in that I’m wary of attaching too much importance to it.
   395. Brian C Posted: July 08, 2019 at 04:47 PM (#5859999)
A B-?

Yeesh... what do the Mets get, a gentleman's C?

That's a helluva of a curve.

Shrug ... I don't follow the Mets very closely so I don't know what grade I'd give them (I know you were asking rhetorically, but still).

That said, on the surface, turning a pennant winner with the best young rotation in baseball into a big bucket of trainwreck four years later certainly seems more in line with what I'd consider D-level front-officeing.
   396. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 08, 2019 at 05:35 PM (#5860029)
July 8 in Cubs history:

1880 CHC win 21st straight
1907 fans in Brooklyn toss bottles at Frank Chance. He throws them back - and cuts the leg of one fan. It takes a police escort to get him out
1927 Charlie Root's only CG 1-hitter (Johnny Gooch hit). 9 IP, 1 H, 0R/ER, 3 BB, 2 K. Cubs 1, Pirates 0
1942 Cubs purchase Lon Warneke from Cards for $75,000
1945 Babe Herman returns to MLB after 8 year hiatus - singles in first AB & trips on first base, scrambles back safe
1948 Ewell Blackwell fans 13 Cubs in Wrigley. CIN 4, CHC 0
2005 200 wins: Jaime Moyer (200-148)
2008 OAK trades Rich Harden & Chad Gaudin to Cubs for four guys, including Matt Murton & Sean Gallagher
   397. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 08, 2019 at 05:41 PM (#5860031)
2008 OAK trades Rich Harden & Chad Gaudin to Cubs for four guys, including Matt Murton & Sean Gallagher

Yeah, one of those unnamed guys turned out to be pretty notable. And not the guy who was Corey Patterson's kid brother. I don't think these usually include sarcasm from you; if so, I apologize.
   398. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 08, 2019 at 06:37 PM (#5860061)
(looks it up).

Huh. I had no idea Josh Donaldson was in that trade. I added that entry to my file about 10 years ago & haven't updated it since.
   399. Walt Davis Posted: July 16, 2019 at 12:59 AM (#5862158)
A decent enough stopgap

C'mon, Russell is a slimeball but he's also got 6 WAA in about 3.5 seasons of full-time play. That's really good, not a stopgap. Baseball-wise, about the worst someone can claim is that the WAA is trending in the wrong direction. He's a below-average hitter, even for a SS, and a well above-average fielder, even for a SS. Jose Iglesias (0 WAA over the last 2200 PA) is even above-stopgap. Freddy Galvis is closer to stopgap (-2.4 WAR in about 5 full). On a per PA basis, Russell has been better than Bogaerts over the last 5 years and he's #8 overall among SS (70%) by WAA in that time.

Plenty of teams would like Russell the baseball player.

EDIT: And (as I think we all know) Josh Donaldson didn't become Josh Donaldson until 2013 so that's not a demerit to the Cubs, that's a credit to Donaldson and the A's.
   400. Walt Davis Posted: July 16, 2019 at 01:03 AM (#5862159)
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