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It seems to me that travel is the only reason to keep divisions and the unbalanced schedule.
I know we unfortunately won't be eliminating divisions anytime soon, but there's still no reason why we can't just reseed the playoffs. Top 5 records get in, regardless of division. Bottom two records of the top 5 play the WC game. Some teams will definitely benefit (or be harmed) from playing in easy or difficult divisions, but that's the case right now, too.
Cubs fans are used to seeing this game - the TVs scattered around Wrigley Field have been replaying his strikeouts from this game for years now. Still, it's fun to know it's online now!
And god, Ausmus swinging quarter speed at that slider that went 58 feet...wow. Just, wow.
Jason, can you explain what a "role 7 type" is? Maybe I'm just missing something, but I don't believe I've ever heard that phrase before.
Does the Cubs flurry of activity at the start of the international free agent signing period indicate a new pseudo-deadline for summer trades? Obviously July 31 is still the major deadline, but it seems pretty clear that the Cubs wanted to sign all the int'l free agents and to do that they needed to trade Feldman a little earlier than they otherwise would have (although not competing against their own goods when trading Garza later this summer is another good reason for the early trade).
In the future, is it likely will see other teams doing something similar? Are the Cubs just the first team to see things this way and to price out the value of int'l free agent slot money?
Love this column. I've been reading articles on sabermetrics for about half my life now and it's really great to get a more in-depth understanding of the scouting side of things. Keep up the good work!
Can you give me some sense of how the endless number of solid second base Cubs prospects shake out? In addition to Marco Hernandez, there's Logan Watkins, Ronald Torreyes, Gioskar Amaya, Stephen Bruno, and maybe I'm forgetting someone.
This is still a more competent double switch than Dusty Baker usually pulls off...
Even so, the point stands. The draft is essentially a massive redistribution of wealth to the owners from amateur talent. I'm not necessarily saying I'm opposed to the existence of the draft, or that I love it, but that's an undeniable fact.
At which point he will change his name to Tony Campana.
Not to poke at Kevin Goldstein too much, but he was very (very) critical of the Samardzija signing. I remember going to a BP event he attended the spring after the Cubs drafted Samardzija, and I asked if they would ever get anything out of the investment. He indicated that he did not, with emphasis.
Obviously everyone gets prospects wrong, but I think it's amazing that the Shark might actually turn into, say, Gavin Floyd. It feels like he's come a long way.
It seems to me that perhaps the most extension-worthy player is Starlin Castro (well, possible criminal charges aside).
Castro led the league in hits at age 22, is at the very least a playable shortstop, and has earned the love of scouts and stats-mavens for a few years now. In the midst of a sure-to-be-losing season, why not sign the centerpiece of the FutureCubs* (TM) and garner slightly below-market value from a good-to-great player for years to come?
* FutureCubs includes Rizzo and Jackson. All other prospects are provisional, at best.
While I don't wish to take away anything from this article in any way, I consider it a great tragedy that Fire Joe Morgan isn't around anymore to comment on the existence of this book.
I don't know about you, Kevin, by I had an immediate recation: Boy, they really loved that early 90s left side of the defense, huh? I have to believe that the next person to manage the White Sox will probably be Ray Durham.
Albert Belle: Requiem For A Dream
Fantastic but extremely unpleasant and not an experience you would want to repeat.
"Last season, there were just a handful who were significantly above-average at the position: Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki, Rafael Furcal, Stephen Drew, and Reyes."
Steven, I'm going to assume you've completely forgotten about the city of Chicago, just like a typical New Yorker (I kid! I kid! Sort of.).
Stats from last year:
Player A) .282/.313/.431, 34.2 VORP, .268 TAv, DEF 21
Player B) .300/.347/.408, 20.9 VORP, .261 TAv, DEF -2
Player C) .282/.321/.428, 32.7 VORP, .270 TAv, DEF -6
To save some time: Player A is Alexei Ramirez. Player B is Starlin Castro. Player C is Jose Reyes.
If Reyes belongs in that group, so do Ramirez and Castro, who both provided nearly identical value (with the caveat that Castro was an in-season call-up and therefore had lesser counting statistics).
I agree with the bulk of your article, but shortstop isn't quite as barren a position as you make it out to be. Sure, it's not the era of the Holy Trinity (plus Tejada), but it's also not as desperately bad as, say, second base is right now.
I think this is a pretty dead-on analysis. The Cubs are not a complicated team to figure out; there aren't a lot of guys with large error bars around their forecasts, meaningful position battles, or giant question marks (like the Sox have with Peavy).
I do think that you're slightly undervaluing the bullpen, however. Marshal/Wood/Marmol is a perfectly good combination of lefty swing-man, veteran set-up releiver, and closer. The real question will be if the Cubs can scrounge up even one more quality arm.
Boy Hendry's roster construction can be frustrating sometimes, though. The Cubs finally figured out that they're allowed to platoon last year and they did it with...two righties at 2B and two lefties in RF. And then they're doing it ALL OVER AGAIN this year. Sigh.
In light of today's topic (ownership shenanigans) I'm suprised you didn't mention the Expos/Loria/Henry/Marlins/Red Sox cluster...er, well you know. To me that was a low point in Selig's tenure, just slightly worse than the contraction threat and slightly better than canceling the World Series. It's incredibly obvious that he's willing and able to manipulate ownership in whatever direction he wants, through any means necessary, even if that means (say) destroying the Expos. Ugh.
Oh, and don't forget Spider-Man on the bases in the All-Star Game. Never forget that. I mean, I love Spider-Man and I love baseball and somehow Selig managed to demean them both in one fell swoop. Bravo!
All those losing years
You'd think Chicago would have
Something coming, no?
Love the column, but I think players who solely flamed out (like Drew in this case) because of injuries should be exempt. I mean, they are disappointing, but not because of anything they did wrong.
Obviously though there are lots of inbetween cases - players who didn't take care of their bodies or maybe ignored injuries or something.
Also, I think there should be an entry in this series for unique cases - Jason Isringhousen and Rick Ankiel come to mind. I mean, they were massive disappointments in one respect, before making miraculous transformations into something useful but very different.
Brady Anderson Brady Anderson Brady Anderson.
Seriously though, I think they just paid a premium for five years of about average 3B production. Not horrific or a budget-killer, but foolish nonetheless.
As a Chicagoan, I laugh and laugh at the idea of a Corey Patterson/Podzilla position battle.
True, and maybe I should have mentioned that. But times changed and he didn't - he came in and saved the Twins and was great through 1991, but he began to run the team with profit first and foremost in mind and in many ways prevented them from competing with the big boys throughout the last decade - never mind the rest of the 90s. It's been 20 years since they last won.
I agree with just about everything folks have written here - the ownership, the Wrigley/WGN money, the conservative leadership are all major factors in producing decades upon decades of bad teams.
But I think the fundamental problem for the Cubs, the root problem, is that the leadership has had no real drive to win since the Veeck days.
Organizational mandates come from the top, and generally speaking success can vary within a limited range defined by the leadership. The Twins under Pohlad hired some very good baseball people who did everything they could to draft excellent players - but ultimately Pohlad's complete disinterest in winning meant the Twins never made the in-season moves necessary to truly compete with the best AL teams. The one-and-done Marlins teams were defined by owners desperate to maximize earnings by putting superior efforts into single seasons with the full knowledge that the team's assets would be sold off in the subsequent offseasons. The Yankees and Henry Red Sox are obsessed with winning and put money and thought into each team; as a result, even though they occasionally drop to 3rd both teams are consistent winners.
I don't think this is a hard and fast rule - there have obviously been highly incompetent owners and managers committed to winning, and obviously any team that sneaks into the playoffs can win a short series or three. Even the Cubs may have been 2003 champions if a dropped fly ball or mishandled play at short had gone differently.
Ulimately though, the problem with the Cubs is that nobody at the top really cares. PK never really did, and lord knows the Trib's list of priorities had a lot of items on it preceding winning the World Series. Even Hendry, mixed bag though he is, seems to have been given a mandate: spend money to be successful enough to convince fans the Cubs are really trying and stay in the hunt deep enough into the season that we rake in the big bucks. Is there any wonder the team was late to integrate, late to integrate statistics, late to innovate in nearly every single way?
Obviously it is too soon to know how the Ricketts family will do, but I am not at all encouraged by the fact that the Cubs have seemingly 25 different Bud Selig-approved siblings each taking over a different role in the organization. Surely they can't all be right for their jobs, and even worse you have to wonder if any new baseball owner who can be approved by MLB's sachems isn't first and foremost interested in making money. After all, following an incredibly expensive and hugely disappointing season in the midst of an epic state budget crunch the Ricketts family's clear #1 goal is...getting state money to improve what is already one of the biggest draws in sports.
Wow, this turned out to be long...
Just A Bit Outside: 15 Years As A Profession Baseball Fan
Or maybe change the subtitle, like Views From A Professional Baseball Fan, or something.
Art of Pizza, on Ashland. Best deep-dish (therefore, best pizza) anywhere.
Oh yeah, and that baseball game was pretty entertaining, too.
Jim Edmonds is the seventh greatest CF of all time? Really? I'm rarely a "guts and feelings" kind of guy, but that just feels very wrong.
Yeah, this is why I keep coming back to BP. Because where else am I going to get a Buffy reference in a baseball article?
I don't know if the Blue Jays do it, but many teams now use variable pricing methods for tickets. So when the Red Sox visit Toronto, higher prices as well as the draw of a popular team may affect attendance. And if Doc is pitching primarily against those teams, the higher ticket prices may have an effect on a study about his drawing power.
Great article, btw.
Woe be to the Cubs. When the only answer to your terribly disappointing offense is "Jeff Baker," things must be grim.
Meh. The All-Star game shouldn't be bloodsport. Personally, I don't want Charlie Hustle running over anybody. It's an exhibition game and should be treated as such. While I'm against interleague play, and would love it if the leagues only faced each other in the All-Star Game and the WS, there's no reason to risk injury, ineffectiveness, etc. for players for a completely meaningless game.
Can you even begin to contemplate what would happen if a starting pitcher from a competitive team gets injured pitching into the 6th or later? Because he's being pushed by a manager from a team he's competing against in a meaningless game?
The All-Star Game feels like a three-day carnival because that's precisely what it should be.
Christina, I have to say, I've been reading your TA columns for a long time and I don't think I've ever read one as uniformly positive as your Cubbie writeup here (11 pitchers! Good long relievers! No situational relievers! A deep bench with power AND defense! Platooning! ARam is not only back, he's clutch!)
Not only that, but I didn't see even one snarky sentence on the "strained groin" fake DL stint for Rule 5 pick Patton.
I think you must really be happy with this new blogging format!
Wow. Stories like these remind me just how insignificant most of the things I go through are, and just how unimportant even baseball is in the grand scheme of things. Rest in peace, all those who died in this tragedy.
Panjandrum. Foote fan? Or did you just read Anathem?
Hey, I remember him as a young starter for the Cubbies, fresh from Iowa. He's like Nuke Laloosh, with the million dollar arm and the five cent head, except he's high-strung and fragile instead of blissfully ignorant. He never was all that good and never will be.
Farnsy is 6'4, in better shape than anyone else on the club, throws 95 with some movement...he's basically the Platonic ideal of a reliever. The fact that he sucks just isn't going to stop him from being hired.
Agreed. Heck, given the sheer amount of airtime on the network, they could easily have multiple shows in this vein. Would it be so crazy to have a show dedicated to baseball statistics for beginners or something? Go over one stat per 30-minute episode, maybe cover the history of statistical measurements for that category, etc?
Actually, as someone versed more in stats than scouting, I'd kill to have a scouting-only show on MLB Network. How great would it be to have real-life scouts go over the basics of scouting, or maybe take one player per episode and break everything down? With really detailed, high-def slo-mo video to accompany the scouts, and maybe even a stats ringer brought in to go over the correlation between their scouting conclusions and data from PitchFX or something...OK now I'm just drooling.
Also, I always thought Harold Reynolds was at his best when he showed how to actually do something on the field of play. He should have a whole show where he and other former players go over every little aspect of how to actually do each little part of the game.