Friday, December 23, 2011

Cubs take big haul for Marshall

Of course, we all love Sean Marshall, mostly due to his greatness, but the Cubs are having a rebuilding year and he only had one year left with the contract. It's not impossible for the Cubs to get him back for 2013 at this point; we'll just have to wait and see.

In return the Cubs have Travis Wood. He is a backend starter who will cost negligable money for several years. He's not good in the traditional sense, but he has value. He won't be used as a playoff starter most likely, but he doesn't suck and will give us a chance to win. He doesn't suck and is favorable to most 5th starters. Travis Wood by himself for 4 years will exceed the value of Marshall in one year.

I finally got the names of the minor leaguers. The best way to describe them is a Starlin Castro type at the plate, but better defensively. They have somewhere around 10 HR potential, but they are high average and obp types. They are also good defensively. They will wear pitchers down with a lot of long at bats, and keep our pitchers fresh with good defense. Ronald Torreyes is a second baseman, and Dave Sappelt can play center. Sappelt could conceivably start 2012 at the big league level, while Torreyes is farther away.

Some of you might be thinking, you can't win championships with these low power guys. That may be true if the entire team was of this manor. However, they are just part of the dream. Get 6 of them for cheap, then load up on two legitimate bats, and you have a winner.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The latest synopsis (Dec 2011)

Collection of rumors and surmizations: Soriano gone, Zambrano stay, Pena replaced by Anthony Rizzo, Garza likely to be traded. Soto is a maybe, but I think not after his down year. Samardzija to become a starter. Sean Marshall might get traded. Byrd gone. These people rumored to get traded might not happen until mid season.

In the bank: Ian Stewart replacing Aramis Ramirez. David Dejesus in to play RF.

At this point, the best guess at the outfield picture is Tony Campana in center, DeJesus and Byrd in right and left. That would be a tremendous defensive outfield, and an OK hitting one. Tony Campana saved 10 runs in about 30 games worth of fielding according to UZR.

With Ian Steward replacing Ramirez and Castro improving the infield defense will also be a strength. Rizzo is also an excellent defender, as is Darwin Barney. This is once again a just ok group of hitters. Platooning Baker in against lefties will help. Dewitt might periodically spell Barney vs righties also.

I think this would be one of the best fielding teams around if they decide to stick with Campana. Defense goes farther than people realize. It has a trickle down effect of helping pitchers play better than they really are.

In the bullpen Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol are quite effective. Marcus Mateo also has promise. James Russel and Marshall (if he stays) are great from the left side. There are a few other names in contention that might be surprise contributors. Grabow is gone!!!!

Starters (highly up in the air right now) looking like Andrew Cashner, Jeff Samardzija, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Randy Wells. It looks like a list of losers honestly, but I really have high hopes for all these people to varying degrees, with the biggest breakout surprise going to Samardzija. Dempster and even Zambrano are solid bounce back candidates. I could see this staff having an ERA below 3.90 with a shot to be much better.

The Cubs GM has suggested he doesn't want to take away the chance of a surprise contention. For this reason I think most of the trade pieces will go mid season instead of this off season. The most likely exception is Garza, as I believe the Blue Jays really want him.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ramirez and Pena

Ramirez, Pena, and Lahair all want to play for the Cubs next year. How much of this will happen? It's very unclear with the GM job up in the air. Ramirez wants a 2-3 year deal, I'm not sure about Pena.

I don't have any problem with keeping these people. They've both been pretty good. I don't see a better way to replace them. If both are kept LaHair might go to Japan. I'd be a little sad to see him go but you can't have 2 first basemen. It's possible LaHair could have a pinch hit, sporadic start in the outfield also, which might be preferable to going to Japan for him. I suspect his defense in LF is pretty bad for a career first baseman though, so I wouldn't want him to play many games there.

Jeff Samardzija

"The Cubs have held internal discussions about Jeff Samardzija as a candidate for the starting rotation, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. The Cubs have less rotation depth than they did earlier this year, as Wittenmyer explains. The right-hander has started five MLB games, but all 69 of his 2011 appearances have been in relief."

according to mlbtradrumors.com.

I called it first. I hope this is real, Samarzija lost some velocity for a while and suffered. Those two events may not be related, but probably are. Samardzija has a very hard fastball right now, hitting 98 at times. He is one of the hardest fastballers in the game. Additionally he's throwing a cutter, slider, and change. He may be throwing some 2 seam fastballs also.

He can get plenty of strikeouts. His only issue right now is the walks. He's walking over 5/9 innings which is very high, but has been improving month to month since April, and has been under 4/9 IP since June.

He's fine against righties but walking 18.8% of lefties. Most good hitters in this division will be right handed, especially with Fielder likely being traded.

Instead of his L/R splits I'd rather focus on the month to month splits, which have been looking pretty good lately. I think this has the potential to pay off huge for the Cubs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Punishing Castro - a non-traditional take.

Castro didn't realize warm up pitches were done, and he missed an actual game pitch. That is obviously wrong, but even if it happens once every year it isn't going to matter.

So, as if we were still in high school, Quade benched Castro for an entire game as punishment and lets a lesser player play. So we are missing an entire game of Castro now. Which is worse?

Some things that are worse than not paying attention to one pitch:
Making an error
Getting out
Hitting into a double play
Striking out
Being slow

None of those things would require punishment. The difference is that these are all a lack of skill while Castro had a lack of concentration. All are flaws, and of these Castros was the least harmful.

Quade didn't punish Castro, he punished the team and the fans. What if the ticket you bought was for the game Castro sat? Then the Cubs go onto lose a game where they stranded runners almost every inning. 1 or 2 hits could have been the difference.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tony Campana might be better than Soriano right now

Obviously Campana is ahead defensively, an above average defensive center fielder vs an above average left fielder.

Campana also leads in average an on base percentage, but is behind in homers and slugging. wRC+ which is supposed to be something like an absolute value of runs created by offense (including steals) puts both hitters at 95, which is 5% worse than average.

The biggest difference between this year and last year (when he was decent) is that he walked 8.2% of plate appearances last year and only 4.9% this year, dropping his OBP from 322 to 285. Based on his later career there is still a chance of a semi-rebound and he still might be better than Campana. Because of the fielding difference, Soriano would have to outhit Campana by quite a bit to provide equal value.

My dream is that the Cubs will trade him to Floriday+ all the remaining salary to get Logan Morrison, who has angered his team.

In reality he will probably be a Cub next year. We'll just have to hope for a decent season.