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.

Rotation candidates: Marshall and Samardzija

Two very different pitchers.

Marshall, a soft tosser from the left side with a lot of breaking stuff.
Samardzija, a hard thrower from the right side.

The Cubs have excess bullpen pitchers right now and will continue to for next year if all goes according to plan. Zambrano might be on the way out but even if not him and Dempster will both be gone after next year unless extended, and the Cubs might need a replacement.

Marshall is the better pitcher over the last many years, but Samardzija has come on strong lately. Normally the best pitchers are starters but it doesn't always work that way.

Looking at the numbers, it's obvious who deserves the rotation spot.

Jeff Samardzija, though he is not without his weaknesses. He has a huge split, he's pretty bad vs lefties, walking one per inning. I don't think he can possibly stay that bad, and if he can have it at 4-5 over a full season as a start it would be tolerable as long as he was better against righties.

Marshall throws way too many slides and curveballs to make a transition to the rotation, where he would have to depend heavily on his fastball. That is a weakness for him, and a strength for Samardzija.

Samardzija's other weakness is the walk rate. Overall at 5.37 walks/9 innings. This his improved considerably since the beginning of the year and might be below 4 going forward.

His repetoir consists of a blazing fastball, hard slider, and split finger. Against lefties he might need to lean away from the slider a bit, but he's still got 2 other pitches. Adding another, like a cutter would help considerably if he could pull it off. He doesn't appear to have ace potential but can still get the job done.

All I am saying is give Samardzija a chance. And give peace a chance too.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What a Pena/Baker platoon would have done in 2011

(as of August 15)

Pena is hitting 221/341/452 on the year. Vs lefties, he's hitting 133/255/322 (attrocious). Jeff Baker (concidentally the same number of at bats) is hitting 356/372/500 against lefties.

If we replace Carlos Pena's vs-lefty at bats with Jeff Baker's, you get 274/357/495. That equals a very good hitter from two ok players patched together. Quade certainly didn't make the most of this opportunity.

Disclosures: the obp was estimated but within 1 or 2 points of the actual, the average and slugging were not estimated but directly calculated.

You can't match them up perfectly every time, sometimes Pena will have to face a lefty. However, Quade didn't even try, because he didn't know it was better. This isn't exactly cutting edge technology here either. Instead Baker faced lefties while Barney sat. Barney has no problem with lefties.

While I'm at it I might as well complain that he didn't play Reed Johnson ever at the beginning of the year when he should have been platooning with Fukudome. These things cost wins that might have ended up mattering (We now know that wasn't the case)

Next year

This year was certainly a disaster for the Cubs. The first things I look at when I say that are the terrible record and the equally terrible run differential. The Cubs record is about what the run differential suggests.

Darwin Barney had garnered some interest but the Cubs thought he was too valuable to trade. I don't agree at all, Barney is about 15% worse than an average hitter (wRC+ of 85.) That's not terrible for a second baseman though. Overall he is roughly an average player.

That's in the past now though, so what should the Cubs do for next year?

Stand pat up the middle infield. Barney and Castro will be pretty good, especially if they improve slightly (i.e. learn how to take a walk). If they reduced their swing percentages they would both be very good players instead of a bit above average.

Excercise Aramis' Ramirez's option. A no brainer. No other 3B will be anywhere close to as good, and if things go wrong next year maybe he will accept a trade then and the Cubs will get some stuff in return.

The bullpen is set. Russel has been great as a reliever, Wood, Marmol, Marshall, and even Samardzija has come around. There might even be excess talent here and we could probably trade some for help elsewhere or convert one to a starter. Also Marcos Mateo is good, and Guzzman might be if he ever played. So long John Grabow.

Four starters are set with Dempster, Garza, Wells, and Cashner. It remains to be seen if Zambrano will be back. If not I'd let Samardzija and Marshall both compete for the spot. They both have improved greatly to tbe point where they might be very good starters. They are both effective against righties and lefties. Wood might be an option but only if he wants to. Previously he had trouble going past 60 pitches. There is also a chance Zack Greinke will be available.

I would get rid of Soriano even if you had to pay 75% of the remaining salary. He's still ok but next year and the year after? Matt Murton will be better right now and he should be coming back from Japan next year. Byrd moves to right and promote Brett Jackson from Triple-A to center field. (He is currently mashing)

For catcher, just keep Soto. He's having a down year but he's as good as anybody else. He alternates so next year will be a good year.

That leaves 1B. With Logan Morrison's problems with the management, if the Cubs got him it would be tremendous. If not, Pena is good but terrible against lefties and needs to start platooning. Baker/Pena would be good. Pena is a free agent so he'd have to agree to another 1 year deal. Pujols and Fielder will be available but don't fall for that trap. They will get way more money than they're worth.

So the net change is Brett Jackson called up, Murton in left, and Logan Morrison at first base. This team will be better than the 2011 version, which would have been ok if not for so many injuries. There's no reason 2012 can't be another chance for the Cubs to bring it.