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Anarchist's Brunch- Orienting ourselves.

Anarchist's Brunch- Orienting ourselves.

I''m one of these old school Blackhawks fans. Which means I make up maybe 5-7% of the current Blackhawk fandom that's currently stuffing the United Center to see the team play these days. That's to be expected, Championships bring fans and bandwaggoners. The more the merrier I say. But what I'm leery about, and what my brother does a fabulous job of over at The Committed Indian is to prevent what's happened to Bulls fans. Now I'm not one to label or put down a fan base, just ask any inbred, methed-out Cardinal fan who's not to ashamed of showing you his 6 teeth to speak to you. Every team in this city has a swath, maybe even majority, of fans that brings down the reputation of the die hards, but only with Bulls fans are you considered "wrong" or a "trader" for acknowledging the best player in the game as the best player in the game.Tell a Bears fan Peyton Manning is great? no problem. White Sox would agree with you about Justin Verlander. But tell a Bulls fan that Lebron James is amazing and they ask you why you don't just move to Miami and root for the Heat.

It's because the Bulls fans don't watch the NBA. So they don't look around and have any reference of how good their team really is. They just see a team that hustles and plays great defense because that's ALL THEY SEE. They love Luol Deng and most within the UC think he should be resigned. But if you were to look around and see most of the threes in the NBA, Deng is probably back of the top 1/3rd to mid-pack. You need to orient yourself to the rest of the league.

Now when it comes to the Cubs, it's easy to look at this winter of discontent where we try and blur our eyes at Liam Hendricks until we see an actual starting pitcher, and just want to cry. It hasn't been a very good winter. There's still a Hail Mary of Masahiro Tanaka and the dominoes that might trigger with a Jeff Samardzija trade. But for now....yikes.

But look around the NL, who's off-seasn do you wish you had?

The easy answers are Washington and St. Louis. But they're supposedly the models the Cubs want to emulate correct? And while it would have been nice to get Doug Fister for a song, the Cubs would have peddled him at the deadline and they'd be back where they started again. And while having a very athletic Peter Borjous in center would be cool, who exactly would've been the Cubs equivalent of David Freeze?

So we wish the Cubs were them, but who else? The Reds lost Dusty Baker, always an enviable move, remember feeling darn good when the Cubs did it. However, they let Shin Soo Choo just walk and he'll be very hard to replace, no matter how fast Billy hamilton is, plus they're keeping moody Brandon Phillips and seem to want to jam Joey Votto into a role he's not accustomed to. Not particularly envious of them. The Brewers? please. The Pirates may only get better as they're very young. But AJ Burnett still hasn't signed and don't underestimate what he meant to that club. (Burnett is one of those late bloomers that's a really good example of why you would want to keep and extend Jeff Samardzija....).

How about the Mets? By the time Harvey and Syndegard are ready Curtis Granderson's contract will be an albatross if it isn't already. The Diamondbacks are slithering around with their head cut off. The Giants got a 40 year old Tim Hudson coming off a broken leg........Anyone?......Anyone?......Going once.....Going twice? Padres got Josh Johnson.....OK..........

Suddenly the Cubs off season isn't as bad as it once looked. And when you consider that Theo and Jed literally did a lot of their Christmas shopping in July. ( If Garza was traded this December for Edwards and a flyer like Olt and two pieces of filler like Grimm and Ramirez, everyone would declare this off-season a win right?)

So this silent off-season may feel like a deadly one. But orient yourself. Look around the league. The Cubs aren't choking on any ample amounts of dust. It's not as terrible as it seems.

It is however boring. How about pissing everyone off and wasting a draft pick on Ubaldo Jimenez.....?

ODDS and SODDS

So Mike Moody is now a regular here? Once again....Nobody told me. How much of an expansion fee is he paying? Am I seeing any of this money? I'm still waiting for Mauricio to buy me some Daisy Cutters.

Welcome my friend, good to have you on board. By the way "Mood Swings" is a better title for your column.

So Patrick Mooney, perhaps the only respectable person over at that cesspool known as Comcast Chicago, has a very nice read about Andy Macphail. In the story is some interesting quotes from Theo about building with JUST prospects.

“We have to guard against this perception that we believe that once our most talented prospects come up to the big leagues, all of our problems are solved, because that’s not the way it works in baseball.”

“We invoke that all the time internally: ‘Let’s not think that we’ve reached the finish line just when we get a few prospects to the big leagues.’ In some ways, that’s the starting line.

Now I agree with all of this. But then he turns around and tells Cub fans about how great it is to be patient and that the kids are eventually gonna be here and things will be swell. That's called messaging your mixes.....I mean mixing your messages. (See what I did there?)

The last really cool Christmas song I heard was last year during the Colbert show.

I'm trying to find an album this year that tops the Wooden Shjips "Back to land" as album of the year. Haven't done it yet. I know it's not the Parquet Courts. It's not the Queens of the Stoned Age (unfortunately). Savages.... maybe. So far "Back to Land" is in the lead.

Keith Richards turned 70 this week, so let's go with Beggars Banquet, by far the most Keif-ish Stones album, as our Sunday music. Also, here's a neat story about how Keith wrote "Street Fighting man".

Alright, I'll just ask this once, piss everyone off, and show myself out, if the Cubs were to sign Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, then flip them at the trade deadline, you couldn't get more than the 2nd and 3rd round pick you'd be losing in signing them? Really? Really!???!!!??!

I don't think the Cubs should sign Grant Balfour, but I love this image of ol' buddy Al Yellon throwing out his back doing Balfour Rage when he comes into a game.

 

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  • A very interesting article by Mark Simon of ESPN.com involving a new stat (at least one that I've never heard of) on the Cubs signing of one Justin Ruggiano. The stat is WHAV or well-hit average.

    "One of the proprietary figures that major league teams have at their disposal is information from video-scouting services -- such as Inside Edge, Baseball Info Solutions and Stats LLC -- related to a stat known in the industry as "well-hit average," which is abbreviated as WHAV.

    WHAV is pretty much what it sounds like -- how often a player ended an at-bat with a hard-hit ball, regardless of whether it resulted in a hit.

    The video trackers at these companies rate each batted ball. In the case of Inside Edge, they use hard, medium and soft as their three categories for classifying contact."

    To sum up the article, Simon provides a pretty strong statistical argument for why Justin Ruggiano will have a rebound season and may be more than just the short end of a RF platoon.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I agree completely with this. I think Ruggiano is a poor man's Upton, but with much more upside in my opinion.

    Not to mention, I don't think Justin has gotten a full year yet. He could put up 25-25, (hr,sb), maybe more.

    I feel like this was the steal trade of the offseason. Such a better fit than Hairston, Sappelt, Reed Johnson, Scuzer, etc, etc. I think he can offer better upside than all those guys and maybe more.

    He would be the only guy I would have penciled in as a 100 percent starter right now (outfield wise) if I was the skipper.

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    Tanaka's posting to become official Tuesday or Wednesday.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Posting or decision on whether he will be posted? Did you read this somewhere or is this your own speculation? The Google machine shows nothing...

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    In reply to Quedub:

    An official announcement will be made Tuesday or Wednesday. I believe there is no doubt that Rakuten will honor their agreement to post Tanaka if that's what he wants.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Again, what is your source for the announcement being made on Tuesday or Wednesday? I can't find anything on it...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Okay, so the source is Ben Badler, but it is not a report of Rakutan's intention to announce, merely speculation.

    "The Rakuten Eagles could make an announcement about Masahiro Tanaka soon.

    Tanaka is currently away in Tokyo making appearances at events today and tomorrow, according to Japanese media reports, including Nikkan Sports. While Tanaka said he has yet to hear back from Eagles management since he informed the team of his desire to pitch in Major League Baseball next season, it’s expected that the Eagles will inform Tanaka of their decision at their next meeting.

    Since Tanaka could have more events beginning Dec. 26, the belief in Japan is that an announcement on Tanaka could come on Dec. 24 or Dec. 25. The deadline for the Eagles to decide whether to make Tanaka available through the posting system is Feb. 1, though it isn’t expected they would drag things out anywhere close to that date.

    Tanaka, a 25-year-old ace in Japan, wants to pitch in MLB. Several major league teams project him as an immediate frontline starter and are eagerly anticipating his arrival. If posted, Tanaka would be the best pitcher on the market, so free agent starters Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez want his situation resolved quickly so their markets can move forward.

    On Christmas, they could all get an answer."

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Tanaka will meet with Rakuten on Tuesday or Wednesday, at which point the club will inform him of their decision.

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    Regarding Ubaldo and Cruz, let me ask it this way: could we have traded Edwin Jackson for Pierce Johnson last July?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Of course signing and flipping them sounds great... just like the whole I love Choo at 3yrs and $39M.... The problem is, if it was easy - everyone would do it. "IF" you could sign them to a long term contract that is "flippable", great!... But they aren't inclined to provide any value signings. Teams will give up prospects or take on salary at the deadline for a player that pushes them over the top in a win now mode... they won't do both. Otherwise we could have gotten a fortune for Soriano.... but we didn't.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    And of course that would be a caveat. I wouldn't do it if it meant siging them to a full free agent value contract. But we're almost in January. Spring Training is right around the corner. and they haven't got a whiff of a contract. Would one of them be willing to do a one year "make good" contract instead of just signing somewhere. It's at least worth exploring.

  • In reply to felzz:

    Too many variables involved to calculate our downside. This FO doesn't "take chances" it van't measure and accept. I'm sure we've "kicked the tires" so to speak... but neither player has any motivation to accept a deal below market value just to make Epstoyer look good.... In the end they may turn out like Choo and not get exactly what they want... but still little chance of it ever being a trade-able asset because there's just no value there.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Not to mention the opportunity cost. For example, if you sign Cruz to play left field you're costing someone else a chance to shine. The name no one is talking about is Vitters. I get it. He's a former top prospect who didn't shine in his appearance in the show. But he's only going to be 24 next year. He crushed AAA pitching the past two years(2013 - .295/.380 /511 and 2012 - .304/.356/.513). And while that is PCL, those are still good numbers if you adjust toward the mean. Also, last year he posted a 11.0 % walk rate.

    The Oliver projection for him on fangraphs has him at .253/.305/.423 with 20 HRs and 76 RBIs. I would argue that his OBP should be higher but if he posts those sort of numbers as a 24 year old would that not change people's perception of him? Those numbers are eerily similar to what Schierholtz put up. I think in time he has the chance to have an Alex Gordon like career arch.

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    In reply to beckdawg:

    I think Vitters probably has to force his way onto the team in Spring Training or make such an impression he's up during the season. I'd rather see him and some of the kids get playing time than retreads like some of the long time minor leaguers we've been signing for depth.

  • In reply to beckdawg:

    Vitter's did that well in AAA even though he failed in the show?

  • In reply to beckdawg:

    Exactly why I hope that Vitters gets one more shot before he is traded or released. He could very well still prove to be a useful (if not star) OF player and emergency 3B/1B at the major league level. When not injured - he has put up very respectable AAA numbers, although he was still always going to be a defensive liability at 3B. An OF move might indeed povide an opportunity similar to what Gordon managed once he was moved to the OF - sans the foot speed Gordon has over Vitters of course.

    By not signing a bigger name that Ruggiano (who btw - I think will excell in Wrigley) and keeping a fluid, tradable, and not overpriced young OF, they still have a chance to figure out what (if any) role players like Vitters and Brett Jackson might have.

    I would love to see an opening day Cubs OF of Schierholtz/Ruggiano, Lake, Sweeney/Ruggiano, Vitters, and Jackson or Sczuzr with everyday starters of Sweeney, Lake, and Schierholtz against RH pitchers, and Ruggiano, Lake, Vitters/Jackson against LH pitchers.

    Add in Roberts as an occasional OF starter, and keep it interesting.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No, of course you couldn't. Or rather....let me answer it this way....... Didn't the Cubs trade Feldman for something more than Strazyzny?

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    In reply to felzz:

    Well, yes, but the reason the Orioles were willing to take Frldman was because he had a very reasonable 1 year contract. I doubt hey would trade at all for the contract Feldman just signed.

    Also, on Zastryzny, to this point he's been a bit of a disappointment. If he can find the 95 mph fastball he flashed for the scouts, it's a much closer call. I, personally, would not trade Johnson for Arrieta and Strop.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    So you're saying there's a chance........

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Exactly. No comparison between signing a one year guy or one year w/option and then trading him at the deadline and trading guys on 4-5 years deal. Teams don't see much value in the latter and that's why you never see it happen. Other than Mark Buehrle, I can't think of a player that was traded within a year after signing a big multi-year deal -- and he had to be packaged with Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, and two other players to get a couple of #3/4 type SP prospecs, a bottom of the rotation/RP guy in Alvarez, and a good but not great OF prospect in Marsinick. When teams have to take on that kind of salary, you're just not going to get a whole lot of value in return. The alternative is paying down that contract, but then you wind up spending a ridiculous amount of money just to obtain a couple of lottery tickets -- and that is only if that FA signing retains value and doesn't get hurt or have an off season.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    One comp that comes to mind is the White Sox trading a 32 year old Jake Peavy with 20 million left on his deal. The Sox netted BA's #73 prospect in MLB while shedding all of the salary. Some injury history there that I would assume could have scared off suitors - but overall a good investment by the Sox to resign Peavy IMO.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No Mike - very very unlikely we could have gotten a prospect to the level of Pierce Johnson for Jackson based on how he pitched this year. Now if he comes out this year and has a season like his 2010/11 stretch with White Sox, then I could see the Cubs getting a good return for him at deadline or next offseason. He would be 30 years old and have a team friendly 2/22 contract in his favor. Pierce Johnson level guy still a stretch, but your getting something commesurate or better to the 40th pick in 2015 draft.

  • "Wild Mood Swings" ............The Cure

  • where did you see the Tanaka info Ray?

  • felzz - jason isbell's southwestern takes my cake for album of 2013. savages is a close #2 for me.

  • In reply to boomindanny:

    southeastern*

  • In reply to boomindanny:

    Love me some Jason Isbell! When he was in the Drive-by Truckers they were one of the best rock and roll bands on the planet for a few years.

  • In reply to Jayhawk81:

    Do like the Drive by Truckers. Will definitely check it out.....

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    Merry Christmas Felzz and everyone! (or whatever holiday you may or may not be celebrating)

  • Merry Christmas Just Win....

  • Curious if anyone saw the stories about Starlin Castro's legal troubles in the DR, and that now he is saying those are the causes for his "down year" in 2013?

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    It's always something with Starlin.

  • I think the risk versus reward equation of signing Cruz and/or Jimenez only works if the contract is reasonably small and for either two years or one year plus an option. Jimenez has already crashed and burned once in his career. Cruz is coming off of a PED suspension. Either or both could produce negative WAR over the term of their next contract.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    completely agree.

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    In reply to cubsin:

    Fangraphs had a great article on Cruz a few weeks back. Suffice it to say, they're not fans. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/a-frightening-list-of-nelson-cruz-comparisons/

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    I'm not sure the WHAV stat offers much more than BABIP - both are measures of how lucky or unlucky a player was in getting hits to fall in. You don't have to hit the ball on the nail to get a hit, you have to read the defense and get the bat on the ball. So tracking how many times a guy hit the ball hard but did/didn't get a hit - honestly, to me it's a stat looking for an application.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    I kind of think it depends on how you use the stat, which may not be too different than what you're saying. For example, if we look at Darwin Mendoza's BABIP from last year, it's easy to say he was unlucky, because his BABIP is well below league average. But when you couple that with his crummy WHAV, you see the correlation between the two. His BABIP was poor because he hits the ball without any authority.

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    we already know barney's not a power hitter, he mostly has warning-track power. So most of his well-hit balls die in deep outfield - how does this help us learn something new about darwin barney that BABIP didn't already tell us?
    The article about Ruggiano noted the gap between his WHAV and his batting average - ie he hit a lot of balls hard that were caught. Fine, it's a useful point - but how is it more useful, or differently useful, than BABIP?

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Exactly...well put! I've always wanted a metric like WHAV to correlate with BABIP. Gives a better perspective.

  • I think WHAV would give more info than BABIP, almost like explaining why a player has a low or high BABIP. There are many reasons why a player could have a low BABIP. Consistent weak contact among them. I've always felt people chalked up a low BABIP to luck way too easily. WHAV is a much clearer look at what kind of contact a player is making and whether luck is coming into play or not.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Nice post. Wish I would have refreshed my browser. It would have saved me the trouble of typing.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Ha! Thanks, Mike.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    I can see what you're saying, I'm just not sure how it helps you evaluate a prospective trade for instance. Guy has a low BABIP. OK, he's due for a correction, he should be better next year. Guy has a low WHAV - oes this really change your assessment? I don't know (and I mean that literally - I don't know) - but I think not. Or at least it changes your assessment marginally and in limited cases. And that doesn't even get into speculating about the subjectiveness about what "well-hit"' means. Some guy is watching video and deciding what's well-hit and what's not, turning that into a stat - with no apparent input about whether this well-hit ball was caught by an elite defender or a schlub, a highlight reel catch or an at-'em ball - and we're supposed to rely on these numbers? too many variables in my book.

  • Good muchies for Sunday's brunch, Felzz. Thnx.

    For new Christmas songs, listen to Kelly Clarkson's latest effort, "Wrapped In Red":)

  • Love your work, Felzz. I have to take issue with the whole notion of being league-conscious or , even on a more micro level, division-conscious.

    I'd submit that many Cub fans are so consumed by our extremely solid farm and all of the "doing it the right way" rhetoric that they fail to see what is going on in our own division.

    STL is stacks with cost-controlled talent & they haven't even brought Taveras to the party yet. Furthermore, Moz & Co have proven to be more adept than Epstoyer at finding impact talent outside of the top 5.

    As far as PIT , they have an impressive core of young talent at the big league level( Cole, Cutch, et al) and they have a minor-league system that isn't far behind us, if not our equal.

    I'm not criticizing Epstoyer as I realize they've done well in drafting-Bryant pick was ballsy & smart- and in trades-nice haul for Garz. My point is that you can't look at what we're doing in a vacuum. Our competition is getting results now with the promise of significant, additional help on the way.

    People will point out the differences in resources between us and our divisional rivals but there is no indication that the financial muscles will be wielded any time soon.

    Don't mean to be a wet blanket.....

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Didn't Pittsburgh and St. Louis start this kind of approach a few years before the Cubs? Playing catch up is never all that fun until you actually catch up. That's when it gets really good.

  • Not at all. In fact I agreed that St. Louis is in great shape. Pitt too, although Pitt will come to a point where they won't be able to afford all of Cutch, Cole, Alvarez and Co....

    The point was more about the actual off season. Who's off season are you jealous of? Are you jealous of the Mets, getting Granderson and Colon? Because I'm not. The Diamondbacks.

    Trust me, nobody wishes the Cubs were a little further down the road on this thing than me. But look around at some of the moves other teams made this winter in the name of "getting better" and Epstoyer's staying put isn't as awful as it looks. That's all.

    Thanks for commenting.

  • I guess I'm jealous of how easily the Cards filled their tiny holes- i.e not upsetting short, medium , or long-term outlooks.

    I'm the case of PIT, I'm jealous of their ability to rely on organic improvements from Cole, graduation of Polanco, etc.

    Broadly, your point is well taken. Happy holidays & go Bears!

  • Thanks for the post Felz. Thanks for not mentioning Scott Boras name. Speaking of him, what are the chances Boras calls this guy? Can Boras speak Japanese? I'm glad the Cubs are building their team this way. Get the farm system better. Lock up the shark hopefully. Send Barney to the Yankees.

  • Officially can't take the bears game anymore so hear I am, retreating to the safest non-pornographic place on the internet. Quick thing about the bulls, I have no clue how fans are from Chicago, I am an out-of-towner who follows each team pretty close. And I will acknowledge that Lebron is the best, everyone in town would be worshiping his feet if he had chose the bulls over the heat in the summer of 2010. But as far as fans go, Heat fans have got to be worse then any dumb bull fan, I mean come on, sprinting for the doors during game six of the finals!?!?! I also live in a region without a major team to follow so it's basically pick a team in grade school and roll with it, and that is the case for about 5% of the population. The rest are bandwagoning morons who didnt even know the heat won a ship without lebron a few years prior... I just wish we could have had these last 2 years to take our shot at the heat full strength, if we still lost then, hey, at least you would know we were not better... Eats at me every day, cancelled my league pass account a couple weeks ago cause it was just to painful to watch them..Ok run-on-sentence rant over.. :S oh and felz great point about the cubs offseason, not envious of anyone else!

  • They gave 32 year old shortstop Peralta a four year 53 million deal, coming off a suspension for being linked to human growth hormone. And his BABIP was .374 last year, and defensive range so poor, many teams were already looking at him as only a 3b. What could possibly go wrong?
    How about the great Pete Bourjos. Career walk rate 5.5%, career OPB .306, career strikeout rate 22.1%. Broke his wrist so badly, operation created a one inch gap in the bone, had to have a pin permanently put in. What could possible go wrong?
    They lose Beltran-two years stats, 56 HRs 163 RBI and Freese-29 HR 123 RBI. Move 1B Craig to right field, he has been hurt every year he has played in the big leagues, what could go wrong?
    Install rookie Wong at second base, he hit .153 in 32 games last year, got picked off first in the World Series and was crying in the locker room after the game. What could go wrong, they are the Cardinals.

  • Ha! Your post gave me hope and depressed me at the same time.

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