Cubs News and Notes: Tanaka, new staff, Cuban defector, Hyde, and the importance of framing

Cubs News and Notes: Tanaka, new staff, Cuban defector, Hyde, and the importance of framing

It's been one of those days where there is news but nothing that directly affects the Cubs all that much.  It seems like a good time to round up some of today's events along with some interesting links around the interwebs...

  • Dan Brooks and Harry Pavlidis, both of whom write for brooksbaseball.net worked up some interesting spreadsheets on catcher defense.  It's interesting to note that, according to their data, the art of framing is a more valuable run-saving tool than blocking pitches. Intuitively this makes sense because the amount of pitches that require framing far exceeds those pitches that need to be blocked.  Welington Castillo rates as one of the best in the blocking pitches category as he even surpassed Gold Glover Yadier Molina in that metric.  However, Castillo still has a bit to learn about framing pitches.  He did improve to where he didn't hurt the team in that respect, even outperforming catchers like Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, and the always wily A.J. Pierzynski, but players like Molina show how much value you can add to a team simply by stealing a few extra strikes.  Here are the strike zones used in the framing study. 
  • Dylan Hernandez tweets that the Masahiro Tanaka decision could take awhile.  If so, I believe this works in the Cubs favor as contending big market teams may not be able to wait too long for risk of being left without any other options.  Meanwhile, the Cubs continue to be content to lurk in the weeds on this one.
  • The Cubs have announced their 2014 minor league manager, coaching, and coordinator staffs.  A couple of interesting notes:  Derek Johnson now has an assistant in Mike Mason, which should free up Johnson to do a lot more this season.  I've also noticed that the Cubs are keeping their development message consistent with regards to their lower level pitchers.  Storm Davis, who I've heard raves about, will follow his students up to AA Tennessee, a staff that could include top pitching prospects C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson.  Meanwhile Ron Villone goes from Kane County to Daytona and David Rosario moves up to Kane from Boise.  Both will undoubtedly be reunited with some familiar faces as well.  
  • There is a potential available CF from the international market.  Rusney Castillo, 26, is a 5'9", 180 lbs. CF'er out of Cuba.  Ben Badler writes about him here.  I've heard he profiles more as an extra outfielder than a starter so I don't believe the Cubs will be making an investment here unless their people feel he has greater potential than that.  Considering he is 26 and athletic, there is a possibility, but as a hitter who is prone to chasing bad pitches, he doesn't seem to fit the Cubs profile as a player they'd put a high priority on.  It depends on the market, but I don't see it as a fit right now on a big league deal given the Cubs current needs and lack of roster space.  Another CF'er, 32 year old Yoshio Itoi has decided to stay with his his team in the NPB.  Some scouts like Itoi better than Norichika Aoki.
  • Professor Parks of Baseball Prospects hosted a chat and in it he mentions Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler.  He believes Soler has the better ceiling and is capable of hitting 30 HRs but that Alcantara has a better chance of reaching his ceiling, which is lower.  Personally, I like Alcantara's ability to make adjustments on the fly.  He has adapted well to the Cubs new philosophy and he's one to watch at AAA -- but then again, haven't we called Alcantara a player to watch every year?
  • Sahadev Sharma writes a piece on the Cubs new bench coach Brandon Hyde for ESPN Chicago.  Hyde feels that his experience gives him a unique perspective, "I'm fortunate that I've had a lot of experiences [as a coach] and then this past year as the farm director, I saw a totally different side that I hadn't seen," Hyde said. "To be a part of meetings like the winter meetings, to be able to hear and be a part of conversations in Theo's suite during the game or just being involved in that kind of interaction, really opened my mind to the game instead of just being on the field. So I think that will benefit me to go back on the field because I was able to be a part of those conversations."
  • Keith Law chimes in on recent moves around the league (insider only) and mentions Jose Veras as the best bargain among RP signings though he feels Joaquin Benoit is the best of the bunch.
  • In news around the league, it's been a pretty busy day for minor moves and I'm sure Mike will catch you up on Saturday.  A couple of notes: Shin-Soo Choo reportedly turned down 7 years and $140M from the Yankees.  The Yankees have moved on and signed Carlos Beltran for almost $100M less.  Drew Stubbs, as we expected, was traded but it was not to the Cubs, it was to the Colorado Rockies.  He was a player we thought could be interesting at the right price as a role  player who can play all 3 OF positions, start vs. LHP, and provide power and speed off the bench.  When the Cubs acquired Justin Ruggiano to do basically those same things, it became apparent that Stubbs would have just been redundant.  Just as importantly, the Cubs were able to trade from depth whereas it appears the Indians were looking for a quality, experienced LHRP.  They wound up getting Josh Outman.  I don't know about you but Bogusevic for Ruggiano makes a lot more sense for the Cubs than say, Russell for Stubbs.
  • As far as the Cubs, there are still reports they are interested in Kurt Suzuki despite recently signing George Kottaras, Eli Whiteside, and John Baker.  I'm thinking this might just be recycled news from an agent who is trying to show there are multiple teams interested in his client.

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  • John, do you think Sizemore still looms as a possibility? Haven't realty seen the big upside flyer play by Epstoyer yet this winter.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I know they checked his meds a long time ago as other teams did. The fact that the Cubs or no other team has come close to signing him since then should speak volumes.

  • I just want to talk about a particular FA who I think can make the Cubs a better organization, and that's Michael Young.

    I know he's 37-years-old, but even coming off a season where he "only" hit .280, he had an OBP of .335. Michael Young may not display exceptional power or speed, but what he does as well as anyone in the game is get on base and hit the ball. He has an abundant amount of experience at 3B, SS, and 2B. He hits lefties as well as he does righties.

    He may not be interested in joining a rebuilding organization, but I think that a one-year, $7 or $8 million dollar contract may peak his interest? Especially as a trade target by the deadline.

    If you think about it, he could be the every-day 3B presuming Olt is not ready, and you can shift Murphy over to 2B to platoon with Barney. You can find multiple platoon scenarios. It would give the Cubs a stronger infield.

    Obviously I don't expect Michael Young to be rocking a Cubs uniform, but the scenario did cross my mind and appealed.

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    In reply to Average Samaritan:

    I'm not fond of the idea. talk about a guy trending downward, his triple slash lines the last two years have been .277/.312/.370 (.682 OPS) and .279/.335/.395 (.730 OPS). At 37, I don't see it getting better. Each of the past two years, he's batted in the .270's and has totaled just 8 home runs each year. valbuena posted a .708 OPS, is ten years younger a millions of dollars less expensive. I don't see young as enough of an upgrade to warrant the signing.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Young's past three year splits are .299/.343/.415/.758.

    He actually bounced back from a rather "rough" for his standards 2012. Again, as I said earlier, you wouldn't be acquiring him for his power or his speed, you'd be bringing him in for his ability to hit the ball and get on base. His .335 cumulative OBP last season would have been good enough for second best on the team after Welly.

    He's OBVIOUSLY not in the prime of his career, but he would still be a pretty serviceable addition. He wants to be a starter somewhere, and there's no better opportunity for him to win a full-time starting role than in Chicago.

    Of course, given our rebuilding situation, the Cubs might not want to add someone as a potential road block, but I think he'd be more of a stop-gap until one of the younger kids are ready. Besides, bringing him in on a one or two year deal would allow us to shop him at the deadline to a contender.

    It would also be nice to have a veteran presence in the clubhouse. The fact that Michael Young has played every infield position is very helpful as well.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    The biggest issue I see with Young is that he's a hit collector and that's a culture the Cubs are trying to change.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What does hit collector means john, because dale said that about castro when he was the manager.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Some guys like to count their stats whether it's stuff like hits or RBIs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What's wrong with being a hit collector? It's getting on base isn't it? That's what the Cubs are trying to preach. That is what he does best, and he can set the stage for the younger kids on the team.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    That's the main issue for me but it's more than that. First of all, it's not about the kind of approach the Cubs want to teach. They want to teach a good patient approach where getting on base is valued more than just trying to get a hit all the time. If you've got a vet in the clubhouse who is more interested in collecting hits than following organizational philosophy, what does that tell everyone? Young hasn't exactly been known as a team player. He's a veteran influence, maybe, but not the right kind for this team and the culture it's trying to create.

    But even on the physical side, the defense has been well below average for 3 straight years. He does not play any position well defensively, nor does he add speed or power off the bench, so he doesn't really make a good utility guy. As a starter, he'd almost certainly be a downgrade from the Cubs 3B platoon last year because those guys take walks, play good defense, and hit for some power. Those things add up to more value than Young's hits.

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    In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Sure, his three year average looks good because that is weighted heavily by his very good 2011 season. But the last two have been mediocre at best. And at 37, I think you look for trends, not a three year cumulative average.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    I think Young can still hit a little but I'm a bit concerned about his defense slipping for 3 straight years where he has been well below average, especially at the middle infield positons. I don't see a lot of utility there and I'm not sure that after you take into account the better defense and power the Cubs get at 3B from their platoon, I'm not sure he's even an upgrade at 3B. To me he's better suited to be in the AL where he can fill in at 1B, 3B and mostly DH.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Young looks like he has the ability to hit better in the clutch (risp/ high leverage situations.) Rbi's and hits are counting stats but he does it better than anyone on this team. He's better with men on base something this team sucks at.

    He gives a legit 1b to rest Rizzo and some veteran leadership. Also i think his price is much lower than say someone like Uribe, who you advocated for.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    I'm not a big believer of clutch hitting as over time, clutch hitting stats tend to even out with their career averages overall. Young may simply hit better in the clutch because he's just a better hitter than Valbuena.

    And I don't really think of Michael Young as a positive in the clubhouse. Had numerous run-ins in Texas and has the reputation of worrying about his own numbers. No thanks. Don't want that kind of leadership.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    This repeated bashing of M Young as a selfish player more interested in his own stats goes way too far. Far more commonly, he was lauded as a Ranger repeatedly forced to accept lesser roles. Moved from SS to 2B. From 2B to 3B. From 3B to 2B-1B. To rover/DH/1B. This was a great, long-underrated player who eventually did voice his unhappiness in '11, but then shut up and had his last great season. Young is hugely respected by his peers. I think he's toast, but I just wanted to disagree with John's overly negative characterization. P. S. Many great players have been very individual-stats-conscious...and also good teammates.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not a big proponent of Michael Young. But I also don't think we're going to get the same Obp & Ops #s that we got from that platoon again. Eventually the sediment finds the bottom.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Maybe but Young has been below replacement level the last two years. He has already reached the bottom two years in a row.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Both Murphy and Barney bat right handed. That wouldn't be a normal platoon.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    John, can You look into this????

    I likes the idea Last Year..,and I like it This year.

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    I'll be very surprised if they acquire him.

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    In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Don't hate the idea of adding a veteran who could provide leadership and protection in the lineup. Also, it would be a plus that w a hot start, he can be moved for his and our benefit.

    IMO, that guy is Eric Chavez. I think he hit close to .300 and showed some pop . Problem is, the dbacks are going to be on him since they traded Davidson. Hopefully upper mgmt can take a pause from dumpster diving and go try n lure him to come over. Offer him a job in the office or as a hitting instructor for him when he's done playing if you have to. ( lol )

    Anyone think there is a chance the Yanks will send soriano back to us ? Rizzo really could use to protection this year.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    D'Backs already signed Chavez.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Well there goes that idea. I must be getting senile like my dog. I could have swore I read something Sunday or Monday where he hadn't signed yet.

    How much did he get ? Average Samaitan Michael young money ?

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    He just signed today so totally understandable! In fact, he hasn't officially signed but he has agreed to terms, which were not disclosed. Big factor on this for Chavez is that he lives in Phoenix and I believe he's stated in the past that he wants to play for contenders now at the end of his career, which is understandable.

  • I was thinking the same thing regarding Tanaka. The longer it takes, the better it should be for the Cubs because teams might start signing guys like Garza, Ubaldo, Santana, etc. Only caveat to that I can think of are the Yankees. Depending on how long it takes, they might know A-Rod's fate before Tanaka posts and if they know exactly how much money they'll be saving in that deal, they could become more involved on Tanaka.

    I also agree that Stubbs for Russell wouldn't be the best deal for the Cubs considering how much we have heard regarding other teams wanted Russell over that last year or so. They can probably get better than a platoon OF if they do decide to trade him now they they have other LH relief options.

  • John, what's the status of minor league pitching coach Jeff Fassero? He seemed to get Kyle Hendricks on the right path if I'm not mistaken.

  • In reply to edubbs:

    I don't know, actually. He seems to have moved on, I guess.

  • In reply to edubbs:

    I was sorry to see he isn't back. I am sure he will land on his feet somewhere. We have lost some quality coaches this off season.

  • In Dr. Beck's book on relationships, "negative framing" was when your spouse misinterpreted something you said. But I have seen so many Cub catchers either place their target a foot outside or just poor calling, have the pitcher aim for the same location 5 times in a row. I would call that "negative framing"!

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    My favorite Arismendy Alcantara story is when he was in New York for the Futures Game and insisted that the interviews be conducted in English -- obviously his second language -- because he needs to learn. I think that makeup is how he adapted to the new organization so quickly and gives him and excellent chance to hit his ceiling. If everything works out perfectly for the Cubs, he probably doesn't have a spot on this team. But, in the very likely event that one or more of the big four don't make it, he could be a big contributor to a winning team for a long time.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yes, a lot to like about that kid. He adapts quickly --- to everything.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm in love with the kid! And I may be in the minority that says Alcantara WILL be our 2B of the future. He profiles great as a piece that we need at the top of the order. Most others have Baez or even Castro being moved to 2B.

    But I'm still sticking with Baez 3B, Castro SS, Alcantara 2B and Rizzo at 1B.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    When the Cubs become a legitimate championship contender, S Castro should not be the SS. Too many fundamental fielding flaws. SS gets the most chances. Absolutely mandatory to have reliable, efficient SS.

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    In reply to michaelc:

    He's showing improvement there. This is a very big year for him.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    For me, Castro regressed rather than improved. I look at the basics. His feet are clunky rather than fluid. He added the little time-consuming tap of bare hand to glove hand, and never broke that very bad, new habit. He lets the ground ball play him far too often, rather than charging. His throwing mechanics are inconsistent, so naturally his throws are as well. P. S. I'll add one plus and one minus. He is really gifted on catching any balls in the air. He's a very dumb baseball player.

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    In reply to michaelc:

    ...like the Cardinals had?

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Until the end, Cards got away with good-field, horrible-hit Kozma because they were so excellent overall, but you want to aim a lot higher than a Kozma because most offenses suffer too much from that much of a downward drag. Good field, for sure. But with a 700+ OPS, at least. .

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    AA spot on this team(2015) is high because of his top of order switch hitting bat, speed, and power. The Cubs will give him every opportunity to earn a spot because he offers a rare package of abilities few possess and the Cubs need.

  • Does anyone know what number Charlie Cutler is going to wear? My last name is Cutler also. (Hey maybe him & Jay & I are all distant Cousins) Anyway, I want to retire my Kosuke Fukudome Jersey and get a Cutler jersey.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    No idea. I'm not even sure he's been assigned to a team yet.

  • Another reason to trade Jeff is to free up money to sign Tanaka.
    More potential and younger

  • Thanks John! Merry Christmas. I read you guys too much. I need a 12- Step Program for Cubs Den, lol Keep up the great work.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    LOL! Merry Christmas and thanks for reading and commnenting.

  • If we get Tanaka, do we still keep Travis Wood? There's grumbling about him leaving.

  • In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    Both sides want to work out a deal.

  • Framing pitches is what really separates the men from the boys behind the plate. It's as much art as it is science. This is one of those intangibles for a catcher. Unfortunately, Beef doesn't have the natural feel/anticipation for framing pitches ala Molina. I think he works hard and will continue to get better, but this likely will never be his strong suit.

    For those interested, there is an excellent article on the art of framing here:
    http://www.nj.com/yankees/index.ssf/2012/04/yankees_following_new_philosop.html

    All of this is based on research conducted by Mike Fast and published in Baseball prospectus. This has been a market inefficiency that the NYY's have been exploiting for a few years.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    not trying to be debbie downer - but another example of high picks
    not working - we need to temper expectations on prospects:

    Marlins Designate Kyle Skipworth For Assignment
    By Zach Links [December 18 at 5:00pm CST]

    The Marlins have designated Kyle Skipworth for assignment, a source tells MLBTR. The 23-year-old was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2008 draft.

    The catcher got his first taste of big league action this past season, seeing a handful of plate appearances across four games in the spring. Prior to 2009, Baseball America had Skipworth ranked as the No. 89 prospect in the country. At the time of his selection, BA touted Skipworth as "the best high school catcher in the nation, and [maybe] the best prep prospect at that position since Joe Mauer was the first pick in the 2001 draft." The Marlins gave the athletic youngster a $2.3MM signing bonus after selecting him.

    The move will create room for the newly-signed Casey McGehee on the 40-man roster. You can keep up with everyone in DFA limbo using the MLBTR DFA Tracker.

  • The main reason the Cardinals get so many extra strikes called, is they are the biggest crybabies in baseball. They whine about every close pitch, and a lot of the young umps give them the calls.

  • I don't buy that for a minute. As a former catcher, I learned the art of bringing the ump's attention to something and maybe slanting the scales in my favor on the next one. As an umpire, I've experienced some who were light years more tactful and effective than I was. But I assure you, actual wining and complaining out loud will not result in the call you want on most occasions.

    The reason they get so many calls is because they're actually a pretty solid team so it just seems like they get the close ones to us...

  • That's actually a good thing. Working the home-plate ump is part of the game. B Cox was relentless and excellent at it.

  • I think you are right Hoosier but the Cards are still whinny little babies.
    Framing pitches, like getting close calls, is also a matter or reputation at the major league level. Beef will need to earn that like Molina has.

  • It seems to me that Molina only frames those pitches that he really wants. Those key deliveries that effect the game. When a catcher frames every close pitch umpires don't like it and it doesn't influence them. When a receiver does it judiciously it is more likely to work.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Thats part of the nuance. You can't frame every pitch or it will lose it's effectiveness with the umpire. It's not just moving the glove back over the plate either, the catcher has to have a plan. He has to catch it in the zone before it dives out, etc... It's not an easy thing to do.

  • Too funny about the Castillo and framing. I've been noting it for a long time, but from an observational perspective as someone who once played the game. But for those who only acknowledge the measurable, perhaps this will convince that Castillo was not robbed in the Gold Glove voting.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    First off you were were complaining most about the passed balls but the chart shows he blocked more pitches than Molina even with those PBs included. So that part is also too funny. While "observing" all those passed balls you forgot to observe the great multitudes that he blocked. Secondly, he is neither really a positive nor a negative for the team when it comes to framing. You implied he was terrible at it. So not sure where this proves anything you said. He still rates as one of the better catchers in baseball on defense overall even if his framing is just average right now, which isn't unusual for a young catcher.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    First, catchers typically don't "block" potential passed balls. Most passed balls never touch the ground and don't require blocking. So I don't think I would have used passed balls to dispute the blocked pitch chart. In fact, I never disputed the blocked pitch chart. I thought your original citing of that stat was a strong one.

    Second, I never disagreed with your current position of Castillo being "one of the better defensive catchers." I've disagreed when Castillo has been characterized as an "elite" defensive catcher at this point in his career.

    Last, thank you for characterizing my putting forward info to support my opinion as "complaining." Very odd. Since your recollection of my opinion is apparently narrowly convenient, let me repeat: My argument has always been that a single stat about one aspect of the larger catching skill set cannot provide the full picture. I know, very controversial. There's throwing with accuracy, framing pitches, calling games, captaining an infield to avoid pop ups dropping between infielders, and yes even preventing passed balls. All are areas I feel Castillo needs more work on before being crowned an "elite" or Gold Glove-caliber catcher. You countered at one point that you based your assessment of Castillo's elite catching skills on many unnamed baseball insiders with far more knowledge than me -- suggesting there may be some sort of baseball insider consensus. However suggesting otherwise, the voting panel of the Gold Glove Awards -- consisting of MLB coaches and managers -- didn't even select Castillo as a top 3 finalist in the NL. You dismissed the Gold Glove voters as "old schoolers," and that most sabermetric acolytes who study Castillo's advanced stats will say he's elite. But then the Fielding Bible Awards come out, and the voting panel is filled with sabermetricians. Castillo finishes a distant 4th and is rated quite low by several Sabermetrics gurus, such as 10th by Dave Cameron of FanGraphics and 7th by Hal Richman of Strat-o-Matic. And now this stat on framing pitches that rated Castillo 44th in the majors. So I remain very comfortable in my non-extreme position that Castillo is not an elite defensive catcher at this point in his career. To consider him an elite catcher -- which anyone is fine is doing -- is definitely a minority view.

    And for those with faulty memories about what I may have posted in the past, here is just one snippet: "Give Castillo credit for his athleticism in blocking pitches and for a strong (if error-prone) arm. But I think we can hold off on the Gold Glove talk. Castillo is very subpar at framing pitches, and he leads all catchers in MLB with 10 errors while ranking just 11th in games started. His 8 pass balls, also ranks as 4th most in the majors (led by Toronto's Arencibia who at least has the excuse of catching baseball's only current knucleballer, R.A. Dickey)."

    Now is that "complaining"? Seems like a quality contribution to a baseball conversation started by one of your excellent articles.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I'm confused as to why John, et al. say Castillo is getting better at framing. StatsCorner shows 2013 being his worst year ever for framing, 3rd worst in the league.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    I haven't looked at the framing stats. I believe he is developing into a fine all around catcher, but is s till rough around the edges in a few areas. IMO, framing has always been his biggest weakness.

    I'm a huge fan of Beef's and think he will be part of our core for the next few years. But for people to compare him to Yadier like they did in the previous chain Skit refers to is just wrong and unfair to Beef. It's like comparing Travis Wood to Kershaw.... he just aint there yet, and likely will never be at that level.

    Sveum and Bosio both publicly commended Beef last season for his work ethic, framing, and progress he has made in handling the staff. That might be what some were referring to...

  • In reply to Oneear:

    I get it from scouting reports and metrics provided by Harry and Dan from Brooks Baseball, who I trust when it comes to these sort of thing. His previous small sample sizes don't mean much from past years and sometimes you have to rely on scouting rather than small sample numbers. . And wyoucan say 3rd worst but that is misleading. There are a host of catchers whose framing didn't add or cost a win. In fact, only 7 catchers in all of baseball -- 4 of them backup types -- added a win or more everybody else is bunched around the same area. It's more accurate to say that he's lumped within the great majority of MLB catchers who neither add or subtract significant value with their framing skills. To concretely say he is getting worse or the 3rd worst ignores small sample size and normal statistical variance.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    'Kay. fair 'nough. Thanks.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    We just need to face the fact that Beef isn't going to be a great defensive catcher. In fact he may only be average at best. We can find stats that may prove otherwise. I can say Darwin hit .500 with a 3 and 1 count or hit .284 vs lefties. It isn't gonna change the fact Barney struggles at hitting. No matter if he blocked more balls then yadier. Bottom line is he had a lot of errors or tons of pass balls. Beef isn't going to be a great defensive catcher. I am okay with that.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    My eyes agree with StatsCorner. W Castillo needs to get a whole lot better at framing. But I believe he can do that. His incredible improvement at blocking suggests he can get better in other areas. P. S. I love him for an "over-correction" in HR in '14; a whole lot more long balls in that swing than came to the fore in '13.

  • In reply to michaelc:

    And of course a huge caveat when it comes to some of these stats. I love stats, but one needs to take some of the weighting and translating certain data into "runs saved" (which sounds quite concrete) is part art and not completely science. Not to say the stats aren't helpful barometers, but anyone who has seen two sabermetric zealots argue about which WAR computation they prefer will understand that some of this becomes arguing for argument sake.

  • Cubs sign Jonathan Sanchez to a minor league deal...can't hurt...

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    AAA depth LH Starter, definitely can't hurt... it's good to have a couple Vets that the younger guys can learn from.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Just put up an article. The Cubs intend to use Sanchez in the pen. I'm guessing they're going to try and find the same kind of success as the Mariners did when they switched Oliver Perez to teh bullpen.

  • I'm calling BS on that Choo offer.

    And if it was real and Choo is trying to get as much cash as possible, then I think Boras/Choo made a huge mistake in turning it down, because I bet he gets less than that deal.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I totally agree. I have a real hard time imagining Boras not loving this deal, and I also think Choo would jump at the chance to play in New York at this price.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I'll take the other side of that bet. +140. Rangers have money to spend, and reportedly covet Choo. I very much doubt they're the only team. If anything, this extremely player-favorable market has gone even crazier in that direction last three weeks.

  • Very solid point John on comparing the Ruggiano/Bogie and Stubbs/Outman deals. I was intrigued by Stubbs, but Ruggiano is probably, on aggregate, just as effective and cost far less.

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    John, this is totally unrelated, but do you have any insight into how Rizzo's offseason is going? Is there anything in particular he's focusing on to get more consistent at the plate?

  • Have a question about Tanaka. If Tanaka is posted , does his current Japanese contract have to be bought out, in addition to the posting fee ? Lets say Tanaka agrees to this new record deal with Rakuten. This could then be a way Rakuten gets more money out of the team that acquires Tanaka.

  • In reply to jska:

    RE: If Tanaka is posted , does his current Japanese contract have to be bought out,

    No. that's what the posting fee is for. That's why many were surprised that the NPB accepted such a low maximum of $20 Million.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I was shocked, not just surprised. I at least thought there'd be a grandfather-type clause of a year or two before the new agreement actually took effect. The ownership and board of directors of Tanaka's team would have gotten about 60 mil; they'll suddenly get 40 mil less!!! And the system that was very generous to NPB teams now swings to the other extreme---ultra-favorable to the FA player.

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