Cubs Notes: Best tools in MLB Draft; A great view on metrics; Jumping the Shark on a trade

Cubs Notes: Best tools in MLB Draft; A great view on metrics; Jumping the Shark on a trade
Tyler Kolek

Our contributor Mike Moody brought up my least favorite GM in Cubs history -- Jim Frey.  All the good will of winning as a manager in '84 was erased when he traded Lee Smith for Calvin Schiraldi and Al Nipper, then found himself needing a closer and trading Rafael Palmeiro, Jamie Moyer and a top pitching prospect in a deal to get one overrated year of Mitch Williams.

(Starts twitching uncontrollably, blood pressure rises, vein bulges from head)

I bring this up now because it is an example of not understanding proper value, in part because of a cartoonishly old school approach adopted by the Cubs GM at the time.  Frey  managed to dismantle the promising foundation Dallas Green had built despite the fact that that foundation is what got him into the playoffs in '89.n

Thank goodness those days are over.

(Breathes easy again)

With that, let's talk about some of the interesting pieces around the web lately...

Best Tools in MLB Draft

Chris Crawford and Keith Law came out with a different perspective for their latest collaboration on the MLB Draft.  They rated players by their tools.  I will break them down by top 6 prospects:

  • Tyler Kolek: Best Fastball (HS)
  • Carlos Rodon: Best Breaking Ball (College)
  • Brady Aiken: Best Change-up (HS); Honorable mention for Breaking ball
  • Aaron Nola: Best Change-up (College)
  • Alex Jackson: Best Hit Tool (HS); Honorable Mention: Power
  • Nick Gordon: Honorable Mention for Hit Tool, Best Arm *curiously, there is no honorable mentions for best glove, but I have to think Gordon would be on that (Milton Ramos was listed as best glove).

Additional Notes and thoughts

  • I was surprised that Gordon was among the top prep hitters in the draft and there is some pop there, two scouts  I asked rated Gordon with above average power down the road (55 grade).   One scout, however, said Gordon's bat will require a bit of patience, may not happen anyway.
  • Jackson is clearly the best hitter and is among the top power hitters as well in this year's class.  The question is his position.  One scout said if he knew he could catch, he'd make him a top 5 pick.  The Cubs have two excellent tutors in Mark Johnson (Kane County) and Mike Borzello at the MLB level.  It's Jackson's receiving, not throwing or pop times, that is the question and he told Law he'd love to try catching, which is contrary to some reports we've heard.  If he wants to catch, then he becomes a lot more interesting in that top 5.  He may go as high as #2 overall.
  • Aiken is clearly the best all-around pitcher in draft and there seems zero chance he will reach the Cubs,
  • Rodon (slider) and Kolek (fastball) individually have two of the best pitches in the draft -- probably the two best of all the healthy players.  There is a chance that one drops to the Cubs if Jackson or even Gordon goes in the top 3.
  • Nola has the best present change-up in the draft but after watching film on him, I struggled to come up with a similar arm slot for a successful big league starter.  Madison Bumgarner?  Maybe, but Nola's looks even lower.  Maybe Dennis Eckersley or how about way back to Dizzy Dean?  One thing even if those comparisons hold -- all had better stuff than Nola does.  This isn't to say Nola can't make it as a starter, but the track record isn't there.  Perhaps Nola breaks the mold and becomes a unique starter in his own right.
  • Law has Rodon falling to the Cubs, meaning he will slip past the White Sox, who would seem to want an MLB ready arm if possible.  That in itself brings up an interesting point.  Many believe the engine behind the CBA changes was Jerry Reinsdorf, who has had well-documented struggles with Scott Boras (and a cozy relationship with the commissioner) over the past two decades.  He helped institute a slotting system to prevent agents like Boras for making outrageous demands and manipulating the draft so that they can fall to a desired team and then sign overslot.  This year's draft is a litmus test for Reinsdorf's anti-Boras CBA -- does he pick a Boras client such as Rodon (or Jackson)?  Or does he pass as he has done for every first round since 1996, the year he drafted but did not sign Boras client Bobby Seay?  I think this will be an interesting subplot that will continue should the Sox go with Rodon or Jackson.  The negotiations could get interesting.

Another explanation of why we love advanced metrics

As I have mentioned, I'm not a statistical genius like Dave Cameron of Fangraphs.  I'm more of a right-brained type who has a great appreciation for the additional knowledge statistics adds to my understanding of the game.

I wrote an article on the statistics we use and why we use them a while back and today,  Cameron writes an excellent rebuttal to a Bob Ryan article that I think articulates much of what I feel.

In reality, I think casual fans value batting average, RBIs, and ERA because that’s what 100 years of baseball journalists have told them to value. These numbers are not the product of “the eye test”, as they were both created and placed on a pedestal in the age that preceded television. These statistics came to prominence at a time when the only way people could apply “the eye test” was to actually attend a game in person, and few did so more than a handful of times per year. The average fan being able to watch hundreds of baseball games and create their own evaluation based on what they themselves have seen is an extremely recent phenomenon.

In essence, Cameron writes that using new metrics doesn't take away from anyone's enjoyment of the game and they really are no more complex than other stats we use, but that advanced metrics search for a greater truth behind performance.  Metrics like the "Holy Trinity" of average, HR, RBI, can often mislead and create fictional story lines.

Just as we do here, the story comes first,  as Cameron notes...

The point of our community isn’t to promote the numbers; it’s to promote the story those numbers tell.

The problem with the “Holy Trinity” of statistics is that, far too often, they tell the wrong story. Putting value on things like pitcher wins or RBIs isn’t a choice about aesthetics or enjoyment; it’s about continually propagating myths at the expense of the truth. I think telling an accurate story is more important than telling a comfortable one, and the reality is that the numbers that are commonly used generate stories that are factually incorrect.

Like Cameron says, we're just trying to tell the right story here.  Maybe it's not the story we want to hear.  Maybe it seems counterintuitive to what you see on the field or how you've analyzed players in the past, but we're not here to be popular or write click-bait stories, we're here to dig a bit deeper and write what we feel is the best and most accurate story possible.

And we are thankful to be fortunate enough to have the kind of reader community who understands and embraces that.

Jeff Samardzija trade chatter

Samardzija has been the victim of poor run support and as such, provides a nice transition here because he has zero wins despite being among the best pitchers in baseball this year,

“The wins thing to me is frustrating, because in general I think it’s a stat we’ve all moved away from,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said. “Unfortunately, I think it’s a big story because he’s now breaking records with his winless streak. But the way he’s pitched — he’s been as good as anybody in the National League. People recognize it.”

Olney wrote recently that front office people understand that Samardzija's value is extremely high and that they understand he will be very expensive to obtain.

Jim Bowden wrote that Samardzija will be among the most sought after pitchers as well, but then takes an odd turn.  He suggests the Blue Jays should "strike quickly" and acquire Samardzija for the Cubs.

Sure, ok.  That makes sense.

The problem is that Bowden says the Cubs should do that without trading top pitching prospects Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.

My problem is that those two statements are directly at odds with one another.  If you want to acquire a player quickly the idea isn't to lowball them with an offer.  You have to make them an offer that is so good that it eliminates any reason for that team to continue fielding offers.

Bowden's suggestion for such a trade is Daniel Norris, Roberto Osuna, and Mitch Nay.

Norris and Osuna are high ceiling pitchers currently pitching at the A ball level.  Norris is a good pitcher have an outstanding season, but Jason Parks sees a #3 starter with a more realistic outcome as a #4 or #5.  Given he's at A ball and had command issues in the past, he's still a significant risk.  Osuna meanwhile, has questions about his health, makeup, and work ethic -- and doesn't even make Parks' top 10.  Nay, a 3B now, is a solid hitter who has defensive questions, so many think he ends up at 1B.

This is the package that gets the Cubs running to the table shouting, "hold all my calls!!"???

If the Jays want to strike quickly than there is a price for quickly eliminating the competition to get a deal done quickly, and that price starts with Stroman and/or Sanchez.

Otherwise, the Cubs can wait.


Leave a comment
  • Hey Jed? Can I have some more of that Kool-Aid that you're selling on Wins being an antiquated stat? I understand what point Jed is trying to convey about advanced stats like xFIP and others being able to better convey value of a starter rather than Wins, but to insinuate that it is not grating both to the fans and to Jeff that the Shark is wasting a season (to-date) for the ages on a horrific Cubs team with no Wins to show for it is off-pitch to say the least.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    How do we know it's not believers that wins mean something aren't the ones "drinking the kool-aid"?

    Wins are a constructed stat that have been used and fed to us for decades. We've been told it's important, they give awards based on it, they overpay players based on it.

    It's been drilled over and over again that this is the measurement of a pitcher, yet it is a statistic that is largely out of his control, shared by his offense and defense. It is much more a team stat.

    But hey, wins are important because that is what writers, broadcasters, etc, have been saying for decades, that's what we've been told-- and now when it's merit is questioned, the believers reject any possibility that the stat is antiquated and largely meaningless.

    Who is drinking the kool-aid here? Those who believe that wins are an accurate measurement or those who question it?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Decades, John? More like a millenium! Old Hoss Radburn, Christy Matthewson, Pud Galvin, Cy Young, Walter Johnson, etc. etc. Working the W-L metric out of a pitcher's value will take a long time to accomplish, but I agree it's a pretty worthless stat. To me it's more like "Oh cool... you're scoring runs for that pitcher and he's giving you a chance to win." The stat certainly makes the game seem as if it is pitcher-centric. The pitcher, like a quarter back in football, gets plenty of accolades and attention. There's no reason to track game W-L numbers to make it even more pitcher-centric. I agree with a poster recently who mentioned that the reliever who blows a save then gets the win from a comeback victory is the most obvious example of how useless the W-L stat is to a pitcher.

  • In reply to Joe Stallings:

    Ha! Millenium is probably more accurate.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well,.... if you look at it from a 'team' standpoint - wins really are the only important statistic all said & done.

    But - agreed - the are almost meaningless stats in evaluation individual talent and individual achievement for pitchers.

    What was Felix Hernandez's W-L record when he won the Cy Young award a few years back? 13-12 - but on an absolutely horrible team. Same season Arroyo got 17 wins with Cinci.

    Whom would you have rather had starting for your team on any given day?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree that Wins is a fairly meaningless statistic but no more so than the current definition of a Save, which is a joke.

    RBIs I can't agree with. I want a hitter who hits with men on 2nd and 3rd, and I want him hitting after the table setters who get on base either through hits or walks.

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    In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    Still can't get that RBI with a base hit if nobody ids in scoring position to begin with. Perhaps OPS w/RISP would be a better way of looking at what is currently RBI.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Generally speaking, if you have runners on 2nd and 3rd and you get a hit or hit a deep enough fly to the OF with less than 2 out, you're going to get 1 or 2 RBIs. The RBI is still a good stat Is it the only stat? No, of course not, but there isn't a single stat that can be said of. Only a fool rides with one stat.

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    i think the point is one metric is backward-looking and a method for awarding credit for an activity, where the other is forward-looking in an attempt to be predictive given a certain situation. not that either is "wrong," per se...but i think OPS w/ RISP is tremendously more valuable a stat to gauge a hitter's value to a degree that's independent of the capabilities of the other hitters in a particular lineup.

    RBIs are much more dependent on the activities of others. not to say those RBIs aren't valuable...but when you sign that FA with a high RBI total, you're not getting all the other dudes from his previous lineup to come with him to bat ahead of him in your lineup...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Pitcher Wins were more valuable as a stat when pitchers pitched the entire game. Once the game developed specialists, the "win" as a stat mattered much less. Now, wins are for those who aren't really interested in digging into the numbers in greater detail and understanding the true value of a player.

  • In reply to JB88:

    I can buy that, but it was still dependent on the quality of offense and defense.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    For sure. I think it has always been a flawed stat, but with the advent of specialist relief pitchers it is a very flawed stat.

    But, that said, for a pitcher to factor in the decision in a number of games to, let's say, end up with a 24-5 record (Verlander's record in 2011), he would have had to been in the game and factor into the decision 29 times. To garner such a record, either his team had to be so much better than the other team 24 times or Verlander was a pretty effective pitcher that year. Now, that only gives us a small piece of the story and other stats and advanced stats gives us a much clearer story, but it starts to provide some context. Not a lot, but some at least to better understand the story.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John - think you are missing my point. Fully agree that specific to an individual SP's performance, Wins ARE a stat which has been eclipsed by new analytic measures. They aren't uncorrelated with a pitcher's overall value, just lower correlation based on a number of factors out of the SP's control.

    I am just noting that Jeff probably doesn't take too much comfort in his gaudy xFIP with the Cubs at 16-27 and still winless in all of his starts. If I understand the buzz correctly around at least part of Samardzija's reluctance to extend with the Cubs is because he is sick of losing. I'm not sure that pitching his guts out which includes going late innings and having no Wins to show for it (as "antiquated" as that stat might be to the saber community) is giving Samardzija much comfort right now.

    drkazmd65 framed my point much more succinctly than I did: if you look at it from a 'team' standpoint - TEAM wins really are the only important statistic all said & done.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Wins, for a pitcher, are a semi-meaningless stat - at least as far as evaluating the quality season and quality of starts within that season for that individual.

    They are oh-so-NOT meaningless from the standpoint of evaluation of the quality of the team that pitcher is playing on.

    How 'good' was Felix Hernandez a couple seasons ago when he won the Cy Young - despite the 13-12 W-L record on a terrible team? If you had to win 1 game, and had the choice of putting out Hernandez, or Bronson Arroyo (who won 17 games that year),.... who would you pick assuming that the same defense and offense was playing behind them?

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Jed and John are just saying Wins does not measure accurately how well a pitcher is doing. Number of Wins is determined by a combination of things like 1 how well pitcher is doing 2 how many runs offense is providing 3 how well defense is playing behind the pitcher. For example a pitcher could have a very high ERA but his team is outscoring the opposition. That is not a good pitcher even though he has plenty of wins.

  • In reply to John57:

    Or scenario 4 where a pitcher gets shelled giving up 5 runs in 6 innings but it just so happened to be one of those days when his offense put up more runs in those first 6 innings and then the bullpen held the led.

    This type of box score line in all that one needs to see: 6IP, 9H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 5K, W

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    If the Cubs had won every single game Shark pitched, only he didn't get any of those wins for whatever reason, would you still feel that way?

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    The answer to your question is no jorel, and I fully realize I am muddying the waters of Wins as a measure of SP value vs. winning as a team which the Cubs have not done very much of since Jed Hoyer arrived. The Cubs as a team have won 1 of the 9 games Samardzija has started despite Jeff maintaining a 1.62 ERA during that span. My only point is that as a competitor I don't think Shark is taking too much comfort in the fact that Wins is an antiquated stat.

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    In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    In 1987, Nolan Ryan led the NL in both ERA (2.70) and strikeouts (270). He was also 8-16 that year. A perfect example of just how meaningless W-L record is when evaluating the worth of a starting pitcher. I believe that is all Jed was trying to convey.

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    In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    You understand there's a difference between "wins" as a stat assigned to pitchers, and wins as in winning a game, right?

    Jed isn't saying that winning games is antiquated.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Really, the WS games should not be decided based on runs scored for and against, but instead on who had the better combined advanced metrics united and weighted in a new super-algorithm. Said algorithm should also be able to predict the stock market and be the subject of Darren Aronofsky films.

    Agreed that wins are meaningless unless applied to participation in the entire game; the team plays the whole game, and the result is gratifying. CG wins feel pretty special, too. QS wins begin to lose some of the meaning, and onward.

    IMHO, wins for a pitcher are more about personal satisfaction. It's hard to get the same immediate gratification from moving FIP down a notch or two compared to getting the win. If so, it seems like you're pitching for stats, and the whole game seems to lose some of its meaning.

    But you need the advanced stats to help predict future outcomes and make improvements.

    Samardzija is like a Johns Hopkins-trained surgeon working with a patient population with marked obesity, diabetes, and CHF. He may be technically sound and able to get a better outcome than other surgeons who can afford better patient selection. However, his patients are dying more or suffering more complications since they do have the comorbidities. Can you really ding him for that when he can't select the patients?

    Just my two bitcoins...

  • In reply to CGunz:

    Haha! I think this is a good way to put it -- your sarcasm worked well in exemplifying why old stats are still used in a clever way. They are more satisfying and tangible to the player. They got the win, they got a hit, or they got the hit that led to a run -- or scored the run themselves. There is a sort of cause/effect, results-based gratification that comes out of this -- and I do agree that while it does not work for predicting performance or determining value, it certainly has it's place in the game.

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    In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    I know I'm late to the party, but judging a pitcher based on a wins and lost record is as absurd as doing it to a Quarterback, or a Goalie, or hoe bout a Point guard? It's a sport that depends on a set of circumstances that an entire team is responsible for that determine a win or a loss. Of course winning is important, but to who that win is charged to is irrelevant, and should be to Samardzija, and to anyone else involved.

  • Another great article John, thank you.

    I must agree on Bowden not making sense (and I think you can copy that phrase and repaste it probably 20 times per year). To stress your point, for the Jays to strike quickly right now, with how well Shark has pitched, I think the package would be Stroman and Sanchez (not and/or, as I don't think there is anyone else in their system that could fill the role) and a few midlevel prospects.

    This isn't to say that just Stroman or Sanchez might not be enough later -- Shark could struggle or the market might not be as saturated with buyers. But at this point in mid-May, I cannot see the Cubs brass dealing Shark to the Jays for anything less than Stroman and Sanchez.

  • In reply to springs:

    Haha! And thanks.

    I think it's possible they could make a deal without one of two (doubtful, but not impossible). -- but the idea that they can do it quickly is preposterous to me. If they are going to try and get a deal without those two guys, then they will have to wait the Cubs out, possibly until after this season.

  • Jim Bowden puts up some of the most ridiculous trade scenarios I have ever seen. Samardijza for 2 low ball pitchers... Really? I like the trade scenario discussed here with the Rockies. That would be a move worth making. I guess there is a reason Bowden is an analyst and not a GM anymore.

  • In reply to gator19:

    It is weird to me in that he says the Jays have to strike early and then he puts forth a completely rejectable trade. There's a premium if you want to strike early.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It's as if Bowden got that trade idea from "Blue Jays Den" or whatever fan blog is up there ("Jay's Nest?"). In order for trades to work, both teams have to win.

    It's fun to think of trade scenarios, but you always have to put yourself in the other team's shoes and think "What can I do to help THEM? And what would they pay for that help?"

  • In reply to gator19:

    I'll trade you Baltic, Oriental, and Reading Railroad for Pennsylvania. Don't worry about my complete monopoly or that the other guy owns Mediterranean and Vermont. It could work out!

  • John,

    You are my favorite writer in the Cubs Den nation. I remember 1989 and particularly the trade with Texas that brought us Mitch Williams, Paul Kilgus, Steve Wilson, Curtis Wilkerson and 2 PTBN's.

    On the face of it, we gave 500-600 career HR's and Moyer's 300 lifetime wins. I for one endorse the trade.

    Rafael was a cancer in the club house. Urban legend is he was sleeping with Ryno's wife. Even if it were not true, he was a steroid user and a liar. I don't want the guy on my team.

    We also gave up Moyer, but he he took 3-5 years to truly establish himself as a solid starting pitcher. I think it was pretty hard to project him as winning 300 games lifetime in 1989.

    Steve Wilson and Curtis Wilkerson were reasonably valuable players for us in 1989. Kilgus had a good game or two that year too. So add that to the good year Mitch Williams gave us.

    And don't forget what Dallas Green gave up to get us Sutcliffe...Joe Carter and Mel Hall.

  • In reply to Billy Buck:

    Thanks. You do make some good points but I think we can disagree on this one ;)

  • In reply to Billy Buck:

    Moyer won "only" 269 games in his long career.Had kind of a Don Sutton longevity career record.

  • Instead of Reinsdorf spurning Boras and his clients, could we see it work the other way? Where Boras steers Rodon back into the draft next season just so Reinsdorf doesn't get the player? Grudges work both ways.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    I think that is close to what happened already and is the reason Reinsdorf soured on Boras.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Reinsdorf answers to no one, he can afford to hold grudges. Boras answers to his client. If an agent was stupid enough to let a petty thing like that get in the way of a player's future, hopefully the player would get wise and get a different agent. I do not believe Boras would do something that dumb.

  • Other then Rodon, I'm hoping for Alex Jackson. I'd be surprised if he sticks behind the plate though. Any chance he plays 3rd?

  • I had already made a similar comment about Rodon in an earlier post, but I was listening to The Game over the weekend and I believe it was Sahadev Sharma who said Rodon would NEVER fall to the Cubs and there is no way the White Sox pass on him if he's there. He said the Boras thing is something made up by Cubs fans who are hoping they get Rodon. I thought it was kind of odd for anyone to say "NEVER" about anything, because you just never know. But that was before I knew the Sox had passed on every Boras client in the first round since 1996. Even though the guys on The Game said this is a different White Sox team with Hahn in charge, I still think Jerry and Kenny are calling the shots.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    That sounds more like Connor McKnight talking rather than Sharma.

  • In reply to Rbirby:

    I will ask Sahadev about it on Saturday.

  • In reply to Rbirby:

    Yeah maybe that was Connor, he was on with Sahadev and I don't know their voices well enough to recognize who is who.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    Yeah, Reinsdorf has a long storied history with Boras and note how the last time the Sox picked a Boras client in the first round was in 1996 -- and he did not sign. I can't think of the last 1st rounder that the Sox signed that was represented by Boras. I can think of other non first round guys they failed to sign like Bobby Hill and AJ Hinch. I can also think of their less than pleasant split with Boras client Joe Crede. There's not a lot of love there.

    That said, this CBA was created to take some of the leverage away from guys like Boras, so teams like the Sox wouldn't pass on them again -- so maybe this time they test out Reinsdorf's CBA creation.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    Sorry if this ends up being a repeat post. It didn't post earlier.

    If the rumors are true that the Marlins are on a scouting surge on Jackson then is becomes pretty likely that Rodon will fall to the Cubs because that will leave the Sox with options, not just whoever is left of the top 3.

    I also think that Boras as an agent is definitely a consideration in drafting a player. He will demand over slot money especially in the first round which will affect the rest of your draft. You are also looking at a player, who if they work out, will be very difficult if not impossible to sign a team friendly extension down the road.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    All good points. I just don't know how someone can be so sure to say NEVER in this particular situation.

  • I don't care which of the top 5 players they draft as soon as they
    sign him. Do not draft a player that can go back into the draft
    next year

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Don't worry E, they'll sign the guy they draft, whoever it is.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Wouldn't that have been Kris Bryant and Jonathon Gray last year?

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    Two things I like about the new CBA. First, there is a short time limit on signings, so your draftees all see the field that same season, even if it's just a taste. Second, there isn't an incentive anymore for high draft picks to hold out. (High meaning top 5). Boras can expect teams to pay money penalties, but nobody is going to surrender a draft pick by going way overslot.

  • The reluctance of people to accept sabermetrics just astounds me. Especially people involved in the game. The traditional statistics do not even pass the eye ball test. I was about 6 years old when I drew my first walk in a little league game and realized Shawon Dunston wasn't even as "good" as his middling batting average might suggest. I actually remember being frustrated because I couldn't find a place where I could find out how many walks Shawon Dunston had in a season (Ugh, I'm not one of those people that can't live without technology, but man did the world suck more than a little without the internet). Sabermetrics do not replace what we see. It doesn't change the game. They replace what we write down, and what we use to judge. They give a better picture of what happened and how players performed when we aren't there to witness it, or our attention is drawn elsewhere, or the situation is too complicated or lengthy for our brains to judge on their own.

    I guess I shouldn't be surprised given that our country won't switch to the metric system. Switching to the metric system would require monetary investment to change street signs and so forth, so that resistance at least has a semi-legitimate argument rather than just bullheaded stupidity. But I guess some people just love the tradition of dividing numbers by 12 and 16 and having to remember obscure numbers like 5,280 instead of dealing with factors of 10 and moving decimal points.

  • If the rumors are true that the Marlins are in a scouting surge on Jackson, they could possibly take him at 2 which would leave the White Sox with an option of Rodon and Koleck. I could definitely see them pass on Rodon at that point because of Boras. I think the Boras as a rep is a real consideration in a draft. He is going to expect overslot especially in the first round that will affect the rest of your draft. Plus, you will be signing a guy that if they work out, will be very difficult to sign to a team friendly extension down the road.

  • fb_avatar

    Hey John, what site do you think will be the best draft day tool to use? More specifically, up to the minute (rather, up to the second) draft ticker. ESPN is Great for football and basketball but I don't recall They being on the ball when it comes to baseball.
    What about you and the Cubs Den? Going Live on draft day?

  • In reply to Cubsforlife:

    This one is the best from a Cubs-centric point of view, of course ;) In all seriousness, we have been doing a large amount of coverage for the longest, we see the players, we talk to scouts, and we can also do what the other sites do, which is see what the national guys are saying. Best of all worlds!

    As for a national site, I like Baseball America and ESPN for the draft but I believe both require a fee to access much of the info. If you don't want to pay anything, than does a decent job -- especially now that they have Jim Callis.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I've been using Cubs Den as my first stop Cubs blog for a couple years now. Definitely love the focus on the talent in the minors and how you guys ferret out the best draft and trade candidates. The personal attention given to these comment threads is extremely appealing to me. The imformation I get here helps me see through the hyperbole most sports information outlets use to generate views and makes me feel like there is a plan that is working and will lead to a successfull big league club. Oh and the community on this board is full of mostly reasonable folks. Enjoy it immensely.

  • I was in Toronto last week and went to a Blue Jays game where Stroman pitched in relief and I was definitely UNimpressed.

    The gun said 96 mph once but he got hit…HARD!!! He came in with a 10 ERA and he did so poorly he came out with something worse.

    He has about 12mph – 13mph between his breaking stuff and his fastball which was routinely in the 91 mph zone.

    All night they seemed to be able to pick up what he was throwing which I wondered is due to his short stature.

    I'd rather complete the trade (if we can't resign Shark which is my preference) with a package of Sanchez, Norris and Nolin.

  • If the Reinsdorf/Boras feud is accurate and the WSox pass on Rodon, wouldn't Boras love for the WSox main rival select his prize pupil?

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I don't think Boras cares who drafts his clients, just so long as they pay the number he wants for that client.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I don't think Boras cares where his client sign just that they sign for the max money.

  • This article is like a three course meal with all main dishes and an appetizer of Jim Frey. Thanks. This year's draft is crazy as it seems to have a new story line every day. My wish for the 4th selection continues to change with the latest injury or scouting report which means whoever the Cubs select will probably been a favorite at some time.

  • I recall reading where, at some meeting, the NL GMs gave Frey a round of applause for sending Lee to the AL. I also recall throwing a pillow at the TV when Rafy deal was announced. Perhaps his extracurricular activity contributed but still stupid as sticks.

  • I see value in both schools of stats, I think there are basic flaws in each school of thought. I just get tired of people beating their chests and claiming one is better than the other. Its like arguing politics or religion. There's never any winner. I just want to enjoy baseball without the background noise of hissy fits.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I agree in some sense. For me, I cannot stand Brian Kenny because he does in fact "Beat his chest" and acts stuck up in regards to analytics. It's annoying. I get that you're a hardcore analytic guy but don't be so harsh about it. But, I do think the analytical part is good for the game.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I hope we don't beat our chests here. We have our preference but we do note old school stats all the time.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I realize that you do acknowledge old school stats while you lean toward to the newer metrics. I do think that a pitcher's wins (or lack of) could be an indicator of how the team may subconsciously play behind him, and therefore could be a valid stat that quantifies that lackluster play.

    When did Shark announce he wanted to test the FA market? What's his record since that point? I realize that the team's personnel has changed considerably since then, but you there could be a reason besides "hard luck" behind a winless record. Besides, blaming something like hard luck is inconsistent with newer metrics.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    That may well be, but the problem from a statistician's point of view is that subconscious effort (or lack thereof) is not measurable. We can make that conclusion, but there is no objective evidence/data to back it up.

    Newer metrics do indeed consider luck -- i.e. BABIP, strand rates, HR/FB ratio for some, not to mention standard statistical noise.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I didn't realize that luck is considered in some of the newer stats. Thanks! Nice article as usual.

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    I read the Jim Bowden article and said to myself, "at least this guy is consistent." He always seems to come up with trades that are totally one sided in favor of one team or another. But in most cases a good trade is supposed to be good for both teams.

    That got me looking for which organizations out there have surplus in prospects that just so happen to be a need for the Cubs. I narrowed my list down to teams that had a #1 type of power pitcher and/or a lefty impact bat for the outfield. Many teams have one but not both.

    Then you have the Pirates....... Not an ideal trade partner since they are on the cusp of really doing something special and may not want to trade with another national league central division team. But they have pitching and they have this kid named Austin Meadows that would look pretty good in LF.

    I also think some really big deals are coming our way. We simply can't sit pat over the next 9 months or so. I'm quite sure that the Cubs management knows who they want to be a part of the big league squad for the next decade.

    With that said, I can see a few big names being traded very soon. Guys like:


    I think the Dodgers may be a landing spot for Olt. They need a 3B and if the Cubs put Olt in a package with a prospect or 2 we may be able to lure Pederson. The either Baez or Bryant fill the void at 3B.

    If not, I see a big package involving Shark, Russell and maybe Soler for Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows. This is a bit risky with both Jameson Taillon and Austin Meadows currently on the shelf. But the long term benefits far out way the risk, imo.

    The only other teams with pitching that the Cubs have shown interest is AZ and Toronto. But with AZ playing like crap I doubt they will be buyers. And if Toronto refuses to put both Sanchez and Stroman on the table why continue any talks?


  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I know some scouting services are down on Meadows. I'm not sure I would make that trade, even though Glasnow is a stud. Too much risk given Taillon's arm surgery and questions on Meadows long-term.

    I still think if you are looking for a NL team with whom to trade, then the Braves, Nationals, or Rockies are probably the ones that I am calling.

  • John, I'm not even sure I like the Stroman/Sanchez package anymore... The Jays decided to move Stroman to the bullpen, which means the Cubs would have to stretch him out again if they want him to start games this season... That's risky... Chances are he stretches out for next season... Not to mention that some scouts questioned Stroman's physique to be able to stick as a starter, so the move to the bullpen makes me a bit nervous.

    And Sanchez has 30 walks in 48 innings, he has yet to figure it out when he comes to his command and he's starting to look like a future bullpen arm.

    I like the scenarios of a trade with the Rockies for a package around Butler or the Marlins for a package around Heaney (although I don't think the Marlins will deviate from their youth movement, but Jeff Loria can always surprise us all).

    Heck, I think if the O's are interested I wouldn't mind Dylan Bundy and/or Hunter Harvey.

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    In reply to Caps:

    Stroman, for what it's worth, was starting with AAA Buffalo. He recently got demoted again but hasn't made a start since returning. I agree with you though that it's a bad sign that the Jays, who need starting pitching in the worst possible way, decided to use him out of the bullpen.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I wouldn't read too much into the Stroman to the ML bullpen stint. Their bullpen has been terrible this year. It was amazing last year, but things were getting desperate. The rotation has holes, but they did have guys they felt were worth taking a look at. I wouldn't be surprised if part of the motivation to put him in the pen for a bit was to keep his innings down on the year. Plus give him a taste of majors. I wouldn't be surprised to see Stroman get the call in a few weeks if Redmond or Happ struggle.

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    I'm reading your article just for the "jumping the Shark" pun alone!

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    Every post on this site seems to get better. I expect a better one next time. No pressure, John. :)

    "Like Cameron says, we're just trying to tell the right story here. Maybe it's not the story we want to hear." ... I've always said similar things about the imperfection of modern statistics. They don't tell the full story, because there are players who can and do break the statistical mold.

    For every Mike Olt who has an absurdly low BABIP, there's a Rod Carew and Willie McGee as polar opposites. What gets interesting is trying to figure out why certain players don't fall back to statistical norms.

    Bob Ryan probably means well and waxes nostalgic for simpler times where the pesky numbers don't get in the way, but he's also someone who in the past has called for the abolition of the 3 point shot in basketball; shaking his fist at the television like he's Abe Simpson.

  • Bowden is such a tool. Just hearing his voice makes me want to vomit

  • If you could get a pitcher of Samardzija's quality, under arbitration cost control for 1.5 years, and with a sure 1st round compensation pick at the end of it, for two A ball pitchers and a mediocre 3rd base prospect, then the Cubs would be BUYERS not sellers at the fact they would be buying more than one pitcher if that were the case....unfortunately for the Cubs (and their deep farm system) that is not the case, teams are not rushing to give away stud MLB pitchers under cost control (and a 1st round pick) for scraps. Which is why the Cubs will get a haul if they trade Shark.

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    Indeed. This isn't a rental, but a little perspective please... Aces don't have career xFIPs of 3.82. He has value, but not the 7 WAR value that an ace has. He has 4 WAR value, and that's a solid #3 on a contender.

  • The interesting thing to me is that baseball is open to discussion no matter which side of the fence you're on. So, for every pitcher like Shark putting up great numbers, there are pitchers like Fergie who won 20 games a year. Both played on bad teams, both put up good numbers, but only one has proven to be a winner. But that's the great thing about baseball. It defies the numbers.

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