Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Fun Fact: Travis Wood has 1.9 WAR as a Hitter

In fact, since 2010, he's no. 4 in hitting WAR among pitchers:

Mike Leake 338 4 .234 .261 .325 57 2.9
Zack Greinke 247 3 .216 .271 .317 64 2.4
Yovani Gallardo 349 8 .194 .222 .317 40 2.2
Travis Wood 265 9 .192 .212 .347 46 1.9
Madison Bumgarner 344 6 .165 .207 .254 30 1.8

In terms of being an efficient hitter, though, Zach Greinke tops the charts. He's averaging about 1 WAR per every 100 PA. That's really great for a pitcher.

But here's what's not great: Travis Wood, easily the Cubs best hitting pitcher since Carlos Zambrano, still has hit only .192/.212/.347 in his career. Sure, the 9 homers in 265 PA are nice, but as a whole, that 46 wRC+  does not work anywhere else but pitcher in the NL.

I'm not sure why I put them in that order.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The House That 51 Days Built

Over at Cubby Blue, Tim shared some great photos of the Wrigley construction and also passed along this tidbit:
On March 4th, 1914, the groundbreaking ceremonies at Weegham Park (which would become Cubs Park and finally Wrigley Field) took place.
Then, construction crews hauled ass and built the entire thing so it was ready for the home opener on April 23rd.
So imagine there was nothing in the above photo.
51 days later, there was Wrigley Field.
Fifty one days.
I can't find anything online that details the construction, but man is that fast.
He goes on to note that, y'know, maybe a 101-year-old building that got thrown together in 51 days could use a little more tender love than the city (and previous owners) have been willing to give it. I think he's kinda right.

Be sure to check out Tim's post at Cubby Blue.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Cubs-Shields Rumors are Now Real

On Tuesday, I suggested that James Shields and the Chicago Cubs could make a good fit -- especially given that Shields's price has reportedly goen down. Well now we can spice those hypotheticals up with some real ol' fashioned rumors. David Kaplan of CSN Chicago (hat tip to MLB Trade Rumors) is saying the Cubs are doing some tire kicking with Shields.

What does this mean?

I think we can now ink Shields into the No. 2 spot in the rotation. Also, let's print up the Chicago Cubs 2015 World Champs tee shirts now. I mean, after all, it is 2015...

We can always dream, can't we?

IT'S HAPPENING!!!1!!111!!!11!1!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What About Signing James Shields and Then Just Never Giving Up a Run Ever Again?

On MLB Trade Rumors, Jeff Todd had a great article about how James Shields has basically out-waited his market. And while the Cubs have an excellent pitching staff right now, I cannot think of many good reasons for Chicago to not dig a little deeper and snare one of the best right-handers in the game.

So, here's the rotation at present:

SP Jon Lester
SP Jake Arrieta
SP Jason Hammel
SP Kyle Hendricks

And one of:

SP Tsuyoshi Wada
SP Travis Wood
SP Felix Doubront
SP Jacob Turner

This is the first time in a long time the Cubs had five legitimate competitors for the 5th rotation spot. Personally, I think Tsuyoshi Wada has a good chance to go Hisashi Iwakuma on us, so I'm pulling for him and Jacob Turner this Spring Training. But what if both Wada and Turner went to the bullpen? I think they'd both make killer relievers -- until need pressed them back into the rotation.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ernie Banks, the Cubs Greatest Hitters, and Javier Baez

Here's Ernie at the tender age of 24. (source)
It's not just that Ernie Banks was a great baseball player or that he was a long-time member of the Cubs; it's that he was both. That's why he mattered so much.

And he brought a measure of joy to a business that can still feel like a game sometimes. That's the kind of player that makes watching baseball fun and working in baseball easy. All this leaves a bigger empty space without him.

By my count, only four people are still alive on that list of all-time great Cubs hitters. I think that's both a testament to the age of the franchise, and the paucity of great players recently. As comparison, the Red Sox have 7 of their top 11 hitters still alive and kicking.

In other news: Joe Maddon's advice to Javier Baez is both (1) typical of Joe Maddon and (b) just amazing:
"He's trying way too hard," Maddon said. "I want him to back off. The last thing I want him to do is try to impress me tonight. ... I said, 'Hit a couple singles and, above all, I want to see you smile.'"
I wrote about Baez for the 2015 Hardball Times Annual, and basically I said: Holy crap, this kid is off to a very scary start. He was striking out like a tee-ball kid in bad need of sports glasses.

I think/hope Maddon is the right guy to get Baez on track, and fast.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Jimmy Clausen is Better Than Jimmy Clausen

The Chicago Bears have decided to bench Jay Cutler heading into this Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions. Former second-round draft pick Jimmy Clausen will be getting his first start since 2010. And this kind of typifies the response from the media and fans:

Welp, he's worse than Blake Bortles; let's shut it down; all hope is lost.

But seriously: Let's be smart about this. Jay Cutler is not terrible -- at least statistically. He's around a 55 QBR, which is just a tick above average. Of course, scouting sources like Pro Football Focus (PFF) have rated him among the worst QBs this season -- maybe in part due to fumblitis, but it's hard to say.

Either way, the offense has been terrible, hasn't broken into 30-point territory, and now Jimmy is starting. What can we expect?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

GRAPHIC: Jay Cutler's Rapidly Deteriorating Season

Click to Embiggen.
Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

- T.S. Eliot, suspected Bears fan

At a time like this, it is easy to lose one's faith. At least one's faith in Jay Cutler.