Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jack Moore Examines Closers

Over at Fangraph's, Jack Moore has begun examining the league's historical approach to closer usage. This is a very interesting (and quick!) read, well worth the time.

In the Sabermetric community, closers are often targets of spite and sighs. Reasons for this include: A) closers usually get exorbitant contracts (for relievers) yet too-often pitch in low-leverage situations (the textbook "save situations," which sometimes may be as easy as merely getting a pitch over the plate so that the shortstop or pinch-hitter can wildly tomahawk it into the ground for an easy out) and B) managers and traditionalists too often evaluate closers on their ability to "save" a lot of games or produce a high "save" percentage -- never mind that the closer may actually be doing a poor job at possibly the second easiest spot in the bullpen (according to leverage, *cough cough* Fernando Rodney *cough*).

Anyway, I think Moore does a good job to examine how we've reached this point of over-value. Give it a read!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just Like That, Milton is Gone

Every ounce of my objectively analytical self is in sheer agony right now. I have tried to avoid being a staunch apologist for Milton Bradley, but the truth is: Cubs fans and Lou Piniella have really brought this on themselves. Bradley had an unlucky beginning to the season, so Cubs fans -- expecting MB to single-handedly restore the former Cub Greatness -- turned the "Friendly Confines" into a next of Boo Birds, making foolishness and bigotry their straw and twigs. Piniella wrongly chastised Bradley for a trespass others had committed (the Water Cooler Incident) and Bradley reacted with poise and reason (per ESPN: "I got a ton of respect for Lou," Bradley said. "When he says something, I really take heed and listen to it... I really think he had a heartfelt talk with me in his office, and I think we are both better for it."), yet the fans did not notice.

Instead, the fan stink seemingly forced Jim Hendry's hand now we have acquired this:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Should the Cubs sign Ben Sheets?

Jack Moore from Fangraphs had this to say about Ben Sheets.

Let me preface by saying that I use to hate Ben Sheets. I hated him like the coyote hated the road runner. But my hatred would subside if the Cubs signed him.

In my opinion, the Cubs need another starter to replace losing Harden to free agency because, currently, our starting rotation heading into 2010 looks like this:

5.)Marshall/Samardzija (who in my opinion is NOT ready)
*=currently rehabbing from arthoscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder. click here to read more.
Taking a look at our starting rotation, the Cubs pitching staff is solid 1-3. But we really do not know what we're getting with Randy Wells. The 5th starter position still seems to be up for grabs (though us here at CubsStats think Marshall can fill in nicely if he's given some consistency at the position).

However, Dempster, Zambrano, Lilly have each been hurt and I would GUARANTEE that one of them will go down next year for a significant amount of time. Then suddenly, the Cubs rotation will shrink. With an injury or two to the big three, the Cubs could find themselves plugging in different pitchers throughout the season and/or promoting someone who just isn't ready (Jeff Samardzija) just to stop the bleeding.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The News, and Former Cubs in It

Earlier this week, Matt Murton, my once-great man-crush, had his rights sold (boy, that sounds sinister, doesn't it?) to the Hanshin Tigers over in Japan's NPB league. There, I expect Murton should flourish and the power that never translated in the majors will likely explode in Japan's small and homer-friendly stadiums. Farewell, sweet prince.

Yesterday, Corey Patterson signed with Mariners. His fielding -- even during his days with the Cubs -- has always been excellent, but, sadly, that is all the Mariners should expect from ol' Corey. However, my father once rightly observed that Patterson likely possesses the greatest chin in the major leagues. Patterson was our top pick in the 1998 draft and was expected to become our Sammy Sosa, II. Now, it almost seems like a good thing that he ended up not being Sammy Sosa.

Meanwhile, the Cubs begrudgingly left the Winter Meetings with Milton Bradley still in tow (hooray, say I, and get over yourselves, fans) and nabbed a young (starting) pitcher, Michael Parisi, in the Rule 5 draft, meaning he has to stay with us all year, or ends up back in St. Louis. Who knows? Maybe he makes the rotation and plays the part of Rany Wells, part 2?

More info on Mike Parisi:

a) Hardball Times pre-draft article about Rule 5 pitcher possibles.
b) Cubs f/x's nifty interview with Mr. Parisi himself. (Note: the rest of the site seem to be having issues.)
c) Parisi's Fangraphs page. I smell limited info, but great potential.

Update: The Cubs again say they are close to trading Bradley (probably to the ever crafty Tampa Bay Rays). But who knows what they say tomorrow, or even later today?

Update, Update: My man, Marc Hulet, reviews the Cubs top 10 prospects over at Fangraphs. It's similar to what I summed up here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fangraphs' Draft Review

Marc Hulet over at Fangraphs breaks down our big picks over the last three amateur drafts. Feel like getting depressed? Well, check it out here.

Frankly, it's not as bad as I make it sound. All teams are hit-and-miss when it comes to the draft. I heard someone once equate the MLB first-year draft to playing darts with a blindfold. Yeah, I think that's about right.

Still, here's the cliffnotes of our minors:

Great: Josh Vitters, (Starlin Castro, but he's not featured in the article)
Good: Andrew Cashner, Ryan Flaherty, Jay Jackson
We Can Only Pray for Ben Zobrist* II: The rest.

Again, maybe I'm being too hard, but the Cubs are a big market team, which for some reason means we must trade away any developed talent in the hopes of wins now.

*Yes, he was more valuable than Albert Pujols in 2009. Of course, Joe Mauer might have been more valuable, but who can quantify catchers' defense?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Granderson Gone for Good?

Today the Yankees, Tigers, and Diamondbacks executed a three way trade, sending (most importantly to Cub's fans) Curtis Granderson to the east coast. A few days ago, (the always impeccable) Harry over at Cubs F/X broke down the center field situation for the Cubs if/when they trade Milton Bradley. Basically, it's not good. Until today, the situation appeared thus:

Choice A: Get Granderson
Choice B: Enjoy Mediocrity

Frankly, if the Cubs want to get back to the Spinning Wheel of Chance we call the playoffs, then we can hardly waste a position on a replacement level player (which is what the majority of remaining options are).

The one silver lining in this whole trade, at least to me, is the increased potential of retaining Milton Bradley's services, whom I would prefer to return to the Cubs, an idea I have occasionally espoused here. However, as I write this, I am receiving rumors that Bradley may well be on his way out the door right now. Who knows, maybe we nab Granderson for Bradley in the craziest trade of the young winter?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Price of a Win

Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron is reminding us how to use their dollar valuation statistic. And when Dave speaks, we listen. Ultimately the article can be summed in this:

Here is an example of how you should use the valuation. We have Chone Figgins’ 2009 value at $27.4 million, based on his +6.1 win season. No one is going to pay Figgins that much this winter, of course, nor should they. However, we can say that if the Angels wanted to replace what Figgins gave them last season, they should expect it to cost them about $27 million in free agent spending. Figgins produced at a very high level in 2009, creating a large surplus value for the Angels. The dollar to win valuation quantifies that surplus value, showing how much that performance would have cost if they could have expected to receive it and had to pay the going market rate for that performance.

That’s why we write that he was “worth” $27 million. It does not mean that we think the Angels should have paid him $27 million, or that they should pay him $27 million now, but he produced at a level equal to what you would expect if you had spent $27 million in free agency a year ago.