Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Training Notes

Carlos Silva, our replacement Milton Bradley (sans high expectations), has now pitched a total of 5 Spring Training innings over 2 starts. Some may recall my previous and mystical allusions to Silva in my previous post. I was specifically trying to avoid speculating on Silva based on his first appearance (one in which he was absolutely thrashed), and I think I was wise to do so. Instead of storming onto Cubs Stats, ranting and raving, firing my pistols into the air, I can now discuss Silva a little more intelligently and calmly.

Here are his first two starts:

Game IP H ER BB SO HR GO FO
one  2  7  6  0  2  2  2  1
two  3  4  0  1  0  0  5  3


The elements that stick out to me are the last two columns: GO (ground outs) and FO (fly outs). Like I've noted several times before, Spring Training data is often misleading and difficult to interpret because: a) pitchers and batters (specifically veterans) may be playing with new techniques or pitches, b)the level of competition is unlike anything the players will face during the regular season (until the play the Royals, zing!), and c) the sample sizes are too small and deficient reliable Pitch F/X or Hit F/X data.

Anyway, Silva's GO/FO numbers help us see a little bit of what we miss without Pitch F/X. Pitchers love ground balls because they tend to result in outs and also tend to indicate that hitters are not squaring up on them very well. So, when I see that Silva is getting some ground outs, I get happy and start thinking that Silva may prove me delightfully wrong. Additionally, it appears that the Cubs staff is hoping to retool Silva (maybe in the way they "fixed" Ryan Dempster -- who was tipping pitches -- and produced his best career numbers).

Typically, these changes in mechanics or approaches and the sort really don't do anything. Last year, Scott Kazmir changed his mechanics some 4 or 5 times, but never really returned to his previous plateaus. So, seeing a quote like this:
"...I haven't seen that sinker for a long time, the one I was throwing in the bullpen. I saw the action and location and I was very excited to pitch today."
...I hope for the best, but know to temper my expectations.

Moreover, Silva did surrender 2 doubles in the second game, and -- according to Al from Bleed Cubbie Blue, who presumably saw the game:
He managed to throw three scoreless innings, but got hit pretty hard doing so... [In addition,] about half of his outs were outfield fly balls or line drives...
Again, this is just me trying to fill the gaps that the absence of Pitch F/X has left. I agree with Al (let's remember this moment) when he says: "Let's see what happens in his next outing."

More news and notes after the jump.

BCB also had like a 15-hour-long interview with Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and team president Crane Kenney. Personally, I thought most of it was at least mildly interesting to any Cubs fan, but the final parts were actually exciting to me:
BCB: You mentioned reading the Bill James books. Are you looking towards, are either one of you looking towards bring more statistical analysis people in here to help out the baseball people in their evaluations?

[Tom Ricketts]: In some fashion. I think if we can find someone who would be value added to Jim and his team, we would take a look at that. But nothing hard core right now and there isn’t anybody selected or anything like that. And to work with, not try to come in from some completely different field and not ambush anybody just bring him in and put that extra glove in our bag, because I think there are teams doing more than we are and we should look at that.

[Crane Kenney]: ...You can bring [statistical information] in house and now you know the relative value of your players to help you make decisions at arbitration . It’s just a smart thing to do whether you are a Bill James, you believe in the whole Billy Beane theory or you’re not, it’s just a great tool to have in house and now we have the room to do it.

TR: And some of the new stuff coming out, I want to make sure we don’t fall behind.
I really hope the Cubs do start to integrate more statistics into their analysis. Granted, I think they are definitely doing some things right already, and the system certainly doesn't need an overhaul or anything. Instead, it would be great if the Cubs found a way to blend statistics with the scouting they are already doing so well.

WARNING: People who like statistics and are not excited about the new ownership may be zombie-robots. I advise caution when dealing with them.

2 comments:

  1. I sure hope the Cubs are right about Silva. I think he could be a good reliever, but probably not much of a starter.

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  2. If he really gets his sinkerball working, he could be an "acceptable" option as a starter. I think Harry compared him to Marquis, and I think that's accurate, sans Jason's athleticism. However, I think Gorzo and Marshall are still better options.

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