Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lou Leaving, Hendry Holding, Bradley Beating

A few days ago, we learned that Lou Piniella would be surrendering his grip on the Cubs' helm. Shortly thereafter, Tom Ricketts made vague sounds and gestures of commitment toward Cubs GM Jim Hendry. Loyal Cubs Stats-ers know that Lou and I have had our differences. Namely, Lou seems deeply entrenched in the "old ways," the classical theories of management which emphasize batting average, ignore on-base percentage (not to mention wOBA), and overly-value near-intangibles such as clutch, grit, and facial hair.

However, Lou is: a leader of men, respected by almost any and every one who has played under him; an honored veteran of the game; a generally wise and apparently congenial individual (though apparently not mathematically or statistically inclined). I will, in these respects, be sad to see him go. I will also be sad if, in the wake of Lou's exodus, someone from the fabric of Dusty Baker, Bob Brenly, or Charlie Manual takes his seat. These managers make Sweet Lou look like Tom Tango.

There have been -- to say the least -- grumbles throughout the Cubdom (or, Cubdumb? I don't know which is more appropriate...). Many feel that if Jim Hendry stays through the winter -- or stays another day -- then the franchise is lost and Wrigleyville will finally be swallowed into the black hole of its own ominous cloaca. However likely the latter event is, I am really torn about a potential departure of Hendry. On one hand, he may have single-handedly destroyed one of his best pitcher because he does not seem to understand HR/FB rates, BABIP, or LOB%. On the other hand, his regime (namely Tim Wilken) is responsible for two separate renaissances of our minor league system. Moreover, even his some of his most disastrous free agent signings have been -- at least in some way -- defensible. The brain-trust at Another Cubs Blog has tackled this issue with greater depth and precision. Their findings may be summarized: It's complicated.

Yeah, he's not a stat-head like myself and those at ACB, but he is neither incompetent nor without a history of success. We can't evaluate Jim Hendry, as we are wont to do, based on this season alone. The year of our continued suffering 2010 is not a fair judge of Hendry, but neither is 2007 or 2008. I think he's somewhere in between.

In other news, the fine folks at Two Teams, One Cup recently broke the story that the ever-recalcitrant, ever-mercurial Milton Bradley was recently involved in an on-field altercation. This time, it seems he brought a posse with him:
Milton Bradley assaulted one of his teammates on the field last night.

No word yet if a suspension is coming.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

On Ryan Theriot

Yes, this is me, your 'umble narrator, calling for help from the Cubs' new statistics guy whilst enjoying a game from yonder bleacher seats.

Recently, David Golebiewski took a Fangraphs-quality look at the recently minted second baseman, Ryan Theriot, from a fantasy baseball perspective. As is typical with Fangraphs/Rotographs, the article hits the nail on the head. The gist of it is:
...In 2010, Theriot has swiped 15 bases in 18 tries, with +1.1 EQSBR so far. He’s running, and running well, when he gets the chance. Unfortunately, Theriot’s getting on base at a career-low-clip.
And later:
Pitchers are throwing Theriot more strikes, and he’s keeping the bat on his shoulder more often against those strikes. It’s no surprise, then, that Theriot’s often ending up in pitcher’s counts. His first pitch strike percentage is 66.9 this season. That’s the fourth-highest rate among qualified MLB hitters and well above his 60.1% average from 2007 to 2009 (58-59% MLB average).

Opposing hurlers aren’t afraid of Theriot, and they reflect that confidence by pounding the zone against him. In order to return to his previous .290/.355/.360 range, Theriot needs to knock more than two extra-base hits a month and stop putting himself at the mercy of the pitcher.
It's a sound and true analysis of Ryan Theriot's thus far sub-par 2010 campaign. However, his once decent-to-not-bad defense seems to -- as we expected -- blossomed in the marginally easier second base position. Altogether, though, his season WAR stands at a replacement level 0.0.

Ryan Theriot's struggles, unfortunately, are but the tip of the unfortunate and disastrous season that is 2010, and our "way of life."

Side Note: A tip of that hat to Tango for this intriguing article on sabermetrics and sabermetric history at the Baseball Chronicle.