Thursday, February 28, 2013

Longing For Clubhouse Confidential

Today on Twitter, a fellow baseball enthusiast, Nate Springfield, proposed a change to MLB.tv that, frankly, I feel needs to happen:

Traditional television is dying. Because of cable's inability to offer a la carte television channels, my generation (the mid-20-year-olds, as of right now) are going without cable. We are using antennas and the internet to meet our viewing desires. If I could order a seven-channel package (ESPN, WGN, MLB Network, and maybe FX, TMC, or IFC), then I would have had cable since I moved out of home.

Instead, I have never -- in my life -- paid for cable. I had it at my parent's home during high school, but starting in undergrad, I have trod the antenna/Hulu/Netflix route.

So packaging MLB Network with an MLB.tv or MLB.tv Premium account makes sense for the MLB, with respect to the changing marketplace, but it also makes sense because Clubhouse Confidence is a legitimately amazing show and I want to watch it. A lot.

Behold: These highlights.

There is no other broadcast, on earth and to my knowledge, with a higher, more competent level of discourse than CHC. So, c'mon MLB, let's get this working.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The 5 Most Exciting Cubs On The Roster

Do not come to this post expecting a mathematical formula or some sophisticated method for determining players on the brink of breakout. Rather, this is a list of five players on which I have a keen interest entering Spring Training.

Some of them may have a possibly important role in the team's future. Some of them may be role players with a chance to contribute in small, but meaningful ways. Pretty much all of them are going to be the kind of fringe players toward which I am inexorably drawn.

No. 5: Ian Stewart

2012 Numbers:
  • .201/.292/.335
  • 65 wRC+
  • 0.1 WAR through 202 PA

Ian Stewart is probably not a great third baseman. Defensively, his numbers are not bad. UZR, Total Zone, and the Fan Scouting Report all say nice things. But a good defensive third baseman is kind of easy to find. And on a rebuilding team like the Cubs, a good defensive third baseman can be a 25-year-old with strong minor league numbers looking for a chance to prove himself. He doesn't need to be a 28-year-old with 1620 PA at the MLB level already.

Also, through those 1620 PA, Stewart has an 84 wRC+. Third basemen tend to be around 100 wRC+. He's got catcher numbers at a corner position.

So why the heck am I excited about Ian Stewart entering the season? Well, this is his last chance. Not just at a starting job; it very well could be one of his final opportunities to prove he can (a) stay healthy and, more importantly, (b) hit. If he struggles this season, he will likely spend the final years of his career getting long-tossed around various minor league orgs until injuries necessitate he fill a bench role for a week or two.

For Stewart, the stakes are high. His impact to the Cubs is minimal, though. If he succeeds, it means his career continues, but probably not with the team toting around Javier Baez, Junior Lake, Jeimer Candelario, and Starlin Castro. His ceiling in Chicago is stopgap, but I think the 2013 squad -- with a vat of lucky breaks (like Stewart playing well) -- could be in Wild Card contention late in the season.

If Stewart can hit well (at this point, think: 100 wRC+), maybe he adds a run or two on offense, five runs on defense, and a win through replacement value. That puts him near 2.0 WAR, which is about an average starter in the MLB. I think that would be great for Stewart, and a huge bounty for the 2013 squad.