Warm Thoughts from Snowmageddon Central

Happy Groundhog day (again and again). From the heart of Snowmageddon this surgeon gets his first "Snow Day" since the big snow of 1967. So here comes an impromptu odds & ends post.

The first order of business is to remind those digging out from the Thunder-Blizzard (and to warm them up) that the CUBS PITCHERS and CATCHERS report to Mesa in 11 DAYS, officially on February 13th (per Carrie Muskat at mlb.com). Position Players report on Feb 18th and the FIRST SPRING TRAINING GAME is in 25 DAYS as the Cubs play Oakland on Feb 27th at Mesa.

Snow Angels and more, after the jump...

Apparently some debris from the Wrigley Field roof landed on the pavement outside the ballpark in front of the Red Marquee and police have roped off the sidewalks. Fortunately the Ernie Banks statue is unharmed. Some reports said the debris was from the press box. Pat Hughes missing sweater may have just been found. CSN had a video report from in front of the ballpark. I wonder if Tom Ricketts pre-purchase inspection report said he might need a new roof?

Per the SF Chronicle's website, Lou Piniella has been hired by San Francisco GM Brian Sabean to be a consultant for the Giants from his Tampa home.


Piniella, 67, is joining the Giants' front office to consult in a variety of ways, whether it's evaluating or advising on player movement or scouting or . . . well, whatever a baseball lifer of 48 years can provide.

 

According to a Tribune/Paul Sullivan tweet, the Cubs passed on offering Piniella a similar deal. Sabean and LouPa have been buddies since they were both Yankee employees. Sabean was the Yankees director of scouting in the 1980's. Previous rumors had expected Lou to get signed on in a similar capacity with the Yankees but it looks like they spent their last dollar on bringing Bartolo Colon to spring training camp. The price of their training table buffet must be exorbitant. Sabean is collecting relics of baseball past in a similar role as to what Lou will be expected to be doing, including Ron Perranoski and Felipe Alou and they all get to meet in his Florida trophy room.

Finally, the weekly tuesday Bruce Levine chatfest can be found here. He starts by reminiscing about the blizzard of '67 so maybe Brrruuuce's been nipping at the sherry a bit (but hey, anything goes when you know a Snow Day's a-coming):

Watch for Jeff Jackson out of spring training. He's got a live arm and can start or relieve.

Time to sing along with the Boss: "Sherry Darling."

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Comments

Time to start planning my annual spring training trip!

My friends crapped out on our Vegas trip, so I may be doing the same. It's 25 degrees in Houston right now - just thinking of a 83 degree dry sunny day is nice.

What sites have you been reading? There is zero chance that the Cubs have the money for Figgins or the players it would take to get Kinsler from Texas. Just stick to ESPNChicago.com

Yes, where you can read more about the meteoric rise of Jeff Jackson, and not know that the Phillies are too capped out on Payroll to add another $20 million.

The Mariners are looking for a third baseman and a pitcher in return for Figgins. The Cubs need a leadoff man who can play second/third. So here's the offer the Cubs should make. It will only cost Hendry $4 million this year.

Send Silva back to the Mariners.

Cubs give Baker+Silva+$1.2 million in 2011
+$2 million to cover Silva's buyout in 2012

For Chone Figgins

::Mariners owe the Cubs $5.5 for Silva this year anyway. That leaves $6 million to cover. But by shedding Figgins $9 million contract for 2011 they net $3 million. So by making the trade the M's would get Baker, Silva and $1,2 million this year, $2 million more in 2010 and save $17-26 MM on the remainder of Figgins' contract.

Interesting, but isn't the idea to clear the roster of aging players on onerous contracts?

but Figgy is only one year older than Silva (who many feel we should just release if he sucks in ST) and he's the same age as Aramis Ramirez who he could replace at third until Vitters is ready to take over(saving the Cubs $8 million per).
Figgins is an upgrade at 3B over ARam.

Figgins is an upgrade at 3B over ARam.
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Defensively. But if you replaced ARam's bat with Figgans' no-power leadoff bat there won't be anyone to drive Figgans in. ARam is a huge part of the power resurgence we are hoping for this year. Other than him and Pena, who is going to hit a lot of HR's on this team? Soriano has the ability but for various reasons he's never clicked here. Colvin is still a question mark. That leaves below avg. power at 2b/ss/cf and Soto's 15 or so hr's at C.

Figgans would make more sense at 2b for the Cubs.

Are you seriously suggesting we try and trade for Figgins?

Wouldn't you do this trade if you could make it happen?

Figgins is one of the few true leadoff men in the game (career .289 .367 .380 batting first in the order). He stole 42 bases in both of the last two seasons, so the speed is still there which would really help the slowest offense in baseball. He can be used as a true super-sub IF/OF'er playing everyday but at different positions--although best at third . And coming over to the NL for the first time in his career could very well give his hitting a boost.

The speed is still there, but he's 33 this season, signed for 3 more years (plus an off chance the 4th year vests with enough plate appearances in 2013). The biggest problem dealing with a contract like that with his age is that he's a speed guy, once that speed starts to decline, either by age or injury, he's not very valuable since he has no power. He can play multiple positions, but as a weak hitting middle infielder type making $9 million per year, that's not that appealing.

If he had only 1-2 years left on his contract he would be more attractive.

If Juan Pierre could play 2b/3b and had this contract, would you want to trade for him?

saw this bit of silliness on mlbtr...

Executives around the game believe that Albert Pujols will sign an extension with the Cardinals. If the sides don't reach a deal by Spring Training, Pujols will be a free agent after the season, in which case the Cubs may be "best positioned" to pursue him, in the opinion of one executive.

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts...

Tom Skilling's a Bronze medalist: we're #3...O'Hare tally is in:

1967 @ 23.0"

1999 @ 21.6"

2011 @ 20.2"

http://blog.chicagoweathercenter.com/2011/02/...

Saw this in an unsigned piece in the Sun Times today: "Lou Piniella, who shocked the Cubs last summer by abruptly retiring during the season, has accepted an offer," etc.

My sense is that, far from being shocked by any Piniella announcement, the Cubs let him go, first by announcing that he wouldn't return in 2011 and then by just cutting him loose.

Maybe that's a tendentious reading, but I base it on items like this one, reported by Wittenmyer in the same Sun Times on 12/7:

Piniella was forced home twice for a few days to help with his mom, and by mid-August it reached a point where he and general manager Jim Hendry met to try to resolve it.
Even then, Piniella’s instinct was to keep working to get the team playing better. Eventually it was Hendry who suggested Piniella should do what he knew he must for his family.

Emphasis added.

Shouldn't it have read:

"Piniella’s instinct was to start working to get the team playing better."?

I'm sure Hendry was happy to have an excuse to encourage Piniella to resign, rather than having to fire him, which would only make Hendry look bad in the long run.

Why fire a guy when all you have to do is suggest that he go home and look after his mother?

I'll say this for Piniella, he made LaRussa look like a genius!

Wouldn't that also imply Hendry might have caused Lou's mom to become ill?

i say you let a guy take at least 4-5 leaves of absences in the middle of a season before you cut him loose in his lame duck season. 3 was too soon. telfon jim strikes again.

Piniella... not the problem.

Piniella, also not a solution...

crunch tells me that Lou quits on all his teams so that can't be true

Well, he certainly quit on the last two. Let's hope our fortunes mirror the Rays' after his departure.

He didn't quit on Seattle, he got "traded."

in recent history, every time i accept a job i either give up on it or ask to be sent somewhere else closer to my offseason home.

seattle, i wanna go somewhere else and be closer to home...tampa bay, im sick of managing and wanna retire early...cubs, i wanna go home late-season to hang out with mom.

contracts are for losers. changing your mind about your contract or giving up is for winners.

sorry none of this has any basis in realty and it's pulled out of no where without any basis for the accusations...i'll never make these assumptions again.

sincerely,

ike farrell

fart.

Beano, now that's a solution

On a slow day, CCO has some depressing, and interesting stats:

http://chicagocubsonline.com/

The lowlights:

"The 2010 Chicago Cubs had arguably the worst defense in the Major Leagues. The Cubs tied with the Atlanta Braves for the third most errors in the league (126) ... only one more error than the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates."

"The Cubs led the majors last season in the one category that no team wants to lead the league in, unearned runs. The Cubs allowed 99 unearned runs last year, by far the worst in the majors."

BP did research a couple of years ago, and came up with the conclusion that pitchers were partially responsible for un-earned runs. I cannot remember their exact methodology, but essentially bad pitchers gave up more unearned runs than good pitchers did (everything else being equal). It's intuitive, but it's rarely addressed by the media that covers MLB. That may be part of the reason why the Cubs starting staff felt worse to me than the ERA numbers indicated last year.

The average team gave up 57 unearned runs, and the second worst gave up 84. The Padres and Twins gave up a third of what the Cubs did (32 and 33).

I'm no saber metrics guy but I'm putting some basic numbers out there to think about and the more complex fielding stats people can teach me something. Unearned runs only come when an error is charged so I'm thinking unless the official scorer is giving someone a break, the raw numbers don't show that the Cub pitchers in 2010 had a disproportionate number of errors compared to better fielding teams.

Cub pitchers with errors in 2010: Dempster (1), Grabow (2), Lilly (2), Wells (5), Zambrano (3) Total 13; Team Errors (126); Cub Pitchers had10.3% of team errors. Team fielding % .979

The team stats may not reflect on TRN's premise of " bad pitchers gave up more unearned runs than good pitchers"...cause it looks like Randy Wells had a problem with errors.

I quickly looked at two "good" fielding teams for comps: CIN and SFG

CHC 126E, fielding % .979, Pitcher errors 13/126 = 10.3%
CIN 72E, fielding % .988, Pitcher errors 13/72 = 18.0%
SFG 73E, fielding % .988, Pitcher errors 17/73 = 23.2%

I'm not talking about pitcher's errors, I am talking about what a pitcher does when a fielder makes an error. Good pitchers, get out of it, and Cubs pitchers give up big innings.

Good pitchers, get out of it, and Cubs pitchers give up big innings.
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So the stat for that is total runs given up after an error.

Who tracks that?

essentially unearned runs, I don't think it's available where it's split between runs given up on the play the error occurred and then runs scored after the error occurred.

good pitchers will tend to have less runners on base, so errors aren't as costly or get a strike out or a double play to get out of a jam caused by an error.

"The Cubs allowed 99 unearned runs last year, by far the worst in the majors"

Is there a metric showing that along with errors there were balls in play that were fieldable but not errors?

I don't know, but if there were, I'd probably just file it under "doesn't matter".

It does if you have a stiff in lf and another stiff in rf(Xavie Nady)letting balls drop in for hits.

Fair point. Defense is so important and our infield is just... ugh

You'd have to buy some of the expensive stats inc data and determine which balls in play are "fieldable". Over the course of the seaons it's not going to be likely that one team had a lot more "tough catches" than another, I'd bet. For a given position, I could see it happening, though.

Agreed, but could we not go with the eye test on this though?

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/...

Cubs also 26th in defensive efficiency. Yikes. They had made big improvements in this category in recent years.

2009: 5th
2008: 2nd
2007: 1st
2006: 5th
2005: 13th
2004: 7th
2003: 17th
2002: 26th
2001: 20th

and DE isn't quite as important when you're striking out the most hitters in MLB, which they're no longer doing.

Biggest problem was the left side of the infield, where I count 53 errors, compared to 32 the year before.

2010 errors: Castro (SS) 27; Ramirez (3B) 16; Baker (3B) 7; Theriot (SS) 3

2009 errors: Theriot (SS) 15; Ramirez (3B) 10; Fontenot (3B) 4; Fox (3B) 2; Baker (3B) 1

Castro will improve. Will Ramirez/Baker?

IIRC, Baker made three errors in one game, right?

Didn't Castro make about eight over a four game stretch as well?

I'll take the under on Cubs third basemen making 23 errors this year.

"Castro will improve."

Why?

Good young players get better. You'd have to be a Cub fan to ask.

Cub fans think good players are born that way, other teams have them and we don't, we better sign free agents or trade away our young players (whom we don't like anyway).

You don't like Castro, that's great.

Generally talented 20 year old players tend to improve?

NY Post ranks Cubs 11 for best offseason-
http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/yankees/hardba...

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