Lou's Six Man Bench
Spring training is nothing if not repetitive story lines, but Cubs manager Lou Piniella is once again hinting that he'd like to carry 14 position players and 11 pitchers.
Piniella admitted he doesn't have a set number of days off for
players. That won't be an issue until the regular season starts. Right
now, the Cubs have other matters to resolve. While thinking out loud,
Piniella said he'd like to carry 14 position players and 11 pitchers if
possible. The team isn't sure how to slot some players -- newcomer
Aaron Miles, for example. Piniella wants to see them on the field, and
the Cubs will have 39 spring games to evaluate the team.
It's not going to happen, it never does...but that won't stop me from taking a look at what the team might look like. And it's exponentially more interesting than where Alfonso Soriano might bat this year (hint: leadoff).
* indicates a lefty
# indicates a switch-hitter
↑ indicates out of options
C - Geovany Soto↑
1B - Derrek Lee
2B - *Mike Fontenot
3B - Aramis Ramirez
SS - Ryan Theriot
LF - Alfonso Soriano
CF - *Kosuke Fukudome
RF - #Milton Bradley
C - *Paul Bako
OF - Reed Johnson↑
OF - *Joey Gathright↑
INF - #Aaron Miles↑
INF - Luis Rivas
INF/OF - *Micah Hoffpauir
#1 - Carlos Zambrano
#2 - Ryan Dempster
#3 - *Ted Lilly
#4 - Rich Harden↑
#5 - Aaron Heilman
#1 (Closer) - Carlos Marmol
#2 (Set-Up) - Kevin Gregg
#3 - Luis Vizcaino
#4 - *Neal Cotts↑
#5 - Chad Gaudin↑
#6 - Angel Guzman↑
I ignored the players with six or more years of service time regarding their options as that is inferred. But barring a trade or some cuts, that would leave Sean Marshall off the team and you can see why it would never happen.
Now, if by some miracle it does happen, I think Rivas has the upper hand for the fabled 6th bench player because this flexibility thing has clearly jumped the shark and he's got that mystical veteran presence. But there are other options, now available in a tidy table form. The Cubs do have an extra 40-man roster spot, so it won't be an issue to add an NRI to the team.
||2009 Predicted CHONE wRAA
I'm using wRAA(weighted Runs Above Average) which is based off of wOBA (weighted On-Base Average) as they normalize it for the minor leagues. Here's the brief explanation of wOBA and save me the, "this is a BS stat" complaining. I'm not saying it's the end all, be all, but it tells us what we need to know here about their predicted offensive output.
Do we really need another statistic? Yes, we do. Instead of trying to
take two statistics (OBP, SLG) and combine and correct their flaws in
the hopes of getting one number, we prefer to start from scratch.
Furthermore, by recasting the number onto the OBP scale, it makes it
much easier for the reader to get a grasp on the number. wOBA is
weighted on-base average (we call it an average rather than a
percentage). When you look at wOBA numbers throughout the book, just
think OBP, and you’ll be fine. In other words, an average hitter is
around 0.340 or so, a great hitter is 0.400 or higher, and a poor
hitter would be under 0.300.
Then they just take the woBA and translate it to a runs value to make it even easier to understand (all this is available on their Fangraphs page). It's a projection anyway and a lot of it is based off minor league numbers and limited major league playing time, so don't get too caught up about it. Plus any player that sneaks on to the Cubs bench in 2009 will do so almost solely on their spring training performance. What we do know is that So Taguchi isn't very good at hitting a baseball and Richie Robnett had a terrible 2008 season.
Now, if by some miracle Lou manages to make this six man bench work, I have to admit I dream of a Jason Dubois/Micah Hoffpauir lefty-righty combo coming off the bench. It would be a healthy bit of power late in the game to pinch-hit for the quartet of scrap and pitchers that might be in the lineup. Of course, it's also a healthy dose of strikeouts and marginal defense at best. You should also remember that Brad Snyder is out of options, a player the Cubs picked off waivers late last year from the Cleveland Indians. For whatever reason - as Arizona Phil has explained - the Cubs didn't immediately place him right back on waivers since they had the last claim and if he made it through to them the first time, he would have likely gone through the second time. So if he does have a good spring training and the team can't find a spot for him, they'll have to DFA him and this time someone will likely grab them for themselves.
I've always been a fan of the six-man bench over carrying 12 pitchers, but the 12 pitchers has become standard operating procedure by now and when you're afraid to use a relief pitcher for more than an inning, it's understandable why. One excessive extra inning game and your bullpen is taxed for two to three days. The only way I could see a six-man bench working is if the Cubs go with a four-man rotation early and put Rich Harden or another starter on the disabled list coming out of camp. And I guess that's as likely as Jason Dubois ever seeing the majors again.
UPDATE: I forgot about Jake Fox in my original post, but he
might be an even better bet than Dubois. He's even trying out third
base in camp according to Wittenmyer.
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, AJackson, Castro, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?