Soriano by the Pitches

Hoping to understand Alfonso Soriano's hot and cold streaks this year, I turned to the incomparable Fan Graphs to break down his present and historical success against different pitches.  The results suggest that Soriano is losing the skill that made him one of the more feared hitters in the game, but that he might have found a method to compensate for this loss.  Below is a chart showing the percentage of fastballs Soriano has seen each year since 2005, with 2009 broken down per month. It also shows his ranking among hitters seeing the fewest fastballs, his "runs above average"  number on fastballs, (wFastball) and how high he ranks among all hitters, and his overall OPS. (As in, not specific to fastballs)  The most important thing to notice here is his wFB rank.

 

Date  Fastball%  FB% Rank  wFastball wFB Rank  OPS
2005  47.9  147/147  27.6  15/147  .821

2006

 54.1  150/159  23.7  25/159  .911
2007  54  150/161  23.3  27/161  .897
2008  53.2  134/145  17.9  38/145  .876
April 2009  45.9  196/197  3.3  55/197  .965

May 2009

 43  185/185  3.6  60/185  .657
June 2009  49.1  180/184  2.4  72/184  .585
July 2009  44.8  190/190  .7  112/190  .992
August 2009  36.7  179/190  -.6  156/190  .220

 

You probably have noticed a couple of striking trends going on here.  First, Soriano has progressively moved from being one of the most effective hitters in baseball against the fastball to being quite pedestrian. Second, pitchers have not noticed and adapted to this change:  They contiue to avoid throwing fastballs to Soriano as if he were the same hitter he was in 2005.  He's not.

So how do we explain Soriano's April and July, when he hit like the hitter for whom the Cubs offered that premium contract?

Finding  that answer requres looking at Soriano's results swinging at sliders.

 Date Slider % SL % Rank wSlider  wSL Rank  OPS

2005

 26.6  1/147  -6.9  140/147  .821
 2006  21.3  9/158  -2.9  119/159  .911
 2007  20.2  12/161  -7.9  154/161  .897
 2008  22.9  5/145  -2.1  92/145  .876
 April 2009  22.7  13/197  2.5  15/197  .965
 May 2009  26.4  5/185  -2.4  167/185  .657
 June 2009  24.3  11/184  -5.4  183/184  .585
 July 2009  25.6  6/190  3.9  4/190  .992
 August 2009  43.4  5/190  -.8  166/175

.220

 

It makes sense that if pitchers fear Soriano's ability to hit the fastball, they would throw him an inordinate number of sliders, and indeed the table indicates Soriano consistently sees among the most sliders in the game.  Throughout his career Soriano has proven to be one of the weaker hitters against sliders.

This potentially could be a toxic combination: A fastball hitter who no longer can hit fastballs, and still doesn't see any fastballs to boot.  But then look at the two months this year that Soriano has hit: April and July.  The numbers indicate that Soriano's output isn't due to hitting fastballs with the authority to which he is accustomed; instead he's hitting sliders in a way that he previously did not.  Well.

Of course, other factors might be at work as well, but if so I have yet to find an obvious candidate.  Such marked changes do not appear when looking at Soriano's results against other pitch types.  Neither does plate discipline seem to be the issue. Soriano is both swinging at fewer pitches outside of the strikezone this year, and making more contact when he does swing - both at pitches inside and out of the zone, and it shows no meaningful fluctuation from month to month in 2009.  His BABIP shows severe fluctuations from month to month, but that appears to be driven by corresponding changes in his line-drive percentage, so there's nothing unusual there.  

Assuming that these stats do reveal a truth about the real world (I know, I know), there are several questions to consider going forward.  Most obvious, what is the cause behind Soriano's diminish returns against fastballs?  Is it that he now has a "slider speed bat"?  Is it a matter of approach at the plate, where he has stopped guessing fastball in order to better hit the breaking stuff?  The latter can be fixed, the former, not so much.  Looking at how consistent the downward trend is, my hunch is that it's the former, a slow erosion in the speed of his bat.  If it's the former, and Soriano is losing some quickness in the swing, will we see him move away from his preference for heavy bats?  And will he be able to compensate by consistently hitting sliders with the results found in April and July?  Then, there are questions concerning how pitchers resond.  At what point will pitchers adjust to the fact that Soriano does not hit fastballs with the authority he once did, and adjust their pitch selection? There may be a lot riding on these questions.

 

Update: I was unaware of it as I wrote, but less than a month ago R.J. Anderson at Fan Graphs wrote about how few fastballs Soriano sees.  He doesn't mention either Soriano's historical trend of diminishing results on the fastball, or the weird fluctuations this year on the sliders; instead he reaffirms the notion that Soriano is a good fastball hitter and the problem is in the dearth of fastballs he sees. I think he may be wrong there, but I should at least try to be a good scholar and cite the work.

 

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Comments

I'm going to bed.

imo...

soriano has always played at the plate (and still does) standing at the very front of the box.

this lets him takes hacks at offspeed stuff before/early in the break.

he swings a bat damn hard/fast for a guy with this frame. this has allowed him to stand in the front of the box and still catch up with those fastballs rather than so many blowing by him.

as far as if his bat speed really is diminishing or it's some kinda hand/eye contact issue...i dunno. a guy that Ks as much as he does is expected to take some ugly swings, but in some of these foul-off-fests he's making contact with stuff he'd drive in years past only to find himself poking it foul being late.

i blame larry rothschild and the assistant groundskeeper.

Excellent piece, Trans. I'd think the declining bat speed hypothesis is correct. Soriano's almost a pure reaction hitter, placing a heavy burden on his athleticism. Now that he's on the wrong side of 30, his reliance on see ball-hit ball becomes a liability.

Decision on BJ coming soon too?

from sun-times notes:

Lefty B.J. Ryan, the former All-Star closer the Cubs signed when Toronto released him last month, pitched another scoreless inning for Class AAA Iowa, striking out one and walking one. He hasn't allowed a run in five appearances, including three of the last four days.

Neat. Call him up. Then Hendry just needs a couple more lefties and his nefarious plan to convert the bullpen to all lefties will be complete. Bwah-ha-ha-ha... *wrings hands together menacingly*

No seriously, though, another effective or semi-effective lefty in the pen would be nice.

Wow. Really interesting post, Trans, and written at 1am, it ascends to the rank of superb. (Like a well executed dive with a high degree of difficulty.)

I wonder to what degree moving to a lighter bat allows an older player to compensate for loss of bat speed. If I had to guess, it would be some, but less than one might imagine (or, in Soriano's case, less than Cub fans would hope). And he has all of those years still left on that contract.

Additionally, I have this suspicion that Soriano would no more readily move to a lighter bat--and thus concede his aging--than Lou was willing to move him out of the leadoff spot.

Thanks again for the piece.

Not sure what got into me, but it kept me up way past my bedtime.  Maybe it's as simple as Crunch's suggestion of moving back in the box?  It'd seem to make him even more vulnerable to breaking stuff, however.

Moving back in the box might make him more vulnerable to breaking pitches, but it would also give him that extra split second to recognize a breaking pitch (something he clearly has trouble doing).

I wish we lived in the future and had some kind of supercomputer to model these hypotheticals for us (like taking an ounce off his bat and moving him a foot back in the box).

When Soriano heats up, you might as well throw the numbers out. As late as this April Soriano was crunching any kind of pitch... slider, fastball, changeup, it just didn't matter.

When he's slumping though (and his slumps are as inevitable as his hot streaks) he'll wave at a slider no matter how far off the plate it is.

I think he'll put to rest this talk of declining bat speed very soon.

I'd wager ye be a bit overly-optimistic.

Clearly Soriano, has a history of streakiness, but Trans is looking at long term trends. He's been streaky over the course of individual seasons. But the trend over the last several seasons is that he does less and less with the fastball.

670 WSCR will be interviewing Randy Wells "soon" (which in radiospeak could be anywhere from 4 minutes to 30 minutes from now). Here's a link to the Internet radio feed.

Aww SANP!

Isn't this all just Billy Beane-speak for saying the dude got a lot bigger contract than he should have gotten?

Seriously, nice analysis. If he can't hit sliders as he gets older he is totally fucked cuz most hitters past a certain age (they all have different peaks) can't turn on good fastballs at some point. He's got such good wrist movement though I'm a bit surprised by this. Hmmm, now that I think about it maybe his wrists are a little less Ernie Bankish this year.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=Aid75T.XzD4j...

"Average slider from the Chicago Cubs’ Angel Guzman(notes): 90.2 mph."

"[The league b]est slider is Ryan Dempster, whose 15.6 runs-above-average pitch is well ahead of second-place Zack Greinke."

I'm not a big stats guy (in fact, I barely understand them), but that article had some pretty cool stuff in it, like this:

"19) Hitting a fastball is not imperative. Just ask the Pittsburgh Pirates.

You figure that during the Pirates’ fire sale they would manage to upgrade offensively from their former shortstop, Jack Wilson(notes), whose anemic 11.2 runs below average on fastballs personified the franchise quite well. But no. They replaced him with Ronny Cedeno(notes), who in just over 200 at-bats is 17.9 runs below average. His 3.46 runs below per 100 fastballs is the worst in baseball, and scouts recognize it: Cedeno sees almost 70 percent fastballs because he can’t touch them."

I don't even care, I'd take Jack Wilson and move the riot back to 2B in a heartbeat. Talk about a guy that gets after the ball... He's one of my favorite active SS. Sure, he'll never be on my fantasy team, but he's a human highlight reel.

What a great article.

http://www.insidesocal.com/dodgers/2009/08/firewor...

Can we label Prince Fielder as crazy now?

nice article Trans...I find the disconnect between April and August though to be most concerning. If he really did figure out how to hit slider betters, I find it hard to believe he figured it out, forgot for 2-3 months and then figured it out again.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy him not sucking.

Yeah, that's my main reservation with my own study here, as well.  How likely is it that he's beginning to learn to hit sliders, but isn't able to consistently replicate it?  It's possible, at least, and I find it more likely than any other alternative explanation,but I'm also not completely sold on it...

I think explanation and Soriano are allergic to each other.

Wow, what were they thinking.

Here is another head line that is more of a happy coincidence than inappropriate.

http://www.lucianne.com/thread/?artnum=484973

Heh. Click through to the original article (Richardson's link) and see the bland headline they hurriedly put up in its place.

This all could be due to "the age 33 effect on great hitters" described by Bill James.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/joe_...

Maybe Soriano just needs to work through it. But if I were Jim Hendry I'd get his eyes checked especially for farsightedness which would cause the ball to go out of focus the closer it gets to the plate.

farsightedness which would cause the ball to go out of focus the closer it gets to the plate.
---
reading glasses?...shhh, don't tell him it says "Rawlings" when they give him the reading test.

http://www.autograph-supply.com/Supply/LargeImage/...

Mechanical problems can also contribute to being unable to hit fastballs. It's not necessarily a symptom of aging.

Certainly.  But a mechanical problem that's apparently gotten progressively worse, like clockwork, for four years?  Not so sure.

When you did your doctoral thesis were you allowed to present evidence like the difference between 2006 and 2007 as significant?

There was also the change in leagues between 2005 and 2006, which could explain that variation.

Did you really just try to make some snarky suggestion that the analytical rigor of an article
on a baseball blog that I put together in 2 hours late one night is
some sort of  insight into the rigor I gave over the five years I spent on
the thesis that likely would make or break my professional life?

 

I do not imagine that you would want any single contribution you've made to The Cub Reporter to stand as a proxy for the sum of your own professional life. 

Every single post I make equals the effort I put into every single paper I wrote in grad school.

Balls.

[edit] Maybe that's why my job sucks.

Well, I know I judge Dr. Hecht's skills at practicing medicine by whether or not I agree with his views on Ryan Theriot.

 

Heh, this is fun.

Darryl Strawberry waves 'hi'.

No, that doesn't make any sense.

What I am suggesting is that if you learn something in school, you apply it to things outside of school. For instance, when you come to a sign when you're driving that says 'Stop', you don't drive through it thinking "well, I learned to read at school, they certainly can't expect me to apply those lessons to everything else in my life, reading is only for school". Your excuse here is as likely to get by me, as it is to get you out of a moving violation citation.

Ok, I'll accept your tacit retraction of your original snark, and
respond to this bit of snark.

 

Among the things I've learned along the
way is that whenever I can't be 100% certain in the conclusions I'm
drawing from the data, I ought to say as much. A qualified conclusion
is more defensible, if less sexy, than an absolute statement of fact.

 

Now, go look at the number of qualifications and caveats I made in the
original entry.

 

OK Trans. I will turn on my psychic antenna so that I know which things you say you don't really mean.

To recap:

1. People are assuming correlation is causation, based primarily on the data in the article.
2. I point out that correlation is not causation.
3. Trans says 'but yeah, it's really correlated'
4. I point out that it's not really that correlated, and wonder why trans thinks it is, when he should know better.
5. Trans' panties get twisted, and it changes the argument, and constructs a strawman
6. I point out the flaw in Trans's 2nd argument
7. Trans says 'I wasn't really arguing the first thing, anyway, quit picking on me', and presumably unwinds his panties.

Here's what has my proverbial panties in a bunch:

 

You disagree with my tentative conclusions.  Great.  You've explained why, and offered your alternative assessment.  Great.  We can let TCR sort out whom they find more persuasive.

 

The problem I have is with your bringing my real-world life into your disagreement.  You want to disagree with what I write here, that's great.  But calling into question my competency in my real-world profession, something that also happens to be one of the guiding joys of my life, is entirely beyong the pale of what's acceptable around here.  If you don't like those standards, you're free to find another Cubs' blog.  It will not be tolerated here.

And don't you dare bring up the Chicago Bears!!

;-)

There is a right way and a wrong way to disagree or make a point and TCR posters vary in their level of tact.

Fuck you, Ryno.

(Joking. Someone had to.)

Just to clarify, is it beyond the pale of what's acceptable in Parachat? If so, I'll need to go back to my comedy writing team and have them redo some of my material for tonight.

Just so you know, I had a doozy of a joke that tied your professional acumen to a midget gay witch with cancer and a mustache.

Back to the drawing board.

I don't know, he seems pretty proud of the Skinny Dick thing.

Whereas you can't seem to get thoughts of it out of your head.

I see what you did there. Classy, as per.

Ankiel is doing his best to help the Cubs today, wandering aimlessly around in CF while balls drop in.

Nice to see a correction to Lhose's and Piniero's ERA now that the slipper has fallen off of Wellemeyer.

Ankiel's going to be an interesting FA this off-season.

Well, I know I judge Dr. Hecht's skills at practicing medicine by whether or not I agree with his views on Ryan Theriot.

Heh, this is fun.
---
...that's not fair, it's much harder to reply in a timely manner to snarky remarks while I'm scrubbed in surgery. At any rate, my Theriot views are less important than my dislike for Heilman when it comes to evaluating my surgical skills.

Bringing this discussion full circle, Do World Class Surgeons start to lose it at age 33?

How would Cubster know?

Ya burned!

Muskat sees Aaron Miles at the GABP... Seems like Stevens must be headed back to IA... Any other guesses?

makes no sense...stevens has had a week off, he's ready to pitch again.

24 man roster is hell...they should let the cubs have 25 men like the rest of baseball.

Cubs just released BJ Ryan according to Gordon Wittenmyer. His Twitter says:

"Ryan asked for his release and was granted it today. Felt his velocity and sharpness wouldn't get there."

Now that I read it again, I assume he's talking about BJ and not Theriot or Dempster.

good luck finding that september callup bj...have fun with that 86-88mph fastball and lack of control.

per the next wittenmeyer twitter:

Miles gives Theriot day off. Lineup: fuky, miles, lee, rami, milt, sori, font, hill, harden

Sweet mother of Allah, how can Miles be back here? I know he was being a good sport and sticking at Iowa, but he couldn't even hit down there. I had a bad feeling we would see him back ASAP once Blanco got his mystery injury.

Miles hit .253/.267/.299 in 87 ab's at Iowa.

That's worse than Neifi Perez' last year with the Cubs....
.254/.266/.343 against far better pitchers than Miles was facing down there.

theriot got NAILED on the wrist early in yesterday's game...it led to later lobbing a throw without strength to 1st on a play he got an error on.

no SS to be had and miles is up out of necessity. he's batting 2nd because only dusty does that and dusty is the manager of the cubs forever and ever.

The release of BJ Ryan seems weird to me. The Blue Jays originally released him because his velocity was down and he wasn't getting hitters out.

He must have thought he still had something to contribute because he signed a minor league deal with the Cubs and set out to work on his mechanics. Cubs officials fell all over themselves to say that Ryan was intent on working things out "the right way." At one point, someone with the Cubs said Ryan's problems were more mental than mechanical, which made it sound like he could get things turned around pretty quickly.

In short order, Ryan went from Mesa to AAA and he was apparently pitching well. Reports were that he would be joining the big team soon if he continued on the path he was on. Instead, he asks for his release. Seems weird.

Saying that not only was BJ Ryan released, but so was Jason Waddell. Also, Stevens is the one going back down to AAA. So, we're minus two lefties for the day... Seems pretty odd to me...

There are a few Cub/former Cub players that make me physically ill - warranted or not - it just is what it is:

Aaron Mild

Hurl-man

Will Oh-Man!

As far as I know, not one beat reporter has pressed Hendry on why the hell he thought Aaron Miles was a "bargain" at $2.7MM for two years - or whatever the actual amount is.

This is a player that should be on the bench of the Padres in their current form, or the Nats, or even the Reds. NOT on a team like the Cubs in a pennant run.

How Tony LaRussa got the numbers he did out of Miles continues to proliferate his mythic proportions in my mind. Astounding.

Royals DFA'd Ryan Freel.

.244/.306/.289 in 18 games this season.

Lou on pregame said Lilly had an excellent bullpen session and is well ahead of schedule.

MLB Network has picked up Saturday night's Cubs/Rockies game.

*sees Aaron Miles on the lineup card*

*punches wall*

Tito:

Fuck you, Ryno.

At least buy me dinner first.

hmm...umm...

well...

uh...

gregg had a decent outting at least.

Cubs hitters get two days off. Should be well rested for Colorado.

Shut out by Justin Lehr? Who? With the only extra base hit coming by Rich Harden?

That's embarrassing.

Ah well, on to Colorado this is a pretty big series, need at least a split to at least have a .500 road trip.

it's pretty pathetic. guy was getting the cubs to swing at bad stuff not even on the plate (and stuff on the plate) without doing much with it. 70-87mph stuff all night...yeesh.

that low 70s curve fooled almost everyone.

Lehr's a nice story, one of those prospects who never got any hype and just got promoted by simply doing his job every time out.

I wonder how different things could've been for this team if they'd taken AZ Phil's advice to trade/nontender Harden and keep DeRo.

PROSPECT?!!

Lehr's a 32 year old AAAA BUM who should have retired years ago.

That was an absolutely pathetic performance by the Cubs offense yesterday. Shameless!

It is not unusual for any MLB team, frankly.

Unless a team has superior advanced scouting (which the Cubs do not seem to have), these things happen more than you would think. The Astros AAA pitcher last week is an example when he pitched against the Cards, I believe.

In watching the Cubs since 1968, I'd have to say that when they face a "no-name" or AAA pitcher for the first time, more than not it seems as if they have problems.

And, particularly with junk-ballers.

I think SHAMEFUL is the overly melodramatic word you're looking for.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CIN/1988.s...

that team got shutout by some nobody rookie.

that guy's name?

Jeff Pico

I blame Miles.

Why is Aaron Miles still a big leaguer?

2009 numbers:
MLB 198/235/254
AAA 253/267/299

... it's the PCL, folks. He can't hit in the PCL league. AAA Iowa was probably glad he was called up just to get him out of the lineup.

Maybe Aaron Miles contributes in other ways...

Cubs record...
57-49

When Aaron Miles starts...
14-17

I hate this signing... I hate him as a player... I hate that the Cubs front office hasn't cut him yet. He is the worst player the Cubs have had since Enrique Wilson. Yes, he's even worse than Neifi!

It is really weird that early this AM, when struggling to get up, I wondered what the Cubs record was with Aaron Mild starting. And you printed it!

Blech!

Another LaRussa mystery.

Maybe LaRussa secretly tortures players that do not perform well?

I'm in your head.

Or, I'm in yours.

...

Touché

Brad Snyder back in the lineup for Iowa tonight. His previous game was May 18.

Esmailin Caridad livened up the box score tonight with 12 K's in 6 innings.

livened up the box score tonight...
---
John Gaub added another scoreless inning (with 2 K's) to his already miniscule ERA now below 0.66. Anyone who's seen him pitch for the I-Cubs care to assess how close he is to being the extra lefty out of the pen now that BJ Ryan's out of the picture?

http://withleather.uproxx.com/2009/08/livin-the-dr...

no idea what this is for, but some funny moments with Rollins and Howard...

750K? damn.

cubs now got their 1st 12 picks signed. sweet.

i hope bj dail (17th round) signs. he's had a rough time the past few years, but his stock is low enough to make him a deal.

he's behind his childishness (hopefully). he's made 2 seriously stupid mistakes with his life the past few years (with many more minor ones) and it seems he's got a little more respect for his own life now.

-edit-

nevermind...just noticed he was signed, but his contract was voided. no f'n comment...the stupid kid.

Harden not pleased with team effort yesterday, from Sun Times-

''That's the key: bring some intensity out there. That's just what we lacked today. We just didn't have it. Guys were taking a day off a little too early.''

I jumped off parachat before Sori got picked off, when it happen Bob said to Len "you know what I said about having a feel for the game?" Implying Sori doesn't.

Bob is right.

Submitted by Jace on Wed, 08/05/2009 - 4:24pm.
Saying that not only was BJ Ryan released, but so was Jason Waddell. Also, Stevens is the one going back down to AAA. So, we're minus two lefties for the day... Seems pretty odd to me...

================================================

JACE: The Jason Waddell release had nothing to do with his performance on the field. Think about when he was placed on the DL for "non-baseball related issues" a couple of months ago and then it might not seem so odd that he suddenly got released for no apparent reason.

The Trib said it was for "violating team regulations."

He was DLed for non-baseball medical reasons and then released for violating team policy. So we still have no idea what the DL stint was for, but he recovered and was optioned to Iowa, and then didn't give up a run in 11 innings and then was released for violating team policy. My guess: he's a drunk, got in a bar fight the first time and got injured, then wasn't supposed to do that shit again and was caught.

Did he bang Cindy Sandberg too?

Thats Gold Jerry! Gold!

Does anyone know why Jay Jackson was demoted to Daytona?

Jay Jackson was demoted for disciplinary reasons. Bruce Miles mentioned it in one of his blogs or comments in his blogs. He didn't have any details. That's Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald for the out of towners.

Here's a link on Jay Jackson (if it works):

http://blogs.dailyherald.com/node/2360

Yous donts haves to call him Jay....

Here's the latest from Daytona about it TJ.

http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnlin...

I think one thing yesterday's game proved is that Mike Fontenot does not belong in the major leagues. That he's the regular second baseman for a team that calls itself a contender is embarrassing.

In sad news:

Rest in peace John Hughes. I don't know if he was a Cub fan but he certainly had the right idea in send Ferris Bueller to Wrigley Field.

Thanks to all for the Jackson update.

John Hughes must have been a Cub fan. Several of his movies had Cub references, i,e, Sixteen Candles, Family Vacation, Ferris Buehler. I know he lived in Lake Forest for awhile and may still have been.

I think Hughes lived in NY, but still owned a farm somewhere in Northern Illinois. I know he was in NY when he died.

The NY Times .com article said he "lived on a farm in northern Illinois"

I thought he lived in a van down by the river.

5 ip so far, 2 ER, 4 K, 0 BB versus Dbacks and Scherzer...

Fontenot isn't the only subtraction Hendry (or hopefully new ownership/management) needs to make this off-season. Here's my cheat sheet for Jimbo or the new GM:

GONE -- Heilman, Harden, Gregg, Chad Fox (please, no more), Koyie Hill, Miles, Baker, Bradley, and Reed Johnson. Some are FA's, the rest trade, non-tender, waive outright..........I don't care as long as I don't have to watch them in Cubs pinstripes anymore. I would re-sign Johnson at a reasonable salary ($3-4M per year - limit 2 years), and I would keep my mind open on Grabow if he finishes the season strong.

Next years roster if I was GM:

P--Zambrano, Lilly, Dempster, Wells, Gorzelany, Grabow, Marshall, Marmol, Guzman, Samardzija, Stevens, and Gaub.
C--Soto, Clevenger
IF--Lee, Theriot (2b), Castro (ss), Ramirez, Barney, Hoffpauir
OF--Soriano, Fukudome, J. Fox, Snyder, Fuld

Payroll would be between $115-120M (room to add at trade deadline), yes Castro would be a gamble but read Daytona's manager's report on him, NTC contracts still make up most of the payroll hence the bench/bullpen number of rookie/non-veterans, and if they have to eat the $22.7M owed to Bradley and Mills then all the more reason to kick Hendry to the curb.

For the record, I don't hate Hendry or wish him gone. However, the mistakes in his track record demonstrate he needs senior management oversight from someone who knows baseball better than Crane Kenney.

I mostly agree with you on the moves but Samardzija has to go. At the very least he needs to go to Iowa and pray he finds control. He's another train wreck that doesn't belong on a major league roster.

I doubt Castro will be ready to hit major league pitching that soon.

it would really suck to see Rich Harden strike out 10+ guys per nine innings again for the Cubs...that would be terrible.

Pretty strong feeling that Wells won't be this good ever again and I hope you have something on Gorzelanny past one good start against a horrible offensive team.

Glowing reports in Daytona does not equal major league quality player...at least not yet. He's got 34 errors already this season at SS, let's make sure he can actually play the position before handing him the job.

And for all the hand-wringing over Milton Bradley, he's getting on-base and last I checked scoring runs  is as important as driving them in. He's having an off-year, no one is doubting that, but tossing $20M+ down the drain is borderline insane. But I assume you had Fukudome's bags packed last season as well...

Of course, Harden also leads the staff in HR allowed, has a 4.41 ERA, and is not real consistent..

Agreed on Bradley....so hit him 2nd instead of 5th, and let him get on base to his heart's content. If he's going to hit 5th...try driving in some runs.

Castro might be a good idea...in another season or 2...

Most of us would have driven Fukudome to the airport after last season..

I don't think Harden should be resigned just because of the injury risk, but if he accepts arbitration. I'd be more than fine with it.

When you can strike out 10+ per 9 innings, you have something special, the HR's rate this year seems like an outlier for him. And he's been amazing in the second half.

But saying I don't ever want to see him in a Cubs uniform sounded kind of ridiculous.

I've noticed more often than not, comments made in the heat of an argument tend to be almost invariably the person's true feelings. When Lou told Bradley, "...you're not a ballplayer, you're a piece of shit!" I believe Lou really believes that; and with Lou having over 40 years in professional baseball I'm inclined to agree with his assessment of Bradley. Lou didn't want Bradley, he wanted Ibanez and that's pretty well documented. Bradley wasn't brought here to dazzle the lineup with his OBA, he was brought here to drive in runs in the middle of the order preferably against right-handed pitching. How's that working out? He was a mistake, Rob, albeit a $30M mistake but a mistake nonetheless. So, yes, I would pull the plug and try to trade him (best case) or release him. It looks like some combination of Fox/Fuld/Snyder would produce as many runs as Bradley has or would.

Fukudome -- I thought after the second half of 2008, the Cubs might have over-estimated his potential (yeah, that doesn't happen too often...does it?). Here again, Lou doesn't get the credit he deserves by (first) moving him to CF, (second) batting 2nd, then leadoff after moving Fonzie to 6th, and (third) putting him in pitching matchups where he can best succeed. Also, give Kosuke some credit for working on his game this off-season. The Cubs might have a CF who can hit .275 with a .350/.375 OBA and 15 HR/ 70 RBI who's a damn good defensive outfielder. $12M is a little high for that production but a lot of CF's with those numbers get $7-9M/year.

Castro -- yes, it's a reach to move to the show next year. I'd be fine with Blanco at 2B until help is ready at AAA or AA. I can't watch people who offend my baseball sensibilities over 162 games again (i.e. Fontenot, Miles, etc.).

Harden -- you can't build an effective starting rotation around a guy you know at Opening Day will only start 25-28 games a year. He has a shoulder that could blow at any point and the Cubs medical people and Hendry know this. After the playoffs, goodbye Rich......good luck.

Wells/Gorzelany -- short answer: who knows? Based on contracts and performance these guys probably come back: Z, Lilly, Dempster, Wells, Marmol, Guzman, Marshall, Samardzija ($2.5M whether he plays in Chicago or Iowa). I would re-sign Grabow if he continues to perform this well and the money/length work. Stevens, Gaub, Gorzelany, Atkins probably are in the mix for the final spots.

Here again, Lou doesn't get the credit he deserves by (first) moving
him to CF, (second) batting 2nd, then leadoff after moving Fonzie to
6th, and (third) putting him in pitching matchups where he can best
succeed.

Probably not getting credit because it's the same Lou that batted Fuku 5th for a good part last year and won't move Bradley out of the middle of the order.

So, yes, I would pull the plug and try to trade him (best case) or
release him. It looks like some combination of Fox/Fuld/Snyder would
produce as many runs as Bradley has or would.

Fox might do as well with the bat, but you have to play defense. Fuld and Snyder is quite a helluva reach there...kind of an absurd reach.

Bradley's having a tough season, I'm not going to argue that, Alou had a tough season his first year with the Cubs (as did some other FA signings with the Cubs) but at least Bradley is still doing things to help the team. He's not driving the ball the way they wanted him too, but a .389 OBP is not easy to come by. Hopefully Lou realizes that batting him 2nd is the right thing until he shows some power. Trading him is fine, maybe even eat a few million, but releasing him is downright retarded.

Not that there is any danger of this happening, but I don't think sending Castro to the majors in 2010 will yield good results immediately or in the future.

I think about it a bit like training singers. There are some people out there with voices so beautiful you want to immediately have them singing arias. But proper training would help to prevent them from forming bad habits (harmful to the vocal chords, etc.) and, frankly, if they don't have the training in vocal control, intonation, etc., they're going to run into problems. He's already being rushed through the minors. Let's not have him skip AAA altogether. It'd be best if he spends a full year at AAA at some point, or at least a full year at AA and a partial year at AAA.

It's not like he's demolishing the minors, either. We're mostly excited about him because of his potentials. He's been caught stealing a bunch and while his rate stats are good, they aren't amazing. He's still learning from his time down there, and I don't think he'd outperform either Theriot or Blanco at this point.

So he was a little like Kyle Farnsworth the only difference
being Farnsworth would have hurt someone else

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