The Cubs Sign Their X-Factor
Tim Brown of Yahoo breaks the story that the Cubs have signed outfielder Xavier Nady on a one year deal...dollar amount yet to be determined (likely in the 3-4.5M range according to Levine). Out of the names mentioned so far - Jermaine Dye, Rocco Baldelli, and Johnny Gomes, Nady was probably my preference on the assumption that he's recovered fully from his second Tommy John Surgery. According to Tim Brown, the physical is later this week but Nady's been throwing regularly and without problems. Before we get into the player, let's talk about the injury. Dr. Hecht in the comments dropped this note about having multiple TJ surgeries yesterday.
The basic operation takes a tendon graft from the forearm from a small tendon called the palmaris longus.
On a second surgery they have to take a graft from somewhere else. Other sites are available (the other arm or a tendon from the calf (plantaris) but that means he's gonna have two limbs involved to recovery. I'm not sure why his graft failed but it's pretty unusual for this to happen (expecially when it's not a pitcher). This would make me a bit leary too (Chad Fox alert!) but my guess is he'll be OK.
As for the player, Nady is best in right and left field, but has played 82 games at first base, 45 in center field and even 3 games at third base. Chances are he'll stick to right, left and occasionaly first base and likely send Micah Hoffpauir to Triple A with Sam Fuld getting the roster spot as 5th outfielder and back-up center fielder although a poor showing in spring training or extremely strong one by Hoffpauir could change that.
Nady has a lifetime 108 OPS+ (.792), .342 woBA and is 31 years old. His walk rate of 5.8% per plate appearance is pretty poor and a 19.9% K rate isn't too great either. The projection systems on his Fangraphs page all peg him in the high 700 to low 800's in OPS. His main duty will be as platoon partner to Kosuke Fukudome and his 3-year splits are:
vs LHP: 278/358/454 812 in 227 AB's
vs RHP: 297/340/504 844 in 787 AB's
227 AB's isn't much to draw any firm conclusions upon, but it does appear that he's someone who you won't have to waste 2 players on in late-inning lineup juggling as he seems to handle righties just fine. His other main duty will be as pinch hitter where he's had all of 58 PA's for a 255/397/426 slash line. I assume if all goes right, he'd also be one of the candidates to DH in interleague games when that time comes.
Assuming Nady passes his physical and can make the throw from right field still, I think you have to like this signing. The Cubs aren't likely to get the player that tore it up for the Pittsburgh Pirates to start the 2008 season and ended with 25 HR's and 97 RBI's after being traded to the New York Yankess. But he's definitely shown enough with the bat that he should do more good than harm if he can handle not getting regular at-bats. And if something should happen to Soriano, Byrd, Fukudome, Lee or even Ramirez I suppose, the Cubs will have a very solid replacement ready to step in on a regular basis.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.