January, Chicago's Hottest Month of the Year
I love baseball newsy days in January. I love roster moves. You can see that I don't even mind listening to a baseball guru or two.
Fox's Baseball analyst, Ken Rosenthal was on WGN Radio's "Sports Central" show hosted by David Kaplan tonight. For those not able to listen, here's a summary of his take on all things recently swirling in Cubsville. He takes on Milton Bradley vs Lou Piniella (a dangerous mix). Could these two ever be as lovable as Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson in the 2003 film, Anger Management? Somehow, I just can't see LouPa getting Bradley to sing, "I Feel Pretty".
Plus a bit more on the shrinking odds to acquire some guy named Jake.
On to the details, after the jump...
David Kaplan: You're thoughts on Milton Bradley.
Ken Rosenthal: I love Milton Bradley, but wonder if Bradley can stay healthy playing RF. They've got to keep him on the field which is going to be the challenge. He is a guy who plays really hard and that's one reason he gets hurt a lot. Fans will like his fire and they are going to like a guy who led the AL in OPS, but they'll only like him if he's on the field producing.
Kaplan: Is Bradley a good teammate? People I respect around the game that I've called say he's an excellent team mate, just leave him alone and let him do his job.
Rosenthal: It may be a challenge for Lou Piniella to leave him alone. Bradley's primary goal is to win. Bradley had no problems with Ron Washington in Texas and Washington did really well with him. Lou can't rip him in public like he's done Fukudome. It's potentially a dangerous mix as Lou is volatile too. You can say the same things about Lou (his temperment) that you can say about Milton Bradley. Some thought he should go to Tampa with the DH, but you saw Tampa extended themselves financially to get Burrell $16M, so you can see why Bradley wanted to come to the Cubs as he almost got twice that much from the Cubs. Plus there is an appeal to every player to play with the Cubs. If they win you're a made man.
Kaplan: Handicap the Cubs today vs the end of the 2008 season.
Rosenthal: He likes where the Cubs are but he understands the criticism. Not a cop out, merely an acknowledgment of the value of DeRosa to the team. The reasons for the DeRosa trade were to
1) get more left handed (Miles, Fontenot, Bradley), they are much more of a balanced lineup then thay have been in the past. Even though they lead the NL in runs scored last year, they felt all season that their imbalance was not a good thing.
2) $ savings
3) DeRosa's is a free agent after this season and they wouldn't have DeRosa forever. The value they got back seemingly wasn't great but they won't know that for several years. They've reconfigured themselves to be a more of a balanced offense. If he stays on the field, Bradley is a dynamic offensive player and he's also what Cubs fans are looking for as far as on base skills. The key is keeping him going and if they do that Jim Hendry is going to look good.
Kaplan: Do you think a Peavy deal will occur?
Rosenthal: Now that the Padres ownership is going to change it's much less likely. New owner Jeff Moorad's first move is not likely to trade Peavy their best and most popular player. Can it still happen, Sure. Any owner who is logical about things can trade any player at any time if the value is proper. Given the PR damage the team has suffered all off-season it seems hard to believe the team is going to make this deal when they haven't made it under duress. He said his guess is that the odds of a trade happening have dropped to about a 10% chance.
Kaplan: When the Marquis and Bradley deals are finalized, do you believe the Cubs are done or will they get themselves another starting pitcher?
Rosenthal: I have a hard time believing they are going to pay big money for another starting pitcher, say Derek Lowe. The Dempster deal was a top of the market deal. The Bradley deal was sticker price. These are not bargain deals. If the (Cubs) ownership change happens and the new owners say get one more pitcher, then they might be in on Lowe.
Kaplan: Why give up Josh Vitters who they say is the jewel of the system or other prospects when you could keep those guys who cost you nothing and just sign Lowe, for less years and less money, a sinkerballer who would fit in at Wrigley?
Rosenthal: The answers are simple. Peavy is in the prime of his career. Lowe is 9 years older than Peavy. Peavy would probably be under contract for 4-5 years, you'd have to give him another year in a deal. Peavy is a young ace type pitcher. Lowe might be on the decline although he hasn't shown it yet.
This game is already bumming me out. Hope the Cubs brought their bats.
Just read that when Hendricks starts the Cubs have won 33 times in his first 50 games which is the best for any Cubs starter since the 1940s. So he might not be getting a ton of wins but he's at least leaving the team in a winnable spot
That and we've had a lot of terrible teams.
I agree, but just wanted to point out that Hendricks didn't really have a significant difference between his first and second half like Hammel did. Instead he had alternating good and below average months last year, without much fluctuation in his peripherals except a BB-heavy August and some up-and-down in opp avg. Mostly the team just couldn't win games for him in the months he pitched well. His 16 starts in May, July, and Sep/Oct (in which he limited opponents to OPS+ of 88, 75, and 44) resulted in a 4-2 record.
I think with Hammels and Hendricks struggles the 2nd half we forget how dominate of 1st halves they had and how many games they won us as the offense was struggling. We also forget they are back of the rotation guys and we can't be expecting ace quality there.
Maybe it's just Werth & Ross I'm noticing. Weird.
CRAIG: Jose Albertos is not chunky like Fernando. He's built more like Dylan Cease. Exact same body type. And his delivery is free & easy. He's definitely not a "max effort" guy.
Hendricks after 50 MLB starts: 17-11, 3.45 ERA, 1.12 WHIP. Not bad for a #5 starter. He may be a 6-inning max guy, but, if he can keep those stats up, I will gladly take it.
Speaking of WHIP -- last year, he was tied for 11th in the NL. Tied with Hammel.
Last year's NL rank in WHIP: Arrietta 2nd, Lester 9th, Haren 10th, Hammel T11th, Hendricks T11th. Wow.
I went to a Nats game in DC two years ago while looking at colleges with my son -- it's a fun park, worth a visit if you are in the area.
I also saw the "slowness" thing -- particularly Werth, who would mosey out of RF about 5 seconds before the inning started.
It's Dusty's fault. It'll be the end of them.
Speaking of how teams "look", my take on the Nats- It's really weird, but the pace of the entire team seems slow. Slow walking to the plate, slow on the mound, even on some routine groundouts, it looked as if there wasn't a ton of hustle. Don't get me wrong, when the ball is hit to their outfielders, they get after the ball, I'm really referring to non-critical action- they mosey around. It's kind of odd. Maybe that "calm power" is part of the Nats ethos, idk.
My favorite moment of Hendricks' performance last night was the last strikeout he rung up- the cajones it took to throw a high, 86MPH fastball to Zimmerman on a 0-2 count. And he swung the bat like it was a 96MPH heater. I literally laughed out loud.
In listening to Maddon's post-game, he is interested in how these other teams "look" to him. He is assessing for today...and tomorrow. I love this guy.
One observation from last night: Joe Ross is incredibly slow. 20-30 seconds between pitches at times. Hendrix had a nice, peppy rhythm which is great to see.
I know there are plenty of purists here which I applaud, but the game just will not sustain itself unless change of pace rules come into play. Pitch clock, improve the shit-ass reviews, mound visits (there is a clock for this), batter time outs, etc.
Thanks, Phil. Albertos at 17, and having gotten a good signing bonus ($1.5, even though as Mexican prospect I think his team gets half of that?), throwing in the 90's and showing some command of a curveball sounds pretty interesting, even if that control is only for a dozen-pitch sample.
What kind of a frame does he have? Is he on the stocky and short-ish side (I'm recalling Fernando Valenzuela!), or somewhat taller? A lot of 17-year olds have projection, "when he fills out" projection. Would that apply at all for Albertos?