The LaStella Legacy
It wasn't exactly A Day that Will Live in Infamy, but a year ago today the Cubs traded Tommy LaStella to the Angels for a PTBNL (who turned out to be LHRP Conor Lillis-White).
LaStella was one of the best pinch-hitters in the National League and had one of the best single-seasons of pinch-hitting in Cubs history in 2018 (312/396/416 with 5 2B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 2 HBP, 9/13 BB/K in 79 PA with an MLB-leading and Cubs single-season club record 24 pinch-hits), and then he hit a robust 295/346/488 with 16 HR in 80 games for LAA this past season (where he was the Angels' everyday 2B for the first half of the campaign, before missing the second half after suffering a broken leg on 7/2).
However, despite trading LaStella, the Cubs did have four of the better pinch-hitters in the National League (including two of the top six) in 2019.
Unfortunately, they also had five of the worst (including - THE - worst), which left them in the bottom third of the league overall in pinch-hitting
Cubs pinch-hitters in 2019 (sorted by PA, minimum 10 PA):
Tony Kemp: 290/421/548 with 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 HBP, 5/7 BB/K (38 PA combined HOU/CHC)
Daniel Descalso: 065/143/065 with 0 XBH, 1 RBI, 1 SF, 1 SH, 3/12 BB/K (36 PA)
David Bote: 304/407/435 with 3 2B, 4 RBI, 4/7 BB/K (27 PA)
Victor Caratini: 421/522/789 with 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1 HBP, 3/5 BB/K (23 PA)
Albert Almora: 105/190/263 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 HBP, 1/4 BB/K (21 PA)
Mark Zagunis: 176/333/176 with 3 RBI, 4/12 BB/K (21 PA)
Ian Happ: 375/421/813 with 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SF, 2/6 BB/K (19 PA)
Kyle Schwarber: 000/143/000 with 2/5 BB/K (14 PA)
Robel Garcia: 111/200/111/000 with 1/6 BB/K (10 PA)
Part of the value of bench players (especially in the N. L.) is the ability to pinch-hit (that is, hit "cold" of the bench), and the Cubs clearly had four guys who did that in 2019.
Of course other elements like positional versatility, defensive skill, and speed are factors in bench construction, too, but having reliable "bats off the bench" who can produce in the late innings can be the difference between winning or losing a close game.
Imagine how things might have been different in 2019 if the "All-American automatic out" that was Daniel Descalso is replaced on the bench by Tommy LaStella.
With the new 26-man roster rule scheduled to go into effect in 2020 (with the 26th man required to be a position-player), N. L. clubs will be better able to carry guys who can hit off the bench even if they don't provide any other value to the club (which is essentially LaStella's profile).
Hagsag 6 hours 55 min ago (view)
Is AZ Phil okay?
crunch 9 hours 13 min ago (view)
gene clines has died.
he was with the organization on/off for a notable amount of time as both a player and coach.
crunch 2 days 6 hours ago (view)
sammy sosa off the HOF ballot after 10 years. he finishes up with a 18.5% vote, highest in any year.
crunch 2 days 8 hours ago (view)
cubs sign 31 year old eric yardley to a minor league deal.
he's a 31 year old righty that throws sub-90mph junk.
Sonicwind75 2 days 9 hours ago (view)
Thank you for sharing Mike. Sounds like the former owner was a high character human being and should be celebrated. Haven't had a chance to attend a game there since I moved away from Des Moines in 2007 but recall it being a great ballpark experience. Has there been any word of the new owners making any major changes?
crunch 5 days 3 hours ago (view)
a 22 month old.
a'ite. i'm done with Earth. going to Pluto. don't bother visiting or calling. later.
Cubster 1 week 1 day ago (view)
Jason Schmidt signs with Dodgers, 3/44.
crunch 1 week 1 day ago (view)
20 year, 800m contract incoming...front loaded 150m over the first 2 years with a player opt out after that...
videographer 1 week 1 day ago (view)
Darth Vader to rescue Carlos Correa's bruised ego.
crunch 1 week 1 day ago (view)
carlos correa has hired scott boras...
bradsbeard 1 week 2 days ago (view)
The IFA market isn't exactly an equal access thing. Not only do the Cubs have a slightly smaller bonus pool than some teams, players are often linked to teams through their trainers well before they are able to sign. It's not like when these kids are 14 that the teams know for sure that they have a top of the class player on their hands two years in the future.
Wrigley Rat 1 week 2 days ago (view)
Cubbies.4ever - I read that the Cubs strategy with international free agents has been to spend most of their bonus money on young, position players and then take chances on cheaper, older pitching prospects who have been late bloomers (taller, stronger, more command of pitches, etc.). They are also grabbing guys at the end of the international signing period and signing them to future service contracts. They have six pitchers that were signed last year to future service contracts, and only one position player.
cubbies.4ever 1 week 2 days ago (view)
Cubs IFA Signings are heavy on SS (given SS usually can play many positions as the develop), but only 1 pitcher. Given it's still early. Also disappointing that their best signing is #18. Gone are the days of Soler, Eloy, Torres, Marquez, Amaya etc. I believe Christian Hernandez last year was highly rated though.
Wrigley Rat 1 week 3 days ago (view)
One more international free agent signing announced today: Daniel Benschop, OF, Aruba
bradsbeard 1 week 3 days ago (view)
I hope all is well with AZ Phil. Hasn't posted in a few weeks and typically would expect him to have a post up tracking IFA signings. Maybe he's waiting for something official from the Cubs (who don't seem to have announced any of the signings officially)?