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).
Arizona Phil 1 hour 20 min ago (view)
The fact hat the Cubs have not run him through waivers by now tells me the Cubs know Duane Underwood Jr is a lock to get claimed and so they are hoping to find a club that would be willing to give the Cubs something more than the $50,000 waiver price in return for Dunderwood (either more $$$ and/or a player).
Arizona Phil 2 hours 2 min ago (view)
Today's pitchers, most of them the same guys who threw last Tuesday:
COMMENT: This just in: Mills heater now sitting at 91!!!!... had two easy innings and looked very good... threw only a handful of his "Bugs Bunny curves" but they are fun to watch because hitters don't know how to deal with it... ...
Arizona Phil 2 hours 36 min ago (view)
DJL: Jason Adam sustained a right elbow fracture a few years ago and missed two full seasons, and when he returned to action he started using a "short-arm" delivery.
crunch 2 hours 36 min ago (view)
baez "soft tissue injury"...no biggie...it's spring. he'll be back in a day or 2.
crunch 4 hours 46 min ago (view)
kimbrel...K, single, HBP, 3 more hits...inning called due to pitch count. 4 earned.
also, baez removed after being HBP on the hand.
First.Pitch.120 10 hours 58 min ago (view)
Cotton McKnight: In 23 years of broadcasting I thought I'd seen it all, folks. But it looks like Peter La Fleur has actually blindfolded himself.
Pepper Brooks: He will not be able to see very well, Cotton.
First.Pitch.120 11 hours 3 sec ago (view)
Yes! Exactly... I'd love to be able to watch coverages in football or just key-in on a great WR to watch them work.
First.Pitch.120 11 hours 2 min ago (view)
Wow... this is the most engagement I have ever received on any topic on social media platform. Please stay tuned for my opinions on the Oxford Comma, the APA Style Manual for Academic Writing, and the auto-correct on my iPhone.
I am an awesome guy at parties....
bradsbeard 21 hours 26 min ago (view)
I watched some of the Puerto Rican Winter League games that Miguel Amaya played in this winter. At least one broadcast had a super wide shot for balls in play that let you see the OF and the baserunners at the same time. It was awesome.
Wrigley Rat 1 day 32 min ago (view)
3 dots on this evening's Cubs-Dodgers game - makes sense & they do color in the 3rd dot as they're going to commericals (Spectrum Sportsnet).
crunch 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
3 dot crew represent. i didn't have an opinion, but now i'm 100% on board.
Charlie 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
I agree on most of this, but I especially support three fillable dots for the outs--and fill in the third before cutting to a commercial!
Not doing homework on the players in a Spring Training broadcast is pretty forgiveable, but ESPN is really bad about it pretty much all year. It would be nice if they made a habit of picking up a local color commentator and sort of interviewing them throughout games.
George Altman 1 day 6 hours ago (view)
The single thing I want in a sports broadcast is to become smarter about the sport, to learn something from the broadcast crew.
Stone does that, Romo does that, Eddie O on hockey, and that's about it. I watch sporting events with the sound down very low or off. I forgot more about baseball than most broadcasters will ever know, and I'm always shocked when I see something in a football game that the crew doesn't, and I know about NOTHING about football.
First.Pitch.120 1 day 9 hours ago (view)
Also... what is with only having 2 dots as the outs counter? I know that you don't really need the 3rd dot, but I find it counter-intuitive. If the dots fill in, then only having 2 throws me off b/c it's natural to subitize "3" associated with outs. You quickly see 0/3, 1/3, 2/3. If the graphic does not have fill-in dots, then just put the #. eg - OUTS: 1 It's minimalism for the sake of minimalism, not graphic design for effective communication.
crunch 1 day 9 hours ago (view)
tight shots + insane amount of screen real estate being taken up with graphics is a bit of a plague...especially the ones with a non-stop bottom news ticker.
First.Pitch.120 1 day 10 hours ago (view)
General comment on baseball broadcasting... I think that the color comentator (CC) needs to talk about 30% more & the PBP about 30% less. I would love a more stream of consciousness from the CC outlining what they would be looking for in a given situation. To that end, why not have 2 CC for national broadcasts - one a pitcher & one a position player. Would love for them to banter back & forth on micro strategy from their perspectives. I think this would turn the game's pauses between action into more of an asset.