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 27 sec ago (view)
From talking to people in the know out here, the missing level (short-season advanced -- what had been Eugene for the Cubs in the recent past) has messed up things, especially for position players.
It's like there is a gap in the player development pipeline, with players (especially position players) who are clearly too advanced for the AZL (now ACL) but also not quite ready for full-season Lo-A in a kind of development limbo, either in over their heads at full-season Lo-A, or else dominating younger and/or inferior competition in the short-season complex leagues
Wrigley Rat 31 sec ago (view)
Some injuries that have been announced one way or another include Ben Hecht's TJS on 5/11 and Yovanny Cruz' "arm surgery" due to "forearm discomfort" in early May. Jack Patterson announced that he would miss all of 2021, but be back next year. Jonathan Holder was cleared to begin a throwing program last week, but was not ready for mound work at that time.
crunch 40 min 23 sec ago (view)
baseball as we know it is under heavy management shifts in every aspect of the minors and even the indie leagues with a common string being pulled by upper MLB leaders.
it's kinda concerning to some people.
Arizona Phil 1 hour 59 min ago (view)
K-DUB: For the first time ever the AZL (now the ACL) is being operated / supervised from outside Arizona, and so there has been some confusion on the ground. A lot of last-minute planning. Lots of TBA / TBD, both within the individual organizations and within the league itself.
Arizona Phil 2 hours 5 min ago (view)
K-DUB: It's just a procedural move to open up slots on the 180-man Domestic Reserve List.
Any player who was placed on the 60-day IL on Minor League Opening Day (5/3) or placed on the 7-day IL on Minor League Opening Day (5/3) and then subsequently was transferred to the 60-day IL is eligible to be reinstated a week from tomorrow (7/2).
As for the type of injuries sustained by the guys who are on the 60-day IL, I would rather not say. I will leave it to the individual player and/or to the Cubs to divulge specific injury information as it relates to a particulart player.
K Dub 5 hours 18 min ago (view)
Can't wait for ACL games to get started on the 28th! (Really wish they'd change the name of the league, though. Bad injury vibes...)
K Dub 5 hours 20 min ago (view)
PHIL: Are you able to provide any clarifying info on the nature of Kohl Franklin's injury/rehab? I saw you moved him from the 7-day to the 60-day IL. Was that just a procedural move because enough time has passed or is that a sign that he's out for the season? Also, of the guys on the 60-day IL, can you clarify who is definitely out for the season/having surgery and those who might return?
Eric S 10 hours 55 min ago (view)
Great stuff, Charlie - Thanks!
Arizona Phil 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
The Cubs have purchased the contract of 25-year old 6'5 260 RHP Adam Heidenfelder from Gary (American Association) and he has been assigned to the ACL Cubs.
Hagsag 1 day 14 hours ago (view)
Does anyone know what type of injury Amaya has?
Hagsag 1 day 14 hours ago (view)
I can not believe what a good 3b he has been playing.
Wrigley Rat 1 day 20 hours ago (view)
Robert Stock was claimed off waivers by the Mets.
crunch 1 day 22 hours ago (view)
HR in the 8th. dope.
crunch 2 days 27 min ago (view)
he's back out in the field in the top 3rd...must be okay, but he sure doesn't look confidently healthy. *shrug* off-day tomorrow...
crunch 2 days 37 min ago (view)
p.wisdom seems to have injured his right leg/knee swinging a bat...
crunch 2 days 59 min ago (view)
“It did not feel good to take Javy out of the game,” Ross said. “I never feel comfortable doing that at all. That's a pit in my stomach and it was in my stomach the entire game.”
“I blame it on myself. I lost the count of the outs,” Báez said. “We talked about it. We're on the same page. I'll be there tomorrow to help the team.”