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).
crunch 7 hours 4 min ago (view)
as of the end of this game (game 9) there's only 1 player on the team hitting more than .250 (j.marisnick).
bryant, baez, contreras, marisnick are the only guys hitting more than .200.
Cubster 7 hours 45 min ago (view)
Two awful days of baseball.
On top of that, Dexter Fowler (Angels) tore his ACL and will undergo season ending reconstruction surgery.
He's a hero in my Cub/heart no matter how the remainder of his career goes, but at 35 yrs, he will have a rough road ahead.
crunch 8 hours 27 min ago (view)
these bats are killing me.
they need more than a waffle maker to feed these bats. julio zueleta needs to be hired for batting coach and the ricketts need to toss some serious loot into the fruit budget for him.
crunch 9 hours 2 min ago (view)
lefty goose goosage reporting in...
crunch 10 hours 33 min ago (view)
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
career high for zach davies, 7 runs given up...only took 1.2 innings.
Cubster 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
Ex Cub Dexter Fowler, now with Maddon's Angels goes on the DL with a knee sprain.
crunch 1 day 6 hours ago (view)
AAA exhibition game @south bend rained out.
Cubster 1 day 7 hours ago (view)
Coach Craig Driver tested positive for Coronavirus and was sent back to Chicago. Apparently, no other Cub tested positive. No word about symptoms so it sounds like it was picked up in whatever the regular testing protocol covers including Wed, Thursday and Friday which were negative for the "traveling party".
bradsbeard 1 day 13 hours ago (view)
Sure makes it sound like Schwarber and Lester were among the positives. Hate that for them, especially Jon who has the cancer history and the recent thyroid issue. Hopefully both recover without significant lingering effects.
crunch 2 days 9 min ago (view)
j.musgrove throws SD's first no-hitter. it would have been a perfect game if he didn't hit a batter.
not bad for his 2nd start for them.
Cubster 2 days 3 hours ago (view)
Nats Covid update (wrt Former Cub factor): Brad Hand, Yan Gomes, Alex Avila and Jordy Mercer have all been cleared to return after being away due to COVID-19 protocols. Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester and Josh Harrison have not been cleared yet,
Still looking forward to seeing Schwarbs play in a Nats uniform.
Jackstraw 2 days 5 hours ago (view)
Right. Three batter minimum. Hopefully the only time I'll need to be reminded this year.
Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 12 hours ago (view)
I'd be good with either. The other can go when Rowan Wick is ready, as far as I'm concerned. Hope they keep Maples instead of one of those two.
bradsbeard 2 days 13 hours ago (view)
Yeah, Winkler had to face a third batter (or intentionally walk him I guess) before Ross could pull him. Wondering how long before Shelby Miller takes over for Winkler or Workman...
crunch 3 days 1 hour ago (view)
k.rosenthal reporting that MLB has taken multiple baseballs from t.bauer's last start with "visible markings and were sticky."