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 1 hour 13 min ago (view)
Q coming back in 4-6 weeks will be like a mid-season trade! sigh...
but yeah, they should be good in-house with expanded rosters unless they get slammed by IL stuff.
crunch 1 hour 15 min ago (view)
MLB has confirmed 38 positives (players/coaches/personel/etc) so far.
Arizona Phil 1 hour 58 min ago (view)
With 17 pitchers likely on the 30-man MLB Active List roster for the first two weeks and then probably 15 pitchers on the 28-man Active List for the next two weeks after that, the Cubs should be able to "bullpen" games quite a bit for the first month. They won't really need five starters.
crunch 3 hours 7 min ago (view)
the cubs were searching car seats for coins to sign the scraps they managed to get this offseason. i imagine doing everything "in house" might be on the table.
the ricketts will need all the money they can spare to dump into GOP elections, too. priorities. btw, yes the family has been dumping 100s of thousand (to the tune of millions combined) over the past few months into state elections in areas they don't live in. wisconsin, nevada, new york, georgia, etc...millions...many millions of dollars all over the country.
Arizona Phil 3 hours 37 min ago (view)
jdrnym: Once the MLB regular season starts, the "Practice Squad" will be a sub-group of the Club Player Pool, as will be the MLB Active List roster and the various MLB injured lists.
jdrnym 3 hours 38 min ago (view)
All makes sense, but I think there is one important point of clarification in there -- are you using "practice squad" and "Club Player Pool" interchangeably? If so, I understood the first sentence of your third-to-last paragraph above to mean that Mills/Sadler/Underwood could be outrighted and still be in the Pool, therefore retaining their eligibility to re-selected to the major league active roster later in the season.
Arizona Phil 3 hours 39 min ago (view)
jdrnym: Zack Short is still on Optional Assignment to the minors (as are Alzolay, M. Amaya, R. Garcia, Maples, T. Miller, Norwood, Rea, M. Rodriguez, and Steele), but he can be recalled at any time without restriction (no "ten-day rule") because he was optioned to the minors prior to the transaction freeze in March.
crunch 3 hours 50 min ago (view)
angels are missing 10-ish players from today's workout and mike trout isn't sure he'll participate this year (pregnant wife, newborn on the way). welcome to the angels, maddon.
Hagsag 13 hours 26 min ago (view)
Are ther any FA starting pitchers that would be an addition to take a starting spot?
QuietMan 1 day 1 hour ago (view)
I'm thinking players should demand that this be added to their list. "Sorry Honey, can't do it."
crunch 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
or washing the dishes turns out to be popping wheelies on a motorcycle riding around scottsdale...
jeff kent deserves to be in the HOF...lou whitaker needs to get in first...
Arizona Phil 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
Q-MAN: Yes, unless "washing the dishes" is listed as a forbidden off-field activity in his contract
crunch 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
oh boy...chatwood and a.mills in the rotation...because the minor league system sure as hell don't have much to offer for competition.
QuietMan 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
Non Baseball related injury. Does he still get paid?
Ryno 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
A digital nerve sounds like something that would be repaired with a copper wire and solder.
Cubster 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
Per Sun-Times: Jose Quintana out two weeks after cutting a digital nerve in his pitching left thumb and requiring microsurgery to repair the nerve, from a kitchen dishwashing accident last week. Hard to say what impact that might have on his repertoire. The sensation can take 2-3 months to return if the repair is successful.