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 42 min 18 sec ago (view)
they could motivate the team with a full sized cutout of a nude tom ricketts they reveal a little bit at a time when they win.
First.Pitch.120 2 hours 45 min ago (view)
Maybe if we threaten to move the team to Miami if they lose enough games it will be the motivation that they need to pull togethert for an improbable run to the playoffs.
crunch 3 hours 39 min ago (view)
CTSteve 13 hours 13 sec ago (view)
You can't fire all the players. Why is that, again?
Charlie 18 hours 11 min ago (view)
Honestly, Urias guessed wrong on that one. But he stilled managed to make contact despite being way out in front, so that breaker must have rolled.
Charlie 18 hours 13 min ago (view)
KB having a perfectly adequate KB stretch and it's a highlight. Sigh.
Chafin may be reconsidering that jalopie after being the man on the mound when the wheels fell off in this one.
crunch 19 hours 12 min ago (view)
i know we're only 10 games in and you can't get good numbers on that, but this is a full-team hitting slump aside from marisnick and his 12 PA.
no one on this team is this bad, but all of them doing it at once is crazy. bad ABs, tons of swings and misses, crap contact...
upon reflection (and another hit in the 9th) i need to give props to k.bryant...he's a 1-man show right now for the regulars.
Eric S 20 hours 24 sec ago (view)
I can pause it for pinch hitting - otherwise I'm locked in as there's nothing else to see here
Dolorous Jon Lester 20 hours 4 min ago (view)
Me too, Eric Sogard
Eric S 20 hours 10 min ago (view)
Well, Chafin ... not your night I guess ... looks like its time to catch up on the latest installment of Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Dolorous Jon Lester 20 hours 13 min ago (view)
It's kinda starting to feel like this team sucks? But yes this game definitely sucks.
crunch 20 hours 17 min ago (view)
justin steele warming...seems like his debut is on tap.
also, this game sucks.
Eric S 20 hours 19 min ago (view)
Luis Urias is not impressed 😩
crunch 22 hours 55 min ago (view)
steele, wieck, and strop called up.
btw, strop is a "replacement player" in this move and isn't subject to 40-man roster waiver rules
crunch 23 hours 22 min ago (view)
cubs covid...chris young tested positive. j.adam, d.winkler, and b.workman are now on the "injured list"
Charlie 23 hours 47 min ago (view)
Sorry that I couldn't access things for opening day and then got busy for the next couple series. Glad to have a baseball routine to share with you all again!