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 59 min ago (view)
Besides Quintero, Altuve, and Made, a fourth significant IFA signing by the Cubs during the off-season was 16 year old Dominican CF Anderson Suriel. He played for the Dominican 15U World Cup team in 2018.
Arizona Phil 1 hour 59 min ago (view)
Contrary to reports, 2019-20 IFA J-2 C Brayan Altuve was -NOT - signed by the Cubs in July. The Cubs did not have enough ISBP room initially to fit in his $1M bonus, so instead he was "officially" signed after the conclusion of the 2019 season, which means the Cubs will get an extra year before Altuve will be Rule 5 Draft eligible (post-2024, instead of post-2023 which would have been the case if he had signed in July).
Arizona Phil 2 hours 7 min ago (view)
CRUNCH: It's still drizzling in Mesa but it's clearing to the southwest (which is where the rain came from) so the Cubs should have at least three hours to get the field ready. The infield is covered, so it's just the outfield that will be wet.
Arizona Phil 2 hours 31 min ago (view)
As things stand right now, 109 pitchers and 20 catchers are scheduled to report to Cubs Minor League Camp next week.
Arizona Phil 3 hours 8 min ago (view)
Jordan Patterson will not get an NRI to MLB Spring Training but he will likely get considerable playing time in Cubs MLB Cactus League games as he competes with Corban Joseph for AAA Iowa primary 1B.
crunch 4 hours 47 min ago (view)
cubs moving the game up was a wise choice unless the rain lingers very long. everyone else in ARZ is rained out except LA/SF which starts in 4 hours (cubs in 7 hours)...and that LA/SF game still might get rained out because other games in that time slot have been cancelled/postponed (though they posted a lineup for today's game on twitter 10 minutes ago).
speaking of LA, m.betts makes his debut tomorrow vs CHC.
Arizona Phil 5 hours 40 min ago (view)
The Cubs have signed post-2019 minor league 6YFA 1B-OF Jordan Patterson (ex-COL) and RHRP Dario Beltre to 2020 minor league contracts.
Patterson (who has considerable AAA experience and some MLB time as well) was assigned to AAA Iowa and Beltre (who has not pitched above AA in ten minor league seasons) was assigned to AA Tennessee.
Arizona Phil 5 hours 52 min ago (view)
The Cubs have released 13 minor leaguers:
LHP Andres Bonalde
RHP Alfredo Colorado
RHP Julio Guante
OF Albert Hinirio
RHP M. T. Minacci
INF Rafael Narea
INF Herson Perez
RHP Tyler Peyton
RHP Casey Ryan
LHP Saul Vazquez
RHP Omar Ventura
OF Ricardo Verenzuela
OF Brandon Vicens
Wrigley Rat 19 hours 45 min ago (view)
For anyone hoping to watch the Marquee Network this spring: I'll be signing up for a free week of AT&T TV NOW (streaming service) on Sunday morning: https://www.atttvnow.com/accounts/select-plan - Marquee Network will be replaying Saturday's Spring Training opener at 7am Central and will have the Sunday game at 2pm: https://www.marqueesportsnetwork.com/schedule/febr....
crunch 23 hours 18 min ago (view)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales
From Cubs: Marquee available in Chicago area through following providers:
DIRECTV (channel 664); AT&T U-verse in SD (channel 740) and HD (channel 1740); RCN (channels 377 and 679 (HD))
MetroNet (channel 29); TVision (channel 100). Iowa’s Mediacom (Ch. 51; 768/668 in HD)
Hagsag 1 day 6 min ago (view)
I have Direct TV. I called them today., asked what was the channel #?They didn't know.
crunch 1 day 47 min ago (view)
there's still people figuring out if they actually will have the channel or not...it's been a weird mess. don't think comcast is on board yet and directv just slid in under the deadline with a deal to carry it. hulu has the channel, but supposedly they're not going to start carrying it for weeks.
Hagsag 1 day 1 hour ago (view)
Ok, so what time will Marque go on the air ways?
crunch 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
tomorrow's game has been moved to 6:10 MST (7:10 central) because of a threat of bad weather...sweet.
JustSayin' 1 day 21 hours ago (view)
Solid % improvement for minor leaguers and nice to see the Cubs among the first organizations to break ranks to the upside. Three comments: 1. Yes, the bonus babies have already BEEN paid but that is the minority of these young men. 2.