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 55 min 51 sec ago (view)
so if the marlins keep covid'ing it up and finish with a 2-1 record do they make the playoffs with their kickass .667% winning percentage?
how does this circus work?
j/k...we're not gonna get to the playoffs.
Cubster 2 hours 53 min ago (view)
No new positives for either Marlins or Cards today. The Marlins are OK'd to play at Baltimore tonight (so far).
Cubster 2 hours 56 min ago (view)
Cardinal Coronavirus positives include: Yadi Molina, Paul DeJong. Relievers Jr Fernandez, Kodi Whitley. Inf Edmundo Sosa and Rangel Ravelo. 6 members of staff not yet disclosed.
Yadi posted on Instagram (in Spanish). DeJong also released a statement. The team is to fly to StL on Wednesday but need two consecutive days of testing negative before they can travel.
crunch 16 hours 54 min ago (view)
pen manages to string 2 good innings together...in a row!
the cubs are 8-2.
the cards are 2-3. the marlins are 2-1.
we're 1/6th of the way into this and who knows how much longer it will last...
crunch 17 hours 10 min ago (view)
"what i wouldn't give to have a man bun and a 99mph fastball" - JD on staumont
crunch 17 hours 15 min ago (view)
Eric S 17 hours 23 min ago (view)
The Adjunct Professor was dealing tonite
crunch 17 hours 40 min ago (view)
a.mills is good for 140+ pitches, right?
*looks at pen* uh...right?
he was shakey through the first 2ip and stellar since.
Cubster 17 hours 40 min ago (view)
The Cardinals have to test negative for the next two days for the Cub-Cardinal series to happen this weekend (per Len Kasper)
crunch 20 hours 1 min ago (view)
game time delayed 30m
crunch 20 hours 10 min ago (view)
m.soroka (ATL) is having to be helped off the field unable to put weight on his right leg.
it looks like he really screwed something in his calf/foot area that's not specifically the ankle.
crunch 22 hours 1 min ago (view)
bryant(LF) / rizzo / baez / contreras / schwarber(DH) / bote(3rd) / heyward / hoerner / happ
crunch 23 hours 7 min ago (view)
"take off your mask while you eat/drink" indoor venues has been one of the stupidest missteps in this whole thing. i can safely say if i've been hearing this in covid briefings at work for months that government leaders have, too.
it's one of the most disasterous missteps we've taken during re-opening and there is little american appetite for ending it on a government or "personal responsibility" level.
crunch 23 hours 14 min ago (view)
the "field of dreams" game that absolutely no one asked for, wanted, or cared about (STL/CWS) has been cancelled.
Cubster 1 day 8 min ago (view)
MSNBC: 13 members of the Cardinals organization are positive, 7 players, 6 staff.
Sportswriters saying that the Criteria for shutting down the season is 3-4 teams with uncontrolled spread.
Entire series between Tigers-Cards canceled.
Hanging by threads...
Charlie 1 day 16 min ago (view)