2019 Spring Training Facepalm

In Uncategorized by myles127 Comments

Three Up

  1. Tyler Chatwood is having the best spring of any pitcher in the Cubs system. He had one walk in this first appearance, and hasn’t allowed a free pass since. In 3 appearances, Tyler has logged 8 innings with 8 hits and 5 strikeouts. I’m completely out on Chatwood in a rotation for the Cubs unless it’s an emergency, but I think there’s a path on a 25-man roster for a swingman like Chatwood. The obvious problem is we already have one of those, but maybe there will be a team that is watching Chatwood solve his problems (perhaps) and is willing to take even a little of his contract. I think Chatwood even after last season could have received a 2 year/$4 million “get well” contract so I’m not ruling out getting some relief from his contract. I haven’t watched him throw a baseball in spring, so for all I know it’s just luck, but Tyler literally did not have a stretch of 8 innings without walking at least 2 batters last season. I looked it up.
  2. The year is 2028. Kyle Schwarber has been out of the league for 5 years after never putting it together. President Trump Jr. is getting ready for his 2nd term. The world is ablaze. Deep in rural Indiana, there’s a haggard-looking man in a bunker, eating a cold can of beans. The man is me. All he does is mutter the words “Schwarber’s hitting .300/.400/.600 this season. Schwarber’s hitting .300/.400/.600 this season.” I like Schwarber more than some of his family members. Despite nearly 600 plate appearances screaming to the contrary, I still believe in Schwarber’s bat being among the most elite in all of baseball. At the risk of sounding stupid, Schwarber’s only real issue is his inability to make contact with pitches out of the strike zone. If he could figure out how to foul off a freaking pitch, his patience + power would play even more than they do now. It didn’t feel like it due to his struggles in high-leverage situations, but Schwarber hit .238/.356/.467 last year. He was a 3.2 fWAR player! Valuable on offense and defense! He’s absolutely murdering the ball in spring training right now. He has a .364 nOBP this spring training (nOBP is not On-Base Percentage).
  3. Kris Bryant is healthy again, and it is showing in his Spring Training. Two homers, lots of walks, few strikeouts. In the comments, dmick posited that Bryant’s positive regression is the most important factor for the Cubs next year, and I whole-heartedly agree. I guess I shouldn’t assume he’ll put up MVP-numbers in 2019, but I kinda do. Nobody ever said I wasn’t an idiot.

Three Down

  1. It doesn’t feel any better that Addison Russell is still on the Cubs. It’s maybe even unfair, but he’s sort of a totem of the shitty off-season the Cubs have had with all of the struggles to find money or people with a strong moral compass. I almost don’t even care how Russell is performing this year (he’s having a fine spring training) – it’s just a constant reminder of how baseball isn’t the escape that we want it to be.
  2. Ian Happ has 21 AB and is batting .143/.182/.190. That’s not great. On the one hand, who cares – it’s 21 meaningless at-bats. On the other hand, I’d obviously rather he actual reach base.
  3. Who is closing for the Cubs this year? One of the problems with this offseason is that we didn’t add to the bullpen, a clear need for this team. Unless you’re really high on Chatwood or Strop, there isn’t a clear answer to this question. I’m sure we’ll find someone there, but when Craig Kimbrel is out there waiting to be signed, it makes me angry that the Cubs are wondering if Xavier Cedeno can handle the 9th.

Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds: 17.6%

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Comments

  1. dmick89

    myles,

    I highly doubt that happens. You’d rather be forced to promote him early on than consider demoting him or trying to figure out if you should stick with him.

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    myles

    dmick89:
    myles,

    I highly doubt that happens. You’d rather be forced to promote him early on than consider demoting him or trying to figure out if you should stick with him.

    Well, maybe they trade Bryant and use the cost savings to pay the concession workers.

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  3. dmick89

    dmick89,

    21.2 innings, 17 hits, 2 home runs, 11 BB, 1 HBP, 23 K

    So a little better this season, but he’s probably just someone who I’d say is a good spring training pitcher. He’s pretty good when half the lineup of the other team is minor league guys.

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  4. andcounting

    When I start thinking Chatwood might wind up being good, I know winter delirium has taken over. Bring on real baseball, please.

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  5. Rizzo the Rat

    At least two of the four runs he allowed were unearned (they scored on a wild throw by Chatwood).

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  6. Myles

    Rizzo the Rat:
    At least two of the four runs he allowed were unearned (they scored on a wild throw by Chatwood).

    Chatwood really needs to bail out Chatwood there. Hard to blame Chatwood for Chatwood sucking so much. That said, if Chatwood could throw a fucking strike, Chatwood wouldn’t have burned him in the first place.

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  7. berselius

    Guys, Brad Brach had mono in the offseason. The Cubs should get some useful innings out of him in 4-5 years, if they are lucky.

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  8. EnricoPallazzo

    “there’s no way we can lose unless, of course, all nine bullpen pitchers fall victim to nine separate misfortunes and are unable to play. but that will never happen. three misfortunes, that’s possible. seven misfortunes, there’s an outside chance. but nine misfortunes? i’d like to see that!”

    1. morrow
    2. brach
    3. cedeno
    4. strop
    5….

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  9. Myles

    dmick89:
    I think the Cubs should consider a position change for Chatwood. At least that way his incompetence would be entertaining.

    Hopefully the new position is beer vendor.

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  10. Rizzo the Rat

    dmick89:
    I think the Cubs should consider a position change for Chatwood. At least that way his incompetence would be entertaining.

    As a hitter, he has a lower career strikeout rate than Kris Bryant!

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  11. berselius

    They actually made some CBA changes – most interesting is

    Beginning in 2020, a three-batter minimum for pitchers and an expansion of the active roster from 25 to 26 players will go into effect

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  12. Perkins

    berselius,

    I’m not that sold on three batter minimum, but I’d like to see a limit to how many pitchers a team can carry on its roster. That and a universal DH.

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  13. dmick89

    Perkins: I’d like to see a limit to how many pitchers a team can carry on its roster

    Is that still in play? I’d definitely be in favor of this. I remember when bullpens expanded to 6 and I thought that was crazy. Then it was 7 and now 8.

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  14. EnricoPallazzo

    Perkins: I’m not that sold on three batter minimum

    Just wondering, what is the argument against the three-batter minimum? Are you concerned that it just isn’t going to accomplish anything? To me it seems like an effective way to both keep the game moving and also serve as a de facto limiter of the amount of pitchers that a team will carry.

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  15. andcounting

    Perkins,

    I love the three better minimum. I don’t know that it’s necessarily better, but I like forcing teams to strategize differently than they always have. It gives every team opportunity to come up with advantages they can exploit. I think there should be a similar restriction on hitters, though. If the purpose is to speed up gameplay, shouldn’t there be a rule preventing a pinch hitter for the first batter faced? Or, if a pinch hitter is allowed, shouldn’t the originally announced batter count toward the minimum? Then make it so any batter who enters the on-deck circle counts as a batter faced if he is replaced with another hitter.

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  16. berselius

    Perkins,

    Yeah, pitcher roster limits are part of it too, from the sounds of it. Though no specific details have been released. I would guess that this three batter minumum thing should implicitly cut down on that as well.

    Also beginning in 2020, regular-season rosters will expand from 25 to 26 players while September rosters will contract to a maximum of 28. There may likewise be limits placed on the number of pitchers on each roster.

    https://mlb.nbcsports.com/2019/03/14/mlb-mlbpa-to-announce-major-changes-early-cba-negotiations-today/

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  17. berselius

    andcounting: Or, if a pinch hitter is allowed, shouldn’t the originally announced batter count toward the minimum? Then make it so any batter who enters the on-deck circle counts as a batter faced if he is replaced with another hitter.

    I like this idea a lot.

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  18. Myles

    Tyler Chatwood is having the best spring of any pitcher in the Cubs system. He had one walk in this first appearance, and hasn’t allowed a free pass since. In 3 appearances, Tyler has logged 8 innings with 8 hits and 5 strikeouts. I’m completely out on Chatwood in a rotation for the Cubs unless it’s an emergency, but I think there’s a path on a 25-man roster for a swingman like Chatwood. The obvious problem is we already have one of those, but maybe there will be a team that is watching Chatwood solve his problems (perhaps) and is willing to take even a little of his contract. I think Chatwood even after last season could have received a 2 year/$4 million “get well” contract so I’m not ruling out getting some relief from his contract. I haven’t watched him throw a baseball in spring, so for all I know it’s just luck, but Tyler literally did not have a stretch of 8 innings without walking at least 2 batters last season. I looked it up.

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  19. dmick89

    I think Chatwood would be a really good pitcher in AA. He’s still walk too many, but he’d make up for it with a lot of strikeouts and probably not give up many hits.

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  20. dmick89

    I’d say there’s a 100% chance of Chatwood taking up a roster spot to start the year. There’s literally no way the Cubs just admit they blew that much money on a shitty player without giving him a chance to provide some value at the big league level. As bad as the Heyward deal has worked out, Chatwood is easily the worst signing by this front office. It was such a ridiculously terrible deal at the time that only allowed for luck to save their asses from looking stupid. Even worse, they jumped on him quickly when the market ended up taking forever to develop.

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  21. EnricoPallazzo

    i was just looking at chatwood’s bref page to double-check how much the cubs still owe him and i have some GREAT news. he’s set to make 12.5m this year and 13m next year but check this out: “2020 salary may increase up to $17m based on 2018 and 2019 All-Star selections or Cy Young voting”.

    i think the cubs might be off the hook for 4m in 2020 you guys!

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  22. mobile dave

    Relievers already getting hurt, huh? Shame there isn’t a guy like Craig Kimbrel still on the market.

    Fuck the Cubs.

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  23. andcounting

    dmick89,

    Why do I feel like if a marketing consultant promised to make the news of Papa Ricketts’ racist ramblings go away for $50 million, that money would be spent in a cold, soulless heartbeat?

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  24. SK

    Rizzo the Rat,

    That was my thought as well – most would want to keep hitting (so few at bats per game in ST, and it doesn’t count anyway so…)

    I wonder how long we can keep this discussion going. Another 18 hours is probably all I can hope for.

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  25. Rizzo the Rat

    Now that I think about it, baserunning opportunities might be more precious than at-bats. I guess it would depend on the individual player and which area he (or his manager) feels he needs more work on. Of course, HBPs are uncommon enough to make this whole conversation nearly pointless.

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  26. SK

    Yes but do they really even take their baserunning opportunities seriously? Half the time they get lifted for a pinch runner, the other half they make stupid mistakes, and the other half they don’t even try.

    I get giving the batter the option here, but what about the pitcher and what he needs to work on? Maybe working out of the stretch and practicing pickoffs is a priority for some, but not others.

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  27. andcounting

    We might be discussing the next big inefficiency. How many teams truly do anything remotely innovative in baserunning? Ever? You could field an entire team of elite baserunners who could score 80% of the time they reached base if you planned your whole baseball organization around it.

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  28. Myles

    Trout, according to FanGraphs, has already provided the Angels with $494,500,000 of value. If Trout averages 7 WAR in the first 6 years and 3 WAR in the last 6 years, that’s 60 WAR, or with a slight discounting factor $7 million a WAR over the life of the contract. Consider that Trout is a near-lock to crush those numbers and it’s a clear win.

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  29. andcounting

    Myles,

    If an organization/industry can’t figure out a way to pay its top performer a shit-ton of money for a long-ass time, there is no hope.

    I’m glad there’s hope. I also think it helps to create a real and somewhat fair ceiling on salary that could have a much more demonstrable effect on the free agent climate and even the prospect economy than any work-stoppage threats will. Whether they say it or not, owners and GMs now have been freed from the fear that there’s no end to what players will ask for. All requests and demands will be set somewhere on the Trout scale. The fact that it got done without free agency will help Kris-Bryant types as well as fans of teams employing Kris-Bryant types.

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  30. Perkins

    Corey Knebel has an elbow problem. Now would be a really good time for the Cubs to sign Kimbrel, before the Brewers do.

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  31. dmick89

    Perkins,

    If the Cubs could find a team to take Chatwood they could probably do it. In order to trade Chatwood without paying all his salary you’d probably have to include Happ or Almora.

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  32. EnricoPallazzo

    Perkins,

    what a great opportunity to grab a great player and simultaneously prevent your biggest rival from getting a piece that they sorely need. really sucks that i have zero faith that the cubs get it done though.

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  33. berselius

    This is the first year I can remember that Spring Training feels like it has gone by relatively quickly. It probably helps that I’ve listened/watched to a combined 45 minutes or so of games this year.

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  34. andcounting

    berselius,

    Yeah, I think anticipation level causes time-passage observation to slow down, too. I’m looking forward to baseball, but my hopes are so low for this season and beyond that I’m not nearly as excited as I’ve been the last 4 spring trainings or so.

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  35. Perkins

    Chris Sale ——–> extension with BOS (~5/$150MM)

    I’m beginning to think Kris Bryant was serious when he said he’d like to stay with CHC for the long term. With the free agent market as broken as it is, locking up money now seems to be the smart move.

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  36. andcounting

    Perkins,

    I’m telling you, Mike Trout set the market with his deal. I think owners and players have a better feel for what they can get and what they should pay now that they know where the ceiling is (because everyone agrees Trout is the ceiling). The free-agent game is actually really stupid for everyone involved, and now that Mike Trout is never going to play it there’s a clearer, fairer, more stable market in just signing younger players to extensions. It’s no coincidence that a rash of contract extensions have followed the Trout deal, but good free agents are still pretty much languishing in silence with less than a week before the regular season starts for real.

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  37. dmick89

    andcounting,

    What’s kind of interesting to me is that almost immediately after Harper signed, Trout signed for significantly more than Harper did. I’d expect that because he’s that much better, but it surprised me because I wasn’t expecting the contract that surpassed Harper’s to be so much higher than Harper’s.

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  38. andcounting

    dmick89,

    It surprised me too, and I bet it surprised every player in MLB not named Mike Trout. It was like an instant lesson that negotiating an extension is loads better than free agency. It sucks for someone in a bad situation who just needs to leave, but in time if free agency becomes more of an exception than a rule, it could return to being a better market for players.

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  39. BVS

    Myles,

    Hooray. Dude needs to be fixed. Sucked 2nd half of last season and hasn’t turned it around in spring. Minors helped Schwarber after he was up for awhile.

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  40. dmick89

    andcounting,

    I guess it depends on how good you think this team can be. If you think they can be pretty good, maybe you should worry a little. I think they’re going to suck for the most part so I don’t really care. (dying laughing)

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  41. andcounting

    dmick89,

    I think they can be really good. I think they will kinda suck, but baseball is tricky. Lester sucking would really make success in 2019 unlikely.

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  42. dmick89

    andcounting:
    dmick89,

    I think they can be really good. I think they will kinda suck, but baseball is tricky.Lester sucking would really make success in 2019 unlikely.

    Yeah, if he sucks the Cubs have no chance of being any good. I don’t think they much of a chance of being good even if he’s his normal self. I just don’t think they’re a very good team, but if everything goes right they could find themselves in the wild card race. If I had to bet on the Cubs record, I’d probably go 82-80.

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  43. berselius

    berselius,

    I’m guessing the reason this took so long was that the Mets lost a lucrative Cocker Spaniel meme revenue stream when deGrom cut his hair last year.

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  44. Myles

    This is getting ridiculous. Wonder if the Cubs will just allow their players to comprise the entirety of every free agent class from now on.

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  45. BVS

    dmick89,

    (dying laughing) dmick, your “optimism” is strong that you can’t even believe you are the “most optimistic” for real.

    I’ll take the over for the Twitter post containing the worst pun you can come up with that is still postable and won’t force me to apologize for my past youthful idiocy after I strike out a ton of guys during the OV All Star Game.

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  46. dmick89

    I’d have taken my chances with Hendricks and see how he does over the next year or two. It’s not a lot of money, but at the same time I’m guessing he’s going to collapse before too long and I’d even put money on him doing it before he was eligible to become a free agent.

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  47. Myles

    dmick89:
    Myles,

    Really? Why?

    He was set to make around $10 million in 2020. This is basically a 3 year, $46 million deal, which seems fine-ish. The option is only contingent on him winning a Cy in 2020.

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  48. dmick89

    Myles,

    3/46 for Hendricks probably isn’t much of a savings and the Cubs gave it out two years before they had to. This isn’t even close to as bad as Chatwood of course, and there’s a slim chance that Hendricks is actually worth it in the end (unlike Chatwood), but I’d have been happier to move on without Hendricks in a couple years then be on the books for that much money for him over the following 3 years. That’s just me though.

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  49. Myles

    I think it’s a reasonable contract for Hendricks, especially considering the fact that we haven’t really developed a starting pitcher worth a shit since…Kyle Hendricks, and he only barely counts. Have to find those pitchers somewhere, and he basically signed the Yusei Kikuchi deal (3/$43MM). I have every confidence (that you can for a pitcher) year-31 through year-33 Hendricks can be league average over the lifetime of the deal.

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  50. Myles

    Option converts to a club option of $16 million with a $1.5 million buyout if he doesn’t finish in the top-3 in Cy Young voting in 2020. Even better.

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