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tony campana buntI was completely remiss yesterday in not noting that it was the 15th anniversary of Harry Caray’s passing. Much love to Harry, who is almost certainly still drinking.

  • Tony Campana was quite gracious after being traded by the Cubs yesterday, returning to the Cubs’ clubhouse to talk to the media after the trade was announced. “I knew there was a chance of this happening,” he said, among other things, to the media. “I kind of made myself ready just in case it happened. I was glad there was a team out there that wanted to go get me. I’m excited now …. It was kind of crazy [how much fan support I got]. I wasn’t expecting that. I kind of expected [to be designated]. When [the fans] got so mad, it was a humbling experience for me.”
  • Jed Hoyer on losing Campana, per Cubs.com: “It’s difficult to lose Tony from the organization. Great person, he’s a fantastic base stealer and a guy we really enjoyed getting to know. But ultimately you can only protect 40 guys on the roster, and he got caught up in the roster crunch. We have a little bit of depth in the outfield and less depth in pitching, and given that, it led us to designate Tony for assignment.” Sounds about right. I don’t think anyone would wish Tony ill with the D-backs. If the Cubs aren’t in competition, may he steal many a game-winning base for Arizona.
  • FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron takes up the mantle of defending yesterday’s Tony Campana trade from the Diamondbacks’ perspective, saying that bench guys have value, and Tony Campana may be one of the most uniquely valuable bench guys in baseball (because he’s one of the best, if not the best, base stealer in the game right now). That’s what I’ve been saying about Campana’s value for months, though it doesn’t change the fact that, on this Cubs team, he was a gratuitous piece that they didn’t need. I’ll take the two young arms (about which, more later), thankyouverymuch.
  • Beyond the Boxscore notes that Tony Campana’s 2012 season was historic: it was the only time in history that a player has struck out at a rate greater than 20%, had an isolated power of less than .040 (which is tiny), and still provided positive WAR value. That is simultaneously impressive, and terrible.
  • The comments on the BN Facebook page weren’t quite as severe on the news of Campana’s trade as they were when he was DFA’d.
  • I can’t really criticize Dusty Baker for continuing to talk about his time with the Cubs – which ended more than six years ago – because people keep asking him about it. And he answers. So, on that level, I’m not going to make fun of Dusty. But there’s just something that doesn’t sit right with me about these comments, which he made to Dave Kaplan: “At the time when I was sent out [by the Cubs] I wasn’t ready to go then. When I was there they quit spending money and they quit reloading. Then right after I left they started spending money again. I would have loved the year we went to the NLCS to have added on and reloaded even more but the Tribune Company was in trouble and they quit spending. In one year we lost Moises Alou and Sammy Sosa and that is a lot of home runs and RBIs to lose. We also had some guys hurt and I was told to play some young guys to see what the young could do. That’s the kiss of death because the record still counts against you and it goes on your record. It was all good, it’s all for a purpose. I’m much stronger because of the experience. It made me stronger. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You fill in the blanks.” I guess I hate the idea that he cares so much about his record, and that’s why he wanted to stay in Chicago – to pick up more wins while the Trib spent ungodly sums driving up the Cubs’ sales price. It reminds me how much I appreciate the fact that this front office isn’t judging Dale Sveum, right now, based on his win-loss record. Given the roster they put together, and given the organizational goals last year and this year, judging on wins and losses would be pretty stupid.
  • Bradley Ankrom, who used to write for Baseball Prospectus, and currently works at Bloomberg Sports, released his top 100 prospects list, and six Cubs made the cut: Javier Baez (17), Albert Almora (21), Jorge Soler (29), Dan Vogelbach (87), Arodys Vizcaino (88), and Jeimer Candelario (99). As you can see, Ankrom is considerably higher on the Cubs’ upper tier prospects than most other rankings services. Which means he’s fair and smart, naturally.
  • The first round of the Cubs Bunt Tourney went off yesterday, with Luis Valbuena, James Russell, Brian Bogusevic, Edwin Maysonet, Travis Wood and Drew Carpenter winning their first round match-ups. Also winning? Bullpen catcher Andy Lane, over Dave Sappelt, and video dude Nate Halm, over Hector Rondon. Carrie Muskat also posted the rest of the first round match-ups for the already-started tournament, and although it doesn’t look like a bracket, it’s a bracket.
  • I put together a page on the functional side of how to start a blog like BN, for those of you who want to know how you actually put a site together.
  • Sandberg

    Maybe if Dusty didn’t bat Neifi Perez 2nd for extended periods of time he still would have had a job with the Cubs in 2007.

    • bbmoney

      Or maybe if he didn’t use his young pitchers as if they were 10 year veteran workhorses who have already proven they can handle throwing 110 pitches every start……..

      • hansman1982

        I think some of that is overblown. That was part of the norm for that time period. Heck in 2000 the average maximum number of pitches (for the NL) in a start was 137.9. Today it is 123 and if a pitcher approaches 130 its the end of the world where in 2000 every team in the NL had at least 1 pitcher do that.

        2000 NL had 97.5 pitches per start, today it’s at 94.3. Pitchers are the baseball equivelant of QB’s. Babied throughout.

        • hansman1982

          Also, the 2001 Cubs were very middle of the road in terms of pitcher use by pitches per start.

        • ETS

          “We simply didn’t know at the time. But now, every time Kerry Wood takes the mound, everyone keeps one eye on the radar gun and one eye on his pitch count. That, in itself, is a huge step. ” – that was quoted in 1998!!!
          http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=148

          Dusty has no excuse for abusing that rotation.

        • bbmoney

          Maybe…but when I see Prior and Zambrano were the only pitchers under 25 to throw over 200 innings in the NL and Prior averaging 126 pitches a start in Septemeber (as a 22/23 YO) and Zambrano averaging 109 in September as at 22 who as I recall was clearly a tired pitcher. Combined with Dusty’s comments above….it continues to frustrate me.

          I know they were in a playoff race and all that. But those guys got abused their age 22 years.

          • hansman1982

            Scratch that:

            2003 Cubs led the league in pitches/game started, games over 120 pitches and max pitches in a game.

            BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DUSTY BAKER!

  • Marc N.

    21 and 29 are pretty high for guys without much pro experience, but I’ll take it. Once again liking the Candelario attention. Almora is the man.

  • cjdubbya

    RE: Harry

    And, if his ghost on Twitter is to be believed, he’s also pantsless.

  • Wes

    The Cubs did add after their 2003 year. They added Greg Maddux, Derek Lee, and Nomar Garciapara (and Latroy Hawkins- DOH). Can one really complain with that?

    • Marc N.

      Never seen it out that way but damn Hendry put a nice roster together. Too bad that was the beginning of the end for Prior, otherwise things might have gone so much betters maybe.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        That 2004 roster was very, very solid.

        • TWC

          And very, very disappointing.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            If memory serves, the 2004 Cubs actually won one more game than the ’03 Cubs. If you think about it, that had to be tougher: given unbalanced schedules, the ’03 won 88 games in a division where the next two best records were 87 and 85 wins; the ’04 Cubs won 89 games in a division where the next two best records were 102 and 92 victories.

            There is no way that the Cubs were going to win 102 games: the annual September fade would have prevented that. However, if Prior and Wood had been healthy, then the Cubs probably would have won 4+ more games and gotten into the playoffs.

            (Given the Cubs +27 run differential in September, they probably would have won the first round of the playoffs, too.)

            • TWC

              It was that last week or so… losing 7 of their last 9 games while Houston won 9 of their last 10. Huge bummer.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Oh, true, that last week was frustrating. What everyone forgets is that the Cubs had a big winning streak right before then to re-assert themselves in the race.

              Still, the closer concept did hurt the Cubs: Dusty kept running Hawkins out there because “he was the closer.” I’m not sure that there were really better options – the Cubs bullpen was not spectacular – but selecting relievers to maximize matchups might have been a smarter tactic.

              • hansman1982

                the closer concept just needs to die, completely.

                • Kygavin

                  I wish there was a “like”/”love” button for this

        • mak

          Had a 2.5 game lead in division(?) with a week left, if I recall correctly. I remember the Saturday day game vs. Mets where LaTroy have up 2 run shot with 2 out and 2 strikes against some scrub (Diaz?). Awful.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            The Cubs were up in the WC race, not the Division: the Cards blew away the rest of the NLC with 105 victories.

            A week before the season ended, the Cubs were 1 game ahead of both the Astros and the Giants. They had only just slipped past the Giants for the WC lead, and the Astros were coming on very strong. I think that was the day after Hawkins blew the game to the Mets.

            However, the Astros were going to go 5-2 over the next week. So, the Cubs 1-6 was painful, but they actually had to go 4-3 to just tie the Astros: and as dominant as the Astros were that September, I would have bet on the ‘stros to win one game.

            • mak

              I suppose my memory is a tad hazy (was living hard in college then). The worst is that I was at school in Austin, dealing with ‘Stros fans was just terrible, especially coming off ’03.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Well, what made it painful is that the Cubs went 1-6 with a run-differential of -6. Think about how hard that is! And, of course, every 1-run loss (or victory) winds up focusing on one putatively “pivotal” play, and always generates a lot of claims that winning 1-run games is what separates the winners from the losers.

                4 weeks later, the Boston Red Sox would win the WS after a +180 RD year in which they played 0.440 ball in 1-run games……

  • ETS

    I really like seeing Candelario start showing up on lists.

    • MightyBear

      I’m with you ETS. Jeimer is getting a lot of love and that’s good.

  • George Miller

    In honor of Harry…here are 2 Bud commercials I found on Youtube

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6NXkH9Wcp8
    (Harry in the Bleachers)

    and
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FPwXwQg9DU
    Harry in a Bar

    • Tom A.

      Thank you George Miller ! I enjoyed seeing those again for sure.

  • Cubz99

    The Cardinals have 4 pitchers in his top 100? That should make the division interesting for the next several years.

  • djaws

    A gratuitous piece they didn’t need? What?
    This team needs a lot of things.
    And Campana being one the best base stealers in the bigs is one of them.

    • hansman1982

      Yup:

      1. Ace SP
      2. High OPS RF
      3. High OPS 3B
      4. High OPS CF
      5. High OPS 2B
      6. Back-end BP guy
      7. 2008 Mark DeRosa
      8. 2008 Mark DeRosa
      9. Tony Campana

      Oh, it’s on the list…

      • DocPeterWimsey

        It does beg the question: do winning teams need base-stealers, anyway?

        • hansman1982

          Um, of course, that team would ABSOLUTELY need the 6 expected runs from his base stealing…

        • MightyBear

          This is where I disagree with “Moneyball” and the folks out there who say a team doesn’t need to steal bases. Runs don’t come from SB. I do think SB’s have been dimiinished due to catcher foot work, throwing and the ability of pitchers to hold runners close these days. However, I think a lineup with speed at the top has the ability to generate runs without HR’s and extra base hits. A leadoff walk, a steal, a ground ball to the right side and a sac fly can come in real handy in tight games. I still think a team that has some solid base stealers will do better than a team without, all other things being equal. That said I don’t care the Cubs lost Campana. His obp just wasn’t good. If he ever gets it to 400 which he probably won’t, look out. Until then, no big deal.

          • ETS

            I don’t think “Moneyball” is antistealing, I thought of it more as, don’t steal unless you are able to be successful 70ish% of the time (sorry I forget the exact numbers, been a long time since I read moneyball)

            • DocPeterWimsey

              You are arguing from first principles . What teams provide examples of doing this in the last 20 years?

              Moreover, your example raises the problem: it starts with the premise of a leadoff walk: i.e., Moneyball. (Or WeaverBall if you are over 40.) Speed cannot steal first. Now, putting in a pinch-runner for a guy who can draw a walk is a good idea: but you can do that only if you keep speed on the bench. (Earl Weaver used pinch-runners, after all.)

              The other thing to remember is that it’s not like stolen bases really have “gone away.” It’s not quite like it was in the 1980′s, where there were many artificial turf parks in which home runs were rare and when everyone ignored OBP. However, there are far more stolen bases today than in the 1960′s or earlier. Mickey Mantle commented several times that if anybody in his day had thought that stealing bases was important, then he would have established the 50:50 club.

              • MightyBear

                I guess I was thinking of that quote from the movie Moneyball “I’m not paying you to get thrown out at second, I’m paying you to get on base.” or something like that. I realize Moneyball was Hollywoodized (not sure that’s a word but you get the meaning) and I am thinking of the Cardinals in the 80′s and when Ricky Henderson and Tim Raines were stealing bases at record levels. The team I am thinking about in the last 50 years is the Cubs. The Cubs have never had any speed at the top of the order (other than Lofton in 2003). It’s the Wrigley is power hitters park so you can’t have speed you need power argument. I personally would love to see the Cubs get a speedy CF who can cover the gaps, get on base, steal some bases and set the table. Sort of like Dernier did for a short time in the 80s.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Actually, the Cubs have had plenty of guys with speed at the top of the order over the last decade. It was just tough to appreciate their speed after they made quick outs on 2-3 pitches!

                  And, yes, there was more stealing in the 1980′s. However, consider the Cardinals. On the years they won, they stole a lot of bases. On the years they lost, they….. stole a lot of bases. What separated the good years from the bad was that in the good years, they got slugging from key guys (often in the form of doubles), and their pitchers held the opposition slugging down.

                  If you look at individuals like Henderson & Raines, they stole a lot of bases every year: and their teams had records that yo-yo’ed around quite a bit. Even as individuals, what controlled how many runs they scored was their OBP, not their steals.

                  If you go back a decade, the Lou Brock’s numbers stand out. His run production actually went *down* as his stolen bases went up. Now, it could be that those reflect bad Cardinal offenses, and that he was trying to make up for it with stealing. However, his run-scoring went *up* when his OBP went up.

                  And that’s why the Moneyballers (and, before them, guys like Earl Weaver) are/were so down on stolen bases: for all the excitement they generate at any one time, game-in and game-out, they don’t correlate with increased run-scoring.

                  (A caveat on this is that, prior to Maury Wills, guys attempted steals only late in close games; this is when SB would be most important, so it’s possible that their impact was greater when SB were rare than now, when guys just run all the time.)

                  • jt

                    ’59 White Sox actually opened the gates for Wills.
                    That was followed by expansion and a whole lot of power hitting in ’61. Which was followed by a whole lot of power pitching in the late ’60′s.
                    I understand it is hard to say a lot in a single post but then again there is a lot happening in this topic.
                    Seems to be a lot more dip and drive pitchers and a lot fewer high leg kicks.
                    How many basehits were allowed by the slide step that was used because of the threat of a steal?
                    I even wonder if there are fewer great pitchers because there are more great baserunners?

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      The ’58, ’60 and ’61 ChiSox teams also were far and away the AL leaders in stolen bases, stealing over 100 each of those seasons. I have read a few times that all of the stolen bases were why the ’59 ChiSox finished 8 games better than their run-differential: yet in the other years with similar SB totals, they ranged from -1 to +3 in wins over expected!

                      (And, yes, it’s been examined a few times: stolen bases do not correlate significantly with success in close games.)

                      As for the effect of stolen base threats on pitchers, that’s been done many times. The answer is: not much. Now, there is an effect on some pitchers (e.g., Greinke) of pitching out of the stretch: but that’s true whether the guy on first is a Henderson or a Vogelbach.

                      People like stolen bases, and, hey, they are fun. However, of all the “stat padding” feats in baseball, SB probably lead the list. They look good on baseball cards, but they just do not affect the scoreboard much.

                    • Hansman1982

                      The 3-run save is the worst stat ever. The most useless, the dumbest. There is literally 0 correlation between talent level of reliever and success in those situations. 2-run saves are only slightly better.

                      Stolen bases actually generate runs. Not many but a few.

      • djaws

        you have no idea what you’re talking about.

        • TWC

          Oh ENLIGHTEN us, kid. Please do.

        • MichiganGoat

          Best retort ever!

    • K Rock

      You give up a outfield position, with his terrible arm, a spot in the order as well, just because he can steal a base if he gets on?

      oh…….ok lol

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    I liked the Fangraph’s piece on Campana, but I have a hard time imagining him reaching 1 WAR in a limited role off the bench. 0.4-0.6 WAR? Sure. 1 WAR? Not so much.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Agreed.

  • Jim

    It is interesting that Baez has slipped ahead of Lindor now.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Having one person rank Baez ahead of Lindor is not “slipping ahead.” It’s actually what you expect if there are several rankings and Lindor is slightly better than Baez. (Go back to 538.com and read Nate Silver!) Lindor’s excellent batting eye makes it somewhat more probable that he’ll be a plus offensive middle infielder than it is that Baez will. However, there still are a few holdouts who do not consider batting eye to be an important tool: Ankrom might be one of those. (I’m not too familiar with him.)

  • SirCub

    You might not want to stoop to the level of making fun of Dusty, but I’m not above it. Honestly, what a douchenozzle. I hate it when managers complain about their W-L records like that. Who cares Dusty? You really aren’t one of the all-time greats, ya know?

  • Bob Johnson

    Dusty just has a problem handling pitchers! He proved that in the 2002 World Series with the Giants as well as the 2003 playoffs with the Cubs.

  • http://Ehanauer.com Clark Addison

    Aroldis Chapman could be the next to get Dustied.

  • North Side Irish

    Jeff Passan wrote an article about teams developing their own starting pitching over the past few seasons. And the Cubs come in dead last in the majors….though the article is mostly about how the Yankees haven’t done a good job.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/yankees-shouldn-t-brag-about-recent-track-record-of-homegrown-arms-090939543.html

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, that’s getting some treatment right now …

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The Yankees do a great job of developing pitching. They just outsource the duties out to about 25 other organizations.

    • cubfanincardinalland

      The Yankees have made the playoffs 17 of the last 18 seasons. When have the Cardinals last developed a quality starting pitcher? More than one way to build winning teams.

      • MightyBear

        Adam Wainright?

  • Grant

    Brett – thanks for the link to the non-bracket bracket. I might try to sketch out a real bracket if I can figure out how the first round matchups that have already been played fit in.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    “Much love to Harry, who is almost certainly still drinking.”

    I still remember the fireball rising into the sky at his cremation……

  • Mick

    Is it really a wonder why Bradley Ankrom, who currently works at Bloomberg Sports, would rank Cubs’ prospects unusually high? How much are the Cubs paying Bloomberg again for their “world-renowned expertise in Analytics and Information Management”?

    • Jack Weiland

      I think you need to adjust the antenna on your tinfoil hat.

      • Mick

        You’re right, the real concern here should be by the Cubs and the tens of millions they’re paying Bloomberg for their analytical tools. If this is how Bloomberg’s analysts rank the top-100 prospects, holy hell, we’re screwed.

  • gratefulled

    Wait a minute…Harry died 3 years after Jerry Garcia?!?!? Something about that just doesn’t seem right.

    Looks like I’m drinking Budweiser tonight.

    • TWC

      At least *someone* understands where I’m coming from ’round here…

  • Jimmy James

    Dusty played young guys ?!?!? I don’t recall

    • cedlandrum

      Yep he did. Patterson, Dubois, Cedeno, Hee Soop Choi., Zambrano, Murton?

  • Die hard

    Explain this then-today AZ mgr Gibson said Campana will compete for OF job and this team will likely make playoffs!?

    • Marc N.

      I think the D’Backs will be surprisingly good.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      1) Gibson grunts lots of crap like that. You could balance eggs on that man’s brow ridges, after all. Geez, just thinking about a lineup with Campana AND Gregorius as well as a pitcher batting has every retired MLB pitcher under 90 thinking of making a comeback.

      2) The DBacks might compete (although I do not think that they will), but they’ll hurt themselves if they start Campana. Personally, I think that the offense lost by giving up on Upton is going to haunt them severely.

  • arta

    lol, he gone!

  • jt

    From DocPeterWimsey:
    “And that’s why the Moneyballers (and, before them, guys like Earl Weaver) are/were so down on stolen bases:”
    From ’69 to ’72 the O’s avg’d 120 SB attempts per year. They just were not very good at it as eyeball look seems to give about a 67% success rate.
    ’73 they were good at it and attempted 210 steals of which 146 got the safe sign.
    *
    ’61 was an expansion year which skewed all stats
    The ’60 White Sox had an OPS+ of 101. The Pyth was -3
    The ’58 WS had an OPS+ of 92. The Pyth was +3
    The ’59 WS has an OPS+ of 91. I’ll take the good Doc’s word that the Pyth was +8
    *
    Don’t know why but the years of the high kick had many pitchers tossing over 300 IP. Now? Not so many!

    • DocPeterWimsey

      This is a correlation vs. causation issue. The high leg kick almost certainly is irrelevant. The other things that have happened since high leg-kicks and frequent 300 inning seasons include:
      1. Teams that used closers began making post-season whereas teams that did not use closers stopped making post-season;
      2. The strike-zone began to shrink and the number of “contact” hitters who put anything near the strike zone decreased, increasing both walks and K’s, and leading to far fewer 10-pitch innings (which was the goal in those days);
      3a. People began to pick up on the correlation between IP and performance drop in subsequent seasons;
      3b. Teams began to view pitchers as long term assets/investments rather than cannon-fodder;
      4. The mound was lowered, making high fastballs less effective (they were about to be eliminated as strikes, anyway) and also reducing the break to curves and changeups;
      5. Pitchers began throwing more sliders, split-finger fastballs, as well as almost certainly throwing harder, and thus doing more damage to their arm per pitch than before.

  • jt

    Causation instigates correlation; they are bound such as is the two sides of a coin being bound by the common metal.
    Today marks the end of the 4 darkest months of the year. But there is a lag in the march toward spring as momentum always “drags” a process.
    Such is it that the lowering of the mound did not suddenly end the high kick. Jim Palmer and others continued with their success despite the change.
    Please be reminded of the Glavin strike which suggests the K zone did not shrink but rather was reshaped.
    The Royals had a lot of success with a lot of “contact” hitters just prior to the steriod era.
    *
    Do todays pitchers throw harder or do they throw hard with much more effort? Dip and drive guys have to push. High leg kick guys use torque.
    *
    The slider vs. the curve does ring true. But that is a chicken and egg argument. Was the pitch selection changed because of the change is K zone or was the K zone changed because of the change in pitch selection? I’m not sure but it would seem that the slider would be easier to control via the dip and drive and the curve via the leg kick?
    *
    Adjusting the room parameters to STP is a rather simple matter. Adjusting to the parameter list that you made is a bit more complex. Perhaps your list is only a partial?

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