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scott feldman cubsThe MLB season is right around the corner, which means you need to listen to the BN Podcast Season Preview Spectacular at some point this weekend.

  • Scott Feldman, who’s had an ugly Spring Training from a results perspective, says he feels as good as he’s felt in a long time, and is going to stay in Arizona to get in one more minor league start before joining the team, the rest of whom have already departed for Houston. “It’s just something you’ve got to do to get the last time on the bump before the season starts,” Feldman said yesterday, per Cubs.com. “I could have thrown three bullpens or something, but I’d rather get on the mound and face some hitters one last time …. The numbers weren’t good, but honestly most of the stuff that was happening yesterday was just hanging some offspeed pitches. The good news is I feel like I was commanding four pitches. Some of this stuff is just Spring Training and guys are going to be swinging a little bit more. This is the best I’ve physically felt in Spring Training in a long time. My stuff feels good, and now it’s just a matter of executing, finishing guys off and not hanging pitches.” I’m just going to forget Feldman’s Spring, and watch him with new eyes when his first regular season start rolls around. Because there’s still upside there.
  • The Oakland A’s/Baltimore Orioles thing keeps coming up when folks try to describe how the Cubs might surprise this year. It’s a fair comparison in the sense that just about any team can get incredibly lucky – and see surprising development from players – but I just don’t see the same level of young talent stepping forward at the same time (A’s) or the same ridiculous luck coming out of the bullpen (O’s). If the Cubs have somehow managed to stay around .500 by June, then we can talk.
  • I biffed on including this in Around the League yesterday, because it’s pretty darn important to online discourse: FanGraphs and Baseball Reference are harmonizing their WAR baseline, meaning that “replacement level” is going to be the same starting point for both calculations now. The WAR calculation, itself, will probably always vary – different people take different approaches – but the huge differences we saw in recent years between bWAR and fWAR are likely to go away. This is really going to help our discussions because, too frequently, you’d have some variation of someone saying, “Darwin Barney was worth 4.0 WAR last year! He’s super valuable!” And another countering that, “You’re crazy, and don’t even know how to read stats. Barney’s WAR was just 2.0.”
  • The Three Rivers Burgh Blog – a Pirates joint – asked me some questions about the Cubs’ season as part of a season preview series, and you can see those (clever and informative) answers here.
  • Jesse Rogers wraps up the Cubs’ Spring with some stats and anecdotes. Patrick Mooney also wraps the Spring with more of an attitudinal look at the Cubs as they get ready to start the 2013 season.
  • Funny story: a BN friend Wayne and a BN friend Josh – among the handful of you whom I’ve met and hung out with – were each, independently, in Mesa for Spring Training stuff this past week. Wayne tweets that he just saw Javier Baez crush a 450 foot homer in batting practice at Fitch (and notes that the Cubs should provide towels to sop up the drool), which I retweeted. Josh saw that tweet, and realizes that he, too, was at Fitch, and had seen that Baez mammoth shot. Then Josh tweeted at both of us that, indeed, he had actually tracked down that very home run ball (it is a small and swell world):

  • Check out the DESTRUCTION Baez’s mighty swing did to that ball! (Ok, so maybe it was the pavement … )
  • hansman1982

    Also, Fangraphs has completely removed SB/CS from their wOBA calculation page. I am not a fan of that move.

    I will continue; however, to utilize the .25 runs for a SB and -.50 runs for a CS in my wOBAs calculation, cause, damnit, you give me a stat that looks at everything a player does on offense, then leave out SB…SMH.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      It probably is better to go with one overall number. wOBA is recalculated year-after-year based on the correlations between the stat and runs scored/allowed. So, you get little fluxes based not on how much (say) a stolen base really is worth, but on what it did that year. It’s the difference between rate and frequency: subtle, but important.

      It’s occurred to me that the best way to actually calculate WAR is to change “R” from “replacement” to “rival.” That is, how many more runs did Starlin Castro create/prevent than the shortstops batting against the Cubs? This has come up recently with the Rockies: because Coors inflates their stats, they have a lot more guys with big positive WARs than you expect on a last-place team. However, once you standardize for ballparks, that goes away. If you compared their players to what the opposing players in the same positions did, then things like ballpark effects would go away.

      • hansman1982

        StatCorner.com has a wOBA that is pre-adjusted to ballparks played in for you. I love that site. I would prefer if sites would do that and then have a wOBApfp+ (park factor, positional) to compare Starlin Castro against the league average SS. I’m becoming less and less of a fan of WAR every day.

        Really, at the end of the day, most players don’t steal enough bases effectively enough to skew their overall production. It’s really only useful for guys like Tony Campana, Michael Bourn and Billy Hamilton.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          The old Voltaire line about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good comes to mind where WAR is concerned. It’s not perfect, but it is good, particularly in the general concept. That just means that we need ways to improve it. At the end of the day, what you really want is to start 9 or 10 guys (depending the league) who usually outproduce their counterpart in the other uniform. Do that, and (barring attrocious luck) you will win a lot of games.

  • preacherman86

    Side note completely….watching the spring training game from yesterday (on mlb network this morning) I have a few comments and wishes. Arismendy Alcantara, in response to Luke’s evaluation, looks like a very nice prospect. He is young, but he just has that look that he has a feel for the game, and watching his plate approach and diggin up some video. His at bats show patience and he at age 20 is looking for his pitch, not swinging at pitcher’s pitches. Also I think he has plenty of range to stick at short, but with Castro there and some guys with bigger arms there, he would be a crazy good second basemen, and in my opinion could get to the bigs there in 2014. On another note, Brett Jackson looks solid. More in a potential guest post later on “swingeology”.

  • DaveY

    That ball looks like it has been through several spring trainings worth of batting practice…

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    One of our starting pitchers faltered in Spring? Let’s go sign Kyle Lohse then – ohwait

  • forlines

    Great answers on the Burgh Blog Brett! I agree with your final thoughts; if i’m going to root for anyone other than the Cubs in the NL central, it’ll certainly be the Pirates.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks. I tried not to be TOO negative.

      • hansman1982

        Short and informative!

  • BluBlud

    Hey Brett, you forgot a Bullet.

    God’s Wrath. I broke my the Middle finger last night catching a fly ball and transfering it to my throwing hand. Clean fracture. Im out 4-6 weeks. Whats makes it worse, My team fell to 0-3 after losing 8-3. We sure have a lot in common with the Cubs. Only difference is it’s been a while since we had a losing record.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ouch.

    • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

      How do you break your middle finger on your catching hand?

      • TWC

        16″?

        • BluBlud

          14″ actually.

          • hansman1982

            I’ve always wanted to play 14″ but usually play either 12 or 16.

          • TWC

            Really? I’ve never heard of a 14″ rec league. Growing up, it was 12″ w/ gloves, 16″ without. (But a new 16″ ball would kill your hands until it got mashed up a few times.)

            • BluBlud

              We don’t have a rule on gloves. We have rules on balls , bats and shoes.

            • hansman1982

              “16″ without”

              Good God, how old are you? (Although, playing IF my glove gets in the way more often than not)

              • TWC

                Yo, kid, softball was invented in Chicago. We know a thing or two about the rules.

                Really, I haven’t played softball outside of a backyard party/bbq pick up game here or there in >15 years, and those are always 16″/mush ball games.

                • BT

                  I still play 16″ without gloves in a league, every summer. I have for over 20 years.

                  • hansman1982

                    Hmm, in my hometown, it’s been 20+ years since they moved to gloved softball (granted Carroll, IA, is not the end all be all of softball).

                    TWC – Yes, and Chicago is (at least in the midwest) the king area of softball. Some of the 16″ guys actually get paid to play (and games are typically 30-28 slug fests).

                  • BluBlud

                    Oh, you guys are talking size of ball. I play 12 in in men, 12in/11in co-ed. Nobody around here plays 16 inch. I thought you were asking what size glove I was wearing.

                    • TWC

                      Yeah, I think that 16″ is pretty much a mostly-Midwest game. Out here in NorCal, it’s only 12″.

                      But that’s why I asked if it was 16″. It’s pretty easy to crack a finger catching a brand new 16″ ball bare-handed.

                • TSB

                  In HS PE, the sadistic teacher used to make us play slow-pitch with a actual baseball and no gloves. First team won, second team never got up to bat. Unwritten rule was when the ball stopped rolling, only then would you pick it up.

      • BluBlud

        “I broke my the Middle finger last night catching a fly ball and transfering it to my throwing hand.”

        Please read this again.

        • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

          What does transferring the ball to your throwing have anything to do with breaking your finger on your catching hand? The two events are mutually exclusive.

          • BluBlud

            Ok, let me break it down for you. I made a dead sprint running catch, and turn to throw out a runner who had left the base early. In the process of making the catch and transferring the ball into my throwing hand, the ball snow coned on me, so instead of grabbing the ball clean with my throwing hand, I jammed my middle finger on my throwing hand into the middle of the ball, which caused a fracture in my bone. Oh, BTW, my throwing hand is my right hand. Is this better.

          • DarthHater

            Surely you can find SOMETHING better than this to bitch about.

            Blu broke his finger. It’s a disaster comparable to Superstorm Sandy. Show a little compassion. ;-)

        • http://none millhah

          oh!…you broke your toe…

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    Also, super cool story about the HR ball. I am super jealous

    • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

      That is super!

  • Bilbo161

    Would have been really nice if Javy had signed it.

  • Marc N.

    Maybe a little weird but I’ve been saying all offseason that Feldman is going to be the surprisingly strong FA signing in the bunch. ST is only a bump in that road!

    I legitimately like his arm THO. Seen him in the low 90′s topping out at 94 maybe 95 with a strong curveball and a usable changeup that he mixes well. Plus he’s coming from a pretty tough environment…Texas while they happen to be one of the top 3 or so teams in the league.

    • BluBlud

      I have been saying all along that Feldman is not a starter and should have to earn his spot in the rotation and he has done nothing even remotely close to getting there. I don’t dislike him, and i hope he has a great season, but I have my doubts.

    • Tommy

      Boy, I hope you’re right Marc, because he sure has looked terribad in Spring Training, and his numbers in Texas weren’t exactly stellar (but that is a hitter’s park).

  • 5412

    Hi,

    We went to both the Wednesday and Thursday games. Feldman looked awful, most all the hits he gave up were solid, I was really disappointed.

    On th flip side, Villanueva looked sharp and gave up one earned run. I also felt Takahashi looked better than his numbers. The hits he gave off were bleeders and the kind guy get when they hit the ball just right almost off the handle of the bat.

    BRETT OUR FIRST GAME IS ALSO MAY 3rd. We have swapped tickets so I am not sure where we will be sitting but I should know soon. I would love to say hello. I have an issue I want to discuss with you and don’t feel comfortable putting in an email.

    Please let me know if you have time to say hello.

    regards,5412

  • jt

    Luck for the O’s?
    Chen 32 starts 192 IP with a 4.02 ERA
    He allowed 2 or fewer ER 19 times
    allowed 3 ER 4 times
    allowed 4 ER once
    There is good reason why they were 19W 13L in games in which he started
    *
    Hammel/Tillman/Gonzalez/Saunders combined for 57 starts, 329 IP, and an ERA of about 3.45
    Balt won 38 of those starts.
    *
    The O’s record when these 5 started was 57W/38L
    That is 55% of starts of close to that expected from the first 3 starters
    *
    The record when others started was 36W/37L
    *
    Bullpen had 545 IP and an ERA of 3.00
    *
    Offense avg 4.40 runs per game
    Lg avg was 4.45 runs per game
    .. not a significant difference
    *
    The O’s were a team with an unbalanced distribution of talent that was managed efficiently… not luck.

  • jt

    times team limited opponent to 3 or fewer runs in 2012
    *
    Jays 61
    Red Sox 55
    Clev 60
    KC 70
    Brewers 65
    Seattle75
    Miami 75
    Mets 73
    Phils 71
    Pitt 72
    Az 75
    Dads 66
    Angels79
    O’s 81
    SF 83
    Yanks 82
    Braves 88
    Tigers 84
    A’s 82
    Nats 82
    Reds 92
    Cards 81
    Dodgers 90
    Rays 89
    Texas 86
    you don’t need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Yes, doing things that stop the other team from scoring is half of net OPS…..

  • jt

    NL team leaders in OPS…1)Rox…2)Brewers….5)D’backs
    Toss the Rox for park effect
    Not to belittle oOPS but the best chance for a NL team to win in 2012 was when runs were limited.
    The O’s concentrated on winning those games and, I admit, were a bit over the top in doing so. But the design was there.
    In the 114 games that were reasonably well pitched ( 72% of 162) they avg’d 6.3 IP/GS with a 2.75 ERA. Their 6 top RP’ers tossed 369 innings with a combo ERA of 2.49. They were not over worked and they were effective.
    Many of the other 28% of the 162 they got blown away. Those buying tickets to those games were probably not happy. But I wonder how much Showalter cared?

    • Rebuilding

      Sorry if I missed your point, but the Orioles had a season last year that has maybe been unmatched in the last 100 years. Their record in extra inning games is a record that may stand forever. That’s the great thing about stats – there are outliers

      • jt

        After the middle of May 2012 The Cubs had Russell and Camp for the 7th and 8th innings with Marmol as the closer. That actually worked from the middle of June to the trade deadline. But once the 9th inning was finished and extra innings began they had nothing. The depth in the pen did not cover that. The O’s, OTOH, had 6 guys and they were usually well rested. Perhaps there should have been a hiccup from someone at sometime, but there was not.
        Frankly, I find it more surprising that called up pitchers with little experience did as well as they did. But they did.
        To Dr.’s point as to having bullpens repeat good years: yeah, rings true that often they don’t repeat “the good”. It is probably not the best way to build long lasting success. But as a bridge it can help.
        I don’t think The 2013 Cubs get 114 starts from their rotation to match. I don’t think The 2013 Cubs will have near as good a pen. I believe The 2013 Cubs lineup will be a bit further under avg than that of the 2012 O’s. But one ace, one great closer, one dangerous bat would change a lot of that.

  • mudge

    There are also such things as minds as well as bodies.

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