How Good Has Travis Wood Been, and Does He Merit an Extension? And Other Bullets

travis wood beardThe American League beat the National League last night 3-0 in an All-Star Game dominated by pitching. There was also a very cool moment when Mariano Rivera entered the game in the 8th inning, and the players stayed off the field so that he could have it all to himself. He got the standing ovation as ‘Enter Sandman’ played.

  • Travis Wood, the Cubs’ lone All-Star rep, did not make it into the game, even as a pinch hitter. He still got to do the whole All-Star experience thing, and, while there, he was asked about his future with the Cubs. Per CSN: “Theo and Jed and them are moving in the right direction. We’ve got a great group of guys there, and everybody plays hard and as of late we’ve played solid ball …. I’d love to be a part of the core group and stay around Chicago for a while, but that’s out of my hands. So I just take the ball every time they give it to me and try to help the team win.”
  • Wood, 26, is arbitration-eligible for the first time next year, so he remains under team control for three years. While I have no doubt that the Cubs would like to keep him for those three years, I think it remains unclear whether the risk of guaranteeing big dollars up front for Wood is outweighed by the upside he offers on a four or five-year extension. Pitchers are riskier pieces than positional players, and Wood is only just now emerging as a consistently good starter. The incentive to lock him up – or even just to get cost certainty in his arbitration years – might not be as strong as some other players in the core. None of that is a knock on Wood. It’s just a reflection of the nature of pitchers, of late-rising talents (so to speak), and of the arbitration process. I’m not sure how much the Cubs lose by going year-to-year on Wood, and I’m not sure how much they gain by paying him all of that money today. As with all things, however, on the right deal, there could be some value for both sides.
  • Speaking of Wood, here’s a Guest Bullet from BN’er Michael Wonsover with some additional thoughts on Wood, entering into his final start of the first half on Sunday:

Wood boasts the 10th best ERA (2.69) in MLB and is tied with Patrick Corbin for the fifth best WHIP (0.98) in the NL. Although his 80 K’s in 110.1 innings is nothing out of this world, that number is actually solid for a control pitcher. Perhaps Wood’s strongest statistic is his .192 opponent’s batting average, which ranks second in all of baseball. Lefties might as well give up against Wood, as he’s allowed only 11 hits all season to left-handed batters (.120 average).

Wood’s advanced statistics are also outstanding. Wood’s WPA (win probability added) ranks 12th in the majors at 1.95. WPA determines how much a player has improved his teams’ win expectancy to this point in the season. His WAR (wins above replacement) of 2.1 is 14th best among NL pitchers (but surprisingly only second on the team behind Jeff Samardzija). Wood’s 0.6 WAR as a batter is actually two full wins higher than Starlin Castro’s (man it felt weird typing that sentence). Despite having the eighth slowest average velocity on his fastball in the NL at 89.2 MPH, his wFB/C (runs saved from his fastball per 100 fastballs thrown) of 1.20 ranks seventh in the NL among qualified pitchers. His slider, which he throws 12 percent of the time, is the 19th best in the NL according to wSL/C. Perhaps the most pitch that has led to Wood’s improvement this season is his cutter. Wood uses his cutter nearly a third of the time (only Kevin Correia uses the pitch more often) and sports a NL-leading 2.86 wCT/C. The pitch is especially effective cutting into right-handed batters. All of these numbers are quite amazing for a player who appeared in seven minor league games last season.

  • Well all know the variance issue with Wood – i.e., his probably-unsustainably-low BABIP – and Michael goes on to point that out. But, for today, let’s just enjoy how good Wood has been. And, even with some increase in the BABIP, he’s still likely to be an effective mid-rotation starter, if not an annual All-Star.
  • Vine Line on the Cubs’ breakout prospect of 2013: Arismendy Alcantara. Smokies on Radio has video on the AA Tennessee Smokies’ All-Stars, including Alcantara.
  • Commissioner Bud Selig was asked about the Wrigley Field renovation process, and he certainly didn’t sound concerned. “I’m very optimistic,” Selig said, per CSN. “I know they’re optimistic and I’m optimistic. As you know, Chicago politics don’t always move smoothly. But I’m very optimistic. It’s not something I would say is a concern of mine now because it’s far enough down the line.” Selig has been something of a private champion of the Cubs’ efforts to get Wrigley Field renovated (he has an interest in the Cubs preserving, and staying at, Wrigley Field), so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he was getting periodic update from Tom Ricketts. And, in that instance, if Selig has confidence, you could extrapolate that the Ricketts Family has confidence (like, legit confidence, not just say-it-publicly-just-in-case confidence).
  • If you were looking to contact BN’er Oswego Chris about his book offer from yesterday, you can also check in with him on the Message Board.
  • The Wife made an offer about the Blogathon fundraiser for Make-A-Wish yesterday, so check that out if you didn’t see it.
  • FanGraphs is ranking players on their trade value (considering contracts), and Anthony Rizzo comes in at number 37, and Jeff Samardzija is at 41. Starlin Castro would not be on the list. That makes for an interesting thought experiment – the one suggested by the articles – do you believe a team would trade more to get Jeff Samardzija today than to get Starlin Castro? I’m not so sure about that.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

153 responses to “How Good Has Travis Wood Been, and Does He Merit an Extension? And Other Bullets”

  1. Mike Taylor (no relation)

    “None of that is a knock on Wood”

    HA!

    1. Funn Dave

      Wow good catch, I didn’t even notice that pun.

  2. sans

    SIERA (4.45) and xFIP (4.40) paint a different picture as it pertains to Wood’s effectiveness.

    When we defend a pitcher’s poor statistical facade(Edwin Jackson), we quickly point to metrics like xFIP in order to change perceptions. Conversely we never bring up advanced metrics when they suggest our pither’s bones are much weaker than his facade.

    1. Edwin

      I was thinking close to the same thing. It seems like the big distortion between Wood’s FIP and xFIP has been his HR suppression. I think supressing HR is what will be the big difference between Wood remaining an effective #3 or a #4-5 pitcher.

      1. CubsFaninMS

        I still contend that Wood is pitching like a #1 this year. Look at his numbers. His ERA is lower than Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner, and Stephen Strasburg. Will he pitch like a #1 the rest of the year… the next 5 years? Who knows. Second lowest opponent BA in the Majors. That’s not a #3 in my book. I understand the BABIP numbers but, until they normalize, he is pitching like a #1.

        1. Edwin

          Sure. Wood has pitched very well this year, and has gotten great results. But is ERA the best way to evaluate pitcher performance? And is it the best way to predict future pitcher performance?

          DIPS is designed to try and give better answer to questions like will Wood pitch like a #1 the rest of the year, or the next 5 years. DIPS tries to asnwer questions like what type of results should we expect from Wood if his BABIP and HR/FB% normalize.

          1. CubsFaninMS

            Few of us expect Wood to be THIS good long term. All I’m saying is… let’s give him some credit. For half a season, he’s been a #1 and is our lone All Star. Advanced metrics place him at a #2 or #3 for an average rotation. We can only wait and see.

            1. Edwin

              I give Wood plenty of credit. His performance, by ERA, has beeng great. I just don’t think that ERA is always the best (or only) reflection of how well a pitcher has actually performed, due to the variances in ERA caused by the defense behind the pitcher, park factors, opposition, or sequencing.

              1. CubsFaninMS

                I agree that the other factors should be considered.

              2. Cubbie Blues

                That’s why xFIP is such a great stat to use.

              3. Eternal Pessimist

                I would hate to “buy high” on a player whose BABIP indicates he may slip a bit in the future. I am still very high on Wood, but the only reason to lock him up would be if he gives a home team discount for the Cubs to take on the risk of injury or ineffectiveness in the future.

      2. demz

        In all honesty his HR/FB ratio is at a career low and could very well be sustainable. This is why I do not think xFIP is a good advanced stat to look at for him. His FIP is in the low 3′s if I remember correctly, and I think is the better stat in this particular case.

    2. TulaneCubs

      Regardless of if we’re doing that or not, the front office certainly is. Which is why it’s unlikely Wood receives an extension offer he’s pleased with right now.

      The Cubs’ brass will offer him based on advanced metrics. He’ll want something commensurate with an ERA under 3.

      1. CubsFaninMS

        Yeah, I agree. Now is the worst time to extend Wood. He’s under team control until 2017. If his ERA normalizes to match more closely with his BABIP, he can offer them a more team-friendly extension. If he pitches multiple years like he is now, lock him up and you have a very solid lefty in your rotation. Picture a rotation with Wood, Samardzija, Zastryzny, Pierce Johnson, and Martin Perez. Obviously a ton of question marks and “what if’s” there… but it’s good to imagine.

    3. Mat B

      You mean you don’t consider drilling down to what pitches do what against what batters advanced metrics? I would think that that is about as advanced metric as you can get.

    4. BluBlud

      I am more a typical stats guy. I don’t really care how good you say a pitcher should be, or how bad you say a pitcher should be. The final results is what matters, and Wood has been producing that. Now if you wanna use those stats for contract negotiations to determine future compensation, fine. You can talk all day about an unsustainable BABIP, or it could be that he pitches well enough to prevent a batter from making consistent hard contact. I like Wood, and I really don’t have an opinion on an extention one way or another right now. However, he has been a very good pitcher this year, and until recently, Jackson has not. Is that simple.

      1. Mat B

        I’m right there with you. Wood has been outstanding this year. He deserved to be an all star. I say if he finishes the year as well as he has started it, they should really look into getting him extended.

      2. EvenBetterNewV2.0

        The numbers are there to show you how likely of an outcome you will see based on what they have done. They aren’t gospel, but they tell you how probable a player will produce. That is why advanced stats are better than typical stats. Advanced stats take into account one player. Final results are affected by many players. Not saying final results aren’t important, but they don’t tell half of the story on a player.

      3. Edwin

        Sure. That’s a very simple way to look at how both pitcher’s have pitched so far. Although, I don’t think DIPS is about trying to figure out how good or bad a pitcher has been, as much as it’s about trying to predict how good a pitcher will be going forward. ERA in small sample sizes isn’t always a great predicter of future ERA. Take Scott Feldman for example. His ERA for Texas last year was 5.09. Yikes. But, his FIP and xFIP were both around 3.8. This year, his ERA is 3.86, basically matching his FIP and xFIP for 2013. For his career, his ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all close to each other.

        Again, DIPS isn’t trying to replace ERA, it’s just a way of looking at a pitching performance through a different lense.

      4. Norm

        By “typical stats guy”, it sounds like you mean that you care about the stats the tell you the result.
        The “advanced metrics” stats tell you more about the process.

        So yeah, you can think that Travis Wood is the first pitcher in history to figure out how to pitch so effectively that he can sustain a .227 BABIP across hundreds and hundreds of innings, but it’s probably not likely…

        It’s probable that we see that increase. Which in turn could decrease the amount of runners he strands and I also think we’ll see him give up a few more long balls as the season goes on.
        I think his true talent is that of a #4 pitcher and if someone wants to buy him like he’s figured it out and he’s a #2, he’d be trade bait for me. I’m not a believer that he’s someone that’s worth building around.

        1. MichiganGoat

          WHAT BASEBALL CARDS LIE!!! Damn you Topps for ruining my childhood.

      5. CubsFaninMS

        I’m with you on this. People seem to make consistent comments explaining away Jackson as having “really bad luck” but everyone knocks on Wood saying he’s been luckier than he eventually will be. How about seeing it this way….

        …Jackson has not pitched well for us overall this year. He’s improving and he will likely settle into his typical numbers by year end. Not a bad #3 or #4 piece to a rotation.

        …Wood has pitched like a #1. Period. 17 out of 19 of his starts were quality starts. That’s insane. Best in baseball. He’s our best pitcher this year (so far) and has turned the Marshall trade by himself into a big win. We should give him some credit.

        1. MichiganGoat

          but that does nothing for predicting and evaluating players, it just shows what the end results (that rely on a much more than what one player does)… Yes Wood has been better than EJax, but can we count on that to continue? Can we build a team around what Wood and EJax are doing currently? That is why you look at advanced stats.

          1. Mick

            It’s funny that batting average for batters is viewed as archaic but batting average against for pitchers is an advanced stat. Stats are fun.

            1. MichiganGoat

              There is a difference between BA and BABIP but yeah believe what you will.

              1. hansman1982

                Wha? But they’re both BA!!!!!!

              2. Mick

                It’s also funny that people point to one advanced stat and ridicule baseball card stats but it’s those baseball card stats that you use to calculate most of the advanced stats.

                1. MichiganGoat

                  Your making my arguement easier. These baseball card stats are flawed soooo people smarter than us has found ways to augment those stats so they show a reliable and measurable stats that observe, predict, and analyze a players worth. So you seem to understand what the arguement is, so why are you arguing against them?

                  1. Edwin

                    What’s funny is Archer. Seriously. That show is the best. By any metric.

                  2. Mick

                    I’m against trying to summarize a player’s performance into one number. I’m in favor of using every stat to paint a more complete picture, advanced, traditional, eye-ball, etc..

                    1. MichiganGoat

                      When have I EVER argued that their is one stat? You are just supporting my arguement- thank you.

                    2. Rebuilding

                      Who is for using just one stat in baseball? You knocked over the strawman. Advanced statistics are all about more information and not less

            2. Rebuilding

              This makes absolutely no sense. The reason people “ridicule” batting average is because there are two ways to reach base and it only measures one. For decades people were ignoring the other way to reach base. A guy can bat .220 but get on base 35% of the time while another guy can hit .290 and get on base 30% of the time.

              BABIP is a totally different discussion. A pitcher can control 3 things: SO, BB and HR. BABIP measures what he can’t control. You’re truly talking aples and oranges

              1. Cubbie Blues

                You forgot to mention that AVG values a single and a HR as equal.

                1. Rebuilding

                  Juan Pierre hates advanced stats

                2. Mr. B. Patient

                  AVG is the percentage of at bats that result in hits. Very simple. it’s not everything, but it’s something.
                  SLG takes into account the different values of different hits.

          2. CubsFaninMS

            I agree. What I’m saying is… let’s look at this frame of time for a second, the first of the year. Wood has pitched like a #1 so far this year. His advanced metrics say he will come down to earth. We’ll see…. but give the man some credit.

          3. caryatid62

            This is true and I agree with this. And I absolutely, 100% want anyone in the front office of my favorite team to know everything they can about these things.

            However, I do tend to wonder if FANS have gone a little overboard in this stuff, insofar as it, at times, can hurt their appreciation for past performance (or current performance). It boils down to what our respective jobs are:

            Front Offices should evaluate players in order to predict their performance. Their predictions for future performance based upon peripherals and advanced metrics are absolutely essential to team success.

            Fans should cheer for their team to win as much as possible and compete for championships. Their predictions for future performance based upon peripherals and advanced metrics are utterly irrelevant to team success.

            I’m not sure that, by trying so hard to mimic the job requirements of front office personnel, fans are actually limiting their own enjoyment of what is happening in the moment.

            As a side note, this argument is ABSOLUTELY NOT based on that “stats are ruining the humanity of the game!” tripe. It has nothing to do with that.

            I’m kinda still fleshing this out in my head a little bit, so I’m sure the above contains plenty of gobbledygook, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about as I’ve seen more and more fans understand and focus on peripherals.

            1. CubsFaninMS

              Thank you! My sentiments exactly.

            2. Edwin

              I think there are all kinds of ways to be fans, and using or appreciating advanced statistics in now way hurts or diminishes any type of fandom.

              1. caryatid62

                It has nothing to do with diminishing “fandom,” it has to do with diminishing enjoyment for those fans.

                For example, the Cardinals have a ridiculous BA with RISP. It’s utterly unsustainable. As a fan, why should I care that it’s unsustainable? Does it even matter if it’s unsustainable? The only thing that thinking about it’s unsustainability will do is hurt my enjoyment of it in some nonzero way.

                I see the same thing with Travis Wood. Let’s say he finishes the year with another 15 quality starts, but his xFIP stays high. A GM should look at that and say “okay, he isn’t likely to repeat that.” As a fan, that xFIP shouldn’t diminish what actually happened on the field. He actually pitched well, regardless of the peripherals.

                I think the danger is simply when fans conflate what HAS happened/what IS happening with what might (or is likely to) happen in the future. The former is our purview, the latter is utterly out of our hands.

                1. MichiganGoat

                  I understand what your saying. I believe learning more about advanced stats increases my ability to enjoy the game, but if you just enjoying the “show” of the game I see how it can diminish the fun of viewing the game. I like watching football but I don’t look at it past watching the game. It depends on what you want from the game, but I assume if you are following a baseball blog like BN then you are obsessive about everything surrounding the game.

                  1. caryatid62

                    I’m the same in that I want to know as much as I can about the game–I try to keep up with all the major advances in statistical analysis. I just wonder if it’s (slightly) hurting my enjoyment of the game in-the-moment.

                2. Edwin

                  I see what you’re saying, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s pretty easy when answering the question “How good has Travis Wood been, and does he deserve an extention?”, that I can be tickled pink with his results, but still hold the opinion that his actualy performance probably wasn’t as good as the ERA results indicate, and that going forward he probably won’t put up as good ERA numbers.

                  1. Rebuilding

                    Well, we are going to be paying for him going forward so anything that has predictive value as to what he will do going forward is extremely helpful. If we want to go way back we can say he’s only won 6 games this year so he’s not very good. Luckily, outside of Hawk Harrelson and some others most people don’t think that way anymore

                    1. caryatid62

                      But that’s the thing-WE aren’t going to be paying him.

                      The Cubs organization is going to be paying him. And WE have no input whatsoever into contracts or trades or free agents (even the season ticket holder who buys thousands of dollars of merchandise a year might only account for .0001 of the budget, and that brings no oversight rights with it).

                      The “we” mentality might be part of the issue–fans have a collective sense of ownership over a team that, frankly, doesn’t really exist. And I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, to be honest. It seems, at the moment, like it’s more bad than good.

                    2. Funn Dave

                      I think Caritidad’s (or whatever the name is) point is that while the “predictive value” of stats can be useful for making decisions such as how much or whether to pay Travis in the future, the Front Office is where those decisions are made–not on BN message boards.

                  2. caryatid62

                    Totally agreed. I guess the frustration is that, as Cubs fans right now, EVERYTHING is about what might happen in 2, 3, 4 years. That mindset has seemingly trickled into everything about what the Cubs are doing right now (good and bad). As more and more fans not only play GM, but have, through modern media and technology, a forum through which to discuss it, I still wonder if that hurts their individual enjoyment of the moment.

                    I also agree that it’s important to compartmentalize–I just don’t know how many people actually do it.

      6. MichiganGoat

        When people say the prefer the Baseball Card/Traditional stats I see it was the same illogical argument when science proves a myth wrong. “I don’t care, the earth is the center, leeches heal bad blood, etc because thats whey I learned first and I’m not going to learn anything new. ***stomps feet runs away***

        Its time for all responsible fans to take the time to learn and understand what every FO office in baseball looks over everyday.

        1. sans

          The problem is that fans like you project metrics as gospel, while completely disregarding human aspects of the game. You use advanced metrics to support any of your predictions/opinions when convenient, while completely ignoring them when they may prove you wrong. People like you express themselves in an elitist, condescending way; usually because you’ve never payed the game, yet desperately seek to project an understanding for it.

          Advanced metrics are a nice component to understanding the game of baseball. But they are highly flawed–especially defensive metrics–and are far from the only measure of baseball understanding. Advanced metrics are fun, but they’ve been abused by people like you.

          1. Cubbie Blues

            sans reality.

          2. caryatid62

            You may not want to call someone condescending and elitist and follow that by saying “you’ve never played the game.” The irony is too much to handle.

            1. MichiganGoat

              BURN HIM! YOU SPEAKETH HERSEY!

          3. MichiganGoat

            Wow okay “burn the witch” is also a completely valid response.

            1. hansman1982

              we don’t use “witch” in society today. We prefer “Person Gifted With Magical Abilities That May Use Them For Either Good Or Bad And We Will Not Judge Them”

          4. MichiganGoat

            Okay I recant, The TWTW, sCRAP+, and BellyFire are the true measurements. Baseball cards don’t lie, and the Triple Crown is valid.

            Can I remove the letter around my neck now?

            1. sans

              Your thought process is black-and-white. You’re unable to see the middle.

              Sabermetrics are a good thing. They provide an advance barometer for baseball analysis. But they are flawed(especially defensively). There is more to baseball analysis than sabermetrics.

              Your attempt to continuously antagonize those opposed to bowing at the alter of sabermetrics, by constantly bringing up “scrappy” and “TWTW” in any argument debating the complete merits of sabermetrics, displays your lack of understanding for this debate. Once again, sabermetrics are an awesome tool. But they’re far from the only tool, and far from flawless.

              1. MichiganGoat

                Again I’ve never preached that one stat is the golden stat, but if it helps the witch hunt then I’m your huckleberry.

          5. Kyle

            I find both sides to be laughable and everyone needs to just listen to me.

          6. On The Farm

            “… usually because you’ve never payed the game, yet desperately seek to project an understanding for it”

            You didn’t have to play the game to understand that the game has changed. I watched what Billy Beane did in Oakland and it completely defied all baseball logic, yet they won 20 games in a row, and made the playoffs. He took the idea from Bill James, who never played baseball. He went against most of his scouts and their human aspects of the game to make decisions. You say metrics are highly flawed, I don’t see how they are any more flawed then a scout saying he can teach a high school pitcher command to harness his fastball potential, or teach a high school hitter patience. If they were more flawed then then the human aspects, why has every single FO adopted the use of sabermetrics?

            1. sans

              This is exactly what I’m talking about. Your basis for advanced metrics is “Moneyball”.

              What they didn’t mention in “Moneyball” is that Oakland returned the best starting rotation in baseball(Hudson, Zito, Mulder). That’s why Oakland was so successful.

              Sabermetrics are merely an aspect of data adopted by front offices around the league. Sabermetrics are a nice measure to consider when trying to construct a baseball roster. But they remain flawed, and are hardly the only aspect worth regarding.

              1. Cubbie Blues

                You are the only one that is saying Sabermetrics are “only aspect worth regarding.” It takes a combination of the two. Defensive metrics (available to the public) are very flawed and we need Scouts to help project prospects. Also, no where did On the Farm talk about “Moneyball” he was speaking from personal experience actually watch it play out. That is why I posted earlier, sans reality. Because you aren’t looking at reality, only what you think the math sided fans are thinking.

                1. MichiganGoat

                  It goes back to my original comment that sometimes people can handle when science get in the way of previous learned information. Some embrace the new information and try to learn from the finding other go into inquisition mode and turn to burn all the witches.

                2. sans

                  He was specifically referring to the movie “Moneyball”. Your reading comprehension is impaired.

                  1. MichiganGoat

                    He never said “Moneyball” he said:

                    “I watched what Billy Beane did in Oakland and it completely defied all baseball logic, yet they won 20 games in a row, and made the playoffs. He took the idea from Bill James”

                    So yeah, yea for reading comprehension.

                    1. Jp3

                      God you 2… “God almighty, it’s like I’m playing cards with my brother’s kids or something”

                  2. Cubbie Blues

                    Rereading the post, I can see how it can be read as the book/movie. I still read it more as personally watching the era than Moneyball. You do realize that Moneyball was originally a book, right?

                    1. DarthHater

                      Yep. It was written by Billy Beane, wasn’t it? :-P

                    2. hansman1982

                      Who’s Billy Beane? I thought Brad Pitt revolutionized baseball.

              2. Edwin

                How are advanced metrics flawed? I get that they don’t provide perfect predictive information, but they seem to do a better job than ERA, W-L, BA, HR, R, and RBI. I don’t think they are the only aspect worth regarding, but they’re a pretty valuable set of tools.

                1. sans

                  Defensive sabermetrics are highly flawed.

                  1. hansman1982

                    The are flawed, a lot of people will agree with you.

                  2. hansman1982

                    Now, if you want to point out which offensive and pitching metrics are flawed, we can have a debate.

                  3. Edwin

                    Yes and no. They’re decent in larger sample sizes, and they’re certainly better than using just errors or fielding percentage, or unverified scouting reports/fan opinions. I don’t think anyone in the Sabermetric community takes them as gospel, but I think they’re worth looking at when evaluating how good a fielder is.

                    Also, defensive sabermetrics have little or no bearing on advanced hitting metrics or advanced pitching metrics should be considered highly flawed.

                  4. bbmoney

                    Flawed, as in imperfect? Sure.

                    An improved statistical tool over just looking at errors and fielding %, that can be used in conjunction with scouting? I’d say yes.

              3. Rebuilding

                I didn’t know this debate still existed. The original “Sabermetrics” was batting average, ERA and the basic stats as it quantified what happened on the field to removed some of the eye bias. As people learned more and more statisticians got involved then they began to expand on those ideas and create even more useful statistics. Even the most sabermetrically inclined front office uses tons of scouts – for one thing, until you have data on guys that’s all you’ve got and for another they can sometimes pick up something that might change the stats in the future (can’t hit inside pitches, etc…). No one is arguing that scouting isn’t important or that batting average isn’t important as a component of more useful statistics

                1. MichiganGoat

                  Precisely!

                2. hansman1982

                  I’d argue that in 25 years, MLB scouts might be, mostly, obsolete. With advances in computer software and cameras, it may be possible to know, without bias, everything about a player.

                  Amateur scouts will take longer.

                  1. DarthHater

                    Hamburgers will also be replaced by soylent green . . .

                    1. Internet Random

                      People.

                    2. hansman1982

                      HOW DARE YOU!!!!! Soylent Green is unable to properly satisfy you like a hamburger and everyone knows that Green is a terrible color.

                    3. On The Farm

                      Could be worse, could be that Turkey crap

          7. hansman1982

            I completely understand the human aspect of the game and I LOVE advanced metrics (and think Kyle is wrong).

            It probably explains Castro’s early season slump (new baby), Dempster’s early season slump in 2010 (baby issues), it is also the reason we want large sample sizes, so that the true talent can come through and the adjustments/clutchy-ness/BellyFIRE can even itself out over a season.

          8. Jed Jam Band

            Ugh. Okay, this stupid argument again. I’m tired of the argument that those of us who care about metrics take “the fun” out of the game or that we lose the “human element.” What is more human than trying to level the playing field? What is more human than fairness and equality? You see, it is YOU who have missed the human element of the sport. My love of metrics and the study of baseball are not me trying to destroy the beauty of the sport I love, you buffoon! This is, in fact, a logical and natural extension of my love for baseball. If you love something, you want to invest yourself in it, right? So, why should baseball be any different? How is Goat abusing metrics? I’m sorry that you are so intimidated by math that you can’t handle someone making a logical argument.

            Also, saying metircs are “highly flawed” is a subjective statement. Somewhat flawed, yes. But even you admit that they add a dimension to the sport. And, yes, understanding metrics is a way to understand the sport. Do you understand what modern metrics have done? They have given back the power to the fans. You no longer have to have played the sport to have a deep understanding of it. Playing baseball professionally does not make someone any smarter than you or me or Goat.

            Anyways, thanks for reading my rant and I hope you reconsider your stance on this.

          9. Eternal Pessimist

            “highly flawed”, maybe, but they are a giant leap in the right direction from the old days of looking at ERA, BA, etc…

  3. MichiganGoat

    Wow the Blogathon has raised $8000 ($8500 after the wife matches what was raised in less then 24 hours). This is an amazing community.

    1. On The Farm

      This is by far the most impressive thing that has been said in this thread.

  4. Cubbie Blues

    To be fair, FanGraphs hasn’t completed their list yet. They just released #35-31 yesterday. That said, I’m not sure that we will see him on the list now that we are going into the top 30. I feel like his stock has probably fallen too far this year.

    1. On The Farm

      If you look at the honorable mention peice they put out before the #50-46 Castro is listed at the bottom of guys who have fallen off the list.

    2. bbmoney

      Castro was on the players who have fallen out of the top 50 list.

    3. On The Farm
    4. Cubbie Blues

      Thanks, guys. I missed that one. I should have known better than to doubt Ace. At least my last two sentences covered me a little.

  5. KidCubbie

    Getting a little excited to see Alcantara in the bigs soon. I hope he can keep this production up when he reaches the majors. He’s got a little Jose Reyes in him.

    1. KidCubbie

      Just to clarify, i’m not saying he’s going to be as good as Reyes but he has similar tools. Maybe a little less speed and a little less pop but a slightly less version of Reyes would be awesome.

      1. LWeb23

        I’d agree with less speed, but I’d say more pop. I don’t mean to sound like I’m brainwashed by ESPN, but during the Futures Game they compared him to Jimmy Rollins. But hey, I’m not picky. Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes…. I’ll take a multiple time All Star.

        1. BluBlud

          Yeah, I mean who are we to be picky. Maybe he’ll turn into Jimmy Reyes, or maybe he’ll just be the first Arismendy Alcantara. I really don’t think it matters. What really matters is that the kid can play some baseball and we need more people around Chicago that can do that.

          1. Jp3

            Who in the heck is jimmy Reyes and is he over 23 years old so we don’t have to worry about IFA restrictions?😝

            1. BluBlud

              IDK, I just googled it and it says he is a DJ on hot 92.3 in LA. Has a show called Jimmy Reyes in the morning. He looks older then 23, so there is probably no restrictions.

              1. Jp3

                Ha, if he doesn’t have past arm injuries or a hole in his swing, we’re probably not interested😀. Jk

                1. willis

                  Heehee.

        2. KidCubbie

          Yeah hopefully the 30-30 Jimmy Rollins ;-)

    2. ssckelley

      I am getting excited about Alcantara as well. The improvements he has been making at the plate and increased power has come at the AA level, which is the toughest level (besides MLB) to develop.

  6. On The Farm

    As you mention pitching is a little more risky so I am in the boat to let Wood pitch the rest of this year and his first arbitration year before deciding what direction to go with him. If he continues his success next year (even with regression) I would buy out his first two years of free agency (4 year deal) and I still think it would be both team/player friendly.

  7. Jay

    You certainly don’t extend him NOW….not with three more years of control and this being his first year of being consistently good. He does the same thing next year, then you make a move.

  8. Mr. Gonzo

    I could see the FO locking up Shark this off-season and then, if he continues to progress next year, Wood will be extended after the 2014 season.

    1. On The Farm

      Wow, I am glad you, Jay, and I all had the same thought

      1. Mr. Gonzo

        We need to stick together, it can get dangerous out there alone.

  9. 5412

    Hi,

    The Cubs have a fun dilemma. They extended Rizzo and Castro, perhaps a bit earlier than they needed to. Now they have Wood and Samardjiza.

    Like it or not, if they want to extend both, then they really need to decide who goes first because the one contract will become the basis for the other from a negotiation perspective.

    regards,
    5412

    1. BluBlud

      I think you have to do Shark first, because if you do Wood first and end up over paying, which I doubt will happen, it will cost you more when you try and extend Shark. Extend Shark this offseason, and worry about Wood in a year or so.

      1. On The Farm

        Also, while Samardjiza hasn’t been in a rush to sign an extension, I think at this point if you gave one to Wood before him, it would come off poorly. I understand you shouldn’t make moves based off what fans think, but I think it smarter to extend Samardjiza first given he is the best pitcher the Cubs have and they need to show the fans they want to win.

        1. CubsFaninMS

          Samardzija was planning to pitch like an ace this year so that he could maximize his contract extension $$$. Hey, that’s good. He has alot of confidence in himself and wants to increase his income. That being said, although his velocity is ace material, his numbers are not of an ace. This offseason is the best time to lock Samardzija up (if they like him) or shop him for some prospects. IMO, if they plan to shop him for prospects, now may be a better time than the offseason so they can maximize their return. I would prefer the extension personally. I think he’ll put up Scherzer-like numbers when we are competetive (not the insane W-L numbers of this year though).

        2. Jono

          Unless samardzija puts off the extension while Wood wants to extend. To me, it seems like samardzija is betting on himself and doesn’t want to sign a safe extension like Rizzo and castro did. He believes in himself and wants the big payday. Of course, this is just my opinion. If Wood wants to extend now and the team does, too, then I couldn’t imagen them putting that off just to wait for samardzija

    2. MichiganGoat

      Pitchers are a greater risk than positional players and right now TWood is showing his first good/great season so there just pay the arbitration rates for right now (we still have three years of control). Shark on the other hand has/had an odd contract (look at Cots http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/national-league-central/chicago-cubs/) and I can’t tell when he can elect FA (I believe it is after 2014) so the priority would be to extend him before Wood.

    3. ssckelley

      Yeah these contract extensions have not worked out all that well so far.

  10. On The Farm

    I would have considered the extension if he still had the beard, but now that its gone it’s really put his contract status up in the air

  11. Jono

    How likely is it that Wood is a better pitcher than Samardzija 2 years from now? Very extremely unlikely? Moderately extrememly unlikely? Or not extremely unlikely?

    1. ETS

      7% chance.

    2. Kyle

      I’ll go with moderately extremely unlikely. We have no good reason to project him as such, but pitchers are high volatility.

    3. Edwin

      Probably Moderately extremly unlikely. Maybe.

    4. CubsFaninMS

      With Wood’s velocity, it’s a rare talent to have the accuracy that he’s had this year in the long term. Without that pinpoint accuracy, his slider is by far his best out pitch. Is Wood one of the rare finesse lefties with excellent control? Maybe. But Samardzija’s velocity will help him get away with minor control issues moreso than Wood. If Wood’s slider is not working on a given day and he relies on his fastball and cannot control it, a team like the Cardinals would eat him alive. I say 20% chance. I’m big on Wood but unfortunately his lack of velocity lowers his odds.

      1. Jono

        that’s a nice analysis

        1. CubsFaninMS

          Thank you

      2. Eternal Pessimist

        Wood may become our left-handed Greg Maddox one day. I remember how softly Maddox pitched, but always hit the mitt. I bet the FO thought he couldn’t sustain that performance when the Cubs let him to in FA.

        I also remember Maddox getting the strike calls on balls clearly off the plate due to his consistency. The umps don’t seem to give that bonus any more, so I think Wood will have a more challenging path in that sense.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          Madd”u”x was not a soft thrower. He came into the league with a mid-90′s fastball. Later in his career he lost some velocity due to age, but he wasn’t the soft thrower that many want to remember him as.

        2. Tommy (TC)

          This is the stupidest myth. Maddux didnt throw hard at the end of his career, but when he was GREG MADDUX early in his career, he sat 92 mph and could touch 94

    5. Jono

      Wrong. The correct answer is really extremely unlikely, duh. You guys know nothing about baseball.

  12. Nick

    “None of that is a knock on wood”… I see what you did there

  13. When the Music's Over

    Eh, his numbers look fantastic at first glance, however, even if he regresses to near what the advanced metrics say, he’s still very useful at the right price. That said, if other teams value him at what his surface numbers say and are willing to trade value commensurate with those figures, I’d have no issues with him being shipped off.

    Like someone else said earlier, if he expects right now to get paid at his surface numbers, no need to extend him at this time.

    This conversation makes me wonder, what % of pitchers pay attention to their advanced stats to get an idea of how well they are truly pitching?

  14. North Side Irish

    Serena Dai ‏@ssdai 13m
    Wrigley Field Renovations: Neighbors plan rally for 6:30 pm tonight to protest potential “Vegas Atmosphere” http://dnain.fo/17l6Y4U

    1. Jono

      Resisting job creation is really what we need these days with sustained high unemployment. Those evil billionaires, risking their own money in a way that benefits the community. If only there was a way to use public dollars for the renovation which would actually allow the public to have more control over how their money is used….

    2. When the Music's Over

      I don’t disagree that some of what they’re proposing feels very cheesy/tacky and circus-like/Vegas in nature. There’s a very fine line between tasteful/cool and cheesy/tacky, with the latter being a serious turnoff.

      1. Jono

        that’s the negative aspect of having Ricketts use his own money. The city had their chance to make it a public investment. They passed.

        1. caryatid62

          Actually, that’s not true. Regardless of the public financial input, if the stadium in any way encroaches on or makes use of the public way (i.e. the bridge over Clark, the bump out of the Waveland and Sheffield walls on to the sidewalk), input from the public is required.

          What happens inside the walls is none of the public’s business, but anything that makes use of public resources does, in fact, need public approval.

          1. When the Music's Over

            I can’t stress enough how ridiculous I think the bridge over clark appears on paper and in artist renditions.

          2. When the Music's Over

            Really, it appears to gimmicky in nature, as it really serves no actual necessity.

          3. Jono

            Public funding, especially in chicago, often comes with strings attached. And we’re seeing now how ricketts is getting through public hurdles

        2. When the Music's Over

          While that may be true in terms of funding, doesn’t mean under any circumstances that the Ricketts HAVE to make the atmosphere cheesy. Even when using their own money, they still have the creative choice in how to handle the atmosphere. Tasteful yet effective, is infinitely better than over-the-top and circus-like (Marlins).

          That said, I can’t fully judge until I see it in person myself. Until then, I have to be very cautious given the plans I’ve read to date.

          1. Jono

            Thats the point. Its their choice. They have the ability to make that choice. If they were using public money, the city could put strings attached that prevented this

            1. caryatid62

              Public money should never, ever, ever, ever, ever be used for stadiums of any kind. It’s never financially beneficial to the public, and virtually every study has proven this. They’re a boondoggle.

              The absolute best thing about this process has been the Ricketts’ willingness to finance this with private money.

              1. Jono

                I agree 100%

              2. Edwin

                Miller Park seems to be working out pretty nicely.

              3. Jono

                im just using that as an argument to show highlight how there are consequences to decisions. It’s not a perfect world. You can’t reject public funding AND want the type of control that would have come with that funding. Since the ricketts are risking their own money (rightly so), its their choice how to spend it. Again, I agree that this is how it should be done, but with that, the owners get their freedom, too

  15. ISU Birds

    Watched moneyball last night after the game and maybe the problem is Sveum isn’t playing the guys Theo has brought in correctly. Right? Right? Movies solve problems right?

    1. Jono

      The Cubs need to send their scounts to local hospitals looking for kids with shoulder injuries

      1. Jono

        *scouts*

  16. Tommy (TC)

    Fun to think that, if the Cubs had traded Marmol for Haren, we likely wouldn’t have seen this out of Travis Wood this season

    1. baldtaxguy

      I don’t follow how Haren would have impacted Wood’s success this season. Are you suggesting that Wood would not have been in the rotation?

  17. BD

    On the All-Star game… why didn’t Leyland try to get through the 8th with the other studs that were in the pen? Even if they got in a little trouble, THEN you could bring in Rivera for an out or two in the eight, and even let him have the ninth. But if they got through the 8th, he could have finished it off like everyone wanted him to. It was a nice moment, but not what I was hoping to see. (i.e. the best finisher actually finish the game)

  18. Mick

    The radio silence shouldn’t be a surprise after the Dan Haren and Ryan Dempster trade debacles. Plus, agents could be negotiating with Garza and if Soriano is involved money and no-trade clause are painstaking issues that take time to deal with.

  19. cubsin

    Leyland pitched Mo in the eighth inning because of the risk that the NL might score enough runs in the bottom of the eighth that there wouldn’t be a bottom of the ninth, and he wanted to make sure he pitched in his last All-Star Game.

  20. Funn Dave

    Here’s a big thank-you to Brett for giving us non-Twitter users a method by which to contact the author!

    1. CubFan Paul

      f’n twitters…

  21. fromthemitten

    Wood’s been putting up very strong crafty lefty numbers all season long.

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