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edwin jackson cubsWith the Trade Deadline looming next week, I tend to expect that the coverage here this weekend will look more like a regular weekday than a typical weekend day. And that’s after this morning’s Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez news already.

  • Edwin Jackson was great again last night, and he says he’s always been something of a second half pitcher (Cubs.com). Although his career splits don’t really back that claim up (to my eye, he’s actually been a touch better, historically, in the first half – but it’s quite close), he’s certainly making it true this year. Dale Sveum attributes some of the success to an uptick in Jackson’s velocity earlier in the games. “At the beginning [of the year], we saw 88 to 90 [mph] in the first couple innings [by Jackson], and now we’re seeing 93, 94 from the get-go,” Sveum said, per Cubs.com.
  • On the year, Jackson’s ERA is now below five (4.89), and his 3.56 FIP is the 23rd best in the National League, just ahead of Cole Hamels … and he’s got the best FIP on the Cubs. A great deal of the “success” we’re now seeing from Jackson is really just a matter of bad breaks evening out. The truth is – as I’ve said again and again – he’s pitched well all year. The baseball card stats are simply now finally showing it.
  • Kris Bryant hit his first professional home run yesterday for the Boise Hawks. You can watch video of that homer here, and read up on Bryant’s six weeks off from baseball. Essentially, he confirms what a lot of us suspected: it’s taking a little time to shake the rust off. But that’s no reason for concern, and was to be expected.
  • Anyone else notice the shift in James Russell’s usage since the start of July? Coming into the month, Russell was used as a late-inning, full-inning reliever, as he has been for the last couple of years. But starting July 2, he has appeared in 12 games, and hasn’t gone more than 0.2 innings in any of them. To the outside observer, it would look like Russell has been converted from a late-inning reliever to a pure, situational guy. HOWEVA, there isn’t necessarily a conspiracy theory here (showcasing him as a LOOGY (how would that even make sense?), or protecting his stats). The start of July happens to mark the emergence of Blake Parker as a guy in whom Dale Sveum has confidence in later innings, and, more importantly, the arrivals of Pedro Strop and Matt Guerrier, two guys who have been lights out as Cubs. It would only make sense that, with so many effective late-inning options at his disposal that Sveum would use Russell in more advantageous match-ups. And Russell has responded well, for whatever it’s worth – since a shaky outing in Oakland on July 2, Russell has posted the old goose egg ERA with a mere .550 OPS against. We can’t bury our head and pretend that there aren’t trade implications here, but hopefully interested teams – if it comes to that – understand that the shifting role simply means Russell is flexible (and successful however you use him).
  • Wendy Thurm explores the increasing possibility of a TV deal bubble for teams just now approaching the end of their current TV deals (for example, the Cubs’ WGN deal, which covers a little less than half of their games, is up after the 2014 season, and will likely be negotiated this offseason). The bubble has been expanding for a few years now, but as consumers become more and more resistant to having huge sports packages tacked onto their default cable offering (and the commensurate increase in price – what, you thought that huge Cubs TV deal was going to be paid for by the giving tree?), we’re going to see a reverse course at some point – indeed, some providers in smaller markets are already refusing to carry large, local sports networks (try watching a Padres game in San Diego). The size and scope of the Chicago market should help in that regard, but it’s hard to imagine there not being a fundamental shift in how these things work by 2019, the year the rest of the Cubs’ games – the ones currently held by CSN – come up for bidding.
  • nkniacc13

    Well I wonder what move the Cubs make today.

  • Spencer

    So, lowest FIP = best pitcher? I hope there’s some hyperbole there. He’s certainly been better of late, there’s no disputing that, and I’m happy he is pitching well for the Cubs. But it’s hard to point to his FIP and say that finally his “baseball card stats” are good again. 6-11, 4.89 ERA, 1.38 WHIP are the baseball card stats I see. Whether they actually mean anything or not…that’s a different discussion. But for “baseball card” purposes, those are pretty “meh” numbers. Again: I’m sure his baseball card stats are much better in his last handful of starts than they were at the beginning of the season. But best pitcher just based off FIP? Pass.

    Unless they started putting FIP on baseball cards, then I’m with ya. I was never a big collector.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes, there’s hyperbole. That’s the “kind of.”

      Also, you read a whole lot in there that I didn’t say. Over his last 9 starts, his baseball card stats are 5-3 with a 3.42 ERA. You sure that’s not better than they were earlier this year?

      • Spencer

        I said: “Again: I’m sure his baseball card stats are much better in his last handful of starts than they were at the beginning of the season.”

        Then I made the overarching point that his baseball card stats on the season as a whole are still not great. And that is true.

    • Timothy Scarbrough

      Brett is saying that despite what the baseball card stats that you mention say, the FIP is top on the Cubs, which is a much better indicator of true performance.

    • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

      They put WHIP on baseball cards now????

  • turn two

    I’ll take Travis woods number of quality starts as my best pitcher on the team.

    • CubFan Paul

      I’ll take Samardzija, his plus offerings and upside.

      • cubzfan23

        He’s not consistent.

        • Jay

          Yeah, with his stuff, Shark should be lights out more often than not. Travis Wood’s been more effective and consistent with considerably less juice on his pitches. Maddux would be proud.

  • Adam

    Brett/Luke, what is your opinion on Mayo’s newest rankings? Should Alcantara be higher than 8th in the Cubs’ system, let alone being in the top 100 overall?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’ll get a write up at some point this weekend.

      • Johnny

        Its amazing to me how different everyone’s prospect list is. Some people give us a legit farm system.. others like mayo give us a .. meh.. system. Having 4 in the top 100 is decent but others give us 4 in the top 50! Mike olt at 63? Because of 1 bad half a season after an “injury”? Silly… its an updated list and Olt had started to rake before the trade.. hes still top 50 in my opinion. Baez. Almora. Soler. Bryant and Olt are all top 50 in my humble opinion. Which actually gives us a formidable farm system.

        • Jimmy James

          If lot puts up good numbers in iowa the rest of the year (assuming he is there the rest of the year) he will climb back up. Until then, I think the ranking is justified.

          • Johnny

            How is it justified? 63? He was 23 a couple months ago. He hasnt dropped 40 spots in 2 months. Hes still a plus defender and plus patience at the plate. He wont ever hit .300 but ill take .250 with a .350 OBP with 25 hrs and plus defense.

            • Jimmy James

              I think the guys doing the ranking can justify it because He has created huge questions about his potential….yes there is an eye issue, but is that it? I don’t see an issue with the drop, there was also the infusion of new draft class and other guys rising up the rankings. 63 is still pretty darn high, it’s not like he dropped him out of the top 100.

              • Johnny

                63 isnt high tho. He was 23 two months ago. I can understand him dropping a little. He was untouchable last year and now hes a fringe prospect? What are these huge questions about his potential? You realize since he came back from the DL (after dealing with his vision) hes right on par with his career numbers. So where did his potential go? Hes just as gifted now at 24 then he was at 23. This dudes list has him the lowest out of every list ive read from all the “experts”. All im saying tho is im surprised how different this list is to most of the other “experts”. Ive been told he does great work so I dont doubt it. Just surprised. He makes the cubs farm system look decent, most everyone else makes the cubs farm system look really good. Ive been a cubs fan for over 20 years. (22 to be exact) im trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel here. We need a stacked farm to be able to go after price or Stanton. (Wishful thinking)

        • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

          Mayo hates the Cubs always has, Thus his rankings.

    • Jed Jam Band

      Alcantara at 8th? Wow, Mayo is a hack. I mean it. A straight up hack.

      • Cubes

        2nd ed

  • Spencer

    Also, I think it was Joel Sherman from the NY Post that tweeted out after the Soriano deal was complete that the Cubs are “not done” (duh) and will move relievers (plural) and are listening on Schierholtz. Russell certainly seems like the most likely reliever to be headed out the door. Gregg would be the other guy, but I feel like his stock as dropped a bit the last couple weeks. I dunno who else they would be able to move from the ‘pen.

    • turn two

      I’ll be in the minority because everyone wants a couple draft picks higher, but I’d rather have a team of young guys find success so I’m going for.500 record. That being the case I’ll trade russl and schierholtz and the guys that will get a serious return, but you just aren’t getting much for someone like gregg and id rather keep him as our closer.

      • nkniacc13

        I think you move Gregg simply because he doesn’t have a contract for next year and you can have auditions for that closer role and see if anyone can handle it going into next year.

        • turn two

          They can prove that just as well in the 7th and the 8th. i think the parker and strops who are inexperienced and could use the stable closer to help them in their role.

        • mdavis

          pirates just lot grilli for 4-8 weeks. possible trade partner there? could maybe ask for just a little more being an intra division deal.

          • mdavis

            and my only thought about schierholtz is who is going to play the outfield? Sweeney is still several weeks away. Jackson has been awful and injured. Bogusevic I guess?

            • nkniacc13

              The Cubs have 5 OF on roster and will likely be 6 if they don’t move one with Bogusevic coming back off DL soon

              • mdavis

                right but i’d rather get a look at someone not named Borbon, Sappelt, etc. Schierholtz has another year of team contorl, unless its a really good return I just think his value to the team outweighs a trade.

                • cubzfan23

                  I really dislike Borbon. Please be the next dfa

          • nkniacc13

            I think that is what could be holding up a deal the Pirates don’t want to give up that much because its in the same divison

        • Nate

          I agree but I think a deal gets done there. I’m hoping that’s what Assman was talking about.

      • Rebuilding

        I’ll state the obvious that it doesn’t really matter what we think. The FO has stated repeatedly that they would rather win 65 games instead of 75 and since we are headed for 75 they are going to sell anything not nailed down if it gives us any value.

        • Rebuilding

          And I think Gregg probably gets moved for An IFA slot

          • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

            Highly doubt for slot money. Seems like they don’t care with the bonus we just gave Tseng. Gregg should be a throw in to get something better back.

  • nkniacc13

    Gregg is what he is I don’t think his value has went up or down in the last month

    • turn two

      Generally if agree a bad month before the trade deadline doesn’t change trade value. However,gregg was a bust before a breakout campaign with the cubs in a small sample size of success. Now he is getting hit hard every time out, it certainly should decrease his trade value based on his history and how hard he has been hit even when he has gotten the save.

      • nkniacc13

        But you shouldnt have expected to get much from him when he a was good so it really shouldn’t affect his value now

        • turn two

          Well played, seeing playoff teams desperate for a closer and we had a guy who was 14 for 14, i probably convinced myself we could get a legit prospect. Now it seems clear you aren’t going to get a real prospect for gregg, unless he I’d a throw in with schierholtz or dejesus.

  • Bender 13

    As to the TV deal, does it seem likely that those of us outside of the Chicago area will only be able to watch the team when they’re on ESPN in the future? (without the Extra Innings package). Or, would a “cubs network” be an option for someone to purchase?

    Living in Virginia as a DirecTV customer, I get MASN, which carries Nats and O’s games that I never watch. Without WGN carrying games, I fear I may have acccess to about as many Cubs games as I do Mariners or Twins games, which is to say, next to zero.

    • nkniacc13

      Im with you Bender it will be tough not being able to watch the Cubs on WGN

  • Rebuilding

    Brett, don’t you think it more likely that D-Day for the Cubs local TV is after they opt out of the WGN deal? If they are going to start a Cubs Channel of sorts it would have to be in partnership with CSN or Comcast for the production. Since CSN has the remaining contract I’m sure they would be ready to renegotiate or tear up the old contract if they see more $ (which a new station would certainly provide). Reinsdorf and Wirtz would have every incentive to be bought out of the Cubs portion so their teams get more exposure on CSN (in effect the Sox would have their own channel during baseball season) or could be given an equivalent share of the network through 2019. I just think it makes a lot of sense and I don’t see any way the Cubs are shut out like the Padres

    • fresno cub fan

      Same situation here in central Cal. Without WGN I would typically be able to view around a dozen Cub games a year…primarily when they play the Giants. There is some occasional viewing of their games on MLBNetwork, but it is usually just a few live highlights.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes, I do think there is going to be some incentive by all sides to negotiate a comprehensive deal with CSN for all games starting in 2015. I think it depends on what WGN America’s strategy is going forward, how much they’re willing to pay to stay partly in the game, and how much the Cubs value having national exposure. It’s all very complicated.

      But, yes – the CSN takeover/Cubs channel in two years is as plausible an outcome as any. And if the Cubs do buy that there’s a bubble looming, they would be wise to push to make that option happen, even if it means taking a little less money now than they might hope for in 2020.

      • ssckelley

        A Cubs Channel would be awesome, think of the programming they could run. The Boise game that is on right now could be televised. Off season send a crew down to the summer leagues.

      • JM

        Do you know of an avenue to appeal to the Cubs, asking them to make Cubs baseball available to the masses? Much of their popularity is a direct result of their accessibility through the years.

    • Rebuilding

      Just a tip to DirecTV customers. The MLB package can be had for $99 if you call up and say you are thinking about switching or look for a promo. It is a great value. The Cubs are blacked out on their full station, but not on the MLB mix channel that allows you to watch 8 games at once. You have to listen to the other team’s announcers, but I kind of like it to get a different perspective

      • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

        I have the Roku HD device that was 60 bucks and pay little per month for the MLB package. It’s awesome.

        • deej34

          except the MLB package blacks out all Cubs, White Sox, Cardinals, and Brewers games if you live just about anywhere in the midwest….

  • Carew

    Good for Russell. Now trade him. Please. You can say what you want, but to me he is not good. Maybe I just see his bad games, but I still dont like him.

    • Nate

      He’s the only lefty in the pen and he’s been at minimum solid for a couple years. He had a down spell but started the season amazingly. If he’s gone who’s the lefty reliever to replace him? Brett/Luke is there a solid minor league option here? I think Raley is the only lefty in Iowa and I thought he was starting.

      • willis

        Rosscup could. He’d be jumping from AA but he’s been great. I’m sure they could turn Raley into a loogy. Jokisch is another solid lefty arm but I think I’d like to see him keep starting for the rest of the year to see how it turns out. But he’d be a lefty reliever option in the future.

  • http://bluebattinghelmet.wordpress.com Rob

    Jackson has pitched well all year? Really? Is the bar on pitching well really that low?

    Or to ask it another way, are you looking forward to three more years just like this one? I can say with confidence that I’m not.

    • frank

      His peripheral stats were pretty good all year, which generally means that he was pitching into some bad luck. It likely means 3 more years of getting the better results that he’s been getting lately. You’d likely want more from your 1 and 2, but from a back of the rotation starter, I’ll take that all day.

      • willis

        The way he has been pitching is the way I expected him to pitch when he signed. I was stoked about his signing as much as anyone. Then extremely disappointed throughout most of he first half. Looks like he’s turned it on big time and his velocity is looking strong.

        They need him to be a solid 4 in this rotation going forward.

      • Eternal Pessimist

        And I’m pretty sure that Brett has commented on the Cubs who have been “lucky” as well. I think some people get the impression that Brett has “Cub’s Fever” and is just looking through Cub’s performances through rose colored glasses.

    • Rebuilding

      By xFIP:

      Samardzija 3.47
      Jackson 3.64
      Garza. 3.75
      Wood 4.30

      Jackson has been exactly who they thought they signed. His xFIP the last 3 years: 3.71, 3.73 and 3.64. Sorry if that doesn’t comport with what you think you’re seeing, but Jackson is headed for a 2.5-3 WAR season so is worth the contract

      • http://bluebattinghelmet.wordpress.com Rob

        Sorry, but WAR isn’t a good measure of whether he warrants this contract or not. He’s going to hit 15 losses this year, and that’s about 7 losses too many. Besides, we’re in for three more years of this, too.

        • DarthHater

          WAR tells you that a pitcher who pitched exactly the way Jackson has pitched this season would, on average, get you 2.5 to 3 more wins than a replacement-level starter would, on average, get you. WAR does not – and does not claim to – tell you how many wins Jackons’s team will actually get if he pitches at that level in any particular season. The reason is that the actual number of wins is largely determined by multiple factors other than Jackson’s own pitching. So saying that Jackson has not earned his contract because of the number of losses the team has gotten in his starts this season is: (a) 20-20 hindsight; and (b) simply wrong, because it is blaming Jackson for losses that were caused by factors other than his pitching.

        • Rebuilding

          W/L is not how you value a pitcher, Rob. Look at Chris Sale

          • MichiganGoat

            Exactly, losses are the worst measurement for pitching you can pitch 9 innings give up one run and lose.

            • Vercindeterix

              If all you knew about a pitcher was his W-L record, which would you say is the better pitcher; one that is 10-5, or one that is 5-10? Good pitchers find ways to win games; Bad pitchers find ways to lose them.

              • bbmoney

                Good thing that’s not all we know.

                So we can assign it its proper value…… Very little

              • Rebuilding

                That’s just silly. A better predictor of a pitcher’s W/L record is how good his team is as opposed to how good he is. What if you had a guy that made 32 starts, all complete game, perfect games, but his team gave up an unearned run each game an he lost 1-0. So 32 straight perfect games and an 0-32 record

                • MichiganGoat

                  Yes that pitcher would be horrible because he didn’t have TWTW.

                  • Kyle

                    It’s 2013. If someone still wants to believe in pitcher Wins and pitcher Losses, you’ll never convince them. They are like the Amish of baseball fandom.

                • Blublud

                  Well then he wouldn’t have 32 perfect games if the was 1 unearned run per game. ;)

                  • turn two

                    That’s what i was going to say, we should all at least know what a perfect game is.

                    • Rebuilding

                      True. Should have said no hitter with no walks

              • MichiganGoat

                So by your theory King Felix was worse in 2010 when he went 14-13 and won the Cy Young than many of the other pitchers in baseball?

                One hit is all it takes to get a loss- you see why the loss is a horrible indicator – right?

                • Blublud

                  Even I, Mr old school stats realize wins are, IMO, a stupid stat to even pay attention to. The only W/L that matters is the teams. I mean hell, we might as well start assigning win to QB’s and PG’s too.

                • YourResidentJag

                  I wonder if someday W/L records will be killed in favor of the quality start statistic? Sure WAR works as well, but quality starts tell a lot about a SP effectiveness.

        • Brent

          Rob, sorry, you are wrong.

      • YourResidentJag

        The problem isn’t Jackson’s predicted WAR value that makes the contract as you call it “justified”. The problem is what the Cubs had to pay for his past performance, coupled with the fact that they were able to find SP with the same WAR values for cheaper dollars.

  • MXB

    I think the Cubs are trying to limit the number of innings Russell pitches so he doesn’t go all “Shawn Camp-like” next year (if he’s not traded). Russell was close to the number of innings and appearances as Camp in 2012 and we saw how Camp imploded this year. Albeit, Russell is about 8+ years younger but I think it has more to do with preserving Russell’s effectiveness for the future, than making him in to a LOOGY. We already have seen he’s having problems getting RHHs out this year.

    • MoneyBoy

      It may also have to do with the fact that Camp’s ‘out’ pitch was a slider.

      • MXB

        I figured Camp’s out pitch was an opposing homerun ;)

  • savant

    Bryant really fills up the batters box.

  • cubzforlife

    If the Cubs ran out Shark, Wood, and Jackson in the 07,08 playoffs would we have done better? Just thinking what the future holds without an ace. I know we can’t score enough runs against average pitching. And last night they said we lead the league in extra base hits.

    • Jimmy James

      No all the bats were cold….

  • mudge

    I can’t see any point in trading Russell. Or Navarro for that matter. Move Gregg and either ddj or Schierholtz.

    • Rebuilding

      Russell is debateable, but what’s the point in keeping Navarro if you can get a lottery ticket for him?

      • willis

        I’m totally fine if Russell is moved. There are plenty of lefty arms in the system that can fill that void. And Russell seems to be lacking a lot of confidence when out there. If someone is willing to give up something decent for him, yeah, move him.

    • Dustin S

      Gregg is good as gone, the problem being his value even before his recent performances wasn’t going to be great and now is pretty marginal. There really is no point at all in keeping him at 37 and the main reason they got him was to flip. So there is some incentive for the front office to try to package him up with someone to get at least a semi-reasonable return. Schierholtz for sure is an option and probably the next most likely to go. If not him, the next guy other teams would want is Russell.

      Navarro normally would be really likely to go too, but I don’t know who would take his spot unless the Cubs just want a warm body. Catching in the Cubs farm system all the way from low A to AAA isn’t a position of strength. If Castillo gets hurt or can’t find a little more power, they will need some help there. At Iowa Boscan is hitting .249, Flores a blistering .181, and with the Smokies Lopez is hitting .239. A-ball isn’t much better. So unless they get a catcher back or whoever they would call-up is just an emergency backup to Castillo, it would be tough to deal Navarro. It’s kind of the price of dealing Clevenger earlier.

      • Brent

        It doesn’t matter who is going to take Navarro’s spot once he is traded. There are serviceable backup catchers out there or in AAA. You have to trade Navarro and get something for him. Otherwise he walks at the end of the year for nothing.

  • jt

    Another way of looking at FIP.
    I’m guessing that Wood out performs his earned FIP in a large % of his games. I’m sure there are other pitches for which this is also true. But there are games in his career in which he has just gotten killed. I’m sure that this true for the same set of pitches defined above.
    The earned FIP does not define that he can not pitch with success by pitching to contact. Rather, it indicates that he may not be able to pitch with success is he lacks one of his normal attributes of command, movement or velocity. That is to say, as the season (or even a particular game) extends he may tire a bit and also lose enough were he can not pitch with the same success as when he is strong.
    Jackson, with his lower FIP, should be able to do better than Wood when he lacks a bit off his best command, movement and velocity.
    It is entirely possible that Wood is the better pitcher when he has his best command but that he is not as good a pitcher as Jackson when they each have trouble locating their pitches.

  • Gregor

    This is pure trash. Garza was the best pitcher on the team. it was Garza, Wood, Shark and then Jackson.

    Honestly, We would have been better off if we ate some of Jackson’s contract and traded him elsewhere.

    Garza even at 29 should have been signed to a four year contract.

    • Rebuilding

      Sorry, but nothing backs that up. It’s been Samardzija, Jackson and then Garza this year

      • Ticks

        I can appreciate the point you are trying to make, but that statement is incorrect. The value in advanced metrics is not in their ability to tell you what has occurred, but rather in their ability to tell you what will occur.

  • Rafael R

    A lot of people need to hit up fangraphs on here. Gives good sabermetric explanations and you can see the player stats. I’m hooked, not a scout, and can only (but loves to) play with numbers :D

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