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chicago cubs logoSince Bryan LaHair headed off to Japan (he’s since become available again, by the way), and since the Cubs hitched their first base star to Anthony Rizzo, there hasn’t been much in the way of an obvious AAA first baseman in the organization. When you’ve got a full-time first baseman on the big league roster (particularly in the NL), AAA 1B is a nice place to stash one of those older, questionable prospects who’ve always hit in the minors but may never have a position in the big leagues. The Cubs did that when they picked up LaHair, they’d done it before with Micah Hoffpauir, and they did it last year with Brad Nelson.

It looks like this year’s iteration is going to be Lars Anderson, whom the Cubs just signed to a minor league deal. It’s unclear whether Anderson is getting a Spring Training invite, since his deal was formalized on the same day the Cubs announced their NRIs, but it’s not likely to make a huge difference going forward. Anderson is being brought in to fill the first base job at AAA, and serve as the long-term emergency back-up at first base, if something catastrophic should happen to a couple guys in front of him. Fortunately, Anderson, a lefty, has played a little outfield in the past couple of years, so he’s got that versatility going for him.

The rub with Anderson, however, unlike some of the AAA first basemen who’ve come before him, is that Anderson has not raked in recent years. Although he tore through the lower minors in such impressive fashion that he was a top 100 prospect in baseball (at first base, no less) from 2008 to 2010 (and actually reached the bigs as a 22-year-old in 2010). From there, however, his production trailed off at AAA, and he’s hit just .250/.347/.391 over 1775 AAA plate appearances. In that time, he’s struck out at a greater than 25% clip, which you don’t love to see, but his walk rate has been through the roof (some 13.5% the last three years).

Given that profile, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Anderson was a Red Sox draft pick back in the day, and came up in the Red Sox system when much of the current Cubs front office was running the show over there.

There isn’t a ton of upside left with Anderson, who has bounced around among several organizations since 2012, though he is still just 26. If the power develops late for him, he could still be an interesting bat off of the bench. For now, as I said, he projects to be the primary starter at first base in Iowa.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Justin Bour would have been the Iowa first base guy, had Miami not snagged him in the minor league Rule 5.

    Also related to this move would be Vitters. I suspect, given that Anderson will be on first, that if Vitters doesn’t make the Cubs bench out of spring training he’ll get his at bats in Iowa as a left fielder. He was also a first base option.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      With Dustin Geiger a decent long-term right-handed bench/1B guy to dream on, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cubs would prefer to give Vitters every chance to play LF before settling on 1B.

      • Jason P

        If only Geiger could play somewhere other than first…

        A Dustin Geiger who can play a solid left field might be a top-10 prospect in the system.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Would think that Bryant would be AAA first basemen by mid 2014 as his position is not projected to be 3B

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It certainly ain’t 1B.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Bryant will probably be fine at third. Not gold glove by any mean, but just fine.

      And if he does move, he’ll be fine in the outfield. He already has some experience out there, and his arm is easily good enough for right. No need to consider moving Bryant to first (barring injury) any time soon.

      • Diehardthefirst

        3B has many candidates but Rizzo stands alone- wouldn’t a platoon rotation with Rizzo also in OF and Bryant at 3B and OF make the team stronger thru flexibility?

        • Rizzo44

          Are you crazy?

          • Diehardthefirst

            Moneyball 101 is to have players be able to play more than one position Bryant 1B 3B OF. Rizzo 1B OF. Castro Barney Valbuena 2B SS etc..

            • Rizzo44

              LOL

            • mjhurdle

              Arreita SP, RP, backup catcher, and starting RF when not pitching.
              Moneyball 401

              • Rizzo44

                Nice I like it!

              • Diehardthefirst

                The DH and closer has skewed fans thinking about what is better for a team- specialization narrows expectations as to a players ability to contribute- a team without superstars needs to max out each players talent

                • another JP

                  ….in other words, the ability to play multiple positions is how we can max out each players talent. Or, I can’t determine what’s better for a team because of the designated hitter and closer roles.

                  Oooookaaaaay….

              • tobias

                don’t forget backup fluffer.

              • B-R-Y-A-N-T

                I agree Dioner Navarro SS,CF,RF,LF,SP when not pitching

                • college_of_coaches

                  ROFL

            • scorecardpaul

              I thought you wanted Castro in the OF

              • Diehardthefirst

                He has more range on pop ups than any SS since Kessinger but he lacks the latters ability on ground balls and overall smarts which is why he’d own CF if they try him during ST

                • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                  Ah Kessinger the poor mans Dick Tidrow and Die Hard’s dream front office.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                    Actually, if Alcantara, Olt, Bryant, and Baez all pan out (a huge, huge, huge if), I can see a scenario in which Castro goes to center, particularly if he starts hitting again.

                    • Diehardthefirst

                      So you also see that he would be a natural out there and it is not a stretch that all of those kids will make the show

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      I never said anything about him being a natural. I said that I can see see a scenario in which he goes to center. Those two things are not the same thing.

                      I suspect all of those players will reach the majors. I would be surprised if they all claim and hold full time jobs in the majors over an extended period of time.

                    • KQ

                      Can Alcantara play center? Has he ever played in the OF?

                    • pinkstonaa

                      But only if Almora doesn’t make it, right? Can’t see him ever moving off CF.

                  • MightyBear

                    Good to see you posting MG. Hope you’re feeling well.

                    • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

                      I’ve been curious if Alcantara could get a look in center. He’s extremely athletic and I could imagine his speed and arm playing well in CF.

          • Cyranojoe

            Have you not met diehard? Diehard(thefirst), meet Rizzo44. RIzzo44, meet our resident alpha troll, whose nonsense is much more tolerable than most other trolls you’ll read.

        • Rizzo44

          Rizzo is the future 1B for the Cubs plain and simple. If Bryant moves off 3B it’s so Baez can play 3B. If and I say if they move him if will be to RF. We have some young talent coming and if we can some how find a couple young pitchers by next year we will have a pretty darn young good team by 2015. You can’t have platoons at every position. Most players want to be in there everyday. Rizzo has the tools and great D to play 1B everyday.

          • Diehardthefirst

            If Rizzo continues downward trend he will become another Colvin without the bat splinter

            • Rizzo44

              After one full year this is what you think? LOL glad you’re not running the Cubs.

            • another JP

              Yess!! Keep em coming Diehard- you are on roll, dude.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Only if Rizzo could play in the outfield.

          And, so far as I know, he can’t.

          • Spoda17

            Why the hell would we ever try Rizzo in the outfield..? haha… he is a gold-glove caliber first baseman !!

  • TTH

    Being a Red Sox flameout is almost like being an 85 Bear. Need a gig? Look to Chicago.

  • JacqueJones

    I thought Mat Gamel was gonna be the AAA 1B, whats up with that guy.

    • cms0101

      Isn’t he gone? They designated him for assignment and I thought he was claimed by someone else.

      • Chiburgh

        The Braves

  • ChiMike702

    I would hope they could find better organizational depth at 1st than this guy. He was awful at AAA last year and was released mid-season.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Things are a little thin at the AAA level. Hopefully Vogelbach advances enough this year that he could be an option next year at Iowa. Also with the log jam at third base I would consider giving Candelario some time at first base. Neither on of those guys are close yet, but things are looking bright for the second wave of prospects.

    • ame1908

      I agree, but I’m not sure that Vogelbach’s defense will allow him to be at 1B, even at AAA. His days playing the field are limited unless there is drastic improvement.

      • blublud

        ame, exactly where are you getting this info from. Every thing I read says Vogs will be a below ave 1st baseman. He could be average. I also think his defense is believe his defense is believed to be as bad as it is because of his size instead of results.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          No, his defense is being evaluated on results, not just his size.

          Right now I’ve got him pegged at a defensive ceiling of a little below average, but due to the work ethic I like his odds of getting close to that ceiling.

          I think he’ll always be somewhat of a liability at first. For me, the question is if he’ll hit for enough to offset that.

  • CubChymyst

    I guess that means that Olt might be a DH in Iowa if he doesn’t make the Cubs out of spring training. If Olt and Villanueva are both in AAA it will be hard to get them both at bats unless one DH’s.

    • Diehardthefirst

      Orrrrrrr— if they play multiple positions

  • Dascenzo

    I can’t understand criticism targeted at Rizzo. His defense is already high-caliber, and taking into consideration both his age and experience, last season was a huge positive for him.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      There is a difficult to eradicate belief that Rizzo’s extremely low singles rate in 2013 reflects some bad batting skills that magically failed to have any effects on his XBH, K or BB rates.

      • Dascenzo

        It’s interesting that where some see failure, others see great success.

        Count me as someone who sees the success in Rizzo’s 2013 season.

        • CubsFaninMS

          Something to mull over…

          Paul Goldschmidt’s first full season:

          AB=512, OBP=.359, 2B=43, HR=20, OPS=.850, R=82, RBI=82, BB=60, Ks=130, Fielding %=.995

          Anthony Rizzo’s first full season:

          AB=606, OBP=.323, 2B=40, HR=23, OPS=.742, R=71, RBI=80, BB=76, Ks=127, Fielding %=.997

          What I take away from this is (1) it is a low probability that Rizzo is the caliber player as Goldschmidt, although possible and; (2) Rizzo’s first season isn’t disappointing when you compare it to Goldschmidt’s. Goldschmidt is recognized as an elite player. If Rizzo’s performance follows the same trajectory as Goldschmidt’s, he’ll be a very solid first baseman for years to come.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            You might want to rethink (1). Or at least postpone judgement a bit.

            They were nearly dead even in home runs and doubles, and Rizzo had more walks (by a wide margin) and fewer strikeouts. So why did Goldschmidt have a higher OPS?

            Because Rizzo did a lousy job hitting singles.

            In other words, Rizzo wins or is even in the categories that tend to predict future success, and trails in a category that generally doesn’t. You can make a solid case that when Rizzo’s singles rate rebounds (and we expect it will) he’ll more or less pull even with Goldschmidt.

            • hansman

              I triple – dog dare you to go post that on a diamond backs board.

      • JacqueJones

        Ya all I want Rizzo to do is hit the ball hard, take his walks and not strikeout too much. He did all three things last year. I see a 4+ WAR season out of Rizzo as much more likely than the 1.6 WAR he put up last season.

        • Dascenzo

          I agree 100% with your WAR prediction, brother.

  • Funn Dave

    Great intro, Brett, linking the move to players with whom we’re familiar from the past.

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    OK so the Cubs have $30-35 million in salary space to get back to last year’s level. I’m not suggesting they’re going to spend all of that, but clearly this team was making room for Tanaka, and that fell through. So assuming they spend at least 15-20 more, who should they pursue?

    • JeffR

      The FO isn’t going to spend money just to spend money. I don’t see them adding more than a 4th/5th starting pitcher.

      • Kyle

        Why is a 4th or 5th starter a good use of money, but a better one is just “spending to spend money”?

        • Jason P

          Unless we scoop in and grab Garza, which for some reason doesn’t seem to have even been considered, I’m not sure Santana or Jimenez will continue to be better than 3rd starters for very long. Oliver projects Jimenez to have an ERA in the low to mid 4′s from here on out, and Santana has had a notoriously erratic career.

          • Funn Dave

            Sounds like Garza’s all but a Brewer now.

          • hansman

            “which for some reason doesn’t seem to have even been considered”

            Not considered by who? If you think the Cubs front office hasn’t at least had 1 conversation about every free agent available, you are crazy.

            • Jason P

              Alright, let me amend that.

              “which for some reason hasn’t been seriously considered”

          • Assman22

            Unwritten rule in MLB…FO doesn’t bring back a player they traded within a season of trading said player…it’s old school…Garza is indeed taking less money (at least from the Brewer’s offer) than he was demanding via extension…safe to say he won’t be a Cub anytime soon, if ever again…

            • Jason P

              If it makes the team better, who cares about unwritten rules? I have a hard time believing Garza’s leaving millions on the table to go to one rebuilding team instead of another.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                It seems silly, but let’s face it, these sorts of returns are rare. The closest we’ve seen is Cliff Lee re-signing with the Phillies a year after they traded him in the off-season.

    • ame1908

      The Cubs shouldn’t spend $20 million to move the team into 4th place. There is no point in aiming for an 81-81 season. The Cubs aren’t close to contending this year, so why waste money trying to improve by 10 wins and still miss the playoffs?

      There are few FA options remaining to help the team beyond this year, thus, one more year of awful baseball and getting a high draft pick; then, we’ll see about the spending to fill holes.

      Save the money – hey, don’t we have a video board to buy or something?

      • Kyle

        The Red Sox spent quite a bit of money last year when both the pundits and statistical projections agreed that they weren’t close to contending and had only gotten themselves to .500.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          True: but nobody was counting on Lester, Buchholz and Lackey all coming back healthy. That was, to be honest, pretty improbable, and that had a lot more to do with the Sox rebounding than did signing Napoli or Drew. Quite frankly, the Sox would have done as well if AGonz & Crawford had stayed on the team (obviating the need for Napoli) if those three had come back healthy.

          • Kyle

            Winning the World Series is *always* improbable.

            The way to do it is to give yourself at least a little bit of a chance every year.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Yes, yes, but having 3 hurt starting pitchers *all* come back healthy (probably) is less probable than that! Basically, everybody was making their projections for the Sox on the assumption that they would have 1, 2 or even 3 fewer good starters than they actually wound up having. (I was very pleasantly surprised, to put it mildly!) To be honest, I cannot think of any historical examples of this happening with starting pitchers. (I can with position players: for example, the 1960 Yankees went back to being the 1958 Yankees after multiple position players didn’t get hurt.)

              Older Cubs fans probably remember this with a hint of bitterness: we were all convinced that Sutcliffe, Trout, Eckersley and Sanderson would return to 1984 form in 1986. None of the four did: which led to a rather dismal season!

      • Brocktoon

        But why spend money for the 2015 season when we’re coming off a 65 win team? That’s just wasting money that won’t get us to the playoffs.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Everybody wants to rip him and Castro too. There were to many people that thought they were hitting guru’s last year screwing with Rizzo, Barney and Castro’s approach. I hope that Mueller has success with getting those guys back to prior form. We need only one voice in their ears when it comes to hitting. But I would imagine they are all feeling some pressure after the dismal year they had in 2013.

    • Dascenzo

      Was Castro’s season dismal? Absolutely! Though I expect a very good bounce-back season.

      Was Barney’s season dismal? At the plate, yes. Which isn’t likely to change, regardless of the Cubs’ hitting coach. Barney’s value resides in is his defensive versatility. On a good team, Barney is a bench utility player. Regular playing time reduces his value.

      Was Rizzo’s season dismal? Absolutely not! In fact, factoring in his age, experience and defense, last season was a success, for Rizzo.

      Heck, Edwin Jackson’s season was solid. I find great value in Edwin as a pitcher – especially related to his salary.

      • Patrick W.

        I think on a good team Barney is the starting SS/2B. Good teams can handle poor offense in one spot in the lineup if they are getting elite defense in the middle infield.

        • Tommy

          I think if you looked at the stats for all 2nd basemen in the league last year, you’d reconsider your point. I don’t think a player with -0.5 WAR and an OPS under .600 is going to supplant any of the 2nd basemen on the better teams in the league. It’s not even a contest.

          I like Barney, and appreciate good defense, but his defensive prowess doesn’t make up for his absolute lack of offense. Dascenzo nailed it – Barney is a valuable utility infielder.

          • Patrick W.

            Ok how about 2012 Barney? What about 2014 Barney? What about SS? No good team would want 2013 Barney starting at 2B, I agree. The World Champions got a .548 OPS from their starting SS in 2013.

            • Patrick W.

              Of course I mean NL Champions

            • Tommy

              Barney’s defensive value at shortstop isn’t near as valuable as it is at 2nd base. He wouldn’t win any gold gloves at short, so his defense isn’t going to make up for his lack of offense.

              • Patrick W.

                You have no way of knowing that. But beyond that, it is confusing to me that you think that Barney will always perform offensively exactly as he did in 2013 and also that good teams don’t routinely sacrifice offense for elite defense up the middle.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Not too many good teams have sacrificed offense for defense up the middle lately. Indeed, the key to the Yankees long term success was the core of Jeter / Posada / Knoblach-Sori-Cano / Williams-Granderson: and those guys made the Yanks long term winners by out-OPSing the opponents middle 4 despite not preventing the runs of an average middle 4.

                  Now, you mention the Cardinals winning despite Kozma’s awful OPS: but their one move this off-season was to upgrade SS to Peralta. Peralta is not going to field as well as Kozma, but he’ll contribute much more to the Cards run-differential by posting a much better OPS.

                  Again, this is one of the real lessons that the Yankees offer. It’s not the “spend! Spend!! SPEND!!!” that so many people take away from what they do. It’s that 7 guys provided extremely good OPS from 4 “skill” positions for a 15+ year stretch. That let the Yanks “spend! Spend!! SPEND!!!” on starting pitching and much-easier-to-acquire corner OFers and 1Bmen.

                  • Patrick W.

                    Fair enough.

                • Tommy

                  I’m not sure what better way of projecting the future than by referencing the past.

                  • Kyle

                    Regressing the immediate past to the overall mean of the past would be a good start

                    • Tommy

                      That’s fair, Kyle. I guess I’ll point to his lifetime OPS of .629.

          • Kyle

            This analysis only works if you believe a player’s stat line in 2013 is going to be his stat line forever.

      • BWA

        Having a player on the bench who is only good at Defense makes very little sense

  • Diehardthefirst

    Briceno and Knebel from Tigers for Rizzo? Adds more pitching depth

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Why do you want to trade Rizzo again?

      • Diehardthefirst

        When Brett brought up Colvin this am I started seeing similarities and with Bryant coming up and Cubs needing pitching and Tigers needing another hitter —-welllll it fits

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Ah another die hard smile moment… thx buddy

        • ClevelandCubsFan

          What similarities do you see between Colvin and Rizzo? I’m curious. (specific similarities)

          • blublud

            I’m not saying I agree with Diehard and I’m a huge Rizzo fan, but there are actually a lot of similarities between Rizzo and Colvin. Them both being lefties and having a lot of power being the obvious two. If you compare both of there first seasons, their stats are very identical. The average, OBP and slugging are all close enough to be similar. So their OPS was Colvin .816 and Rizzo .805. Col in actually might have been better. He had a better ISO of .246 to Rizzo .178. Rizzo had a BABIP of .310 to Col in .296. However Colvin Struck out 9% more than Rizzo with a similar walk rate. Colvin did this in a corner OF position vs Rizzo at 1st, which could make him even slightly more valuable. He did some while playing a good CF and putting up very good stats(SSS).

            I’m not for trading Rizzo(or Vogelbach) unless there is a need to do so, or you are receiving extreme value to do so. Also, moving Bryant to first, unless he can only play there reduces his value.

            I guess my point was Colvin should be the reason not to trade Rizzo, as Col in is a very capable offensive player. He was having a down(same as Rizzo, but much worse) 2nd season and was jerked around a lot by Hendry and Quade and never given a chance to fight through his slump. He ended up getting worse. He was a starter, bench player, AAA, Bench player, starter. When given a chance to play for Colorado, he perform decent in 2012, albeit with an unsustainable BABIP. Then he wasn’t given a chance last year. I don’t know if it was injuries or what. But when given a chance to play everyday, he performed. He crushes righties(2010 were pretty even splits, 2012 almost .900 OPS) so if nothing else, he could have possibly been a upgrade over even Schierholtz, and that’s not discounting Schierholtz.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Rizzo has very good pitch recognition. Colvin has no pitch recognition. That is pretty much protostome vs deuterostome right there.

              (Their walk rates are not remotely similar: there is about a 1 in 7000 chance that two guys with the same walk rates would have such disparity in their walk numbers given their individual PA numbers; heck, Rizzo drew more walks last year than Colvin has gotten in his entire MLB career!)

              • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                Oh those pesky walk

              • blublud

                I was speaking of their first season only. Its right there in the paragraph. If 7.6 Colvin to 7.3 Rizzo is not remotely close, then what the he’ll is the definition of remotely close.

                • Diehardthefirst

                  Rizzo could be Colvin redux was my point yesterday and you seem to agree which is why asking Mark Grace to teach Bryant 1B techniques would be money well spent

              • blublud

                Also, where do you come up with there is a 1 in 7000 chance that 1 guy with roughly 1200 PA would have a walk rate 4% higher then another guy with roughly 1200 PA. Makes no sense.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                  He’s talking about the probability that someone with that career rate hitting that rate in a single season based on probability curves.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  The probability of two guys with a walk rate of about 8% (the average of Rizzo and Colvin) then deviating from that expectation by as much (positive) as Rizzo has in his career PAs and by as much (negative) as Colvin has in his career PAs is approximately 1/7000.

                  • blublud

                    Ok Doc, that makes sense. I guess I misunderstood.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    I love the shit out of when Doc drops things like this.

                  • jh03

                    Man… to be in your head for just one day…

                  • Professional High A

                    Just curious, what courses do you teach?

                    • Professional High A

                      That what supposed to be at Doc

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Statistical methods for evolutionary biologists, particularly for working out how species are related, rates of evolutionary change, sampling theory & time-series analyses. When I teach anymore, it’s for grad students.

                      Baseball stats are like intellectual workouts for people like me: that’s half the reason why we tend to love the game!

            • hansman

              “He was having a down(same as Rizzo, but much worse) 2nd season and was jerked around a lot by Hendry and Quade and never given a chance to fight through his slump.”

              Any time you can point to a player and say they were destroyed by not getting full playing time…they weren’t that good to start with. Doubly so if you have one good and one Coors Field stadium under your belt.

              • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                Why are you ignoring his sCRAP+ factor only Campana has a higher score.

                • hansman

                  I hope sCRAP+ becomes a thing like TOOTBLAN. Then I can say I created something useless and trollish that a lot of people use.

                • blublud

                  Why do you guys constantly go to this. Its not even funny anymore. There are times when its appropriate, but this is not one. No one is talking about anything but stats that true.

                  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                    Oh blu it’s because it’s you and this place needs a little humor from time to time. Colvin is a role model of Cub fans loving scrappy players when even after everyone sees how average at best they are. I’m sorry for having fun, everyone go back to the being bitter all the time.

                  • hansman

                    It’s also amazing how, with scrappy players, when they are playing well it’s all about the stats and when they aren’t it’s all about the intangibles.

                    With Colvin we are getting the best of both worlds. His great season is held up as a statistical wonder that was destroyed by the limited playing time and, (I am guessing), the havoc that wreaked on his confidence.

                    Colvin is a player with a low-BB rate and a high-K rate. When the balls don’t fall, those types of players SUCK. When they do, they are awesome (typically because they are players with power).

                    This is why I am sooooooooo concerned about Baez’s K/BB rate.

              • blublud

                Hansman, that is a legit argument, but you are the same person that I had a debate with that said Valbuena and Schierholtz would play better than their career numbers if given consistent playing time. If this applies to those two, then why can’t it apply to Colvin.

                Also, I’m not saying Colvin is better than Rizzo, or that the FO made a good or bad trade by trading Colvin(the fact that Colvin even played for Colorado means they won that trade. Ian Stewart. Depressing). I was just pointing out that their were a lot of similarities offensively between the two in what would be consider their first seasons. I do think Colvin can be a useful player going forward.

                • hansman

                  “you are the same person that I had a debate with that said Valbuena and Schierholtz would play better than their career numbers if given consistent playing time.”

                  Honestly, I don’t remember that debate; however, if I took the position that they’d have better numbers playing full-time, I no-long agree with that. Platoons and all that.

                  Now, Valbuena and Schierholtz have gotten limited playing time and remained valuable big-leaguers. Colvin has not.

                  Comparing Rizzo and Colvin is unfair because coming into their first big-league seasons, one was considered a good player and one was thought to only have a good enough bat to stick if he was able to man CF.

                  • Kyle

                    Just throwing this out there: Schierholtz has been more consistent, but Colvin has out fWARed him twice in the last four years.

                    • hansman

                      One of those years featured an insane BABIP and the benefit of Coors.

                      Basically, Colvin did what most every Cubs cast-off has done. Gone and had 1 really good season after being cast-off. This leads fans to over-think that player’s value.

                • hansman

                  Also, a majority of Colvin’s success in 2011 came when he was playing part-time. From June 1 until the end of the season (basically when he was playing full-time) he had a .771 OPS. That de-bunks the “he was ruined due to a lack of full-time playing time.

                  If the Cubs didn’t have a GLUT of 4th OF types, I’d want him on the team.

  • Fastball

    What if Rizzo gets off to a bad start and never hits more .230 this season. Then what? There is no backup. He is supposed to hit but what if he doesn’t. It wouldn’t be the 1st time some sure thing just fell apart. I don’t think he will have a continued downturn. But we should not take anything for granted whether its ability or serious injury. Right now there is no plan B at 1b. And this team instantly becomes a 100+loss team. They would break records for most losses and probably every offensive category we can think of.

    I hope Rizzo, Castro and Barney each come out and hit their asses off. A whole lot of folks on hear and other sites would have to either do 180′s or who knows what. But the Cubs wont be half bad if they do hit. I think Olt is gonna hit as well. If this happens and our OF platoons produce decently we will be .500.

    But if Rizzo doesn’t hit we are really shitnof luck cuz we are paying Sori to drive In runs for the Yankees.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      I don’t think that Rizzo will choke, but if he were to utterly fail as you suggested then if I were running the show Bryant would be at first. We already have a log jam at third base so rather than move him to the outfield that would be a good option. But with that said, I can say it ain’t never gonna happen.

  • Dascenzo

    To me, spring training’s most intriguing storyline, is Mike Olt. If he can win the 3B job, this season becomes so much more intriguing.

  • Dascenzo

    Valbuena at 2B, should also be a point of discussion amongst management.

    • Funn Dave

      Yes. Absolutely. As a short-term option, of course.

    • brickhouse

      Valbuena as a bench player should be the discussion and not a starter at a different position

  • Lou Brown

    I wouldn’t mind seeing them give Rizzo more days off against lefties. Hi split starts are not good, and I remember some at bats last year, we he just looked like he had no idea what was coming. Maybe Vitters can win a roster spot and get some time at 1B against LHP. They won’t go pure platoon, but if even half the starts against lefties went to someone else, I think they would be in a little better shape. A .625 OPS in the three hole really hamstrings the offense.

    • Funn Dave

      At the same time, though, if they really want him to be our 1B for a while (which, barring a trade, they presumably do), then they oughta give him as much practice as they can. There’s something to be said for boosting his confidence, but I think it’s more important that he improve his weaknesses.

      • Cyranojoe

        Agreed. If we were seeking to maximize our offense this year in order to play for the playoffs, sure, consider a mini-platoon. But if he can improve this year and leverage that into better play next year, then by all means we’d want that.

  • ssckelley

    What became of Greg Rohan? He struggled with injuries last season but I figured he would get a crack at the AAA job.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I think he’s still in the organization. He’ll likely see time at first and in the outfield. Maybe a little at third.

  • Funn Dave

    Man–if I were thinking, I woulda snagged everybody’s username as soon as they mandated accounts. Just to F with people.

  • Rebuilding

    Looks like we might be interested in this Cuban catcher. From Rotoworld: “MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that Cuban catcher Yenier Bello has been cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control and is free to sign with a major league team.”

    “Bello, 28, left Cuba for Ecuador early last year and later established residency in Mexico, but he wasn’t eligible to sign with an MLB club until finally being cleared by the OFAC earlier this week. The right-handed hitter batted .274 with 13 homers in Cuba’s La Serie Nacional league in 2011 and belted 75 longballs and drove in 297 runs overall in his last five seasons in his native country. Sanchez says that the Dodgers, Cubs and Blue Jays are three clubs that have been linked to Bello.”
    Source: MLBlogs.com Jan 24 – 11:33 AM

  • Ron Bar

    You Talking Rizzo is the future. He’s a likable guy sure. I hope he can improve but realistically he batted 230. Castro batted 245. The cubs are absolutely rancid. It pains me to see alleged fans of the game try to justify numbers like that. If every one on a mlb team bats below 250. Which the cubs did last yr. It means you don’t belong here. Three yrs in a row the cubs let the best player on the roster go. How does that improve your chances of winning? Cutting in the kool aid line. The best player on the roster is going to split this yr as well. Seems like we’re making no progress to me. I said it the other day. You don’t infuse rookies with veteran leaders. You infuse veteran leaders w youth.

    • Diehardthefirst

      Good points- will the real Rizzo and Castro be what we saw last year or what we hope to see this year?

    • gocatsgo2003

      Because batting average alone is usually the best way to judge hitters.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t understand the reference to Kool Aid. It’s a cool, refreshing beverage. Perhaps you could explain its relevance here, since this is the first time I have seen it cleverly referenced in the context of a sports team?

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        I prefer flavor-aid it’s cheaper and more refreshing.

        • mjhurdle

          kool-aid > flavor-aid.
          especially when you could collect Kool-Aid points and send them in for things that look awesome in the catalog, but break the first time you use them (damn you Kool-Aid walkie talkies and remote control cars!!!!)

      • md8232

        [img]https://31.media.tumblr.com/5102851f547a14eb2848c332c700c464/tumblr_inline_myycka6kC81qb7qbj.jpg[/img]

  • Ron Bar

    I actually believe BA is the best way to judge a hitter. Key Word Hitter.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      That’s a funny joke or really bad bait. So I will just laugh and walk away… good satire.

      • http://www.worldseriesdreaming.com dabynsky

        Must resist making Dusty Baker references….

        • md8232

          dude, it’s “Must resist making Dusty Baker references….dude”

  • Ron Bar

    If your suggesting on base percentage or some other asinine stat judges a players ability to make a difference in the final score of a game your simply wrong. If you don’t make contact w the ball and the ball doesn’t travel into the field of play for a hit, you don’t score runs. I guess if every one walks ok but the cubs can’t hit and it takes less skill to hit the ball than to work a walk. Only a bozo the clown fan thinks team BA wouldn’t figure in to team performance. What are you suggesting? Theirs a stat you want to rely on more heavily? How many Adam Dunn’s can we employ?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Assuming you aren’t just trolling here…

      Many studies have been done on this subject, and the results are very consistent. Batting average is not a good measure of how good a hitter is. OPS does a much better job.

      Or, if you prefer weighted stats, wRC+ and wOBA.

      • Diehardthefirst

        How are intangibles measured? And are such stat measures a meaningful forecaster after minimum 50 AB 100 AB 1000 AB?

        • hansman

          Holy shit. I am finally in awe of a die hard post.

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            He is the inspiration of so many great BNisms

          • Diehardthefirst

            Closing your eyes doesn’t prevent me from seeing you

            • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

              ***bow to your master***

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Well that of course is BF (BellyFire) and sCRAP+ stats which are being finalized as soon as we can isolate the secret ingredient in a Dick Tidrow’s stashe hair.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Trolling no but baiting to start argument absolutely, it’s likely someone we’ve met before.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You are implying that the single that drives in the runner is more valuable than the walk that put the runner on base. That is simply not the case.

      • Ron Bar

        That’s not what I’m implying. I’m implying that a player who has more statistically evident chances of getting a “hit” as referenced by his BA would be the player that anyone wants to waltz to the plate in game 7 of the NLCS with two outs. I also would like to point out that the higher a players batting avg the more walks he generally takes. Your not going to convince me. A walk is as good as a hit when it’s simply not. Situationally but not normally. You see wee have these hits known as doubles triples and everyone’s favorite the HR. Ok he gets on base more but it’s less likely he is producing rbis with walks and rbis win ball games. Walks not so much. You know coach might pay your but for an walk but he’s not going to be creating you at home plate after a big win this isn’t the money ball movie.

        • Ron Bar

          *pat *greeting

        • gocatsgo2003

          Huh?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Sounds like you would prefer SLG to AVG anyway.

          SLG is one of the better offensive stats out there, and is part of OPS.

        • md8232

          Regarding the HR, Cubs 9th in MLB last year. Cards 27th. Maybe HR’s not quite as important even tho “chicks dig the long ball”.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Except that the single biggest correlate with winning over the last 52 years (at least!) is net homers. That has been true in the plurality of individual seasons, too.

            Last year was a relatively rare one in which net (doubles + triples) edged net homers and net walks. That was due largely to the Cards.

        • blublud

          A hit is and always will be more valuable than a walk. A runner on second is not being driven in or advanced with a walk, but they can be with, at minimum, a single. Although I’m not a huge metric guy, I disagree with you here Ron Bar. I agree that BA is more valuable than people think and correlates with winning more than some would agree. Yes a hit is more valuable, but a walk is also extremely valuable. If a guy is leading off an inning and reaches on a first pitch single or a 10 pitch walk, which is more valuable. I would take the 10 pitch walk. Also, BA is the largest part of OBP, however, I have recently within the last few days learned that walk rates actually cause a bigger variance in OBP than BA. Take a guy who hits .280 vs a guy who hits .240. The guy who hits .240 leads the league in walk rate and the guy who hits .280 is league average. The guy who leads the the league in walk rate will have a higher OBP despite the .40 point difference in BA. I still value BA more than most, but even I am starting to realize the value of a walk.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Challenge accepted! There actually is no correlation between walk rates and batting average. Here is the association from last year’s players:

          [img]http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/202/672g.jpg[/img]

          The association actually is *very* slightly negative (albeit completely insignificantly so!). That might be dragged heavily by Dan Uggla walking a ton while posting a batting average only 170 points higher than mine would be.

          • matt23

            Wow, Uggla is way out there on his own.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Yeah, Uggla is unique. My bet is that this would stand out historically, too.

              However, take him away and there really is no pattern. If you look at the scatter for the guys walking 10% of the time, it looks no different from the scatter at 5%. The highest batting average and the 4th lowest batting average both walked around 11.5% of the time.

              Now, there is a correlation between walk rates and batting average *given contact*. (That includes HR, unlike BABiP.) However, there also is a correlation between walk rates and K-rates (deep counts promote both), which means that a lot of the high walk guys have fewer contact BAs than low walk guys. That does mean that you get a correlation between slugging and walk rates:
              [img]http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/703/8ctl.jpg[/img] And as out-slugging is strongly correlated winning, that makes out-walking is strongly correlated with winning, too.

      • Diehardthefirst

        Don’t forget the underused sac bunt moving runner into scoring position first

        • DarthHater

          Don’t forget the underused organ between your ears.

          • Diehardthefirst

            Thought vampires slept during the day?

            • DarthHater

              Only the pussy vampires in movies. :-D

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Do you just glitter, then?

    • cubbiehawkeye

      You talk hits like they’re important but above you jump on fans for justifying Castro who led the NL in “Hits” at the age of 21. Trolling or baiting? Potato patado

      “It pains me to see alleged fans of the game try to justify numbers like that.”

      • Diehardthefirst

        Castro also led the league in meaningless hits– he wasn’t all to blame as small ball was not encouraged and so he didn’t have enuf in front of him in scoring position which would have compensated for his inability to drive the ball and runners from 1B

        • cubbiehawkeye

          Most fans justify a bounce back from Castro through prior stats since he doesn’t have the peripherals Rizzo had. Those prior stats would be his hits. I’m just trying to understand the logic of arguing against hits and turning around and arguing for them.

  • Ron Bar

    Most teams who win the World Series probably have the highest team BA throughout the playoffs.

  • Ron Bar

    Ok than like I said walk your way to the World Series or get in by the other teams errant throw. Have fun w that

  • Ron Bar

    Studies show you clowns haven’t played the game you know so much about

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If I send you one of your baseball cards, will you autograph it for me?

      • Ron Bar

        Absolutely and I’ll send it back w a bob probert autographed baseball. No shit.

    • gocatsgo2003

      Studies show that your inability to correctly use the reply button makes it even harder to follow your antiquated argument.

    • hansman

      [Imghttp://www.4us2be.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/clown.png[/img]

      Ya, this clown isn’t amused.

      • hansman

        Dang.

        [Img]http://www.4us2be.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/clown.png[/img]

        • DarthHater

          [img]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3731/12154476883_2e972f7c13_n.jpg[/img]

          Post or post not. There is no try.

  • Ron Bar

    Throughout would have to mean you make the big game

  • Ron Bar

    and it just proves my point. Your all Chris angel mind freaks and billy bean enthusiasts?

  • Ron Bar

    If You Believe In the smoke and mirrors state of the Chicago
    Cubs. You are part of the problem. Go listen to the Earl of Baltimore and talk some sense into that baseball IQ

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      If you are so upset why waste your time complaining on here in your free time? If you have this much bile and anger shouldn’t you look for a distraction that doesn’t upset you?

      • DarthHater

        You would be much happier, MG, if you would just embrace your anger and make the Dark Side of the Force your ally. ;-)

  • Fastball

    Amusing conversation today. Agree with the OPS but I think we need at least a couple guys who hit above .235 wRISP especially when they are actually on 2nd 3rd LOL. I don’t know if the Cubs have the highest RLOB rate in baseball but it sure seems like it. Which to me means when 2 guys walk we can’t drive them in. LOL. I thinks a valid observation. Our team has a shit load of rally killers. I miss the days when we had players who could put together a rally and we would win in dramatic fashion. We haven’t had that in forever. Why? Because we don’t have any Scrap or hit or a BP that doesn’t make our opponents look like they are world beaters.

  • Diehardthefirst

    For all u WAR advocates as reason Cubs historically lose, not one Cub in the top 50 all time of WAR stats- you may be right

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