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travis wood beardI’ll be heading to Chicago this afternoon in advance of tomorrow’s 100th Anniversary Game at Wrigley. I’ll stop by the Captain Morgan Club before the game, if you’d like to stop by and say hello. Otherwise, I hope to see you in the right field bleachers (I’ll be in a blue BN shirt, blue and yellow shoes, in the lower corner by the LED board).

  • Lots of love for Travis Wood in the game recap at Cubs.com. In case you went to sleep an missed last night’s outing, Travis Wood did it all. On the mound, Wood was at least as impressive as he was at the plate, keeping his pitches down all night long, mostly relying on his fastball and cutter, hitting the corners. He struck out nine and walked none. In the wake of his excellent start, extend-Wood-now has been pretty much everyone’s rallying cry. The desire to extend Wood on a reasonable deal existed long before last night’s start, and I’m sure the Cubs are appropriately pursuing that possibility. Wood has two more years of arbitration after this year, and you’d love to see the Cubs find a way to swing, perhaps, a three-year deal with an option tacked onto the end.
  • As always, though, it takes two to tango. Given his performance last year, and starting this year, however, it could be difficult to come to an agreement on what “tier” of starters Wood belongs in. At $3.9 million this year, Wood figures to be in the $6 to $6.5 million range next year, and perhaps up to $9 million by 2016, his final arbitration year. How much should the Cubs be willing to guarantee him for that first free agent year (age 30 season), two years in advance? $12 million or so? With those numbers in mind, maybe the sides could come together on something like a three-year deal (kicking in after this season, but maybe with a signing bonus up front) worth $28 million guaranteed. Wood gets $6 million in 2015, $9 million in 2016, and $12 million in 2017. From there, the Cubs get a $12 million team option for 2018 with a $1 million buyout. I’m very much spitballing here, but I could see that as a reasonable range. From Wood’s perspective, that could be a bit light, given the shorter term commitment and the attractive team option.
  • In making a broader point about pitch-framing – get used to this, folks, it’s a hot topic this year – Jeff Sullivan notes a particular Jeff Samardzija pitch that was right down the middle, and called a ball because of the way Welington Castillo received it. Watching the video, it looks like a ball. But it wasn’t even close to a ball (the crazy movement Samardzija put on it didn’t help, but Castillo received it like it was obviously a ball). Can Castillo get better? We know the Cubs have been working with him on framing, and there is some evidence that the Astros have improved Jason Castro’s technique (and results) quite a bit. So there’s hope.
  • Justin Grimm has gotten good results so far, but he tells the Tribune he knows his innings could be cleaner (i.e., fewer walks). I like that he’s seeking to improve, despite the ERA under one.
  • Starlin Castro looks all-around better this year to my eyes, and the Cubs see it, too (CSN).
  • I was on TV again last week, helping to preview the Cubs/Reds series for a station in Kentucky. I didn’t see the online link until now, so, if you check out the video, please understand that this is a little stale. But still swell.
  • Kyle Hendricks had himself a night last night, and you can read his thoughts here. On the year, Hendricks has a 3.65 ERA (WHIP is near 1.00), and 25 strikeouts in 24.2 innings. Against those 25 strikeouts, he has just six walks. In other words, he’s doing what he always seems to do – but he’s also striking out more batters than ever before (and he’s getting three times as many groundouts as air outs). So far, Hendricks is dominating AAA. Thing is, there was little reason to believe Hendricks couldn’t succeed at AAA. The question has always been whether his stuff – no devastating out pitch, not a lot of velocity – could play at the big league level, given his superior command.
  • The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation’s charity event – Cook-Off for Cancer – will be May 16, and you can see more details here.
  • chifords2000

    The Shark extension perhaps isn’t happening very quickly because the team wants to see what they have in, and what they can do with, Hammel and Wood.

    • josh ruiter

      Wood yes…Hammel? He is the flippiest of flip candidates…previous injury issues (throwing arm issues to boot), and up and down track record, less than elite stuff, BUT throwing like a 2/3 so far this year. Screams flip!! Wood is working every start to nail down the typical 3 spot in a rotation, and seems to be that guy in its finest form. He probably will never be a 2 because he doesn’t have lights out “stuff” and traditionally has experienced better results than advanced stats suggest his talent level to be. Shark is a potential 1 and current 2 slot starting pitcher on a solid team. His stuff is elite, he has no injury history, low mileage on his arm, but he must put it all together. Still Shark is the highest ceiling arm on the team, but Wood is probably the highest floor. Point being…Signing one does not influence the signing of the other, b/c they are two entirely different roles in the rotation. One is a stabilizing pitcher who is solid, the other is TOR lights out type guy. Good teams need both, not one or the other. Hopefully Wood doesn’t think he deserves TOR money though.

  • terencemann

    I actually grew up 90 minutes from Cincinnati (on the Kentucky side) and was surprised to realize at a young age that there were a ton of Cubs fans in the area thanks to WGN.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Shark has the potential to be a cancer in the club house in the sense that he could influence Wood to take a similar position. I wish we could have both of them in the rotation for years to come, but that’s not going to happen.

  • Norm

    Wood is a new pitcher this year (so far), based on the peripherals. K% way up, BB% cut in half, GB% way up. Promising (so far).

    • Cubs_Questions

      The GB rate is just icing on the cake. He’s always been a FB pitcher who just didn’t give up a lot of home runs. Putting more on the ground is awesome, but even with regression in that number, I won’t worry much.

  • blars82

    Much better camera position for your 2nd tv appearance, nice work! And you smiled and didn’t appear to be crapping your pants. You’re kind of a big deal. I could see that you have many leather bound books and that your apartment smells of rich mahogany.

  • jp3

    Hopefully they won’t be cooking meatballs for rizzo’s cook off, for the meatballs sake…

  • Jon

    I’ll easily declare the Cubs a winner in this trade over the Reds. Marshall gave them one season of being an “elite” reliever and now can’t stay healthy and his best days appear behind him.

    • D-Rock

      We agree for a change! I was skeptical when this trade was first made, but it does appear the Cubs have won this deal. Wood is turning out to be a solid SP.

      • JulioZuleta

        Sean Marshall has pitched 72.1 innings since leaving the Cubs. Travis Wood has pitcher 381 Innings for the Cubs, and is still under control for more than 2.5 seasons. Crazy lopsided trade so far, and should keep getting better and better for the Cubs (remember, the Cubs also got Roni Torreyes (traded for $800K in international cap space) and Dave Sappelt (one of my least favorite Cubs in recent memory)).

  • NorthSideIrish

    High of 48 tomorrow in Chicago…might want to tell people what kind of coat Brett will be wearing. Plus, Brett was way taller than I was expecting, so it would make it easier for people to find him.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Mercy – how short did you think I was!? (I am every bit of 5’8″. No more, no less.)

      And good call on the coat. Will have to think that through. I’ll probably still try to get my shirt on the outer layer.

      • NorthSideIrish

        I got a couple friends who claim to be 5’8″ but are really more like 5’6″ except for when they wear their Timberlands…

        Plus I drank a lot on Opening Day. Sorry about that.

        • Kyle

          Yeah. “5-8″ is code for “5-6″.

          • Chad

            5’6″ is the new 5’8″

    • ssckelley

      Forget the coat, all you need is beer to warm the blood.

  • Adam

    [img]will-ferrel-harry-caray.jpg[/img]

  • cubzfan

    Not sure what to think about that Hendricks interview. He says he started the year trying to work on his cutter and curveball, but after one rough outing went back to primarily 2-seamer and changeup. Great results, sure, and the increased K’s are impressive, but wouldn’t he be better off long term to give up some results now for improving those secondary pitches? I’d be interested to know if he’s been getting the K’s more with the change or just well-placed sinkers.

  • JulioZuleta

    Just watched the video. Good work, Brett. Cool to see that stations in other states dedicate air time to Cubs coverage. Kinda makes it even more sad that games likely won’t be on WGN anymore, though.

  • Darth Ivy

    Fantasy suggestions?

    With Sale going on the DL, I’m looking at three pitchers to replace him: Henderson Alverez, Tyson Ross, and Tim Hudson.

    Any fantasy owners out there who have opinions on these guys?

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      Tim Hudson will probably get you the most consistent numbers, but with the age there’s always increased risk of injury. Personally, I have a giant man crush on Tyson Ross, so he’d be my pick.

    • D-Rock

      Not going to “replace” Sale with any of those 3 options. Depending on how long Sale is out for, you might want to consider making a trade for another ace. Not going to find guys on the waiver wire to replace Sale. If I had to pick of those 3, I would probably pick Ross too, but you will have to play the match ups with him. He’s better at home.

      • Darth Ivy

        Yeah, obviously I don’t expect to get Sale’s production from any of those guys. I used “replace” in the sense of filling Sale’s missing roster spot. I might trade a bat for a starting pitcher later on because I picked up BJ Upton last week and Teixeira a few weeks ago. If both those guys end up in the top 200 in points production, I’ll end up trading one of my bats (whether it’s one of those guys or another guy who might be getting a little lucky). But that won’t happen until the Upton / Teixeira thing shakes out.

        But with two votes for Ross, I’m thinking he’s my guy. The only bad thing I see with him is his BB/9 at like 3.9. But if I remember correctly, he doesn’t give up many homers. So that kind of helps look past his walk rate.

      • Darth Ivy

        but man, I just checked Alvarez’s stats once more and his BABIP is really attractive at .329. His FIP is .330 compared to Ross’s .300

        Alvarez has a better BB/9 at 2.66 to Ross’s 3.91

        Other than that, they’re really similiar. Ross gets more K/9, but I have lots of SP so that’s not as important.

      • Darth Ivy

        just got Ross. If he doesn’t work out for me, I’m blaming Bleachernation and will never come back here again.

    • Jon

      I will say this..as much as we bitch about Ricky’s bunts and some of the platoon options, at least he isn’t sending Jeff Samardzija (or any other pitcher)up there for 127 pitches. Irresponsible. It’s even worse when you consider you should be extra cautious like a guy like Sale at this point. RR letting Edwin Jackson throw 120+ pitches could actually be justified..

      • Darth Ivy

        hahaha at the last part. And yeah, given Sale’s body type, you’re probably right. Makes me think about CJ Edwards

  • Knox

    Off topic (and most people might already use this) but…The following baseball-reference link is a good way to search our whole minor league system without having to search for players or go team by team. You can sort by many different stats (fielding, batting, and pitching). For instance, I am always checking K/9 for our pitchers. Its a good way to check on the system as a whole or look at each teams stats in relation to each other.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/affiliate.cgi?id=CHC&year=2014

  • Isaac

    Automate balls/strikes.

  • Pat

    I’d wait until the end of the year before looking at an extension. I don’t really see the major benefit to doing it now. Because he has already had his arb1 value established, the next two years aren’t likely to change significantly from Brett’s estimates. The FA year value might change, but not enough to justify the risk of a guaranteed pitcher contract an extra season earlier.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      This is a great point; the other side of the coin is that doing it now presents a value to Wood, which could be part of the negotiation on the dollars at the back-end, or the price of the option.

      • DoodtheDood

        We should immediately offer him $2MM more than Edwin Jackson makes and lock that down for the long-term. At least then, we will have a good pitcher making a fair salary and EJax will know that he is the worst.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Shark isn’t the cancer it’s all the nothing that was signed in the offseason. The FO needs to start making commitments to this team like Wood. I think Shark simply does not want to sign with a bad team that’s taking to much time to get better.

    • Chad

      It is interesting that now it is all about winning and losing where before it was about the NTC. I don’t know what to believe other than Shark is not going to be a cub at the end of the year.

  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

    Not sure when exactly we’ll be there, but the gf and I will be sure to stop by and say hello!

  • DPG313

    You can’t put the blame all on Castillo for that pitch. He is set up on the outside corner and it appears Smardzija missed his location badly. A catcher is not in position to “frame” a pitch that misses that badly.

    • Head and Heart

      I agree. Personally I would put all of the blame entirely on the umpire. Unfortunately where a ball is when it crosses the plate doesn’t appear to matter as much as I would like.

      But then I lose my shirt when batters get a free base on a HBP when they didn’t make any attempt to get out of the way.

    • CubFan Paul

      “A catcher is not in position to “frame” a pitch that misses that badly”

      Then maybe the catcher shouldn’t set up outside the zone, knowing the catch-point will influence the ump’s call.

      • DPG313

        He is not set up outside the zone. He is set up for a fastball on the outside corner. He should not have to reach halfway across the plate to catch the pitch if the Pitcher is doing his job.

        Castillo is set up exactly like a Catcher should be to receive an outside fastball.

        That is not a pitch you can frame.

        • CubFan Paul

          “He is not set up outside the zone…That is not a pitch you can frame”

          If you’re referring the linked article (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-most-or-least-important-pitch-framing-question/) where it has a gif & a picture of that particular pitch, *Castillo is clearly set up outside the strikezone, which is why a fastball down the middle almost went uncaught.*

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            You realize that if Castillo was set up down the middle, and Samardzija hit his spot, that would have resulted in Castillo reaching for a pitch on the outside corner and still would have been an example of poor pitch framing, right?

            • CubFan Paul

              Even if that’s how you interpret the video, that’s not the point/topic

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                Sorry topic master, I forgot that you determine the topic of every argument on this site, and if I ever stray from your determined topic, I deserve retribution.

                • CubFan Paul

                  I also don’t agree with you interpretation of the video

                  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                    Then you are the one whose knowledge of pitch framing should be in question

                    • CubFan Paul

                      At least I believe and trust in it.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      Who said I don’t?? I am a firm believer in the importance of pitch framing.

        • mjhurdle

          I agree. If you watch the gif, you can see Castillo not only moves sideways, but also motions with his glove the way catchers do when they want the ball down.
          It appears that Castillo was expecting a fastball low and outside the zone.
          Maybe there was a mix-up between Castillo and Shark, or maybe Shark just missed his spot by 20+ inches, but regardless Im not sure any other catcher does anything more there than what Castillo did.

          • CubFan Paul

            “but regardless Im not sure any other catcher does anything more there than what Castillo did”

            Like a catch a middle of the plate fastball before it hits the dirt?

            • mjhurdle

              Im pretty sure that is what i said…let me review…

              “regardless (referring to previous comment about why Castillo was setup so far from where the pitch ended up)…..im not sure any other catcher (in baseball)….does anything more there (in the situation shown by the gif)….than Castillo did (reach back to grab a diving fastball across the middle of the plate before it hits the dirt)”

              In review, i would note that Castillo actually caught the ball before it hit the dirt, so I would disagree with your understanding of my statement. But other than that you appear to be spot on.

              • CubFan Paul

                “but regardless Im not sure any other catcher does anything more there than what Castillo did”

                Like a catch a middle of the plate *strike* before it hits the dirt?

                Sorry I wasn’t clear.

                • mjhurdle

                  yep. No other catcher in baseball does anything beyond what Castillo did there, which was catch a middle of the plate *strike* before it hit the dirt.

                  hopefully third time is the charm for you. Good luck!

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “but regardless Im not sure any other catcher does anything more there than what Castillo did”

                    Like a catch a middle of the plate *strike* for a strike before it hits the dirt?

                    Sorry I wasn’t clear (again).

                  • Funn Dave

                    The article wouldn’t exist if it was showing a pitch for which no other catcher could get a strike called.

                    • mjhurdle

                      The article would still exist, because the focus of the article was a question posed to the reader ((how do you feel about pitch-framing?).
                      From the introduction to the article:”What follows is not an analytical investigation. What follows is the lead-up to a question I ask of you.”)

                      The author establishes that pitch-framing is a real thing, then asks how we feel about it. Castillo is not the only example used, but is the only gif. And to be clear, I agree that Castillo is bad at framing.

                      I agree with the author when he writes “You can see that he (Castillo) wasn’t prepared to handle the pitch Samardzija threw, where he threw it. ”

                      My disagreement comes from the fact that Castillo moves off the plate and motions his glove to the dirt, appearing to be expecting a ball way outside and in the dirt. From that position, I don’t think any catcher gets the pitch Shark any better than Castillo.

                      Now was the pitch supposed to be down the middle, and Castillo just setup wrong? that could be. But if Shark missed his spot by 20+ inches, then I have trouble blaming it on Castillo expecting something off the plate and in the dirt (with runners on) and just not being ready for Shark to miss his spot by that much.

                      Again, I could be wrong and it could all be on Castillo. But a better example to me is would be something where Shark hits his spot within a few inches and Castillo still doesn’t get the call. Or when Wainwright hits his sport 3 inches outside and low and Molina still gets the call.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “The article wouldn’t exist if it was showing a pitch for which no other catcher could get a strike called.”

                    That’s even more clear.

    • ssckelley

      I love how they use an extreme example to make their point. From where Castillo was positioned and where the ball ended up I doubt there is a catcher in baseball that could have framed that pitch without the ball glancing off the bottom of the glove. They had runners on first and second, the first priority for Castillo is to make sure that ball does not hit the dirt. If he had made any attempt to frame that pitch there is a good chance that ball goes to the backstop.

      • CubFan Paul

        “If he had made any attempt to frame that pitch there is a good chance that ball goes to the backstop”

        what exactly do you think pitch-framing is??

      • Funn Dave

        Whew! I scrolled almost to the end of the comments before I finally found the posts desperately trying to account for that gif as anything but a stark example of how they are completely wrong about pitch framing.

        • ssckelley

          You need to keep on looking then.

          • CubFan Paul

            Loving your selective posting.

      • Jon

        I love how we are ignoring all the previous documented, quantifiable, pieces of evidence that illustrate Castillos poor framing ablilities and treating this as an unfair arbritrary piece of evidence. Clearly FG has an agenda here

        • mjhurdle

          I agree that Castillo has poor pitch framing abilities. I wouldn’t ignore that at all, but I do think that the particular gif in question is a poor demonstration of his lack of framing skills.
          You can believe in pitch framing and Castillo’s lack of it and still say that one particular example is poor.

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            This one is not a good example, probably on the outside third of pitch framing (a good pitch framer would be able to better handle a pitch down the middle on their glove hand side after setting up outside).

            Don’t worry, Fangraphs had a series (I am desperately trying to find it) where they pull out the best and worst 5 of the week. Needless to say, there are A LOT of grooved fastballs that get called balls.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            I think the point of using that example was to show an extreme example of a possible strike called a ball, despite how easily it could be framed and whose fault it really was.

        • ssckelley

          Not at all, Castillo sucks at framing pitches and I have said this over and over. This particular gif that fangraphs uses to demonstrate a poor pitch framing is a bad one as I doubt any catcher with runners on first and second with only 1 out would attempt to frame that pitch.

          • CubFan Paul

            “as I doubt any catcher with runners on first and second with only 1 out would attempt to frame that pitch”

            So catching a strike isn’t important?

          • Jon

            You are just assuming that no other catcher in baseball, under those circumstances could have framed that pitch. Maybe no other catcher could, or maybe there are a few or a bunch that could. Either way, you all have excreted all this effort to discredit a single gif and what has it accomplished? nothing. Still plenty of evidence to prove Castillo’s poor framing abilities, including this one. Let’s send an email Sullivan and tell him Kelly and Hurdle didn’t like this gif, that changes the entire discussion.

            • mjhurdle

              I don’t think Kelly or I are trying to discredit pitch-framing. This thread is started off of the post that said
              “You can’t put the blame all on Castillo for that pitch. He is set up on the outside corner and it appears Smardzija missed his location badly. A catcher is not in position to “frame” a pitch that misses that badly”

              I simply agree with that sentiment. I don’t think it invalidates the article or pitch-framing or Castillo being bad at pitch framing. I just think they could have chosen a better example.

              • Jon

                Gun to my head, I’m willing to bet if that’s McCann behind the plate, everything else being equal, it’s a strike, or a lot closer, sure has hell not in the dirt.

                You guys are acting like lawyers, trying to get a piece of evidence tossed out in a trial.

                There will be and I’m sure more pieces of visual evidence throughout the year, along the more than likely event of the Cubs coming in near the bottom in this statistical category when September ends. Why you both so feverishly splitting hairs over this is beyond me.

                • CubFan Paul

                  “There will be and I’m sure more pieces of visual evidence throughout the year”

                  It happens several times a game with Welly. That gif is not an outlier.

                  • Jon

                    The hilarious thing is, whether any catcher on this planet could have framed that into a strike, it sure as fuck isn’t unreasonable to ask that it not be caught in the dirt.

              • CubFan Paul

                “A catcher is not in position to “frame” a pitch that misses that badly””

                Because he originally framed himself outside the zone…That’s the point: No other catcher would of framed a low&away pitch like he did.

                And because he did, he missed a strike call right down the middle.

                That gif is a PERFECT example of pitch framing.

                • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                  Given that it was a 1-2 pitch, Castillo was set up in the right spot, Samardzija just severely missed his spot. I’m becoming more and more convinced as this day goes on Paul that you don’t really understand pitch framing at all.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “Castillo was set up in the right spot”

                    Outside the zone with his body pointed towards 1B?

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      On a 1-2 outside fastball, the pitcher is trying to get a couple inches off the corner. Because the umpire sets up over the inside shoulder of the catcher, the catchers job is to set up outside the zone, thus placing the umpire right on the corner of the plate and making it more likely for the umpire to call a pitch that might be a couple inches outside. Pitch framing is all about body positioning to start and strong wrists to finish.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “On a 1-2 outside fastball, the pitcher is trying to get a couple inches off the corner…Pitch framing is all about body positioning to start and strong wrists to finish”

                      Castillo just isn’t good at that. He’s the worst, by most accounts.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      No disagreement here on his pitch framing abilities, but his body positioning on that pitch is fine. His receiving ability on the pitch itself is as bad as it gets.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “but his body positioning on that pitch is fine”

                      not when you already severely struggle with getting borderline strikes called strikes.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      With the pitch that was supposed to be executed, a backdoor fastball a couple inches off the corner of the plate, Castillo’s body is positioned exactly where it is supposed to be. I really don’t get how you’re failing to understand this simple fact.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      He can set up there all he wants, what he shouldn’t do is close his body off from the pitcher missing his spot inside.

                • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                  Eh, check out my link below, Lucroy set up exactly the same as Castillo and the pitcher missed as bad as Samardzija.

                  The difference, Castillo makes an easier catch look like it was almost a passed ball. Lucroy acts like he knew it was going to go there.

              • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                Eh…he’s a similar miss job by the pitcher only to the catcher’s non-glove side and the catcher (Lucroy, the Drunken God of Framing) gets the call.

                Scroll a little more than half-way down “This Week in Lucroy” to the first #3 (the writer has two #3 in the list and I am guessing the 2nd one is supposed to be a #1).

                http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20375

                • mjhurdle

                  #3 has one pitcher missing his spot about 6 inches straight up, and the other the catcher hardly had to move his glove.

                  Was the Lucroy one a different one? none of the examples there looked like a pitcher missed his spot as badly as Shark did (presuming that Shark missed his spot and Castillo just didn’t setup wrong).

                  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                    It’s this one:

                    “3. Date: 4/23
                    Batter: Will Venable
                    Pitcher: Jim Henderson
                    Umpire: Gary Darling
                    Count: 2-0
                    Pitch type: 93-mph four-seam fastball
                    Distance from Strike Zone: 0.288 feet”

                    Lucroy set up just outside the plate on the 3B side. The pitch was low and across the middle of the plate.

                    The biggest difference is that Lucroy handled it well while Castillo handled his like it skipped into home.

                    That right there is pitch framing.

                  • mjhurdle

                    ok, i see it now.

                    Lucroy did a great job on that. But I don’t think that compares very well to Castillo’s example. The difference between glove side and not glove side is huge imo.
                    Lucroy had to simply slide his glove sideways to receive that, and he did it well and better than Castillo probably could have. But I don’t think that even Lucroy would have been able to handle the pitch Castillo had, because you couldn’t just slide the glove, the glove had to flip.

  • MightyBear

    “Thing is, there was little reason to believe Hendricks couldn’t succeed at AAA. The question has always been whether his stuff – no devastating out pitch, not a lot of velocity – could play at the big league level, given his superior command.”

    I get really tired of hearing this. We don’t know if his stuff will play at the big league level? How about an opportunity? I just don’t understand how there’s still doubt about Hendricks when he’s been solid on every level but someone like Trey McNutt who had the body type and threw 95 was considered a top prospect even though he couldn’t get the ball over the plate. Too much emphasis on type rather than results.

    I say put Jackson in the bullpen and bring up Hendricks. Move Villanueva to the bullpen and reinsert Arrieta. Dump Veres and send Parker back to Iowa.

  • josh ruiter

    Slightly off topic, but I wanted to date back a few years and mention a few other starting pitching options myself and others pined for. Those being Brandon McCarthy, Bronson Arroyo, Ubaldo, and that is a very small number of guys, but compared to what we got in guys instead of those, Hammel, Feldman, Maholm, Arrietta, Strop – looks like the FO at this point hit the nail on the head with those fringe decisions…For those not happy with the FO thus far, remember how many fringe guys have turned into solid trades or solid numbers or both!!

    • MightyBear

      Great point Josh and McCarthy was one of the guys I really wanted this FO to sign and it looks like they were right. I was on board with Maholm, Feldman, Arietta and Strop. The only one I wasn’t crazy about was Hammel and he seems to be doing great as well (hopefully he keeps it up). Quite honestly when this FO arrived the starting pitching and the defense were shambles and they have done a nice job on both accounts. Now if they can fix the bullpen and the offense, we may have something.

  • JasonP

    If Shark didn’t miss his spot horribly, I’d feel bad for the call. There’s something to be said for how Welly set up for that pitch too though. He had no chance but to look bad lunging back for it when his hips are facing down the first base line and his glove is already positioned at the edge of his body.

    The metrics on this are interesting,does anyone know how (if at all) the umpires are graded on their strikezones?

    • CubFan Paul

      “does anyone know how (if at all) the umpires are graded on their strikezones?”

      They do (not sure how), to determine seniority/rank and who gets playoff appearances.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    This pitch framing junk is getting to geek boy absurd levels. How exactly would a catcher frame a back up slider that lands a foot behind home plate. Set up in front of home plate.

    • E

      I’m a big fan of sabermetrics, but the pitch framing debate is being made by people who watch the strike zone from the pitcher’s perspective and not the umpire’s. The umpire doesn’t see a “frame,” he sees the top part of the back of the mitt.

      • bbmoney

        I don’t think your statement is very accurate, at least not if we’re talking about how sabrmatricians are making the argument.

        They aren’t basing on it watching the strike zone from the pitcher’s perspective. They’re basing it on a sophisticated pitch tracking software and comparing what catcher are getting more called strikes that aren’t strikes and fewer called balls that are actually strikes.

        This isn’t just Cubsfanpaul saying he’s watched every pitch ever thrown to all catchers and saying pitchframing is a thing.

        • CubFan Paul

          *They’re basing it on a sophisticated pitch tracking software and comparing what catcher are getting more called strikes that aren’t strikes and fewer called balls that are actually strikes.*

          That IN ALL CAPS

          • bbmoney

            I don’t do caps. Unless it’s my sarcastic tone followed by a bunch of 11!!!!11!!!1!!’s in honor of Hansman.

            But I get your point.

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              If I can do one good thing in my life, it’d be the creation of an internet sarcasm styling rule.

              • Edwin

                I’d cancel The Following.

        • E

          But that still doesn’t correlate with why an umpire calls what he calls. The debate is, “why does the umpire call a strike for catcher X, but not catcher Z? Well, it must be pitch framing.”

          • Kyle

            They do adjust for umpire in a lot of the pitch-framing studies.

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              I know for sure Baseball Prospectus does

            • E

              Great, now tell me how they do that. I’m open to having my mind changed on this.

              • Kyle

                Not my job. Find out for yourself if you want to have a thoroughly informed opinion on the matter.

                I showed you that you were wrong on a point of fact. My job here is done. /worst superhero ever

                • CubFan Paul

                  “Find out for yourself if you want to have a thoroughly informed opinion on the matter”

                  You would at least think he had already read & researched the info before being a naysayer on it.

                • E

                  Big claims require big evidence. You won’t because you can’t. /debate over

                  I’ve read all I know to read on the topic. I’m not convinced and you remain an ass.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “I’ve read all I know to read on the topic. I’m not convinced and you remain an ass.”

                    Except for the important stuff you asked about above.

                  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                    Ignorance is bliss…

                • Norm

                  http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22934

                  We also made systematic but small changes to the data based on the umpire who was calling each game. Because umpires are randomly distributed throughout the data, they tend to have a very small effect on a measure of framing, although they might seem to have a large effect within any individual game. For example, if a particularly generous umpire calls a Jose Molina game on Monday, and then a particularly conservative umpire calls a Jose Molina game on Thursday, although the umpire will have exerted effects within an individual game, Jose Molina’s skill will come through in the aggregate.

                  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                    Good find Norm, I knew I had read an explanation of the methodology but for the life of me couldn’t remember when or where.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                Like Kyle said, I don’t know how they factor it in there. You could try to ask Harry Pavlidis if you’re that interested.

      • CubFan Paul

        “but the pitch framing debate”

        It’s not a debate. It exists.

        Global warming, BigFoot, God, this is not.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          Hey man, don’t bring Big Foot into this!

        • E

          Big claims that require big evidence:

          god, pitching framing

          So far, there is more evidence for pitch framing but it has a long way to go.

          • CubFan Paul

            “god, pitching framing”

            There’s no evidence of a god, but pitch framing has been around and was a skill before you were born.

        • Ron

          CubFan Paul, since you been saying this the longest I will ask you or anyone else that has an answer. Is there a “catcher” version of pitch f/x where it tracks the movement of the catcher? I know we can “watch” the catcher stab at the ball or catch it awkwardly and say that this is what blew the call. Is there something else that tracks shoulder and head movement?

          • CubFan Paul

            They’re using the pitch f/x data to determine that. Analyzing pitch framing is just a side benefit of what stadiums already had installed.

            • Ron

              I thought pitch f/x data focused on the pitch not on the catcher. I was looking for a teaching tool to measure catcher movement. Is there something that focuses on that catcher to say quantifiably how does Zunino get the call and Castillo does not based on movement of you mit X inches?

              • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                Right now, there isn’t anything that tracks the catcher.

                The best we can do is figure out who is good/bad at it and analyze the video of what they do.

                • Ron

                  That is what I thought. I would like to see basically an overlay of the catcher set up and recieving of a pitch to see why one guy is better than the other.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        And utilizing technology to determine where the ball was at when it crossed the front part of home plate.

        Then again, pitch framing has been a thing long before Pitch F/X or televised ballgames so maybe we should ask some old timers what stat geek stuff they were using.

        It’s not that sabermetrics has invented pitch framing (no one in the sabr community has clamed this), it’s that we finally have data to measure it. After compiling the data the stat geek heads went about figuring out what the data was telling them. From those tests, they came out with one thing remaining constant, the catcher.

        What I don’t understand is how anyone can look at the Welington Castillo footage Brett posted and NOT say that the ump blew the call. If umps ALWAYS determine the call before the catcher catches it, it should have been a strike.

        • CubFan Paul

          The naysayers will ignore this post and your other one below

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            I’ve posted similar responses to this one and the only folks who have bothered to reply have been the pro-framers.

            • CubFan Paul

              But they have such strong opinions on the ‘debate’

            • Spoda17

              I’m not sold on the pitch framing thing. But, if Olt or Lake were catching, it would have been called a strike; just sayn.

              • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                Hell…if RR would just start them every day, the Cubs would be undefeated and Castillo would be beating out Lucroy for the Pitch Framing Championship of the World!

                • Spoda17

                  It’s all RR’s fault… If he only spoke Latin, things would be so much better.

                  • DarthHater

                    e gregibus epheborum! ictus et currunt! sacrificium!

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      1. Pitch framing is an old school truism that the geek boy stat heads proved is accurate
      2. If pitch framing is not a thing, please explain why certain catchers consistently get borderline pitches called strikes, regardless of who is on the mound.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    You just nailed the flaw in the theory. Because it completely depends on who is on the mound.
    A guy with wicked movement is going to fool umps a lot more than someone like say a Jason hammel. The reason that pitch was not called a strike had nothing to do with how Castillo caught the ball. It was because of the violent movement of the pitch, it was only in the strike zone for a milisecond. This is what the math freaks should be studying.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      Almost positive they factor in what pitcher is throwing as well

      • CubFan Paul

        He doesn’t know what they factor in at all.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          And Paul has resorted to personal shots because he has no idea what he’s talking about. Who had 12:45 in the Paul is an ass pool?

          • CubFan Paul

            I was pointing out an observation (‘most naysayers don’t know what pitch framing is’)

            ..Are there women in this ass pool? I’m a boob-guy, but hey…

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I can’t believe all the negativity regarding Castillo, and like that is the only facet of the game that matters. The guy is way above average at blocking pitches and has a very strong and accurate arm. He is also a decent hitter and is showing signs of increasing power with his hit tool. Castillo has little to do with the poor start we’ve had. But I realize that since Castro is playing better that there needs to be a new punching bag for all the haters.

    • Jon

      It’s still a fairly new debate, but there are discussions that the impact of framing on wins/losses at the moment is undervalued/underestimated. If poor framing can cost you 2-3 games a year(as suggested) than that can definitely impact the value of a catcher, despite his other positives/negatives.

      Nobody is hating, we are just looking for answers as fans.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        “Nobody is hating, we are just looking for answers as fans.”

        This. Castillo is, by all accounts, terrible at receiving pitches. Since they are now starting to be able to quantify pitch framing it’s getting some serious air time. Since Castillo is terrible at pitch framing, he’s going to be discussed a lot. Also because he is the Cubs starting catcher.

        I suppose we could discuss someone else, but we are Cubs fans so, by default, we see a lot of Castillo catching.

        • CubFan Paul

          It would be nice if Len & JD brought it up during the broadcast (instead of groaning at the Ump’s call) .

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        Let’s not forget that this will be only his second full season as a starter. He has shown the ability to improve his game so I have no doubt that he is working on that aspect of his game.

        • CubFan Paul

          “so I have no doubt that he is working on that aspect of his game”

          Supposedly after knee surgery, pitch-framing was a point of emphasis/study for Welly this past offseason.

        • Jon

          In that case, (assuming the FO is informing him of his deficiency and working at it) it wouldn’t be hating, rather constructive criticism. No one suggested cutting Castillo , but more like “holy shit this is bad, it has to get fixed” type of thing.

    • cubfanincardinalland

      This. Castillo has been tremendous behind the plate. Vastly more important than how a catcher receives the pitch, is the confidence given to a pitcher knowing he can bounce the ball and not worry about wild pitches. The 26 inning game, he blocked 26 balls in the dirt without a runner advancing.
      The pitch framing emphasis comes from a lot of guys who don’t really understand how the game works and what makes a good catcher.

      • CubFan Paul

        “The pitch framing emphasis comes from a lot of guys who don’t really understand how the game works and what makes a good catcher”

        Theo and Jed?

        • Karl Groucho

          [img]http://johnnygoodtimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/super-computer-nerd.jpg[/img]

          No, this guy.

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            Damnit…how’d that picture get out.

            Thankfully, no one will ever know that I use old 5″ floppy disk cases to hide my cheeseburgers.

            • DarthHater

              Curse you, hansman…

          • DarthHater

            Hey! How’d you get my picture??? :-P

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              HANDS OFF THE PICTURE, B#$CH!

      • Jon

        Framing has been around forever. I remember it being referenced in the 80′s when I was just a little kid and I’m sure it was around even before then. Now that people have attempted to quantity it, panties have gotten all “wadded up”

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        I think you have answered the question as to why the FO is keeping Castillo around.

        He is good at some things. Pitch framing is not one of them.

      • bbmoney

        Wow, the old, *You disagree with me and rather than provide data to back up my viewpoint I’ll claim you don’t understand how the game works.*

        Usually a valid argument. I know it holds a lot of water with me.

      • DarthHater

        So, if a guy is good at some parts of the game, there is no point in worrying about improving other parts of his game? I’m sure glad we have guys here like you, who understand how the game works, to explain important stuff like that to the rest of us.

        • cubfanincardinalland

          He should work on being quieter behind the plate. My issue is the saber crowd has found a shiny new toy they think can be quantified, and assigned a ridiculous emphasis that this is what makes a great catcher, and decides who wins ball games.
          Go ask Rick renteria what he wants most from his catchers. I guarantee he would tell you, calling a good game, communicate with his pitcher, control the running game and keep the ball from going to the backstop. Doubt framing pitches would even be mentioned

          • Karl Groucho

            And the Reds brass has called out Joey Votto for taking too many walks, despite that perhaps being the best thing about him. Just because someone in a position of power doesn’t grasp these concepts doesn’t make them bad ideas; it means that person is likely to fall behind people who can adapt to new evidence.

            • Karl Groucho

              (And of course we don’t have any evidence what RR does actually thing. Though iirc Cubs management has been trying to teach him framing, a la Jason Castro.)

              • Karl Groucho

                *think

              • JCubs79

                They’ve been trying to improve his framing for the last two years. I guarantee you RR cares about his pitch framing, considering the fact that his framing as been so poor, it turns right down the middle strikes into balls.

              • DarthHater

                No, I’m sure RR had no idea that Borzello was working on framing with Castillo.

                • Karl Groucho

                  Heh, we still don’t know if he *cares* about the concept. But whether or not he cares is irrelevant as to whether or not it’s a valuable thing.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            “the saber crowd has found a shiny new toy that can be quantified”

            FTFY

            • JCubs79

              I don’t get why people try to argue against math. It blows my mind.

              • DarthHater

                Math violates my religious beliefs. 2 + 2 is whatever the hell God wants it to be!

              • cubfanincardinalland

                I actually am embarrassed for the fan graphs crowd on the whole issue. Their quantitative theory on the whole concept is very flawed. Any research scientist would be appalled.
                They have taken a result that can be influenced by dozens of variables, (umpire, stadium, pitcher, hitter, teams involved, etc ) and assigned how the catcher receives the pitch as the cause of the effect.

                • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                  First off, there are multiple outlets that quantify pitch framing, including Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus, and Stat Corner. Second, you have no idea what their methodology is so how can you say it’s flawed?

                • CubFan Paul

                  “Their quantitative theory on the whole concept is very flawed”

                  What about Theo&Jed/the Cubs front office?

                • bbmoney

                  Serious questions, have you taken the time to read about and understand the methodology used in the studies and research that has been done? Have you confirmed that none of those things are factored into the output?

                  • CubFan Paul

                    Good luck getting an answer.

                    • cubfanincardinalland

                      No need to snark it up Paul. I have read it, and they do not take any of those factors in the equation. It is based solely on how the catcher receives the ball, and where it was in the zone.
                      You honestly think Wainwright getting balls called strikes more than say Edwin Jackson, is because of Molina and Castillo as the only factor. That is the problem with assigning run differential to the theory.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy
                    • CubFan Paul

                      “Really, they don’t???

                      http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22934

                      Good luck getting him to recant

                    • bbmoney

                      Yeah……I’m calling BS. Just read what FCT just posted.

                      I don’t mind people disagreeing with me (or others). It makes things more fun. I do mind people being pompous assholes and saying things like “people making a big deal about this don’t understand the game” when they haven’t spent the time to understand what’s being discussed.

                    • bbmoney

                      Also none of this is to say the pitch framing data out there is perfect. I’m sure its entirely imperfect and needs to be improved.

                      But that’s no reason to just dismiss it and make grandiose claims about others just not getting it. It’s almost certainly directionally accurate and even if the exact values assigned aren’t perfect, it doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable, meaningful information.

          • JB88

            If you want to call it a toy, then it is a pretty significant toy. Some of the analysis on runs gained and lost based on pitch framing is staggering.

            Look at BP’s analysis on this topic. Last year, Molina saved the Cardinals 27 runs over the course of the season with his catcher defense (combining pitch framing with blocking). However, despite blocking a half run more over the season than Molina, Castillo only saved the Cubs .2 runs (due to -13.2 framing run differential). How much is 27 runs worth in the course of a season? The Cubs were 20-33 in one-run games. What happens to that record if Castillo had similar numbers (or even modestly similar numbers) to Molina? (The Cardinals by comparison were 20-16 in one-run games).

            It obviously is not the end-all-be-all of this argument, but it is something to consider.

            • CubFan Paul

              “Molina saved the Cardinals 27 runs over the course of the season with his catcher defense (combining pitch framing with blocking). However, despite blocking a half run more over the season than Molina, Castillo only saved the Cubs .2 runs (due to -13.2 framing run differential)”

              That needs to be in bold (so that the naysayers can see it as they ignore it).

  • Kyle

    I have less than zero interest in a Wood extension.

    I love him. I’ve loved him about as long as any Cubs fan around, since the day we made the trade.

    But he’s still a pitcher. And I don’t want to extend pitchers when we don’t have to. It’s a high-attrition position.

    • Chad

      Exactly. He is under cheap control through 2016? right, so 2 and 3/4 seasons or whatever. We don’t know what the market will look like in that time, or what prospects we will have. Perhaps he won’t be one of the top 5 pitchers the cubs could put into their rotation then. If he is then you try to sign him in FA.

      I like Wood. I think he is durable and a good pitcher, but I don’t think he’s worthy of an extension right now. Even if you buy out one FA year is that really worth it? Would Wood even be interested in doing that.

      I say just keep him at arb levels and see how it goes for 2 more years before jumping the gun on this.

    • Coach K

      I don’t disagree with that at all. With all the TJ injuries this year I’d have no problem with the Cubs waiting a little longer to extend him.

      Just out of curiosity, do you have the same opinion in regards to Shark? Or do you view his situation differently than Woods?

      • Kyle

        Same thing. I wouldn’t extend him right now. I’d trade him or wait until next year, when he’s actually in the last year of his contract.

        • Sandberg

          Yup. Cubs don’t (won’t?) need to take these risks with pitchers. They have (will have?) money to sign them to market value if they need to.

      • Chad

        I would wait until after this season to extend him. Though I have not been impressed by a full season of Shark to commit the kind of money he is asking for. He had a good first half last year and is looking good now, but I want to see what a full season looks like before I commit to that type of contract.

    • Cubs_Questions

      The only argument that I would make about extending Wood now is that he just turned 27 and using the timeline of his arbitration to extend him during the last year of his control, he could be hitting his prime and command more money for those free agent years.

      Just playing some devil’s advocate here, though I think it’s worth considering.

      • Chad

        I’m hoping he is hitting his prime right now. The cubs still have control for 2+ seasons of his prime. If they determine in 2 years that they still need him and he has several more years in the tank then yes extend him, but by doing it now, and only a 3 year deal like was mentioned earlier you only buy out 1 year. Will Wood be interested in anything team friendly enough, or like you said, will he want to test FA?

        • Cubs_Questions

          I remember him expressing strong interest in an extension when Rizzo and Castro were extended, so I feel like he definitely would accept a team friendly extension to stay.

          The reason a 3-year would be the most likely is because he would likely not want to take a deal much longer than that, given that it could cost him money later in his career.

  • Patrick W.

    I don’t know who’s happier that I don’t have an opinion on pitch framing, me or you?

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