mlb logoSome of the interesting stories/articles/humor from around baseball this week …

  • A trade! A trade! No, it’s not particularly sexy, but it’s something: the Diamondbacks snagged formerly-decent starter Lucas Harrell from the Astros for a PTBNL or cash. Such is the depth of their woe.
  • The Washington Nationals will be without Bryce Harper for a couple months after he injured his UCL – the one in his thumb – sliding headfirst into third base. It’s the same injury that sidelined Josh Hamilton, though he had slid into first.
  • Writing for FiveThirtyEight, Jonah Keri (with Neil Paine) digs into whether it’s better to construct your roster with stars and scrubs, or a thorough balance. Although he tends to say the research was inconclusive, it does look to me like there’s a slight edge for the stars and scrubs roster, which is what I would have expected. Elite players are disproportionately valuable because they are consolidated within one body and roster spot – that is to say, one 4.0 WAR player is worth a hell of a lot more than two 2.0 WAR players.
  • Russell Carlton at BP discusses pitcher injuries and predictors, finding that innings pitched – rather than batters faced – offers some of the best predictive power (it’s all relative, of course, because these are human beings with different bodies). Allowing pitchers to go over 120 pitches in a single outing is also still one of the best predictors of future injury, but Carlton’s study suggests we should be keeping a closer eye on total innings than we have been. (The Cubs, by the way, have for years been extremely cautious with young pitchers’ innings totals. Looks like there was good reason for that.)
  • Speaking of pitcher protection, the Diamondbacks just announced that top pitching prospect Archie Bradley is headed to the disabled list with a “mild flexor strain in his right elbow.” Sometimes these things really are just minor strains that get better with a few weeks rest. Sometimes they are a precursor to a more serious elbow problem. No one is safe, man.
  • Felix Pie is doing some interesting things while playing in Korea. Calling time to tell your pitcher to throw strikes? Sure. Why not. You’re Felix Effing Pie.
  • Hollywood has acquired the rights to Yasiel Puig’s life story, because obviously.
  • Grant Brisbee is so damn funny when he writes about baseball absurdity. Like these vintage baseball photos.
  • Jimmy Fallon does it again, this time with Robinson Cano as his living, breathing prop. Planning on booing Cano, New Yorkers? Why not start now … and then be hilariously startled:

  • PejaO42

    Good to know Felix is alive and well

    • MichiganGoat

      He’s the Korean Tidrow

  • roz

    “Allowing pitchers to go over 120 pitches in a single outing is also still one of the best predictors of future injury, but Carlton’s study suggests we should be keeping a closer eye on total innings than we have been.”

    I don’t have a subscription to BP so I can’t read the article, but this jumps out at me. Without actually researching the issue, I would assume that a high total innings pitched is bad pretty much because that means the pitcher is throwing a lot of pitches. Does BP’s data suggest that there is a difference and that a lot of innings pitched, even at a lower total pitches thrown, can be harmful? Or is it just that pitches per innings tends to average out over a certain amount of innings, so that the same number of innings pitched for different pitchers means they have thrown about the same number of pitches?

    • Chad

      The 120 pitches makes me think the cubs won’t take Rodon if he’s available. I’m not sure how many games he has gone 120+, but it is a lot. I know they are on a once a week schedule, but it’s still that many pitches in one game.

      • FullCountTommy

        If the Cubs pass on Rodon for any reason other than they just know that he won’t sign, I will be incredibly frustrated.

        • Edwin

          If he’s available for the Cubs to take, there may be a good reason the other teams passed on him, such as injury or performance related.

        • Chad

          Why? It would depend on who they draft in my opinion, but I actually think there are several better options than Rodon anyway. His velocity and performance have been down this year anyway, and I think it is the way NC State has used him.

          • FullCountTommy

            He sits 93-95 and can touch 97 with his fastball and has an 80 grade slider. The command could be a bit better, but he’s is the best college pitcher since Strasburg.

            • Chad

              He sits at that when he’s on, but multiple times this year he has sat in only the upper 80s. He has been extremely inconsistent with his stuff. I follow NC State pretty closely since I’m an alum and this year’s Rodon is nowhere close to last year’s Rodon. I truly believe that there are better options and though I would be happy if the cubs took Rodon, I highly doubt they do for a number of reasons.

              • FullCountTommy

                The only better option is Aiken. Hoffman and Beede are not in the same league as him and I’m not interested in Kolek at all.

                • Chad

                  I wouldn’t dismiss Beede. Again I like Rodon, but I think his arm has been abused. Aiken is my top choice. I’m also warming up to Alex Jackson. I like Rodon, but I don’t think he’s as far ahead of Beede as you believe he is.

                  • FullCountTommy

                    Beede’s stock has fallen big time since the start of the year. He’s not even in the conversation at the 4th pick right now

                    • Chad

                      Depends where you read on Beede (most have him in the top 5 or 7, which is in the conversation at 4. I like Hoffman as well, but I believe he was recently injured which scares me (might be someone else but I thought it was him). Aiken is my top choice at the moment.

                      As for Kolek, I like the potential of the kid but to me he’s a much bigger risk. I have only seen a little video on him but it doesn’t seem like his fastball has much movement and I have no idea what his secondary pitches are like.

                    • FullCountTommy

                      Agreed, I like Beede, I just think he’s a notch below Aiken/Rodon/Hoffman (that’s my order on those 3).

                      The way I see it shaking out is Aiken 1 and Kolek 2, and then Rodon and Hoffman going 3 and 4, just have no idea which one. I think the signability of Rodon at 4 is pretty scary, but I like him much better than the other options available there so hopefully they could have a handshake agreement pre-draft.

                    • Chad

                      Not to bad of an order. I say Aiken, Hoffman/Beede, Rodon. I would probably take Hoffman over Beede if I had the option. I’m not sure that Rodon will be as hard to sign as we think. I’m not sure at #4 there is that much to gain by holding out for #1, and as he has seen this year his stock could drop even further if he’s injured or has more consistency questions, and of course next year he won’t have to option to return to school so he loses negotiating leverage. I doubt if the cubs don’t take him it is about signability.

                    • FullCountTommy

                      Difference between the 4th and 1st pick is about $3 million, so it’s actually pretty substantial. I’m just eager to see how it falls, and I REALLY want Aiken, but that’s not gonna happen haha

                    • Chad

                      The potential is for a $3 million difference, but when you look at those that will likely be picking #1 next year it will be the cheap ones, so he may not get that money, and if someone lower picks cheaper in the later rounds then they could put more money to him and have more “value” picks in rounds 2-10. Just another reason I don’t think the cubs pick him, but I don’t think it will be the limiting factor for drafting him. Also, just so much risk for Rodon to go back to school next year.

                    • FullCountTommy

                      Ya that makes sense. I think it’s completely moot anyway as I don’t think he’ll be there, but fact is, I think it will come back to bite them if they pass on Rodon, I think he could be in the rotation by 2015.

                    • Chad

                      Rodon could be special, I agree, I think it will take a bit longer as I’m not sure his arm is ready for that kind of load, and whoever drafts him may have to take their time with him a bit, just look at Appel and Gray from last year.

                      Honestly, if Rodon is gone and Alex Jackson is gone before the cubs pick that means they can get one of either Aiken/Hoffman/Beede and you could put Kolek in that group, but I highly highly doubt that. I can’t complain about it. I believe Aiken will be gone, but we can keep on dreamin right.

                  • ssckelley

                    Yes, if Alex Jackson is available at #4 I think he is the safest pick. But I am getting less and less confident that he will be available at #4, White Sox might be interested at #3.

                • Edwin

                  Why no Kolek?

                  • FullCountTommy

                    I don’t think a one pitch right-hander is worth taking with that 4th pick. Not that he can’t develop a good breaking ball/change-up, he just hasn’t had to. He could very well turn into a good pitcher, but in my opinion, there’s way too much risk there.

                    • Edwin

                      Sounds like he’s more than a 1 pitch guy. His slider and curveball were 65 and 60, according to

                      Combine that with an 80 fastball, that’s pretty good. The control is a concern, but he seem like he’d be a solid top 5 pick. I’d have no issues if he’s the guy chosen. I just hope he doesn’t blow his arm out trying to do too many showcase events for the draft.

                    • MightyBear

                      I’d be ecstatic with Kolek but I actually think the Astros are going to take him.

                    • FullCountTommy

                      Those are definitely the highest grades I’ve seen on his secondaries, so that’s interesting, but he just presents a lot more risk than the college guys IMO. Then again, I’m not a draft expert or anything, just going off what I’ve read and the very minimal video I’ve watched.

                    • Edwin

                      They could be easy graders, for all I know. I’m sure higher grades bring in more clicks.

                    • Norm

                      Those are future grades, not current grades.

  • Jon

    Not related to the Cubs (but related to Sports,) the NBA just gave Donald Sterling a lifetime ban.(I’m happy about that) I’m just amazed by the ignorance of people that have no idea what the 1st amendment does and does not protect.

    • ssckelley

      Good move by the NBA!

    • CubFan Paul


      • Jon

        Mr. Sterling may have a case with his girlfriend over these tapings, but the NBA as a private entity is free to do as they please against him.

    • tobias

      Jon, I’m still amazed also. Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want. There are limits i.e. yelling fire in a crowded theater as the most commonly referenced. Freedom of Speech doesn’t apply when it comes to a corporate or privately run business (prior restraint) I was amused when people cried “freedom of speech” when Paula Deen made her comments which led to her being fired from Food Network and the loss of her endorsements. She had the freedom to make the statements she did, but her employer and those endorsers also had the right to condemn the statements and take their actions.

  • Edwin
    • Edwin

      It’s a pretty interesting debate, though.

    • CubChymyst

      I’m happy you found the articles, I was about to go looking for them. Dave Cameron on fangraphs has been general posted articles that have been against the stars and scrubs. The A’s are the poster child for no scrubs line up.

  • Chad

    I love the yankees fans booing because he left for the money. Irony says every other MLB team, irony.

  • CubChymyst

    I really hope Fallon keeps those up. They are pretty hilarious.

    • CubChymyst

      I am disappointed that not a single person kept booing.

    • On The Farm

      Not like I ever had a late night show I watched religously, but Fallon has been off to a really hot start. I am kind of curious if Colbert will have some good battles with Fallon over the future, but I know Fallon has been funny enough that now I flip over to NBC some nights.

  • Jon

    The Yasiel Puig story will be the plot line to Fast and Furious 9.

  • Cubsin

    I’ll feel sorry for the next baseball player who suffers an injury sliding into first base just as soon as I see an Olympic runner slide across the finish line.

  • davidc

    Not sure if anyone else has brought this up, but anyone think maybe Pie was telling his pitcher he was doing something to tip his pitches?

  • smackafilieyo

    Hey Brett, you have any advice on setting up a good lineup in draft streets? Like any rules to live by?

  • hansman

    PItches per game does a marvelous job of predicting the outcome in the next game and IP over a season does a pretty good job of predicting future injury risk.

    I’m not a BP subscriber and I am sure they did there work but it’s not ground-breaking.

    As soon as a team can assemble enough pitchers to pull off what the Rockies tried a few years back (which a rotation like the Cubs and the “back of the rotation” pitching talent they have in the minors could pull it off), it’s going to be a heckuva season on the mound.

  • Medicos

    Every time I see any news about Felix “Banana Cream” Pie, I think about Corey Patterson. Both players looked like they possessed some of the “tools” necessary to become excellent MLB players and neither did much to help the Cubs. You just never know what’s going to happen with minor league prospects.

  • SenorGato

    Fallon’s bit with Cano was funny.

    As far as the draft – locked into landing either Aiken or Beede, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe Jackson. Aiken and Beede are the most prototypical guys in this draft – ace size (both are in that hot 6’4″/6’5″ 200-235 range), ace stuff (premium fastballs, at least one premium offspeed), ace coaching, ace mechanics, ace work ethics…I’m being a little over the top but to me those two are the best pitching talents in this draft.

  • fossilhippie

    If pitch counts are so damn important, what about pitchers like Jenkins and Gibson back in the 60s? They’d throw 300 – 325 innings or more, and 25 – 30 complete games a year, and they wouldn’t have anywhere near the amount of injuries there are now. They’d throw just as hard back then. I wonder if it was because they threw more between games than today’s pitchers?


    • Rebuilding

      We’ve talked about this many times. Those are the guys you’ve heard of because every generation is going to super human arms that can take anything. You didn’t hear of the 10 guys who may have been better than Jenkins because they blew out their arms before you heard of them. Throwing the baseball is not a natural motion your arm i designed to do over and over

    • DocPeterWimsey

      There were other factors besides those that Rebuilding mentions. One, pitchers had a goal of 10 pitches per inning then. Remember, a lot of teams still played guys at SS, 2B, CF and C (and sometimes even 3rd) who’s job at the plate was basically to not strike out. They didn’t go deep into counts and because they were at the mercy of BABiP, they were often quick outs. That is much less often the case: Earl Weaver turned out to be right in that playing good hitters who were competent fielders did more to help teams win that playing great fielders who were incompetent batters.

      Remember also that stadiums back then had a LOT more foul ground: teams didn’t start to catch on to the luxury box seats until the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, and those came at the expense of foul terrtory. (This was not a bad thing: you usually had one foul out an inning, and that is the dullest play in baseball.) That, too, helped make 10 pitch innings a lot easier.

      Batter’s approaches changed, too. We have way more K’s than we did back then, and a lot of that is because of the “selective aggression” approach. K’s are great, but they are not conducive to 10 pitch innings.

      But here is the biggest difference: today’s pitchers do not pace themselves to go 9 innings the way that Fergie did. Modern starters throw more like middle relievers did 30 years ago. A big part of the reason why there are so many more guys than ever before averaging 90+ is that they are not holding anything back. If you took a TARDIS and brought 1975 Fergie Jenkins to pitch for the Cubs, he’d have to crank it up in order to match the stuff that the other pitchers are throwing (and thus that the other batters are used to seeing). He wouldn’t be getting a foulball out every couple of innings. He wouldn’t get the “I’ll slap the first thing close to a strike” batters that often. He’d be not so much a fish out of water as a Paleozoic snail in a Cenozoic ocean!

  • Diehardthefirst

    Trading both now could leave gaping holes in staff guaranteeing a 110 loss season- loss in revenue wouldn’t be offset in salary saving

  • Diehardthefirst

    Hammel for Hill if DBacks pick up half of salary- Hill makes Castro star