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A Chance Today, Lackey’s Dingers, Scouting Caratini, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News
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The first iPhone went on sale 10 years ago today – which is crazy! – and I would submit that it was one of the most world-changing moments in history. Forgetting the iPhone specifically, even though it alone has a certain level of ubiquity, the ways in which that level of smart phone has changed our society are staggering. Sure, there are some hiccups associated with the connectivity it affords – and disconnectivity, frankly – but mostly, smart phones are the single most incredible tool I can imagine, and arguably the most impactful since the printing press.

Also, it’s where I put all my super important tweets:

  • All right. So, in spite of everything that’s happened in the past 48 hours, the Cubs have a chance today to do something I was very much hoping for at the outset of this stay in Washington: split the four-game series against the Nationals. If Jon Lester can pitch well, and if the Cubs can get to Joe Ross, it can really happen. And moreover, thanks to another Brewers loss last night (with an assist from a tremendous homer robbery), the Cubs have a chance to finish today tied for first place. It’s nuts, I know. But it’s true!
  • With three homers given up last night, John Lackey has now given up a league-leading 24 homers, or one more than he gave up all of last season. It is not yet July.

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  • Also, Lackey’s 2.33 HR/9 and his 5.88 FIP are the worst marks in baseball.
(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
  • Interesting aside: Lackey is 13th in hard contact this year (the bad kind), and the guys ahead of him are a who’s who of speculated (realistic or not) trade targets, including Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Justin Verlander, Matt Moore, and Derek Holland.
  • With Victor Caratini joining the big league team for now, Chris Mitchell takes a look at how the KATOH system projects his offensive performance, and there’s actually a lot of optimism. Because of his power and patience combination, Caratini projects as a top 80-100 prospect in all of baseball right now (again, by KATOH), which is a guy whose bat would play well in the big leagues, especially because he can catch and also play corner infield spots. ZiPS, by contrast, projects a modest 81 wRC+. Mitchell notes that the available defensive metrics suggest Caratini is below average defensively, however, and cites his colleague Eric Longenhagen’s take: “A passable receiver with average raw arm strength, Caratini’s defensive shortcomings lie with his ball-blocking and immobility.”

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  • In other words, the Cubs may enjoy having Caratini’s bat available, but he’s probably not going to be what you’d expect from a traditional backup catcher. Moreover, given that he’s just 23, is in his first big league stint, converted to catching three years ago, and hasn’t worked with this pitching staff, it’s reasonable to expect that the Cubs will continue looking for a veteran, defensively-minded backup catcher to import at some point. Still, this could be great experience for Caratini to get, and a great opportunity for the Cubs to start laying the groundwork for Caratini to take on a more significant role in 2018(perhaps even the full-time backup, paired with Willson Contreras). Oh, man, I just started dreaming about a roster that features Contreras, Caratini, and Kyle Schwarber, all of whom can catch and play other defensive positions, too …
  • An interesting read at FanGraphs on the math behind pitchers and catchers and stolen bases, using the now-infamous seven steals against Jake Arrieta and Miguel Montero as the check. In short: they never had a chance to stop would-be base stealers.
  • If you missed it earlier: the update on Kris Bryant’s ankle, and Ben Zobrist is starting a rehab stint.
  • I took Ricketts’ comment as light-hearted joking, rather than any kind of serious jab (although the Nationals do have a recent history of crumbling in the postseason):

  • Very cool:

  • I get it. If my hair looked like that, I’d protect it, too:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor of Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.

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