The Front Office is Seriously Smart and Other Bullets

## The Front Office is Seriously Smart and Other Bullets

In case you missed the late-arriving fresh podcast episode yesterday afternoon, here is your opportunity to un-miss it. We had PITCHf/x guru, and generally fun guy, Harry Pavlidis on the show with us, so it’s one you’ll want to take in.

• Jon Greenberg, after some laudable effort, remotely interviewed the Cubs’ new statistical and sabermetric genius Tom Tango, who has agreed to consult exclusively with the Cubs. You’re going to want to give that one a read, but here’s a sample answer from Tango, when asked why fans should be interested in advanced metrics: “What these metrics try to do is focus in on something specific, a subset of a player’s performance, and present that as a number …. So, with FIP, the focus is on those things a pitcher does that doesn’t involve his fielders (outside of an occasional Mike Trout-stealing HR). Therefore, we want to focus on walks, hit batters, strikeouts, and HR. It’s nice to see that Felix walks 7 percent of his batters and strikes out 23 percent and he doesn’t give up many home runs. But, we’d like to express all those different aspects as a single number, much like OBP and SLG are single numbers. The question therefore becomes how to combine, how to weight, walks and strikeouts and HR. It’s not as obvious as OBP and SLG. So, the FIP metric is suggesting that we need to weight the HR the most (13), the walk and hit batter next (3) and the strikeout the least (and in negative, at -2). If we just weight it like that, we’ll get a single number that properly encapsulates his non-fielder performance. But we still have a problem with the scale, since the number returned will be meaningless. We therefore turn it into an ERA-scaled number …. wOBA does the same thing in terms of trying to combine OBP and SLG into a single number, without the clumsiness and bad math of OPS.” Dude is smart. And the front office is smart for soliciting his input.
• FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron, via a chat yesterday, has generally had complimentary things to say about the Cubs’ moves at each turn this offseason, so perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that he thinks, among the “lower echelon teams,” the Cubs had the best offseason in baseball, behind only the Blue Jays. Of course, that doesn’t mean he thinks the Cubs will be competitive in 2013 (he also doesn’t think they’ll be terrible). He sees the Cubs being competitive in 2014, and says the Cubs have one of the best front offices in baseball (natch).
• Baseball Prospectus recently put together a piece about the “elite” tools (80 on the 20-80 scouting scale), and how extremely rare they must necessarily be. This year, only one Cubs prospect came up with an elite tool. Dan Vogelbach’s power? Nope. Roni Torreyes’ hit tool? No, no. It was Junior Lake’s arm, which is an almost unanimous 80. (In case you’re wondering, only one prospect name was mentioned as *possibly* having 80 power, and that was Miguel Sano.)
• Dave Kaplan previews the 2013 Draft and the possible Cubs picks (seems an odd January endeavor for the Kapman, but, hey, it’s something to read), and you’ll find the usual names profiled.
• Tim Baffoe says anyone who would keep Sammy Sosa out of the Cubs’ fold – the team, the fans – is being a hypocrite, given the nasty things for which people readily forgive other athletes.
• Pierce Johnson gets the Vine Line profile treatment, and I continue to think he’s an underrated prospect in the Cubs’ system. Sure, the forearm/elbow thing from early 2012 makes you a little nervous, but if it was truly a mere blip, this is a guy who could emerge as a legitimate top five prospect in the Cubs’ system by midseason.