Using Relievers Well, Fixing the Draft, Losing Ryan, and Other Bullets

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Using Relievers Well, Fixing the Draft, Losing Ryan, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

hector rondon cubsIt’s National Signing Day, which means people are saying outrageous things about teenagers who choose not to go to the college for whose football team they like to cheer. I’m not making fun, mind you – I obsess about the signing decisions of 16-year-old baseball players from Cuba. We all have our thing. I guess it’s just important to keep one thing in perspective: these are real (and really young) people making huge, personal decisions. Thinking about the implications of those decisions and how they impact the team you love? That’s totally cool. Getting angry at the young person about those decisions is not only inappropriate and mean, it’s also completely irrational. And not the good “sports fanatic” kind of irrational, either. The useless “gonna negatively impact your attitude and your day” kind of irrational. It’s not worth it.

  • I found this read at BP to be an especially interest look at reliever usage, how inefficiently teams currently use their top relievers, and how that could be improved. Extremely short version? Stop using the best guys as dedicated closers in three-run save situations. Instead, just use them in tight games (within 2 runs in either direction), late in the game (6th inning or later). It’s that simple when you really break it down, and the value increase to the team can be enormous. The only potential issue, of course, is that some pitchers have been groomed in such a way that, mentally, changing their “role” can negatively impact their performance. That’s where having a thoughtful manager can help either by shifting that player’s mentality, or simply by knowing the limitations of that player and managing accordingly.
  • Yesterday, there was quite a bit of of discussion around the baseball world (including my thoughts here) about tanking in MLB. My instinct says it’s not necessarily a “problem” in MLB right now, and, even if it were, “solving” the problem is not a simple matter. To that end, Buster Olney collected some suggestions about tanking from folks around the league, and some are an interesting way to lessen the incentives to tank, even if they wouldn’t necessarily remove entirely strategizing around losing. There’s a whacky special draft idea from Scott Boras that might have a positive impact (but is also transparently about getting more money to the top draft picks (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in isolation)). The one I find the most compelling is also the simplest: shrink the gaps between the slot values attached to picks in the first round. As things stand, the difference between picking first/second in the draft and picking fourth/fifth/sixth is absolutely enormous: not only do you get to select a more elite prospect with your top pick, but you also get a disproportionately outsized bonus pool that will allow you to take a disproportionately good player who slips because of signing demands (a player that the teams picking just a few spots later will not realistically be able to sign). That double-whammy effect makes picking at the very top of the draft all the more valuable.
  • The Nationals have signed former Cub – yes, he was a Cub for a moment! – Brendan Ryan to a minor league deal. You may or may not recall that Ryan came to the Cubs, eventually, as the PTBNL in the Starlin Castro-Adam Warren trade, and then the Cubs ended up releasing him. It was a bit of complicated financial maneuvering, as near as I can tell, designed to save the Yankees a bit of money, and give the Cubs a chance to save some money, too, if Ryan were to latch on with another team. So, if you want to see the Cubs save about $500,000, root for Ryan to make the Nationals.
  • The South Bend Cubs are taking votes on a ’90s Nickelodeon themed night, and, of the options, ‘Double Dare’ gets my vote. Had ‘Clarissa Explains It All’ been on the board, that’s where I would have gone.
  • Michael got to write the word “weiner” several times thanks to a hilarious minor league video of a dog running wild. Living the dream, eh, Mikey?
  • If I told you that yesterday was the 80th anniversary of the first Hall of Fame class, and it included five players, could you name them without looking? I think I probably could have come up with three of the five pretty easily, but I would have had to think long and hard about the dates involved (this is pre-1936) on the other two, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten them. I also would have said Rogers Hornsby, of course, and I would have been wrong.
  • There are a lot of heavily discounted boxes of baseball cards on Amazon, but the rub, of course, is that most of the cheapest older cards are from that era when we ALL collected (1986ish to 1993ish). I would love to start collecting again – and get my kids into it – but I’ve not been able to get myself into the newer sets of cards. When the industry went overboard with “special” inserts and graphically-overloaded cards, I lost interest.


Author: Brett Taylor

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