Marvelling at Arismendy Alcantara and Other Bullets

arismendy alcantara cubs featureThe first week of August, historically, has been a weird one for me here at BN. There’s so much build-up to July 30/31 over the past two months – not just because of the Blogathon or even trade season, but because there’s just so much going on – that it takes a little while for me to adjust to a new kind of normal. But then there’s a counter-adjustment almost immediately, as I remember that August isn’t that different from July. There are still rumors, still games, still minor league stuff, and then you add in the uptick in offseason discussions (already).

That reminds me, in case you missed Friday’s discussion of how teams make trades in August. It’s an important primer for understanding how teams behave vis a vis waivers and trades this time of year.

  • Starlin Castro is ready to see Javier Baez in the big leagues, presumably as his double-play partner (Cubs.com). With Baez playing a great deal of second base for the Iowa Cubs, it could be only a matter of time before the two finally are playing side by side. More on Baez later, but I thought it an interesting discussion in light of how good Arismendy Alcantara has looked defensively at second base when he’s had time there this year. How about this unbelievably ridiculous play he made yesterday:
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  • That play was so smooth that I think Alcantara’s performance undersells how difficult that was. I don’t want to go too far, but the more I watch and think about the timing and the angles … that was an absurdly hard play, right? Like, top 10 best plays on the Cubs this year? That’s absurd range, absurd transfer, absurd arm strength, and absurd accuracy, all in one play.
  • Speaking of Alcantara, fun with small samples: do you know how valuable a player is who can put up slightly-better-than-average offensive numbers (.253/.324/.407, .324 wOBA, 103 wRC+ (with very sustainable peripherals, mind you)), and add value on the base paths, while playing average or better defense at 2B and CF? Well, if you extrapolated Alcantara’s current WAR (0.8) over 162 games (which is not really something you can do, but we’re just having fun here), he’s currently playing like a 6.2-win player. Lulz.
  • (The bulk of that, by the way, comes from his second base defense, which, at present, FanGraphs sees as super-duper elite. Once again I ponder: what do the Cubs do at second base if Alcantara is actually incredible defensively there, and just average in center field (as he currently rates)?)
  • If you missed it this weekend, the Pirates inadvertently plunked Paul Goldschmidt, breaking his hand, and probably ending his season. And because the Diamondbacks are so full of machismo horse shit, they had to hit Andrew McCutchen the next day in retaliation. Understandably, McCutchen was pissed off (even though he allows himself to buy into a little bit of the BS by accepting that getting hit was OK, it was just how they did it that upset him). Not only have the D-Backs pulled this crap before, here’s a quote from embattled GM Kevin Towers last October: “Probably a week later [against the Dodgers on Sept. 19], [Paul Goldschmidt] gets dinged – and no retaliation. It’s like, ‘Wait a minute.’ Not that I don’t take any of our guys from a lesser standpoint, but if Goldy’s getting hit, it’s an eye for an eye. Somebody’s going down, or somebody’s going to get jackknifed.” I don’t know how you punish an organization strongly enough for this. You think MLB wants to see a star like McCutchen going down in a pennant race because the Diamondbacks want to exact DANGEROUS vengeance for a f**king accident? As you can tell, I share McCutchen’s anger about this incident.
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    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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