Another Trade, Considering Outfield Shifts, Cardinals Rotation, and Other Bullets

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Another Trade, Considering Outfield Shifts, Cardinals Rotation, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Getting the kids to clean up their playroom, man. I guarantee it requires more effort of me to shepherd them into a place where they get moving than it requires of them to actually pick the stuff up.

  • The Mariners, who’d acquired Yovani Gallardo from the Orioles earlier in the day, made a second trade yesterday, netting speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson from the Royals for pitcher Nate Karns. Dyson, 32, is a free agent after the season, and has been an extremely valuable part-time player for the Royals for many years, primarily because of his elite outfield defense and speed on the bases. Karns, 29, is a swing guy who had some success with the Rays in 2015, but had a mixed year with the Mariners in 2016. He comes with a lot of team control, though, so the swap makes sense in that regard.
  • A post from around this time last year is just as useful today, so I offer it for your perusing: extreme outfield shifts. The idea, in essence, is whether the Cubs can help use the significant ranges of Jason Heyward and Albert Almora Jr. (when he plays) to shrink the area – in a dramatic way – that Kyle Schwarber will have to cover in left field, especially against certain batters:

With an outfield composition like the Cubs, it’s conceivable that positioning (both in general, and of the extreme variety) could work as a way to “hide” the relative range limitations of a corner outfielder like Kyle Schwarber or Jorge Soler, because Jason Heyward and Dexter Fowler can cover a great deal of ground. Perhaps, then, against a right-handed hitter with significant pull tendencies in the air (or left-handed hitter with significant opposite field tendencies in the air), the Cubs could extremely shift everyone over to the left, and call upon Jason Heyward to cover an enormous amount of ground in right field in the unlikely event that the pull hitter goes to the opposite field. That would shrink the area Schwarber/Soler has to cover even further, and, in theory, the risk of big-time damage in right field would be limited, both by the batter’s tendencies and Heyward’s range.

If the shift were required to the other side of the field, it might be more difficult to pull off, though, unless Heyward were moved to the other side of the field, or unless the batter so infrequently went the other way that it was worth the risk of leaving a huge portion of the field to be covered solely by Schwarber/Soler.

  • As noted thereafter in the piece, one risk with the approach is messing with the outfielders’ expectations, on a pitch-by-pitch basis, of what area they’re covering. When a ball is in the air, instincts take over, and it can be difficult to actively think about the fact that you don’t have to go balls out to your left because the center fielder is shifted over to cover more ground – and calling each other off is not always a perfect solution. Given Schwarber’s injury last year, the Cubs certainly will want to make sure the outfielders are at all times – if nothing else – safe.
  • Adam Wainwright is singing Taylor Swift in the shower. Will that help him bounce back in 2017? I joke about that part, but he’ll be an interesting case this year. Now 35, Wainwright was mediocre (but useful) in 2016, his first full year back after the 2015 Achilles injury. Wainwright was Cy Young-caliber in four of the five years before 2015, but at his age, can he really get all the way back to that level? Or is he now simply a solid mid-rotation starter, and the Cardinals will hope that Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes can front the rotation?
  • Relatedly: the Cardinals will be getting Lance Lynn back from Tommy John surgery at some point this year.
  • A great read at FanGraphs about the impossibly high standard that has been set in recent years for starting pitchers to get into the Hall of Fame. It’s so high that, other than Clayton Kershaw, no active player is currently on a trajectory to make the Hall of Fame unless the recent bar changes. I find it hard to believe that NO OTHER active pitcher is Hall-worthy, which means the thinking does need to change. And it starts with Mike Mussina being inducted, because he is obviously a Hall of Famer.
  • A gift (and you should totally like BN on Facebook, and share it with your Cubs-lovin’ friends!):

Author: Brett Taylor

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