Caratini's Rough Stretch, Rookies of the Year, White Sox Won't Punish La Russa, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Caratini’s Rough Stretch, Rookies of the Year, White Sox Won’t Punish La Russa, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I know that people like Christmas music, and I know that we’re all especially hard up for nice things this year. But dang it, come on. The second week of November is TOO EARLY for Christmas music. I was never even a fan of when it started immediately after Thanksgiving, so come on.

•   Bob Nightengale had the Tony La Russa White Sox story from thing one at the highest levels, and while I won’t suggest I know who his source is (Jerry Reinsdorf?), I will say that he probably hears what he hears straight from the top. Here’s his follow on the ESPN report last night that La Russa had been arrested for a DUI back in February, and then charged the day before he was hired by the White Sox: “A high-ranking White Sox official told USA TODAY Sports that La Russa is in no danger of losing his job, or receiving any discipline by the club.”

•   On one hand, that seems obvious – they knew about the charge, the second for La Russa over the last 13 years, and proceeded to hire him anyway – but on the other hand, I gotta tell you, it really pisses me off. Driving drunk is (1) extraordinarily dangerous to other people, and (2) extraordinarily easy to prevent. When you hit that nexus of two things, man, your behavior goes beyond inexcusable. And for La Russa to have been busted TWICE for it? How frequently does he drive drunk? Talk about the height of irresponsibility and arrogance. And this is the guy the White Sox have brought in – after ten years away from the dugout – to lead one of the most talented young rosters in baseball. Truly unthinkable, and if it craters, it’s not as if the warning signs weren’t there. I can’t imagine being in that front office, and knowing – if reports are true – that ownership imposed this guy upon you.

•   Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis, who took a long road to getting to this moment after injuries, won the American League Rookie of the Year:

•   With Lewis’s win in the AL and Devin Williams’s win in the NL, something important worth noting:

•   A couple awards, alone, won’t move the ball, but as baseball continues its efforts to include more communities in the game, and increase participation among Black players, this seems like a great moment. For kids who are just starting to play, it’s gotta be good to see more people star from a historically waaaay underrepresented group in MLB.

•   Luis Robert was a near unanimous second place, which got me looking into his season, and I saw that he finished with only a 101 wRC+. I was like, wuh? I thought he was scorching. Well, it turns out, after the first 10 days of the season, he hit just .196/.267/.399 (80 wRC+). The talent is obvious, and his skills in center field are elite. But I guess the bat has a ways to go, which is not necessarily a surprise given the limited minor league time.

•   Some context for the numbers – over the same period, Victor Caratini hit .247/.346/.344 (91 wRC+), and most of the talk among Cubs fans was understandably that he had a very disappointing year. That’s not to say Caratini DIDN’T have a disappointing year or that the first 10 games don’t count. It’s more just playing around at the margins of what we think about the 2020 season and its data. It’s gonna be really funky every time you look back on it and dig around.

•   While we’re on Caratini, though, the stuff under the hood was all pretty concerning if you were going to take it at face and if you were going to think about ever giving him a bigger role in the offense going forward. His average exit velocity was down two clicks, his hard contact rate was down three percentage points, his soft contact rate was up seven percentage points (at 21.2%, his soft contact rate was worst on the Cubs). He wasn’t hitting his usual spray of line drives, and he was also striking out more than usual. Not only were his numbers poor for the year, he was actually lucky by the expected metrics at Statcast, where his expected wOBA was just .276, 30th worst in baseball (and only fractionally ahead of Kris Bryant and Javy Báez, and we know what we thought of their seasons).

•   That is all to say, while Caratini has clearly become a very good defensive catcher, the bat may still need some progress to be league average. And if there’s a DH in the NL in 2021, as expected, it would probably be a good idea for the Cubs to take a shot at finding a position-less upside bat in free agency. Maybe you still wind up having Caratini (and Willson Contreras) doing a lot of DH’ing, but I don’t think that should be the presumption entering the offseason.

•   Miscellaneous sports thing that I’m gonna celebrate – Chris Nikic is the first man with Down Syndrome to finish an Ironman Triathlon:

•   Can I still vote for Javy, just because:

•   Star Wars toys and gear, cookware, bakeware, mini speakers, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   Hey, that’s me:

•   Announcement just dropped that NBA free agency is going to kick off in 10 DAYS. So make sure you’re following our Bulls coverage on Twitter and on Facebook – just smack that like button, please and thanks:

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.