Cubs: We are able to open up the payroll a bit, we’re looking at some old friends for a reunion, tour, and we signed Joc Pederson! Cardinals: LOL, watch this.
Just couldn’t give us a full day …
• I know that hopeful Cubs fans will want to point to Nolan Arenado’s ugly home-road splits as evidence that he’s going to stink when Coors Field is not his home park, but unfortunately, that just hasn’t proved to be true for every big bat that changes teams from the Rockies. Of course Coors Field helps improve offensive performance because of the elevation’s impact on ball travel (off the bat, and out of the pitcher’s hand). There’s no disputing that. But what’s been long in dispute is how that altitude impacts the human players, who have to constantly adjust in and out of Coors Field (the so-called “Coors Hangover Effect”). That is to say, sometimes, the “road” portion of the splits are artificially depressed in addition to the “home” portion of the splits being inflated.
The most recent estimate I saw is that the Coors Hangover Effect might cost a hitter upwards of 11 points of wOBA when he’s a Rockies player on the road. Arenado is a career .334 wOBA on the road, which is roughly 10 points better than a league average mark. So add another 11 points, and you get a guy who is probably solidly above average even on the road. For reference, a .345 wOBA in 2019 would’ve placed you as the 66th best bat in baseball, right around a 116 wRC+. Combined with his defense, that would still make Arenado an exceptional player. Maybe not a super-duper star, but quite good and impactful. (The real question is whether he’d be that guy overall with another club, or if he’d be that guy *on the road* with another club, and would still be better at home (Busch Stadium), as many guys are for a variety of reasons. Point here? The splits probably don’t give us immediate reason to say he’s gonna stink.)
• Couple important things in here from Bruce Levine:
With spring training ready to begin the Cubs are in full pursuit of veteran starting pitching.Samardzija and Rodon on their list of pitchers they will watch throw this weekend.Sources confirm that and @thekapman first report of new payroll tweaking .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 29, 2021
• So it could be that Samardzija and Rodon are among the Cubs’ preferred candidates, and also, Levine confirms Dave Kaplan’s report that the Cubs’ budget for player payroll moved up (which allowed them to sign Joc Pederson, but it’s unclear how much more flexibility there is (please can you sign Kolten Wong?)). Maybe the Cubs were going to need a little extra cash to even land their preferred buy-low starting options? For example, it’s not *that* hard to imagine that the interest in a guy like Carlos Rodon could be strong enough that he gets a modest guaranteed contract.
• To that end, Sahadev Sharma suggests the Cubs could be looking for two starting pitchers at this point: one who you’d think of as an “upside” play (Rodon or Foltynewicz type?), and one who could more reliably give you innings (Samardzija or Arrieta type?). And a “to that end” within a “to that end,” just something to keep in mind on these signings for the Cubs right now:
There’s a fine line between signing enough vet pitching to have proper depth and not signing so much mediocrity that you eliminate pathways for youth arms to break through
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) January 29, 2021
THAT would be a clear line. No doubt.
(Though it’s notable that Alzolay might be limited to … 100 innings? Also health risks. Can only get the guys now.)
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 30, 2021
• The reality is that a lot of the young guys are going to get opportunities throughout the season, even if they aren’t “in the rotation” on day one. Bryan’s quite right that a guy like Adbert Alzolay is a different case, but if it’s Shelby Miller or Jeff Samardzija getting the opening week start in the rotation instead of, say, Cory Abbott? I don’t really have a beef with that, because again, the opportunities will come during the year – it happens every year – and moreover, we know that a lot of guys are only gonna be able to throw like 100 innings this year. So get all the guys you MIGHT want or need right now while you can still sign them. Then sort out the rest later.
• A handful of interesting additional Pederson signing bits:
For what it's worth, ZiPS projections this year …
Pederson: .242/.327/.488, 113 wRC+, 437 PAs, 1.7 WAR.
Schwarber: .236/.345/.505, 114 wRC+, 536 PAs, 2.0 WAR.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 30, 2021
While I do think Joc Pederson v. LHP is going to be a project (at best), there have been SOME good trend lines …
K% generally trending down (spike in '19)
LD% trending way up
Soft% trending down
These are cherry-picked, no doubt, but I'm feeling optimistic today. pic.twitter.com/Md0TvPNNti
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) January 29, 2021
What if free agents Marcus Semien and Joc Pederson weren't coming off of below-average seasons, but above-average ones? Maybe they just did. Here's how.
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) January 26, 2021
• Random fun fact – over his past three years, Jason Heyward’s slash line looks almost identical to his career slash line. Last three years: .261/.347/.419; Career: .261/.345/.414.
• Just because:
• Fergie doc coming soon, and I will so watch that:
• Cubs goodness:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 28, 2021
• That crazy-fun-time-tweeting new Mets owner lasted … about two months on Twitter. After the fallout from the GameStop shorting and hedge fund propping up and fighting with Barstool and all that craziness, Steve Cohen decided he’d had enough and deleted his account.
Steve Cohen, circa December: "Dude, this is awesome, why aren't more MLB owners on here?"
Steve Cohen, circa January: "Oh." https://t.co/FRoC3CirjU
— Brett Taylor (@Brett_A_Taylor) January 30, 2021