Pitch Nerdery, ALDS Highlights, Arozarena, Preller, GM Search, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Pitch Nerdery, ALDS Highlights, Arozarena, Preller, GM Search, and Other Cubs Bullets

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All right. Finished ‘Midnight Mass,’ and the finale did not negatively impact the experience, so it remains – as I said yesterday – an extremely thorough highly-recommended watch. Which reminds me to reiterate, though, that ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ is one of my favorite shows of the last five years, so definitely watch that one, too, if you haven’t.

•   The ALDS series kinda got off with a thud, with neither game particularly competitive. The Rays shut out the Red Sox after the Astros nearly shut out the White Sox. Games Two are today, together with Games One of the NLDS, so it’s a loaded day of playoff baseball. You could watch from 1pm CT straight through to just about midnight, depending on how long Dodgers-Giants goes. Although every game interests me to one degree or another, I can’t help myself … Brewers-Braves at 3:30pm CT is the one that’ll get most of my attention. (Go Braves. I hope Joc Pederson hits four dingers and spins his pearl necklace each time.)

•   The Rays-Sox highlights, including Nelson Cruz’s umpire-ruled home run off the catwalk at Tropicana Field, which is definitely a very professional and serious ballpark:

•   This is what the Rays do, and what everyone else wants to emulate:

•   The Sox-Stros highlights, with Lance Lynn getting knocked around:

•   Although Lynn did not have a good day, this is a very good point:

•   Watching the game, I honestly thought Lynn was throwing a ton of sliders, which struck me as weird because he is known as a guy who has EXTREME fastball tendencies. Turns out that’s his cutter, or so he calls it. I mean, it’s 87 mph (against a fastball that is 94 mph) and it breaks just like a slider. So, for one thing, I guess you call it what the guy wants you to call it … but that’s a slider. For another thing, Lance Brozdowski’s point is very well-taken: you can’t just look at a bare-bones pitch classification and try to draw conclusions from it for dunks. And for still another thing, I have always found it weird that cutters are generally classified as a type of fastball. Yes, for some guys, the cutter is their base fastball, but that’s pretty darn rare. It’s almost always in a different velocity tier, and with dramatically different movement than a four-seamer.

•   The discussion reminds me of Ryan Tepera’s newly-developed cutter in 2020 with the Cubs, which helped him break out. When we first saw the pitch in those summer camp games, I think we were all calling it a nasty slider, because that’s how it moved and how it’s velocity played relative to his fastball. But he was throwing it like a cutter – at least as I understood the public discussion of the pitch – and he called it a cutter. So we adjusted. Fine, fair enough. It’s a cutter. But this year, part-way through the season, he decided to start calling it a slider – so, poof, it was a slider. Same pitch. Just a different, more accurate name. The point here is only that you have to be a little careful with pitch classification stuff.

•   There was a Tampa Bay Rays postseason game last night, which means Randy Arozarena must have hit a homer (and he stole home, too). It’s just what he does. Get this ridiculous stat (he’s only played in 26 postseason games!):

•   Arozarena, 26, is a very good big league hitter overall (.276/.360/.480, 133 wRC+), but in his 95 postseason PAs, he’s hitting a bonkers .361/.442/.819 (236). That’s a .458 ISO. He is peak Barry Bonds in the postseason (which, by the way, reiterates how absurd peak Bonds was, chemically-enhanced or not).

•   Today’s Epic Daily Deals at Amazon are pretty loaded, including iPad, LOL Surprise (ask your young daughter, they’ll know), electric toothbrushes, and James Bond. #ad

•   The longer we go without a Cubs GM search update, the more I wonder a few things: (1) is Jed Hoyer trying to land someone surprising that he doesn’t want some other org to poach? Usually you hear about a list of finalists by this point in a search, and clearly this is being held very closely under wraps; (2) does Hoyer have a preferred candidate or two that is on a postseason club that doesn’t want that person to interview until they’re out of the playoffs (that’s not always an issue, but sometimes it is)?; and (3) are we really not going to hear anything until there’s a full-on hiring announcement, which could come at any point over the next four weeks? That’s wild.

•   Meanwhile, A.J. Preller – who is both the President and GM of the Padres – is still very safe in his job, per team Chairman Peter Seidler. This section from an Athletic article on that topic and many others nearly made me spit out my drink when I got to the final sentence I am quoting, though I’m not sure it was intentional:

Preller, according to Seidler, will have wide latitude to choose the fourth full-time manager of the GM’s tenure. Seidler added that the Padres do not view major-league managing experience as a requirement.

“A.J.’s job is as safe as a general manager’s can be,” Seidler said in a phone interview. “I 100 percent believe in him, 100 percent trust him. And that’s not because I’m blindly loyal. It’s because I put a professional microscope on him as an executive, and I see a ton of great qualities. A lot of things that went wrong this year weren’t things that you can point at either Jayce or A.J. on, but fundamentally, some things that we needed to change in the manager’s chair — that’s why we made that decision.

“As closely as I know A.J., to me, he’s exceptional at what he does. And I’m as, with my eyes wide open, committed to him as I can be.”

The Padres, who made the 2020 playoffs in a pandemic-shortened season, fielded a payroll this year that climbed well above $170 million. They raced out to a record nearly identical to the one that made last summer a 60-game success.

Then they began to fade. Then they imploded.

Their final record, 79-83, is the best under Preller in a full season.

•   Preller has been the top exec with the Padres for 7.5 seasons, is hiring his fourth manager, just saw his very expensive (in money and prospect cost) team implode, and the very best record of his tenure in a full season is … four games under .500. I genuinely do like a lot of what Preller does with the Padres, but man. That is an extraordinarily long leash.

•   The swings get more and more hilarious as the clip goes on:

•   Pretty crazy when you think about the volume of teams, and the financial advantages of many of them:

•   Home white jersey fans rejoice:

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.