I am really enjoying ‘Hawkeye‘ so far, especially for how “small” they decided to make the story. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cosmic-scale, reality-altering stories that have been percolating for years, but sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a story that is just grounded in a very specific, narrow chronology and scope.
• I am thinking about Michael’s great get on the story behind Michael Hermosillo’s non-tender and near-immediate re-signing to a big league deal, and I’m thinking about how desirable he was out there on the open market as a potential minor league free agent. The Dodgers were putting on the full-court press. That, in turn, though makes me considerably more chapped – and I was already pretty chapped – that he wasn’t up earlier in the year and getting more looks from the Cubs. There was just no reason not to give him more looks, and then that mistake was compounded by his injury in early September that ended his season. Clearly, many other organizations were extremely eager to pounce on the chance to bring him in after the clear continued development he showed at Iowa. The Cubs had the unilateral chance, in a lost season, to give him the kind of look they gave Frank Schwindel and Rafael Ortega and Patrick Wisdom, but instead elected to keep giving Jason Heyward starts.
• (All right, I have to instantly check myself a little bit: Hermosillo’s hamstring injury was terribly timed, and basically meant he couldn’t come up until mid-August. So it was only about three weeks that the Cubs were, in my opinion, not giving him enough starts before his forearm injury ended his season. But still: he got only seven starts in those three weeks. JUST SEVEN.)
• It’s a good thing the Cubs wound up no worse for the wear in terms of the transactions – whether they tendered him or re-signed him to a big league deal, they’re effectively in the same spot – but they are lacking a lot of information they could have had about him, and now he’ll be a dude entering Spring Training with no minor league options remaining. I didn’t remember how bothered I was about all this until Michael C’s post yesterday. So, you know, GOOD JOB, MICHAEL!
• Speaking of all of that, boy are the Cubs loaded up with interesting but imperfect outfield options. Every guy in the group does at least one thing really well, at least one thing not so well, and comes with meaningful questions.
• Marcus Stroman is big on tinkering with his pitches, working with different shapes and grips, and messing with hitter timing:
A short little clip on Marcus Stroman messing with timing. #Cubs
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) December 3, 2021
• Since you can’t do quite that level of messing when there are runners on base, it got me curious about his bases-empty splits. He definitely has been way more successful with the bases empty (.247/.304/.365 career, .234/.290/.340 in 2021) than with runners on base (.275/.321/.408 career, .255/.297/.401 in 2021). He also strikes out more batters with the bases empty (22.2% in 2021) than with runners on base (20.8%). However, those splits are actually even MORE pronounced in the league averages (.237/.307/.403 and 24.1% K rate with bases empty in 2021; .253/.330/.421 and 22.0% K rate with runners on). So, either Stroman does more subtle things to mess with timing with runners on base than I have seen (not like I’m watching all his starts), or … his messing with timing from the windup really doesn’t matter all the much? Or he needs to do it just to keep pace with typical splits? Or he doesn’t do it often enough to make a difference in his overall numbers? That is all to say, I’m now curious to see how and when he does it, and why his splits aren’t more pronounced.
• Marcus Stroman is, uh, kinda strong:
Overhead shoulder and core stability. pic.twitter.com/07mMidpobA
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) December 3, 2021
• The core strength and stability necessary to pull that off, to say nothing of the shoulder strength … my lord. I really want to try it out, but just against a wall. I mean, I’m in decent shape, but I’m not in THAT kind of shape. (Future update: Brett has been placed on the 60-day IL with shoulder and neck injuries.)
• A potentially important development is coming in minor league baseball, according to this report at Baseball America. The short version is a company called Endeavor is going to buying several minor league teams over a number of years, potentially eventually owning as many as 30 or 40 of the 120 affiliated minor league teams. Endeavor and its parent, Silver Lake Partners, are invested in all kinds of sports and sports-adjacent operations (UFC, Fanatics, sports betting, sports agencies, etc.), so it’s not hard to see how there could be a scaling opportunity here. Of course, after the pandemic, a lot of minor league teams were in really dire straights, so it makes sense in that regard, too. These kinds of things can wind up good for the teams and fans … or not so good. It’s way too early to say, and it’s also not known which clubs are going to be targeting (though there is mention of it potentially involving some big name/big franchise teams). Read the full and lengthy Baseball America report if you’re into this side of the business.
• Eric Longenhagen writes about how the Brewers’ trade for Hunter Renfroe was about improving their offense against lefties, which was a real problem last year.
• Meanwhile, the Brewers also added a lefty outfield bat to the mix for Spring Training:
Brewers the other day made a non-roster invite to spring training official: David Dahl. From some who watched with Sounds, heard only good things. One went as far as saying he definitely could’ve helped in September (not that they needed much with division won but point taken).
— Will Sammon (@WillSammon) December 4, 2021
• Still only 27, teams will keep dreaming on the upside of Dahl’s prospect days, but health issues have robbed him of the chance to be productive for most of the last few years. That said, he did rake at Triple-A for the Brewers last year, even if not getting a shot on the big league team.
• Albert can still hit it pretty far:
Albert Pujols MOONSHOT ☄️
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) December 4, 2021
It only took a lockout to finally get me reading this, and holy crap is it good. I keep laughing out loud, and, when the family inevitably asks me “what?,” I have to tell them they wouldn’t understand why a PITCHf/x joke was so funny to me. @BenLindbergh @SamMillerBB pic.twitter.com/oo76t6wHIu
— Brett Taylor (@Brett_A_Taylor) December 4, 2021