Just a reminder that the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft is today at 1pm CT. It’s something!
• This is about as Cubs-player-does-Cubs-baseball content as it is going to get right now – new Cubs outfielder Clint Frazier hitting electronic bombs at a digital Wrigley Field:
Clint Frazier hitting bombs at Wrigley (kind of) via his Instagram. Pretty cool. pic.twitter.com/yBeS8g581h
— RushingBaseball (@RushingBaseball) December 7, 2021
• I know it’s just batting practice, but I’m still laughing at the distances on virtually every one of those swings. He’s still hitting it 380+ just about every time on swings 80 through 100. To that point, I’ll actually drop a serious note: Frazier’s swing clearly delivers a great launch angle in the video, which is how he’s hitting it 400 feet even when he doesn’t go way over 100 mph in exit velocity. I wonder about the relationship to his big strikeout rates, and if he’s struck that right balance just yet.
• That, in turn, makes me start thinking about Patrick Wisdom’s swing, which is a launch angle swing if you’ve ever seen one, complete with the enormous hole at the top of the zone. Is there a comp there, given the power and the strikeouts? Nope! That comp definitely doesn’t play when you start looking at the data: Wisdom’s hole is at the top of the zone (and enormous), but Frazier’s is at the bottom of the zone (and more modest); Wisdom is near the top of the league in steepest average launch angle, but Frazier is more middle of the pack; Wisdom’s average exit velocity is top 50, Frazier’s is more middle-of-the pack; Wisdom contact rates are basically the lowest in baseball, Frazier’s are merely below average. I saw a powerful righty with a big strikeout rate who was hitting launch angle bombs and wondered about a comp, but there’s nothing there in the data to support it. That’s why we check! (At a superficial level, I’m actually seeing a little more Ian Happ in the data, if we’re going to force a Cubs comp. But we’ll just leave it alone for now.)
• More fun with Frazier, who is going to be a cult hero among Cubs fans before the season even starts:
so am i 🤣🤣🤣🤣
— Clint Frazier (@clintfrazier) December 7, 2021
• Frazier is going to have the longest hair and the biggest beard by April …. I mostly joke around with this stuff, but you do wonder to what extent player comfort can impact development and performance at the margins. I know nothing at all about the man other than what’s been written publicly, and I know that injury issues are definitely the bigger hurdle. But you just wonder if he was never quite comfortable with the Yankees, and whether that impacted things. This is a guy who was a tip-top prospect when he arrived in New York.
• Given how wild the two weeks were before the lockout began, we’re going to see an increasing push for MLB to institute some kind of artificial transaction deadline in the years ahead, in an attempt to recreate that blitz of activity and attention:
Bradford Doolittle: Time for an NBA-style signing deadline? Why MLB's free-agent frenzy should be an annual event https://t.co/crUBBtrgaa
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 7, 2021
“Baseball, as an industry, needs to make this a baked-in feature of its offseason. The stir it created over that two-week period, especially in the days leading up to the lockout, came despite the fact that no one was really quite prepared for it to happen. Oh, there was some foreshadowing, as reporters such as ESPN’s Jeff Passan told us that there could be heavy movement in free agency before the expiration of the CBA. Still, seeing that actually come to pass was equal parts stunning, exhilarating and exhausting.
Now, imagine what it would be like if we actually knew there was going to be a spate of activity like that every November and/or December? Like the trade deadline, only way better. MLB could promote it. Media outlets could cover the heck out of it both in advance and while it’s unfolding. Teams could arrange access accordingly. Such a period would very soon become one of the favorite times of the year on the baseball calendar.”
• For the most part, I agree with the broad points: for as much as I like the slow burn of the MLB offseason, it’s hard to deny that condensing the activity and the attention at a national level is good for the sport and good for a large swath of fans. The excitement of a looming deadline … it’s kinda hard to beat. The logistics are where it gets tricky: when is the cutoff, and how do you prevent teams from simply using it to pressure players into lesser deals? And how do you re-open transactions later in the offseason to allow guys who couldn’t get deals early on to find deals eventually? And if there is a re-opening at some point, might things look pretty typical, except with a big gap in activity in the middle? (Keep in mind: the reason it works for the NBA is not because there is a deadline, it is because there is a salary cap. The extreme urgency is organic, and in a way that baseball will not be implementing any time soon.)
• Basically, what Doolittle suggests is a three-week period from mid-November through the first week of December or right at the end of the Winter Meetings, and then you have a signing moratorium until about February 1 (in other words, a whole lot like what this offseason might look like). You could build in mechanisms for trades during the moratorium, as well as minor league signings. It’s certainly an interesting setup. I doubt anything like this is seriously discussed at a CBA level this time around, so it would be years before we could see anything like it, and again, the players would have reasons to be dubious about any kind of artificial deadline. Just something to mull, for now, only for fun.
• Manny Rodriguez is still a tank:
• Can you even imagine the work that went into putting this together? So freaking cool:
Pedro Martinez, Mechanics (Collector's Edition) pic.twitter.com/ZDp2gWZ4FY
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) December 7, 2021
• A fresh episode of ‘Onto Waveland’:
We're back with a very necessary check-in pod, talking about the big news of the past week, and where the Cubs go from here. Me, @sahadevsharma, and @PJ_Mooney, in your ears, wherever you get your podcasts:
— Brett Taylor (@Brett_A_Taylor) December 8, 2021
• Not believing it until we see it at this point:
I see what’s been written about what could happen after the Packers game, but I won’t believe anything until it happens at this point. https://t.co/CDnPpXQqTQ
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) December 8, 2021