Mancini's Fit at Wrigley, Swanson as Lester, Hoerner's Early Success, Another Rays Extension, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Mancini’s Fit at Wrigley, Swanson as Lester, Hoerner’s Early Success, Another Rays Extension, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Baseball is my first and primary passion, and I’m certainly getting REALLY itchy to have it back in a few weeks (I mean, I get REALLY excited for fake games in the Spring). But I will definitely miss football. Just three games left.

  • I missed this full quote from Trey Mancini when he was meeting with the media last week upon his signing with the Cubs becoming official. We had done some extrapolating about his style and how it would fit at Wrigley Field, but it was good to hear him say it, too ( “I’m definitely at my best when I’m sticking in the center of the field,” Mancini said. “And I think Wrigley is very well-suited for that. When I’m gap to gap, not trying to pull the ball too much, that’s where I’ve got to live there. And that’s what I’ve really been trying to get back to, especially this offseason. If there’s anything that I was addressing, it’s that. Hitting the ball to right-center with authority, for whatever reason, I wasn’t doing it last year.”
  • He’s right. For whatever reason, Mancini got WAY pull-oriented last year (45.0% after being 36.8% for his career before that), which was particularly unhelpful given that Baltimore made its ballpark brutal on pull-oriented righties with their new wall. Of course, then Mancini went to the Astros, where pull-oriented righties are HELPED by the short porch, and he started pulling even more (over 48%). I’m sure it just got him really outside himself, and it’ll be a relief to be in a home ballpark where you’re not really rewarded for being extreme anything. Gap-to-gap guys tend to do best at Wrigley Field, so if Mancini wants to think up-the-middle, then all the better.

When the Cubs went through their last rebuild, veteran pitcher Jon Lester’s signing signaled to Hendricks that the club was turning a corner and ready to win. Now, Hendricks agreed, Swanson could be this cycle’s equivalent.

“He is the No. 1 guy that you refer to and when you say ‘winning,’ ” Hendricks said. “I mean, you see what he’s done throughout his entire life, really. And just talking to him, you see the passion, you see how much he loves doing what he does.”

The Cubs even harnessed the parallels to recruit Swanson. They produced a video about Lester’s decision to sign with the Cubs in December 2015, a decision that helped propel them into a period of five playoff trips in six years, three NLCS appearances, and, of course, that World Series title.

Swanson recounted at his introductory news conference: “He kind of just said, it was the hardest decision that he ever made, but looking back on it now, it would have been the easiest one.”

  • If we’re all fortunate enough for Dansby Swanson to be this team’s Jon Lester, then it means we’re about to see the Cubs go on a run of three straight NLCS appearances … it could happen, right?
  • There are caveats aplenty here, but this is still very fun at first blush:
  • The biggest caveat, of course, is that there are several players from the 2018 draft that you’d still take – today – over Nico Hoerner. He’s had the jump on them for big league productivity (which is good!), but for example, guys like Shane McClanahan or Grayson Rodriguez would still be more desirable at the moment. Nevertheless, Hoerner – who was seen by many at the time as a reach by the Cubs (I remember so many people saying he was not a first round talent) – is a CLEAR scouting and player development win for the Cubs. Getting a guy like him late in the first round is the kind of thing we’ve seen so often from the Cardinals and Dodgers. The Cubs need to keep pulling that off (in addition, obviously, to generating more significant prospects in the later rounds than they have in the past).
  • Yet another Rays extension this weekend, this time with hard-hitting third baseman Yandy Diaz:
  • Diaz, who is already 31, still had another couple years to go before free agency, so that’s presumably why he was willing to sign this deal. The guy has just quietly always hit, and then last year he put up a whopping .296/.401/.423/146 wRC+ slash line. He probably won’t repeat that, but yeesh. Another Rays bargain, and their third extension in a week (Diaz, Jeffrey Springs, Pete Fairbanks). Must be nice!
  • This game, and obviously the ending, was so much fun:
  • The Cubs are hiring interns if you’re in the Mesa area and you’ve got a PT or ATC background:
  • Interesting read at FanGraphs on the relationship between aging curves and hitter platoon splits. There’s not a lot of definitive conclusions – because sometimes that’s the answer, that things are gray – but one thing you notice is that two of the biggest platoon split boosters are ISO and K%. And since those skills tend to peak in the mid-20s, you may find that platoon guys in their 30s underperform your expectations relative to the split. That said, those skills would still tend to decline faster against same-handed pitchers, so you COULD still still a platoon guy be effective against opposite-handed pitchers for a year or two longer than he can hack it against same-handed pitchers.
  • This is what Trevor Bauer is up against if any team is going to sign him – a general understanding that, no, that would be a bad idea:
  • Not that anyone is surprised: when one of the Orioles’ owners avoided questions at an EXTREMELY rare press appearance by saying he would offer up all the information the next week, that information did not come.

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.