The Cubs get a little more stat-friendly

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Paul Sullivan of the Tribune reports that the Cubs are broadening their minds:

New Chairman Tom Ricketts told fans at the Cubs Convention he
expects the organization to use sabermetrics as a tool more often for
player decisions and evaluating opponents while still valuing the human
component. The Cubs didn’t hire a full-time numbers cruncher until Chuck
Wasserstrom was named manager of baseball information after the 2003
season.

“We’ve always done more than people thought,” Hendry said. “… We’ve
always factored that in. But I’m always going to be a scouting guy
first. You can skew statistics to frame it the way you like it.

That Hendry quote is pretty ridiculous. Sure, you can try to spin numbers any way you want, but at some point the spin becomes implausible because at the end of the day there’s still, you know, a number there.  Scouting, in contrast, can lend itself to far, far more subjectivity because, ultimately, a scout’s assessment is a person’s opinion. An informed one, yes, if the scout is well-trained, but an opinion all the same. 

Here’s a far more interesting quote from Sullivan, which seems to be an attempt to take a swipe at statistical analysis:

According to the numbers, Hendry seemed to make the right moves when he signed free agents Milton Bradley and Aaron Miles last year. Bradley led the American League in OBPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) with the Rangers in 2008,
while Miles hit .392 in day games with the Cardinals, which made him a
perfect fit for a team that plays more day games than any other. But both flopped badly with the Cubs.

Setting aside the fact that I’ve never seen OPS referred to as “OBPS,” anyone who suggests that reckless sabermetrics led to the Bradley and Miles flops is full of beans.

Sabermetrics is about more than on base percentage. Smart sabermetricians were extremely wary of the Cubs signing Bradley due to the fact that he had played so little in the field while in Texas. They acknowledged his upside, sure, because Bradley is talented and has upside, but they also acknowledged the extreme risk he represented from both a health and character perspective and thought that the Cubs massively overpaid for his services.

Only the truly moronic think that scouting and sabermetrics
are mutually-exclusive evaluation tools. Almost every team uses both
scouting and stats, as they should.

Adrian Beltre cleared for extended spring training

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Adrian Beltre has been on the disabled list all year because of nagging right calf strain, but he’s about to take a big step toward getting back to action.

Beltre has been cleared to begin playing in extended spring training games. He’ll commence them tomorrow at the Rangers facility in Surprise, Arizona. After three games the team’s doctors will reevaluate him. If things go well, he’ll likely be sent off for a full minor league rehab assignment.

Joey Gallo has filled in for Beltre all season, bringing a lot of power but not much else to the table. While Beltre is 38, his all-around game would be welcomed back on the field and his leadership would be welcomed back in the Rangers clubhouse. On a personal note, Beltre is only 58 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.

Barring a setback, he’ll be back with the big club in early June and will hit the milestone eventually.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.