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.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.