The Cubs emerged from the stone age

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This story from Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal is crazy. It’s about the Cubs and how they have changed since new ownership took over in 2009 and, more dramatically, since Theo Epstein took over baseball operations in 2011.

Everyone knows that, under former GM Jim Hendry, the Cubs were not exactly on the sabermetric vanguard. But the club’s approach to baseball analytics seems secondary to the Cubs’ approach to basic office functionality, regardless of philosophy. As Costa observes:

The office Tom Ricketts inherited when he took over the Chicago Cubs in 2009 was a windowless room beneath the upper deck of Wrigley Field. A closet just outside his door contained all of the team’s computer servers, which were covered by a cafeteria tray to shield them from the water that would leak through the ceiling when it rained.

The Cubs were still processing season ticket orders by fax machine. They kept up on trade news by employing someone to scan the Internet for articles and deliver printouts to executives’ desks. Some of their staffers were barely on e-mail. And space was so limited that half of them worked in trailers in the parking lot.

 

And thankfully for the Cubs, the takeover by Ricketts and the hiring of Epstein is when things began to change.

We spend so much time talking about sabermetrics and analytics when it comes to front offices. But the fact of the matter is that the modern baseball executive is just as much systems administrator as he or she is a baseball mind. No matter what your philosophy is, it’s essential that the people in your organization have quick and ready access to the information and communications used to make the decisions, whether that information is statistical analysis from the number crunchers, scouting reports from the people in the field or business data from the folks who sell the tickets and do the marketing.

(thanks to Jordan for the heads up)

 

Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg’s status for 2023 ‘a mystery’

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Stephen Strasburg‘s status for 2023 is up in the air after a series of injuries that limited him to one start this season, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said.

“It’s still a little bit of a mystery,” Rizzo said about the 2019 World Series MVP before the Nationals were scheduled to play a doubleheader at the New York Mets. “I know that he’s working hard strengthening his core and the other parts of his body. We’re just going to have to see. With the type of surgery and rehab that he’s had, it’s unfamiliar to us. It’s unfamiliar to a lot of people. We’re going to have to take it day by day.”

The 34-year-old right-hander has thrown a total of 31 1/3 innings across just eight starts over the past three seasons combined. He had carpal tunnel surgery in 2020, then needed an operation to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in 2021.

After his only start of 2022, he went back on the injured list with a stress reaction of the ribs.

“We’ll have to see where the rehab process takes us later on in the winter,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to monitor him. He’s local, so we’ll see him all the time and we’ll see where he’s at going into spring training mode.”

Strasburg is a three-time All-Star who signed a $245 million contract after helping Washington win a championship in 2019.

He is 113-62 with a 3.24 ERA for his career.

Meeting with reporters toward the end of a rough season – Washington entered with a majors-worst and Nationals-worst record of 55-104 and shipped away the team’s best player, outfielder Juan Soto, at the trade deadline – Rizzo talked about doing “an autopsy of the organization.”

“I look at the season as a disappointment. I’ve always said that you are what your record says you are, and our record says we’re the worst team in the league right now. It’s hard to argue with that,” Rizzo said. “The flip side of that is we’re in a process.”

Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez were given contract extensions during the season. Martinez said his entire coaching staff will return next year.