Throw It Like a Ballplayer

providing baseball commentary and ponderings since April 2010

Posts Tagged ‘zambrano’

Carlos Silva in 2011: A Big “So What”?

Posted by dannmckeegan on March 6, 2011

There could be a reason for a team to jettison a big, fat, bloated contract, even if there is positive value of some sort to be gained from the player’s performance. The Cubs might be in such a situation this year. They owe Carlos Silva $12 million plus a $2 million buyout (less the money Seattle threw in with the Bradley trade). And Silva was good for half a season in 2010. But the Cubs have a fairly reliable set of starting pitchers in Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Carlos Zambrano and Randy Wells. No Phillies, surely, but more than competent.

They also have a stable of youngsters seen as starters in the near future: Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman, Jay Jackson, Christopher Carpenter, Trey McNutt, James Russell, and Austin Bibens-Dirkx all are at worst Triple-A starters in 2011. More than one probably has MLB-level stuff right now.

Seven names. Five spots in Iowa’s rotation. And that doesn’t include Hung-Wen Chen and a few guys bordering on filler/fading prospect. McNutt can probably thrive for a while beating up on the Southern League. Carpenter, Jackson, Russell, and Bibens-Dirkx could all use full seasons at Triple-A as pure starters. Both Cashner (power) and Coleman (sinker) showed some flashes in the majors last year and are capable of pitching at that level, if not thriving as a starter.

So now we have Carlos Silva’s big, fat contract pushing not one, but two or maybe even three young players away from the proverbial catering table. Silva’s ceiling is what he did last year: good luck on his sinker leading to some 5-6 inning starts and some time missed due to injury. His downside, we know, is a repeat of Seattle. If we consider that one of the kids will displace him at some point anyway, simply out of basic roster need, then it doesn’t make sense to keep him on the active or 40-man roster. Even if he can reproduce his 2 WAR 2010 this year, we have to weigh that (likely in 100-130 innings) against potential harm done to prospects not being challenged.

Keeping a guy like Carlos Silva around in a situation like the Cubs currently have is akin to telling a high school sophomore with an A- average that he has to repeat geometry because a senior with a C average and a case of senioritis blew off and failed world lit and didn’t graduate. You don’t punish the sophomore. You promote him normally and figure out how to accommodate the “demote” after everything else is in place. Silva’s getting his money either way. Is his projected 2011 performance (approximated as a WAR value) actually more valuable than a lesser performance by another player this year but an improved probability of stronger production (approximated by WAR value) in future years by one or more of those prospects?

If the Cubs see all of those prospects as MLB talents, then they would be doing less than due diligence if they failed to explore every means of challenging them. It’s not just for the Cubs themselves, but also to shore up added trade value. Is Player X worth more at age 23 with a 3.5 K/BB and 2.25 ERA at Double-A or a 3.2 K/BB and 3.25 ERA at Triple-A? If a guy smokes a league he has to repeat, then the response is, “He should be doing that. He’s playing too low.” It is preferable to see struggles and adjustments at the next level. Carlos Silva might be making that more difficult for the Cubs this year.

Posted in Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Cases for Adrian and Adam

Posted by dannmckeegan on October 8, 2010

Both Adrian Gonzalez of San Diego and soon-to-be free agent Adam Dunn have reportedly expressed interest in playing for the Chicago Cubs. Gonzalez, as first basemen by trade, expressed this sentiment to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmeyer last week as the Cubs were in the midst of hurting the Padres’ playoff chances. Carlos Zambrano claims, according to Bleed Cubbie Blue, that Dunn told him way back when the “first baseman”/slugger first was traded to the desert from the banks of the mighty Ohio. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

As the end draws near…Numbers and Ponderings

Posted by dannmckeegan on September 28, 2010

Just a quick statistical summary for the optimistic among us. Big Z has been good since coming back from the restricted list and rejoining the rotation. As the team has inserted Coleman and Samardzija into a pair of slots, and as Randy Wells has begun to get his groove back, Carlos has become – for the first time in years – the reliable workhorse the team needs him to be. On average pitching into the seventh, El Toro is as hard to hit as ever.

CARLOS ZAMBRANO:

In 10 starts since returning from the restricted list:

  • 7-0
  • 64 innings
  • 41 hits
  • 11 runs
  • 9 earned runs
  • 1 home run
  • 37 walks
  • 55 strikeouts
  • 3 hit batsmen
  • 2 wild pitches
  • 1.27 ERA
  • 1.22 WHIP

In no start has he allowed more than 2 runs (not earned runs; just runs of any type). Projected out over a full season, he’d have a line like:

33 starts; 211 innings; 135 hits; 122 walks; 182 strikeouts; 3 home runs; 10 hit batsmen; 6 wild pitches; 36 runs

Obviously we’d expect the hits and runs to regress upward towards the mean, while the walk total would level off as the high-end outliers become less statistically significant. But if he has renewed his devotion to pitching as opposed to throwing, then the depressed home run total is somewhat sustainable (not 3 on a season, but closer to 7-10 than 20). He should have one more start. It’ll be fun to see how he finishes off his season.

Another home run-related note: between Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol, only 4 balls have left the yard over 148 innings and more than 150 combined appearances. Add in their strikeout totals (134 for Marmol and 88 for Marshall) and Marshall’s low walk total (just 25, including intentional), and the Cubs have a recipe for success in the late innings that will cost them a pretty penny come arbitration. I would not be surprised, sadly, to see Marshall get packaged with Fukudome’s contract to a team in need of the two players’ skill sets. The Yankees could absorb the hit. Boston could, but Kosuke would be redundant with Drew around, while Drew would not be of use to the Cubs.

Positionally the Cubs seem largely set for 2011:

Soto C; DeWitt, Castro, Ramirez, Barney IF; Soriano, Byrd, Colvin, Fukudome OF; either Hill or Castillo as the backup backsto; gaping hole at 1B.  But how about this: get Soto some reps in Mesa in spring training at first base while also working Colvin in there. Treat the two of them as a platoon. Soto remains the primary catcher, but slides to first like Victor Martinez or Buster Posey on his days off. This would save wear and tear on his knees, core, and surgically refreshed shoulder. It also keeps him in the lineup 140-150 games per year instead of 125. That could be worth a few wins. Colvin, meanwhile, takes most of the starts at 1B while still spelling Soriano or Byrd or Fukudome/Roster RF as the team’s fourth OF. Basically, instead of having a true “4th OF” on the roster, they’d simply need a utility man who has 1st base in his arsenal, someone like Jeff Baker except good at baseball.  I’d personally like to see Castillo rather than Koyie simply because Koyie is the backup catcher for a contender now. The Cubs aren’t that. As such, develop Welly into the backup catcher for a contender tomorrow.  He’d be able to get 40-60 starts easily, and having both Clevenger and Chirinos (if the latter’s added to the 40-man before the Rule 5 Draft) at Iowa provides ample insurance.

Unless they can move Fukudome this off season, there won’t be a lot of change to the positional makeup of this Cubs team. 2011’s RF – Fukie or otherwise – is a placeholder for whoever’s ready first between organization player of the year Brandon Guyer, 09 first rounder Brett Jackson, and possibly Ty Wright. I omit Colvin as a full-time option largely because the team has no true 1B prospect in the high minors. AA Tennessee boasts both lefty Matt Spencer (acquired from Oakland with Jeff Gray in the Jake Fox deal) and righty Russ Canzler, each of whom did very well in the Southern League. But neither is seen as a big-time player. Likewise, Iowa 3B Marquez Smith, Colvin’s old Auburn teammate, is too short to slide across to first despite offensive numbers that are a bit enticing (17 HR and 26 2B in 91 games with the I-Cubs after a slower start down in Tennessee).

Posted in Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lies, Damn Lies and Sombreros

Posted by dannmckeegan on April 10, 2010

The Golden Sombrero.  If we called it Le Chapeau D’Or, former fans of the former Expos might believe it to be a Southwestern film festival’s top prize.  But Juan Francisco, who spelled Reds regular Scott Rolen at third base Saturday, would be able to tell them otherwise.  On his way to a four-strikeout game against the Cubs, though, a funny thing happened on the way back to the bench.  And it’s the kind of thing that should cause sabermetricians to lose sleep at night.  Juan Francisco lies in the face of Truth…in outcomes. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Analysis, Game Commentary, Statistics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Good lord willin’, this post’ll work out

Posted by dannmckeegan on April 7, 2010

“I was excited[…]But I don’t like to show guys up. Hit the ball and run around the bases like you’ve done it before, shake hands and get ready for the next one.”

–Marlon Byrd, on reaching the seats in his Cubs debut (VIDEO)

“The umpires don’t have the benefit of replays.  You have to keep your chin up. You can let it fester or you can keep playing.”

–Byrd, on the double play resulting from umpire error (VIDEO)

“This matched Zambrano’s shortest start ever. On Sept. 4, 2006, he also went 1 1/3 innings, but he exited that game because of back problems. Big Z is 1-2 with a 6.99 ERA (22 earned runs over 28 1/3 innings) in his Opening Day starts.”

–MLB.com’s Cubs writer and blogger Carrie Muskat

Let’s see if we can’t break down some things to learn from the Cubs’ ugly loss in Game #1. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Game Commentary, Humor | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »