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Soriano by the Pitches

Hoping to understand Alfonso Soriano's hot and cold streaks this year, I turned to the incomparable Fan Graphs to break down his present and historical success against different pitches.  The results suggest that Soriano is losing the skill that made him one of the more feared hitters in the game, but that he might have found a method to compensate for this loss.  Below is a chart showing the percentage of fastballs Soriano has seen each year since 2005, with 2009 broken down per month. It also shows his ranking among hitters seeing the fewest fastballs, his "runs above average"  number on fastballs, (wFastball) and how high he ranks among all hitters, and his overall OPS. (As in, not specific to fastballs)  The most important thing to notice here is his wFB rank.

 

Date  Fastball%  FB% Rank  wFastball wFB Rank
 OPS
2005  47.9  147/147  27.6  15/147  .821

2006

 54.1  150/159  23.7  25/159  .911
2007  54  150/161  23.3  27/161  .897
2008  53.2  134/145  17.9  38/145  .876
April 2009
 45.9  196/197  3.3  55/197
 .965

May 2009

 43  185/185  3.6  60/185  .657
June 2009
 49.1  180/184  2.4  72/184  .585
July 2009
 44.8  190/190  .7  112/190  .992
August 2009
 36.7
 179/190
 -.6  156/190  .220

 

You probably have noticed a couple of striking trends going on here.  First, Soriano has progressively moved from being one of the most effective hitters in baseball against the fastball to being quite pedestrian. Second, pitchers have not noticed and adapted to this change:  They contiue to avoid throwing fastballs to Soriano as if he were the same hitter he was in 2005.  He's not.

So how do we explain Soriano's April and July, when he hit like the hitter for whom the Cubs offered that premium contract?

Finding  that answer requres looking at Soriano's results swinging at sliders.

 Date Slider %
SL % Rank
wSlider
 wSL Rank
 OPS

2005

 26.6  1/147
 -6.9  140/147  .821
 2006  21.3
 9/158  -2.9  119/159  .911
 2007  20.2  12/161  -7.9  154/161  .897
 2008  22.9  5/145  -2.1  92/145  .876
 April 2009
 22.7  13/197  2.5
 15/197  .965
 May 2009
 26.4  5/185
 -2.4  167/185  .657
 June 2009
 24.3  11/184  -5.4  183/184  .585
 July 2009
 25.6  6/190
 3.9
 4/190  .992
 August 2009
 43.4  5/190  -.8  166/175

.220

 

It makes sense that if pitchers fear Soriano's ability to hit the fastball, they would throw him an inordinate number of sliders, and indeed the table indicates Soriano consistently sees among the most sliders in the game.  Throughout his career Soriano has proven to be one of the weaker hitters against sliders.

This potentially could be a toxic combination: A fastball hitter who no longer can hit fastballs, and still doesn't see any fastballs to boot.  But then look at the two months this year that Soriano has hit: April and July.  The numbers indicate that Soriano's output isn't due to hitting fastballs with the authority to which he is accustomed; instead he's hitting sliders in a way that he previously did not.  Well.

Of course, other factors might be at work as well, but if so I have yet to find an obvious candidate.  Such marked changes do not appear when looking at Soriano's results against other pitch types.  Neither does plate discipline seem to be the issue. Soriano is both swinging at fewer pitches outside of the strikezone this year, and making more contact when he does swing - both at pitches inside and out of the zone, and it shows no meaningful fluctuation from month to month in 2009.  His BABIP shows severe fluctuations from month to month, but that appears to be driven by corresponding changes in his line-drive percentage, so there's nothing unusual there.  

Assuming that these stats do reveal a truth about the real world (I know, I know), there are several questions to consider going forward.  Most obvious, what is the cause behind Soriano's diminish returns against fastballs?  Is it that he now has a "slider speed bat"?  Is it a matter of approach at the plate, where he has stopped guessing fastball in order to better hit the breaking stuff?  The latter can be fixed, the former, not so much.  Looking at how consistent the downward trend is, my hunch is that it's the former, a slow erosion in the speed of his bat.  If it's the former, and Soriano is losing some quickness in the swing, will we see him move away from his preference for heavy bats?  And will he be able to compensate by consistently hitting sliders with the results found in April and July?  Then, there are questions concerning how pitchers resond.  At what point will pitchers adjust to the fact that Soriano does not hit fastballs with the authority he once did, and adjust their pitch selection? There may be a lot riding on these questions.

 

Update: I was unaware of it as I wrote, but less than a month ago R.J. Anderson at Fan Graphs wrote about how few fastballs Soriano sees.  He doesn't mention either Soriano's historical trend of diminishing results on the fastball, or the weird fluctuations this year on the sliders; instead he reaffirms the notion that Soriano is a good fastball hitter and the problem is in the dearth of fastballs he sees. I think he may be wrong there, but I should at least try to be a good scholar and cite the work.

 

Comments

imo... soriano has always played at the plate (and still does) standing at the very front of the box. this lets him takes hacks at offspeed stuff before/early in the break. he swings a bat damn hard/fast for a guy with this frame. this has allowed him to stand in the front of the box and still catch up with those fastballs rather than so many blowing by him. as far as if his bat speed really is diminishing or it's some kinda hand/eye contact issue...i dunno. a guy that Ks as much as he does is expected to take some ugly swings, but in some of these foul-off-fests he's making contact with stuff he'd drive in years past only to find himself poking it foul being late. i blame larry rothschild and the assistant groundskeeper.

Excellent piece, Trans. I'd think the declining bat speed hypothesis is correct. Soriano's almost a pure reaction hitter, placing a heavy burden on his athleticism. Now that he's on the wrong side of 30, his reliance on see ball-hit ball becomes a liability.

Decision on BJ coming soon too? from sun-times notes: Lefty B.J. Ryan, the former All-Star closer the Cubs signed when Toronto released him last month, pitched another scoreless inning for Class AAA Iowa, striking out one and walking one. He hasn't allowed a run in five appearances, including three of the last four days.

Wow. Really interesting post, Trans, and written at 1am, it ascends to the rank of superb. (Like a well executed dive with a high degree of difficulty.)

I wonder to what degree moving to a lighter bat allows an older player to compensate for loss of bat speed. If I had to guess, it would be some, but less than one might imagine (or, in Soriano's case, less than Cub fans would hope). And he has all of those years still left on that contract.

Additionally, I have this suspicion that Soriano would no more readily move to a lighter bat--and thus concede his aging--than Lou was willing to move him out of the leadoff spot.

Thanks again for the piece.

[ ]

In reply to by Transmission

Moving back in the box might make him more vulnerable to breaking pitches, but it would also give him that extra split second to recognize a breaking pitch (something he clearly has trouble doing). I wish we lived in the future and had some kind of supercomputer to model these hypotheticals for us (like taking an ounce off his bat and moving him a foot back in the box).

When Soriano heats up, you might as well throw the numbers out. As late as this April Soriano was crunching any kind of pitch... slider, fastball, changeup, it just didn't matter. When he's slumping though (and his slumps are as inevitable as his hot streaks) he'll wave at a slider no matter how far off the plate it is. I think he'll put to rest this talk of declining bat speed very soon.

[ ]

In reply to by Ryno

I'd wager ye be a bit overly-optimistic. Clearly Soriano, has a history of streakiness, but Trans is looking at long term trends. He's been streaky over the course of individual seasons. But the trend over the last several seasons is that he does less and less with the fastball.

Isn't this all just Billy Beane-speak for saying the dude got a lot bigger contract than he should have gotten? Seriously, nice analysis. If he can't hit sliders as he gets older he is totally fucked cuz most hitters past a certain age (they all have different peaks) can't turn on good fastballs at some point. He's got such good wrist movement though I'm a bit surprised by this. Hmmm, now that I think about it maybe his wrists are a little less Ernie Bankish this year.

[ ]

In reply to by Rob Richardson

I'm not a big stats guy (in fact, I barely understand them), but that article had some pretty cool stuff in it, like this: "19) Hitting a fastball is not imperative. Just ask the Pittsburgh Pirates. You figure that during the Pirates’ fire sale they would manage to upgrade offensively from their former shortstop, Jack Wilson(notes), whose anemic 11.2 runs below average on fastballs personified the franchise quite well. But no. They replaced him with Ronny Cedeno(notes), who in just over 200 at-bats is 17.9 runs below average. His 3.46 runs below per 100 fastballs is the worst in baseball, and scouts recognize it: Cedeno sees almost 70 percent fastballs because he can’t touch them."

[ ]

In reply to by Sweet Lou

I don't even care, I'd take Jack Wilson and move the riot back to 2B in a heartbeat. Talk about a guy that gets after the ball... He's one of my favorite active SS. Sure, he'll never be on my fantasy team, but he's a human highlight reel.

http://www.insidesocal.com/dodgers/2009/08/fireworks-field.html Can we label Prince Fielder as crazy now? nice article Trans...I find the disconnect between April and August though to be most concerning. If he really did figure out how to hit slider betters, I find it hard to believe he figured it out, forgot for 2-3 months and then figured it out again. In the meantime, I'll enjoy him not sucking.

[ ]

In reply to by Rob G.

Yeah, that's my main reservation with my own study here, as well.  How likely is it that he's beginning to learn to hit sliders, but isn't able to consistently replicate it?  It's possible, at least, and I find it more likely than any other alternative explanation,but I'm also not completely sold on it...

Mechanical problems can also contribute to being unable to hit fastballs. It's not necessarily a symptom of aging.

[ ]

In reply to by The Real Neal

Did you really just try to make some snarky suggestion that the analytical rigor of an article on a baseball blog that I put together in 2 hours late one night is some sort of  insight into the rigor I gave over the five years I spent on the thesis that likely would make or break my professional life?

 

I do not imagine that you would want any single contribution you've made to The Cub Reporter to stand as a proxy for the sum of your own professional life. 

[ ]

In reply to by Transmission

No, that doesn't make any sense. What I am suggesting is that if you learn something in school, you apply it to things outside of school. For instance, when you come to a sign when you're driving that says 'Stop', you don't drive through it thinking "well, I learned to read at school, they certainly can't expect me to apply those lessons to everything else in my life, reading is only for school". Your excuse here is as likely to get by me, as it is to get you out of a moving violation citation.

[ ]

In reply to by The Real Neal

Ok, I'll accept your tacit retraction of your original snark, and respond to this bit of snark.

 

Among the things I've learned along the way is that whenever I can't be 100% certain in the conclusions I'm drawing from the data, I ought to say as much. A qualified conclusion is more defensible, if less sexy, than an absolute statement of fact.

 

Now, go look at the number of qualifications and caveats I made in the original entry.

 

[ ]

In reply to by Transmission

OK Trans. I will turn on my psychic antenna so that I know which things you say you don't really mean. To recap: 1. People are assuming correlation is causation, based primarily on the data in the article. 2. I point out that correlation is not causation. 3. Trans says 'but yeah, it's really correlated' 4. I point out that it's not really that correlated, and wonder why trans thinks it is, when he should know better. 5. Trans' panties get twisted, and it changes the argument, and constructs a strawman 6. I point out the flaw in Trans's 2nd argument 7. Trans says 'I wasn't really arguing the first thing, anyway, quit picking on me', and presumably unwinds his panties.

[ ]

In reply to by The Real Neal

Here's what has my proverbial panties in a bunch:

 

You disagree with my tentative conclusions.  Great.  You've explained why, and offered your alternative assessment.  Great.  We can let TCR sort out whom they find more persuasive.

 

The problem I have is with your bringing my real-world life into your disagreement.  You want to disagree with what I write here, that's great.  But calling into question my competency in my real-world profession, something that also happens to be one of the guiding joys of my life, is entirely beyong the pale of what's acceptable around here.  If you don't like those standards, you're free to find another Cubs' blog.  It will not be tolerated here.

Ankiel is doing his best to help the Cubs today, wandering aimlessly around in CF while balls drop in.

Well, I know I judge Dr. Hecht's skills at practicing medicine by whether or not I agree with his views on Ryan Theriot. Heh, this is fun. --- ...that's not fair, it's much harder to reply in a timely manner to snarky remarks while I'm scrubbed in surgery. At any rate, my Theriot views are less important than my dislike for Heilman when it comes to evaluating my surgical skills.

Muskat sees Aaron Miles at the GABP... Seems like Stevens must be headed back to IA... Any other guesses?

Cubs just released BJ Ryan according to Gordon Wittenmyer. His Twitter says: "Ryan asked for his release and was granted it today. Felt his velocity and sharpness wouldn't get there." Now that I read it again, I assume he's talking about BJ and not Theriot or Dempster.

per the next wittenmeyer twitter: Miles gives Theriot day off. Lineup: fuky, miles, lee, rami, milt, sori, font, hill, harden

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

Sweet mother of Allah, how can Miles be back here? I know he was being a good sport and sticking at Iowa, but he couldn't even hit down there. I had a bad feeling we would see him back ASAP once Blanco got his mystery injury. Miles hit .253/.267/.299 in 87 ab's at Iowa. That's worse than Neifi Perez' last year with the Cubs.... .254/.266/.343 against far better pitchers than Miles was facing down there.

[ ]

In reply to by Paul Noce

theriot got NAILED on the wrist early in yesterday's game...it led to later lobbing a throw without strength to 1st on a play he got an error on. no SS to be had and miles is up out of necessity. he's batting 2nd because only dusty does that and dusty is the manager of the cubs forever and ever.

The release of BJ Ryan seems weird to me. The Blue Jays originally released him because his velocity was down and he wasn't getting hitters out. He must have thought he still had something to contribute because he signed a minor league deal with the Cubs and set out to work on his mechanics. Cubs officials fell all over themselves to say that Ryan was intent on working things out "the right way." At one point, someone with the Cubs said Ryan's problems were more mental than mechanical, which made it sound like he could get things turned around pretty quickly. In short order, Ryan went from Mesa to AAA and he was apparently pitching well. Reports were that he would be joining the big team soon if he continued on the path he was on. Instead, he asks for his release. Seems weird.

Saying that not only was BJ Ryan released, but so was Jason Waddell. Also, Stevens is the one going back down to AAA. So, we're minus two lefties for the day... Seems pretty odd to me...

There are a few Cub/former Cub players that make me physically ill - warranted or not - it just is what it is: Aaron Mild Hurl-man Will Oh-Man! As far as I know, not one beat reporter has pressed Hendry on why the hell he thought Aaron Miles was a "bargain" at $2.7MM for two years - or whatever the actual amount is. This is a player that should be on the bench of the Padres in their current form, or the Nats, or even the Reds. NOT on a team like the Cubs in a pennant run. How Tony LaRussa got the numbers he did out of Miles continues to proliferate his mythic proportions in my mind. Astounding.

Lou on pregame said Lilly had an excellent bullpen session and is well ahead of schedule.

Shut out by Justin Lehr? Who? With the only extra base hit coming by Rich Harden? That's embarrassing. Ah well, on to Colorado this is a pretty big series, need at least a split to at least have a .500 road trip.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

Lehr's a nice story, one of those prospects who never got any hype and just got promoted by simply doing his job every time out. I wonder how different things could've been for this team if they'd taken AZ Phil's advice to trade/nontender Harden and keep DeRo.

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

Why is Aaron Miles still a big leaguer? 2009 numbers: MLB 198/235/254 AAA 253/267/299 ... it's the PCL, folks. He can't hit in the PCL league. AAA Iowa was probably glad he was called up just to get him out of the lineup. Maybe Aaron Miles contributes in other ways... Cubs record... 57-49 When Aaron Miles starts... 14-17 I hate this signing... I hate him as a player... I hate that the Cubs front office hasn't cut him yet. He is the worst player the Cubs have had since Enrique Wilson. Yes, he's even worse than Neifi!

Brad Snyder back in the lineup for Iowa tonight. His previous game was May 18. Esmailin Caridad livened up the box score tonight with 12 K's in 6 innings.

livened up the box score tonight... --- John Gaub added another scoreless inning (with 2 K's) to his already miniscule ERA now below 0.66. Anyone who's seen him pitch for the I-Cubs care to assess how close he is to being the extra lefty out of the pen now that BJ Ryan's out of the picture?

[ ]

In reply to by Rob G.

750K? damn. cubs now got their 1st 12 picks signed. sweet. i hope bj dail (17th round) signs. he's had a rough time the past few years, but his stock is low enough to make him a deal. he's behind his childishness (hopefully). he's made 2 seriously stupid mistakes with his life the past few years (with many more minor ones) and it seems he's got a little more respect for his own life now. -edit- nevermind...just noticed he was signed, but his contract was voided. no f'n comment...the stupid kid.

Harden not pleased with team effort yesterday, from Sun Times- ''That's the key: bring some intensity out there. That's just what we lacked today. We just didn't have it. Guys were taking a day off a little too early.'' I jumped off parachat before Sori got picked off, when it happen Bob said to Len "you know what I said about having a feel for the game?" Implying Sori doesn't. Bob is right.

Submitted by Jace on Wed, 08/05/2009 - 4:24pm.
Saying that not only was BJ Ryan released, but so was Jason Waddell. Also, Stevens is the one going back down to AAA. So, we're minus two lefties for the day... Seems pretty odd to me...

================================================

JACE: The Jason Waddell release had nothing to do with his performance on the field. Think about when he was placed on the DL for "non-baseball related issues" a couple of months ago and then it might not seem so odd that he suddenly got released for no apparent reason.

[ ]

In reply to by Tito

He was DLed for non-baseball medical reasons and then released for violating team policy. So we still have no idea what the DL stint was for, but he recovered and was optioned to Iowa, and then didn't give up a run in 11 innings and then was released for violating team policy. My guess: he's a drunk, got in a bar fight the first time and got injured, then wasn't supposed to do that shit again and was caught.

I think one thing yesterday's game proved is that Mike Fontenot does not belong in the major leagues. That he's the regular second baseman for a team that calls itself a contender is embarrassing.

In sad news: Rest in peace John Hughes. I don't know if he was a Cub fan but he certainly had the right idea in send Ferris Bueller to Wrigley Field.

Thanks to all for the Jackson update. John Hughes must have been a Cub fan. Several of his movies had Cub references, i,e, Sixteen Candles, Family Vacation, Ferris Buehler. I know he lived in Lake Forest for awhile and may still have been.

5 ip so far, 2 ER, 4 K, 0 BB versus Dbacks and Scherzer...

Fontenot isn't the only subtraction Hendry (or hopefully new ownership/management) needs to make this off-season. Here's my cheat sheet for Jimbo or the new GM: GONE -- Heilman, Harden, Gregg, Chad Fox (please, no more), Koyie Hill, Miles, Baker, Bradley, and Reed Johnson. Some are FA's, the rest trade, non-tender, waive outright..........I don't care as long as I don't have to watch them in Cubs pinstripes anymore. I would re-sign Johnson at a reasonable salary ($3-4M per year - limit 2 years), and I would keep my mind open on Grabow if he finishes the season strong. Next years roster if I was GM: P--Zambrano, Lilly, Dempster, Wells, Gorzelany, Grabow, Marshall, Marmol, Guzman, Samardzija, Stevens, and Gaub. C--Soto, Clevenger IF--Lee, Theriot (2b), Castro (ss), Ramirez, Barney, Hoffpauir OF--Soriano, Fukudome, J. Fox, Snyder, Fuld Payroll would be between $115-120M (room to add at trade deadline), yes Castro would be a gamble but read Daytona's manager's report on him, NTC contracts still make up most of the payroll hence the bench/bullpen number of rookie/non-veterans, and if they have to eat the $22.7M owed to Bradley and Mills then all the more reason to kick Hendry to the curb. For the record, I don't hate Hendry or wish him gone. However, the mistakes in his track record demonstrate he needs senior management oversight from someone who knows baseball better than Crane Kenney.

[ ]

In reply to by George Altman

I mostly agree with you on the moves but Samardzija has to go. At the very least he needs to go to Iowa and pray he finds control. He's another train wreck that doesn't belong on a major league roster. I doubt Castro will be ready to hit major league pitching that soon.

[ ]

In reply to by George Altman

it would really suck to see Rich Harden strike out 10+ guys per nine innings again for the Cubs...that would be terrible.

Pretty strong feeling that Wells won't be this good ever again and I hope you have something on Gorzelanny past one good start against a horrible offensive team.

Glowing reports in Daytona does not equal major league quality player...at least not yet. He's got 34 errors already this season at SS, let's make sure he can actually play the position before handing him the job.

And for all the hand-wringing over Milton Bradley, he's getting on-base and last I checked scoring runs  is as important as driving them in. He's having an off-year, no one is doubting that, but tossing $20M+ down the drain is borderline insane. But I assume you had Fukudome's bags packed last season as well...

[ ]

In reply to by Rob G.

Of course, Harden also leads the staff in HR allowed, has a 4.41 ERA, and is not real consistent.. Agreed on Bradley....so hit him 2nd instead of 5th, and let him get on base to his heart's content. If he's going to hit 5th...try driving in some runs. Castro might be a good idea...in another season or 2... Most of us would have driven Fukudome to the airport after last season..

[ ]

In reply to by Dusty Baylor

I don't think Harden should be resigned just because of the injury risk, but if he accepts arbitration. I'd be more than fine with it.

When you can strike out 10+ per 9 innings, you have something special, the HR's rate this year seems like an outlier for him. And he's been amazing in the second half.

But saying I don't ever want to see him in a Cubs uniform sounded kind of ridiculous.

[ ]

In reply to by Rob G.

I've noticed more often than not, comments made in the heat of an argument tend to be almost invariably the person's true feelings. When Lou told Bradley, "...you're not a ballplayer, you're a piece of shit!" I believe Lou really believes that; and with Lou having over 40 years in professional baseball I'm inclined to agree with his assessment of Bradley. Lou didn't want Bradley, he wanted Ibanez and that's pretty well documented. Bradley wasn't brought here to dazzle the lineup with his OBA, he was brought here to drive in runs in the middle of the order preferably against right-handed pitching. How's that working out? He was a mistake, Rob, albeit a $30M mistake but a mistake nonetheless. So, yes, I would pull the plug and try to trade him (best case) or release him. It looks like some combination of Fox/Fuld/Snyder would produce as many runs as Bradley has or would. Fukudome -- I thought after the second half of 2008, the Cubs might have over-estimated his potential (yeah, that doesn't happen too often...does it?). Here again, Lou doesn't get the credit he deserves by (first) moving him to CF, (second) batting 2nd, then leadoff after moving Fonzie to 6th, and (third) putting him in pitching matchups where he can best succeed. Also, give Kosuke some credit for working on his game this off-season. The Cubs might have a CF who can hit .275 with a .350/.375 OBA and 15 HR/ 70 RBI who's a damn good defensive outfielder. $12M is a little high for that production but a lot of CF's with those numbers get $7-9M/year. Castro -- yes, it's a reach to move to the show next year. I'd be fine with Blanco at 2B until help is ready at AAA or AA. I can't watch people who offend my baseball sensibilities over 162 games again (i.e. Fontenot, Miles, etc.). Harden -- you can't build an effective starting rotation around a guy you know at Opening Day will only start 25-28 games a year. He has a shoulder that could blow at any point and the Cubs medical people and Hendry know this. After the playoffs, goodbye Rich......good luck. Wells/Gorzelany -- short answer: who knows? Based on contracts and performance these guys probably come back: Z, Lilly, Dempster, Wells, Marmol, Guzman, Marshall, Samardzija ($2.5M whether he plays in Chicago or Iowa). I would re-sign Grabow if he continues to perform this well and the money/length work. Stevens, Gaub, Gorzelany, Atkins probably are in the mix for the final spots.

[ ]

In reply to by George Altman

Here again, Lou doesn't get the credit he deserves by (first) moving him to CF, (second) batting 2nd, then leadoff after moving Fonzie to 6th, and (third) putting him in pitching matchups where he can best succeed.

Probably not getting credit because it's the same Lou that batted Fuku 5th for a good part last year and won't move Bradley out of the middle of the order.

So, yes, I would pull the plug and try to trade him (best case) or release him. It looks like some combination of Fox/Fuld/Snyder would produce as many runs as Bradley has or would.

Fox might do as well with the bat, but you have to play defense. Fuld and Snyder is quite a helluva reach there...kind of an absurd reach.

Bradley's having a tough season, I'm not going to argue that, Alou had a tough season his first year with the Cubs (as did some other FA signings with the Cubs) but at least Bradley is still doing things to help the team. He's not driving the ball the way they wanted him too, but a .389 OBP is not easy to come by. Hopefully Lou realizes that batting him 2nd is the right thing until he shows some power. Trading him is fine, maybe even eat a few million, but releasing him is downright retarded.

[ ]

In reply to by George Altman

Not that there is any danger of this happening, but I don't think sending Castro to the majors in 2010 will yield good results immediately or in the future. I think about it a bit like training singers. There are some people out there with voices so beautiful you want to immediately have them singing arias. But proper training would help to prevent them from forming bad habits (harmful to the vocal chords, etc.) and, frankly, if they don't have the training in vocal control, intonation, etc., they're going to run into problems. He's already being rushed through the minors. Let's not have him skip AAA altogether. It'd be best if he spends a full year at AAA at some point, or at least a full year at AA and a partial year at AAA. It's not like he's demolishing the minors, either. We're mostly excited about him because of his potentials. He's been caught stealing a bunch and while his rate stats are good, they aren't amazing. He's still learning from his time down there, and I don't think he'd outperform either Theriot or Blanco at this point.

So he was a little like Kyle Farnsworth the only difference being Farnsworth would have hurt someone else

Recent comments

  • crunch (view)

    b.davis takes a fastball to the head, stays in the game.

  • crunch (view)

    ....but wait...there's more!

    vazquez makes an ugly (and unsuccessful) tag play and it looks like his wrist took the worst of it.

    he's staying in the game, though the batter he clocked in the face is coming out.

    shaw snags a soft liner to his left for the 3rd out.

  • crunch (view)

    given how every other person on the field is playing in the 7th, matt shaw probably doesn't want to touch the ball.  the entire team's defense has reverted to T-Ball level of play.  surprised the OF'rs aren't looking for 4-leaf clovers in the grass.

    no errors, just bad baseball.

  • crunch (view)

    matt shaw playing 3rd in the 7th.  out of sheer curiosity, it would be nice to see him field and throw to 1st.

  • Dolorous Jon Lester (view)

    Hard to be certain there… I think he’s in a battle with a few guys. Alzolay, Neris, Merryweather, Leiter, Almonte likely either locks or near locks unless they’re hurt or absolutely awful. Assad will be there unless he’s a SP, same for Smyly. Them being SP opens another spot but I’m assuming Little is battling for the last spot with Palencia, Cuas, wesneski (another SP candidate), Keegan, CJ, Sanders, R Thompson, Wieck, Roberts, Lovelady.

  • Childersb3 (view)

    Gotta believe Little makes the OD roster
    He was pretty good last year
    Went from SB, to TN, to IA to Chicago
    He did well enough and has that rare 6-8 LH velo and spin

  • Childersb3 (view)

    Seems fair
    Horn was going to have to beat our Smyly, Little and Leiter to get MLB time this year
    He has options of course, but a move had to be made and Jed didn't want to give up Smyly, Leiter, Almonte or Mervis.

    Now that Bellinger is clear to join us, here are the next questions:

    Phil, do you think Jed/Counsell take Cooper over Wisdom (consistency over power)? 
    Or, do they option Canario, deal Mervis, and add Cooper or Peralta?
    Or even do both of these moves?
    Peralta and Cooper are veteran bench bats with decent. 
    Cooper is pretty good vs Lefties
    Peralta wasn't that good vs Righties last yr (but his career #'s are good)

    I'd like to see Canario get his chance (just like Morel is getting and like Velazquez should've)
    But he could get max ABs in Iowa.

  • Cubster (view)

    So this adjustment to the 40 man roster leaves me thinking that  Smyly may be the only LHP in the bullpen and their LHRP depth is mostly Luke Little. I am assuming the will have 3 LHSP including Steele, Imanaga and Wicks, so on those days the first man out of the pen probably would be a righty anyway. They did use Leiter Jr as a reverse 'righty' but I'm not sure how Counsell will be trying to work out his bullpen options without two lefty choices. Could Counsell opt for both Smyly and Little in the pen?

  • crunch (view)

    horn returns to the whitesox...getting a refresh on the ryan tepera trade.  was kinda hoping one of the $$ guys would have been moved, such as almonte.

    money is artificially tight, but it is what it is and the team seems be signaling that every million counts up to the limit...therefore it matters.

  • Arizona Phil (view)

    So it's LHRP Bailey Horn going back to the White Sox (from which he came in 2021 for Ryan Tepera). 

    Horn looked VERY good on Friday versus the White Sox at Sloan Park. I can see why the Sox would want him back. 

    The Cubs get RHSP Matt Thompson (White Sox 2nd round pick in 2019) back in the deal. He struggled last season at AA (too many walks) and is not on the 40.