In a recent Paul Sullivan Tribune article, Cubs new GM Jed Hoyer was asked what are the greatest needs short term to fix the roster. Hoyer said, "It's no secret we need to get some depth in the rotation. Depth in pitching hurt the team last year." To complete the quote: "We have to find a way to improve the defense, and we probably need to find a little more athleticism on the bases." Improving the defense, of course, will help the pitching (which might be as simple as including more pfp/pitcher fielding practice for Matt Garza).
We all recall the 2011 season started with significant pitching injuries to the starting staff. After one week the Cubs lost their number 4 and 5 starters.
Where is this leading? Baseball Prospectus' Corey Dawkins just ranked the NL Central using their metric for team/player injuries called T.A.W.L (Total Adjusted WARP Lost). More after the jump...
Andrew Cashner was lost for most of the season due to a rotator cuff strain. On April 5th, Cashner was cruising into the 6th inning of his first start when his shoulder pulled up lame. He had given up only 2 hits including a solo HR and the Cubs were leading 4-1 when his season flashed before his eyes (the bullpen coughed up that lead although the Cubs eventually won 6-5). He rehabbed and
tried to return in about 6 weeks but reaggravated his shoulder in mid-May. Finally, manager Quade was allowed to use "Cash" in a few relief outing in September. Certainly, this makes everyone question whether Cashner would fit in better as a starter vs. near the end of the bullpen for 2012.
Randy Wells going on the DL was a surprise since he didn't seem injured during his first outing on April 4th. Wells went on the DL almost simultaneously with Cashner, due to a strained right forearm recognized sometime after his start. Apparently he felt a "twinge" in his last start in spring training but his first start, a 6 inning, one run 4-1 win over the Diamondbacks, did his arm in. He returned on May 28th, almost 8 weeks later. He was never the same, excluding his first start his season totaled 129 IP and an ERA over 5.
This unhealthy start probably sealed the 2011 Cubs fate. So when I read a recent Baseball Prospectus article on the Cubs being one of the healthiest teams in MLB baseball for 2011, I scratched my head (medically speaking, I hope it's not pruritis).
The loveable Cubbies may not have performed the best on the field, but they did awfully well in the athletic training room. Losing only 2.28 WARP due to injuries, they also did very well in the number of injuries and days lost, ranking first or second in both categories. This proves that they didn’t lose significant production from their injuries, and there weren’t many injuries to start with.
Say "ah" to medical sabermetrics:
Total Adjusted WARP Lost (TAWL): 2.28
Number of DL trips (Days): 11 (411)
Number of DL & DTD trips (Days): 28 (451)
I'm not quite sure I've got the TAWL drill down, so I'm hopeful our readers can help me understand how this works as well as the flaws in their methodology. For example, I'm not sure current sabermetrics takes into account when a player does poorly (Randy Wells) after coming back from an injury using WARP alone. Here is the raw data from BP's spreadsheet on Pitchers, with the Cubs Pitchers here:
PLAYER 2011 Team Games Missed Adjusted WARP Lost
Cashner 135 0.1191 (10% pitchers, 5.2% team)
Mateo 76 -0.0330
Wells 44 0.3843 (32.2% pitchers, 16.7% team)
Wood 32 0.1139 (9.5% pitchers, 5% team)
Garza 17 0.3045 (25.5% pitchers, 13.2% team)
Zambrano 12 0.1674 (14% pitchers, 7.2% team)
Dempster 9 0.1372 (11.5% pitchers, 6% team)
Cub pitchers, as the Wells and Cashner injuries would make one expect, had a lower overall league finish at 12th in TAWL. I'm unsure why Wells 6 week injury was 32% of the Team pitching TAWL and Cashner's entire season loss was only 10%. Additional contributors included Garza with a bruised elbow plus Dempster and Z missed some starts with some low back issues and Wood had his annual blister DL stint.
Again, I'm not sure what this critically means as games missed for a starting pitcher isn't as useful as starts missed and Adjusted WARP Lost seems confusing to me with Cashner missing the entire season gets 0.12, Wells 6 weeks gets 0.38. Relief pitchers opens up additional questions and certainly should be getting some adjustments compared to starters. A negative number for Mateo means his injury helped the team? Maybe. How low can it go? It would have taken an injury to "Dud" Davis to find out. Can these stats be useful regarding league comparisons and rankings? Not until some of the above questions are cleared up.
I was in Boston to see Marlon Byrd get hit by a pitch in the face. That was truly a scary moment and it did affect the team health stats as he missed 39 games which accounted for the biggest individual non-pitcher loss of TAWL (total adjusted WARP lost) for the Cubs at 20%. In comparison, next most for the Cub hitters was Geo Soto's groin strain which accounted for 8% of the TAWL. In sum, according to the BP author, the Cub hitters finished 4th in TAWL. Here's a link to BP's raw data for hitters.
PLAYER 2011 Team Games Missed Adjusted WARP Lost
Byrd 39 0.4802 (43.4% hitters, 20.9% team)
Soto 17 0.2014 (18.2% hitters, 8.7% team)
ARam 9 0.0927 (8.4% hitters, 4.0% team)
Reed Johnson 19 0.0782 (7.1% hitters, 3.4% team)
Soriano 15 0.0731 (6.6% hitters, 3.1% team)
Baker 18 0.0609 (5.5% hitters, 2.6% team)
Barney 15 0.0486 (4.4% hitters, 2.1% team)
Fukudome 4 0.0443 (4.0% hitters, 1.9% team)
Pena 2 0.0253 (2.3% hitters, 1.1% team)
Here are the overall Team stats for WARP Lost in 2011. The Cubs ranked 6th behind the leading Astros, next the Royals, Tigers and Diamondbacks. The bottom ranks from each league were the Mets at 29 and Twins at 30.
Sabermetrically speaking, it sure seems like this is a work in progress. It didn't need much numerical analysis to see that Cashner and Wells replacements (Doug Davis, Casey Coleman, Rodrigo Lopez and Ramon Ortiz) added up to Jed Hoyer's quick analysis that a lack of pitching depth hurt the team in 2011.
btw...Thanks AZ Phil. I'm really enjoying your take on this trade.
I'm a bit disappointed on the Warren experience. Essentially they gave Castro away for crickets (OK, well they signed Zobrist with the Castro salary dump). Otherwise one might look at it as Chapman for Castro and our #1 minors prospect (Torres) + McKinney/Crawford. Seems pricey for a 2 month rental. We will see if this price tag is that steep in a relative way based on the remaining deadline deals for relievers.
Yep. One of the great things about this team (in addition to being really good at baseball) was the "likable" factor. Feels a bit different now. Who knows...maybe Chapman will be the king of the dance parties.
Here are some possible corresponding minor league moves we might see in the aftermath of the Chapman trade:
SOUTH BEND to MYRTLE BEACH: OF Donnie Dewees and INF Bryant Flete
EUGENE to SOUTH BEND: OF Robert Garcia and INF Vimael Machin
There is really no reason to replace Billy McKinney at Tennessee because both Chris Coghlan and Jorge Soler are doing their rehab at Tennessee.
And there are plenty of pitchers at Iowa. No need to replace Warren at AAA. .
I am 70 years old. The Cubs last played in the World Series in 1945. I was born in 1946. I hate to lose a prospect like Torres, but when the opportunity is there to get that World Series ring, you go for it. This was the idea in stock piling all this young talent. I would like to see Reddick added now and the Cubbies should be done.
I would expect Richard to accept an optional assignment because based on how he's played this season, there is a decent chance that he won't find work elsewhere. Rather stay and potentially get a ring. Same goes for Coghlan since he's struggled mightily this year.
Edwards should not go down. He's pitched very well and Maddon is very impressed with him. I would expect Grimm to go down for Cahill so he can get back on track (he's pitched better in July, but he's not getting enough appearances).
chitownmvp01: Indeed Clayton Richard would seem to be odd man out once Chapman reports, but Richard might accept a minor league assignment if he is promised a return to Chicago on 9/1 when MLB Active List rosters expand (Richard has minor league ioptions left).
The only player in the deal that would cause me a second thought is Gleyber Torres.
McKinney and Crawford are decent prospects but both are redundant/replaceable in the system and Warren was really only a middle-reliever or #6 starter, so to me it's really just Torres for Chapman.
There is no Comp pick for players traded mid-season. 2+ months of Chapman is it.
to get one of the best you have to give up one/some of your best...but it's a bit painful to watch the system's best prospect walk for any 2-3 month rental, especially one that's not an everyday player.
I assume Chapman will replace Richard on the roster, but who goes down when Cahill gets activated? Maybe Grimm?
And when Soler and Coghlan get healthy, how do they fit them on the roster when they're ready to be activated?
We are giving up a lot, but it's not like we're trading Addison Russell for 2+ months of Jason Hammel. When impact players become available, they are going to cost you. The other bids could also have been high.
Having Chapman as a rental is potentially less disruptive than having him come in with an extension in place.
Billy McKinney had season-ending knee surgery last August and came to Minor League Camp this year somewhat restricted. (He was used mostly as a DH in Cactus League Minor League Camp games), and I'm not sure he's 100% right now (he's repeating AA, and his XBH numbers are way down, like he's not getting good rotation in his lowev half). That might have been part of the reason why the trade wasn't completed right away.
Rashad Crawford was a basketball star in HS (he was known as "Baby Jordan", and baseball was only his second sport) and he has plus-speed and athleticism, so when the Cubs drafted him (Keith Lockhart was the scout) he was seen as a long-term project.
I was at Fitch Park the day that Rashad Crawford became a LH hitter, He waa never a switch-hitter, He went directly from being a RH hitter to a LH hitter, which I had never seen before.
I'm with Rob G and Johann here. It's not about Chapman as a pitcher. I just don't want to have to block out a real problem (the domestic violence) in order to try to enjoy the frivolous ball and stick game.
ROB G & BOB R: You're right. The QO can only be extended if the player spends the entire previous season with one club, so only the Yankees could have offered one to Chapman (if he wasn't traded). If an Article XX-B FA is traded during the season, the new club can't offer a QO. .