October 2013

10/31 Rizzo vs. Goldschmidt

I presented numbers comparing Darwin Barney from 2012 and this past season. Per request, here’s Anthony Rizzo vs. 2013 Gold Glove winner Paul Goldschmidt:

Rizzo
Fielding percentage: .997 (3rd in NL)
Total putouts: 1,287 (3rd in NL)
Assists: 149 (2nd in NL)
Errors: 5
Double plays: 114 (5th in NL)
Range factor: 9.03 (5th in NL)
UZR: 8.3
WAR: 1.6

Goldschmidt
Fielding percentage: .997 (2nd in NL)
Total putouts: 1,494 (1st)
Assists: 99 (4th)
Errors: 5
Double plays: 118 (2nd)
Range factor: 10.02 (1st)
UZR: 5.4
WAR: 6.4

* Note on UZR Rating: A plus 15 is Gold Glove caliber; a plus 10 is great; a plus five is above average.

* Note on WAR: Wins Above Replacement is an attempt to summarize a player’s total contribution to the team in one stat. According to Fangraphs, it looks at a player and asks, if this guy was injured, and he had to be replaced with a Minor Leaguer or someone from the bench, how much value would the team be losing? An MVP gets a six-plus WAR; a solid starter 2-3 WAR. A scrub, 0-1.

You can talk amongst yourselves about this.

– Carrie Muskat

10/31 Free agent update

With the World Series now complete, the following Cubs players are free agents:

RHP Scott Baker
RHP Kevin Gregg
RHP Matt Guerrier
C Dioner Navarro

The Cubs’ 40-man roster now stands at 34.

Teams have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents for five days after the completion of the World Series. Baker, Gregg, Guerrier and Navarro will be free to begin negotiations with all 30 teams, starting at 11 p.m. CT on Monday. The Cubs’ quartet are among 147 players who have officially filed for free agency.

10/31 AFL update

Dallas Beeler gave up two hits over four scoreless innings in Mesa’s 7-0 win over Scottsdale Wednesday in Arizona Fall League play. Beeler faced 13 batters, struck out one and did not walk a batter. Wes Darvill scored two runs for the Solar Sox, who play host to Scottsdale on Thursday at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa. The Solar Sox face Peoria on Friday at HoHoKam, and the AFL takes a break on Saturday for its annual Fall Stars Game, to be played in Surprise. Cubs prospects Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler are all expected to play in Saturday’s game.

10/30 Barney’s numbers

A note to folks upset that Darwin Barney did not repeat as the National League Gold Glove winner: His numbers from last year and this year were rather different. And Barney would be the first to tell you he needs to do better. Brandon Phillips started 151 games at second; Barney 139. The Padres’ Jedd Gyorko posted a .851 zone rating to lead all NL second basemen, Phillips was second at .833 and Barney was seventh at .799. Barney did lead all NL second basemen in fielding percentage at .993. Phillips was first in total assists (428).

Here’s a comparison between Barney’s 2012 stats (when he won a Gold Glove) and this season:

2012
Number of balls fielded: 517
Total putouts: 311
Assists: 418
Errors: 2
Double plays: 86
UZR: 15.0
WAR: 2.3

2013
Number of balls fielded: 425
Total putouts: 236
Assists: 363
Errors: 4
Double plays: 69
UZR: 12.5
WAR: 0.4

Note on UZR Rating: A plus 15 is Gold Glove caliber; a plus 10 is great; a plus five is above average.

Note on WAR: Wins Above Replacement is an attempt to summarize a player’s total contribution to the team in one stat. According to Fangraphs, it looks at a player and asks, if this guy was injured, and he had to be replaced with a Minor Leaguer or someone from the bench, how much value would the team be losing? An MVP gets a six-plus WAR; a solid starter 2-3 WAR. A scrub, 0-1. I understand WAR includes offensive stats, but Barney’s drop off is rather dramatic.

– Carrie Muskat

10/30 Winter League updates

Some updates on Cubs prospects currently playing winter ball:

* Arismendy Alcantara was batting .167 in six games with Licey in the Dominican Winter League.

* Christian Villanueva was batting .296 (8-for-27) with two home runs in eight games for Obregon in the Mexican Winter League.

* Marcus Hatley has struck out 10 and walked one over 6 2/3 innings and given up one earned runs in seven relief appearances for the Tomateros in Mexico.

* Hector Rondon has given up two hits in three scoreless innings in three appearances for Leones in Venezuela Winter League play.

10/30 AFL update

Kris Bryant hit his league-leading sixth home run but it wasn’t enough as the Mesa Solar Sox lost, 7-3, to Salt River on Tuesday night in Arizona Fall League play. Bryant hit a solo shot in the eighth. Albert Almora went 1-for-4 and Jorge Soler was 0-for-4 in the game. Bryant now is batting .400. Cubs pitching prospects Matt Loosen and Lendy Castillo also appeared in the game. Loosen gave up one hit and struck out three in two innings and Castillo walked three and gave up one run over one-third of an inning. On Wednesday, the Solar Sox travel to Scottsdale for a 12:35 p.m. MT game. Bryant, Almora and Soler will play Saturday in the Fall Stars Game in Surprise.

10/29 Gold Glove results

There was no repeat for the Cubs’ Darwin Barney. Reds’ second baseman Brandon Phillips reclaimed the Rawlings Gold Glove award in the National League, which Barney won in 2012. Winners of the top defensive award were announced Tuesday.

Barney, 27, and Phillips were finalists for the NL second base honors along with the Dodgers’ Mark Ellis. Barney led the NL in fielding percentage this season, but was seventh in zone rating, which is determined by how many plays a fielder makes and how many were hit into his zone. Phillips, who won the award in 2008, ’10 and ’11, was second in zone rating at .833 behind the Padres’ Jedd Gyorko (.851).

This year, managers and coaches who received the Gold Glove ballots also had an additional packet of statistics as Rawlings collaborated with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) to formally incorporate sabermetrics as a component of the award.

Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt won the NL Gold Glove at first base over the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, who was a finalist for the first time in his career. The Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez, who was vying for his third Gold Glove, and first since 2009, also was a finalist. Rizzo, 24, and Goldschmidt were tied for second in the NL in fielding percentage behind the Rockies’ Todd Helton, and the Cubs’ first baseman led the NL in zone rating (.902).

– Carrie Muskat

10/29 Manager update

The Cubs did interview Eric Wedge at Wrigley Field today for the manager’s job. Wedge, 45, was the American League manager of the year in 2007 when the Indians won 96 games and finished first in the American League Central. He compiled a 561-573 record in Cleveland but was dismissed after a 97-loss season in 2009. Wedge has been the Mariners manager since 2011, posting a 213-273 record, but left the team before the regular season ended, saying it was “painfully obvious” that he wasn’t part of Seattle’s future. Wedge also missed 27 games this season after suffering a minor stroke.

Meanwhile, Rick Renteria, 51, is a hot commodity. He has interviewed for the Cubs’ opening as well as the Mariners, and there were reports Monday that Renteria was going to talk to the Tigers. The Tigers also have interviewed Brad Ausmus, who Comcast Sportsnet Chicago says also could be on the Cubs’ list. Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski knows Renteria from their time with the Marlins. Renteria managed for four years in the Marlins system. Padres manager Bud Black told the Detroit Free Press that Renteria “has the leadership qualities that a manager needs to have.”

The Cubs now have talked to Wedge, Renteria, Dave Martinez, A.J. Hinch and Manny Acta.

– Carrie Muskat

10/28 Bryant, Almora & Soler named Fall Stars

Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler were chosen to the East Division team for the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars game, to be played Saturday at Surprise Stadium.

Bryant hit his fifth home run of the AFL season on Monday, a two-run shot with two outs in the eighth, in the Mesa Solar Sox’s 3-2 loss to Salt River. He was batting .422 and led the league in doubles (six) and RBIs (16). The third baseman was the Cubs’ first pick in the June First-Year Player Draft and second player taken overall. Almora, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2012, was batting .297 while Soler, who left Cuba and signed with the Cubs, was hitting .300.

Bryant, ranked No. 35 on MLB.com’s top 100 prospect list, is one of four players selected in last June’s Draft who iss playing in the AFL this year. Almora is ranked No. 21 and Soler is No. 25. Almora was limited to 61 games at Class A Kane County because of a groin injury; Soler missed most of the season with a stress fracture in his left leg.

This is the eighth annual Fall Stars Game, and will begin at 7 p.m. CT and broadcast on MLB Network.

– Carrie Muskat

10/28 Extra bases

* Darwin Barney and Anthony Rizzo will find out whether they have won Gold Gloves on Tuesday. ESPN2 will unveil the winners on a special “Baseball Tonight” show, starting at 7 p.m. CT. Both of the Cubs infielders are finalists for the top defensive award. Barney is vying for his second, and competing against the Reds’ Brandon Phillips and the Dodgers’ Mark Ellis.

* Tickets are still available for the 2014 Cubs Convention, to be held Jan. 17-19 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. Go to Cubs.com for more information.

* Rizzo will host his second “Walk Off for Cancer” on Dec. 15 at Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Fla. Rizzo will celebrate five years of being cancer free. Registration is limited to 1,000 people, and costs $30 per person. Last year’s inaugural event raised more than $100,000. For more information, go to http://www.Rizzo44.com.

* Cubs Minor League hitting coordinator Anthony Iapoce will hold a baseball clinic for boys and girls ages 9-13 on Dec. 14 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. ET, at Queens College, New York. Kids will get two hours of hitting, plus lessons on fielding, throwing and base running. For more information, contact iapocebaseball@gmail.com.

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