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Cub Tracks opens the door

Javy’s mean, Free Agent green, trade the team, and other bullets

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

So...the reason for the eye-test argument, last episode. Let’s make a long story short, and keep things reasonably simple...let’s consider the case of Javier Baez. Is he at a new level, or was 2018 an overachiever moment?

Progress isn’t linear, right? Javy’s bbref page tells us that he earned more than half of his lifetime WAR in 2018 (6.3; 11.9), and further that he has ascended a pretty smooth curve, with such individual stats as HR (14, 23, 34) and such suspect data as RBI (59, 75, 111) making steady progress the last three years. In 2018 he had another 150 or so at-bats, but his SLG and OPS both followed the same gradient.

That data would tell you that he looks to have found a new mean and may have room for additional improvement.

His OBP, however, has remained just about static over the last two years. The eye test would tend to see the many swing-and-misses Javy generates as evidence of a contact problem, and a possible path toward regression. There’s no denying his effectiveness on base or in the field...however, his at-bats still betray a tendency to overswing, especially on fastballs up or sliders down and away.

Javy’s not alone in that. But it’s his Achilles’ heel, and will always be a cause for some pessimism. I offer as evidence Michael Cerami’s article about Javy going out of the strike zone more than anyone else last year. His swing data did improve slightly (you could look it up) but not dramatically. His season ended up okay. But there’s always gonna be the expectation of a pseudo-bad-Alfonso Soriano season.

Projections are so much a part of the modern game. But their chimerical nature is well-known. They cause mute nostril agony in baseball executives. Free Agency looms. The beats are apparently hibernating until the thread is being spun. The Kris Bryant rumor is still traveling and unraveling. Go Bears. As always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs News and Notes:

Hook, line, and sinker.

“Every offseason has a handful of rumors that aren’t quite made up but are ... definitely embellished to the point that we can even call them a rumor.” — Whitney McIntosh.

  • Keith Law (ESPN+ {$}): Which players should teams target in trades this winter? “LF/1B/DH Kyle Schwarber & 2B/OF Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have a surfeit of potential everyday position players and can’t get them all in the lineup at the same time.”
  • Moshe Wilensky (Cubs Insider): How accurate will crowd-sourced Free Agent predictions be? “Keep checking in over the offseason and we can circle back around as the hot stove dies down closer to spring.”
  • Steven Martano (Beyond the Box Score): The Cubs should make a rotational splash. “The Cubs rotation was one of the worst in the NL last year. It may be time for a revamping.
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): The Cubs’ Achilles’ heel is rearing its ugly head again this winter. “’s no secret to the Cubs they haven’t developed a Hader-type weapon and they’re disappointed about it, too.”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Free Agent Andrew Miller was a Cubs target before – will he be again this winter? “’s hard to feel “good” about which way he’s trending, even if the numbers look fine in isolation.”
  • Bill Thompson (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Willson Contreras: It’s all in the pop; Part 2. “...his deficiencies in stealing strikes from the umpires have always been outweighed by his offense and his pop time.”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Cubs farm system ranked one of least valuable based on projections. “The best part of our farm system right now is at the lower levels, where the talent is emerging, and at the big leagues, where they’re all wearing rings,” said Theo Epstein.
  • Doug Glanville (NBC Sports Chicago*): Glanville offseason journal: Winter Ball. “...each off-season represents a different moment in time for a player.”
  • ESPN: NL Central offseason preview: Can the Brewers do it again? Premature burial.
  • Chris Kamka (NBC Sports Chicago*): 2018 Cubs Trivia…in reverse. Just a little different.
  • Jason Heyward ahead of Bryce Harper on list of greatest under-28 free agents of all time. “We’ve officially sailed into the horse latitudes of the MLB offseason.”
  • Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): My brain is about to explode from reading these dumbass off-season reports. “...the hot stove this season has been one to forget.”

Current 40-man roster, updated daily. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are conspicuously absent.

MLB free agents list.

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading.