Star of the Game – Francisco Liriano – .469 (WPA)
Have you ever gotten so excited to watch a game only to be completely disappointed and deflated when it was done? You wonder what in the world you got excited about in the first place. That was the feeling I had coming into today. I hadn’t been able to watch a full game in a couple weeks, being busy with work and what time I did have spent watching the Blackhawks run, so I was pretty excited to DVR Friday’s game and watch it last night. I looked to see what the pitching matchup was scheduled to be and was thrilled at what I saw. The score at home app was ready and I was jacked. As I sit here on Saturday morning and tap the keys on my laptop, I can’t figure out what I was excited about. Was I thinking that the Cubs had miraculously gotten an offense to be proud of? The game left me with a blah taste in my mouth. Not bad, just blah. I came away from the game with two main thoughts, both with the future in mind.
WHO ARE THE BUILDING BLOCKS? – As I watched this team on Friday, I began to look forward to the team on the field in, say, three years. Let’s pretend for a moment that the team at that time is not only competitive, but also a World Series contender. Close your eyes for a minute and think about what that team looks like. Who is on that team? Are there names on that 25 man roster that played in yesterday’s game? If so, who are they? I tried this exercise and I’ll admit, I had a hard time coming up with a lot of names that I felt fairly confident penciling their name in as a building block that would be here when this team is productive. Travis Wood was the first name that came to mind because of how well he’s developed. Keith Law was on the radio the other day saying he still felt Wood was a back end of the rotation starter, but that he was useful. I think that ceiling is too low and see him as a # 2. I can definitely see him being a part of the future team. Anthony Rizzo is another name I came up with, but I actually wondered if he’d be a part of this team not solely due to his potential and production, but rather because Theo and particularly Jed seem to be obsessed with him. He’s the equivelant of what Nick Swisher was to Billy Beane in the Moneyball book. He simply has to be on this team or they’ll wet themselves with anxiety. Beyond that, I was hard pressed to find a name. More and more, I wonder if Starlin Castro will be on this list. I have a feeling he won’t. I just don’t see him fitting the mold of what this regime wants on the field and I think he’d be dealt at some point. Maybe I’m missing the boat, but I see a team right now with a lot of guys who will be used as tools in an effort to acquire the talent to bring this team a winning pipeline of talent, and a lot of organizational fillers right now. It’s hard to see a lot of talent beyond that.
DID WE MISS THE MARKET ON DARWIN BARNEY? – Last year, as we headed into the non-waiver deadline for trades, there were pretty serious rumors that the Tigers were interested and kicking the tires on Darwin Barney, who was busy having a gold glove year at second base. In the end, nothing materialized, but the talk was there. Yesterday saw Darwin (a player I really like) go 0-for-5 out of the leadoff hole with three strikeouts. The performance saw his season numbers dip to .213 / .293 / .335. He’s still able to field with the best of them, so there is value there, but for a team hurting for offense, we may have missed a nice chance to trade a no-hit good field infielder for more building blocks.
- Luis Valbuena very much got jobbed in the bottom of the 8th as he was called out swinging on a pitch he clearly held up and checked his swing. Valbuena turned and pleaded with the home plate umpire, Jordan Baker, to ask the third base umpire for help. Unfortunately, officials these days are too prideful and want to make things about them. They routinely have this in their head that people pay to see blue. As a result, Valbuena takes a seat.
- Starling Marte completely took a hit by pitch on purpose in the top of the 9th. He never even moves as the pitch hit him on the arm. I thought maybe he’d be called out for it, but unfortunately he wasn’t.
- Jason Grilli had flat out funk nasty stuff yesterday. That dude had some wicket movement on his pitches. I don’t know much about how pitch f/x works, but I bet it would show some junk being thrown by him.