We’ll get to our night with the folks from Baseball Prospectus in a minute, but first, the Cubs sent eight players to minor-league camp today, reducing the spring roster to 42. So much for the idea of Andrew Cashner breaking camp as a member of the Cubs bullpen. Cashner was among five nonroster men sent back to Fitch Park.
The others were right-handers Casey Coleman and Thomas Diamond, lefty J.R. Mathes and infielder Bryan LaHair. Optioned to Class AAA Iowa were relievers Jeff Stevens and Blake Parker and catcher Welington Castillo.
Reports today say the weather may affect today’s Cubs-Sox game in Glendale.
Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a book signing for the 2010 edition of Baseball Prospectus at the DePaul University bookstore downtown. BP’s Christina Kahrl and Kevin Goldstein hosted the event. Also on the panel was one of BP’s founders, Rany Jazayerli. The crew provided the Daily Herald with a nice introduction to a good studio audience.
Among the tidbits:
--The group feels that “we’re about one-fourth of where we want to be in measuring defense.” The BP folks cited John Dewan’s work in the area of defense as “groundbreaking.” The group, however, feels we’re a long way from being able to measure defense really well. They note that UZR (ultimate zone rating, which we cite here from time to time) is “based on incomplete and subjective data.” The good news is that “real data will be here soon,” and that in three years or so, most of today’s metrics will be obsolete.
--How’s this for irony. If you’re looking for the most stable labor situation in all of pro sports, look at baseball. Who’d have thunk that about 15 years ago? The last collective bargaining agreement got signed with barely a whimper. Football, basketball and hockey all have big labor issues staring them in the face.
--Kevin Goldstein is a big fan of Sox GM Kenny Williams. “Kenny gets a lot of crap, but I think he’s really good,” Kevin said. The BP folks feel the Sox’ starting pitching could be similar to what it was in 2005, and as I recall, that was a pretty good year on the South Side. We’ll see about the offense, but in the AL Central, anybody could emerge.
--The concept of worldwide draft was discussed. The Baseball Prospectus crew cited several potential logistical nightmares with such a draft, particularly in areas of the world not covered by all teams. Goldstein noted the Cubs have done an outstanding job of late in Asia. The problem with the draft, as pointed out by an audience member, is that players from places like the Dominican Republic, Asia and Venezuela enjoy a free-market situation while players in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico are restricted by the draft. The BP crew pointed out how the talent pipeline from Puerto Rico has dried up, and they linked this, at least in part, to the draft. What’s going to happen someday when a U.S. kid and his parents challenge the legality of the draft? Although the draft has been collectively bargained by the owners and the players association, high school and college kids are not part of either group. Somebody raised the question of how much the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg would have gotten on the open market. Interesting to ponder.
All in all, a fun evening.