How about that Bill James formula, eh? If you were with us last week, you saw our blog about a James formula from the 1980s that tried to pick the World Series winner:
Using it this year, the formula gave 85 points to the Giants and 24 for the Rangers. I cautioned that the formula seems quaint by today’s sabermetric standards, but it’s fun to take a look back on things like that.
Anyway, the Cubs will kick off their organization meetings today in Mesa. I suspect they’ll make official the naming of Pat Listach as their bench coach Wednesday or Thursday. At that time, they’ll also probably name their special-assistant coach, who gets to be in uniform before games. Today, the Cubs will wait out the Mesa ballot initiative on their new spring-training home.
We had some info about the org meetings today in our notebook in the paper and online:
One of the players the Cubs will discuss at the org meetings is pitcher Chris Carpenter, who, according to reports, has tickled 100 mph on the radar gun as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League. Carpenter spent most of this year at Class AA Tennessee as a starter, getting a brief call-up to Class AAA Iowa. He could be on an Andrew Cashner type of early career path. Speaking of Cashner, the Cubs figure to debate his future aplenty at the org meetings as to whether he should remain in the pen or go to camp as a starting pitcher. As I pointed out in the notes, that could determine whether the Cubs take a look at a free-agent pitcher such as Kerry Wood for the pen.
In talking with GM Jim Hendry, he said the Cubs will compress their time this year in going over the players from other systems. They’ll block out a lot of time for interaction between the scouting and player-development sides of the organization. In some organizations, you can get tension between the two sides, which is not always a bad thing. But it can break an organization into factions if the player-development director is releasing players who are favorites of the scouting director. Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken and player-development boss Oneri Fleita seem to get along famously. Fleita has had to cut some of Wilken’s picks (I’m thinking Josh Lansford last spring), but that’s part of the business.
“The development people know how hard it is to scout,” Jim said by phone Monday. “Wilken and Fleita have a tight relationship, and there is a lot of interaction between the two of them. We’ll get input from a lot of people. We’ll get input from Greg Maddux on what he’s seen from our system. But we will spend a lot of time talking scouting and player development at these meetings.”
Cubs people tell me they see some other benefits from the makeup of their major-league dugout staff. For the first time in a long time, they will have a manager that’s interested in and invested in the minor-league system. Ditto for bench coach Pat Listach, who worked in the Cubs system before taking over as Washington’s third-base coach in 2009. From a purely psychological standpoint, the minor-league staff people no doubt will feel better come spring training when Mike Quade involves them and seeks their input in camp before the minor-leaguers get going. The Cubs had hired managers from the outside for quite some time before Quade got to keep the gig.
Lou Piniella, Dusty Baker and Don Baylor didn’t know a whole lot about the system or the people in it. In fairness to Dusty, he made an effort to involve people like Quade and Ryne Sandberg and various instructors into spring-training workouts.
I expect to hear from the Cubs throughout the week. We’ll update as we go in advance to the free-agent period, which begins in earnest earlier this year. The period of exclusivity for teams signing their own free agents runs through Saturday.