What are the Cubs Doing?

Anyone who has followed sports for any length of time has heard the terms “clubhouse cancer” and “team chemistry” before. I think statistically minded people might downplay team chemistry a little too much, while mainstream media wildly overrates it.

CHONE, as with other projection systems, doesn’t know what a clubhouse cancer is. It will take data from past performance, weigh and regress it, and tell you what it expects Player X is going to do next season. CHONE doesn’t know what this team chemistry is that you speak of. It will also in its own plain way call a general manager’s goof when he makes one.

I feel bad for Jim Hendry, because he found himself in a bad situation and I’m sure he’s just doing his job the best he knows how. He might be trying to make lemons into lemonade, but it sure looks like he just failed. Badly.

Talk to us CHONE.

Player         Runs per 150    Defense
Milton Bradley        16            -2
Marlon Byrd            2            -3
Pitcher      Runs above replacement
Tom Gorzelanny        23
Carlos Silva           9

Even estimating playing time and taking account of position, this is a fair-sized downgrade for Chicago. Marlon Byrd has had some quietly solid seasons while stashed away in Texas, but he’s 32 and projects to be league average in a very ordinary Cub outfield. Milton Bradley may have tanked it last year, but he’s a solid rebound candidate and it’s a shame the team and the player couldn’t set aside their differences.

Tom Gorzelanny is also another player who looks primed for a rebound season. His 5.55 ERA last season looks pretty bad, but he showed some positive signs. He struck out a batter per inning, had a 2.76 strikeout-to-walk ratio and posted an xFIP of 3.73. He’s also cheap and is only 28 years old. Not very long ago he was a three win pitcher for Pittsburgh, and CHONE expects him to be a 2.5 win pitcher next year. Unfortunately for Gorzelanny, the door of opportunity was slammed in his face by the Cubs for the sake of Carlos Silva. Seriously.

The Cubs brain-trust undoubtedly believes they just got better by addition by subtraction, but you don’t get rid of cancer by cutting it out with a butcher’s knife and then sticking a band-aid over it. While Jim Hendry found himself in an unfortunate situation, there had to be a better way fixing the problem than this. His maneuvering probably cost the Cubs a couple of wins, assuming the plan is starting Silva. That’s pretty costly in a division like the NL Central.

Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
12 years ago

Really. I was just viewed as subtraction in Chicago. No addition.

Chemistry probably should be undervalued in many ways because so many people overvalue it, using it as a crutch to buttress a lazy argument.

But…from Paul Sullivan, Tribune’s Cubs beat writer:


It was Every Day here in Chicago. Every day, someone or something had crapped on Bradley’s sphere of existence.