Positive Pete: Digging For Optimism
I'm a firm believer in the power of positivity. And while this Cubs' season hasn't been a great catalyst for positivity, there have been individual performances to be encouraged about.
After pitching successfully in purgatory(extended AAA) for a number of years, the 28-year-old seems to have successfully transitioned to the major leagues. Parker boasts the valueable weapon teams crave in a reliever - the strikeout. In just 33.2-innings this season, Parker has struck out 36 batters. In the process, Parker has a BB/9 of 3.5 - how many walks he'd average per 9 innings - a 1.129 WHIP and an ERA of 2.24. Parker seems poised to be the Cubs' 8th-inning setup man for the foreseeable future.
Beware! Objects may be wilder than they appear.
That should read Strop's mantra. However, since he's been with the Cubs, Strop has been a model citizen. In just under 21-innings, Strop has carved up opposing teams - 24 Ks; 9 BB; 10 Hits allowed. If it seems like Strop's wildly, unhinged effectiveness looks familiar, it does. If someone were to play Strop in his "LifeTime" movie, that person would be Carlos Marmol. Just this season, before being traded to the Cubs, Strop was dreadful - 7.25 ERA; 1.701 WHIP; 6.0 BB/9. Seem familiar? The Cubs bought-low on Strop in hopes that he woud return to his 2012 form - 2.44 ERA; 1.342 WHIP. Strop, like many relievers in his vein - great arm; no command - should be handled with care. The Cubs want to max-out his effectiveness, and get out when he begins to fizzle - not unlike a relationship built on lust. That being said, Strop is likely your 2014 Chicago Cubs' closer... Strap in!
Travis Wood doesn't have great stuff. He doesn't throw very hard either. What Travis Wood does do, is refuse to beat himself. Wood's game is location - 2.9 BB/9; 7.0 H/9. And while I know he's not an ace, he remains a strong left-handed presence in the starting rotation.
In his first real shot at being an everyday player, Nate has been a force - .838 OPS; plus-defense. The problem with Nate, is that he can't hit lefties - .642 OPS. Good thing most pitchers are righty! Nate is the perfect piece for a team on the cusp of contending - affordable; left-handed - so I don't expect him to be on the Cubs, next season. There's always the chance that they wait until he trade deadline. Regardless, Nate has been a great signing.
Me Today: "Dioner Navarro is going to hit as many home runs as Joe Mauer, this season."
Me in March: "Bull****!"
Me Today: "Dioner Navarro is going to out SLG every catcher in baseball."
Me in March: "Liar!"
Me Today: "You're going to meet what you believe to be a beautiful woman in a club. Go with your gut, and acknowledge the massive size of her hands."
Me in March: "Thanks."
To say Dioner Navarro has been awesome, is to say Justin Bieber is a twink; It's the obvious statement, of obvious statements. His mentoring of Wellington Castillo is an added bonus. I know the sabermetric nerds hate emotions in basball, but Navarro's passion for the game is infectious - I get excited watching him catch a foul-ball, or trying to stretch a single into a double. And while many fans wanted Navarro traded at the deadline because he's not under contract for next season, I belonged to the minority who wanted him to stay. My reasoning was simple:
1.) What were the Cubs really expecting in return for Navarro? Surely nothing impactful.
2.) Doesn't holding onto Navarro give the Cubs an upper-hand in re-signing him this off-season?
Navarro, if he's re-signed, will be a welcome continuation to a highly productive catching duo.