Showing posts with label Bruce Levine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bruce Levine. Show all posts

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Jay Bruce and more silly White Sox narratives from Chicago sports media

Jay Bruce
There has been a lot of discussion -- even some this week -- about the White Sox needing to acquire a power-hitting left-handed bat for the middle of their lineup.

I don't disagree with Bruce Levine when he says the Sox could use that piece, but I am unconvinced that Jay Bruce is the right man for the job -- especially considering that the Cincinnati Reds would most likely want the Sox to take on most of the $12.5 million Bruce is owed for the 2016 season in any deal.

Reports outside Chicago, most notably from MLB Network's Jon Heyman, indicate the Sox and Reds have not had any recent talks about Bruce. Heyman reports the Sox are not seeking a starting outfielder after their recent signing of Austin Jackson. I tend to think Heyman is correct.

That didn't stop the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh from adding to the Bruce talk, and in a bizarre twist, Haugh seems to believe the Sox should acquire Bruce with the idea of pushing Adam Eaton to the bench.


Here's what Haugh wrote:

"The broader big-picture question involving Eaton should be what to do with him if the Sox acquire outfielder Jay Bruce, the left-handed power hitter the Reds reportedly want to trade. Several other teams remain interested in Bruce, scheduled to make $12.5 million in 2016, and WSCR-AM 670 reported two top Reds scouts have been regulars at Camelback Ranch. If Sox general manager Rick Hahn can pull it off, Bruce would join former Reds teammate Todd Frazier in the middle of an increasingly dangerous Sox lineup.

"Trading for Bruce to play right field with Jackson in center and Melky Cabrera in left likely would make Eaton a fourth outfielder and part-time designated hitter -- perhaps platooning with Avisail Garcia -- Eaton's ideal role on a contending Sox team. It also would make Eaton's five-year, $23.5 million contract extension signed a year ago all the more baffling. Bruce offers 30 home-run potential, a capable glove and an expiring contract, which Hahn appears to be collecting."

Again, what? 

I'm not sure if Haugh is expecting us to take this narrative seriously, but let's humor him with some player comparisons. Tell me which of these four 2015 statistical profiles you like best:

Player A: .267/.311/.385, 2.3 fWAR
Player B: .287/.361/.431, 3.6 fWAR
Player C: .226/.294/.434, 0.1 fWAR
Player D: .273/.314/.394, -0.3 fWAR

So, what's your verdict? Who's the best player in the bunch? You gotta go with Player B, right?

Player B has the highest batting average, the highest on-base percentage, the second-highest slugging percentage (only .003 behind Player C) and the best fWAR.

Mr. Haugh might be interested to know that Player B is Eaton, the guy he thinks belongs on the bench.

For the record, Player A is Jackson, Player C is Bruce and Player D is Cabrera.

Eaton, to me, is the third-best positon player on the Sox, behind only Jose Abreu and Frazier. I look at him as a core player, and I can't see any rational baseball reason for him to be displaced from the lineup for a player such as Bruce. Play Eaton wherever you want in the outfield, but he and his .361 on-base percentage need to be at the top of the lineup for the Sox this year. There is no question about that.

Haugh wrote that, "this week's discussion over where incumbent center fielder Adam Eaton plays was cute," and I'm not sure what he means by that.

I'm not being cute at all when I tell you that some members of the Chicago sports media would be well-served to do a little research and maybe watch a few White Sox games before they sit down at a computer and offer their "opinions" about the team.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

When it comes to the Cubs, Chicago media lose perspective quickly

Right-hander Jake Arrieta struggled Wednesday night in his third start with the Cubs. He lasted just four innings, allowing six earned runs on five hits. He was fortunate to escape with a no-decision as the Washington Nationals thumped Chicago, 11-6.

What significance should we place on Arrieta's poor showing? Well, virtually none. Nobody should put much stock in four or five starts, let alone just one outing.

But when I saw Arrieta struggling, I couldn't help but think of the ludicrous column ESPN's Bruce Levine wrote less than a week ago, which opined that the Cubs "may have found the next staff ace" in the 27-year-old right-hander.

Really, Bruce? Really?

I understand Arrieta had been great in his previous start. He fired seven shutout innings of two-hit ball against a good-hitting St. Louis team on Aug. 16. And it is true Arrieta has a power arm and swing-and-miss stuff.

However, Levine should ask a Baltimore fan sometime about Arrieta's future as "a potential ace." That narrative is nothing new. The Orioles thought so much of Arrieta they made him their Opening Day starter in 2012. Arrieta won his start that day. Also in 2012, Arrieta threw eight shutout innings against the Yankees. He had another outing where he struck out nine Pittsburgh Pirates in seven innings. Alas, those were his only three wins in 18 starts. By the All-Star break, Arrieta had been removed from the rotation.

That's right: In a matter of three months, Arrieta went from presumed staff ace to the Baltimore bullpen. This is a pitcher who has never been a consistent performer. He's a tease; he wows you with great stuff. At times, he can dominate a lineup. Other times, he infuriates you by getting knocked out in the third or fourth inning. He can't be trusted. Why do you think the Orioles were willing to trade him to the Cubs, Bruce? I guarantee you it wasn't because they didn't like his 96 mph fastball.

You see, once a guy gets to be 27 years old, he's no longer a prospect. It's time to put up or shut up. Arrieta never put up in a Baltimore uniform, so they sent him packing. Potential doesn't mean anything for a pitcher of that age. It's all about results now.

I get the sneaking suspicion that Levine and others think Arrieta is still a prospect. He is not. Some members of the Chicago media need to get their heads out of the clouds when it comes to analyzing the Cubs. Let's call Arrieta what he is: a reclamation project.

He had multiple opportunities with the Orioles. He threw them all away. Will the change of scenery help him? Maybe. Matt Thornton was a busted prospect when the White Sox acquired him from the Seattle Mariners in 2006, and he became a valuable bullpen piece on the South Side for years. Sometimes, a reclamation project gets redeemed, but it's always a flip of the coin with these kind of guys.

I know this is a strange concept for some writers, but let's see how Arrieta responds the rest of the year. The Cubs are going to give him a look down the stretch, and why not? If he fails again, he's not hurting anything. But right now, he shouldn't even be penciled into the Cubs' 2014 rotation, let alone be a candidate for the title of "staff ace." 

In my world, the Cubs should be happy if Arrieta becomes a useful back-of-the-rotation starter.