Goatriders of the Apocalypse

New Duo lead Cubs (Game Recap: Cubs 11, Phillies 6)

I agree with Goat Reader George's comment in the Shout Box: This is getting VERY interesting.

Last night, Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro were slotted into the first two spots of the lineup, and responded by going 6-for-9 with three runs scored. In the second inning, they collaborated on an almost-double steal, bringing Colvin home from third after Castro's attempt at stealing second.

Indeed, their repeated ability to put the ball in play, and then run really fast towards first base, sparked the offense last night, as did Marlon Byrd's ability to get hit by a pitch -- Phillie starter Halladay plunked him twice, and both times he came around to score.

Speaking of pitching, kudos to Cub pitcher Tom Gorzelanny for posting another decent outing. Two earned runs, five hits, and five strikeouts in 6.2 innings counts for a good effort. The five walks given up aren't exactly helpful, but Tom managed to pitch around his mistakes and keep the team in the game.

Back to the Killer C's for another minute. Even the great Joe Morgan acknowledged these twerps' importance to the future of the franchise -- although, the only skill he could identify for either player was his speed. And it's true, Colvin and Castro are both fast. But I'll go ahead and help Joe out by pointing out the other superior skills had by these two that suggest they deserve more regular responsibility in this line-up. In both cases, it comes down to power.

Tyler Colvin is strong. He doesn't walk a lot, and he strikes out often. But when he does manage to make solid contact, the ball goes far. In fact, Colvin is among the Top 10 in the National League in isolated slugging (ISO), which essentially measures how often a player's base hits go for extras. Colvin's ISO is .255 for the season; for comparison, Alfonso Soriano's team-leading ISO is .272, Geovany Soto's is .212, and Ryan Theriot's is .034.

Starlin Castro's power is not his best skill (yet). It's not top three, really (glove, contact hitting, speed). But even at 20, he's shown line drive ability, with 12 doubles, four triples, and two home runs hit in 211 at-bats. He's not quite walking enough to be considered the ideal leadoff option yet, but on this team, he may already have shown himself to be the best one on the roster. (Corollary: Colvin is not the best leadoff option. He strikes out too often to lead off, and his power is wasted at the top of the order.)

As for tonight's game, the lineup I'd like to see would be: Castro, Soto, Byrd, Aramis, Colvin, Soriano, Lee, Theriot, Pitcher. Call me crazy.

In the meantime, go Cubs!

I like Colvin a lot, but I

I like Colvin a lot, but I still want to see some more patience from him at the plate. I don't mean to nitpick, but it's going to be tough to maintain an ISO that high. More selectivity at the plate will give a boost to Colvin's overall offensive value (measured by wOBA, currently at .365, which is excellent). It will also force pitchers to put balls in the hitting zone where he can hammer them. Again, this is not a criticism of Colvin's play thus far. In another year, he'd be a rookie of the year candidate. This is the next step I'd like to see him take. If he can take that step, he'll be an above average major leaguer for years to come.

I don't think the Big Show is

I don't think the Big Show is the place to acquire new skills. Yes, it'd be great if Tyler Colvin were to magically transform into Albert Pujols. I just don't think it's likely.

Not Pujols, but how about

Not Pujols, but how about Moises Alou? He hit for power immediately, but posted walk rates of 6.6% and 7.1% in his first two full seasons. He eventually got his walk rate around 10% of his plate appearances, and became a great offensive weapon. Alou's K rate was never anywhere near what Colvin's is, but that's the kind of player I can hope that Tyler will develop into. He's got to learn the strike zone.

Huh, nice find. I wish there

Huh, nice find. I wish there were O-Swing% data for Alou prior to 2002.

Having said that, might Mark Reynolds be the perfect example of Powerful Kid Who Would Have Benefitted From Improving His Pitch Recognition? Hasn't worked out for him so far, although he continues to contribute offensively.

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=7619&position=3B

I don't think it's a perfect

I don't think it's a perfect comp, but I'd be thrilled with a 3 - 3.5 WAR player, which is basically who Reynolds is. Colvin's strikeout issues don't nearly approach Reynolds's whiff-tastic ways, but Tyler doesn't currently feature the same elite type power that Reynolds brings to the dish. We also don't know where his defense will shake out either, as the current sample size is far too small for his UZR to have any predictive value.

Maybe not thrilled. Very

Maybe not thrilled. Very happy.

Yeah I'd be fine with that.

Yeah I'd be fine with that. The Cubs haven't had many position players with surplus value at all lately, so any gains in that department are welcome.

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