Spare Parts: Yasmani Grandal has grand plans

One of the biggest disappointments of the abbreviated 2020 calendar is that we’re not going to see the full extent of Yasmani Grandal’s impact, at least given comfortable, stable samples of a 162 games, the usual levels of competition, the full slate of American League opponents, and everything else that makes a regular season, y’know, regular. Throw in 11 umpires opting out of the MLB season, and we’re going to have to give a lot of numbers less weight on both sides of the ball.

The shorter season isn’t all bad, though. Framing numbers tend to stabilize pretty quickly, so it shouldn’t take long to see a difference. Also, a healthy Grandal is likely going to appear in a higher percentage of games in a season that’s only 37 percent the length of a normal year. That’s good, because as the Sun-Times’ Steve Greenberg wrote in a terrific piece, Grandal seems hellbent on helping everybody:

Hahn followed up with Grandal’s agent a couple of days later, hoping to learn Grandal was eager to move forward. He was — in a sense.

‘‘He wanted video on [our] starting pitchers, so he could start figuring out how he could potentially get them better,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘This is before we’ve exchanged an offer. Yasmani had his own timetable.’’

Four different starters are — or in the case of one pitcher, was — working with a key that Grandal supplied early:

  • Gio Gonzalez: Moved to the other side of the rubber last year in Milwaukee.
  • Dallas Keuchel: Limiting thinking to Grandal’s target, rather than the entire path of a pitch.
  • Dylan Cease: Training his eyes to the right to address his problem of yanking his fastball left.
  • Michael Kopech: Discovered he tipped pitches by opening his glove.

They’re all cool anecdotes, in that they reflect a very active interest in the pitcher’s craft, and it could be the start of a satisfying several years, if nature and leadership allows (could home plate umpires wear masks, please?).

But while we’ll be able to tell whether some of them work in fairly short order — Cease in particular — the immediate assessments of Grandal could be skewed simply by the warped nature of the season. We’re now loaded for Grandal-inspired reasons if things go right, but pitchers who have a rough year can attribute it to the abbreviated ramp-up period, off-field anxieties, and who knows what else. Chalk one up for the framer!

Spare Parts

The BAT X projections, which fold in Statcast metrics with traditional stats for fantasy purposes, really likes Nomar Mazara than his stable, ho-hum track record would suggest. Eno Sarris provides the reasoning:

Why can’t I quit this dude? Well, he’s 25 years old, his floor is established, and there are hints of upside in his batted ball metrics (plus, he’s apparently been hiding a thumb injury for the past season-and-a-half). The best Barrel rate of his career (10.7%), for one. Another is that his hard hit angle has gone from 8.6 in 2017 to 7.8 in 2018 all the way up to 12.7 degrees in 2019. He’s slowly figuring out how to up the launch angle on his hardest hit balls, and any further growth there could bring you great power and run production returns, with some improved batting average upside as well.

James Fegan corroborated this assessment, relaying Mazara saying he’s been focusing more on doing damage and less on where the defense is playing him. It’d be nice if he could hit the ground running. Beyond the obvious benefits, the delay to the season basically ate up all of the time he could’ve been allowed to adjust.

Yasiel Puig might not have gotten what he wanted in terms of a contract, but it’s hard to beat the opportunity to win. Thanks to Nick Markakis opting out of the season, the Braves outfield had room for Puig on a one-year deal. The terms have not yet been disclosed.

The team projections for each position are being rolled out at FanGraphs, starting with the first, second and third basemen. I’m highlighting the hot corner because the White Sox have the ninth-best setup at third base when Yoán Moncada is healthy, but it’s among one of the worst situations without him. It’s hard to tell exactly, because the projections only have 32 plate appearances going to other players besides him.

Sox Machine member and professional mediator youhadmeatabreu had me on his podcast to discuss the contentious negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLBPA. Hopefully Rob Manfred and Tony Clark will ignore Buster Olney’s advice and do less of their negotiating through the media, rather than more of it.

(Portrait of Yasmani Grandal by Carl Skanberg)

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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As Cirensica

Great podcast Jim and @youhadmeatabreu … Very interesting.


Thanks. One thing I should add, producing those podcasts as quickly as Josh and Jim do is not easy. I am a newbie to the whole process, but it is a fun and steep learning curve and they make it look (err sound) easy.

As Cirensica

You did a helluva job. Your talking was fluid and with pleasant tone with no silences or filler wordings. Well done.


Thanks, I appreciate that (albeit not without a little editing). Some of my episodes are more focuses on specific legal issues, but in Episode 3 I talked with an attorney-by-day, comedian-by-night about regulating comedy and the role of humor in the law and in mediation. It might be worth a listen, but thanks for the feedback, it is appreciated.


Thanks again, Jim. I don’t think Josh has anything to worry about, but doing the podcast with you was fun and, hey, I now can say that I have graduated to “spare parts” Patreon status. As for the hot corner, I watched some of the scrimmages hoping that Mercedes could demonstrate he is a viable defensive option . . . . .