2017 San Francisco Giants Season Preview

Still, even after losing nine winnable games, the 2016 Giants made it to the playoffs and nearly forced a winner-take-all game against the best team in the majors and eventual World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. With a normal bullpen, who knows, maybe the Giants make it past the Cubs. Even Year Bullshit lives on and in October 2018, Giants twitter would be ablaze with an even stupider portmanteau/hashtag than #believen. With a normal bullpen, the Giants at least would have had a very good chance to win the NL West after the Dodgers underperformed expectations.

The 2017 Giants should have a normally functioning bullpen with a new, expensive pitcher who has been very good at getting outs in the ninth inning. Will this be the first year the Giants (or someone other than the Dodgers) wins the NL West since 2012?

Read the rest at Banished to the Pen

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The PECOTA Gap Between the Cubs and Dodgers

On April 10th, the Cubs will play their first real game at Wrigley since the World Series, and they’ll do so against the Dodgers. The rematch of the NLCS should be a well-played series between two evenly-matched teams. This offseason, many comparisons of the two teams have been made, and the consensus seems to be that there’s no way to argue one team is clearly better than the other. PECOTA, however, disagrees.

Read the rest at BP Wrigleyville.

Kyle Hendricks Doesn’t Have to Regress

In some ways it’s hard to account for the right-hander’s success. His fastball barely touches 90 mph, and his breaking balls aren’t exactly electric. At first glance, he looks like a pitcher who is doomed for regression. His FIP in 2016 was a full run higher than his ERA, 3.24 and 2.13 respectively. His BABIP of .250 was twenty points lower than his career average of .273, benefitting from a historically good Cubs defense. Kyle Hendricks may very well regress toward his relatively-high-but-still-very-good FIP, and maybe it’s more likely that he will, but that doesn’t mean that he must.

Read the rest at BP Wrigleyville.

Robin Ventura: Scapegoat

Now, I want to be clear on one thing: Robin Ventura is not a good manager.

Ventura has a history of making some dubious decisions during games including not walking the bases loaded with runners on second and third with less than two out in the bottom of a ninth inning or later game, leaving his starters in too long, and starting Avisail Garcia. He’ll end his tenure with the White Sox with four consecutive losing seasons, the first Sox manager to do so, and a record of 375-435, good for a .463 winning percentage.

But Ventura doesn’t deserve all of the blame for the White Sox failings.

Read the rest at Beyond the Box Score.

Joe Panik and the Case of the Disappearing Line Drive

After a great 2015 season which saw Joe Panik make the All-Star team, the Giants’ second baseman and former first-round pick has had a relatively dismal year at the plate in 2016. Last season he hit .312/.378/.455 with a modest 136 wRC+, and this year he hit .239/.315/.379 with a below average 89 wRC+. Before the season started, projection systems expected him to regress slightly as Panik benefited from a high .330 BABIP in 2015 but not to this level.

Still, the Yankees would have taken him for Andrew Miller. Panik has been a valuable player posting a 2.1 fWAR mostly because of his defense, so this hasn’t been a lost season by any means. He is recovering from a back injury that sidelined him for the last few months of 2015 and a concussion that put him on the DL just before this year’s All-Star break so that would explain some of his troubles, but perhaps not all of it. Has something changed about his approach, or is he merely unlucky?

Read the rest at Beyond the Box Score

Rebecca Makkai and Anna North on Perception, Artists, and Chicago

City of stories

My first experience with Rebecca Makkai was an accidental one. I was in Minneapolis for the AWP Conference in 2014 and I had just sat down for a panel titled “Art of the Encounter” because Chinelo Okparanta was sitting as a panelist and hers was the only name I recognized. Alas, Okparanta was unable to attend, and Chicago-based author, Rebecca Makkai was asked to fill in for her. The moderator, Arna Bontemps Hemenway, introduced her with an anecdote of listening to Makkai on audiobook while trying to pack before a move, which proved detrimental to his work as he constantly had to sit and listen to her words and allow himself to be enveloped by them. “Okay,” I thought, “She sounds like she must be pretty good.”

Since then, her books, The Borrower, Music for Wartime, and The Hundred-Year House have earned places among my favorite books due to their…

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Reading at Columbia College Chicago with Bhanu Kapil and Tony Trigilio

Tuesday, December 6th, I’ll be reading from a new story at Columbia College Chicago with poets, Bhanu Kapil and Tony Trigilio. Details for the event can found here.

bhanu-kapil

Bhanu Kapil currently teaches at Naropa University and Godard College. Her cross-genre writing includes The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers and Humanimal: A Project for Future Children.

tony-trigilio

Tony Trigilio’s most recent collection of poetry is Inside the Walls of My Own House: The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood), Book 2. He teaches poetry at Columbia College Chicago.

The reading is closing out Columbia’s fantastic Fall reading series which has included T. Geronimo Johnson and will feature Charles Johnson, Ross Gay, Hoa Nguyen among others.