The first round of the Cubs Bunt Tourney is expected to continue at some point today. To the extent possible, I’ll try and cover it live again today – not because it’s important, but because it’s fun…

  • Dale Sveum said yesterday that David DeJesus is probably the Cubs’ leadoff hitter (good – but maybe not against lefties, mmkay, Dale?), and Bryan LaHair is probably his cleanup hitter (though Dale conceded that Alfonso Soriano could also get a look there (against lefties, that would be fine with me)). We know that Starlin Castro, then, will be hitting two or three, a decision that I suspect will be driven by whether or not someone else emerges who can plausibly hit third.
  • Speaking of Castro and Soriano, they, together with fellow Dominican, Junior Lake, hadn’t yet arrived to camp as of yesterday afternoon. Yesterday was their due date, as it were, so everyone expects that they did arrive in time, and will participate in the first full squad work out today.
  • Sveum, as well as Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Tom Ricketts, is expected to addressthe full team for the first time together this morning. He’s been preparing a speech like the best man at a wedding. “You try not to sit there and read off a card or anything, you just start rolling with whatever comes to your mind. You try to keep it as brief as you can, no doubt about it — not that I’ve made one before …. You’ve definitely heard them enough and you try to stay away from ones you didn’t care for and get quick and to the point. You don’t want people in that room all day long.” Free tip: start with a joke. End with a reminder about patience at the plate.
  • Bud Selig says an international draft is “inevitable.” Most insiders have assumed this was the case once the international spending limitations were implemented in the new CBA, but how long an international draft will take remains to be seen. The most obvious impact to the Cubs will tie to the uber-facility the organization is constructing in the Dominican Republic. Still, even in a draft system, teams will still have to find and scout players, and will still have to convince them to sign. If there’s a limited pool of money to spend each draft year, the Cubs can still use the facility as an incentive to get kids to sign – maybe for a little less than they otherwise would, allowing the Cubs to sign incrementally more “good” Latin American prospects in the draft.
  • Buster Olney says that the expectation within baseball is that the two additional Wild Cards will be added in time for the 2012 season. Recall, the plan is to have two Wild Cards in each league, bringing the total number of playoff teams to 10. The two Wild Card teams in each league will square off in a one-game playoff before the rest of the playoffs get underway. I’ve made no secret of my belief that the addition of two more Wild Cards is wonderful, both for the increased importance of winning your division, and the increased chance that your fan base will have something to cheer for deep into July/August/September (which may not impact the Cubs in 2012, but easily could in 2013). That said – and, yes, I understand the scheduling limitations – I really hate the idea of a one-game playoff. Can’t we figure out a way to at least play three games? Even the best team in baseball, playing the worst team in baseball, is going to lose 30 to 35% of the time in a one-gamer.
  • More MLBullets over at BCB, focused primarily on Ryan Braun.
  • Doug

    How about changing from a 162 to 158 game regular season?

    • Brett

      I would support it, but I don’t think a shrinking season will ever happen. Too many countervailing forces (money and stats being the big ones).

      • JB88

        Money and records will never allow the league to shrink the season.

        From a money perspective, you would be taking two home dates off every team’s schedule which is serious money. Even assuming that two extra teams are adding at least one extra home date, that playoff TV revenue can’t be enough to offset the lost games.

        I actually think the best way to deal with it is to add in an extra double header or two during the course of the season which would allow the league to shrink the days played and adds a level of nostalgia to the game.

  • Cubs 2015

    Love the Big Lebowski reference to DeJesus. Hillarious Brett!

    • Brett

      Any chance I get.

      • Walter Sobchak

        Smokey, this is not Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.

        • Brett

          Your phone’s ringing, Dude.

          • TWC

            THANK YOU, Donny.

    • MichiganGoat

      Even if DeJesus is a bust the signing is worth it so that we can make this reference. I’m sure Brett has EBS captions reading to go.

  • RoughRiider

    Anybody remember when the playoffs was 2 teams, just the National League winner vs American League winner ?

    • hansman1982

      Anybody remember when baseball only had 16 teams?

      • TWC

        Gar, anyone remember when baseballs were made from the straw-and-mud-stuffed bladders of recently slaughtered bison? THOSE were the days…

        • Fishin Phil

          We used to play barefoot in the snow. Uphill. Both ways.

          • hansman1982

            When we played, homeplate was a landmine…AND WE LIKED IT!

          • Cheryl

            At least it was a hill. We played in the street and took our chances with cars and breaking someone’s window.

          • hardtop

            … and when we got home, our Dad would slice us in two with a bread knife

      • Toosh

        24 teams when I started following the Cubs in ’69. 4 divisions. Win your division, you’re in. Scheduled 2-for-1 doubleheaders. Ah, for the good old days.

        • Dave H

          Yeah I remember the double-headers. I miss those days. Maybe they schedule a couple of them for interleague games. Would be neat to see a day game at Wrigley then go have a game at the Jail cell for the night cap. Since we have two series do that for both series.

          • SirCUb

            Hey, that’s an idea. Why not have the wild cards play three games in two days? Could help to squeeze it into the schedule. And it would be awesomely exciting!

            • SirCUb

              Now let me answer my own nieve question.

              Because that wouldn’t work stupid! Forcing the wildcard teams to play that many games in a short timespan while the division winners have those days off would be hugely unfair. Plus, that would mean having to play a day game, which wouldn’t be primetime, which would never happen because of money concerns.

              But yea, I agree, it would be awesomely exciting.

              • JulioZuleta

                Haha I like that SirCub. Your answer, to your question, is identical to what my answer to your question would have been.

              • Luke

                I think some first round playoffs games are not in prime time already, so nothing new there.

                To be hones, the wild card teams should be at a disadvantage compared to the division winners.  If they think it is too unfair, then they can just win their division next time.  So long as the fair/unfair factor is ultimately decided on the field, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

  • Smitty

    Does anyone know the argument against having day/night double headers on the weekend? I am sure it is monetary based, but it would seem to me that they could require each team to have 2 scheduled double headers over the course of a season. That would open up the last weekend of the season allowing MLB to start a 3 game wild card series on a Saturday and finishing on a Monday. Then the playoffs could start on Tuesday with the two series that will have 2 division champs facing off and then the wildcard winner could go on Wednesday.

    • Luke

      The objection to doubleheaders was more based on roster limitations than any financial concern (as far as I know). Teams could burn two starters in one day, or use their bullpen for a game. Either way, they put more stress on their pitchers (especially on the bullpen) than anyone liked. They could promote a starter from AAA for one of the doubleheader games, but he would have to stay on the roster for 10 days before he could go back, and that usually meant the team spent a week and a half an arm short in the bullpen.

      The new CBA addresses this. Teams can now add a 26th man to the roster for doubleheaders. The intent is that they can summon a starter from the minors, pitch him in one of the doubleheader games, and otherwise leave their bullpens and the rest of their roster intact.

      We’ll see how teams respond to the new 26th man rule, but I suspect it could open the door to more doubleheaders. At the very least, I hope we can see a return of doubleheaders on major holidays.

      • CubFan Paul

        In the new rules does the 26th man stay on the roster for 10 days?

        Doubleheaders on holidays?!

        • Luke

          The 26th man would be on the roster for the doubleheader only. He’s up for a day, pitches a game, and then goes back to the minors. I’m not sure if it counts as using an option (I believe it does). I also think the player so called up has to be on the forty man roster (or be added to the forty man at the time of the call up), but I’m not totally certain on that either. I think it is just a 26th man and not a 41st man, if that makes sense.

          It used to be that on summer holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day) when a lot of people were home from work and looking for entertainment of some kind that baseball teams would play doubleheaders. Proponents of this like to claim that these games were always sell outs, but I suspect there may be some exaggeration there. Still, it does make sense. There’s no reason every team in baseball could not do a day-night doubleheader on the holidays and have great attendance at both games.

          • Mick

            I agree with the day/night double headers but I don’t think EVERY team could sell out both games. They could be strategic though and choose the best teams, biggest markets, best matchups, or geographic rivals. I’m all for trying to squeeze in the season pre-October so the World Series doesn’t spill into late October/early November. The 26th man rule is very interesting but if you have to burn an option on a player for 1 game that seems a big waste. I’d like to see the verbiage on that rule to confirm…

            • hansman1982

              I am sure teams will have the Rodrigo Lopez’s of the world waiting in AAA for this and won’t be calling up Trevor Bauer for a start.

      • JB88

        I’d schedule the double headers on the day before the All-Star break. That would give every team in baseball the advantage of still resetting their pitching rotations after the All-Star break and will instantly pull an extra day off the calendar later in the season.

  • KCubsfan

    Still waiting for a player to challenge to the Constitionality of the draft itself.

    • Luke

      At this stage they’d have to take on the union, MLB, and the legality of baseball’s anti-trust exemption. I’d give better odds to the snowman trying to survive in the Sahara.

    • Noah

      It’s not a Constitutional issue, it’s an antitrust issue. You have no Constitutional right to be a Major League Baseball player. They can set any barriers to entry to it they want. The Constitution dictates rights between the government and its citizens and residents, not between a private organization and it’s employees or prospective employees.

      With that said, Luke is entirely right. Baseball does a ton of stuff that violates antitrust law, but Congress has exempted the MLB from antitrust law.

  • Kyle

    On what grounds?

    Baseball’s anti-trust exemption would squash just about any legal challenge imaginable.

    • DocWimsey

      Hasn’t this come up when agents have looked into challenging the draft? At any rate, the Constitution really does not have anything that directly pertains to this: most of it was written long before the concept of “workers” as we know it (never mind “workers’ rights”) and most of the subsequent amendments deal with other issues. According to said Constitution, that means you need to look either at international treaties or congressional acts, and I’m pretty sure that it was a congressional act that basically exempted baseball from other relevant congressional acts.

  • DocWimsey

    “Even the best team in baseball, playing the worst team in baseball, is going to lose 30 to 35% of the time in a one-gamer.”

    If only more people understood that…..

  • Mr. Cooper

    DeJesus as a leadoff hitter? Last year he hit .240 with a .323 on base percentage. He has had more strikeouts than walks every season he has played in the majors.

    • Brett

      He also has a career .365 OBP from the lead off spot.

      • CubFan Paul


    • CubFan Paul

      look at his 2004-2010 numbers

    • Norm

      It was a down year for DeJesus, but before 2011 he never had an OBP under .347. It just as likely that he rebounds as it is that he’s back in the .320’s.

      And almost EVERY player in baseball is going to have more K’s than BB’s (NINE players in 2011 had more BB’s than K’s).

    • DocWimsey

      Yes, last year was a fluke. Also, strikeouts are irrelevant for a leadoff batter: if a guy K’s 55% of the time and walks 45% of the time, then he’ll (probably) score more runs than any other leadoff hitter in baseball.

      What you do NOT want is a guy who slaps the 1st or 2nd pitch softly into play…..

      • Norm

        The K’s themselves might be irrelevant, but the fact that DeJesus had, by far, his career worst K%, might be a red flag in terms of ability.

      • hansman1982

        If he walks 45% of the time that would also give him one of (if not the) highest OBP in the majors. Is it too much to ask this be the stat line for Campana?

        • DocWimsey

          Yes. Ja. Oui. Si. Da.

          And, actually, an OPS of 0.450 wouldn’t be great: but hyperbole is such fun….. :-)

          • hansman1982

            ha, if it was Campana I wouldn’t mind him being on base ~300 times in a season. If he steals 2nd 1/3 of those times that is like 100 doubles. I would take a .450 OPS any day of the week.

            • DocWimsey

              heh, well, not quite. Yes, a walk and a steal does get a guy to 2nd. However, he’ll have at least one fewer pitches to get from 2nd to home than he would if he’d hit a double. Also, it can be done only if there isn’t a batter on 1st or 2nd, whereas a double would advance those guys to at least 3rd and often home. (For a leadoff guy, it usually will be 2 bases, as bottom of the order guys often are not fast.)

              Again, there was a little (x2/a2)-(y2/b2) thing going on here, just to make a point about K’s and leading off.

        • Luke

          If Campana walks in 45% of his plate appearances, he should be the MVP.

        • Brett

          I’d let that Tony Campana be a starter.

          • bluekoolaidaholic

            Starter, leadoff, and I’ll mow his lawn.

      • Spencer

        Well if he walks 45% of the time and K’s 55% of the time he’d have a batting average of .000 and a OBP of .450. That’s probably a record.

        • SirCUb

          Foul ball specialist!

    • die hard

      Interesting perspective from Guillen yesterday on this topic. Shows how he approaches this issue of top of the lineup.

      “That’s the game I Iike. I like to run. I like hit-and-run. … I don’t like to watch home run derbies.

      “I like Bonifacio second because it’s two guys back-to-back [with speed] right away, but I think about Infante, too,” Guillen said. “We’re trying to think about what we’re going to do.”

      The right-handed hitting Infante has logged more career at-bats in the two-hole (824) than any other spot in the lineup. He is a .277 lifetime hitter there with a .319 on-base percentage and .379 slugging.

      A switch-hitter, Bonifacio for his career has been more productive batting leadoff (.277/.338/.361) in 887 at-bats than he has in 252 turns as a No. 2 hitter (.230/.290/.282).

      Last season, he logged 397 at-bats atop the order and hit .310 while reaching base at a .376 clip. That on-base percentage ranked third among National League leadoff hitters behind Brandon Phillips (.417) and Reyes (.383).

      Infante isn’t anywhere near as fast as Bonifacio. He also walks much less.

      Infante last season drew a base on balls 5.3 percent of the time compared to Bonifacio’s 9.2 percent. Yet one reason Guillen may like Infante at the top of the order is because he makes more consistent contact.

      As good a season as Bonifacio had in 2011, he still struck out in 20.1 percent of his at-bats and swung and missed at a 7.9 percent clip. Infante struck out 10.5 percent of the time and his swing and miss rate was 4.8 percent.

      Maybe Reyes will lead off regardless of who hits second, but that’s a certainty if Infante is up there.

      Leadoff men come up with the bases empty 64 percent of the time, according to The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball.

      Sabermetricians would argue the Mets did not maximize Reyes’ .493 slugging percentage batting him in the top spot. Two-hole hitters come up with men on 44 percent of the time.

      In addition, Reyes walks less than both Bonifacio and Infante.

  • Edwin

    I actually like best of 5 game series better than best of 7. I would’t mind if the the world series and conference championships both became best of 5. That could help shorten the playoffs and allow time for either a best of 5 or best of 3 wildcard round.

  • Kevin

    Just like Ernie says, “let’s play 2 today”

  • CubFan Paul

    where is Craig Shipley? (Boston’s former international scouting director)

    is he/Epstein waiting until Tim Wilkens/Randy Bush’s contract expire?

    • Brett

      I have absolutely no information on this, but I’d be surprised to learn that there’s no connection between Shipley’s very quiet departure from the Red Sox (and even more quiet hiatus) and Epstein’s move to the Cubs.

  • Spencer

    In case anyone wants to see some highlights from the bunt tournament:

    • Brett

      Thanks for sharing that, Spencer. Good find.

    • TWC

      Dang, what a tease!  Only 40 seconds…

      • Dave H

        No doubt. This has to be televised next year!

  • Kevin

    Unfortunately baseball is a business, period. The more I understand the business side of things the less I’m a true baseball fan. You have billionaire owners stealing tax dollars from cities who can’t afford to provide stadiums and millionaire players who hire attorneys who drive salaries Into the stratosphere. It’s nearly impossible to go to a game without putting a major dent in your wallet. When the economy collapses and the owners and players start crying, I will not shed a single tear for the greedy bastards.

    • DocWimsey

      The players themselves did not drive up the salaries. For one thing, the courts decided that MLB was acting illegally to not allow players to negotiate with other teams once their contract expires. All other professionals get to do that. For another thing, it was owners like Steinbrenner who drove up prices by bidding so much for free agents. That wasn’t greed: that was making intelligent use of their resources. (Well, of course it was an investment: the Yankees started making a lot more money because of the $$$ they shelled out to the players, too.)

      But, ultimately, why not make the same arguments about pop stars or Hollywood? Entertainment industries have generated revenue going back (at least) to the Sumerians. The money can go to the entertainers or their handlers.

      As for the rest of the business side, well, how is the owners getting tax dollars for their stadiums any different from other business owners negotiating huge tax breaks to put their business in your state instead of somebody else’s?

      I know that I’m a broken MP3 on this, but we cannot look at this as BASEBALL operating in a vacuum. Baseball plays by similar rules as all of the other major money-making operations.

      • ThereWillBeCubs


    • Brett

      … it also provides a job for regular Joes like me. :)

    • butlerdawgs

      This reminds me of what one of the local sports radio guys (Dan Dakich) said whenever the NBA lockout was going on. He talked about trying to explain the situation to someone from a third world country. You’ve got billionaire owners upset because they’re not making enough money, and you’ve got millionaire players saying their not getting paid enough..something doesn’t translate to someone from a third world country.

  • Kevin

    Here’s something else to think about………… All games on TV have commercials so everybody, baseball fan or not, is paying more for simple items at the grocery store to pay for the advertising. You can love to drink beer in the comfort of your home without being a sports fan and be required to pay more for the beer because of all the advertising. This is simply greed at its best!

    • TWC

      Kevin, baby, you’re getting all agitated this AM.  What gives?  Who’s forcing you to buy the products advertised on TV?  Who’s forcing you to watch the TV?  Who’s forcing you to own a TV?

    • DocWimsey

      How can that be greed? The beer companies voluntarily hire and pay advertising companies to create those commercials. That is an investment, but a necessary one: beer companies that do not advertise do not sell. Moreover, what they pay is not insubstantial: TV generates huge amounts of money (if not most of it) from advertising fees, and advertising companies charge a lot for their services. And that is how baseball gets a huge chunk of its money: anticipated advertising fees for commercials shown during broadcasts of games. The advertisers are paying to make that possible and that’s an investment, not a community service.

      And, remember, without the advertising, most people buy a different beer.

      • hardtop

        ive never seen a pabst commercial… they sell a lot of it.  but i get your point.

        • DocWimsey

          There is your problem: you need to drink a Guinness. It’s good for you. (There is a joke in there!)

        • Doc Evans

          That is because Pabst is so good it does not need to advertise. And I’m only half serious…

  • MightyBear

    Two day night double headers per team would move schedule back enough for 3 game series. No revenue lost. Win win for everybody.

  • Katie

    He should start with an inspirational speech a la Lou Brown:

    All right people, let’s all gather ’round. I’m not much for giving inspirational addresses, but I’d just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think that we’d save everyone the time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I’m for wasting sportswriters’ time. So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give ’em all a nice big shitburger to eat!

    • Dave H

      Now that is a speech!

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      God I love this site, Doc pisses me off and then Katie cracks me up laughing.

  • MichCubFan

    I like DeJesus leading off with Castro hitting second. But also give Campana some ABs at leadoff to see what he can do. That would then move DeJesus to third.

    I am more of an OBP>speed for a leadoff hitter type of guy, but i don’t doubt that Campana could put up a .330-340 OBP…which isn’t great, but not bad for his first full season in the majors…and with his ability to steal a ton of bases.

    I also wouldn’t hate hitting Campana 9th, but i dk if they would do that.

    I also wonder how much longer Byrd will be on the team…

    • SirCub

      I think it has been discussed at length, and we all have agreed, Campana would be best suited to bat clean-up.

    • die hard

      Barney better suited batting second I believe as he had some success there and hes a decent bunter and hit/run guy. If Castro can learn to turn on the ball better sacrificing some avg for power, he would be ideal third hitter.

      • Noah

        Darwin Barney should not be batting anywhere but 8th. He had only one month where he put up an OBP over .323, and that month was April. In 426 plate appearances batting second last season, he put up a .280/.310/.343 triple slash. That’s TERRIBLE. I’m fine with Castro batting 2nd or 3rd, I think the idea of who bats third is vastly overrated, though. Most important slots to me are first in the order (want the guy who gets on base the most because he has the most plate appearances) and fourth in the order (the guy who will see the most plate appearances with runners on base). I’d much rather two guys who get on base in front of power hitters than one guy who gets on base and one guy who can bunt.

        • die hard

          I recall him doing ok until he was hurt and out for awhile. He seemed to be holding back so as not to re-injure himself. i like his scrappy play and desire to win. I once suggested him switching with Castro as team can carry good field light hitting SS if 2B produces.

  • die hard

    Wonder if instead of adding wild cards and extending season even more, it would be better to do a split season? The fan interest could be even greater if teams start from zero after first half. i know some minors do this. I am sure there can be a way to have a season playoff among the best teams in each half. Granted many teams will be repeats but not always. Some teams get hot either first or second half. Also, to increase interest maybe splitting each league into 2 divisions would work. This could generate new rivalries too. Maybe doing this would increase interest without having to increase the number of games and possibly even lessen the number played during regular half seasons.

  • JustSwain

    I wonder if having a one game playoff (if that is indeed what happens) will change the way teams pursue pitching. Think about it, in the past, a strong pitching rotation doesn’t necessarily need a true “Ace” pitcher, they can have a set of four solid pitchers and one number five to eat some innings. Teams built like that have won the world series, now marginal teams, those likely to contend for the wildcard but not to win their divisions, will be scrambling to sign the absolute best starting pitcher that money can buy so they have that one guy who they can send to the mound in a one game playoff. When we added the first wildcard, and the five game series that followed, the way things were setup did not signal a fundamental shift in the way that teams were built because worst case scenario a team gets three games, and gets to throw three arms out there, and if you win just one game you’ll need a four pitcher rotation like any other playoff team. Now, we have a fundamental shift, a need will arise for a rotation to be led by a strong ace. Top tier pitching payrolls are going to skyrocket to the point that all that extra green the owners get for that one game might go straight in the pocket of ace pitchers.

  • JustSwain

    Brett I pose a question for you; are you in favor of an extended wildcard even if the only way they will do it is with a one game playoff? Personally I’m against it as a one game playoff, and I’m against it as a three game playoff. The only way I support it is as a five game playoff.

    The only way I could imagine a five game wildcard playoff is to have the wildcard race end five days before the regular season so the two wild card teams could compete in the first round playoff before the regular season has ended. The two opponents of the two teams playing in the special playoffs could play each other instead. Statistically that special round could be part of the regular season, a pre-playoff sort of thing. More teams would be in the race for the first 157 games, for the last five we would have the equivilent of post season baseball, while the other teams would be playing perhaps meaningful games in order to determine home field advantage, and thus still be taking in revenue. It would make the last five or six days of the season even more exciting by making sure at least one pair of teams is battling it out for the last slot.

    • Brett

      It’s a good question, but I supposed I would still support it (because, overall, I’m excited about the change – and it’s going to be a one-gamer as it is, so I must prefer that to nothing at all).