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I’m headed back home today, after a nice stay in Chicago. Due to the travels, you’ll probably once again have to suffer through a slightly delayed Enhanced Box Score unless I’m on one of those whacky new planes with wi-fi. The future is here!

  • Jeff Samardzija had a rough outing yesterday, and he’s pretty sure he knows why. From the outside, it looked like Samardzija had poor command in innings one through four, but was still getting results, so, by the fifth, he was just throwing laser fastballs right over the middle of the plate. That’s what Samardzija thought, too. “I think I got a little complacent with how I went the first four innings, and I was looking to have another quick inning,” Samardzija said. “I need to concentrate a little bit more there and lock in and keep that ball down in the zone and keep the ball on the ground like they’d been doing the whole game.”
  • So, there was a little ugliness yesterday in an extended Spring Training game feature some of the Cubs’ young prospects. According to TCR’s Arizona Phil, Javier Baez stroked a long home run and stared it down before starting his jog toward first (apparently he’d done this earlier in the week, as well). A coach on the Angels’ squad, whom the Cubs were playing, yelled, “Run the bases!” When Baez had finished circling the bases, he turned to the Angels’ dugout and shouted, “I can do whatever the f*%k I want.” From there, Cubs players held Baez back, and prevented a serious escalation. All of this is disappointing. Should the Angels’ coach have kept his mouth shut, letting the Cubs handle how they want their young players to behave? Probably. But Baez should have ripped the ball, put his head down, and run. And then, when he reached home plate, he should have kept his mouth shut. He’s a young kid, and I know I was brash as hell when I was his age, so I certainly understand it. That doesn’t mean I think it’s OK, though. You have huge talent, kid, but let that talent speak for you. You don’t need to do it with your mouth or with your stares at long fly balls.
  • Dale Sveum is requiring his players to watch the Cardinals get their World Series rings today, which I think is awesome. It would suck to have to watch, mind you, but it’s both respectful and motivating.
  • Sveum suggests that part of the reason he’s batting lefties Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart back-to-back in the lineup is because, if that prompts the other manager to bring in a lefty reliever, Sveum gets to use one of the best lefty-hitting bench bats in the game, Jeff Baker. That’s all well and good, I suppose, but if you break them up, you still likely get a chance to use Baker in those kind of situations, and, when you don’t get that chance, it’s because both lefties are getting to face a righty. Moreover, when your plan works, you’re necessarily having to remove either LaHair or Stewart from the game. The difference is negligible, but I’m not sure I agree with the baiting approach.
  • FanGraphs says Matt Garza probably really has evolved into an ace.
  • Our one-day fantasy contest (the first of many, I do believe) wrapped up yesterday, and the top six finishers (the folks who won some green) were TayoSanto, mjhurdle, fraz4919, slbunyer, JWallbaum, and bvastlik. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder let me down, and I finished behind about 1/3 of the pack. To that 1/3 of you, I apologize for my Javier Baez-like smack-talking in advance of the contest. To the other 2/3 of you, however, I own you.
  • Bruce Springsteen is now confirmed to be playing at Wrigley Field on Friday, September 7. Tickets go on sale April 21. I hope he pulls me on stage…
  • Mrp

    Why not bump up Baez to Peoria and let him get humbled a bit? He seems to be dominating in EST right now and probably one of the biggest things he needs right now is to learn that he isn’t invincible. The kid has been a man among boys for so long (didn’t he hit over .700 in HS). Time to take the big fish out of the small pond and see how he responds.

  • Matt

    MRP- that’s a brilliant idea!! Lots of industry people were very surprised he didn’t start there in the first place.

  • Cheryl

    Problem is he might look at it as a promotion. If he does go there maybe he should hang out with Hayden Simpson and see what can happen when you least expect it. (Simpson is still in Peoria, isn’t he?)

    • ShootTheGoat

      Hayden is in Daytona right now. I’ve been following him closely this year to see if his luck changes this year. So far, compared to last year, so good.

      • JulioZuleta

        He’s gonna need to crank it up significantly. For his age, his K rate is wayyy too low for single A.

  • BeyondFukudome

    Uh-oh. Ellsbury got injured. I assume this means the Red Sox will be seeking additional compensation from the Cubs…

    • ETS

      HAHA, well played.

  • Tom Emanski

    Is anyone else “out of market” for the game today on FOX? I’m out in California and they are showing Angels/Yankees. I have the Extra Innings package but I don’t think they can show it on there for contractual reasons. Am I screwed on this one? Any suggested solutions are welcome. Also, love the site Brett. You do a great job and I’m really digging the addition of the minor league coverage.

    • BN”Legs”

      Unfortunately, nothing you can do. If you have a MLB.tv account you can get the audio feed but they will blackout the Video for the team in your local area and also blackout all games on Saturday that start between 1:10 – 8:00 EST and every Sunday game that starts after 5:00 EST do to MLB exclusivity deals with FOX and ESPN.

      Doesn’t really make sense why these MLB exclusivities still exist in this day and age. The MLB.tv and the Extra Innings package should work just like the NFL packages where you can get any game you want (with the exception of the one showing locally, but you can get that one locally and are not forced to watch what FOX or ESPN wants to show you).

      Reminds me of how the old March madness games on CBS would make me scream at the TV when Greg Gumbel would flip a switch in his CBS studio and switch the game feed to another game because they thought it was a better game to watch…even though you were paying for the basketball package in order to specifically watch that blowout game between the #1 and #16 seeds :-)

      • BN”Legs”

        You “Might” be able to find it on sites like http://www.justin.tv...

      • Tom Emanski

        Thanks for the clarification, Legs. I guess I’ll be watching gamecast today. Pretty unbelievable that in 2012 a guy can’t watch Cubs/Cards from anywhere in the country, particularly when that guy has paid $200 for Extra Innings. Regardless, let’s get the W today.

      • Kyle

        The big difference, of course, is that the NFL gets their money from the big national TV deals that cover more or less all the games, so they don’t care which ones you watch where.

        The MLB’s TV money comes from highly localized regional deals, so blackouts make more sense from a financial perspective.

    • BN”Legs”

      You “Might” be able to find it online at places like http://www.justin.tv where people stream events online.

  • Richard Nose

    Wow what a crazy Baez story. Pretty disappointing. But, Brett makes a good point. I too was a giant piece of shit when I was 18 and 19.

    • Montellew

      I don’t know what bothers me most about this incident with Baez…is it the Soriano-Style Long-Ball Staredown? Seriously – that needs broken long before he hits the majors. The Attitude? yeah – we had it, but we – or at least I wasn’t representing a team. If we foster that kind of behavior early – we’ve created another Zambrano. Remember, Z used to be considered only ‘young and full of passion’. Put it down early, or show him the door. There’s no room for that in team sports.

      • Kyle

        We should be very happy if Baez puts up the career MLB value that Zambrano did. Very, very happy.

  • JulioZuleta

    For you minor league twitter followers, Baez made an account yesterday..”javy23baez”. Also read last night that the Cubs cut Abner Abreu, semi-prospect they received for Fukudome.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nice catches. I had heard the Abreu part a while ago, but was waiting until he caught on somewhere else to discuss it (not really a huge deal, as he continued his slide last year). Have you seen if he’s signed on somewhere else? I’ll have to search.

      • JulioZuleta

        No, I can’t find anything saying he has. Actually on milb.com it still says Daytona Cubs. So much secrecy.

  • Serio

    I thought Samardzija looked gassssed

  • JR

    Hmm, isn’t that what he said when he got rocked in that spring training game what, three starts ago? I actually thought he looked fine in the first couple innings against a very good lineup and I have to admit that although still a sceptic of his ability to keep his mental and emotional game in check, his command seems fine.

    What concerns me is that whenever he feels overconfident, or pressured (like runners on base, like a big inning), he’s going to keep reverting to this overthrowing fastballs over the middle mode. It’s not clear whether the St. Louis lineup would have had him figured out, by then, anyway or if that inning had more to do with him panicking and/or being overly aggressive in that I’m-going-to-overpower-you-with-my-fastball mode. I would love to know what he and Soto talked about that inning and whether maybe he felt more comfortable throwing to Clevenger, who I think caught him last week.

    Anyway, it’s weird that he seems to really understand that about himself — he’s said it now twice in the span of a few weeks — yet didn’t rein himself in yesterday. So far he’s had one game where his pitches were great and one game where his offense was great. I’ll be interested to see how he fares in games where he has to grind it out, get out of jams, etc. on a day where everything is not working.

    • Sinnycal

      He also had an early 9 run cushion. That could’ve had something to do with reverting to fastball-mode.

  • Kyle

    On Samardzija, I’m still convinced he was just out of gas. After about 80 pitches, he lost command of his fastball, left it up, and lost a little velocity. That’s all a good sign that he was tired. Probably shouldn’t have let him throw that extra inning in his last start. He also got BABIPed a bit, the peripherals are still excellent.

    On Baez, I understand that a lot of people disagree, but I think it’s awesome. It frequently takes a certain kind of jerkishness to be an elite athlete. They are taught to cover it up with a false front, but I’m not convinced that really makes them better.

    I’m reminded of the story of Pete Rose turning to a teammate on a turbulent flight and saying (from memory, so may not be the exact quote): “We’re going down. We’re going to die and I’m taking a .300 lifetime batting average with me. What do you have?”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      And I’m reminded of Paul O’Neil.

    • David

      I’m with Kyle. Love the swag. If nothing else, it’s additional entertainment.

  • Sinnycal

    Man, Cabrera let me down, too. Although I was surprised to see how far down the pack I was even with a grand slam from LaHair and a 1-hit complete game shutout from Cain.

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    If you don’t wanna be shown up, don’t give up a homerun. The reason people loved Michael Jordan is, he would talk trash to you while ha was destroying you. I could care less about him showing up the other team. In fact, I like it. Like Terrell Owens said, “Shut me down and I can’t show you up.” The Angles coach was out of line.

    However, when you hit a ball, you run hard until you see it go over the fence. Hustle come before anything. Once you see its gone, you can celebrate all you want. I’m more concerned about the hustle, then showing a team up.

  • Stuart Williams

    Great starting pitching. A little tired by the 5th inning, understandable.

    The Garza saga may be setting up for a trade by the deadline. The Cubs need depth of talent in a big way and should be sellers come trade deadline. Dempster is gone after this year and if Garza is ace-like, he should bring a haul.

    Thoughts?

    • nkniacc13

      Be interesting to see what they can get for him if they trade him. I wonder if Dempster would agree to a trade if they would send him to a WS contender. I really hope they can get something of value for Soto and Byrd. I also wonder if Baker or DeWitt would generate any interest even a low level minor league flyer

    • JustSwain

      I’d love to see the Cubs bring Dempster back on a club friendly contract, and I’m apt to think he might accept it. He might end up near the bottom of their rotation next year, but he’s still got ML stuff. If he can’t make the rotation he’s already proven he’s a pretty effective reliever as well. If he wants the big bucks, let him walk.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    The coach for the Angels was way out of line. He showed the kid up and tried to embarass him by yelling from the dugout if that how it went down.Good for the Baez kid for standing his ground. You trying to tell me that major league hitters don’t stand and watch their homeruns. Bobby Valentine does this kind of baloney trash talk from the dugout all the time, it is why he is universally hated in baseball.

    • nkniacc13

      First of all major leaguers that tend to stan have earned that right even thou its showing off. Second why not buzz the kid or the next batter to show that you didn’t like it. That’s how some of that was dealt with back in the golden years of baseball.

      • rcleven

        The old way to cure a batter from showing up another team was to stick a ball in his ear the next time he came to the plate.

        • JulioZuleta

          Or pitch better. But seriously, they should promote him. It’s gotta be difficult for a cocky kid to stay modest when he’s sluggin 3.000 or whatever it is. He needs to go to Peoria at least. Realistically, I think he’d be fine at Daytona after a short adjustment period.

          • nkniacc13

            I hope he goes to Boise atleast

  • Gregb

    Anyone know where i can catch the game im in houston and i thought it was on fox but the stupid ass rangers are on instead any advice whould be appreciated thanks

    • NoSup4u

      check out the link i posted above

  • mjhurdle

    Thanks for the contest Brett. Now to go snag that Ryne Sandberg Cooperstown jersey in time to wear to the game Sunday!

  • Mike

    When is the next fantasy contest?

  • BN”Legs”

    Well, there goes Sveum’s rather flimsy reasoning for batting Stewart and LaHair back to back. 8th inning with 2 on and 2 out, down by 4 and he is leaving Stewart in there to face the new lefty? Where is Baker if this is his reasoning?????

  • Tyler

    So Sveum had the chance to put Baker in to pitch hit and didn’t? That lefty lefty explanation doesn’t make sense now

    • BN”Legs”

      Exactly. Men on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out and when Soriano struck out (he actually had a nice 10+ pitch AB), the Cards brought in the lefty to face Stewart and LaHair. Sveum kept Stewart in to bat instead of Baker. I guess there must be another reason but for the life of me I don’t know why Sveum just wont bat LaHair, Soriano, Stewart 4,5,6 to break up the lefties.

  • Dave

    The Angels coach had every right to say what he did. A player that young needs to learn to respect the game.
    I don’t see that type of attitude being the type of player Theo
    Is looking for.

    • JustSwain

      I agree Dave. It shows a lack of character in Baez. Guys without character tend to show less respect for the game. Less respect for the game means players who are less likely to do the little things well, and players who are more likely to come into spring training over weight and out of shape. If I were managing, he’d be benched the next day for swearing at a opposing coach, (unless he offered to apologize). If he did it again, demotion, if he did it again, trade him for whatever you can get for him. He’s only 19, he needs to be taught that talent isn’t a adequate replacement for character.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        But those are your definitions of “character” and “respect,” and your ad hoc associations between conditioning and respect.  And there is no association between “respect” and doing “little things”: and there is no association (if not a negative one) between doing little things and winning.

        Is it classy?  No.  Will standing there staring at HR help his team win?  Yes: because HR win games, whereas none of these other things do.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          When you’re talking about the long-term development of an 18/19/20-year-old prospect, I think promoting a “respect for the game” (even within a broad range of definitions) is going to help the organization win games, however few. I’d hazard a guess that the flameout rate for uber prospects with good/respectful attitudes is slightly lower than the flameout rate for uber prospects with bad/disrespectful attitudes.

          This is not in reference to Baez, specifically, who may or may not have a great attitude. I’m just speaking generally.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Perhaps.  However, the “but for a nail in the horses shoe” litanies never fail to set me off!

        • JustSwain

          I wasn’t claiming to make a statistically viable argument backed up with scientific fact, and I am aware that the terms I used were subjective. What I was referring to comes from my anecdotal evidence from watching 20 years of baseball. The only “proof” that I have is that the Minnesota Twins have been competitive in the AL central for decades despite having a very small payroll. Part of what they promote in their minor leagues is a team ethic, and players violating it are benched, fined, or even traded (yes, they also have one of the best scouting and player development systems as well, I know). My point was actually more about the fact that he is a young enough player that he still needs to be taught how to act. He just plain hasn’t learned yet, so if you come down on him hard, you are sending him a message about expectations. I said very specifically that this is what *I* would do as a coach, because it is how *I* feel about it, so I’m not quite sure what you were responding to or why. What does it cost a team to demand that its players show respect for the game and their opponents? HRs? Where is the statistical analysis to back that up?

          • DocPeterWimsey

            “Where is the statistical analysis to back that up?”

            How about 65-21 so far this year?  (This 75% rate is completely in line with last season, too.)

            And the Twins succeeded on their small payroll by consistently outslugging their opposition, especially in the ALC.  The primary mistake that people make when looking at teams like the Twins and Rays is looking at the Team Batting stats and seeing that they rank towards the middle.  However, the issue was not the Twins outscoring the Yankees or the Sox except in those small number of games they played against those two teams.  It was about the Twins outscoring their opposition on any given night: and the Twins routinely hit more HR and doubles/triples and took more walks than they allowed.  (There was the myth of the Twins fielding, but that their range stats actually were unimpressive.)

            Ultimately, I don’t care about codes of conduct.  I watched the 1970’s A’s, Reds and Yankees, the 1980’s Mets and Cards, etc, where one-upmanship was the norm and “stay out of jail” seemed to be the code of conduct.

            • JustSwain

              Perhaps I didn’t express myself correctly, I was asking what it cost to ask players to play the game with some respect. HRs was a hypothetical response to my own question. I was asking if you had statistics to back up the fact that asking players to play the game with respect cost a team home runs. But thank you for pointing out to me that Home Runs help win ballgames, that was not at all obvious.

              A little bit of one-upmanship in the majors is acceptable, a 19 year old telling a coach he can do what the F- he wants, and then posturing for a fight is not. If its a single episode who cares, but if it continues…what does this say to his teammates? His coaches? We have Baez when he is young. The way his coaches handle him off the field can be the difference between club-house cheerleader, or club-house cancer. The Cubs are currently paying a guy 18 million dollars to play for another team because of how he acted towards the game of baseball in general. It should be pretty obvious, even for a statistics hound, that it is not beneficial to players to allow them to act any way they want, and its certainly not beneficial to the team. And speaking of those 80s Mets, heck yeah, who cares if one of the youngest players ever to win the Cy Young was addicted to Cocaine, and never regained dominance after ’85. That clubhouse was doing just great, who needs accountability?

  • ferrets_bueller

    Hilarious typo: “I would suck to have to watch”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Took a while.

  • EvenBetterNews

    Must have been a hell of a shot to stare it down that early… Angels coach is just pissed he doesn’t have an 18 year old hitting bombs like that.

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