Theo and Jed Speak: Trade Season, Cubs Performance, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Rudy Jaramillo

Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein made himself available to the media yesterday, as he does from time to time, to address a number of pressing issues, the most obvious of which was the firing of hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. But, while he was answering questions, Epstein was asked about a great many things, including the organization’s plans for the next month and a half.

  • On the upcoming trade season: “It’s true that once the Draft is over with, there seems to be more of a focus on the trade market. There are more phone calls being made now than 10 days ago. Certainly, that’s something we’ll evaluate. We’re in a position where any opportunity to get better, any opportunity to improve our future is something we have to take seriously, even if it means making difficult decisions about the product that we’re putting on the field right now.” In other words, it’s time to start selling off pieces.
  • A bit more on that point: “The reality of the game is that trades are made in June and July, and if didn’t fully investigate and execute [moves] that made sense, we would be doing a disservice to the organization.” Buckle up.
  • On making a change at hitting coach: “Rudy’s not to blame for the results. That’s something we’re all accountable for. We put the roster together. It’s probably more on us than it is on him. I’m sure a lot of players feel accountable, too. It’s not based on results, it’s more trying to get a new voice with a new message. We have a certain hitting philosophy we believe in and we have a lot of growth that awaits us as an organization …. If you’re going to embrace a new message, you need a new voice to go with it. Rudy is so good with the mechanics of the swing. He’s excellent at that. I think sometimes it can be hard to shift into more of an emphasis on an approach, the mental side of hitting and other things we’re trying to emphasize. It just seemed like the appropriate time to make a decision …. It’s more emphasis than anything else. Rudy might be the best in the world at the mechanics of the swing. We’re trying to get to the point where we have a game plan for our hitters, emphasizing selective aggressiveness at the plate …. The goal is to get your pitch in your count so you can put an aggressive swing on the ball so you can drive it. We’re not asking our hitters to walk, we’re asking our hitters to make sure they’re selective enough to get a good pitch to hit so they can be aggressive.”
  • What I’ve gathered about the philosophical difference is something like this – while both Epstein and Jaramillo are into “selective aggressiveness,” Jaramillo views that as ripping at the first good pitch you see, and Epstein views it as working the count to your favor so that you’re more likely to see that “good pitch.” It’s a subtle difference, but in a game of inches, it’s plenty of difference to make a change.
  • Epstein has said that interim hitting coach James Rowson will have the job through the end of this season, at which time the Cubs will evaluate where they think things stand.
  • On the Cubs’ record losing pace: “I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about that. I’m more focused on where we’re going, how we’re going to get there, and yes, how fast we’re going to get there. But when you focus too much on how fast, sometimes you make compromises with exactly how you’re going to get there.”
  • On top Draft pick Albert Almora’s comments that he’s focused on going to college: “He’s a great student and worked hard to get that full ride to a prestigious university, and he does have options. They should fully examine them. But the key is he loves baseball, too. We’ll sit down and talk about them.” I don’t think Epstein is too worried. He added that the Cubs have, indeed, signed a number of draft picks, which signings will be announced after physicals and paperwork are complete.
  • On the reported Jorge Soler signing: “I saw those reports. I can’t really address anything until it’s official, and in this case, there’s usually a process where there’s an agreement and a term sheet and then there’s a immigration process in getting visas and then there’s a physical and once the physical is done, the signing can be official.” It sounds like it could be a week or so before things are finalized, which is convenient for the Cubs, who have to open up a 40-man roster spot anyway.

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer also shared his thoughts on the Jaramillo move, as well as the plans for the trade season.

  • On Jaramillo’s departure: “Rudy’s a great guy, he works incredibly hard. But our approach at the plate is not what we want. A lot of first-pitch swings, not a lot of deep counts, not a high on-base percentage. Rudy’s great at the mechanical part, we want someone to talk about the approach.”
  • On the Cubs’ performance to date, and how it might impact midseason moves: “From a pitching standpoint, we haven’t thrown strikes well enough yet. We’ve done a pretty good job of that in the rotation, but our bullpen has walked too many guys. We need more power arms that throw strikes. Everyone in baseball needs those guys, but we need a bunch of them and that’s something we’re going to be looking for.”

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

117 responses to “Theo and Jed Speak: Trade Season, Cubs Performance, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Rudy Jaramillo”

  1. Leroy K

    So do we make the big moves now? or wait till the offseason. Sveum wants action done now, but I don’t see us being really big on getting anyone by the 31st. I think this will be more in the offseason than now. Right?

    1. Luke

      There are some players on the Cubs who stand to have more value now than in the off season due to the needs of teams who are in pennant races.  I think the Cubs will do plenty of dealing in the next six weeks or so.

    2. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      We aren’t “adding” impact major league level players during this season. It is about to be a firesale, and we may be the most active team. We should have an over/under on how many players actually get moved. I am thinking 6 moves at this point. I think Lahair, Soriano, Dempster, Garza, Marmol, and Dejesus are leaving. We will eat a lot of money there. If you guys think the lineup is bad now, wait until August 1.

      1. CubsFanNYC

        I’ll put it at 5. Have doubts that we’ll find perfect offers for both Garza and LaHair (both of whom I think we’re wiser to not sell without a strong offer). But I think one of them will go, and though Marmol and DeJesus may not be the two bit players we ship out, wouldn’t be surprised to see a pair of Camp, Johnson, or Baker (or either of Marmol/DeJesus) gone as part of a package or moved for some low-A/high-risk prospect to a team in need of a small-part veteran.

      2. Dustin S

        I would agree the record could get worse (as hard as that is to imagine) before it will get better once the vets are traded. But, it will be better baseball to watch when it is youth working towards 2013/2014. So that’s what I’m looking forward to.

        Really when you take a big step back, it’s hard to say that this season isn’t going well according to the longer-term rebuild plan for the most part. Soriano and Dempster are producing better than anyone expected, so we should get at least a little value back. Rizzo is tearing it up, and wasn’t going to be up sooner anyway. LaHair has been far better than I think anyone imagined. The negatives to be honest are more minor, Volstad and Stewart were kind of longshots. Travis Wood has been better lately. Regardless of how well Zambrano has done in Miami he wasn’t part of the long-term plan. No one expected too much from Marmol. We all knew the record would be bad and the losses would be painful, but in the end this is just part of the pain to get to where this team needs to be.

        1. cjdubbya

          Good call. I think the calling card from this past offseason that I read a bunch was “low-risk, high-upside” in regards to the roster and acquisitions, all with the eye toward building for the future with a legit, actual plan in place other than “throw elite dollars at average to above-average talent”.

      3. Dave

        I don’t see the upside of trading all those guys. Other then Garza you won’t get much back in return.
        Do the Cubs really need to move guys just to get back other teams question marks?

        1. Kyle

          A question mark is more valuable than nothing, which is what most of these guys are worth to the Cubs. They aren’t long-term assets and the Cubs have no short-term hopes.

        2. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

          It isn’t just moving players for the sake of it. They are going to move players that are either A) Going to bring back something of value or B) Blocking someone who will help the team going forward. That is what this season is about. The trading deadline and the draft were the only things this FO was looking forward to this year. I guess I don’t understand why anyone would question the FO for looking to blow up the worst team in baseball. The product on the field isn’t young, so there is no upside right now. I guess I don’t see the value of keeping this team in tact, or why anyone would think that is a good idea. We need more high impact talent in the minors. I think we have a solid enough core of position players, but we need pitchers.

  2. ibcnu2222 (John)

    Luke, Who all will they trade? (Best case scenario)

    1. Luke

      Everyone on the current roster that does not fit into the long term plans for the team and that they can get a package they like in exchange.

      Guys like Castro and Samardzija are probably more likely to stay (but could still go).  Barney and Clevenger add plenty of good, cost controlled value.  Russell is probably a keeper.  Etc.

    2. Norm

      Dempster, Garza, Soto, LaHair, DeJesus, Soriano, Russell, Marmol, Maholm….be nice to get rid of all of them.

  3. ibcnu2222 (John)

    Also, Who should they target in the offseason? (free agents)

    1. Luke

      Let’s see what the roster looks like when we get to the off season first.

      1. ibcnu2222 (John)

        Could we afford Hamels and Greinke? I would like to see Hamels, Greinke, Samardzija, Jacob Turner(Garza trade), and random fifth guy.

        1. Kyle

          We definitely *could* afford both. The question is whether we want to.

          1. CubsFanNYC

            The answer is we would not want to.

        2. Colin

          Sadly as much as most of us would love to have those guys its just too much money for the front office for just two guys. Cubs probably wont be big spenders like that for a while.

          1. Luke

            I don’t see why.  If the players the Cubs want are on the market, and the Cubs look to have $90 million or so in payroll to spend, I don’t think they’ll sit on their hands.

            The only question is whether or not the players the Cubs want will be on the market.  In the case of Hamels and Greinke that question probably has more to do with age, stuff, how that stuff is likely to play in Wrigley, durability, and related concerns than it does with their salary.

          2. Kyle

            Because Epstein has a history of being afraid of big contracts?

            1. Myles

              At first I didn’t read you sarcasm

    2. Noah

      I’d say this: at the extremes there are two philosophies regarding picking up free agents. One is always sign them, no matter where your team is at. For example, the Rockies picking up Michael Cuddyer for some serious (although not star quality) cash. The Rockies needed so much to go right to compete this year considering how awful their pitching is, that it was a silly signing. The other side says never sign anyone to a big deal until you are ready to compete.

      I think there is a clear middle ground, and that what really matters is who the free agent is. There is one type of free agent that is extremely rare: the under 30 truly elite player. And this season, barring extensions being signed, there will be two pitchers who fit that bill: Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke. And Anibal Sanchez isn’t far behind them and won’t turn 29 until after pitchers and catchers report next season.

      Those guys come along so rarely (the last under 30 pitcher to hit free agency with a similar resume was C.C. Sabathia after 2008), that I think you have to take your shot at them when they are available. However, I’d avoid anyone lesser than that looking for big money. I would not want the Cubs to get involved in discussions for Hunter Pence or, for another example, Andre Ethier had he not extended with the Dodgers. Both are very good players, but aren’t game changers. They’re nice additions to make an already good (or at least pretty good) team better, but they won’t make a bad team good.

  4. Kyle

    I love listening to Theo Epstein talk about baseball. He just has a way with words. If it were me, instead of that speech about the future and getting to where we are going, I’d just say “Holy balls, we are having such an epic fire sale” or something. Because that’s what he means.

    Really looking forward to the trade deadline. I expect a lot of Cubs activity, albeit of the dumping variety. Dempster’s obviously gone, I’m 90% sure they’ll find a taker for Soriano. LaHair and Garza will be more interesting. Either could realistically be pieces for 2013 and 2014, so there’s no pressing need to dump them. But at the same time, the return for either should make it more than worth it, so I’m guessing they’ll both find new homes.

    Either way, after this season, the front office will have as blank of a canvas as they could possibly ask for. Assuming Soler’s contract is structured logically (signing bonus this year, small salaries for the next few years, escalating in the final years) and we get a couple of million in salary relief for Soriano, we’ll be entering the offseason with less than $35 million committed for 2013.

  5. MightyBear

    Good thing is although the lineup and pitching staff may be “bad” August 1, it will be full of kids. Kids that we can see who has what and what needs to be done in the future. By September 30, the new regime will know what it has from top to bottom.

    1. Kyle

      Unless there’s someone picked up in a trade, I expect the only kid we’ll see in the lineup in August is Rizzo. Jackson will probably get a September call-up, but I wouldn’t expect him to play a ton. Same for Vitters.

      Mostly, we’ll just have lots of cheap veteran organizational filler.

      1. Luke

        Rizzo should be up in August.

        If Soriano is moved, Sappelt may come up as well.

        1. Kyle

          Oops, fixed. Meant Rizzo and typed Vitters for some reason. Rizzo is the only kid ready to be given a spot in the lineup. The rest could use more AAA time for their own sakes.

          Sappelt isn’t even hitting at AAA. I was pretty excited about him going into the season, but I’m willing to write him off as organizational filler/fouth outfielder at this point.

          1. cubs1967

            Bjax will be up by August; he needs to play. Saffelt………….please; part of the disaster known as the gift to the Reds in the form of sean marshall; he’ll never make a opening day roster in chicago………that was team theo bad trade #1.

            1. Njriv

              His name is SaPPelt, and he was never meant to be more than is a 4th Outfielder at best.

            2. MichiganGoat

              Wait, you didn’t like the Marshall trade… I never knew that.

              1. TWC

                Come ON, MG — if we still had Marshall, we’d be like 22-39!

                1. hansman1982

                  you are not giving him credit – bare minimum of 23-38, plus Wood would not have had to retire, Jaramillo wouldn’t have lost his job and Wrigely would have been refurbished by now with 2 Triangle Buidlings.

            3. Twinkletoez

              The main parts of that trade were Travis Wood and Ronald Torreyes so Sapplett being a 4th OF is fine with me.

              Trading a 30 year old RP who’s contract is up at the end of the year and wasn’t going to be resigned for a quality young arm, a B graded 2nd base prospect and a 4th OF and this is a bad trade by Theo?

              1. Drew7

                No sense in arguing with him about that trade.

            4. Kyle

              BJax needs to prove that he’s not completely overmatched by AAA pitchers before he thinks about going up to the majors.

              His K-rate is up to 32% in AAA. It wouldn’t be fair to bring him up right now, major league pitchers would own him and wreck his confidence.

            5. Norm

              Jackson is on pace for 197 strikeouts over a 650 plate appearance season. Against AAA pitching. He doesn’t need to play in Chicago at all.

    2. Edwin

      There don’t seem to be any exciting kids to put in the starting rotation. Trey McNutt is looking like future relief pitcher. The only other pitchers available profile as back of the rotation starters. I think the 3 most likely replacement starters right now are Volstad, Wells, and Coleman. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

      As far as position players go, I don’t see much other than Rizzo and Jackson.

      1. Kyle

        I can’t remember who said it the other day, but they were right: We might be a top-5 organization in terms of position prospects, and bottom-5 in terms of pitching.

        1. Edwin

          Also, if you want to label our top position prospects as Rizzo, Jackson, Soler, Baez, and Almora, 3 of those players are all 4-6 years away from making an impact.

      2. Twinkletoez

        I might add Vitters to that list, he really seems to have turned the corner. He has always done good, got moved up then struggled, made adjustments did good, got moved up and struggled, rinse and repeat all the way up the ladder. He started out struggling at Iowa early but has been much improved since mid May. I think he will be a Sept call up with a chance to make the team next season.

  6. MightyBear

    Dempster is gone for sure. Maybe Garza, LaHair, DeJesus, Baker and Reed Johnson. Hopefully Soriano and Marmol.

  7. ETS

    [rant] I always hated the saying game of inches. First of all, all sports are games of inches and secondly, it’s not a game of inches. So a ball can be fair or foul by an inch and a swing can be just late enough that the ball is missed by an inch. A better saying would be its a game of infinitesimally small units of distance and time, but that just sounds dumb. [/rant]

    1. Stinky Pete

      There is a wonderful short story by WP Kinsella about a traveling baseball team that roams about and challenges townball teams. The guy would roll into town the day before, make bets and trash talk. Then, in the middle of the night, he would “move” the pitchers mound and rubber about 4 inches away from the plate. He was conditioned to throw from that distance. The home team pitcher would not be. He would roll out of town in his Caddy with shovels and pick axes in the trunk and a big wad of cash in his pocket. Fun story.

  8. cubfanincardinalland

    Finally the Cubs are addressing the ridiculous at bats many of their players have been taking. Last nights game showed perfectly how reluctant many of the umpires are to call hitters out on a third strike. Ask Malholm about last night. The good teams and best hitters take advantage of this. See Joey Votto. You have to grind out at bats and wear down pitchers.
    The next step is the hitting coach must get them to adjust to hitting with two strikes. That was foreign to Rudy. Always thought it was kind of wierd how he got so much credit for hall of fame type hitters like Bagwell, as though they were not any good without him.

  9. Vladimir

    Can anyone remember in the last 5 years or so, in years like this where we were obviously out of it. That we actually took advantage of that situation by selling off players? Even in years where we were 8-10 games out of it Hendry NEVER had anything close to a firesale. And it angered me to no end because we did have some guys that could have brought in some good trades. It always felt like staying with status quo. And sometimes you just need to make drastic changes. Thank GOD we finally have people who understand that and are finally doing it.

    1. Colin

      Partially Hendrys fault and partially we finally have manageable salaries to move people. Could argue Pena and Aramis could have been moved last year but would the value have been equal to the supplemental picks we got from them anyway?

      Then Lilly/Theriot and Lee trades were a joke though. This is definitely a nice change.

      The best part about last year that I remember was saying that guys like Jeff Baker and some other role player were untouchable…Not that Baker would have brought back much but it would clear a spot for a cheaper players like Valbuena to sit on the bench. Baker is making 1.3 mil so little savings still help for the same production.

      1. Diesel

        Don’t forget the no trade clauses that hendry passed out like Halloween candy.

        1. notcubbiewubbie

          yea somebody that can see the forest from the trees. jimhendry starring in ” man in over his head”.

        2. Chris

          Soriano got a no-trade clause, but most of the other guys, Lee, Ramirez, Dempster, etc. were 10 and 5 guys (10 years in majors, 5 with same team.) The no-trade protection is not part of contracts that Hendry gave these guys, it’s part of the CBA rules. Please don’t accuse me of defending Hendry, but many people get this one wrong, factually speaking.

          1. notcubbiewubbie

            not to argue but i believe u r mistaking both dempster and our good buddy aramhole had total no trade clauses in their contracts.

            1. Drew7

              I dont think so…both are/were 10 and 5 guys

            2. Colin

              You can just look at their stats. Both were 10-5 so even if they got a NTC in their contracts it wouldn’t have mattered. Considering I forgot that Aramis was looking at Carlos Beltran money but he actually took less to stay in Chicago. Then we gave Soriano stupid money…oh well.

              1. Edwin

                Also, I’d say that when you give a player a contract that large, a NTC is irrelevant. A team normally doesn’t sign a player to a long term contract, and then try and trade the player right away. And by the end of the contract, when it makes more sense for the team to trade the player, the player usually has 10/5 rights anyways. Also, by the time the team would look to trade the player, the player is probably on the wrong side of the contract anyways, so it’s more the contract that will hold up a deal, and less the NTC. Most of the time players end up agreeing to wave NTC’s anyways.

                It’s hard to see how No Trade Clauses have hurt the team.

              2. Edwin

                Soriano probably came way closer to living up to his deal than could have been expected. Fangraphs loves his defense just a little too much, but so far this season he’s on pace for a 3 win season. At about $5 mil per win, he should be worth about $15 million, that’s close to what he’s being paid, isn’t it?

                1. Kyle

                  If his deal ended at the end of this season, it wouldn’t be so bad. You got a star during the 07-08 division title runs, and you paid for it on the back end with an okay but overpaid player the last few years.

                  But when you look up and realize they still have two more years, it looks a lot worse.

                  1. Edwin

                    That, and Fangraphs might be valueing his defense too highly. If you take value away from defense it looks much worse.

                    Either way, I think he’s one of the few $100 million contract players who was worth more in his first 3 or 4 years after signing the contract than the 3 or 4 years before he signed the contract.

  10. stu

    To be good at anything you have to practice, practice, practice.

    The best writers write at least 2000 words per day.

    The best golfers swing hundreds of time every day.

    The best baseball player in history, Ted Williams, would take batting practice after going 4 for 4.

    Is it really that hard to understand that if you want to be the best hitter possible, you need to swing the bat 100′s of times daily. Also, breakdown every pitch to learn, should I swing or not? Do that 100′s of time daily.

    I believe that there is no way not to improve outcomes if you go crazy with this mentality. Look at Jose Bautista. I believe it is a philosophy called Outliers.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      “Also, breakdown every pitch to learn, should I swing or not? Do that 100′s of time daily.”

      How does one do that?  That is something you really can do only with live pitching: not even BP pitching works there.

      Practice is fine for honing your skills.  However, it can only hone: you cannot create skill simply by practice.

      1. Scotti

        I believe Stu was refering to a book by Gladwell that referenced the development of neural pathways needing roughly 10k hours. It doesn’t matter if you’re Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods or Ted Williams–if you want to be the best that you can be then you need to put away the Iverson playbook and practice (that said the Cubs DO practice).

        To your point, Doc, practice should be game speed. The NFL has figured this out. So did Jordan. Even the Cubs know that Starlin Castro should take grounders with game intensity. Yet we–and all other professional teams–have 60-year-old men throwing BP. BP should be progressive. Some at 60%, some 75%, 90%, 100% and even 105-115% (with former minor league pitchers providing the 90-100% and machines the faster BP).

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Well, this comes back to the issue of the extent to which pitch recognition can be improved.  The old school belief that all batters improve upon it over time simply is not born out by the data.  If there is a way to teach it, nobody has discovered it.  It is possible that players can improve upon it: but the only time you get to “practice” estimating where a pitch is going to wind up when it is less than 10′ from a pitcher’s hand is during the game itself.

          1. Scotti

            That is why game speed practice is needed. Football does this. So does basketball and hockey. Only baseball hitters practice at 60% speed and call it a day. Even pitchers crank it out in their bullpen sessions.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              Right, but who is going to pitch live action BP?  PItchers are working on particular pitches in their sessions: they don’t use sequences tailored to individual batters. Moreover, their throwing sessions would only cover a couple of guys.

              I agree that it would be nice: but the logistics are tough to work out.

    2. Edwin

      (cue mandatory Allen Iverson video)

    3. Edwin

      Also, I googled this Outlier philosophy of yours, and it led me to a clothing store. SuperBummer.

      1. Scotti

        Google Malcolm Gladwell–Outliers. That is just the name of his book which covers how “outliers” in society (the really successful among us) became so. The theory of 10k hours needed for mastery (and development of neural pathways) is not his but his book brought it to the public mind.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Oh, I heard about that.  If it is the work I think that it is, then it is statistically bogus.  What it did was find the common traits of successful people and drew correlation.  What it needed to do was to look at people with those traits and assess what proportion of them succeed.  A couple of studies doing that have shown that for every “success” story associated with hard work, etc., there are multiple failures.  It might be necessary, but it is not sufficient.

          1. hansman1982

            Id challenge you to find someone who has succeeded in some aspect of life by loafing around and taking the easy way of doing it…

            1. Edwin

              Paris Hilton. What do I win?

              1. Cubbie Blues

                Paris Hilton

                1. Edwin


              2. Scotti

                The better answer is Iverson. But the better qustion is Who would not become better with 10k hours of dedicated practice? Methinks even Paris Hilton would be better at whatever it is that she does with more dedicated practice.

                1. JoeyCollins

                  How do I sign up for 10k hours of helping Paris Hilton make sex tapes, flash her vag, and get drunk?

                  1. Leroy K.

                    Hey, I’d help with that!

            2. TWC

              Why would you challenge him to do that?  Doc didn’t suggest anything of the sort.  He said “for every “success” story associated with hard work, etc., there are multiple failures.”  He didn’t say anything about the folly of hard work.

              1. DocPeterWimsey

                Hence the distinction between “necessary” and “sufficient.”  But lots of loafers succeed quite nicely, too: they just succeed on other people’s merits (e.g., Daddy!) rather than their own.

                Baseball is not such a case.  The Cubs might have drafted Dale Sveum’s son as a courtesy, but he won’t make the big leagues with his last name.

            3. Edwin

              Pedro Soria Lopez. Dude literally won a napping contest.

              1. DocPeterWimsey

                Damn, if I’d been able to enter any time before my son turned 1, I would have kicked his butt.  (Of course, they might have declared me a cheater for falling into a coma….)

            4. MichiganGoat

              John Kruk he basically worked on his swing with a hamburger in one hand

              1. Edwin

                I like to think he worked on his hamburger with a bat in one hand.

            5. Edwin

              Sports bloggers.

          2. Scotti

            You don’t seem to be referencing the same work. The point behind Outliers is that the “selfmade man” (i.e. harder worker) doesn’t exist. The 10k “rule” that he references, however, is taken from numerous fields of study.

            BTW, to conduct the study that you seem to propose you would need to both quantify and qualify the truely gifted first and THEN track them over years. Can’t imagine that ever being done simply because of how society defines gifted. All Gladwell did was take who we consider to be the gifted among us and reverse engineer their careers (perfectly legitimate).

            1. TWC

              Of course, Malcolm Gladwell is a well-documented (and admitted) corporate shill, so who knows why ($$$) he came to those conclusions.

              1. Scotti

                One would think that a corporate shill would conclude the exact opposite (i.e. corporate bosses are self-made). Instead he concluded that it is more when and where you are born that gives you the opportunity to spend 10k hours mastering a skill. But just maybe the corporate bosses decided they don’t like being known as self-made, hard workers…

            2. SirCub

              He did look at a study of the gifted. Lewis Terman did all kinds of crazy IQ testing in the 1920s, and kept tabs on the most gifted kids throughout their lives. Gladwell talks about how, basically, all of the poor kids didn’t really become succesful even though they were geniuses.

          3. SirCub

            Actually, that is outlined clearly in the book. They go through many case studies showing that it is the opportunities the people are presented with that separated them from the rest of the pack, and allowed them to be succesful. The 10k hours just prepares you to take advantage of the opportunity, but it only gets you half way. They work really hard, and get really lucky.

            1. Scotti

              Gladwell is very explicit that the notion of a self-made man does not exist. He also points out that the 10k hours is often, if not always, the opportunity itself (not what allows you to take advantage of the opportunity).

              Think of the NHL. The kids born in a certain area (cold) and during a certain month (youth all star selection) have the opportunity to skate 10k hours. THAT’S the opportunity.

              1. DocPeterWimsey

                heh, this is nothing that evolutionary biologists have not known for decades.  We call it “contingency.”

                At any rate, the thought of getting in 0.5K hours to devote to one thing seems like a dream to me!  (If I cannot finish a project in less time than that, then I am Grumpy, not Doc…..)

  11. Edwin

    As much as a fire sale seems to be the way to go, it’s still depressing to watch. The Cubs are very boring right now.

    I really hope the Cubs make some big signings in the off season. Josh Hamilton, David Wright, Cole Hamels, any of those guys would be great.

    1. Chris

      I hate to break it to you, but they won’t be signing Hamilton, Wright, or Hamels next year. This should have been done in 2010, but Hendry tried to put bandaids on the problem rather than pull the trigger on a rebuild. With all the money they ate this season, and the money they’ll most likely eat on Soriano’s contract when they do finally move him, they won’t be big players in the free agent market next year. Realistically, they would be lucky to be .500 next season, and I really don’t think they will be. If anything, they’ll plug short-term holes in the ML roster with guys like Maholm and DeJesus, and continue to build the farm system. If Samardzija doesn’t show consistency, I expect he’ll be another guy they move next year. It’s hard to foresee them moving a 23 year old SS that led the league in hits last year, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Castro gets moved too in 2013. Maybe if the prospects close to the majors and guys acquired in trades the next two years help to build a foundation, I could see Theo and Jed spending money in 2014. But I would put money more on 2015. I’ve been a fan for 27 years myself, but I’m ready for a true firesale and reloading of the farm system. They’ve never done this before, and while I don’t like the losing, it’s the right thing to do. Here’s some advice… Get the MILB package and watch the minor league games. Not a complete substitute, but it might give you some hope for things to come.

      1. TWC

        “…I’m ready for a true firesale and reloading of the farm system. They’ve never done this before, and while I don’t like the losing, it’s the right thing to do.”

        Of course, it’s never worked. But why not, huh?

      2. CubsFanNYC

        I agree with you, although I wonder if Wright might not be more likely than we think. He’s not that old, and he profiles as the kind of hitter who will age well, a Wade Boggs type. We need a 3b and the market is thin, and a rebuilding team needs some amount of veteran presence. He’ll be priced above his value, and his injury history is a concern, but I don’t think it would be completely out of character for the FO to make a run at him. That assumes, though, that the Mets don’t lock him down (which they’ll most likely do if they stay in contention through August).

      3. Ted

        I’m with you that we’re unlikely to make any big splashes this off-season. That said, Wright might have better odds than you’re letting on. He’s one of the few good players at his position period, let alone on the market in the next few years. Barring injury concerns, he profiles as a hitter who should age well, a Wade Boggs type who can be an OBP presence for a long time. Although he’ll probably go for above what he’s worth, a rebuilding team needs some veteran presence and Wright could be that guy.
        Do I think it’s likely? No. But we do have money that really shouldn’t be going to any pitchers and few other veteran position players can provide the leadership and graceful aging that I think Wright can. I wouldn’t be flummoxed if he ended up on the North Side.

  12. stu

    I just look at what a ballplayer has control over, how much he works at maximizing his skills.

    Look at Soriano. He will never be a gold glover, but he has put in a ton of work in the outfield and what do you know, he is probably average now.

    Also, why has it taken him 2 months to start hitting? Could it be that after so many at bats, he is hitting a groove? Why can’t that time frame be shortened with a larger quantity of swings earlier in the year?

    I just think that most hitters can add 10 to 20 points to their averages by developing an obsession with practice. But I guess that’s what separates good from average, great from good. You probably either have it or you don’t.

    But if I were paid millions to play baseball, you couldn’t keep me away from field.

    1. Chris

      He started hitting when he dropped his pride and picked up a lighter bat.

      1. Drew7

        I’m not sure I buy into that as being the main reason he started hitting. The guy has had streaks just like this one (and better) every year since he’s been a Cub.

        That also leads into another flaw in Stu’s argument: If more swings early in the year would do the trick for Sori, why did he hit the 12 (or whatever it was) HR in April last year, then go cold for pretty much the remainder of the year?

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          From both watching and listening, it seems like Sori is doing a better job of laying off of the low and outside sliders.  Whether he’s holding a whiffle ball bat or a sledge hammer is irrelevant there: if you don’t swing at unhittable pitches, then you are going to start doing better.

          1. hansman1982

            holding a whiffle ball bat would allow you the crucial tenths of a second to recognize the pitch prior to beginning your swing.

            1. Cubbie Blues

              Yes, but you would only hit foul balls that went into the catcher’s mitt due to the bending of the bat.

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      “Also, why has it taken him 2 months to start hitting? Could it be that after so many at bats, he is hitting a groove? Why can’t that time frame be shortened with a larger quantity of swings earlier in the year?”

      It has nothing to do with Sori’s swing.  It has everything to do with the pitches at which Sori has been swinging.  For whatever reasons, he has not been confounding the low and away slider for an outer-half fastball.  (Sori has been walking a lot more recently, too.)  This probably reflects some adjustment in his batting stance affecting the way he sees the ball out of the pitcher’s hand, or perhaps after hundreds of reps during games, he’s caught on to something.  (BP won’t help: they don’t throw nasty sliders there.)

      I think that you are looking to a fundamentally flawed paradigm to solve problems here.

    3. Scotti

      Stu, just swinging a bat more wouldn’t accomplish anything. It needs to be game speed. When that writer is typing 2k words they need to be putting their best 2k out there or they won’t improve. Typing 2k words a day is easy. Typing 2k meaningful, concise, easily understood words is hard and only made easier as you challenge yourself. That’s game speed.

    4. Drew7

      Here’s the thing: If we include ST, Soriano (at age 36 with balky knees) will have played in 170+ ML games by the time the year is over. Also, its not like he’s waking up at 10a.m. and heading out to the backyard or local field to play all these games; all these guys do for 6+ months is travel, play ball, then travel some more.

      It’s easy to say you couldn’t be kept off the field if you were in his shoes, and another thing to actually be him, or any one of these guys. I’m not discounting the use of practice to hone one’s skills, but in the middle of a 3 week stretch of games with 1-2 off-days, I’d imagine most guys are better off keeping their bodies rested and ready to go.

    5. Kyle

      But couldn’t pitchers take those 10-20 points away if they practiced harder too?

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        pah!  Opposing pitchers are just batting tees: it’s all about the Cubs!  :-D

  13. Jeremy

    Personally, I’m a big fan of Theo’s hitting philosophy. It’s been proven to work and would benefit the team greatly IMO.

  14. Grige

    What do you guys see the cubs lineup beeing after the trade deadline, do you think the cubs will get and prospetlcts in return that are exciting and can fill the position spots rather then just getting all potching in return? And if so who?

    1. calicubsfan007

      @Grige: I think it will be made up of guys the Cubs got in return who are ready for the bigs and/or guys that the Cubs call up from their own system. I am not really sure who, besides Rizzo. I will let you know once the deals start happening.

  15. die hard

    wish you would find another photo…seeing the two of them pat each other on the back with a well done handshake not appropriate now…just saying…mothball it for when Cubs take over first place

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