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Happy Birthday, America. Enjoy your Fourth of July, folks – may you have many a beer, a hot dog, and a fireworks display.

  • You probably expected Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum to say certain things about Chris Volstad’s rough start last night: he had one bad inning again, he wasn’t hitting his spots, etc. And, indeed, he did say those things at first. But you probably didn’t expect him to say this: “Not much has changed, obviously. It was another big inning. There was still some hard contact going on before that [inning] and his stuff and location wasn’t all that good anyway. The ball wasn’t down. It didn’t seem as if anything was sinking very good. He didn’t pitch to the game plan either. That was a little bit discouraging, too. He shook [catcher Steve Clevenger] off a lot for some reason. Another combination of a lot of things he’s got to learn to work on.” Yo. That’s about as firmly as you’ll ever hear a manager tip his starting pitcher after a game. Basically, Dale was saying it wasn’t just the bad inning – Volstad’s whole start sucked, he was getting hit hard, he couldn’t keep the ball down, he didn’t have sink, and he didn’t stick to the game plan. Whew. Harsh, bro. But probably fair.
  • At the same time, Sveum confirmed that Volstad will probably get another start before the All-Star break. “We don’t have any options,” Sveum said. “We’ll run him out there again. As of now, we don’t really have any other options. He’s got to stick to a game plan and trust Clevenger back there.” Advice, Chris? Stick to the game plan, even if you think it will fail. It’s not the same thing, but note how much success Carlos Marmol has had since he finally listened to the coaching staff and started trusting his fastball more.
  • Sveum on the ethereal qualities of hitting in the middle of the order: “You have to have talent to hit third, fourth, fifth. There’s a mental edge you have to have in those spots, too. Those spots are RBI spots. You’re not hitting there because you’re a good hitter, it’s because you can smell and taste RBIs, and you find a way to get those RBIs and get them in, whether the infield is back and you hit a ground ball to second base with the infield back. Those are RBIs you don’t get back, especially early in the game when you take the lead. That’s what third hitters and fourth hitters do, they take leads and add on.”
  • Dale Sveum is throwing his support behind Darwin Barney as a Gold Glove candidate. “That’s about as good as it gets — those plays and the defense he’s been playing all year has been incredible,” Sveum said, according to Paul Sullivan. “It’s hard to believe there’s been a better second baseman in baseball this year defensively. I can’t imagine it happening. Maybe somebody as good, but not better, that’s for sure …. The guy goes out there every single day to try and be a real Gold Glover.” Barney, in addition to making some stellar plays, hasn’t made an error in 67 straight games.
  • You already know about the signings, but the Cubs have officially announced that they’ve signed 18 of their top 20 picks from the 2012 Draft – everyone but top pick Albert Almora, and second rounder Duane Underwood. Both are expected to sign by the July 13 deadline. Of their 42 overall picks, the Cubs have signed 27 so far.
  • FanGraphs takes a deep look at Jeff Samardzija’s June struggles (as compared to his success in April and May, and then his first start in July), and there are reasons to believe he was very unlucky in June. He was also playing with his pitch mix, which could have screwed things up. But he certainly walked a ton of guys, and got hit on his second and third times through the order. We’ll have to see how things progress.
  • The MLBullets at BCB note Chris Carpenter’s season-ending shoulder surgery.
  • Steve

    Even though my main focus of distain has shifted to the Brewers, I have to ask, would we…gulp…trade with the Cardinals?? ( ewwww )

    • dabynsky

      If it makes this team better down the road why wouldn’t you? This front office has shown no reservations about dealing intradivision given that the best player we traded away to date went to the Reds.

  • 100 Years of Tears

    Darwin Barney is finally getting his props… it’s about time.

  • Josh

    so since volstad is making a start before the all star game i think its safe to say that he isn’t going to the all star game right…..lol

    • cjdubbya

      He could very well be going to the All-Star Game. It’s a touch over three hours’ drive time from Kansas City to Des Moines, after all. He’ll just need to buy a ticket to the game, I suppose.

  • rcleven

    “Barney, in addition to making some stellar plays, hasn’t made an error in 67 straight games.”

    I am a big Barney fan. Should be in the All Star game right now. Has run rings around Uggla. Didn’t he throw one in the stands on a relay from outfield recently?

    • 100 Years of Tears

      Exactly! Uggla is a meat-head. Didn’t he have 3 errors in one inning in an ASG a couple years ago?

      • jr5

        Uggla had the worst All-Star performance in history. (No real research, but it’s hard to imagine someone could’ve been worse.)

        0-4, 3 strikeouts, 1 GIDP, 6 left on base, 3 errors in the field. Cost the NL the game, in all likelihood.

        That was the 15 inning game, and I was especially mad because Uggla was in while Aramis merely got one pinch hit appearance and was yanked for a runner after he walked. If they leave Ramirez in and move Guzman to 2B instead of letting Uggla play, the NL probably wins. Which, obviously, matters so, so little now, but at the time I had dreams of the Cubs making the Series, and I wanted that home field.

        So yeah, hard to influence a baseball game more negatively as a position player.

      • rcleven

        The All Star game is becoming a joke. The players being selected are being judged by past performance and popularity.
        Uggla did make three errors late in one of the AS games. This season he is hitting .238.

        The All Star Game is becoming more and more like the NFL Pro Bowl. Irreverent.

        • Drew7

          As much as people like to talk about Barney’s dWAR, Uggla isnt far behind him. Uggla also has a .360 OBP and is sluggling over. 400 – a great amount of production for a 2nd baseman.

          I dont mind Barney, but an All-Star he is not.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t recall that, but if the runner scoring was the only one on base, and it was going to be a close play, that wouldn’t be an error (no one else would advance).

      • rcleven

        I believe it was in the Met’s series? Runner on first went past 2nd base on a fly ball to center. Barney took relay and threw to 1st. Threw it into the the stands. Runner on first was awarded 3rd base. I remember the play because I couldn’t explain being awarded 3rd.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Well, I don’t know what the story is – he’s got a 67-game errorless streak going.

        • D.G.Lang

          i believe that when the runner has already passed first on the way to second, he is awarded the extra base when the ball is thrown into the stands and is no longer playable.

  • AP

    Thanks for linking that FanGraphs article, Brett; it was a really good read. When it comes to men who get things from time to time, you’re right up there with Red himself. Luke, the minor league daily is incredible.

  • Mat B

    This comment doesn’t really belong in this thread, but I wanted people to see it. I’ve gotten to the point that I hate Sabremetrics. Every time I bring up Tyler Colvin’s play and my belief that he should be starting somewhere, people bring up OPS, WAR and other stats that I don’t think tell the whole story. So, as far as I know, I have devised my on stat. We all know that to win a game you have to score more runs than the other team. With that in mind, I decided I wanted to look at runs per at bat. To find that number, you have to look at the runs generated by a player. That’s pretty simple. that’s runs + RBIs. Then divide by the number of at bats. Maybe more accurately it would be plate appearances since runs scored via the walk and sacrifice fly count as well, but I used at bats. Among the four Colorado outfielders with at least 150 at bats Gonzalez leads in my new stat with .4 RAB. Colvin is second with .35 followed by Fowler at .34 and Cuddyer at .33. How do Cubs outfielders stack up, you ask? Soriano .28, DeJesus .23 and Campana .17. If anyone thinks this is worthwhile, maybe someone could do some research and find the league leaders, but with this info, I think it could be argued that a major league team owes it to it’s fans to put the best players they have on the field. If anyone thinks this info is indicative of which player is likely to succeed, I think either the Cubs or the Rockies should be putting Colvin’s name on the lineup card every day.

    • Sandberg

      I’ve gotten to the point where I really hate physics. Every time I bring up the sun and my belief that it revolves around the earth, people bring up elliptical orbits and gravity and other physical concepts that I don’t think tell the whole story. So, as far as I know, I have devised my own physics…

      • Mat B

        Let em fly Sandberg, let em fly.

        • Ian Afterbirth

          Sandberg is probably an engineer.

          They have trouble with anything that doesn’t exactly fit into a neat, predictable, rules and laws-based universe.

    • dabynsky

      Do you not realize how many other factors affect stats like runs and RBI besides the individual player’s performance?

      • Mat B

        Of course I do, but doesn’t it stand to reason that, at least offensively, the number of runs generated by a player is at least a useful stat?

        I’d say that if a player has to bat 100 times to generate a run, he’s not going to be a very successful offensive player, but if he can generate a run every third at bat, well that’s a little better indicator that he could be a successful offensive player

        • dabynsky

          All stats have uses and limitations. Colvin doing better in the stat you proposed is partly due to the season he is having, but the fact that Colorado is the best offensive team in the NL (in terms of Runs/game and OPS at least) has some effect on that as well.

          • Ian Afterbirth

            Upon which Colvin has an impact as well.

            Cut Mat some slack for daring to come with another way to consider a player’s performance. Is it perfect? Of course not. Is it something to consider? Hell yeah.

            • dabynsky

              I granted that Colvin’s performance was part of the reason for his success in the proposed stat. But to sit there and ignore the fact that the rest of the players in the Rockies lineup is vastly superior to the rest of the Cubs lineup effects runs and RBI is foolish.

            • Mat B

              Thanks Ian. I was hoping someone would think it’s at leat worthwhile to think about.

            • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

              Hell no.

          • Mat B

            Who decided to even make OPS a stat? On base percentage plus slugging percentage seems pretty arbitrary to me, but since you mentioned it Colvin’s OPS is .935. Gonzalez is .994. Fowler is .919, and Cuddyer is .793. Again Colvin is second in the statistical category. It may be for just this year, but if it is, shouldn’t Colorado put their second best offensive option on the field every day? Cub outfielders with at least 150 at bats rank like this: Soriano .809, DeJesus .757, and Campana .613. All the rankings for the players I’ve mentioned remain exactly the same. So, I would submit that my stat is at least as useful as OPS, and since scoring more runs than your opponent is how you win, I would stand up and say it might be even more useful, notice I said might. Oh, and Colvin can competently play 4 defensive positions. Colorado needs to play him every day.

            • Richard Nose

              Good stuff Mat.

            • dabynsky

              Certainly is true that Colvin is outperforming Cubs outfielders this season, but all I have suggested is that we need to look at everything in context. Like for example maybe we could look at Colvin’s home/road splits. The fact that he is hitting .330/.366/.739 and 7 of his 10 HRs at the home park suggests that he might be benefiting from a very hitter friendly ballpark. Colvin is a player with talent (has some pop, can play mutliple defensive positions) and some serious flaws (high K rate, low BB rate). We lost this change of scenery trade, whether it was due to injury or talent level we might never know for certain, but the Rockies got a more useful player for this season than we did.

              • Mat B

                That is a very true statement. Oh and if anyone is interested Rizzo has a RAB of .34 :)

            • Kyle

              “Who decided to even make OPS a stat? On base percentage plus slugging percentage seems pretty arbitrary to me”

              It started with Branch Rickey, one of the most brilliant baseball minds of all time. He determined that the two primary jobs of a batter are to get on base (and thus not make an out) and to move runners (including himself) around the bases. He used OBP and Isolated Power (Slugging percentage minus batting average).

              In modern times, a lot of people did a lot of regression analysis to determine which stats correlated most with run scoring. OPS wasn’t the highest-correlating stat, but it was the higest-correlating simple stat that didn’t require a lot of extra calculation.

              • Mat B

                Thanks Kyle. Didn’t know that. Maybe in 50 years someone will ask who even decided to make RAB a stat. And someone like you will say “It started with Mat B, one of the most brilliant baseball minds of all time.” :)

              • DocPeterWimsey

                OPS does explain well over 90% of the variance in runs scored, so it is not too shabby. wOBA does better: but remember that it weights stats based on their individual correlations with runs scored. That is the complexity to which Kyle alludes.

                In stats and other sciences, we use a principle called Occam’s Razor: do not multiply explanations without need. I.e., keep it simple! OPS is nice and simple.

            • AP

              I’m a fan of Colvin and hate when teams give up on players too quickly – I still think Murton got hosed, but whatever. One thing that shouldn’t be ignored, especially since we’re discussing Rockies outfielders, is the home/road split. All four of their outfielders are good at home and given those numbers, Colvin should probably get the at bats in Colorado over Cuddyer, but when they go on the road, only Gonzalez justifies a place at the table. The others are a mixed bag and while Colvin still has slightly better stats than Cuddyer on the road, it’s really not enough to say he’s demonstrably better.

              • Richard Nose

                I was with you until you said the word ‘Murton’.

                • AP

                  I know, maybe I’m just overlysensitive to redheads always getting piled on. I try to be rational but it doesn’t always work.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    Ah, so you wereone of the people hoping that Hermione would choose Ron over Harry, then….. ;-)

                    • Carew

                      So obvious that was gonna happen

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      I seem to recall that it did surprise a lot of people, most probably of the 15 year old virgin variety.  (I.e., your typical fantasy fan.)  Weren’t there a bunch of the hardcore fans who sent mutilated covers of the book after that happened?

                      $5 says that those people also were surprised by Snape, too….  :-D

                    • Kyle

                      It was one of those confirmation bias things where it was brutally obvious after the first few books, but people who had defended Harry/Hermione early on just got themselves dug deeper and deeper into the trenches of denial.

                      There was a hilarious fan site called Harmony Forever dedicated to the pairing.

                    • AP

                      All I’m saying is that anyone who has red hair is the obvious choice over anyone who doesn’t. I sure there’s a stat somewhere confirming that but you can just take my word for it…

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      heh, I once read a great and hysterical parody where Harry, Ron & Hermione watch Star Wars.  Ron had never seen it because wizards somehow avoid popular culture.  Harry hadn’t because he was a deprived child.  The two of them argue about whether Luke (Harry’s choice) or Han (Ron’s choice) get Leia.  Hermione won’t tell them who’s right…..

                      So, we’ll call AP’s stat the Weasley Metric…..

                  • Diesel

                    The thing with red head chicks is either they are gorgeous or you can’t stand to look at them.  But us redheads need to stick together.

            • JoeyCollins

              All stats can be useful and misleading depending on the context. Colvin is obviously benefiting from both a hitter friendly park, and being used in favorable situations. That’s not saying he wouldn’t be an upgrade at wrigley this year but does it really matter? Colvin will probably never be a quality every day player and this year was lost with or without him. The cubs had a need at 3rd and took a shot if it paid off and Stewart worked out it would have been a great trade(everyday 3rd basemman for a 4th outfielder). Truth is when this team is competitive again neither of these players will be a factor and no Stat no matter when it was invented will change that.

              • Mat B

                No one has given Colvin the chance to be an everyday outfielder, so I’m not sure how anyone can conclude he will probably never be a quality everyday outfielder. In Chicago Pinella couldn’t play him everyday because of Fukudome, and because of that, he ruined Colvin by sitting him down for 5 days every time Colvin had a 3 hit game. Did anyone miss the fact that Colvin has homered in each of the last 2 games at St. Louis? He drove in 5 runs. Do you thnk Tracy will give him a chance to prove it wasn’t a fluke? I hope so, and I hope Colvin proves it wasn’t.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Piniella did not ruin Colvin. Colvin has no batting eye: he is a guess swinger. Like other such hitters, he will have some hot streaks, but do not expect this ice little run that Colvin is having to amount to much. (How many times have Franceour fans announced that this hot streak represents the turned corner?)

          • Josh

            Maybe because he now plays in Coors Field as opposed to Wrigley? Just a thought .

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          No, because a player on the Cubs isn’t going to come up as often with men on base to generate those runs as players on other, good, offensive teams. Anything using RBI or Runs is too context dependent.

          • Mat B

            I’m talking about runs generated. When you score more runs than your opponent you win. If one player generates more runs than another player, I believe that reflects upon the quality of that player. I don’t think my idea is the be all end all, but I do think it could be a useful stat. That is all I am asking anyone to consider.

            Isn’t that what OBP is all about? If you get on base more, you will score more runs.

            • AP

              Really that’s exactly why OBP and SLG are considered solid measures of run creation. Runs are created by getting on base and being driven in and driving others in. OBP speaks to getting on base and SLG speaks to driving others in, but these stats strip out dependency on the other people around you in the lineup. If a guy hits 50 homeruns in a year but no one is on base and no one ever drives him in when he’s on base then he only has 50 runs and 50 RBI and using your metric would undervalue him considerably. The whole idea behind most stats that are used to evaluate ability is to strip out dependency on the other players in the lineup so someone can see how good a player is regardless of the lineup around him. That’s the whole idea behind fielding independent pitching stats and why over the years hitting and pitching stats have moved away from lineup dependent stats like wins and RBI. It’s good to think outside the box and find new ways to evaluate ability, that’s what sabrmetrics is all about. But typically the best individual stats are those that don’t rely on the performance of the other guys in the lineup.

              • Mat B

                The whole suppostion behind OPS is that if you get on base, and you hit for extra bases, you generate more runs. I am looking at whether or not the player did, in fact, generate more runs. Since everybody is so sold on the OPS stat and the fact that looking at RG/AB the rankings of the players I looked at did not change, I believe that legitimizes looking at Runs Generated per At Bat. If I were a GM and I saw a player for the Cubs (a woeful offensive team) with an RG/AB of .34 (Anthony Rizzo) I would say to my staff, “People, that’s the kind of player we need to find here.”

                Oh, and just because you drew a walk or you hit a double or a triple doesn’t mean you generated a run. Therefore, I would debate (as I have been) that Runs Generated per At Bat is a more useful stat.

                • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                  Do you use Runs or RBI’s in your calculation?
                  If yes, it’s not a good stat.

                  • Mat B

                    You win games by scoring runs. Stating that the very essence of what it takes to win a game is not a good stat is, in my opinion, silly. I’m not trying to say anything bad about you Norm. I just think I’m right. In the calculation I use both runs and RBIs divided by at bats, plate appearances would probably be better, but I’ve used at bats.

                    • Andrew

                      Just because something is simple doesnt make it good. If Pujols played with a bunch of little leaguers, and his stats for the season ended up being something like .400 OBP, 500 SLG, 50 HRs 50 runs and 50 RBIs in 600 at bats. Youre stat would say its one of the worst seasons a player could have, when in reality anyone watching a player put up those stats would unanimously agree it’s an MVP-Caliber season.

                      Your stat would value two sacrifice flies as much as a solo home run, but which is harder? Which says more about the quality of the player? Heck if I played and hit into a fielders choice every at bat but pujols drives me in afterwards everytime, I could look like an excellent player even though I’ve done nothing to help my team win.

                      Yes, these are all extreme examples, but they demonstrate the problems your stat brings. They are problems that OPS does not allow

                • Drew7

                  It’s useless to base an individual stat calculation off of measurements a player largely has no control over. If GMs were using this *statistic* to measure the value of a player, each player would feel cheated if the didnt bat in the middle of the order (most notably in the NL, where leadoff men see much fewer PA’s with men on).

                  wOBA is a much better statistic to measure an individuals offensive production, doing so by weighting each PA-outcome according to its value towards scoring runs.

                  Each player should be measured on what he can control; you may not have generated a run by getting on base, but you certainly held up your end of the bargain by doing so.

                  • Mat B

                    That’s the best point anyone else has made in this debate. OK, when building your roster you compare the RG/AB of leadoff men to leadoff men #2 hitters to #2 hitters and so on. Andrew in the season you describe for Pujols that would be an RG/AB of .3 over the course of a 500 at bat season. That compares favorably to the other players I’ve looked at so far and you almost helped me make my point.

                    Whoops I missed the fact you said 600 at bats. That’s still .25 and better than any outfielder the Cubs have besides Soriano.

                    • Drew7

                      So the seaon Pujols had in Andrew’s example is considered inferior to the one Soriano is having? I’m pretty certain that not only fails to prove your point, but actually throws it out the window.

                • Kyle

                  The flaw in your proposed stat is one of assignment.

                  You are assigning the entire creation of a run to the player who scored it or drove it in. This is clearly incorrect. It’s easy to come up with scenarios that show this.

                  Consider the following inning:

                  Player A singles
                  Player B grounds into a fielder’s choice, Player A is out at second
                  Player C doubles, Player B advances to 2nd
                  Player D hits a fly out to right field, Player C scores

                  In your statistic, Players B and D are the only ones who get credit for the creation of that run, when it is clear that players A and C did all the work.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    True, but that is very much the exception.   Basically, MattB proposes a variation on the “overall runs” stat of (R+RBI)/2.  (His is overall runs/AB, although it really should be overall runs/PA)  What you note is why you want to use runs created, which gives credit to A and C in your scenario but not B and D.  However, there is a very good correlation between RC (or RC / 9 innings) and (R+RBI)/2.  It’s not perfect, and the variance reflects how good your team was plus luck.

  • Spencer

    Volstad is the best option we have? Didn’t the front office sign a plethora of pitchers this off season to have pitching depth so we wouldn’t run into a problem with injuries like last season? What happened to that?

    • dabynsky

      Those extra pitchers turned out to be bad at pitching (Wells, Volstad, and Coleman).

    • auggie1955

      It’s really sad when the Cubs feel that Volstad is the best option to start. Right now it looks like he should converted to a reliever like Coleman. Volstad can only give the Cubs one or two good innings, if he’s lucky.

  • Spencer

    “We have one advantage over some of the opponents we might face, in that we can withstand an injury or two and still throw a very reputable starting pitcher out there every day, five days around the rotation. And if our opponents in the division can’t – because of injuries or attrition or poor performance – then we might surprise some people.” – Theo

    • Jeff

      Theo was right, ” Then we might surprise some people.” Yep Theo, we the fans are surprised at how shitty some of these guys are performing, like Volstad!!

  • Pingback: Cubs Have Fortnight To Replace Chris Volstad | Bullpen Brian()

  • Cubs Dude

    Dale Sveum. The man of many contradictions. It’s almost comical at this point..

  • rcleven

    Sveum dumping on Vostad is a breath of fresh air. A warning shot fired in the air. Also think those kind of statements belong in the club house and never said before the press.
    Dale your frustration is showing. Think before inserting your foot in your mouth.

  • @cubsfantroy

    I really wanted Volstad to have a great game. It saddens me that he didn’t and is drawing the ire of Cubs fans. I think Sveum would be wise to want to stick him in the bullpen. He is good for a few innings than loses it, so if he is run out there for a couple of innings every few days I think that would work the best.

  • True(ly) Blue

    I watched the game and Volstad closely. It seems to me that his problems are more mental than mechanical or “stuff”. He has decent velocity (93+), pretty good movement on all his pitches, decent location until he faces some adversity. Then Barney had his brain cramp and thought of 2nd before missing a fast runner at first base (is that an error?). Volly (as Quade would say) threw 4 straight balls to the next hitter resulting in a bases loaded, no outs situation. The rest is history as Volstad went down in flames. Some guys can’t accept errors behind them or deal with adversity very well. “Nuff said!

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