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Think Melky Cabrera is a huge Felix Hernandez fan today? I find a couple things interesting about the Melky situation (he tested positive for a PED, in case you hadn’t heard): (1) everyone is quick to say that he just lost $50 to $60 million in free agency, but would he have even been in a position to get that kind of money if he hadn’t juiced in the first place? and (2) to his credit – and this was probably long pre-planned – his statement was pretty much, “yup, I did it, and it was a mistake. I’m sorry.” Quite refreshing to hear that, actually. Some team is going to get a buy low opportunity on him this offseason, but it’s going to be very hard to know whether he’s even worth that.

  • Dale Sveum sums up why the Cubs, presently, have an unfair recruiting advantage when it comes to coaches and executives (maybe players, too, for the right kind of player): “It’ll be the biggest event in sports history when we win, there is no question about that,” Sveum said of the Cubs finally winning it all, according to ESPNChicago. “I was fortunate to be in Boston [as a coach in 2004], and after 86 years, that is as big a championship won in a long, long time. But when we win here it will be the biggest sports event in sports history, really.” Sveum, of course, wasn’t specifically commenting on the Cubs’ recruiting advantage, and I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it’s right there. I think coaches, executives, and many players truly get that winning with the Cubs would be different from winning anywhere else. They want to be a part of the team that finally does it. I hope the Cubs continue to use that extra incentive for as long as it’s useful – and I hope it’s not useful for much longer.
  • Chris Volstad’s ugly outing against the Astros this week wasn’t enough to bounce him from the rotation. He’ll start again on Sunday against the Reds.
  • The time line remains a bit fuzzy to me, but Dale Sveum says he was never offered the Boston managerial job (you’ll recall, he literally interviewed with both the Cubs and Red Sox at the same time, together with Mike Maddux and Pete Mackanin). He interviewed with both, was offered the Cubs job, and accepted the Cubs job. Who knows how things would have played out if Boston had come through with the offer sooner (vague reports out of Boston at the time had it that GM Ben Cherington wanted Sveum or Maddux, but ownership wanted an older, more experienced manager – how’s that working out?)?
  • Bits on Brett Jackson’s continued progress. He’s working hard with the coaches every day, and knows that all the moving parts in his swing (to me, the head movement is most notable) are going to have to go. “I’ve always gotten away with movement because I have really fast hands, so I could move and still catch up to balls but it also leads to a lot of swings and misses and foul balls and a lot of strikeouts,” Jackson said. “We know that’s my favorite area of the game to talk about.”
  • Got 30 grand to spend on an “epic” Chicago Cubs experience? Groupon is offering – at an unspecified time – the opportunity to do all kinds of crazy stuff with the Cubs later this season for $30,000. Apparently the deal comes with the ability to bring along 13 friends. I don’t have $30,000 to spend on this opportunity, but I do have the weight of my thumb to come down upon any of you who might win that opportunity and not count me amongst your 13 included friends. I’m fun!
  • Pictures of the U.S. Navy Leap Frog Team parachuting into Wrigley Field before yesterday’s game.
  • I gotta send out some love to one of the site’s sponsors: Want to learn to buy low and sell high like Theo and Jed? Check out how to do it in financial markets at TradingPub. You can also check them out on Facebook here.
  • Northside Matt

    Brett – well said on Melky.

    As for Volstad, I understand why they continue to run him out there. Is the consensus that Volstad will finish the year in the rotation? If things get worse, will TheoJed actually pull the plug on the Volstad experiment?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think he’d have to absolutely implode for multiple starts in a row for them to end it this year. Doesn’t mean they’ll tender him a contract, though.

    • ssckelley

      Why not put Volstad out there? There is no one else in Iowa or Tennessee close to being ready. I know some will mention Rusin due to his success in his last few starts. But having successful starts in AAA does not always translate into successful starts at the big league level. So run Volstad out there and see if he can work through this funk he is in. If he can’t then you do not tender him a contract for next year, if he does then maybe you bring him in for spring training.

      His problems appear to be fixable, he needs to get on top of the ball more and get his pitches down in the strike zone. I am sure these coaches see the same thing I do.

      • Drew7

        “I know some will mention Rusin due to his success in his last few starts.”

        Rusin had a couple very solid seasons before this one, and many thought he may get a shot at the 5th spot in the rotation before the year started. I’d like to see him get a shot, but not because of his last few starts.

      • MightyBear

        Did you not read the minor league report? Chris Rusin deserves a chance to start for the big league club. I wouldn’t say no one is ready. Personally I would shut down the shark and bring up Rusin and start him for awhile.

    • Jonathan

      If the Cubs were somehow able to work their way into the 1.1 draft pick with the larger international budget in this lost season, Volstad may win team MVP.

  • Oswego chris

    Apparently PEDs really do work since Melky turned into pre-Boston Carl Crawford…I just wonder how many guys are still doing them….lots of statistical anomalies out there….I am looking at you AJ

    • hansman1982

      It would be interesting to see a listing of the last 100 guys to get busted for PED and see a tracking of their OPS

      While it may just be reporting/memory bias but it sure seems like there are more guys who have career years prior to them getting busted.

  • Daniel Guerra

    I wish I had 30k to spend. Take me please! I’m full of fun. :) SEEEE!

    [img]http://i1069.photobucket.com/albums/u461/dguerra4242/brett.jpg[/img]

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I should have you do my photo editing.

  • Deer

    Melky could be a bargain this offseason. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Cubs grab him and I’m sure the PEDs don’t scare Theo and Jed.

  • fortyonenorth

    What are the semantics of the MLB drug policy? Is it random testing? Are the “statistical anomalies” targeted? It seems to me that the potential rewards no longer outweigh the risk of being caught.

  • ssckelley

    I have a lot of respect for Melky. I know he cheated but at least he fessed up to it and did not make up some lame story. The guy is 28 years old and entering free agency for the first time, I can understand why he did it as this contract could have set him and his family up for the rest of his life.

    • Webb

      It’s funny. I have no respect for Melky and the utmost respect for Justin Gatlin. Both compete in very dirty sports. Here’s the difference on my eyes:
      Gatlin was an olympic champion in 2000, before his positive test. He tested positive a few years later and faced a lifetime ban that was later reduced to four years(in case you thought 50 games was bad)(I also blame Gatlins coach more than Gatlin – who is banned for life because his athletes constantly were testing positive – I think he was doping them with supliments he providided). Gatlin climbed his was back to prove his pre-conviction ability was no fluke at an age when most sprinters have long retired. It’s almost impossible for me to conceive how difficult that journey must have been.
      Now Melky. He was never a champion. He didn’t dope to do anything but enhance his performance. It was a desperate move to make himself better. Understandable, almost, considering the money at stake versus the consequences for cheating. But he was never great and he cheated to become great. The only thing he can do not is prove that the cheating wasn’t what made him that good, and I don’t see that occurring. He is a quality defensive MLB outfielder and there is no shame in that. He didn’t need to cheat and doesn’t deserve my respect at least for not competing to the best of his natural ability and taking an easier road instead.

  • Flashfire

    I find it fascinating that the Brett Jackson quote comes out yesterday. That no one had bothered to work on that before in Jackson’s 3+ years in the minors is really damning of Felita and his management.

    • ssckelley

      I was thinking the same thing. I coach little league and noticed his head movement at the plate and is something I try to teach my 9/10 year old boys. You mean to tell me Jackson can go through High School, College, 3 years of the minor leagues, and they just now catch it at the major league level? My guess is he had so much success hitting the ball that coaches have let it go afraid to change it and he stopped hitting. Now he is paying for it.

      • Drew7

        That’s another fascinating trait amongst the best hitters in the game. Watch an clip of someone like Lance Berkman hitting from an angle similar to the ol’ “Southwest Airlines plane-view camera” and you see virtually zero head movement once the front foot lands. It really is amazing.

        • ssckelley

          Exactly, if you look at their head and where there eyes are the head is down and the eyes are staring straight down the end of the bat as they make contact. Anyone that can master seeing the ball hit the bat can be a decent hitter.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            No batter sees the ball hit the bat, unless the pitcher throws a complete euphus pitch. Studies back in the late 1980′s showed that MLBer’s lose sight of the ball about a third of the way to the plate. Interestingly, though, some of the best hitters (I remember George Brett standing out, but I don’t know who else participated in the study) could still glimpse the ball about as close as 10′ away. Brett was particularly interesting because he failed drivers tests due to lack of depth perception: it seemed that the only way he pick up depth was in a batter’s stance!

            What a batter does is actually much more impressive. He identifies where the ball is going to cross homeplate while it’s still about 40′ away. How well he identifies the location is, of course, partly due to personal skill (some batters obviously are better than others) and the pitcher (the best pitchers are the toughest to ID 40′ away.)

            • hansman1982

              And vision…

              The best vision you can obtain with the human eye is 20/8 – MLB average is 20/12 – if a guy is 20/20 he may not think he can’t see but by MLB standards he is as blind as a bat.

              • cubchymyst

                Is the better vision associated with the constantly practice of trying to pick up the ball quickly, or is it a born trait?

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  There are multiple aspects to vision. In addition to depth perception, there is the acuity of vision. Ted Williams was renowned for that: he could easily read record labels on 45′s while the record was playing. (For all of you under 40, that was really tough to do.) He could pick up the spin really well, but much better than other players: one popular (and possibly true) story about his managing days is that he was once lecturing his players on how swing when they saw the ball spin one way and how to swing when they saw it spin another. After an incredulous silence, one of the players said: “we can’t see the ball spin like that.”

                  Of course, those were Washington Senators, so maybe that doesn’t count an an example with MLBers.

                • hansman1982

                  Vision is a combination of both. Obviously you have the vision you have (I am sure a large percentage of players wear contacts to correct to 20/8 (laser surgery is not done as it cannot guarrantee the same results as contacts (this is information I learned from listening to an Optometrist that works with big leaguers))) and teams are beginning to open up to Doctors coming in and teaching/working with players on how to pick up the ball through techniques outside of the batting cage.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    The disadvantage to contacts is that they dry up very quickly in some people’s eyes under some conditions. Heck, if you are batting against Steve Trachsel, then the bloody things expire altogether between pitches. I remember Jeff Bagwell claiming that he gave away an AB a game because of contacts. He probably exaggerated, but I’ve read similar comments from other players.

                    • TWC

                      Glasses are the way to go. Just look what they did for Rick Vaughn.

                    • hansman1982

                      According to that eye doctor/specialist – contacts are the best option.

                  • cubchymyst

                    Good to hear about the contacts being used. I was worried because my family has been cursed with bad vision none of my offspring would ever make it to the cubs.

          • hansman1982

            Actually noone can master that…the human eye doesn’t move fast enough to see the ball hit the bat. Look at pictures of guys as they are making contact and they are typically looking about 4-5 feet in front of the bat.

            • ssckelley

              Obviously I have never seen a MLB fastball and I believe what both of you are saying but at the little league level you can practice it and you look at all the best hitters their eyes go right down the barrel of the bat after they have made contact.

              • hansman1982

                What you are undoubtedly seeing is the head continuing to track the ball towards the catcher after the hit. Even the best atheletes have horrible reaction speed in the grand scheme of things.

                Here is a picture of Pujols, arguably the best hitter of the last 5-7 years. If you notice he is looking slightly behind the ball. Since he is already behind the action, his head is going to continue to track backwards. In regular motion (or even a few frames later) it will appear that he saw the ball meet the bat when that didn’t happen.

                It’s entirely possible that a couple of examples could be found where a hitter is looking at the bat meeting the ball, but that is so exceptionally rare. Unfortunately, the human body just isn’t that good.

            • Drew7

              Correct, Hans.

      • Flashfire

        I think that’s almost certainly right. And at high school and college you can kind of see it. By the very fact that he was drafted in the first round, he would have been head and shoulders the most exciting guy on the field in most games — and for their own job security messing with it would be dangerous. But when he gets to the minor leagues? Give me a break. His performance in Boise means nothing. Someone had to know that if he didn’t get his swing right, his chances of getting a hit off of Roy Halladay were exactly zero.

      • hansman1982

        Yes, this is why failure is such a key part of successful prospect development. If a guy is mashing the ball but has horrible mechanics doing so, do you mess with it?

        • Flashfire

          If you know it’s going to cause problems against better competition, yes, and one of the jobs of a development guy is to know this.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            And the coaches can (and likely do) preach those things until they are blue in the face. Experience is just a better teacher. Many players do not make changes until they are forced to by struggles, no matter how great their coaching.

            That is a big part of the reason why I love to see prospects struggle in the minors. I learn more about a guy by how he responds to struggling than I do in multiple seasons of having no trouble.

  • Leroy

    couldn’t get the pictures of the navy team coming into wrigley :(

    • TWC

      Super cool. A few years ago they did a similar thing during spring training at Hohokam. Really amazing to see those guys hit a target on the field while parachuting from 1000′s of feet in the air.

  • http://bleachernation arcola cub

    Go back and watch video of Ryne Sandberg batting his eyes are always focused on the ball as it hits the bat and even the few times it didn’t.

  • Cub Fan Dan

    The Cubs found baseball’s new market inequality: Suck really bad & you’ll get high draft picks & good free agents will have sympathy & join along.

  • Spencer

    I know how much everyone loves BABIP around here, and Melky’s was about 70 points higher this year than his career average. Take it for what you will.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Part of that was in increase in his doubles+triples rate: he had 35 already this year. (He had 49 last year!)

      However, his singles rate is way up, too: 0.285 up from a more typical 0.238 last year. Shockingly, that accounts for most of his BA improvement over last year. (Power makes up his improvement from 2010 to 2011.)

  • florida Al

    @cub fan dan ha love it………..

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