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Earlier this month, Theo Epstein was doing a tour of some of the Cubs’ minor league facilities, and he stopped by Daytona (in no small part, I’d imagine, to see Javier Baez, Christian Villanueva, Roni Torreyes, and more). There, he did a short interview with the Daytona Beach News-Journal. It’s an interesting read, but I found one piece particularly compelling.

The Cubs, this year, have been installing a live feed video system at every ballpark in the system, so that, if they want, they can flick a switch and watch their minor league affiliates at any time – something previously not available remotely. If you wanted to watch live, you had to have someone there. And that someone couldn’t be in two places at once, so that someone was probably not a guy at the very top of the organization.

Now, that someone could be Epstein, himself. Any day, any team.

“It’s just something we started in Boston awhile ago,” Epstein told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “It gives us a chance to watch the games as they occur.”

Epstein continued, describing some of the added benefits of having a spy cam system.

“I also think it’s a way to kind of keep the players accountable,” Epstein said. “That’s a nice byproduct of it. Sometimes when you’re a few stops away from the major leagues, you can feel like nobody’s watching. But when you have the ‘spy cam’ out there, there’s always a chance someone’s watching.”

In a way, it’s such a simple idea. If you want to be able to watch a few Peoria Chiefs games, why not just do the video thing? Sure, it’s not quite the same experience as being there in person, but instead of losing days to a trip, you can use just a few hours to take in vastly more information. The ancillary benefit of keeping yourself in the back of the mind of your prospects is nice, too.

Technological advances undoubtedly made the move easier than it would have been, say, ten years ago. But these are the kind of simple, subtle changes that, taken together in the aggregate, are going to make this organization much better than it has been.

It makes me feel like, yes, finally: someone is watching.

  • scorecardpaul

    I like it. I’d lik to get my hands on a link to those feeds

  • Deez

    CBA. It outweighs any cons. It’s a great organizational idea, but I don’t think you can ever “spy” at a player. It’s their job to determine when he’s ready for the next step.

  • The Dude Abides

    Brett seeing how Soriano is on the way out or at a minimum not in the big picture who are the leaders in the Cub clubhouse? Who do these guys look up to? Thanks

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Management will definitely keep some veteran leadership around (DeJesus?). It could change by next season, but there will always be at least a few.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    They have one installed in AA Tennessee….it’s pretty cool. Right next to the CF camera for the MiLB feed.

    • josh2

      Will theo get blacked out by the MiLB? jk

  • baldtaxguy

    Nice idea. I want to see the feed, though

  • Spriggs

    Such a simple concept!

    Reminds me: I found out years after the fact that our high school basketball coach had all games and practices of the junior high team taped. Eyes were on us and the coaches.

    • Quintz

      I guess my high school coach wanted see if we were putting on our uniforms the right way?

  • King Jeff

    I like the idea, but I would like to see the team go one step further. Start a Chicago Cubs network, and broadcast every minor league game, live or on tape delay. I know it would cost a lot of money to have camera crews follow the teams around, but how awesome would it be not only for Cubs fans, but for the front office in evaluating minor league talent from around the country?

  • cubmig

    Maybe the FO should have “spy” cameras following players during their off time. Why not complete the circle and not stop with minor league filming. Everything players do when away can have a profound influence on their mental or physical readiness to perform as expected (think Rush Street). And then when players figure out how to thwart being watched, perhaps have future contract negotiations include a “chip implant” condition to agree to as part of sealing the deal.

    Far fetched? Snark? Totally, but who’s to say the need-to-know is not part of a model to succeed? Baseball is a business…….and in business sentimentality has no cash value. By extension, to what lengths (think PEDs) are people willing to go to win? Is it something to think about?

    • Edwin

      Maybe we should force each player to go through Carrousel at age 30.

    • baldtaxguy

      No, its not.

  • Ogyu

    Now if they can just combine this with an automated instant electric shock every time a batter swings at a bad pitch…

    • Wilbur

      We could see chips implanted in players’ necks and the hitting coach has button he can punch that would give a pinched nerve like jolt for every bad swing or inappropriate take. Oh the joys of technology … Pavlov and Skinner would both be drooling at that one.

      • Spriggs

        Your hitting coach would still have to be smart enough to know when to punch the button. We’ve had some who no doubt would have punched the button everytime someone took a pitch.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Even then, there would be a high degree of subjectivity involved. If nothing else, a bad pitch at which to swing for Alfonso Soriano might be a good pitch at which to swing for Darwin Barney.

          And, of course, this completely fails to give credit to the pitchers. If a guy has good stuff, then he will constantly will be throwing pitches that look sweet 10′ from his hand (when the batter clicks “swing/don’t swing”) and which are 6 inches away from where the batter projected the ball at home plate.

          • Spriggs

            I’m thinking more in terms of the traditional behaviorist. Alter behavior by reward and punishment immediately after the result. Not trying to tell the guy to swing or not in real time. It would be more like “good take – enjoy this pleasant sensation….”… or “bad swing, dumb swing – bzzzzzzzzz” (that’s an electric shock).

  • rycott

    Maybe to make a little money towards the Wrigley renovation they should start CP-TV (Cubbie Prospect). Charge $50 or so per year and have it on for practices, too. An inside look at all the minor league Cubs, I’m sure a lot of us would subscribe.

    • scorecardpaul

      You guys might be joking, but I bet the tv part isn’t that far away. Assoon as we can get out of our TV contracts that we are currently in I think there will definately be a Cub network.

  • Deer

    Great, maybe they can play hitting coach from their desks at Wrigley. Just ask Ian Stewart how well that worked out.

    • bbmoney

      Since Ian Stewart was healthy and such a prolific contact guy before coming to the Cubs.

  • MightyBear

    I’m sure they can use the film to analyze players and use the analysis for additional evaluation information.

  • Matt

    Does this mean we might get milb.tv for all the affiliates next year? Or is this a private thing for the front office?

  • MichCubFan

    They will also get more eyes on prospects from other teams…

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      This is what I was thinking. This is about 80% about our players, but now you have more than the scouts watching other teams’ players.

  • John Thompson (@UrbyJT)

    Theo just doesn’t want to pay for MiLB.TV. :D

  • North Side Irish

    I know that not everyone likes David Kaplan, but he just re-Tweeted a link to this article…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I saw that. Pretty cool.

  • Spriggs

    I really don’t get why so many Cubs fans are down on Kaplan. I love the guy. Smart, opinionated Cubs fans are usually OK with me.

    • Boogens

      Agreed. There are times when he’s over the top but I do like his passion and I listen to and read his blog because he really does care and the Cubs are by far his primary focus. I can listen to Cubs talk 24X7.

      • Scotti

        Ditto

      • Spriggs

        Really – 24/7 Cubs talk is my version of heaven — I think.

  • Quinn

    Any one notice if there is one in Peoria? Doubt they would take the time to do that if they were leaving….

  • rick

    sure brett lets put one in your office so we can watch you i personally hate big brother but its everywhere what can u do

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    They should have spent this money on real ball players for the big league team so they could win 80 games.

    That’s sarcasm. I’m kind of shocked this hasn’t been done by every team in baseball.

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