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brandon phillipsWhile The Wife and I patiently await the arrival of kiddo number two, my brother and his wife had their second over the weekend, a boy. Given their proximity in age, I can only assume that our sons will be buddies. They have no choice.

  • Brandon Phillips just went from fun, tongue-in-cheek, knowing heel to … well, the kind of guy who would say things like this: “Was I surprised [I didn't win the Gold Glove]? Yes. I don’t get mad at things I really can’t control. But I was very surprised I didn’t see my name. I thought I was getting punked when I heard about it. That’s the way it is …. The only thing I can do is go out and play the game the way I do. I do it with flair because baseball is a boring game. That’s why I play with flair. Do I think that’s one of the main reasons I didn’t win the Gold Glove? Yeah, I can say that.” Wow. Is he still just playing up his persona? Or is this just him? I am increasingly thinking it’s the latter. In no universe would I, as a fan, enjoy having a Cubs player saying things like this. It reeks of the worst kind of attention-seeking desperation, to say nothing of how insulting it is to the quality defensive player – Darwin Barney – who won the Gold Glove going away. Maybe Phillips is just bummed that his flair wasn’t enough to save him from his statistically worst season in years – worst UZR since 2009, and worst OPS+ since 2008.
  • A little more from Matt Garza on his side injury, per Carrie Muskat: “I threw the first fastball from the stretch, and it was like a water cramp. I didn’t drink that much water today. Naturally, I’m not going to push it. My arm felt fine, so I was pretty pumped about that. The ball felt good coming out of my hand. I think that’s what I’m most upset about — I was like, ‘Yeah.’ It shouldn’t be a big thing and we’ll see [Monday].” Hopefully a cramp is all it was. (Obligatory “isn’t that what he thought the elbow thing was originally” comment.)
  • Cubs players punked their manager as he delivered the opening address to the full squad, dressing in orange hunting shirts and caps, and giving Dale Sveum a shirt with a target on it. The joke was a reference to an offseason story Sveum told, in which Robin Yount accidentally hit Sveum in the ear with birdshot while hunting together. Matt Garza is the suspected ringleader of the joke.
  • Patrick Mooney on new minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson, and on finding the next David Price (rather than just buying him).
  • Jesse Rogers dumps on the Cubs’ 2013 chances, and he’s probably not wrong in the particulars. Patrick Mooney writes on a similar subject, but with a slightly less negative tone (note that I’m not saying it’s optimistic … ).
  • Ben Lindbergh at Baseball Prospectus writes about finding “the next Orioles” (i.e., the next team that no one gives a chance, and then surprises massively to the upside) and why that’s kind of a specious endeavor in the first place. Among other things Lindbergh points out, he notes that the Indians are the vogue “next Orioles” pick, which de facto makes them not the next Orioles. In other words, if everyone thinks the Indians might be a surprise team, it’s not really a surprise if they do well. So … maybe it’s the Cubs? (Of course, Ben notes that a team has increased its win total by 20 or more only six times in the last 16 seasons. The Cubs need a 20-win improvement just to hit .500.) The Cubs certainly qualify in the sense that no one expects them to be in the playoffs in 2013.
  • Harry Pavlidis

    Matt Garza’s water breaking is one of the strangest injuries of all time.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, but the baby will be here soon, and everyone will forget about it.

      • hansman1982

        Wait, so Garza is having Brett’s baby?

        Wow, now everything makes sense and I am thoroughly confused at the same time.

        • DarthHater

          Garza really shouldn’t be trying to pitch until after he’s had the baby…

  • Peter

    Well Brandon Phillips hates the Cardinals and beat Yadier’s ass, and for that reason I will always like Phillips, same goes for Nyjer Morgan, hates the Cardinals and their white trashy toilet of a town.

    • Jim

      I seem to remember a story about Darwin talking with Brandon in 2011 about how to do some things better around 2nd base, and Brandon gave him some tips that helped him. That alone makes me scratch my head … Darwin went, what 142 game without making an error tying a major league record? I also seem to remember that Darwin made a lot of web gem type plays during that streak. If that story is true, I think it really tarnishes the “good guy” reputation that Brandon used to have IMO.

    • Patrick G

      Honestly, I don’t care Yadier is on the Cardinals, I may respect him more than Phillips or Morgan. Call me crazy, especially as a cub fan, but I can respect the Cardinals more than the Reds or Brewers after some of their antics. Phillips and Morgan are arrogant A-holes, And wasn’t it Votto not congratulating Marlon Byrd at the all star game? Scumbags

      • BluBlud

        Why does Votto owe Byrd any congrats? Players on opposite teams like each other too much. I would rather Votto call Byrd an asshole and say he doesn’t like him. I would like to see Byrd, if he was still a Cub, say the same thing. I want my players to hate the competition. I would never cangradulate an opponent, and I’m a coach. I shake there hand and tell them good game, then I move on.

        • Patrick G

          They aren’t opponents in the all star game, and I’ve played college baseball where we had heated rivalries and played with them on summer teams and didnt care one bit. Obviously would be different in the majors, but don’t see why publicly stating it had to come out. And why the cubs? It’s not like they were good at that time why not the cardinals or brewers players?

        • Patrick G

          And would think with the World Series home field on the line they would show some sort of sportsmanship too eachother

        • frank

          They were all star teammates in the incident to which Patrick G was referring.

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    I’ve never liked Phillips, he’s an arrogant prick.

    • SouthernCub

      Agreed

    • Fishin Phil

      That sir, is an insult to arrogant pricks everywhere!

      • Katie

        +1

  • Dustin S

    I always get a little nervous when injuries like the Garza thing happen. It comes from years of Hendry and the organization following the Bill Belicheck communication policy on injuries when it comes to pitchers. If I had a nickel for every time a pitcher had a little soreness or tendinitis that turned out to be something worse… Not saying it’s completely intentional, know there are a lot of different causes. It can be pitchers playing down an injury/pain, the front office protecting trade value, a manager wanting to keep opponents in the dark on who will be starting, etc.

  • james

    Phillips really is a jerk. The gold glove award is probley the most overated award in baseball. When Rafeal Palmriro can get a gold glove for playing first base and he DH for most of the 1999 season there is something wrong. There has been other examples of poor choices of gold glove winners in the past. Now it looked like major league baseball made the right choice with Barneys gold glove. His season set a standard for second basemen.

  • mysterious4th

    Phillips is just mad that fundamental defense beat out his between the legs plays. Barney is a very smart defender with range, Phillips is a cry baby……well it seems that way with his reaction to not winning. A Cub would of said something like this “yes I was surprised but he is a great defender so I knew I had compitition all year with a guy who would tie an errorless record….”

  • DarthHater

    The inherent contradiction of trying to predict a “surprise” team reminds me of an old Yogi-ism: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

  • CubsFanBob

    I feel the who “20″ win improvement to reach .500 attitude is misleading. I would like to see the wins / loss trend projection for the season prior to the All-Star break and the complete break down of the team. My gut tells me this 2013 team is closer to playing 500 ball and challenging for at least the wild card than needing at least “20″ more games this year to be a 500 team.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s not really misleading – it’s happened only six times in those last 16 seasons for a reason. And those 16 seasons included plenty of teams like the Cubs, who sold off the year before.

      • CubsFanBob

        I know its insanity to argue it but I just dont see this team on paper reflecting a 100 lost team. Guess we will find out….

        • BluBlud

          The Cubs are not a 100 loss team. Nobody thinks that. I had the Cubs pegged higher then anyone at 82-85, but the closer we get to the season, the lower my projections drop. Until we find a quality RF who can play, or a CF and move Dejesus back to RF and a couple of guys who can run the bases, we will struggle to get 75 wins.

          • Timmy

            I certainly hope that the Cubs win 82 games but I just don’t see how it will be possible to not lose less than 90 games. We have to assume top production from a lot of inconsistent and unproven players just to play 500 ball. Such a record would also bar potential injuries.

          • CubsFanBob

            Sorry I am saying I feel last year’s team was in theory better than a “100″ lost team and that projecting this year’s Cub’s team off their actual performance record from 2012 is going to skew the projected results. Of course all you have is the statistical record from 2012 to base your projections so it is what it is thus we come up with the “20″ wins over last year to just hit ..500.

            Call me crazy but I think the 2012 Cubs from mid May to late July are what you should be looking at when projecting for 2013 not the “100″ lost team.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Also, you have to think of “6 in 16 seasons” as “6 teams in (about) the last 480 teams.” I put “about” because, realistically, the same amount of luck that will push a 60 win team to 80 wins would probably push a 90 win team only to about 105 or so wins.

        At any rate, it probably will not happen in any given year, and if it does happen, then it probably will not be the Cubs.

    • hansman1982

      The 2012 Cubs were on pace for 69 wins last year (going by W/L and Pythagorean) at the deadline so they’d need a 12 win improvement to get to .500 and 20 wins to get to contention.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Ordinarily, I would say: “ah, but the damage to the team by the sell-off means will carry over to the next season!” However, the depth to the pitching staff and the small upgrade in the OF makes me think that they are at least back to where they were by the sell-off, and probably a little better.

        • hansman1982

          Ya, when you look at last years Cubs you can replace Dempster with Jackson, Maholm with Feldman, and get a vast improvement in the 5th slot. If the bullpen can just be decent and we don’t get 4 black holes of death on offense for the first month and a half, it will go a LONG way to closing in on .500.

          • hogie

            Dempster was far better than Jackson, and Maholm was much better than Feldman. The fifth spot in the rotation should certainly be better, but I don’t even know if it makes up for the other two spots changing. Baker could be the difference maker in comparing last year to this year, but his question marks are legit. Marmol should have a much better first half, and Fujikawa should lift the bullpen from where we started last year, but lets keep our fingers crossed that Camp and Russell don’t regress.
            The offense should have some impovement, theoretically. Assuming Soriano can keep his numbers near where they were last year, I would be willing to bet that Scheiholtz can put up better stats than Byrd did in the first half, and that is the only difference in the outfield. If the problem was the wrist, Stewart should do better and Castillo can shurely do better than his predecessor did last year.
            This team looks to maybe do a little better than last year’s, maybe, but the going on about how our rotation is so much better is a bit of an exageration in my opinion. The minor improvements to the offense and the bullpen should be enough to make up for our starters not being quite as strong. I really wish I could say differently, and will to all the Brewers fans at work, but I don’t expect much better than last year’s results.

  • JB88

    IMHO, Patrick Mooney is, bar none, the best journalist covering the Cubs today. His content is just so far and above the rest, including *gasp* Bruce Miles, that he has become a must-read. And you really can’t say that for many of the mainstream journalists covering the Cubs these days.

    • Spriggs

      I like him too. I know it’s wrong to even mention this, but I will anyway… If he just didn’t look like such a wuss.

      • JB88

        Lol. If you think that about Mooney, I’d hate to read your opinion of Paul Sullivan then …

        • hansman1982

          Paul Sullivan looks like he should be operating a HAM radio out of his Mother’s basement while he builds model rockets and never launches them because he is saving them up for something special. Or at least his Twitter avatar does.

  • BluBlud

    Back to bleachernation. ESPNdotCOM is killing me. I’m tired of reading about that Michael Jordan thinks Kobe’s 5 rings are better then Lebron’s 1, if Jordan or Lebron can guard each other, and who would win if they played 1on1. Why can’t people just enjoy the greatness of Lebron instead of always beating the man down and comparing him. There will never be another Kobe, Lebron or Michael, just like there will never be another Tony Campana.;) Shot Out to my HomeTown boy CP3 for the ASG MVP though.

    I like Brandon Phillips. I would rather a guy come out and say what he feels then the typical,”Barney is great and he deserves it” line. Does it mean what he says is true? No. Everybody knows Barney deserved it. But don’t knock him for his opinion. People expect athletes to be Choir Boys and Saints and always say and do the politically correct thing. It doesn’t make him arrogant, it just make’s him right or wrong.

    • BluBlud

      messed up on the smily face. ;)

  • Timmy

    No offense to Darwin but I wish the Cubs had Phillips. Most athletes have egos. We celebrate them when they’re our guy and hate them when they’re someone else’s guy. He’s a quality player.

    • BluBlud

      Nah, you can keep Phillips. I’ll ride with my boy Darwin until he gets pushed by one of our other guys.

  • OCCubFab

    ” (Of course, Ben notes that a team has increased its win total by 20 or more only six times in the last 16 seasons. The Cubs need a 20-win improvement just to hit .500.)”

    Brett, you are misquoting Lindbergh’s article. He said team’s improved by 20 wins 26 times in the last 16 seasons. But only 6 times had that improvement taken them over 90 wins. Cubs do not fall into the latter category.

  • Ryan

    Baseball is a boring game? That’s the part of Phillips’ comment that bothers me the most. I would not want to have a player on the Cubs who doesn’t enjoy the game, openly at least. The investment in the game is important to motivation other than the obvious extrinsic motivation of money.

    Aside from that, he seems like a total jerk and continues to live up (or down) to my low expectations of his character.

  • terencem

    Brandon Phillips isn’t so much an arrogant jerk as he believes that he is this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randian_hero

    • TSB

      Nah, it’s better to stick with B. Phillips is an arrogant jerk.

  • Curt

    Brandon Phillips (aka douschenozzle )just can’t stand it that ego and flair can improve him to an average player.

  • OlderStyle

    Brandon Phillips: take note. Some people don’t like talking about their flair…
    [img]flair[/img]

    • OlderStyle

      [img]http://www.architerials.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/officespace_chotchkies.jpg[/img]

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    The worst part of Phillips’ comments is the “baseball is boring” bit. I really hate when people say that. Yes, baseball is a bit slower than most other major sports, but the people who find it boring in my opinion are those who are uneducated and cannot identify / enjoy the little nuances that the game offers. Go away Phillips.

    • MaxM1908

      Much agreed. For a long time, I was a passive fan. I loved the Cubs, but wasn’t invested in the nuances of the games. Not surprisingly, I found it difficult to watch more than a few regular season games throughout the year. About four or five years ago, though, my interest in the sport was reignited, and I started learning more about the statistics, sabremetrics, strategy, etc. Now I’m hooked. I love watching every pitch of a game, and seeing the manager decisions, the pitcher and batter approaches, the defensive shifts, etc. I’m still a novice of a fan compared to the rest of you on this site, but I’m a firm believer there is correlation between enjoyment and knowledge of the game.

  • rich

    Jesse Rodgers , what a joke he is , I agree with some of his points but no way will they be nearly as bad as last year . What do you expect another jerk from espn and the idoit is from Chicago ! espn love to dump on the Chicago teams . Thank goodness the Score got rid of his stupid ass !!!!!!!!!!

  • Dustin S

    Off-topic – but I wonder how long it is before the MLBPA throws a fit about Kyle Lohse still remaining unsigned. I’m completely in favor of having draft compensation for losing FA’s to maintain balance. But when it leads to guys like him still being unsigned this late and not even many grumblings of serious interest, plus the other guys in a similar boat that signed late and/or had their value severly impacted by it, I wonder if they won’t push hard to tweak the rules. Owners are probably happy with it and will resist changes if it indirectly holds down salaries though.

    • JoeyCollins

      I can see them tweaking the rule a little to avoid these situations, but honestly i think it’ll result in more team friendly extensions or guys signing their qualifying offer. The longer Lohse remains unsigned the better for the Cubs and any Garza conversations.

  • 5412

    Hi,

    Well Joe Morgan before him trashed Sandberg and didn’t go to his HOF induction. Now Brandon Phillips can’t deal with Barney.

    What is it with 2B’s from the Reds. Dusty should tell Phillips to shut up.

    regards,
    5412

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