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nobody f's with david dejesus cubsThe mornings are getting harder and harder as the reduced sleep starts to build up. I still feel mostly cogent, but much slower. And less articulate. Bargle gob majone.

  • The offense has been terrible so far this Spring, and Dale Sveum has noticed. “We’re not swinging the bats at all,” Sveum said, per Cubs.com. “The on-base percentage, everything, has been pretty bad this Spring Training, and that’s after two pretty good games to start the Cactus League. Since then, it hasn’t been very productive. It’s not that easy to not get 10 hits in the Cactus League, and we haven’t done it for awhile.” The Cubs’ team .307 OBP is the worst in all of baseball this Spring. For all of the discussed improvement in the rotation, the lineup has always looked pretty terrifying, even after Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro return.
  • Paul Swyden of FanGraphs/ESPN Insider tries to build the case of how the Cubs could be competitive this year, and thus set up the “do they continue to rebuild or go for it” question. The answer is obviously the latter, though the Cubs aren’t going to completely sell off the farm for the mere chance at a Wild Card slot.
  • Dale Sveum offered some thoughts on how Kyuji Fujikawa and Chris Rusin pitched this weekend (good on both accounts, though Sveum was quick to note that Rusin faced a lot of lefties).
  • Junior Lake is dealing with a “stiff” trapezius muscle, which doesn’t sound terribly serious, but neither did “lat tightness” or “mild quad strain.” Lake wasn’t going to make the big team either way, but you’d like to see him healthy for the start of the AAA season.
  • Team USA avoided an embarrassing first round exit in the WBC by beating Canada yesterday. They now move on to the second round in Miami, together with Team Italy from their pool.
  • But now what you’re really here to read about. THE CUBS BUNT TOURNAMENT! David DeJesus defeated The Video Dude (Nate Halm) in the final yesterday to reclaim his championship belt. DeJesus won in 2012, so I expect that we’ll once again see him drop down about three bunts this season. The team and most of the front office was in attendance, and many were rooting for The Video Dude. “It’s always easy to [root for the underdog],” DeJesus said, per the Tribune. “The guy with the belt, people ‘be hatin’.’ But it’s all right.”
  • They see me buntin’, they hatin’, wasting outs I’m sacrificin’ dirty

  • The Cubs are getting some grief because The Video Dude (Nate Halm) finished second. That was to be expected – and the snark would have been even more titanic if The Video Dude had won – but Halm has played professionally in leagues other than MLB recently (where it’s possible that bunting is much more prevalent), and the vast majority of players in the bunt tourney are not regular bunters (nor should they be). Further, the players are bunting into little squares against BP fastballs. That’s not exactly reflective of the ability to bunt in the big leagues. Not only can I not get riled up by The Video Dude beating the “real” players, I actually get excited by it. Long live The Video Dude.
  • In case you missed Luke’s top prospects series last week, make sure to at least check out the final installment.
  • BigPappa

    How many times did DeJesus bunt last year?

    • cjdubbya

      Six.

    • Cub Fan Dan

      I was just gonna say, for someone who is your bunt champion twice, you’d think they’d give him a little more opportunity to use it to get on base. According to fangraphs he had 1 bunt hit in 6 bunt attempts. Dont know if those attempts were purely SFs or just attempts at getting hits

      I dont have anything against the tourney, but if Sveum had created this as a team-building fundamental practice, Id think he would be using this more in game situations. Maybe the fact that 2 of the final 8 was non-player (Halm & Buss – I think Buss?) has something to do with that.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Again: bunting a BP fastball into a certain point box and bunting against a variety of Major League pitches in a game to try and get a hit are very, very, very different things.

        • hansman1982

          Hey Brett, I am REALLY good at driving around the parking lot…you think I could strap on a NASCAR and win the Winston Cup?

        • mak

          Brett — I don’t really think those skills are that unrelated. If you can bunt the ball exactly where you want against MLB pitching, you can put the ball where you want against BP. The inverse is all true. This is what concerns me.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          What gets completely left out of the equation is what pitchers do to prevent bunts. If anything, then a reverse bunting tournament where pitchers work on making guys popup or K while trying to bunt would be much more valuable, especially for an NL team.

          • frank

            The birth of the Anti-Bunt Tournament!!!

          • DarthHater

            How about a tournament in which pitchers work on plunking a batter without injuring him? Very useful skill in the regular season. And it provides a great opportunity for non-team-members to participate — they can be the targets.

      • hansman1982

        This bunt tournament has NOTHING to do with in-game situations.

        Bunting, outside of the pitcher or a guy who is more likely to GIDP than K (which would be a remarkable feat), is a pointless exercise. You are less likely to get on base via the bunt than by putting together a productive at bat.

        Think about it, DeJesus had a .350 OBP last year. In his bunts he went 1 for 6 – .167 OBP. So by bunting with our Bunt Champion you, effectively, give up A LOT of chances to get on base. (If you were to solely bunt every at bat in a season it would equal about 119 times on base).

        • Cub Fan Dan

          Point well taken. It was just a thought of a guy having success at that, you might see that some more, but like you said, he has that on-base skill by just doing what he does – I guess I thought wrong.

          • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

            It’s ok to think “wrong”.
            I often think one thing and then read a little bit here and the change my mind (as I do in the real world).
            I respect a man who can stand up and say “point well taken”.
            We need more of that here (and in the real world).
            It ain’t all about being “right” – it’s about deepening or knowledge of the game and the Cubs.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Bunting for a SH and bunting for a hit are two completely different beasts, and the bunt tourney was (insofar as I could see) about SH bunts.

        At any rate, Sveum won’t be using this much in game situations. I suspect that Jed and/or Theo had a little chat with Sveum after Sveum had Castro try to lay down a bunt in a key situation last summer.

        Now, if Dale really wanted a contest on a true fundamental, then he’d have a batting eye contest. I’m not sure how you construct it, but the players have to call “ball” or “strike” by the time the ball is 10′ from a pitcher’s hand.

        • MDel

          One option is to have them swing at the strikes and take the balls. Just spitballin’ here… :)

  • FarmerTanColin

    I enjoy the blips of Sveum’s responses. By him pointing out that Rusin faced a lot of left handers is a minor bit but feels like honesty that isn’t a norm around the league.

  • waittilthisyear

    in re: to the unrest over the video dude finishing second: while i think it is cool and i too rooted for el duderino, i think it is not unreasonable to question why a team of professionals could all be ousted by the video dude. taking all your points, brett, into consideration, i still think it is troubling that a lot of these guys, especially the young guys who should not be too far removed from the days when bunting was something they practiced, don’t have the basic hand-eye coordination plus coachability it takes to bunt a bp fastball.

    note: i think this is no big deal and the whole bunting tournament is kind of stupid, i just don’t think the results can be completely disregarded

    • waittilthisyear

      o, and excellent dejesus pic. eight year olds, dude

    • cjdubbya

      In Nate Halm’s defense, he did play D-1 baseball (Miami (OH)).

      I don’t think it’s that they couldn’t get bunts down, but rather with the scoring based on where it rolls, I think it’s OK to pretty much disregard the results.

    • Mak

      Agreed. Even if the video dude played some ball, major leaguers should be able to bunt. Well. This is not a good or even neutral story.

      • hansman1982

        NO THEY SHOULDN’T! Castro, Rizzo, Soriano, Castillo, Schierholtz, Hairston, Stewart are all guys that should have 0 clue on how to bunt the ball. In fact, I hope these guys have TERRIBLE form and didn’t make contact on a single pitch. The only guys who should be able to bunt effectively are the guys who are not paid to hold a bat.

        • TWC

          Absolutely. People who claim that all hitters should be able to “bunt well” are insane, and have no idea what this so-called “fundamental baseball” they preach really means. The fundamental goal baseball is winning games. Having your 1-6 hitters bunting does not win games.

        • Blublud

          I disagree. While bunting may not be something that you want you best hitter to do, any additional weapon thats available for use can never be a bad thing. In other words, you never wanna see Rizzo bunt, but if you have 1 out and a runner on third in the bottom of the 9th with the score tied in game 7 of the World Series, you want to at least have the option to call the suicide. Even if that is unlikely to ever happen, you never know when it might come up, and Rizzo needs to have the skill to pull it off.

          • TWC

            Well, Jay, if you’re gonna play in hypothetical land all morning, in that case the pitcher would most likely walk Rizzo (and the next batter) to set up the force at every base, and then they’ll call in the CF to ply the infield, too.

            With 1 out and a runner on third, you can expect to get that run (98% of the time) by the end of the inning. If you make your slugger bunt in that situation, you are limiting his ability to perform the way he does best based on a hunch that you have that bunting would be the best way to score a run. Why would you do that?

            • hansman1982

              But just think, if he had proper bunting fundamentals, the pitcher would:

              A) Have no choice but to groove him a buntable BP FB.
              B) Even if the pitcher somehow bucked the laws of the universe, Rizzo would still be able to lay down the bunt on IBB pitches.

            • TWC

              (Clarification: when you have a man on 3B with only 1 out, you can expect to score .989 runs by the end of the inning, not that you’ll get that run 98% of the time.)

              • mak

                I can’t tell who is being sarcastic here. But are any of you actually arguing that a major league ball player doesn’t need to have the skill of bunting? Just because it isn’t (or even rarely) is called for, its a simple skill that can be honed with just a little bit of practice. The fact that 99% of the guys on this roster can’t lay put the ball where they want to on a bunt better than a video guy is alarming.

                • hansman1982

                  Why would you practice something that is:

                  A) Rarely used
                  B) Detrimental to the teams ability to score runs, except in these 1-1,000,000 times that it happens scenarios.

                  You’d be better off practicing for when a batted ball bounces off the pitcher.

                • TWC

                  I am not being sarcastic. (shock)

                  About half of all major leaguers don’t need the skill of hitting. Why do the hitters’ inabilities to bunt bother you so much?

                  • hansman1982

                    Because, when you are receiving treatment for cancer you really should become obsessive about treating an ingrown hair.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      I wouldn’t have thought they would have that type of problem.

                  • Blublud

                    I agree, you probably never want your slugger to bat. I’m not argueing that Rizzo should ever bunt, just that him having that skill doesn’t hurt. In any sport, a player should maximize and learn to use any skill possible that make him a better player. I agree, I probably wouldn’t want Rizzo to bunt in any situation, but Rizzo having the ability to bunt will hurt nothing as far the game goes and can only help. So why not work on that skill when there is time to work on it.

                    The whole point is any player should take the time to maximize their abilities, any ability, no matter if those abilities have only a slight chance of being used. It can only help the team.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      If Rizzo has “time” to work on bunting, then he should spend it taking grounders, watching video, etc. To truly work on bunting, he would need to get one of the real pitchers out there pitching as if he (the pitcher) is actually trying to get a bunter out. That means 90+ fastballs up and in, sliders down and away, etc.

                      If I’m GM, then I don’t want to run the risk of injury to the batter or waste the arm of the pitcher having them do that.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  The other problem is that it’s not a skill that really can be honed with “practice” because live pitching and practice pitching are completely different. The only time you bunt in anything like a game situation is in a game.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          In a way, MLB regulars being able to bunt should be viewed as pitchers being able to hit. It’s swell if they can: but that’s not why they are in the big leagues. A GM would be a fool to send a good hitter down because he cannot bunt. (He would not be a fool to sack a manager who asked a good hitter to bunt, however!)

          And if you want your pitchers to bunt well, then I can think of only one solution: get high OBP guys to bat #7 & #8. That gives your pitchers a lot of bunting opportunities, and the only thing that will get them to bunt better is actually doing it against real MLB pitchers who know a bunt is coming while a 3Bman and/or 1Bman is breathing down your throat. (I suspect that none of these are part of the bunting tourney!)

  • Brian

    Maybe he’s the Cubs next bunting instructor! Video Dude to coach all in one day.

  • Blublud

    I feel the offense is not top notch, but has the potential to be a lot better then what we have seen. If we go position by position, the Cubs have several positions where their offensive players are average to above average, or have the potential to be above average with the bat. Those positions are C, 1B, SS, LF and CF(If Dejesus is there with his OBP). Barney is not going to blow anybody away with his offense at 2B, but he still has room for growth. Hairston will provide us with plenty of pop in right and if Schierholz gives us anything, we will be a pretty average offense. Not good by any stretch, but not horrible either. Just average enough, that if our pitching is above average, we should be in a lot of games. This why I have us winning slightly more games then we lose this year. 82-85 wins.

    • brickhouse

      The offense is bad and will be toward the bottom of the league. They still have a long way to go before they are a 82-85 win team.

      • Blublud

        I beg to differ. I think if they fall short of 82 wins, it won’t be by more then 4 or 5.

  • Jp3

    So much for the Cactus League making it easy on the hitters and all pitchers do is groove fastballs in the spring… All pitchers except for the ones we face apparently. Once again these are small sample sizes but Baez and Soler stat lines this spring are only lower than a handful of our regular starters, I think???

  • Curt

    the bunting is all nice and entertaining and all but why not use that time for more constructive things like teaching some of these guys to hit or teaching some patience at the plate. 307 obp while it is entertaining what’s the point.just sayin.

    • Noah

      Because no one has figured out a consistent way to teach those things over years of having a player be in their organizations, and you certainly aren’t go to be able to do it over spring training when you’re more concerned about just getting your players ready for the season. The bunt tournament is something fun and harmless and helps build some team chemistry. It also probably lets the Cubs know who can lay down a bunt for a close and late situation and who they should have just swing away.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I still think that figuring out a way to do a “batting eye” tournament would be more productive. Batting eye is important on every pitch of every PA, whereas bunting is important (for a position player on a well-run team) once a year. Yes, you cannot teach batting eye: but it’s time to work on finding ways to *hone* what talent a guy does have. BP style pitching won’t cut it, either: I’m think that it will require serious computer simulation.

  • Silly rabbit

    Non-player shames Cubs in skill contest is the reality.

  • BABIP (MichCubFan)

    Speaking of unnecessary sac bunting, anybody been watching the WBC? It is like old school baseball heaven.

    Runners on first and second, 5th hitter at the plate. Bunt ‘em over! That’s how a manager wins ballgames!

    That and yelling at your players after every play like the Cuban manager does. Worked wonders, haha.

  • Spriggs

    I believe that the bunt tourney is mostly a team building exercise. I don’t think it is an attempt to gauge performance or improve technique. I see it more of a competition that players get excited about. It is a scheduled daily requirement that players are responsible for.

    Players work hard all spring on other things that matter. Hitting, fielding, positioning, baserunning drills, pitching, pitching drills, etc. The tourney is a welcomed diversion from the grind, but it is not without a purpose. The coaches here have the players more focused and working harder than any other of the regimes I have seen here (under Baker, Piniella, Quade). More hours of work. More structured. Yet the morale seems high – for what that is worth. The tourney is a small thing that the media makes a big deal out of, but I think the coaching staff has found something that serves a purpose.

    Remember it is a competition and requires the player to perform under a certain amount of pressure. It’s not a bad thing to be put in those situations.

  • Jan Forty-Two

    The bunt tourney is about having fun. I guess most players don’t take it serious at all and don’t care too much if they lose to a FO guy. And, after all, Nate Halm is, according to my information, a 27 year old guy who played some baseball before (at least one year in Germany http://stats.baseball-softball.de/players/?f=52460). As one earlier comment pointed out, we can see in the WBC that, internationally, the bunt is still used a lot so who knows how often he bunted before – maybe more than we think when we hear “video guy”. And for him, I’m sure it means a lot to compete against major leaguers, even if it’s in a silly bunt tournament. And of course it’s still spring training, and bunting doesn’t mean a lot in modern pro-baseball, and it’s not even against major league pitching – I think you got my point, I don’t worry too much about the lacking “fundamentals” of the Cubs.

  • cubbiesOHcubbies

    Any truth to the rumors that next season the Cubs are debating whether to chang the bunt tourney format to a hit the ball out of the infield tourney, or perhaps a score the runner from third with less than two outs tourney??????

    • Cubbie Blues

      “hit the ball out of the infield tourney”
      Well, there goes Campana’s chances.

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