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wrigley field lightsYou’re probably wondering why I haven’t said anything about that Paul Sullivan business yesterday. In true me form, I’m responding to a single Tweet with a 1400 word treatise. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, be patient. It’s coming.

  • Theo Epstein and Tom Ricketts, among many comments yesterday, noted that they would like to see more night games allowable at Wrigley Field. Epstein’s take, however, was interesting, as quoted by the Tribune: “It really would help from a revenue standpoint with a [new] TV deal. Competitively, we’ll adjust to anything. The day games can be a competitive advantage for us because we can adjust to it. So it’s more about revenue than it is about competitiveness, but it’d be nice to have the flexibility to do that, certainly.” If Epstein actually believes the day game issue can be an advantage for the Cubs, and isn’t just cowing to a traditional fan base that loves day games, we’re just going to have to disagree. As I’ve documented here for years, and as player after player has confirmed, individual day games – even individual day games after a night game – are not the issue. On an individual game basis, you could definitely argue that Cubs players are better able to adjust to day games than a visiting team, who isn’t used to doing it. That’s not the issue. The issue is the cumulative effect that the constant re-setting of the body clock has on Cubs players. Other teams don’t have to deal with it. The Cubs do. It’s a competitive disadvantage, and I really don’t understand Epstein’s position on this – other than maybe just not wanting to seem like an excuse-maker. Players don’t like to be excuse-makers either, though, and several have been honest enough to admit that it’s a problem.
  • Baseball America’s Jim Callis did the Q&A thing, and, in response to a question the best bet for success among outfielders Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Yasiel Puig, and David Dahl, Callis said that the most likely to succeed was easily Almora. The money quote: “I’ll be stunned if he doesn’t become at least an annual .275/15 homer hitter with Gold Glove ability in center field.” Callis gives the edge in highest upside to Puig, though, because of his power and speed, as well as his apparently advanced bat.
  • Jon Greenberg with a great piece on the continued “process” of remaking the Cubs into a team that actually wins games, including some interesting Theo quotes. This one is easily the best: “[Wishing on prospects is] an unrealistic panacea because not all prospects work out. You can’t over-leverage your organization on the hopes of two or three prospects. That doesn’t work out. You have to look at every day, every player, every draft, every waiver wire, every game-on-the-line situation in the ninth inning as a way to get better as an organization and win some games.” That’s why, even the smallest moves, are important. It all adds up.
  • Greenberg also wrote this in the piece, which deserved its own line: “With the stink of the past four years lingering like spilled Old Style, Epstein said he understands how a small sample size affects the way some cynics look at this team through one week.” Poetry.
  • I’m no scout, but I noted yesterday in the first inning of Edwin Jackson’s struggles against the Brewers that something seemed to wrong with his grip. The ball was coming out of his hand in such a way that it didn’t look like he had any shot of actually commanding his pitches in the way he wanted. And, per Cubs.com, here’s what Dale Sveum said about Jackson’s early struggles in the game and then subsequent success: “He was pulling and jerking his fastball and he couldn’t get ahead or anything. He changed the grip and things changed around.” OK, now I’m a scout.
  • Cubs Pitching Coach Chris Bosio told Bruce Levine that the Cubs still want Carlos Marmol to succeed as the closer. Bosio suggested that, after Marmol gets back on his feet – which seems a long way off yesterday’s low-pressure, poor-performing (albeit scoreless) inning – the Cubs will make him the closer again. That stands in stark contrast to Dale Sveum’s comments just two days ago, when he said that Kyuji Fujikawa’s ascension to the closer’s role was intended to be permanent.
  • I keep meaning to highlight it: a site (and Twitter account) dedicated to tracking the baserunning mishaps in baseball – the TOOTBLAN Tracker. Best of all, it comes courtesy of the man who invented the term. Check it out.
  • You’ll have chances to “Meet the Team” this year, with that team being the Kane County Cougars. All proceeds benefit the Anthony Rizzo Foundation.
  • If you missed it yesterday, you’re going to want to get in on the $300 fantasy contest DraftStreet is hooking us up with. Not only is it a chance to win some scratch, it’s going to make Friday’s games a hell of a lot more exciting. You can sign up here. And you can see the full details here.
  • JulioZuleta

    Pretty crazy that theguy most likely to suceed is the 18 year old with almost no pro experience or track record. Puig is doing very well in a small samlpe at AA and Soler had a great Spring and is off to a great start in A+. Can’t wait to get a good long look at Almora.

    • Featherstone

      Almora must have a crazy high floor then. I know prospects are never a sure bet but having that kind of player locking down center field would be just awesome.

  • http://Ehanauer.com Clark Addison

    Thanks for the link to the Greenberg column. Good stuff. He and Mooney make the regular beat writers look like Lillibridges.

    • cjdubbya

      I don’t know that I’d loop Mooney in with the rest of the beat writers, as his stuff’s very solid for day-to-day coverage. Part of the beauty of columns is you don’t have to be tied down to the day-to-day, though it seems that a couple beat writers for the Cubs are starting to blur those lines.

  • Dan

    If anything is better then a TOOTBLAN tracker please point me in the right direction. lol

  • Grant

    I’m curious how everyone but the Dodgers missed on Puig. I remember thinking when they signed him that they seriously overpaid for what was likely to be a 1-2 WAR OF. Any idea what happened there? Is it just the lack of adequate scouting in Cuba?

    • JulioZuleta

      It’s stil real early. Also I’m not just saying this because Soler is a Cub and Puig is a Dodger, but Puig definitely has some age concerns. Keith Law has basically said that the reason he doesn’t rank him very highly is because he thinks he’s much older than 22. Law has said tons of times that “He is the oldest looking 22 year old I’ve ever seen.” If you google-image him…you’ll see why. He looks like a 36 year old middle linebacker.

      • hansman1982

        [img]http://cdn0.sbnation.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/8693721/20130217_jla_sz6_169.0_standard_352.0.jpg[/img]

        vs.

        [img]http://nbcprofootballtalk.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/keith-brooking-troubles-e1344283972717.jpg?w=199[/img]

        Can you tell which one is Yasiel Puig and which one is 36-year-old linebacker Keith Brooking?

        • ProfessorCub

          ha

        • JulioZuleta

          Looks like the same person to me. Uncanny.

        • Grant

          Yes, but only because I went to Georgia Tech with Keith Brooking. :)

        • JulioZuleta

          [img]http://zonadestrike.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/yasiel-puig-valdc3a9s.jpg[/img]

          Yasiel Puig while still in Cuba, at age “20″

      • Grant

        Thanks, Julio, I wasn’t aware of the age issue.

        I just remember from Spring Training, while all the Cubs fans were talking about Baez’ great performance, and how it warranted at least consideration that they call him up to the bigs, that Puig was putting up even better numbers and was under serious consideration of a call-up in a much better Dodgers team. If he really is 22 and is putting up a performance like that, I’d say that warrants $42 million for 7 years.

        But you’re right, after seeing the pictures, he looks like he’s got more than 22 trips around the sun on that face.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Given that the Dodgers paid Puig $42 million, I’m not sure we can say other teams “missed.” If they’d got him for $500K, then everyone definitely whiffed.

      • JulioZuleta

        That too.

      • Grant

        For 7 years, that’s only $6 mil per year. Admittedly there’s some question marks there, but from what I understand, none of the other teams thought he was worth half that.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Even in the pre-CBA environment in which Puig and Soler signed, a $20 million deal, for example, is a huge, huge, huge contract. A $30 million deal, like the one Soler got, is an announcement to the world that this is a guy who we are convinced is going to contribute in the bigs for several years. A $42 million deal is an announcement that this guy is going to be a star. To guarantee that amount to an untested prospect says far more about the Dodgers’ willingness to spend crazy than it does about their ability to be the only team that thought he was worth signing. Lots of teams would have signed him. I don’t really see this as a whiff situation, even if Puig ends up good. A lot of teams liked him, and the Dodgers paid over the moon for him.

          I’d be more likely to call Cespedes a whiff by teams like the Cubs.

  • Webb

    Remember when you responded to that Matt Garza tweet with a 600 word “does he like me or not” post? I hope this one blows that one out of the water. Also, Sullivan is becoming quite the Debbie Downer of late. I tweeted John Heyman as much.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. I should have just passed Garza a note in study hall.

  • Kevin

    Do you think the Cubs front office “Dream Team” is any better than last year and do you think they have any advantage over other teams in the upcoming draft?

  • Curt

    any news on the ongoing saga that is the wrigley field renovation .seems very quiet.

    • hansman1982

      Brett finally listened to the trolls. He isn’t going to ever report on it again. He didn’t like the mean man saying bad things.

      • DarthHater

        Let it go, hans. White Flag called me out on this yesterday and threatened to beat me up. She sounds tough, so I advise caution. ;-)

        • hansman1982

          Shield of Valour card used…+99 ARMOR!!!!

          • Ron

            Nerd alert, nerd alert!

    • HackAttack

      “It’s a fairly involved and kind of a nutty contract,” said Ricketts.

  • Kevin F.

    I;d like to say yes, as Epstein has said getting a year to organize it all means they are all set now. And they seem to have had more hits than misses. But like every other front office they will all be judged after 4 or 5 years, to see who truly has made it and made a difference. I hold judgment also because last year’s pitcher selections in the amateur draft seem to be reaches.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    “… an unrealistic panacea …”

    To which several sports writers asked themselves: “what does that organ that granny had removed have to do with baseball?”

  • Blublud

    Almora is overhyped because he is Theo’s first pick as a Cub. I don’t see him being nearly the ball player that Soler will be. I think Baez and Soler each have Super Star potential, where Almora at his ceiling has regular everyday player potential. I think he will play plus defense, no doubt, but he will be exposed with the bat the higher up the system he goes. Its funny how people make excuses for his inability to draw a walk, but criticize Baez, Vitters, and others for the same, yet they take walks at a much higher rate then he does. Once pitchers at the higher realize he swings at everything, unfortunately he’ll be exposed at the plate.

    • JulioZuleta

      Why do you think his bat will be exposed at higher levels? He has an incredibly sound swing. I agree that Baez’s offensive ceiling is way higher, but if either of the two has a bat that could be taken advantage of by advances pitchers…it’s Baez. Also, you’re basing his walk total on like 80-90 appearances.

      • Blublud

        He had 145 PA last year and 2 walks. He swings at everything. Pitchers in the higher levels will take advantage of that. Baez atleast will take a walk. Baez also has the power to force pitcher to avoid the zone, Almora doesn’t. Baez has a much better swing then Almora, IMO. Almora will be a decent, everyday player, but people are treating him like the next big Cubs super star, and I don’t see it. He is overhyped because he is attached to Theo. Hopefully though, he proves me wrong.

        • hansman1982

          If you think that someone, whom scouts praise for having a good batting eye, is realistically fooling the entire industry and a 1.5% walk rate is what he is capable of, then wow.

          It will be something to keep an eye on this year.

        • AB

          yet Blubud thinks Baez will skip right away to AA and the majors this year despite the same problems (but more severe) he lists here for Almora..

          • Blublud

            I think Baez will be in the majors this year, because the FO sees him as part of the team next year. If he is going to part of the team in say june of next year, it would do him good to see the bigs this year. I would say the same about Almora, or any other prospect, and similar to what they did with Jackson and Vitters last year, if I thought the FO seen him as a part of the team next year.

            BTW, Baez walk rate is 4 time the walk rate of Almora, so how is his problem worse.

            • brickhouse

              There is a 0% chance Baez will play in the majors this year.

            • JulioZuleta

              You think the 20 yer old in Single A is going tobe in the bigs this year?

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Blublud, it’s a simple deduction: guys who swing at everything whiff a lot; Almora does not whiff a lot; ergo, he is not swinging at everything.

          • ReiCow

            Unless you are Vlad Guerrero :)

            Moo!

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Actually, Vlad did not swing at everything. He just had a huge red zone and he was very good at putting the first pitch in that zone into play. HIs walk rate actually was not bad (8.1%): and his K rate (10.9%) was outstanding for a power hitter.

              Tony Gwynn was even more extreme in that direction. He walked only 7.7% of the time: but he K’d only 4.2% of the time.

              Now, I doubt that Almora will be quite that good, but his early results (1.4% walks, 8.9% K’s) fit the “selective hitter with big red zone and good contact” model.

              Baez is a completely different beast: his BB-rate is only 3.9%, which, given the small sample sizes involved, is indistinguishable from Almora’s BB-rate. However, Baez’s K-rate (22.1%) already is significantly greater than Almora’s is even at these sample sizes: well, basically, we expect it by chance alone from two guys who share an 18.3% K-rate (the average of the two players) about one in 10-million pairs of comparisons. But Baez also exemplifies the “swing at everything” model’s expectations.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      By criticizing Baez & Vitters for not drawing walks, what we really are criticizing is their poor batting eyes and their tendencies (nay, proclivities!) to swing at bad pitches. Almora doesn’t swing at bad pitches, or at least he has not shown that tendency yet: what he has shown is a huge red zone. Now, as pitching improves, his blue zones will be revealed: but we don’t know that he’ll be swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone, and we don’t know that he’ll swing at the blue zone pitches.

      (The low BB, low K, big red zone hitter is uncommon, but it is an acceptable alternative to the great-batting eye hitter; people like me don’t go on about them because it’s easier to find the great-batting eye hitters.)

    • DarthHater

      Of course, there are some people who make excuses for Almora’s lack of walks and some who criticize Baez and Vitters for the same thing. There are also some people who criticize Almora’s lack of walks and some who make excuses for Baez and Vitters. So your observation about how “people” view Almora really isn’t “funny” at all — unless by “funny” you mean “meaningless.”

      • hansman1982

        But what about the people who praise Almora for being a handsome lad but criticize Puig for being an old-hag? Then there are people who think Vogelbach is sexy and Soler is ugly.

        WHAT THEN?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

      • DocPeterWimsey

        There is some possible objectivity here. Guys who “swing at everything” typically have high K rates as well as low BB rates. Low BB-rates + low K rates diagnosis a different type of hitter: one who is very good at putting the first hittable pitch into play AND who has a big range of hittable pitches while not chasing really bad pitches.

        • DarthHater

          Doc, I wasn’t trying to suggest that it’s meaningless to compare these players in these performance areas. I was saying that it’s meaningless to try to draw conclusions about what “people” think based only on a non-quantified selection of opinions of some people whose views were selected for consideration without any articulated selection criteria.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Oh, I see. Yes, what people “think” is difficult to objectively summarize, although it is possible. What people *here* think of Cubs players is a very biased sample: we are either overly “woo hoo!” or overly boo hoo about them. Also, people here pay much more attention to Cubs players and prospects than to others: too often people use negative evidence (“I don’t know that this player about whom I know nothing can do X, so I will assume that he can/cannot do X”) in their comparisons of Cubs and Other prospects.

  • Kev

    Panacea.

  • gutshot5820

    Any updates on the renovation? Haha, just kidding. Great compilation of interesting baseball articles.

    • cubfanincardinalland

      Haven’t you heard. Tunney is just crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. Nothing but smooth sailing.

  • gutshot5820

    Have to agree with Brett here on the cumulative effect of the constant re-setting of the body clock. I have a lot of experience of years of sleeping irregular hours. This is magnified 10x worse for someone who has sleeping problems and then needs to wake up early. Cannot underestimate the ability to concentrate and focus at 100% in a sport where a centimeter can mean the difference between a hit and an out. I imagine this was partially offset years ago by taking ephedrine or similar pills that are now banned.

    • DarthHater

      I think all the Cubs show symptoms of ADHD and should immediately be prescribed Adderall. :-P

  • Kyle

    “That’s why, even the smallest moves, are important. It all adds up.”

    I agree, but Epstein’s most frustrating trait in this 63-106 tenure is that he talks it far better than he walks it. When you are fighting for every edge, the defense for so many of your moves shouldn’t be coming down to “who cares, we’re going to be bad anyway.”

  • http://tootblan.tumblr.com TOOTBLAN Tracker

    Thanks, Brett, for the mention!

  • Karen P

    I wonder if Theo’s comments regarding night games were maybe a smoke cover for the City of Chicago. Since the City is so against more night games, if Theo presents it as, “We’ll make more money as a team, ergo put more money in YOUR pockets,” theory instead of “We’ll win more Championships,” I’m willing to bet Tunney and Emmanuel would be more willing to listen.

    You’re always very aware of the fact that Theo chooses his words wisely and doesn’t speak unnecessarily; maybe this is just another example of him jedi-mind tricking the politicians…

  • Kyle

    I’m trying to figure out how “you can’t depend on a few players, every little decision matters” meshes with all the talk about identifying core pieces, or whatever.

    It’s all just piles and piles of meaningless, intelligent-sounding doublespeak, trying to divert heat away from the fact that he built a pretty bad baseball team.

    • Dale’s Ear

      Or it makes sense that while you want to develop core pieces it would be foolish to stop building the rest of the team and just bank on the “big three” panning out as superstars. I think and hope that they all will be very good, but the big league team is going to need at least 22 other players in 2015…

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