kameron loe brewersYou may have missed it, since the timing was a little different than usual, but there’s a fresh BN Podcast episode waiting for you – recorded and published last evening. Check it out, and make sure to subscribe so that you can get them all automatically, whatever odd hours at which we decide to publish.

  • According to the Cubs’ transactions page, Kameron Loe, who was DFA’d earlier in the week and then outrighted to Iowa, has declined his assignment to Iowa and instead elected free agency. His time with the Cubs was largely unsuccessful, but I don’t have a beef with the Cubs taking a chance on him. The bullpen was in disarray, and you might as well take a shot at guys like Loe and Kevin Gregg if they come, essentially, for free. Look how Gregg has worked out so far.
  • Relatedly, the Cubs have already optioned Rafael Dolis to back to Iowa in anticipation of Kyuji Fujikawa’s return from the DL today. The Cubs’ roster machinations from earlier in the week worked out exactly as they’d hoped.
  • Paul Sullivan writes about the sabermetric leanings of the Cubs organization in the Epstein/Hoyer/Sveum era, including the (so far) correct decision not to aggressively pursue guys like Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols. An interest part of the article is the reminder that Dale Sveum once referred to sabermetrics as “cybermetrics,” which is funny because Sveum’s managerial decisions almost always seem to be dictated by the numbers.
  • I’m not a luddite about many things, but Instagram is one of the. So, thanks to BN’er Jesse for passing on a picture from Albert Amora’s Instagram that is of some bats and a comment “back at it again, injury free.” I’d been asking for a week what was up with Almora appearing in an Extended Spring Training game and then going off the map for over a week. I’m guessing he felt a little discomfort after that game, and need a week off. Hopefully he’s back in action today, and for good.
  • Jorge Soler comes in for some praise over at MiLB.com. Thanks to a recent hot streak, Soler’s line is up to an impressive .290/.374/.559, and he’s got almost as many walks (12) and extra base hits (14) as strikeouts (16). In other words, dude is pretty much destroying High-A right now. That same article includes discussion of what the Cubs are doing with Javier Baez, trying to improve on his contact issues.
  • Carrie Muskat answers some questions, and busts out some blown save statistics for the last several years.
  • Patrick Mooney on consistent playoff teams … and the Cubs.
  • Bruce Miles on the Cubs’ RISP woes and the concept of “clutch.” Spoiler alert: being “clutch” is bunk.
  • The “Beat Brett’s Face” fantasy baseball contest runs today – it starts with this evening’s games – so you’re running out of time to sign up. The other reason you’re running out of time is that there are only 50 slots, and, at last check, 41 of them were full. So if you want a shot at part of the $500 prize pool, and a bonus of $5 if you beat me, sign up for the contest here. (Full details here. Note: this is a pay contest, and it costs $11 to participate.)
  • hansman1982

    High K rate, contact issues? That never spells uh-oh, spaghettios.

  • jay

    Yeah, they’ll be lining up to sign Loe….Talk about a human batting practice machine.

  • Frank F.

    Random thought; everyone’s pretty sold on trading DeJesus between now and the deadline. DeJesus is 33 with a 6.5MM option for 2014. Nate Schierholtz, on the other hand is 29 and arbitration eligible in 2014 and a free agent in 2015. Depending on who has more perceived trade value when the time comes, could we do just as well to trade Schierholtz, assuming he has more value and then pick up DeJesus’ option? Schierholtz will be 31 as a free agent, so I can’t imagine we’d resign him if we didn’t trade him now or next year, and I can’t imagine DeJesus falling off a cliff in 2014. Regardless, I can’t imagine either in the post 2014 plans, but I’d like to have one around in 2014. Rather than assume that DeJesus is a goner, I’d just assume leave ourselves open to trading whichever has more value.

    • Njriv

      If things keep going the way they are, the Cubs should have some decent trade chips this deadline. DeJesus, Schierholtz, Feldman, Villanueva, Gregg and maybe even Valbuena, Navarro and Fujikawa. The Cubs could end up having a worse record than last summer, but If some of these guys keep up their performances and the Cubs future can look even more encouraging if they get a hit on some of these trades.

    • ssckelley

      Personally I think Schierholtz offers more value to the Cubs long term than DeJesus and they would get more in a trade for DeJesus. Schierholtz is taking advantage of the opportunity and he needs more time with this level of production to be worth anything on the trade market, while DeJesus is a proven veteran. Keep in mind just a few months ago the Phillies let Scheirholtz go and every team had a chance to sign him as a free agent. The Phillies have to be kicking themselves about now.

    • Chef

      I’m gonna need to see a picture of Schierholtz ‘s significant other before I decide who has more value between him and DeJesus.

  • hansman1982

    “So the Cubs’ hitting problems are based on approach, most of them ingrained.

    This flies in the face of everything the new management team believes and stresses. ”

    It is interesting to see who the players are that are doing well, and the players having a rough start. I wonder what the common threads between these two groups are.

  • Leo L

    I still say there are clutch hitters but now i am convinced we are saying the same thing. I dont think “clutch” hitters get better but they dont get worse. what i mean is thier approach is as good with runnres on base. some players change thier approach or whatever it is that thier average (RISP) is low. I also think a pitcher will also change his approach and concetrate a little harder in these type of situations. so a player needs to have the right approach up at the plate becasue the pitcher is trying a little harder (which ofcourse he could panic or alraedy be tired and make mistakes). not that batters get better in “clutch” situations but they dont get worse or atleast much worse. Does that make sense to the there is no such thing as clutch hitters people?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The issue is with batters, not pitchers. However, it has been shown time and time again that how batters do “in the clutch” over one stretch does not predict how they will do “in the clutch” in another stretch. Basically, all players perform at their normal rates with sampling error. Even the guys renowned for “giving themselves up” by deliberately grounding out to 2B with a man on second and nobody out do not do appreciably worse “in the clutch” than other guys, and they are just as apt to do better.

      Pitchers are a different story, but that is not surprising for two reasons. One, pitching has absolutely nothing in common with batting. Batting is reaction, pitching is cognitive. Pitchers have multiple seconds to think about the situation, and “jitters” don’t help them. Batters have a split second to trigger “swing/don’t swing” and the adrenaline triggered by “jitters” acts just like amphetamines and other PEDs.

      The bigger one is that pitchers often throw from the stretch “in the clutch” because men are on base. Some guys are much less effective this way. (Greinke is a great example: his putatitve “clutch” problems stem entirely from being less effective when he throws from the stretch.) There is no analog to this with batters: a tactically sound batter does the exact same thing in every situation.

      • Cubbie Blues

        Yeah, that and Greinke is just a head case.

      • Leo L

        what i dont understand is this talk about batting average with runners in scoring position. that the cubs average is lower with runners in scoring postion than not. if there is not a statiscal difference then why are we talking about this. i remember marlyn bird also had a bad average with runners in scoring position. i definately see that players dont get better but why do some guys do worse or am i confused and there arent players that do worse. is this issue with the cubs not real? am i confused with the issue?

  • Idaho Razorback

    Thank God, no more Loe!

  • Noah

    I actually don’t think the Baez issues are contact issues in the same way that, for example, Brett Jackson’s are. Jackson’s issue isn’t approach, but instead that he swings through too many pitches in the zone. Baez’s issue is approach. Which issue is easier to fix, though, is up for debate.

    Regarding Soler, when he was on a down swing it was due to BABIP issues, which as we know can be especially finicky. This is particularly true in the FSL, an extreme pitcher’s league.

    With that said, I’d expect to see Soler promoted to Double A within a month. Baez clearly needs more time in the FSL, and he might spend the whole season there.

  • JulioZuleta

    I don’t like getting into the “clutch hitting” argument, mostly because the studies that are out there, both affirming and denying the existence of clutch hitters are very spotty. Not surprisingly, there are way too many variables to try to put a number on a kind of mental aspect of the game. For one thing, in that article, Bruce says a guy who loops a double is not more clutch than a guy robbed of a hit. Thanks for telling us that a sample of 1 AB isn’t always accurate, Bruce.

    The problem with most of the studies is that they go year to year, as in “This guy looked ‘clutch’ by the numbers last year, but not this year.” Well, depending on how you define a “clutch” situation (also highly arbitrary), that makes sense. A guy may only have, what, 50 real high leverage ABs in a season? So if a .300 hitter goes 18-50 in those situations one year, and 12-50 in them the next year, yeah, I guess it will look like he was clutch the first year and not the next. I’d like to see a study that covers entire careers.

    Obviously, the existence of clutch hitting is overstated, but there are guys in the league that visibly change their approaches in high leverage situation, both for the better and the worse. Clearly I’m all for the advanced stats…they’re real, but I think sometimes they do try to go to far to completely take the mental element out of the game.

    • Kyle

      Even at only 50 PAs per person, you’d expect some correlation from year to year when you have a very large group of players.

      • JulioZuleta

        I know, but the problem is that the studies I’ve seen tend to say “We see very little correlation,” or “Almost no correlation.” That’s what I expect too. I don’t think every guy is either clutch or…I don’t know what the opposite word of clutch would be (a choke artist?). I think something like 80-85% of players will have no correlation, because they are normal players, but there certainly seems to be a small portion of guys that are outliers on both ends of the spectrum, and I’d like to see a little bit more research on that.

        The problem is taking the to-be-expected randomness of the majority, and letting that water down what happens with the outliers, which is the only area I’d expect to see clutchness.

        • jt

          Players are vetted from LL to AAA. I’d be shaking in my spikes may first AB in MLB.
          But then again, there was no way I was going to get an AB in MLB.
          I’m not sayin’ there ain’t head things going on. But the guys who make it and stay have been selected to be “here” at a whole lot of levels.
          Stone often said a pitcher could reach back for extra just a few times during a game. I’d guess he was talking about good pitchers. I often wonder if those hurlers who don’t get into trouble that often are actually harder to hit during game on the line RISP?

  • mysterious4th

    I was just on ESPN’s site and I found a really good story on Shark. I have always liked him but this makes me like him even more. It’s based on why he chose Baseball over Football and it has some parts about Bosio talking about his pitching. It is very much worth the 5mins to read it!


  • Timmy

    The important thing is that the Cubs are investing lots of disposable money into disposable players to pretend like they’re building a team. That way they don’t have to actually dip into their yacht/”debt” account. It’s the Ricketts’ way.