Cubs Minor League Daily: Game Time

mike olt iowaPlaying off a topic Brett brought up yesterday, why are major league games stretching on so long? Brett and I are in complete agreement regarding the importance of attracting new fans to the game and how longer routine game times can make that task more difficult. Three hours is on the long side for an average game; three and a half hours for nine innings is ridiculous.

So what is the problem? I generally tended to blame the TV contracts and the insertion of a commercial every time play stops at all, but after looking over some game times from the minors this weekend I am no long sure that is the primary cause.

Not all leagues report game times, but here are the times for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday games played by Iowa and Tennessee: 2:59, 2:44, 3:27, 2:19, 2:53, 2:43. Those time are a fair bit higher than I was expecting given the lack of media contracts in the minors. Maybe TV does not have as much to do with it as I had thought.

Sample sizes are too small here to draw definitive conclusions, but there are no clear trends from studying these six games. Iowa’s 3:27 saw each team use four pitchers, but so did Tennessee’s 2:53. Somehow the Smokies still wrapped things up 34 minutes faster. There are no obvious correlations with number of walks, either. In broad terms the better pitched (and less offense heavy) games moved more quickly, but that is not really surprising. Nor does it tell us why games just seem to keep getting longer as baseball advances through eras.

I don’t know what the answer here is. Like Brett, though, I am surprised that the Commissioner’s office does not appear to be taking a more visible interest in the issue. Regardless of your opinion of this Commissioner, when Selig focuses on something things tend to happen (good or bad). He was embarrassed by a tied All-Star Game and immediately reformed it. He was called out by Congress over PEDs and now baseball has one of the stiffest and most aggressively enforced drug policies in professional sports. He wanted to address competitive balance and the runaway spending on amateur talent and in the span of a single CBA pushed through more changes to the draft and international free agency than had occurred collectively in many years. If Selig would turn his attention to game times, I honestly think something would get done. It might even be the right thing.

A game clock should never be apart of the game of baseball, but that does not mean that less radical tweaks cannot be found that will speed things up a bit.

Scores From The Weekend

Iowa -
Friday – Iowa kept this one close, but lost in the ninth 5-4.
Saturday – They fell in a shutout on Saturday, 5-0.
Sunday – But on Sunday Iowa finally broke through with a win. The final in this one was 8-4.

Tennessee -
Friday – The Smokies had plenty of hits, but no runs. They lost 1-0.
Saturday – A ninth inning rally fell short as they lost again on Saturday 4-3.
Sunday – Tennessee went winless for the weekend as they fell 10-4.

Daytona -
Friday – The Cubs exploded for seven runs in the fourth inning as they won 9-7.
Saturday – Part of playing in Florida is rain. This game was a victim to that.
Sunday – And so was this one.

Kane County -
Friday – This game did not go well for the Cougars. They lost 7-4.
Saturday – A pair of three run innings carried the Cougars to a 6-1 win.
Sunday – They were blown out in this one, though, losing 11-1.

Boise -
Friday – A rainout on Friday…
Saturday – …set up the doubleheader on Saturday. The Hawks took Game One 4-0, but dropped the second contest 3-1.
Sunday – Boise won by a sizeable margin on Sunday, 10-5.

Arizona -
Friday – A three run eighth inning led the AZL Cubs to a 6-4 win.
Saturday – Arizona had Saturday off.
Sunday – As of 11:30 PM this game had no updates on the Arizona Cubs website. I assume it had been delayed for some reason. In case anything did happen, the box score should be linked off this page.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Now that Logan Watkins is in the majors, the Iowa Cubs found themselves in need of a second baseman. Naturally they turned to Daniel Lockhart, freshly promoted from the Boise Hawks. This is not as strange as it sounds. The I-Cubs are travelling out West where Boise plays. While someone like Alcantara may make more sense long term, Lockhart was available and able to get to the team more quickly. He played pretty well in his first game at Triple A, finishing 2 for 5 with a double.
  • [Iowa] Mike Olt also had a nice game on Sunday. He went 2 for 5 with a double and a triple while striking out twice.
  • [Iowa] Not only did Jake Arrieta strike out 11 in just 5 innings on Sunday, he out-pitched Seattle’s Taijuan Walker in the process.
  • [Tennessee] Javier Baez collected five hits over Saturday and Sunday, including a double in each game.
  • [Tennessee] Zach Rosscup is continuing to impress. He struck out 3 and allowed a hit in an inning of work on Saturday.
  • [Tennessee] Arismendy Alcantara is up to 25 steals on the season now. The second baseman is mired in a bit of a slump right now, and that has dragged his OPS down to .784 for the season. This is pure speculation, but I wonder if fatigue could be playing a role here. Alcantara has played 109 games now; he’s never played in as many as 100 in a season before.
  • [Daytona] Corey Black struck out 8 over 4 innings in his Cubs debut. Unfortunately, he also gave up 4 runs on 3 hits (including a pair of home runs ) and 3 walks.
  • [Daytona] Zeke DeVoss doubled twice and walked as part of his 3 for 4 game. Chadd Krist doubled three times.
  • [Daytona] The Cubs had an unusually high four errors in this game. Their 15 hits were more than able to makeup for that uncharacteristic lapse.
  • [Kane County] The winning pitcher in Saturday’s game was starter Starling Peralta, but Sheldon McDonald and Michael Hamann deserve plenty of credit for their work in relief as well.
  • [Kane County] 2013 draftee Giuseppe Papaccio broke out with a 3 hit game on Sunday. The infielder hit his first Low A home run the day before.
  • [Boise] The shutout on Saturday was a joint effort by Dillon Maples (5 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K) and Corbin Hoffner (2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K). Both pitchers have been pitching very well for the Hawks of late.
  • [Boise] Juan Paniagua made his Boise debut on Saturday in Game Two. In 2.1 innings of relief he struck out 2 while giving up just a walk and a hit.
  • [Boise] Kris Bryant is essentially beating up the Northwest League. With just over 50 AB now Bryant has a hit in almost every game in which he has played (including 4 doubles and 3 home runs) while putting up a slash line of .292/.352/.583.
  • [Arizona] Erick Leal struck out 8 in 5 innings on Friday. Jose Arias struck out 6 more in his 3 innings of work.
  • [Arizona] Shortstop Francisco Sanchez hit 2 triples in his 2 for 3 game.

Other News

  • Turning Javier Baez into a more complete hitter is a focus for the Tennessee Smokies. The Smokies Radio Network has a nice article on Baez, Tennessee hitting coach Desi Wilson, and the work the two are doing on recognizing pitches, staying back on the ball, and using the entire field. That work, including some batting practice focus on hitting the ball to the opposite field, is starting to pay off in games. We are seeing Baez’s strikeout rate start to trend downwards over the past week as the walks have begun to tick upwards. And when Baez puts it all together we see multi-hit games like those on Saturday and Sunday. The indicators are pointing in the right direction, and it seems like the Cubs are in no hurry here. It will interesting to see what Baez looks like at the plate in person when I visit Tennessee in a week.
  • One player I will not be seeing next week, to my marginal disappointment, is pitcher Kyle Hendricks. The ace of the Tennessee staff appears to be headed to Iowa by way of Mesa. I am glad to see this promotion finally arrive, but part of me wishes the Cubs had waited just a little longer so I might have had a chance to see him pitch first hand. Oh well. That’s the downside of covering the Cubs farm system when I do not live near any of their teams. Maybe I can talk the Cubs into moving a team over to Delmarva or Frederick. Hmm … Anyone have Theo’s phone number?

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation. He can be found on Twitter as ltblaize.

63 responses to “Cubs Minor League Daily: Game Time”

  1. Timothy Scarbrough

    Arizona won 7-3. It is up there now.

  2. ssckelley

    Baseball Reference shows Bryant with 3 home runs, is it wrong?

    1. Roughriider
  3. papabear

    Arrietta had around 100 pitches in those 5 innings maybe a little over – he walked 3 and had over 10 players with full counts. Gave up no run and his fastball was clocked at 96.

    Listened to the game on the radio. through the 5th inning -

    1. mdavis

      i’d much rather see Arrietta the rest of the way than Villanueva. He pitched well yesterday, but otherwise its been a tough go since the break.

    2. Dustin S

      Watched that game, Arrietta was absolutely overpowering. His curve and change were making guys look really bad. That was fun to see if you can catch it archived. Plus Olt had a double and triple in his first couple at bats.

  4. papabear

    10 player with 3 ball counts i meant to say

  5. jh03

    There’s a bit on Kris Bryant here: http://baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21439

    1. jh03

      Oh, cool. Albert Almora is also featured.

      1. jh03

        Welp, maybe I should have read BP entirely before posting.. but Jake Arrieta won ‘Pitching Prospect of the Day’ too. http://baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21437

  6. BD

    On the game length piece- I think pitchers and hitters are both allowed too much time between pitches. Maybe they need the little league rule where you keep one foot in box at all times… try to cut down on the guys that walk 15 feet from the box. As a former pitcher, it surprises me that pitchers take so long. If you speed it up, I think that keeps hitters off balance. I don’t want a play clock or anything like that, but maybe the umpires can move it along like they do with mound visits.

  7. baldtaxguy

    Variability in game times is probably inevitable being the only sport without a play clock. Below are just obvious notes that contributes to that variability.

    The process of mid-inning pitching changes seems to be the greatest user of time, with the manager/coach coming onto the playing field to replace a player and with the replacement player allowed time to “warm-up” on the playing field. No other sport does this.

    Base stealers on first base slow down the game (ironically) with pick-off attempts to keep them close and longer time between pitches.

    A pitcher’s “routine” is on average seemingly deliberate, with quick working pitchers being rare and of note, i.e. “….he’s a real quick worker, keeps the defense on their toes, etc….” Why can’t they all be “quick workers” or quicker?

    Foul balls lengthen the time of an at-bat, with only a few good contact hitters needed to create a longer than average inning/game.

    Mound conferences occur with no limit as to their number (without the mgr/coach).

    Lead-off hitter after a pitcher’s at-bat with 2-outs becomes a human rain delay, taking a longer at-bat to allow the pitcher t prepare for the next half-inning. Not material in frequency or time, but occurs.

    Rain. They play through it in football and soccer (and basketball and hockey :) ) other than true delays, it does slow the pace of play, and it rains a lot during the season.

    Injuries – a player is allowed to “work through” an injury on the field for a reasonable amount of time, whether he is hit by a ball, or hits the wall, collides with a fielder, etc. Obviously, this is due to the fact that once a player is replaced, he cannot re-enter the game – only game, other than soccer (that I believe) where this occurs.

    1. FFP

      Good Post, btg. Being new to the NL I find the “human rain delay” one interesting. It is a bit more common, if “not material” than the way a batter, catcher, or pitcher work with deference to the ump after he gets a little dinged. I always liked that gentlemanly /inclusionary part of the unwritten rules of the game.

    2. Werner

      The pitcher being allowed to warm up on the mound after warming up in the pen has always baffled me. You’re warm enough already so go on and get to it.

    3. jaslhill

      I wonder about all of these, though. They make sense when compared to other sports, but I believe (and I don’t have the numbers in front of me – I’m sure you can find them if you want) the biggest is how have things changed in baseball in the last, say, 20 years that is causing games to be longer.

      All of these issues existed in baseball before; thus, they have always contributed to the length of baseball games.

    4. cubs2003

      I think the increased emphasis on OBP plays a part as well. Players are taking more pitches and the at bats take more time. More commercials is another one. I doubt either of those will change. Maybe MLB can put pressure on the umps to hurry things along. They’re obviously not doing it right now. Less time pitch to pitch would probably help the most overall.

      1. cubs2003

        An ancillary thought, but I wonder if advertisers put pressure on MLB to make the games last longer. Sports is one of the last real cash cows of TV advertising. I don’t know the numbers, but it kind of makes intuitive sense. More time = more ads and they don’t see potential viewership going up much with shorter games. Does not explain the minor league games though.

  8. Die hard

    If spring training ended this week who among the minor league pitchers would likely make 25?

  9. On The Farm

    Leal is the guy we got in the Campana trade right? So far it looks like that was a pretty good trade.

    1. ssckelley

      I agree, Leal had a high upside when the Cubs traded for him and getting him along with Jesus Castillo was a very good return for Campana. Leal is only 18 years old it is a good sign that he is already pitching for Arizona and pitching well.

      1. Scotti

        Yeah, but Leal will never do this:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJlp1jx4B-A

  10. Dougy D

    I went to a Royals/Tigers game about a month ago. The 1-0 final in nine innings lasted 3 hours. I immediately wanted to blame the DH, but I didn’t look into why it took as long as it did. I will leave the blame with the DH.

  11. hansman1982

    “Javier Baez collected five hits over Saturday and Sunday, including a double in each game.”

    Well, if Baez can fix his contact issues and his new BB rate is legit, holy crap. Manny Machado 2.0.

    1. jh03

      You know what I read there?

      Baez is going to be Manny Machado for the Cubs next year and lead them to the playoffs :)

      1. hansman1982

        Just he’s gonna do it this year…

        1. jh03

          It’s official. BRING UP BAEZ NOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

    2. CubsFaninMS

      It’s almost more exciting hearing of his doubles as compared to his home runs. This guy knows how to hit the bombs, that’s for certain, but it’s production that will make him a valuable asset in Chicago. I’d rather have a Paul Goldschmidt or Allen Craig than a Rob Deer or Dave Kingman. Wait. We have a Rob Deer, THE Rob Deer.

    3. On The Farm

      Wait Machado 2.0, are you implying he could be better than Machado 1.0? I love newer versions! Except Windows 8, I don’t understand what is so great about Windows 8.

      1. hansman1982

        The greatest Windows system was XP.

      2. cb

        Pay attention to Windows’ pattern:

        95
        98
        ME
        XP
        Vista
        7
        8

        98, XP, 7 are solid.
        ME, Vista, 8 are not as much.

        Avoid every other Windows update. ME and Vista were short-lived tweener OS’s.

  12. Scotti

    Not sure if this has been posted… Excellent Smokies video with the Cub’s Director of Player Development Brandon Hyde and Minor League Infield Coordinator Jose Flores featuring Baez and Alcantara. Put up a week ago with fewer than 3k hits. FWIW, Baez isn’t 5’8″. He may not be 6’0″ but he isn’t 5’8″.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_2721217113&feature=iv&src_vid=GznWMG6BZrY&v=1Eps9yc38rw

    1. JM

      Thanks for posting that. A good watch. Would like to see each of them come out of the box a little faster, and with a little more hustle. Take nothing for granted, I always say.

      You truly are the most interesting man in the world…

      1. Scotti

        Heh…

  13. Ivy Walls

    Regarding Lockhart’s promotion. First Lockhart was drafted way back in 2011 but was still way down in the system. So what happened, something fundamental as that in 2012 he batted only .221 in 40+ games this year he is batting .309 in 40+ games in Boise.

    The other contentions besides the logistics is that I don’t think the Cubs want to move Alcantara from Tenn where he is advancing with instruction and also defensively teamed with Baez. Looking to Daytona that might have been impossible though Bruno who won the batting title in the NWL is also hitting well in Daytona. He is 22,

    Cubs appear to be loaded at 2B with Alcantara, Bruno, Darval and Amaya in Kane Cty.

    1. ssckelley

      It makes Lockhart the youngest player on the team, by a couple of years. Good for him, I hope he gets a couple more hits tonight.

  14. JoeCub

    Kris Bryant yesterday dancing with Birdzerk. First rounder is good dancer and a good sport. It was a VERY funny routine. 1

  15. willis

    Double header at Daytona cancelled tonight…again.

    I want Bryant, Almora and Voges to be promoted there, but Jesus they never play. Not to mention it’s slowing down Baker’s rehab (not that it’s going worth a crap) and you have some talented arms, namely Johnson, who are just withering away not getting enough action. So annoying.

    1. Jon

      I don’t want any of our prospects there. Good grief find another high A home.

      1. willis

        It could hurt some development for sure. Right now it especially sucks because they have Baker trying to get his career back on track and he’s just sitting around. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him moved somewhere and soon to get some more rehab starts in.

        Thank God they promoted Baez when they did.

  16. Jon

    Hurricanes haven’t even started to hit yet. Daytona might not play another game this month.

  17. Hal

    Jody Davis told me in detail about the year Daytona won the championship and some terrible hurricane arrived. He related how the team had to flee the area and how his pitchers did not throw a ball for like 8 days. So they came back and re-grouped for the playoffs etc. Hilarious story as Jody was the skipper.

  18. Toddleevon

    CUBS claim Thomas Neal. He does have some very nice looking minor league numbers.

    1. #1lahairfan

      Corresponding Move: Transferred Dolis to 60-day DL.

  19. Jp3

    Anyone know why Vogs and Almora aren’t playing tonight? I think almora got pulled last night so hopefully nothing serious.

  20. willis

    Almora tweaked his back from what I heard.

    In other news, the former awesome prospect now derailed no good Brett Jackson threw up an 0-5 with 3 Ks tonight. I saw him so many times in person, just drooling at his tools and abilities…now he’s a shell of that. Really sad.

    1. wvcubsfan

      Guess tinkering with his swing wasn’t such a good thing,

      1. willis

        Ha, seriously. Think about this, one year ago…yesterday I think, Brett Jackson was making his starting debut in CF for the Chicago Cubs. A year later, he’s flopped at AAA and is now whiffing away at AA. Wow. Pretty wild.

    2. Jp3

      Jim Henry!!! Pitchforks!!! Just kidding, nobody can get them all right. Baez seems like an awesome make up attempt for that one.

      1. Jp3

        And Hayden, and Colvin, and mark Pawlek, and brooks Kieshnick…just kidding on that last one

  21. willis

    Really hope the PTBNL from Texas (or two) are worth a shit. As of now it’s Garza for CJ Edwards.

    1. Jp3

      Yeah Grimm is getting smacked around tonight, when I last looked he had 0.0 innings, 4 hits and 2 ER. What? Dude is getting hammered

      1. Kyle

        His DIPS are still awesome for the night.

      2. willis

        Well he’s now at 1ip, 3 ER and 5 hits.

        Olt 0-1.

        Edwards, pitching in Daytona, may never pitch again seeing that all their games are cancelled.

        Hooray for trades?

        1. willis

          7 hits and 4 ER in 1.1 innings pitched for Grimm. And it’s early.

        2. wvcubsfan

          tryin’ to reason with hurricane season…………

        3. AlwaysNextYear

          This is funny in so many ways. Love it when people are miserable and whine for no reason.

          1. willis

            I don’t think anyone is miserable. People just commenting on the fact that the return for Garza isn’t really good, and the only good part can’t even get on the field because of weather conditions. That’s just discussing reality of a situation that doesn’t look too great.

            1. Eternal Pessimist

              I think that good part, Edwards, may be pretty great, and we may be pointing to him in the future talking about how Texas was fleeced in the deal. And we still have a list of prospects to choose from, and the benefit of some extra time to see which ones are for real. I’m still pretty satisfied with the trade, so far.

  22. Lou Brock

    Loux goes on the DL with shoulder issues for the third time this year. Looks like all Texas does is send the Cubs pitchers and a 3rd baseman with eye and concussion issues. Not to mention now they want to send another pitcher, Ramirez with arm problems, remember Brigham last year in the Soto deal.
    Lrt’s just pray Edwards proves to be the real deal.

    1. willis

      Loux is a lost cause. At least they got Hendricks out of Texas and he’s been damn good. Edwards can be if he gets to pitch, ever. :) So far:

      Loux-barf

      Villanueva-pretty good. Not great but has had some moments this year and has shown more pop than I expected.

      Hendricks-Awesome

      Olt-awful

      Grimm-worse than Olt

      Edwards-one dynamite started and we’ll see more, if the weather allows. He has lots of promise.

      PTBNL-Shoulder issues.

  23. Joepoe321

    Cubs are just fixing some things with Grimm, too early to be complaining… Olt was a nice buy low piece I mean he was a top 30 prospect coming into the season, why not take the risk… And the ptbnl is not necessarily Ramirez.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.