You Get a Fight, and You Get a Fight, and You Get Other Bullets

jeff samardzija sharknadoPlenty to discuss today, with some good and some bad. Theo Epstein spoke to the media yesterday on a range of topics, some of which I’ll touch on here in the Bullets, the majority of which will be addressed separately (yes, including the stuff about free agency). Onward …

  • Fight. Fight. Fight. The Cubs saw their second consecutive dugout kerfuffle last night, when Jeff Samardzija got into it with third base coach David Bell. The argument, which was a whole lot of nothing (not unlike the Edwin Jackson/Dale Sveum disagreement the night before), reportedly had something to do with defensive positioning. Although there isn’t much to discuss – disagreements happen – it’s weird to see it twice in two nights after a couple years of relative peace. Another frustrating season is winding down, and it’s understandable among competitive people that things might bubble over from time to time. I once received a “final warning” during a kickball game because I was so fired up about a missed catch call in the outfield (I caught that damn ball) – I can only imagine how many arguments I’d get into if I were playing professional baseball as my livelihood.
  • More about how the Samardzija/Bell spat was nothing here from the Tribune. If there was actually a fight involving Samardzija, I’m thinking I’d not want to be on the other side.
  • Josh Vitters, long thought to be unable to handle third base at the highest level, is now officially being converted into an outfielder, according to Theo Epstein. He’ll play left field, and that’s where the Cubs will consider him for next season (likely a fourth/fifth outfielder type). It’s easy to forget that Vitters put up solid numbers at AAA last year as a 22-year-old, and was very productive when healthy this year – it’s just that he wasn’t very healthy. He’s got plenty of bat to be a bench guy at the big league level, even at a corner outfield spot. The question is whether he can play well enough defensively. If he can, who knows? It’s still not impossible that he could emerge as a regular or semi-regular contributor.
  • Each of Albert Almora and Jorge Soler are progressing well (Carrie Muskat reports they’re involved in baseball activities), and should be on track to play in the Arizona Fall League, as planned.
  • Jesse Rogers – and Dale Sveum – on Starlin Castro’s defense.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

108 responses to “You Get a Fight, and You Get a Fight, and You Get Other Bullets”

  1. cubchymyst

    It be nice if Vitters ended up being the right handed side of a platoon in the outfield for the first part of the season. His number during his short time in AAA this year looked promising. Even his number last year in AAA suggest he could fill the right handed side of a platoon nicely.

    1. Jay

      If you can’t play LF defensively, particularly after being a third baseman, then you have no business calling yourself a professional ballplayer. I don’t see why that would even be an issue. The issue is can he actually hit at this level, and so far the answer is no.

      1. cubchymyst

        Saying Vitters numbers in the Majors are poor would be putting in nicely. However, he has had slow starts at each level in the past and playing him only against LH pitching initially might be away to ease him into the majors. The Cubs are not likely to spend a lot of money for a RH platoon bat and Vitters probably won’t do any worse than Hairston or Sappelt.

        1. Jim

          If Vitters can’t do any better than Sappelt then I would say that it might be time to call it a career … I do like the idea of him being a right handed option in the outfield along with Lake. Hopefully he won’t only play against lefties.

          1. demz

            Good news is that he is blowing Sappelt out of the water in regards to his minor league numbers.

  2. Edwin

    Mabye Vitters could be a poor man’s Jeff Baker.

    1. jon

      A poor mans Jeff Baker is not a MLB capable player.

  3. Griff

    So all this “let’s fire Dale” discussion leaves me with the question of who replaces him. Girardi? He was one of my favorite Cubs but for some reason doesn’t excite me. I say give Dale one more year and see how things pan out. Next year will be more about seeing what the younger players can contribute. Maddon excites me. Francona somewhat excites me. I would like to see Dale one more year. He’s been given a crap team so let’s see how he handles young talent. If Dale goes I’d still like to keep Bosio.

    1. Funn Dave

      If you’re making the point that Sveum hasn’t been given the talent to make a winning team, keeping him next year won’t change that. The team may be younger, but it’s not going to be much better.

  4. X the Cubs Fan

    Any news on Arodys Vizcaino

    1. Edwin
  5. Chrisfchi

    Kerfuffle, I like that. I wonder how these dugout dust-up will effect Theo&co. evaluation of the coaching staff this off season. I don’t think it will have any bearing but I’m no fly on the wall.

    1. Blublud

      I hope not. I don’t like Sveum, but this should have no impact on his future. Hopefully they let him go after next year because he is a horrible manager, not because of some minor arguements.

  6. C. Steadman

    maybe Josh Vitters can provide some Matt Murton-esque production as a 4th OF, I wouldnt mind seein him in that type of role

  7. Gutshot5820

    This constant downplaying of these scuffles with coaches is to be expected. But, sounds like the players have lost confidence in their coaches. How you can make a ridiculous comparison to some personal minor kickball incident? (head scratcher) These are professionals getting paid millions for a billion dollar sports franchise. They get paid to listen to their coaches and to keep up a positive public appearance. Plus, these are only the incidents that we are aware of. I’m willing to bet there are many more. This is what happens when the main coach continually embarrasses his own players in public and at the same time blindly defend players such as Barney to the bitter end.

    1. Billy

      Seriously? Brett was joking. And they don’t get paid millions to “keep a positive public appearance.” They get paid to win ball games, and when you don’t do that frustration will eventually boil over. Again, this is such a non issue. Two competitive people having a disagreement, it happens.

      1. MichiganGoat

        Billy meet Gunshot

    2. C. Steadman


    3. TWC

      “This constant downplaying of these scuffles with coaches is to be expected. … [T]hese [TWO] are only the incidents that we are aware of.”

      You have a very low bar for the definition of “constant”.

      1. Funn Dave

        There have been two scuffles in the dugout in the last week. They have been downplayed both times. That’s a 100% ratio.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          So, if I flip a coin twice and it lands heads both instances, that is considered constantly landing heads?

          1. DarthHater

            No, but two heads in a row proves that Sveum sucks and the Cubs’ clubhouse is a mess. Two tails in a row also proves that Sveum sucks and the Cubs’ clubhouse is a mess. Same thing if it’s one heads and one tails.

        2. frank

          You’re messing with him, right?

          1. Funn Dave


  8. Demarrer

    It seems to me that because of his competitive nature, Shark likes to blame other people for mistakes. Earlier in the game there was a swinging bunt. Castillo called off Jeff (which was the right play) and then couldn’t barehand the ball. Jeff was visibly angry. He seems to do this at least twice a game towards teammates. This is not a trend I want to see continue.

    1. C. Steadman

      Shark is turning into the new Zambrano(albeit a lesser temper), but the pointing fingers is the similarity i see

      1. MichiganGoat

        There is only one El Toro Loco and Mr. Shark you are no El Toro Loco.

    2. Edwin

      I think you’re creating a false narrative here. I really haven’t noticed that much finger pointing from Jeff this season, definitely no more than any other player. Bad plays happen, and players get mad about them. It’s just part of the game. Jeff’s just a competative guy.

      1. MichiganGoat

        People on BN starting false narratives… NEVER that would NEVER EVER EVER HAPPEN.

        1. Edwin

          My favorite was how Kris Bryant was a selfish jerk who only cares about money and won’t amount to anything when he didn’t sign right away with the Cubs.

          1. bbmoney

            Yeah that was absurd. As if everyone of us wouldn’t try to make as much as possible for doing our jobs.

            The Scott Baker signing and anger about how his season went comes to mind as well……

            1. Edwin

              So far today, I’ve learned that Dale Svuem has lost control of the team, and that pitcher’s are losing faith in themselves due to how Dale is taking them out of games.

              I’ve also learned that Brett takes Kickball super seriously, I assume due to some deep dark childhood trauma.

              1. frank

                And don’t forget that Samardzija = Zambrano with the volume turned down, and if Brett were a million dollar kickball player, his head would explode from all his pent up anger and fights he would be getting into . . . in fact, he’d be Kickball Zambrano.

                That’s a lot to learn in one morning . . .

          2. TWC

            *cough*cough* Julio Bourbon was the first part of the Garza trade *cough*cough*

        2. mjhurdle

          Kris Bryant is suing the City of Chicago, and that the Cubs gave him a clause in his contract that they would cover his legal fees, and THIS is why the Cubs won’t be able to afford any Free Agents this offseason…

  9. Robert

    Why not put Baez at 2B ‘now’ with some concentrated coaching
    so he will hit the ground running next season.
    With Baez at 2B and Kris Bryant at 3B, we should have a complete
    Hire the best 2B and 3B coaches for the major league Cubs let 2014
    be the beginning of the comeback.
    Emulate Popeye and Sandberg.

    We need a new head coach.
    Why don’t we have a Hispanic coach?
    Why don’t we have a full time bunting/base stealing/base running coach?


    1. Cubbie Blues

      “Why not put Baez at 2B ‘now’ with some concentrated coaching
      so he will hit the ground running next season.”
      They very well may be doing this during the off-season.

      “We need a new head coach.”
      There are many that feel this way.

      Why don’t we have a Hispanic coach?
      Because he has a more European ancestry.

      Why don’t we have a full time bunting/base stealing/base running coach?
      We do, his name is Dave McKay.

      1. cubs2003

        I don’t care what race the coaches are, but there’s absolutely no excuse for a person working with pro baseball players not to be able to speak Spanish. How organizations let this happen baffles me. I remember Quade saying he’d trade his business degree for a Spanish degree and it infuriated me. It’s part of the job.

    2. King Jeff

      I think it’s already been said that he’s going to get time at 2nd and 3rd in the AFL. With all of the minor league season’s wrapped up, that’s about as now as it can get at this point.

    3. frank

      Ron Rivera might be looking for a job soon . . .

  10. Jono

    Seems like the evolution of defensive positioning has contributed to the decline in offense and the rise in pitching. I could see that when a shift usually works but every once and while lets a ball get through where a standard defensive position would be right there, it could be frustrating to the pitcher.

    And I’m pretty excited about Almora and SolerPower (eh?) about to get playing time in the fall. I can’t wait to hear about them ripping up the league

    1. Jono

      In other words, even though a specific defensive shift might work most of the time, the act of a ground ball getting through the infield at a standard defensive position because the defender was shifted could be frustrating because the pitcher might think, “the guy SHOULD be there but the coaches moved him”

      I’m not sure if I’m making this point clearly, but I think you guys get what I’m trying to write

      1. MichiganGoat

        You might be onto something… its basically hindsight and that pisses some people off. “IF YOU WOULD JUST STOP TINKERING WITH THE SHIFTS, THAT WOULD’VE BEEN AN OUT” but ignoring the outs that a defensive shift already provided.

        Although the flip could also be argued “WHY DIDN’T YOU SHIFT THE DEFENSE! THAT WOULD’VE BEEN AN OUT”

        Hindsight is a bitch.

        1. Jono


          1. MichiganGoat

            I’m sure that frustrates players the “but if we only did….” of hindsight can drive a person crazy. Just look at this site after a loss (or a win, or an off day) and you see the madness that hindsight can bring.

            1. Jono

              true, but BN has the best hindsight on the internet! We’re sophisticated

    2. King Jeff

      I posted a link to an article yesterday that underlines the Pirates process and dramatic change in defensive shifting and pitching philosophy to match it. Their pitchers are all throwing more 4 seam fastball, and they’ve shifted something like 4 times as much as they did last year, and the results are pretty astounding. They have been implementing this system at their minor league level for the past few years, and finally took the plunge at the MLB level this year, and it has been paying off in spades. I hope the Cubs Way has a similar effect on this organization.

  11. Chrisfchi

    I will admit it is nice to see the players giving their opinions to the coaching staff. They want to win. They are frustrated because their precived to be nothing more than the local high school team playing in the bigs (which isn’t fair to them) and now that frustration is coming to light. Belly fire doesn’t win baseball games but I hope that passion to win will drive these guys to refine their skills and prove us all wrong next season.

    1. MichiganGoat

      So more TWTW is what’s needed hmmm

      1. Chrisfchi

        Not exactly. TWTW should only be used to refine skill, not dictate actual on the field play. Use these lessons learned from this horrible season and throw more bp in the offseason. Use these lessons and refine you swing/stance this offseason. Sure go ahead and hit the links and get some rest, just don’t spend all your offseason lounging around.(not saying the players are lazy when they are not playing,just don’t spend too much time lounging around)

      2. jt

        I understand you are a school teacher.
        Do naturally gifted children succeed because they are naturally gifted or do they reach potential because they receive proper instruction and display a work ethic?

        1. MichiganGoat

          As with everything in life its both, so I’m not sure what you are asking and how this has to do with TWTW.

          1. jt

            If the TWTW is the ant moving the coffee bean plant then yeah, it ain’t goin’ ta happen.
            But if the TWTW is a process whereby the individual prepares himself for a task and creates the focus to apply that task then he can approach that moment with confidence.
            Hawk hustled pool, bowling and golf after day games. I’m sure he beat a lot of guys who beat themselves. I’m also sure he didn’t run into any of those guys while playing in ML parks. But, if TWTW is viewed as a process and not a moment then those who heeded instruction, prepared that which could be controlled and worked to optimize efficiency have an advantage over those who listened less to instruction, took less time to prepare and cut corners on their workouts.
            There are many with natural talent. Not that many nurture that talent to optimize it to that level. That is the hard part and that comes from within.

  12. Eric

    I get why people want to poo-poo these fights the last couple of days, but I still think it’s a sign that the coaching staff is starting to lose respect from the players.

    1. King Jeff

      I take it as a sign that none of the Cubs have quit on the team and all of them still want to win badly. Losing breeds frustration, I don’t think it has anything to do with lack of respect, just competitors being sick of losing.

  13. tbone

    I wouldn’t give up on Vitters as a regular just yet. He’s missed a lot of time with injuries and he is still just 22 years old. Except for his time with the Cubs, he’s had a pretty big bat.

  14. Robert Johnson

    Maybe the two frustrated pitchers are just mad at themselves for throwing too many pitches. They have no business taking it out on the coaching staff,

  15. Brettley

    Josh Vitters is the new David Kelton!

  16. Cubbies4Life

    Goat, I reluctantly find myself agreeing with you about the shifts! Kinda like how my husband complains “every time I drive through this town, I hit every single red light!” He forgets about the 80% of the time that the lights are green. This Cubs season has been a crapfest, but at least a lesser crapfest than last year. I find myself on some level hoping that we lose the next 3 games against the Pirates in order to help them make a crapfest out of the Cardinals’ season! And, of course, WIN the last 3 against the Cards. Go Bucs?

    1. Edwin

      I’m rooting for an A’s/Pirates World Series.

      1. C. Steadman

        oh yeah, that first projected ALDS between Tigers and A’s will be really fun to watch! and I like how the NLWC game will most likely be between two Central teams..that one game will be intense

      2. On The Farm

        “I’m rooting for an A’s/Pirates World Series.”

        In other words, you don’t want ESPN to talk about, or even show highlights o the World Series.

        1. Edwin

          Ha, I know.

        2. frank

          An As/Pirates match up? In that case, ESPN would probably think the World Series had been cancelled.

  17. MightyBear

    Sorry Brett but I saw the replay of that kickball game and it was a good call. You trapped it. Maybe you should suggest instant replay for your kickball league. However, it wouldn’t have helped you there. It was a good call.

    1. Funn Dave


  18. Sacko

    The arguement is not much of a factor, and surprised it doesn’t happen more often, this team has accepted losing and look forward to it everyday. No wonder Shark doesn’t want to sign long term. He is to competitive and Theo needs to start showing that is does matter to win and put some Ballplayers on the field that show there is a chance to win everyday rather then this oh well shit this is part of the plan. Its time to start seeing the PLAN. Fans are sick of it imagine the players thoughts.

    1. Edwin

      Yes. This team looks forward to losing every day. Great point. In order to win games, all the Cubs need to do is put players on the field that win games. Nice.

      1. mjhurdle

        this Front Office must be horrible if they cant understand that all they need to do is put players that want to win on the field to fix everything.

        mind = blown

        1. Sacko

          You mean it has to be explained to you “Better” players? You guys like watching this everyday?

          1. Edwin

            No. I don’t like watching a losing team. I’m just thinking that it might be possible to talk about the Cub’s strategy with a little more depth than “They need better players”.

            For example, who are these better players that they should have right now? Do the Cubs have the resources to aquire these better players? How much will these better players help/hurt the short term/long term plans?

            1. frank

              There’s your problem. It’s obviously not possible.

            2. dumbledoresacubsfan

              Find the Doctor.
              Borrow TARDIS.

              Abduct an entire team’s worth of HOFers and sign them to tiny contracts that they’ll be too naive to realize are crap because they don’t understand society’s changes since the days they played.

  19. mlb

    What bothers me more than losing last nights’s game is throwing it away… And not just by the players, but the manager… Yes, Samardzija gave up the lead and he’s not an ace, but it was still 7 innings and 3 runs… And that key moment when Dale decided to let Sweeney swing with 0 outs and a man on 2nd against one of the top closers in the NL instead of bunting costed him a potential lead… But on the other side of the field, Roenicke showed him how it’s done and bunted not once, but twice to win it… Dale has improved in some areas of his game with experience, but this is not one he’s ever been good at… The team sucks with RISP and moving runners over when needed, which is why Dale needs to help them out by bunting… The whole team is hitting .237, it’s not like he’s got Adrian Gonzalez out there, it is Ryan Sweeney, have him drop down a freaking bunt.

    1. Edwin

      How do you know the bunt would have worked? Even if the bunt does work, how do you know the Cubs don’t strand the runner anyways?

      1. Edwin

        Plus, then you weigh the odds of how much the bunt increases your chances of scoring, versus swinging away. When swining away, Sweeny can still move the runner over with a ground ball to the right side, or a deep fly to RF. Better, a single scores the run, and doesn’t give up an out, which means there’s a better chance for more runs in the inning. There is also the chance of a double, triple, or HR, which would be way better than a bunt.

      2. mlb

        The chances of actually scoring a run go way up. All you would need is a ground ball to the right side or a fly ball to the outfield. If the run did score then we don’t have to see the Grimm Reaper out there in the 9th. We all know the team sucks at scoring runs and making smart plays though…something Dale has no clue on. Don’t forget last night when Castro getting picked off 2nd for a double play. Last time I checked you freeze when there is a line drive…especially right at an infielder. I am counting down the days until Dale Sveum is gone. One of the worst Cubs managers I have ever seen in the last 35 years. Him and Quade top the list. He has failed to develop the young players, has failed to make smart baseball decisions, and has even failed to be the scapegoat Theoyer wanted.

        1. wvcubsfan

          20/20 hindsight is absolutely the proper way to manage a MLB team.

          You are assuming that A) the bunt is executed properly (didn’t happen last time) and that B) the following hitter actually makes contact (a whole lot of striking out was going on in this game) and that C) the runner doesn’t get thrown out (after all the Dal evidently teaches bad base running according to you)

          1. mlb

            You must be lost…here I will redirect you —>

            1. bbmoney

              You must be confused. WVCubsfan actually made an insightful response to your post.

              Last night was one of the few situations I could have supported a sacrifice bunt (tie game, late). But I don’t know if Sweeney is much of a bunter. He’d have to be pretty good to put the odds in favor of it being the correct decision. On the whole giving up an out to advance a runner a base isn’t a good thing.

        2. Edwin

          What are those chances, if I may ask? What are the odds that the bunt is put down successfully, and then what are the odds that the next batter is able to score the runner with either a ground ball or a fly ball? Of course, if the next batter gets a hit, than the bunt would have been a moot (or mute?) point anyways.

          And how do those odds compare to the odds of Sweeny getting a hit himself?

          Maybe the odds really do indicate that a bunt in that situation is the right call, but it’s certainly not enough of a difference to get so worked up about it.

          1. Cubbie Blues

            The run expectancy for:
            0 outs and a guy on 2nd is 1.13 runs with a .633 chance of getting at least 1 run
            1 out and a guy on 3rd is .96 runs with a .677 chance of getting at least 1 run.

            This also doesn’t take into account the chance of the bunt not succeeding.

    2. wvcubsfan

      This is classic! Two or three games ago he was being crucified because he called for a bunt with 2 on and no outs, because bunting is a low reward proposition (you never give up an out). Now he’s being called stupid because he didn’t call for a bunt.

      This guy couldn’t win with some of you folks if he was holding a royal flush in a 5 card draw game.

      1. bbmoney

        It doesn’t matter what decision a manager makes. If it doesn’t work it was obviously the wrong one.

        1. wvcubsfan


        2. MichiganGoat

          Cpt Hindsight is an evil asshat.

          1. mjhurdle


        3. jh03


          1. bbmoney

            Well….yeah. It was more of an ironical statement.

            1. jh03

              I couldn’t tell, my fault.

              1. bbmoney

                No problem. Sarcasm and irony don’t often play well online. I forget that.

  20. Matt

    I was a bit surprised with Edwin Jackson’s attitude yesterday when he was taken out, but he doesn’t have any recurrent incident… The theme with Samardzija all season long has been that he’s focused on everything else but pitching.

    Let’s recap the incidents… Before the season started Jeff made it public that he did not want to take the Cubs’ offer and knew he was worth more and he was going to prove it, when the season started he talked about how insulting the word “rebuilding” was for him… Later in the season he was yelling at Matt Williams (3B coach of the dbacks) and Kirk Gibson said he should talk less and pitch more, then Samardzija talked about how frustrating it is when the FO trades his friends and expressed his frustrations with the FO… Then he said he’s been pressing because of the contract talks (the same ones he put on hold himself)… And now he yells at his 3B coach interfering with the coach’s job…and gives up a 2 run HR to Gomez the next half inning.

    Sounds to me like he’s distracting himself with things he shouldn’t be thinking about… Let others do their jobs and Jeff needs to do his.

    1. Edwin

      Sounds to me like you’re building a narrative and drawing conclusions around very shaky evidence/ arm chair Psychology.

      1. mlb

        Let me guess…you think Samardzija is this “young future ace” and that King Theo has this awesome master plan…LOL…you rah rahs are killing me today. This team is spiraling out of control while we wait for some unproven kids in the minors. 2017 is right around the corner!!!

        1. Cubbie Blues

          I have no idea how you got from ‘A’ to ‘B’ out of that comment. That is definitely some major inference.

        2. Edwin

          See! Exactly! I don’t think either of those things, but from my comments, you’re creating a false narrative about what I think! You’re like that guy from the bar in Good Will Hunting. Not Will or Chucky.

          I think Jeff is an average to above-average pitcher, who is valuable compared to what he’s being paid. I think Theo is the President of the Cubs, not the King. I like some of his moves, I dislike others, and most of the time I feel like I understand the rationale behind the moves.

          1. Funn Dave

            “I think Theo is the President of the Cubs, not the King.”

            I do like that line. Somebody tell that one to Paolo over at

    2. Funn Dave

      Thanks for putting this list together. No matter how much evidence you pile up, if you make a comment about a player’s off-field attitude on this website and his name isn’t Starlin Castro, everybody’s going to be at your throat–God forbid you question their baseless image of lovable Cubbies who lack human faults. But without damning Jeff too much, I think it looks like this is something to keep an eye on. The risk of calling someone an ‘ace’ at the beginning of the season is that his psyche might start to crumble if he’s been called that so much and things don’t turn out that way.

      1. Matt

        Thank you…finally a decent post on here…

      2. Jimbotron

        +1; I think its unwise to so casually separate intangibles from development/performance…to the extent intangibles are a plus for Almora, they can be a negative for others.

  21. Not sipping the koolaid: 2014 Cubs record 69-93

    I really think Vitters bat could be just as productive as Juniors Lakes bat, but with even more walks and OBP skill.

    Vitters will never have the dynamic tools (speed, athletism, arm) that Lake has but I believe his hit tool and power could be just as good or even better then Lake. Also I believe Vitters has a chance to be a better OBP guy then Lake even though that doesn’t say much because Lake isn’t an OBP machine by any means. Vitters has traditionally been a high contact guy who doesn’t walk much but in the short time he played this year his OBP was quite impressive compared to years past (I know, small sample size). If Vitters plate approach has matured I think he could become a average LFer in this league, or a serviceable bench bat with with solid hit tool and some pop

  22. Rynomite

    Vitters vs. LHP the last four years: .978, .839, .803, .820. Obviously last year is in a very small sample, but he would likely hit better vs. lefties than any of the current in-house lefty bats would. Plus he could pinch hit and play the IF corners in an emergency.

    Hope he is healthy enough to play winter ball and earns a job in spring training.

  23. Die hard

    Kyle Farnsworth was the big bad Leroy Brown — nobody can come close to his body slam

  24. Die hard

    And meaner than a junkyard dog

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