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mlb logoSo, do we still have a government today? (Cue unwanted political garbage fight in the comments because of an off-hand joke in the Bullets preamble … )

  • The Tampa Bay Rays last night beat the Texas Rangers 5-2 to claim the second Wild Card spot. So, they won a play-in to get to a play-in. David Price pitched well in a complete game to get the win, and now the Rays will face the Indians on Wednesday in the AL Wild Card game. The Reds and Pirates kick off the playoffs tonight at 7pm CT in the NL Wild Card Game. In some ways, I find playoff baseball more interesting and exciting in the years in which the Cubs were absolutely not competitive in the least. Had they just missed out on the playoffs, it would be too frustrating for me to watch what could have been. As it stands, I’ll watch Reds/Pirates tonight as a completely carefree baseball fan.
  • To that end, your playoff rooting interest flow chart.
  • If you want to read Dale Sveum’s thoughts on being dismissed, you can see most of them here or here. Sveum sounds a bit defensive, which is understandable, and he also seems to be aware that the between-the-line-reading public believes it was a failure to develop young talent at the big league level that, primarily, got him canned. He takes issue with that point, and believes he and his coaching staff did a good job. This is just one of those things that we may never have enough visibility into to judge. From the outside, you can point to Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo (though I can, and have, explained how it’s tough to pin any failings on Sveum for those two), but we don’t know whether there were other development issues that we simply never saw.
  • Looking at the Mesa Solar Sox’s roster (the Arizona Fall League team to which the Cubs send prospects), it appears that the Cubs have selected their replacement for Arodys Vizcaino, who was removed from the AFL in favor of instructional ball: Lendy Castillo. Last year’s Rule 5 pick, Castillo struggled in the bigs last year and then at Kane County this year. He was promoted to Daytona and worked exclusively out of the bullpen, where he had a fair bit of success. Castillo is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft again this year, so perhaps the Cubs are giving him one final look. I strongly doubt he’s added to the 40-man, though.
  • A season wrap-up piece from Cubs.com.
  • As the Cubs search for their next manager having just fired the last, I’d like to give a shout out to an appropriate t-shirt of a friend of mine’s. I can’t remember for sure, but I think I may have come up with the idea.
  • cubfanincardinalland

    I like the flow chart. Except leading to the Cardinals it says, politeness and doing things the right way are almost pathologically important to me.” What should lead someone to the Cardinals should say, “narcissism, self grandiose, and a strong belief that we are just better than everybody else are pathologically important to me.”

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    Rays — Pirates, please.

  • hansman1982

    Can we get a t-shirt that says: “FIRE THE NEXT GOVERNMENT TOO!”

    HAHAHAHAHA, I am clever.

    *grumble grumble politics rant grumble grumble*

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

      Fire all governments.

    • On The Farm

      I don’t know Hansman, I don’t think you thought this through. I think the BN can do an occupy Washington and we could run the government. With Brett as our fearless leader, Hansman as the Secretary of Treasury – now all currency is measured in hamburgers. Doc could be in charge of the health care crap, because he is a robot, so naturally he will come up with the best solution with his computer mind.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Like use humans for spare parts for the Robots? That works for me: my casing is 5.2% carbonated hydroxyapatite!

        (As a government employee myself, I’ve got some down time it looks like. Grumble grumble kill-all-the-humans grumble.)

        • jh03

          I’m still waiting on my letter about being furloughed. 90% of the people on our base has left, except our division I guess. Go figure. ha

  • hansman1982

    Also the flow chart should have had:

    The slightest perceived slight will be met with a bench clearing:

    Option 1: brawl – Braves
    Option 2: hissy fit – Cardinals

    • http://www.hookersorcake.com Hookers or Cake

      The Cardinals are Kobra Kai. Take out slides and a endless line of toolbags.

  • CubFan Paul

    No one adds Barney to the group of guys who had a ‘bad year’. Sveum let Barney hit himself out of the 2014 lineup.

    If someone ever needed to be platooned it was Barney.

  • Spoda17

    It seems poor communication, mixed messages, and an inconsistent approach were the main factors. I’m fine with the move, Sveum had a lot of head-scratchers, and was approaching Quade status… one more year of this and Dale may have hurt his chances for his next job. I’m sure the baseball community can understand Theo’s thought process.

    The Cubs are not a “normal” team to manage right now, and for the next few years, and it takes a different kind of person to manage. Not all leaders are successful in all environments. Dale may be very effective with a different type of team.

    • http://www.hookersorcake.com Hookers or Cake

      From the outside looking in it always seemed like Dale wasn’t perhaps the greatest communicator. Maybe in the clubhouse once the camera’s left he turned into a gregarious warm easily approachable mentor and the gruff stioc mildly annoyed persona was just a put on for fans and the media.
      Dale reminds me of the old timer who says there are no stupid questions and then when you ask one he winces, shakes his head, mutters something cryptic and walks away.

      • cubfanincardinalland

        I know Randy Wells, who played ball with my son in high school. I asked Randy what he thought about Sveum last winter. He had been released from the Cubs and had just signed with Texas.
        Randy said he really didn’t think Sveum had any confidence in him, but it was hard to tell when he was with the Cubs, because Dale never really said anything to him. Like no conversation at all, it all came through Bosio(who Randy said all the pitchers like a lot). I thought of these comments when the communication comments started popping up.

    • cubfanincardinalland

      Dale lost his job the day he pulled Castro from the game. Looked bush league and like the circus was in town. Huge overreaction.

      • Funn Dave

        No.

  • Pete

    Is Castillo the best pick for a spot in the AFL? I guess if they aren’t worried about him getting picked in the Rule 5 draft, it would be nice to get him some work. However, is there anybody else that they are on the fence about protecting from the Rule 5 draft that would benefit from further evaluation?

    • terencemann

      You rarely see good pitchers in the AFL unless they’ve had injuries and need extra innings against decent competition. Usually the AFL is reserved for pitchers like Castillo because all the good pitchers have pitched more than enough for the season and they want them to get a chance to have some time off before they start ramping up for the next season.

    • Professor Snarks

      He is probably not the best guy, but with pitchers you need to account for innings pitched during the year. Pierce Johnson or C.J. Edwards would be great to see, but you don’t want to ruin their arms. (especially since teams don’t have FULL control on how the pitchers are used).

  • itzscott

    >> This is just one of those things that we may never have enough visibility into to judge. <<

    I disagree…. Ultimately the answers lie in the results. If one wants to "grade on the curve", they'd look a a steady improvement from the nadir.

    Both scenarios point to clear failure.

    One can conclude that Sveum and his coaching staff were either poor or ineffective instructors, or both.

    These would not be the guys you'd want handling Baez, Bryant, Soler, Alcantara, etc when they get promoted.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “One can conclude that Sveum and his coaching staff were either poor or ineffective instructors, or both.”

      The job of MLB coaches and managers is NOT to instruct: it is much too late for that. Their job is to fine-tune: and if you give them a piano that is missing strings, then there is not a hell of a lot that they can do.

      Again, this is like blaming college professors for illiteracy. Insofar as coaching can do anything (tools are far, far more important), then it is in the minors where it has to be done.

      • Professor Snarks

        Apparently Theo doesn’t think so. Or maybe Sveum and his group were really bad at fine tuning.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          They certainly think so: that is why they stress signing guys with good tools.

          At any rate, the problems that many current Cubs players have go beyond fine tuning: they are missing key strings. (Or keys. Or piano legs. Or even piano body. These are soft OR statements, too, by the way.)

          • hansman1982

            This. Even with Castro and all of his success, he is missing a very valuable tool in his inability to tell balls from strikes which in turn hinders his ability to find and drive his pitch.

      • itzscott

        >> The job of MLB coaches and managers is NOT to instruct: it is much too late for that. Their job is to fine-tune <<

        This is insane…. So if you're going to overhaul a players approach, coaches and managers would simply tell the player what he needs to do and not offer some coaching or instruction on the best way to do it?

      • True(ly) Blue

        Doc, I rarely disagree with you but it is never to late to learn new things. Look at the incredible job that Coach McCay did improving Soriano’s fielding the last 2 years. Look at the defensive improvement made by catcher Castillo this year. Sure, part of that is just playing more at a high level of competition but coaching is surely involved (particularly with Soriano) . I wish there were more instances to cite for the Cubs but I think the sparse number is why DS was fired.

        • YourResidentJag

          I would also contend that Bosio did a solid fine tuning job with Travis Wood.

        • DocPeter Wimsey

          Fielding represents an amalgam of tools: often guys can make up for lacking one tools by focusing on using the other tools. Moreover, fielding is something that can be repeated over and over again.

          There are other tools, like pitch recognition, that are stand-alone: if your pitch recognition is bad, then you cannot make up for it with footwork, contact, etc. Moreover, guys cannot work on it: you face MLB calibre pitching in one place only, MLB games.

          Again, this is the single biggest problem that Cubs batters have. (The converse, lack of control, is the single biggest problem Cubs pitchers have.). Nobody knows how to fix the former. The latter can be fixed sometimes (it seems) but there clearly is no single solution for this (as demonstrated by the sae pitching coaches having both successes and failures).

  • Dustin S

    Girardi’s comments about being more NY now than Chicago, that his kids are engrossed in school, and that he hasn’t been back to Chicago in a long time…just generally seemed very bearish on coming to the Cubs, fwiw. Not that it can’t happen, but his tone definitely downplayed his interest.

    Playoff baseball without the Cubs is always comes with mixed feelings, but the excitement of the crowd and do or die games can be fun to watch. It’d be great to see DeJesus go far into the playoffs with the Rays. I almost forgot he was there until I saw him in the OF last night.

    • ssckelley

      “Girardi’s comments about being more NY now than Chicago, that his kids are engrossed in school, and that he hasn’t been back to Chicago in a long time”

      Translation: It will take a lot of money to sign me.

      • On The Farm

        Got to agree here. Leverage is what he is looking for.

      • Boogens

        I sincerely hope that you’re right but Girardi doesn’t strike me as a person that does much posturing. I think he downplayed it because it’s not such a big deal to him any longer.

  • Spriggs

    So, the big October crapshoot starts today. Who cares anymore? I’m so beaten down by the last few seasons, I just don’t have it in me to watch the cardinals – or teams I know are about to lose to them. It’s on to the Instructional League and Fall League for me.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The Cards are far and away in the best position among the NL teams. The Pirates, Braves and Dodgers all played pretty poorly in September. Indeed, either the Braves or the Dodgers are about to become one of the worse September teams to win an LDS in the last 15 years: because only one team can lose! (The Reds have played well, too: but there is a better than 50:50 chance that the Pirates take them in the WC playoff.)

      The AL is the exact opposite: the Sox, A’s and Indians all have been on fire. The Tigers are the only AL playoff team that was thoroughly mediocre the last month of the season.

      • cubfanincardinalland

        Where do you come up with the correlation that September record is a predictor for success in the playoffs? Or a poor record a predictor for failure.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Over the last 12 years, the team with the better September Run Differential is 34-14 in the first round of the playoffs. The probability of that happening given a 50:50 split is about 0.0028.

          I discovered that in 2008: my father (who was a life-long Cubs fan) was worried that the NLCS might conflict with his retirement party. He also knew that the Cubs had been playing poorly of late. So, he asked me if he should reschedule. I looked up the numbers and said: “No.” (The Dodgers had a September RD of 54 greater than the Cubs in 2008.)

          Here is a distribution of the September Run Differentials from 2000 – 2011 (I think), with winning teams in light blue and losing teams in dark blue:
          http://imageshack.com/a/img22/5936/septemberplayoffteams.jpg
          I’ll dig up the actual difference histogram.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            [img]http://imageshack.com/a/img22/5936/septemberplayoffteams.jpg[/img]

            • cubfanincardinalland

              My question would be, were not most of the teams that had positive run differentials in September, the better teams for most of the season anyway. Seems to me that you would have to compare that to put a huge emphasis on just September records.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Oh, no, at least not after you restrict the comparison to those teams that make post season. In fact, there is a weak *negative* correlation between run-differential in April-August and run-differential in September. What it really reflects is that the month-to-month performance varies somewhat, with the winning teams having the higher means.
                [img]http://imageshack.com/scaled/800×600/834/2lqd.jpg[/img]

                Now, if you expanded this to cover all 30 teams, then you would find a correlation: in general, the good teams are the ones having most of the good months, and the bad teams are the ones having most of the bad months. (And the “meh” teams have a lot of so-so months.)

            • MightyBear

              Allright Doc, I’m putting my money where your mouth is. I’m betting on the Cardinals, Red Sox, A’s in the first round. Only need to be correct 66.67% of the time an I’ll be happy.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Well, good luck! For myself, I am really curious to see what the Sox-Indians series is going to be like: those are two of the hottest teams to play each other in the first round since they started this format.

                (Now watch the Rays pull a miracle out of their collective nether orifice and beat the Indians….)

  • ssckelley

    In the playoffs I root for the A’s and whoever is playing the Cardinals.

  • cavemencubbie

    Can Washington and the Rangers, ever win a play off or a world series final game?

  • Peter

    For the bad offense the cubs have, an affordable bat would be Nelson Cruz, the PED accusations will most likely bring down his price and would give the cubs some much needed power, take some pressure off of rizzo and castro.

  • terencemann

    I think Svuem’s biggest sin was not so much doing something wrong as not giving the front office a strong reason to keep him around. They have a chance to experiment with managers right now before the MLB games “matter” to them and so it’s better to change managers now than a year or two into games where they’re young talented players are trying to make an impact.

  • On The Farm

    So last night the owner of this website was on with my local radio station. Brett was discussing the manager situation with the guys from the Afternoon Players Club. If you would like to listen to Brett’s thoughts (as opposed to just reading them) you can head over to the website I have put at the bottom and click on the top podcast. Its 9-30-13 Part II. I enjoyed it and hope you guys do too.

    http://www.kgymradio.com/Show-Archive/8686001

  • sprtswiz1

    Go Oakland!

  • Sandberg

    Brett,

    I think you mean queue.

  • http://bleachenation Sacko

    I would have rather lost this job for playing Lake, Watkins, and Schierholtz more. And playing Barney a lot less. And letting Castro and Rizzo sit out a little more not much more but a little. And Marmol should have gone to middle relief way b4 he got traded.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Marmol had to close in the hopes that he could get his stuff back and become worth something on the trade market. “Showcasing” is requested by GMs, not managers! (It didn’t work, obviously: but it was the only way that the Cubs were going to get anything for Marmol.)

      • http://bleachenation Sacko

        I guess that’s what I mean it didn’t work, would have they got more for him if he was pitching in a safer mode; middle relief? Doesn’t really matter and you are probly right GM’s request. Have to wonder how much more was GM’s requests did they do the same thing with Barney. He was only good for glove late innings and maybe platoon.

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