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albert pujols hold onIt was a good wedding last night, and I’m glad to see that I didn’t miss any breaking news on the managerial front while I was breaking it down on the dance floor. Smooth.

  • It was a litigious Friday for MLB, with Alex Rodriguez suing the league in connection with his PED suspension, and Albert Pujols following through on his threat to sue Jack Clark for claiming that Pujols used PEDs. The former is salacious reading, with Bud Selig in the crosshairs for most of the complaint. The latter would be very interesting if it proceeded to the discovery phase (i.e., the exchange of documents and interviewing of witnesses). Does Pujols really want to be deposed about all of this stuff? Then again, should he let people make PED claims without responding? Friday also saw MLB in a San Jose court defending itself against claims that it is unlawfully preventing the A’s from getting out of Oakland. As I said, it was a litigious day.
  • That extremely expensive amusement tax on Chicago Cubs tickets could be getting even more expensive. Chicago is considering raising the already 9%(!!!) tax on large sporting event tickets, which is one of the highest in the country (and artificially depresses the price the Cubs can charge for their tickets). An increase could easily make it the highest ticket tax in the country. Try not to break any teeth when grating them so hard as you think about the money your Cubs ticket purchases are directly contributing to Chicago, while also thinking about how the Wrigley renovation process has proceeded.
  • Mark Gonzalez writes that, whoever takes the Cubs’ managerial gig, will find it a difficult balance of many tasks.
  • A local (Baltimore) take on the Scott Feldman trade, where it seems like they are generally satisfied with how the deal worked out, even if the O’s missed the playoffs and the Cubs saw Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop turn their seasons around.
  • CSN Chicago looks at the state of catching in the Cubs’ system (up to the big leagues).
  • A reminder that tends to be particularly useful this time of year: online communities can be awesome, and ours is no exception. But the barriers to entry when it comes to commenting are extremely low. That is to say, pretty much anyone can say anything at any time. And some folks get their jollies out of getting a rise out of you. I know it can be difficult to resist the urge to put them in their place or “prove” them wrong, but I’d encourage you to resist. With these kinds of commenters, you can never win. That’s because, when you respond in any way – ANY way – they win. You’ve given them precisely what they’re looking for. The solution, as difficult and painful as it is? Stop responding. Let them shout themselves into tizzy while their words drift in a vacuum where no one will hear them. It’s the only tried and true solution to getting those kinds of people to move along. This applies to a tiny minority of posters here, and you’ll know it when you see it. Otherwise, carry on and enjoy the discussions.
  • CGruegs45

    Yeah don’t give them what they want, bros. #DontRespond #AintGiveEmWhatTheyWant #KnowWhatImSayin

    • Hee Seop Chode

      This made me laugh out loud. Oops.

    • http://ODU Greenroom

      my friend does this for every text message. funny. no seriously. funny hahaha

  • Drew

    Excellent closing paragraph sir!

  • dumbledoresacubsfan

    Anyone watch my boy Sonny Gray own it last night? Man, I really wish we could have pulled off some kind of trade for him during the season.

    • CGruegs45

      Yeah he did pretty well. For a #15yearold. #PeachFuzz #HighVoice #5’8″

    • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

      I was impressed. He battled and was pitching up – 95MPH consistently. And broke off some nasty on DE-Troit. His value just climbed a bit..in those that watched. For a 5’10-11″ pitcher, Oakland loves it non-conforming talent, he’s showing why he was picked by them, and the results were pretty darn good.[img]http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/speed.php-pitchSel=543243&game=gid_2013_10_05_detmlb_oakmlb_1&batterX=0&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=1&s_type=3.gif[/img]

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Forget trading for him. If the Tribune Company / Zell had opened up the wallet, the Cubs could have signed him out of high school. They drafted him before he went to Vanderbilt, if I remember right.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        In a more noble society, ritual suicide would be in order here.

      • Scotti

        Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 27th round of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft from Smyrna HS (Smyrna, TN) and the Oakland Athletics in the 1st round (18th) of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft from Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN).

        Tim Wilken loves him some non-conforming talent…

      • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

        You are correct sir! (June 5, 2008: Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 27th round of the 2008 amateur draft.)

        So hypo: If in 2011, instead of Javier Baez, you get Sonny Gray instead, would you have picked Gray?

        (Jose Fernandez and Gerrit Cole and Gray have the most WAR so far…of 1st rounders)

        Cubs 2011 draft: no one has yet generated any WAR. No MLB players produced.

        • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

          2010: Nada either.
          2009: DJ LeMahieu most WAR (2.4). Brett Jackson next best (.2).
          2008: Cashner and Campana are WAR leaders.
          2007: Josh Donaldson (9.1); Darwin Barney (6.4)
          2006: Jeff Samardzija (3.3) and Tyler Colvin (1.1).
          2005: Donnie Veal (.6)
          2004: Sam Fuld (2.3)
          2003: Sean Marshall (10.4) and Tim Lincecum (obviously, not signed.)

          So that’s a decade of poor player development because the numbers matter. And the few that did, were likely, traded.

      • dumbledoresacubsfan

        Yea. I played with him in high school. I begged him to go to Chicago (he was a total dick one day when he was flying to Chicago to pitch on the mound–he just rubbed it in and rubbed it in haha), but he had already committed to Vandy and had told teams he was going to do so. The Cubs drafted him hoping money would change his mind, but he was set on going to Vandy.

    • Soda Popinski

      I also read recently that we drafted Josh Donaldson in our system but traded him in the Rich Harden / Chad Gaudin deal. That trade had us all excited at the time (and probably wasn’t a bad idea), but dang it would be nice to see Donaldson be breaking out right now in Cubbie blue.

      • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

        I wrote a blog on that. It was a good deal if we do the math, I think.

        Harden: 3.4 WAR in 2007; 1.7 in 2008. (BR)

        So Donaldson’s total WAR was had years later, most of it in 2013 (8.0). If you factor in time value, We got a good deal.

        Hindsight on Donaldson, sure, he transitioned from catching to 3rd base – and found a home. If we had won the NL Pennant or God forbid the WS, then…we likely would be in a different state of feeling and affairs…just guessing. ;)

  • Eric

    The Gonzalez piece was a little lacking. I’d say that what a new manager also has to do is instill a sense of swagger into the club.

    • Brian Peters

      Depends on your definition of “swagger”…if it’s anywhere close to Brandon Phillips’ definition, then you can forget it. What’s wrong with simply putting your head down and doing work? You don’t see doctors jawing and dancing after they save people’s lives, do you? Swagger almost cost Carlos Gomez some teeth a couple weeks ago (oh, how I wish McCann would have pounced on him!!). The new Cubs manager doesn’t need to worry about swagger…he needs to worry about the fundamentals.

      • Eric

        The Cubs need to learn to believe they are winners. Nothing wrong with that.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Nor is there anything “right” about it: belief +$5 gets you a coffee at Starbucks. A better idea would be to, I don’t know, actually get enough quality players that we simply *know* that they should be competitive.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            I’d also add that traditional “fundamentals” are not the Cubs problems. The Cubs problem was giving up way too many walks and extra base hits, and not drawing enough walks. Fix those three problems, and then we don’t need to worry about belief, attitude, etc.: you can swagger or put your head down, and either way, your team will outscore the opposition a lot more than the Cubs team currently is.

            • Brian Peters

              Excellent point, Doc

            • Professor Snarks

              Yeah, drawing more walks would help, but the Cubs bigger problem is their batting average.

              • MichiganGoat

                ZING

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Yes, but a lot of the Cubs low BA was due to low BABiP. There is not much that you can do about that: neither false-humility nor false-swagger are going to help! At any rate, last year’s numbers don’t predict next year’s numbers any better than a coin-flip here.

                The Cubs slugging actually was pretty good: not fantastic, but good. It was not good enough to make up for the slugging allowed, however.

                • MichiganGoat

                  I’m assuming we are not discussing batting average and instead discussing on base percentage (which is the Cubs weakness).

                  • TOOT

                    Is this a test?

                  • TOOT

                    Don’t they go hand in hand? Ba and OBP tend to correlate.

            • jt

              Cubs SP’ers BB/9 = 3.1
              Cubs RP’ers BB/9 = 4.0
              Marmol and Gregg combined for 89.6 IP and 45 BB. (eyeball to 4.5BB/9)
              Arrieta BB/9 = 4.2 in 51.2 IP
              Rondon BB/9 = 4.1 in 54.6 IP although Sept he did much better.
              Lots of the cup of coffee RP’ers had high BB/9 and there were lots of them.
              Knock against Strop was that he didn’t throw strikes. He threw strikes as a Cub. They need him to continue to do so in 2014.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                That makes sense to me. Of course, BB rate probably are higher from relief pitchers than starting pitchers on the majority of teams: after all, all relievers are failed starters, and lack of control (or inability to control more than a couple of pitches) is a ticket to the bullpen.

                I’m not sure what one does about the bullpen half. Every year, we see a team that had a “great” bullpen the prior year get mediocre or even bad results from the same guys the next year. Now, I wouldn’t bet on “good” from the current Cubs’ suspects: but I wouldn’t bet on “good” from possible FAs, either.

                (Sacrificing chickens might be in order…..)

                • jt

                  “I’m not sure what one does about the bullpen half.”
                  –Doc
                  Years gone by, The Red Sox would try to stock guys in AAA. That would blow up also. But I always thought that continuously developing these guys was the best way to go though.
                  It seems that a lot of guys don’t make it as RP’er until their middle to late 20’s. That might be the time when aging starts to march toward regress for those who don’t spend the extra time in the gym. But as you say, I could just be that these guys lack a bit of talent.

          • Eric

            You misspelled “confidence.”

          • Scotti

            All the talent in the world, plus zero confidence and four bucks, will get you a coffee at Caribou. Baseball, above all sports, is a game of confidence. FANTASY baseball needs no confidence but the real sport needs it without question.

            What to call it? Swagger, belief, confidence is simply minutiae. Without it you don’t succeed.

            • Cyranojoe

              THE WILL TO WIN!

              • Scotti

                No. You can’t “will yourself to win” but anyone who has every actually played (and the scientist who study such things) knows that, if you doubt your ability to compete, you simply won’t succeed. There is a biological link between the brain/mind and the body that goes back to WAY before baseball was ever played (maybe even before cricket).

                • caryatid62

                  While there are intangibles that are important to the sport of baseball, to say that “baseball is a game of confidence” as if that is the the single most important determining factor in success is simply not true.

                  As someone who played the game for a very long time, I’d also like to petition that the phrase “actually played the game,” when wielded like some sort of argumentative sword, be treated as an obscenity.

                  • MichiganGoat

                    See I have a hard time believing that anybody who can make the MLB has a problem with confidence, maybe they becoming a little down on themselves when they slump by if you’ve made it past being a rookie I’d believe you have great confidence in your desire and ability. Now a players ability sometimes reaches the point where no amount of confidence can overcome the flaws in his ability.

                    • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

                      “Now a players ability sometimes reaches the point where no amount of confidence can overcome the flaws in his ability.”

                      And [sometimes], a player’s abilities can not overcome his flaws in confidence, wouldn’t you say?

                    • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

                      And of course, you must have enough requisite ability to begin with to be in this conversation. ALL the confidence in world doesn’t make someone a superior athlete. (Training and basic aptitude has to go into it. 10 thousand hours of practice – if Malcolm Gladwell or Geoff Colvin are to be considered informed on the subject – to be an expert.)

                    • MichiganGoat

                      “And [sometimes], a player’s abilities can not overcome his flaws in confidence, wouldn’t you say?”
                      Possibly but if a player has can play successfully in the MLB is argue that either 1-it doesn’t matter if the results are there nobody really questions one’s confidence or 2-having MLB success because if ones ability will directly increase ones confidence. Success fuels confidence more than anything else.

                  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

                    Food for thought, verbatim from Managing Sports Organizations: Responsibility for Performance, 2nd Ed.(Daniel Covell et. al.), pg. 34:

                    Limitations of the Decision Sciences Approach:

                    “A player with great statistics and great tools might have a drug or alcohol problem [Josh Hamilton, Darrel Strawberry, the list is a MILE long], be characterized by scouts as “soft”(not competitive enough or out of shape) or a “rock head”(not smart enough) or even criticized as too smart ([Michael] Lewis, 2003, pp. 24-25).

                    Although MLB does administer a psychological test that attempts to quantify these measures in prospects, the results are far less solid and assuring than the data collected from a player’s on-field performance.The question of the importance of makeup is not clear, but it is true that many physically gifted athletes never meet organizational expectations, whereas less physically imposing players succeed.

                    Billy Beane hand experience this first hand when he met Lenny Dykstra (a scrappy 13th round pick, far below Beane’s physical talent and draft status) and Beane discussing the pitcher….Steve Carlton, whom Dykstra had failed to recognize. While Beane ticked off Carlton’s reportoire with a sincere reverence, Dykstra shrugged it off and stated flatly, “Shit, I’ll stick him.” To Beane, the [POINT, my emphasis] was that Dykstra, who went on to have a solid professional career, ‘was so perfectly designed, emotionally, to play the game of baseball. He was able to instantly forget any failure and draw strength from every success” (Lewis, 2003, pg. 46)

                  • Scotti

                    “While there are intangibles that are important to the sport of baseball, to say that “baseball is a game of confidence” as if that is the the single most important determining factor in success is simply not true.”

                    Ever see someone succeed in baseball WITHOUT confidence? How often have YOU ever gone up to the plate and believed inside that you had no chance against a given pitcher and subsequently not proven that self-fulfilling prophesy correct? Without confidence in baseball you will fail. Period. Do you need other things? Absolutely. But a pitcher doesn’t need to hit. A 1B doesn’t need to run fast. A shortstop doesn’t need power. But they ALL need confidence.

                    “As someone who played the game for a very long time, I’d also like to petition that the phrase “actually played the game,” when wielded like some sort of argumentative sword, be treated as an obscenity.”

                    Petition as you will. I suppose we should also put you in charge of deciding when it is “wielded like some sort of argumentative sword.” Personally I find THAT obscene.

                    As to my actual point, people who have “actually played the game” have a far easier time understanding the non-measurable aspects of the game than those just watching it being played (or just looking at a stat sheet). Many of us have had the pleasure of playing–it isn’t some secret club replete with secret handshake, photo ID’s and passwords at the door. It’s a BIG club. And folks who HAVE played tend to not fall into the camp that discounts things like leadership, confidence, etc.

                    • DarthHater

                      I’ve never seen anybody succeed in baseball without a penis, either. But I don’t think it follows that baseball is a game of penis.

                    • caryatid62

                      You can use binary logic all you want, but the issue of “confidence” is an utterly nebulous term that is much less “all or nothing” than you’re making it out to be. If it were that you either had 100% confidence or zero confidence (as you imply in your example), then of course confidence would be everything. But that never happens. It’s always somewhere in between. And that somewhere in between is measured against a host of other factors, such as talent, preparation, etc.

                      Every player at the major league level HAS an incredible level of confidence. Every player in major league baseball cannot be considered a failure, as they have accomplished what 99.999% of their peers never did. So if you want to argue that it takes confidence to make it to MLB, that’s fine. But once you’re there, it’s not nearly the be-all, end-all of the game. Far from it.

                      And as far as your last point, no one discounts entirely the intangible factors–you’ve created a strawman. I played competitively for a very significant amount of time, and I don’t find the importance you place on those intangibles to be nearly what you say they are.

                    • Scotti

                      caryatid62, as Hoyer says (below), “Baseball is a game of failure.” Dealing with that failure–keeping confident–is paramount.

                      As to all players at the MLB level being confident simply because they have that accomplishment, well, that’s just silly. A player can be confident because he reached the majors but that isn’t going to translate into feeling confident against the majors best (or even better) players and that is when it counts–when he’s competing.

                      As to strawmen, I’ve created no such thing. This site is awash with folks who discount things like confidence, leadership, etc. This thread should prove the point. In particular:

                      “belief +$5 gets you a coffee at Starbucks.”

                      “See I have a hard time believing that anybody who can make the MLB has a problem with confidence…”

                      “THE WILL TO WIN!”

                      And something about Darth’s junk…

                      As I said to start with, “You can’t “will yourself to win” but anyone who has every actually played (and the scientist who study such things) knows that, if you doubt your ability to compete, you simply won’t succeed.”

                      Players who doubt themselves do not succeed. Period. You can be tremendously skilled and doubt and you still suck. You can be tremendously prepared and doubt and you still suck.

                    • Scotti

                      “I’ve never seen anybody succeed in baseball without a penis, either. ”

                      I have. And they were all confident.

                    • DarthHater

                      Heh. And you know this how? :-D

                    • MichiganGoat

                      We are really in a chicken or egg discussion here. Yes MLB players (I’m not discussing any other level here) have confidence but they also have great skills and abilities that got them to the show. So if a player has had no stop success that resulted in an invitation to the show of course the are highly confident. So were they confident and because of that they were successful and thier confident drove their abilities to successful levels OR were they confident because thier skills lead them to success?

                      So once they reach the MLB stage if they are successful is it because they were confident and those that failed lack confidence OR was it their abilities, skills, and ability to adapt/learn that made them successful and thereby confident?

                      My issue with confidence is it’s a trait we indentify with success, how often to we look at failure and say “Well he was confident?”

                      Everybody want to succeed

                    • Scotti

                      They were women. ;-) At least, I think they were women. Whichever it is that has the bumpy bits up top…

                    • Scotti

                      Sorry I missed this, Goat. Not a fan of comment board scrolling…

                      “So once they reach the MLB stage if they are successful is it because they were confident and those that failed lack confidence OR was it their abilities, skills, and ability to adapt/learn that made them successful and thereby confident?”

                      If a player from the minors he likely has at least some confidence (not all MLB players were minor league stars). However, his confidence doesn’t add any to his latent talent (he is, by definition, born with that–it’s genetic). Neither does it add to his individual skillset (learned through massive repetition at “game” speed).

                      But gasoline doesn’t add anything to a car’s mechanical or aeronautical design, either. Try to make it work optimally without it. Sure, you can push it, but…

                      Now, confidence is NOT drive/will/passion/what-have-you. The gasoline analogy, thus, falls short. Confidence is more the on-board computer that all modern cars have. Your car works optimally when this is functioning correctly. You may be able to start it and drive it around the block a couple of times but you won’t be “competing” without it functioning properly.

                      This is how our brains are hardwired. If we fear or are anxious (lack confidence), then the brain sends shutdown signals that we colloquially refer to as “fight or flight” (but also includes “play dead”). The fight in fight or flight is not drive/bellyfire/confidence/etc. but, rather, inappropriate aggression.

                      It is absolutely impossible (no hyperbole) to function optimally when your brain is sending these signals and the brain sends them at the SLIGHTEST anxious moment (the signals came in handy when we were getting a drink from the watering hole and a lion was watering at the other end).

                      As to failure… Any one, or all, of the reasons you listed are valid reasons for a guy to not make it. All I have been insisting is that, like the other key components of the “car,” confidence is integral. The Cubs certainly lack confidence, talent, skills, etc. Fixing one without the other would be foolhardy.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  The relative importance of the “will to compete” aspect is sorted out long, long before this level. With professional athletes, it’s just a post-hoc explanation that fans offer by unsoundly equating what athletes do with what they do.

                  One thing that is true that gets ignored is that true “talent” is addictive. That is a big reason why athletes (and musicians and writers and scientists, etc.) keep trying to hang on long after they should give it up: it’s more than a desire to perform, it’s a visceral *need.* They all have it, or they wouldn’t be there.

                  • MichiganGoat

                    Agreed

                  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

                    Interesting.

                    Just to clarify: The writers of this book are all professors at Western New England College in Springfield, MA.

                    I don’t disagree about hanging on. Professor Ray C. Fair, of Yale, created a model of performance – for all sorts of sports-related endeavors.

                    Who isn’t addicted to success, once achieved? No one wants to readily admit they are no longer capable of doing what they invested countless hours, and years in doing. And give up the “high” they have grown accustom to.

                    As Andrew Lo, MIT professor, noted that people do respond addicts with regards to monetary gains, from:
                    http://www.argentumlux.org/documents/Lo__2011__-_Fear__Greed__and_the_Financial_Crisis-_A_Cognitive_Neurosciences_Perspective.pdf

                    “Daniel Kahneman, used a technique known as “functional magnetic resonance imaging” (fMRI) to determine which areas of the brain were activated when an individual experienced monetary gains and losses…” and

                    “What did Breiter, Kahneman, and their colleagues find? As the monetary rewards increased, so did the activation in: the nucleus accumbens, part of the reward system; the sublenticular extended amygdala, associated with emotional reaction; the hypothalamus, a part of the brain closely linked to the endocrine hormonal system; and the ventral tegmental area, which releases dopamine into the reward system. This was a direct neurological
                    correlate to monetary reward.

                    Even more intriguing, the pattern of activations in the monetary reward process looked extremely familiar to Breiter. In fact, it was the same pattern he had found a few years before in another study he conducted with cocaine addicts and first-time morphine users! In the human brain, monetary gain stimulates the same reward circuitry as cocaine—in both cases, dopamine is released into the nucleus accumbens, reinforcing the behavior.

                    In the case of cocaine, we call this addiction. In the case of monetary gain, we call this capitalism. In
                    other words, our most fundamental reactions to monetary gain are hardwired into human
                    physiology.”

                    Food for thought, folks.

                    • jt

                      good stuff…
                      however, the group used was limited to those both motivated to accumulate money and successful at doing so. It does not seem to involve artisans, tradesmen, factory workers or even those who tried but did not succeed in hording large sums. While it may apply to these other groups, I don’t see anything in this bit of the book that studies whether it should be applied to them or not.

                    • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

                      I think it points to the subject of addiction to a particular stimulus. Whether it be directly tangible, money, or success, accolades and continued ability to do something you are successful (and rewarded with attention) at, their can be an “addictive” feature that appears. The “visceral need” the Doc mentioned.

                      Somehow, factory working does not seem to instill an addictive feature to one’s behavior? (I wonder why…being I’ve been a warehouse worker in -20F environment. I never saw many that developed a ‘visceral need’ to continue to hump 2000 cases for 8 hours for any prolonged period. They earned living wages, but the work was not success-driven, or lauded, much. Some do make it a game, to make it worth the daily efforts…. Even with expertise, best methods, no one watched a case selector except the IE assigned to measure performances…I did that too.)

                      It’s behavioral economics and neuroscience and psychology all in a blender. Fun stuff. JMHO.

                    • jt

                      “I think it points to the subject of addiction to a particular stimulus.”
                      –Jason Powers
                      I didn’t get that on first read
                      thanks for pointing it out
                      it is a good subject and an interestingly application here.

                  • Scotti

                    “The relative importance of the “will to compete” aspect is sorted out long, long before this level. With professional athletes, it’s just a post-hoc explanation that fans offer by unsoundly equating what athletes do with what they do.”

                    In relation to confidence this is simply untrue. Individuals at this level have differing levels of confidence (that, as Jason pointed out, does not go hand-in-hand with skill). Indeed, an individual player can have deep swings in confidence level. Case-in-point is Starlin Castro this year and the second half of last year. The Cubs were looking for him to “wait for his pitch.” He wasn’t comfortable with this. They had three (or four or five) guys in his ear. He lost his CONFIDENCE, not his skill. He WAS, at one point a career, .307 hitter. THAT guy should be plenty confident. He’s been way south of that since (around .255). When you have a bunch of people in your ear telling you that you need to change, you are likely to suffer some confidence lapses.

                    The true “post-hoc explanation” comes in when you have fans saying that Castro has “been figured out” or “the league is making adjustments” or “he was rushed” or “he’s lost his skill.” What he lost was his confidence.

                    The vast majority of MLB teams (all professional sports and major colleges, really) have sports psychologists. Teams know that players’ confidence ebb and flow (just like “regular” folk). The “stronger” minded will have more flowing than ebbing (they also envision success, prior to competition, far more than the ebbers). But if all of this was “sorted out” before the players reached MLB, then the investment that Theo and Hoyer have put into this is really, really odd:

                    “It’s a mistake to ever ignore that part of the game,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “We talk about that as soon as they start in the minor leagues, the mental part of the game. Playing major league baseball is a challenging thing. You’ve got media pressure, fan pressure. … It’s a failure game, and you have to deal with that failure.

                    “Having someone for these guys to talk to, it’s invaluable. You hope that these guys establish that trusting relationship where they can go and talk through that. It certainly can make the club better.”

                    More and more teams have hired psychologists to work with players, and the Red Sox have had more than one person work on the mental aspect.

                    “Kind of like the way Dr. Strickland is around, we had (a psychologist) in Boston, and (former pitcher) Bob Tewksbury has also done a really nice job with them,” Hoyer said. “He can relate to the players because he played in the big leagues and has a degree. It is important that these guys have an outlet.”

                    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-02-29/sports/ct-spt-0301-cubs-chicago–20120301_1_marc-strickland-psychologist-cubs-minor-leaguers

                    • jt

                      is it not possible to lose your confidence and not lose your fight? In fact, what of misplaced confidence. That is to say is it wise for Barney to try to hit a HR every time up. What of the CF’er who thinks he can run through walls. There is a point where a person must stay within his abilities else he may give away too much in the trying. When playing pool it is sometimes best just to leave the other guy a crappy shot. Maybe in baseball it is sometimes best to take that outside pitch the other way (well, maybe not for Big Papi).
                      Also, it seems possible for one who loses his confidence but not fight to regain the lost mojo.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      And jt wouldn’t that directly be related to a player’s abilities?

                    • jt

                      yeah MG;
                      I guy that gets hurt or beaned or old or pitched inside when they used to pitch him outside…hey he loses a bit and is inside the “what the heck” mental cage for a bit.
                      Sometimes it is real and the pitcher is never going to again hit 95 on the gun.
                      But I agree with you, most guys at that level should know how to get inside the game and outside of their head.
                      John Belushi told his brother Jim that it is easy. Pretend you are in a bull fight…. an you are the bull.
                      Man, that guy didn’t belong in a china shop.
                      Easy for him…. maybe not for me.

                    • Scotti

                      “There is a point where a person must stay within his abilities else he may give away too much in the trying.”

                      No one has ever suggested that Barney (or Lenny Dykstra for that matter) is only successful with a HR. Confidence isn’t “Home Run or Bust.” Confidence IS playing within your game. Confidence isn’t somehow feeling you don’t belong unless you can do the things Ryne Sandberg did–how would that ever be misconstrued as confidence? Confidence, for any hitter, is knowing that you and that pitcher are going to battle and that you are not over-matched, you belong toe-to-toe with that pitcher.

                      “Maybe in baseball it is sometimes best to take that outside pitch the other way…”

                      And, if THAT could be done WITHOUT confidence, you’d have a ton of .300 hitters in MLB. Hitting, even to the opposite field, takes confidence. No one is arguing that “confidence” = pull happy hitter.

                      “Also, it seems possible for one who loses his confidence but not fight to regain the lost mojo.”

                      Anyone who gets knocked down can get back up. Anyone who gets back up can regain their confidence. Without getting back up you don’t succeed. Without regaining your confidence you don’t succeed. Not at high levels, you don’t.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      No amount of confidence will turn into success unless the player has the abilities.

                    • jt

                      “No one has ever suggested that Barney (or Lenny Dykstra for that matter) is only successful with a HR.”
                      –Scotti
                      Barney’s FB rate is off the chart for a guy with a 0.250 BAbip. Somebody has got to tell that boy to cut it out. He is an ant and he ain’t goin’ to move the rubber tree plant. His confidence is hurting the team.
                      *
                      A kid is the best in his HS so he gets to starts. He gets noticed by scouts. He gets drafted. He gets signed. So far there are a lot of “gets”. He then “gets” it. Then he does the whole minor lg thing. Along the way there is no one who wants to give it to him. Along the way there are lot who want to take it away. To The Show he finally gets. He is there because he got it. He gets that. He gets his first hit. They give him the ball. That is the first real free-be since tee ball league. All along the way there was someone fighting for his job.
                      These guys are not shrinking violets. They got there for a reason. They get that.

                    • Scotti

                      “No amount of confidence will turn into success unless the player has the abilities.”

                      I’m no spring chicken and I’ve N E V E R heard, or read, anyone imply that confidence would do that. Not even on the Internets. “No amount of confidence will turn into success unless the player has the abilities” is like saying, No amount of confidence will turn into guacamole unless the chef has avocados. Duh. No one ever claimed it would.

                    • jt

                      mmmmmmmmm guacamole
                      I just made some

                    • Scotti

                      “These guys are not shrinking violets. They got there for a reason. They get that.”

                      You should suggest to Theo and Jed that they can forget their whole sports psychologist efforts. Let them know that their guys are no “shrinking violets” who need professional help maintaining their levels of confidence… Theo and Jed believe their players need help with confidence. So does the rest of professional, and major college, sports. So do I. It isn’t shrinking violets or what have you. It’s human nature, hardwired into our brains. It’s science.

                      Re. Barney is overconfident and has transformed into an over-confident FB hitter:

                      IIRC, you did some excellent work the other day regarding Rizzo and BABIP which showed, pretty conclusively I think, that Rizzo has not been hitting into “bad BABIP luck.” That really was some good analysis. This bit with Barney falls short, though. Barney’s hit tool has been in question since at least college (he hit .301, .330 and .302 with the “ping” bats and without power–not good).

                      I don’t have time to look this up but my guess is that you would find that Barney sees pitches up in the zone (pitches that dangerous, even marginal, hitters don’t get) and that he flies those out to the OF. Those pitches are difficult to hit on a line and even more difficult to hit on the ground.

                      In any event, it’s the pitchers that are driving what Barney sees because he is just a poor hitter (at best) and an awful hitter (at worst). Good hitters force the pitchers to hit spots, avoid certain pitches, etc. because the pitchers fear/respect their production. That isn’t Barney. That’s also why you’re not going to see a guy like Barney with a bunch of walks even though Barney had more P/AB than Rizzo this year–the pitcher is just going to throw Barney strikes no matter how many he takes. They just throw what, and where, they like with him. They, quite literally, have their way with him. That’s not a confidence issue. It’s a latent talent issue.

                      Perhaps with time Barney, like Omar Vizquel and others, can develop what talent he has into the skill of a decent hitter (with lots of repetition). Vizquel’s first 865 G he was .256/.315/.314/.629 OPS+72 (remarkably close to Barney’s career .246/.293/.336/.628 OPS+71) and Vizquel’s NEXT 1578 G averaged .285/.355/.382/.737 OPS+92). Doubtful, but knowing the way the mind works through repetition and disciplined hard work, not impossible.

                    • Scotti

                      “mmmmmmmmm guacamole
                      I just made some”

                      I’ve got some ripe avocados just sitting there and I’m too lazy to get the job done.

                    • jt

                      “my guess is that you would find that Barney sees pitches up in the zone (pitches that dangerous, even marginal, hitters don’t get) and that he flies those out to the OF.”
                      –Scotti
                      “The Strike Zone is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants”
                      The K zone when we were kids was at the letters. Now it is just above the navel. Barney can’t get on top of a ball just above his belly button? I don’t think I buy that. As I remember he came into the 2012 ST camp looking buff and was hammering the ball that spring. As 2012 wore on, Barney’s new found power wore out. He had an SLG of 0.435 on June 1, 2012 but for the rest of the season his SLG was 0.316. He finished 2012 with a SLG of 0.354, a point higher than he had earned in 2011. This past year the SLG fell to 0.303. His 2012 FB rate was 5.6% higher than last year and 7.4% higher than 2011. His ball in play AB’s have been easier to catch and easier to set a position of the defense against.
                      *
                      Sorry, Darwin missed most of April and his lower in the order than Rizzo. Anthony had 135 more PA’s than Barney in 2013.
                      I have a crap memory. I have to build concepts from the base up. In other words, I do not induce well but rather must depend upon deduction. That is why I look at stats the way in which I do. I am more apt to reinvent the wheel. But sometimes you get a better wheel because of it. Minds work in varied and mysterious ways. But that is kind of cool.

                    • Scotti

                      JT, Barney saw more pitches per AB than Rizzo. Given that his contact rate is much, much better, that means that Barney takes far more pitches (more of the pitches Rizzo sees per AB are pitches he swings through or fouls off). Regardless, pitchers don’t walk Barney (6.5%) anywhere near the rate they walk Rizzo (11.0%). Why? Because they don’t respect Barney. And, no, neither Barney, nor anyone else, is going to consistently hit down on pitches at the top of even today’s strike zone.

            • N8theGr8

              All apologies, but I believe “Bellyfire” is the word you are seeking.

        • Brian Peters

          There’s a difference between fist pumps and taking 15 minutes to round the bases while you’re jackin’ your jaws, too. I dare you to go up to Kirk Gibson and tell him his classic fist pump in the World Series wasn’t celebratory enough to be classified under “things winners do.” I’m not saying ballplayers don’t have to be robots and show no emotion. Just pick your spots. When Carlos Gomez hit that homer off Paul Maholm, he did so as a loser on a losing team. What did his swagger get him? Almost knocked the freak out. What did all of Brandon Phillips’ talk do for him–“I’m the best second basemen in baseball”–oh, yeah, he made a huge error in a big game.

          • Brian Peters

            *I’m not saying they HAVE to be robots….

            • DocPeterWimsey

              But it would sure be a plus!

  • ETS

    [img]http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/duty_calls.png[/img]

    • CubChymyst

      love xkcd

      • DocPeterWimsey

        xkcd is among the best in erudite humor out there.

  • Internet Random

    Re: Pujols v. Clark, I sure would have bet heavily against that suit getting filed.

    I’d still bet heavily against it going very far for the reasons hinted at in Brett’s post.

  • Polar Bear

    ‘MERICA!!!!

  • Brian Peters

    Huh?

  • Blackhawks1963

    My personal view is that Pujols has always been clean. He will go down in baseball history as one of the top 5 all time players. Clark is a vindicate douche. He has been dating back to his playing career. I remember vividly the nickname his teammates in San Francisco called him…Jack the sack. He wasn’t well liked as a player, has had constant money problems and is simply trying to make a buck by throwing Pujols under the bus for his own publicity sake. I hope Pujols nails him to the cross in a court of law.

    • Internet Random

      Fascinating, but I’ll wait until all the facts are in before I draw conclusions.

    • ColoCubFan

      I agree with everything you said, with the exception of Pujols being a top 5 ever player. I can think of 20 or more guys off the top of my head with better careers than Albert.

      • Hansman

        Pujols also has another 8-10 years to match and exceed those guys. In terms I production by age 32, Pujols is (probably, I haven’t looked it up) in the top-10 at worst.

  • Internet Random

    I’m all for freedom of speech and tolerating dissenting viewpoints, but when someone posts with the sole intention of disrupting a community for his own amusement, that someone really ought to be banned.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      In other words, the Internet needs:

      [img]http://www-images.theonering.org/images/hobbittrailer01/THE%20HOBBIT%20Trailer%20HD%20-%20YouTube-77.png[/img]

      • Cleanup Poster

        Magneto?

    • TWC

      “when someone posts with the sole intention of disrupting a community for his own amusement, that someone really ought to be banned”

      You would think so.

  • Die hard

    Pujols seems to be breaking down physically and so if anything Clark dissuades Pujols from considering PED therapy to continue playing.. As to lawsuit Libel and Slander have Truth as primary defense .would think that Clark had hard evidence unless he couched statement as an opinion with no basis which then pulls in public figure defense considerations– an apology would likely end suit with both to save face

  • SenorGato

    Good for Pujols and ARod.

    Anyway, did anyone see the SBNation article that mentioned the Cubs in the Cano sweepstakes? Second time in roughly a month it’s been mentioned with Jim Bowden behind the first one. Oh please oh please oh please win…

    • Die hard

      Cano would make Castro better but Canos age and health could end up as a Soriano replay and how could Cubs afford it?

    • Joe

      Of course they are in on Cano. Any front office would be crazy to dismiss it completely.

      Although I strongly doubt the cubs come up with the best offer by far.

  • Kevin

    The amusement tax to be increased above the already high 9%?

    If the Ricketts have a “Plan B” (moving out of Wrigley Field), it may be in their best interests to seriously consider this alternative. Taxes generally never get reduced and usually are increased. This situation will only get worse over time. I have little doubt Ricketts hasn’t already given this a lot of thought.

  • Chef Brian

    Dude, its Brett’s site. If you don’t like how its moderated than move along. No one is holding you here to face fictitious persecution. You are constantly whining about the site, and the treatment you receive, yet you keep coming back to point it out. So , I guess my question for you is: Are you a glutton for punishment? I mean come on fella, your gimmick is getting stale. There are probably sites that are better suited to your “temperament”.

    • Chef Brian

      Weird, this was a response to Gutshot. Brett, I know you said to ignore him, and that is sound advice. I just thought maybe he could be reasoned with.

      • MichiganGoat

        There is no reason to reason because said poster has no reason except to get you to try to reason with him who has no reason.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          I just tried to say that 5 times fast and hurt my tongue.

          • MichiganGoat

            Time to get a robot tonuge upgrade

        • CubChymyst

          Dr. Seuss would be proud

          • MichiganGoat

            And just like the Dr very true logic and reason

  • Jon

    Should we expect anything less from the liberals that run “crook county”

    • caryatid62

      If you think that the Democrats in Cook County are liberals, then you don’t understand the political spectrum.

      • cubs2003

        Agreed on this one. There’s a huge difference between “liberal” and “huge entrenched corrupt political machine that happens to fly the flag of the Democratic party”. The thing that worried me most when the Ricketts family bought the team wasn’t money or ability, but the lack of Chicago political connections. That being said, I want Wrigley field to stay where it is. It sure has been messy, though, and you’d think even the city of Chicago would be at least a little more accommodating.

  • TSB

    Carlos Gomez, playing for a terrible team homers off of Maholm, playing for a division leading team in it’s own ballpark, and “swaggers” around the bases. Does anyone think that (a) this will so damage Maholm’s psyche that he will need counseling and maybe have to retire, and/or (b) the Atlanta fans will think “Gomez is right, we have a lousy first-place team.” Or more probable, they think Gomez is a loser, just letting off steam because he knows he is a loser playing for a loser team. So what’s the big deal? Let the baby have his sour milk…

  • Die hard

    There is an upside to the tax issue– could cause Bears to be put up for sale to a group which includes Ricketts that would force the city to grant more concessions to Ricketts as to Cubs

    • Kevin

      You would think there’s a direct correlation between the amusement tax collected and the debt reduction on the Chicago stadiums but that’s not the case. All amusement tax collected goes directly into the general fund.

      • Scotti

        The Amusement Tax was originally couched as offsetting the little “odds and ends” that a team, or event, costs the City (i.e. policing, waste management, traffic, etc.). The Cubs, however, pay for the policing, waste management, traffic, etc. around Wrigley. For what the City brings in from the Cubs, outside of the AT, they should be the toast of the town. Add the AT, add the Cubs paying for what the AT is supposed to pay for and now add another $4-5 million in bribes (including a city park) and the City is looking for MORE because they can’t handle their own financial house. Wow. Just wow.

  • Soda Popinski

    Good bullet on the trolls, Brett. It’s been getting out of hand, lately.

    • MichiganGoat

      Yeah the Cube fans have really been on a roll, or course this is coming from a goat and a punch out character originally called Vodka Drunkenski.

      • Soda Popinski

        I had read about Vodka Drunkenski, but I never played the arcade version of the game. Gotta love Soviet Stereotypes in the Cold War era. And yes, only on the internet can a Goat and a Punch-Out character complain about trolls.

        • MichiganGoat

          It was his original name according to Wikipedia, Nintendo changed the name for obvious reasons.

        • MichiganGoat

          He also originally had a Vodka bottle till Nintendo changed it to a soda.

        • MichiganGoat

          [img]http://static.gamesradar.com/images/mb/GamesRadar/us/Features/2009/07/Banned%20Nintendo/Finished/PO_Vodka%20intro–article_image.jpg[/img]

        • MichiganGoat

          Okay let’s try this again
          [img]http://i.imgur.com/NBrWLTk.jpg[/img]
          A fun collection of things Nintendo changed http://www.gamesradar.com/nintendo-banned-in-the-usa/?page=3

          • Soda Popinski

            lol

  • Bill

    Ricketts is a fool for wanting to stay in Wrigley he could of had a sweet deal in Rosemont but he can’t get over the romance of Wrigley field.

    • MichiganGoat

      He’s a fool for wanting to stay and remodel one of the last great baseball stadiums? Come on I can possibity agree a better deal exist outside of Wrigley but to call someone crazy for wanting to preserve Wrigley is the “crazy” idea.

      • MichiganGoat

        Replace the “crazy” in my comment with “fool” or “foolish”

  • Kevin

    DuPage County or Arlington Heights are both better options than Rosemont.

    • Scotti

      The Rosemont piece of land was not ideal (too near the airport). Dupage, to me, is too far south of the Cub fanbase (NW burbs). If they could get the Arlington Heights Racetrack, that would be ideal. They would need AH (or any city they move to) to come up big since Wrigley is just not a flippable asset. The land has some value but the building is landmarked and isn’t going anywhere soon.

  • aCubsFan

    Brett … you missed the A-rod vs. the players association and A-rod vs. Yankees doctors lawsuits that were filed over the weekend. A-rod is going after everyone who is in his way of earning the rest of his contract.

  • cavemencubbie

    If the Ricketts can’t see the handwriting on the wall, amusement tax wise, they are in on the gag. The gag being the screwing of Cub fans. We will not see any winner in Wrigley, just media enhanced bones thrown to the gullible fan, who will continue to turn the turnstile. Prove to me it isn’t so, by leaving Chicago and Wrigley. It is time to move on.

  • Die hard

    Wonder if Ricketts is considering Ozzie Guillen as a think outside the box way of sparking interest and helping Castro and being a way to relate to all of the Hispanic kids on the way? Stranger things have happened

    • BWA

      no

      • Die hard

        Paul Sullivan’s piece last month on Ozzie is not just a coincidence with Sveum on way out as a way of Ozzie or his agent sending a message to the Cubs

        • DarthHater

          [img]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3747/9179773544_c6c9157f29_n.jpg[/img]

        • DarthHater

          You presumably are referring to the story about whether Ozzie will ever attend another game at the Cell, which mentions in passing that he visited Wrigley once in April but felt weird and left before the game started. Yea, that story really sends a strong message. Somebody give that agent a raise!

          • Die hard

            Consider the Cubs offering a 2 yr with one yr club option and the frosting is if Cubs work out deal with former team who owes him next yr too to spread that remaining payment over next 2 yrs with Cubs matching each yr.. Helps out both teams and Ozzie

  • Josh

    Watching Pirates/Cards and it is making me miss Bob Brenly. Loved him as an announcer. Any chance he gets a look as manager?

    • TOOT

      Nope.

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    Ozzie was a one shot wonder. People quickly tired of his act.

    As for Brenly, he’s a fine announcer but as manager, his ship has sailed.

    It’s going to be Girardi.

    • Indy57

      Agreed! At this point, pure conjecture, watch for the Cubs to call a press conference for 12:00pm on Thursday (give or take 24 hours) to announce Joe G. is the new manager of the Chicago Cubs.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    We’ll know before tomorrow. It appears more and more likely it’s NY or the Cubs. What is intriguing is that it shouldn’t have taken the weekend to accept their final offer. By the same token, I have no doubt, as he should, he wants assurances if he says no to the Yankees the Cubs job is his. That is very touchy as the only person who can give him that is Tom and if he wants him and Theo wants to put people through the regimen he has in the past, it would be delicate. You’ll know in the next 24 hours likely though.

    • Scotti

      I would have expected the Girardi family to take the entire weekend, if not more, to work through (essentially) two offers. No need to jump into anything.

      • http://It'searly Mike F

        The Yankees start their organizational meetings tomorrow, and even the New York media concede he will respond before then. And frankly, in terms of his family, they have had months to figure it out. It is very straight forward, does he want to stay with the Yankees.

        • Scotti

          “It is very straight forward, does he want to stay with the Yankees.”

          If, as he says, his family is involved in making the decision, it isn’t that straight forward. I’ve made, in consultation with my family, cross country decisions before. If what Girardi has said is true (everyone gets a vote) you would expect them to take all the time that they need to think it through.

          If the Yankees think it is to their advantage to pressure him to make a decision before he/his family have made up their minds, then that is an advantage to the Cubs. Anytime you rush someone with a big decision you are more likely to get the decision you don’t want.

          “…even the New York media concede…”

          That they are guessing. They’ve been wrong before. The Girardi family may have already come to its decision but it has nothing to do with what the NY media says.

  • DarthHater

    Today is the 68th anniversary of the visit of Billy Sianis and his goat to Wrigley for game 4 of the 1945 World Series:

    [img]http://www.chicago-cubs-fan.com/images/goat.jpg[/img]

    • MichiganGoat

      Oh grandpa

      • DarthHater

        You need to grow a beard like his, MG.

      • college_of_coaches

        Hey Goat, can you recommend a good stout? I know you’re an IPA aficionado, but I thought I’d ask.

        • MichiganGoat

          Sure I can if you want hit me up on twitter but if you can find Founders Breakfast Stout (coffee, chocolate tones) grab that or go for Old Rasputian one of the best Imperial Stouts out there. I have plenty of other to recommend if you hit me up on twitter.

          • ClevelandCubsFan

            Here here on Old Rasputin. Suggestion: We need a beer guide for every city the Cubs visit. It should be a side piece to every series preview in 2014.

            • MichiganGoat

              I’ve played with Beer Series thing on the message board like the She-view maybe I’ll start it next year.

            • MichiganGoat

              Problem is that I’d run into a matchup of great brews against great brews except with St. Louis then it’s easy.

              • ClevelandCubsFan

                I don’t think it needs to be a she view type thing. How about for each road series suggest a beer that travelling Cubs fans MUST try. And… if necessay… offer a consolation suggestion for fans at home… something they might be able to get away from the area. Just a Cubs fans guide to beer when away from home. That’d be awesome man. That’d be a better value add to the aite than bears coverage.

                • MichiganGoat

                  Good idea there are some cities that my beer knowledge lacks but it will give me an opportunity and a reason to try new beers.

          • college_of_coaches

            Thanks Goat! I follow you on twitter. I’ll start with your first two suggestions. Also, the beer series idea is great.

            • MichiganGoat

              No problem send me a tweet and tell me what you think, if you have a local brewery I’d suggest getting fresh growler of any of their stouts. Breakfast Stout is great from the bottle but amazing when it comes straight from the source.

            • Cubbie Blues

              Both of those recommendations are brilliant beers. Old Rasputin is from North Coast Brewing Co. in Northern California and is amazing. They will also put you on your back by the end of the night if you don’t watch out.

              • MichiganGoat

                Agreed last time I went on a bender with Old Rasputin, I ended up getting shot and drowned and still walked away. Its a powerful stout.

    • Die hard

      Depressing about that photo is they were already in game 4 of WS without worry about snow or cold etc and fan interest was still notable rather than drag all games out to winter when fans are thinking the holidays– greed is not good and will kill the game like the goat killed Cubs WS appearances

    • Cubbie Blues

      No Pepsi, Coke.

      • Stinky Pete

        Chee-Boygee?

        • Cubbie Blues

          But, I don’t want a cheeseburger for breakfast.

          • Stinky Pete

            I can’t stop my leg.

  • Brian Peters

    Any word on Girardi’s big decision?

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    Not that it will matter, but Carlos Beltran looks like he has some baseball left in him.
    I wonder if the Cardinals will give him the Qual Offer? (And do the Cubs have any interest in him?)

    The guy just hits…homers that now are more than Babe Ruth(16)…in the postseason.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/beltrca01.shtml#batting_postseason::none

  • Rich

    If girardi rejects Yankees he is still under contract until end of month. I’m guessing if he said he was out, then he would still need permission to officially talk to Cubs

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