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mark derosa cubsThe kids were home yesterday, which meant a little extra play time. That’s great. But you combine that with shoveling and my body feels beat up today. I should probably stop letting The Little Girl walk on my chest and then crashing herself down on me, laughing all the while. But she’s just so dang cute …

  • Mark DeRosa, Marlon Byrd, and Tony Campana offer their thoughts on being with the Cubs and playing at Wrigley Field to MLB.com. Given how his tenure ended, it’s amazing to hear just how laudatory Byrd is when speaking about Cubs fans. Having been at many of his games, I can say that the center field fans loved Byrd, and he made sure to show them that he loved them back. In the understatement of the year, Campana says the fans treated him very well (I still don’t know that I’ve heard a louder Cubs Convention cheer than the ones Campana received in his appearances there). As for DeRosa, he says that he’ll always consider himself a Cub, even though he played just two years with the team, and played with seven other teams during his career. But, man, what a two-year stretch that was – the 2007 and 2008 Cubs teams were so very good, and DeRosa was a notable part of that success.
  • Sahadev Sharma takes a look at a variety of Cubs pitching prospects for Vine Line, including a guy we used to hear so much about – Dillon Maples. In part, here’s what Sahadev had to say: “After a very up-and-down couple of months at Kane County, Maples was sent down to Boise in July and turned his season around. It was the best many in the Cubs front office had ever seen him perform in terms of his delivery. During that time, Maples got his curveball over the plate and down in the zone, generating swings and misses. Not only were the results different, but so was Maples’ attitude. Observers say he looked more confident on the mound in Boise, with a chest-out bravado. He was aggressive in the zone, a stark contrast to the pitcher who seemed to be constantly thinking about his mechanics and worrying about getting hit, which led to nibbling and high walk totals.” Although Maples was a high school draft pick in 2011, he was a bit older than most, and then the Cubs had to rework his mechanics. Plus Maples dealt with some injury issues. That’s all to say that, although he turns 22 in May, you don’t necessarily toss out Maples’ prospect status even though he hasn’t yet had success in a full season league. The upside is still very much there. This is a big, big year for Maples, and you’d simply like to see him pitching consistently well (walks down, reasonable K rate) at Kane County. Doing that would put him right back on our radars.
  • Random: thanks to the Baseball Reference Play Index, we can see that, last year, the Cubs set a franchise record in extra-base hit percentage, hitting 487 of their 1,307 hits for extra bases (37.26%). The Cubs also were third from the bottom in the league in OBP, so, despite all the power, they scored the third fewest runs.
  • Tony Andracki profiles Kris Bryant, who keeps saying the right things. Here’s how “Cubs fan” I am: it actually concerns me that Bryant had such unbridled success in his pro debut last year. Given his obvious talent and work ethic, I wonder if it would have been better for him long-term to struggle, and then really kick things into high gear coming into 2014. That’s really stupid, Brett.
  • Bernie Pleskoff’s NL Prospect Dream Team features four Cubs as starters – Dan Vogelbach at first, Javier Baez as shortstop, Kris Bryant at third, and Albert Almora in the outfield. The other two outfielders were Oscar Taveras and Gregory Polanco, by the way, so Jorge Soler’s exclusion wasn’t exactly a knock.
  • A handy legal roundup on baseball suits from around the league by Wendy Thurm. Pay particular attention to the suit about MLB’s blackout restrictions, which has been underdiscussed over the past year. Logic tells me that if MLB’s territorial broadcast restrictions are ruled some kind of antitrust violation (despite MLB’s antitrust exemption), and if folks in Chicago (for example) can watch all Cubs games on MLB.tv, the value of securing the Cubs’ local broadcast rights is going to hit the skids. Part of the reason RSNs are willing to pay exorbitant fees for a team’s broadcast rights is because they know they can then force cable/satellite providers to pay huge carriage fees for their channel – because without that channel, local fans can’t watch their team’s games any other way. But if there were no MLB.tv blackout? Suddenly those local fans have a choice (and it’s a choice that doesn’t put money directly in the team’s pocket – cognitive dissonance!).
  • Curt Schilling has cancer, which sucks. The kind of cancer hasn’t been disclosed, but, whatever it is, hopefully he beats it back thoroughly. He’s been one of the few bright spots on ESPN’s baseball coverage the last couple years.
  • There are amazing billboard pictures floating around the ‘net – I gathered them here on the BN Facebook page – that the Royals have used the last two years. If you haven’t seen them already, you want to see them.
  • David

    Wow. I knew Bryant had a phenomenal year last year…. but not THAT good!!! These numbers are like a video game.

    “Between college, the minors and the AFL, Bryant hit 46 homers and drove in 111 runs in 118 games last year”

    • Jason P

      162 game pace of 63. I’d still be happy with half of that.

    • CubFan Paul

      I don’t think he’ll be challenged until he reaches Wrigley.

      I’m expecting an early Tennessee line of .300/.400/.600plus…”dominating” as McLeod says

    • Norm

      I still think people are ignoring the swing and miss he was showing last year and simply discarding it as SSS.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        It was a sample size.

        Remove his first game – the 5 strikeout affair – and recalculate his K%. The difference is dramatic, and in his favor.

        Yes, that first game still counts, but when one game has that large of an impact on a number it is entirely reasonable to withhold judgement due to sample size problems. That is a text book case of a sample size effect.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Here is another way to put it: in only 146 PAs, 35 K’s narrows Bryant’s true K rate to anywhere from 17.5%-31.5%!

          Really, we need another 400 or so PAs before we can get a good idea of what his K-rates and BB-rates are going to be like.

      • ced landrum

        It was a bit alarming, but I won’t be too concerned unless he does it again this year.

      • ari gold

        I completely agree Norm. He’s 1 guy I could very well see as a bust. Luke, even if you remove that 5 strike-out game he was still above 25% ( I did the math a few weeks ago so going off memory). That’s including the Arizona Fall League. For an “advanced” college player that’s way too much. Hopefully he proves us wrong.

        • bbmoney

          21.3%.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Which is fine for a high power guy in his first season a professional.

            • bbmoney

              No argument here. Never getting more than 77 PAs at any of the 3 levels he played (if you count AZL) at probably didn’t help either.

              Plus, he can have a bit of swing and miss to his game and still be really good with his power and his reported approach at the dish.

        • CubFan Paul

          “He’s 1 guy I could very well see as a bust”

          Most polished, high floor blue chippers don’t “bust”

          Bryant and Almora are most likely not to “bust” at all

          • snakdad

            Modern power hitters strike out. Fact of life. Not an approach I really like as I think productive outs are undervalued, but as long as he doesn’t turn into a total whiff machine while clubbing homers and taking walks and keeping his OBP up there, (which Moneyball turned into an obsession) then he’ll be very productive.

            • CubFan Paul

              “Modern power hitters strike out. Fact of life”

              Okay…

  • Idaho Razorback

    I saw last nite that Schilling had cancer. I also read the he had a heart attack in 2011, which I was unaware of. Our current temperature here in North Idaho is -6. I am so ready for spring training.

  • itzscott

    Dylan Maples had always intrigued me from the time he was drafted as highly rated prospect and a “steal” in the round he was selected.

    Aside from injury, I’m just wondering what makes scouts be so wrong when someone like that basically flops right out of the gate and shows nothing of what the they recommended he be drafted for?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      In the case of Maples, the scouts actually had it right. They said that Maples would need to make changes to his delivery, and it appears that when Maples made those changes he ran into the control problems.

      In Boise it looked like he got more comfortable with his new mechanics, stopped having to think about it as much, and went back to attacking hitters with his plus stuff.

      The result? He pitched much better.

      He is behind in his development, but I wouldn’t write him off just yet.

      • Bric

        I severely criticized on the over slot draft and contract given to Maples at the time of his signing. I could go thru all the monthly archives to find a couple of the postings but it’s not really the point. I just remember a couple of things really rubbed me the wrong way: his father/coach did all the talking for him and he was apparently holding a knife to anyone who drafted him, namely his contention that if he didn’t get a huge paycheck he’d just go to college instead. My thinking at the time was (and still is) Fine- take the contract we offer or go to college and develop for two years like the scouts say you should and we’ll draft you again. Either way I just questioned his integrity and desire at the time and still do.

        So the question is, Luke, now that the dust has cleared, have you changed you opinion in any way? I get all the over slot money issues from that year and blah, blah, blah but still consider it wasted money that could’ve been saved or used better elsewhere.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Nope. He was one of the arms available at that point in the draft, the Cubs badly needed arms, and the Cubs had the money.

          Most of the other stuff you referenced is not all that uncommon. Most top high schoolers in that CBA era had a dollar figure they were looking for, and there are many who did in fact head to college when team’s didn’t meet that figure. If you try to use player attitude as perceived via the press as an indicator of whether or not a pick is worth it, you’ll likely come to the conclusion that teams just shouldn’t draft much of anybody.

          I don’t think we should write off Maples, either. He needs to show some consistency in 2014, and I’d really like to see him finish no lower than Daytona, but he has a chance to emerge as one of the better breakout stories in the farm system this year.

    • JCubs79

      Luke beat me to it. Maples has always had really good raw stuff but his mechanics were poor and many believed if he stuck with those mechanics he would have a higher injury rate in the long term.

      The Cubs completely overhauled his mechanics the last 2 and 1/2 years (one of which he was hurt for most of) and it looks like he is becoming more comfortable with them.

    • CubsFanSaxMan

      As Brett says – “prospects are a crap shoot.”

  • mdavis

    Really excited to see what Skulina (who i think could develop into a beast), Frazier, and Zastryny do this year. if they can take a big step forward, it would be huge for the pitching depth. Still hoping Tyler Beede is there at 4 for the cubs to snag too. Love his upside.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I’d rather have Rodon, but Beede looks (so far) like a nice option.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        It will be interesting to see if Hoffman dominates this year, too.

  • CubSTH60625

    “I should probably stop letting The Little Girl walk on my chest and then crashing herself down on me, laughing all the while. ”

    Replace “The Little Girl” with “Cubs” and we may have a fan motto.

  • blublud

    I never liked Marlon Byrd, because of what he did to me. In his very first game with the Cubs, in Atlanta, he was signing autographs. He was going right down the line signing, looked at me, skipped right by, and took the hat of the person standing next to me and signed it. I asked him if he could sign mine, he once again looked me and kept on going. I don’t know if it was intentionally or not, but I didn’t appreciate it.

    • mjhurdle

      Seems a bit harsh to judge someone based on a 5 second interaction in an autograph scrum when you yourself admit that you don’t know whether it was intentional or not.

      • willis

        I remember that game…I was about ten rows up from the cubs dugout. They came out flying and Byrd went mega yard in his first cubs at bat. It was awesome. It was the best day ever. The cubs were going to be awesome!

        Then Carlos Zambrano got an icbm from Heyward off of him and he was never the same. That was pretty much the beginning of the end for Z. Also Shark came in to relieve Z that day and was hammered by the braves as well. What a depressing game.

        • TWC

          That bottom of the 1st was soooooo awful.

          • willis

            I’ll never forget the hype/fanfare in Atlanta that weekend for this guy named Jason Heyward and his debut. It was the talk of with damn near every sports fan I spoke. And I will never forget the sound from Heyward’s bat when he connected on that Z fastball. My mouth just dropped.

      • TWC

        “Seems a bit harsh to judge someone based on a 5 second interaction…”

        Um, you realize who you’re talking to, right? It’s Blu-kneejerk and forever stubborn about it-Blud.

  • Edwin

    It seems like Maples didn’t really pitch well, regardless of where he went. Even in Boise, his BB/9 was still 4.07. I’ll lump Maples in with the Reggie Golden/Hayden Simpson type players. I’ll remember the name, but I won’t hold my breath.

    • CubFan Paul

      Stats aren’t important that low in the minors. What matters is that he gained confidence theat he didn’t have before.

      • willis

        This is a big year for him, as Brett pointed out. He has been very “meh” so far but started to shake out of it at the tail end of last year in Boise. He needs to put it together this year and have a strong campaign in KC or it may be time to put him away as a hope for the future. I hope that doesn’t happen, he was one of my favorite 2011 draft signings.

  • CubChymyst

    With all of these teams getting a percentage of the TV company, I wonder how the blackout case will effect the company and in turn the revenue for these clubs. If the contracts hit the skids and these companies lose value is there a potential that some of these contracts will have a negative value. The Astros had problems with there contract his past year.

  • headscratchin

    ” I should probably stop letting The Little Girl walk on my chest and then crashing herself down on me, laughing all the while.”

    Here’s a tip fer ya… While the little girl (or much more important with the little boy) is doing butt drops on you, make sure you bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor. Eventually she’ll break the bat and puts some flat spots on the balls, if you know what I mean…

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