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dale sveum starlin castroI am on my way to Arizona for a week of Spring Training and sun (but don’t tell The Wife I said that second part). In fact, if all goes according to plan, I am literally on my way as this post publishes. Through the wonders of technology, I pre-wrote these Bullets so that my change in schedule would not impact your usually-scheduled Bullet enjoyment.

  • The Cubs will play a makeup game today against the Giants at 11am CT because of the tarp-related rainout this weekend. Jason Hammel will get the start, his first in a Cubs uniform. Mike Olt will finally see the field in that game, although it will be at first base. He’s been dealing with some shoulder soreness, but it seems to be “ramping up for the season” type soreness, not “injury” soreness.
  • Speaking of Olt, I discussed it over the weekend, but he continues to draw shadow hype, including from himself. Olt tells Cubs.com: “If I am healthy, I do know I belong in the big leagues. It’s not a matter of thinking about making the big leagues, it’s about going out there and doing my thing. Whatever happens, happens. When I do get the shot, I’ll be ready.” Hopefully Olt’s right. For his part, manager Rick Renteria isn’t committing to anything publicly when it comes to Olt, offering only the standard “we’ll see what happens, just get him healthy, you never know” kind of stuff (CSN).
  • Dale Sveum says (ESPNChicago) there’s nothing he would do differently if he had a chance to do it all over again with the Cubs, which seems an odd perspective, assuming Sveum wouldn’t want to get fired again. No, a great deal of what happened was entirely outside of his control, and it’s possible that he could have done everything perfectly and still been broomed. Of course, after he departed, we were told he didn’t do everything perfectly, so I guess there are just some philosophical differences between his vision and that of his former employers. In that way, it’s kind of a bummer, given the depths of that first managerial search.
  • Speaking of those philosophical differences, one of the big ones may have been the handling of Starlin Castro, whose performance sunk to new depths last year. The reason for those struggles – the lawsuit back home? bad BABIP luck? an ill-advised change in his plate approach? poor coaching in implementing that change? – will remain something of a mystery, because Sveum wasn’t giving up too much info when he spoke with ESPNChicago about Castro. It could have been a matter of inconsistency (Castro apparently didn’t care for being bounced around the order, and Jesse Rogers reports that the front office and/or Castro’s agent intervened when he was dropped to 8th in the order in August), or a square-peg-round-hole problem. Sveum referenced notorious free-swinger Vladamir Guerrero when discussing what happens when you ask a hitter to try and take more pitches. It makes you wonder: if the approach change was driven by the front office, was Sveum always on board with it? If not, did that impact the way Castro was instructed?
  • That said, the change – asking Castro to see more pitches to try and work counts that would give him more pitches to drive (and/or generate more walks) – was ultimately geared toward making Castro the best possible offensive force he could be, so I doubt Sveum was opposed to it.
  • The Cleveland Plain Dealer says it’s time to retire Chief Wahoo for good.
  • ssckelley

    “Jesse Rogers reports that the front office and/or Castro’s agent intervened when he was dropped to 8th in the order in August”

    I find this to be alarming and I hope this is not true. Castro was hitting like a #8 at the time, I cannot blame Sveum for dropping him in the order. Of course Castro would not be happy, no one that is competitive would be happy about it. I would hope the Manager has the flexibility to make a batting order that he feels gives the team the best chance to win without having to look over his shoulder and worry what the FO and/or agent feels about it.

  • JCubs79

    Complaining about batting 8th when you end up hitting .245…If Castro’s agent did intervene when he was dropped to 8th in the order last season, I hope Theo booed that man out of the room.

    [img]http://gifrific.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/boo-this-man.gif[/img]

  • Kyle

    “That said, the change – asking Castro to see more pitches to try and work counts that would give him more pitches to drive (and/or generate more walks) – was ultimately geared toward making Castro the best possible offensive force he could be, so I doubt Sveum was opposed to it.”

    Unless he thought the intentions were good but the results were not likely to be.

    Although I suspect it’s just hindsight and defensiveness.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The results were going to be hard to predict: insofar as I am aware, nobody has tried an experiment like that. After all, we are not far removed from the time when “it is known” that players improved pitch recognition over time. Jed and/or Theo did comment last winter that they were looking for ways to get players to work on pitch recognition in a way analogous to lifting weights to improve power or taking BP to improve swing mechanics.

      Ultimately, batters need some analog of “heat charts”: but that analog will be very, very different as pitching and batting are completely different activities.

      • Kyle

        I don’t think it’s true that this was some sort of groundbreaking idea, but if it was, isn’t that pretty damning? Breaking the most valuable asset in the organization (at the time) in the name of an experiment? That’s negligence.

        • davidalanu

          Trying to make a good player better is negligence? It would have been negligent not to try. Read the Cubs.com article about Baez and what Desi Wilson tried to work with him on at AA last year. It’s probably not too terribly different from what the big-league club was trying to get through to Castro.

          It seems to have sunk in for Baez, not so much for Castro. Hopefully there will be enough that sticks with Castro that it will still make him a better hitter in the long run.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Wait: why should we assume that Castro is somehow permanently broken? After he took a couple of pitches, Castro was basically Castro last year. However, Castro being Castro with one or two strikes against him already wasn’t going to be that productive without hellacious BABiP.

          • Kyle

            We shouldn’t assume he’s broken forever. But it’s possible.

            But it wasn’t necessarily true that Castro was just Castro after taking pitches last year. He got quite a bit worse at making contact later in the count, mostly because of chasing more pitches than he used to and a bit because he started to have more trouble with fastballs.

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          That is the problem with innovating. Sometimes shit doesn’t work or it ruins an item. Sometimes it may improve something you weren’t even intending to improve (Viagra being a very visible, “Oh, wait, it didn’t do X, it did Y, which is pretty awesome!”).

          Lets see if Castro can be unbroken.

          • TWC

            “Sometimes it may improve something you weren’t even intending to improve…”

            Look no further than the research into an ergot-based respiratory stimulant performed by a young Swiss chemist in late 1938.

            • Patrick W.

              Friday night trouble bound.

          • Kyle

            Maybe we can innovate with the Junior Lakes of the world and leave the Castros alone.

            This is a great example of the “heads they win, tails they don’t lose” attitude with Epstein. Even the worst stuff that happens under their time with the Cubs is spun as a good thing.

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              So you want me to be pissed about it? !

              It’s a case where i am happy they tried to innovate and find a way to improve batting eye. It didn’t work, they may have broken Castro. I’m hoping they chose him because they thought he was the most likely to be able to recover afterwards if it failed or he was the most likely to succeed.

              It’s not heads win tails not lose…I just accept that not every decision they make is going to be golden.

              • DarthHater

                “So you want me to be pissed about it?”

                Yes! Embrace your anger!

              • Kyle

                I want you to be pissed about everything. I’ll start with this.

                • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                  I am rather ambivalent about your statement.

  • Jon

    Unfortunately, the Cubs job, right now I is a career killer. What are the odds that Svuem gets another head gig? I don’t put it that high. Much like Trammell never got over(unfair as it may be) the stigma of that awful 2002 Tigers team. He’s a career assistant now. Tony Larussa or Leo Durocher couldn’t get more than 68 or so wins out of this roster. It’s a no win situation, outside of saying you actually held a major league job for a brief period of time, which of course is a willing tradeoff for being the sacrificial lamb two years from now.

    • Jon

      for some it’s a willing trade off, I should say…

    • brainiac

      they make some cash, though i do think that svuem got screwed. not just cause he got fired, which is pretty common, but because theo’s PR machine had to drag his name through the mud in the process. i understand the needing the scapegoat thing, but there have been some really crappy interpersonal practices the past couple years, besides the crappy planning and organization.

      • Jon

        What the Cubs are doing is actually unprecedented. Teams have tanked before and for multiple seasons, but when was the last time a team in a top 3 market purposelessly tanked for 4+ seasons? Asking a manager to do this in Chicago is a bit different than asking the Astros manager to do this. It’s why Giradi took a brief look at the job through back channels and quickly re-upped. I think he would prefer the “rumored” downfall of the Yankees than the reality of the abyss the Cubs are in.

        • brainiac

          i tend to agree that this is unprecedented for an otherwise healthy team. i can’t think of another team outside of the movie “major league” who’s done this.

          • Jon

            It would be hilarious if this season actually played out like Major League, with Theo and Jed combing on the role of Rachel Phelps

            “They are supposed to be bad damn it”

        • roz

          You might not be wrong, but let’s wait to call it “4+ years” until it’s actually been 4 years of tanking.

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            Bug that doesn’t fit the narrative he’s going for, but let’s ignore that this FO has only had two seasons of operation. This is year three but to fit the narrative they are also responsible for the final year of Jim Hendry. Are facts just annoying?

            • roz

              Facts are the worst.

            • Darth Ivy

              When people represent their belief in such a bad way, it actually acts as support for the opposite belief. I wish the Cubs spent more money and fielded more enjoyable teams over the last two years. But whenever I read Jon’s comments, I feel myself move more and more towards the, “losing is okay if it produces long term and sustained success” point of view.

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          “What the Cubs are doing is actually unprecedented. Teams have tanked before and for multiple seasons, but when was the last time a team in a top 3 market purposelessly tanked for 4+ seasons?”

          1. Ya, and?
          2. Hooray arbitrary cutoffs (you even manage to get 2 in there)
          3. When was the last time a team in a top-3 market that was hilariously behind in everything the front office does?

          • Jon

            Even if you support the plan of tanking, you have to admit if woud be very diffcult for any manager to survive that. That is all I’m saying. Losing takes a toll on organizations and people.

            • brainiac

              i’ll go a step further and argue that no one should support such a plan because it’s a bad way to play sports and a bad way to live life. i dislike it on about five levels, though some people are too cynical to actually care about the “sports” part of sports, as long as they can pretend to play middle management in fantasy baseball or in video games.

              • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                Ah sigh more brain “farcical stories”

              • Funn Dave

                This.

            • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

              Yes but you are also making up facts to support your narrative. The Epstein led Cubs have two tank years heading into a possible third not the 4 you are trying to hang them with. When you get your facts straight it will be easier to discuss things with you.

              • brainiac

                three offseasons. that’s 3 years in GM world, not sports seasons. their time isn’t on the field, it’s eating funyuns in their office.

                • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                  You about “tanking seasons” we have two seasons to measure if they tanked or not… is it that hard for you stay on one story?

                  • Edwin

                    It is highly probably that this upcoming season is also a “tanked” season. They certainly haven’t done much to improve the team this last offseason.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      Yes it is but that doesn’t equal 4 seasons. It’s worse than BetterMath.

                    • Darth Ivy

                      unless they’re buyers before the trade deadline. It’s not likely, but it wouldn’t shock me. I don’t think we can lump 2014 with 2012/13 if they do indeed buy. Again, I don’t think that’s likely.

                • roz

                  And that may be true, but that’s still not 4+ years.

                  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                    Precisely but facts are necessary with fiction.

                • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                  Ha, I love this site. Everything gets debated so much that we piss and moan about the definition of a year. I’d love to see the debate of “Mythbusters do/don’t do science”.

                  • King Jeff

                    Jeez, I’ve been gone for months and you guys are still going at it? Glad I skipped the offseason.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Whoa, the King!

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      Yeah that’s so true, long live the King.

                    • King Jeff

                      It’s good to be home. I missed you guys, baseball, talking about the Cubs, and I think I even missed Kyle a bit.

                    • TTH

                      “Glad I skipped the offseason”

                      Is that you, Theo?

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                    Mythbusters don’t do science.

                    Debate closed.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      CONTRARIAN!!!!!!

                    • DarthHater

                      Luke, you should email them and ask them to bust the myth that what the Mythbusters do is science.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Actually, I don’t have major problems with what Mythbusters does. They don’t cover as many angles or alternative explanations as I always seem to have to do to get papers published, but they usually show that the basic idea is pretty inaccurate.

                      (Occasionally, they show that there might be something to it, like the elephants avoiding mice experiment: that was awesome! Still, I wish that they had repeated it with brown mice as well as white mice: I’d really like to know if elephants deliberately avoid brown mice, too.)

                    • CubChymyst

                      Doc I am going to assume you’ve seen this, but xkcd comic on mythbusters pretty much sums up my feelings about the show.

                      http://xkcd.com/397/

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Yeah, I love that strip. The simple truth is that Mythbusters assesses a lot of ideas that scientists don’t bother to test. I mean, what journal is going to publish a paper on “do bulls break china or not?”

                      On the other hand, if I were to describe my latest project to most people here, their eyes would glaze over. The difference between what I do and what they do is less about the basic method (“does X predict observations well?”) and more about the basic questions.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      If nothing else, Mythbusters gets folks to be remotely interested in science and performing critical thinking about myths. Plus, some of what they do can be replicated at home.

                      It’s like folks getting bent out of shape that Bill Nye is *occassionally* wrong about science stuff. He got kids interested in it.

                    • DarthHater

                      Replication of results is a key part of science. That’s why they start every episode by encouraging viewers to try to reproduce their experiments at home.

                    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                      Especially when they fire cannonballs through houses.

              • Jon

                It’s difficult to discuss things, when the rebuttal is always “You are just triyng to fit your narrative”

                This feels like it could be a scene from GroundHog Day (my tribute to Harold Ramis)

                • brainiac

                  yeah but i love goat because he always keeps things moving. sometimes i feel like he actually agrees but is just giving us fodder to keep posting. it’s part of his game. he’s a loyalist but he’s also a huge fan.

                  • DarthHater

                    Hmm. He’s stubborn, cantankerous, and a goat. Sounds about right.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      We also have a long history of putting trolls in their place. It’s the Gruff in us goats.

                • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                  It’s just as difficult to see you and brains continually avoiding reality because you want to push a faux reality. But it’s meaningless to respond or discuss anything with you two it’s similar to talking to a brick wall- nothing will change. Have a great day you two your sideshow might just get you a place in a carnival. Good bye enjoy the day.

                  • Jon

                    As Edwin noted this is highly 3rd offseaon where they have done nothing meaningful and odds are will result in a 90+ loss season. That combined with the 2011 season will be 4+ years of awful losing. Yes, 2011 was the Hendry team so they are only responsible for 3. Now you can sit here and split hairs over this, but it was really as simple as stating how difficult this current rebuilding task is for any manger given the circumstance. That’s it. Full stop. There is nothing controversial or overtly negative about that, it’s just a reality. GOAT seems to take pleasure and splitting hairs, baiting and arguing(definition of trolling but whatever)

                    • Eternal Pessimist

                      …but even then I would give you only two years of “purposeful” tanking at most. Last years construction was not unreasonable and luck played a role, and the sell off was just a smart move when they year was lost.

                      …and this years tanking seems to me to have more to do with a lack of assets to go after in a responsible way (Tanaka’s contact would have been absolutely absurd for the Cubs, other major pieces line up poorly or overpriced for the value added, and the remainder being Meh.). Quite an overstatment of the facts.

                    • Jon

                      The Chicago Cubs Phytagorean last year was 71 wins. NOt really an overstatement at all. It was a bad team even before the “sell off” which probably resulted in 3 less wins at best.

                    • Eternal Pessimist

                      methinks you underestimate the cubs projections last year. They were build for a nearly .500 performance, but luck/performance played a negative roll overall.

                      A .500 team has a chance to surprise, and overhauling that team to project for much more than .500 is a lot to expect.

                    • Jon

                      PECOTA had them at 77 wins. That’s not exactly .500.

              • Edwin

                This is also the 3rd offseason in a row that they’ve failed to make any meaningful improvements to the MLB team.

                • brainiac

                  the thing that gets “brains” is that it’s not that they failed. it’s that they purposefully didn’t try. for those of us who’ve connected years of our own aspirations into the cubs finally winning, i just can’t stand bad faith actions when the only reason is for a rich guy to make more money cause he can.

                • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                  You can look at the two previous seasons and extrapolate pretty much whatever you want. This offseason it is nearly impossible to say they were trying to build a contender but their plans clearly centered around 1 player.

                  • brainiac

                    i agree that they made a good offer. but winners make great offers and have backup plans. they need to fire jed.

                    • BT

                      Jed is doing exactly what he said he was going to do, exactly what ownership wants him to do, and exactly what most knowledgeable front office executives (ie people who aren’t Gordon Wittenmeyer) think he should be doing. The idea that you think it’s some sort of failure, and attribute it to some plan to line the owners pockets with money is what I find so maddeningly absurd.

                    • brainiac

                      i just think this is only part true. they’re building the minors, as they should. but wasting inordinate amounts of money on gambles instead of stocking the infrastructure of the mlb squad. his trades are mediocre to poor. call it a tactic, i call it post-modern baseball, in which “baseball” needs to be put in quotes and everything is centered on office work.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      ^^^This^^^ but in his defense he regularly says he writing farcical comments and purposely being argumentative which is better known as trolling.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      The this is to BT comments.

                    • Edwin

                      BT,

                      So if a GM says he’s going to do a long term rebuild, does that give him carte blanche to lose for X number of seasons, and it’s not a failure, because he said it was what he was planning to do?

                      I think the idea that Ownership is just trying to line their pockets is rubbish, but I think their are plenty of valid critisisms to make with how the current FO have gone about their business. I support our current FO, and I think they’re one of the best FO’s in baseball, but I still wish they would have done a better job at improving the talent at the MLB level of the organization.

                  • BT

                    Edwin, short answer yes. Obviously 5 years from now if they are still losing 90 plus games, you have to rethink things, but going into the third year, seeing the environment they are building in, I don’t think 3 years is the equivalent of lifetime carte blanche.

                    I too would like to have seen them better the MLB organization, but the argument as to how is tired. The preponderance of talent that is available is over 30, which will help you win a small amount of games in the short term, which is meaningless. The players that could have helped long term were pursued by the Cubs, but unless we used the tried and true “Make much higher blind bids” or “Outspend a desperate Yankee team” strategy, we weren’t going to get most of those guys. Is the front office 100 percent blameless? Probably not. They probably should have found a way to get one of those guys. But I don’t find their failure to do so some sort of catastrophic misstep either.

                    • brainiac

                      5 years from now? that’s like 8 years after the new owners took over. basically the time it takes for young shoulda-been fans to finish junior high, high school, and college. why are you so intent on throwing away our childrens’ future?

                    • Jon

                      I would hope that in the year 2019, if we are about to lose 90 games, that would cause pretty much everyone to raise an eyebrow.

                    • Edwin

                      Thanks for the well thought out reply.

                    • Kyle

                      “Edwin, short answer yes. Obviously 5 years from now if they are still losing 90 plus games, you have to rethink things, but going into the third year, seeing the environment they are building in, I don’t think 3 years is the equivalent of lifetime carte blanche.

                      Seven whole years to get to 73 wins? Let’s not go crazy there with the expectation-setting…

                    • BT

                      Seriously, where is the blowing the back of my head off icon? Five years from now was not the specific date for you to get upset. I really just kind of threw it out there as a date meaning a time far enough in the future where it’s clear the current FO isn’t doing it’s job. 3 years from now is fine. 7 years from now is definite. I realize, for you, your mind was made up 12 seconds after they took over, but most people are content to give them a bit more breathing room.

                      take a breath champ.

                    • BT

                      And here comes the parade, and Jon and Kyle pipe in to back up brainiac, taking issue with the least important point to my reply.

                      Kudos to you, you band of brothers. I’ll make sure I’m much more pointless specific on unimportant dates from here on out.

                    • brainiac

                      hold on a minute, i certainly don’t mean to appear as though i’m piling it on – you write great posts. i just disagree. not with you, not with the players, but with the approach of middle management about logistical management.

                    • BT

                      No, I’m saying all three of you piling on, acting as if the 5 years was the drop dead date for when we can start worrying about the front office losing 90 games a year. Despite the fact I said “Obviously, 5 years from now”, meaning it’s a given that would be too long. All three of you came back with essentially the same response, which was an unnecessary response to a point I didn’t actually make.

                      I’m not upset. The guy I was actually speaking to understood my point, so it’s all good. I just think most people are aware I’m not on board with 7 straight 90 loss seasons.

                    • MattM

                      BT….It’s funny how you act like the “victim” now. You, and Goat, and Darth, and Hans, and Doc (sometimes) pile on to people as well.

                      Don’t be the pot…..

                    • BT

                      Sorry mattm, long day at work.

                      In no way shape or form was I claiming to be a victim. I was simply pointing out all three were making the same bad point at the same time.

                      Thanks for your input though.

                    • Kyle

                      ” I realize, for you, your mind was made up 12 seconds after they took over, but most people are content to give them a bit more breathing room.”

                      It’s amusing how you feel the need to paint it that way.

                      If someone thinks that having a terrible team in their third try might reflect poorly on them, then clearly they just made up their mind before giving them a chance.

                    • BT

                      Of course this is nonsense Kyle. Brainiac has quite a history of complaining about literally almost everything the front office does. And it didn’t start with this terrible team, their so called third try, which hasn’t played a game yet. It goes far beyond the team on the field as well. But nice try.

                      However, as always, I’m happy to amuse.

                    • brainiac

                      inaccurate – i idiosyncratically complain about the same thing in different ways. because it’s the cause of all of our problems. nothing can progress until it’s fixed. everything else is moot and idle speculation. start with the cause, then treat the symptoms.

                • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                  Again this doesn’t align with reality. Last offseason they added EJax and others now just because they didn’t provide success doesn’t mean they didn’t make moves toward improving the team. They also locked up Rizzo and Castro but yeah they’ve done nothing.

                  • Edwin

                    I never used the word “nothing”.

                    Trading for Rizzo is something they did that you could argue has improved the team, although it cost them Andrew Cashner, so it’s not entirely a net gain. Locking up Rizzo and Castro doesn’t really improve the team, since they’re already on it.

                    Adding Edwin Jackson was also a move to improve the team, as well as any of the other signings they’ve made. I mean, technically any signing is a move to “improve the team” so I guess you can extrapolate whatever you want out of any signing.

                    I’m just pointing out that so far, the MLB team performance has been awful the past 2 seasons, and seems primed for an awful 3rd season. Whether by design or not, the moves the current FO has made has done little to improve the MLB team so far over the past 2 seasons, and probably a 3rd. You can justify that however you’d like, and hopefully their plan starts paying off sooner rather than later, but when it comes to results, whether intentional or not, things have not been good for the MLB team.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      So when you said:

                      “This is also the 3rd offseason in a row that they’ve failed to make ANY (emphasis mine) meaningful improvements to the MLB team.”

                      That was just hyperbole? Because you countered your own statement.

                    • Edwin

                      next word: meaningful.

                      But if it helps, fine. I was wrong. They have done some things to improve the MLB team.

              • MattM

                Actually Michigan I agree with you here. I would add though that how many tank years has Ricketts had under him?

                I personally, DO NOT, Put me on record, believe that what’s going on is as a result of Theo or Jed. I directly correlate what has happened to Ricketts himself.

                I’ve has seen nothing to state otherwise. I fully also believe that Theo was being 100% honest when he took over and was talking about the “dual fronts.” He meant it truthfully!

                I believe he was sold on a narrative to come to the Cubs and then found out after he signed that “oh by the way, what you said….eh.”

                If you listen to his press conferences after that, he continually eludes to a “financial situation,” and “both sides algining.” To me that says that Ricketts after he signed him told him he would not get money until Ricketts got more money…. It would seem to support that.

                He’s also been a good soldier and tried to put a good face on it, which sucks because it will wind up hurting his career later if this plan doesn’t work out…

            • ssckelley

              I disagree, I would think it makes the managers job easier if they do not have to worry about wins and losses. You can keep painting Sveum as a scapegoat all you want but the fact of the matter is he sucked at player development. There is a reason why Sveum and all those coaches are fired while Chris Bosio still has a job with the Cubs.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Yes, but who are these managers who do well at developing young players? People have looked closely at the correlation between how highly ranked miLB players are and their MLB success. The correlations are strong. Moreover, although the sample sizes obviously are not big, there is not indication that significantly more players from particular teams or working with particular managers under/overachieve.

                At this end, it’s really more the job of the FO to flood the system with young talent so that when the expected proportion of them fail (over 60%), you still have some good players.

                • ssckelley

                  Actually the best way to answer that is to look at the assistant coaches. The Managers job is to manage, they personally do not have to be good at developing talent (although it sure helps), but it is more important for them to make sure they have the right people in place and that the message is consistent across the board.

                  I can’t help but wonder if Sveum’s decision in bringing in his buddy Rob Deer as an Assistant Hitting Coach was not his downfall. Personally I think they made a mistake getting rid of Jaramillo, who was a good influence on Castro and had a lot of success developing young hitters.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    But, again, if this were the case, then there would be teams that consistently have more success than expected given the number of high ranking prospects they have. Such teams don’t exist.

                • MattM

                  The Cardinals don’t match that? Since, they continually win they have picked well below the Cubs every year.

                  I’d be interested in you breaking down the spots where the Cubs have picked and the spots where the Cards have picked and see which team has been more successful (statistically)!

                  My gut tells me it has to be the Cards. Whether that’s true I do not know….

                  • Eternal Pessimist

                    Cardinals get an extra “small market” pick every year. This does help their odds, though they have selected very well and had very little bad luck.

                    • MattM

                      Eternal Pessimist…..you forgot to add to that….they also?……..Ok enough time….Develop their talent…..

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      There are two issues that are being confounded here: 1) how do MLB staffs turn a greater proportion of X-ranked prospects into Y-WAR players, and 2) how do organizations get greater numbers of X-ranked prospects?

                      The Cards are an example of #2. They’ve had a lot of good talent in their pipe streams lately: but these players were herald *before* the MLB staff ever saw them.

                      The Cards are not an example of #1. My point is that there are no good examples of #1. Question #1 is predicated on “There are teams that turn greater proportions of Top 20, Top 50 or Top 100 prospects into successful MLBers” but the answer to the question “Are there teams that turn greater proportions of Top 20, Top 50 or Top 100 prospects into successful MLBers?” is “Not insofar as anybody can tell.”

                    • MattM

                      Doc I don’t know why you refuse to directly answer the ACTUAL question I asked you, but I’ll answer it for you. Below is the list of Cubs first round picks with position players since 1990 and the Cards position picks with the number they were picked:
                      Cubs: Cards:
                      91Doug GlanvilleOF12 90Aaron Holbert SS18
                      93BrooksKieschnick OF10 90Paul Ellis C30
                      93Kevin OrieSS29 91Dmitri Young 3B4
                      98Cory PattersonOF3 91Dan Chowlowski 3B39
                      99Ben ChristiansenOF26 95 Chris Haas 3B 29
                      00Lou MontinezSS3 97 Adam KennedySS20
                      03Ryan HarveyOF6 98JD DrewOF5
                      06Tyler ColvinOF13 98BenDiggens1B32
                      07Josh Vitters3b3 99ChrisDuncan1B46
                      07Josh DonaldsonC48 00Shaun BoydOF13
                      08Ryan FlahertySS41 03Daric BartonC28
                      09Brett JacksonOF31 05Colby RasmusOF28
                      11Javier BaezSS9 05Tyler GreeneSS30
                      12Albert AlmoraOF6 07Pete KozmaSS18
                      13Kris Bryant3B2 08Brett Wallace1B13
                      10Zach Cox3B25
                      11Koten Wong2B 22
                      12James RamseyOF23
                      12Stephen Piscotty3B36
                      12Patric Wisdom3B52
                      12Steve BeanC59
                      So, from 90 until 2009 the Cubs have picked 12 positional players and the Cards have picked 15. The Cubs positional first round picks have produced 35.2 WAR. The Cards have produced 93.4 WAR with 3 more picks! In addition almost all of the Cardinals picks were way worse than the Cubs in terms of where they picked. Doesn’t that mean that the Cubs got more highly thought of talent but could not develop the talent? The Cardinals were able to develop their talent right?

                      Doc isn’t this statistically significant?

                    • MattM

                      Ugh it didn’t post this right. The Cards picks are to the right of the Cubs picks in case you can’t tell…

                    • jp3

                      MattM, I was going to say that the way you posted that I’ve seen hieroglyphs that were easier to make out

                    • Patrick W.

                      Matt,

                      Why doesn’t this just tell you the Cardinals were better at evaluating talent before the draft than the Cubs were?

                    • MattM

                      Patrick….the point I’m making is that Tyler Colven, Corey Patterson, Brett Jackson where all highly thought of before the draft. The Cardinals would have picked them…..Why if these players were so good before they got to the Cubs did they wind up sucking after? Why were the Cardinals able to convert their prospects talent into MLB talent?

                      Isn’t it possible that some teams actually screw talented players up?

                    • MattM

                      JP it was laid out nicely before it was posted….

                    • TWC

                      I’ve been around this website for a fair number of years now, and I can confirm that I’ve never seen another commenter use nearly as many words to say as little as this MattM kid does.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      Oh TWC you say so much truth in so little space. ;)

                    • MattM

                      Actually you have seen someone do that. You do it yourself daily!

                      Your ignorant put downs toward everyone you don’t agree with don’t say much.

                      BTW….if you ever met me you would definitely not call me a kid. Unless that was some sort of put down….Coming from you I’m sure it was since your intelligence is so lacking…

                    • MattM

                      Awe Michigan way to back your girlfriend. You two are inseparable! Do you two hold hands when you type?

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      Oh Matty take a joke your way too wound up.

                    • MattM

                      You take a joke. I was joking….

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      MattM:

                      I’m not refusing to answer your question: I’m sticking to the topic. You simply have gotten completely off-topic, which is whether there is evidence that some managers or even just some teams do a better job of developing young talent once it gets to MLB.

                      To this end, the test is quite simple. We know the frequencies at which Top Ranked Prospects succeed or fail at different WAR levels. The success rate for position players who are Top 20 prospects is about 55%. So, does Team A get significantly more/less than 55% of its players that make Top 20 lists to succeed? A better test comes with Top 21-100 players, where we expect about a 25-30% rate, as we actually would have the sample size to do anything.

                      The WAR test you propose is fundamentally flawed for two reasons. One, the question is numbers of players yielding particular WAR, not the total WAR they produce. In such small sample sizes, one or two outlier players would mislead the results. Two, we are talking about Top Prospects, not Top Draft picks: and one of the Cubs biggest problems is how many high round draft picks they make that never become top ranked prospects. Indeed, your assertion that the Cards would have taken those players if the Cubs had not is almost certainly false: the Cubs have long been criticized for making bad first round picks and taking guys that should have been 2nd round picks or lower. The Cubs were long criticized for ignoring important tools (e.g., pitch recognition) and focusing on things that do not predict future success (e.g., situational hitting and “character.”) Your list hammers home the biggest problems that the Cubs have had: the number of Cubs first round picks who never became Top 100 Prospects, never mind Top 20 prospects. Cubs players don’t fail once they get to the majors: they fail to get to the majors.

                      And that gets back to the real issue of discussion: Dale Sveum’s or any other MLB manager’s ability to get young players to perform well in MLB. Historically, the Cubs have done a dreadful job of signing players who can get to MLB. As such, they have been one of the worst teams with which to test this idea because they rarely provide managers with highly ranked prospects in the first place.

                    • MattM

                      “Your list hammers home the biggest problems that the Cubs have had: the number of Cubs first round picks who never became Top 100 Prospects, never mind Top 20 prospects. Cubs players don’t fail once they get to the majors: they fail to get to the majors. ”

                      Doc that is exactly what I was asking you. How is it that the Cardinals and most teams for that matter can draft players who are highly thought of and GET them to the majors AND be productive. The Cubs have a small sample size because they have sucked at developing talent!

                      Your saying Patterson would not have been picked highly? Nor Jackson? That’s all false? Do you want me to get the scouting reports on them before they were drafted?

                      Corey Patterson was the best High School position player in the 98 draft, and Brett Jackson was considered a solid pick in his draft. What do you mean? Here is an article on Patterson’s draft: http://www.minorleagueball.com/2006/4/25/16919/8667

                      I still believe that if Patterson had been drafted by the Cardinals he would have went on to an amazing career. The Cubs could not develop talent….

                  • MattM

                    Also, just to add to the narrative….Bosio has a proven track record with pitchers. Can you tell me what exactly Sveum (who admitted to working with our hitters) and his hitting coaches had done for ANY players?

                    Castro is obviously the easiest to look at. Evidence suggests that Sveum and his crew were terrible! Bosio was good! What else can be gleaned from that?

                    • MattM

                      Doc, I feel like that’s a pretty artful dodge. You previously mentioned the following: “People have looked closely at the correlation between how highly ranked miLB players are and their MLB success. The correlations are strong.”

                      While that’s true, we can look at the previous regime’s background on drafting a developing talent. Brett Jackson, Pie, Patterson,Vitters etc were all highly thought of prospects when the Cubs drafted them. Yet which ones were actually successful in the MLB.

                      The Cardinals are exactly the opposite….Why is it that their highly though of prospects are drafted and (at a much higher percentage) perform at those levels in the majors.

                      Moreover you guys always talk about the Cubs need to tank to draft higher. Well….the Cardinals are an example of a team that have not done that and drafted much lower than the Cubs yet have done much better over 20 years of brining their talent up and having them be successful.

                      What I’m saying is that yes these were all talented prospects, but the Cardinals were able to turn that talent into wins in the MLB. Can you say the same thing for the Cubs? And if we are looking at the numbers do the numbers support what I am saying?

                      When the Cubs drafted talent they regressed yet the Cardinal’s talent did not. Isn’t that an example of developing talent?

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      It’s not an “artful dodge.” The Cubs failure rate with position players is not significantly different than are other teams’ failure rates. They just have not had a plethora of highly ranked position prospects.

                      Now, where the Cubs system seems to have failed is in pitching prospects. 11 years ago, the Cubs system was highly ranked in large part because of a lot of highly-ranked pitching prospects. “There is No Such Thing as a Pitching Prospect” became the easily recited “TINSTAAPP” for a good reason: up until about 10 years ago, the correlation between how highly ranked a pitching prospect was and how successful he was in MLB was much looser than that of position players. In the last decade, that has changed, and right now there is almost no difference. (See http://camdendepot.blogspot.com/2013/12/death-to-tinstaapp-updating-mckinneys.html.)

                      Again, the ecologic analogy is key here. Baseball is r-selection, not K-selection, and the key is to get as many highly ranked prospects as possible knowing the X% (plus/minus probabilistic error) are going to fail. That means that you expect (1-X)N successes: nobody knows how to change X, but you can sure change N!

                    • MattM

                      Doc, Mentioned a number of highly thought of position prospects for the Cubs.

                      you keep mentioning position prospects as a whole! The question had to do with the HIGHLY thought of prospects. Of which the Cubs have had many.

                      Why is it that the Cardinals HIGHLY thought of posiiton prospects are successful but the Cubs HIGHLY thought of position prospects have not been. Of those very HIGHLY thought of position prospects since 1990 how many have been successful for the Cubs and how many for the Cardinals?

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Again, nearly 50% of Top 20 prospects don’t amount to much. The Cubs have had very few of those in the last decade: probably none between Patterson and the current crop. Over 60% of Top 21-100 prospects don’t amount to much. The Cubs haven’t had many of those. (Was Vitters ever a Top 100 prospect? If so, then barely.)

                      And, again, the Cardinals have not had significantly more success stories than expected. Indeed, their current very strong farm system is pretty new: they basically are riding the same sort of wave that the Rays rode 5-7 years ago. (The Rays, you might have noticed, have fallen off of that wave, too.)

                      So, what you are doing is asserting two things that we don’t know to be true are, in fact, true, and then demanding answers to questions that are essentially logically complex ones.

                    • MattM

                      When you say “top prospects” do you mean first round draft picks?

                      I think you aren’t reading what I’m saying. We’ve picked a ton of positional prospects in the first round from 1990 until now. In that time almost none have amounted to anything. The Cardinals have consistently picked lower than us since 1990 and have had success. What is the difference.

                      Not rated. Posiitonal Prospects picked in the FIRST ROUND… That’s what I’m saying!

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      No, Top Prospects are guys ranked in the Top 100 by various sources each year. (The topic at hand is how well MLB managers take young talent and make them successful in MLB, after all.) Now, there is a high correlation overall between Top Draft Picks and Top Prospects, even if the Cubs have done their best to single-handedly reduce this correlation, of course, by making so many head-scratching high round picks. However, the real question is, once a guy gets good enough that people think that he could be a successful MLBer, then how successful does he wind up becoming?

                      Here is a nice article summarizing how the difference between Top Hitting Prospects and Top Pitching Prospects in Future Success has pretty much disappeared in recent years: http://camdendepot.blogspot.com/2013/12/death-to-tinstaapp-updating-mckinneys.html. You can quibble about their definition of “success” but that would probably just fairly uniformly lower the success rates from the different categories.

                    • MattM

                      I thought we were talking about team’s abilities to develop talent? Sveum screwed Castro up…..

                      I’m with you thought that the most important thing is how MANY good players come up. As I’ve said the Cubs suck and getting good players up through their system, and into the MLB team….

                    • MattM

                      I still don’t think you can lump Patterson and Jackson into the Cubs suck at drafting picture. They were both well thought of.

                      As I’ve said the Cubs suck at developing talent.

                      Hopefully, that has changed….I would say though if you are seeing Castro as still developing on the Cubs then Sveum did screw him up….

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Yes, Jackson & Patterson were highly regarded. However, many of the Cubs high round picks were not so highly regarded.

                      And, no, I do not see Sveum as having screwed up Castro. If nothing else, then I see no reason to think that last year’s experiment had permanent effects. Castro’s line-drive rates were the same as they were before. His K-rates went up and his BB rates went down, but that was expected given that MLB pitchers quickly realized that they were getting at least one and often two free strikes in a PA.

                      The simple fact is that the Cubs provided Sveum with very few young players to “develop.” The other simple fact is that we don’t have any smoking gun showing that there are particular managers (or even particular teams) that do an especially good job of making that 1 in 4 chance of a Top 21-Top 100 prospects a 1 in 2 chance or something like that.

                    • Drew7

                      Jackson was picked at the ass-end of the 1st round. I’d say it’s a reach to consider him, “highly thought of” before the draft.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      I don’t recall BJax being discussed much that draft, but, then, it seems like all of the attention was on Strasburg. BJax certainly was not ballyhooed the way that Patterson was 11 years earlier.

                      Obviously, the expansion of draft coverage has raised our knowledge of amateurs substantially since the mid 1990′s, but there still are very few examples of the Cubs drafting anybody who was really highly regarded after that. Prior, obviously, was very much so: and he actually was very successful in his all-too-short career. (The WAR he accumulated in his 2+ good seasons makes him “successful” in most tallies.)

                      After that, the Cubs had a lot of “meh” to downright head-scratcher picks. It’s not as if the Cardinals or the Sox would have magically transformed Tyler Colvin or Ryan Harvey or Mark Pawelek (remember him?) into good ballplayers. Harvey and Colvin in particular were the kind of players that the Sox at least deliberately did NOT draft, and with good reason.

                • cubs2003

                  Trying to develop hitters at the MLB level just does’t make sense to me. That, to me, is the basic purpose of the minors. Castro seems to be a good, but not perfect player. Players grow into themselves, but they don’t change their whole approach. I can’t recall one, anyway. A .750 OPS and league average defense would be a really good season for Castro IMO.

                  • Greenroom

                    This whole conversation is gold. Pure gold, Jerry.

                    *this response was not for you cubs2003

        • JB88

          So you prefer the plan from the last 107 seasons?

    • ssckelley

      If Sveum never manages again it will be because no FO thinks he is the right man for the job. There are plenty of examples of managers that did not win in their first manager gig but ended up doing well somewhere else. The WS champion Red Sox seen John Farrell as a good manager even though he had a losing record managing the Blue Jays. LaRussa was not exactly a success as a manager of the White Sox in his first go around yet the A’s hired him and he was coming off 3 straight losing seasons when the Cardinals hired him.

  • Jon

    Vladimir Guerrero had a double digit walk rate in his prime. Svuem is not the first, but I don’t understand where this urban legend of him being a free swinger comes from?

    • King Jeff
      • Jon

        Thanks for the article, but it does nothing to disprove my point. And 2011, his last year in the majors, doesn’t qualify as a players prime.

        How about his 03 season with a a 13.5 BB% and 426 OBP. Don’t mistake elite hit tool for “free swinger”

        • King Jeff

          Why can’t he have an elite hit tool and be a free swinger at the same time? Just by watching him play, he seemed like he wanted to swing at every pitch and visibly winced at pitches he had to take, almost like he was holding himself back. The numbers say he has a slightly below average walk rate, but his swing and miss percentage and swing at balls percentage are both well above average. I guess this is just a matter of opinion, because I can see both sides to this

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          He was free swinger. He put the ball into play in ~80% of his PA. Around half the batters will only have a non-strikeout PA that amount of the time.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Actually, I would describe Vlad as someone with a huge red zone. I know that I come across as someone who wants his batters to draw 27 straight walks to start a game, but what I actually want is for guys to NOT swing at pitches outside of their red zones.

            For most players, that means a lot of walks. Vlad was a freak: I would bet that his red zone extended well outside of the K-zone in his prime: it was basically as wide as the K-zone and extending well above his belt at the end of his career!

            The problem that I have with Sveum’s statement is that Vlad was a once-in-a-generation (or rarer) talent when it comes to “whomping huge Red Zone.” Castro has a pretty big red zone: that’s why he has been successful despite the fact that he doesn’t take pitches. However, it’s never going to be as big a Vlad’s (Vlad came to the majors with a huge red zone), and Castro is never going to have Vlad’s power. Pointing to an exception to a rule as a reason for ignoring the rule is a classic mistake!

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              What I initially typed was:

              “Vlad was a hitter who had a giant red-zone and a decent enough batting eye”

              Now, thanks to the giant red zone, he was able to be a free swinger. For a lot of guys that would be a bad thing but Vlad had tremendous contact ability and a lot of power so he was able to take a pitch that bounced in the dirt and drive it for a 2B.

              He would have been a helluva cricket player.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Well, you’ve learned your lesson: go with your gut! Your stats-belly fire was steering you right all along.

                And, yeah, Vlad would have been right up there with Donald Bradman: or even Peter Wimsey! :-)

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  I would add that there might have been a semantic difference: my definition of “free swinging” might be more restrictive than typical. However, Vlad was an unusual case, to say the least: kids at home, don’t do that.

      • FFP

        ” even when he takes a pitch, Vlad’s body gets into a strange, unathletic posture. He takes a pitch like he’s in a pie-eating contest.”

        I needed a baseball laugh. King Jeff, you have been missed.

  • mjhurdle

    “Mike Olt will finally see the field in that game”

    Wow, didn’t think i would see Brett joining the crowd with the ‘Mike Olt is blind’ jokes ;)

    • ssckelley

      That was good! Thanks for the laugh.

  • brainiac

    i do agree with Brett that Sveum did a lot right – you can’t build a house without copper pipes, even with a great blueprint. i was mystified by a lot of the criticism directed at him. he wasn’t a perfect coach but he was better than average. can’t win a poker game with a seven high.

  • jh03

    I’m just glad Starlin is okay <3

  • CubsFaninMS

    The job of an MLB manager can be seen as a leadership role similar to a CEO. Whatever happens… happens on his watch. He has to take responsibility for it. Sveum may be a good “nuts and bolts” hitting coach or instructional coach, that is it. He doesn’t push an organizational philosophy well and ensure that it’s being followed. What APPEARED to happen was that, due to his lack of leadership, you had several coaches attempting to achieve different directives, sometimes confusing players like Starlin Castro. Although we saw some good strides last season (primarily in pitching), I would guess that was not due to Sveum’s leadership but for a couple of key coaches who knew how to do their jobs (Bosio, McKay). In the end, Sveum may get a second crack at being a manager but IMO he is not best suited for that. I speak to co-workers about this frequently. Some people are really good at doing one or more things… but you put them in a leadership position and they fail. Managing is a different attribute altogether. Sveum does several things well, but he is not a leader.

    • brainiac

      of course CEOs do the opposite – they tend to cut and run and not look after anyone, with some exceptions. their responsibilities are more of delegating labor on behalf of those who don’t do any labor. that’s more like the GM. and like CEOs, our GM and his staff are real good at firing people. and i expect a cut and run in 2-3 seasons.

  • Jon

    ” Sveum does several things well, but he is not a leader.”

    That is pretty unfair, and judging by the past two years, you could same the same for Theo/Jed and Tom.

    • CubsFaninMS

      You nor I were sitting in the dugout watching him. We can only judge by what we saw, but I don’t believe he’s a leader. Of course, your opinion may be different and I respect that. And yes, the leadership issue may be Theo, Jed, and/or Tom. At this point, none of them are immune to judgement.

      • Jon

        As Marty Huggins would say..”It’s a mess!”

        • Eternal Pessimist

          …as Marty McFly would say..”I need to get back to the future”

        • CubsFaninMS

          Dale Sveum is two or three butt-toots away from being the Royals next manager.

    • brainiac

      yeah i think it’s becoming pretty clear that theo is a terrible leader. a great GM, probably a great colleague, good at development. but he lacks a nuanced and careful hand delegating. presidents should be in charge of operations and that’s it. theo isn’t qualified to be a suit only, it’s compromising his previous patterns of success.

      • brainiac

        this whole thing is falling apart. you can’t war with your mlb team, the neighborhood, the stadium, and the fans as a “rebuild”.

  • Jason P

    Sveum gets a disproportionate amount of blame for Rizzo/Castro’s struggles last year. He may have been a poor communicator, but he wasn’t the sole reason neither had good seasons and likely not even the biggest reason.

    Also, Castro should probably get used to hitting in the bottom of the order — at least 6th or 7th — because that’s where he’ll likely end up when the Cubs lineup becomes competent again.

    • King Jeff

      I agree, at least with the first point. I would lay the blame on a number of things, but mostly the league continuing to adjust to Castro, and having two different hitting coaches, the front office, Svuem, his Grandmother, Bob the Builder, and that guy from Starbucks who outed Theo, all in his ear telling him how to hit. He had 200 hits in the majors when he was 21, I think he should have been teaching everyone else how to hit.

      • Jason P

        I’d also blame it on being rushed to the big leagues and never having a chance to work through struggles in the minors.

        And does that mean you disagree that Castro is ideally a 6th/7th hole hitter in a good lineup?

        • King Jeff

          Yeah, I’m still not sold that he can’t be very productive hitting 2nd. If his downward trend continues, or even level off, he’s going to be a bottom of the order guy, but I think he’s going to bounce back.

    • Pat

      Agreed. When you look at it, either the idea of trying to change Castro was poorly thought through (front office), or the implementation was bad (Sveum).

      If the problem was really the implementation (thus putting the blame on Sveum), then why have they scrapped the plan altogether?

  • D-Rock

    Will this make-up game vs. the Giants be on the air at all? I don’t see it on MLB.com or my AtBat app. It says they play the Brewers at 2:00 pm.

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

    Tim Dierkes; http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/03/offseason-in-review-chicago-cubs.html

    1)Cubs added flippable veteran arms, assembled a center field platoon, and brought in a new backup catcher.
    2) Total spend: $15.925MM.
    3) In an alternate universe, the Cubs’ 2013-14 offseason could have been very exciting.
    4) Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have been on the job for three offseasons now, and Hammel is their fourth potential sign-and-flip starting pitcher.
    5) vizcaino, Arrieta, and Strop are all under team control through 2017, and if the Cubs walk away with multiple seasons of solid cheap relief work, the whole thing was worthwhile, if not spectacular.
    6) If both Hammel and Samardzija are dealt this summer, it will mark the third consecutive season of the Cubs trading 40% of their rotation.
    7) If you think about it, three concession seasons in a market of this size is remarkable, the Mets notwithstanding. After this year, Epstein will have only two years left on his contract and even the Cubs’ fanbase will start getting antsy.

    —Tim Dierkes

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