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Math-jokesHappy Pi Day, nerds.

  • The Cubs are looking for you, if you’re the kind of person who celebrates Pi Day, anyway. That is to say they’re hiring a new assistant in the research and development department, per sabermetrician and Cubs consultant Tom Tango. Such person will “assist in the preparation of advance scouting reports, implement research projects related to on-field strategy, and compile reports and present results to baseball ops personnel” – in other words, you’d be doing all kinds of deep analytical stuff, and using it to try and make the organization better. As you’d expect, the qualifications for the position may as well read “super-duper smart guy,” but consider me excited that the Cubs continue to expand their knowledge pool. Also: when it comes to baseball, to me, “nerd” is not a pejorative term.
  • Jason Hammel threw yesterday in a minor league game in order to stay on schedule. He threw 75 pitches and yielded no walks. Those are pretty much the only things that matter in those kinds of appearances.
  • Jesse Rogers is sticking to his guns on Jorge Soler starting the year at AA Tennessee, which I still say would be a pleasant surprise. With less than a half-season at High-A, and an injury-modified AFL appearance, Soler didn’t exactly have a chance to prove he was ready for AA last year. Indeed, Soler has played so, so little ball the last few years thanks to defection and injury. Sending him straight to AA to start the year could be a significant challenge for him, but would be a good signal about where the Cubs believe he is developmentally. If I were guessing – without any knowledge of what Rogers has been saying – I would peg Soler as starting out at High-A, with an anticipated mid-season promotion to AA. But, hey, if the Cubs say he’s ready for AA, then great. Minor league rosters will likely be revealed in a couple weeks.
  • (By the way, some of you may have noticed that, when he was sent out from big league camp, Soler was “optioned to Tennessee,” and you also probably noticed that I didn’t mention it. When guys on the 40-man roster are cut from big league camp, they are optioned to a minor league team for the purposes of minor league Spring Training. That does not necessarily mean it is the team with which that player will break camp. Guys frequently start with higher level teams, and filter down as more guys are cut from teams at higher levels. In other words, that Soler is “with” Tennessee right now does not necessarily mean he’ll start there when the season begins. That said, Rogers has been pretty adamant on this one.)
  • Wow: the Cubs aren’t just leading Spring Training in home attendance right now, they’re absolutely crushing everyone else. Paul Sullivan reports that the Cubs’ 13,266 average home attendance so far is in the top spot ahead of the Red Sox in second … at just 9,762. The new Cubs Park is obviously a huge part of that, though the Cubs have always drawn well in Arizona. Still, hopefully that represents a nice little revenue bump. (Back-of-the-napkin, probably-totally-worthless estimate: $25 a ticket and $15 in concessions spread over an increase of about 3,000 per game over last year, times 15 home games equals a $1.8 million bump in revenue. Not too shabby.)
  • If you’re looking to get your beanbag flicked this morning, Tony Andracki writes about the awesomeness of the Cardinals’ organization and the hurdle they present to the Cubs.
  • Ever wonder how a Brit ends up a Cubs fan? BN’er Ryan Ferguson explains.
  • Len Kasper with your prospect porn of the day (h/t CCO):

  • Fishin Phil

    “If you’re looking to get your beanbag flicked this morning”

    No thank you, I think I’ll hide mine.

    • ssckelley

      lmao, quit hiding your beanbag!

      Soooo Brett started this beanbag stuff and not brainiac?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I may have used that metaphor a long, long time ago, but no, I don’t think I’m responsible for the current wave. I just wanted to offer a nod.

      • waittilthisyear

        i believe the english started this whole beanbag thing

    • TK

      Cards don’t scare me that much. They sure do scout and develop with the best of them, but the Cubs should be able to spend big again in a year or 2 which will allow us to overcome the equally impressive prospects from STL and Pitt. We should be able to go out and snag the top FA’s to put us over the top. They cant do that. We should have the edge.

  • Darth Ivy

    RR must feel pressure from Almora coming up becoming player/manager

    • baldtaxguy

      Diehard?

      • Darth Ivy

        I wish. I’m just a man who dreams of the player/manager making a comeback.

  • nate1m

    Last year I thought Rogers predictions for prospects were always way to ambitious based on, well, everything I read. He turned out to be right the majority of the time. Not saying he’s right this time but I no longer bet against him.

    Plus, I want him to be right

  • King Jeff

    Selfishly, I hope Soler starts at Daytona, along with Almora. Realistically, I’m counting on Almora being there, and Soler in Tennessee. He already seemed like he had little trouble there last year, I see no reason he can’t shake off the rust and get his game action with the Smokies.

    • CubFan Paul

      They’re both polished enough to start a AA. That’s where these rumors/assumptions are coming from.

      It wouldn’t surprise me none if both started in Tennessee.

      • JB88

        Ditto. I thought it was pretty well-known that Soler was about to be promoted to Tennessee in June when he was injured. If the guy earned the promotion before the injury, I guess I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him start at that level the following year.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          “I thought it was pretty well-known that Soler was about to be promoted to Tennessee in June when he was injured.”

          I either missed that or don’t remember it. Baez didn’t go up until July, so that would have probably been a tandem promotion, don’t you think?

          The problem is, even if Soler were ready then, there’s just been so much more off-time (which, for him, is building upon two years of previous lots of off-time). I’m not saying whether or not he SHOULD start at AA – only the Cubs know that – just that it would be a nice statement if he does.

  • Nate

    Someone mentioned yesterday (I think) that Soler is out of options in 2016, meaning he only has two minor league seasons left. Is that correct?

    If so, that could explain why he might start off in Tennessee.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That is correct (about the options). Soler started using his first option year as soon as he was signed (40-man but not on big league roster), and he gets four option years – 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

      • roz

        Why does he get a 4th option year?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Short version: he won’t have accrued five full seasons of minor league service time by the time he will have used up his third option year (he won’t even have four years, actually), so he gets a fourth. Generally-speaking, guys who are signed and immediately go on the 40-man (or go on early, like a Matt Szczur) will end up getting a fourth option year.

      • Nate

        Thanks. Well that means it’s extremely important for him to get a full season in this year with no setbacks.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Very.

  • JB88

    Next year’s Pi Day will be OFF THE HOOK! A once a century celebration! I’m already planning where I’ll be at 9:26 that night … Gonna get crazy!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I thought the same thing today! Seriously!

      • JB88

        Well, I think you and I are probably kindred nerds at heart, so that isn’t too surprising :)

        • Jim

          And I’m the nerd…

  • JB88

    “That Almora play means way more to me than a HR or SB. Why? Because he’s 19. And that shows his instincts as a baseball player. Seriously.”

    That’s Derek Jeter-like instincts right there …

  • Jon

    Sorry if already posted, but Passan wrote a pretty cool piece on Baez/Bryant yesterday.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/how-two-elite-prospects-could-help-rescue-the-cubs-from-misery-180004462.html

    Yahoo servers have been awful for me the past few days, so the article might not load…from the article

    Baez, 21, remains with the Cubs, and so remains, for now, the most incredible swing in the game. Not the minors. The whole game. To see Javier Baez swing a baseball bat is to see the most compelling argument yet why God gave human beings wrists. Bryant’s swing is understated beauty; Baez’s is what Bamm-Bamm Rubble grew up to do. His high school coaches tried to temper it, Baez said, only to find a rigid truth: “I just can’t slow it down. It’s my swing. I can’t swing nice and easy.”

    It’s a big leg kick, and a torso angled forward at about 15 degrees, and a back elbow bent so high his bat, for a split second, is pointing at the second baseman, and then somehow his wrists propel it from that awkward position down through the zone where it whip-cracks like it belongs in a torture dungeon. Baez’s hips separate, he carves the path of his uppercut swing and the ball is read its last rites. The pain ends quickly.

    • hcs

      That was definitely a good read. Thanks for the heads up.

    • Javier Bryant

      Good read. Unfortunately the comments were filled with people who are against the plan and saying “We’ve heard this story before” Oh well

      • Kyle

        It’s a puff piece. It’s an enjoyable puff piece, sure, but it’s still a puff piece.

        Besides, it’s not a mutually exclusive proposition. Kris Bryant and Javier Baez being amazing prospects doesn’t prove that the plan was optimal.

    • Kyle

      Hmm. Passan is about to become a lot more popular with Cubs fans than he was a few months ago.

  • Darth Ivy

    Do prospects get the major league call ups a year after playing in A ball? I’m one of the least knowledgeable people around here about things like this, but that would seem like a rush to get Almora and Soler with the Cubs in 2015 if they start out in A ball this year. Castro skipped Iowa if I recall correctly? Although, Epstein/Hoyer isn’t Hendry.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Also, Hendry seemed to genuinely think/believe that the 2011 Cubs should have been a contending team. Production in the MI was a problem (among many!), and Castro represented a big upgrade. However, that upgrade fixed just one rent for a ship with a shattered hull.

      • Darth Ivy

        good point

      • CubFan Paul

        “Hendry seemed to genuinely think/believe that the 2011 Cubs should have been a contending team”

        Not wanting to field a 65 win team, Theo-style is not the same thing as genuinely thinking/believing your a WS contender.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Hendry made the big trade to get Garza (where he gave away 50 future All-Stars) because he thought that the Cubs were a contending team. The argument was that the Cubs were built to win *now* with such a veteran roster. The skeptics suggested that it was a team built to win *then* (2007-2009). It was not about fielding a mediocre team rather than an awful one. After all, when a team is on a trajectory such as the one on which the Cubs were (having made post-season twice, with at least one elimination perceived as a “choke,” followed by rapid decline of the team), attendance and interest is going to drop with anything less than a good team.

          Of course, the 2010 Cubs were more than just one good SP away from being a good team. However, Hendry made a trade symptomatic of a GM who thought that his team was in that state. (Indeed, the 2011 Cubs were basically about the same as the 2013 Cubs in terms of actual performance: they just fared better in the outcomes.)

          • Kyle

            I think you’ve got a bit of hindsight bias going on there.

            MLB teams do not exist in some perpetually binary state of either “going for it” or “not going for it,” and the fact that they lost does not prove that they couldn’t have won or shouldn’t have tried to win.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Obviously the fact that the team lost does not mean that they could not have won: nothing in the universe works that way. However, one of the issues raised in the discussion of the trade (and there was a lot of this) was: is this Cubs team in a position where it can attempt to *win* or is it in such a position that it can only make a bad team better but still bad. At that time, many people said that Hendry was deluding himself if he thought that this was an attempt to win.

              The “prospect lovers” who were screaming “Hendry mortgaged the future” really raised a separate argument that seems to have gotten more play with Cubs fans than with the national media. (That seems to be a general rule among baseball fans.) However, it was relevant because many people think that trading guys who *might* be good in 2-4 years to upgrade your team to “contender” is one thing whereas doing that to upgrade your team to “mediocre at best” is another: and many people *at that time* perceived that this trade did the latter, not the former.

              • Kyle

                There’s no such thing as a team so bad you can’t make it good over a few years, and Garza was going to be around for a few years.

                This wasn’t trading for some 32-year-old veteran clinging to the last of his prime.

                • CubFan Paul

                  “This wasn’t trading for some 32-year-old veteran clinging to the last of his prime”

                  You’re not going to convince someone who thought it was a bad deal at the time that it in hindsight they were too quick to jump the gun/judgement.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    Oh, I didn’t think that it was necessarily a bad trade at the time: and I still don’t! Of course, I don’t do “prospect love” quite the way that others do.

                    I did, however, think that this was evidence that Hendry was deluded about the state of the Cubs, and the Castro move further corroborated that suspicion. This is both Venn logic and Occam’s Razor: one explanation for two observations. Remember that the original question was, “why did Hendry call Castro up so quickly?” One plausible explanation was that Hendry was trying to get the team to win then and there. That explanation also is a plausible explanation for why he made the Garza trade. (I will disregard the fact that Hendry said “we are good enough to win!”, too, because there is a decent probability that he would have said that under other scenarios.)

          • Jon

            What 50 future all stars did he give away? Archer might get there someday. Hak Ju Lee is a back end top 100 guy coming off a major injury.

            • CubFan Paul

              Those “50 all-stars” turned into 150 all-stars after the Garza-Texas deal by Doc’s math.

              • Jon

                I cry myself to sleep at night lamenting the loss of Robinson Chirinos

                • C. Steadman

                  What about Sam “I was scrappy before Campana” Fuld??

              • DocPeterWimsey

                It was, of course, a number written in sarcasm. However, given what many Cubs fans were saying in 3 years ago, HYLee, Archer, Guyer and Chirinos were all having spaces set aside for them in Cooperstown by 2014. And, of course, Fuld’s “hot” start in 2011 only added fuel to this line of reasoning.

                The same class of Cubs fans (indeed, many of the same people!) said all of the same things for the players traded for Juan Pierre and Derek Lee. Insofar as I can remember off the top of my head, Ricky Nolasco has almost all of the WAR for those mortgaged futures.

                It is like this for every team: every young player the Mets trade is a future Nolan Ryan, every young player the Phils trade is a future Ryne Sandberg, every young player the Tigers trade is a future John Smoltz, etc., etc. How many future Lou Brocks have the Cubs traded, after all? There exists a human tendency to think that because the Bell-curves allow for *some* points so far from the mean that the curve looks flat at that point, then it is just as probable that the next data points will come from that part of the distribution as the middle. This is just another example.

                • CubFan Paul

                  “It was, of course, a number written in sarcasm”

                  To take away from the flawed mentality/assumption of Hendry’s thoughts

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    Well, every “true” fan counts every prospect 10 times, or something like that. That they should count more like 1 in 10 is heresy to some!

                    But, to clarify, I did not think that Hendry’s idea of trading prospects to make a team *better* is a flawed one by itself. I think that it’s a good idea *if* that move contributes towards making the team better and good. I am less effusive if that move contributes towards making the team better and still bad.

          • Edwin

            I don’t think Hendry thought the team was *that* ready to contend, but he was certainly a GM trying to save his job, and he took a risk.

    • Kyle

      Epstein/Hoyer did it with Hanley Ramirez.

      Started 2004 in A+, got called up for a cup-of-coffee straight from AA in 2005, never played in AAA.

      • Darth Ivy

        I didn’t know that. Nice reference.

  • dreese

    That picture makes me laugh so hard.

  • CubChymyst

    There is certainly an argument for Solar starting in AA. He had 200+ at bats in high A and his performance was good. He could really go either way, but if he starts in High A I don’t think he be there for very long.

  • jh03

    I laughed at the picture. Judge me.

    • CubChymyst

      You chose wisely to laugh. You are judged favorably.

      • jh03

        Gotta embrace the inner nerd.

  • JCubs79

    Almora is gonna be sniffing the big leagues come the end of the year barring injury. He’s gonna be a special player.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      For almost any other player his age, and who has really only played one partial professional season, I’d say you’re crazy. On Almora, I’m not so sure you are.

      • jh03

        #swoon

      • JCubs79

        Brett, I would be saying I’m crazy too as I’m an adamant fan of the way McHoystien approaches development, but just the way Almora plays and how he carries himself has me incredibly excited about his future and his development timetable.

        • MightyBear

          He sure has impressed Kasper. Besides the tweets he talks about him all the time during the broadcasts and he stated the player that has impressed him most this spring was Almora.

  • http://twitter.com/rbmryu rbmryu

    I am a statistician! But don’t have any experience in baseball =(
    Brett, Do you know any programs in US schools that are focused Sabermetrics ?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      If you have experience in time-series analyses, model-fitting for rate-distributions, survivorship analyses, regression-tree analyses, etc., then you actually do have experience with baseball analyses: you’ve just had different nouns attached to your x’s.

      • http://twitter.com/rbmryu rbmryu

        That’s a fair point. I`m gonna study the theory and try to understand. Who knows, right? Thanks =)

    • DocShock88

      Here is a college course being taught specifically about baseball stats at Boston University:

      https://www.edx.org/course/bux/bux-sabr101x-sabermetrics-101-1558

      • http://twitter.com/rbmryu rbmryu

        Woow that’s awesome! I’m reading about it right now! Thanks

  • Funn Dave

    Oh, yeah? Well nerd culture has become mainstream culture. So if you aren’t involved in nerd culture, then *you’re* the one that’s out of the zeitgeist.

    -Ben from Parks & Rec

  • rbreeze

    We’ve been waiting a long time for a wonder kid to arrive. I think Baez will be a terrific hitter the kind you will want to see as often as you can. Don’t go to the bathroom when Baez is up! But to me Almora is going to be our Jeter, our Cal Ripken, Johnathon Toews player. Solid in all phases and he has leadership qualities! Can’t wait for these kids to make it to the show!
    Go Cubs!

  • inkastad

    [img]https://scontent-a-ams.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/t1.0-9/1236597_10202150409854826_952830598_n.jpg[/img]

    Pi in the sky =)

    • DocPeterWimsey

      +100 Internet points….

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