rick renteria cubs speakAre you among the 0.17% (I think that’s the number I saw) of folks who still have a perfect bracket?

  • I couldn’t help but notice yesterday that the Cubs did not shift the infield against Robinson Cano when the bases were empty. I took a quick look at shift data from 2013, which confirmed my suspicion that not only was Cano one of the most shifted-against lefties in baseball last year, but also that it was generally effective (dropping his BABIP from .310 to .299). As we’ve discussed, the Cubs were the least effective shifting team last year according to at least one measure, though that doesn’t completely subvert the idea that extreme shifting, in the aggregate, is effective. The Cubs just needed better luck or better placement in their shifts (or different pitching approaches). I really hope this isn’t a signal that the Cubs won’t be engaging in extreme shifts this year under Rick Renteria. It’s entirely possible that this was just a Spring Training thing – the Cubs didn’t want to show their hand, or wanted practice at the usual spots, or didn’t want to use extreme shifting without the usual starting defense, or whatever – and it’s not indicative of how the club will actually approach shifting when the season begins.
  • Recall, by the way: the extreme defensive shifts came over to the Cubs with Dale Sveum, who is no longer here.
  • Jeff Samardzija won’t be wearing those protective caps for pitchers any time soon. “They look stupid,” he told Carrie Muskat. From there, and you can read it at that link, he goes into it a little more than a mere fashion statement. I don’t think we should poo-poo any attempts at player safety, but the thing is, Samardzija is a former football player. He’s got a certain mentality. This is exactly what you would expect him to say, and he’s just being himself. It doesn’t really bother me, even if I think there was probably a time when batters thought helmets looked stupid and they wore them anyway.
  • Of his first start at third base this Spring, Mike Olt tells Carrie Muskat that he felt a little rusty, but he made plenty of throws in the warmups and felt good.
  • Jim Callis discusses Kyle Hendricks and Eric Jokisch as pitching prospects, and lands about where you’d expect: each can be a big leaguer, but the ceilings are 4th and 5th starter, respectively.
  • Cubs players do some #swooning of their own when talking about Javier Baez’s power. (ESPNChicago)
  • Not that you needed the update, but there’s no change in the plan for Javier Baez: he’s headed to Iowa to start the year and be the shortstop. Here’s Patrick Mooney on all things Baez.
  • Tsuyoshi Wada started in a minor league game yesterday against the Diamondbacks, and Carrie Muskat reports that he was solid, going 3.2 scoreless, allowing 5 hits and 1 BB, striking out 6.
  • For those of you who didn’t see Junior Lake’s awesome catch yesterday:

META: Your net neutrality update (background here) has Netflix’s CEO railing on the importance of strong net neutrality. Recall, it wasn’t a month ago that Netflix and Comcast inked the first deal in the post-non-net-neutral world that would theoretically speed up Comcast customer’s Netflix streams. Either Netflix wasn’t happy about having to do that deal, or its CEO really does believe the world needs a neutral web. Here’s the money quote from Netflix’s CEO, and why this topic is of great concern and interest to me (and you, I hope):

Once Netflix agrees to pay the ISP interconnection fees, however, sufficient capacity is made available and high quality service for consumers is restored. If this kind of leverage is effective against Netflix, which is pretty large, imagine the plight of smaller services today and in the future …. Without strong net neutrality, big ISPs can demand potentially escalating fees for the interconnection required to deliver high quality service. The big ISPs can make these demands – driving up costs and prices for everyone else – because of their market position. For any given U.S. household, there is often only one or two choices for getting high-speed Internet* access and that’s unlikely to change. Furthermore, Internet access is often bundled with other services making it challenging to switch ISPs. It is this lack of consumer choice that leads to the need for strong net neutrality.

  • Javier Bryant

    Nope…N.C. St and Ohio St messed me up

  • cub4life

    not even close for me.

  • ibcnu2222

    I’m not, but a guy in my work pool is.

  • davidalanu

    I’m really sure I’m in the minority, if not the only one, but I love Morrison’s “FU” to Junior Lake after that catch. If I’m the one making that play you can’t pay me a higher compliment that to get unhinged after I rob you.

    • ssckelley

      I liked it as a compliment to Lake but not sure I would enjoy seeing a Cub react this way.

  • gcheezpuff

    Plenty of ISPs to choice from. From a residential stand point comcast offers the fastest internet in its respective markets. Netflix also can buy upstream from any of many carrier options, Comcast simply has the best product available to meet Netflix’s needs. Are they the cheapest… No, but let’s not forget about the huge investment Comcast makes in its network so it can deliver the best product. Netflix previously bought upstream from Cogent “the middle man”. Before you judge, do some research on Cogent’s network, investment, and reach. Comcast is more inline with what is called a Tier 1 provider and there are huge advantages to peering directly with a company like Comcast over a lower tier option like Cogent. The media continues to blow this out of proportion because they want the story, and Netflix continues to complain because they want the best network for the cheapest price. This is like comparing Robinson Cano to Darwin Barney, both play second base, but they are not of the same quality. If you want an Allstar you have to pay, otherwise go with a cheaper option and deal with the lower tier in quality. This is a simple analogy, but no one forced Netflix to buy from Comcast, they had many other choices including Verizon, AT&T, Level3, Cogent…. Etc etc, but Comcast is the best option based on network reach, utilization, capacity…etc. I don’t understand why people can’t understand the many other variable in the decision and instead choose to be blind to facts and keep pushing the Net Neutrality argument. The networks are owned and paid for by the companies… This is a business. Very few articles I have read on net neutrality take anytime to explain how the internet actually works starting with defining the different network tiers and where Comcast ranks against other network providers. I am an engineer for a company that sells large internet “upstream” to businesses. Absolutely our network and “tier” comes into play when customers are designing solutions with customer reach in mind. The general public looks at the internet as this big free for all cloud, but this is not the case…. Not all network providers are created equal and businesses have been paying for and peering with different providers based on these facts since the advent of the Internet. The Net neutrality argument is based on lack of understanding.

    • Sandberg

      I applaud your full disclosure even while it allows people to dismiss your point as biased. That being said, I completely disagree with you. :)

      • gcheezpuff

        I don’t understand how working in the industry and being knowledgeable on the subject would be a reason dismiss my point. Most people commenting on Net Neutrality, including the media, do not even understand exactly what the internet is and how it works. The majority of society uses the internet daily, but but has no understanding of how all the interconnections work, who builds them, who pays for them… etc, but that doesn’t stop them from bashing this deal… which is a simple contract of service. It is easier to paint Comcast the bad guy and scream Net Neutrality. You are also free to disagree with me. I would respect your opinion more though if you provided some insight at to why, but it is a free country.

        • CubFan Paul

          “I would respect your opinion more though if you provided some insight”

          Netflix will also have to pay Verizon, AT&T, Level3, & Cogent

          • gcheezpuff

            More then likely, Netflix will pick two providers and use a protocol called BGP which allows them to advertise their network over multiple providers. A good engineer will put a lot of thought and review of peering points before picking their providers. Since all of these companies have interconnections, most companies will not buy from all of them as it would be cost prohibitive. Netflix buying from Comcast makes the most sense because as the largest residential ISP in the country, they touch the most Netflix customers directly.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Are you really saying that the CEO of Netflix, who was clearly strong-armed into this deal with Comcast, lacks understanding about the nature of the internet and the impact of net neutrality?

      You’d be better served contending that he’s just speaking from self-interest, and is purposefully misleading folks.

      • gcheezpuff

        I never said that… and I do not believe Netflix was strong armed into anything. Netflix built their Network by purchasing Upstream from the cheapest bidder. For a long time Netflix tried to leverage the public opinion and paint Comcast as the “Evil Empire” so that Comcast would increase the peering point with Cogent (Netflix’s lower tier upstream provider who they were previously paying for service) … but at Comcast’s cost. Comcast analyzed the utilization at the peering points and determined the the link was only being saturated by Netflix generated content. Comcast and Cogent are upstream competitors, but Cogent’s network presence and involvement in the internet and peering points is a huge downgrade from Comcast. If Comcast absorbed the costs.. someone would have to pay, more then likely Comcast subscribers as the costs would be passed on. Why should Comcast subscribers absorb the cost when all of them are not Netflix subscribers? Instead Comcast’s argument (a valid one) was that Netflix poorly engineered their network and instead of using a cheaper lower tier provider, they should directly peer with Tier 1 providers (or similar.. like Comcast and Google, known as Hyper Giants). By directly connecting to Comcast (or At&T, Verizon, Level 3.. ….tier 1s) Netflix can more directly deliver their content to the largest base of their subscribers, while eliminating poor quality causers such as Jitter and Latency (different forms of delay that adversely affect time sensitive date like Voice and Video). The Netflix CEO understands this, but was and still is trying to use the Net Neutrality argument (which most of the general public doesn’t understand) to paint themselves the victim. Now the masses can champion the cause against the evil giant Comcast… who needs to understand the technology when we have torches to raise against a huge corporate villian?

        • JB88

          While long, this was a fascinating post. I have no idea of some of the techno things you said, but your argument certainly sounds plausible and would definitely explain why Netflix’s CEO said what he said.

          So, in other words, thanks for posting.

        • Edwin

          These torches brought to you by Globochem, the worlwide leader in torch technology since 1836.

    • Hee Seop Chode

      1) You’re the first person I’ve ever read defending comcast in any fashion.
      2) If we’re comparing quality and price, South Korea offers a better model. It has 3 internet providers, each supported by government programs supporting a consistently upgrading infrastructure. It’s average connection was 63.6 MB/s in 2013 (compared to 37 MB/s in America).
      3) American internet connectivity is less “a business” than a monopoly or duopoly.
      4) Why would anyone (other than comcast shareholders) favor a more expensive internet?

      • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

        I have comcast and since the inked the deal with Comcast my netflix service has gotten worse. Constant buffering drops or service etc and I’m using the exact same equipment before all this happened.

        • CubFan Paul

          The netflix check hasn’t cleared yet.

      • Funn Dave

        BOOM! Insight. #3.

      • gcheezpuff

        This argument has less to do with residential subscribers and more to do with how the Internet in general operates. For the record, I am not trying to defend Comcast as much as I am trying to explain how the internet and peering works. Here is a descent article on the topic that for the most part remains somewhat bias.. I don’t agree with everything, but it is a descent read that better explains my points I am trying to type at work in the comment section.


        • gcheezpuff

          I meant non-bias… boo me

  • Elden14

    I love me some ESPN commenters. Here is one in particular I liked:

    “The cubs should have all there top players up and starting on the big league team. Have you guys heard of Trout or Harper, they were teens when the came up, there is huge success there. What are we waiting for, get these kids going now. Either you r a player or not. I’m a 35 year plus cubs fan, no more waiting, grab your “stones” cubs front office and play ball with talent and not fill ins…..”

    Ah, the flawless logic of “If two of the greatest young players of our generation can do it, EVERYONE can do it! Bring em up!”

    • Diggs

      Sounds pretty similar to one of ESPN’s radio hosts from yesterday, as well.

    • ssckelley

      The business side of baseball does frustrate me. While I understand why they are sending Baez down to AAA, it is more than just player control he really could use some more development, it is frustrating that a MLB ball club cannot just put the best team on the field that gives them the best chance to win without there being financial repercussions.

      Having said that I think the Cubs are making the right move sending Baez to Iowa to start the season. I think he has some things to work on, his swing and playing some 2nd base, and if he continues to dominate we will see him in Chicago as early as June.

  • ssckelley

    For some reason ceilings on starting pitchers confuse me. I keep seeing ceilings on some of the Cubs pitching prospects as being 4th or 5th starters. So if the Cubs end up with 5 starters that were projected as 4th or 5th is that really a bad pitching rotation? I assume when a guy like Callis says a pitcher has TOR ceiling he must be talking about a pitcher that has at least 1 plus pitch, slider, changeup, fastball, ect. That must carry more weight than someone who has average pitches but really good command.

    To me it all comes down to getting MLB hitters out. If a guy like Hendricks comes along, who is having the results of a #1 starting pitcher at AA or AAA because he has really good command of his pitches, could he have similar success pitching at the top of the Cubs rotation?

    • CubFan Paul

      “So if the Cubs end up with 5 starters that were projected as 4th or 5th is that really a bad pitching rotation?”

      I shudder at the thought of five Randy Wells’ in our rotation.

      “Callis says a pitcher has TOR ceiling he must be talking about a pitcher that has at least 1 plus pitch”

      No, 2 or 3 plus pitches at a minimum for TOR

      “could he have similar success pitching at the top of the Cubs rotation?”

      Mediocre “stuff” only lasts for so long, hence the ceiling.

      • ssckelley

        I do to, but I think Hendricks might be better than Randy Wells (at least I hope so). Wells never had this kind of success at the upper levels of the minor leagues nor do I think he had really good command. Over the years I have seen pitchers have long successful careers (couple even HOF) without overpowering stuff. On the other hand I have seen pitchers come and go that have had really good stuff.

        • Edwin

          Wells didn’t have the minor league success that Hendricks has had, but he did put in two seasons (2009 and 2010) where he posted FIP’s below 4. And while he didn’t have an overpowering fastball, he had a great slider.

          Most of the time, pitchers who have stuff succeed more than pitchers who don’t. It doesn’t mean a pitcher can’t find success without having “really good stuff”, but they’re more the exception to the rule.

          • ssckelley

            On a good hitting team could Wells have been a successful big league pitcher? I would think the Cubs could have a decent pitching staff if they had 5 guys that pitched like Wells did in 2009.

            The problem is the Cubs might be able to reach the playoffs with a staff like that but not sure about WS. Generally come playoff time the team with the top pitchers seem to take over.

  • Funn Dave

    Wow, Jeff, way to sound like an eight-year-old that doesn’t want to wear his bicycle helmet.

  • Funn Dave

    I agree with the CEO’s comments, but it’s pretty hard not to see them as hypocritical and defensive.

  • Patrick W.

    As for the shifting, the other day Ian Stewart bunted for a hit against the shift. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs said “Well, crap, if Ian Stewart can figure it out, it must not work!”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Patrick – I didn’t see that, and I wondered if it was just a Cano thing, or if it was all Spring.

  • Drew7

    “…but also that it was generally effective (dropping his BABIP from .310 to .299).”

    Aren’t we talking about a difference of 1 hit? Seems like way too small of a sample to judge a shift’s effectiveness, no?