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.




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