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mike olt!Until Sunday’s offensive breakout, folks started to whisper that the Cubs’ offense was struggling because of the constant lineup shifting. In other words, the struggles were because of the many platoons. And, should the Cubs struggle offensively today, Sunday will be forgotten, and the whispers will start up again.

So, let’s be quite clear about something: the offense isn’t struggling *because* of the platoons. Railing against the platoons for being the reason the offense is struggling is akin to claiming the rock you’re holding keeps tigers away. Correlation is not the same thing as causation. The offense has struggled at times because of bad (luck) sequencing, lack of slugging, lack of walks, cold weather, and a worse-than-average overall offense regardless of lineup. The Cubs’ offense always projected to be weak, but it always projected to be better if players were smartly platooned (and it still projects that way). I won’t hang my hat on Sunday as proof of anything, but it was an example of how things can go well in a platoon system.

It’s also been six games, which, statistically-speaking, is pretty much nothing. Consider that, for his career, Justin Ruggiano hits .249/.319/.492 in 362 career plate appearances against lefties. Do those numbers just go away because he had 6 to 10 crappy plate appearance results this year, half of which came against a guy who happens to be one of the best lefties in baseball (Cliff Lee)? Of course not. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, but that doesn’t make it right. Even when a guy is “great” against lefties, he’s going to have more crap games than great games. And when you’ve got a sample of, like, two games from which to judge? You have no idea what you’re looking at.

The one piece of the platoon criticism that has some merit as a discussion piece, however, is the long-term versus short-term focus of the Cubs. In the short-term, the Cubs are clearly trying to win April games, and are maximizing platoons to try and make that happen. In the long-term, however, the focus should be discovering and developing potential pieces for 2015 and beyond. These two focuses work against each other, for example, in the cases of Mike Olt and Junior Lake, each of whom is a righty, each of whom has the potential to be a starter in 2015 for the Cubs, and each of whom has sat against righties so far this year.

For me, I have several responses to folks griping about Olt and Lake sitting so much so far:

  • It’s been just six games, and half of those came against lefties. Operating in a strict platoon so far, then, hasn’t really had a seriously deleterious effect on anyone’s playing time. The Cubs have a very deep bench, and they’re making use because of the balance of opposing pitching. That won’t always be the case.
  • In April – early April at that – I have no problem with the short-term focus taking precedent. It’s ok to try your damnedest to win games in April, even if you don’t think your team has a realistic shot at the playoffs. There is plenty of time after April or after May or whenever to flip the switch, end the platoons, and just start guys like Olt and Lake every day.
  • Olt is still dealing with his shoulder issue, and the Cubs are taking it easy on him, in part, for that reason.
  • There’s something to be said for easing young guys into things, and putting them in a position to succeed regularly (when they play) before they become “regulars.”
  • The guy who sees time, so far, mostly in place of Lake is Ryan Kalish, who is, himself, a 26-year-old former top prospect with a particularly unique back-story that puts him among the types of guys who could surprise and become long-term regulars, despite being scrap-heap pick-ups. Isn’t that a guy you want seeing regular starts, too?
  • The guy who sees time in place of Olt is Luis Valbuena, who is not only performing well (.471 OBP), he’s a 28-year-old super utility guy with two years of team control left. What does that mean? If he performs well – as he did last year in a platoon at third base – he could generate legitimate trade value by July. Is that not also an important long-term focus?
  • (To the extent you see Ryan Sweeney as the guy taking starts from Lake, you could pretty much say the same thing as I just laid out there with Valbuena.)
  • As the weeks go by, and especially if they show enough, you’re going to see Mike Olt and Junior Lake getting more starts against righties. So, for now, chill, baby. I’m as (reasonably) excited to see what they can become as anybody. See the above picture.
  • http://www.w2wn.net Cerambam

    not to boil it all down to one point but this:

    “In April – early April at that – I have no problem with the short-term focus taking precedent. It’s ok to try your damnedest to win games in April, even if you don’t think your team has a realistic shot at the playoffs. There is plenty of time after April or after May or whenever to flip the switch, end the platoons, and just start guys like Olt and Lake every day.”

    is the point that sells me the most, this was my exact thinking as well.

  • Kyle

    Another reason to not complain: We still haven’t had any reason since 2012 to believe that Mike Olt is good at competitive baseball.

    • JCubs79

      But he hit a home run.

    • Orval Overall

      .886 OPS and 5 HRs in the spring is “a reason.” And the question isn’t whether we have proof he’s good, it’s whether we have reason enough to believe he might be that it’s worth the team’s while to find out.

      I’m also OK with the platoon in concept, especially to start the year. But if he’s not going to play regularly, then they should have let him stay at AAA until he had proven more to their satisfaction that he should be playing more frequently than when the other team starts a LHP.

      • Kyle

        I said “in competitive games.”

        • Orval Overall

          No, you said “at competitive baseball” and hitting for a strong OPS against MLB and AAA-level pitchers during the relaxed atmosphere of Spring Training remains “a reason” to believe he can also have that ability in more competitive games.

          • Kyle

            Spring training is not competitive baseball.

            I guess literally anything can be “a reason,” but I thought from context it should be clear that I meant a good reason. An .886 OPs in spring training is not a good reason.

            • Wilburthefirst

              Agreed totally.

              Glad to see Olt healthy, but he is all about potential at this point as nothing has been proven.

      • Norm

        Anything in Spring in not evidence of anything, other than health.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          In Olt’s case, though, the question is (?was) health.

          • Kyle

            That’s not the only question. Even before his health problems, there was a question of whether or not he could make enough contact. He may have Brett Jacksonitis.

          • Norm

            Yes, but if we wipe out his 2013 season because of that injury and let him pick up where he left off, he’d be in AAA, not the majors.
            Olt hasn’t proven that he’s a big league player.

      • Picklenose

        If you want to talk about spring training, Valbuena had more homers (6-5), a higher obp (.333-.317), a higher slugging percent (.780-.569) and a higher ops (1.114-.886) than Olt. If fact, the only offensive categories where Olt lead Valbuena are ba (..276-.244) and strikeouts (19-12). Olt’s ability to strikeout seems to continued into the regular season so far. Spring training numbers do not support having Olt on the field over Valbuena.

  • Funn Dave

    I agree with everything in the article except for the inclusion of Ryan Sweeney as part of the group that should see playing time / could be worth something in a trade. I’d be more than happy if I never saw his name in a lineup again.

    • JacqueJones

      whats with all the ryan sweeney bashing. look at his numbers last season. A 110 wRC+ while being an above average defender is a good player. Lake has a .500 BABIP right now and Sweeney has an .091 BABIP. Those numbers arent going to stay the same

  • MightyBear

    My problem with Ruggiano isn’t the results, it’s the approach. He’s trying to pull everything and hitting weak ground balls to short. Granted, he has faced Liriano and Lee but he’s also looked that way against LH bullpen relievers and he’s done it with men on base. It is similar to my complaint with Veras and Wright. The small sample size doesn’t take away that they have both had command issues in the past and they have both been pounded in the past. Right now they both look like the wild thing than solid bullpen guys. Moreover, there are some talented arms at Iowa waiting for jobs. I don’t want to see us wait til June to decide they were bad decisions and then jettisoned leaving us with another selloff.

    • Edwin

      Who knows though. They could turn it around today for all we know.

      • MightyBear

        They could turn it around or they could do their Marmol/Mather imitations and be gone in May after blowing several games.

    • GoCubs

      It’s not just Ruggiano. Every Cubs player, it seems to me, has tried to pull most of the time. Contrast that with the Phillies when Smardz was pitching…I don’t know what it is, but this is Cub problem every year.

    • Jason P

      “they have both had command issues in the past”

      Veras yes, Wright no. The latter’s BB/9 the past 2 seasons is 2.92 and 3.19. Also, neither has posted an above-4 ERA since 2010 (Veras not since 2009), so I think you’re exaggerating when you say “they have both been pounded in the past”.

  • Edwin

    I also find the “we need to find out what these guys can do” arguement to be a little overblown. We have a lot of data from the minors and from some partial MLB PA that we should already have some type of idea what these players can do.

    • Kyle

      Exactly. If our front office needs 450 MLB PAs from a guy before they can begin to make a judgment, then they aren’t very good at their jobs.

      • Spoda17

        We don’t have that information on Olt or Kalish. They both had medical issues in the past than are no longer there. So to say we have the data is inaccurate.

        • YourResidentJag

          Exactly. Particularly with Kalish–you don’t unlearn plate discipline.

          • Kyle

            You do realize that you just said “exactly” and then contradicted his assertion?

            • YourResidentJag

              You did the same, except that you contradicted yourself. You argued that the competition is on the same level. You argued that Olt deserves his platoon level status because of low contact rate but then argued that Lake deserves equal playing time above anyone else in the OF, including Kalish, because of his….low contact percentage?

              • Kyle

                I argued none of those things.

                • YourResidentJag

                  Yes, you did. You argued that there was no reason you saw that separated Olt/Kalish getting ABs from their competition. Then you argued that Olt’s contact rate doesn’t justify more playing time. But somehow believe that Lake deserves equal playing time over others. Given what we know about Lake’s contact %, that’s a contradiction in terms.

                  • Kyle

                    “No reason I see X” is not the equivalent of “I believe the opposite of X to be true.”

                    Most of our roster is undifferentiated crap and I don’t have strong playing time opinions on any of them.

                    And I don’t recall saying anything positive about Junior Lake, ever, at any point in history. And I never will.

                    • Kyle

                      In fact, I believe the above was the first post in this thread in which I ever mentioned Junior Lake. I’m honestly not sure what you are blathering about me saying he’s better than Kalish or something.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      I guess that’s where I have a problem with your arguments here, Kyle. The undifferentiated crap part. Saying Lake deserves equal playing time in that context doesn’t merit saying anything positive about him. Not that I think you’re incorrect about Lake, himself, as a player.

                    • Kyle

                      Could you point to the post where I said that Lake deserves equal playing time?

                      I’m honestly befuddled as to where you got that.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      What exactly are saying then Kyle? Most players on the team are undifferentiated crap and I couldn’t care less if one player over another gets playing time, but I didn’t say that. Strange.

                    • Kyle

                      I lied. I do have one strong playing time opinion: Junior Lake should be demoted to AA. Not even AAA, just because I want some buffer space between him and a major league roster.

                      But I don’t care about the rest of it. Unless they start benching Rizzo or something.

      • Orval Overall

        The fact that you’re agreeing with this should trouble you. This is exactly the kind of argument you would ridicule if it didn’t support the belief you arrived at through different considerations. Basic translation:

        “Edwin: ‘MLB success rate is entirely predictable based upon minor league stats, combined with extremely small sample sizes of MLB stats. That is all one should need to know with confidence whether a player will find success at the highest level, even after making the adjustments that are surely going to be necessary.'”

        “You: ‘Exactly.'”

        • Edwin

          “some type of idea” = “entirely predictable”?

          Great translation there. You nailed it.

          • frank

            Don’t forget “some type of idea = confidence.”

        • Kyle

          See Edwin’s response, and be troubled by your need in this conversation to completely change the meaning of what you are replying to in order to make your point.

        • DarthHater

          This game is fun. Let’s do some more basic translations.

          Orval: “I pull made-up opinions out of my ass and call them translations of what somebody else said.”

          Me: “Exactly.”

    • Funn Dave

      Agreed.

  • Featherstone

    Vaguely related question that I wish to pose to the audience here. I have decided to finally purchase an authentic cubs jersey and would like some opinions on 2 things.

    1.) What player should I have on the back? I was thinking Rizzo since he seems the most likely to stick around in the longer term. (Is it too early for a Baez jersey?)

    2.) Home white or Road blue for the color? I am quite partial to blue in general, but the home white feels almost too classic to pass up.

    Thanks to anyone that responds with any comment, observation, or snide remark.

    • MoneyBoy

      Featherstone… My personal preference, as it was with the Blackhawks, was the home jersey. You’re right about the white… just too classic to pass up. My sweater has Toews’ name on it. I don’t have an opinion about which name to have on it.

      • Edwin

        I thought with the Blackhawks that the Red was home and the White was away. I like the white better than the red. Really lets the logo play better.

        • frank

          It is now, but it wasn’t always that way.

      • Featherstone

        I think you and Edwin are right. The home white does really feel best for the actual jersey.

        • Edwin

          As far as the name goes, I like MightyBear’s suggestion about going with a HOF, or a past player. Derrek Lee was a great player, and for the most part a pretty likeable player to cheer for.

          For current players, I’d go with Travis Wood. He’ll probably be around for at least a couple years, he’s a fun guy to root for, and it’d set you apart from the normal Castro/Rizzo crowd.

    • Edwin

      I like the home white for an actual jersey, and the blue for the shirt jersey thing.

      • Indy57

        I purchased a home “Prior” jersey in 2004 thinking he’d be a beast in the rotation for years. Not sure there is ever a “right” name.

        • Featherstone

          So avoid pitchers because their arms fall off. Got it.

          • Travis

            I agree with Indy. There’s probably never a “right” name to pick. I have a home Castro jersey and a powder blue Cooperstown Andre Dawson jersey. I like them both. Might be smart to get a Castro/Rizzo or a HOFer.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        Right on the money Edwin!

        As for player, I’m a huge Rizzo fan myself (I have a shirsey, refuse to buy jerseys), so I’d probably go with him. Good player who will most likely be here for a while

    • MightyBear

      I prefer the home white but I really like the new gray with the outline. If you want a name, you might want to go with a HOFer that was a Cub that you like. Banks, Santo, Williams, Sandberg, Dawson, Maddux will always be associated with the Cubs. Some more than others. In the words of Dennis Miller, “That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.”

      • Featherstone

        I thought about getting a Cubs HOFer on the back, but I must admit that I am a more recent cubs fan (2003) so I dont have any sort of memories or connections with those players sadly.

        • C. Steadman

          Maddux would apply to post-2003 fans then

          • Edwin

            I still think of Maddux being more closely affiliated with Atlanta.

            Probably the best Cubs pitcher since 2003 has been Carlos Zambrano, but the way things played out with him, I can understand if you’d opt not to go with his jersey. Same thing for Dempster.

            I’d go with Ted Lilly.

        • frank

          Then get Tidrow . . .

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        I’m a huge fan of the powder blue (I’d get Santo). I’m pumped that they’re wearing them this year!

        • Edwin

          My brother has a blue Santo shirt, it’s pretty cool.

      • C. Steadman

        I agree with MightyBear…I’d go retro…I have Sandberg, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente shirt jerseys…I prefer shirt jerseys over regular jerseys but same thing applies to both.

    • Eternal Pessimist

      Rock shoulders!!!

      • Featherstone

        Thanks for all the responses guys. I’ve decided on a classic home white jersey with a nom-pitcher on the back. Still leaning towards Rizzo.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    The premise that that the way to find long term quality players, is to throw 24 and 25 year old players out there every day to sink or swim, is flawed. It can be a recipe for failure.
    Put them in positions that maximize potential success. Build confidence. You can see lake improving a little day to day.
    Look at carpenter with the cardinals and how he was used. They broke him in slowly and let him get better.
    The Reds are doing the opposite with Hamilton, and so far, pretty ugly.

    • Kyle

      Hamilton’s season is cracking me up so far.

      There were Reds fans on the internet passionately arguing that Hamilton’s speed alone would make him a 7-WAR player or something like that. It was crazy.

      • Jon

        Sadly, you can’t steal first.

        • Camiata2

          See: Campana, T.

      • Kyle

        Oh, and I go over to redszone.com to see if I can dig up some fun Hamilton quotes, and I see that Latos just got scratched from his rehab start.

        They are flailing pretty badly right now. The Cardinals might win this division by 20 games.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          But remember: the Reds are totally going to be awesome for a decade to come.

          :ninja-neutral-joking-face:

          • YourResidentJag

            Nailed. :)

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

            I don’t know how the Cubs will EVER have a hope to overcome them.

            • Kyle

              This is basically just Shelbyville laughing at Springfield for losing to them at football almost half the time.

              • FFP

                There’s Featherstone’s jersey.
                [img]http://i1.cpcache.com/product/1258324197/3isotopes_tshirt.jpg?height=225&width=225[/img]

          • Kyle

            The Reds and Pirates both had crappy offseasons and are lining up for disappointing years, but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to dismiss either team’s long-term future.

            Although that you are apparently implying that you can’t be awesome for a decade if you have a disappointing 2014 makes me wonder about how you feel about the Cubs.

            • MightyBear

              The Reds, Cardinals and Pirates regressing is one of the reasons I think the Cubs will be better this year. The Cardinals are still the cream but not like last year when they batted 340 with RISP. The Cubs record against those 3 teams was abysmal last year.

        • cubfanincardinalland

          Cardinals not looking so great. Reds were hitting lasers all day against wacha, wasn’t missing any bats. Miller got lit up. Not much depth in their bullpen so far.
          Peralta and Bourjos look weak, Beltran a big loss. Pirates might just be better.
          Lot of parity in the NL, 90 wins will be tough for any team.

    • YourResidentJag

      I can’t agree with this. Olt has plus power and shouldn’t be evaluated on 6 games this season, if we’re to believe him and his health. There also was a reason that Kalish was drafted by Theo and thought of so highly in the Red Sox system. You do need to play this players because they will peak as they age (and from what is know that plateau starts at 27) and you may not know what you have. They could become the additional wins the Cubs are looking for (and more cheaply than the known wins of the overvalued FA market) that the Cubs need to have at the right time to add to the big offense they’re bringing up in the next years. Also, if we’re talking SP, you can’t generalize your position to 25 year olds, either. It’s basically sink or swim with that position at that age, if you believe you need to find value by seeing if X SP is any good.

      • Edwin

        “and you may not know what you have.”

        Kalish has been a pro player since 2006. If the Cubs really have no idea what they have in him, and the only way to find out is to give him 300 PA no matter how he’s been looking, then they’re terrible at evaluating talent.

        • YourResidentJag

          He’s played in the majors since 2006? Really…I missed that somewhere. Let’s see who’s competing with him for that CF job shall we….Well there’s Lake (not sure if I want him playing CF), Bono (probably just as useful at 2b), Sweeney (Kalish maybe but older)….and umm….umm. Ruggiano I guess….maybe. So, in the end, it’s about 100% evaluating talent. Hmm.

          • Edwin

            Players in the minors are still pro’s. They’re paid money to play baseball, as opposed to amatuer’s, who are not.

            • YourResidentJag

              Apparently, you missed the fact that the jump from AA/AAA to the actual pros is one of the hardest in pro sports. Maybe that’s why Baez/ Bryant’s ascension isn’t just about Super Two status but also checklists Theo and Jed have laid out for them.

              • Edwin

                That’ not the point I’m making. What I’m saying is that there are years of scouting and PA with which to evaluate these players with. The Cubs already have a decent idea what they have with guys like Olt and Kalish, without having to play them every day at the MLB level.

                • YourResidentJag

                  You are making that point because because your using minor league ABs to inform your position. And if years of scouting (which I don’t buy with Olt) are informing Theo’s decisions on these players and the Cubs already have them, why bother trading for Olt then?

                • Orval Overall

                  Do yourself a favor and go look up someone by the name of Ben Grieve. Check out his minor league stats (4 years and 2100 plate appearances worth). Check out his early major league stats. If you can figure out how, go read what everyone — literally, the entire baseball establishment and press — was saying about him when he reached the major leagues.

                  Then see how his career played out, and ask yourself: was everyone in baseball just stupid?

                  • YourResidentJag

                    Better yet. I’d like to see how Edwin considers a player like Jose Bautista.

                    • Orval Overall

                      Or David Ortiz …

                    • Edwin

                      I consider him to be a great hitter. Same with Ortiz.

                  • Edwin

                    Looks like Grieve was a top prospect, put up some very good minor league numbers, then put up some good hitting numbers in MLB but lousy fielding.

                    I’m not saying that minor league numbers are a perfect way to expertly predict MLB success. What I’m saying is that based on a players past performance, we should at least have some type of idea what to expect from that player. Hopefully in Olt’s case, he can find a way to exceed those expectations.

  • Sandberg

    Thanks for writing this. I doubt it will stop the whining, but at least we can just plop links down instead of engaging. :)

  • MightyBear

    I did not realize until a few days ago that the Allstate guy with the deep voice was the actor that played Sorrano in Major League. An ad on this website reminded me of it.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      He was also President David Palmer on 24. Love me some Dennis Haysbert!

      • D.G.Lang

        He was also the team leader in “The Unit”.

        I also like him and I am going to check out Major league to confirm that it was him.

        • Thomas

          Snake Doctor. “Go for Blaine”. The Unit was a great show.

    • CubChymyst

      Yahoo had a whole article celebrating the Movie Major league. Some funny tidbits in it. Apparently Sorrano was actually able to hit home runs.

      • MightyBear

        That’s where I saw that he was Sorrano. I never saw 24 or the other deal he was in but I always thought he had a cool voice. I’m surprised he doesn’t do voice over work (or maybe he does and I haven’t seen it.) The fact that he had the Cuban accent for Sorrano may have been why I never put two and two together.

  • Spoda17

    I know I have been beating this drum all week,and you all have been giving me a hard time.

    Brett, I disagree. Especially when Jed said over the winter that they are not going to bring guys up to sit. He said when someone comes up they will play and prove whether they can handle it or not. If they needed to see more out of Olt, then send him to Iowa or whatever.

    Players need to feel comfortable at the plate, get into a rhythm. How do you expect to see how well someone is when they only face one situation.

    The reason Valbuena and other are platoon players is because they have already proved they cannot perform in all situations. We have no where near enough data on Olt, Kalish, or Lake to make that determination. I actually think Lake is out performing his ultimate skill, but again, impossible to tell until he plays in all scenarios.

    I think the FO does not want this approach. I think RR is over thinking trying to impress his new, very sabermetric, employer that he knows the numbers and manages based on the match-ups.

    Lastly, match-ups or not, I think Olt, Kalish, and Lake (atm) are just better players, and it isn’t a play the kids thing, they are just better players in my opinion.

    • Kyle

      Olt has played in and gotten plate appearances in every single game. He’s not being “called up to sit.”

      I’d like to hear your argument that Kalish or Olt is better than the players they are splitting time with.

      • Spoda17

        Kyle, I have been giving this argument all week. The argument is we know Valbuena/Sweeney/Ruggiano has limit value, that’s a known. Kalish is an unknown, so he needs opportunities to show what he can, or can’t do.

        In 2012 Olt was untouchable and then had a legitimate medical issue. He has shown the same potential that Baez and Bryant have shown before he got hurt. How can you make the argument he is not a better option… there is not MLB data to make that argument.

        Again, remember what the point is. The Cubs are trying to figure out what they have. Impossible to figure that out at the current platoon rate. We know what they have with the incumbents…

        And spot pinch hitting opportunities against lefties proves nothing.

        • Kyle

          Saying a player is “unknown” is not an argument that the player is better.

          You said you believed they were better.

          And Olt’s 2012 was not “untouchable.” There were plenty of warning signs then, too, that he might not be able to make enough contact to hit in the majors.

          • YourResidentJag

            So justifying Lake’s contact rate over Kalish is a better example, then.

          • Spoda17

            I have never said any of them are can’t miss.

            So is your point that this current approach is working. We are 2-4, and our offense has been pathetic. I think if we continue this approach we are for sure punting.

            • DarthHater

              Drawing conclusions about whether something in baseball is working based on six games of data is ridiculous.

              • Spoda17

                Never drew a conclusion. Folks are trying to say the platoon thing is working and the right winning approach.. I am saying how so?

                The same folks are saying they have enough data to say Olt, Kalish, and Lake are not going to make it… so your point is exactly correct. But you can’t have it both ways.

                • Kyle

                  “Never drew a conclusion.”

                  Ummm, no.

                • DarthHater

                  “Our record is 2-4. So what we do know is the platoon thing has produce no results to back-up the approach.”

                  Sorry, but that constitutes drawing a conclusion from a 2-4 record.

              • YourResidentJag

                So, then if Kalish or Olt played in 6 games and sucked drawing a conclusion that that doesn’t work is ridiculous????

                • Kyle

                  Yes.

                  I think. The sentence structure is a bit hard to parse through, but if you are saying what I think you are saying, then my answer is “yes.”

                • DarthHater

                  Willie Mays was 1-for-26 in his first seven major league games. So, yes.

                  • MightyBear

                    Sandberg was 6 for 42.

                    • Edwin

                      Well there you go. That’s two data points right there. Conclusion reached. ;)

            • Kyle

              My point is that the arguments against this approach are thoroughly unconvincing.

          • Spoda17

            Warning signs..? Chris Davis’ WAR since he came into the big leagues:

            Age/War

            22 = 1.9
            23 = -0.3
            24 = -0.7
            25 = 0.0 (TX)
            25 = 0.4 (BAL)
            26 = 2.3
            27 = 6.7

            He developed… with playing.

            • Kyle

              a) Davis struck out less than either Jackson or Olt did at AA

              b) So we should give Olt years and years of sucking in the hopes that he turns into Chris Davis?

              • Spoda17

                In six seasons in the minors he struck out 409 times in 2007 PA. That’s a 20% rate.

                And not saying any of them are Davis or will be… but for you to say you have enough data to make the determination that they are worse than the alternative is “thoroughly unconvincing.”

                • Kyle

                  You are switching the burden of proof here.

                  You said:

                  “I think Olt, Kalish, and Lake (atm) are just better players, and it isn’t a play the kids thing, they are just better players in my opinion.”

                  I asked you why you think they are better players. So far, you haven’t actually come up with anything.

                  • Spoda17

                    Key word Kyle is I said I think. I know what we have with the incumbents, but we do not know what we have with the Olt/Kalish/Lake.

                    They earned playing time, or they would not have made the team… (hell Kalish needed a roster spot), so through all of this banter my point is simple. Play them, then make a decision… not platoon them (and I am not referring to all platoons, just the amount of this situation) To stick with what we already know doesn’t work is the definition of insanity… and it didn’t work last year, and it is not working this year.

                    I am not making a conclusion based on six games, we actually do have data on Valbuena/Sweeney and Ruggiano from last year… we DO NOT have that with Olt, Lake (mostly), and Kalish.

                    • Kyle

                      I understand what “I think” means.

                      I’m asking you *why* you think it. What makes you believe those players are better.

                      You *still* haven’t given me an answer.

                    • Funn Dave

                      He has given you an answer. He feels he knows what we have with Valb/Sweeney/etc., and he does not like it. Conversely, he feels he does not know what we have with Lake/Olt/Kalish. Since those three are unknown quantities, there is a chance that they *may* be better players than Valb/Sweeney/etc. In his opinion, it is likely the case that at least one of those players will in fact prove to be better than his alternative–hence the “I think.”

                      This post has no bearing on my own opinion on the subject, but I’m tired of you talking in circles and arguing about arguing.

                    • Kyle

                      That’s not an answer.

                      He specifically said it was *more* than just getting playing time to the unknown. That he had a positive belief that they are more than merely unknown, they are better. I still haven’t gotten a reason for that.

              • terencemann

                Olt had one bad season in the minors and there appears to be a reasonable medical explanation for it. Davis had 5 1/2 incredibly disappointing years in the majors…

              • Bill

                Kyle,

                I’d agree with your point if the objective this year were wins. However, this doesn’t be the case with Theo. He’s put together one of the worst offenses in recent Cubs history. It appears he’s more interested in making sure the Cubs remain in the bottom 10 record wise to protect the 1st round pick, in case they sign a FA.

                If wins really don’t matter this year then RR might as well play guys like Olt, Kalish, and Lake as much as possible. We know Valbuena, Sweeney, etc aren’t going to be with the team when Theo starts to spend money (if he ever spends money).

                BTW, I’m not saying I agree with the philosophy of not doing what’s best to win games this year, however, I’m just not sure Theo really cares about wins because he knows this team sucks and will not make the playoffs. For Theo, it’s another throwaway season to accumulate minor league assets.

                • Norm

                  But Theo can also acquire assets through the trades of these veterans that everyone wants benched.
                  He did it with Campana, S. Hairston, Soriano and probably a few more than I’m forgetting, and will likely do it again with Schierholtz, Ruggiano, Valbuena, etc.

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

                  I pretty much go along with this argument.

                  What is the 2014 Cubs objective? Winning at .500? Player development? Platoon mastery? Positional flexibility? A combination of anything BUT winning too many games?

                  I know the holdovers from 2013 offense shouldn’t be catered to in the least. They score 602 runs in 2013; 2012: 613 runs. And this offensive spiral has existed 2008; 5 years of pitiful futility with lumber.

                  You tend to look at 700 runs as tolerable. 800 is a good offense. 900 – a machine worthy of pride. 950+ – HOF offense. You have to go back to 1992 Cubs (in a full season, 1994 Strike) to be this bad (593) for just one year.

                  This decline is on par with the late 1940s- early1950s Cubs, that of a prolonged duration 4-7 seasons of total ineptitude in scoring.

                  Scoring ain’t everything, but…most guys like to score! ;)

                  • Brocktoon

                    You need to adjust your expectations for this run scoring environment. The last NL team to score 800+ runs was Colorado in ’09 with 804.

                    700 runs has been above average the last 3 years, and would’ve put a team 3rd last year(with Colorado being a smidge above with 706)

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

                      That’s a fair point. But it still doesn’t say, “the 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 Cubs were much better offensively.” Just the measure of mediocrity was a bit better relative to the league AVG. They were still below LG average for runs in all those years.

                      And the 2008 Cubs? What did they score? 855 Runs, led league. So it was possible to score 800 runs even in the NL.

                      Why is offense disappearing? (You give me your analysis.)

                    • Brocktoon

                      So many small reasons is my best guess.

                      Slightly lowered PED use
                      Expanded strike zone edict
                      Ball becoming unjuiced.

                      As for the Cubs offense itself, well it just makes me too sad to think about how much I miss that ’08 team.

              • MightyBear

                b made me laugh

                • MightyBear

                  Geeez I replied to Kyle’s post with the a and b and it posted way down here.

                  “So we should give Olt years and years of sucking in the hopes that he turns into Chris Davis?” made me laugh.

            • Brocktoon

              Davey Johnson randomly hit 44 HRs one year, should probably stick with Barney until he does that.

              • Edwin

                If we don’t, how would we know if he’s capable of it or not?

  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

    I hope Voice of Reason doesn’t see this post, he’ll argue for hours about how Valbuena is a scrub who no other team in the MLB would even want on their roster and there is no way in hell he should be playing over Olt

  • BlameHendry

    I’m not as concerned about Lake, but if Olt will only strictly play against lefties, he’ll play less than half the games this season. That’s not a way to develop. I’d rather see him play almost every day in AAA than take somebody with great potential to the majors just to turn him into a bench player.

    Valbuena is a nice utility guy, but he doens’t have a long-term future with the Cubs. Olt potentially does, and has a MUCH higher ceiling. It wouldn’t be as bad if Olt was the lefty and Valbuena was the righty, because at least Olt would be getting over half the playing time then. But with him on the bench for over half the games, that is not a recipe for his success.

  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

    This whole debate is pretty simple.

    You DO NOT punt on a season in April. The Cubs are trying to put the lineup on the field that gives them the best chance to win games.

    None of us expect them to be good, so when they’re most likely out of it by June/July, Lake, Olt, and other youngsters will get plenty of chances to prove if they belong or not.

    • Spoda17

      Who said they are punting. You are acting like this is actually working. Our record is 2-4. So what we do know is the platoon thing has produce no results to back-up the approach.

      To make a point that the platoon situation is currently effective is absurd. It would be one thing if we were 4-2 to make the argument, but we are not. And not only have we not won, our offense has been anemic.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        Really?? 6 games in you’re already going to say the platoon isn’t effective??

        • YourResidentJag

          No, I think he’s saying platoons are going to have to be effective in certain situations and with certain positions. No one’s argue that Schierholtz and Ruggiano look like a safe bet for platooning in RF throughout the season.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            I would hope that everyone knew coming in the Schierholtz/Ruggiano would be basically a strict platoon, but I would argue that the most effective platoons so far have been the Olt/Valbuena and the Kalish/Lake platoons.

            • YourResidentJag

              So, then it’s a known fact that a certain amount of platooning was going to occur before the season started.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                What’s your point??

                • Edwin

                  exactly.

                • YourResidentJag

                  Well, first of all your basing your analysis on 6 games. So. Secondly, your argument is redundant. A player like Schierholtz, with a much larger MLB sample size, was and still will be known to be effective in a platoon situation.

                  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                    Ummmm when did I say he wasn’t?? You’re arguing with yourself bud

                    • YourResidentJag

                      So, basing analysis on 6 games to state that these newly created platoons are working is reason alone to stick with them. Except for certain situations with certain positions (i.e. Schierholtz) because that’s over the course of MLB career where’s he really has proven to be most effective. On the one hand, a definitive statement of the first position can’t be made. And on the second position it can because of what is known about a particular player over the course of his career. I’m really not arguing with myself, here.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      I love the Schierholtz/Ruggiano platoon so I don’t understand where you got the idea that I don’t like it.

                      The original argument was that the current platoons aren’t working, I simply pointed out that the two platoons that are being questioned the most (Lake/Kalish and Olt/Valbuena) have been successful through the first 6 games. I never said they will continue to be successful, I never said roll with them all 162 games, I just said through 6 games they have worked. If you read my original post, it perfectly lays out my stance on the whole situation. You’re arguing with yourself and not doing a very good job of it

    • Fishin Phil

      We have a winner!

      • Fishin Phil

        *that was for FCT.

    • Jason P

      I completely agree. It isn’t a lost season until it actually is. Even bad teams can win quite a few games if everything breaks right.

      The other part of this argument you have to consider: Olt is 25. Lake is 24. It’s not like these guys are 20 or 21 years old. It’s questionable how much development either has left anyway.

    • ssckelley

      Yes, I have been saying the same thing for 2 days. This is April, you put the best lineup on the field you think will help the team win games. You do not give up on a season until July at the earliest.

      Olt has started 1/2 the games to this point and has appeared in all of them. I like seeing Olt in the lineup as well but I have no complaints on how they are using him.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    You have to give renteria some respect. Played in the majors and the bush leagues. Was a big time prospect himself at one time.
    Managed many years in the bushes developing young guys. He knows the process.

    • Spoda17

      So far I think RR is a great number two… but I just haven’t seen true managerial strategic moves/decisions. Way too many roster issues, and it’s only been a week, rosters, substitutions, etc. I saw a video on CSN yesterday and RR was just so excited to have a day off (Monday) and give his guys some rest… Day off? Rest??? We are 8 days into the effen season… We have played 6 games, and btw… so have all the other 29 teams…

      I know it’s early. I support the hiring of RR. He needs to learn too… I get all that… I’m just not as comfortable as I would like to be so far…

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    It would seem that in the case of Olt and Lake that they should be getting some starts against righties. These are two guy that potentially can play a role in the future. But on the other hand if you sit Valbuena or Ruggiano you diminish their trade value for a possible prospect. I would tend to think that playing the percentages is the best way to go untill we have a larger sample size to work with. I know this would be very unpopular, but if Rizzo continues to struggle against lefties I would like to see Olt get some starts at first. When we have done all of the deals that we can then we can abandon that approach and see how they do against same side pitching. I think the FO and RR want to try to build some vlue for a lot of these guys for trade bait. Although they might not the the principle player in a trade a guy like Valbuena or Schierholtz would be an attractive piece in a trade with Samardzija or Jackson. I still have a gut feeling that if Edwin turns it around this year he could bring a decent return seeing that he would have 2 1/2 years under contract from a frontloaded deal. It will be interesting to see what happens with Wood if he has another really good season. You have to think they will try to lock him up at some point soon. I don’t know how many years of control he has left, but maybe he’s taking notes from Samardzija.

  • willis

    I’d like to see Lake and Olt in there almost every day, but the best argument made was driving up the value of some others for trade bait. I also agree that if the manager feels this is the best way to win games early, then, I suppose. I don’t agree with it necessarily but it’s his team and he’s trying to match up as best as he can.

    My argument to that is I would play Lake/Kalish/Schierholtz against righties and Lake/Bono/Ruggiano against lefties. I think Lake can handle either armed pitchers and has shown ok at the dish so far, but more so has played some good defense in the OF.

    Olt will eventually see ABs against righties and hopefully that is soon.

  • hellerg

    Would someone please explain the love affair with Valbuena?

    • terencemann

      He’s an average third baseman if you include his defensive value. People don’t want to see one of the more consistent players on the Cubs over the last 2 seasons get benched. If people want the Cubs to play the most valuable players possible every day, then Valbuena should always start vs. RHP but that doesn’t leave much for Olt which is the problem.

      I think they should have dumped Barney already and let Valbuena play 2nd. This team is built like a poor man’s version of the A’s or Red Sox last season with tons of depth and a chance to platoon players to help the team to succeed but they don’t have the upside of the guys the other teams are using.

      • YourResidentJag

        Agree with all of this.

        • Funn Dave

          Same here.

    • DarthHater

      Come on, just look at that smile:
      [img]https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3753/13723172344_3a2cfac3b2_n.jpg[/img]

    • MightyBear

      His name means “good worth” so he has to have value.

  • http://BN Sacko

    It is very early to read into the platoons right now. But I may be a typical fan that doesnt like a power hitter or a hot bat sitting out just because.

  • newsguy23

    The love affair w/ Theo and company continues.

  • willis

    Well, add Castillo and take out Baker, and it’s the same lineup as Sunday’s game tonight. And that worked out ok. Granted Morton>>>Burnett.

  • Kyle

    Olt not in the lineup today. Get the pitchforks.

  • Medicos

    All this debating concerning the MLB success of Lake, Olt, Sweeney, etc is a waste of time. The only way the FO and RR will know if anyone will have a successful career is to put them in the lineup for an extended period of time and see what they can do. The Say Hey Kid, Ryno, and Big Papi weren’t very successful at the beginning of their careers but wound up being HOF players.

  • V23

    Some theories irritate me:

    1. Valbuena is being groomed for trade value. **That’s quite a long game by the Cubs to net a pretty bad prospect, while your own doesn’t develop or get assessed.

    2. Olt never did anything so far- Guys, try to keep up, he couldn’t fricken see since his injury!

    3. Barney should play- Why? Terrible hitter. Nice bench guy on a good team.

    4. Stats show platoons work- Sure, that’s great for a Sweeney / Ruggiano …guys who are just here because the cubs are bad.

    Olt needs to be in the lineup 5 games a week. Figure out if he is a guy to stay here to a guy that’s not an option. Same with Junior Lake.

    Not sure if anyone noticed, but the platoon mania isn’t even working and it’s difficult to watch.

    We all want the Cubs to be better in the future, but this “long game” of hoping low tiered guys will translate to super starts is ridiculous.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “1. Valbuena is being groomed for trade value. **That’s quite a long game by the Cubs to net a pretty bad prospect, while your own doesn’t develop or get assessed.”

      This black-and-whiting irritates me right back, because it ignores that Valbuena is actually pretty good! He was worth 2.0 WAR in 2/3 a season last year. As a platooned 3B, he’s well above league average in total value. I makes me le sad that so many people refuse to see or acknowledge this.

      That’s not a reason to start him, alone, but when you pair it with everything else discussed in the piece? It’s plenty. And it’s April.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        But, but, but (holds fingers up to form a cross) Advanced Stats!! (hisses and hides in dark corner)

      • Jon

        ” He was worth 2.0 WAR in 2/3 a season last year. ”

        That WAR however, was propped up by defense, he was a negative -3 WAR on offense

        • Picklenose

          Jon, are you saying that it is better to win games 9-8 than 2-1? Any player that has a 2.0 WAR helped us win 2 more games than a replacement level player. I’m not sure that winning those 2 games by scoring extra runs is any better than winning those games by preventing your opponent scoring runs.

          • Jon

            Are you assuaging that Mike Olt a black hole at 3B? By all accounts he’s a very, very good defensive third baseman.

            • Jon

              *assuming

            • Picklenose

              No, it seems to me that you are suggesting that Valbuena is worth less because his defense is strong while his offense is not. All I am trying to say is that if two players have a similar WAR, it does not really matter whether the value comes from good offense or good defense. It still helps the team to win games.
              I suspect (but don’t really have stats to prove this) that Valbuena, Olt, and Christian Villeneuva are all pretty much equal defensively. We just haven’t seen much to indicate that Olt is truly worth more than Valbuena offensively. Many people think it, but it is based more on reputation/potential than actual production.

              • Jon

                - The point of a platoon, is because you think player x is better then player y against X handed pitching. You don’t factor in defense.

                – I think it’s an easy assumption that Olt is as good on defense as Valbeana

                – I would not question platooning(sitting Olt) against RHP if you had a platoon partner that justified it, but #’s clearly indicate Valbuena isn’t really that candidate.

          • Jon

            I’m not up in arms right now, I’ll let the season play out, but the assumption that Valbeana hits extremely well against RHP really isn’t true. He’s just not as bad against RHP. Numbers bear that out.

  • Jon

    Morton couldn’t get lefites out last year so you would expect to see a left hand heavy lineup. Of course a left handled lineup against him last week did nothing so go figure.

    • willis

      It is, 6 lefties and two righties tonight.

  • candyland07

    Your wrong Brett ,The Cubs do not have bad luck, they create their own luck and over the past 2 plus season they have been considerably awful, terrible, but bad luck has no part in the equation, unless one is looking for an poorly executed excuse disguise as a reason than bad luck may be considered

    2012, 2013, and 6 games into 2014 the trend is the same for the Offensive categories

    :Avg (League Rank=LR) OBP (LR) SLG (LR) OPS (LR)

    2012: 240 (26) / 302 (29) / 378 (27) / 680 (27) = terrible awful but not bad luck
    2013 238 (27) / 300 (27) / 392 (25) / 693 (22) = terrible awful but not bad luck
    2014 216 (26) / 294 (26) / 294 (29) / 294 (29)= The Cubs are consistent so far.

    The only constant is the front office – players change but the people in charge have not.

  • Blackhawks1963

    I’m very weary of the Mike Olt should play argument. Look, the guy finally made a major league roster. Which is the first step. Hell, we are talking a guy who hit .200 at Triple A last year. Olt is owed NOTHING. Let him seize upon opportunity when he does play and prove, over time, that he is worthy of more playing time. Nobody is holding him down for crying out loud. And let’s be honest, the luster has faded on Olt’s star. Ricky has been playing him and providing him with opportunity. And will continue to do so. And its not as though Valbuena is chopped liver. In fact Valbuena has done a decent job for the Cubs and certainly isn’t several notches inferior to Olt at this point. If Olt does well? Then Olt will get more and more playing time. It’s a meritocracy baby !!

    Ditto applies to Junior Lake. Let him prove it and then more playing time will come.

    Neither Olt or Lake falls into the category of a Rizzo when he came up…or a Baez, Bryant and Almora when they came up. Lets be very clear on this. Olt and Lake need to EARN it.

    • TK

      So guys like Barney, Castro, Ruggiano, Schierholtz, etc, etc, etc… Just get a free pass, but only 2 guys — Olt and Lake — have “prove it”?

      • ssckelley

        I think Castro, Castillo, and Rizzo get a free pass this season.

        • TK

          Castillo proved last year that he can play. Rizzo gets a pass because he’s pretty good, and surely would do better with a better team around him. And he’s the best 1B on the roster, by far. But Castro . . . ? What have you done for me lately? I see little difference, based on RECENT history, to not include Castro in the same group with Olt & Lake, ESPECIALLY with Baez nipping at his heels. All 3 have something to prove. All 3 should be on the field, not watching these other guys, most of whom will be gone this time next year. Platoon around them.

  • Pingback: Series Preview: Pirates @ Cubs | From Forbes to Federal

  • TK

    Brett, i don’t read every post on here. I don’t even post frequently. But i don’t recall seeing any posts blaming platooning for losing, at least not claiming a direct “causation” as you state. I could be wrong. What I saw (and what argued) was people upset with losing without giving the best attempt possible to win. There is a major difference. When guys who may turn out to be the best players on your roster WATCH the team lose more than they play, there is a problem at the management level. When you sit possible studs on the bench in favor of proven duds, thats not trying to win. And when guys who are inferior and have no significant future are getting the PT over these guys who represent your organization’s future, there is a problem at the management level. It doesn’t matter that the season is 1 week old. In fact, that makes it all the worse.

    • TWC

      “i don’t recall seeing any posts blaming platooning for losing … I could be wrong.”

      You are.

      “When you sit possible studs on the bench in favor of proven duds, thats not trying to win. And when guys who are inferior and have no significant future are getting the PT over these guys who represent your organization’s future, there is a problem at the management level.”

      See? There’s one right there.

      • TK

        Next time I’ll dumb it down for the reading-comprehension-challenged among us.

        Duh, yes, you!

        • TWC

          I’m pretty sure you *couldn’t* dumb down your original comment, but feel free to try drooling next time.

          • DarthHater

            Yea, but “studs” and “dud” rhyme. So, there’s that.

            • DarthHater

              “duds” (dammit) :-P

  • Diehardthefirst

    And let’s not forget who was the first BN citizen to point out that Mgr Rick loves to platoon- sticks and stones etc.. Listen and learn wallflowers

    • ssckelley

      Who was it?

    • DarthHater

      And let’s not forget that said BN citizen based said opinion on a non-existent prior managerial career of Mgr. Rick.
      [img]https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7313/13728619883_ed0de5190d_m.jpg[/img]

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