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mlb logoSome of the more interesting pieces floating around the web …

  • Wow. The story of Yasiel Puig’s journey to the United States, as told by LA Magazine and by ESPN. If you didn’t yet know why we hear very little about the defection stories of Cuban players, you can get a slice there. A crazy tale, and completely believable. Defection can be a harrowing process, fraught with danger and shadiness, and it’s just so amazing to think about what these players have gone through as we watch them swing a baseball bat in the United States.
  • (Places so much more context around the wildness of Puig. Though I still think it’s fair to chide him for things like this: dramatically pimping a home run that winds up a good 20 feet (plus a whole lot of height) shy of actually being a home run.)
  • In a not entirely unrelated report, Ben Badler lays out the world of scouting and signings in the Dominican Republic, which requires (“requires”) teams to be in on players when they’re just 14 or so years old.
  • Badler points out that although international signing pools are technically up this year, the overall spending limit will actually be down, because teams used to get exemptions for up to six signings of $50,000 or less each (so their pool was actually about $300,000 higher than it looked). Those exemptions are now gone; in their place, teams get an unlimited number of exemptions for signings worth $10,000 or less (used to be $7500)).
  • The Rays are intent on exploring options outside of their current location, which is situated in such a way geographically that it makes it incredibly hard for them to draw a level of fans commensurate with their success.
  • The Cubs aren’t the only organization with top prospects currently on the DL. There are actually a ton of them right now.
  • Speaking of which, using Pirates pitching prospect Jameson Taillon as the exemplar, Tom Verducci digs into one of the biggest problems informing the rash of arm injuries around baseball: the way players are used when they are just teenagers in high school. One possible conclusion? Pitchers are throwing too hard (emphasis on velocity), too young (players are scouted younger and younger), too often (pitchers are throwing almost year-round). Want an early scouting edge? Find the kids who are being properly rested, and who have been for the majority of their amateur career (even if they aren’t approaching 100mph in velocity).
  • FanGraphs takes a look at issues with young Cardinals starter Shelby Miller, and suspects he might be “broken.”
  • Beyond the Box Score looks back at top 100 prospect rankings over the past decade to see who’s been the best. The lesson? Well, it’s not really anybody, because it’s damn hard to do. Rankings services have gotten slightly better in recent years, likely reflecting both their own improvements in scouting, as well as the general improvements in analysis and projection.
  • Cespedes Family BBQ on reliever Chris Resop’s … idiosyncratic post-contact behavior. You don’t have to hit it right at him to generate a cup check.
  • Soda Popinski

    I wonder how common this is for other Cuban players defecting so they can get to the bigs. Risky business, man. And really scary for him and those around him.

  • PejaO42

    I died looking at those Chris Resop pic. That cup must move around a lot!

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

    I’d also like to see what time of the year most of these injuries occur. Could just be a bias towards this year’s data but it seems like a lot of pitchers get TJ in April/May.

  • Jon

    The Dominican maturer landscape is so dirty. Full of greed and exploitation of young athletes. The NCAAA is jealous.

    • ssckelley

      But as long as baseball teams are paying them then I see no problems with it. Some of those baseball players come from families without a lot of money, baseball is one of the best things to have happened to that country.

    • TSB

      Sorry to break it to you, but it’s not like a kid in the DR can finish high school and then go to college for four years. A kid not scouted is probably going to wind up chopping sugar cane for the rest of his life.

      • Patrick W.

        The DR has about the worldwide average enrollment in post secondary school education. They don’t graduate many, but they do enroll about 30% of college aged kids.

  • JulioZuleta

    The Resop this is absolutely phenomenal. Should not have looked at that in class.

    Also, had no idea how much Starlin has crushed him so much. Castro has hit 7.7% of his career HRs off against Resop in only 0.29% of his career PAs.

  • Diego Javier

    Holy crap. How did Soler defect?

  • JulioZuleta

    The Puig stuff is awful, awful stuff. However, I don’t understand why some writers seem to think it explains/justifies his attitude/discipline problems. I cannot imagine how I would respond to going through something like that, but I have to think that I would do everything in my power to avoid creating a spectacle/ruffling feathers.

    • Jon

      The driving stuff, unacceptable. Good to hear he has a driver now/etc.

      But the show boating, cockiness, etc..I don’t know….is it really horrible? I think villains can be fun sometimes in sports.

      • JulioZuleta

        I don’t mind a little cockiness here and there. However, he has only played in 116 career games. There have been far too many incidents for a rookie that has only been up for 2/3 of a season. Showboating, bench clearing fights, mental errors on the bases, fielding errors from being too non-chalant, throwing to the wrong base/missing the cutoff man on a (VERY) regular basis, forgetting what time he is supposed to be at the stadium, regularly faking injuries (implied by his own manager), showing up to camp 30 pounds overweight, and the driving/legal issues. Quite the laundry list to put together in less than 1 year in the spotlight. I’m sure I’m missing some, too.

        Maybe the media targets him sometimes, but he put the target on his own back. Anyways, I digress-really, really scary stuff he reportedly went through, and I definitely feel for him in that regard.

      • DarthHater

        The reason villains are fun in sports is because it’s fun to boo them, even if what they are doing is not really that horrible.

  • Darth Ivy

    Good for the Rays to explore the idea of moving. They deserve a better location

    I certainly hope (and am sure) that the ideas and information in that verducci article are being talked about in the Cubs FO.

    Obviously, the only way to fix the defection situation is if the Cuban gov’t allowed their players to.go play in the.MLB. As long as it falls into the black market, it’s gonna be F-ed up. Im sure the cuban teams and cuban gov’t wouldn’t mind a system like the one in japan (or even the old japanese system). They’d probably make.more.money that way.

  • Jon

    Supposedly Neil Ramirez was touching 99 on the gun today
    [img]http://img.pandawhale.com/67803-Wait-for-the-cream-gif-Inglori-g10j.gif[/img]

    • diamonddon

      Yes, Neil Ramirez looked great in spring training at the games I saw him pitch. Great command and a lot of heat. Edwards and him are the keys to that trade.

    • DarthHater

      You’re really quite the Hans Landa fan, aren’t you?

  • candyland07

    Scouting Children: Why MLB Has Teams Competing For 14-Year-Olds

    Mind boggling, When i read this article I just do not have a calm feeling about it. The word exploitation comes to mind. Fair or not its just how I feel. For those players that make it , i am sure its a worthwhile experience . Its a good read . Children In the USA are protected by these type of vultures in part because the system , rules, and society is different. And i also understand that for most if not nearly all of these Children ,it is an opportunity to walk away from poverty and get a decent salary or signing bonus that will help any family out. But it still leaves a bad aura .

    But it is a business and I can not say i am surprised. The competition to get and sign players that provide owners that edge . Trust me ,noone is helping these children in baseball to make life better ,and they should not, or give some silly remark that we will teach them English. Its about recognizing talent and beating the other teams for next superstar.

  • Brocktoon

    Looking for pitchers who aren’t overworked? Look north. Can’t pitch excessively if you can’t get on the field for 4 months out of the year.

    • Jon

      Tailon is from Canada

      • DarthHater

        Yea, but I’ll bet he’s from southern Canada. :-P

    • jp3

      Ha, that’s awesome! I think they still are able to throw a lot either way. My little ass high school 15 years ago had a couple triangle wooden mounds that went on the basketball floor whenever it was rainey or cold out… Don’t think these kids are doing all their work on a mound in perfect weather conditions.

      • Brocktoon

        Never said it was flawless, but the year-round ball just isn’t a thing in the NE. Throwing sessions in indoor cages isn’t the same as competing in AAU throwing 150 pitches trying to impress scouts in attendance.

        • jp3

          That’s true, I’m not sure it is a measurable thing northern kids vs southern but I’m sure someone has tried to see if there is a correlation.

  • Karl Groucho

    It’s a boring off day so let’s play alternate universe Cubs…imagining a world (ceteris paribus) where we don’t do the Rizzo/Cashner trade, and our rotation is Cashner/Smardja/Wood/Hammel/EJax. To 2014′s eyes, that’s a rather respectable rotation, and the only hole we get as a result is at the most easily filled offensive position — anyone from Napoli to Abreu would have been fine.

    At the time I thought we made a very good deal, and I’m still far too scared of Cashner’s arm, and far too high on Rizzo, to say I don’t like it now (even with complete knowledge of Abreu both defecting and being a MLB-caliber talent). But we’d be in a rather different place if we had a rotation that was both good and (relatively) young. Trading Smardja would probably be out of the question, the positional bent of our farm system would be slightly less concerning, we would feel at least marginally closer to contention for having one piece of our team firmed up.

    • Karl Groucho

      Up next on alternate universe Cubs…we don’t do the Garza trade and you can add Chris Archer to that rotation, giving us four very good starters under 29. The extra farmhands we keep make up for the fact that our team is better; so though we get lower priority draft picks, our better-established farm system goes some way to balancing things out.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I disagree with the argument that the players the Cubs would not have traded make up for the players they would not have gotten in any meaningful sense.

        The other player of note that would still be in the system would be Hak-Ju Lee, and I think the value of Hak-Ju Lee is completely swamped by the combined value of the players the Cubs got for dealing Garza to Texas.

        The major league team would be somewhat better, though. I’m not sure Archer would be as good with the Cubs given that the Cubs did not have an organization that did well at developing young talent for much of his time in the minors.

        • Karl Groucho

          Very strong point re: Archer’s development.

          And yep, Lee is definitely not as good as that haul. (fwiw, I did say they’d only go “some way” to balancing things out; if we’re getting better at the ML level in exchange, of course it’s not gonna be square in the minors!) That said, I don’t think we’re much worse off in terms of system rankings…most attention goes to the Big 4 and Alcantara; I don’t think that Olt/Ramirez/Grimm are really pushing the needle. So swap Edwards for Lee and we’re marginally worse off, but we don’t need Edwards quite as much in a world where we have a strong and young rotation.

          • Karl Groucho

            (Which isn’t to say we don’t need him even in that context; we all know how fragile pitchers are, and you can always use more talent! Just that I’d be willing to swap Edwards/Olt + change for Archer/Lee. That’s again obviously made easier by Archer having already performed at the majors.)

        • Brocktoon

          The Archer point doesn’t add up to me considering pitching is all the Hendry regime could develop, and that the Cubs “development” of him is what turned him into BA’s #27 prospect the offseason he was traded. You’ll note he’d never rank that highly again over his next 2 years of being eligible.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Yes, but look at the number of well regarded pitching prospects the Cubs had who actually had success with the Cubs. They had more luck with pitching than any other position, but a case can be made that they still struggled.

            Tampa, on the other hand, was already practically a pitching factory at the time of the trade.

            • Brocktoon

              Top of my head the worst result of a guy ranked where at or above Archer’s slot when traded was Juan Cruz, who isn’t really a fair comparison, as it would come out he was 2 years older than thought at the time.

              • Brocktoon

                Looks like I missed Guzman, who was good for the 8 seconds he was healthy.

              • Brocktoon

                Point is, this isn’t Ricky Nolasco who left the Cubs as a live-arm prospect and turned into something through the guidance of another farm system. It’s damn near the opposite.

                Archer was in A ball walking the world, and was something like #17 in the Indians system, (Can’t find the exact ranking for the Indians at the time, going off of memory – BN has the Cubs ranking from that season, but it was apparently done prior to the trade)

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

        If we are living in an alternate universe…

        Wood is wrapping up a HoF career and closing in on Nolan Ryan’s K record, Prior is signed for 7 more injury-free years, Brett Jackson is a 6-WAR CF and Hayden Simpson is in AAA with TOR potential.

        • Karl Groucho

          Healthy Prior + Wood universe = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_qNFjJn3No is real rather than a tear-jerker, don’t pull at my heartstrings like that hans.

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

            Go big or go to this reality where the Cubs aren’t very good.

        • DarthHater

          [img]https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3700/13194574644_5f44560cd4_n.jpg[/img]

    • Jon

      This wear MichiganGoat throws a tantrum, tells you to look at Cashers home/road splits, and to stop spewing your bullshit narrative

      • Karl Groucho

        Heh it’s not a bad point, and something else to consider along with Cashner’s health. (fwiw a number of trustworthy commentators seem to like Cashner this year, though that’s only worth so much.) Either way, it’s admittedly a different landscape with him on board!

        • DarthHater

          Even if one looks at Cashner’s h/r splits and decides he isn’t the cat’s pajamas, I still think you make a legitimate point that trading him for a first baseman was a questionable strategy. If you’re going to trade top assets from your farm system to try to improve the ML club going forward, wouldn’t it be better to try to fill a more difficult-to-fill position than 1B? That’s my biggest issue with the Rizzo trade. Not that it’s really a bad trade, but that it’s probably possible to get a 1B as good as Rizzo without making a trade like that and then you can trade a guy like Cashner for something else.

          • Karl Groucho

            Yeah I didn’t even really mean to go down that rabbit hole, as I do quite like Rizzo and it’s been discussed before. Just more to say how different things would look if we had a rotation that was young and (maybe, H/R split decision pending) close to established, in exchange for just a hole at 1B.

        • Jon

          2B Bonofocio
          SS Castro
          1B Jose Abrue
          LF Soriano or Byrd
          RF Shierholz
          CF Lake
          3B Olt/Valbuena
          C Castillo

          Rotation
          Shark
          Cashner
          One of Darvish/Tanaka/Ryu
          Wood
          Arrietta

          That roster there pushes to win close to 80 games…doesn’t disrupt long term plans, fits the current budget, and you have prospect reinforcements on the way

      • Karl Groucho

        Now looking into H/R splits, accounting for tendency of better performance at H and park effects. Quick survey of pitchers in bandboxes shows better H ERA regardless, though N<30 by some margin.

    • Jon

      Very interesting thought though…

    • DarthHater

      Also, you win the internet for using “ceteris paribus” on a baseball blog. :-P

      • Drew7

        +1

      • FFP

        metaX2
        And this is why I still read comment threads on BN.
        And more on seeing a good thing through an effective (noise filtering) lens: the whiners at former legitimate media outlets complained that this site merely was a 21st Century version of drive-time radio’s rip-and-read prolly should take a guess at how much traffic got sent to Katz and Eden’s interesting work from Brett’s first bullet.

        Thanks, Boys. I feel like I stayed late in the Cubs FO, after the suits went home.

  • Medicos

    Hey Groucho: Alternative Universe Cubs:

    P: Shark-Hammel-Garza-Archer
    C: Soto (ROY)
    IF: Pena-Lemahieu-Castro-ARam
    OF: Sori-DeJesus-Reed Johnson-Byrd

    Bet this team could win at least 75-games with some decent relief pitching.

    • Voice of Reason

      Medicos you are a ding dong.

      You can’t have archer and Garza in same rotation as we traded archer for Garza.

      • DarthHater

        That’s why it’s an alternative universe. You need some better stuff to smoke, man.

      • Jon

        Maybe it’s assuming the garza trade is never made but they sign him as a FA this offseason. I’m pretty sue Carlos Pena is 80 now though

  • bonger0493

    Let’s go blackhawks!!

  • NorthSideIrish

    Frankie Piliere ‏@FPilierePG 6m
    Heard Jeff Hoffman was electric in front of some heavy hitting talent evaluators today. 16 Ks, 1 BB in 8 innings. 3 hits allowed

    That’s the stuff he was showing last summer in the Cape Cod league…

  • njmass

    Great stuff on Shelby Miller. I hope the trend continues. In fact, I hope the same thing happens to Wacha, Wainwright, Kelly, Martinez, and Rosenthal. And any future stud the Cardinals continue to produce. On a personal note, my 4 year old son told his mother today, ” Mom, we hate the cardinals, the cardinals suck!” Very proud day for me.

  • Jason P

    So that beyond the box score study basically showed John Sickels is really, really good at what he does. And in recent years, Keith Law has been pretty bad.

  • Jon

    So after last nights bullpen mgmt gem, Robin Ventura doubled down and let Sale throw 127 pitches tonight

  • Darth Ivy

    Completely random question of the day-

    What are your thoughts about there being home plate ump helmet cams?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      For what purpose?

      • Darth Ivy

        Pitches, hits. I don’t know how they’d choose to use it, or how often, but it would be amazing. I talked with someone in the industry tonight and he was all over it, called it a no brainer

        • Darth Ivy

          also, either live or strictly replay is another variable. But imagine using that view to show a replay of a homer. Or any hit. Then every once and a while, maybe once per at bat, use it live for a pitch? And replays of pitches. There are lots of different ways that they could use it.

          • FFP

            There is a tendency for viewers to confuse helmet-cam with point-of-view. What a person actually ‘sees’ is not what a particular lens sends to the truck.
            We have a fundamental subjectivity/objectivity problem here (as well as several marketing questions).

            First, the official’s call has to be official in the end; after our booing (pathos (and ethos, for we are the Greek chorus in this play)), after the storied manager’s barking and dirt kicking (ethos), and after the replay (logos). The Call, and from it the final scores, have to count AND matter. (This is one reason why I am doubtful about an auto-strike zone (like tennis’))

            “For what purpose?” Yah. Be random all you like, Darth Ivy, but is this for marketing? Broadcasts in-game? Docu-dramas? Replays? Who has access?

            For me, I worry less with this box closed be it Shrodinger’s or Pandora’s.

            • Darth Ivy

              When I wrote “replay” I didn’t mean replay challenges. But literal replays. You know, like when a play happens and they show it again from different angles.

              And im aware of the point of view thing. Helmet cams have been around, its not some new abstract idea.

              And im being general because its just an idea. I haven’t written up specific proposals or anything. My idea is for in game access. Everyone I’ve talked to in real life has loves the idea. I haven’t meet a.single.person who didn’t.

              Leave that up to the internet, I guess

            • Darth Ivy

              And as far as center field camera point of view goes, well, duh. This isn’t my first season watching baseball.

  • Medicos

    HAWKEY TALK

    BLUES—4 BLACKHAWKS—-3 Triple Overtime goal by Al Steen

    Defenseman Nik Hjalmarsson became a father last nite. Named him Theo. Hopefully sometime in Theo Hjalmarsson’s life the WS flag will fly at Clark&Addison.

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