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mike olt!Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate the holiday, in whatever fashion. We decorated plastic Easter Eggs last night, and picked up last-second Easter baskets for the kiddos like dutiful, busy parents. And now we go about the process of figuring out how to steal some of their candy …

  • After yesterday’s 1-4 with a homer outing, Mike Olt has some really weird numbers this year: he’s slugging .515, but hitting just .212. If he qualified, that .303 ISO would be 7th in baseball. Olt has just seven hits, and three of ‘em are homers (one double). He also has a .200 BABIP. And a 28.6% strikeout rate. And a 2.9% walk rate. And just 35 plate appearances. I don’t think you can make heads or tails of any of that. It’s just weird, and a very small sample. Oh, and, for what it’s worth, all three homers have come off of lefties, and he’s striking out less than half as often against lefties.
  • You may have noticed that Anthony Rizzo departed yesterday’s game in the 8th inning. He was dealing some back soreness, and, with the four-run lead, the Cubs thought it wise to let him sit the rest of the way (Cubs.com). He expects to play today, but, if he takes the day off, no one could blame him – back issues can linger, and get progressively worse if they aren’t nipped in the bud.
  • Whatever that nosebleed situation was, Albert Almora got it cleared up with a minor nose procedure (Daytona News-Journal).
  • Jake Arrieta is expected to make his final rehab start tomorrow at Daytona, and he discusses what he’s looking to accomplish (ESPN Chicago).
  • Hey, that’s neat: Little Cubs Field.
  • The Cubs will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day at Wrigley tomorrow, and there will be a photo gallery.
  • Jeff Sullivan digs into whether “aces” are getting more favorable strike zones than anyone else, and he doesn’t find the data to support that old saw. Add that to the growing evidence that, when it comes to umpires calling inconsistent strike zones (i.e., calling balls strikes, and strikes balls), what matters is the catcher’s ability to frame pitches.

 

  • ssckelley

    Perfect timing on posting that bullet about Little Wrigley. On our drive home from Chicago on hwy 20 we seen an advertisement on the side of a barn, my kids all seen it and asked me about it. Now I can show them this article.

    Last day to be able to multiply the numbers x10, Olt is on pace to hit 30 homers!

  • Spoda17

    I went golfing Friday for the first time this year. I haven’t played since October. Imma 14 handicap, so I have a decent game but nothing spectacular. All day I was crushing it of the tee, I even hit a drive about 310 (very lucky bounce offa hill and it rolled about 20 yards). I golfed with some guys from NJ that I didn’t know. I am 5’5″, so they were amazed by the distance I was able to get off of the tee… Other than my drives, I was absolutely embarrassing… I could not get a feel for anything, chips, puts, almost all of my iron shots were miss-hit by some degree. I know my game will come back, but I just need to play and get a rhythm back…

    MIKE OLT!!! needs to play everyday so he can get into a rhythm and feel comfortable at the plate…

    • ssckelley

      It would not surprise me to see Olt at first base today. He will get more at bats against righties but so far he has been horrible.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      Because timing to hit a ball that is at rest is exactly the same thing as hitting a ball that is traveling at speeds greater than 80 mph and happens to be changing directions.

      Yeah, I agree all he needs is to start every game and he’ll start mashing pitchers of both ‘hands’, striking out hardly at all, and walking twice a game. (written in my best sarcasm font)

      • Spoda17

        Yeah, that was exactly my point. The difference between hitting a golf ball and a baseball…

    • BenRoethig

      This early in the season I’m not worried about playing time. I’d rather put him in situations where he’s more likely to succeed while getting some early ABs out of the reserves. You should see his playing time increase into the summer.

  • blublud

    I think if an umpire is a good one, what should matter in calling balls and strikes should be, you know, where the ball crosses the plate.

    • ssckelley

      I agree, but the stat geeks have a new shiny with these pitch framing numbers so they are going to shove it down our throats.

      • jp3

        I do agree in that this is the new shiny toy for them. I don’t buy it’s all that important though, like blublud said if it’s a good ump they call it generally where it crosses the plate. I’m not sure that pitch framing is more important than the catcher’s ability to schmooz the home plate ump for a corner here or there.

        • half_full_beer_mug

          Do you honestly think that umpires that are above 40 years old can actually see a baseball traveling at 90+ mph the instant that said sphere crosses the front portion of an object that may or may not be in their field of view? I’ll concede that they are probably able to discern fairly accurately at least one plane needed to call balls and strikes from their eyes alone. The other plane I’m fairly sure are heavily influenced by other factors like where the catcher catches the ball, how the batter reacts, movement or lack thereof by the catcher (body and glove).

          • gnjaxon

            Most umpires will line up on the inside part of the plate and at the top of the strike zone on most hitters. Umpires usually do a good job with the inside part of the plate and have issues with the balls away.

            My thoughts are only based on observation.

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

        You know what’s funny. The stat geeks now have numbers that prove an old adage and folks lambasted them for something.

        Not sure what though.

        • ssckelley

          Well earlier this year someone on here told us that Castillo had cost the team 3 runs so far this year, at the time it was a big percentage of the total runs. But no one can tell me which runs we can blame on Castillo and you can’t because the numbers are subjective. Catchers being able to fool umpires into making balls look like strikes should never happen and, IMO, would lead to an inconsistent strikezone.

          Again if pitch framing really does effect the game as much as the numbers say they do then automate the balls and strikes calls.

          • half_full_beer_mug

            Can’t get here soon enough as far as I’m concerned, and I’m not a huge saber guy.

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

            I agree.

          • Nate

            But catchers making strikes not look like balls should always happen. I agree that balls and strikes should be automated.

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

      Well then the data is telling us that MLB doesn’t have good umps.

      Oh…and it’s impossible for an ump to be right all of the time.

      • OCCubFan

        Are the pitch-tracking systems sufficiently accurate to call balls and strikes?

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

          I think I’ve seen within an inch

          • OCCubFan

            If so, then it is time to let the machines call balls and strikes and let the umpires concentrate on foul tips and whether the batter swung, etc.

            • ssckelley

              I agree, the home plate umpire will not go away. They still need to judge if it hit the batter, the bat, foul balls, plays at the plate, ect ect. A ball or a strike should be the same regardless who the umpire is and who is catching.

  • Ivy Walls

    Olt reminds me of a cousin of Uggla, but he also better start picking the ball at 3B and not just heaving a prayer over to 1B when either he misplayed with runners on the bases or flying like a safety in football.

  • Kyle

    Olt’s numbers look pretty understandable to me.

    He can’t hit righties at all.

    He can kind of hit lefties.

    When he does hit, he’s got some good power, but he’s also been a tiny bit lucky in having three of his 350-foot fly balls be hit to the perfect spot to get out of the park (rather than being 10 degrees to the left and foul, or 10 degrees to the right and being in play).

    So all in all, he looks suited to being used exactly the way the Cubs have been using him: as the lefty-mashing portion of a 3b platoon. Way to go, Cubs management!

    • ssckelley

      Yep, 18 plate appearances tell us everything we need to know.

      • cubbiehawkeye

        Normally I would say you’re right about the plate appearances but like I said below…prospects are breathing down each others necks in every level. He doesn’t have much time to show at least one good element to his game other than the power which hasn’t been all that impressive either. IMO

        • baldtaxguy

          I’m not sure why he doesn’t have the season to prove himself.

          • cubbiehawkeye

            Four names….Javier Baez, Christian Villanueva, Kris Bryant, and Jemeir Canderlero. They aren’t all pushing Olt obviously Candelero is far from majors but they are pushing each other. They can’t all stay at the same level all year. Something has to give. Baez seems destined for second but I threw him in there because if hes mashing and Bonafacio continues to hit you need to put that bat somewhere.

            • baldtaxguy

              Not impossible, but I don’t see any of those names on the ML lineup card at 3B this year prior to Sept.

              • cubbiehawkeye

                If it’s past June and one or both of Baez and Villanueva are making triple A look silly I would start scratching my head at this FO and I’m one of those all aboard the “Theo plan” guys. If you’re one or two years from contention I would think you would want to get these guys rolling in the majors before said contention.

                • ssckelley

                  It is possible for Baez but minus injuries I think CV stays at AAA the entire season unless either he or Olt gets traded. They need to find out what they have in Olt and they have this season to find out.

            • BenRoethig

              More than likely, Christian Villanueva will end up as a utility man rather than a starter and the consensus is that Bryant will outgrow 3B and wind up in the corner outfield. The question is where Baez plays.

              • cubbiehawkeye

                I haven’t heard any bad news on Bryant’s defense at third.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                  Bryant does well at third, but given all the other options the Cubs have at third base, and given the potential for back problems when a six foot five guy is bending over to pick up grounders a lot, I think he’ll wind up in right.

              • ssckelley

                I believe that is his floor but at 23 years old it is far to early to say he cannot be a MLB starter at third. If CV can come anywhere close to his career .787 OBP in the majors then his glove will justify that he is a full time player.

    • cubbiehawkeye

      I agree with this but I would also add that I think he needs another element of his game to show up this season to be platoon worthy. It’s too early to put total judgement on any one area but his defense doesn’t impress me and he doesn’t walk. Again, it’s early, but I think he needs more than just being able to mash lefties to be a platoon player with the cubbies….rich 3B system leaves little time for him to show us what he has. I live in Des Moines so I get to see the Iowa Cubs a good deal and I see some major league in Villanueva….I think his bat will carry enough to be a decent platoon player in the majors, if not more. Once he adjusts I don’t see Olt having much time to prove himself.

    • baldtaxguy

      I’d like to see more AB’s before I draw any conclusions.

    • Spoda17

      Olt has 18 plate appearances against right handed pitching, and four of those were against Tanaka. Are you really making a decision of his ability to hit righties on 18 plate appearances..?

      • ssckelley

        I think Blackhawks hacked into Kyles account. :D

    • waittilthisyear

      so now we are criticizing home runs for not going far enough? thats productive

    • another JP

      How do you know Olt can’t hit RH pitching… he only has a total of 75 major league ABs? The knock on Rizzo entering this year was he couldn’t hit lefties and now he’s crushing them. When a guy like Olt has a .200 BABIP and a wOBA of .337 you need his power in the lineup. For being the smartest person in the room you certainly don’t know shit about baseball, pal.

    • OCCubFan

      In the minors, Olt had essentially the same OPS vs righties and lefties in 2012. In 2010, 2011 and 2013, however, he had substantially worse results against righties.

  • http://becomehealthier.com drcub1908

    “back issues can linger, and get progressively worse if they aren’t nipped in the bud.”

    just a FYI for all the people that are very active…your body will use minerals.

    great way to help with that..

    1. magnesium 500mg / day
    2. chiropractic care ( for mechanical issues )

    GO CUBS!

    let’s win a series!

  • http://BN Sacko

    3 of his 7 hits are HR? Why wouldn’t anyone want to see him more? Cause Valbuena walks more? And he is getting most of the looks. Switch that for awhile and see what happens.

    • cubbiehawkeye

      I think a lot of us want to see more of Olt but you can’t deny what Valbuena brings to this team right now. He plays solid Defense and he gets on base/ makes the pitcher throw pitches…that’s value. I could watch Olt hit a bomb every now and again while striking out a ton and playing so so defense or you can stick Valbuena in and have him work a pitcher regardless of getting on base or not and play good defense. I pick Valbuena right now. That all said I would like to see valbuena at second most of the time and Olt at third

      • baldtaxguy

        Yes, I’d also like Olt at 3B (provided he can throw) and Valbuena at 2B and screw the platooning of the infield.

      • Voice of Reason

        What valbuena brings to the team? The cubs are 5 and 11 and are horrible. Valbuena brings nothing to this team that we can’t live without. Olt should be playing everyday, period. We need to know if he is the future third baseman. If its not him then move on to the next third base prospect. There is no time to waste. Get valbuena out of there.

  • Fastball

    I think Olt would show much quicker improvement if he was starting everyday. He needs to be installed atm3b and left there to grow. Face it this team is not good and the use of these platoons doesn’t make the Cubs anymore competitive. Olt was one of the top prospects in baseball and has about 30 MLB games under his belt. That sample size proves nothing with 14 of those games coming 2 years ago. There is no future in Valbuena at 3b so be done with it. There is no way this team as currently constructed can or will compete and win more than 66 games. I can only hope Baez and Alcantera are brought up soon. It won’t be long before Bonifacio reverts to his normal self. We might as well bring up Vitters as well. At the allstar break bring up Bryant. I do not care about controllable years anymore. If these guys are good they are going to get long term deals like Castro and Rizzo so it doesn’t make any difference. 1/2 of these guys if we are extremely lucky will be everyday starters. I have never believed in the you have to play X number of games in the minors before your ready for the show. Trade or release the garbage pile pickups and be done with it. They typically are not any good for the roles the Cubs cast them in. You cannot make a once a week player a starter or a platoon player. Wherever they come from was a better team than the Cubs so if they were scuttled elsewhere it’s a prayer that they can have a glimmer of brilliance for a very short period of time. Also something I have grown tired of is the ex Redsox players get a second life in Chicago. When do you cut the cord from Boston Theo? too bad the $4MM closer and the lousy lefty are already busts. We are stuck with them for now. How much longer will it be before our ML team can beat our AA team in a 5 game series?

    • cubbiehawkeye

      At this point in the rebuild I don’t believe Theo would keep a Major league ready player in the minors because of service time. We are a year or two away from contention with a rich farm system at all levels. If trust that if they believe someone is ready they will get them up to get AB’s so they can adjust before being contenders.

  • http://BN Sacko

    We need runs!…play him for awhile and then you think about Valbuena working the pitcher when he’s at 2nd.

    • Voice of Reason

      We need runs?

      No, we need to know who is going to be part of this team when we are ready to contend. Who cares about wins and losses this year.

      I can’t wait for Baez and Bryant to get up to the bigs. My money is on Bryant getting to Wrigley Field first.

      • E

        Exactly. We don’t need to know if an Olt/Valbuena platoon will work. We need to know if Olt is a major league 3rd baseman. Same goes for Lake/Sweeney. We still don’t know for sure what we have in Lake.

  • willis

    I see RR is trying the ol’ “Sweeney in the two hole” trick today. I’d much rather see Lake in LF than Sweeney. Even against a righty. Sweeney was awful in the spring and has been as bad during the season thus far.

    • 70’s Cub

      Agree play Lake, Sweeney is the 25th and Barney 24th man on this club!

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  • Dustin S

    Valbuena only hit .233 with RISP last year, and is below that this year, so there is plenty of sample size. I’d also like to see more singles and doubles for Olt instead of him just swinging for the fences every AB. But I think they will need to see what Olt does with some regular playing time at some point this year. The Cubs know that one of the biggest questions for 2014 is figuring out what they have in Olt, since whether he’s their long-term 3B or not has a big trickle-down effect on Bryant (and others). Ideally, Olt tears it up and they could start working out Bryant in the minors in RF.

  • E

    It should be noted that Jeff Sullivan’s article didn’t actually dig into whether or not pitch framing is a real thing and whether or not it plays into a strike or ball being called. He just said it does, which is pretty much what those who believe it to be a real thing do. I imagine he will get linked to by blogs that agree with him.

    As far as Olt is concerned, I’d vote for giving him a garunteed 50 starts in a row. This isn’t a playoff-bound team. Give him 50 starts to see what he can do and be done with it. It’s ridiculous to platoon a rookie when you don’t even know what you have yet.

    • E

      *guaranteed

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That need not be noted, since I didn’t say otherwise.

      • E

        No one said you did. I felt the need to note it.

  • E

    *guaranteed

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