luis valbuena cubsIt’s late April, so it totally makes sense that All-Star balloting is open. It was already a bit silly that a player’s season’s-worth of achievement can be decided before half of the season has actually been played, so why not just go the full nine and start picking All-Stars when 80% of the season hasn’t been played? Hell, let’s just start voting on the 2018 All-Star team right now. Javy Baez and Kris Bryant, FTW!

You can check out the ballot here, and cast your votes for Cubs players. It’s very early, but I think Anthony Rizzo is pretty deserving, as is Emilio Bonifacio (who is not on the ballot – you’d have to write him in). I urge votes, however, for Luis Valbuena – who wouldn’t want to see an All-Star-caliber bat flip? Put him in the Home Run Derby and we might just all die from excessive bat flip enjoyment.

(In all seriousness, Valbuena has been great defensively, his .383 OBP would be top 15 in the NL if he qualified, and his 4.6 pitches per plate appearance would be tops in the National League. All-Star? Probably not. But he’s been a valuable piece, overall.)

The stats shown for players on the balloting page include at bats, batting average, home runs, and RBI, which is really a great representation of how well a player has played.

In 1965.

Alas, I’m shouting down a cavernous maw on that one, so I’ll just suggest that, in the future, there may be better ways to evaluate players. Then again, are there really all that many good ways in April?

All that said, the All-Star Game has always been, by definition, a popularity contest, so I don’t really care that there’s voting in April or that the stats on which some meatballs will base their votes are comically limited. The Cubs aren’t very popular right now, and they don’t have many (any?) superstars on the offensive side, so they won’t garner many votes. That’s just the way it is.

If you want to jump into the fray, though, by all means, click yourself silly for the Cubs. Ultimately, the Cubs will get at least one representative, but it’ll probably come from the pitching side and/or the manager’s selections. Travis Wood, Jeff Samardzija, and possibly also Jason Hammel have all pitched at All-Star levels so far this year.

(Fans can vote up to 25 times, or 35 times if they register for an account. I’m all for promotional exercises, but you’re reading that correctly: the identity of this year’s All-Stars are being decided, in part, based on trying to get new users registered.)

  • ssckelley

    I think we should all stuff the ballot box with votes for Darwin Barney.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Surprised not much comment about the sun times story about the Ricketts financial problems. Brett has done a lot of research on the subject, and seems to paint a much rosier picture.
    If the Ricketts truly have creditors advising them that their best course is to sell all or part of the team, to alleviate financial problems, that is significant. And explains the discount team on the field.
    Also the suggestion that the renovation delay had nothing to do with rooftops, simply financing.

    • Luke

      What Sun Times story? I just scanned the sports section on their website, and the only Cubs financial piece I saw was Selig confirming, again, that the Cubs are not in violation of the league financial policies.

      • KHRSS

        “A big difference is that the Cubs’ revelations coincide with a direct, apparent need for cash after promises of big spending. According to one source, at least one major Cubs creditor in the last year suggested the family sell all or part of the team.”

        Selig won’t throw any owner under the bus.

        Obviously we don’t know the “source” but I would not be surprised if it’s true and would explain why the plan is basically to hope all prospects pan out and not spend in FA.

        • Luke

          That’s from Wednesday and has already been discussed around here.

          I thought he was referring to something new.

        • mjhurdle

          most people might hesitate to throw support behind anonymous sources quoting unnamed creditors suggest a very vague premise.

          I have no clue whether Ricketts is in desperate need of money or not. But that statement could mean almost anything. It is the perfect ‘anonymous’ statement that can be released, easily denied or made to fit facts, and every person that reads it will put their own pre-existing interpretations on it.

          • KHRSS

            But there is evidence (on the field especially!) of lack of money and comments from Theo suggesting that the money they thought they might have for FA is just not there.

            • hansman

              Based on MLBs debt restrictions.

              But hey…keep pounding the round peg into the square hole that is the ricketts are broke narrative.

              It is interesting now that it has been proven that the Cubs aren’t being cheap to be cheap that the narrative has shifted to the ricketts are broke.

            • mjhurdle

              on the field there is evidence that money was not spent. There is absolutely no evidence of why the money wasn’t spent.
              What we know is that the Cubs didn’t spend money last year. What you are creating is your version of why they didn’t.

              • MichiganGoat

                Well if you can’t create a false narrative and twist truth into that narrative and create a myth to believe in then what do we have?
                Oh yeah truth, facts, and intelligent debate.

                • Kyle


                  Wait, we weren’t talking about why people believe the rebuild is a good thing? Nevermind.

          • hansman

            That and wittenmeyer proved on the financial piece that he stops digging pretty quickly when he finds anything that can be shoehorned into his narrative.

            • cubfanincardinalland

              Why have they not started renovating the ball park? And what is going to make the debt restrictions any different, attendance will probably be down another 200k this season? Best thing that could happen for a cub fan is they sell this team to someone who cam run it like a normal big market franchise.

              • MichiganGoat

                What is your point? All this has been answered.

              • Luke
                • Pat

                  While I think this was an excellent piece by Brett, it’s not really a discussion ender. It’s a really in depth, very well researched opinion piece using some very plausible back of the napkin math. While the conclusions are plausible, they are not the only possible conclusions.

                  And the renovations delay is a question that is still very much up in the air. For well over a year we heard that the only thing delaying the renovation was the threat of a lawsuit by the rooftops. But there are things that don’t add up.

                  The rooftops don’t want the outfield signs.
                  The Cubs response is saying that if you don’t promise not to sue us (if you do nothing), we aren’t going to renovate and block your view.
                  This is either the worst negotiating strategy in history, or a pretty basic trade off (rooftops take the blame, Cubs don’t have to start renovations.

                  Second point is that thus far, the team has lined up one major sponsorship partner. If they were counting on that money, it’s not there.

                  Now they are looking for investors to help fund the renovation that was originally going to be paid for “out of their own pockets”, later amended to “using sponsorship money”, later amended to maybe some rich people will give us money for a worthless, non voting, share of the team.

                  I really don’t think the possibility that the renovation delays are money related, rather than rooftop related, to be much of a stretch at all. Not saying for certain it’s the case, but there are certainly indications in that direction.

                  • hansman

                    1. It wasn’t back of the napkin math. Brett was using actual figures offered by someone in the know.

                    2. The Ricketts are saying we have worked with you to reduce your impact and have jumped through all of the hoops. If you don’t sue we will start the renovations and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the neighborhood.

                    3. The Ricketts stance has ALWAYS been that the team will not be paying for the renovations. Now it could be that Selig doesn’t want them taking on more debt (it was always supposed that there would be debt taken on) or that they can’t get around including that in the EBITDA restrictions. Or it may have been that they were always planning on selling shares.

                    4. The non voting shares doesn’t really mean much here. I have a hard time believing they’d sell more than 49.999999% of the Cubs which makes any share sale the equivalent of non voting. Probably what most investors would back at is that the Cubs won’t be offering dividends for a long time. The investors would still see a “gain” but only once they sell the shares.

                    • Pat

                      1. Look at the section entitled “Hypothetical Financial Breakdown”. This section is almost entirely back of the napkin math and is used to support contentions that appear before and after this section in the article. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, as neither Brett nor anyone else would be willing to share the exact numbers has access to them. And I think it’s probably reasonably close. But it most certainly is back of the napkin math.

                      2. Pumping hundreds of millions to contractors who are likely neither direct relations or friends of the rooftop owners is not even close to compensation for having their businesses effected. They have not given the rooftops a single reason to agree not to sue, and very good one to decline to do so (status quo)

                      3. The Ricketts have encouraged he thought that they were going to spend “their own money”, then the story became it would be funded by sponsorships (money paid to the team for advertising rights), now it’s investors. When you keep changing the purported source of you funding, it’s usually because the first option(s) fell through.

                      4. Non-voting shares makes a huge difference. You have to create a second class of stock for that. Usually, the lower class of stock (because it does not have voting rights attached) is also less secured, with less protection from bankruptcy, etc. Let’s assume that somehow that is not the case here (although I doubt it). The very fact that it has no voting rights makes it a second tier security. Wealthy people do not buy second class securities unless there is some extraordinary return.

                    • Funn Dave

                      “If you don’t sue we will start the renovations and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the neighborhood.”

                      Um. What?

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Hurumph to your facts

                    • MichiganGoat

                      The “out of pocket” was never to be taken literal, it was the opposite of public funding through taxes. How they raise that money (like any other business) is not from a cash gift but raised and financed privately. Wrigley is not a charity not for profit, of course they are raising all kinds of ways. Assuming it was literally “out of pocket” is ridiculous unless you need to add fuel to a narrative.

                    • Brocktoon

                      Goat, do you anything but +1 in the most obnoxious way possible?

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Just trying to give you something to complain about Brocktoon my sweet, I also don’t want you not to have anything to complain about. I think my job is complete.

                    • Pat

                      “The “out of pocket” was never to be taken literal, it was the opposite of public funding through taxes”

                      Except that many, many people here did take it literally and used it as the basis of the argument that the Ricketts would be investing more of their personal money into the team. However, in the early stages the Ricketts did nothing to discourage the idea that they were actually putting money in. Regardless, the switch from financing through sponsorship to minority shares being sold is indicative of potential problems, especially in light of the fact they have only announced one major sponsorship partner to date.

                      The does not mean that there are necessarily major problems. But to discount the “apparent need for cash” as nothing but narrative on the part of the Sun Times writer is an overreaction in the other direction.

                  • mjhurdle

                    “The rooftops don’t want the outfield signs.
                    The Cubs response is saying that if you don’t promise not to sue us (if you do nothing), we aren’t going to renovate and block your view.
                    This is either the worst negotiating strategy in history, or a pretty basic trade off (rooftops take the blame, Cubs don’t have to start renovations.”

                    Or maybe…..just maybe……you don’t know jack about the conversations between the Cubs and rooftops, how often they occur, on what levels, and what the issues they are discussing actually are?

                    nah, way more fun to actually pretend like we have all the facts, that way we can create such awesome sounding scenarios and pretend like their are likely to be occurring.

                    carry on, sorry for the interruption.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      +1 but in the most obnoxious way possible 😉

                    • cubfanincardinalland

                      Both sides have very clearly made their stance on the situation in numerous public statements. Don’t need a rocket science degree to know its about signage and unobstructed views.
                      The real issue is, the cubs could still renovate the stadium without putting up a jumbotron.

                    • Pat

                      “way more fun to actually pretend like we have all the facts”

                      I never claimed to have “all the facts”. All we have a public statements. And those public statements boil down to “if you don’t do what we want, we won’t do the thing you don’t wan’t us to do”.

                      It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there is more to the story than what is being released. In fact most of the point is that you can’t treat public statements as fact because you’re not getting all of the story.

                      That or the Cubs have the dumbest negotiating team in history.

                    • mjhurdle

                      i agree that everyone knows that the issue is about the views.
                      My point is simply that you don’t know what is happening between the sides.
                      Could the Cubs be hiding behind the rooftops to not renovate? sure.
                      Could it be that the Cubs think they would win a legal confrontation, but know that it would take 2 years and cost a lot of money. So they are trying to find a number to pay-off the rooftops so they can start and not get sued? sure
                      Could it be that the rooftops, who know that they are dead in 10 years, are trying to use their leverage know to extend the deal for some of the rooftops at the expense of others? sure

                      There is so much we don’t know that acting like something is an either-or proposition is simply choosing what you want the case to be to support your argument.

                    • Pat


                    • Pat

                      I do think the rooftops would probably prefer a buyout to an extension. It’s really sort of a “bucket list” thing for fans who grew up watching WGN in the 80’s, but I don’t think they get a lot of return unique visitors. And corporate culture is shifting again and paying for those sort of outings is something less and less companies can do.

          • woody

            I am not a rocket scientist, but I did stay at a Holliday Inn Express once, We don’t know shit. Obviously they have hit a point where the plan whatever it was is at a standstill. Just last winter there was talk that they would move on the Budwieser sign and throw the ball into the rooftops hands. That hasn’t happened. During spring training they were hopeful an agreement could be reached before the season started. Weeks turn into months and months into years. How about last winter when the part of the contract was leaked and there was supposedly an out in the clause with the enlargement of the stadium. All the tough talk about that holding up in a court of law. I’m of the opinion that the rooftops have a legal and binding contract and they have every intention of having the terms of said contract fulfilled, Period. I don’t save everything that ownership puts out there for fans and media, but I know that the story has changed. First I was under the impression that ownership was going to pay for the renovations and then that revenue from the signage would be available to sign better players. Now it seems that revenue from the signage is supposed to be used to pay for the renovations. But wait there may not actually be any signage so lets sell minority shares to pay for the renovations instead. So have at it and blow holes in anything I’ve said. But one thing is certain and undeniable and that is that revenues are dwindling and no significant part of the business plan has been put into effect. This has nothing to do with Theo or Jed, they are simply given X amount of dollars to run baseball operations and do the best they can with that. Remember when Theo said that originally he had hoped to take a dual approach, but that was abandoned and all emphasis was on the farm system. I remember Ricketts saying when he bought the team that all revenues were going to be put back into the team. But evidently there isn’t any revenue? So Ricketts is now in year five of a ten year deal with Zell and as I understand it the debt restrictions remain in place untill 2019. So does that mean that this is the status quo for the next five years? Sell any player that is getting close to free agency or has a contract of five million dollars or more and fill the holes with prospects? This is in no way a personal attack on the person or integrity of anyone. Obviously their perception of how things were going to transpire didn’t pan out. They may yet, I have to wonder if 2014 doesn’t end and we are exactly in the same place we were at the end of 2013 as far as the renovation plan goes.

            • DarthHater

              ” During spring training they were hopeful an agreement could be reached before the season started. Weeks turn into months and months into years.”

              I know it feels like it has been years since spring training, but it really hasn’t been. 😉

    • AP

      Having worked in banking for a few years before moving into another industry, I would like to point out that banks generally avoid interjecting themselves into the management decisions of their borrowers as that would open them up to considerable liability from many different avenues – thus if a credit officer is advising the Rickett’s family on how to manage their company he or she has probably stepped over the line and should probably be told by his or her supervisor to shut his or her mouth before the bank gets sued. Just sayin’.

      • hansman

        Eh…banks do it all the time with farmers.

        • AP

          And they can get in trouble for it. I would suspect that the farmers don’t know that they can or choose not to sue the bank if the bank advises them on a course of action that causes harm to their business. I’ve written bank policy for several banks and am very familiar with Federal and State banking regulations – just because people do it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            You didn’t work for the Iron Bank of Braavos, then?

  • Dave

    I decided to try and be objective and look at WAR and was surprised that Pujols led AL first basemen in WAR on Fangraphs. I only voted a couple of times (leaving me ample opportunity to vote again later), the only non-WAR leader I voted for was Jonathan Lucroy because he’s second among NL catchers and I can’t bring myself to vote for Yadier Molina because he’s a jerk with a stupid neck tattoo.

    • ssckelley

      It is tough to argue against that Molina is the best catcher in the National League right now.

      Now I have to go scrub myself for saying that.

  • javier B

    Does eny one know if so% is % of ab’s or pa’s?

    • Luke

      Nearly everyone calculates it off PA.

      • javier B

        Thanks luke. Was hoping it was ab’s so it would make kris Bryants k% look good but thats just me being greedy, can’t complain with the crazy #’s he’s putting up so far…

        • Drew7

          Increasing the denominator (PA’s > AB’s) without changing the numerator *will* make the % lower.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Not for Jeff Franceour…. :-)

          • javier B

            Very true… I ment if it was % of ab a 30k% would seem beter if a player had 100 ab’s AND 20 bb’s compared to a player that had 100 ab’s with no bb’s. My mistake for not being clear in my last comment

  • renegade4196

    I voted for Castillo, Rizzo, and Castro as far as Cubs go. And I wrote in Mike Olt. My 2B was Utley, and I had CarGo, Harper, and McCutchen in the OF

  • Spoda17

    I think Valbuena is a serviceable bench guy… but I just don’t understand why he keeps being portrayed as this great player here… he is batting .213 and slugging .277… I don’t care if he sees 10 pitches an at bat if they mostly end in an out. Barney takes a lot of pitches too, and to be quite honest, he probably is a better option at second than Valbuena right now.

    Valbuena has a very consistent career, and his numbers are consistent… which means he really is not all that good.

    • Funn Dave

      .383 obp….

      • Karl Groucho

        It’s a nice number, but that .277 SLG is a problem. He’s good at not hitting the ball, but he’s not terribly good at hitting it or hitting it well.

        If we want to quantify his walks and hits together relative to the rest of the league, he’s got a 94 wRC+, and that’s when in a platoon. It’s not awful, as it puts him right in the middle of eligible 3Bs. But it’s far from awesome, especially considering he doesn’t have the unfavorable split stats that a lot of these guys do.

        (Which is exactly what Brett noted. And when you note that someone has been fine, it’s probably not unexpected that someone will point out the reasons he’s only “fine” and not “good” or anything like that.)

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Valbuena’s slugging for this year is anomalous. For his career, his isoP is 0.12, which is twice what it’s been so far. He’ll regress to his usual isoP as the season progresses.

          Valbuena’s walk rate also will regress, but downwards. Still, he’s always been good at drawing walks, so it probably won’t be a drastic decrease.

      • Spoda17

        Okay… not impressed with the entire package…

  • cubmig

    The most respectable thing the Cubs can do is not accept any appointed participation in the All Star Game. It’s called “ALL STAR” GAME for a reason——popular voting or not—if enough people don’t recognize you, that should tell you something (and last I heard the vote decides—forget the pity invite)

  • Kycubs

    Outside Samardzija or Wood I don’t know if a starter we have deserves an all star spot. Justin Grimm is the only other guy I’d really consider.

  • Medicos

    kYCUBS—–is it mandated that each team must have 1 rep involved in the all star game?? If yes, Shark is the only one who deserves a spot on the NL team.

    • hansman

      Wood and Rizzo are performing well.

      • Pat

        Rizzo is currently 7th in the NL in OPS for 1st basemen, not exactly lighting the world on fire.

        • Jed Jam Band

          By most accounts, he is also currently the best defensive first baseman in baseball and has remained consistently in the top 3 of 1B WAR through the first month. If you’re going to be pessimistic, at least be so about the proper things. Rizzo is not the problem, he’s part of the solution.

          • Cyranojoe

            The *best* defensive 1B? I like him, and believe he’s surely up there, but #1? That’d be cool. What metrics are we using to determine that?

            • FullCountTommy

              In 2013, he was 1st in the MLB in defensive runs saved and 3rd in the MLB in UZR (1st in NL)

      • Pat

        And Wood is currently 39th among NL staters for ERA.