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pierce johnson daytona cubsI wish I hadn’t used that headline. Now the John Mellencamp song is stuck in my head. And not even the whole song. Just the “wild night” part again and again on a loop.

  • After seeing in Luke’s Minor League Daily that Pierce Johnson had a rough outing yesterday – 4 IP, 1 K, 8(!) BB – I decided to watch a little bit of his start on MiLB.tv (which is such a wormhole, man – you can lose a morning easily). When a guy walks two batters per inning for four innings, I’m not even sure what you hope to see, but you do hope that it’s just a one-start fluke (Johnson is not really known for excessive wildness, and he is coming back from that Spring Training hamstring strain). To my untrained eye, it looked like Johnson was having issues with his release point – his fastball was frequently flying way high and way to the right (especially against lefties, as he was trying to hit that outside edge). He didn’t get some borderline calls, which doesn’t help, but there was clearly some legit wildness there. That might be a quick mechanical adjustment, and, since it’s just one start, there’s nothing really to worry about right now. Like I said, it was just such a striking line that I had to check it out.
  • (And here’s where folks irrationally panic about the Cubs’ prospect woes this year. No, it hasn’t been a banner month for the top tier guys not named Bryant or Alcantara. But it is just a month, after all.)
  • Neil Ramirez – who looked good in a scoreless inning this weekend, striking out Ryan Braun – sounds pretty excited about his transition to the bullpen (Tribune). Like Justin Grimm (also received from Texas in the Matt Garza trade), Ramirez’s long-term future could still be in the rotation, but, for now, he’s getting experience facing big league hitters in the Cubs’ pen. It’s a strategy that other organizations have used with great success, and, even if starting never comes, perhaps the two – among other guys – develop into dominant relievers.
  • Speaking of the bullpen, it seems like Ricky Renteria suddenly trusts Wesley Wright again (Tribune), who has made six consecutive scoreless appearances. His fastball and curveball velocity have ticked up a little bit from the start of the year, so I imagine that has helped.
  • Jason Hammel admits he was thinking about his no-hitter bid in the 6th inning yesterday, and says that anyone who says they aren’t thinking about it at that point is a liar. (Cubs.com) Hammel wins 10 cutting-through-the-BS points. Hammel also does not want to talk about his future with or without the Cubs right now. “It’s April.” (CSN)
  • Luis Valbuena’s extreme pitch-seeing ways this year are by design, as he tells Jesse Rogers that he’s always trying to make that opposing pitcher show everything he’s got so that his teammates can benefit.
  • Jake Arrieta will re-join the Cubs today in Cincinnati (Cubs.com), though it’s not yet announced when he’ll actually return to the rotation. Carlos Villanueva is still scheduled to start on Wednesday (which would be just four days of rest for Arrieta, if he made that start – though his final rehab outing was just 44 pitches).
  • Jeff Samardzija’s performance this year (fantastic) once again provides the springboard to remind you that the pitcher W/L stat is worthless and misleading. (Cubs.com) Do not concern yourself with it, Mr. Samardzija. Anyone who is actually in a position to evaluate your performance and pay you accordingly (or trade for you) will put zero stock in the fact that you’ve made five great starts this year, but do not yet have a “win.”
  • Edwin

    Is Arrieta back on the 25 man roster, or is he just with the team?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      They won’t actually make the move until the day of his start.

  • Austin8466

    Brett,

    What are your thoughts on Rondon being potentially placed in the closer role and what are the ramifications if he sticks?

    Personally, I think he deserves a shot at it, if for no other reason than his stats so far this year (small sample size, yes).

    If he grabs hold of the job, the long-term benefits are fantastic. However, the short-term benefits of potentially flipping Veras are very much diminished, and with another losing year, is it worth losing that trade value?

    Thanks!

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

      Right now, the best we could hope for with trading Veras is salary relief. He will have sucked/missed half of his pre-trade time with the Cubs.

  • Kyle

    Thank you for acknowledging us.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t really include you in that group, because you tend to rationally panic.

  • JulioZuleta

    Speaking of Win discussions, I was amused by Matt Garza telling Samardzija (via the media) to pitch his way out of Chicago because, in his words, he “lost 10 wins a year for 3 years” by being on the Cubs. If you’re curious, Matt Garza was 21-18 in 60 starts. Clearly, then, if with another team, he would have had at least 51 wins in those 60 starts, for the all time greatest winning percentage in history over a three year stretch. Pay no mind to the fact that Garza was 6-1 with the Cubs last year and 4-5 with the Rangers….or that his winning percentage with the Cubs was 0.538, and that his career winning percentage everywhere else is 0.479.

    Man, was this guy always a moron, and I just didn’t notice it as much when he was on the Cubs, or has he gotten worse since he left?

    • ssckelley

      I was thinking the same thing, Garza went from a losing team to a team contending for the playoffs and this year plays for the team with the best record so far. Yet Garza has a losing record, but ignoring wins and loses, he has pitched like shit.

    • candyland07

      I think it was the essence of the message to his former friend and teammate . Leave Chicago . Leave the Cubs they have a losing atmosphere and losing ten means nothing to them and they have done this for three straight years. an emotional filled Garza might have misunderstood the numbers but I kinda figure its the way he feels that he has lost ten games a year x 3 years which equals frustrations.

      The Cubs are a sorry lot .he knows Pitchers will walk into the games knowing that the Cubs offence will usually show little production. Garza was traded to Chicago thinking that he was going to a contender not to a estate auction benefit, that stripped major league talent to reduce payroll and bring about a new acceptance of losing buy promising a future mostly due to cash restraints by rebuilding the farm system by largely ignoring the 25 man roster.
      The number geeks might pin point the inaccuracy of his the 10 win statement but I doubt they can argue the frustration of losing with the Cubs

      • JulioZuleta

        I get the frustration. Would have helped if he stayed healthy for more than 1 of those years. Also would have helped if he handed lost himself games with his horrendous defense. I respect guys that hate to lose. I don’t respect guys that pin the entirety of the blame on others (Samardzija and Garza, basically). A good teammate/leader accepts blame even when he doesn’t deserve it, these guys pass it off when they do deserve it, and I have a problem with that.

  • Javier Bryant

    I thought it was a little ironic that Ramirez made his mlb debut the day Garza pitched

  • Brocktoon

    “Do not concern yourself with it, Mr. Samardzija. Anyone who is actually in a position to evaluate your performance and pay you accordingly (or trade for you) will put zero stock in the fact that you’ve made five great starts this year, but do not yet have a “win.”

    Somebody’s counting on Amaro and Towers being fired.

  • Smitty

    Brett,

    FYI, it was a Van Morrison song before Mellencamp covered it. It is on the album, Tupelo Honey, which is a great album if you like Van Morrison. Some great songs on there, and they are not as “catchy” as Wild Night.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks – that was a little dopey.

  • Darth Ivy

    I watched Fever Pitch yesterday then had a dream last night that I got season tickets to Wrigley. It was one of the best dreams I’ve ever had

    Side note- so, they filled the movie before the 2004 season, but im guessing they were editing it during the 2004 playoffs? The entire post season aspect seems like it was added afterwards. The entire movie wouldn’t been the same without that playoff run. And they said it took place in 2003, which obviously….obviously

    • Darth Ivy

      *would’ve been the same*

    • Myles P

      I finally fulfilled that dream this year. It’s awesome.

      • Darth Ivy

        Im so jelly. Where are your seats? (Is that a personal question? Sorry if it is)

    • JulioZuleta

      Yes, they had to change the ending of the movie. There were a bunch of stories about it back when it was filmed. I think as you said, the original plan was to not show the playoffs, just to end on “the Red Sox lost in the playoffs again” type of note. I remember reading that when the Red Sox tied the ALCS against the Series, the producers tracked down Fallon and Drew Barrymore and flew them out overnight to resume shooting the next day, or something like that. The footage of them running on the field was actually them running on the field at the game. I remember reading that some players were like “What the hell are Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon doing on the field.”

      • Darth Ivy

        I hope Johnny Damon knew what was going on!

    • MaxM1908

      The most interesting aspect of that film is that it is actually a re-make of an English book and film of the same name (“pitch” in British English refers to the soccer field), and the unlikely scenario that unfolded actually brought the American version into harmony with its English counterpart. In the English version, the protagonist is a crazed Arsenal fan (Colin Firth in the film) as he navigates life and love during Arsenal’s improbable First Division (now EPL) title race in 88-89. Like Boston, Arsenal had a similar drought in titles, so the writer could play with the tension created for a man balancing his passion for Arsenal in a title race with an important, budding relationship. Re-making the film in Boston without a Red Sox title would have gutted one of the most important plot devices of the story, so it is truly fortunate for the filmmakers that everything worked out as it did. If you ever get the chance, check out the original. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119114/. It’s better, in my book.

      • Darth Ivy

        interesting, thanks

    • Funn Dave

      My all-time favorite “chick flick.”

  • Edwin

    Seems like it’s hard to leave the Cubs on good terms.

  • Spencer

    I can almost guarantee that pitchers care VERY MUCH about their win/loss records, regardless of how everyone else may tout it as a meaningless stat.

    • JulioZuleta

      I think most (nearly all) do, at least to some extent. It’s natural. Even if you understand that it’s a highly flawed stat, and not really all that indicative of your skill/contribution to the team, you still would like to have good stats. I mean, up until a few years ago, I cared if my starting pitcher got the win in video games, so I can certainly understand it…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Of course they do. Of course they shouldn’t.

      • Karl Groucho

        I might disagree here. If a pitcher cares about it as in “this is a measure of my skill” they’re certainly being foolish. However I think it is natural for a pitcher to say “I play for this team once every five days and give it my all, I want to win when I’m out there leading the charge.”

        W-L is extraordinarily irrelevant for baseball analysis; it says little about a pitcher’s performance and has limited predictive value. But I think it’s more than sensible that a pitcher wants to get Ws when he’s on the mound!

        (Which is a roundabout way of saying “people like to win” — which, duh — but it strikes me as especially acute in the case of an SP, who’s involved in every half-inning for the duration of a given start.)

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          But even that isn’t the pitcher W/L stat.

          • Karl Groucho

            Strikes me as a relatively fine distinction. If you’re sporting a 3.30 xFIP and have a 6-14 record, it’s not hard to see that, over a sustained period of time, you performed at a high level and did not win many of those games you started.

            Which isn’t to say that Garza and W-L supporters aren’t good sources of a chuckle, so much as that this is pretty much the only context I can understand anyone caring about W-L.

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      A major reason is because 300 Wins are a golden ticket to the HOF.

  • 2015

    Brett–
    Do you think MILBTV is worth the price?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Depends on how into seeing prospects you are. I love being able to just go back, whenever I want, and watch a little video from whatever game (I don’t watch many live). If you’ve got MLB.tv anyway, you can get MiLB.tv for just $25. So that was totally worth it to me. It’s $50 otherwise. Still probably worth it if you’re a huge nerd.

      • Funn Dave

        How many night games are there? How many postseason games are included?

  • LEO L

    I don’t need to know what pierce did with his Johnson on a wild night that involved bullets

  • AA Correspondant

    Jake Arrieta looked VERY ORDINARY during his final 2 IP rehab start in Tennessee over the weekend. Nothing special…..and I never once got a sense of “wow…you can really tell when a MLB starter is on the mound”. I understand that this was a final tune-up before rejoining the big club. Just saying that this guy looks far from impressive to me.

    • Brocktoon

      Arrieta has been far from impressive the last four seasons. I’d rather see Wada take Villanueva’s spot for a couple months.

  • terencemann

    My baseball crush on Valbuena grows with every game. He really understands his role.

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