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happy kid at computerI am in Chicago for a few days to take in today’s Cubs/White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field (I’ve never been) and then tomorrow’s Brewers/Yankees game at Miller Park (also never been), because there’s a Baseball Prospect event there, and I like me some Baseball Prospectus. For tonight’s game, I think I’m going to wear Cubs garb (shirsey with “Ace” on the back), although I typically don’t do that anymore at Cubs games (some kind of weird fan-media cognitive dissonance). I want the authentic experience of being a Cubs fan at a Cubs/White Sox game at the Cell. Make sure to follow me on Twitter, as that’ll be where I’ll be live-tweeting my experience. (And if you’re going tonight, I’ll be on the third base side in the upper deck, wearing my trusty blue and yellow shoes.)

  • Rick Renteria was tossed last night for the third time already this season. He took issue with a legitimately erratic strike zone, and a stretch of plate appearances mid-game (when the White Sox started rolling) where the calls seemed to not go the Cubs’ way again and again. Renteria didn’t offer many thoughts on the subject, though Anthony Rizzo and Welington Castillo were obviously both also displeased. (Cubs.com)
  • I’m quickly eyeballing the zones for John Danks and Travis Wood last night using Brooks Baseball’s PitchF/X tool. Although you can see that the two strikes to Anthony Rizzo, in that critical two-on, two-out situation with the Cubs down one, were both outside the zone, you can also see that it looks like Wood, not Danks, was getting the more generous calls. I see four strikes that were called balls for Danks, and three balls that were called strikes. For Wood, I see only one strike that was called a ball, and six or seven balls that were called strikes. (Interestingly, most were down in the zone, which was the area we just discussed yesterday was giving Welington Castillo the most framing issues – did he fix it in one day!? Hooray!)
  • Mike Olt suggests that inconsistent playing time isn’t to blame for his early season struggles; instead, it could just be that he puts too much pressure on himself to perform when he does actually play. (Carrie Muskat) I know that’s a fine distinction, but I can see what he’s saying. Like I’ve said all along: as the season goes on, and becomes what it’s becoming (read: not competitive), we’re going to see Olt get more starts. If we don’t, that would be mighty disappointing, especially now that Luis Valbuena can pick up starts at second base.
  • If a Cubs minor league affiliate came back from a 16-run deficit to win, would you think that was awesome, or would you worry about which pitching prospects got lit up in the first place?
  • The first day of the NFL Draft is here, and Jay ponders some of the questions that will govern the Bears’ approach.
  • META: Your kinda-sorta regular Net Neutrality update (background here). I am pleasantly surprised to report that a consortium of some of the largest Internet companies – ones who, if they were evil, stood to profit from the FCC’s relaxed Net Neutrality proposal, because they could have afforded to squash all newcomers – has reached out to the FCC to express their strong desire that the Internet remain totally open, without any traffic discrimination, side deals, or fast lanes for big companies that are willing to pay ISPs. The letter is signed by Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Reddit, Google, Tumblr, Yahoo, Microsoft, and many, many more. This is the kind of opposition that killed SOPA, so I’m suddenly very optimistic that, whatever rules are now put in place will not threaten the innovative ability of the Internet as we know it (nor add on a bunch of gratuitous costs to consumers).
  • Wrigley1

    Just let Olt play third and let Valbuena play second and let Emile Goodface play CF. It’s not that hard. Barney is awful, everyone else in the outfield is awful. I know Olt is awful now but who cares, the season is already basically out of reach

    • JB88

      With Sweeney out, I really agree with this post on a meta level. I still think there is a place for platoons, but Barney is already part of a platoon and his numbers against lefties is still abysmal. Time to put Barney on the bench on a near permanent basis.

      And, as an added benefit, the Cubs then have a pretty legitimate L-R split. At 10 games under on May 8th, with no real reason to believe the season is going to get better, might as well just take a flyer on Valbuena and Olt full time.

      • Wrigley1

        I know that Ricky eased the younger bullpen guys into their role and it ended up being a pretty good idea in hindsight. I couldn’t figure it out at the time but once I heard what he was doing I liked it. I think he tried to do it with Lake and Olt but it’s harder to do with position players. Bullpen guys don’t always pitch everyday, or even every two days. So for them to not go into a game doesn’t always signal to them that they aren’t ready or aren’t being used because they aren’t performing. But when you sit Lake and especially Olt, who has really worked hard to come back from his concussion and eye issues, it gets them thinking that when they do play they really have to do something amazing to keep earning that role.

        Again, don’t think guys should automatically be handed the starting role. But in the cases of both Olt and Lake there aren’t really established guys at their positions. It’s not like Olt is coming in and trying to supplant a third baseman we’ve had for the last decade. He made the team out of spring training, although he didn’t get work at third because of his shoulder. It’s May now and I’m assuming it’s healed. But Olt is still clearly pressing, it’s easy to see that every time he makes a bad play in the field or has a horrible at bat. And yet he still shows flashes of power.

    • Soda Popinski

      Here’s the ideal starting roster:
      1b=Rizzo
      2b=Diehardthefirst
      SS=Castro
      3b=Jon
      LF=MichiganGoat
      CF=Sweeney
      RF=Sammy Sosa
      C=Castillo

      • Soda Popinski

        I’ll handing pitching every 5th day. My arm is loose from training to beat Little Mac in the World Circuit.

      • mjhurdle

        I always viewed DieHard as more of a Closer type mentality.

        Maybe slide DarthHater and his deathstar (HUGE range factor) into the 2B spot and work DieHard into the bullpen?

      • Jon

        I should catch. I have built up extreme strength and stamina in my right forearm over the years.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          Jon, you’re on a roll this morning buddy

  • SenorGato

    Love me some Ricky Renteria.

  • N.J. Riv

    I’ve picked that up about Olt early in the month. You can tell he’s pressing too much, looks a little tense.

    • CubFan Paul

      Him & Lake both. The game has slowed down enough yet for them.

      • SenorGato

        No seriously, they both probably just suck.

        • CubFan Paul

          Him & Lake both. The game hasn’t slowed down enough yet for them.

          effin typos.

          • Eternal Pessimist

            Maybe Jon can help him get rid of that tension.

  • CubFan Paul

    “Welington Castillo the most framing issues – did he fix it in one day!?”

    Len & JD openly talked about pitch framing extensively last night for the first time with Welly behind the plate. I was shocked. Shocked.

    Turns out, Welly had been putting in extra side-work (pitch framing-wise) with Borzello before the game.

    • JB88

      That whole exchange was pretty fascinating, along with Castillo’s admission that proper framing is taxing on the forearm. You have to really give credit to a player like Molina who is excellent at framing and also a fantastic hitter.

      • CubFan Paul

        “Castillo’s admission that proper framing is taxing on the forearm”

        Yeah, I was shocked again. Shocked.

    • SenorGato

      Whatever keeps his value up for when they trade him.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        Yes, let’s trade a 27 year old, above average hitting, and fantastic defensive catcher (Who does need to improve his pitch framing).

        • SenorGato

          Especially if thats the impression of him then yes, lets.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            And replace him with who exactly?? The Cubs best minor league catcher is currently in A ball

            • SenorGato

              That is his saving Grace right now. The Cubs have been looking for a while now.

          • SenorGato

            I can appreciate the cheap production without buying he has the periphs to back it, right? He’s not getting cheaper and younger here.

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              What periphs exactly? His K and BB rate aren’t good right now, but his babip is about right. His fly ball rate is unsustainably high (while the HR/FB is about right), so that’s a good indicator that his numbers will actually get better, not worse.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I would have loved to hear that – I could only listen on the radio last night.

      • JB88

        I want to say that it was in the bottom of the 3rd. My guess is that Comcast will replay the game today, if you want to forfeit some of Chicago’s beautiful weather for a chance to hear the discussion.

      • Jon

        On top of it, the story was told by that nice looking new blond CSN Chicago has hired. I watched it but can’t remember what she said.

  • SenorGato

    Its.always nice when big companies make a human call on an issue. Not that I know the.depths of this.

  • Dave

    My advice for your first visit to Comiskey: tetanus shot.

    • Fishin Phil

      Umm Dave, they call it U.S. Smellular now.

      • Dave

        The Sears Tower also has a different name now, but I’m sure as hell not going to use it.

        • Fishin Phil

          Is that still the WatchutalkinaboutWillis Tower?

        • Darth Ivy

          the difference is that people actually show up at the Sears Tower. That building actually matters

  • Darth Ivy

    The cynical part of me thinks that large companies like these will say one thing to the public for good PR but then say another thing in private to policy makers and amongst themselves

    Kind of like how Warren Buffett claimed to oppose the pay packages for Coca-Cola execs, but didn’t actually vote against them. What are the odds that he actually approved of the pay in private but told the public the he opposed them for good PR?

  • TWC

    “Mike Olt suggests that … it could just be that he puts too much pressure on himself to perform when he does actually play.”

    It could just be that he isn’t very good at baseball.

    • ssckelley

      I wonder why Olt did not simply say that.

      • TWC

        No shit, right?

    • Darth Ivy

      maybe they’re just planning on him being their back up corner infielder.

  • Jon

    Mike Olt needs to realize most folks stop giving a shit about this team a 3 weeks ago and he should just relax.

  • Jed Jam Band

    Olt, just relax, man. The Cubs are a bad team and we are not worried. Hell, because we’re so bad, we’re in no rush to make any immediate judgments about his future with the team! So, relax, and just hit the ball.

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