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jeff samardzija featureThe Little Boy has mastered a variation of “help please,” which is polite, but frequently useless to we parents. Help with what, buddy? He uses it when he wants something, wants down, wants up, is hungry, is sleepy, etc., but he doesn’t always indicate which of those things he’s angling for. So, while we can sometimes divine meaning, and it’s nice to hear him trying, our house is filled with endless cries of “hep-peez, hep-peez, hep-peez, HEPPP-PPEEEEEEEEEZ!!!!!”

  • Jeff Samardzija no longer just gets up for big games – he gets up for them all (CSN). That’s gotta be true at this point, given that the Cubs have played very few “big games” over the past few years. Samardzija told the media that it was Dale Sveum who challenged Samardzija to not be a guy who gets up only for the big games, and doesn’t show up for the lesser ones.
  • Folks keep saying that Samardzija has had a down June, but this is flatly untrue. He had the terrible start in Milwaukee on June 1 – suspiciously terrible, given how aggressive the Brewers were, and how they seemed to know what was coming every time – but that was his only bad start in June. His other four starts combined have yielded a 2.52 ERA, 2.41 FIP, 2.66 xFIP, a 28% K rate and a 7.5% BB rate (and a .364 BABIP against). It’s not a “June” thing – it was a one bad start thing. Otherwise, he’s been just as dominant as ever.
  • Argh … so many mixed trade-related emotions! (Speaking of which, Mark Gonzales says the Blue Jays, Angels, and Red Sox, among others, were in attendance last night.)
  • Tommy Cook looks at Starlin Castro’s successful season and notes that a big part of his success has come from a huge increase in his pull-side power, and a dramatic increase in the number of “inside” pitches he’s hitting. What’s interesting is that this kind of pull-side power was the first approach change Dale Sveum tried to implement with Castro when he started back in 2012 (remember when Castro’s stance opened up?). That didn’t entirely take, and then the see-more-pitches-focus-on-pitches-you-can-drive didn’t entirely take in 2013. Are both things taking now? Was this all a process of learning? Did you know that Castro is just 24-years-old?
  • Theo Epstein tells Jesse Rogers that, when evaluating prospect performance, it’s important to always look behind the production numbers to see how a guy is commanding the strike zone (walk rate, strikeout rate), and also to consider how the performance is shaking out against various kinds of pitching (is a guy just feasting on fastballs?). Those around here should find this unsurprising, as we regularly try to emphasize that merely putting up huge minor league production numbers isn’t enough to suggest future success at higher levels (especially if those numbers are accompanied by a high strikeout rate (above 25%), which not only saps production, but it suggests holes in a player’s swing/approach/pitch-recognition that will be exploited and made even worse at higher levels).
  • Joey Votto is effusive in his praise of Anthony Rizzo (Sun-Times).
  • The Home Run Derby format is changing for the better.

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