Hopefully I’ll see some of you at today’s game. I’ll be the guy in the right field bleachers, down by the wall, wearing a blue BN shirt and blue/yellow shoes, oggling Jorge Soler.
- It sounds like Mike Olt will be back with the Cubs as soon as today, likely starting at first base in place of injured Anthony Rizzo. He helped the Kane County Cougars sweep the first two games of their opening playoff round in the Midwest League (he homered twice, doubled, and singled, in just two games), and Tom Haudricourt reported that the Brewers were unhappy about it. I certainly understand that you wouldn’t want your minor leaguers booted from the playoffs on the strength of a big league (or AAA) player knocking around Low-A pitchers, but it was just an unfortunate necessity. Olt was legitimately dealing with a hamstring issue, and the Cubs needed to give him at least a couple minor league games to get his timing back and to make sure he was really ready to go before putting him in big league games. Since there are only playoff games going on in the minors, this was going to happen wherever he went – and it so happens that Kane County is an hour west of Chicago. Sorry, Brewers, but this is the way it had to be. You’ll note that Olt was removed from the game after four at bats, despite the game being tied in the late innings.
- Cubs scout Louie Eljaua knew Jorge Soler was special the first time he saw the Cuban teenager (Cubs.com).
- A great read from Derek Thompson at The Atlantic on what’s really killing offense in baseball: the low strike. Thanks to camera evaluation of umpires, they’ve started calling lower strikes in the last 10 years (seriously, the increase is really striking), and we know that lower pitchers are both harder to drive and easier to miss. I wouldn’t quite hang my hat entirely on the low strike – defensive shifts, increased pitcher specialization, better drug testing, etc. all came together at the same time – but it’s a very, very interesting piece of the puzzle. Want to see more offense return to the game? Move the bottom of the zone up slightly. That’d be the argument, anyway.
- The Cubs are pledging additional money to youth softball and baseball programs in Chicago.
- The Cubs have a potentially historically large cluster of elite young talent arriving at the same time according to FanGraphs … but how will that play out?
- The Diamondbacks finally did something that was a long time coming: they fired GM Kevin Towers. From blundered moves to dangerous, silly baseball attitudes, Towers wasn’t going to last once Tony LaRussa was brought in, essentially, to be his new boss. So, there’s one new GM job available, and there will probably be others (though Pat Gillick says Ruben Amaro will, unbelievably, remain the GM of the Phillies). Some of the Cubs’ front office brain trust – AGM Shiraz Rehman and Pro Scouting Director Joe Bohringer, for examples – came from Arizona, for what it’s worth.
- Dylan Heuer’s pictorial thank you to Manny Ramirez at AAA Iowa.
- META: Twitter is very seriously considering a filtered feed – i.e., doing something the way Facebook decides for you which things it will show you – which strikes me as the basest form of insanity. The unfiltered, real-time, constant feed of Twitter is the very thing that makes Twitter Twitter. Even if they make this change and leave the “option” for folks to have an unfiltered feed, it could still kill Twitter, as all new users will be defaulted into the BS filtered option, and some old users won’t take the affirmative step to go back to the unfiltered feed when they are, presumably, switched. If half of the users aren’t seeing everything, the message-makers see the platform as far less fun/useful/interesting. And when you lose your message-makers in favor of catering to more meatballs, you become old news. I’m sure Twitter sees the dollar signs in this move, and maybe it’ll be best for them financially. But for folks who use Twitter as a real-time consumption and interaction device – which … that’s everybody, isn’t it? – this could be the start of some ugly changes.