Cubs Crushing Tech, the Look of Leadership, Big TV News, and Other Bullets

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Cubs Crushing Tech, the Look of Leadership, Big TV News, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

As I look at the snow falling outside my window, I’m reminded that I get to head to Arizona on Monday for a week of Spring Training. I have tried not to celebrate that fact too loudly around the house. IT’S FOR WORK, HONEY, I SWEAR!

  • We’ve heard a bit about the Cubs’ new Pitch Lab (think of it like their own in-house version of Driveline), but this is as deep of a dive as you might see any time soon, because, you know, secrets:

  • I love the specific anecdote in there on how this technology helped Kyle Hendricks fix mechanical issues mid-season, and boom, got his fastball velocity back on track in the second half of 2017 (remember that?). You should really read Sahadev Sharma’s piece there for a real sense of how wide-ranging the implications and applications of the Cubs’ technology (which, fingers crossed, is still a step ahead of most of the league, though it’s an ever-evolving landscape). Where the Cubs really shine, in Sharma’s view – and that of many of the team’s pitchers – is in their ability to translate all of this data and analysis into human communication, particularized for each pitcher.
  • A bonus discussion in there, which ties to something we saw earlier this week in an Eno Sarris piece on Sonny Gray: spin rate doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot without knowing the axis of the spin. In other words, if a guy like Dillon Maples has elite four-seam fastball spin (and he does), but he isn’t able to throw that pitch on a particular plane that takes advantage of that spin to give it the “rise” we think of (and he does not, yet), then it won’t *look* or *function* like an elite-spin four-seam fastball. Something to remember when we start analyzing spin rate this season, and wondering why X, Y, and Z are happening, despite the data.
  • Oh, also, a random reminder: having elite high spin rate is not necessarily key to having a lot of success. There are super low spin rate guys (Mike Montgomery is an example) who have a lot of success because their pitches are effectively “heavy.” You can get a lotta extra groundballs that way.
  • Joe Maddon, mic’d up:

  • NBCS Chicago on the “veteran leader” the Cubs brought in to help fill the voids left by David Ross and Jon Jay:

  • I really like how much Descalso already talks like a thoughtful coach, which is quite a bonus from a guy whose primary job is to be out there helping win baseball games on the field: “You can lead in a variety of different ways. You don’t have to be a veteran to lead. You can be a young guy and lead by example the way you show up and compete every day. But I think as you get older, you stick around. Maybe you develop a reputation, then you can start to be a little bit more vocal. You pick your spots. You have to know the individual you’re approaching — is it a guy you can pat on the back? Is it a guy you can get after a little bit? For me, I’m not gonna come in here and be a rah-rah guy. I’m gonna sit back and learn my teammates and get to know them individually and go from there.”
  • The bit about how the Cubs could option Kyle Hendricks to low-A Eugene for a week is especially humorous and tricky:

  • This runs through tonight, so check it out:

  • I don’t know when I’ll get to a dedicated post on this, but since it’s potentially a really significant story when it comes to how networks like the Cubs’ new Marquee Sports Network will be distributed, I will give an early heads up here:

  • To put a finer – and SPECULATIVE – point on it: it’s not impossible to imagine a world where YES (and other RSNs partnered with Sinclair and Amazon, who was at one time involved in discussions with the Cubs) can be delivered via Amazon Prime Video to folks across the country for a monthly add-on fee. I don’t see Amazon getting into the RSN business just because they want traditional cable rights fees in their portfolio. If all the parties can figure out the money – remember, MLB controls streaming rights, not the individual teams – it would be a win-win-win-win-win for the Cubs to be able to distribute Marquee across the country via Amazon Prime Video.
  • Vacuums, watches, and speakers are among your Deals of the Day at Amazon today.


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.