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Monday, September 01, 2014

Robothal: Changed [Manny] Ramirez enjoyed helping Cubs prospects grow

I mean, if Rasheed Wallace can be on a coaching staff…

[Manny] Ramirez, 42, certainly stunned [Cubs president Theo] Epstein, who grew as exasperated as anyone with the player’s fits of immaturity and selfishness during their years together with the Red Sox.

But Epstein believed Ramirez deserved another chance and that he could impart his vast knowledge of hitting to the Cubs’ prospects… By all accounts, Ramirez positively influenced top prospects such as infielder Javier Baez, outfielder Jorge Soler and third baseman Kris Bryant at Triple A Iowa… Ramirez spent less than three months with Iowa… But during that time, he instructed Baez to be more selective, adjusted Soler’s swing path and talked situational hitting with Bryant, all with impressive results…

Ramirez still wants to return to the majors – he intends to play winter ball in his native Dominican Republic this offseason with the goal of taking one more shot. But once he saw the talent at Iowa, he essentially told the Cubs, “Don’t worry. Play the kids. I’m good.” ...

about a month into Ramirez’s stint in Iowa… Ramirez, speaking on the phone to Epstein, broke down every player on the Iowa roster, giving detailed, sophisticated assessments of not only their skills but also their personalities.

Epstein found the conversation so impressive and surprising that he left his office immediately after getting off the phone with Ramirez and walked down the hall to visit with other Cubs executives.

He had to repeat the conversation verbatim to his colleagues to make sure that it had really happened.


Friday, August 29, 2014

The First Hundred PAs: The Curious Case of Cubs Rookie Javier Baez

“Walk” is just a four-letter word.

[Javier] Baez has swung at pitches outside the strike zone 45 percent more often than the typical hitter. It’s no wonder, then, that he hasn’t seen many strikes… Baez swings at 37 percent of pitches that have a less than 5 percent probability of being called a strike, according to BP’s strike probability model. There are only four hitters with higher swing rates on those unlikely strikes than Baez this season: Reed Johnson, A.J. Pierzynski, Ramiro Peña, and Hector Sanchez. When those four swing at those distant pitches, though, they whiff only 37 percent of the time, relative to the 50 percent league average. When Baez swings at them, he misses 76 percent of the time…

Baez’s problems are even more pronounced against breaking balls, which he swings at, on average, almost 2 inches farther from the center of the zone than he does all other pitches (one of the biggest such discrepancies in the sport). Pitchers have noticed. Although they avoided the strike zone against Baez from the start based on scouting reports and reputation, they’ve dramatically upped their breaking ball usage against him as his vulnerability has become clear…

Baez’s second [homerun] of a game against the Rockies on August 7 [was on] an 0-1 slider from Juan Nicasio [that] had only an 8.3 percent probability of being called a strike… Of 188 other pitches in that area that were put in play, only two others left the park. Baez’s was the only one that went out the other way…

Baez is the youngest man in the majors, a distinction that typically implies both that a player has a ton of talent and that he has a lot to learn. He swings hard and with awe-inspiring bat speed, and the homers (he already has seven) have come almost as thick as the K’s. Baez’s contact rate when he swings at pitches inside the zone is barely below league-average; now he needs to become more judicious about swinging at pitches outside the zone, which young hitters tend to do as they add more pitches to their decision-making databases. The only question is whether the contact rate will rise enough for all the power to play.

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 06:23 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, javier baez, sabermetrics

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cameron: Next year really might be THE year, Cubs fans

Wait til next year. Forever.

And here’s where Cubs fans should find optimism; by BaseRuns expected record, the Cubs have played like a .500 team this year. Their expected record is actually better than that of the first-place Kansas City Royals, in fact, and is not far off from what the teams contending for the NL wild cards are putting up….

This isn’t a great team, of course, but the only reason the Cubs are in the mix for a top pick again next summer is because they’re 28th in both clutch hitting and clutch pitching this season. They haven’t hit well when it mattered and their pitchers haven’t kept important runs from scoring, so despite average overall performance, they’ve lost eight more games than expected. 

So why is this good news? Because clutch performance has basically no predictive value, and the historical record of teams that dramatically underperformed their BaseRuns expected record in one year shows that these teams often improve dramatically in the next year. Right now, the Cubs are 53 points of winning percentage below expectations…

t might not have shown up in the standings yet, but even without the wave of prospects that are on the way, this team has performed like a roughly average Major League team. Add in some expected production from a few of the young kids and likely a significant free agent addition or two, and the Cubs are going to be everyone’s sleeper pick next year. But it won’t just be prospect hype and a big name addition. This is a decent team that is a lot closer to winning than their current record suggests.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 27, 2014 at 01:33 PM | 58 comment(s)
  Beats: baseruns, clutch, cubs, dave cameron, projection models

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

AJC: O’Brien: Expect B.J. Upton trade talks to be revisited

This is what I’m told about where it stands going forward: The Braves will try to trade Upton this offseason – personally, I think it’s just about a fait accompli that he’s gone before spring training – and that they might do it by including Minor in a package. In other words, they’d tell a team, you can have three years of contractual control of Minor before free agency, but you’re going to have to take B.J. Upton in the deal.
The Braves would surely have to take back a bad contract such as Jackson in such an exchange, but Atlanta would also probably ask that a decent prospect be included from the other team.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Report: Cubs calling up top prospect outfielder Jorge Soler

“Soler power” could be the “WAR, what is it good for?” joke of a new generation…

Another big piece of the Cubs’ future is on the way to the majors, as David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com reports that top prospect outfielder Jorge Soler will be promoted from Triple-A Iowa tomorrow…

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Soler defected from Cuba in 2011 and joined the Cubs in June of 2012 with a nine-year, $30 million contract. The 22-year-old was limited to just 55 games last season due to a fractured tibia, but he has exploded this season by batting .340/.432/.700 with 15 home runs in 62 minor league games between rookie ball, Double-A, and Triple-A.

The District Attorney Posted: August 25, 2014 at 11:44 PM | 31 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, jorge soler, minor leagues

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Report: The Braves and Cubs discussed a B.J. Upton, Edwin Jackson swap

Most importantly, Nightengale also says the deal “likely will be broached once again this winter. Stay tuned.”

In today’s column for USA TODAY, Bob Nightengale writes that the Braves and Cubs nearly pulled the trigger on a swap of B.J. Upton and Edwin Jackson at the non-waiver trade deadline, but it never materialized. The Braves would have had to throw in a significant amount of cash to even out the trade, which was ostensibly what halted the deal.

Upton is in the second year of a five-year, $75.25 [million] contract… Jackson, currently sidelined with a strained lat muscle in his right shoulder, is in the second year of a four-year, $52 million deal.

The District Attorney Posted: August 24, 2014 at 07:01 PM | 61 comment(s)
  Beats: b.j. upton, braves, cubs, edwin jackson, rumors

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sources:  Cubs cut grounds crew’s hours to avoid paying health benefits

Thanks a lot, Obama…

Spahn Insane Posted: August 23, 2014 at 01:45 AM | 41 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cubs place struggling Edwin Jackson on the disabled list

Noooo! My HACKING MASS team!!!

After signing a four-year, $52 million contract with the Cubs last offseason Edwin Jackson struggled last season and has now been a mess this year, giving him a combined 14-32 record and 5.47 ERA in 57 starts for Chicago.

That includes leading the league in losses both seasons and leading the league in runs allowed this year. And since getting his ERA under 5.00 in early July he’s gone 1-6 with an 8.52 ERA in nine starts… Jackson failed to make it out of the third inning Wednesday, coughing up seven runs as his ERA ballooned above 6.00…

Jackson… [has] been placed on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle.

The District Attorney Posted: August 21, 2014 at 03:34 PM | 55 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, edwin jackson, injuries

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lester return to Boston a long shot; Cubs, Yankees are likely players

A report out that a free agent won’t automatically sign with one team? Why, what possible motive could he have for drumming up more interest in other teams?

Still, it’s quite a leap from loving his stay in Boston to being likely to return there this winter as a free agent. The reality is, it’s probably the opposite. The strong belief around the game is that Lester is likely to sign somewhere other than the Red Sox.

Most folks around baseball would be surprised if Lester and the Red Sox could agree on a contract at a time other teams will be bidding hard for him. After all, the two sides couldn’t come close to doing it when they had a clear shot at contract. A return by Lester to Boston was dubbed a “long shot” by league officials who have familiarity with the situation.

The Cubs and rival Yankees, among others, look like much more likely landing spots for Lester at this time, in fact. The Yankees have admired Lester’s guts and clutch pitching for years (and especially that career 0.43 World Series ERA) and would surely make a play for the former Red Sox ace. Meanwhile, folks around the game suggest Lester’s old friends Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, who picked Lester for Boston and are now running the Cubs, are extremely likely to be in there pitching, as well. Epstein and Hoyer “absolutely love” Lester, is the word from one official who knows Chicago’s top execs well.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 20, 2014 at 03:41 PM | 37 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, free agents, jon lester, red sox, yankees

Giants plan to protest bizarre loss at Wrigley

A light rain began in the top of the fifth inning, with the Cubs leading 2-0… Then the drizzle turned violent… The Cubs grounds crew had to act swiftly. In their haste, they rolled out the tarp at a bad angle, causing large portions of the infield to be as poorly covered as Jane Fonda in “Barbarella.”...

It rained all of 15 minutes but the damage was done. The next four hours involved more activity than an ant farm, with several dozen bags of clay dumped and spread over the infield to no avail…. the last 90 minutes of the delay involved one man and one rake… After a final check of the field and meeting with both managers just after 1 a.m. Chicago time, [crew chief Hunter] Wendelstedt waved off the game…

Rule 4.12… covers suspensions. There are only six conditions by which a regulation (official) game can be suspended rather than called. One of the conditions describes a “light failure or malfunction of a mechanical field device under control of the home club. (Mechanical field device shall include automatic tarpaulin or water removal equipment).”

The problem: the Cubs don’t use a mechanical tarp, and precedent had been set on July 23, when the Yankees couldn’t get their manual tarp on the field in time following a sudden rainstorm and were awarded a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers after 4 ½ innings.

Here’s one more snippet from the official rules, under the notes section of Rule 4.12: “If a game is halted by weather, and subsequent light failure or an intervening curfew or time limit prevents its resumption, the game shall not be a suspended game. If a game is halted by light failure, and weather or field conditions prevent its resumption, the game shall not be a suspended game. A game can only be considered a suspended game if stopped for any of the six reasons specified in Rule 4.12(a).”

The District Attorney Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:29 AM | 94 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, giants, rain delays

Tarp troubles lead to long delay, shortened game

Can’t say I blame the Giants and their fans for being frustrated by this…

Spahn Insane Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:10 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, giants

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rusney Castillo rumors: Decision imminent for Cuban outfielder

With concerns about calcium, shouldn’t he think about heading to Milwaukee?

Praise has been far from faint for Rusney Castillo, who is considered to be the latest in a long string of impact players imported from Cuba. The highly regarded 27-year-old outfielder seems to be nearing a decision on where he will play, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald and ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes report that Castillo is expected to “declare his intentions any day now.”...

Castillo should be in line for an impressive payday, though it’s unlikely that he receives as much as Jose Abreu got from the White Sox last offseason. Represented by Roc Nation Sports, Castillo was said to originally be in line for a $25-$35 million deal, but it now looks like he will outdo the $42 million that Yasiel Puig got from the Dodgers a couple years ago. According to Peter Gammons, he is now looking at a deal between $40 and $70 million, while FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pegs him as receiving something around six years and ~$50 million….

There seems to be a long line of suitors for Castillo, though the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies, and Cubs seem to be leading the pack. ...

Those five clubs are far from alone in their pursuit of Castillo. The Mariners, Orioles, Giants, Astros, Blue Jays, White Sox, and Braves have also all been mentioned as potential suitors, and could wind up nabbing him when his decision is announced, likely within the next few days.


Mooney: Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks aren’t showing any nerves with Cubs

With Monday’s 4-1 victory over the New York Mets, Hendricks (5-1, 1.66 ERA) became the franchise’s first rookie to put together six consecutive quality starts since Kerry Wood in 1998.

“I reserve the right to (not) pigeonhole him or compare him to anybody,” Renteria said. “I think he’s establishing himself. I know it’s a short snippet, but he’s been very, very good. He is Maddux-like, a little bit, in his execution, his approach.”

Hendricks – who’s posted a 0.97 WHIP through almost 50 innings – has never looked rattled or in awe of his surroundings.

Baez hits another homer that went 434 feet and Kyle throws another gem.  With Billy Hamilton slowing down is Kyle’s only competition for ROY Jacob deGrom?

 

McCoy Posted: August 19, 2014 at 09:49 AM | 36 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, rookie of the year

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Wheeler continues impressive run as Campbell’s HR pushes Mets past Cubs

Wheeler went 6.2 innings and allowed two runs on four hits and four walks while striking out 10. It was his third career game with 10 or more strikeouts and first since notching 10 against the Marlins on April 25.

Wheeler came out with the 3-2 lead after issuing a two-out walk to Chris Coghlan in the seventh, yielding after 120 pitches to Black who fanned Javier Baez for the last out in the frame.

Over his last nine starts, Wheeler is 5-0 and has pitched 58 innings to a 2.02 ERA.

Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: August 16, 2014 at 12:39 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, mets

Friday, August 15, 2014

Diamondbacks Acquire Brett Jackson From Cubs

Yes, the wrong Cubs’ Jackson had “swing-and-miss tendencies”...

The Diamondbacks have acquired former first-round pick and top prospect Brett Jackson from the Cubs in exchange for minor league reliever Blake Cooper… Jackson had been claimed off waivers prior to the trade’s completion.

Jackson, 26, rated as one of the game’s top 100 prospects from 2010-12, according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus (he topped out at No. 32 on BA’s list and No. 44 on BP’s list)... However, Jackson’s swing-and-miss tendencies caused his stock to plummet, as a problem he looked to have eliminated at the Double-A level resurfaced in Triple-A and still has yet to be corrected. Jackson was batting just .210/.298/.348 with a 37.3 percent strikeout rate for Triple-A Iowa this season and will look to deliver on some of his once sky-high potential in a new organization.

The District Attorney Posted: August 15, 2014 at 12:13 AM | 45 comment(s)
  Beats: blake cooper, brett jackson, cubs, diamondbacks, trades, transactions

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cubs fans have a way to drown their sorrows

Or celebrate the WAR/$ championship! (Kidding, kidding.)

Wirtz Beverage IL @WirtzbevIL

All eyes are on @Cubs’ Baez right now. Build on that excitement w/ @Smirnoff’s first-ever team branded bottle.

The District Attorney Posted: August 13, 2014 at 03:35 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: alcohol, cubs

How a small-time handicapper concocted a wild MLB game-fixing tale

Gives new meaning to the phrase, “this game is a Locke.”

In the waning days of the 2012 major league season, Niki Congero received an unusual text message. It came from a man she had never met — a sports handicapper who for a couple of weeks had been texting unsolicited betting tips to her cellphone.

“LOL,” wrote the man, who identified himself as James Hunter from VIP Sports. “I got a baseball game that will be fixed on sunday.”...

At first the tips were nothing special, Congero told The Center for Investigative Reporting. Then the handicapper guaranteed her a winner in the Sept. 16 game between the Pirates and the Cubs at Wrigley Field. “My best friend is pitching today for the ­pirates,” Hunter texted. “His name is jeff locke. he will not have a good day.” In a later text he wrote, “Tell your biggest people that pirates game today is fixed. My friend will be throwing this game.”

Pittsburgh jumped out to an early lead behind Locke, a late-season call-up. While the Bucs were ahead, Congero says, the handicapper phoned her, acknowledging that the game wasn’t going the way he had predicted. He implied that he was in touch with the lefthander even as the game was under way….

Sure enough, in the bottom of the fifth inning, Locke fell apart….

MLB’s own investigators and organized-crime detectives from the New York City Police Department were deployed to learn the handicapper’s identity and unravel the plot.

Before it was over, their investigation would lead to a tense standoff by the side of an Arizona desert road, where more than a dozen armed officers confronted two frightened young women with a baby in an effort to track down James Hunter. The outcome would hinge on separating fact from fantasy in the interpersonal dynamics between two former youth-baseball teammates from a small New England town — one of whom grew up to become a major league pitcher, the other a sports gambler.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 13, 2014 at 12:08 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, fixed games, gambling, jeff locke, pirates

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jazayerli: Hitting Wins Championships: Why the Chicago Cubs’ Inverted Rebuilding Strategy Is Starting to Look Brilliant (Grantland)

I don’t simply mean that the Cubs are rebuilding with complete conviction; under the terms of MLB’s collective bargaining agreement, that’s really the only way to go.1 Nor do I mean that the Cubs are nearly the extremists that the Houston Astros are. I’m referring instead to the core principle with which the Cubs have been trying to build a championship roster since team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer were hired after the 2011 season, a principle that distinguishes this rebuilding project from almost every other one in baseball history: They’re building an offense from within and a pitching staff from spare parts.

This flies in the face of more than a century of conventional baseball wisdom, which states that (1) pitching wins championships, and (2) a team can never have too much pitching. The Cubs’ approach is completely counterintuitive. It’s also completely right.

Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: August 12, 2014 at 07:48 PM | 75 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, grantland, rany jazayerli, theo epstein

Sun News Network: Old dude at Cubs game makes off-balance catch, sneakily tosses other ball back

Actually, the “old coot” is 65-year old Mike Pullin, a retired professional bowler. In any event, he’s no Bartman.

The aged dude is apparently as quick with his mind as he is with his glove.

Immediately following the snag, he grabbed a ball resting on his seat and tossed it back into play.

The broadcast team was even fooled by the subtle trick: ”He throws the ball back into play, but the Brewers will take that home run…”

JE (Jason) Posted: August 12, 2014 at 09:32 AM | 26 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, fans, old coot, wrigley field

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Baez goes boom: First big league blast wins it

Evidently, the timing was right for Javier Baez to get to the big leagues.

Playing his first Major League game, Baez launched the first pitch he saw from Boone Logan leading off the 12th inning into the bullpen for his first big league homer and hit to power the Cubs to a 6-5 victory over the Rockies.

That’s a lot of firsts, and Baez will have plenty of souvenirs to remember the game, including the home run ball, which landed in the Rockies’ bullpen.

 

Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 06, 2014 at 12:02 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, home runs, prospects

Monday, August 04, 2014

Cubs call up Javier Baez

“The Cubs are calling up top shortstop prospect Javier Baez, reports Bruce Levine of 670 The Score. He will join the team for their series opener against the Rockies on Tuesday.”

“In 104 Triple-A games this season, Baez is hitting .260/.323/.510 with 24 doubles and 23 homeruns. He hit .229/.285/.424 with 11 homers and a 33.7 percent strikeout rate in his first 66 games of the year, but has put up a .315/.384/.657 batting line with 12 homers and a 23.8 percent strikeout in 38 games since. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the hot streak started when player-coach Manny Ramirez arrived.”

SouthSideRyan Posted: August 04, 2014 at 02:11 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Cubs announce ‘Hipster Night’ at Wrigley Field – The Heckler

Let’s hope this never becomes an official event, especially when I visit next year.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 04, 2014 at 08:14 AM | 130 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, funny

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cubs deal Emilio Bonifacio, James Russell to Braves

Hey, sounds even, they’ve got the same batting average.

The Cubs dealt… left-handed reliever [James Russell] and infielder Emilio Bonifacio to the Braves on Thursday in exchange for 20-year-old catching prospect Victor Caratini, who was batting .279 at Class A Rome.

Russell, 28, has been a workhorse for the Cubs the last three seasons, and had appeared in 44 games this year with a 3.51 ERA…

Bonifacio, 29… who has played second, third and center field, was batting .279 in 298 plate appearances.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cubs Acquire Felix Doubront

The Cubs have acquired Felix Doubront from the Red Sox…

The Red Sox will receive a player to be named later in return for the 26-year-old lefty, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter.

The District Attorney Posted: July 30, 2014 at 03:22 PM | 48 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, felix doubront, red sox, trades, transactions

Monday, July 28, 2014

Barney + cash to Dodgers for PTBNL

The PTBNL better be alive!

Walt Davis Posted: July 28, 2014 at 07:41 PM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, dinosaurs, dodgers

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