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Jim Furtado
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Editor - Baseball Primer


Cubs Newsbeat

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The stories of the six men who caught the Cubs’ historic home run balls

These guys have some real special balls.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 13, 2015 at 01:52 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Monday, October 12, 2015

Cubs hit six home runs, win Game 3 of NLDS |

It was beautiful.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 12, 2015 at 09:49 PM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, cubs, playoffs

Jake Arrieta’s run among best in MLB history |

“It’s easy to talk about momentum, but it’s harder to maintain it,” Hershiser said. “Every day you put in the work to look to lengthen the run. Does it get easier? I’m not sure it does. It’s a mental challenge to keep it going as much as a physical challenge, knowing that the baseball probabilities will get you. So you just keep your focus knowing that you can make one more sinker low and away and one more breaking ball in the dirt.”

Arrieta keeps defying the probabilities. And it’s no exaggeration to say we can’t wait to see how far he can take this remarkable run.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 12, 2015 at 08:17 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, jake arrieta

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cardinals notebook: Wide strike zone no longer big part of game strategy : Sports

On Saturday, Maddon remarked how even though “it’s a structured strike zone, (but) it’s always interpreted differently by whomever is behind the plate.” What limits the umpires, Matheny has said several times, is the use of technology such as FoxTrax for broadcasts and the similar grid tech that Major League Baseball uses to grade umpires. The benefit, Matheny said, is “more accountability and should be more consistency.” The drawback is the diminishing importance of a catcher who is “no longer rewarded for all those years of working to catch because he gets the exact same strike zone.” Matheny used to have umpires tell him he couldn’t get the low strike anymore despite making it look good.

“That’s my job,” he said.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 11, 2015 at 10:06 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, cubs, strike zone

Bunt-happy Joe Maddon leads the charge in wild Cubs’ victory | Chicago Sun-Times

Bunts for all my friends!

Jim Furtado Posted: October 11, 2015 at 08:42 AM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, cubs

Sunday Notes: Cubs, Pirates, Managers, more | FanGraphs Baseball

David Laurila’s latest.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 11, 2015 at 08:05 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, notes

Saturday, October 10, 2015

In battle of big-game hunters, John Lackey outduels Jon Lester | Chicago Sun-Times

If only the Red Sox could get pitchers this good, maybe they would make the playoffs.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 10, 2015 at 09:02 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, cubs, playoffs

Cubs’ offense stalls in Game 1 loss as wide strike zone hampers approach

That’s not exactly saying Cuzzi had a great game, but it’s not enough to get Maddon in trouble, either. Instead, let’s look at data courtesy of Inside Edge scouting services: The Cubs had six strikes called on 47 pitches out of the zone. Of their six strikeouts looking, four came on pitches outside the zone. That’s a big number. Meanwhile, the Cardinals saw two of 48 pitches outside the zone called for strikes, with one coming on a called strike three.

“I voiced my opinion a couple times, but apparently it was the same zone for both sides, and I really can’t complain about that,” Maddon said.

In any case, six of 47 called outside the zone against the Cubs is even higher than Cuzzi’s normal percentage of pitches called strikes that aren’t. He was around 10 percent during the regular season.

In the playoffs Maddon should have gone with Montero and Montero and Lester should have worked with each other a few times during the season.  This is playoff baseball there is no room for personal catchers

McCoy Posted: October 10, 2015 at 08:48 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, cubs

Friday, October 09, 2015

The Curious Case Of The Extra .2 Seconds -

How does this impact companies which do a lot of analysis based on video?

Look at Arrieta’s front foot and his glove in this progression. Yes, Jake Arrieta is an amazing pitcher. He combines a plus-plus fastball with a wear-you-out slider and impeccable command. But even more impressively, Arrieta has managed to figure out a way to bend the laws of time and space. How do you hit a pitcher who manages to reverse time in the middle of his delivery?

OK, maybe that’s not the best explanation. There has to be another explanation that doesn’t refute Albert Einstein.

A call to TBS this morning offered something that doesn’t violate the laws of physics: that live broadcast you’re watching, well, it’s a little less live than you think.

The technology MLB uses to serve those virtual ads behind home plate? They require a little pause that refreshes when switching to the center field camera. This is true no matter if it’s ESPN, TBS, MLB Network or Fox Sports 1 broadcasting the game. The Sportvision technology requires the shot to back up .18 seconds to put the ads in the right place. That Bleacher Report ad isn’t actually there. It only exists in bits and bytes and the tech needs a little time to get it served up properly, apparently.

I’m not saying I fully understand why the technology needs a delay. I’m not sure the person explaining it could have explained it any better. But we know enough.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 09, 2015 at 09:08 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, scouting, technology

Jon Lester’s former teammates say postseason his time to shine - Chicago Tribune

If only more players wanted to win.

“They didn’t make a mistake when we signed him to be our leader of our staff,” said Dempster, a 2013 teammate of Lester who recruited him to the Cubs after becoming a special assistant to general manager Jed Hoyer.

“He has pushed Jake Arrieta to be better. He has pushed other guys in the rotation to be better. I just watched him (with the Red Sox) and saw how much he wanted it, how hard he worked for it. It’s so much fun to see a guy work that hard and see everything he gets.

“For him to be back in the playoffs is so awesome.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 09, 2015 at 08:27 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, john lester, playoffs, will to win

Harry Caray forever linked to both Cardinals and Cubs - Chicago Tribune

Holy cow!

“Boy, oh boy,” Caray would cackle with that slight gargle in his voice. “The Cubs and Cardinals playing meaningful games in October? This must be heaven, right?”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 09, 2015 at 06:38 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, cubs

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Cubs fan gets Jake Arrieta’s face shaved into his head

If tattoos ever go out of fashion, I suppose this is where we’re headed.

Spahn Insane Posted: October 08, 2015 at 11:45 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, jake arrieta

Cubs will challenge John Lackey in NLDS |

We can use Statcast™ exit velocity to show how important getting ahead of the hitter is for Lackey. For example, the overall MLB average when hitting a 1-0 pitch was 89.9 mph. For Lackey, that was 93.1 mph, a sizable difference. When he was down 2-1, his 91.7 mph was higher than the MLB average of 90.3. He is so much better off not getting down in the count, hence the increasing number of first-pitch strikes.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 08, 2015 at 02:49 PM | 37 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, john lackey, sabermetrics, statcast

Cubs Edge toward Destiny as WS Fave Jays Open ALDS

Rational Pastime’s playoff simulator now projects the Cubs as 34% favorites to represent the Senior Circuit in the Fall Classic, and 5:1 to win it all… Among today’s American League contenders, the Toronto Blue Jays remain big favorites at 2:1…

Summary of projections:

TOR 3:1
CHC 5:1
HOU 5:1
LAD 8:1
KCR 11:1
NYM 12:1
STL 13:1
TEX 16:1

J-Doug Posted: October 08, 2015 at 01:41 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: alds, astros, blue jays, cardinals, cubs, dodgers, mets, nlds, playoffs, projections, rangers, royals, world series

Theo Epstein rewards baseball department for job well done - Chicago Tribune

“I love numbers,” manager Joe Maddon said. “God, I love numbers, though I was horrible in math. Algebra III. Second semester of Algebra II was my Waterloo, to be honest with you. Algebra III and Trig could have been Latin or Greek, it wouldn’t matter to me. But I do love numbers.

“Beyond that I really like people and humans and what makes this guy tick? And I don’t think that because you can’t necessarily quantify it, it’s not as popular of a way to acquire a player, but it really matters. It really matters right now in our clubhouse. But I guess my point is it’s a combination of skillful young players that everybody saw coming along. But I don’t believe we would be here without the appropriate seasoning among the veterans.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 08, 2015 at 08:00 AM | 43 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, joe maddon, playoffs, theo epstein

Cubs take the Joe Maddon way to National League Division Series - Chicago Tribune

The bench clearing get-together during the game was just plain stupid.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 08, 2015 at 06:02 AM | 74 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, jake arrieta, joe maddon, playoffs, wild card

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Arrieta-Cole, Objectively One of Best Playoff Matchups Ever | FanGraphs Baseball

It’s a big game. As much as I respect what the Pirates have accomplished, I must admit that I’m rooting for the Cubs.

The Arrieta-Cole matchup still sits comfortably in the top ten of dueling aces in winner-take-all games. Arrieta does have the edge in the matchup between the two pitchers, but the team with the better pitcher does not always win. In the 75 games in which one pitcher had at least a one-win WAR advantage, the better pitcher’s team posted a 44-31 record. It is probably a little unfair that a 97-win team and a 98-win team have to face off in a one-game playoff just to make the Division Series, but it has produced one of the greatest pitching matchups of all time.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2015 at 08:32 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, gerrit cole, jake arrieta, pirates

One Game, One Night: Winner Take All | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Yes, yes, I would. These games are must watch affairs. How often can you say that about the first round of the playoffs?

“You hope that the best teams wind up in the playoffs in a series that is fair, that people would deem fair, just as a fan,” starter Charlie Morton said shortly after the Pirates lost to the Cardinals, the definitive stroke in their relegation to a third consecutive wild-card game. “Do you really want to see two of the top three or four teams in all of baseball play a one-game playoff? No. And I’m not just saying that because we’re one of those teams, I’m saying that because it just doesn’t seem like, it just doesn’t seem right.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2015 at 08:27 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, pirates, playoffs, wild card

Joe Maddon is everything you want in a manager — and a person | Chicago Sun-Times

But is he nice to dogs and little kids? I bet he is.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2015 at 08:21 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, joe maddon, managers

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

I Love Wrigley Field, But as a Wheelchair User, I Sure Wish It Was Easier to Navigate

Were we all actually expected to sit completely in the main aisle and become an obstacle course for drunken fans on hotdog and beer runs? Wasn’t that a fire code hazard? An emergency exit violation?

Apparently not. Cubs spokesman Julian Green told me later that our assigned seating was perfectly legal. Sitting completely out in a main aisle without any protective barriers? It’s a go, if the aisle is considered wide enough.

I fought back tears of frustration. I was already in pain because the Cubs’ motorized cart from the accessible parking lot had dropped us off a block short of the box office and in front of a sidewalk blocked by construction. We had to cross bumpy Clark Street twice, while people, cars, and buses poured into the area. From my seat in my wheelchair, even small ruts can send shockwaves of pain from my heel to my hip.

Due to the bumpy ride, my now-throbbing elevated leg was sticking out and at the mercy of a rowdy baseball crowd that was growing as the ramps were filling with ascending fans. I felt trapped. I couldn’t even roll myself away.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 06, 2015 at 10:27 PM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: ada, cubs, handicapped, wheelchair access, wrigley field

The Cubs Might Have Screwed Themselves By Screwing Kris Bryant

Can’t resist. . .

And that makes tomorrow night’s game a vivid example of how a team’s micromanaging cheapness can bite it in the ass.

To be fair, it’s a small bite. In baseball, home-field advantage means the host wins roughly 54 percent of the time. The thing here is how obvious the counterfactual is to work out. The most basic illustrator is WAR—Wins Above Replacement, which offers an estimate of how many wins an individual player creates. We’ll use Fangraphs’ version of the stat: Bryant didn’t get called up until April 17, and in the eight games (plus one rainout) before his arrival Cubs third basemen combined for an offensive WAR of just under negative 0.3. (Four hits in 29 at bats will do that to you.) Over the next 154 games, Bryant played in 151 and produced 6.5 WAR. If we assume he would have hit at the same level in the games he missed (not a given, since his best months came in August and September), Bryant could have added just over 0.3 extra WAR.

Swap the cruddiness of Mike Olt for the excellence of Kris Bryant and you get six tenths of a win. This kind of direct conversion isn’t really how WAR works, but the size of the swing (especially in a mere eight games) shows how much Bryant’s presence would have helped the Cubs’ in their retroactive search for that extra win.

McCoy Posted: October 06, 2015 at 10:21 PM | 90 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Toronto Blue Jays Big Favorites as 2015 MLB Postseason Begins

It begins again: Rational Pastime projections for the 2015 postseason. Tonight, the RP model has the Houston Astros as slight favorites over the New York Yankees. Were these teams evenly matched, the Yanks would be favored 54-46, thanks to home field advantage. However, my RP Score system believes that the Astros are a better team.

As for the rest of the playoffs, the model—which relies on the Log 5 equation and Matt Swarz’s numbers for home field advantage—picks the Toronto Blue Jays to win it all as nearly 2:1 favorites.

J-Doug Posted: October 06, 2015 at 04:19 PM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, blue jays, cardinals, cubs, dodgers, mets, pirates, playoffs, projections, rangers, royals, yankees

At 21, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell is a true student of the game - Chicago Tribune

I am still shocked the A’s traded Russell.

“(PNC’s infield) may be different than the last time,” Russell said. “You’ve got to take all those things into consideration, and I test the dirt to see how it plays. That’s being game-cautious and being aware.”

Although Russell doesn’t possess the same arm strength as Javier Baez or Castro, he frequently puts himself in position to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible with proper footwork.

“I’m not going to be as flashy, but I’ll get the job done,” Russell said.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 06, 2015 at 09:37 AM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: addison russell, cubs

Monday, October 05, 2015

Cubs’ Kris Bryant has top-selling MLB jersey

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant had the best-selling jersey in all of Major League Baseball during the regular season, according to sales on the league’s official website.

The 23-year-old Bryant is the youngest player to lead the top-20 list, though youth is a theme among those that come off the racks the quickest.

San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who is 26, is No. 2, followed by his catcher Buster Posey (28), Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (27), Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (24) and Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (22).

Thanks to Bryant—and the team’s first postseason berth since 2008—the sales of Cubs merchandise this season are up 80 percent year versus a year ago. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo joins Bryant in the top 10, coming in at No. 8.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 05, 2015 at 11:47 AM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, kris bryant, merchandise

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