If you missed the Cubs this weekend, you certainly missed controversy.

This actually happened.

Joe Torre (in charge of Major League Operations, On-Field Operations, On-Field Discipline and Umpiring) needs to act. Home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi doesn’t need to be making that call; and if he does and the entire Cubs bench looks surprised and angry, would it really kill him to ask for help? It’s this behavior from officials that EVERY other major professional sport has successfully gotten under control. In basketball, football, and hockey you see officials huddle together when one of them has clearly butchered a call. But baseball is more like tennis – some crotchety old guy tyrannically interpreting the rules through his own faulty vision, insistent that he couldn’t possibly need help. If Cuzzi had bothered to consult Chris Guccione at first base, I’m still not sure they’d have gotten it right – that’s how bad umpires are these days, protecting one another until the bitter end. Not until the league starts making examples out of these guys (and I mean firing the worst of them – Angel Hernandez!) will any of them bother to change their ways. Just look at this list – you should only know a couple of those guys by name…instead I know at least a dozen of those guys simply because of an ignominious decision they’ve made at a crucial time. And many of them – like Cuzzi’s ridiculous call on Sunday – could’ve been avoided if umpires were just a little less ‘it’s us against the world’ all the time.

Because of Cuzzi’s absurd punchout, both Dale Sveum and James Russell were ejected on Sunday. I really wish more of the team had forced an ejection – Baseball Tonight will give a few minutes to the bad call, but the Cubs could’ve really put some momentum behind the umpire-hating if they’d gotten ejected en masse. Dale looked intent to get tossed though; but he was probably still sour from Saturday…

When this happened.

If you haven’t yet heard the commentary that accompanies the video that I linked to, you need to watch that. I think it’s the best explanation of exactly what happened on that play – again, terrible umpiring (in my opinion anyway, admittedly this is debatable). You don’t call the infield fly rule as the ball is falling into Castro’s glove in LF. As the announcer says in that piece, the ENTIRE Cubs team relaxed when Castro caught the ball because generally you don’t have to worry about advancing players on an infield fly. Embarrassing play, no excuse to let the guy score but can we please stop pretending as if this dramatically altered the course of the game? The Cubs didn’t score in this game. AT ALL.

You know what will affect winning? Regularly embarrassing your young talent at every chance. No idea what Dale thought he was accomplishing by yanking Castro from the game at the end of that half inning. It solves nothing, it teaches nothing. All it does it put the conversation right back on Castro’s shortcomings (perceived or otherwise); not usually a great tactic for inspiring and encouraging one of your best assets. This was not an Andruw Jones refusal to run hard to a catchable fly ball. And Castro’s response (as it has been EVERY single time something like this happens) was perfect; he takes full responsible, never says anything that sounds like a partial excuse. I thought pulling him from the game was a cowardly move. Exactly when has Dale stood up for Castro? He seems quite happy to throw him to the wolves whenever possible.

I’m of the opinion that a fair amount of Cubs fans just need a team pariah. And in the absence of someone who blossoms into the role like Sammy Sosa, someone who earns it right out of the gate like Milton Bradley, or someone who did a bit of both like Carlos Zambrano, Castro has ‘earned’ the role because basically he rubs people the wrong way. He swings at bad pitches, he has bad posture, he makes a mess of the routine. And for all of this, the 23-year-old is called lazy, disinterested, and a whole lot worse with regularity. Never mind that he has yet to make any excuse for one of these shortcomings, in fact he owns up to it so quickly, I think the media enjoys heaping it on him as quickly as possible (much like they did to Zambrano at times). I’d be curious to know how it’s all perceived by Soler, Almora, Baez, Bryant and the rest of the Cubs’ prospects…because personally, I don’t think there’s a place in baseball where the fans are setup for more unrealistic expectations of the future. I’d love to see Cub fans stop eating their young.

Ryan Dempster beaned A-Rod…who then propelled the Yankees to a come-from-behind win against the Red Sox.

Miguel Tejada says he was banned because MLB won’t give him a medical waiver for a doctor prescribed pill that he needs to take. (This is where Bud Selig tries to explain how Ryan Braun gets to negotiate the terms of his suspension, but Tejada can’t take something that a doctor says he needs…of course this would all shake out the same way if Selig had never owned the Brewers)

I’d be thrilled if I thought this kid would do any hard time…but he won’t.

State of the System


by Rob Willer

Top Prospect: Tony Zych

Bio: Zych attended St Rita High school in Chicago Illinois, he then attended the University of Louisville to continue on his baseball career. Finally the Cubs drafted Zych in the 4th round of the 2011 draft after trying to draft him in 2008 in the 46th round. Zych was finally coming home to Chicago to start his professional career with his hometown Cubbies. He measures at 6 foot 3 and 190 pounds according to baseballreference.com. In his first year in the Cubs organization, he split time with the Rookie League and the Boise Hawks. Zych’s numbers ended up being a 2.25 earned run average in four games pitched (three games finished) over his span with both clubs. He also registered an eight strikeout to three walk ratio in his first season in the Cubs organization.

2012-2013 Season: After showing success in the rookie league as well as Boise in the short season league the Cubs decided to move Zych to the High A Affiliate Daytona Cubs. Zych pitched in 27 games (24 Games Finished) over his Daytona tenure where he had an earned run average of 3.19 with 36 strikeouts in 36 and 2/3 innings. After registering similar success in the Florida St. League, Zych got the call-up to the Double A Affiliate the Tennessee Smokies. Zych’s number’s at the Double A level were not as encouraging as Daytona as he struggled to a 4.38 earned run average in 20 games. He did however register 28 strikeouts in 24 innings which was good for a better than one strikeout per innings. The 2013 season is where Zych finally broke out, Zych has pitched in 41 games (14 games finished) where his earned run average is below three (2.52 to be exact). He has pitched 50 innings which shows he has been a durable reliever for Double A Tennessee. Most likely Zych will finish out the year with the Smokies and hopefully get some playoff appearance with them and start next season with Triple A Iowa.

Sleeper Prospect- Trey Masek

Masek attended Texas Tech University where he started to make a name for himself with continuance of dominance against Big 12 opponents. This past June Masek was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 5th round of the 2013 amateur draft. Masek measures at 6 foot 1 and 185 pounds which is pretty close to the prototypical pitcher in today’s game. So far Masek has pitched in two different leagues for the Cubs this summer. He first went to Arizona to shake off some of the rest which the draft period attributes to. Masek’s stats with the Boise Hawks consist of 1.20 earned run average in 9 games where he struck out 18 in 15 innings pitched.

Masek was drafted as a starting pitcher but most likely will end up as a relief pitcher in the near future. With his work ethic and high baseball IQ i see no reason for failure at the big league level. Over time I can see Masek and Zych becoming the closers of the future for the Chicago Cubs. Masek will start next season at either Kane County (Low A) or Daytona Cubs (High A) depending on member involvement. In my mind Masek, has the potential to be very dominant in the pen, maybe not so much Miguel Cabrera but a decent OPS and slugging percentage never hurt a player.

by Joe Aiello

I decided to add this section to the morning posts because it’s important to give you, the reader, as much time away from work as possible during the day and the way to accomplish that is to not only make the posts longer, but to get them more interactive by starting a discussion. So with that, let’s get right to it with a topic that is sure to apply to both stat guys and scout guys.

When evaluating players, there are many things that people favor. Some like stats and believe you can make the majority of the decisions based on the numbers, whereas others say stats are helpful, but that it’s your eyes that need to be the guide. If we cater to both groups, I want to know what would be the most important thing you’re looking for.

For stat guys, if you were given one stat and one stat only that you could see on a player, which stat would you choose to use to evaluate pitchers and which would you use to evaluate hitters? Remember, you can’t see the player play and you can see no other numbers other than that one stat. Also, why do you choose the stat you do?

For the scout guys, what one tool do to most value when you see a batter hit and a pitcher pitch? If you’re scouting and somehow can only see one tool for the hitter, what would you most value? Why?

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