View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003

Friday

28

February 2014

55

COMMENTS

Baseball is Back; Theo Talks Prospects

Written by , Posted in General

It always feels great when baseball returns. The Cubs played their first spring training game yesterday against the Diamondbacks. Shark got the “start” (2 innings) against Bronson Arroyo. There wasn’t much insight to be gained from the action on the field – since it’s the first game, guys were in and out of the game very quickly – even the broadcasters were having a hard time keeping up. Starlin Castro looked great in his 2 at-bats, smoking a line-drive double to right center in his second at-bat. Mike Olt did nothing with his two at-bats, and the big-time prospects didn’t make it into the game, so we’ll have to wait for Baez-Bryant-Soler-Almora highlights.

Rick Renteria did his first in-game interview as Cubs manager. I know those things are always sort of awkward (the manager is trying to pay attention to the game while speaking to the broadcasters), and I know Rick was probably a little nervous doing this for the first time, but man, is that guy LOW KEY. That’s not a bad thing, but I think I nodded off 3 times when he was speaking (the content – the most important part – was just fine).

This was the first game in the brand new Cubs park in Mesa. I have to admit, even though it’s a corporate, suburban nightmare simulacrum of Wrigley, it looked pretty fun. This game set the Cactus league record for attendance at over 14,000. The dimensions of the outfield walls are a replica of Wrigley (the walls are moved back a few feet to compensate for the thinner, drier air of AZ), and the grandstands have that Wrigley look as well (there’s even replica brick behind home plate). That’s where the similarities end, however. The player facilities at this new park are state-of-the-art. The training facilities, weight room, batting cages, video rooms, theatre, etc. are amazing. It’s going to be a real downer for the players to leave those facilities and return to the horrendous  player facilities in Chicago. I suppose we’re getting a taste of what the Wrigley facilities could be if the renovations ever begin.

The most interesting part of the WGN broadcast was surely the interview with Theo Epstein. There are so many great quotes that make me feel good about the future of the team:

  • “You want wave after wave of prospects. When these kids come up to the big-league level, you want another wave that’s knocking at the door in the high minors. You want to avoid a gap. One bad draft can set an organization back for years because it creates a vacuum, and you often have to fill that vacuum from a position of desperation from outside the organization, and you can make mistakes that way.”
  • “We attack [pitching depth] with volume through the draft every year, and we try to get an arm back in every deal we make.”
  • When asked about the timeline of prospects coming up to the minors: “When people ask me, ‘when is player X gonna get here,’ I try to shift the question from ‘when’ to ‘how.’ How is he gonna get here? We don’t focus on timing as much as we do getting the player as fully developed as possible in the minor leagues. Our goal is to develop each prospect to their maximum potential physically, mentally, and fundamentally. We have individualized development plans for each player, they have them in writing, they sign off on them, they contribute to them. So when we talk about what it will take to get to the big leagues, we point them back to the plan. Here are your weaknesses physically, here are your weaknesses fundamentally, here are your weaknesses mentally, and here’s a plan to get better in those areas. When they turn those weaknesses into strengths, that’s when they’re ready for the big leagues. It’s not a question of time, it’s rounding out their development. You only get one chance to develop a player in the minor leagues – you can do an awful lot of damage by calling a player up too early.” This is my absolute favorite quote. I love the emphasis on a player’s accountability and ownership of their own development. I love that they sign a written copy of their own development plan. As a teacher, I always try to emphasize process with my students, so I’m thrilled to hear Theo speak about “how” over “when.” You can argue the merits of Theo’s plan, but you certainly can’t argue that he doesn’t have one.
  • Good news for those that have lamented the bullpen woes of late: “We’re pretty excited about the power arms we have now [in the bullpen]. We have plenty of depth in the bullpen this year, we’ll have two left handers, some more power arms with good breaking stuff, some swing-and-miss stuff. Knock on wood, but we have a chance to get off on the right foot with the pen this year. The last couple of years, the pen has cost us early, and it has a chance to be a strength for us out of the gate this year.”

I’m excited to finally have on-the-field action to write about, and I’m looking forward to our discussion from now until October. Hey, if you haven’t checked out the VFTB podcast, give us a try. You can subscribe to us on iTunes, where we always appreciate your ratings and reviews. We’d also love to receive your questions for our mailbag segment.

Until the podcast Monday night, have a great weekend, Cubs fans!

  • Doug S.

    Glad somebody else here watched this. Great job on Theo’s quotes. A highlight for me was the Renteria, Ricketts and Epstein interviews. I thought Renteria came off fine, way better than Quade or Sveum ever did. Bonifacio showed great wheels, looked like he rounded third on that triple. Matt Szczur made a great catch in the OF. More than some of the others, I want this guy to succeed. In the booth I enjoyed JD’s comments and Len didn’t annoy me. Baseball’s back and I love it.

  • Doug S.

    Glad somebody else here watched this. Great job on Theo’s quotes. A highlight for me was the Renteria, Ricketts and Epstein interviews. I thought Renteria came off fine, way better than Quade or Sveum ever did. Bonifacio showed great wheels, looked like he rounded third on that triple. Matt Szczur made a great catch in the OF. More than some of the others, I want this guy to succeed. In the booth I enjoyed JD’s comments and Len didn’t annoy me. Baseball’s back and I love it.

  • PLCB3

    I reviewed the podcast on iTunes!

  • Darwin? Is that you?

    • Eddie Von White

      Yes, it is, only it isn’t.

    • Eddie Von White

      Yes, it is, only it isn’t.

  • Doc Raker

    Great job on the Theo quotes. I agree on the concept of player development and having the player understand what he needs to improve. That seems like a win win for both player and organization. Now if they can only send Len Kasper back to the minors or give him a developmental sheet he can sign off on to help him make his broadcasts interesting. Seymour actually worked out at the new complex. Seymour, how many sit ups did you get in? Two, two and half?

    • PLCB3

      Seymour should stop eating Subway. Sodium laced meats and gym mat bread. Puke.

      • Doug S.

        You forgot the ranch dressing.

      • PLCB3

        I wasn’t even thinking of ranch dressing. The gym mat bread was enough to make it disgusting.

      • Seymour Butts

        This is actually an area where your aversion to science serves you well. A scan of the ingredients list of most ingestible substances will make you a vegetarian, if not outright anorexic.
        Anti-freeze (propylene glycol) appears everywhere. But rest easy we are more likely to die from excessive calories than yoga mats.

      • PLCB3

        I don’t want to eat on bread made from yoga mats. I know excessive calories is more likely to kill than yoga mats, but learning that is enough to put a disgusting image in my head. Just like I get disgusting thoughts when I think of Taco Bell. I tried the free Doritos Locos taco after the World Series one year, and it was puke. I think it took 2 days to digest. And that was the first time in 15 years that I had had Taco Bell

      • Eagerly awaiting you learning about more eating-related things, and adjusting your diet accordingly. Here’s an item: eggs come from a chicken’s cloaca. Google that orifice and check back in.

      • Yes, and don’t skip the info on the “cloacal kiss.”

      • Doc Raker

        Did you know that raw eggs do not contain salmonella within the egg, salmonella is only carried on the exterior of the egg shell.

      • Eagerly awaiting you learning about more eating-related things, and adjusting your diet accordingly. Here’s an item: eggs come from a chicken’s cloaca. Google that orifice and check back in.

      • Doc Raker

        Did you know that raw eggs do not contain salmonella within the egg, salmonella is only carried on the exterior of the egg shell.

      • Doc Raker

        You don’t get any of that if you eat fresh food. I have been anti freeze free for a long time.

      • PLCB3

        Make sure there is no anti-freeze in your wine.

      • Doc Raker

        No anti freeze in my wine, nor my Busmills or bourbon.

      • PLCB3
      • Doc Raker

        I never drink Chateau Maison, it had a funny nose and finish back when I tasted it in 1999.

      • Doc Raker

        You don’t get any of that if you eat fresh food. I have been anti freeze free for a long time.

      • AC0000000

        Make sure there is no anti-freeze in your wine.

      • Doc Raker

        No anti freeze in my wine, nor my Busmills or bourbon.

      • AC0000000
      • Doc Raker

        I never drink Chateau Maison, it had a funny nose and finish back when I tasted it in 1999.

      • Eddie Von White

        I used to eat all natural food, then I read somewhere that most people die of natural causes.

      • Eddie Von White

        I used to eat all natural food, then I read somewhere that most people die of natural causes.

    • Seymour Butts

      One and a half…I’m saving it for the regular season.
      The “simulated brick’s” feel awfully real in person.
      I could not for the life of me remember Lens broadcast partner yesterday.

      • Sean Powell

        “replica” bricks

      • Seymour Butts

        my bad, they are still real however.

      • Sean Powell

        Yes. Replicas are real, just not original.

      • PLCB3

        Like Joe’s $50 “authentic” Ray Rice jersey?

      • Sean Powell

        “replica” bricks

      • Seymour Butts

        my bad, they are still real however.

      • Sean Powell

        Yes. Replicas are real, just not original.

      • AC0000000

        Like Joe’s $50 “authentic” Ray Rice jersey?

  • Doc Raker

    Great job on the Theo quotes. I agree on the concept of player development and having the player understand what he needs to improve. That seems like a win win for both player and organization. Now if they can only send Len Kasper back to the minors or give him a developmental sheet he can sign off on to help him make his broadcasts interesting. Seymour actually worked out at the new complex. Seymour, how many sit ups did you get in? Two, two and half?

    • AC0000000

      Seymour should stop eating Subway. Sodium laced meats and gym mat bread. Puke.

      • Doug S.

        You forgot the ranch dressing.

      • AC0000000

        I wasn’t even thinking of ranch dressing. The gym mat bread was enough to make it disgusting.

  • Doc Raker

    I am listening to the radio broadcast of Cubs Angels, 13-1 bad guys but it ain’t over yet. Ron Coomer sounds like a guy from camp named Smitty talking to Pat, Coomer seems a little smarter than Smitty actually. Every time Pat says ‘Ron’ I think Santo is going to say something. Albert Almora hit a double and Jorge Soler took a backwards K on a curve ball that fooled him. Kris Bryant just went yard dead center in his first spring training AB. 13-3 , coming back!

    • Seymour Butts

      Watched the same inning on mlb.tv. We can dream of the future.
      Smitty’s voice is deeper than Coomer. As Smitty once marketed coffee beans to children, Coomer is likely much smarter.

      • Doc Raker

        Not saying much. Coomer was a steroid apologist back at the bar at the Dobson in 2007 when I chatted with him, as all union guys were back then.

  • Doc Raker

    I am listening to the radio broadcast of Cubs Angels, 13-1 bad guys but it ain’t over yet. Ron Coomer sounds like a guy from camp named Smitty talking to Pat, Coomer seems a little smarter than Smitty actually. Every time Pat says ‘Ron’ I think Santo is going to say something. Albert Almora hit a double and Jorge Soler took a backwards K on a curve ball that fooled him. Kris Bryant just went yard dead center in his first spring training AB. 13-3 , coming back!

    • Seymour Butts

      Watched the same inning on mlb.tv. We can dream of the future.
      Smitty’s voice is deeper than Coomer. As Smitty once marketed coffee beans to children, Coomer is likely much smarter.

  • Baez just launched one 450 ft. Let the kids play…let the kids play.

    • PLCB3

      They want to wait to get that extra year of control and to avoid Super-2 status.

      • I vote to start the clock.

      • PLCB3

        Would you at least let them get the extra year and call him up after 12 days?

  • Baez just launched one 450 ft. Let the kids play…let the kids play.

    • AC0000000

      They want to wait to get that extra year of control and to avoid Super-2 status.

      • I vote to start the clock.

      • AC0000000

        Would you at least let them get the extra year and call him up after 12 days?