Archive for February, 2014

More Prospect Love, Budweiser Deal, Starlin Batting Leadoff?

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Hello friends. I write to you from several thousand feet above the Atlantic as I return from my assignment covering the Winter Olympics in Sochi for VFTB. I’ll have a report for you on our next podcast. Speaking of podcasts, make sure to subscribe to, rate, and review the VFTB podcast on iTunes.

The last of the Top 100 prospect lists is out from Baseball America. As expected, the Cubs once again make a fine showing. Here’s the breakdown of the Cubs on the list:

5. Javier Baez
8. Kris Bryant
28. C.J. Edwards
36. Albert Almora
41. Jorge Soler
87. Pierce Johnson
100. Arismendy Alcantara

Almora is a little lower on the list than others, but that can probably be attributed to his injuries. If healthy, I believe we’ll see him climb up the board rapidly this summer.

Here’s some tweets from Baseball America’s Ben Badler (@BenBadler) that should make you feel all nice:

“”Why did the Rangers ever trade C.J. Edwards?” -pretty much every team in baseball #BA100″

“The scariest thing about Javier Baez isn’t his freakish bat speed or power. It’s how much he improved all around last year. #BA100”

“Jorge Soler should be a Top 25 prospect next year as long as he’s healthy. Bat speed, 70 power, good approach. Could be a monster. #BA100”

Other bits:

  • Patrick Mooney reports that Starling Castro will likely hit leadoff to start the season.
  • Bruce Levine tweeted that the new Budweiser deal will pay the Cubs $10 million a year for next 14 years.
  • The Cubs released the 2014 TV broadcast schedule.
  • Theo Epstein spoke to Jesse Rogers, and it seems that the GM may regret emphasizing “parallel fronts” in the rebuilding process.

Hey, if you’re into Twitter, follow me, why dontcha? @powell_sean

Until the podcast Monday night…have a good one!

 

 

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GirlieView (02/20/2014)

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2013/2014 Offseason = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.

Lizzies

  • If the “all expense paid” includes unlimited bottled water and a port-a-john, I’m in.
  • I bet the port-a-john would be cold, it is the winter olympics.
  • I understand it’s a 2 seater port-a-john
  • Not a big Olympic fan in general and even less so of winter games. I might, however, be enticed to watch whatever games are attached to the Roman Numerals XXX.
  • Greetings from Iowa. My primary take-away from this week of new job training is an urge to exit Iowa.
  • You’re raining on my parade of wanting to go to Des Moines to watch the AAA team. Must be some redeeming things, no?
  • Corn.
  • Scenario: Imagine you are suddenly the new Cubs owner/president/general manager/demigod.
  • I get flustered when my wife lets me decide where to go for dinner so I am out on this question.
  • C J Edwards can’t weigh more than a couple of bats.
  • First DP turned: Seymour Butts.
  • Gone is Carlos Marmol. To be honest, we could probably just stop right there, drop the mic and walk off the stage.
  • We’re now a shoo-in to take the Central.
  • Perhaps early NL favorite as well?
  • The Marlins inked Jeff Baker, so no.
  • If we could have made a certain other signing, we could have been a Shin-Soo Choo in to win it.

Lizard

  • I don’t understand why people always say things like “Trade him as soon as he shows anything” as if other GM’s have access just to the last week of stats and no film whatsoever. Front offices are not dumb. They know what they’re doing.

Shout Outs

  • We have no new Lizzie awardees this time around so shout outs to everyone! Thanks for keeping the off-season interesting!

MVL

  • Our fearless leader Joe Aiello is our Most Valuable Lizzie’er this time! Congratulations Joe!

Top 10 of the 2013/2014 Offseason (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. jswanson
2. Doc Raker
3. Seymour Butts
4. Eddie von White
4. Sean Powell
6. Joe Aiello
7. Noah
8. Doug S.
9. Jedi Johnson
10. Chuck

Chit Chat

Spring (training) is in the air! I know we have some differing opinions about Spring Training around these parts and I’m sure we can generate some spirited (gag) discussion around it. As I’m you can probably tell, that “spirited-ness” has been making me a little nuts lately. But carry on. If we all hate each other by the time the season starts so be it. So, tell us, how do you feel about Spring Training games (the first of which, by the way, will be televised exactly one week from today at 2:00pm CST on WGN)? I’ll start you off with some choices but feel free to elaborate:
a. I watch or listen every chance I get to see how the team is shaping up.
b. I watch or listen every chance I get but not with any expectations of reality, just because it’s baseball and baseball is fun!
c. I watch or listen occasionally but don’t pay very close attention until the season starts.
d. I primarily ignore it. Waste of my time.

 

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VFTB Radio – Episode 3

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Episode 3 of the show was expected to be Joe flying solo until a late hero, author Chris Neitzel, was booked last minute to come on the show to discuss his new book. We were eternally grateful.

SHOW OUTLINE

Download the Episode – (49 min / 11 MB)

SUBSCRIPTION INFO

Subscribe to the show in iTunes (Please remember to review and rate the show)

Follow us on Twitter: Joe – @vftb / Josh – @JCstats Sean – @powell_sean

E-mail the mailbag – viewfromthebleachers@gmail.com

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Mailbag – How Key Was the Bonifacio Signing?

Monday, February 17th, 2014

It’s Monday. What does that mean? Another edition of the Monday mailbag, of course. Just one question in the bag today, which means you guys aren’t doing your job. Please send some questions to viewfromthebleachers@gmail.com and we’ll answer them. Let’s get right to it.

“Does the Cubs signing of Emilio Bonifacio spell the end for Darwin Barney? How likely is it that he makes the opening day roster?” ~Jim in Syracuse, NY

This is a great question, Jim. In fact, it was one that we’ll address on the podcast tonight so make sure you subscribe to us in iTunes. While it’s easy to look at the signing and say it is huge, I think you have to temper the expectations dramatically. Let’s not forget that there is always a reason a team is willing to simply eat a contract and release a player. You don’t just do that for no reason. Personally. I think the signing is all that significant and I don’t think he’ll make the team out spring training. I saw a lot of people praising the signing because of his speed, but you have to get on base to steal a base and that’s something he doesn’t do very well. His best year was 2011 and he hasn’t really been any good since. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong, but I’d rather see a guy like Logan Watkins or even Arismendy Alcantara get that last infield spot, assuming we see Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney and a pick two of Luis Valbuena, Donnie Murphy, and Mike Olt are “locks”.

Got a question for the mailbag, please e-mail it to viewfromthebleachers@gmail.com

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4 Reasons Why The Cubs Will Be Better in 2014

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

For the last two podcast episodes, which can be subscribed to on iTunes (shameless plug), I’ve hinted that I am starting to sway toward the idea that the Cubs will finish .500 this season. I know it’s not easy to see and that we’ve been told that 2015 is the first year we can expect to smile, but I think there is reason for optimism and that this team is capable of surprising some people.

1. We Underperformed Our Run Differential – One of the best predictors of what a team can expect in terms of their record is the ratio of runs scored to runs allowed. It’s a pretty simple concept when you think about it. The goal is to score more runs than the other guy and when you do that, you win. Logic would say that the greater the differential between the amount of runs you score versus the amount you allow, the more games you will win. The problem comes in the fact that some games are blowouts and some are tight. Both wins count the same. A quick look at last year’s standings reveals that the Cubs were projected to win 71 games last season based on their run differential. We should be able to duplicate that in 2014, if not surpass it.

2. The Bullpen Has Improved – Gone is Carlos Marmol. To be honest, we could probably just stop right there, drop the mic and walk off the stage. Instead, I want to point you to the fact that this bullpen has been revamped by Jed this off-season after they admitted last year that the team really should have focused more on it last year. It was an admitted weakness and this off-season they took steps to fix it. The 2013 bullpen ranked 13th in ERA, 2nd in blown saves with 26. There really was nothing the starters could do other than work deep into the game and hope for offense. Pedro Strop was brought in last last year and showed he could reclaim some of the success he had in Baltimore before being exiled. Jose Veras was signed as a free agent and should be given the first crack at the closer role. Those two guys in the pen for a full season should be able to yield an improvement. Throw in a (fingers crossed) healthy Arodys Vizcaino and this pen has the potential to be much improved.

3. Starlin Castro & Anthony Rizzo Will Improve – Look, I get it. It’s frustrating when you see the two players we invested heavily in struggle. You begin to doubt their career projections and you begin to question the front office for what they see in them. What I would tell you is this. It’s OK to get on the ledge. It’s not OK to jump off of it. We have to use common sense. Both Castro and Rizzo have shown they can perform. Have we forgotten that Castro had 207 hits in 2011? Have we forgotten that he’s still under 25? Last year was the outlier. I promise you there will be improvement. 2014 will be much closer to 2011 than 2013. As for Rizzo, the argument is basically the same with the addition that in 2013 his batting average on balls in play was a very low .258. That won’t happen again this year. We’re going to see both of these guys improve.

4. New Managerial Regime – I don’t tend to put a lot of stock in the manager and his impact on the game, but for some reason sometimes there is something that happens when you make a change. I don’t know if Dale was the wrong guy and that Renteria is the right guy. What I do know is that I had been hearing that the front office and Dale were not quite on the same page. When that happens, you can’t accomplish all that be accomplished. I have to believe that this time, they knew exactly what they were looking for and found it in Renteria.

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