View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003

Friday

8

August 2014

104

COMMENTS

Welcome to the Bandwagon

Written by , Posted in General

Today, Javier Baez made his Wrigley Field debut. For those of us who have followed Cubs prospects the last few years (“prospect hipsters” according to Jon Greenberg), this marks the beginning of the long-awaited turnaround. Perhaps this is the “Tipping Point” that Chris wrote about.

I totally understand that most fans are casual fans. That is, they keep up with the overall play of the big league club and don’t care too much about the minor leagues – I get it. I also understand that even more serious fans aren’t going to be interested in the teams’ prospects as much as someone who writes for a blog or is active in the Cubs Twitter community is. Most fans are going to lose quite a bit of interest if the major league club isn’t playing well…or, they will complain loudly that this team is the “same old losers”/Ricketts is a cheap bum/Theo is overrated/whatever. Now that the prospects that many of us were following and anxiously anticipating are finally making it to the big league team, many bandwagon fans will follow. You know what? I’m OK with that. After all, we’re all on the same side, and I think Cubs fans spend a little too much energy criticizing each other (it happens out in the bleachers all the time). Yes, I find it absolutely frustrating when I hear ignorant folks criticize the front office for moves that they totally don’t understand (it’s usually the same people that argue that wins are the most important stat for a pitcher), but I’m ready to welcome those fans aboard the prospect-driven bandwagon with open arms. Come on in, it should be a fun ride.

I have a theory about why so many baseball fans don’t see to understand the farm system/prospect development aspect of baseball. I blame the NFL and NBA. In those leagues, players who are drafted (especially those who are early-round picks in the NFL and lottery picks in the NBA) can often step right into the starting lineup of a team and contribute right away. In those sports, if you are a gifted athlete, you can use your talents to play the game at a high level right away while learning the finer nuances of the sport as you go. Baseball is more about applying athleticism to discrete skills – and those skills simply take time to develop. You can be the greatest athlete in the world, but if you can’t recognize pitches at the plate or control a breaking ball, it’s all for naught. It’s very rare to have a player like Bryce Harper who can come straight out of high school and play at the major league level. Many casual fans – who are influenced by the way things work in those other sports – don’t understand this need for skill development. I’ve had friends ask me why it took Javier Baez (if he’s so great) so long to make the majors – and he’s TWENTY-ONE YEARS OLD.

So, like I said, I get it. It’s up to those of us who follow prospects to educate those who don’t understand, although it can be difficult in the face of so many losing seasons. It’s been fun to follow these prospects in the minors the last few years, but I am looking forward to shifting my attention to the big league club. I just hope that the “casual” fan can appreciate the planning and patience it took to build the system the way it was built – the pay-off is coming. After all, all great players were once prospects. I mean, we can’t all own Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler Tennessee Smokies shirseys.

In other news:

  • The Cubs completed the trade for Marlins’ starter Jacob Turner, and the Cubs gave up a pair of minor league relievers – Jose Arias and Tyler Bremer. This is a slam-dunk no-brainer for the Cubs. Turner is a former top prospect with good velocity, solid stuff, and promising peripherals. He’s been down lately, but the potential is there. With Chris Bosio’s track record of success working with these type of pitchers (see Arrieta, Jake), it makes so much sense to make this deal. Arias and Bremer’s absolute ceilings were as middle relievers, and they are a dime a dozen (have any of you stayed up late to see Arias/Bremer stat lines from recaps?). Turner had to be added to the 25- and 40-man rosters, so the Cubs DFA’d Ryan Kalish, who showed so much promise during spring training.

[As an aside, I remember being laughed at in the comments when I mentioned that the decision to keep Bosio on the staff was a great one because of his work turning around pitchers and increasing ground ball rates through work on the two-seam fastball – and it was by the same guy who defended pitcher wins.]

  • The Cubs did not complete a trade for Cole Hamels, whom they had claimed off waivers from the Phillies. Apparently, the Phillies were asking for Addison Russell as the beginning of any package, and I think it makes sense for both teams that the trade wasn’t made right now. At least we know that the Cubs were willing to take on his hefty contract, which is a great sign (and should – but won’t – silence critics who say that Ricketts won’t spend money). Perhaps they will revisit acquiring Hamels in the offseason.
  • The Cubs held a private workout at Wrigley Field for Cuban 3B/OF free agent Rusney Castillo. Scouting reports on Castillo vary from top-of-the-order impact player to good fourth outfielder. The Cubs seem to be interested, especially since they did the “sell job” of working him out at Wrigley rather than at their spring training facility in Arizona. It will be interesting to follow this story. The Cubs could certainly use another outfielder going into next season, even with the impending arrival of Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant.

 

Happy Weekend!

  • Darren

    Great post.

  • Darren

    Great post.

  • cap’n obvious

    yep….Bosio is a genius. Things are working out swell. The Cubs are 16 games under .500 and are in the bottom half of the National League in every viable pitching statistic. Yes, that includes wins. It also includes ERA, quality starts, Whip, and walks, but HEY, they aren’t giving up home runs. They are still losing, but that only counts last year. I’ll give you Arrietta. Isn’t Bozio supposed to also be coaching Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood? Those 2 have sucked. You can’t have it both ways. I’m all for everyone getting excited and having a positive outlook, and I hope I’m wrong. However, until the Cubs exit last place for more than a week, I’m spot on. Millions of dollars are being paid by the “cheap Ricketts” and contrary to the beliefs of moms basement dwelling sabermatricians, Major League Baseball is a RESULTS driven business. There is no reward for Cub fans if they have the best farm system this year if they don’t win at the big league level. There is no prize for fewest home runs given up or dreamiest catcher (sorry Lizzie). It’s about wins and losses. Champions know this. Music teachers apparently don’t.

    • I see you HAD to cross that line with the last sentence. Just after I said how you’re negative but not mean. It cheapens every other point you may have even if they are valid points. That sucks.

      And :::sniff::: we don’t even have a dreamy catcher anymore.

      • cap’n obvious

        funny…the last line wasn’t meant to be all that mean spirited. Just a little shot since the author referenced me as ignorant in the piece. I thought I was just making another valid point. The guy doesn’t believe that wins are an important stat. Just pointing out that most of us know that’s how the standings are determined.

      • Josh Cornwall

        Wins and SP wins aren’t necessarily the same thing.

      • cap’n realist

        they should empty the Hall of Fame of all those 300 game winners, and re-nominate guys with low WHiP’s and FIP/xFIP/tERA. Doc Raker should start an online petition for that today and leave my boy Len alone. The calculations on what constitutes a win arecertainly flawed, but the stat is pretty telling…great pitchers seem to win a lot of games…lousy ones tend to lose a lot of games. Bloggers and commenters don’t have any effect on the outcome of games.

      • Josh Cornwall

        This is true, but this isn’t what you were arguing before. Dominant pitchers are rare. Average pitchers can become good pitchers and vice versa. Wins are more telling for guys who win 20 games consistently and less telling for everyone in between. Trying to mock the extreme opposite end of your argument doesn’t really work either because very few people want your sarcastic rhetorical measurements for HOF election.

      • Josh Cornwall

        And I phrased that poorly, not that we don’t want your sarcasm, but people don’t want Sabernomics to take over HOF election.

      • Doc Raker

        Len Kasper entertains you on the Cubs broadcast? Really?

      • He didn’t call you ignorant. He referenced a group of people who don’t understand front office moves. I don’t put you in that category but if you put yourself there that’s not his fault.

        I, on the other hand, belong firmly in that category. I don’t begin to understand why they do what they do. So what the hell, Sean, stop calling me ignorant. 😉

        P.S. We’re good, cap’n. Darlin Starlin is right. I’m just late-season cranky.

      • Sean Powell

        Baker’s personality should make up for something.

      • cap’n realist

        if it makes you feel better Lizzie, I dined with a Rangers fan tonight, and he’s not all that thrilled that the dreamy catcher has returned from the DL. We’re not alone in our late-season grumpiness.

      • But, I bet his wife is happy the dreamy catcher is back!

    • Eddie Von White

      You must be one of those “ignorant folks” who doesn’t understand.

      • Doc Raker

        All Cub fans are welcome on the bandwagon, genius fans and ignorant fans……………why argue over who is who………after all ignorance is just so prevalent these days even amongst ‘experts’.
        As long as we all reduce our carbon output in order to save the planet from a faux crisis baseball ignorance is the least of our worries.

        The Cubs bandwagon ignorant will run up ticket prices but green ignorance runs up everyone’s electric bill.

    • Doc Raker

      Do you not have faith that Thed can rebuild the pitching staff? I believe pitchers have a shorter window of peak performance so it makes sense that Thed restocks the position prospects while flipping pitchers in shorter time frames.

      What do you want Thed to do, draft pitchers in the first round and pay them $10M signing bonus like Mark Prior and Jeff Smarja?

      • cap’n obvious

        it’s about balance…and truth be told, Hendricks, Arrieta, and Hammel might make a solid 3-4-5 in a rotation, if the 1-2 are Scherzer-types. Thed hasn’t made much of an effort to address the lack of pitching in recent drafts…but they have seemingly 15 middle infielders coming up. It only makes sense if he’s planning on swapping middle infielders for quality pitching, something that other GM’s are not likely to participate in. I highly doubt the Cubs will get value for value this way. Maybe they sign Cole Hamels and Scherzer and a closer in the offseason. If they do, maybe they can compete…but I think even the biggest Thed supporters would admit that to be unlikely. There are pieces in place, but until I see results at Clark and Addison, they are only pieces. I’ve been duped too many times by this franchise, I guess.

      • Doc Raker

        Have faith and let the rebuild process unfold. Baseball is entertainment, not catastrophic climate change. Enjoy the rebuild, half the fun is getting there.

        You must admit the Cubs dugout has an energy that has been missing for a long time.

      • cap’t realist

        I haven’t been in the Cubs dugout. The Cubs are playing .500 ball since Baez was brought up. I know, sample size. The wins were over woeful teams. I will admit that the fans are sure excited. I’m just trying to manage the hysteria with some realism. There’s a lot of blind faith around here, perhaps I’m just trying to keep the keel under the boat. Since hotels.com has surreptitiously, illegally, and wrongfully stolen my moniker, I am hereby changing it to cap’n realist.

        I suppose I am a random, anonymous commenter, though most of the folks around here know who I am. I suppose that makes me a step below a random anonymous blogger, but it doesn’t make me ignorant…I’d put my knowledge of the game of baseball on the field up against most anyone. Admittedly, my knowledge and ability to use specific and obscure metrics to explain mostly meaningless happenings on the field is probably lacking. Speaking of bloggers….I’ve been wondering what ever became of the quality content providers that originally hooked me on this blog. Jedi and Jeremiah. Sherm, Katie, the Cubbiedude.? I’m certainly not complaining about the current content I don’t pay for…but those writers could inspire comments that required more thought provocation than hero sandwich jokes…

      • Sean Powell

        You’re acting as if it’s “old school” meatheads that don’t trust metrics and are “real baseball” guys are on one side and saberdorks are on the other. I promise you that *no* professional scout or GM evaluates a player based on W-L record or RBI. Those are things that are too contextually dependent. Players with good tools, which are measured and predicted more precisely with advanced metrics, tend to produce those counting stats. Good pitchers tend to win a lot of games? Of course they do, but that’s a result of good stuff, control, etc.. Nolan Ryan was a .500 pitcher because he played on bad teams. He would have won a lot more if he had played for great teams. As an individual, he was great, and deserves the HOF, despite the “average” W-L record. Again, Marmol got several wins after blowing saves – his FIP told the story of his performance much better than that lazy number. W-L is a team stat, since this is a team game.

        Also, I’m using my real name, photo, and bio, so I’m really not that anonymous.

      • Sean Powell

        Also, don’t confuse “ignorant” and “idiot.” I’m ignorant about the finer points of animal husbandry, but that doesn’t make me an idiot. Ignorance just implies a lack of knowledge, which, from many of the comments we get on here, is rather rampant when it comes to how modern baseball professionals evaluate player performance. It’s not like I made this stuff up – there’s a reason why Theo and company are paid millions to do what they do. Disagree with the plan, the method, the emphasis all you want – it’s all valid…but math resists your opinions quite stringently.

        I’m trying to remember the last time I was personally offended by reading a free blog post in which I was in no way obligated to read….hmmm…can’t think of any. Cap’n, if don’t like my post, you are free to skip them.

        You know, I invited everyone aboard the bandwagon, I thought I was being cordial! 🙂

      • cap’n realist

        Of course GM’s don’t evaluate based on W-L or RBI’s. Most of them don’t evaluate on metrics very much either. There are a few exceptions. Most of them still evaluate on what they see on the field. Size, speed, strength, baseball acumen and skill sets for position players. Velocity, movement, mound presence for pitchers. If you could measure this stuff with metrics, there would be roughly 300 major league baseball scouts working at Wal-Mart. Therein lies my issue with sabermetrics…you can’t look at a guy’s metrics and know for sure what kind of player you have. Certainly a guy like like Billy Beane has been successful (and lucky)but he would be the first to admit that he still needs a scout to see a guy’s field presence and baseball acumen, as well as physical upside. While saber guys, most of whom rarely even watch a baseball game, and have precious little understanding of on-field nuances spew on about the story these metrics tell, the decades old tried and true methods of scouting, teaching, and coaching talent still works most of the time. Sure the A’s have had some success doing it on the cheap, but how many World Series’ have they won? Tools are not measured by metrics. They are measured with radar guns, scales, stopwatches and weight benches. While I admit that there might be some correlation between these skill sets and some of the advanced metrics, in most cases they either show the obvious or nothing at all.

        Take BABIP for example. I have opined here many times that it is an indicator of a players propensity to either A. run fast, or B. hit line drives. Sabermetricians would have you believe that it is an indicator of luck. You have to be more than lucky with 9 big league defenders ready to make a play every time you hit the ball. BABIP also doesn’t help measure a player’s overall value when he strikes out 30% of the time like our new all-conquering hero.

        I’m curious where you get your knowledge of how modern baseball professionals evaluate player performance. Do you speak to scouts several times a year like I do? Have you at some point coached players that played professionally as I have? Did you play division 1 baseball? Do you chum submarine sangwiches with former Cub bench warmers for $5K a week like Docs Raker and Butts? Do you have a dozen or so close friends that played in the majors? Do you read books? Is it because you’ve seen Moneyball 14 times? I’m curious what makes you think you know more about the process than me or anyone else for that matter. What makes me and others ignorant and you so all knowing? At no point did I say I was offended…you referenced me (thinly veiled) as ignorant and I responded. Perhaps others here will blindly take what you have written as fact because Joe gives you a byline and an opportunity to add content. To your credit, your grammar and spelling are immaculate. Some of what you’ve written even has merit, but to somehow act like you have some inside insight to what Thed is doing is mostlikely crap. I know this because it doesn’t seem to me like Thed even knows what the master plan is…

      • Sean Powell

        Wait a minute…Dusty?

      • cap’n realist

        is that a line from Moneyball? Yeah, you’re a wealth of baseball brilliance. This response establishes a lot about what you know. For the record, it’s a full cup of granulated sugar per quart.

      • Sean Powell

        Sorry, I was going to reply to your comment, but I fell asleep from boredom after the first couple of sentences, so I was too tired to write much.
        You seem like an angry guy, cap’n. What went wrong?

      • cap’n realist

        I understand. The oboe can be exhausting. Your answer told me everything I need to know about what you don’t know. I’ll be on pins and needles waiting for your next post which I’m sure will shed some light on your insight into how, and I quote, “modern baseball professionals evaluate player performance.” Clearly you’re an expert. As an aside, just so you know, if you’re a righty, the glove goes on your left hand. The reed stays in the dugout.

      • Sean Powell

        OK Cap’n, I made those short little replies to try to back out of this thing, but I see that’s going to be difficult. I broke the golden rule of blogging – I let a commentor drag me down into personal attacks. Two people who don’t know each other attacking each other on a personal level – the ugly, and dumb side of the internet. I want to apologize for my part in it – as the original poster, I shouldn’t let anyone bait me into that sort of thing. So, here’s the thing: I never claimed to have any sort of special knowledge. The information I have access to is the same as everyone else. I’m not a scout, and I’ve never played baseball at the professional level. All I am is a fan – one that is passionate enough to volunteer my time to write on this site purely because I enjoy it. I, just like all the other writers on here, don’t get paid – it’s all for the love of the team and the joy I get from having a forum to express myself. I’m very grateful to Joe for allowing me this space. Everyone that writes for this site, including Joe, have day jobs. I’m a professor, Joe sells insurance, Noah is a lawyer, etc.. I’m not a reporter for the NYT or CNN – my job is not to present news without opinion or comment. If I do present facts or statistics in my posts, I make sure to cross-check them with at least two reliable sources – but those sources are the same as those available to anyone else. What you read in my posts – and any bloggers post – is necessarily filtered through that author’s personal experience.

        Here’s my main point: you apparently played Division I baseball, something I haven’t done. You also know some scouts – and I wish I did (seems like a cool thing, and my writing would benefit from that insight), but I think you’re mischaracterizing where I’m coming from. When I’m speaking about the rebuild, I’m doing so as someone who has read every single thing that I can about it from interviews with the front office, to every piece of analysis on every single move that I can get my hands on from every source – other bloggers, reporters, analysts, etc. I try to develop an understanding of all the moves and the big picture…but, this is information that everyone else has access to as well, so I’m nothing special. So, when a commentor comes along and slams everything about the rebuild out of hand, I get a little frustrated because not a single thing this front office has done over the last three seasons should come as a surprise. Theo basically told us exactly what he was going to do, and he has done it. It should be no surprise whatsoever to anyone who has paid attention that the major league team has been really bad the last three seasons. Theo came in and said (paraphrasing): “We’re going to strip this organization down to the studs and rebuild from the bottom up. We’re going to put in place scouting and development infrastructure that was lacking. We’re going to introduce analytics, we’re going to shed dead payroll, etc…..” These are all the things that have happened. Now, does everyone need to just accept Theo as a god and love everything he does? No. But there is a valid way to argue against the rebuild on one hand, and there is whining on the other. If you want to say “I don’t think this is the right approach; we shouldn’t have to sit through so much bad baseball; we should have offered more money to this FA because of reasons A, B, C; we’re overvaluing this aspect of players and ignoring this aspect….etc.” Those all make sense from a foundational standpoint, even if we disagree about them. Just complaining and calling these guys idiots, though, doesn’t make sense. So, here’s where I’m coming from: if I have Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod, Tom Wilken, Tom Tango on one side, laying out a plan for rebuilding a team, bringing on talent, plus nearly every professional analyst in the game from Keith Law to Jason Parks to Curt Schilling to rival GMs lauding almost every single move the team makes (from the Jacob Turner trade, to drafting Kris Bryant to trading for Arrieta to shedding old contracts like Marmol and Soriano, and on down the line)…if I have all those people on one side – and Cap’n Obvious on the other…I’m going to take the former every time, sorry. If you want to make some specific points to disagree on, fine, but making blanket statements that these guys don’t know what they’re doing just seems to me like “ignorance” – and that is how I was using the word. They’ve told us what the plan was every step of the way. You don’t have to LIKE it, but I think we need to be informed about it before we call it a failure. Plus, as Theo stated, it’s a 5-year plan, and we’re now in year 3. Let’s not call the cake a failure before it’s had time to bake.

        Also, I’ve never said scouting wasn’t important – it’s obviously of primary importance, which is why the Cubs have spent more to build scouting and player development than at any point in the team’s history – it was Theo’s first move….and that’s why they’ve gone out of their way to retain Jason McLeod, widely considered to be one of the best in the business….but, you can’t tell me that teams don’t use advanced analytics. During the GM search, Ricketts stated in an interview “one of the main things we’re going to look for is someone who can bring modern advanced analytics to the table.” This is why the Red Sox hired Bill James as a consultant, and whey the Cubs bought the statistical package from Bloomberg and hired Tom Tango, a SABR legend (and Theo had Carmine back in Boston). The approach of the Cubs is obviously to have the best scouting department in the game *combined* with advanced analytics. Each of these things tells us something about player performance that the other doesn’t (numbers can’t capture everything, and sometimes our human eyes and subjective brains lie to us), but the combination is what gives us the complete picture.

        Look, we can agree to disagree on some of these things, but I promise I won’t devolve into a personal attack again. I don’t know you, and I don’t know what you have going on, so it’s not fair that I bring that to the table. I’ll keep my arguments in the facts/stats arena, and I’d appreciate it if you’d do the same, although that is up to you. I said in my post that Cubs fans spend too much time attacking each other, and here I am engaging in it. I apologize for that. I just see no reason not to be optimistic about something that we know wasn’t going to be finished at this point – it just seems more enjoyable, but I know there are going to be eternal pessimists out there, and I understand that.

      • PLCB3

        What is Carmine? I read something once that it was a computer program that Theo wrote? Even if he can’t bring it to Chicago, couldn’t he just re-write it here?

      • Sean Powell

        From what I know, (it’s all very secretive and proprietary, so no one knows much), Carmine was the Red Sox proprietary analytical program, but Theo wasn’t allowed to bring it with him to Chicago, so they’ve been building their own system here. I think that’s what that Bloomberg package is for…I think I’ve heard at one point that they were planning to take 3 years or something to build it, but don’t quote me on that. I’ve called it “Big Blue” (I think I heard that from somewhere), but I don’t know if it actually has a name.

      • Sean Powell

        Oh yeah, and there was a report a few months ago that an unnamed MLB team bought a Cray Supercomputer, and it was widely speculated that it was the Cubs, but I don’t think that’s ever been officially confirmed.

      • PLCB3

        I read that SI thing about Carmine, but IIRC, Theo was the one who wrote it. Even if he can’t bring it to Chicago, if he wrote it, he could just write it here again.

      • Eddie Von White

        I call it the arrogance of youth. It happens in every generation – someone comes along and labels as ignoramouses everyone who doesn’t jump on the modern day bandwagon of sharing their same opinion. They are enlightened and the rest are ignorant.

      • Jedi

        Thanks cap’n!

      • Dusty Baylor

        If the Cubs were even to sign one of Lester/Scherzer, the rotation of
        Lester/Scherzer
        Arrieta
        Wood
        Hendricks
        Jackson
        Is pretty damn solid. Pierce Johnson is healthy in AA, and pitching very well, and Eric Jokisch is pitching well at AAA. There will be options to supplant EJax if he sucks for another year.

  • cap’n obvious

    yep….Bosio is a genius. Things are working out swell. The Cubs are 16 games under .500 and are in the bottom half of the National League in every viable pitching statistic. Yes, that includes wins. It also includes ERA, quality starts, Whip, and walks, but HEY, they aren’t giving up home runs. They are still losing, but that only counts last year. I’ll give you Arrietta. Isn’t Bozio supposed to also be coaching Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood? Those 2 have sucked. You can’t have it both ways. I’m all for everyone getting excited and having a positive outlook, and I hope I’m wrong. However, until the Cubs exit last place for more than a week, I’m spot on. Millions of dollars are being paid by the “cheap Ricketts” and contrary to the beliefs of moms basement dwelling sabermatricians, Major League Baseball is a RESULTS driven business. There is no reward for Cub fans if they have the best farm system this year if they don’t win at the big league level. There is no prize for fewest home runs given up or dreamiest catcher (sorry Lizzie). It’s about wins and losses. Champions know this. Music teachers apparently don’t.

    • I see you HAD to cross that line with the last sentence. Just after I said how you’re negative but not mean. It cheapens every other point you may have even if they are valid points. That sucks.

      And :::sniff::: we don’t even have a dreamy catcher anymore.

      • cap’n obvious

        funny…the last line wasn’t meant to be all that mean spirited. Just a little shot since the author referenced me as ignorant in the piece. I thought I was just making another valid point. The guy doesn’t believe that wins are an important stat. Just pointing out that most of us know that’s how the standings are determined.

      • Josh Cornwall

        Wins and SP wins aren’t necessarily the same thing, so that’s a big flaw in your argument.

      • cap’n realist

        they should empty the Hall of Fame of all those 300 game winners, and re-nominate guys with low WHiP’s and FIP/xFIP/tERA. Doc Raker should start an online petition for that today and leave my boy Len alone. The calculations on what constitutes a win arecertainly flawed, but the stat is pretty telling…great pitchers seem to win a lot of games…lousy ones tend to lose a lot of games. Bloggers and commenters don’t have any effect on the outcome of games.

      • Josh Cornwall

        This is true, but this isn’t what you were arguing before. Dominant pitchers are rare. Average pitchers can become good pitchers and vice versa. Wins are more telling for guys who win 20 games consistently and less telling for everyone in between. Trying to mock the extreme opposite end of your argument doesn’t really work either because very few people want your sarcastic rhetorical measurements for HOF election.

      • Josh Cornwall

        And I phrased that poorly, not that we don’t want your sarcasm, but people don’t want Sabernomics to take over HOF election.

      • Doc Raker

        Len Kasper entertains you on the Cubs broadcast? Really?

      • He didn’t call you ignorant. He referenced a group of people who don’t understand front office moves. I don’t put you in that category but if you put yourself there that’s not his fault.

        I, on the other hand, belong firmly in that category. I don’t begin to understand why they do what they do. So what the hell, Sean, stop calling me ignorant. 😉

        P.S. We’re good, cap’n. Darlin Starlin is right. I’m just late-season cranky.

      • Sean Powell

        Baker’s personality should make up for something.

      • cap’n realist

        if it makes you feel better Lizzie, I dined with a Rangers fan tonight, and he’s not all that thrilled that the dreamy catcher has returned from the DL. We’re not alone in our late-season grumpiness.

      • But, I bet his wife is happy the dreamy catcher is back!

    • Eddie Von White

      You must be one of those “ignorant folks” who doesn’t understand.

      • Doc Raker

        All Cub fans are welcome on the bandwagon, genius fans and ignorant fans……………why argue over who is who………after all ignorance is just so prevalent these days even amongst ‘experts’.
        As long as we all reduce our carbon output in order to save the planet from a faux crisis baseball ignorance is the least of our worries.

        The Cubs bandwagon ignorant will run up ticket prices but green ignorance runs up everyone’s electric bill.

    • Doc Raker

      Do you not have faith that Thed can rebuild the pitching staff? I believe pitchers have a shorter window of peak performance so it makes sense that Thed restocks the position prospects while flipping pitchers in shorter time frames.

      What do you want Thed to do, draft pitchers in the first round and pay them $10M signing bonus like Mark Prior and Jeff Smarja?

      • cap’n obvious

        it’s about balance…and truth be told, Hendricks, Arrieta, and Hammel might make a solid 3-4-5 in a rotation, if the 1-2 are Scherzer-types. Thed hasn’t made much of an effort to address the lack of pitching in recent drafts…but they have seemingly 15 middle infielders coming up. It only makes sense if he’s planning on swapping middle infielders for quality pitching, something that other GM’s are not likely to participate in. I highly doubt the Cubs will get value for value this way. Maybe they sign Cole Hamels and Scherzer and a closer in the offseason. If they do, maybe they can compete…but I think even the biggest Thed supporters would admit that to be unlikely. There are pieces in place, but until I see results at Clark and Addison, they are only pieces. I’ve been duped too many times by this franchise, I guess.

      • Doc Raker

        Have faith and let the rebuild process unfold. Baseball is entertainment, not catastrophic climate change. Enjoy the rebuild, half the fun is getting there.

        You must admit the Cubs dugout has an energy that has been missing for a long time.

      • cap’t realist

        I haven’t been in the Cubs dugout. The Cubs are playing .500 ball since Baez was brought up. I know, sample size. The wins were over woeful teams. I will admit that the fans are sure excited. I’m just trying to manage the hysteria with some realism. There’s a lot of blind faith around here, perhaps I’m just trying to keep the keel under the boat. Since hotels.com has surreptitiously, illegally, and wrongfully stolen my moniker, I am hereby changing it to cap’n realist.

        I suppose I am a random, anonymous commenter, though most of the folks around here know who I am. I suppose that makes me a step below a random anonymous blogger, but it doesn’t make me ignorant…I’d put my knowledge of the game of baseball on the field up against most anyone. Admittedly, my knowledge and ability to use specific and obscure metrics to explain mostly meaningless happenings on the field is probably lacking. Speaking of bloggers….I’ve been wondering what ever became of the quality content providers that originally hooked me on this blog. Jedi and Jeremiah. Sherm, Katie, the Cubbiedude.? I’m certainly not complaining about the current content I don’t pay for…but those writers could inspire comments that required more thought provocation than hero sandwich jokes…

      • Sean Powell

        You’re acting as if it’s “old school” meatheads that don’t trust metrics and are “real baseball” guys are on one side and saberdorks are on the other. I promise you that *no* professional scout or GM evaluates a player based on W-L record or RBI. Those are things that are too contextually dependent. Players with good tools, which are measured and predicted more precisely with advanced metrics, tend to produce those counting stats. Good pitchers tend to win a lot of games? Of course they do, but that’s a result of good stuff, control, etc.. Nolan Ryan was a .500 pitcher because he played on bad teams. He would have won a lot more if he had played for great teams. As an individual, he was great, and deserves the HOF, despite the “average” W-L record. Again, Marmol got several wins after blowing saves – his FIP told the story of his performance much better than that lazy number. W-L is a team stat, since this is a team game.

        Also, I’m using my real name, photo, and bio, so I’m really not that anonymous.

      • Sean Powell

        Also, don’t confuse “ignorant” and “idiot.” I’m ignorant about the finer points of animal husbandry, but that doesn’t make me an idiot. Ignorance just implies a lack of knowledge, which, from many of the comments we get on here, is rather rampant when it comes to how modern baseball professionals evaluate player performance. It’s not like I made this stuff up – there’s a reason why Theo and company are paid millions to do what they do. Disagree with the plan, the method, the emphasis all you want – it’s all valid…but math resists your opinions quite stringently.

        I’m trying to remember the last time I was personally offended by reading a free blog post in which I was in no way obligated to read….hmmm…can’t think of any. Cap’n, if don’t like my post, you are free to skip them.

        You know, I invited everyone aboard the bandwagon, I thought I was being cordial! 🙂

      • cap’n realist

        Of course GM’s don’t evaluate based on W-L or RBI’s. Most of them don’t evaluate on metrics very much either. There are a few exceptions. Most of them still evaluate on what they see on the field. Size, speed, strength, baseball acumen and skill sets for position players. Velocity, movement, mound presence for pitchers. If you could measure this stuff with metrics, there would be roughly 300 major league baseball scouts working at Wal-Mart. Therein lies my issue with sabermetrics…you can’t look at a guy’s metrics and know for sure what kind of player you have. Certainly a guy like like Billy Beane has been successful (and lucky)but he would be the first to admit that he still needs a scout to see a guy’s field presence and baseball acumen, as well as physical upside. While saber guys, most of whom rarely even watch a baseball game, and have precious little understanding of on-field nuances spew on about the story these metrics tell, the decades old tried and true methods of scouting, teaching, and coaching talent still works most of the time. Sure the A’s have had some success doing it on the cheap, but how many World Series’ have they won? Tools are not measured by metrics. They are measured with radar guns, scales, stopwatches and weight benches. While I admit that there might be some correlation between these skill sets and some of the advanced metrics, in most cases they either show the obvious or nothing at all.

        Take BABIP for example. I have opined here many times that it is an indicator of a players propensity to either A. run fast, or B. hit line drives. Sabermetricians would have you believe that it is an indicator of luck. You have to be more than lucky with 9 big league defenders ready to make a play every time you hit the ball. BABIP also doesn’t help measure a player’s overall value when he strikes out 30% of the time like our new all-conquering hero.

        I’m curious where you get your knowledge of how modern baseball professionals evaluate player performance. Do you speak to scouts several times a year like I do? Have you at some point coached players that played professionally as I have? Did you play division 1 baseball? Do you chum submarine sangwiches with former Cub bench warmers for $5K a week like Docs Raker and Butts? Do you have a dozen or so close friends that played in the majors? Do you read books? Is it because you’ve seen Moneyball 14 times? I’m curious what makes you think you know more about the process than me or anyone else for that matter. What makes me and others ignorant and you so all knowing? At no point did I say I was offended…you referenced me (thinly veiled) as ignorant and I responded. Perhaps others here will blindly take what you have written as fact because Joe gives you a byline and an opportunity to add content. To your credit, your grammar and spelling are immaculate. Some of what you’ve written even has merit, but to somehow act like you have some inside insight to what Thed is doing is mostlikely crap. I know this because it doesn’t seem to me like Thed even knows what the master plan is…

      • Sean Powell

        Wait a minute…Dusty?

      • cap’n realist

        is that a line from Moneyball? Yeah, you’re a wealth of baseball brilliance. This response establishes a lot about what you know. For the record, it’s a full cup of granulated sugar per quart.

      • Sean Powell

        Sorry, I was going to reply to your comment, but I fell asleep from boredom after the first couple of sentences, so I was too tired to write much.
        You seem like an angry guy, cap’n. What went wrong?

      • cap’n realist

        I understand. The oboe can be exhausting. Your answer told me everything I need to know about what you don’t know. I’ll be on pins and needles waiting for your next post which I’m sure will shed some light on your insight into how, and I quote, “modern baseball professionals evaluate player performance.” Clearly you’re an expert. As an aside, just so you know, if you’re a righty, the glove goes on your left hand. The reed stays in the dugout.

      • Sean Powell

        OK Cap’n, I made those short little replies to try to back out of this thing, but I see that’s going to be difficult. I broke the golden rule of blogging – I let a commentor drag me down into personal attacks. Two people who don’t know each other attacking each other on a personal level – the ugly, and dumb side of the internet. I want to apologize for my part in it – as the original poster, I shouldn’t let anyone bait me into that sort of thing. So, here’s the thing: I never claimed to have any sort of special knowledge. The information I have access to is the same as everyone else. I’m not a scout, and I’ve never played baseball at the professional level. All I am is a fan – one that is passionate enough to volunteer my time to write on this site purely because I enjoy it. I, just like all the other writers on here, don’t get paid – it’s all for the love of the team and the joy I get from having a forum to express myself. I’m very grateful to Joe for allowing me this space. Everyone that writes for this site, including Joe, have day jobs. I’m a professor, Joe sells insurance, Noah is a lawyer, etc.. I’m not a reporter for the NYT or CNN – my job is not to present news without opinion or comment. If I do present facts or statistics in my posts, I make sure to cross-check them with at least two reliable sources – but those sources are the same as those available to anyone else. What you read in my posts – and any bloggers post – is necessarily filtered through that author’s personal experience.

        Here’s my main point: you apparently played Division I baseball, something I haven’t done. You also know some scouts – and I wish I did (seems like a cool thing, and my writing would benefit from that insight), but I think you’re mischaracterizing where I’m coming from. When I’m speaking about the rebuild, I’m doing so as someone who has read every single thing that I can about it from interviews with the front office, to every piece of analysis on every single move that I can get my hands on from every source – other bloggers, reporters, analysts, etc. I try to develop an understanding of all the moves and the big picture…but, this is information that everyone else has access to as well, so I’m nothing special. So, when a commentor comes along and slams everything about the rebuild out of hand, I get a little frustrated because not a single thing this front office has done over the last three seasons should come as a surprise. Theo basically told us exactly what he was going to do, and he has done it. It should be no surprise whatsoever to anyone who has paid attention that the major league team has been really bad the last three seasons. Theo came in and said (paraphrasing): “We’re going to strip this organization down to the studs and rebuild from the bottom up. We’re going to put in place scouting and development infrastructure that was lacking. We’re going to introduce analytics, we’re going to shed dead payroll, etc…..” These are all the things that have happened. Now, does everyone need to just accept Theo as a god and love everything he does? No. But there is a valid way to argue against the rebuild on one hand, and there is whining on the other. If you want to say “I don’t think this is the right approach; we shouldn’t have to sit through so much bad baseball; we should have offered more money to this FA because of reasons A, B, C; we’re overvaluing this aspect of players and ignoring this aspect….etc.” Those all make sense from a foundational standpoint, even if we disagree about them. Just complaining and calling these guys idiots, though, doesn’t make sense. So, here’s where I’m coming from: if I have Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod, Tom Wilken, Tom Tango on one side, laying out a plan for rebuilding a team, bringing on talent, plus nearly every professional analyst in the game from Keith Law to Jason Parks to Curt Schilling to rival GMs lauding almost every single move the team makes (from the Jacob Turner trade, to drafting Kris Bryant to trading for Arrieta to shedding old contracts like Marmol and Soriano, and on down the line)…if I have all those people on one side – and Cap’n Obvious on the other…I’m going to take the former every time, sorry. If you want to make some specific points to disagree on, fine, but making blanket statements that these guys don’t know what they’re doing just seems to me like “ignorance” – and that is how I was using the word. They’ve told us what the plan was every step of the way. You don’t have to LIKE it, but I think we need to be informed about it before we call it a failure. Plus, as Theo stated, it’s a 5-year plan, and we’re now in year 3. Let’s not call the cake a failure before it’s had time to bake.

        Also, I’ve never said scouting wasn’t important – it’s obviously of primary importance, which is why the Cubs have spent more to build scouting and player development than at any point in the team’s history – it was Theo’s first move….and that’s why they’ve gone out of their way to retain Jason McLeod, widely considered to be one of the best in the business….but, you can’t tell me that teams don’t use advanced analytics. During the GM search, Ricketts stated in an interview “one of the main things we’re going to look for is someone who can bring modern advanced analytics to the table.” This is why the Red Sox hired Bill James as a consultant, and whey the Cubs bought the statistical package from Bloomberg and hired Tom Tango, a SABR legend (and Theo had Carmine back in Boston). The approach of the Cubs is obviously to have the best scouting department in the game *combined* with advanced analytics. Each of these things tells us something about player performance that the other doesn’t (numbers can’t capture everything, and sometimes our human eyes and subjective brains lie to us), but the combination is what gives us the complete picture.

        Look, we can agree to disagree on some of these things, but I promise I won’t devolve into a personal attack again. I don’t know you, and I don’t know what you have going on, so it’s not fair that I bring that to the table. I’ll keep my arguments in the facts/stats arena, and I’d appreciate it if you’d do the same, although that is up to you. I said in my post that Cubs fans spend too much time attacking each other, and here I am engaging in it. I apologize for that. I just see no reason not to be optimistic about something that we know wasn’t going to be finished at this point – it just seems more enjoyable, but I know there are going to be eternal pessimists out there, and I understand that.

      • AC0000000

        What is Carmine? I read something once that it was a computer program that Theo wrote? Even if he can’t bring it to Chicago, couldn’t he just re-write it here?

      • Sean Powell

        From what I know, (it’s all very secretive and proprietary, so no one knows much), Carmine was the Red Sox proprietary analytical program, but Theo wasn’t allowed to bring it with him to Chicago, so they’ve been building their own system here. I think that’s what that Bloomberg package is for…I think I’ve heard at one point that they were planning to take 3 years or something to build it, but don’t quote me on that. I’ve called it “Big Blue” (I think I heard that from somewhere), but I don’t know if it actually has a name.

      • Sean Powell

        Oh yeah, and there was a report a few months ago that an unnamed MLB team bought a Cray Supercomputer, and it was widely speculated that it was the Cubs, but I don’t think that’s ever been officially confirmed.

      • AC0000000

        I read that SI thing about Carmine, but IIRC, Theo was the one who wrote it. Even if he can’t bring it to Chicago, if he wrote it, he could just write it here again.

      • Eddie Von White

        I call it the arrogance of youth. It happens in every generation – someone comes along and labels as ignoramouses everyone who doesn’t jump on the modern day bandwagon of sharing their same opinion. They are enlightened and the rest are ignorant.

      • Jedi

        Thanks cap’n!

      • Dusty Baylor

        If the Cubs were even to sign one of Lester/Scherzer, the rotation of
        Lester/Scherzer
        Arrieta
        Wood
        Hendricks
        Jackson
        Is pretty damn solid. Pierce Johnson is healthy in AA, and pitching very well, and Eric Jokisch is pitching well at AAA. There will be options to supplant EJax if he sucks for another year.

  • Doc Raker

    I will argue that wins are the most important stat for a baseball team.

    • Seymour Butts

      Even over BABIP?

  • Doc Raker

    I will argue that wins are the most important stat for a baseball team.

    • Seymour Butts

      Even over BABIP?

  • Darlin_Starlin

    You guys are starting to get that late season chippyness. Where’s the April love on VFTB?

  • Darlin_Starlin

    You guys are starting to get that late season chippyness. Where’s the April love on VFTB?

  • Sean Powell

    RT @RyanDivish: Chris Young on his 10th win: “Wins are so far beyond a pitcher’s control. … One day the media will stop evaluating us on that.” Wins are the most important team stat, not for a pitcher. The win stat was made up by the media as something easy to digest for newspaper readers as a summery of a pitcher’s quality. We have much better metrics to use. If this stat was never invented, no one would ever care – we’ve been told to pay attention to this stat by lazy media who don’t want to dive into the real reasons behind a performance. There is a difference between team performance, which is a complex result of any variables and an individual’s contribution to that team performance. Cap’n, I didn’t even remember that was you who made those comments before – I just knew it was some random, anonymous commentor on a blog. Easy to attack behind the veil of anonymity – I attacked the idea, not the person, BTW.

    • Doc Raker

      A home pitcher throws 8 innings and leaves the game losing 1-0. Three relievers are used in the top of the ninth each retiring one batter. The home team scores 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. So who gets the win? The reliever that retired the last recorded out.

      If the win loss for pitchers was allocated with more common sense, like the starting pitcher in above example gets the win, I think the win loss record would be a little bit better measure of a pitchers performance than it is now albeit still less than optimal.

      Don’t get me started on the lazy media rant. See Media, Liberal Bias if you need more evidence.

      • Sean Powell

        Yeah, it reminds me when Marmol would blow a 4-run lead in the 9th, then the team would come back and Marmol would get the win…or when Shark was the best pitcher in the NL for the first month and didn’t have one win. How about we just take a deeper look at a pitcher’s performance rather than just wanting to look at one number? It’s a holdover from the newspaper days when space was limited and communication was one way, so more complex metrics couldn’t be understood through dialogue.

      • PLCB3

        How about the pitcher who leaves with a 10-0, goes 7 innings, and the bullpen blows it

  • Sean Powell

    RT @RyanDivish: Chris Young on his 10th win: “Wins are so far beyond a pitcher’s control. … One day the media will stop evaluating us on that.” Wins are the most important team stat, not for a pitcher. The win stat was made up by the media as something easy to digest for newspaper readers as a summery of a pitcher’s quality. We have much better metrics to use. If this stat was never invented, no one would ever care – we’ve been told to pay attention to this stat by lazy media who don’t want to dive into the real reasons behind a performance. There is a difference between team performance, which is a complex result of any variables and an individual’s contribution to that team performance. Cap’n, I didn’t even remember that was you who made those comments before – I just knew it was some random, anonymous commentor on a blog. Easy to attack behind the veil of anonymity – I attacked the idea, not the person, BTW.

    • Doc Raker

      A home pitcher throws 8 innings and leaves the game losing 1-0. Three relievers are used in the top of the ninth each retiring one batter. The home team scores 2 runs in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. So who gets the win? The reliever that retired the last recorded out.

      If the win loss for pitchers was allocated with more common sense, like the starting pitcher in above example gets the win, I think the win loss record would be a little bit better measure of a pitchers performance than it is now albeit still less than optimal.

      Don’t get me started on the lazy media rant. See Media, Liberal Bias if you need more evidence.

      • Sean Powell

        Yeah, it reminds me when Marmol would blow a 4-run lead in the 9th, then the team would come back and Marmol would get the win…or when Shark was the best pitcher in the NL for the first month and didn’t have one win. How about we just take a deeper look at a pitcher’s performance rather than just wanting to look at one number? It’s a holdover from the newspaper days when space was limited and communication was one way, so more complex metrics couldn’t be understood through dialogue.

      • AC0000000

        How about the pitcher who leaves with a 10-0, goes 7 innings, and the bullpen blows it

  • PLCB3

    Big market teams don’t need to worry about losing fans. The Cubs are doing this the right way. As soon as the Cubs start competing and winning, the fans will be back in droves like they were from 2003-2008. I was discussing this with a Yankees fan during Yankees-Red Sox last weekend that the Yankees are going to have to do what the Cubs are doing, and he was like I won’t go to any games if they do that. I was like you’ll probably be back when they start winning again, and he was like you’re probably right.

  • AC0000000

    Big market teams don’t need to worry about losing fans. The Cubs are doing this the right way. As soon as the Cubs start competing and winning, the fans will be back in droves like they were from 2003-2008. I was discussing this with a Yankees fan during Yankees-Red Sox last weekend that the Yankees are going to have to do what the Cubs are doing, and he was like I won’t go to any games if they do that. I was like you’ll probably be back when they start winning again, and he was like you’re probably right.

  • Tomas Checkosky

    I’m hesitant to jump in the bandwagon. Baez has NO discipline at all. His 10+ strikeouts are him wailing away hoping to connect with his amazing power/bat speed. However he needs to learn pitch selection soon or he’ll become Mike Olt #2…

    • Doc Raker

      That is my concern hockey dude from the eastern block.

      • Tomas Checkosky

        Baez makes Shawon Dunston look patient…

      • Tomas Checkosky

        Funny you call me hockey dude…my sport loves go in this order: baseball, football, college basketball, college football, pro basketball, hockey. I was happy a Chicago team won something back in 2010 when I had to pick an avatar!

      • Doug S.

        That’s pretty much exactly my sports priorities and I live in Canada where hockey dominates the media, etc.

      • Mark_from_Toronto

        Same here, the endless stream of hockey stories get old pretty quick up here. I can understand hockey being the top story on Sportscentre (on TSN not ESPN) during the hockey season, but it gets a little ridiculous when some random hockey story in August trumps the day’s MLB scores and news.

      • Doc Raker

        Well I dig your hockey avatar baseball ,football, college basketball, college football, pro basketball, hockey dude from the eastern block.

        My sons hockey team was in Calgary a summer or two ago and on the front page of the news paper the headline story was “No checking in PeeWee division for upcoming season.” USA hockey and Canada hockey eliminated checking in the 12U / PeeWee division and it was front page news in June in Calgary.

    • Sean Powell

      That’s the big concern with Baez. I think they’re hoping he can make adjustments over these last 50 games – or at least recognize what adjustments need to be made and work on them over the offseason and spring training. Baez definitely has the highest bust factor of any of the top prospects.

      • Dusty Baylor

        Exactly. Baez is 21…he’s here to get his feet wet, and to figure out what adjustments he needs to make. With his power, he can cut down his swing, and still hit it out. He worked some counts this weekend. No walks, but not just swinging at the first 3 pitches.

      • Sean Powell

        It’s all about pitch recognition. He swung less early in the count this weekend, but it got him behind in the count, and he’s dead when that happens. If he gets a first pitch fastball, he needs to swing! It’s not really about patience, but about recognizing and selecting the right pitches. This is a very hard skill to learn – and he may never learn it. Let’s hope he can improve enough to let that power play.

  • Tomas Checkosky

    I’m hesitant to jump in the bandwagon. Baez has NO discipline at all. His 10+ strikeouts are him wailing away hoping to connect with his amazing power/bat speed. However he needs to learn pitch selection soon or he’ll become Mike Olt #2…

    • Doc Raker

      That is my concern hockey dude from the eastern block.

      • Tomas Checkosky

        Baez makes Shawon Dunston look patient…

      • Tomas Checkosky

        Funny you call me hockey dude…my sport loves go in this order: baseball, football, college basketball, college football, pro basketball, hockey. I was happy a Chicago team won something back in 2010 when I had to pick an avatar!

      • Doug S.

        That’s pretty much exactly my sports priorities and I live in Canada where hockey dominates the media, etc.

      • Mark_from_Toronto

        Same here, the endless stream of hockey stories get old pretty quick up here. I can understand hockey being the top story on Sportscentre (on TSN not ESPN) during the hockey season, but it gets a little ridiculous when some random hockey story in August trumps the day’s MLB scores and news.

      • Doc Raker

        Well I dig your hockey avatar baseball ,football, college basketball, college football, pro basketball, hockey dude from the eastern block.

        My sons hockey team was in Calgary a summer or two ago and on the front page of the news paper the headline story was “No checking in PeeWee division for upcoming season.” USA hockey and Canada hockey eliminated checking in the 12U / PeeWee division and it was front page news in June in Calgary.

    • Sean Powell

      That’s the big concern with Baez. I think they’re hoping he can make adjustments over these last 50 games – or at least recognize what adjustments need to be made and work on them over the offseason and spring training. Baez definitely has the highest bust factor of any of the top prospects.

      • Dusty Baylor

        Exactly. Baez is 21…he’s here to get his feet wet, and to figure out what adjustments he needs to make. With his power, he can cut down his swing, and still hit it out. He worked some counts this weekend. No walks, but not just swinging at the first 3 pitches.

      • Sean Powell

        It’s all about pitch recognition. He swung less early in the count this weekend, but it got him behind in the count, and he’s dead when that happens. If he gets a first pitch fastball, he needs to swing! It’s not really about patience, but about recognizing and selecting the right pitches. This is a very hard skill to learn – and he may never learn it. Let’s hope he can improve enough to let that power play.