Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Ask Joe Anything

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

That’s right, it’s time for everyone’s favorite game, Ask Joe Anything. I’m also looking for a nomination from you on which writer we should use for the next edition. Remember the rules.

1. The CAPS rule – Do not blow up the comments with a zillion questions by one person.

2. The Seymour rule – Try to keep it semi-clean knowing that if it’s too far past the line it won’t get answered.

3. The Sherm Rule – Don’t post something and then disappear. Come back and see the answer.

Follow those rules and we’ll have a lot of fun. Just to give you an idea on quirky questions, see one of the editions of the Deadspin Funbag and you’ll know what I mean.

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Stanton Suffers Devastating Injury, Davis Suspended and More!

Monday, September 15th, 2014

After a week spent traveling across the country and back, I’ve returned with another week’s worth of MLB news! Unfortunately, we aren’t going to be able to start off on a good note for this week.

Stanton, Headley Both Hit In Face With Pitches

Just like in any sport, injuries are just a part of the game. Even with that being known, however, it didn’t’ make seeing the pitches hitting Giancarlo Stanton and Chase Headley any easier to watch.

In the Miami Marlins game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Stanton stepped to the plate against Michael Fiers. Fiers wound up and threw a fastball that ended up connecting right on the left side of Stanton’s face, which caused him to crumple up the ground. Blood covered the area around him and he had to be stretched out of the stadium.

A short time after, Chase Headley of the New York Yankees was drilled by an errant pitch in his face, as well. Luckily for him, he didn’t suffer nearly injuries nearly as severe as Stanton and he was able to walk off under his own power.

It was saddening to see one of the game’s brightest stars dropped in an incident like this, and you have to wonder how he’ll be able to bounce back. The mental impact that this will have on both him and Fiers is going to be tough to overcome, and you have to hope that it doesn’t derail his incredibly promising career. Do you think this will impact Stanton’s career beyond the fact that he’ll miss the rest of this season?

Davis Suspended For 25 Games

In one of the most surprising stories of the 2013 season, journeyman first baseman Chris Davis exploded for 53 home runs and gave the Baltimore Orioles a legitimate power threat in the middle of their lineup. Though the team is going to make the playoffs this year, it appears they’ll be without Davis for the stretch run.

It wasn’t an injury that took him out of the lineup, but rather a 25-game ban issued by the MLB for reportedly using amphetamines. According to Davis, he used Adderall and didn’t have the Therapeutic Use Exemption that he had last season.

Whether he was rejected or didn’t apply for it is still not clear yet, but what’s obvious is that this was a big error in judgment for Davis. After his power outburst last season he had to know that people would be keeping a close eye on him, yet he still decided to go ahead and use Adderall anyways.

While the loss of 25 games is certainly big, the potential lost earnings for Davis could be even bigger. It was reported that he and the Orioles were in the midst of negotiating a new contact, with the latest offer sitting around 5-years, $70 million. This suspension could take a big hit out of that overall monetary value. Should Adderall be banned by the MLB? Also, what do you think is Davis’ value on the open market?

Bochy Family Makes History

Over the course of Major League Baseball history, there have been a few father/son combinations that have played together and even more brothers that have played at the same time. This past week, there was a family combination that was the first the MLB has ever seen.

In a blowout against the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy made the call to bring in a reliever. This call to the pen was different than any other he had ever made in his life, as the reliever he was bringing into the game was his son, Brett.

Brett, who was drafted by the team in 2010, wound up allowing 2 runs over the 1.1 innings that he pitched (an improvement over the rest of the team, who wound up allowing 15 over the other 7.2 innings). He was a September call-up for the team and he’s looking to earn a spot on the team beyond this month.

You could see the joy on Bruce’s face as he handed the ball off and it was truly a great moment for everyone involved. While the result of the game was certainly not what they had hoped for, it will go down as a moment that no one in the Bochy family will ever forget. What is your favorite “family moment” in baseball history?

This Week’s MVP: Howie Kendrick (.500/.531/.800, 2 HR, 10 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Shelby Miller (2-0, 0.69 ERA, 9 K)

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What Is the Future of Mike Olt?

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

I’d like to get a discussion going this morning about a guy that was projected to be a big part of the future when the trade with Texas was made, but has turned into more of an afterthought this season.

Today let’s talk about Mike Olt and what his future looks like. It’s clear that Kris Bryant will be with the Major League team sooner rather than later. Some think he may even break camp with the team. Where does that leave Olt?

Let’s talk about that.

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Cubs Announce Tentative 2015 Schedule

Monday, September 8th, 2014

From the Cubs Media Relations Dept:

CHICAGO – Major League Baseball and the Chicago Cubs today announced the tentative 2015 regular season schedule.  The Cubs will open their 140th season at home on Monday, April 6 against the St. Louis Cardinals to kick off the 100th season of Cubs baseball at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs will begin the 2015 campaign at home for the first time since 2012 and for just the fourth time in the last 14 seasons.  The Cubs play the Cardinals in their season opener for the first time since 1991, as the first homestand features three games against St. Louis before the club leaves for a three-game road trip in Denver.

The 2015 schedule features eight interleague series against the American League Central, including the annual home-and-home sets against the Chicago White Sox.  The Cubs and White Sox in 2015 will play a total of six games, with the first three games taking place at Wrigley Field leading up to the All Star Break from July 10-12 followed by three games at U.S. Cellular Field on August 14-16.

In addition to the White Sox series, the Cubs welcome three additional A.L. Central opponents: the Kansas City Royals (three games, May 29-31), the Cleveland Indians (two games, June 15-16) and the Detroit Tigers (two games, August 18-19).  The Cubs travel to play at Detroit (two games, June 9-10), Cleveland (two games, June 17-18) and Minnesota (three games, June 19-21). The Cubs visit Cleveland for the first time since 2006.

The Cubs 2015 tentative schedule features only two three-series homestands and two three-city road trips (after four three-city road trips in 2014 and five three-city road trips in 2013).

The Cubs are scheduled to host two holiday games in 2015: Memorial Day Monday, May 25 vs. Washington and the Fourth of July vs. Miami.  The Cubs will be on the road for three holidays this season: May 10 in Milwaukee for Mother’s Day, June 21 in Minnesota on Father’s Day and Labor Day Monday, September 7 in St. Louis.

The tentative 2015 Chicago Cubs regular season schedule is below:

View the Schedule

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GirlieView (09/04/2014)

Thursday, September 4th, 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 2014 Season = 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.


  • Whoever I pick for #1 will go on to have a HOF career if he is traded. That is my luck.
  • As much as all Cubs fans wanted him to be manager one of the best moves Theo made was not hiring him as manager.
  • I like a manager that plays the best player regardless of contract and or service time.
  • I flipped over to Len on the Cubs broadcast and learned that Michael Buble will be performing live on Dancing with the Stars.
  • I think that Michael Buble is dreamy. Maybe not Geo Soto dreamy, but dreamy nonetheless.
  • How do you think these injuries conversations go? So Edwin we think your side is hurting, how about a DL stint and rehab assignment?
  • Watching the same amount of Cubs games, which is every opportunity. It’s now the time of year when I get the “why?” from other baseball fans at the sports bar. Or maybe I’m wrong and that’s all year.
  • I also want to thank my teammates here at the VFTB who toss up some serious batting practice lunch meat to be knocked around the VFTB yard.
  • Tarpgate
  • groundscrew
  • I remember that for sure. I went by SB2 then, and my avatar was a picture of Seymour’s buttcrack next to another picture of Seymour’s buttcrack.
  • Len would like the Cubs to play them in Baltimore next time, since he hasn’t seen their new park yet.
  • There is nothing more exciting that watching a kid from the minors come up and get his first chance.
  • Word has it Soler batch cooks plantains.
  • It only makes sense, Doc. Young players like Soler are on the road, a lot. Factor in double headers and extra cuts in the cage…you are going to be wiped most nights. Batch cooking plantains on a rare day-off is definitely the way to go. You can scoop a bunch into your mitt on the way out the door.
  • Glass half full, this is the best thing for Baez to see how good the pitching is at this level. He knows he has to continue to get better.
  • From what I’ve seen, his two issues are very workable and very common: he’s susceptible to the high fastball with two strikes and generally susceptible to breaking pitches low and away.
  • I think 2015 will be an exciting year.
  • They both now enjoy sitcom celebrity status in Japan’s remake of The Odd Couple. LaHair plays the messy Oscar Madison and Fukudome is the metro sexual Felix Unger. Th episode where Fukudome gets lost in a pile of dirty laundry when walking into LaHair’s bedroom was classic. Fukudome had to be rescued by their friend Murray the cop played by Julio Zuleta.
  • Is that the one where LaHair keeps mistaking Kosuke’s cup for a miso soup bowl? Classic.
  • I thought Hee Seop Choi was the cop…
  • Hee Seop Choi and Micah Hoffpauir were the Pigeon sisters.
  • LaHair agreed to the part provided that he also get to play Quincy, M.E. in the Japanese remake of that, called “Yuso dead.”
  • We need to have every prospect debut in Cincy.
  • Johnson!
  • Ask and you shall receive…
    1. That Koyie Hill could sure hit!
    2. I love the way Dusty Baker handled the Cubs pitching staff.
    3. Junior Lake looks like a future All Star.
    4. I really miss Darwin Barney.
    5. The Cubs need to bunt more often.
  • 6. Len Kasper is an exciting baseball broadcaster.
  • 7. The Cubs should put James Russell back in the starting rotation.
  • Two different call-ups with three bombs in their first three games…and both had a multi-HR game. I feel bad for Kris Bryant. Anything less than instant dominance and he’s going to be “the other guy.”
  • Be careful what you wish for.
  • Has anyone ever been called up from Fantasy Camp? MLB should allow a 41 man roster and that 41st spot has to be a Fantasy Camper. The Camper would pay $100,000 to travel with the team and get a certain number of at bats and innings played on D during the month of September. Maybe the team could auction off the spot, think of the possible revenue a team could generate.
  • It’s been done. Remember AAAron Miles?


  • EJax on the 15 Day DL…Bruised ego.. I mean…strained right Lat.

Shout Outs

  • Big shout outs to Jedi and Kizzfastfists for their first 2014 in-season Lizzies!!!! Thanks for being here!


  • Congratulations to Doc Raker, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time! Way to go Doc!

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

1. jswanson
2. Doc Raker
3. Seymour Butts
4. Eddie Von White
5. Joe Aiello
6. Dork
6. Doug S.
8. Chuck
9. Sean Powell
10. Mark From Toronto
10. Noah Eisner

Chit Chat

Who would you like to see the Cubs call up next?

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Stat of the Week: Instant Replay

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Before 2014, instant replays in baseball were restricted to disputed home runs, fair vs. foul, fan interference, and wall border calls. This season, the scope of replay expanded greatly with the introduction of a challenge system similar to the one in the NFL. Now, it’s possible for managers to challenge practically everything short of ball-and-strike calls, and they have taken advantage.

Between 2008 and 2013, the six years of the original replay system, only 384 replays were used and only 129 plays were overturned according to data collected by Baseball Info Solutions. With still a month to go this season, 1,056 replays have been used and 495 plays overturned. We are on pace for about 600 corrected calls that would previously have been missed.

Overall, replays are overturning calls at a higher rate than the previous system, but not all types of challenges have been equally successful.

Replay Type Total Overturned Rate
Tag Play 431 180 42%
Force Play 430 237 55%
Boundary Call (Over Fence) 67 18 27%
Hit by Pitch 43 21 49%
Fair or Foul 42 14 33%
Trap or Catch 26 21 81%
Record Keeping 10 2 20%
Missed Base 6 2 33%
Passed Runner 1 0 0%
Total 1,056 495 47%

More than 80 percent all of replays have been on either disputed tags or force outs, and they have collectively been close to a 50/50 proposition. Replay has overturned 417 of those 861 calls (48 percent).

Other types of replays have been far less common, but, even with limited sample sizes, a pattern emerges. For example, 21 of the 26 replays on trap or catch plays have been overturned (81 percent). In contrast, only 18 of the 67 boundary call situations—which include potential home runs, potential ground-rule doubles and fan interference plays—were overturned, only 27 percent.

The Instant Replay section of the Bill James Handbook 2015 will be expanded from last year’s edition to capture the increase in scope of replays. The book is available for pre-order here.

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®,”

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4 Reasons Why Teams Do Not Call Up Everyone On September 1st

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

On Monday, we saw the addition of Blake Parker to the Cubs roster, putting them at 26. As you know as of September 1st, teams are allowed to recall their full 40 man roster if they would like, but no one does. Why? Let’s talk about that.

Let me begin by saying that I think the expanded roster rule is stupid and should be done away with. Now that my feelings on that are out of the way, why don’t teams call up their full allotment of players? There are a few reasons why.

1. Injuries – If you look at the current Cubs 40 man roster, you’ll see that Edwin Jackson is on the DL (thank God), as is Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Sweeney. Because they were placed on the 15 day DL, they still have a spot on the 40 man roster, which means the Cubs would not be able to field a full 40 guys just yet. Any player with a big league contract must be on the 40 man roster unless he was designated for assignment and cleared irrevocable waivers for the purpose of being removed. At that point, he can be moved to the minors, assuming he doesn’t refuse the assignment.

2. Service Time – We hear this one a lot, especially when it comes to early season call ups. In fact, we’ll probably see it come into play at the beginning of the season in 2015 with Kris Bryant. The way the current salary structure works, players are under a team’s control for the first six years of their Major League career, with a service year considered to be 172 days. When a player is recalled, it starts that clock and given that teams are so concerned about paying out big deals before they have to, there are a lot of games that are played. To get a player up in September just for the sake of a few at bats is a waste of service time.

3. Playing Time – With that many guys on the roster, it’s near impossible to give everyone enough playing time, which is related to service time. If you’re going to call a guy up and have the meter running for service time, you want to be able to play him, especially if he’s part of your future. When you call up someone like Javier Baez or Jorge Soler, you want to make sure you have the ability to get them the playing time they need. The same goes for the middle of the season. If you call someone up to play, someone has to sit. You want to make sure guys have at bats or innings available to them or you’re just wasting time.

4. Per Diem Costs - This is a reason that often goes over looked. In baseball, players receive a per diem stipend in addition to their usual salary. This is designed for meals and things like that when the team is on the road. When you call a guy up, he gets that money. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s an added costs for a team in addition to the travel expenses that are pointless for a guy to get 5-10 plate appearances. They can simply cut that cost and use one of the other reasons as the explanation.

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Late Trades, Ice Cream Related Suspensions & More!

Monday, September 1st, 2014

We’re finally into September, which means that the time for trades to be completed has passed. Although there weren’t too many big names on the move, they are some players that could definitely impact a game or two down the road. Let’s get to that, and more with “The Week That Was”.

Contenders Make Late Moves

For those teams out there that decided their roster wasn’t yet how they wanted it to be, the second of the two trade deadlines provided them with the opportunity to do some last minute fine-tuning.

It started out in Chicago, where the White Sox shipped out outfielder Alejandro De Aza to the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles in return for two pitching prospects. Along with De Aza, the O’s also picked up Kelly Johnson from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for prospects. This completes the tour of the AL East for Johnson, as he’s now played on all 5 teams in the division (in just over 3 years).

The White Sox weren’t Dunn making moves either, as they traded heavy-hitting designated hitter Adam Dunn to the Oakland Athletics for a pitching prospect. With this trade, Dunn has a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in his extended career. Along with the news of this move, he also announced that he’d be retiring at year’s end, which will end his chase for 500 home runs (currently at 460).

Last, but not least, the NL Central had some movement, too, with the Cincinnati Reds sending Jonathan Broxton off to the Milwaukee Brewers for two players to be named later. Broxton has been lights out this season and will likely pitch in a set-up role to Francisco Rodriguez, unless K-Rod continues to falter. Which one of these players do you think will have the biggest impact on their new club?

Montero Suspended For Season

To say the New York Yankees/Seattle Mariners swap of Jesus Montero and Michael Pineda has not worked out would be an understatement. In what was expected to be a trade of highly touted young players, neither side can be very happy with their return.

While Pineda has pitched really well for the Bronx Bombers, he’s also missed around a year and a half’s worth of games. For the Mariners, though, they surely have to be regretting it. First, Montero was suspended for PED use last year and now his new suspension is just downright comical.

The details of the story have not all come to light as of yet, but the gist of it is that while Montero was in A-ball for rehab, he got into it with a scout from the Mariners. One thing led to another and he wound up throwing an ice cream sandwich at him.

When I first heard it, I thought that people had been quoting a story from The Onion, but this is something that somehow actually happened. I have to hope that Montero gets his career going, but I’m just not sure that it’ll ever work out for him in Seattle. What are some other crazy suspension stories that you know?

Branyan Signs With Indians 

A couple of weeks back, I wrote in a section of this article that Brad Penny had won a game for the Marlins. While that was certainly a flashback, it looks like we’ve stepped into the Delorian yet again for this latest signing by the Cleveland Indians.

Russell Branyan, who was originally drafted by the team in 1994, has signed with them yet again 20 years later. The 38-year old slugger hasn’t appeared in a big league game since 2011, but the power in his bat is still there as evidenced by his time in Mexico this past year.

With nearly 200 career home runs in just around 1000 games, Branyan could wind up getting called up to the big club if they decide they need some pop off of the bench. With a somewhat power-lacking squad, this move could happen sooner rather than later.

This, along with the last section, truly adds more weight to the phrase “you can’t predict baseball.” I personally hope that Branyan is able to make it to the majors yet again, solely because of the great story that it would be. Do all-or-nothing power guys like Branyan still have a place in the league?

This Week’s MVP: Jacoby Ellsbury (.522/.500/1.130, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 3 SB)

This Week’s Cy Young: Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 1.69 ERA, 19 K)

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Potential September Callups

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

As the calendar continues to grow closer to the end of the “dog days”, the Cubs will not be competing for a playoff spot, obviously. An interesting scenario is about to arise as the schedule turns to September 1st, the roster expansion. By rule, any player on the 40 man roster is eligible to be called up to the majors. Kris Bryant will not be on this list and will not be called up in September, but there are some interesting players that could be fighting for a closer look in spring training next spring.

Pitchers: Felix Doubront, Dan Straily, Dallas Beeler, Arodys Vizcaino

Aside from the obvious candidates like Blake Parker, Brian Schlitter, and Chris Rusin, these guys could be interesting new names to the mix. The Cubs have said that they will tinker with the starting staff once the calendar turns to September. With Jacob Turner making a start yesterday, he will stick in the rotation. A few guys I listed (Doubront, Beeler, and Straily) will also make starts when they are called up. Doubront is currently on the 15-day DL and has made rehab starts in AA Tennessee. An acquisition from the Red Sox in July, the left hander could make his Cubs debut as early as this week. As for Beeler and Straily, they have both made starts in Chicago this season. With Iowa looking like they will not make the playoffs, don’t be surprised to see these two guys back up with the big club. Straily, an acquisition from the A’s in that block-buster deal, has pitched better since being traded. In nine starts with the Cubs AAA club, the right hander posted a 3.42 ERA in 50 innings while nearly striking a batter out per inning. As for Beeler, he has been even better in Iowa. Throughout the season, the 25 year old right hander has started 19 games for the I-Cubs, posting a 3.61 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 117.1 innings pitched. The dark horse to be called up is one of the Cubs top prospects, Arodys Vizcaino. Acquired for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson in 2011 from Atlanta, the 23 year old right hander missed over two years with Tommy John surgery and complications from the surgery. Vizcaino came back in 2014 ready to roll, as he has posted a 3.60 ERA through 40 innings spanning three levels of the Cubs system (now in Iowa). In those 40 innings, the righty has held opponents to a .245 batting average and only 1.35 walks and hits per inning. Vizcaino has been on the 40 man since being acquired, and that could lead to his promotion in September.

Position players: Mike Olt, Josh Vitters, Junior Lake

With Logan Watkins, Jorge Soler, and Matt Szczur up in the big leagues already, a trio of players with something to prove will be called up in September. The first of which is Mike Olt. The third baseman started the year with the Cubs and really struggled to make contact consistently, only hitting .139 with a .575 OPS in 187 at bats with the Cubs before being demoted to Iowa in late July. The one big problem Olt had was the strikeouts. The 26 year old struck out in 36.9% of his plate appearances with the Cubs. Since being demoted, however, Olt has turned it around. The third baseman, who has switched to playing first base because of Kris Bryant, is hitting .302 with a .933 OPS in 115 plate appearances and has lowered his strikeout rate to 29%. If Olt can come up and secure the third baseman job in Chicago, that would cause the Cubs to move Bryant to the outfield or could be a useful trade piece. Another player who started with the Cubs this year and has been demoted is Junior Lake. The outfielder played in 98 games with the big league club, hitting .216 with and OPS of .608 over 305 plate appearance. Lake struck out in 33.4% of his plate appearances and was sent down to work on his contact issues, much like Olt. Since being sent down, the 24 year old is hitting .318 with a .862 OPS and only a 23.4% strike out rate. Lake is trying to hang on the big league roster as a backup outfielder. The third and final player that will be called up is a guy who is, essentially, on his last chance with the Cubs, and that is Josh Vitters. The third baseman turned outfielder was, at one time, the big prospect in the Cubs system. After being called up and hitting under .200 with a 33% strike out rate in his only MLB experience in 2012, Vitters has hit a wall in AAA after a very good 2013 season. In 2014, the former first round pick has hit .213 with a .607 OPS in 404 plate appearances, while striking out 26.5% of the time. This is Vitters’ last shot with the Cubs. His spot on the 40 man roster could expire after this season with the influx of young talent coming up. This could spell the end for the 25 year old with the Cubs.

When the Cubs reach September, there are very interesting pieces that could come up and play a significant role. With the Cubs looking to be competitive in 2015, the players coming up this next month have some time to audition to be on the team when the Cubs are doing damage around the league soon.

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