TCR Friday Notes
A chance to comment on some happenings from the past week....
- The Cubs signed Cuban defector Juan Yasser Serrano and while he may not be able to hit a curveball, he probably can throw one. At a $250K bonus (about 4th/5th round money), I don't think the expectations are going to be to high. An "insider" of Caribbean Baseball didn't give a flattering report back in April of last year:
The stark truth (known by all close followers of Cuban baseball) is that Juan Yasser Serrano was a rather mediocre Cuban Leaguer whose 2007-2008 record was a below average 2-7 won-lost mark, further diminished by an elevated 6.46 ERA and a hefty .312 opponents' batting average against his deliveries. And this, while hurling for one of the league's very best teams, Villa Clara. Serrano's three-year lifetime mark entering the current campaign was 14-16, with a 4.40 ERA for a club that captured division titles in all three seasons he labored there. It is hard to imagine a young prospect as being one of the most notable talents on the island when last season he posted the third worst ERA on his own team's 15-man pitching staff.
The article is more a criticism of his agent trying to elevate his status, but at $250K, it appears that didn't really work too well. The right-hander is 21 years old, throws a fastball between 89-92 mph at the moment and will likely start the year in Hi-A Daytona.
- Everyone's favorite topic...Milton Bradley! He had some interesting things to say yesterday. Let's start off with the somewhat insightful part.
"Just no communication," Bradley told the paper, referring to his Cubs
tenure. "I never hit more than 22 homers in my career, and all of a sudden I get to Chicago and they expect me to hit 30. It doesn't make sense. History tells you I'm not going to hit that many. Just a lot of things that try to make me a player I'm not."
I'm not sure if anyone was expecting 30 home runs, but the Cubs certainly expected him to be the #5 hitter and drive in runs and I've mentioned in the past how dumb this is. Bradley's a high OBP guy that takes lots of pitches and doesn't seem at all interested in expanding the strike zone just to put the ball in play. This is the player he is and if the Cubs wanted something else, they should have signed someone else. His skillset does not translate into an RBI guy, it translates into a pretty decent #2 hitter actually. For all the talk of the Cubs being more of a scouting team that favors seeing a guy play and getting to know a player, they sure acted like they had no idea what type of player or personality they were getting themselves.
I'm going to borrow from Transmission here to finish off my point.
Let me quote to you from the delightful children’s story and excellent allegory, The Little Prince:
“If I ordered a general to fly from one flower to another like a butterfly, or to write a tragic drama, or to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not carry out the order that he had received, which one of us would be in the wrong?” the king demanded. “The general, or myself?”
“You,” said the little prince firmly.
“Exactly. One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform,” the king went on. “Accepted authority rests first of all on reason. If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution. I have the right to require obedience because my orders are reasonable.”
But I'm not here to exonerate Bradley, because his statements from yesterday were filled with all kinds of bullshit as well. Let's get back to the first quote.
"History tells you I'm not going to hit that many. Just a lot of things that try to make me a player I'm not."
History also says you're a nutcase and can't stay healthy, yet Cubs management took a chance on you at 3/30M. How about coming out of your little cocoon of unaccountability and taking some responsibility for yourself and a bit of appreciation for the folks that took a chance on your baseball skills?
"Two years ago, I played, and I was good," Bradley told The Times. "I go to Chicago, not good. I've been good my whole career. So, obviously,
it was something with Chicago, not me."
Obviously Milton Bradley failed his logic class.
As reader Charlie pointed out, I'm not sure the city of Chicago was such a problem considering his home/road OPS splits of .892 at home and .646 on the road. Bradley is more likely talking about the culture of the team and the city and how everyone should have just chilled and let Milton be Milton.
It's a bunch of nonsense of course from Bradley, just more rhetoric to pass the responsibility buck about his own failures and mistakes to all the other people trying to keep him down. It's frustrating as a fan, especially someone like myself that supported the signing and the abilities he could have brought the club. I wanted Bradley to succeed, I thought he could succeed with the Cubs, but every piece of bullshit and whininess that comes from his mouth just makes Carlos Silva in a Cubs jersey look that much better. And it takes a lot of bullshit and whininess to make Carlos Silva look good in any jersey.
- ESPN has a new insider blog named TMI, featuring a sabermetric slant and writers like Tom Tango and Dave Cameron.
- Paul Sullivan is to Cubs reporting what Fox News is to politics. His recap of yesterday's game was more worried about spinning the narrative of a loose anti-Bradley team, than realizing that five home runs in a game and a 9-3 blowout will put everyone in a good mood.
- The Sun-Times puts together an utterly ridiculous Top 50 list of all-time Cubs. I may revisit this debauchery at another time. The old-time pictures are cool though.
- Some "fan" denies Sam Fuld's wife and baby his home run ball from yesterday. I hate drawing conclusions from just one side of the story, but this one fan really sounds like an asshole...must have been a lost White Sox fan.
UPDATE: In the comments on the link, an eyewitness says a Cubs player threw the ball to a little girl and then there may have been some negotiations (I assume with the Mom), but not as greedy or assholish as it originally sounded. Tragedy averted. Still might have been a White Sox fan though.
- 3 questions to John Sickels from his old friend Rob Neyer on his prospect book. I enjoyed this passage:
I'm also a lot less arrogant in my middle age than I was when I was in my late 20s. Back then I would make a lot more snarky or sarcastic comments about particular players or front-office mistakes, but as I've grown older I don't do that as much. I've come to realize that there is still an awful lot we don't know about prospect development. I've become more comfortable saying "I'm not sure." Sometimes that irritates people (especially people in their 20s!) but truth is an absolute defense, and if I'm not sure about something I'm not going to pretend that I am sure.
- The guys that use to run Thunder Matt's Saloon and then College of Idiots have a new blog, Exile on Clark Street. I believe their the 49th Cubs blog I've added to the TCR blogroll (lower left sidebar). Check it out.
Phil Rogers says Cubs were close on Calero until they saw his medical records:
# Cubs Close to signing Kiko Calero but medical work scared them away. Rather have healthy kids in bullpen than another injury risk.
And now the ironic compliment twitter from Muskat:
#cubs Angel Guzman had MRI Thursday on right shoulder. Official results expected Friday, but not expecting good news
She did update it to say the team is still optimistic about the results.
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?