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.
If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic
I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.
I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?
He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.
What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.
(All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)
Lester will probably be all right.
I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.
I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.
Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?
He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.
But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.
The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.
Yup. Thanks Q
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTNekUcY-XM
I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.
O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.
Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.
I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.