Vitters Back in Game Action at Instructs

Xavier Batista smashed a solo HR and threw a runner out at the plate, leading the Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Angels in AZ Instructional League action at Diablo Park Field #3 in Tempe this afternoon.


Josh Vitters got into his first game action since suffering a broken hand after being hit by a pitch in a Southern League game on July 25th, going 1-3 and playing 3B for the first five innings. He stroked a fly ball near-HR that bounced off the warning track and up & over the fence in left-center for a book-rule double in his first AB, before striking out (swinging) in his other two Plate Appearances. He also made the defensive play of the game, a sprawling catch of a foul pop up down the LF line followed by a perfect throw to 2nd base to double-up a base-runner trying to advance after the catch. (Vitters will be continuing his rehab with the Cubs AZ Instructional League team until the start of the AFL season on October 12th).


Cubs 2010 7th round pick RHP Ben Wells (Bryant HS - Bryant, AR) made his pro debut in today’s game, throwing one shutout inning (10 pitches – six strikes). He gave up a lead-off 400-ft+ double off the CF batter’s eye, but then got the next hitter to line into a DP, before striking out the third and final hitter of the inning with a couple of nasty sliders. Wells is a big kid (6’3 240+) and will have to watch his weight. He looks like an offensive lineman, and he just turned 18 three weeks ago!


18-year old Korean Bonus Baby Jin-Yeong Kim had a far rockier outing today than he did in his pro debut last week, allowing two runs on five hits (four singles and a triple) in three innings of work. He did throw strikes, however (he has yet to walk a batter in five professional innings), and he did not crumble or melt when the Angels threatened to score.


A bus-load of students from the MLB Scouting Academy attended the game, and they were all over the park, with their clipboards, stopwatches, and radar guns. It was kind of oddly coincidental that they should be at Diablo Park today, since Angels Scouting Director Eddie Bane and several Angels scouts were reportedly fired this week.


Here is today’s abridged box score (Cubs players only):


LINEUP:
1. Marco Hernandez, SS: 0-4 (L-6, K, E4, 4-3, R)
2. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-1 (E1, BB, BB, BB, R)
3a. Josh Vitters, 3B: 1-3 (2B, K, K, R)
3b. Chad Noble, PH: 0-1 (6-4 FC)
4. Justin Bour, 1B: 1-4 (1B, K, 3-6 FC, F-8, 2 RBI)
5. Micah Gibbs, DH-C: 0-2 (L-8, HBP, BB, 4-3)
6. Dustin Geiger, DH-3B: 0-3 (L-6, F-7, K, BB)
7. Xavier Batista, RF: 2-4 (HR, F-8, F-8, 1B, RBI, R)
8. Sergio Burruel, C-DH: 1-4 (3-1, 1B, 5-3, L-8 DP)
9. Chris Huseby, LF: 1-3 (K, F-9, 1B, HBP)
10. Oliver Zapata, CF: 1-4 (1-U, 1B, K, 4-3, R)


PITCHERS:
1. Matt Loosen: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 35 pitches (23 strikes), 3/5 GO/FO
2. Ben Wells: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 10 pitches (6 strikes), 0/2 GO/FO
3. Jin-Yeong Kim: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 49 pitches (33 strikes), 1/4 GO/FO
4. Austin Reed: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 22 Pitches (15 strikes), 1/4 GO/FO


ERRORS: NONE


OUTFIELD ASSIST:
RF Xavier Batista: threw out baserunner 9-2 trying to score from 3rd base on fly out to RF


=================================================


ATTENDANCE: 65 (including 40+ from MLB Scouting Academy)


WEATHER: Sunny & very hot, with 100+ degree temps


 

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Comments

well...we learned castro can't bunt today. nice to know...

Crunch you normally are one of my favorite posters so that makes your man hate for Castro a bit disappointing. I'm curious to know what it's about. I've seen quite a few posts from you bashing the kid. He looks pretty good to me. I wish we had five position players in the minors playing like this, much less at the MLB level. I do understand, of course, the general cynicism anytime the words Cubs and rookie are used in the same sentence. And rather than argue about it I'm just sort of curious what it's all about.

i don't hate castro. i just don't expect much from him right now because he's barely old enough to be expected play well on this level and he's a bit rough around the edges defensively.

he was asked to bunt last night and i've seen AL pitchers with better approach and skills. we're talking bat head pointing up, non-level, 2 bad attempts...small sample size, but you can tell he's not been asked to bunt much.

in my ideal world (there's lot of chocolate and unicorns, it's fun) he wouldn't have been up this year solely based on his D.

he's a swinger...his power isn't developed...his D is shakey...but all that is going to be true whether he's in A, AAA, or the majors. he's simply a kid learning his craft and a demotion or promotion isn't going to make it click.

i got no problem with him, but even with the hits he's getting and flashes of good D, he's not refined.

he doesn't walk a lot, but seeing him in the 8 slot (where he obtained most of his walks) he obviously has an idea of what he can make contact with and what he shouldn't make an offer at. this is great stuff for a kid his age even if his contact isn't driving the ball 450ft.

just because i'm railing on his D, arm, lack of walks, etc. it doesn't mean i don't recognize his youth, effort, or how advanced he is at the plate vs. his age. i look forward to seeing how the 22-24 year old castro looks. he's being given a hell of a shot early in his development.

So what you are saying is that the south will rise again?

the NL Central at the very least

That's all good. I just have seen quite a few comments from you and thought you were really down on the kid. And I know you've seen more than I have cuz I havent' been able to see a lot of games lately, so I was even a little worried. Yup, 20 is young for this role. One drawback to his being brought up is I'm not sure it's a real good idea to send him to winter ball, which he could probably use. Seems like he could use a nice, long rest even more.

Thanks PHIL!

So, you were fighting for a seat with the large crowd today?

Since the year is in its waning couple of days, and you have had a year to digest the youngsters over the last 10 months, whom do you believe are the top prospects to really make an impact at the major league level - or as trade bait?

It seems as if we do not have ONE "Ace-type" prospect in the system (unless Archer?), and I do not know if there is a "solid" prospect that throws in the high 90's. Is there not one pitcher who can replace the terminally mediocre Randy Wells in 2011??

And, on the position side, it appears that there are no real power threats who play 1B or 3B, from what I have been reading from you this past year? Is it too early to call Josh Vitters a "blown call" again by Jim Hendry, ala Jeff Samardjia? is Darwin Barney a keeper? You have also stated that Castro takes instruction very well. Can he learn how to improve his defense dramatically moving into 2011?

Finally, several have been scratching their heads about this, but why would Quade keep starting KHill at catcher? How does this develop our young catcher? And, if hired, what could Quade bring to the team?

Thanks for all!

Quade is starting Hill at catcher because were were playing teams in the pennant race. It's an unspoken agreement to play vets against teams in the race and not to give in and play all the kids. Len Kasper said last week that Castillo probably wouldn't get another start until we played Houston, because Quade would play Hill against the playoff contenders.

It's an unspoken agreement to play your best players, as much as you can. What isn't clear to anyone, is why Hill is starting in that case. Even as flawed an offensive player as Castillo is, he's probably more dangerous with the bat than Hill, and he can throw out opposing baserunners.

Thanks PHIL!

Since the year is in its waning couple of days, and you have had a year to digest the youngsters over the last 10 months, whom do you believe are the top prospects to really make an impact at the major league level - or as trade bait?

It seems as if we do not have ONE "Ace-type" prospect in the system (unless Archer?), and I do not know if there is a "solid" prospect that throws in the high 90's. Is there not one pitcher who can replace the terminally mediocre Randy Wells in 2011??

And, on the position side, it appears that there are no real power threats who play 1B or 3B, from what I have been reading from you this past year? Is it too early to call Josh Vitters a "blown call" again by Jim Hendry, ala Jeff Samardjia? is Darwin Barney a keeper? You have also stated that Castro takes instruction very well. Can he learn how to improve his defense dramatically moving into 2011?

Finally, several have been scratching their heads about this, but why would Quade keep starting KHill at catcher? How does this develop our young catcher? And, if hired, what could Quade bring to the team?

========================================

E-MAN: Three of the Cubs top four prospects right now are starting pitchers (RHPs Chris Archer, Trey McNutt, and Jay Jackson). Then Chris Carpenter is a Top 10 prospect (Carpenter will be pitching for the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL), and LHP Chris Rusin is a Top 15 prospect. So that's five very good starting pitching prospects, and all five are at AA-AAA. Then you can probably add Casey Coleman to that list at #6 (although he's thrown too many MLB innings to be considerd a prospect post-2010), and so that's a half-dozen starting pitcher prospects. That's the Cubs biggest strength in the minors. Starting Pitching.

Of course it's always possible that one or more will get hurt or will be unable to cross over and be successful in MLB, but right now I feel pretty good about the Cubs young starting pitchers. When each will be ready is TBD.

I would say Darwin Barney is ready for the big leagues right now. With the Cubs he would be a utility middle-infielder, but he could be an everyday SS with another club. So he could be trade bait.

Which brings us to Josh Vitters...

When the Cubs selected Josh Vitters with the 3rd overall pick in the 2007 Rule 4 (June) Draft, Vitters was rated the second-best HS bat in the draft, behind only Mike Moustakas (who was taken by KC with the second overall pick). Vitters had been absolutely outstanding the previous year (between his junior & senior years in HS) in the AFLAC & Area Code "wood bat" HS all-star games, and nobody (and I mean nobody) questioned his bat. Whether he could stay at 3B was the only question.

Vitters had signed an NLI with Arizona State prior to being drafted by the Cubs, and if he had gone to college instead of signing with the Cubs he would have just completed his junior season at ASU this past Spring, and presuming he was drafted & signed (by the Cubs, let's say) this past June as a college junior, he would have spent June-July-August 2010 at Boise. So he is WAY advanced over where he would have been if he had gone to college in 2007 instead of signing with the Cubs.

The problem with Vitters signing with the Cubs in 2007 was that he had pneumonia in his senior year in HS, and then he (like Hayden Simpson this year) contracted mono the summer after he graduated from HS. And then he signed right at the August signing deadline, when he was weak and out of shape, and he hit just 118/164/118 with no XBH in 14 games (55 PA) combined between AZL Cubs and Boise. (The Cubs should have told him to come back next year when you're 100%). And then he was just as anemic at Instructs post-2007. I didn't know about the mono, so I figured when I saw him at that time that he might be a bust, a chump who wouldn't be able to adjust to pro pitching.

Then when he reported to Minor League Camp in 2008, he had a hand injury and so he was held back at EXST for a while after Spring Training getting his hand in shape before going to Peoria, where he struggled. Then he was sent back to Boise when the short-seasons started in June, and he hit 328/365/498 at age 18 and was named the #1 prospect in the Northwest League by Baseball America.

He was moved back up to Peoria to start the 2009 season, and he hit 316/351/535 with 15 HR in just 70 games (less than half a minor league season), before being moved up to Daytona when he was right in the midst of a HR binge at Peoria. He was 19 years old at this point.

So he goes to Daytona in June, and he struggles through the balance of the 2009 season, hitting just 238/260/344 in 50 FSL games. Then he goes to Instructs and looks good, and then to the AFL last October, where he hit about .350 depite battling back spasms.

He goes back to Daytona to start the 2010 season, and he hits 291/350/445 in his first 28 FSL games. That earns him a promotion in May to AA Tennessee, where he struggles, until the last ten games before he suffered the broken hand. In that ten game stretch in July (just prior to having his season ended), Vitters hit 303/395/636 at AA.

Now he just returned to game action at Instructs today after missing the last two months of the season. He will be playing in the AFL again this October.

And he just turned 21.

If you prorate his career minor league numbers over a full minor league "full" season (which is 144 games), he has hit a combined 275/317/435, with 16 HR & 74 RBI, 33 doubles, and 24/96 BB/K. OK, but not great, but you have to remember all the time he has spent trying to adjust to a promotion before he masters that level. The learning curve required each time he has received an in-season promotion has held down his career numbers.

Now, I can understand why some Cub fans might wonder why Vitters hasn't done better, and maybe he will be a bust, but he actually HAS done better at each stop once he had a chance to adjust. And he's still only 21 years old.

The main critcisms about Vitters have to do not with his hitting or power potential, but rather his defense and his tendency to not take walks.

I believe his defense is the biggest problem (he has a career .907 fielding % at 3B that has remained fairly constant throughout his career), and he just doesn't appear to be much interested in improving his play at 3B. Vitters is kind of a laid-back California dude and nothing really seems to bother him, but he also sometimes appears to lack passion or appears to just not care about things that don't interest him, like improving his defensive play. That's why there has been speculation that he might eventually have to move to 1B, LF, or RF.

But he has been taking lots & lots of ground balls the past couple of weeks at Fitch Park, and he looks like he might (MIGHT) finally understand that he has to improve his play at 3B to stay there. He actually prefers 3B and he has the actions of a third-baseman, it's just that he makes too many lazy throws and half-assed attempts to field routine ground balls. That's why his effort today on the pop-up in foul territory was somewhat surprising, but he still has to make the routine play consistently. While he might not ever win a Gold Glove, he could at least be passably mediocre. Hopefully he has turned a new leaf, and it's not Ryan Leaf.

I have had Welington Castillo on my Cubs Top 10 Prospect List for several years now. While he may not hit much for average or take many walks, and while he has some rough edges to smooth out when it comes to receiving, I believe he will hit 20+ HR & 30+ doubles and SLUG at or near .500, and he consistently throws out around 40% opposing base-stealers while also picking off runners at all three bases. He can and will shut down an opponent's running game. But he's only 23.

This is really comforting to read about Vitters. I knew he had had some illness that prevented him from playing, but that coupled with some of the injuries really does explain some of his poor numbers.

Feels good to ruin it for someone else. Also, fuck Steve Garvey.

Couldn't have said it better myself. I'm still bitter after '84 and will forever hate the milk salesman whore. Plus, I live in San Diego now and the last four days have been much fun ... although the fans here have the attention span of a gnat and have already forgotten they have a baseball team by now.

Phil, how do you like of what you've seen from Vitters on D? Will his power and glove be enough to cover up his deficiencies and make him at least serviceable?

Submitted by John Beasley on Thu, 09/30/2010 - 7:50pm.
Phil, how do you like of what you've seen from Vitters on D? Will his power and glove be enough to cover up his deficiencies and make him at least serviceable?

============================

JOHN B: That's the big unknown... Can Vitters improve his "D" enough at 3B to play there in MLB or is he just not cut-out to play that position?

Personally, I think he needs to be pushed to improve his play at 3B. The Cubs have challenged him continually throughout his minor league career, promoting him when he just barely has started to show mastery of a particulsr level. I think they might have made a mistake doing that. They probably should have told him that no matter how much he hits, he isn't getting promoted unless and until he shows more improvement with his glove. He needs to be able to make the routine play consistently.

As I've said before, Vitters looks like a 3rd baseman. He has the actions of a third-baseman. It just seems like maybe he just doesn't try hard enough. He needs to focus more on his defense, to not think about his next AB when he's standing at 3B with a glove on his hand.

Do you think he could try harder at his strike zone judgment?

Seems like a red flag parallel of personal entitlement between KPatt and Vitters. High HS picks, heavily hyped by everyone. Who were green lighted through the farm system before actually mastering any levels above A ball.

Looks like as long as we don't sweep the Assholes over the weekend, we're going to get the 8th pick in the draft.

Crawford box tickets on Saturday, wonder if I'll get a chance to throw one back on the field...

I believe it's the 9th. D-backs get the 7th pick next year for not signing Barrett Loux, the 6th pick from 2010. If we would somehow pass the Brewers or the Astros in the standings, the pick would fall back to 11th as the Padres have the 10th pick for failing to sign Karsten Whitson.

Oh, yeah I forgot about that.

The Astros are the only team we can catch, according to Foxsports.com.

Az phil ,what is schedule and where will games be played october 12-16?

So instead of spending a fortune on a free agent first baseman has anyone associated with the Cubs mentioned Soto moving to first and Castillo catching in the near future?

It's been discussed, but it dismissed as making little sense. You can get a guy for roughly the minumum (Snyder/Hoffpauir/LaHair for example) to play first, and give the team a better bat than Castillo's.

It might make sense to try Soto at first if he had problems throwing after his surgery.

Agree. Soto had a bum shoulder this season, and with a CS% of 22 was 16th in the NL among catchers who started 70 games. But even at Soto's typical 27 or 28% CS rate, he would have been just 14th in the league.

With Soto coming off (supposedly minor) shoulder surgery, and Castillo in waiting, aren't the Cubs likely to keep first base somewhat open for Soto?

Have you figured in how many CS's got lost due to the shorstop not knowing how to catch and apply the tag, as well as the number where Jesus Christ with a potato cannon couldn't have thrown the guys out because our rotation doesn't hold runners on?

Based on what he's done in the minors, playing Castillo as an everyday player is not going to be pretty, at this point. Think Hill with a lower OBP and higher slugging.

Hill with a lower OBP? I'd say 8 of the 12 guys on the pre-September pitching staff could out OBP Koyie Hill.

As a catcher Soto is a pretty good run producer considering OBP etc. As a first baseman he's just like a ton of other guys.

That's basically what I'm saying. Soto's value comes from the offensive production he brings to the catcher's position without the defensive butcherings of a guy like Victor Martinez or late-era Mike Piazza.

If the plan - for whatever reason - is to take Castillo's SLG and CS% at C, I can live with that - but then Soto should be traded to a team that does value his offense at C for another part that makes the Cubs better.

There are so many guys who "can" play 1B that moving a guy like Soto there, where he's not likely to shine either defensively or offensively, is asinine.

At the risk of repeating myself, there are thirteen catchers in the National League alone who have started 70 games this season and produced CS percentages higher than Soto did in his rookie and second seasons, before he hurt his shoulder. Their names are Molina, Olivo, Martin, Torrealba, Posey, Quintero, Hernandez, Rodriguez, Lucroy, Paulino, Montero, McCann and Hundley. Ruiz is about even with Soto (I mean the 2008-9 Soto) while Snyder, Barajas and Doumit are below him.

So I'm thinking that other teams put a premium on catchers with high CS percentages, maybe the Cubs will, too, especially with Soto rehabbing an injured throwing shoulder.

Just at a glance, I would say that catchers' CS ratings don't fall like their BAs when they hit the majors. If Castillo's 38-40% held up, he would be in top rung of NL catchers.

What's the problem with Soto at first, anyway? Haven't I been reading here for months that Soto should have batted higher up, and Lee lower down?

and as history has never proved, there is a strong correlation between stealing bases, catcher CS% and winning.

"[No] strong correlation between stealing bases . . . and winning."

I'm trying to figure out why Brett Gardner, with his .763 OPS, has started 131 games for the Yankees. The only thing he does well offensively is steal bases!

Every prospective playoff team this season except Atlanta has a player who has stolen 25+ bases.

Here's the list: TB Crawford (46), NYY Gardner (42), Phila Victorino (34), Texas Andrus (32), Cin Stubbs (29), SD Venable (29), SF Torres (26).

The Cubs go into 2011 with Castro their leading base stealer, with 10. Are the Cubs on the right side of the correlation between SBs and winning?

I guess a player like Gardner is good enough for the Yankees but not for the Cubs--sort of like his manager.

edit: forgot the Twins, Span (26).

when you have power at 1st, 2nd, SS, 3rd, C, RF, CF and DH on your $600,000,000,000 team you can carry a low-power ob% guy who can field and run without worrying too much about his contribution beyond getting on base.

an incredibly myopic study of the history of baseball

Gardner's a good defender with a good arm and does enough with the bat. And yes, speed is one of his assets.

Nothing wrong with speed, but it's not why the Yankees are going to the playoffs and Soto not throwing guys out isn't why the Cubs aren't.

There's a lot of different ways and different combinations to win a game and be a good team, but speed and stolen bases has been proven throughout history to be the one of the least important of those ways on the offensive side. It's not a theory, it's not a bias, it's as close to a baseball truth as you can get.

It's not to say speed should be completely ignored cause it tends to also translate to defense which of course is very important. But that's certainly not what you're talking about here.

But if we're throwing out the random example of having a 25 SB guy being the magic cutoff of team awesomeness, try the 2006 or 2000 Cubs or Ryne Sandberg's career. Or just 2010 where Theriot was on pace for 25 if he wasn't traded.

The '85 Cards lead the league in runs scored.

The Yankees have Kerry Wood, therefore paying setup men $8 million is the key to success.. it's a fun game, isn't it?

I know you're kidding around but before VA Phil picks up on that, the '85 Cards also led the league in OBP and tied for lead league in OPS.

and stole a kajillion bases of course (rough estimate).

and as a related, yet totally unrelated side-note...

kerry wood picked up m.rivera's cutter faster than any pitcher i've ever seen pick up someone's pitch. =p

i know wood had been working on one (along with 100 other pitches through his rehabs/career), but it clicked and refined really f'n quickly.

...and before it gets picked apart, yes wood used to throw a cutter, but he's generally shelved that pitch over the years vs. how much he's using it since he came to the yanks.

I was thinking the same thing last week. When I looked at his stats with the Yankees, he had an era of like .034! And, a nifty WHIP to boot.

I hope we bring him back... if we're gonna suck, at least we should have players I like.

You're putting a lot of words in my mouth. I wasn't doing a study of the history of baseball. Nor did I say that Gardner was the reason for the Yankees' success. I did say, and did try to show, that there is a place for base stealers on very good teams. (I say that as the envious fan of a team that uses Jeff Baker and Fukudome to lead off.) The Yankees could have had Fukudome and his bases on balls, or dozens of other players who would satisfy your idea of baseball truth better than Gardner does. But they preferred Gardner and his SBs.

One way to arrive at baseball truth is to delve into the stats bibles; another is to look at the actual practice of most GMs, who value a player like Gardner for reasons that the bibles shed no light on.

well don't backtrack now, you were clearly implying that teams need 25 SB's guys to make the playoffs.

and Gardner didn't bat leadoff most of the season..

but if you're saying teams tend to put average players with specialized skills in there to support their good players, I'm with you.

One way to arrive at baseball truth is to delve into the stats bibles; another is to look at the actual practice of most GMs, who value a player like Gardner for reasons that the bibles shed no light on.

what baseball truth are you getting to? speed, on the bases in particularly, has been overated through much of the history of the game and is one of the least important factors into scoring runs.

Doesn't mean it's not nice to have and it doesn't mean a team should completely ignore it, but you better get on-base and hit some home runs first.

Why do I get the feeling that VaPhil was totally on board with Juan Pierre and Tony Womack joining the 2006 Cubs?

I had a problem with Pierre's arm in center.

Offensively, though . . . If he keeps playing--and he usually does, somewhere--then at the end of his career, he'll have impressive totals for hits and SBs.

"speed, on the bases in particular, has been overated through much of the history of the game and is one of the least important factors into scoring runs."

My point in this thread has been that GMs and managers seem to like base stealers at the top of the order as much as they ever did. Nobody ever wanted base stealers hitting in the middle of the order.

So what does it mean to say that SBs used to be overrated? If that's a proven fact, why haven't current GMs gotten the message?

I'd like to draw you out on this, to get you to admit that the stats community you are part of is still fighting an uphill battle, at least as regards SBs.

If that's a proven fact, why haven't current GMs gotten the message?

Because there are a lot of stupid GM's in MLB?

some GM's still value wins over ERA or FIP and BA over OBP.

But nonetheless, I'm not against stolen bases or speed or having a good defensive catcher, they're just at the bottom of things necessary to be a good team.

The problem with Soto at first is the platoon of the two shittiest hitters in the NL at catcher.

Actually I was thinking the Cubs might have Chirinos's bat available next year.

Hill had a bad year throwing--he was worse than Soto--and I didn't really see him making the cut next year. I hadn't considered the effect on Hill of Soto not being ready to catch at the start of the season. But I don't think Hill will start if Castillo is throwing out runners.

Castillo could be a decent hitter. A lot of catchers learn how to hit in the majors. Castillo did hit 13 homers at Iowa this year in 69 games.

He's a dangerous hitter, at any rate. Ask Tyler Colvin.

I'd like Chirinos around next year as well, but him not making the September roster, doesn't bode well for it.

via cm...

CF Fuld, SS Barney, 2B DeWitt, LF Soriano, 1B Hoffpauir, RF Snyder, 3B Scales, C Castillo, P Coleman

iowa cubs + soriano

October Fever ... Catch It!

via cm...

#cubs tyler colvin says he's feeling great and will begin workouts soon. And yes, he uses maple bats, too

lol.

also, via paul s...fuku filled out the lineup card last night...

http://twitpic.com/2tqwgk

The value of stolen bases isn't just about the statistical-mathematical chances of gaining an extra base versus the possibility of getting thrown out, but rather the added pressure a credible threat of stealing bases puts on the defense.

If a base stealer gets on base, pitchers split their attention between the batter and the runner on base, tend to throw more fastballs, and are less-likely to throw change-ups, catchers don't move around as much behind the plate framing pitches and bringing an outside pitch over the plate because they have to keep themselves ready to jump out and throw, and middle infielders move around and get caught out of position more often than if a runner is on base who is not a credible stolen base threat.

A catcher who can shut-down the running game reverses this pressure, making the opposition less-likely to steal, thus allowing the pitcher, catcher, and middle infielders to play a more normal defensive game.

Greg Maddux had an interesting approach, paying virtually zero attention to baserunners, allowing them to steal if they so desired, and instead giving his full attention to the hitter. It worked pretty well for Maddux, but I don't know of too many other pitchers who have as much confidence in their stuff as Mad Dog did.

all of that is true

and all of that is a small fraction though of what actually goes into winning a game or being a good team.

As I said, it shouldn't be completely ignored by a team, but get your other ducks in a row first (getting on-base, hitting home runs, good pitching, good defensive range).

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