The Tao of Q-Ball

You've probably read or heard about yesterday's dugout fracas between Carlos Slim and Aramis Ramirez after the first inning. The Cubs continued their defensive indifference that has plagued their early Cactus League games with 3 errors in the first inning - 5 total on the game (Yahtzee!) -  and that led to a 6-run first inning. You try not to infer too much meaning in spring training results, but despite what Carlos said at the Cubs Convention about not having to compete for a spot in the rotation, the reality is that it's between him, Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner for two of the spots. And while his hefty contract may earn him the benefit of the doubt over Wells or Cashner, both of whom still have minor league options, you hope he will have to demonstrate some modicum of success in March. Thus he was somewhat justified in his anger if he felt his teammates let him down in the first. But like his namesake has hopefully learned by now, you can't act on it in the dugout in front of witnesses.

But I write today not to discuss the minor scuffle, but the reaction by the Cubs new field general. Q-Ball dismissed the incident as "boys will be boys". Fair enough and it being early March, the incident is probably going to be ignored or forgotten by the majority of Cubs fans, so wise to not make a big deal of it. Now my first thought was would this have happened under Ryne Sandberg? I do this only because I'm an unabashed Sandberg groupie and whether Q-Ball ends up being the right decision or not for the Cubs, damn straight I'd rather being rooting for old #23.

Of course there's no way of knowing, I don't think Sandberg has any magical powers to prevent Slim from shooting off his mouth and Aramis from reacting. But would have they hesitated for a second out of respect to an ex-major leaguer and Hall of Famer? Doubtful, but that doesn't stop me from wondering.

I also wonder how Sandberg would have handled the media afterwards. It's sort of the unappreciated skill of a manager. Dusty didn't know how to do it, the city hated him. Lou did and despite similar results to Dusty, certainly was more well-liked over his tenure. Joe Torre was a master at it and don't think that's not a big part of his New York city legend. Q-Ball by all accounts, seems to be doing it well, but I can't say I wasn't disappointed by the reaction yesterday. What I wanted to hear was, "Boys will be boys and I'll deal with it tomorrow. But instead of jawing at his teammates for making mistakes, Silva should worry about picking them up and not getting lit up like Charlie Sheen on a coke bender. He should also try switching to diet soda. I've been getting on Castro a bit for what I feel are mental lapses on the field, but don't think it doesn't apply to the veterans as well. I may be more public about it with the rookies because fans and media lap that shit up like a dog at a running water hose, but Ramirez needs to remember he doesn't have a contract for next year and took a 2-month siesta to start last season. Koyie should remember that $850K is a dime in a water fountain to a major league club."

Okay, I probably took that too far and sarcasm aside, that kind of honesty sure would be refreshing. I sure would have preferred something more along the lines of, "Silva should have worried more about the home runs he was giving up and this sloppy play from the veterans to kids is either going to improve or guys will find the bench, maybe not as immediately as fans want, but it will improve or I'll find guys that can do it"

But the recent talks with Castro and the brushing aside of veterans mess-ups was the same stunt that Q-Ball pulled last year. He got all over Castro in the media and did everything behind closed doors with the vets or not at all. In return, he got their support when it came time to find the full-time guy. It worked for him and the team and it's certainly nothing new out of the manager's handbooks. Hell, it's pretty much standard operating procedure. But if a breath of fresh air from Q-Ball is what you wanted, you should keep expecting a jet stream of the hot variety.


Nice post Rob.

4th'd. But I guess if you're going to get the SOS from your manager, it's an improvment not to pay him $3.5 million, so in that regard the Cubs took a step in the right direction... too bad it wasn't added to the payroll.

When I was reading the hypothetical Q-Ball rant, I kept wondering "did Rob G forget to close his quotation mark at some point?" Very funny and it would be refreshing.

amen to the last paragraph...

i thought dempster deserved the opening day nod so glad he got it, but...did his cheerleading for mr. clean last fall give him an edge, sub-conscious or not, in the decision-making this spring? we'll never know...

well I'm sure it didn't hurt...

Z deserved the punishment though after the shit he pulled last year.

by Jonah Keri

summary: offense should improve slightly, pitching is in 2nd tier of NL behind Phils, Giants, Braves and Brewers. In the conversation for the division, but still projected 4th.

Hard to argue with.

no caridad love in the pen? man...

still, decent one.

has Cashner in there, but I would assume he goes to Iowa if he doesn't start in the majors. That would leave 3 spots open for

(pseudo-ordered by favorites)
Ninja, Maine, Caridad, Wellemeyer, J. Berg, J. Russell, J. Stevens, B. Looper, Coello, Diamond, Gaub, M. Mateo, A. Cabrera, Dolis, J. Jackson, Carpenter, S. Rice, McNutt

Grabow, Wood, Marmol, Marshall are assumed to be locks.

yeah, not bitching...not like caridad is a sure thing. i just think the guy makes the relief core now that's he's healed up.

I can't get to either of those projections at work, it looks like the Cardinals is pre-Wainwright (2-16) - and the Redlegs is coming up as a gambling site, is that also pre- TJ surgery for the division's best pitcher?

Something seems off about the NL central having 4 x 86+ win teams - like that forecasting method doesn't total up to 2430.

it is pre-Wainwright, but if I understand it correctly it just adds ZIPS projections up and projected playing times, converts it to runs and runs allowed and uses Pythagorean to spit out a win number. In other words, unless the NL East and West are for some reason exceptionally bad, it won't add up.

It has 80 wins for Pittsburgh for example.

The 2nd link is Baseball Prospectus. They have 85 at the moment for Brewers/Cards, 82 for Reds and 80 for Cubs (71 and 68 for Pirates and Astros).

Thanks. My "2-16" was from BP, so the Cards probably figure to take a 3-4 win hit once the replacement for Wainwright is worked in. If you figure out the systemic issues taking 210 innings out of your rotation causes, I'd bet it's more like 7-8 wins.

Project 500, woot! Eleventy111!!

and thanks for the kind words

m.young at 2nd...ha.

Q-Ball discusses today's meeting, does manage to get the word "donnybrooks" in a sentence, which I like.

"Look, if we were going to have everybody fighting who has made mistakes this spring, we'd have the cage match of all time," Quade said.

attention rickets family: ticket selling opportunity.


No more shinanigans?

Elijah Dukes has cleaned up his act.

...Elijah Dukes was being held in a Florida jail on Thursday after his pregnant ex-girlfriend accused him of slapping her in the face during an argument, authorities said.

his rap album still hasn't come out, though.

he has enough jail time to warrant a major label deal.

His Bio-Pic is really a great watch too...

"Pre-2007: Rated #79 Prospect"

Looks like Baseball America needs to add a 7th tool - being able to stay out of jail.

him and delmon young were scary people.

i wonder if delmon is still king of the strip clubs? he was pure least he can keep his hands to himself, though.

Him and Milton Bradley are best friends.

Is this true?

they live on opposite ends of the country

zambrano: 3ip 2h 0er 2bb 0k (1 HBP)

Cub Bp today with Babe Zambrano

'exposition'? come on sully...

it's nice to see him not torquing his body like it's disposable. at least his swing is cleaner these days...well, for hitting 50mph BP pitching, anyway...heh.

Speaking of the devil

PWSullivan After trying to hit 500-ft. HRs all during bp, Zambrano sez his arm is "fatigued" following 3-inning stint. Hmmm.

just about every pitcher goes through a dead arm phase in spring training

Z says sinker and splitter worked good today, didn't have power in his fastball.

Looks like a certain reporter for a major metropolitan paper is stalking the Hooters girls. Posing for pics now.

I'd guess Kapman but can't really say he writes for Tribune. I' guessing Gordo. I know Miles isn't there. I suppose it could be the Rangers writers.

Well, KHill craps himself with a RISP to end the game.

He is hitting .000 for the season.

I know, I know AZ PHIL. The pitchers love pitching to him.

In two instances when he could have made a difference in the game outcomes recently (yes, it is ST), he failed miserably.

When will Max Ramirez start getting a more serious look? If at all?

I mean, this kind of thing will certainly continue in the regular season in all liklihood.

Soto better stay healthy if they want to shoot for that #3 spot in the division.

i wonder what they'll do with m.ramirez, myself. he doesn't have the power or consistancy for 1st even though he's not a good catcher...and the regular mlb backup, if k.hill doesn't get cut, should be w.castillo (imo)...and where does that leave chris robinson?

we got 3 guys for 2 slots in AAA...though it probably should be 1 backing up in the majors and the other 2 in AAA...but then there's k.hill mucking up that line of progression.

at least Billy Beane has a sense of humor, imagine Hendry trying to pull that interview off.

DB: The past three years or so, suddenly it's OK for the A's to start stealing bases and bunting again. How could you betray Sabermetrics like that, Billy?

Beane: We never had a problem with the stolen base; we always had a problem with the caught stealing. So I think as long as we avoid those, we're all fine with it.

DB: And the bunting?

Beane: Uh, yeah, we're going to have to talk about that. But, as a result of having more sacrifice bunts, we've also managed to bring up the rear in runs scored in the American League [chuckles].

DB: Don't you have to give your manager something to do?

Beane: Listen, we've been offensively challenged, and we'll try and scrape out any possible run and base that we can at this point. So we're not overly choosey.


Good sense of humor.

I believe you know that there is apparently light at the end of the tunnel for the Moneyball film this year.

Philip S. Hoffman as Art Howe??? Gotta see this.

I think P. Hoffman is one of the better movie actors around, so I'm sure he can pull it off. As long as he doesn't get naked again and bang Marisa Tomei.

Social Network was a huge hit, Moneyball sure can do well...

The book is still #4 on Amazon's top 10 baseball sellers.

i will be amazed if it recoups it's 47m...even counting international.

i'm interested to know how they plan to get 90+ minutes out of this.

Soderbergh could have done the movie for $10MM or less. And lots of long takes.

But, seriously, $47MM for a sabermetrics "pioneer" movie?!

$20M of that to Brad Pitt probably

that's still a very modest budget in today's Hollywood to be honest...

they'll spend $20M+ advertising it as well...

Soderbergh wanted closer to $60M to do his version and they nixed that and went back to an earlier vision of the script.

director has only done one other movie, "Capote" which explains the Hoffmann casting.

-edit- guess Pitt took a bit of a discount, originally $15M but took less upfront after Soderbergh quit and more on the backend if the film makes anything.

Aaron Sorkin apparently did the last rewrite, so that's good.

it's not like i think they'll take a bath on it, but unless "Tree of Life" reminds people brad pitt still exists it could be a long haul through DVD releases before they see their money back...unless they have some way to sell this movie to non-baseball fans.

it's an underdog story, just not on a sports field.

I actually forgot that Soderbergh had the gig early on. I only said that b/c he seems to like to take on lower-budget projects that could be "cool", or interesting (Bubble, The Good German, his last film), if not lucrative.

So, maybe $40MM-$60MM is "not much" in Hollywood these days when compared to Inception or Avatar.

Juno, with a budget of $7MM, has grossed $143.5MM Domestic, so far! How I would have loved to invested $100 bucks!

well I don't think Juno is going to make much more at this point. :)

I think it's been about 10-11 years since Soderbergh made a good movie, seems more interested in experimenting or hanging out with the Ocean's 11 crew.
I mean the first was watchable, but the next two...ugh.

So probably good that he's not doing Moneyball, his version had an animated Bill James talking to Billy Beane and interviews with real baseball players interspersed through the narrative.

You have to admit that if you were P. Hoffman you would jump at the chance to get naked and bang Marisa Tomei. :)

If I was him? Hell I'd do that now!!! Lmao...

anyone see this last month

Al's 3-part interview with Tom Ricketts?

all kinds of fantastic bullshit in there, Ricketts says the overall baseball budget is the same although more is going to player development this season then the major league club.

We shall see...

If the focus is on player development, and that is totally fine with me, then the Garza trade doesn't make much sense.


The Garza trade was to sell 3 million tickets, in sort of a sad keeping up with the Joneses way. Anyone who tells you anything otherwise is probably full of it.

Totally, NEAL.

They will not hit 3MM this year.

Not unless they start hot and stay that way. If these ST games are any indicator, they'll start cold and stay that way.

Recent comments

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  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:

    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.

  • O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already. 

  • I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.

    I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.

  • Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.

  • With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined). 

  • BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.

    If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).

    As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).

  • I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.