The Curious Case of Josh Vitters Being Promoted
So pretty much out of nowhere yesterday, the Cubs decided to promote Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters. In a lost season, where getting the #1 draft pick is more important than winning 70 games, I'm all for going with the youth movement. Now when the Cubs were keeping Rizzo in the minors to delay his shot at free agency, TheJedi were spouting that they like their prospects to get a full 162 games at the Triple A level. Rizzo ended up with 163 between his time in Tuscon and Iowa to the tune of a 336/405/670 slash line. There was another factor and that was the play of Bryan LaHair, who after a red hot April deserved all the chances in the world to keep his spot. Yeah, they could have moved him to the outfield sooner, but between LaHair's early play, Rizzo's long-term future and that the Cubs were going to suck regardless, it was a wise decision to keep Rizzo in Iowa.
So with Jackson, while I'm a bit surprised by the call-up, he had played 154 games in Iowa (hey, it's a full season if it's 1960) with a solid slash line of 269/353/502 including 25 HR,73 RBI,105 R, and 33/39 in SB. On top of that, LaHair has gone full Fukudome on us when you look at his OPS by month: (starting in April): 1.251, .793, .686, .517. So there was room on the roster at this point and in the starting lineup, a key point allegedly with calling up prospects, i.e. that they are suppose to play everday(Dusty's head explodes).
Now there is the contact issue with Jackson or lack thereof, and that hasn't gone away, but at age 23, you hope he has a quick enough bat that he isn't going to go full Carlos Pena and end up fighting the Mendoza line. To his credit, he has stayed relatively consistent from month-to-month (.759,.826, .898, .752, .889) and as I mentioned, has youth on his side.
Now with Vitters, I have to admit I'm confused. He's been playing great in Iowa after a rough April (.611, .884, .970, .833, 1.467) and there's certainly a hole named Valbuena that can be filled at the hot corner. But he's only played 110 games at the Triple A level and while I understand that may be more a guideline than a rule, or maybe it was just an excuse, he's also not going to be playing everyday. Allegedly he's going to start as the short-side of the platoon and while he certainly did better versus lefties (1.002 vs. .805), if you're gonna get his feet wet, drown the sucker. And at age 22, the service time issue is of great importance as you really don't want your players hitting free agency before they hit 30 if you believe they're a long term solution.
Which is why I'm wondering if Vitters may not be part of the TheJedi's long-term vision. Are they showcasing him a bit by playing to a strength and limiting his time on defense? Some have wondered if they're taking it easy with him since he's historically struggled starting out at a new level, but it's obviously something that hasn't bothered him on a long-term basis, he seems to adjust just fine and his confidence hasn't waivered, so I don't get the sudden change of sitting 60 to 70% of the time. And then I wonder how many free swingers can TheJedi stomach? They've made it clear they want hitters that work the count, occasionally take a walk and so forth and I think they're pretty committed to Starlin Castro. Will they risk yet another big bat that likes to hack?
Now there smart guys so they'll never admit to such things, they'll play up Vitters' strengths, do their best to build him up as an asset, but I won't be too surprised if he's dealt at some point over the next year or so.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.
That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.
9 pitches in and this game already rules.
HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).
...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.
First time I saw Herrera was yesterday. He took like 100 pitches, fouled off a ton off Lester.
Very nice young player and perfect leadoff guy.
Obviously not Phil. But he mentioned this on Wednesday.
"Dominican Summer League (DSL) Opening Day is Saturday June 4th, so probably about 8-10 pitchers and position players presently at EXST in Mesa will be sent to the Cubs Dominican Academy (probably sometime this week) and be assigned to either DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2."
In the comments here: http://www.thecubreporter.com/05242016/cub-power-d...
Per FanGraphs, Cubs have a 72.5% chance of winning today. Jinx! Next highest percentage on today's games is D-backs with a 64.7% chance (Greinke vs. Cesar Vargas, in Arizona.)