Cubs Try Not To Fowl It Up

The Cubs hinted at getting an outfielder that could play CF or LF just over a week ago and today they finalized a deal for about the only player that made sense to fit that role. The Cubs sent Luis Valbuena and P Dan Straily to the Astros for OF Dexter Fowler. Hard to find a way to not like this deal, but I'm sure some will.

In Fowler, the Cubs get a switch-hitting center fielder with a career .366 OBP and a 12.5% BB rate. Yeah, some of that is BABIP and Coors Field driven and his projections have him more in the .345 OBP range which is still plenty good out of the lead off spot. On the upside, he'll be playing his age 29 season this year and headed to free agency so I like his chances to beat that projection.

To get Fowler, the Cubs gave up some decent parts, but positions of depth. Straily was around #9 on the depth chart and certainly would have started in Iowa. Valbuena was better than most give credit for around here, but with Baez, Bryant and Alcantara around, his time was limited on the Cubs roster. Trying to predict Maddon's lineups will send you to the asylum, but fair guess Fowler will be CF most days with Coghlan/Denorfia in LF. Third and second seem to be open right now with LaStella, Baez,  Olt, Alcantara likely to start the season and Bryant ready to throw a monkey wrench in there.


Fowl Ball

Looks like Theo is not ducking the playoffs this year.

fowler/castro/rizzo/bryant/soler/montero...and the last 2 slots being a platoon of 10+ other players because joe maddon... that could be quite strong as a main "core" lineup (yeah, i know...joe maddon)...especially considering the last 2 slots shouldn't be bad options...heck, they could even swap out lineup position with montero or castro depending on how things go

I liked Valbuena - good player to have, especially if you have a contending team. It will be fun to see Olt get 12 days at third and disappear into oblivion.

agreed on both counts. i don't see bryant breaking out of spring, but i'd be surprised if we didn't see him up before the all-star break (pending injury/suck/etc)...and i kinda expect him within the first month or 2 unless 3rd/LF are being adequately manned.

I can't imagine him not coming up even if third is adequately manned. It only gets interesting if Olt goes bonkers and has a career week and a half.

Since anything less than 172 days gives the Cubs virtually 7 years of Bryant's services, I would predict seeing Bryant on April 20th at Pittsburgh in the lineup batting cleanup at 3rd base.

I seriously don't get the big deal with service time and club control. Any player worth his salt is going to get a hefty raise or a reworked contract before their club control is up. It seems teams know this and in hopes of keeping said player will gladly rework contracts before they are due to hit free agency. So what the hell is the big deal with this? I admit, I don't follow player development all that closely aside from being aware of who some of the top prospects are for only the Cubs. Perhaps someone with more knowledge on this can clue me in... Does it truly matter?

Bryant's case is interesting because of Boras. Bryant himself doesn't seem like the kind of kid that would care much if he had to wait the 12 days, but Boras may try to convince him that it's cheap that the Cubs do that and try to convince him to extend when the time comes. On the other hand, it seems that TheoCorp has a decent relationship with Boras, as those things go, and so, no, it probably doesn't matter. I think it will be up to Maddon at the end of the day.

it's just a matter of leverage and how many millions team can save....

If Bryant starts out of spring training and is never sent down, he's a free agent in 6 years and hits free agency for his age 29 season. If Cubs wait a few weeks to call him up, they get his rights for an extra year and he hits free agency for his age 30 season. 2-3 weeks of Bryant not in lineup isn't going to tank Cubs season.

Yes, the Cubs can work out a buyout of his arbitration years or some of his free agency years, but at what cost? And will Boras and Bryant play ball? Boras doesn't take under market too often so it'll depend if Bryant really wants to stay.

Last year the Houston Astros waited 17 days after the start of the MLB regular season to call up George Springer and begin his MLB Service Time clock, meaning they will have Springer under club control through the 2020 season instead of through the 2019 season (which would have been the case if he had made the Astros MLB 25-man roster out of Spring Training). 

Springer and his agent (who is NOT Scott Boras) threatened to file a grievance over the Astros decision to wait to call Springer up until 17 days of the 2014 MLB regular season had passed, because the Astros had offered Springer a seven-year Major League contract the previous September (that he turned down) that would have bought out his arbitration years plus one free-agent year. So it appeared that the Astros waited 17 days into the 2014 season to call up Springer only because he had turned down the seven-year contract the previous September (which of course was true, but the way it transpired made the Astros look vindictive).     

The Astros mistake wes to offer the seven-year contract, and then after being turned down, waiting just long enough (plus another six days) to bring him up to the big club to keep him under club control for seven years (minus 17 days) instead of six. It was artless to say the least, because even though it was just good business, it made it look like the Astros were penalizing Springer for refusing the club's offer from the previous September. 

So the Cubs should not offer Kris Bryant a contract that would buy out arbitration years and one or two free-agent seasons until sometime AFTER he gets called up (which presumably will be at least 12 days after the start of the 2015 MLB regular seaon). Or else let Boras approach them with an offer during Spring Training (if Bryant is having a monster Cactus League and desperately wants to make the Cubs Opening Day MLB 25-man roster) so it won't be viewed as "punishment" if the Cubs wait at least 12 days into the 2015 MLB regular season to call Bryant up. 

I would think there will probably be some discussion going into the next CBA (the current one expires after the 2016 season) about changing the way players qualify for both salary aritration and Article XX-B MLB free-agency, not tying salary arbitration and free-agency to MLB Service Time, but rather connecting it to when the player signed his first contract. 

So for example, if the player was 19 or older on the June 5th prior to signing his first contract, the player would qualify for arbitation after five seasons and for free-agency after nine seasons (including time spent in the minor leagues) regardless of how much MLB Service Time has been accrued. For a player who is 17 or 18 on the June 5th prior to signing his first contract, it would be six seasons for salary arbitration and ten seasons to qualify for FA. And for players who were 15 or 16 on the June 5th prior to signing their first contract, it would be seven seasons for salary arbitration and 11 seasons for free-agency (again, combined time spent in the minor leagues AND MLB). NOTE: This is for players on an MLB 40-man roster ONLY.... minor league free-agency would remain the same, allowing a player on a minor league reserve list to be a Rule 55 minor league free agent (6YFA) after spending all or parts of at least seven separate seasons on a minor league Active List and/or minor league DL, including time spent in the minors on Opltional Assignment but not including DL rehanb assignments. 

That way the Cubs could call up a player (like Kris Bryant, for example) anytime, whenever they feel he's ready, last year, this year, Opening Day, mid-May, next season, whenever, and it wouldn't have any impact whatsoever on when he would qualify to be a free-agent. And the club would get maximum value out of the player for as long as he is with the club (not keeping the player in the minors just to keep his Service Time clock from starting), and the player could start making the big bucks sooner rather than later. 

It's a guaranteed contract, I will take every precaution and favor I can get as a GM/Owner.

Astros got Pablo Sandoval without the cost and better glove

Well that's what theo and jed were selling.

Gallardo deal....

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports hears that the Brewers will acquire middle infielder Luis Sardinas, and right-handers Corey Knebel and Marcos Diplan from the Rangers in the Yovani Gallardo deal.

I haven't seen you that excited about another team's trade in quite some time.

Really? I think I only mentioned it twice, the initial trade and now the players. It being a division opponent, felt it was worth mentioning. 

The Heyward deal probably had me more in a tizzy.

I was jesting. The comment was in really big type.

Here's an internets scouting report on Brewers acquisition, Marcos Diplan... I hear he it's really tough to tattoo a ball when he pitches

Fowler recently filed for arbitration at $10.8 million, while the Astros countered at $8.5 million, and the Cubs will inherent those salary figures.

I hope Olt can seize this opportunity after a dismal nearly 50% K -rate, and poor contact rate until September, with all semblence of pressure gone. The thorough analysis reported at Cubs Den I shared several weeks ago paints a grim picture of Olts's futility trying to create contact/offense for the North Siders. I expect this is his last shot at making the big club.

How is the pressure gone? Any hope of that was dashed last year ... what, he has 12 days of pressure free baseball? Any analysis of his performance last year is mute unless you put it in the context of a manager completely fucking with a rookie's head. Sort for all rookie's in the last 10 years who were drafted in the 1st round/1st supplemental and who at some point were top 30 prospects. Then plot their AB versus available AB at their position. I think you'll find that Olt starting with THE SECOND GAME OF THE YEAR was treated uniquely among those who qualify. Much more common would be the way Alcantara Baez and even Soler (who was rested occasionally for health reasons) were played which is essentially they got every AB at their position once called up. It boggles my mind that the intelligent critics here at TCB don't acknowledge how difficult it is to perform at the professional level when you are sitting more than playing and your manager is saying and doing nonsensical things. Even professionals as experienced as Alfonso Soriano were saying they couldn't perform without regular playing time. Especially a young power hitter like Olt. Again the analysis of his performance and K rate (in a year btw that set records for pitchers' K rates) seems ridiculous for a rookie who psychologically was being toyed with. The analysis I want to see is how many blue chip rookies sit as much as Olt did. That should be the first analysis. As far as his prospects with the Cubs, they are limited quite a bit by the arrival of Bryant and that is what irritated me about last season. That was when we should have seen him in a true no pressure situation so he could be evaluated. It was like a formula one racing coach got obsessed with eeking 6 MPH out of a stock car (Valbuena) when he could have at least tried the vehicle with aerodynamic potential (Olt). But yeah there is plenty of pressure if he is supposed to prove himself in a week or two while we wait for Bryant who some are calling one of the best hitting prospects ever.


How is the pressure gone? Any hope of that was dashed last year ... what, he has 12 days of pressure free baseball? Any analysis of his performance last year is mute unless you put it in the context of a manager completely fucking with a rookie's head. Sort for all rookie's in the last 10 years who were drafted in the 1st round/1st supplemental and who at some point were top 30 prospects. Then plot their AB versus available AB at their position. I think you'll find that Olt starting with THE SECOND GAME OF THE YEAR was treated uniquely among those who qualify

I really don't think you will find that.

About mid season last year I did plot all NL rookies and out of like 33 or so rookies Olt was one of only 4 who were averaging less than 3AB per game. And he was way down around 2.5. And that is all rookies not just blue chip. Also he was leading them all in HR and close in RBI.

But yeah there is plenty of pressure if he is supposed to prove himself in a week or two... Are think you are being a bit fatiecious here? You know he got worse every month until he stunk so much he had to sit, right? Or were you watching different games? I mean not even making contact at all? I am not blaming the manager for that. No reasonable person should in a success-based league. Sorry about your guy but he will have a chance this spring once more, or he'll get shipped out, cut, etc.

Too many fun things coming to get caught up in this again. Suffice it to say I disagree with you. I think your analysis minimizes the psychological aspect of the game and also how whack his playing pattern was. (For instance people like to say he was handed the starting job out of spring training. Would it surprise those people to know he finished 1 game of the first 8 games?). Anyway agree to disagree and I embrace my lunacy and inability to be a reasonable person. Not sure why people have to add those adjectives. But if it makes you feel great about yourself, go for it!

I am one of the few who have not written off Olt. I think that there is a reasonable chance that he can recover and have a good career. But to say that he was treated unfairly is sheer lunacy. He stunk, pure and simple. As did Baez (who did get most of the available at bats, and Alcantara, who also got most of his available at bats). Olt was worse than both of them, and that is saying quite a lot. He played decently in September, but is going to have a very short window to prove he can do better. And if he has a poor spring, he won't even get any window at all.

If you are going to call someone crazy at least get the one fact you assert correct. Here are Olt and Baez stats: Olt 225ab 100k .160ba 25bb 12hr 33rbi .356slug Baez 213ab 95k .169ba 15bb 9hr 20rbi .324slug How is Olt worse? And I stand by my lunacy. I've never seen a manager fuck with a kid's head like that. He plays every day with the manager's blessing and he's a different player. I'm sorry you don't agree.

I have posted something like this before during this recurring Olt debate, but I disagree wiht the idea that he didn't get fair playing time. Here is what I see:

For the first two weeks of the season Olt played sporadically. On April 12th, he had 24 PAs and Valbuena had 28 PAs and BOTH were hitting under .200. The manager was trying to win games to start the season and playing both guys hoping someone would start hitting.

On April 13th, Olt went 2-3 with a BB and a 2B, and beginning with the second game of a double header on April 16th, he was given the everyday job at 3B for the rest of the month of April and basically all of May. From April 19th through May 30th the Cubs played 37 games. Olt played in 32 of them (5 days off over a month and a half) and started 27 of those 32. He put up a line of 153/246/388 over that time, striking out in 41 of his 114 PAs (that's 36% of the time!!).

So, if your definition of being treated fairly is starting everyday from day 1, and that anything less is "being fucked with," well then there is nothing we can say to convince you that he wasn't given a fair shot. But most would look at that and see that he had significant playing time over the first two months of the season, including a 6-week stretch in which he was essentially starting 6 days a week, and you can look at his game log and see that he was playing complete games most of the time.

At some point, when you are a guaranteed out 85% of the time and of those outs you don't even make contact nearly half (46%) of the time, the manager can't keep running you out there. In fact, many would say that doing so would be MORE damaging to his long term development than giving him some mental breaks and picking matchups (e.g. LHPs) in which he might enjoy some success and rebound somehow.

Over the next 6 weeks (June through July 22, minus the All-Star break), Olt basically served as a late inning pinch hitter, receiving the occasional spot start, accumulating just 67 PAs and batting an even worse 083/164/250. (This also corresponded with Valbuena's best play of the year; over the month of June he hit 275/320/451). 

Olt was then sent down to get regular playing time against easier pitching--where he did well, with a 933 OPS in 115 PAs. After he was called up again in September, he did much better, hitting 263/370/368 over 46 PAs in 17 games.

I don't have any issues at all with Olt's playing time over April and May. I think he got a fair shot and performed very poorly. I do think that the organization waited too long to send him back down to AAA. I think they should have done that in early to mid-June and given him 3 full months in AAA rather than the less than 2 he got. He needed regular at bats and to enjoy some success to build off. But Bryant was already in AAA by that point, so finding ABs for Olt was not going to be that easy.

him lingering on the bench and not being sent back down to AAA was almost as infuriating to some as him not playing much on the big league level. the guy hadn't played a full season in a while. the regular reps in AAA seemed to help once he got them.

I posted similiar things a number of times. He doesn't care.

"So, if your definition of being treated fairly is starting everyday from day 1, and that anything less is "being fucked with," well then there is nothing we can say to convince you that he wasn't given a fair shot" Seriously? All I've written for 10 months on this and this is what you hear? See O&B below.

"See O&B below." I did. See actual data on Olt's playing time in April/May from Wiscgrad above.

Actual data!!!!

Early on (through May or so), I was on the Carlito bandwagon in that I thought Olt should get absolutely every PA he could get. I figured the HRs were there, the BBs and average would come along. But by June I'd settled into thinking it was pretty justifiable to not play him--they just should have sent him down to AAA and left him there to recover both confidence and maybe trade value. Overall, I'd say the right call would've been for Olt to play in the minors for most or all of June, July, and August--not for him to get every available PA at 3B for the MLB club, although also not for him to be a bench player, which I don't think he's very suited to be.

I think you're missing the subtleties of what was going on. The stats don't tell you about how badly the timing sucked on some of his sit downs. Even if you look at it from a purely statistical analysis, 6 weeks is not a very long time to evaluate a rookie. What did Sandberg do with his first 6 weeks? Stats will tell you he should have been sent back down. I would even argue that given the quality of pitching these days, Ryno's early numbers would have been worse had he faced today's staffs. The Cubs were out of it by the time Olt started hitting the pine. It was stupid, based on the power he was showing, to not see what he could do for several months. If he hadn't displayed that kind of power, I could see your point on the weak stats. But that kind of power is hard to ignore. I myself am not suggesting he's the second coming of Mike Schmidt, who also struggled in his first year, albeit with a much higher OBP. As I mentioned, he swings at stuff, in the strike zone, and misses, a lot. It could really be that his eyes are just ruined after the concussion, although the end of the year numbers offer some hope. My only argument was that the window for evaluating him was there, and not taken advantage of. That window is basically gone. I can't imagine a scenario where Bryant is not the every day third baseman - whether it's 12 days in or not I don't know, but he'll be in there. So the end result is probably going to be he gets traded with little return unless he just kills it in spring training, and I don't think he's a good enough hitter to do that.

- during those 37 games Olt only batted in 108 of the 152 plate appearances afforded 3B in the Cubs so it's hardly accurate to say he was handed the starting job. - starting 27 of 37 games additionally is only 73% - during that stretch the most games he played in a row at any given time without a day off or being pinch hit for was 3 games in a row. - he was removed from 2 games in which he had homered during that stretch and pinch hit for a total of 7 times in that stretch. - there were only 2 times all season when he had 6 game stretches with 3 or more AB. May 7 to May 12 in which he hit 4 HR in a 6 game stretch and then sat. And May 17 to May 23 when he sucked ass except for 5/20 when he pretty much single handedly gave Tanaka his first loss in 2 bazillion games. I have lots more stats like these but you get the point, it wasn't like Alcantara Baez or Soler where he got to play every day all day. He rarely finished a game he started - I have a log of his day to day AB and it reads like a convoluted mess. I challenge anyone to look at his daily box scores and not conclude at the very least that Renteria was over managing. As far as the subtlety I could write a book of course. This was a last place team with people like Barney playing and Renteria saying weird condescending stuff in the press every day about Olt needing easy matchups and shit. (So he'd sit for three days and pinch hit against Chapman haha. True story). Who says that? Why wasn't Alcantara Baez treated to such caring? Whole thing was bush league. I get the statistics and that he got some significant AB. But to just write it off like he had his chance I don't get. I should just post his season day by day (not just a game log) it's incredibly herky jerky and about as non conducive to getting into a groove or rhythm as one can imagine. Bottom line is he sucked so yeah it's hard to argue this without looking stupid but his season was hardly typical.

"Bottom line is he sucked so yeah it's hard to argue this without looking stupid but"

words to remember next time his name comes up :)

"during that stretch the most games he played in a row at any given time without a day off or being pinch hit for was 3 games in a row."

As one example, he played a complete game on May 7 and on May 8, he also played complete games on May 10, May 11, and May 12. So what happened on May 9? Did he get pinch hit for? No. He started the game and played 8 innings. The Cubs were down 2-1 to the Braves in the 8th with Kimbrel warming up to pitch the top of the 9th for the Braves. In the bottom of the 8th Renteria subbed in several players to get the best matchups against Kimbrel and to get the picthers spot as far away from the batter due up as he could in case the Cubs rallied. As part of this, Coghlan came in, Bonfacio moved from CF-2B, and Valbuena shifted from 2B to 3B to replace Olt. The reason Olt was sat was because he was the second-to-last batter in the 8th (Baker was the last but was catching). The move worked, the Cubs rallied off Kimbrel, with Coghlan (who just came in) leading off the 9th with a single. The Cubs tied the game and forced extras. Of course, in predictable fashion the Cubs blew it and lost in the 10th. But the only reason Olt was taken out of the game was because of this slot in the batting order--he wasn't going to come up in the 9th anyway.

So if we create a new stat, let's call it a Fair Olt Game, or fOg, then we would count this as one, right? There is nothing shady here going on. Renteria is not messing with him.

And if look at it this way then we have 6 straight fOgs.

He was sat the next day against the Cardinals, despite doing well over that stretch.  Why?  Well, Adam Wainwright was pitching and Valbuena has a career 1.186 OPS off him. He got the start and went 3-6 with a R and 2 RBI in what turned out to be another extra inning game--one in which Olt was the first pinch hitter brought off the bench, and he walked.

He played the next day, on May 15 and played a CG.

Olt was sat on the 16th and Valbuena got the start against Kyle Lohse, but he came in for Valbuena in the 7th and played the rest of the game.

He played CGs on May 17, 20, 22 and 23. The only two games in there he did not play a CG (18th and 21st) he played 9 innings and was NOT pinch hit for. Rather, in both games, Barney came in at 2B in the 9th and Valbuena moved from 2B to 3B. This gave the Cubs their best defensive lineup on the field while protecting the lead, and the use of a double switch with the pitcher allowed Renteria to move the pitchers spot away from the batters due up in case the other did tie or take the lead. Again, nothing shady going on here. So that's another 6 fOgs in a row.

In those 15 games, he only had two in which he didn't start, the Wainwright game, which I see no fault in, and the Lohse game. And he pinch hit in both of them. He played CGs, or in three was removed for defensive purposes (NOT pinch hit for). In this time he hit .196 with 17 SOs (32% of this PAs). He did hit 5 HRs in that span and so his SLG and OPS were actually pretty good, but he only had one 2B and 5 BB, and so he was becoming a bit of an all or nothing hitter. He could wade into a mistake and crush it, no doubt, but he was K-ing at an alarming rate.

This idea that somehow Renteria was starting him, Olt was succesfull in early at-bats, and then Renteria was pinch hitting for him late in games, is simply not true--at least not in May.

From May 25 to June 1 he had 18 PAs and struck out in 10 of them, and that included a couple of full days off in there, perhaps to clear his head. And from there on out he played less consistently. But again, I would argue that sending a guy out there to K that much every day is perhaps not good for his development and psyhe. And Valbuena had a .902 OPS over May, and so it made sense to give him more of the ABs going forward in June.

Again, I think they should have just sent Olt down then, I think there the Cubs screwed up. 



I see what you are saying here. Also in my above post I talked about the two 6 game stretches (May 7 to 12 that you look at above) and the second stretch later in the month. Just my opinion but all of this adds up to a pretty tight leash and I don't think we saw Olt's potential. I hear your opinion. I agree with some of it and I disagree with some of it. We can cite data back and forth all day but as you know interpretation of the data is part of the equation and as fun as it is for me to have you invent something like Fair Olt Days (and I DO thank you) you are not gonna convince me that Renteria (intentionally or not) had a feel for how to use and evaluate Olt. I of course am factoring in non-numerical data like press comments and watching the evolution of Olt's plate apprarances which much like Baez did deteriorate for probably a variety of reasons, but I think it is highly debatable that getting 2/3rds of available 3B AB over a 37 day period for a last place team represents being 'handed the starting job'. I see what you are saying, though and thanks for the effort. Your interpretation may be the better one. I however consider it a lost opportunity but again Renteria and Valbuena are gone now which I think says something - or if it was just luck than I'm happy about that luck.

"I however consider it a lost opportunity but again Renteria and Valbuena are gone now which I think says something"
What do you think it says exactly? Renteria is gone because one of the top managers in the game became available. Valbuena is gone because he used all that time at 3b last year to play himself into a valuable trade piece, one that just landed the Cubs a new starting CF. The real lost opportunity would have been allowing Olt to piss away another 2-300 AB at the major league level

Ok thanks. I hadn't thought of that. Good stuff.

I like this a lot. This also answers the question of who bats leadoff.

The problem with the Olt argument is that both sides are right, so it's an infinite loop. The argument won't end until the season plays itself out. Renteria did wacky things like sit him after a really good day. So much for momentum for a young hitter trying to find his way. This is the stuff that drove me crazy. In April, he got to play pretty consistently. Out of 25 games played, he played in 21 of them. It was May where Renteria would do some things to wreck what I thought at the time was some good momentum. I don't think it was anything personal - I'm sure it was more influenced by Olt's overall April numbers - .172 .222 .397 .619. The objections to his sitting on the bench in May is not something that a statshead will understand. It's more nuanced than what stats can show. Olt would have a few good games, then maybe an 0-for, and sit. Or a good game, and sit. It's about momentum and confidence building, and Renteria, for whatever reason, didn't seem to handle it in a way that helped the player succeed. And although I understand the argument of "prove yourself", if the anti Olt crowd had applied that to Ryne Sandberg and his very Olt-like numbers in his first April in Chicago, he'd be benched: .203 .229 .304 .533. The idea that he has to "Earn" it is nonsense. He earned it. That's why he played. A team like the Cubs, which had a guy in Bryant on the way the next year, needed to get a full dose of Olt, playing every day, for three months AT LEAST, to see what he had. To not do that was just stupid and shortsighted. It's worth noting that Sandberg played every day in April and May, and at the end of May had these formidable numbers: 237 .257 .299 .556 (BA, OBP, Slugging, OPS). The Anti-Olts would have sent him packing, and TCR's Ryno would have a different screen name. But Olt also served up his share of stink. His power really is top shelf, but he also reminds me a bit of Brett Jackson in that he misses stuff that should be hittable for big leaguers. Maddon is a proven expert in personnel, however. So to me, the argument is over. Maddon will figure it out.

I agree with all of this. I get the stats head points I just think this is a unique situation in other ways too. If one doesn't believe in psychological aspects, at the very least you must believe that players do. Got instance see Baez' recent comments. For whatever reason he felt too many people had his ear and he was confused. Not saying his take is right but head / focus / confidence is a factor that people don't seem to weigh much for Olt. When he played full time no questions asked in spring training and AAA he demolished the ball. Yes I know it's differnt in MLB but it's harder. Why be at a disadvantage as a rookie in the harder league?

This is from Sickels from last month. In the comments section. ----------- Olt is not the same after his concussion. He always struck out a lot, but after the concussion his defense collapsed along with his hitting. I know even now, more than a year later, that I am NOT the same as I was before I got hurt. My coordination is still slightly off and I cannot work as hard as I once did. I need more sleep and it takes me longer to write these reports. I can’t imagine how long it would mess up a professional athlete. Even a tiny reduction in processing speed for the brain could be crippling for a hitter or fielder. by John Sickels on Dec 7, 2014 | 10:18 PM up He always lived on the edge because of the contact issue, but the fact that his glove disappeared along with the bat just screams "neurological problem" to me. by John Sickels on Dec 7, 2014 | 10:25 PM up

If this is really true then it would explain a lot about Olt's 2014 performance with Cubs & Iowa. I agree most with Old and Blue that both sides of the argument are true. Olt should have spent 100 games at Iowa in 2014 on his results with the big club alone. However, Renteria and Hoyer are to blame for hanging him out to dry on the end of the bench for what seemed like forever. The good news (as it appears now) for Olt is that he gets a chance to earn the 3B job in Spring Training. How long he keeps it depends on him, Bryant's development, and a LF of Denorfio/Coghlan. If Olt becomes the player closer to his ceiling, there's surely room in LF for Bryant........and that's how it should be.

If this is all true, then Olt's career in the big leagues (if not professional baseball) is probably nearly over. You're right, it explains a whole lot about playing time and performance. It's too bad.

Mike Olt, he's a guy who's known as Mike Olt. Other names for him including Michael Olt and just Olt. When he's on his game he's a baseball player Mike Olt. Otherwise in other situations he's just Mike Olt. En espanol es Mike Olt. Tambien en ingles es Mike Olt. Sometimes he does it well and then we all say Mike Olt, other times not so well and then we all say Mike Olt. Also, on TCR, people call him Mike Olt. Give him a number, number 30, number for Mike Olt. Swing and miss, Mike Olt. Take a walk, Mike Olt. Swing and miss again once and twice, he's still Mike Olt. Therefore hereby truthfully established as Mike Olt. End of discussion, discussion ending upon Mike Olt.

Yeah, that's all fine and good, but what's his name?

I always thought it was My Colt.

I believe we used to call him Matt Murton, or the orange guy if you like.

you guys know I pay Carlito to stir up Mike Olt talk just to drive up traffic?

Still waiting for my check

Why did you stop paying The Real Neal?

The Real Neal is to Site Traffic as an OCB is to Food.  It gives you a lot, but is it worth it? 

The Mike Olt Reporter

infinite loop? Who works at 1 infinite loop?

I'm at my therapist. This is HARD!

With Fowler added, what do you think the regular lineup will look like by May?

I would guess that the roster turnover from opening day last year to this year is going to be very high. I don't know how to easily find opening day 25-man rosters historically, or I might do some sort of examination over time. But I feel as though this is going to be a lot more than usual. A number of young guys were on the team last year but didn't get called up until later. Those guys combined with the free agents/trades makes for a very different looking team from one year to the next. Just looking quickly, and based on assumptions, that might prove wrong, that Castillo is traded, Lake doesn't make the team, Jackson is gone somehow, and including some guesses for the bullpen, it looks like 16 of the 25 slots to start the season could be different than last year? Maybe that is not particularly different than in past years, but it seems high to me.

2014 2015 Pitchers Pitchers Jeff Samardzija Jon Lester Jason Hammel Jason Hammel Travis Wood Travis Wood Edwin Jackson Jake Arrieta Carlos Villanueva Kyle Hendricks Hector Rondon Hector Rondon Pedro Strop Pedro Strop Jose Veras Neil Ramirez Justin Grimm Justin Grimm James Russell Tysuyoshi Wada Wesley Wright LOOGY? Brian Schlitter Jason Motte Catchers Catchers Welington Castillo Miguel Montero John Baker David Ross Infielders Infielders Anthony Rizzo Anthony Rizzo Darwin Barney Tommy La Stella Starlin Castro Starlin Castro Luis Valbuena Javier Baez Emilio Bonifacio Arismendy Alcantara Mike Olt Mike Olt Outfielders Outfielders Nate Schierholtz Jorge Soler Ryan Sweeney Ryan Sweeney Junior Lake Chris Coglan Justin Ruggiano Chris Denorfia Ryan Kalish Dexter Fowler

well, the team is done signing guys they know they're going to try to shift as soon as they sign them as well as trading away anyone left on the team from the old regime for anything they can get. that should help things going forward in years.

J. Turner, F. Doubront and E. Jackson need to find a home as well...I figure between those 3 and Wada and Wood, someone will take up a pen spot.

Always possible, Ramirez, Strop, Rondon or Grimm are ineffective or injured in spring training.

guessing a Maddon lineup is foolish, but maybe something like

vs. R: Fowler, Castro, Rizzo, Soler, Montero, Baez or Olt, Coghlan, P, Alcantara or LaStella

vs. L: Fowler, Castro, Rizzo, Soler, Denorfia, Baez or Olt, Montero, P, Alcantara or LaStella

don't matter much and no idea who is playing 2b or 3b at this point...when Bryant arrives, he'll obviously be in the #2-#5 mix

Hard to gauge a real pattern with Maddon on the #2 spot, analytics says put your best hitter there, Maddon used Zobrist a lot (good OBP rate, good contact, not much in speed), but also used Myers, Fuld, Upton, C. Pena, Longoria and a helluva lot of others. So we'll see...I'm guessing it'll very much be a hot hand/matchup thing for him all season in all spots.

I'm always an advocate of get the most PA's to the best hitters and try to alternate L/R as much as possible. The pitcher batting 8th is an odd one, it goes against that, but pitcher gets 2, maybe 3 AB's a game and then whomever you have pinch-hitting may very well be better than the 9th hitter, so if it sets things up a little better in the middle innings...sure, go for it.

Rasmus in Houston for a physical

Weird. Thought they'd go Gattis/Marisnick/Springer, plus they already have Presley and Grossman, but guess not. Not bad if he's cheap enough. Astros could be make things interesting if they get pitching.

Feldman, Keuchel, McHugh, Oberholtzer, Straily or Vogelsong (if he signs) at the moment...that's probably not gonna get it done though.

Trestman gets Baltimore OC job...

think that'll actually be a nice fit, Trestman can play X's and O's and Harbaugh keeps the team ready and prepared. Considering how well they played despite the Ray Rice fiasco, gotta give him credit there.

What happend to the main page? All screwed up. It it Real Neal's ghost having revenge?

looks okay to me, what are you seeing?

Huge white space on the right. A long column of blue hyper linked words going down the left for all of the top matter, then the tweet box comes below that (again, still on the right side), then the roster info, etc. (again, all in one long column). Finally, after all of that the stories show up and go across the entire page. Then below the last story the "Recent Comments" box shows up, but again, on the LEFT not the right. And the background is all white for all of it.  When I click on one of the stories those look fine, only the main page seems to be a problem. I tried it in Chrome and Firefox. Started happening like 2:45/3:00ish? 

sounds like something got messed up with the css, but not showing up on my computer.

I emailed our tech guy to see if he notices anything or what it could be.

Happening to anyone else?

I have the same issue. (Firefox)

thanks, noticing it now on another browser when I'm not logged idea what that is, but get it fixed as soon as we can.

Sorry for the distraction.

Same formatting problems for me also -- just so you know.

Had it also, also Firefox, but fine now. I believe my computer has AI and decided it was better I missed the second coming of the Cult of Olt discussion, or should I say the K-Olt of Olt.

I'm actually more upset that somebody reopened my Matt Murton wounds.

Firefox no issues 4.5 hours later. Only weirdness is WiscGrad posting bright yellow boxes in the comments to highlight names. And lack of Bear talk with the Fangio hiring.

"And lack of Bear talk with the Fangio hiring." That's because there's nothing controversial there. Next topic!

North Koreans

Yes.....also, moment of silence for The Real Neal. (1 second) Thank you.

1/8M for Rasmus from Astros, save up to $2M on Fowler and get Valbuena and Straily as well.

Not a bad bit of manuevering...

Never know with Rasmus, but kind of guy that could easily go off for 30 HR's, especially playing for another deal.

so pretty much no one wants Shields at the moment...


Bears hired Vic Fangio as their defensive coordinator.

Both new Bears coach John Fox and Redskins coach Jay Gruden wanted Fangio to head up their defense. The consistently excellent Fangio, who fled from San Francisco after getting passed over for the head-coaching job, chooses to go for the unit with a little more talent. That's not to say he doesn't have his hands full however, as Mel Tucker's Bears fielded the league's No. 30 defense in both 2014 and 2013. But note that in four seasons with Fangio as the 49ers' defensive coordinator, they annually ranked in the top five -- including this year even though they played without Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman, Aldon Smith and Tramaine Brock for extended periods. Expect the Bears to make a leap defensively next season. The Redskins may now have to settle for Chargers LBs coach Joe Barry.

Charlie Weis in play for OC duties.

Should the Cubs sign James Shields if the price drops to the $80M that Jayson Stark is predicting?

I'd rather wait for some of the big fish next offseason...


Like Price or Zimmerman

Cueto, Fister, if Latos comes back healthy, Masterson, Porcello, J. Garcia (team option), Kazmir, I. Kennedy, Samardzija, Greinke (player opt out), M. Estrada, Y. Gallardo, C. Bucholz (team option)

and who knows who'll be available via trade as well....

If TheJedi ever considered Shields a fit for the team, as part of their due diligence they had to come up with a "Kelly Blue Book" value for him...not lowball but also not overpaying due to getting in a bidding battle. I'd like to see Theo send him a contract offer for precisely that number and say "we'd love to have you join us for X years at Y dollars". One offer, no substantial negotiation. If Shields takes the offer, the Cubs believe they got value. If he moves on, no harm done.

this idea seems plausible and better than a pitch clock

hitters and pitchers ready to go before end of commercial break.

Can we also get an official rule that WGN be ready to go by the first pitch of every inning?

That's the best idea I've heard yet.

A group of investors who own two rooftops overlooking Wrigley Field today sued the Chicago Cubs and owner Tom Ricketts in federal court, accusing them of attempted monopolization in violation of the Sherman Act
The rooftop owners are absolutely right here. They do own at least a near monopoly on losing.

speaking of Bears, Adam Gase coming back to interview for OC duties

I'm pretty happy with the choices so far. Fox has shown an ability to adapt to personnel. Reputation for hard nose football and run style, but with Manning they threw the ball like crazy. One problem with bringing in a rookie coach from Canada was that he didn't have the pool of assistant coaches to choose from. If anything is a boy's club it's the NFL, and Trestman wasn't working daily with other guys in the league. I still thought it was an interesting hire at the time and was excited about the offense. I didn't expect things to get as bad as they did. Two years of watching teams go up and down the field on the Bears, unchallenged. Yecchh. That, at least, should come to an end with Fox and Fangio. Which sounds like a radio show.

It's funny how things seem to have come full circle in the NFL -- the Bears hired the QB Whisperer because they thought they needed a high-octane offense to compete. Now, the top teams play smash-mouth football and physical defense -- the Packers could not stop Lynch and the Seahawks D repeatedly stuffed the Pack at the goal line, while the Pats physically dominated the Colts -- while the pass-happy teams like the Broncos (uh-oh) and Colts look kind of silly out there.

True...but Brady DID throw the ball 582 times this year, while Manning threw 597 passes. Wasn't the Denver running game unsettled with injuries to Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball for much of the year? Balance. Still the best offensive philosophy.

However Brady was throwing under inflated balls. Does that matter??!!

Well Played!

This is the one thing I find kind of funny about Bears fans complaining about Trestman's offense (justfiably so this season as opposed to last season). For years we've, at least many of us, wanted a more exciting, diversified offense. We got it last year and this past season it was, "Give it to Forte, we don't run it enough."

Given that Gase has been Fox's OC for the past 2 years, that will be an interesting interview. "Hi, Adam. Did you get any of the HC jobs you interviewed for?" "Nope." "Wanna coach Jay Cutler?" "Sure."

Apparently that's exactly how it went down ha ha. I love the coaching decisions being made. Fox is a proven guy - I could care less that he didn't win the Super Bowl. Bears can't even get into the playoffs something like 7 out of the last 8 years or so. Gace likes to pass, and is young and creative, so we don't lose anything in the offensive scheme in my opinion. Fox is showing that he isn't stubborn - he prefers a running game but Gace clearly is a modern offensive coach able to create a passing game. And Fangio had some really, really good years at SF. You could say he was helped by a bunch of all pro guys but maybe the coaching helped turn those guys into all pros. HIs coaching obviously didn't block their development - see Tucker, Mel. And, Gace could step in for Fox, and was very possibly told he had a very good chance of that, once Fox steps aside. If the Bears get good, that continuity would be nice. This is the first time I've been pumped about Bears coach hires. I didn't even like the Ditka move at the time. It seemed stupid and a silly reach. It turned out pretty well for a couple years, of course, and he was a lot of fun - remember the roller blading in Minnesota?

Broncos ran the ball quite a bit..443 atts was 12th in the league this year...4.0 Y/A was just good for 20th though. They run a lot of plays though and a lot of that is cause of Manning ability to call the plays.

Curious how the Bears get so much ink here but we won't touch the Hawks or Bulls. Until playoffs occasionally.

The NHL and NBA regular seasons are just exhibition games.


I pretty much steer away from non-Cubs topics but ever since I saw a comment thread started by Rob titled something like the Bear Truth - presumably named after the blog he started by that name (or something like it - can't remember now) I've considered Bears talk fair game here. I don't really visit other forums or have a presence on other comment areas of news sites so I'd love to talk about how dumb people who are bitching about Rose are, but I just don't really have the time and I figure at the end of the day, this is really just a Cubs site. I've sometimes contemplated starting a site for expat Chicago sports fans of all ilk, but if I don't have the time to comment on other forums I sure as hell don't have the time for that.

I don't write often enough and traffic isn't what it use to be...pretty much all is fair game at this point.

In all seriousness, I think traffic should have a pretty big lift and a lot of new faces - mostly in the next couple of years. If the Cubs do achieve success I think you have some prime real estate.

We'll be sure to scare those new faces away from the comments sections with our inside jokes and references to users who were banned years ago. Woot!

Is it because we're trained to talk about losers?

Rangers have been looking for a catcher, but it looks like they are now off the market.

From Rotoworld:

Rangers acquired C Carlos Corporan from the Astros for RHP Akeem Bostick.

Corporan will serve as the back-up to Robinson Chirinos behind the plate. The Astros had a glut of catching depth and decided to designate Corporan for assignment on Tuesday, but quickly found a taker in the Rangers. The 31-year-old won't hit much, as he has a career .226/.286/.350 triple-slash line as a switch-hitter, but his value will come in spelling Chirinos, handling the Rangers' pitching staff, and playing solid defense.


Cubs overplayed their hand on Welington (probably). Once they signed Ross, they lost any semblance of leverage and without options on Welington, teams will happily wait until they have to cut him or Cubs meet their offer.

ARZ is determined to wait this whole situation out. i imagine they're playing TOR/CHC (navarro/welly) off of each other waiting for someone to blink.

I don't think Dave Stewart is that smart. He's out to prove his stupidity will be overcome.

I tried saying that here when they acquired Ross but the comment got shot down like a bird gliding over Palin property.

@pgammo NCAA Coaches and MLB officials met Monday, general agreement on a July 1 draft and July 15 signing deadline

Good info on Moncada

Cubs can't sign him until July 2nd, but he could agree to deal with Cubs and then sign after. Any bonus over $1M can be spread over 3 years.

Made my Wednesday.

Vs Rooftop owners, he becomes a sympathetic character.

I have no idea what kind of a guy he is but if I was dealing with the rooftop owners I wouldn't be as kind as Kenney is. A Sherman anti-trust act violation? Really? Those guys took a big risk with this type of business. When I was a kid (I somehow see Dana Carvey's old man talking now) they just had a bunch of folding chairs up there, then they got greedy and decided to create a parasite business. That was their risk, and anybody who invested in those businesses understood that they were parasites. So it's a bad investment. Stop trying to make Cubs fans pay for your dumb ass investments.

More on the rooftop purchases we heard about last week.

more on Cubs interest in Moncada

I'm hoping he and Soler are best friends.


You've got Chad, classic silent towel and an appearance by Real Neal. Then Rob G sneaking in one liners like: "Kendall's a vast wasteland of horridness."

the world of ST was interesting. it's obvious that there's polar opposite ways to go about expressing things one believes in on TCR, but he seldom found an ally in his views...except for the universally loved, future cubs HOF trade partners "can of simoniz" + "infield rake." the thing that i could never figure out is why he felt the need to make things up and stand by them as facts. he would jump on cubs news like "dude mcdude traded for cash + minor leaguer" and he would come up with a dollar amount + the minor league player out of thin air...which would often be proven incorrect within a short amount of time. you could never tell when he had legit info about a non-opinion situation and when he was pulling it out of thin air.

Dude McDude -- another Hendry guy who never panned out.

he wasn't even worth an outfield turf aerator, much less an infield rake. fun guy, though.

Kendall was a vast wasteland of horridness at that point in his career, but for 57G with the Cubs he was decent...and didn't fight with his pitchers.

not to mention AZ Phil looking stupid for doubting Fontenot's future as the second coming of Ryne Sandberg; I'm done reading his posts until he mans up and admits that gritty little guy is going to be a HOF'er someday

The Real Neal: "Success is a better indicator of future success than physical skills. I don't think anyone has ever contradicted that." Never.

refreshing...when a manager can say stuff like this... ""There are actually times that I've gone to Chamber of Commerce events and I've had them write out the lineup. And I think they were 3-2 in Tampa. I get my information from all different sources -- the cab driver, the doorman, whatever."" ...and a blurb following can say this... "Which isn't surprising. After all, Maddon once set his lineup to match Tommy Tutone's masterpiece, "867-5309/Jenny."" ...and it doesn't turn into a world-ending cubs fan pile-on on the manager with the internet demanding his head. the things a fresh manager can get away with before the fans turn...ah, good times.

Especially in a town that doesn't give a shit about baseball. /Tampa

i still can't believe FL has 2 teams. they can blame it on crappy stadium location all they want, but it's just not taking hold like MLB envisioned.

Baez continues to struggle, 0-9 with 6 SO in PR Winter League playoffs, following 43 ABs in the regular season there in which he struck out 21 times. 

That's it. I'm dropping him from my OttoNeu team. Dammit.


In my DREAMS!!!

While it is still way too early to call the ceiling on Baez, it is interesting that he was Wilken's last "guy". His other #1 picks were all busts pretty much for the Cubs.

i still wonder why he was rushed to the majors to begin with. the only thing impressive he was doing in AAA was hitting for power (especially impressive for a 21 year old).

One argument they almost seemed to be making (and I don't necessariky buy it) was to humble him so he'd make a few adjustments. The flip side of te coin was they were getting his rough period out of the way early when the games didn't matter. That said it doesn't appear to be waning at all ...

Baez still can't hit a broad side of a barn with his amazing bat speed - 0-9 and 6K in PR playoffs, 21K in 43AB. Sounds like a whole lot of the same. He won't be up for awhile. La Stella/Alcantara platoon will work out well.

Recent comments

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  • Cubster 10 min 2 sec ago (view)

    "in normal times..."

    It was the burst of times, it was the worst of times.


  • Cubster 19 min 46 sec ago (view)

    "Setting aside how stupid it is for fans to blame players when owners are all so much more..."

    I blame Pete Ricketts


  • crunch 10 hours 52 min ago (view)

    i can't believe this kind of stuff is what we're talking about 2 months into the 2020 season...i can't believe a lot of stuff about 2020 outside of the game, too.


  • crunch 15 hours 11 min ago (view)

    contract rights are retained by the team.

    in normal times this keeps labor relations between employer and player not too volitile with only a handful of player/owner issues.  in times like this you see a system that was not designed for an event like this.

    some owners are being responsible over the players who's contracts they control while other owners make us realize why the guillotine was occsasionally popular during revoltutions/revolts.


  • Jackstraw 15 hours 38 min ago (view)

    So they are all free agents?  Or still under contract and not getting paid?  I'm sure AZ Phil or someone else has covered this but I haven't been keeping up with all the fine points of baseball's problems recently.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 18 hours 11 min ago (view)

    Manfred is such a dreadful commissioner. It's his job to walk a fine line and maintain peace in labor relations. Instead he lets the owners do whatever they want.

    Cannot wait for a long, bitter strike after 2021. And for the owners to ultimately turn plenty of fan sentiment against players.


  • crunch 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    "The A's told their minor leaguers Tuesday that they will not continue to pay them their current salary of $400 per week beyond May 31."

    classy.  absolute class act stuff right there.


  • crunch 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    Evan Drellich @EvanDrellich
    The MLBPA is very disappointed with MLB’s economic proposal today, source tells me and @Ken_Rosenthal, calling additional cuts proposed “massive." League offered to share more playoff revenue, but on balance, those dollars are small compared to what players give up, PA believes.


  • crunch 1 day 14 hours ago (view)

    A's are furloughing nearly all of their staff through the entire organization...including scouts, which make a shockingly low amount of money.

    the A's are owned by a multi-billionaire who inherited his loot from dad (founder of The Gap)...and him + family spent $10m trying to keep Obama from getting a 2nd term, which i assume is their idea of a good investment in their community...whereas paying loyal employees for years/decades for a few months is...well...*shrug*


  • Ryno 1 day 21 hours ago (view)

    Depends on who you are.


  • Ryno 1 day 21 hours ago (view)

    Sorry--Just needed to experience a little normalcy.


  • Ryno 1 day 21 hours ago (view)

    That was the dumbest lineup I've ever seen.


  • Hagsag 2 days 42 min ago (view)



  • Cubster 2 days 18 hours ago (view)

    speaking of Trump's trained rats...


  • Hagsag 3 days 53 min ago (view)

    Cubster, your comments about President Bone Spurs could not be more accurate. Thanks for posting!


  • BobbyD 3 days 11 hours ago (view)

    Cubster: I agree with your comments, save one. That the president is "leading" America. He couldn't lead a pack of rats to a NYC dumpster on an August afternoon. The "man" is a f'ing disgrace.