The Curious Case of Mike Olt

Time for a new thread but got some work to get done this morning...but the comments in the last thread had some interesting "Why isn't Olt starting talk?" So here's some numbers to assist in the discussion.

Olt since being called back on Sept 5.

11 G, 8 GS, 250/382/357 29.4 K%

Valaika since Sept 5

10 G, 8 GS 290/333/355 27.2 K%

Of course Valaika's started the last 2 games and Olt hasn't started any of the 3 games since Rizzo returned, so that's where the angst is directed. But unfortunately for Olt, I think the real reason behind all this, is that the Cubs just like Luis Valbuena more and don't want to move him off third base or think he's just a disaster at second base. Olt's a third basemen or a first basemen and with Valbuena (who's had quite a fine season) and Rizzo manning the corners, the at-bats just aren't there.* I'd certainly like to see Olt get some more playing time, but I can understand why he's behind Valbuena at third base. Valbuena has been 6th in overall WAR and 5th in offensive WAR among NL 3rd basemen this year and that definitely deserves a starting spot in the lineup. At just 28, I don't think we can just assume Valbuena is having a career year, he could be very capable of this and with the ability to hit from the left side, have quite a bit of value going forward for this club that looks to be very right-handed over the next few years. And once again, while I'd love to see what Olt has, hard to imagine he'd much better than the 5th best third basemen in the NL. The obvious solution is to move Valbuena to second base right now and play Olt at third base, but for whatever reasons that haven't been revealed to the viewing public, the Cubs seem hesistant to do so. It doesn't mean the reasons aren't valid (or hogwash), it's just that we don't know, which can be of course quite frustrating for us fans.

*Yes, I know that Watkins and Ride of the Valkyries started on Tuesday and Rizzo and Olt didn't. Maybe Capt. Happy just doesn't like Olt, maybe he's still shell-shocked from Olt's previous K happy ways and thought the matchup against Cueto was a bad idea. Maybe it was just one game...



Valaika 29 years old, 5 career HRs Olt 26 years old, 12 homers this year With talk of right hand power lacking in MLB I would know who want to see more of, and Valbuena will at best be super sub in next few years if all pans out. Start learning second base,Luis.

Eh...he's played 207 games at 2B in LB....he should know it by now I'd hope.

most of that was a long time ago, in a town far, far away

Lol.....nice. So a refresher course in ST?

It's really not Valaika vs Olt though, it's more Valbuena vs Olt

In a way, you are correct. Like I said if Capt Happy doesn't see the big picture because he wants to keep Luis comfortable. Also his production is hurting Cubs draft position. :-)

I don't think any team in any situation would play Olt over Valbuena with the seasons they've had...

it's not playing Olt over Valbuena, it's about moving Valbuena to second

sure, maybe they just think Valbuena is a better option at 3b or possible offseason trade material at 3b. I can't speak to his second base defense, but I'll guess that no one in the Cubs organization thinks it's up to snuff.

On the flip side, it's possible no one in the Cubs organization thinks Olt is really going to amount to anything and don't see the need to bother with him getting playing time.

They may just see him as a Colvin or LaHair or Dubois and will play him if they have an opening, but aren't particularly considered about his long term value.

I'm not saying I think those things, but I'm not running the team, what I think truly doesn't matter. The point being, there's numerous scenarios and reasons that Olt might not be playing the last 3 games and how he was handled over the season.

When Valbuena was slumping badly, Renteria never wavered in his support of him, his high spot in batting order, or his playing time. You can see it in Valbuena's swagger. I think that contrasts rather clearly with almost the exact opposite approach with Olt even after his admittedly brief torrid spell. Similar to how Baez and Alcantara are being treated. I expected that for Olt but apparently it wasn't to be.

Similar to how Baez and Alcantara are being treated. I expected that for Olt but apparently it wasn't to be.

gonna go out on a limb that the Cubs don't think Olt has that kind of potential in him. We all may disagree, but there's obviously something they're seeing that they don't like.

Which of course begs the question why did they trade for him, or did their opinion change?

always possible, I don't think he was a major piece of that trade. It could be argued he was easily the least important player in that trade for Cubs.

I'm not big into conspiracy theories or managers just not liking guys (unless Tony LaRussa is involved). There's usually a baseball reason why one player plays over another. It doesn't mean the decision is infallible, but there's a reason that makes sense to those making the decisions.

My guess on Olt not getting the playing time the Internet thinks he deserves range from Valbuena having a good year, Olt looking lost at times (swinging and missing at pitches in the strike zone like he did are a suretail sign that someone has a lot of work to do imo) and the Cubs baseball people (all, if not most of them) thinking that he's not all-that and at best an injury fill-in in the future.

One other theory could be that maybe Valbuena just doesn't want to play second base or said he's more comfortable at 3b and Capt Happy and the Cubs are inclined to respect that if they don't think Olt is all that.

he should have been back in AAA a long time ago getting regular work. dude hasn't put in a full season's worth of work due to various injuries in years and he rots on the bench in the bigs for months getting erratic play and quick hooks for replacement mid/late game.

It's not like the Cubs to devalue one of their players. I'm going with conspiracy- I would bet that there is a conflict within the org based on the way Renteria stumbles when talking about Olt. I wish there was time capsule betting because I think Olt will have better stats over the next 5 years than Valbuena and I would put money on it, and I think that Renteria doesn't like Olt and that that will come out. Time capsule betting!!

First of all thanks for the article rob. You are obviously much more rational and unemotional about this issue than, say, um, me. Part of my issue is its literally anyone Renteria can find an excuse to play vs. Olt. This is what I find so curious and have a hard time expressing. BONI even played 3B ahead of him. He bats him late in order, pulls him early, I just get the feeling Renteria resents Olt and Lake making the squad. I'm not a Lake fan so that one doesn't bother me. I keep going back to this video, I'll see if I can find it, where Renteria says something like 'people wanted to see him play, so I played him more" and I find it hard to believe a player can thrive when the manager really doesn't believe he can excel and makes so many clearly unenthusiastic if not reluctant lineup moves and comments.

Olt started 34 of the first 45 games. He was pulled in 8 of those, none before the 7th inning. I'll assume matchups played a part in those. He had 145 plate appearances in those first two months. Beginning May 17, he started 10 straight games. He managed four hits, 1 HR, and 17 Ks in 38 ABs.

I have already responded to all of this. Now tell me how many games baez and Alcantara have started (when healthy) how many they were pulled from and how the manager has handled it when they slumped. Thank you.


I'll do it for you. It's super easy: 1.) they've started and finished every game they've been healthy for. 2.) the manager has pledged complete support despite any struggles they might have.

I did some math a while back, from the beginning of the season each month Olt was in the lowest 10% of AB/game of all rookies. There were 33 rookies at the time I did it and all but 4 were averaging over 3AB per game and the studs obviously more like 4 per game. Olt was averaging 2.5 per game WHEN he even played. Which meant he was sitting/PH'ing way more than 90% of all rookies. He also would be benched after torrid stretches and games where he homered. Your numbers are kind in retrospect but he didn't get a great look and the manager certainly didn't give the vibe of believing in him when half his comments to the press were that they needed to find him favorable matchups. Etc etc.

Mike Olt sucks.

he'd have to play to suck at it. he sucks gatorade and sunflower seeds while checking his twitter on the bench.

So if I understand correctly; Olt was given an opportunity, did extremely poor with that opportunity and then his playing time was given to players who were performing better. How weird.

Is that the level of intricacy you have drawn out of this thread? Do you think if it was that simple anyone here would give a shit? Would rob have a post about it? Would people as respectable as jacos and O&B and some of the others be debating it? The argument started in early April when he sat 6 of the first 11 games. Go back and start reading then if that's your "understanding."

You discredited you argument by calling my respectable. I have my oddball theories on what happened, but it's too late to anything for Olt. /that train has already set sail

Jesus Christ you were drunk at 4pm? Yeah you and O&B are two of the more self deprecating people around - I was aware of that when I referenced you guys.

I know not everybody that starts getting on in years is self deprecating, but for me, I've learned that life forces humility, and although I do enjoy making fun of other people sometimes, I also enjoy poking fun at myself. Don't take yourself too seriously, is my general thought pattern. Nobody else does.

The post was a reply to Tito's post that lays out when Olt consistantly played and how he did during that time which contradicts the ongoing claim that Olt was NEVER given a real chance. I was sarcastically pointing out the maybe, just maybe, the reason Olt lost playing time is as simple as being performance based. That it is not a vast conspiracy by Renteria to ruin his career. Maybe Renteria brought a puppy into the clubhouse and Olt kicked it and that's why he isn't playing. More than likely it is a .150ish batting average with a ton of strikeouts that trending downward. Was the situation handled in a way that gave Olt the best chance to succeed? I agree, absolutely not. However, he was given a sink or swim chance at the beginning of this season and he sank. Time to put the floaties back on and spend 2015 at AAA learning to make more consistent contact. My frustration is with the fact that after being over matched by big league pitching he wasn't sent down earlier to get regular at bats, that's on the front office, not the manager.

You seem to actually say a fair amount of things in this post I agree with .. I'm gonna refrain from restating my argument but I don't believe Olt could have succeeded the way he was handled and I believe you'll find me saying that pretty much the second day of the season when it became clear he wasn't going to play every day, before he 'had his chance'. But more so - rookies are not brought up to sit that much, it's very rare and I'll give you more stats soon. Finally let it be known that I do not believe Happy personally has a grudge against Olt and wants him to fail. My version of a conspiracy at most would be that it may come out someday that despite presenting a united front, members of the Cubs front office probably didn't trade for Olt and place him on the opening day roster to compete/platoon with Valbuena etc. ie I think it's possible we'll find out it was a hot topic. Hell it was one of the only true question marks and I don't think it was answered. But no I'm not harboring suspicions that it is failure based on a grudge. It's failure to evaluate talent at most. But it is clear that Happy doesn't think Olt is good or ready or however you want to say it - because he would have played him more and left him in more etc. it also certainly wouldn't surprise me if Olt did say something or end up in the doghouse. It's possible. He sure as hell gets treated like shit. Finally is it coincidence that the two players that Happy was 'choosing matchups to help them succeed' (ie riding the pine) basically failed miserably? Lake and Olt. It's a strategy I've never heard of and still think is basically blowing smoke up their asses. Young players need to play to adjust to the game.

I think we'd all be curious to see if Olt could combine his 9.8% walk rate with his ability to hit the ball out of the park 25+ times and a BABIP higher than .200. He'd still need to lower the K% down to at least 30%, though. Valbuena is no more than a stop gap until Bryant or someone else. Maybe Olt isn't even that--maybe he can't even rebuild his trade value--but isn't finding that out worth more than whatever you are going to learn about Valaika/Valbuena/Watkins? Eh--time's pretty much up anyway. You aren't going to learn anything about anyone in a week and a half of games.

Exactly. I think Renteria has him panciled in to start at 3B for the months of October and November.

Gotta play winter ball and get those reps.

Yeah, winter ball for Olt seems like a no-brainer.

Is this a pun? He got brained last time he pnayed winter ball! :b

Reds take over Daytona btw...

Now they have Dayton and Daytona. Confusing. Glad I'm not a Reds fan.

Thanks for the thread, Rob. Now, those who are tired of this discussion can just skip it. I will commit to not raising the issue in another thread because I'm honestly getting sick of it myself and I'm one of the main complainers. I think for me, the question has never really been about comparing Olt with Valbuena. With Valbuena, we know what we have. I like Valbuena, too, he's a very nice piece to the team and I hope there's room for him somewhere next year. He works the count, and I like that. He's a nice player. I like Logan Watkins better, but I like Valbuena. But. Here we are at the end of the season. We know what we have in Valbuena. No need to play a guy because his WAR outshines a rookie. We know that it does. What the Cubs have missed is an opportunity to see if Olt has as good a power bat as some of us suspect he might. That opportunity is actually gone. Even if he plays in every remaining game, that is 10 games. And he won't play in every game. History has demonstrated this. So the chance to evaluate him has gone up in the smoke of Renteria's odd handling of him. If this had been a team in contention, I could understand the Valbuena argument at third, but as you mentioned, he can play second, too, and they've not done that. He's not a great second baseman, but he's serviceable, and it wouldn't have hurt the team to give Olt 30 consecutive days playing time to see how he fared day in and day out. I have no idea if Olt is going to overcome his K rate and lift his OBP - there are some encouraging signs but who knows. But it will be a form of Cubbery if he moves on and goes on to a nice power career with nothing in return. I'll always say that it didn't have to be that way, that they could have kept Olt in the lineup for the last 30 days or so of the season, at least, and, if he did well, increased his trade value. That opportunity is gone, now, completely. Bryant seems pretty determined to stay at third, and the Cubs seem interested. It's risky to move him to the outfield to start off next year. They should have done that this year if Olt had shown promise but for some curious reason they didn't give Olt the opportunity every day that they've given Baez, who is actually much worse, in my opinion, at the plate right now than Olt ever was, and Olt was pretty bad for a long stretch of intermittent playing time. Next year, Bryant, presumably, will be at third, and of course Rizzo will be at first. That leaves Olt with no place on this team. We will be finding out if he's a legit power hitter while he wears a different jersey.

Mike Olt for Miguel Montero


Catchers are like running backs when it comes to playing life, and Montero is 31.

He has 3 years left on his contract that take him through his age 33 season. Old rule of thumb was to not have a catcher past age 32, I'm sure they can eat his that last year if Schwarber is ready to go. The self-titled Cubs Insider threw out his name as a guy Cubs might be interested in yesterday, so I brought it up.

Not advocating the deal myself, but DBacks might want to clear salary, Cubs definitely want to add 1-2 veterans and being left-handed with good plate discipline would make some sense. Ultimately they'd be getting Montero for his "leadership" though, which seems to be something that folks talk up about him. Ultimately he just has to be okay with the bat as long as defense and handling of pitchers is up to snuff.


What's his catcher's ERA?

But seriously, it would probably be better than paying a king's ransom for Martin, and they actually have fairly similar numbers at the plate, at least in OPS land which is where my eye always lands first.

what happened to Wellington?

yeah what's wrong with Welly?

Pitchers seem to do okay with him too.

Reading between the lines here on various articles but I think management isn't sold on Castillo long term. I can't back that up with links - just me reading articles and going for the overall flavor of what I've been seeing the last month or so.

Opposing pitchers?

don't know his "leadership" qualities, but I do know that he's trending the wrong way offensively and does not stay healthy. He does have a good enough arm to throw out Billy Hamilton a couple of times though.

If it would happen, I presume it would be for veteran leadership at that position, a left-handed bat and better plate discpline.


Last time I peeked at Hamilton's %age Castillo isn't the only one having success there. And I have better plate discipline that Castillo has had this year.

Mike Olt for President 2016!

All I am asking for is a chance. Let's just hear his platform! Pleaaaaassssseeee!!!

His platform is pretty simple. Speak softly, and carry a big stick, and only successfully get anything done with it about 20% of the time.

It seems like fans often think that the team should make every move with calculating shrewdness about the long term future, and when that doesn't happen assume its all about managers and personalities and rewarding loyalty and who likes who, etc. The reality is that baseball is complicated because you are legitimately trying to win every game you play, but also thinking about what's best for the future of the franchise. That sometimes leads to confusing situations for fans, who are on the outside of the decision-making process. When a top prospect like Baez gets called up late in the season, the front office almost certainly tells the manager: "he's coming up, playing him everyday at position X, and bat him high so he gets lots of at-bats, is pitched to, and is involved the offensive action." Or "insert pitcher Y from AAA into the rotation to take the spot of pitcher Z we just traded, we want to see him get 15 starts." But in most other situations the front office leaves it up to the manager to run the day-to-day operations as he sees fit to win games. No manager would want to manage a team where the front office has forcefully set 6-8 lineup slots and dictated how each pitcher has to be used. So front offices limit those types of directives to prized prospects, young arms that need to be handled with care, and big decisions like what positions people will play or who will start vs. who will be in the bullpen. Renteria can't decide tomorrow that Castillo is going to play 1B or that Ramirez is going into the rotation. And that makes sense. But on the flip side, the front office is going to let Renteria play the Olts, Valaikas, Valbuenas, Watkins, Scuzers, etc. on a daily basis as he sees fit, and pull starters and use relievers in a manner that he thinks will win games. It's clear that the front office didn't feel that Olt's playing time was important enough to give the manager a specific directive that would force him to sit one of his top bats (Valbuena) to give him everyday playing time. Maybe they don't think Olt is that good. Maybe they feel that they already have too many guys they are telling Renteria how to play. Maybe they think it would look like the team was tanking on purpose to make the solid vets sit and play guys just to see what we have for the final month and thought it wouldn't be good for the clubhouse. Or maybe there IS a specific directive out there but it is about playing Valaika to see what we have there or about playing Valbuena to build his trade value. Who knows. But it is almost certainly not a terrible conspiracy or a situation of a manager hating him. The team is just in a difficult situation now of having to think about the future but wanting to win today, all while trying to test out a ton of young players with potential but lots of struggles--and doing this while the team is banged up with injuries. We simply aren't going to like every line-up decision or pinch-hit move in such a climate.

Well, I've gone on record quite a few times as saying I think Renteria has done a nice job. I can't imagine a manager where we don't have things to complain about. Renteria's, for me, is Olt. For others, it's a quick hook, but that doesn't bother me too much. And I love how he hates it when pitchers walk guys. He's done a nice job of getting the team to play fundamentally sound baseball. I haven't seen a Cubs team play such good sound fundamentals in a very long time. My complaints about Renteria and Olt do not translate to

Speaking of Bryant, his dad says that they are seeing what the pitchers are trying to do to him to get him out, and that they are going to have a laser focus on addressing that during the off season. Scary stuff if you throw baseballs for a living.

If bryant ends up being what it looks like he'll be someone is going to hire his dad for big $$.

He coached his buddy, too, right? Gallo?

I was gonna write that too. If those two pan out. Dang daddy.

Seriously though. Nobody else thinks this season, however entertaining at times isn't a clown show? we have something like a 7 man rotation right now we know less about Olt than when the season started and valbuena did about exactly what anyone would have guessed we have a #2 hitter who has set the all-time K rate for first 50 games and he's only played 42 our All World first baseman is playing every other game we're getting daily articles about how bittersweet everything is for our minor league player of the year Castillo is kicking ass and throwing out billy hamilton regularly and Montero acquisition is in the news whenever we get near a protected draft pick we go on an improbable winning streak manager leads the league in video reviews we cannot score without a HR our all-star shortstop is injured and the #1 trade subject etc etc

Arrieta had one of the all-time great breakout seasons, too.

Part of the great irony!!!

That's a great article. I keep trying to temper my enthusiasm for Arrieta but with every start he seems like the real deal. Would be great to have a legit #2 to follow front line free agent pitcher. Something along the lines of Lester/Arrieta/Hendricks/Wood and who ever wins out/left standing from the muck of #5s.

Well Olt is starting tonight at 1B and I honestly couldn't give a flying fuck now that I know the Cubs brass don't like him. Thanks guys. Thanks for nothing. ;)

This post has so many responses already. Mike Olt is click bait, apparently. Nicely done, Rob G. Raking in the ad revenue, I bet. ;)

There really hasn't been a whole hell of a lot else to talk about. Have I mentioned I really like Logan Watkins? But that's not interesting, not in the slightest.

46 comments on an Olt vs. Valaika thread in a few hours...

this blogging thing might be fun to do again next year.

This offseason will be fun too when they trade Castro, Baez and Soler for Stanton :)

Ok. Thats not funny....

Jim Hendry humor.

What would you trade to get Stanton?

Not Soler, that's for sure.

Not our starting shortstop, second baseman, and right fielder who looks like a beast, and is cheaper than Stanton.

Not saying I would make the trade either, but 24 MVP type players cost a lot.

I'd be leery of any trade for a right fielder right now, even of his caliber, with Soler out there. Not only will he kill you in prospects, but the salary will be off the charts. Just not a need right now. I may not be singing that tune if Soler doesn't stay healthy, but Soler seems like as high a ceiling outfielder as I've seen come up through the system, pretty much ever.

Agreed, Soler is pretty untouchable in my book too, but Stanton IS the kind of player we HOPE that Soler, Bryant, Baez, etc will become. I would certainly trade for him, I am just not sure I would do so this offseason as there are still too many unknowns.

Would you do Castro and Soler for Stanton? That would probably get it done because Miami would love the Soler contract.

I would have a hard time trading Soler because I think very highly of him, but I think you are right with his contract and Cuban background I'm sure he is the guy they would want.

OR ..we keep Castro and Soler....and instead of spending a ton of $$ on Stanton, we spend the $$ on a #1 starter?

I think Castro & Soler would be enough to get Miami listening, but I'm not positive it would be enough to get it done. Nor, do I think the Cubs are posturing to trade for Stanton. I think they are more in line to spend on starting pitching like you said.

this was the Miguel Cabrera haul:

December 4, 2007: Traded by the Florida Marlins with Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for Dallas Trahern (minors), Burke Badenhop, Frankie De La Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and Mike Rabelo.

Maybin and Miller were the center pieces, you can see where they were rated here.

Castro and Soler should be enough with maybe a C prospect thrown in. I wouldn't be terribly upset if they moved Soler for Stanton, just because of the past injury history with Soler. I think the Cubs can easily afford Stanton and a few expensive pitchers. That being said, TheJedi indicated they intend to protect their investments, so I don't think they'll overpay in a deal and they'll certainly be some competition for Stanton.

I also don't think the Marlins will actually trade Stanton, but I seem to be the only one on that ledge. They'll definitely offer him an extension this offseason and go from there. 8/250-300 with an NTC was a possible asking price by Stanton I saw. We shall see...

another article about Marlins willingness to pony up for Stanton

8/250-300 ... wow. With the kind of numbers these guys are heading towards, you might as well give them a stake in ownership. These kinds of economies just don't scale. Something's gotta give.

Not arguing that at all. I just wouldn't make the trade.


Nothing. The allure of Stanton would have to be that he puts up WAR numbers above whatever is left of Rizzo, Baez, Castro, Bryant, Soler, Alcantara, Almora, Russell once a number of them are traded for him. In other words, whatever is left of this group plus Stanton is more WAR than the group without him. Also, the Cubs have to be OK paying him $12-15M in 2015, probably $20M+ in 2016, and a $200M plus 6 year contract beginning in 2017. Trading for him would be betting that production exceeds whatever you trade for him, AND that those financial commitments aren't needed elsewhere (e.g. like starting pitching). Again, no thank you.

this thread must be blowing the "no one wants to hear about mike olt anymore" crowd's mind. yes, people do want to hear about mike olt...muse about mike olt...figure out what the front office is trying to do (or not do) with thoughts/ideas about players...all that stuff.

damn, you're dense

mind = blown.

Mike Olt seems to be a polarizing figure- the third rail of Cub fandom.

I wouldn't go that far. There are those of us who are perplexed by the lack of consistent at bats, and I'm not talking about total ABs I'm talking about the fact he hasn't played 5 days in a row that I can think of, and there is the other segment of fans here who think "meh", what's the big deal?

seems being a vertically challenged middle infielder for the Cubs is license to be a douchebag in interviews...

"“It was weird at first,” Barney said, “but it’s just a different atmosphere. We expect to win, and if we don’t, we don’t cry about it, and get up the next day and try to win that day.”"

also this one from earlier

Darwin Barney on being in first place: "It's strange not counting down the end to the season."

At the same time, it probably IS strange not be to counting down the end to the season. Still, I bet he's a little miffed he's not about to be part of the upcoming 20 year dynasty.

I'm curious to know why the Cubs left Kane County. I'm pretty sure AZ Phil predicted they'd move to South Bend but it also seems like Kane County is a good place to help grow the fan base to see the kids. Is it a crappy facility or something?

Phil wrote something in the other thread, he said owner was paying for a new surface and new amenities. Cubs also said traffic going to Kane County made traveling time nearly equal (not gonna vet that one, just the quote I read).

I've been there and, while I'm not an expert on minor league ballparks, I thought the facility was relatively new and modern. I think attendance was good. For us in the Chicago area, it's a pretty easy trip there to see the kid Cubs. The ballpark experience was pretty good in my opinion.

I used to live out that way for awhile. I would have loved having that team there.

South Bend has airport to get players out faster

can't imagine the trip from South Bend (if they happen to be home) to Myrtle Beach is something they really need to expedite.

Minor leaguers don't ride busses anymore?

Sure they do especially in the lower levels.

It is also worth noting, because I've never heard anyone talk about it, that our hero Luis (he of the .229 lifetime BA over the small sample of 7 seasons) has K'd 107 times this year for a 23.9% clip which is not awesome for a guy who homers every 28 AB.

And Yasiel Puig only has two more homers than Mike Olt!!

I've got 21.1% according to Fangraphs fwiw, he has had a particularly low BABIP from 2010-2013, quite normal this year and his numbers have reflected that.

21.1% while not good, is not alarming. Anything over 25% is when you start worrying about a problem. Valbuena has been a consistent 20% for most of his career. Not saying ideal and maybe it'll get worse as he gets older, but he walks and works the count enough that it shouldn't be a great concern.

I would think if the rest of the league liked Valbuena a trade would have been made this summer because there aren't going to be a lot of openings next year for him to play regularly. Not even Capt Happy will put him at third over Bryant, and you've got Castro and Baez in the middle, with Alcantara as a nice backup and CF option. I still like Watkins despite his bad game at the plate and on the field yesterday, but he may be a goner, too and I can't make much of a case for him over Valbuena right now, anyway. It's nice to see the holes starting to get filled on this club either way. Next year we won't be having this Olt discussion, and mostly we'll be talking about filler spots.

How does he have Kalish bunt in that situation??!!!! 1st inning. #5 hitter. No outs. Pitcher struggling. 2-0 lead runners on 1st 2nd. Lefty batter righty pitcher. Ridiculous. Also Grienke covered that bunt better than I have EVER seen before. He was running in as part of his pitching motion. Amazing!

Did Mattingly tell Greinke that someone named Ryan Kalish is batting behind Soler?

I really hope some of Capt Happy's lineups are for his own amusement, instead of the kind of stuff we'd see when he is given a better club next year.

If Ryan Kalish bats 5th even once in 2015, we can be sure somethings has gone terribly wrong.

per Trib's Mark Gonzales... The Cubs ended their agreement with short season Boise and are looking closely at Eugene, OR, according to a source. also...
The Cubs are in the process of conducting their annual exit interviews with players and staff members. ...Epstein emphasized the home clubhouse renovation won't be completed until the start of the 2016 season but added the batting cages under the bleachers will be larger as space is carved out for the relocated bullpens.

"Mike, I met Dave Kingman, and you sir are no Dave Kingman."

Amazing NYT article on Ricketts era:

I've read half, and pick the rest up later, but it gives me a better appreciation for Tom Ricketts, so thanks for that. I've always wondered what it would be like for a Cubs fan to own the Cubs, and that part is very cool. I've always known he was supposed to be a fan, but the story did a nice job of backgrounding it. And his reasoning for dumping Hendry was so simple. Just start all over. Nice.

Wish I was a fly on the wall for the off the record part from Theo: "He again emphasized there were no guarantees; young players can fizzle or get hurt. But then he grew excited, going off the record to name the Cubs’ starting lineup of the future, speculating who will someday get M.V.P. votes and who will merely be All-Stars. He named some of the free agents he thought he would be able to sign, a 70 percent chance on this player, a 40 percent chance on another."

No kidding!!!! That part blew my mind!

Love the "will merely be all stars" part, those second rate all star players. Would D-Lee be the last Cub to receive MVP votes?

looks like wiklifield is back up, hadn't checked in awhile

Soriano in 2012 is the trivia answer(1 5th place vote, 1 9th place and 1 10th), Castro got some votes in 2011

Imagine Rizzo may get a few this year.

Thanks for the wiklifield link. Definitely would have lost a bar bet if someone asked me if Mickey Morandini ever received an MVP vote.

Apparently you never saw Mickey Morandini play. Downs a shot.

From the start, [Epstein] said, he and Ricketts agreed the Cubs required a gut rehab, with a reallocation of resources to scouting, the draft and the development of younger players. Older players would be dealt for high-upside prospects, sacrificing wins in the present for wins in the future. This was a strategy of delayed gratification, with the length of the delay vexingly uncertain.

Epstein said: “At our first meeting, I asked Tom in several ways, some indirect, about his stomach for living through the tough period ahead and whether he’d have the patience and the broad shoulders and thick skin necessary. My sense after intense probing is that this guy was extraordinarily patient.”

really sounds like a guy that's upset the owners aren't spending more right now...

Dont tell that to Wittenmeyer and the other hobbit over at the times.

It's hard not to be excited about the lineup of the future: Olt (CF), Olt (2B), Olt (SS), Olt (3B), Olt (1B), Olt (RF), Olt (LF), Olt (C), Olt (P)

You know, I might bat Olt (P) 8th and Olt (LF) 9th to give Olt (SS) more RBI opportunities.

Horsecrap! Olt (LF) needs to feel more respected and he'll see through this maneuver as a veiled way to keep him from getting enough AB. Hell he was already batting behind Olt (RF) who couldn't lay off a slider if his life depended on it, isn't that enough of a slap in the face? Pull your head outta your ass Charlie. /freeOlt(LF)

You're so old baseball, Carlito. We need to break from the doxa of ugly-girlfriend philosophy. Players know this is a business and the business is finding any necessary edge to win ballgames, whether that means batting your pitcher, Olt, 8th, or fielding a team entirely composed of clone super Oltimate warriors to crush the competition and cast StLouis #bestfansinbaseball into the never ending abyss of perpetual last place and the corrosive nostalgia for the days of LaRussa and Pujols slowly eating away their marrow and... oh, sorry. I got a little lost there.

You're like the Murakami of baseball writing.

Murakami? That's the thing where you fold paper into swans, right?

That makes me sad...

Hah, Nice.

The only problem with that is that when you need to sit Olt after having a good game, per Capt Happy's process, you have no lineup.

when you need to sit Olt after having a good game, have no lineup: --- And Capt. Happy replies: Valbuena(CF), Valbuena(2B), Valbuena(SS), Valbuena(3B), Valbuena(1B), Valbuena(RF), Valbuena(LF), Valbuena(C), Valbuena(P).

Actually, I am pretty sure Captain Happy hates Valbuena. He was 1-3 with a Run and a Walk on Tuesday, 2-4 with Run and RBI on Wednesday, 2-5 with a Run and RBI on Thursday, and then he is BENCHED Friday. WTF??!?!??! He clearly hates him and is out to get him. Free Valbuena!!!

Double post, deleted, internet connection sucks right now.

Ricketts would come to think of these initial seasons as “a lot like buying a house the day after there was a big party inside, walked in, food on the floor, beer cans all over the place, a guy that nobody knows sleeping on the couch.” He concluded: “We didn’t buy the party; we bought the hangover.”

What a great description of the 2010 team.

I think if he wanted to, Kershaw could set an alltime record for K's against today's Cubs' lineup. He'd need a good finishing pitch and a little luck. But that's about it ... That said, the Cubs were the first team to beat Tanaka in like 5000 games or something

because Valbuena is not starting

ah, glad to have ejax back... walk (Puig), single (AGon), HR (Kemp), Double (HRam)... Kershaw with a 3-0 head start. Only Mike Olt can save us (bites tongue). edit... Uribe single drives in 4th run. And Capt Happy comes out with the EJax hook after a 35 pitch, 2/3 IP outing.

So, E-Jax, we had this idea over on the bench. Maybe try to sprinkle some outs in between all these really gorgeous hits--I mean, they're really great, but some variety, you know? Just a thought. You do your thing.

at 2/3 IP per outing rate, EJax could start ALL the remaining games. I'm saving a spot on the 60 day DL for him in 2015.

we talked about this already, right?

Cubs nixed BJ Upton for Edwin trade?

Edwin starts the year in the bullpen as a swingman next year, replacing Villanueva is my guess. A bad contract for bad contract swap is also possible or Cubs kicking in $14-$16M of the $24M still owed him.

$13 million for a long reliever, the luxury of having a major market payroll. (snark font)

the thing is, you know he'd be picked up in a heartbeat once he cleared waivers. His velocity is down a bit (averaging 92 on FB this year versus 94 in 2009 and 2010), but I don't think anyone believes he's washed up. His BABIP is off the charts the last 2 seasons (.322 and .352). It seems something mechanical or tipping pitches and for whatever reason Bosio isn't getting through to him or they just can't pinpoint what it is.

He'd be the exact guy the Cubs would sign for $5M and try to flip at the All-Star break.

Sometimes it seems like his stuff should be really effective. It *is* a little bit of a mystery. I'm sure not going to look it up, but it seems like he falls behind in the count an awful lot. That doesn't explain it at all to me, but it doesn't help things to be behind in the count all the time. And I have no stats to support my suggestion, anyway. These days, it really seems like power pitchers, which I consider him to be, are including a nice change up in their repertoire, and I'm not sure I've ever even seen him throw one. His fastball relies on late movement so if he has lost a couple MPH, that could be hurting him some, too. Anyway, I tend to think we're beyond trying to figure this guy out anyway, and so are the Cubs. He'll get another shot with somebody. Maybe they can package him and Olt for Stanton.

In the few games I've followed EJax on gamecast I sense just the opposite...lots of times of him being up 0-2 and 1-2 and then letting the batter get away. Very Carlos Zambrano. No data, just opinion.

same...and when he gets that 0-2, 1-2,'s time to pound the zone with sliders. the batters know sliders are coming, and his slider is good, but not that good.

I don't want to trade Solar (just tripled). Baez go ahead

Jacos "Not Trade List"

Kevin Maas, Bret Barberie, Ron Kittle, Angel Berroa

Traded away - Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Clemente, Brooks Robinson

I keed.

Maybe I should have said Olt?!!??! You and Cpt Happy have had it out for him since he came up!! /puts tin foil cap back on

I sound like Kramer with Ms Rhode Island on "Seinfeld" /POISE COUNTS!

Naturally Cubs are getting to Kershaw in first after game was already Jaxified.

Jorge Soler seems reasonably competent at the baseball.

EJax is the best at what he does. The absolute best I've ever seen. It's not easy - I mean think of home run derby at allstar games, or batting practice, there are more outs made in those settings. To give up this many hits consistently is remarkable. Standing ovation.

You walk Baez and Lake in same game, you're no MVP, sir!

Slap him with officer's glove.

The Cubs are good at this challenge thing.

Renteria's certainly the most compulsive challenger, but hardly the most proficient.

From a managerial perspective, isn't it only the number of challenges you win that matters and not the number that you lose or the ratio?

I don't appreciate your use of logic there.

That's mostly true, although you only get 1 challenge a game and lose it if wrong. So (in theory), being so compulsive about it, could cost him later. Haven't paid close enough attention to see if that's a problem. And I think even if out of challenges, you can ask, but can be denied a review.

So, to make a valid judgment on Renteria's use of challenges, one would have to do some actual analysis and count stuff? Meh. I'm gonna drink beer and speculate wildly instead. I'm pretty sure that's what baseball is about.

well, if you want to be really valid you need to give credit to whoever is in the clubhouse watching the replays on the home+away feeds and telling the bench coach to "thumbs up/down" renteria while he's wasting time on the field. the replay process too often takes longer to start than the actual replay decision making, itself.

Lou Piniella's stroll out of the dugout would have been tailor made for the replay delay game.

he was born too soon...shame.

It was in the good old days, but all you stats heads ruined it. See what being a stats head did for Billy Beane? Ha! Take that Bill James! Correction, Bill James wouldn't have traded Cespedes. Never mind.

As tough as it can be to watch sometimes, this is exactly what Javy needs. He’s going to end up going into the offseason reflecting back on this. Over time, it will sink in that despite what pitchers do to him, he controls the at-bat. He can’t get away from his strengths. He can do as much damage as anyone in the game when he’s patient and gets a pitch that he can drive.

Those are things you can’t just tell somebody. Hitting coach would be the easiest job in baseball–not the hardest job in baseball–if you could just tell someone that and it would sink in through osmosis somehow. It just doesn’t work that way. Players need to figure it out naturally.

He's different than Olt or Brett Jackson. Brett Jackson had a nice swing to look at but it never hit anything, like he had bad eyesight or something. Olt seems to be a bit Jacksonesque, also. Baez though seems like an explosion about to happen, and I think he's got a real shot of being good still. He needs to just lay off those out of the zone sliders. He can actually hit the ones low in the zone. Once pitchers have to throw him strikes, of almost any kind, he could be a real monster. He'll probably always have trouble with high fastballs but not everybody can throw the kind that gets him out.

Ride of the Valkyries 2/2 off Kershaw


on the other hand, Olt has struck out twice


M. Szczur doubled to left, C. Valaika to third

Blooper or something?

dropped between rf 2b and 1b

speaking of great baseball writing, one on CJ Edwards

i came home early to watch this? ...and they can't even get the mic's in the booth turned on for the stretch singing. this laughing stock of a team keeps piling on.

This was Epstein on Baez last month, but I don't know why it wouldn't also apply to Olt.
"We all know it can be very difficult to make in-season adjustments as a big leaguer," Epstein said, citing struggles by Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo last year. "This timing allows Javy to go play for eight weeks, and then take a deep breath this winter. He can take a fresh look at his performance in the big leagues and take it all in and start to make any adjustments if necessary."
Olt obviously struggled at the beginning of the season, so pull back, don't let him dig the hole deeper. It's his first season. Get him to the offseason with some confidence left, and plenty to think about. People here (and you know who you are) just assume that the way to get better is to keep playing no matter what, even if you're a rookie. Epstein disagrees, which is why he liked the idea of limiting Baez to eight weeks. This morning, Baez had 187 PAs to Olt's 250. Alcantara had 265. The previous FO tried in-season adjustments to Colvin, and the current one tried it with Brett Jackson, but Epstein has made a point of blaming that mistake on Sveum. Rizzo's significant adjustments as a hitter took place in the offseason, mostly in his head. If the comparison of Olt to Baez makes sense, then there's nothing to see here, is there? I like Olt, and have no reason to think the Cubs don't. They coveted him for a couple of seasons, we know that. For all I know, they might be skeptical of Bryant at third and want to keep Olt nearby until they can get Bryant's buy-in on a move to the outfield. You have to really read the tea leaves to know what this FO is thinking. Renteria's on the outside looking in, just like we are.

This makes sense, I hope you're right. I would only add that all most of us were asking for was that he had something like a straight 8 weeks of play. And as O&B pointed out you may find that he never had a straight 8 *days* of playing.

Great post.

I like that post. It's a keeper.

I'm taping today's Cubs game on VHS for when I get home, so don't tell me what happened.

You should try the new Sony beta machines. I heard they are grabbing all the market share.

"E-Jax: “It may seem farfetched, (but) I still think my best years are to come, and I really don’t care what anyone else thinks." This is probably true. With that nice fat contract, he is going to have a lovely retirement.

Hendricks, Ramirez, Grimm, Olt, Edwards and Christian Villanueva for Dempster and Garza. Sucks to be you, Texas.

That's cringe worthy!

ROB G: Does Villenueva have any interest from a contender? What do you think? :)

Epic choke job by Milwaukee tonight. 4.5 back in the Wild Card with 8 to go.

They should play Oakland in the devastation bowl where the winner gets to wear '69 Cubs hats all winter ...


Interesting fangraphs article on Astro's Jason Castro improving his pitch framing ability. Any thoughts on Welington Castillo showing any improvement in his catching/framing skills? I also found a few articles by Jeff Sullivan from Fangraphs who has written about pitch framing, including this one from April 2014 that beats up Castillo on his lack of framing skills: and this article from March 2014 that includes a link to a pitch framer leaderboard... Not sure what to make of the stat analysis for framing but others can translate this for me. Still, the question is has Castillo improved this skill in 2014?

and one more Jeff Sullivan, catcher framing article from Nov 2013. Love his Koyie Hill line:
The disaster of the bunch is Koyie Hill, who’s coming off a framing season right out of the Ryan Doumit scrapbook.

This quote really makes me laugh. Must be the text is funny but also the quasi specific baseball nerdity of it all.

Most of the stuff I read say it's pretty teachable. One thing about Castillo is that he works well with Arietta and Hendricks - they both seem to like his pitch calling. I know a lot of people keep expecting Hendricks to go Travis Wood on us, and he might, but he does seem to have a knack for the game.

Improved? At least the numbers seem to say he was the worst in baseball in 2014. In his defense, it's a cumulative counting stat, so he has more opportunities to hurt his score than part-time players, and he's partly being penalized for catching so many innings. But the number is what it is. It appears that he has been particularly bad (near the bottom) at both having strikes be called balls and turning balls into called strikes. There was another Jeff Sullivan article earlier this year about pitches in the zone being called balls, and there were two glaring examples of Welly allowing down-the-pipe pitches to be called balls by shifting his body and glove too much. I also remember reading articles in spring training that the Cubs were drilling him on framing exercises. Apparently it didn't take. It's probably safe at this point to say that Castillo is one of the worst framers in baseball and that he'll need some serious help to even become average.

More Cubs are gonna be good fluff:

Normally I'd be annoyed with all that, since stats don't like and most prospects don't make it. But right now I'm having a very hard time thinking Soler isn't an impact player - I just hope he stays healthy, and Bryant seems as close to can't miss as they come. That alone will be huge, even if none of the others make it, and the chances are at least one will.

rizzo/soler/bryant seem to be the 3/4/5 of the future (in no particular order). i still don't get this m.stanton thing, though...the cubs intentionally tank the team for years and then trade away a huge chunk of their haul to pay a bat they don't need $25m a year? yeah, they can afford it, but bats seem to be the last thing they need with bryant + a.russell knocking at the door of the bigs with rizzo/castro/soler already here. add baez to the mix along with the support bats and there's plenty of hitting to go around even if it doesn't all pan out.

Stanton talk is just the talk of bored reporters/fans. It doesn't make any sense. The salary alone would scare me off. I seriously doubt TheoCorp has any interest in Stanton. If they had gone the other way and built a pitching staff of young studs they might, but there's no need now. Roll the dice on what you have and shore up the starting pitching.

Bet most Tiger fans are happy for Miggy versus the cost controlled years of Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin. Cubs are one of a few teams that have the prospects and payroll space for this move so let idle speculation begin. That being said, I've drank enough kool aid and believe that Soler/Bryant are pretty close to can't miss. Don't feel the risk on those guys is worth a $25 mil per year Stanton insurance policy.

Soler, Bryant, and Russell are definitely my untouchables. There's a chance that trading Baez could look really stupid in hindsight, but Stanton is a player I'd take that gamble on. In any case, I legitimately think the Marlins are planning to extend him and wouldn't trade him for less than 10 WAR per season.

I think the rebuild was too time consuming and costly to gamble multiple prospects for a single entity, no matter how good he is. The idea I think was to start a machine that produced consistently and improves the odds of winning every year for a long time. Stanton would certainly cost too much in terms of prospects to gamble on ... The gamble btw isn't necessarily his production, but also his health etc.

I'm wondering if the South Bend Silverhawks will become the South Bend Cubs. The owner has already mentioned they will grow Ivy on the OF walls and do something that is Cub Marquee-like. Supposedly they will announce those type of changes next Thursday.