Tag Archives: Cubs

Cubs Pitching Coach Mark Riggins talks Pitch Sequencing

What does pitch sequencing mean for pitchers and how effective is it when a given pitcher is dealing with a batter?

Pitchers either get hitters out with the location of pitches and messing with a batter’s timing. They mess with timing by mixing their pitches up, mixing the sequence up. Some batters you get out by attacking a certain part of the strike zone. Other hitters, you have to mix your pitches because they look for what you’re throwing. If you get the sequence right, you can mess up their timing.

Certain batters [look for you to pitch to a certain area] and so mixing up pitches becomes really important, especially sequencing. The sequence has to get the batter off his timing.

How important is the speed differential between a fastball and a breaking ball?

Your curveball is usually your slowest compared to the fastball. Your change-up is next slowest, then slider. The guys that have curveballs can work with the fastball only, but if they throw sliders, they have to have change-ups–I’m talking starters here, bullpen is a different animal. You have to change your speeds 10 to 12 miles per hour and that’s where the curveball comes into play, moreso than a slider. Sliders usually sit 6-8 off (of the fastball). Then you need something slower and a curve or change throws them off a bit more.

When would you throw a slider, then?

You want to go hard then slow. Some guys have sliders, it really depends on the pitcher’s repertoire of pitches. Most relievers have sliders. They come in, they’re facing three or four hitters; they want to come in with a little more power. Whereas your starters, they have to go 6-7 innings. They’ll have more off-speed pitches in their repertoire.

Are you going to be paying attention to the pitch sequences of other teams to see what’s effective? What about Kershaw’s pitching tonight?

I’ve seen Kershaw pitch before, when I was in AA with the Cubs’ affiliate.

What’d you see from him then?

Fantastic breaking ball, great velocity; he’s learned how to command his pitches much better and how to pitch to hitters. I saw him in AA, he was a sure shot. He came up at the end of that year.

How about the Cubs? What are you looking for tonight against the Dodgers?

We know what we have with each pitcher, and each pitcher is different. Even though hitters have weaknesses, each pitcher is going to attack the batter in a different way, based on what pitches they have.

Are there certain match-ups in this series that you’re looking at that may prove crucial to the series?

Nah. Everybody’s gonna face everyone at some time this series. In the match-ups, I’m looking for our starters to get out there every 5 days and pitch their game no matter who it’s against. We’re not trying to match-up certain guys in certain serieses.

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Scorekeeping: Yunel Escobar’s Situation and Marlon Byrd’s Hustle

Scorekeeping disclaimer: The “Scorekeeping” articles on this blog are not to make libelous claims against anyone for calling out one player for not hustling. It’s an attempt to collect data over a several-year period and take notes on what was said, who said it and why it was said. Before you read this post, know that my intentions aren’t to put the spotlight on broadcasters who use a loaded word, but to see why this word is loaded in our beloved sport and if the claims against it (that terms like “hustle” and “grit” are used primarily in favor of white players and against non-white players) are true.

This isn’t even that scientific of a study and shouldn’t be treated as such.

Read the first Scorekeeping article here and then read the comments for the updates.

Yunel Escobar has been chastised this past week for work ethic, so to update Scorekeeping, here’s what I’ve come across.

Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote an interesting article about Escobar’s lack of hustle. Consider reading Bradley’s full article:

Escobar got thrown out because he watched the flight of the ball and admired his work, as opposed to running hard. The Braves noticed. The Braves always noticed. As one man in the clubhouse said afterward, exasperation in his voice: “He has been told time and time again.”

About the trade: This isn’t an exchange of equal talent. Alex Gonzalez is a serviceable big-league shortstop who played on a World Series winner with Florida in 2003 and delivered the biggest hit — a walk-off homer in Game 4 — of the Series. He’s 33, which means he’s not a long-term answer.

Maybe you noticed this, but it looks like Bradley had a great opportunity to note how big of a “gamer” A-Gon is or how much “grit” A-Gon has in that second paragraph, yet didn’t.

Read more (much more) after the jump.

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Let’s talk about the Cubs

I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to worry about poor management of my favorite baseball team for a couple of years now.  I had my worries about Ned Colletti at first, but he’s definitely made some smarter decisions in the past few years (Josh Bell and Carlos Santana trades aside).

The two teams I’m glad I am not a fan for are the New York Mets and, now, the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs announced today they’re going to move Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen.  Carlos Zambrano signed a 5-year/$91.5 million deal that began in 2008 and now the Cubs announced today they’ll move him to the bullpen as their set-up guy.

I won’t argue against the contract, we’re all biased because of the outcome and, frankly, I didn’t think it was a bad signing at the time–though knowing what I know now, I definitely think it wasn’t a good one.  The big problem here is this:

“I told him we really needed him in the bullpen,” Piniella told reporters in New York before facing the Mets, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We felt he could do a really nice job for us there.

“He said he would do what’s best for the team. I’m very appreciative. We’ve talked about maturing. This proves it to me.”

Piniella also might have said this is a very real and possibly not temporary solution.

I would argue in favor of this if the Cubs had a) a reasonable solution to replace him and b) members of the staff who are better than him already.  This is a quick, gut-decision move based on a few bad starts.  It’s a severe lack of understanding on sample size.

Thank goodness this doesn’t happen on the Dodgers …………. right?

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And one more enormous image

Might as well give a hearty :golfclap: to that one, that’s some damn fine work by Craig Calcaterra.  I thought this was a joke at first, but apparently there’s an actual track and field athlete with the same name. He’s Portuguese.

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Cubs hire “ambassadors” because they’re bad at baseball

From the Chicago Tribune:

This baseball season “ambassadors” will be stationed at Wrigley Field. Their job: to improve the experience of Cubs fans.

The hiring of ambassadors, along with a director of fan experiences, is aimed at increasing accountability and improving fan relations, as well as opening an avenue for visitor feedback, the team announced Monday.

The program will be headed by Jahaan Blake, who served in similar positions with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. She said she isn’t sure how many ambassadors will be at Wrigley, but said in an interview Monday that they’ll also connect with children through school visits and tours of the storied stadium.

During games ambassadors will offer help like directing fans to less busy bathrooms. Also, complaints can be lodged with the ambassadors.

I don’t think it’s a huge secret that the Dodgers and Red Sox have two of the best fan-relation PRs in baseball, and as a witness to the Dodgers one, I can say it worked wonders.  Before focusing on public relations, the Dodgers were battling with the Angels for fans and losing terribly–mostly because the Angels were winning and the Dodgers weren’t. Then their marketing got sophisticated. The ads were aimed at making the team the fans’ team–ads like “This is Our Town,” and so forth. The players were out in the communities, shaking hands, going to classrooms, doing functions.  Even if they were only there for a few minutes and didn’t talk to anyone, it reflected on the team well and the fans ate it up.*

*As an aside, I went to one of these functions with my dad last year and he told Andre Ethier “Keep tearing it up, you’re killing for me in my fantasy baseball league!” He told that story to all his friends and everyone thought it was awesome.

The Cubs, however, are doing it because their team stinks and they have some awful contracts to deal with for a while, so this is probably the smartest move on their part.  I’m a big believer in winning brings in fans, but if you can’t win, at least you can have a public relations team like this.

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The Cubs could use some FO help

From ESPN Insider

The Cubs are searching for a center fielder and might be waiting to see whether free agents Matt Holliday or Jason Bay somehow end ups in Boston.

Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune reports today that the Cubs would immediately make a “major effort” to land Jacoby Ellsbury if the Red Sox were to sign Holliday or Bay. Rogers adds one way to pull off such a trade might be for Cubs GM Jim Hendry to be part of a three-team deal that sends first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres to Boston for prospects.

Trading away Milton Bradley and receiving Carlos Silva was already a terrible trade.  Sure, Milton may have been unhappy and I completely sympathize with both parties, but he was producing at an above-average rate at 10 million a year.  Silva is a well-below-average albatross at 13 mil a year.  Silva was given maybe one of the worst free agent contracts in history after having two consecutive years of abject failure because of his a miraculous age 26 year–seriously, 7.89 K/BB ratio out of nowhere.  In 2008, he put up a terrible year and only pitched 30 innings (with maybe his worst production ever) in 2009.  He’s also known for having an attitude problem, so what did the Cubs really gain here?

Now Hendry, who has already handed out horrible above-market contracts to about half of his starting pitchers and position players, is considering trading whatever is left in his farm system for an overrated centerfielder.  If Josh Vitters and/or Starlin Castro is involved in this trade, Hendry is competing with Omar Minaya for worst GM in baseball.

Oof.  Bad times for Cubs fans.

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