Cubs

Green light? Quade sends Cubs strong signals

Green light? Quade sends Cubs strong signals

Monday, April 11, 2011Posted: 9:45 PM Updated: 11:20 PM
By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

HOUSTON The day after, here was the image flashing on the television in one corner of the clubhouse: Marlon Byrd arguing with reporters before telling them to beat it.

The MLB Network ran the clip and while it may have caught the attention of a few players reclining in lounge chairs, the Cubs want the matter closed.

WATCH: Byrd snaps at reporters

Byrd led off the ninth inning of Sundays 6-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers with a line-drive single that raised his average to .342. Aramis Ramirez had already tied his career-high with three doubles when he stepped to the plate.

Moments later, Byrd was caught stealing second, a mistake manager Mike Quade called a miscommunication. Byrd couldnt believe that was the first thing the media asked him about. Byrd said he looks at third-base coach Ivan DeJesus.

I dont think he has the green light. Zeus didnt think (so), Quade said Monday. (Byrd) thought he did. (So) three of us screwed the thing up and then we move on and we try not to do that again.

That play didnt decide the game, but Byrds reaction generated all the headlines, and made it difficult to not blow out of proportion.

Quade estimated that he gives 60 or 70 signs each game offensive, defensive and catching. By the managers count, his players have only missed one or two through the seasons first nine games.

I wish (we) had a microphone to put in a guys helmet like they do in the NFL and say, Hey, look, youre gonna hit and run, Quade joked.

WATCH: Quade weighs in on the issue

Quade will not be standing on the top step of the dugout with headphones on and a play sheet covering his mouth. But he has tried to simplify the signs and still wants to pick his spots.

Starlin Castro got the green light and was the offensive spark in Mondays 5-4 win over the Houston Astros. He stole the teams first base of the season and combined with Darwin Barney at the top of the order to score all five runs and go 5-for-8 with two walks.

Kosuke Fukudome sat out with a hamstring strain he felt the day before. Though the Japanese outfielder said through an interpreter that he does not expect to go on the disabled list, the Cubs will monitor the situation day-to-day.

Castro also worked a 13-pitch at-bat before striking out in the sixth inning, showcasing his instincts and discipline at the plate, skills that could make him a leadoff hitter in Fukudomes absence. Castros goal is to steal 25 to 30 bases this season.

I feel comfortable, Castro said. First, second I dont care.

Quade once worked for an Oakland As organization that devalued stolen bases as part of their Moneyball philosophy. But for Quade, its mostly about the personnel. The Cubs finished tied for last in the majors in stolen bases last season.

Beyond the runner, the Cubs will take into account the pitchers time to the plate, what hes about to throw and whether hell use a slide step or a high leg kick.

We want to run intelligently, Quade said. I dont think people understand sometimes all the different factors that go into whether youre taking a shot to run or not.

Just because you dont have speed doesnt mean you dont take advantage of situations.

So given all the information thats synthesized into a split-second play, its probably not as simple as red light or green light, or safe or out.

Quade said the Cubs will turn the page, which is really just a nice way of saying the exact same thing as Byrd: Next question.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

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USA TODAY

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

Kris Bryant was the 2016 National League MVP. And despite having what could be considered an even better campaign this past season, he finished seventh in voting for the 2017 edition of the award.

The NL MVP was awarded to Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday night, a fine choice, though it was nearly impossible to make a poor choice, that's how many fantastic players there were hitting the baseball in the NL this season.

After Stanton, Cinicinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto finished second, earning the same amount of first-place votes and losing out to Stanton by just one point. Then came Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon ahead of Bryant.

But there was someone who thought Bryant deserved to repeat as the NL MVP. Yes, Bryant earned a first-place vote — as did everyone else mentioned besides Rendon, for that matter — causing a bit of a social-media stir considering the Cubs third baseman, despite his great season, perhaps wasn't as standout a candidate as some of the other guys who finished higher in the voting.

So the person who cast that first-place vote for Bryant, MLB.com's Mark Bowman, wrote up why he felt Bryant deserved to hoist the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award for the second straight year.

"In the end, I chose Bryant because I believe he made the greatest impact, as his second-half production fueled the successful turnaround the Cubs experienced after the All-Star break," Bowman wrote.

"Though I don't believe the MVP must come from a playoff contender, in an attempt to differentiate the value provided by each of these three players (Bryant, Votto and Stanton), I chose to reward the impact made by Bryant, who produced the NL's fourth-best OPS (.968) after the All-Star break, when the Cubs distanced themselves from a sub-.500 record and produced an NL-best 49 wins."

It's easy for Cubs fans and observers to follow that logic, as the Cubs took off after the All-Star break following a disappointing first half. As good as Bryant was all season long, his second-half numbers, as Bowman pointed out, were especially great. He hit .325 with a .421 on-base percentage and a .548 slugging percentage over his final 69 games of the regular season, hitting 11 home runs, knocking out 21 doubles and driving in 35 runs during that span.

Perhaps the craziest thing about this year's MVP race and Bryant's place in it is that Bryant was just as good if not better than he was in 2016, when he was almost unanimously named the NL MVP. After slashing .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers, 102 RBIs, 35 doubles, 75 walks and 154 strikeouts in 2016, Bryant slashed .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers, 73 RBIs, 38 doubles, 95 walks and 128 strikeouts in 2017.

Of course, the competition was much steeper this time around. But Bryant was given the MVP award in 2016 playing for a 103-win Cubs team that was bursting with offensive firepower, getting great seasons from Anthony Rizzo (who finished third in 2016 NL MVP voting), as well as Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. While the Cubs actually scored more runs this season and undoubtedly turned it on after the All-Star break on a team-wide basis, Bryant was far and away the best hitter on the team in 2017, with many other guys throughout the lineup having notably down years and/or experiencing down stretches throughout the season. Hence, making Bryant more, say it with me, valuable.

So Bowman's argument about Bryant's impact on the Cubs — a team that still scored 822 runs, won 92 games and advanced to the National League Championship Series — is a decently convincing one.

Check out Bowman's full explanation, which dives into some of Bryant's advanced stats.

Game on as Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis and Alex Cobb turn down qualifying offers

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AP

Game on as Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis and Alex Cobb turn down qualifying offers

During the middle of Jake Arrieta’s 2015 Cy Young Award campaign, super-agent Scott Boras compared the emerging Cubs pitcher to another client – Max Scherzer – in the first season of a seven-year, $210 million megadeal with the Washington Nationals.

Now don’t focus as much on the money – though that obviously matters – as when Scherzer arrived for that Washington press conference to put on his new Nationals jersey: Jan. 21, 2015.

It might take Boras a while to find a new home for his “big squirrel with a lot of nuts in his trees.” Teams have been gearing up for next winter’s monster Bryce Harper/Manny Machado free-agent class for years. Mystery surrounds Shohei Ohtani, Japan’s Babe Ruth, and the posting system with Nippon Professional Baseball. Major League Baseball’s competitive balance tax may also have a chilling effect this offseason.

As expected, Arrieta, All-Star closer Wade Davis and pitcher Alex Cobb were among the group of free agents who went 9-for-9 in declining the one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer before Thursday’s deadline.

With that formality out of the way, if Arrieta and Davis sign elsewhere, the Cubs will receive two third-round picks in the 2018 draft.

By staying under the $195 million luxury-tax threshold this year, the Cubs would have to give up a second-round draft pick and $500,000 from their international bonus pool to sign Cobb, an obvious target given their connections to the Tampa Bay Rays, or Lance Lynn, another starter on their radar who turned down a qualifying offer from the St. Louis Cardinals.

That collectively bargained luxury-tax system became a central part of the Boras media show on Wednesday outside the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, where he introduced “Playoffville” as his new go-to analogy at the end of the general manager meetings.

“The team cutting payroll is treating their family where they’re staying in a neighborhood that has less protection for winning,” Boras said. “They’re not living in the gated community of Playoffville. Certainly, they’re saving a de minimis property tax, but the reality of it is there’s less firemen in the bullpen. There’s less financial analysts sitting in the press boxes.

“The rooms in the house are less, so obviously you’re going to have less franchise players. When you move to that 12-room home in Playoffville, they generally are filled with the people that allow you to really achieve what your family – your regional family – wants to achieve. And that is winning.”

Boras also represents four other players who rejected qualifying offers – J.D Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Greg Holland – another reason why this could be a long winter of Arrieta rumors, slow-playing negotiations and LOL metaphors.