Cubs

Quade lectures Castro, faces next big test

Quade lectures Castro, faces next big test

Wednesday, March 2, 2011Posted: 9:20 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

PHOENIX The Cubs are only four games into their Cactus League schedule and already theyve reached a boiling point.

A day that began with Mike Quade asking for more from Starlin Castro ended with the manager trying to project a sense of calm.

Quade stood outside the clubhouse at Maryvale Baseball Park late Wednesday afternoon trying to defuse the tension around Carlos Silva and Aramis Ramirez, saying boys will be boys sometimes.

Quade spoke with reporters for nearly 10 minutes after their dugout confrontation during a 12-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. He called any comparisons between Silva and Carlos Zambrano ridiculous, because this is only spring training.

And he laughed after a question about how this will look back home in Chicago, with a first-year manager running his first major-league camp.

Were going to find out, arent we? Quade said. Ive been thrilled to death with the way camps gone. I havent been very happy with the way the games have gone. And I do like piss and vinegar, and I do like guys getting irritated, but we got to channel it in the right direction.

That begins with Thursdays team meeting, which will be roughly 24 hours after Quade sat down with Castro about demanding a more intense approach in his practice sessions. Quade called out the shortstops approach to his fielding and base-running drills.

Castro responded by drilling a two-run homer off Yovani Gallardo in his first at-bat. He also committed one of the teams five errors.

Quade was explicitly hired as someone who will drive home fundamentals. The Cubs one of baseballs worst defensive teams in 2010 are now up to 14 errors.

Its the fourth game of spring training, Ramirez said. You got to realize people didnt play baseball for four, four-and-half months. I dont care how many groundballs you take every day. You got to get your mind and your body ready. And, obviously, were not right now. So we all got to keep working and we should be ok.

I know Im better than the way I played last year. Castro was younger hes now got a year under his belt. He should be better. And we got a Gold Glove first baseman (in Carlos Pena).

Virtually every man in the clubhouse wanted Quade to return after he led the Cubs to a 24-13 finish in Lou Piniellas absence.

The Cubs got a break in that this game wasnt televised. You wont see any clips running all night on the highlight shows. And the views into the dugout from the press box were obstructed.

Quade does a great job, catcher Koyie Hill said. If two guys get into it, is that his fault? Hell be all right.

Silvas not the only one whos noticed the sloppy play.

Quade has seen so much during his 17 seasons as a minor-league manager, and seven more as a major-league coach. But the disciplinary decisions he made then never carried this much scrutiny. He will use it as another teaching moment.

You want everything to go real smooth. It doesnt all the time, Quade said. Id almost rather that than complacency. Theres a point where this kind of thing goes overboard as well.

But as frustrated as I was watching everything else, you almost wonder: Is somebody going to say something besides me? (Well) try and build on this tomorrow and see if we cant wake the group up and start getting ready to play baseball.

The manager has no other choice.

If we start getting after each other in this manner on a regular basis, Quade said, then were done.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor 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.