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 Chicago Cubs starters Jon Lester, Alec Mills are two of MLB's best pitchers

Why Chicago Cubs starters Jon Lester, Alec Mills are two of MLB's best pitchers

Usually when GMs, managers and fans get ready for a baseball season, any consistent production from the Nos. 4 and 5 starters is a luxury. In the Cubs’ case, it’s been an embarrassment of riches through two turns of the rotation.

Through 10 games, the Cubs are 8-2, good for the best win percentage in the National League. One huge reason for that has been the team’s incredible starting pitching. Kyle Hendricks set the tone early when he pitched a complete game shutout in the very first game of the season. Now, the Cubs’ starters lead MLB in ERA (1.95), batting average against (.156) and WHIP (0.780). They’ve done all that while also throwing 60 innings, second only to the Indians who have thrown 70 innings.

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At first glance you’d probably think, yeah, that makes sense with Hendricks starting the season the way he did, and Darvish getting back on track with six innings of two-hit ball in his second start. But surprisingly the only two clunkers came in Hendricks and Darvish starts. In fact, the analytics say Jon Lester and Alec Mills, the Cubs’ last two guys in the rotation have been two of the most impressive starters in MLB.

Let’s start by looking at the ERAs of all starters who have at least 8 IP, since the name of the game is keeping runs off the board. If 8 IP seems like an arbitrary cutoff… well, it is. But it seems like a fair number to assess quality pitchers who have made two starts in this shortened season with short leashes on pitchers. Among those pitchers, Lester and Mills each rank in the top-10 with ERAs of 0.82 and 1.38, respectively, according to FanGraphs.

So how are they doing it? Neither is a power pitcher who relies on strikeouts. In fact, Lester’s four punchouts place him tied for fourth-fewest in our split of SPs who have thrown more than 8 IP. Mills’ seven strikeouts (tied for 10th-fewest) aren’t much better. These guys succeed by keeping guys off the base paths, and not allowing hard-hit balls.

Looking at batting average against, Lester and Mills move into MLB’s top-five, according to our FanGraphs split, with each pitcher holding batters under .120. Since we’ve already established that neither guy is a power pitcher, when we filter further to just show BAA on balls put in play it should come as no surprise that Lester and Mills rise to No. 1 and No. 2 in all of baseball with .118 and .139 marks, respectively.

Great defense, like Javy Baez’s tag in Monday’s game, certainly helps the pitchers’ stats. But the starters also make things easier on the defense by inducing poor contact, regardless of whether the ball is hit on the ground or the air. According to FanGraphs, Mills ranks second in MLB by inducing soft contact on 33.3% of all balls put into play. In addition, he’s 11th in MLB with a 54.3 ground ball percentage. Lester ranks ninth by getting hitters to make soft contact 26.5% of the time, although he’s 11th in the league in getting batters to hit fly balls 47.1% of the time.

In the end the result is the same, with Mills and Lester combining to only allow four extra base hits in 24 IP. So although they aren’t typical “dominant” pitchers that teams like to make their aces, Mills and Lester have been two of the most effective starters in the game.


RELATED: How David Ross plans to fix Cubs closer problem with Craig Kimbrel in the shop

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Yadier Molina, Paul DeJong among Cardinals to test positive for COVID-19

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USA TODAY

Yadier Molina, Paul DeJong among Cardinals to test positive for COVID-19

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and shortstop Paul DeJong are of the seven St. Louis players and six staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week.

Six of those players gave St. Louis permission to disclose their names. In addition to Molina and DeJong, the club announced Tuesday pitchers Junior Fernández and Kodi Whitley, first baseman Rangel Ravelo and shortstop Edmundo Sosa tested positive.

The Cardinals released statements from Molina and DeJong:

"I am saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place," Molina said. "I will do everything within my power to return as soon as possible for Cardinals fans, the city of St. Louis and my teammates. As I recover, I request that you please respect my privacy and family in my absence from the team."

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"I am disappointed to share that I have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, even though I followed team protocols," DeJong said. "I will approach my healing as I do all other things in my life — with education, commitment, and persistence. I look forward to re-joining the team soon and ask that you respect my privacy at this time."

The Cardinals' reportedly have no new positive tests on Tuesday. The tentative plan is for them to resume play against the Cubs this weekend.

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