A whole bunch of stuff to talk about tonight and in the paper (and online, of course) tomorrow, including the new stats guy, draft picks signing and even a little talk from Lou about situational hitting. Here’s the lineup against lefty Gio Gonzalez:
And thanks again to everybody for the discussion on yesterday’s two blogs and into today. The Cubs have hired noted stats guy Ari Kaplan as manager of statistical analysis. He’s a Tom Ricketts hire who will report to Jim Hendry and whose job will complement that of Chuck Wasserstrom, manager of baseball information. Apparently, Ari does not wish to be interviewed despite requests. Too bad.
“He’s a guy we’ve known for years,” Jim said. “When I first got here, he used to do some work for Andy MacPhail on the side, statistical analysis. He contributed to some arbitration statistics over time. He has a relationship with some of our scouts. He’s been going to a lot of games here for years.
“We can always use some more help. Tom Ricketts has brought in a lot of people. This is the first baseball guy. If it helps us get better, it’s good for us.”
Jim says Ari will work on a lot of long-term projects such as the analysis of the upcoming six-year free-agents as well as those another year out from free agency. He’ll also work to develop computer programs to help the scouts.
“We’ve got a good group,” Jim said. “I’ve told you people this all along: The layer underneath Jim Hendry, starting with Randy Bush to Tim Wilken and Oneri Fleita’s departments, is in tremendous shape. The major-league club is not doing well, and that’s my responsibility. The people under me are doing terrific. Our scouting and development haven’t been in this good of shape in the 15 years I’ve been here. The scouts are good. The minor-league guys are developing players you’re starting to see on a regular basis. There’s another wave coming the next few years.”
Speaking of that, I expect No. 1 draft pick, pitcher Hayden Simpson, to be all but signed and delivered by the weekend if all things go well with the physical.
Here’s a list of who’s signed so far:
Round 4 Hunter Ackerman
Round 8 Cameron Greathouse
Round 10 Aaron Kurcz
Round 11 Eric Jokisch
Round 19 Dustin Fitzgerald
Round 20 Ryan Cuneo
Round 22 Jeffery Vigurs
Round 23 Matt Loosen
Round 28 Joseph Zeller
Round 32 Brent Ebinger
Round 34 Dustin Harrington
A reporter asked Lou this evening about situational hitting in the pregame confab. The Cubs are batting .250 with runners in scoring position, .264 with RISP and less than two outs and .234 with RISP and two outs.
"What is situational hitting?” Lou said. “Situational hitting is knowing the opposing pitcher, having a pretty good idea of what the catcher is calling. This is one of the things I don't like about hitters going up all the time and watching film of their at-bats. I think you learn more sitting on the bench watching the pitchers pitch and the catchers call a ballgame, seeing what the guy can get over, seeing what he's having trouble not getting over. At the same time there's nothing wrong with being really aggressive the first couple pitches of the sequence. But once you get 2 strikes on you, you've got to get a little bit into a defensive mode. You're not in an offensive situation anymore. When you strike out with runners on base, especially in scoring position, you're not advancing baserunners. One of the things that helps you score cheap runs is the advancement of baserunners.
"And how does it help you? For instance, you move a runner to third. The guy's got a real good curveball. Well, he might not want to throw that real good curveball because he'll bounce it, and the guy can score. But if he stays on second, he can bounce it all day long, and you're not going to get a run out of it. Situational hitting is having a good idea of what the opponent's going to do to you, being a little bit more defensive when you get behind in the count and three, utilizing the whole field to hit with. To me, that's what you call situational hitting."
Quickly the minors, we told you last night about Casey Coleman’s sterling performance for Iowa in Game 1 of their doubleheader: 7 innings, hits to only the first two batters and 8 strikeouts and no walks. Jeff Samardzija, who is holding Mitch Atkins’ place in the rotation, won the second game by going 5 innings and giving up 3 hits and no runs. He walked two and struck out six.
At Daytona (A), Brett Jackson went 2-for-5 with an RBI and his 11th stolen base in beating Lakeland 5-4. Kyler Burke and Michael Brenly went 2-for-4 each. Chris Archer got the win with 5.1 innings of 8-hit, 4-run (3 earned) ball. He walked none and struck out 10.
At Peoria, righty Nick Struck took the loss, but he worked 5 innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 run as the Chiefs fell 2-0 to Burlington. Hak-Ju Lee extended his hitting streak to nine games by going 1-for-4. He’s 14-for-35 in the streak. Matt Cerda extended his streak to five games, going 1-for-4 with a double.