Results tagged ‘ Brandon Hyde ’
Cubs Pro Scouting Director Joe Bohringer at the Cubs Convention.
Visit Baseball Reference, Fangraphs or MiLB.com, and you can look up everything from how a player performed in the Dominican Summer League to a breakdown of his left/right splits.
But missing are the stats organizations really care about—the ones for 2013 and beyond.
Predicting what a player will do in the future is a front office’s most important, and toughest, task. A few seasons of data can be telling, but the uncertainty surrounding those numbers increases with each level removed from the majors.
Cubs Pro Scouting Director Joe Bohringer and his staff try to isolate and grade the true talent of thousands of professional players spanning eight different levels. These scouts, who filed many of the team’s 14,000 reports over the last 13 months, aren’t tasked with crunching numbers so much as incorporating them as pieces of the puzzle.
“You’re trying to balance the available information—a player’s track record—with the information you get from your live looks, which is based on the experience and opinions of your scouts,” Bohringer said. “Our job is to try and take all the available information … and then use all that information to make what’s really the best educated guess we can as to what the player may or may not be down the road.”
Popular stats like wins above replacement (WAR) and on-base plus slugging (OPS) aren’t nearly as relevant in the minors. Walk and strikeout rates, ground ball and fly ball rates, speed and power are more fundamental components that help categorize types of players.
“In general, those broad categories won’t change a ton as players move up or down the chain,” Bohringer said. “You will see players who make adjustments to their game as they go. In most cases, they’re really just trying to tighten things up within a specific skill set as opposed to becoming something entirely different.”
The Cubs will look at trends to see if a hitter is making adjustments, reducing his strikeouts or getting into better counts. And they compare players to their league (controlling for age) more than they try to project a major league line.
Minor league numbers also play a role in evaluating how Cubs farmhands are developing. Director of Player Development Brandon Hyde and his crew of coaches and coordinators create “player plans,” a direct implementation of the newly codified Cubs Way. Every farmhand signs off on developmental goals, which list his strengths and weaknesses in the physical, fundamental and mental aspects of the game.
“We break it down into categories, and we have progress reports on goals and things we feel—and the player feels like—they need to do to get better,” Hyde said.
The team collects proprietary information in nightly game reports that include pitch-by-pitch data alongside coaches’ comments. It’s all aggregated and searchable by the front office like any other stats.
It may not replace a crystal ball, but the Cubs hope that good use of the information at hand will allow them to see some bright futures ahead.
US VS. THEM
Here are some of the Cubs’ 2012 minor league pitching leaders versus their leagues.^ The pitcher’s highest level is listed along with his performance relative to the league average (e.g., Loosen struck out 22 percent more batters faced than the rest of the FSL). The top three starters* are followed by the top three relievers.
K% vs. LEAGUE
Matt Loosen* HiA +22%
Jake Brigham* AA +20%
Kyle Hendricks* HiA +10%
Marcus Hatley AAA +37%
Jeff Lorick HiA +35%
Tony Zych AA +32%
UBB% vs. LEAGUE
Kyle Hendricks* HiA -66%
Nick Struck* AA -26%
Jose Rosario* LoA -21%
Casey Harman AA -50%
Scott Weismann AA -28%
Joe Zeller HiA -28%
GB% vs. LEAGUE
Rob Whitenack* HiA +23%
Dallas Beeler* AA +19%
Dae-Eun Rhee* AA +16%
Frank Batista AAA +34%
A.J. Morris HiA +26%
Felix Peña LoA +11%
^Among players currently with the Cubs who have not made their MLB debut (min. 50 IP).
*Pitcher faced at least 90% of his batters as a starter.
(Illustration by Jerry Neumann)
Patriotism is nothing new for athletes.
Take the pregame ceremonies of the Super Bowl. People were so sure Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was going to shed a tear during the national anthem, Vegas bookmakers threw up prop bets on it (he didn’t).
This month, baseball players from around the globe will demonstrate their national pride when they represent their countries in the third edition of the International Baseball Federation’s World Baseball Classic.
The first WBC in 2006 was a cultural hit, pitting nations against each other in baseball’s version of soccer’s World Cup. Though no member of the Cubs was selected to manager Joe Torre’s U.S. squad for 2013, first baseman Anthony Rizzo will be playing for Italy.
“I’d love to play for [the U.S.]. That was my first choice, but they have all the ‘mon-stars’ on there,” Rizzo said during the Cubs Caravan. “Italy is a great opportunity. I come from a strong Italian background.”
Rizzo was selected because his great-grandfather hails from Sicily. Former Cub Tony Campana also wanted to play for the Italian squad, but was unable to produce a birth certificate from his grandparents.
“I think it’s great that guys want to represent where they’ve come from,” said Brandon Hyde, the Cubs’ director of player development. “They take a lot of pride in that.”
Former Cubs Michael Barrett, Derrek Lee, Henry Blanco and Carlos Zambrano competed in the first Classic, while Kosuke Fukudome, Ted Lilly, Carlos Marmol and Geovany Soto represented their home countries in 2009.
WBC action starts March 2, with the finals taking place March 19 at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Team Italy, which is in Pool D, doesn’t get underway until March 7 versus Mexico. Rizzo won’t have to travel far, as Pool D plays in Phoenix, Ariz. Team Italy will play Team USA March 9 at the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field.
The second act is always much harder than the first.
The first time around, you generally have the element of surprise on your side; there are few expectations; and, frankly, anyone can get lucky once (just ask former White Sox “ace” Esteban Loaiza).
Which is why this should be an interesting season for Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija.
It’s not like Samardzija came out of nowhere. If you weren’t familiar with him as an athletically gifted top baseball recruit, you probably knew him as an All-American wideout at Notre Dame. By the time the Cubs signed the big right-hander to a five-year, $10 million contract in 2006, he was practically a household name.
But Samardzija didn’t exactly set the world afire in Chicago. He pitched well enough in the minor leagues to advance, and looked like a world-beater when he first came up in 2008 at just 23 years old. But after he posted a 2.28 ERA in 26 games out of the bullpen that season, things quickly took a turn for the worse.
In 2009, the Shark threw up a 7.53 ERA in 20 games (two starts). He followed that up with an 8.38 big league ERA in 2010, a season spent mostly in the minors.
If you do a Google search of Samardzija’s name from around 2011, you get headlines like “Are the Cubs Stuck with Samardzija?”, “As a Pitcher, Samardzija Makes a Great Wide Receiver” and “Is Jeff Samardzija a Bust?”
What a difference a few years make. Samardzija came out of the gates fast in 2011 and never let up, posting an 8-4 record and a 2.97 ERA in 75 relief appearances. But his goal was to be in a big league rotation, so while everyone else had him penciled in as a bullpen fixture—and a possible future closer—Samardzija spent the offseason in Mesa, Ariz., trying to prove he could succeed as a starter.
Flash forward one year, and the headlines look a little different. Now they read, “Why Jeff Samardzija Should be the Cubs’ Opening Day Starter” and “Samardzija Has the Stuff to Be a True No. 1.”
Though Samardzija was shut down after 174.2 innings to preserve his arm and posted only a 9-13 record, he put up a 3.81 ERA in his first year in the rotation (the league average was 3.94). And there were games in which he looked as dominant as anyone in baseball, including his first and last starts of the season. Now people are talking about the Shark as a legitimate ace, and pitching coach Chris Bosio calls him one of the five or six best arms in the game.
“To go from wondering if you’re ever going to put on a Cubs jersey again two years ago to maybe being the Opening Day starter, it means a lot to me,” Samardzija said.
This month, we sat down with the Cubs fireballer to check on his mindset heading into his second year in the rotation. It’s a lot different going into camp knowing you have a job. But I think it’s safe to say: Jeff Samardzija does not get complacent.
We also look down the pipeline at how the Cubs are developing the next wave of Samardzijas. In January, the organization brought 12 of the brightest prospects in the system to Chicago to give them a feel for what life is like in the big leagues. We talked to Director of Player Development Brandon Hyde and several of the Cubs’ top prospects about how the organization preaches the Cubs Way from top to bottom to ensure that players are ready to go once they arrive at Wrigley Field.
Finally, Cactus League games are underway, and that means it’s almost the end of an era in Mesa. After 17 years at HoHoKam Stadium—and 35 years at that same location—the Cubs are saying goodbye to their spring home. We look back at what the old ballpark has meant to the team and look forward to the new park, which will be ready for the first pitch of Spring Training in 2014.