Results tagged ‘ Chris Bosio ’
Think you know everything about your favorite Cubs players?
While you may be able to talk OBP, WHIP and VORP with the best of them, did you know Jeff Samardzija is a big fan of birds or that Travis Wood might be trying to read your mind? Every spring, we get personal with Cubs personnel to dig up some facts that you can’t find anywhere else. In the second part of our Lighter Side series, we ask Cubs players which talent or superpower they wish they had.
We’ll be posting videos and stories from Cubs Park throughout the spring, so watch the blog and our Twitter account, @cubsvineline.
Check out the other videos from our Spring Training series:
Monday morning was photo day at the brand new Cubs Park Spring Training Facility in Mesa, Ariz. The players and coaches went from station to station posing for the camera and answering questions from various media outlets.
Vine Line got a chance to talk to Cubs manager Rick Renteria, pitching coach Chris Bosio, hitting coach and former Cubs third baseman Bill Mueller, and first-base coach Eric Hinske about the early days of spring camp and their expectations for the 2014 season.
We’ll be posting videos and stories from Cubs Park all week long, so watch the blog and our Twitter account, @cubsvineline.
Jim Deshaies welcomes the crowd and the entire—mostly new—coaching staff. Mike Borzello, Bill Mueller, Mike Brumley, Jose Castro, Brandon Hyde, Chris Bosio, Eric Hinske, Gary Jones and new manager Rick Renteria. The ballroom is packed. Standing room only.
This is mostly a Q&A session with Deshaires moderating.
First question: First impression of Chicago and CubsCon. Renteria says it’s truly unbelievable. The amount of support and the love for Cubs is amazing and wants to prove this team deserves your support.
Renteria says every person on the staff has a tremendous quality of imparting information and confidence, and an array of knowledge. They all have compassion and understanding for players.
Bosio says pitching has made great strides in last few years with Samardzija, Wood, Rondon, etc. They now have more depth, big arms and a lot of talent coming in the system. He wants the staff to give the team a chance to win every game by the sixth inning. They definitely have more depth in the ‘pen with Wesley Wright, who should take some pressure off Russell, and other guys. That should give them more flexibility.
Borzello talks about Welington Castillo’s development as a catcher. He’s really built trust with the pitchers and is helping get the best out of each one. He thinks last year was a great start on a solid career.
Each coach takes a minute to give his bio.
So the big question: Jose Castro. What is a quality assurance coach? Answer: He’s a jack of all trades, master of none. Castro jokes he will probably do some cleaning in clubhouse, laundry, whatever. In reality, he’s an extra pair of hands wherever they’re needed.
Renteria says Veras will anchor the back end of the bullpen. He has confidence that he can get the job done in the ninth inning. That’s why he’s here. But the team should have some flexibility to mix and match in the ‘pen before Veras.
Renteria says the focus shouldn’t be on him. It should be on the players. He wants to be like a little mouse that no one pays attention to. The team and players might at times feel disheartened but he will not let them quit. It’s not in his nature to quit. He’s a fighter. And he doesn’t believe he needs to beat people up to motivate them. If you ever see him quit, he welcomes fans and the media to “come and stomp on him,” but it won’t happen.
Bosio talks about how the staff used to be a bunch of veteran guys. It’s much younger now. The players call the games. It’s about getting them to believe in following the scouting reports and pitching to a plan. Sometimes players go off plan because they have confidence in themselves, but the goal is to follow the scouting reports. They spend countless hours on them.
There’s a question about returning to small ball—steals, sacrifices, hit and runs, etc. Renteria says the game will dictate what they can do, and Mueller talks about the need to really understand the players and what they can do. Then they’ll try to start working on these kinds of skills.
Renteria talks about the role of prospects. Says when a game-changing prospect arrives, it’s probably because he’s going to play. He’s not getting brought up to sit on the bench. Some guys make a splash immediately. Some don’t. He says dealing with prospects who succeed or struggle is all about communication in the system. Even if guys struggle and get sent back down, it can be a valuable experience—a learning experience.
Renteria says he’s not a micromanager. His staff is all very gifted and he’ll leave their jobs to them. But he likes to be active, throw BP, etc. He used to take infield with the players.
In response to a question about finding an everyday third baseman, Renteria throws his support behind the Murphy/Valbuena combo. He says he hates to hear people complain about what they don’t have. Let’s work with what we have and make it work.
In response to the usual World Series question, Renteria says he can’t answer to the past. He’s focused on moving the team forward. And he’s looking forward to the party in this city when it happens.
Mueller talks about really learning the players and finding their strengths and weaknesses, how they handle pressure, how they handle emotions, etc., so they can better help the players understand how to improve at-bats. Every player is different. Swings are very personal. They really need to get in the trenches so they can understand each player’s strengths and weaknesses.
Renteria cites Johnny Lipon (former Tiger infielder and coach) as a big influence because he was so positive. He never let anyone doubt themselves. Says Jim Leyland and Dick Williams were very firm. He tries to combine all of the good things from his former coaches and get rid of the bad traits.
Hinske cites Joe Maddon, Terry Francona and Bobby Cox as big influences. Players can struggle with confidence. Coaches can play a big part in keeping them upbeat.
Jones talks about how his dad taught him how to play to win, but he tried to learn from every coach and manager and take things from them.
Renteria says Starlin Castro is Starlin Castro. We want you to hit the pitch that you can hit, in reference to the push to make him more patient. He says Starlin had some “horrible” at-bats last season where he was swinging at balls in the other batter’s box, but he’s a guy who puts the bat on the ball
Renteria says the team needs to have better at-bats. It’s unacceptable to strike out with the infield back and a man on third.
“We mistake the idea of being a selective hitter with being a good hitter. We’re trying to expand the ability to be a good hitter.”
Renteria’s passion for working with young players is the same as it would be with veterans. His passion comes from being told he wouldn’t play in the majors. While going through process, he never thought his first-round selection was a mistake. His passion comes from proving everybody wrong. “You can beat me up, but you’re going to know you were in a fight.”
Finally, Renteria believes the team has the arms to get from the six through the ninth innings. And he believes any team that takes the field has a chance to win.
Pitching coach Chris Bosio will be back for his third season with the club. (Photo by Stephen Green)
With the Rick Renteria era now two weeks old, the Cubs officially named the majority of their major league coaching staff Friday.
Pitching coach Chris Bosio, bullpen coach Lester Strode and staff assistant Franklin Font all return to the organization. Mike Borzello will also be back, but with an expanded role as the club’s catching and strategy coach.
Joining the field staff in 2014 will be Brandon Hyde (bench coach), Gary Jones (third base/infield coach), Bill Mueller (hitting coach), Mike Brumley (assistant hitting coach) and Jose Castro (quality assurance coach). Jaron Madison will replace Hyde as the director of player development.
Bosio, 50, returns to the club for his third season. This is his third stint as a pitching coach (previously with the Devil Rays and Brewers). He spent 11 years playing in the majors, most notably with the Mariners.
Strode, 55, returns for his eighth season as the bullpen coach and his 26th with the organization. Before his current role, he spent 11 seasons as a minor league pitching coordinator.
Font, 36, returns for his third season at the major league level and 20th overall with the organization. Prior to joining the big league staff, Font spent three years as the minor league infield coordinator. He also played within the organization before becoming a staff assistant at Single-A Daytona in 2001.
Borzello, 43, is now in his third season with the Cubs. He was previously with the Dodgers from 2008-11 as a bullpen catcher and also served that role with the Yankees from 1996-2007.
Hyde, 40, enters his third season with the Cubs and will begin his second stint as a major league bench coach, previously working under Jack McKeon with the Marlins for 1.5 years. Hyde joined the Cubs in December 2011 as the minor league field coordinator and was named director of player development in August 2012.
Jones, 53, spent the previous 11 years in the Padres organization, including the last seven as the minor league infield coordinator. He was a first base coach with the Athletics in 1998. Jones managed for 15 seasons in the minors, acquiring four minor league manager of the year awards.
Mueller, 42, has spent the last six seasons as a special assistant in the Dodgers front office. The 2003 AL batting champ also served as an interim hitting coach for the Dodgers in 2007. He spent 11 years in the majors playing with the Giants, Cubs, Red Sox and Dodgers, finishing with a .293 career average.
Brumley, 51, spent the last four seasons as an assistant hitting coach with the Mariners. From 1997-2009, he served as a minor league manager, field coordinator and instructor with Seattle. He spent seven years playing in the majors from 1987-94.
Castro, 55, spent 25 years as a minor league hitting coordinator or hitting coach for the Royals, Mariners, Marlins, Padres and Expos. He was also an interim hitting coach in 2008 for the Mariners.
The Cubs have not announced a first base coach.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio is celebrating his 50th birthday today. We’re sure he’ll enjoy the present the Cubs organization got him—new starter Edwin Jackson, who will take the mound Wednesday versus the Pirates at 6 p.m. CST. Like this post to wish Bosio a happy golden birthday.
The major league season can be a grind. Playing 162 games takes a toll on an athlete’s body and mind. That’s why downtime is so important. Some players play video games; others spend time with their families.
This week, Vine Line had some fun with the team to dig up a few facts you won’t find on the back of a baseball card. In the last installment of our spring Kicking Back video series, we talk to Cubs players about how they spent their offseason, what they do to kill time on the road and who is the worst dresser in the clubhouse.
Here are the other videos from out Spring Training series:
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Jeff Samardzija came into Spring Training last season just looking for a spot in the rotation. He comes to Arizona this year as one of the best young arms in the game and a possible Opening Day starter. On Sunday, he’ll take the hill for the Cubs in their Cactus League home opener against the defending World Champion Giants.
That’s quite a transformation for the 6-foot-5 former Notre Dame wide receiver.
As absurd as it may sound, Samardzija—yes, former million-dollar draftee turned minor league bust turned major league reliever turned frequently brilliant starter Jeff Samardzija—may be ready to take yet another step in his unusual career arc and become the piece that every team desires, a true font-of-the-rotation ace.
“Jeff was the one [in our starting staff] who matured as a pitcher [last year],” said pitching coach Chris Bosio. “[He went] from a pretty good pitcher to I think in that top five, maybe top six category as far as starters in the National League. I thought he had a very nice season, but we’re expecting bigger and better things out of Samardzija this year.”
That’s high praise for the tall right-hander, as Bosio seems ready to put him in the same category as elite pitchers like Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels.
As outlandish as Bosio’s claim may sound, there are signs Samardzija may actually deserve such acclaim. Conventional wisdom among scouts is that—unless you’re Randy Johnson—you have to carry three plus pitches to be among the true number ones in baseball. Having always been blessed with one of the hardest fastballs in the game (an offering he commanded exceptionally well last season), Samardzija has finally honed his slider into an above-average pitch. He also developed a splitter that proved to be his go-to, put-away pitch when he got two strikes on an opposing hitter.
Last season, the Shark led the Cubs in games started, innings pitched, quality starts, strikeouts and complete games.
According to PITCHf/x data, of starters who tossed at least 150 innings, Samardzija was third in fastball velocity (behind Stephen Strasburg and David Price) at an average of 95.96 mph. But, naturally, you need to be able to do more than just throw a ball hard to succeed; a pitcher needs to convert that heat into strikeouts. Samardzija’s 12.1 percent swinging strike rate and 24.9 percent strikeout rate ranked sixth and seventh (minimum 150 innings), respectively, in all of baseball.
If Samardzija can improve on his career low 7.8 percent walk rate from last season (the league average usually hovers around 8.0 percent), reduce his home runs allowed (he gave up 20 long balls in 2012) and develop that all-important consistency every pitcher needs, he’ll be primed to take another big step in his development.
If and when that time comes, he’ll officially earn the label “The Man.” But the always confident Samardzija isn’t one to shy away from the spotlight.
“That’s what I signed up for,” Samardzija said. “If you don’t want those expectations for yourself, then you may as well go play somewhere else. That’s just kind of a given. There’s going to be pressure, and there’s going to be a lot riding on what you do.”
The Cubs will run out most of their projected starters today at HoHoKam against Giants righty Matt Cain. Cain is coming off another exceptional season, which saw him compile a 16-5 record and a 2.79 ERA in 32 starts. That was good for sixth in the 2012 NL Cy Young voting.
Len Kasper will broadcast today’s game on mlb.com. Here is the lineup:
On Monday morning, Vine Line was on hand for the Cubs annual photo day in Mesa, Ariz., where we got a chance to talk to Cubs manager Dale Sveum, pitching coach Chris Bosio, hitting coach James Rowson and first-base coach Dave McKay about their expectations for the 2013 season.
Vine Line will be posting videos and content from Fitch Park and HoHoKam Stadium all week long, so keep an eye on the blog and our Twitter account, @cubsvineline.
Infielder Logan Watkins participated in this week’s Cubs Rookie Development Program.
(Photo by Rodger Wood)
Since Theo Epstein was named Cubs President of Baseball Operations in November 2011, the organization has been stressing the Cubs Way. After getting a full season to view their minor league talent, upper management decided to give a select group of prospects a small crash course on what Cubs baseball is all about.
Starting last Friday, 12 prospects the organization feels are knocking on the major league door have been in Chicago for the club’s first annual Rookie Development Program. The prospects have spent their time going to seminars, practicing at Northwestern University and getting better acclimated to the ways of major league baseball.
“The whole thought behind it really is to get some players in the minor leagues … expose them to the market, get them in a smaller group and talk about what to expect when they get here, how to be professionals, how to handle the media, how to deal with the fans,” said Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod.
The minor leaguers, including notables Javier Baez, Matt Szczur and Trey McNutt, have received instruction from former pitcher Kerry Wood, Bears linebacker Nick Roach and current pitching coach Chris Bosio. Former Cub Mark Prior was scheduled to fly in and speak to the group Thursday, though he is unable to make this weekend’s Cubs Convention.
Today’s low-key practice saw the pitchers throw a little long toss before getting on a mound, while the position players took fielding practice and eventually got some rounds in the batting cages.
The organization’s player and pitcher of the year, Logan Watkins and Nick Struck, were both in attendance. Others joining them were Dallas Beeler, Jae-Hoon Ha, Marcus Hatley, Barret Loux, Zach Rosscup, Robert Whitenack and Tony Zych. All players at the program are scheduled to be at this weekend’s Cubs Convention.
Alberto Cabrera could get a shot in the starting rotation in 2013. (Photo by Stephen Green)
2012 Innings Pitched: 21.2 (25 G, 0 GS)
2012 Pitching (all per 9 IP): 6.23 RA, 6.6 H, 7.5 BB, 0.4 HR, 11.2 K
2012 Wins Above Replacement (Fangraphs): 0.1
2013 Contract Status: Signed (Pre-Arb, First Year)
Repertoire (Avg. MPH): Four-seam (94), Two-seam (94), Slider (83), Change (87)
If there’s a project worth keeping an eye on for 2013, it may be the one that pitching coach Chris Bosio started with Alberto Cabrera this season.
Bosio focused on making simple, yet fundamental, changes in pitchers this past Spring Training—things like grips, arm angles, pressure on the landing foot and other small tweaks that can unlock a pitcher’s potential. Cabrera was one of his earliest success stories, as Bosio had the (then) 23-year-old change his sinker grip, producing immediate results. The velocity of the pitch jumped into the mid- to high 90s, and it began darting away from left-handed hitters a lot like Steve Carlton’s slider, in the words of Bosio himself.
Now the Cubs feel they may have a future rotation candidate in Cabrera, who is slated to be stretched out in Triple-A Iowa to start next season.
There’s a lot to like with Cabrera, who was signed as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2005. He stands 6-foot-4, has a live arm and throws with a free-and-easy delivery. In his first tour through the majors last season, he also showed an effective third pitch with his change-up.
He’s taken his lumps at every level along the way, but he’s shown the ability to bounce back and improve his second time through. The 2012 season represented his best yet in a number of areas, including a career-best 3.11 ERA in 55 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.
Nowhere was Cabrera’s improvement more apparent than in his strikeout rate, which doubled from about 15 percent a year ago to more than 30 percent this season. And he was able to more or less maintain that standard in his brief major league stint, in which he struck out more than 27 percent of batters faced. Meanwhile, his walk rate halved from 10.3 percent to 5.7 percent, though he struggled with free passes in the majors. But the development was apparent across several of his component stats.
Let’s take a quick look at Cabrera’s PITCHf/x data, using the proprietary tags and tools provided by BrooksBaseball.net and Baseball Prospectus (player card). It’s a limited set of information based on just 21 major league innings, but it does provide a glimpse of his relative strengths against batters on both sides of the plate.
Against right-handed hitters, Cabrera largely relies on his four-seam fastball and slider, using power stuff to blow away hitters. He deals with left-handers, on the other hand, by mixing in a hard change-up that fades away from the batter like his sinker, but it travels about seven miles per hour slower. He can also mix in his slider, attacking the batter inside and tying up swings.
The Cubs feel Cabrera may be more ready than ever for another shot at the rotation, where the organization tried him in the minor leagues up until this year. With the right-hander starting to truly unlock his live arm, it’s a project worth keeping an eye on.