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Jen-Ho Tseng receives award and then an unexpected reward from the Chicago Cubs

Jen-Ho Tseng receives award and then an unexpected reward from the Chicago Cubs
Jen-Ho Tseng by Bill Mitchell

Yesterday proved to be quite an eventful day for Jen-Ho Tseng. First, he came to Chicago in order to accept the 2017 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award from the Chicago Cubs organization, the second time the 22-year old has received that recognition in his four year Minor League career. But the award was not all the organization had in store for him. He also received an unexpected opportunity: the chance to make his first Major League start, in the midst of a division championship race no less.

A 6'1" 195 pound right hander from Taiwan, Jen-Ho Tseng came to the Cubs organization as a big 2013 international free agent signing, the same class that featured Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres. Signed as an 18 year old, Tseng was already a known commodity on the international stage, participating in the World Baseball Classic as the youngest player on the Chinese Taipei roster. A drop in velocity from the mid to the low-90s, combined with a frame that left little physical projection remaining, scared some suitors away but not the Cubs. The velocity has never returned, and at times throughout his development actually dropped further, but his advanced feel and classic four-pitch mix have seen him advance through the Cubs system with great speed.

Jen-Ho Tseng

Jen-Ho Tseng

Debuting in 2014, Tseng was an immediate hit as the Cubs placed him directly into full season ball with the Kane County Cougars. Still a teenager, Tseng posted a 6-1 record and 2.40 ERA on his way to earning the Cubs 2014 Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors. The next two years saw less success at the High-A and AA levels as Tseng struggled to maintain velocity and his lack of stamina in the middle innings of his outings began to raise doubts as to whether he could hold up as a starter at the Major League level. But right from the get-go 2017 proved a different animal.

Returning to Tennessee to begin this season, Tseng appeared stronger and began working deeper into games than he ever had before. Consistently working 6-7 innings for the Smokies while maintaining his velocity throughout, he earned a place on the Southern League All-Star team with a 7-3 record and 2.99 ERA in 15 starts, and then a promotion to AAA Iowa on July 4th. Not only did he not slow down upon his promotion to Des Moines, his results actually improved. In 9 starts with the I-Cubs Tseng went 6-1 with a 1.80 ERA. This breakthrough season brought Tseng his second Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award from the Cubs organization, as well as the inargural John Arguello Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award from Cubs Den.

The key to success for Tseng is getting ahead of hitters by working both sides of the plate with his fastball while mixing in a knucklecurve that he looks to keep in the strike zone. It is not a chase pitch for him. He uses it to change the eye levels of hitters, as he usually keeps all of his other offerings low in zone, and the pitch is often taken for a strike by hitters. Once he gets ahead he begins mixing in his best pitch, a changeup, that will often finish low and out of the zone. His average slider becomes a more frequent weapon as well. It doesn't generate a ton of swing and misses but he often locates it just off the edge of the plate, low-and-away to righties and low-and-in to lefties, leading to a lot of soft contact.

His best assets are his good command and feel for pitching. He does a terrific job mixing his pitches and keeps hitters off balance with the change in speeds. Tseng is also a cool customer. Bad calls, bad pitches, bad innings... doesn't matter. He takes it all in stride, his focus never seeming to waver from his next pitch. Joe Maddon got a taste of his unflappable nature yesterday and informed Tseng he would be getting today's start. He described the encounter in an interview yesterday, "'I guess you're in town to accept an award.' I said, 'How about you start tomorrow night's game instead?' He didn't even blanch. His interpreter was more taken by the situation than Jen-Ho."

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  • He would be a huge boost to this team to fill the #5 starter role. The cost of a decent SP in today's game runs above $12MM, so if we could have him fill in for league minimum, that is a great save of financial resources to allocate elsewhere.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Absolutely. Cubs need at least one, but more likely two of their young starters to breakthrough in 2017-18.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I wouldn't put it past Theo and Jed to make a major deal. I could see this type of deal -- Schwarber and Russell to Tampa for Archer and ??? So do you really need two SP? I think they could get by with 1 from the system.

    The real question becomes with Otani announcing he is coming next year, what is the posting fee to sign going to run? $75 to $100 MM?

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Can't count on health from the current staff. Lester heading into his 30s. Hendricks hit a speed bump this year. Q has been freakishly healthy in career, but all it takes is one injury. Even if they acquire another veteran and only need to fill in the 5th spot internally when everyone is healthy, at some point in the next two years at least one of the vets is likely to sustain an injury. Need internal depth and replacements.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I haven't paid much attention to Otani. I know he is supposed to be awesome, but I've never seen him other than a few highlights, and I really haven't followed the CBA changes that will effect the posting process. I'll leave that to others more knowledgeable to comment on.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Two weeks ago hit 101 in front of 30+ scouts giving up 1 hit in 5.2 innings.

    Good article on Fangraphs.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I believe the posting fee is 20 million.

  • In reply to John57:

    Actually there is no agreement on posting fees right now. The $20 million was the last agreement. The leagues are negotiationg that now. Probably will be somewhere in that same general $20-$30 mil range though.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I think it will be much higher to get the right to negotiate with him. Darvish and Tanaka both were over $50 MM.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I read an article a while back about Otani saying that most GMs will demand that he "choose" between playing OF and batting on a regular basis or pitching. The thought was that they don't want to risk a pitcher running around in the field and getting hurt that way. They are OK with him playing in the field, but would then shut him down as a pitcher.

    Not sure I agree with that, though. At some point you have to let him play. You could TRY to keep him healthy by NEVER playing him under any circumstances. But the ability, as I wrote a week or two ago, to have a guy who would be a starting pitcher AND a hitter could open up another spot on the roster. That spot could go to a specialist (defensive replacement, speedster, bullpen arm, thump off the bench, pinch-hitting specialist--I'm looking at you, Lenny Harris, etc.). This would make him all the MORE valuable.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    This could* be to the Cubs' advantage, if they were pursuing him. Who better to play for than Maddon if indeed Theo and Jed felt it appropriate to let him play in the field a few a couple games a week? And you know he'd get plenty of AB's as a pinch hitter. Maddon loved playing T Wood when he could. He'd get the kid in plenty of games...again, if the guys up top gave him the go ahead.

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    In reply to JohnCC:

    Even the "threat" of another decent hitter off the bench can be good.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    posting fee is 20 million

    Cubs are capped at 300,000 for the rest of the process after the posting fee

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I believe there is now a $20M cap on posting fees.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Ok. Thanks. I missed that. I knew what the Tanaka and Darvish winning bids were.

    Sounds like he can go to any team he chooses now.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Absolutely!

    A rotation that features Lester, Hendricks, Quintana, and some combination of Montgomery/Tseng/Zastryzny or an offseason FA acquisition doesn't sound bad at all.

    Might be better to start Tseng out as the designated 6th starter to rotate out of Iowa though as he's got options left and is so danged

    Assuming that they don't bring back Lackey, and that they don't spend big to bring back Arrieta - not a bad place to start out next season.

  • Wouldn't it be funny if Tseng had a better career than Cease, and the White Sox asked for the wrong pitcher. Nonsense? I remember a few years ago someone saying how much they wanted to trade for Matt Harvey. When I said, "Meh, I'd rather have Hendricks," I was called "crazy."

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I'm not sure the Cubs gave them the option. All about the next couple of years for the Cubs. Tseng is their most advanced starting pitcher prospect, even if he isn't the highest ceiling guy, so I doubt he was even on the table.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Cease was unlikely to ever align with this window of contention.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I get the sense Rick Hahn is on the phone with other GMs with a copy of Baseball America's most recently updated top 100 list in his hand. Just picking names from that list.
    It's probably a nonsense thought. But I wonder how much scouting is going into those deals. Have the White Sox changed their development at all (they have been great at developing pitchers, but not hitters). A chunk of their top prospects include former studs who have drastically underperformed.

    All of that is to say... I wonder if Tseng was ever on their radar.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I bet you're right and Tseng was never on the Sox radar. "Cease is your second best prospect, that's who we want!" Although Michael is probably right that the Cubs were unlikely to trade a starting pitcher in AAA anyway.

    A tip of the cap to the Cubs for scouting Hendricks within the Rangers organization and saying he was the guy they wanted. I remember a quote from the Rangers at the time that they were a bit disappointed; they thought Hendricks might fly under the radar.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    So many people have said it - but thank you Ryan Dempster, you doofus, for refusing to take your Will Ferrell impression to Atlanta. I remember being so mad when he nixed that deal to get Delgado.
    Now Hendricks is my favorite non-Rizzo Cubs player.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    So was I. But there is a reason I am a fan sitting behind a desk top computer and not in the FO.

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    In reply to Cubswin09:

    I wonder how much the Cubs "wanted" Hendricks and how much of it was "he was available so we took him." Recall, the deadline was approaching and the Cubs had to face the possibility that they would get NOTHING for Dempster after his refusal of the trade to ATL. And I remember Villanueva getting more attention as a "get" from TEX (he was their 2nd best 3B prospect, but there was NO WAY the Cubs would get their best 3B prospect: Olt).

    Hendricks always seemed to put up solid numbers in the minor leagues but I think he truly "developed" with the Cubs. Maybe the scouts saw something they thought they could take advantage of. But I sometimes wonder if the Cubs got lucky and he exceeded their expectations. There is no guarantee he would have had the same success in TEX as he did with the Cubs. Similarly, there is no guarantee that Zack Godley would have the same success if he has stayed with the Cubs.

    Part of me subscribes to the theory the Cubs won the lottery with Hendricks.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Lottery: I don't know. I think good scouting. I read some quotes from Hendricks recently that he believed (knew) he was better than all the pitchers drafted ahead of him. I'm more of the mind that the Cubs have identified an ineffiency in the market. Namely, that everyone is looking for power pitchers, and guys with less power but great control and who are able to generate weak contact are undervalued. I think even now. A guy like Ty Blach comes to mind,

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Fan of Blach. He was a guy I wanted the Cubs to go after last offseason and again at the deadline this year.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I had a different reaction. I was so happy when that initial deal fell through. Saw Delgado as nothing but a middle reliever. I actually was hoping for Vizcaino in that deal. I didn't know much about Villanueva or Hendricks at the time, but I was in the "anyone besides Delgado" boat at that point.

    As for if there was luck involved, sure I don't think anyone expected Hendricks to become a dominant MLB starter, but there was absolutely talk when the deal happened, both out of Texas and Chicago that he was considered a real sleeper. I'm sure the FO liked him coming out of the draft and followed his progress afterwards and when the opportunity presented itself they pounced on him. At the time they were very much into getting guys with smarts and pitchability rather than pure stuff. Hendricks is the epitome of that. Now, that organizational approach didn't bear much fruit beyond Hendricks and they have since modified their thinking, but they absolutely deserve credit for identifying Hendricks.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    What I read was that Hendricks was more than a "throw in" but more like, "OK, we need another player to kind of even this up. Let's give the Rangers a list of guys that we would be interested in and they chose Hendricks." But that was just what I was reading and that certainly wasn't infallible. I hope that the Cubs scouts noticed something in him and it came to fruition...and then some.

    I distinctly remember reading an article written on a Rangers Blog similar to Cubs Den and they were raving that they got Dempster without having to re-do their Top-10 Pitching Prospects in their organization. While that was a blog it was a good one and they didn't see Hendricks as anything special. Obviously just one group's opinion. But that was what I was reading.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I've posted this before from Lonestar ball after the trade (though he does call both of them "nice" prospects):
    While Hendricks and Villanueva are both nice prospects, I don't think either would be considered to be among the Rangers' top prospects, and they aren't huge ceiling guys. In addition, Villanueva's future in Texas was limited because of the presence of Adrian Beltre and Mike Olt ahead of him. Both guys were more part of the Rangers' prospect depth than they were elite types, and I'm pleasantly surprised that this was the extent of what the Rangers parted with to land Dempster.

    Of Course John Arguello had this to say at the time:
    Kyle Hendricks , 22, is a an advanced 4-5 pitch guy with a low 90s fastball, though some recent reports have it it in the high 80s. He's also developed a good cutter and a solid change-up. His best calling card, however, maybe his command of all of those pitches. Hendricks is just 5-8 with a 2.82 ERA in low Class A, but the key numbers here are 15 walks and and 112Ks in 130.2 innings this season. Based on his repertoire and command, he projects as a starter. Here is some additional information on Hendricks here and here.

    http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2012/07/cubs-trade-dempster-to-the-rangers/

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    In reply to Break The Curse:

    Leave it to John to have an outstanding grasp of the prospect haul despite likely not spending much time scouting Hendricks before the trade.

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    Not sure about starting Tseng in a game that the Cubs really would like to win.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Tseng or Monty. That is the options available. And with Wilson struggling I think Maddon wanted to get Monty back there as another late inning lefty option.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I had a panic attack when I first read your comment yesterday, thinking Jake may have suffered a setback. But it seems like this is all about getting Montgomery back in the pen, and to Ray's point, having him available for multiple games the Cubs may really have to win.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    The Cubs are trying to prevent too many innings piling up on Montgomery. Trying to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

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    In reply to Ray:

    To me this is as good a time as any for Tseng to start. The Cubs have a couple game cushion in the division and giving Jake some time to rest and relax can be more valuable than this game, win or lose. And if the Cubs do break out and score 6+ runs again, which isn't unreasonable, then Tseng could get himself his first MLB win. I don't want Tseng to have to face the Cardinals or Brewers so why not set him up to face the Mets and, possibly, the Rays.

    As I said in another thread, the Cubs are in 1st place. That buys them the ability to NOT consider every game a "must-win." The pressure is firmly on the Cards and Brewers now. They are the ones that can't afford to slip. Remember, after the "disaster" weekend the Cubs had against MIL they STILL had a 2 game lead and it has since increased to 2.5 games. Making up 3 games in the loss column in a short stretch isn't easy.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I don't think that the Tseng call now has anything to do next year. Joe and 'the boys' do not miss much or leave any stone unturned. I believe that they are nervous about the staff in general(Areitta) or bullpen in particular and Tseng might be able to help.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I think we agree. I guess it wouldn't surprise me if the Cubs paid attention to his start tonight when planning for next year. But I think their main goal is to give their starters a rest and, possibly, put Montgomery back in the bull-pen.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    This start buys them time with Arrieta and keep innings down on Montgomery.

  • Cubs will need two young pitchers next year. Russell will be on the trade block for sure. Monty is not a starting pitcher at all, throws way to many pitches and can only go about 4-5 inn. Great LH out of the bullpen and can get that big out.

  • In reply to cubbie forever:

    I'd rather see the team recommit to good defense. Keep Russell. Russell/Baez MI is awesome. Let Jay go and play Almora more. Re-sign Jake or sign a different starter to replace him. Monty/Butler/Tseng compete for 5th starter spot.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Good defense is underrated. It makes all the pitchers better. Russell is a keeper. We have to keep him.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I'm with you Mike. Keep Javy at SS and slide Russell to 2nd? Russell seems to rate well for his defense at SS, but he has nowhere near the 'arm talent' or range that Javy displays there.

  • In reply to LAX2ORD:

    Javy has him in the arm strength department, but I don't think Russell gets enough credit for his range. His ability to read the ball off the bat and his first step are both terrific. Javy outdoes him on popups do to his speed, but grounders are a different story. And prior to his nagging injuries this year Russell was always the more consistent on routine plays. I honestly have no strong opinion one way or the other. They can both play each position well.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Russell is doing SOMETHING that allows him to get more DRS than Baez at SS. I think he gets such a good first step, such a good transfer and has incredible body control. He is always in good position to make the throw making the most of his arm.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I agree. Obviously, both Russell and Baez can't play short at the same time, but they can often cover the middle infield and be solid off the bench when a matchup dictates a left side batter on second.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Plus injuries.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Why would you want to sign Jake A??? he is in his 30's and wants a 6-7 year deal no way at all. Time to look for the young pitchers in their mid 20's bottom line. Jay is a great cheap pick-up, Almora will stay forever.

  • In reply to cubbie forever:

    Everything is situational. I can foresee scenarios that Arrieta fails to land a 6-7 year deal elsewhere, and if his market gets set at 4-5 years, I would consider it. After Dexter Fowler fell back into our laps in 2016 I will refuse to close the book on a return.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Don't see the Cubs signing Jake. He will get too many years on the open market.

  • In reply to cubbie forever:

    I think trading Russell this offseason would be selling low. He has had a tough year, particularly off the field. He is still only 23 and trying to find himself both professionally and personally. Based on posts from Barley a few weeks ago, he is trying to change. I would give him the chance.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Always remember you have to give up something good to get a good player back. Javy at SS and Happ at 2nd for the next 10 years bottom line. We have a lot ways to go with the outfield. Also remember Contreas can play left field too!!!! Good young pitching is always real hard to find, that is the way to go.

  • In reply to cubbie forever:

    Having a lot of different ways to go in the outfield means that should be the place that you deal from, not SS, where we literally have two.

    Deal either Baez or Russell and you force your team to carry a crap backup SS instead of a useful bench bat like Tommy La Stella.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    As the famous commercial says, "Chicks dig the long ball." Defensive brilliance and sound fundamentals float my boat, so the thought of any combination of Javy and Russell up the middle for the next several years makes me a happy man.

    Russell hit a rough patch in his life, but who hasn't? Imagine yourself as a 19-year-old with fame, fortune, and every option of a big-city nightlife and companionship at your fingertips. I wouldn't have made it out unscathed, and I'm actually surprised more young athletes don't succumb to the temptation.

    I hope Russell recovers, not just as a Cubs star but as a man. He seems to be well on that path. I'm sure I speak for nearly all Cubs fans in saying we are all pulling for him.

    Now heal that foot and get back on the field. We need you, buddy!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I don't think the off field issues had anything to do with his performance on the field. I would look more at his injuries this season and the league making adjustments.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Filter caught me but I really wanted to respond.

    As the famous commercial says, "Chicks dig the long ball." I get more excited over sterling defense and sound fundamentals, so the thought of any combination of Javy and Russell up the middle for years to come makes me a very happy man.

    Russell hit a speed bump in his young life, but who hasn't? Imagine being 19 years old with fame, fortune, and every opportunity at a big-city nightlife and companionship at your fingertips. I wouldn't have made it, and I'm honestly surprised more young athletes don't succumb to it.

    Russell seems to be doing well in his rehab, and there is still the possibility he returns before season's end. I think I speak for most Cubs fans in saying we wish him the best.

    Now get that foot healed and get back on the field. We need you, buddy!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    FWIW, I would also have succumbed to the nightlife and companionship. That's what prompted the post.

  • Looking forward to seeing how tseng pitches.I hope he does well enough to earn another start.Could be a mini audition for a 5th spot next year.

  • Wilson's failure makes Tseng's opportunity. Baseball. Excited to see his ML debut.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Wilson's performance has nothing to do with Tseng starting

  • Corresponding move: Pierce Johnson was designated for assignment.

  • In reply to Tom U:

    If Johnson ever figures out his command he can be a good late inning reliever. Starter repertoire. He misses bats.

    Wouldn't be shocked if the Cubs are able to trade him the next couple of days. I can see multiple teams with interest on waiver wire and those without priority might be willing to ship a lesser resource to the Cubs to get their hands on him.

  • Saw Tseng throw 6 perfect innings against the Lugnuts a few years ago. Absolutely tied the hitters in knots. Looking forward to tonight's game.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    My all time favorite minor league team name....Lansing Lugnuts:)

    Down here they changed the name of the Jacksonville Suns this year to the Jumbo Shrimp........wth?

    "How 'bout them Shrimp!" blehhh

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    In reply to Wickdipper:

    Sounds to me like the Chamber of Commerce got involved.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Least imaginative: Vancouver Canadians

    Most fun to type over and over this year: Down East Wood Ducks (don't get too many four word sport team names)

    Team that I can never spell correctly Buies Creek Astros

    Wish the Cubs had a New York-Penn affiliate: Batavia Muckdogs
    Wish the Cubs had a Eastern league affiliate: Akron RubberDucks

    My one complaint is the Minor League teams really need to come to a standard on whether to use one word or two:
    One word: BlueClaws, JetHawks, TinCaps, RiverDogs, IronBirds, etc.
    Two word: Rumble Ponies, Hot Rods, Jumbo Shrimp, Blue Rocks, Black Bear, etc.
    I have to look this crap up every time. Pick a standard!

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Michael. We will gladly accept whatever way you wish to write any team name. It's your Cubs Den literary license.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    No way. That would drive me crazy to get stuff like that wrong. Forgive me the occasional grammar slip ups. Proofreading your own work is difficult, looking up a team name is not.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    EVERYONE makes grammatical mistakes. I appreciate that you are willing to do the work every day and will overlook errors. I know you have a life and job outside of this so I am thankful that you--and all the Cubs Den writers--work so hard to give us good information in a timely manner.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Favorite minor league team was the now defunct Casper (WY) Ghosts. They had a glow-in-the-dark ghost on their baseball caps.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    I have to get my two cents in here.

    The Hillsboro Hops. They even have a mascot nicknamed "Barley".

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Got to see a couple of games there last season. Very nice park just outside of Portland. Terrific setup considering they play in a short season league. Would recommend it for anyone out in that area.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I'll tell you what.....some of these minor league parks are REALLY nice......this one down here for Double AA is beautiful and hear ones like in Louisville etc are major league quality.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I like it lol

  • Tseng picture on the front page of Cubs.com pretty much tells me he has a knuckle curve. LOL

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    Yeah :)

    If anyone is curious what a knuckle curve grip looks like they should check it out.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Never liked the name "knuckle curve." Always preferred "spike curve." To me a knuckle ball, by definition, doesn't spin, or has minimal spin. A curve ball curves because it spins. Knuckle-curve is, therefore, an oxymoron. But that is just my opinion.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Does the "ground rule double" make your head explode? Since it is league wide rule and involves no grounds rules at all, which are park specific (like the ivy at Wrigley).

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Never thought of it like that. I was first exposed to the word when I was a kid and the logic, in my mind, was that the ball bounced off the "ground" so it was a "ground rule double." So I hadn't really considered it but you're right.

    Did it happen that ALL the teams had that as a "ground rule" so the league simply adopted it?

    One of my favorite things about baseball is that other than the infield configuration NOTHING is etched in stone. There are rules about minimum distances to the OF walls but even those are pretty open, I believe. The field doesn't even have to be level, or crowned, or have anything resembling a "regular" or "symmetrical" shape. And something "in play" in one stadium can be "out of play" in another stadium.

    Just out of curiosity, what would be involved in the team wanting to "change" the ground rules for their park. For instance, one of the "ground rules" at Wrigley is that if the fielder tries to "find" the ball in the ivy the ball is live and he has to CONTINUE until he finds it or not start. I never liked that rule. If nothing else, how do they "know" it is the "same" ball? But if the Cubs wanted to change that could they do it unilaterally before the season starts? Would they need league approval? Umpire's union approval? Can they change it during the season if they get it in their minds? Not that it would be a good idea but what can they do?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Prior to 1930 if a ball bounced over the outfield fence it was a home run. AL adopted the ruling to be a double in that year, NL in 1931.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    So it never was a "ground rule." It was league wide from the beginning.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    From my understanding, yes. Though I can't say I have first hand knowledge :)

    It was always a homer, then it was always a double. I've never heard of any clubs that had a ground rule that made it a double prior to the league changing the rule book to address the scenario.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I wonder how many home runs Babe Ruth had that bounced over the wall?

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Eh, the short porch in RF at Yankee Stadium probably had more of an effect than anything.

    People don't realize how insane some of the field dimensions in old ballparks were. Not uncommon for fields to be super short down the line and then crazy deep in CF (450+ feet). Double, triple and HR totals in pre-expansion eras are hugely skewed compared to the more homogenous stadium effects of today's game. I've always argued that "modern baseball" should be classified as beginning around 1970 rather than the World Series era that is often used. Maybe 1973 with the implementation of the DH would be a good cutoff point

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Didn't old Tiger Stadium have a short porch in RF? Or was that an overhanging RF upper-deck? Or am I completely off my rocker.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I'm not sure what approvals are necessary for a club to alter its grounds rule

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Anyone notice that double Bryant stuck in the pipe last night? Don't see that everyday....

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    ummmmm. A knuckle ball knuckles on its way in. A knuckle Curve is a curve ball that relies on the knuckle to give it added downward bite because you are not spreading out your two fingers. Knuckle curves go down just as much as they go across. True Curves go across more than down. Knuckle balls go any way they want, and the catcher is on his own.

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    In reply to KJRyno:

    ummmmm. A knuckle ball doesn't spin. That is its defining feature. As you say they "go any way they want, and the catcher is on his own." But the flight pattern isn't the defining feature of a knuckle ball. Having no defined path is caused by the lack of rotation.

    A curve ball "curves" because of its spin.

    So, by definition, the "knuckle-curve" is an oxymoron because one flight path (the knuckle ball) is achieved by eliminating spin and the other is achieved by the presence of spin.

    I understand why it is called a knuckle-curve because of the grip used, but I prefer the same pitch called a "spike curve." The name is irrelevant to the path it takes. I realize that the knuckle-curve/spike curve has a different trajectory than a regular curve ball. I am in favor of it having a name rather than generically calling it a curve-ball. I don't like the name "knuckle curve." That was my point. Now, if what we call a knuckle ball were called a "floater" or something like that I would be fine with calling that variety of curveball a "knuckle curve" but would be opposed to calling it "floater curve" if someone were so inclined to call it that--though I wouldn't imagine that there would be a push for that.

  • Think Joe lets Willson catch the rook or uses a veteran? I'm excited to see the kid pitch tonight!

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    Taylor Davis, who caught all of Tseng's AAA starts has been named the starter behind the dish tonight. Both will be making their first big league starts.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Now that's kind of cool for both of those guys!

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    It is. I think I like it it. I'll be be able to tell better after I see how they do. It's good for the 'baseball is game' reminder.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Great stuff:
    https://twitter.com/IowaCubs/status/908410463171555329

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    And if you want a good example of why people love Taylor Davis, take a look at how he handles the media:
    http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0700085288856199075-4

    Interview Skills: 80/80

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Future coach if the MLB path doesn't work out? Or perhaps color commentator?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Either? Both?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    That actually makes a lot of sense. Davis is the one most familiar with Tseng and spares a veteran catcher trying to "learn" a new pitcher during the game.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I realize the Mets are essentially fielding a AAA team but I do find it interesting that the Cubs are literally suiting up their 5th best catcher on the roster in a tight race. I'm happy for Davis and there is logic to the move. But it takes guts.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Caratini?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Contreras-Avila-Rivera-Caratini-Davis
    Davis and Caratini are probably similar defensively but Caratini has more offensive upside and as a switch hitter would likely be a better matchup against Lugo. Avila would seem like the best option offensively. But making Tseng comfortable is probably more important.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    As I said, starting Davis makes the most sense. It also gives Avila and Rivera a day off which can be valuable for catchers.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I missed the part that Davis had caught all of Tseng' s starts. I was thinking both would be familiar with Jen-Ho.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Slight error on my part, he caught all but one of his starts.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I'm not sure I want to be 'round these parts tomorrow if it doesn't work.

  • In reply to TC154:

    The more I think about it the more comfortable I am with it. If it doesn't work I'm sure people will bemoan the decision but that is the way it works with sports decisions.

  • In reply to TC154:

    How about Jen-Ho goes 1-0 and Taylor gets the game winning hit.

  • Filter help, please That was two of the same thing I really wanted to post. Thank you.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I can help you this time. I wrote this article.

  • Tseng will be the youngest starting pitcher for the Cubs since Sergio Mitre. Bet you weren't expecting to hear that name today - or ever again.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Let's hope he has a better Cubs career...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    No, that's not a name I expected to hear today...or any day for that matter. I was surprised he stuck around as long as he did.

  • StL just beat CIN 5-2.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    More pressure.

  • Russell is 2nd in defensive runs saved despite being on the dl for 6 weeks.Last year he was tied with brandon crawford for 1st in mlb.Russell at ss,baez at 2nd(ss on russells off days) should be the future combo.

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