You Mad About Mike Olt, Bro?

You Mad About Mike Olt, Bro?

You mad about Mike Olt not being in the line up last night? You are not alone.

The question was posed to me today: Why do Cubs fans get worked up if Mike Olt sits? There are even times you can add Junior Lake's name to that same sentiment, to some degree.

For most, I think I can answer that quite simply. They want to see something, anything, worth watching. At this point the least they want to see is players they can envision moving forward with this organization as it reaches the next phase, whenever that is.

The fans are truly desperate to see young players, development. When many fans signed on to this Cubs rebuild thing, they envisioned a youthful team out there making mistakes and losing, but growing nonetheless.

They no longer want to see ABs distributed to the likes of Luis Valbuena, Darwin Barney, or Ryan Sweeney (any more than the usual day off) at the expense of developing a piece. We already know what those players are, but the jury is still very much out on the likes of Olt and Lake.

Do I, or at least knowledgeable fans, think either player will develop into a perennial All-Star? Not really. They are, however, two of the few intriguing story lines on this increasingly hard to watch offensive outfit. Olt especially is seen by many as part of a winning team in the future. Besides, if you take away Olt or Lake, you take away in game Twitter outlets.

It does seem sort of silly though for so many people to get worked up about the lineup when they are essentially watching an Iowa offense.

A day after the Cubs put up an offensive outburst of 17 runs and our own AJ Walsh claimed they had found their ideal (lol) line up, Ricky Renteria went tinkering again for wait for it...match ups. The Cubs skipper tried to explain his thought process to Patrick Mooney of CSN.

“We’re still mixing and matching,” Renteria said, “and will probably continue to do so, until we, in general, just draw a conclusion as to where we see they’re all at. But I think the way we balance it out, everybody’s getting at-bats, everybody’s playing. So I think it’s, to this point, advantageous for us to keep them all getting into the lineup at some point and letting them play.

We’re trying to balance it all out,” Renteria said before a 4-3 loss that went 12 innings. “We’re just trying to give ourselves the best chance.”

Best chance? Best chance at what? Is this really about wins and losses now? Fat chance. The only thing this is about is a top 5 pick for the third straight year. That is why the Cubs boast a AAAA outfield. It is most certainly not about wins, but losses. Here we are in tank mode for the third straight year.

No matter how entrenched you may be in your rebuilding-mode beliefs, did you really think we would still be in this mode in year 3? Either way, here we are.

Theo Epstein, Renteria’s boss, has said it on many occasions: he would much rather live with win totals in the 60’s than in the middling 70’s. If that is true, then why invoke such things as match ups?

If it is about still picking spots for players like Olt and Lake with certain pitchers for now, stop. Olt is 25, it's time to let him figure it out.

“Well, we’re growing to that point,” Renteria said.

Growing to that point heh? Spoken like a man who has only been watching this for a month or two.

@TomLoxas

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  • yes I thought we would be here in yr 3.

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    For me, not still tanking.

  • This kind of reminds me of the dog days of Lou Piniella, when it was late in the season, the Cubs were totally out of it, and he was refusing to play any of the minor league guys. I think Quade did it too. It's part of that unwritten baseball rule about always fielding the best team to face your opponents because you need to always think about winning, even if there's a month left in the season and you're 20 games out

  • The main thing that bugs me is that there is a solution to have Valbuena play everyday and that's putting him at 2nd, Olt at 3rd, Bonifacio in CF and Lake in RF. It's not like the guys who Olt and Lake are replacing are tearing things up, especially in the outfield. I like having Valbuena in the line-up, but I don't care about anyone in that outfield unless Lake and Bonifacio are out there

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    Totally agree.

  • It amazes me that Olt has fewer plate appearances than George Springer who started the year at AAA. I think it's important to find out what Olt can do everyday since Both Baez's and Bryant's future position may be tied to Olt.

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    I'm not sure whether it's still an issue at all, but I know that Olt's shoulder issues factored into things at the start of the season, and that's not necessarily an injury you want to take chances with at this point in the season.

    While his D has been pretty suspect, I wonder how much of that is an extension of him pressing at the plate. Again, consistent playing time can be an issue with that.

    It's funny that everyone who understands this deal understands that this team isn't going to win much. And yet they keep pushing the narrative of fielding the best team based on matchups and blah, blah, blah. Darwin Barney is not a part of this team's future, so I don't care that he's got a decent OPS vs. Wainwright.

    If the goal is to field the best possible team next year or in 2016, and beyond, then the focus needs to be on giving the most ABs to those players who are most likely to actually be on the team at that point. Olt and Lake fall into that category, Barney does not.

    But hey, what do I know?

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    The issue probably is the lack of D (at least demonstrated by Olt). However, is it more entertaining to watch a 9-7 loss than a 2-1 one (or even last night's 12 inning 4-3)?

    When Renteria signed on, he should have known that winning was not the object.

    However, seeing what these guys can do seems a bit inconsistent with that the team of the future has to excel at AA and AAA first.

  • In general, I'd like to see Olt playing every night just to get him the necessary reps. Remember, he lost so much of last year with the eye issue that he's essentially making up for a lost development year. He needs reps to do that.

    That said, I didn't mind him sitting against one of the best pitchers in baseball last night. He's built confidence and may be finding a groove, but getting abused by Wainwright could undo a lot of that.

  • In reply to Tommy Cook:

    Yeah, see that. However, he's 25 let em roll.

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    One of the only reasons to watch the Cubs this year is to see what happens with Olt, Rizzo and Castro. If they can't find out if Olt is going to be part of the picture, than another season is totally wasted.
    One good thing about the Blackhawks winning last night is it's at least another two weeks til I have to worry about watching bad baseball.

  • Good line "Spoken like a man who has only been watching this for a month or two."

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Thanks, I think its relevant.

  • Isn't it time for Cub fans to demand more instead of just daydreaming about the future three years from now The future is now.

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    In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Pretty sure that's exactly what they're doing in wanting Olt to play every day.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I wouldnt say now, but it should start moving towards that day, not stuck in (N).

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Someone on the Barry and Bruce program (Hit and Run) said that the Cubs budgeted attendance of 2.3 million. when, in 2009 it was 3.3 million, no shows are about 28%, which isn't money off the Cubs back but indicates that those who bought season tickets can't broker them, but that has to mean a big loss in concession revenue.

    Although there is one big daydreamer who posted here, it seems like the rest of the fans are voting with their wallets.

    Of course, when one has gutted the team that badly, and rumors are to gut it some more, the future isn't here.

  • In reply to jack:

    How are your White Sox doing 7 games out of first place all of the sudden, losing two of three to the Diamondbacks at home? Baseball is pathetic in this town, stop acting like one side has it better than the other.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    I agree with you that the Sox record of 20-22 is mediocre and that the Tigers are running away with the division. But most don't believe that would qualify the Sox as "pathetic." And, albeit unfortunately, unlike the Cubs the White Sox prospects are paying immediate dividends. Sale, Eaton and Abreu provide some hope. I believe what frustrates Cubs fans is that although the GM is gathering prospects we don't see the prospects develop. Not to change the subject, but insofar as position prospects go for the Cubs in the last 25 years can anyone name me a Cub grown through the farm system who qualifies as a perennial All Star? The Cubs' problem has perennially been a weak farm system that does not develop MLB players. Hopefully Epstein changes that.

    But fans are rightfully upset young players, like Lake and Olt, who have an opportunity to play fans are sitting on the bench in favor of journeymen when this team has been unable to develop a position player for the last 25 years to become a perennial all star. Think about all the other baseball teams and you can at least name a hall of fame position prospect developed in the last 25 years. Why don't the Cubs have one? Perhaps benching Olt in favor of the Valbuenas of the world is why. Perhaps being overly cautious about Corey Patterson/Brett Jackson/Tuffy Rhodes sends a message to the player that they are not trusted and it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • In reply to mpo1479:

    Please forgive my rant above. I just believe that Cubs fans need a player like Abreu in uniform. They have waited far too long for the owner and management to bring players to the team that are watchable. Sosa was that for a while but it turns out he was either juicing or the most incredible weightlifter this world has seen.

  • In reply to mpo1479:

    No I wholeheartedly agree with everything you're saying, it was more of a response to Jack's comment than anything else. He's been trolling around here ragging on the Cubs since the Crosstown started up. If he's not talking about how the Sox rebuild (or the Marlins for some reason) is better than the Cubs he's talking about which throwback uniform we're wearing.

  • In reply to mpo1479:

    Also, I think some of the young Cubs players are paying dividends...Castro, Rizzo, Castillo, Wood, some of the youngsters in the bullpen. But would you rather be mediocre and not make the playoffs or really bad? I mean for instant gratification it's better to watch a mediocre team that sits around .500 and flirts maybe with that second wild card before fading down the stretch. But longer term, I now see the point in being this bad because it's gotten us Almora, Bryant and the 4th pick in this year's draft, plus most likely a top 5 in next year's draft. 4 years of awful teams is tough to endure but I don't know how you can really argue the Sox are in any better position. Not saying you are, but some have. Will the Sox finish with a better record this year? Most likely. Will they make the playoffs? Most likely not. Sale is on the DL, so is Eaton. They traded Addison Reed for Matt Davidson and he's in AAA.

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    In reply to jorel1114:

    As a competitive person, it sort of pains me to advocate for tanking, but that's exactly what I've been doing. Granted, there's the obvious downside that you can develop a culture of losing that's hard to break, but isn't that sort of what everyone has thought about the Cubs for a long, long time anyway? I mean, that's a common perception from outside the fanbase, that the whole organization has been mired in a non-winning culture for decades. In the past, though, it's been more of this weird metaphysical thing with curses and bad luck and whatever.

    At least now, the team is taking control of its destiny, whether or not you agree with the tactic. Unlike most other pro sports, you have no ability to trade picks or to be granted a better spot through a lottery process. That said, finishing in the middle is the worst possible outcome; you miss both the playoffs and the best draft picks (and I fully acknowledge the inherent risk of a pick). Take this year for instance: the Cubs pick 4th and are still in a tough spot because of the talent projected to go top-3.

    The real question is going to be (and kudos to mpo) whether the prospects can continue to play well upon reaching Wrigley. I fully believe that Kris Bryant will be a stud at the big league level and I think at least 1 other of the top 4 will make it. Even if Baez flames out, it's not an organizational failure like when other top guys flopped; there is so much more overall talent now. In the end, it's a numbers game and the Cubs have a much stronger farm system than in the past.

    At the MLB level, the development has been pretty poor though; look what happened last year with Castro and Rizzo, both of whom seem to be back on track under a new manager, or maybe just sans too much FO interference. I fully believe that this is a team that can go from 90+ losses to 90+ wins in one season, but it's not going to happen next year.

    Finally, I don't understand all the vitriol directed toward the team for tanking. In the past, everyone harbored this ill-informed notion that the team was good and could contend, only to be disappointed when it fell flat late. Over the past couple years, despite warnings to the contrary from the FO and others in the know, people are made about the team outright sucking. Maybe it's because there's no illusion of the possibility of competing, I don't know. But this is the freaking Cubs, a team that's been a rudderless ship for the better part of most of our lives. This would be like my kids being cool with me driving all over the country and just randomly stopping places, some of which might be cool, but then getting pissed when I say we're going to Disneyworld but being pissed that it'll take a long time to get there.

    Wow, should just cut and paste that into a post. If you made it this far, congrats.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    Pretty much exactly how I feel. It's a numbers game. One of the reasons they haven't gone after the free agents is because of those comp picks. That's one thing that gets lost in the Wittenmeyer narrative.

    People were told this was the plan and I don't think people are shocked when you get right down to it. Attendance is down. Even if paid attendance is decent, the park is empty which means no one is spending on food, beer and merch. There is a small minority who are pissed about it, led by the Pied Pipers of Misery Paul Sullivan and Gordon Wittenmyer. This small minority probably complained about the awful Hendry contracts, and how never had any good minor league talent, they probably marveled at the way teams like the Cardinals, and more recently the Brewers, built winning teams from within. And then when it was time for the Cubs to try that approach, they started complaining about how bad the team was, even though they have been bad since 2009. Now they're actually being smart about how bad they are. They're being really bad, because as you pointed out mediocrity in baseball is pointless. Even in football mediocrity isn't as bad. If you don't get a top pick in football, you can still turn your team around very quickly because of the parity in the league. You're also drafting several guys in football who will contribute right away. But in baseball you need to be really awful.

  • In reply to mpo1479:

    It must be a Chicago thing - the Sox haven't developed these since Thomas/Ventura. Crede would have been decent, but couldn't stay healthy. Otherwise, they've likely been worse than the Cubs.

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    I have been firmly in the "let the situation dictate" camp to put Lake and Olt in the best situation to succeed and when they do well reward them. Lake seems have earned more playing time already but Olt seems to struggle in the field a little bit (and at the plate other than his HR's).
    Is it time to start getting more reps for Olt regardless of the pitcher on the mound? I do not think we are to that point yet because upside is still being shown when he faces the guys he should crush. Olt needs AB's there is no doubt about that but I also agree that getting them against Wainright in the situation on Tuesday night may not have been a good way to maintain his approach. You do not want a kid (and even at 25 he is still a kid in terms of his learning curve) to develop bad habits because he is trying to do too much against a pitcher that can make even All Stars look stupid.
    Now we are at a point where Olt (and to a lesser extent Lake) need to play as much as possible but still need to be kid gloved against the top pitchers because on bad day (where they are at mentally) could do some serious damage in the short term.

    Remember this is a marathon we are running not a sprint. The long term out look for Olt and Lake is still pretty good. The only question at this point is the second half of the year will our line up include more Olt in the 5 spot or will he be at the 8 spot because his contact issues are still there.

  • In reply to Richard Hood:

    I'd agree with you in any other situation, I just feel like the Olt one is unique because the front office really needs to know what it has in him. Is he the 3B of the future? In which case Bryant is for sure an outfielder and Baez or Castro have to move to short. Then what about Alcantara? If Olt can't keep that starting spot then do you move Baez to 3B? Or Alcantara? Plus what happens to Christian Villanueva? Obviously Olt earning a starters role leads to more questions, but at least it fills one hole.

  • Hey Tom - don't get the "stick with the plan" truthers after you! :)

    Agree with Tom and Jorel - the situation with Olt is especially grating for some of us because we know there is a potential logjam brewing as soon as possibly 2015 around SS & 3B, with Olt, Bryant, Castro, and Baez potentially all battling for those 2 spots. Given Olt's age (25, approaching his peak from an age perspective) the job should largely be his to lose in 2014 if you're actively trying to avoid a potential logjam next year.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    It is still technically a rookie season for Olt, but to me that's almost the same as saying Jose Abreu is a rookie.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    I hear you Ryno. I think I'm somewhere in the middle. I did not think they would still be tanking seasons in year 3.

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