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imagesThose of us in the game look forward to the All- Star break each year as an opportunity to get away from the daily grind of the 162-game schedule (a whole lot more for most when you throw in spring training). But what we consider a vacation, the real world would call a long weekend, especially when you consider at least a day is lost if you travel over the break. However brief it may be, it can provide a much needed psychological breather for a struggling player. In reality, the season is one long continuous series of games and still we describe players as either better in the first or second half. A couple of days away from the ballpark can give that scuffling player a chance to catch his breath and start anew. Kind of like a golfer who is able to turn the page after a tough front nine or the student who gets off to a poor start but rallies in the second semester (so I’ve been told). I’m expecting a much better back nine out of Starlin Castro and I suspect Anthony Rizzo will make a few more birdies as well.

I’m often asked about the impact of trade rumors on a ballclub. Are they a distraction? Do they hurt the “chemistry” in the clubhouse? Put me down on the side who consider “chemistry” to be highly overrated. I believe it was Jim Leyland who said “Chemistry is a class you take in high school.” Players, from their first day in pro ball are taught to push all distractions to the side and worry about only those things that they have control over. Most players are able to do this and concentrate on the task at hand. Witness what Matt Garza has done with all the speculation about his future.This time of year( not unlike the rest of the season) there tends to be a lot of gallows humor in Major League clubhouses. I guarantee Garza has heard “You still here?” about a thousand times in the last 2 weeks.

Get em over, get em in.


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  • Tom Czech

    Of the current Cubs starters, will any of them be on the team in 2015. Are there any prospects in the system that are better than the current starters???

    • mlblogsgorku

      Do you mean starting pitchers or position players?

      Starting pitchers: Guillermo Moscoso, Kyle Hendricks, Alberto Cabrera, Eric Jokisch

      Position Players: Javier Baez (ss), Albert Almora (of), Jorge Soler (of), Matt Szczcur (of), Mike Olt (3b)

      I suspect Rizzo, Castro, Barney, Castillo, Samardzija will still be on the team in 2015. And don't forget Junior Lake and Chris Rusin.

  • mlblogsgorku

    On last night's broadcast, Len posed the question, how many major league pitchers throw the cutter?
    The Bill James Handbook 2013 provides an answer for the 2012 season. Of 662 men who threw a pitch in the major leagues in 2012, 170, or just above 25% threw a cutter at least 1% if the time. 120, or less than 20%, threw it at least 10% of the time, and so could be said to have mastered the pitch.

    Mariano Rivera threw it 93% of the time. Bryan Shaw and Micah Owings were close, with 81% and 71% respectively. Among starters, the champ was probably Roy Halliday, who threw it 42% of the time, more than any other pitch.

    Among Cub pitchers, Chris Rusin (32%) and Travis Wood (30%) relied on it the most.

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