Cubs breaking it all down on video

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Cubs breaking it all down on video

MESA, Ariz. The Cubs have installed cameras in their minor-league stadiums. Theres the angle from center field, but you can still pan and zoom in and watch it from anywhere on your laptop.

One team official called it Spycam, and laughed when it was suggested that it sounded like Big Brother. This will be real-time video on the Web, and prospects should know that the Cubs will be watching during early work.

Long before luring Theo Epstein out of Boston, Cubs executives had been obsessed with the Red Sox model. But, on some level, its almost like theyre getting the New England Patriots.

The video doesnt lie, utility man Jeff Baker said. Its like football. If youre doing something wrong, its going to show up on the tape on Monday when you look at (Sundays game).

Epstein has quoted one-liners from NFL wiseguy Bill Parcells, and sounds Bill Belichick secretive when he says he cant talk about proprietary information. The Cubs president of baseball operations wants to give his coaches and players every possible tool to find an edge.

Its important to establish a culture of preparation, Epstein said. There are a lot of wins out there available through advance scouting and preparation. Youd be foolish not to go after them as hard as you can.

The Cubs hired two advance scouts in Adam Melhuse and Kyle Phillips, who both played catcher in the big leagues. They added Kyle Evans, a former Red Sox professional scout, as the assistant director of video and advanced scouting. Evans is training another young scouting assistant, Bobby Basham, to round out the department.

We adopted the same two-man rotating advance team that we had in Boston, Epstein said. Most teams have either no advance scouts on the road or one. But when you have one advance scout on the road, theres a risk of becoming kind of isolated and that advance scout never gets any face time with the manager or coaching staff or players. Hes simply an e-mailed report in and its really easy for that information to get ignored.

But if you have two, then they can rotate, bring the information with them, connect in person and in the clubhouse (and) make adjustments (and) be more accountable. Its a luxury.

To be clear, almost every team in baseball uses some version of the B.A.T.S. video system. The Cubs implemented a video system almost 10 years, a source said, and began taking it on road trips in 2008.

But there will be upgrades, like the additional work stations in the Wrigley Field clubhouse. Where last year the Cubs processed video of all National League games, this season they will feed in every game in the majors.

The bill for the actual Opening Day roster should come in under 90 million (though the actual major-league payroll figures to be over 110 million, in part because of the money owed to Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Pena and Carlos Silva).

The fans waiting for a big splash last winter didnt get one. But there are many ways to divide an overall budget for baseball operations, including manpower and technology.

Were in the process of revamping what we do video-wise, general manager Jed Hoyer said, and making sure we get a lot more major-league (and) minor-league video. Now we have a staff that can sort of handle that and process it.

(If) we start talking about payrollthis probably was the smallest front office in baseball and weve really done a lot to try to increase staffing. Some of thats initial investment and over time that will go away. But we did feel like things like game preparation was something we had to spend the money to really get up to speed.

The Cubs have distributed video cameras to their amateur and international scouts to use each time they go to a game. So they will now be juggling a radar gun, a scouting report and a video camera, all of which can be rolled into the new Bloomberg computer system.

We have this progression of film, said Jason McLeod, the senior vice president of scouting and player development. We can see if anythings changed. We just keep adding onto it. Its all part of like the history of the player.

We can see if youre struggling: Well, look, now hes holding his hand down here and hes striding open. He wasnt doing that earlier in the year, because we have that footage (when) he was up here and he was closed off.

We can see everything. Its just another tool to get added information.

Dale Sveum does not look like a computer geek. He rides motorcycles and has tattoos on his arms and stubble across his face.

But Cubs executives identified Sveum as a top managerial candidate, in part, because he could break down video and had shown fluency in statistical analysis years ago as a Red Sox third-base coach, focusing on spray charts and defensive positioning.

Its almost like cheating the way they have it down to be able to advance the other team, Sveum said. You can see black and white where guys weaknesses (and) strengths are. You can put data to video instead of just watching (it). Its cheating that the Cubs havent had before (and) a lot of other teams have had.

Its very important for players to be able to witness it by seeing it on video as opposed to a coach saying, OK, hey, go play over here.

Sveums face may be plastered across billboards, but he doesnt plan to let the jobs external demands get in the way of teaching. He still plans to sit next to his players in the video room, as if he was still the Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach.

I got all the time in the world, Sveum said. The games three hours and I meet with (the media) for 10, 15 minutes a day and the rest of my job is when I see things or teaching factors of the game. Thats just the way I am. Im more hands-on, whether its hitting fungoes or throwing batting practice. Its just something I do and have always done.

Sometimes when you can see it instead of hear it it helps a lot, like: Wow, I had no idea it was that blatant of a stat. Or when you can look at a grid like: Joe Blow, man, wow, 90 percent of every ball he throws is away. So you put that into play in your head when you walk up to the box: OK, I just saw this, I dont have to worry about anything inside.

This doesnt make the Cubs the smartest guys in the room. But it was an area targeted from the start of the Epstein administration. Spring training ends Tuesday, so its time to press play.

Its great to read scouting reports, (but) the best tool we have is our eyes, pitcher Ryan Dempster said. Videos always been a big part for me. I believe strongly in it. Its nice to see that were taking the next level with it, and, hopefully, the results will come.

White Sox: Chris Sale discusses jersey-cutting incident, suspension

White Sox: Chris Sale discusses jersey-cutting incident, suspension

One day after being handed a five-game suspension, White Sox ace Chris Sale spoke exclusively to MLB.com's Scott Merkin about the incident that led to the suspension, his desire to win with the White Sox and his future with the team.

Below are Sale's quotes from Merkin's story, which can be found here:

-- "I want to win a championship in Chicago. That's been my goal from Day 1. It has never changed. I only get more passionate about it because I know that it's not easy winning a championship. There's a lot that goes into it.

"Our main focus should be winning. I know that every single player comes in ready to win every day. I can't speak on anybody else. ... I don't think I would be traded. I don't know for sure. I don't know what they are thinking now or what's going on."

-- "Nothing else matters really. People don't talk about the guys who get paid the most. They talk about the guys with the rings and teams that won the rings. Our guys in this clubhouse deserve, in every single game, the best opportunity to go achieve that goal of winning a championship. That's why we are all here. Nothing else matters."

-- "When I saw that there was something in the way of that 100 percent winning mentality, I had an issue," Sale said. "I tried to bring it up and say, 'Hey listen, these are my thoughts and concerns,' and they got pushed away because of the business deal that was set in place. I'll never understand why we need to do something on the business side on the field that might impede us winning a game.

"[The '76 uniforms] are uncomfortable and unorthodox. I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn't want anything to alter my mechanics. ... There's a lot of different things that went into it. Looking bad had absolutely zero to do with it. Nothing."

-- "I get you have to have the business side, and if you want us to take pictures with these things, whatever. If it's going to affect the style of play or the outcome of the game, I just thought that would be a no-brainer."

And below is a list of CSN's coverage of the Sale incident:

Chris Sale's suspension 'does not move the needle' regarding his value to White Sox

Chris Sale suspended five days by White Sox

Chris Sale will start Thursday against Cubs

White Sox win in walk-off fashion yet again, top Cubs 5-4

White Sox win in walk-off fashion yet again, top Cubs 5-4

The White Sox found yet another way to survive on Monday night.

Shortly after a second straight blown save, Tyler Saladino singled with one out in the ninth inning to lift the White Sox to a 5-4 victory over the Cubs in front of 39,510 at U.S. Cellular Field. Saladino’s heroics sent the White Sox to their third straight walk-off victory and second in a row when the bullpen blew a ninth-inning lead. The White Sox improved to 49-50.

With Nate Jones and David Robertson unavailable and the group only two days removed from a start-by-committee after Chris Sale was scratched, Matt Albers and Dan Jennings allowed two runs and five hits during a ninth-inning rally.

Jones had pitched five times in six days. Robertson threw three times in a span of 18 hours between Saturday and Sunday. So even though he’d already made 12 pitches and pitched three of the previous four games, Albers returned to the mound in the ninth to preserve a two-run lead. The Cubs took advantage as Javy Baez, who earlier homered, doubled, stole third and scored on Dexter Fowler’s RBI single. Fowler went to third as Kris Bryant singled and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Jennings took over and got ahead of Anthony Rizzo, but he singled past a drawn-in infield to tie the score. The left-hander gave up another single but struck out Jason Heyward to strand the winning run at second.

That proved critical as J.B. Shuck led off the ninth inning with a single off Mike Montgomery and moved up on a Dioner Navarro sac bunt. Saladino then singled on 0-2 pitch and Matt Szczur couldn’t handle the ball, allowing Shuck to score the winning run.

Aided by his defense early, Miguel Gonzalez managed to pitch out of several jams throughout the night to keep the Cubs wrapped up. It was yet another strong outing from the right-hander who was signed as a minor-league free agent on the eve of the season after he was waived by the Baltimore Orioles.

Melky Cabrera made a spectacular catch to rob Kris Bryant of a homer in the first inning and he and Tyler Saladino combined to throw out Javy Baez at home plate to end the third.

But Gonzalez did much of the rest on his own, including twice retiring Addison Russell with men in scoring position. Russell batted with two on in the fourth inning after a walk and a Frazier error and grounded out to second. Two innings later, Gonzalez struck out Russell after Jason Heyward doubled Willson Contreras over to third with two outs.

Even though he surrendered a two-run homer to Baez in the seventh, Gonzalez bounced back for two critical outs as he retired Dexter Fowler and Bryant. The strikeout of Bryant matched a season-high for Gonzalez, who also fanned eight on May 21 against Kansas City.

Gonzalez allowed two earned runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings with two walks. He threw strikes on 66 of 104 pitches and lowered his July ERA to 3.03 in 32 2/3 innings.

The White Sox offense struck first against Jake Arrieta. Saladino provided the team its first hit with a one-out double to left. Adam Eaton took immediate advantage as he singled off Arrieta to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead.

Arrieta settled in from there and retired nine of the next 10 batters into the sixth inning. But Tim Anderson changed it all with a 10-pitch strikeout to start the sixth inning as the White Sox made Arrieta go to work. Cabrera drew a six-pitch walk with one out and Jose Abreu singled on the 21st pitch of the inning. Arrieta struck out Justin Morneau but Frazier didn’t let him off the hook as he ripped his 29th pitch, a slider, for a three-run homer to center and a 4-0 lead. Arrieta -- who allowed four earned runs in six innings -- threw 37 pitches in the sixth. 

Cubs dig up more late-inning magic, but can't close out White Sox

Cubs dig up more late-inning magic, but can't close out White Sox

For the second day in a row, Anthony Rizzo put the Cubs on his back.

But this time, the result wasn't a win for his team.

The National League MVP frontrunner tied the game in the ninth inning, lifting a two-strike single into left field to score Dexter Fowler.

But Cubs reliever Mike Montgomery couldn't hold on, letting the winning run strut in on a walk-off single from Tyler Saladino in a 5-4 White Sox victory in front of 39,510 fans at U.S. Cellular Field Monday night.

The Cubs trailed all game as the White Sox touched up Jake Arrieta for a run in the third and then Todd Frazier drilled a three-run shot into center field with two outs in the sixth.

[RELATED: Cubs make business decision to look past Chapman's domestic violence suspension]

Javy Baez immediately cut that Sox lead in half with a two-run shot in the top of the seventh after Miguel Montero's double.

Baez later started the rally in the ninth with a double down the right field line before promptly stealing third and then scoring on Dexter Fowler's single off Jose Abreu's glove.

Fowler advanced to third on Kris Bryant's single, but Bryant was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double, setting the stage for Rizzo's temporary heroics.

In the bottom of the ninth, Montgomery allowed a leadoff single to J.B. Shuck, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Saladino then came through with a single up the middle, which Matt Szczur bobbled, ensuring there was no play at the plate.