The Power of Olt and Other Cubs News and Notes

Mike Olt had a rough start to his season. Olt hit .172/.222/.397 in 21 games in April with one double, four home runs and a .619 OPS. Olt struck out 21 times with four walks and looked rather lost at the plate. And defensively, Olt was inconsistent at best at third base.

After Friday night’s game, Mike Olt is hitting .294/.455/.824 in his last seven games with three home runs, four walks, six strikeouts and a 1.278 OPS. Olt has shown improvement in the field as the coaching staff continues to work with him on his fielding and decision making at third base.

The Sun-Times reported that Olt is a “threat for more playing time” in the wake of his recent surge. Olt went yard in three straight games and now leads all rookies in home runs (7) and RBI (17). Rick Renteria told the Sun-Times, the Cubs realize he could put up high strikeout numbers but Olt also barrels up the ball. Olt seems to be playing with more confidence with his first full month at the big league level behind him. Olt played in only 16 games for the Rangers in 2012, couple those games with the 29 he’s played in for the Cubs this season, and he’s appeared in just 45 games in the majors.

Mike Olt told Carrie Muskat prior to Wednesday’s game against the White Sox that he was going to try to relax at the plate. Olt thought he was putting too much pressure on himself and he planned to go back to having fun.

Jeff Samardzija

All eyes will be on Jeff Samardzija when he faces the Braves on Saturday night. Samardzija’s pitch count made headlines earlier in the week and his reaction to statements made by the front office about the number of pitches he threw against the Sox did nothing but fuel the rumor mill.

According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, “Samardzija took aim at Theo Epstein’s front office, exposing the behind-the-scenes tension as the Cubs prepare to eventually trade their Opening Day starter this summer.” Samardzija told Comcast SportsNet, “This is an on-field issue for uniform personnel. That’s all there is to it. I’m a grown man. I’m 29. I’m not a prospect or 22. I feel good. I think I’m grown up enough and responsible enough to understand when I can go and when I can’t go. I’m going to go off of that. I’ve earned my right in athletics to be able to understand my body and where I’m at.”

Jed Hoyer addressed ‘Pitch Count-gate’ on Thursday. Hoyer said he and Theo Epstein “agreed it was okay for Samardzija to throw 126 pitches” but “it’s not best for him to throw 120 pitches every start.” Hoyer told Mark Gonzales he felt the Samardzija pitch count is a “non-story” and he spoke with Rick Renteria about Samardzija after the game.

According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs’ front office called “Samardzija’s spirited defense of high pitch count a non-issue.”

Samardzija and the Cubs have not been able to work out a long term extension. Both sides have said publicly they would like to come to an agreement that would keep Samardzija in a Cubs uniform for the foreseeable future. The two sides view Samardzija differently which has kept the Cubs and Samardzija from being able to find a middle ground on a contract.

News and Notes

RHP Joel Pineiro remains with the organization. Pineiro pitched in an extended Spring Training game on Friday. Pineiro signed a minor league contract with the Cubs in the spring (April 1) and was supposed to spend only 10 days in Mesa before he was added to the I-Cubs roster. No word from the team on when or if Pineiro will be ready to join the Iowa Cubs’ rotation.

Kris Bryant (0-for-4 with two strikeouts) went hitless Friday night for one of the few times this season.

Jorge Soler went 1-for-4 with a double on Friday night. Three of Soler’s four hits in three games have gone for two bases (double).

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  • The Dude Abides

    Jed Hoyer addressed ‘Pitch Count-gate’ on Thursday. Hoyer
    said he and Theo Epstein “agreed it was okay for Samardzija to throw 126
    pitches” but “it’s not best for him to throw 120 pitches every start.” and he
    spoke with Rick Renteria about Samardzija after the game.

    “Rick this is your team to run as you please, just like it was Sveums team to run last year”

    • Tony_H

      Do you really believe that any GM that is not sleeping through games wouldn’t have talked to the manager after the starting pitcher went 126 pitches? I would sure hope not.

      • cubtex

        You really believe that? If Verlander or Kershaw threw 126 pitches in a start…you think Dombrowski or Colleti would speak to the manager about it? Not a chance

        • Tony_H

          You really don’t think that those very active GM’s talk to their manager nearly everyday, if not every day? I do and call that a good working relationship. I think they discuss things and that would be on top of my list to know at the least how xyz pitcher was feeling. It doesn’t mean that GM’s are running to the managers office to yell at him.

          • cubtex

            No I agree with that. They have constant communication. Your statement was that any gm would immediately talk to the manager after one of their pitchers threw 126 pitches. Like it was immediate cause to get an explanation.

          • Tony_H

            Sorry if that is how you took it, but I don’t see where I said immediate or cause for an explanation, but either way, we agree on one part :)

            Off to Arlington Heights for the last road DH. Haven’t had much time the last month with the high school baseball schedule. But it sure is fun to watch these kids play.

          • Eugene Debs

            At least the high school teams play their youngsters, right?

          • Tony_H

            That’s all they have to play. But you do have the politics of high school baseball! We could put out our entire lineup with 2nd string and still be competitive, not much overall difference in ability. Yet some players get more chances than others, such is baseball.

      • The Dude Abides

        Last night Darvish threw 126, six pitchers total threw over 110, including Hammel who threw 112. The pitch count is not the point, the point is the only “Rock Stars” on this staff is Theo & Jed and it is 100% their team. Renteria cannot believe for a minute he is calling the shots and when Samardzija threw that many pitches it potentially comprises an asset they are looking to trade.
        He needed a reminder, and I guess they felt it was important to make it public. This whole thing could have been handled out of the media.

        However, if by chance Samardzija comes up with a sore arm Renteria will remember the day he started to “lose the team,” I think that’s what they said Sveum did he “lost the team.”

        • Tony_H

          Darvish did it trying for a no-hitter, but I bet Ron Washington and Jon Daniels are or already have discussed it and a reporter will ask about it and make the fact that they talked about it public. This just sounds like normal times in baseball today.

          I know if I were a GM, I would have some basic parameters for pitch counts, innings, etc for the manager to use for each individual pitcher.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          Theo is hands off day to day management of the team. Everyone who has worked with him, players and coaches says so.

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  • Tony_H

    There have been lots of opinions on how Mike Olt’s playing time (and other players), but the ultimate goal this year, let alone this April/May was to get Olt comfortable and hopefully productive. After having shoulder issues in spring and really not playing defense until the last week of ST, April was like his ST. Let’s all hope that he can play up to his abilities and be a big power bat this lineup needs.

    • cubtex

      Dude. The guy played more than any player in ST. He got plenty of at bats against RHP and LHP.Let’s stop with excuse after excuse

      • Tony_H

        Dude. Yes he got plenty of AB’s, but as most players, let alone young guys up to the majors early in their career, playing defense is just as important to getting comfortable than just getting AB’s in ST where we know stats don’t matter with pitchers not yet throwing their breaking pitches all that much or all that effectively. But you are right it was just a reason for why he has looked better the last week and isn’t that what is important, that he is starting to look like he can be the power bat we so desperately need in this lineup.

    • John_CC

      Right, I find it funny, telling, ironic I guess how everyone that has wanted Olt to play everyday never consider that the games he did play up to now were chosen to help him succeed. They chose the situations to ease him in. Now that he is looking more comfortable at the plate would be the time to think – maybe it helped him. But no most will just say “see! He should have been playing everyday!”

      I dont know if it mattered or not. If he just needed a certain number of AB or if the selected situations helped. But considering hes only played 45 ML games I lean toward the latter.

      • Ripsnorter1

        There’s nothing quite like the White Sox pitching staff to get a guy going with the bat these days. They are the best there are in this category–except for Houston.

        #29 in runs allowed in all of MLB
        Last in AL in ERA; #28 in MLB

  • Tony_H

    A feel good story about a former Cub, one that so many couldn’t understand how he was playing for the Cubs, now wearing a Texas Rangers uniform, after a cancer scare in ST.

    http://rangersblog.dallasnews.com/2014/05/justin-germano-from-cancer-scare-to-texas-rangers-bullpen-in-two-months.html/

    • Eugene Debs

      Tucked in there was a mention Scott Baker may end up at AAA for a spell. We paid that guy $5 million last year. Ouch.

      Shocking to see that the Rangers have already used 38 players? Tough year for the roster!

      • Tom U

        After how he took the Cubs for 5 million last season, I don’t think Baker or his agent are going to get any Christmas cards from Theo, Jed, or Tom Rickets.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    Shark’s new nickname should just be “Jerk”.

    • Denver Mike

      I don’t care how good he becomes or how many awards he wins, I can’t stand the guy, never could.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Theo let’s his managers manage as much as anyone in the league. Time for Shark to go.

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      he is so unlikable, and as a fan (and if a club has no fans they have no $$$) I don’t root for the guy except to perform well enough to net new top prospects.

      He and his mullet have worn out their welcome here.

      • Ripsnorter1

        “Get a haircut.”