Archive for August, 2005

#23 retired

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

I missed today’s number retirement ceremony (dangit!). Ryno was my childhood hero; I picked him out in his rookie year when he was a third baseman and was vindicated a couple of years later when he was MVP in ’84. He later became the highest paid player in baseball (for a year) with a 4 year, 7.1 million dollar deal, hit 40 homers in a season, and retired once because GM Larry Himes was so wretched the game wasn’t fun for him. When he came out of retirement after Himes’ ousting, he wasn’t the same player, but I didn’t care. I’d grown up with the guy at second base for the Cubs and it was good to see him back.

It’s worth stopping to mention that the Cubdom has a great tribute page to Ryno. Check it out here.

The Cubs’ retired numbers, complete with links inspired by Harry Caray:

10: Mr. Ron Santo. A player I’ve come to highly respect based on the numbers he put up. Most interesting to me, I think, was that he was one of the rare Cubs who could take a walk.

14: Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. #14. When I played little league for the Cubs at age 12, I was about 2 months short of picking Ryno as my favorite so I couldn’t be #23. At my dad’s advice, I picked #14. I didn’t know much about Banks but would love to have a time machine just so I could see him hit in the ’50s.

23: Ryne Sandberg. Remember his moustache? Hehe. I’m glad he retired that thing.

26: Billy Williams. Bill James described him as “Ernie Banks without the PR.”

42: Jackie Robinson, whose number has been retired from all of baseball.

Does anyone else think any current Cubs will be worthy of number retirement? The Cubs are pretty conservative about doing so, it seems. Any old Cubs who should have their numbers retired?

I’d put Maddux’s 31 and Sosa’s 21 on the retired list eventually. Let’s say Ramirez has 4 more 30 homer seasons as a Cub and plays well into his mid-thirties. Would he be worthy? What kind of numbers would he have to put up? And what about D-Lee? Prior? Z? Fergie also wore 31…would you double-retire that one? And what of Jose Macias’ number 8? Any thoughts?

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Thru Cub Eyes: Mitch Williams

Friday, August 26th, 2005

The Wild Thing. Sutcliffe has the best quote with relation to this weekís featured player. ìI pitch like Iím in a lawn chair. He pitches like his hair is on fire.î Williams does seem very low key, however, once off the mound. Enjoy this excerpt from Carrie Muskatís compilation Banks to Sandberg to Grace.


Sure, I remember Opening Day. I came in in the eighth and got out of the eighth with a one-run lead. I had to bat in the bottom of the eighth in my first game in the National League, and I hadnít hit since I was 18 years old. Then I go back out in the ninth and the first three guys get broken bat singles. And then I strike the next three guys out. Schmidt? Either heís going to beat you or heíll get out.

My first year was good, but my second year I tore a ligament in my knee and the team didnít do too well. Me and Zim got along really well. He knew what my capabilities were. He was really the first manager who let me go out there and do what I did. He knew I was going to get in trouble. He was the first one who gave me enough rope to hang myself with.

Thr trade to come to the Cubs, I was ecstatic about. I was happy about the trade to the Phillies at the time. Myself and Jim Frey didnít get along at all. The way the trade was handled was bad and all that. I was glad it was made. I save 36 games, we win the division, then I tear ligaments in my knee, and the next year Iím given seven save opportunities. I was 7 for 7 and I didnít pitch. Frey told me two days before we break camp that Iím not getting traded, then we went to Chicago, and I move into my apartment and he trades me. I think it had more to do with Frey that it did with Zim.

The Wild Thing didnít bother me. Iíve been called a lot worse. Thereís all kind of things they couldíve called me. I just didnít want people confusing the nickname with who I was. Off the field I donít consider myself wild in any way. Dick Pole wasnít real keen on it. They played the song twice in Wrigley and I blew two saves, and he had them stop.

I didnít think it was tough to pitch there. People make a big deal about the wind blowing out. For the first two months of the season you canít hit a ball out of there. It helps you as much as hurts you. I think it evens out. You just go out there and pitch, and they have to hit the ball solid.

Being a reliever was perfect for me. I couldnít sit for four days. If I was a starter, Iíd weigh 400 lbs. I like coming to the ballpark with a chance to play every day.

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Fact or Fiction

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

And now it’s time for a gimmicky little thing I like to call, Fact or Fiction:

The Cubs are still in the Wild Card hunt.

With a patchwork rotation, a terrible bullpen, an injury riddled infield, Corey Patterson starting in centerfield, and 6 teams ahead of them in the standings, nothing short of a miracle (like Bud Selig suddenly moving them into the NL West) will get the Cubs into the playoffs. In fact, they’ll be hard pressed to fight off Cincinnati to stay in 4th place.

The Cubs need to play Nomar everyday to evaluate him and determine if he should be brought back next year.

Nomar can’t be considered anything more than a plan C for 2006. I like Nomar, he seems like a good guy, and he’s a tremendous hitter when healthy, but in his year and a half in Chicago we’ve leaned the truth; the guy is an injury waiting to happen. If there’s even a question of whether or not Nomar’s going back on the DL this week, then the Cubs should put him on it now, and start Ronny Cedeno from here on out. Nomar isn’t going to do this team any good playing once a week, and Ronny needs an extended audition to determine if he’s good enough to be next year’s starter, or if the Cubs need to target Rafael Furcal in free agency next year.

Courtesy of Dusty Baker:

As of right now, its hard to take Neifi out the way he’s playing. You got to reward the guys who busted their butts for you. That’s how it is, man.

Baloney. Neifi’s done as well as can be expected filling in this year, but playing him instead of a younger player at this point is ridiculous. As for rewarding him, well, the Cubs are rewarding him with a paycheck every two weeks. That ought to be enough.

This Cubs team is just a few players away from being a real contender next year.

A few healthy ones maybe. It’s pretty clear that this team needs an overhaul. With the exception of Dempster and Williamson (who I believe rushed back from surgery too soon and will be better next year) nobody in the bullpen should consider their spot sewed up for next year. In addition, the entire outfield needs to be revamped and the shortstop position will have to be addressed. And our vaunted starting rotation has become a question mark. We know what to expect from Carlos Zambrano and Greg Maddux, but we don’t know if Prior and Wood will be ready to go at the start of next season, or who else will even be in the rotation. Jerome Williams has been better as of late, but will need to control his weight in the offseason. Glendon Rusch might be off to greener pastures. Angel Guzman is finally pitching again, but who knows if his arm will be strong enough to give the Cubs a full season next year. Granted, Jim Hendry may pull off some genius moves this offseason and solve the team’s problems once and for all.

Let’s hope so.

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Pitches per plate appearance

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005 writer John Schlegel posted something that’s mentioned in the blogging community but not often on the big money sites: P/PA. Read it and come back; the rest of this post will wait for you.

Here’s an exerpt:

That’s where the patience factor comes in, and those hitters who demonstrate an ability to keep an at-bat going can make an impact on a game even if they don’t wind up getting a hit. Whether it’s extending a starter’s pitch count or wearing him down so the next guy gets something good to hit, the patient and/or pesky hitter makes a difference.

However, right there in the article was evidence that p/pa doesn’t predict success at the plate:

The bottom of the patience barrel certainly isn’t a bunch of guys who can’t hit. There are seven All-Stars in the mix, a defending MVP in Guerrero and the Yankees haven’t minded Cano swinging early in the count while putting up numbers that have him being mentioned for AL Rookie of the Year.

But a lineup of the top 10 are ceratinly going to kick the crap out of a lineup of the bottom ten.

The Top 10
1. Bobby Abreu, Phillies, 4.41
2. David Dellucci, Rangers, 4.31
3. Adam Dunn, Reds, 4.30
4. Jim Edmonds, Cardinals, 4.27
5. Casey Blake, Indians, 4.26
6. Pat Burrell, Phillies, 4.21
7. Brad Wilkerson, Nationals, 4.20
8. Jason Giambi, Yankees, 4.18
9. Paul Konerko, White Sox, 4.18
10. Bill Hall, Brewers, 4.17

The Bottom 10
1. Robinson Cano, Yankees, 3.01
2. Cristian Guzman, Nationals, 3.14
3. Garret Anderson, Angels, 3.28
4. Vladimir Guerrero, Angels, 3.29
5. Neifi Perez, Cubs, 3.31
6. Carl Crawford, Devil Rays, 3.31
7. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies, 3.32
8. Shea Hillenbrand, Blue Jays, 3.34
9. Jose Guillen, Nationals, 3.35
10. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays, 3.36

The Baseball muse put up this analysis of p/pa. Summary: it has little correlation to statistical measures of offensive success.

The great Keith Woolner on BP wrote this article. Summary: more of a call for more research, but it hints that aggressively going after pitches early in the count works for some guys and statistically points out the obvious: if you get to 12 pitches in an at-bat, you have the advantage.

This from The Howl picks on Corey and Neifi. That’s the only justification for its inclusion.

I’d like to know more about this. Calling all readers: where can I do more research on the value of p/pa?

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Apology and Opinion

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

First, I would like to give an apology to everyone that has logged on the past few days and have seen the same Matt Murton article each time. I am in the process of moving, so my schedule has been swamped. Once this weekend is over, it’s back to normal for me. As for these other guys, who knows. =)

Second, I’d like to pose a quick opinion question to the readers. Do you like when we as a staff share our opinions of other events going on in sports? Sometimes it’s hard to write all Cubs everyday and not bore everyone with repeat opinions. Sound off on your opinion so we can gauge it.

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