Archive for March, 2006

Corey Can’t Catch a Break

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

This comes from the Baltimore Sun

It’s becoming more likely that Markakis starts in center field. And I heard again how the Orioles have grown disenchanted with Corey Patterson and would like to move him, though his contract and brief stay in the organization make it difficult.

Patterson came to the Orioles expecting to start in center field, but it looks like Markakis has moved ahead of him. Starting in left field today, Patterson couldn’t run down Carlos Delgado’s towering fly ball near the left field line, and it dropped in for a single.

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Danger Will Robinson!

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

Scott Williamson had to leave the game today after one batter – he accidentally hit that batter. It remains to be seen how serious this injury is; bear in mind that Williamson has had two Tommy John surgeries.

On an unrelated note, condolensces to the family and friends of Rahal Letterman driver Paul Dana, who died today during the IRL race in Homestead, FL. Paul was a resident of Indianapolis, IN and a graduate of Northwestern University.

Update:

I’m adding to this article because the AL East projections should rightfully be at the top of our page. But I still feel compelled to vent a little bit about what’s happening at Spring Training. First of all, I’m absolutely thrilled about the job that Sean Marshall is doing; let’s hope he breaks camp with Iowa and gets 1-2 starts in before being called up to fill the fifth starter spot. Angel Guzman pitched well the last time out and I think John Koronka has beat Michael Warts out of a job. I’ve had my fill of Wuertz and Wellemeyer, we need to drop those players like a bad habit.

But at the same time I’m starting to be a bit concerned about Juan Pierre. Until now I’ve kept my yap shut because Juan puts out 110% – but given last year’s rather mediocre results I’m starting to get real concerned about Pierre’s pathetic .200 average and .233 OBP. Juan, it’s time to step on the gas peddle and show us what you can do.

I’m also greatly concerned that a washed-up old grizzly old veteran, Marquis Grissom will make this club. To give a guy with a .200 batting average a spot over others that have fought for a roster spot and achieved better (Pagan and Restovich) would be a travesty. The Cubs need to give Grissom every at bat possible to redeem himself, then advise him to either retire or cut loose. Because his current level of performance is *not acceptable.* Let’s hope the Cubs management gets this right instead of sending the wrong message to the fans and players.

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Root, root, root.

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Mastrick’s post about Choi got me thinking. I was a Choi fan from the start; based on an idea of him rather than a reality: that of a power-hitting, patient, mysterious otherlander who would deliver a championship to the team. We’ve seen that there are flaws in his swing, but there’s still time for him to have a very good career…I’m still rooting for him.
There are guys like that all around the league. Guys I hope do well, regardless of a) what they’re physically or mentally capable of, and b) what they have done in the past. Like the Cubs themselves, they’re guys I’m pulling for. Here’s one for each position, and if you notice a Cub bias, allow your eyes to wander to the top of the blog for an explanation.

C: Todd Pratt. Like Mark Parent before him, I was always hoping somebody would give Pratt 400 at-bats, let him hit .280 and hit 25-30 homers. Sure, his defense would be adequate, at best, but the offense would make it worth it. When he homered in place of Piazza in the ’99 NLDS I was saying, “See? See?” to all my annoyed friends. Ignore most of the rest of his postseason play and I was right. Now an Atlanta Brave, he’ll be caddy and Crash Davis to Brian McCann.


1B Hee Seop Choi. Before he ever faced an opposing pitcher, I took Choi’s build, patience, reputation, and big smiley face and anointed him my Next Favorite Cub. I blamed the collision and resulting concussion, and then Dusty, for his failure to blossom as a Cub. Then I blamed the Dodgers. Now I guess I’ll blame the Sox unless he makes a star out of himself, but he’s always above reproach in my mind.

2B Marcus Giles. Forget the Prior collision. He’s a little guy with power and patience. He’s the kind of guy regular guys should root for — the guy scouts don’t notice. I know Giles is already a big name, but I was rooting for him before he got a chance and I’ll be supporting him long after he’s productive.

SS Alex Cintron. I know his limitations, but in Baseball Mogul he was a great player for me many times. I’ve formed an irrational connection with his name (Brian Lesher, Aaron Ledesma, and Mike Holtz are 3 others I rooted for because they served me well in the ‘Mogul universe). In the sideways world of Baseball Mogul ’98, he would hit .310 with 15 homers, a .400 OBP, a .480 SLG, speed, and defense. I loved that version of him. I’m always hoping the real Cintron turns into that kind of player. Even though he couldn’t possibly.

3B Sean Burroughs. I hope this fatboy turns into a post-millenial version of Tony Gwynn. I hope he starts hitting, stays healthy, stays fat, and makes the hall of fame. I can’t explain why except for that I kept getting duplicates of Jeff Burroughs baseball cards when I was a kid and the name stands out, and that he was a Little League champ.

LF Hideki Matsui. He has an intimidating face. He looks like a guy who could whoop up on you. And he has a funny, middle-parted, thick head of hair that looks somehow off sitting above his scary face. Plus, his nickname is “Godzilla,” and he was the first power hitter from Japan to play in MLB, so he was a stereotype-breaker. Go, go, Godzilla! (Also, Matt “Punkinhead” Murton, for obvious reasons.)

CF Gary Matthews, Jr. I know. Bad choice. But he’s the Sarge’s son! The Sarge, man! Plus, he’s so fast! And he made some diving catches! I’m still rooting for him, even though I was half-rooting, half-dreading him as a Cub.

RF Dustan Mohr. This guy has power and patience. I wish him the best, but I get the feeling he’s going to get jerked around his whole career and possibly turn into Jeff Manto.

SP (3)
Carlos Zambrano. Easy pick. I’m behind him 100%. I hope he’s a Cub for 20 years, I hope he wins 20 games for us several times, and I hope he never quite gets control of his temper. Which usually I hate, but it fits him.

Jamie Moyer. Another guy I dreaded as a Cub, but I love that he had a great career afterwards. And he did it all with deception and smarts. Obviously he’s a jock and was probably dominant in high school and the envy of all, but in my febrile mind he’s “Revenge of the Nerds” in real life. I imagine him as a bookish twerp who the jocks beat up on all the time (unlike me, of course). Then, one day, he comes out for baseball practice and nobody does anything better than hit a weak grounder off of him. Yes, these are the kind of criteria I’m using for this list.

Tim Wakefield.
I don’t ever want knuckleballers to go away. I want him to pitch until he’s 60 with that ridiculous “windup” and floatin’ knuck.

RP
Now that Jesse Orosco’s gone, I’m pulling for Travis Driskill (another everyman), Huston Street (a UT closer while I lived in Austin), Jae Seo (is he a starter or reliever this year? Anyway, I wanted to mention his name), and Jesse Crain (a success story from Out of the Park Baseball –if the data version of him can be great, why not the real one?)

So without regard to logic and/or reality, who are you rooting for?


In unrelated news, Ryan Klesko’s comment on the Padres site caught my eye. He’s been having some shoulder issues and said

“It’s something I have to deal with until I get it fixed at the end of the year,” Klesko said on Friday night before the Padres hauled out the heavy lumber against the A’s. “It’s bone on bone. The AC joint’s 65 to 70 percent damaged.

“It crunches and pops every time I move it. When it gets caught, it’s going to cause me discomfort. But with the treatments we’re doing to keep the inflammation out of the joint, we’ll get through it. It feels pretty good right now, knock on wood.

“Hopefully, I can get through the year without any setbacks.”

That does sound ok. When it starts to snap and crackle, then you have problems.

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Reason For Hope?

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Let’s face it, when you said “I Do” to the Cubs as your team, you essentially locked the ball on your leg for life. My writers on this site seem to be trying to jump ship on the season before it has begun. Me? I’m an eternal optimist who honestly believes the Cubs have a shot at the World Series every year. But that does not mean that I am not also a realist as well once the season begins. I just don’t see how you cannot have hope as the season starts. That’s the great thing about baseball. You never truly know what your team will do that year until the games play out. With that being said, I decided to take a look at last years performance and see what type of improvement we needed this year to get where we need to be.

One particular concept I have been looking at a lot lately is a Bill James formula for predicting a team’s record based on their runs scored and runs allowed.

Pythagorean Record (Link)
A formula for converting a team’s Run Differential into a projected Won/Loss record. The formula is RS^2/(RS^2+RA^2). Teams’ actual won/loss records tend to mirror their Pythagorean records, and variances can usually be attributed to luck.

You can improve the accuracy of the Pythagorean formula by using a different exponent (the 2 in the formula). In particular, a sabermetrician named US Patriot discovered that the best exponent can be calculated this way: (RS/G+RA/G)^.285, where RS/G is Runs Scored per game and RA/G is Runs Allowed per game. This is called the PythagoPat formula.

What I decided to do was assume the worst and expect the Cubs to allow the exact same runs as last year. Once I assumed that, I basically asked the question “What kind of offense would we need to counteract that defense from last year and boost us to various win plateaus. Here is the basic math explaination of my research using the formula.

Last year the Cubs allowed 714 runs. What I did was plug in that number in the runs allowed section and left Runs scored as X since we didn’t know how many it would take. Then, I plugged in various win percentages to solve for X and find the runs needed to achieve that win percentage assuming the runs allowed stay the same. I put together some numbers to illustrate how minimal the difference really is.

Wins Runs Needed Increase R/G Increase
81 714 11 0.07
85 750 47 0.29
90 798 95 0.59
95 850 147 0.91
100 907 204 1.26

As you can see, the Cubs really need only to score a little above one extra run per game. When you think about the fact that 1) The offense wasn’t that good last year. And 2) The pitching staff has to get better, right? You start to realize that the margin between good baseball and bad baseball is a slim one. Let’s hope the Cubs are on the winning end this season.

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Good stuff from the Trib

Friday, March 24th, 2006

Going to visit Wrigley this year? This May I’m going to fly up to Chicago to catch a weekend series between the Cubs and the Braves – I must admit it’s been a few years since my last visit to the Friendly Confines. It appears as though Michael Dizon and the folks at the Chicago Tribune have put together a great special edition that will appear in this Sunday’s Trib; according to Michael the supplement is a “survival guide for anyone planning to visit Wrigley this summer with info on the neighborhood, the stadium, the food, tickets, schedules, etc.”

So check it out if you get a chance!

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