Archive for April, 2006

Regression to the mean

Friday, April 28th, 2006

The Cubs stand at 13-8, which made me wonder if they were playing over their heads. Perhaps it was just a small sample size blowing a good stretch out of proportion?

I’m going to look player-to-player with the assumption that the overwhelming majority of the time, bad starts or good starts will go back toward the kind of season we can expect from that player. Hopefully this approach will tell us what we might expect the rest of the way.

Michael Barrett
At .313 OBP/.550 SLG, Barret’s playing somewhere near his actual value (.335/.450). This one’s a draw.
Henry Blanco
18 at-bats and a .380ish OPS. We can expect an improvement, but his limited play results in a basically negligible impact.
Result: No big change

Derrek Lee
Duh. Given that his injury happened just recently and that wrist injuries affect a hitter when they return, Derrek’s MVP bat overall will be sorely missed the rest of the year.

Todd Walker
.431 OBP, .530 SLG. Expect a slight decline to .380/.475 levels. Not bad for a backup.

John Mabry
His .318 average hides the fact that he has 0 walks and 0 extra-base hits. Overall I think everything will level out. No major change.

Jerry Hairston
.333/.321. Expect an improvement.
Neifi Perez
.176/.235. Hard to imagine, but somewhere Neifi’s gonna get on one of those 9 game hot streaks and end up somewhere around a .275 OBP/.375 SLG. Still crap, but a slight improvement.
Overall: Walker will be able to play second when Lee eventually comes back, and improvement from the other two means we can expect more out of this position.

Ronny Cedeno
.370/.522. Expect Ronny to crash, and hard, at some point in the season. Expect a significant decline.

Aramis Ramirez.

Matt Murton
No significant change. Some ups and downs, but that’s what I expect. This guy’s a perfect non-Cub; gets on base, no flashy numbers, but contributes to lots of wins. We need more like him.

Juan Pierre
.297 OBP, .345 SLG. Slight Improvement to .335/.375 levels.

Jacque Jones
.281/.500. His OBP will rise, his SLG will fall. It surprised me to see that he posted a .500 SLG so far. Overall, fewer outs and a slight improvement.

Significant decline. I expect 15-10, 3.50 ERA. But I hope he keeps pitching like he has been.

Significant improvement. By season’s end I expect him to be in the race for Cy Young.

I’m linking the fate of Jerome and Angel to Prior’s return. With that assumption in mind, expect significant improvement, assuming Prior ever pitches again.

Mostly Marshall, I’ll assume. Slight decline to a combined 34 stars, 4.6 ERA (5 for Marshall, 3.75 for Wood, 2/3 of starts to Marshall)/

Slight Improvement

Slight decline, as they’ve been very, very good so far.

All in all, that’s a slight improvement for the team! That surprised me. I was expecting an overall decline. Even if the rotation features Prior & Wood for only half the season and Lee gets back, the Cubs should be able to get close. With some breaks, they’ll still make the playoffs.

And then anything can happen.

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Editor’s Note

Friday, April 28th, 2006

No Game Preview today because I am swamped with work before going to the beach this weekend. If I get time before the game, I’ll replace this with something meaningful.

Greg Maddux vs. David Bush

Over / Under
Per a request from my good friend Rob, the over under today is set at 2.5 earned runs given up today by the Professor.

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The Follies of Being Young

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Delmon Young, that is. Can you say “Bad career move?” I know he can. Nice pic, Delmon. Nice smile. Hope to see it again, soon.

From the Associated Press.

Durham Bulls outfielder and top overall 2003 draft choice Delmon Young threw a bat into the chest of the home plate umpire after being called out on strikes in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game at Pawtucket.
Young took a third strike on a 1-and-2 pitch. When Young delayed leaving the batter’s box, the umpire ejected him. Young then flipped his bat underhand. It sailed end over end and hit the umpire in the chest.
Pawtucket catcher Corky Miller said he didn’t hear Young say anything to the umpire. “I heard the umpire say, ‘You better get going,'” Miller said.
“It was hard to say what was going through his mind. Guys have emotions. But you try to learn how to control them. I’m sure as the bat left his hands he knew it was a bad decision,” Miller said.
Young left during the game and wasn’t available for comment afterward. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays said they would have no comment until they review the situation.
Replacement umpires have been working all minor league games this season because the regular umpires are on strike. Bill Wanless, a spokesman for the Pawtucket Red Sox, said minor league teams are not releasing the names of umpires while the regulars are on strike.
“It’s an unfortunate incident and there should be no place for actions like that in the game of baseball,” the umpire said in a statement released by Pawtucket. “Any official should not be treated like that. He embarrassed himself and his teammates.”
Young, 20, is the younger brother of Detroit Tigers outfielder Dmitri Young. He was voted the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ minor league player of the year last season and the 2005 minor league player of the year by Baseball America.
“It was unfortunate and until I speak with the organization and see what they have in mind, maybe I can comment on it later,” Durham manager John Tamargo said. “It’s a tough situation right now.

Note From Chris:
I’ve seen the video of the incident now, and the newspaper accounts don’t do it justice. I thought Young flipped his bat from a couple of feet away, but it was a lot worse than that. Check out the video at

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Game 20 – Two outta Three ain’t bad

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

BOX SCORE – When you think about the fact that the Cubs were throwing two guys will next to no big league experience in this series, winning two out of three games is a great way to go. The bummer is that today’s game was definitely a game we could have won. Angel Guzman, who made his major league debut in this one, pitched pretty well considering the nerves were probably getting to him. If he was just a regular prospect, there wouldn’t be as much riding on the start, but because he was supposed to be a savior in 2003, the fans have waited awhile to see him in action. I think those nerves had a good deal to do with the 4 walks he gave up. Coming into the game, he had been averaging 4 K’s per BB. Today he didn’t have that.

Roberto Novoa came in and did a nice job in the 6th and the 7th, including wiggling out of a little jam caused by Pierre and Jones not having a clue whose play it was in right center that allowed a triple. One of the things I hate about the way baseball is scored by the official scorer is the fact that errors are not given on plays like that. Essentially, if you do not get to a ball, regardless of it you should have, you are not credited with an error. I think that mental errors like today or retard errors like Adam Dunn makes in the OF should be credited as errors in the scorebook. All you’re doing by not giving an error is hurting the pitcher and rewarding a bonehead play by the fielder.

Matt Murton had another big clutch hit in the 8th. It’s a shame it wasn’t a hit that led to a come from behind win by the Cubs. He is .294 on the season and I really think he’ll be a mainstay in this lineup for years to come. Just imagine what he’ll look like when his power develops.

Aramis Ramirez looked good today. He was patient at the plate and reaped two walks as a result. He hit the ball hard both hits he got. One went out and one was a rocket line drive to LF. Hopefully he’s starting to get locked in because we could sure use a big series from him against Milwaukee this weekend.

I’m not one to harp on guys that are struggling, and I’m not even sure the answer to my own question, but how long do you stick with a struggling Jacque Jones in RF? I think it’s too early to bench him at this point, but if you were Dusty, how long would you wait to get someone else out there? Pie is not an option because you are not going to simply bench Jones for the remainder of the year and that is what it would take for Pie to get the call because he needs to play everyday to continue to develop, especially from a plate discipline standpoint.

I was really surprised to see Scott Williamson struggle as bad as he did today. He’s been great all year to this point. Hopefully he’ll shake it off and come back strong because he was brutal today and it really cost us the win.

Is it just me or are you really glad to see Miguel Cabrera leaving town? He wasn’t outstanding this series, but to me, it seemed like he was on base or doing something tremendous all week. Good Riddance Miguel!!!!

So, to go back to the title, winning two games in this one is acceptable. Let’s use the day off to rest and regroup and come out ready for battle with a division rival this weekend.

Notes from Chris:
What’s with Jerry Hairston’s Jeckyl and Hyde routine? He seems to immediately follow up a good play (last night’s suicide squeeze bunt, beating out a double play ball today) with a really bad mental error (getting picked off first base with 2 outs, a steal of 3rd with 2 outs). I expect a little more mentally from a guy whose father was a pretty good ballplayer.

Joe floats the idea above of possibly benching Jacque Jones. So I was wondering, who does anyone see a better option? There’s no timetable for Pagan’s return, Michael Restovich has been a AAAA player his whole career and I think that Felix Pie needs some more time at AAA. I’d say we’ve got to ride it out with Jacque, what do you all think?

Farm Report

Felix Pie – went 1 for 3 with a single and is hitting .320 in AAA Iowa.

Rich Hill – pitched 6 innings of 2 hit baseball giving up 1 run and striking out 10 hitters. He has an ERA of 1.44 for AAA Iowa.

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Game 20 Preview: Bring on the Sweep!!!

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006
Starting Pitchers
    Record ERA WHIP Last Start Compare
Guzman ML Debut 0.00 0.00 N/A N/A
Olsen 1-1 1.50 1.67 W Splits
Game Information
Game Time Television 2006 Cubs 2006 Marlins Series
2:20 EDT WGN 12-7 5-13 Cubs 2-0

Scouting Report on Scott Olsen
A graduate of Crystal Lake South High School in Illinois, Olsen grew up a big Cubs’ fan. Even when he was in the Marlins’ Minor League system in 2003, the left-hander was standing outside Wrigley Field when the Marlins beat the Cubs in Game 6 of the NLCS. Now, Olsen is in line to pitch in Wrigley Field for the first time. Fresh off an impressive win at Philadelphia, Olsen is seeking his third straight solid start. In beating the Phillies, he gave up two runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings. A key for him is walks allowed. He walked two at Citizens Bank Park. (

Weather Report

Temperature: 58o
Wind: 10 MPH blowing from Left to Right

Cub Notes

  • The Cubs have not swept the Marlins at Wrigley Field since July 12-14, 2002
  • The Cubs lead the league with a .315 batting average with runners in scoring position.
  • The Cubs rank 2nd in the league with a .450 batting average with the bases loaded. Man, .450 is only 2nd?
  • Angel Guzman is making his Major league debut today. The last game he pitched was in AAA where he allowed 7 earned runs. Scott Olsen has limited experience as well. Two young guys means whichever team can jump out first will probably win the game. If you can rattle a guy early, you can probably get in his head.
  • Jerry Hairston will be starting at 2b again.
  • Jacque Jones is 2 runs away from 500 for his career.
  • Michael Barrett jammed his finger last night when he slid into 2b. Odds are he’ll get the day off. That should mean Blanco would hit 8th and Hairston 7th.
  • Matt Murton has been a great addition to this lineup. He is 2nd to only Aramis Ramirez in BB with 8 and has an on base % of .370. Last night he was clutch with 2 RBI.
  • Rotoworld mentions that Jerry Hairston should be hitting in the 1 or 2 spot in the order. Personally, I really don’t think he’s a good everyday guy. Stick with Ronny and we’ll be fine.
  • Cub fans are starting to Boo Jacque Jones which is ridiculous. Give the guy a chance. Is he the best RF? Certainly not, but booing him doesn’t help. It gets in his head and makes him press. Support him and he’ll be fine.
  • Sean Marshall was AWESOME last night. When I looked at the pitching matchups and saw Marshall / Willis, I have to admit that I wasn’t very excited about our chances. Sean Marshall proved me wrong and took big advantage of the wind blowing in. His breaking ball was wicked and he kept the ball in the strikezone. The one bad note was that guys were stealing at will on him.
  • Last night was Dontrelle’s 5th start in Wrigley. Up to that point, he was masterful. His career ERA is 1.60. We caught a break last night.
  • If you’ve never seen John Sickel’s minor league site, you’ll need to check it out here. He has a cool feature called prospect retro. The other day the subject was Corey Patterson and can be read here. The closing paragraph pretty much says it all:
    In retrospect, Patterson’s problems with strike zone judgment ended up overriding his other tools and skills. He’s shown no real skill growth for three years now. It seems likely that part of this was because he was rushed to the majors before he had solved the problem at the lower levels, although his pure athleticism was so good that he could do well in the minors even without good discipline. At age 26, he still has some time to turn things around, but the early returns in Baltimore are hardly positive, and at this point he has to be regarded as a major disappointment.

  • If you missed Ron Santo singing the 7th inning stretch the other day, Len and Bob have it on video on their blog here.

OVER / UNDER – 5 IP for Angel Guzman in his ML debut.

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