Archive for September, 2007

Game 160 – The Playoff Beard Starts Now!!!

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

September 28th, 2007


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Chicago 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 2 0   6 10 0
Cincinnati 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 8 1
W – C. Zambrano (18-13) L – B. Arroyo (9-15) S – None
Homeruns: A. Soriano (32) D. Lee (22)

Box Score

(AP Photo/Al Behrman)

With the mystery of if we were going to hold on now over, it’s time to take a break this weekend. I’m going to post my playoff roster in this post and leave it up till Monday. On Monday I’ll have the audio interviews that I did with Jeff Samardzija and Tyler Colvin and then Tuesday we’ll start taking a look at the playoffs. I’ve never blogged the playoffs before, so I would love some ideas on what you’d like to see. In the meantime, here are the 25 guys I’m taking to the LDS if it were up to me.

Starting Pitchers

  • Carlos Zambrano
  • Ted Lilly
  • Rich HillBullpen
  • Michael Wuertz
  • Jason Marquis
  • Bob Howry
  • Carlos Marmol
  • Scott Eyre
  • Kevin Hart
  • Kerry Wood
  • Ryan DempsterCatchers
  • Jason Kendall
  • Geovany SotoInfielders
  • Derrek Lee
  • Mark DeRosa
  • Ryan Theriot
  • Aramis Ramirez
  • Mike Fontenot
  • Ronny CedenoOutfielders
  • Alfonso Soriano
  • Jacque Jones
  • Cliff Floyd
  • Matt Murton
  • Felix Pie
  • Sam Fuld Explanations

    1. I make Rich Hill my third starter because of the fact that over the course of the season, he’s been better and more dominant than Jason Marquis. He’s in our rotation of the future and I’d like to give him a shot to throw one game in the LDS.

    2. I left Sean Marshall off the roster for the simple fact that he’s not needed. Kevin Hart has earned his spot since coming up from AAA and he can serve as a long relief man with Jason Marquis. I know it leaves the bullpen with just one lefty, but do you really want Ohman or Marshall in there as a LOOGY anyway? I don’t.

    3. I include Sam Fuld in the mix based soley on his hustle, speed, and ability to come in late as a defensive sub or pinch runner.

    4. Hank White gets the boot because of his fragility and Geo’s hot bat since being recalled.

    That’s all I’ve got this morning. I want to hear from you. Maybe you want to post your roster. Maybe you just want to pick apart or make tweaks to mine. Whatever your ideas, let’s here them. Post your comment this weekend.

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    Game 159 – Preview

    Friday, September 28th, 2007

    Scouting Today’s Starters from
    Carlos Zambrano – Zambrano had to come out of his last start against the Pirates because of cramping in his forearm and leg. It’s not the first time this has happened, and the Cubs aren’t sure what to do to stop it. He gave up three hits over six scoreless innings and struck out six, including the first four batters he faced. Big Z is expected to be matched up against Aaron Harang again. He hasn’t beaten him in four starts so far.

    Bronson Arroyo – Arroyo pitched seven scoreless innings but was a 2-0 loser on Saturday vs. the Giants, as the Reds lineup went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight on base. The right-hander gave up five hits and struck out two and tied a career high with five walks and hit one batter. But he worked out of early danger in what was a strong outing. Cincinnati scored two runs or less in 14 of Arroyo√≠ 33 starts — including three shutouts. The club is 12-21 in his starts despite 21 quality outings.

  • He’s an economical pitcher who locates his pitches well. Right-handed hitters find him particularly tough.
  • Needs to work on his ability to pitch beyond the sixth inning and isn’t as effective from the stretch with runners on.
  • 1-0, 2.45 in last 18.1 IP

    View the game preview from Baseball Reference to see various features like the bullpen rest report, information on today’s starters and much more.
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    Who is the Best of the Best?

    Friday, September 28th, 2007

    As we head into the last weekend of regular season baseball and the races come down to the wire, I thought Cub fans would need a break from analyzing every game, inning, pitch, error, etc. Especially since the Marlins have not been kind to us and the Cubs have forgotten how to hit, pitch and field for that matter.

    So let’s talk Cy Young Award Race 2007

    The Cy Yound award can be defined as an annual award given by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to the pitcher voted the most effective in each of the two leagues. Well, here is where the debate can start. How exactly do you define most effective? Is it the most dominant? Does durability matter and if it does, it is more important than lights out dominance? How do you judge? Who do you pick? It is not black and white and that makes it so fun to argue about.

    For the record, let’s get this out of the way now. In my opinion, pitcher A does not deserve the Cy Young award simply because he has won the most games in the league. The win-loss record in my mind is still overrated by most fans. Pitchers don’t need flashy win totals to have a good season, although I did in fact list their records. Lets take a look at the contestants, shall we?

    American League

    Josh Beckett (Boston Red Sox)
    W-L 20-6
    ERA 3.14
    K 188
    W 40
    WHIP 1.12

    The Cool Kid, Beckett’s the American League’s first to win 20 games since Bartolo Colon won 21 and the first for the Red Sox since Curt Schilling (21) in 2004. Beckett benefited greatly from the 6.66 runs per start the Red Sox scored for him, about a run more per game than received by C.C. Sabathia, two runs more than Fausto Carmona, and a run-and-a-half more than John Lackey. Still, he is the top five in WHIP and ERA, and the top 10 in strikeouts and quality starts. Also, according to ESPN, the only Red Sox starters in the last 50 years who had a full season with this many wins, this low an ERA and a winning percentage as good as Beckett are Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. Now that is not bad company. Also,never underestimate the media’s fascination will all things East coast.

    C.C. Sabathia (Cleveland Indiana)
    W-L 18-7
    ERA 3.19
    K 205
    W 36
    WHIP 1.14

    The Workhorse, Sabathia put together 10 straight starts of two earned runs or fewer. He also posted a 5.69 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which would be the second-best by any left-handed starter since 1901. The Indians offense didn’t always treat Sabathia well: In seven starts from July 24 to August 24, Sabathia allowed 12 earned runs, and his record in those starts was 1-3. He matched up against Johan Santanathree times, twice in the final five weeks, and won all three games. Sabathia has a strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.69) better than all AL starters.

    Johan Santana (Minnesota Twins)
    W-L 15-13
    ERA 3.33
    K 235
    W 52
    WHIP 1.07

    The Longshot, most pitchers would dream of having the year he is having. He’s within range of leading the league in ERA and strikeouts. Fewer hitters reach base against him (.272 OBP) than against any starting pitcher in either league. In the five losses to the Indians, the Twins scored a total of eight runs.

    Honorable mentions include, Fausto Carmona, Cleveland Indians, Dan Haren, Oakland Athletics, Chien-Ming Wang, New York Yankees and if you believe closers are in the mix, J.J. Putz, Seattle Mariners.

    Who do I think will win? Beckett, it is hard to beat Red Sox nation, dominance, or 20 wins for that matter. Who do I want to win? Sabathia, I have a special place in my heart for durability. For those pure statistic guys – statically the two are pretty even. Although Beckett has two more wins, Sabathia has been pitching deeper into games, their ERA is statistically identical, as is their WHIP. Sabathia has an even better K/BB rate than Beckett, and has won 17 games while receiving over a run less per game in support than Beckett.

    National League

    Jake Peavy (San Diego Padres)
    W-L 19-6
    ERA 2.36
    K 234
    W 64
    WHIP 1.03

    The Triple Threat, it is really hard to argue against Jake Peavy, period. Consider this, Peavy could be the NL’s fourth pitching Triple Crown winner (first in wins, ERA and strikeouts) in the last 40 years. The others — Steve Carlton in 1972, Dwight Gooden in 1985 and Randy Johnson in 2002 — all got a Cy Young out of it. He has stopped 11 losing streaks — most in the big leagues.For the doubters out there, Peavy has been better on the road (9-1, 2.13) than at home (8-5, 2.68).It also never hurts when you one up the next closest contender for Cy Young award in a head-to-head competition. Yes, I am talking to you Brandon Webb.

    Brandon Webb (Arizona Diamondbacks)
    W-L 17-10
    ERA 3.02
    K 192
    W 70
    WHIP 1.18

    The Dominator, Webb has pitched three complete-game shutouts in a row. Nobody else in the NL has thrown more than one all year.He is also the proud holder of a 42 shutout innings streak. He has racked up 23 starts of seven innings or more, most in the big leagues. He leads the league in innings pitched and complete games. While his record is 16-10, his run support (4.31 runs per nine innings) is a run and a half lower than either Peavy’s (5.75) or Brad Penny‘s (5.67). It is very hard to win back-to-back Cy Young awards, especially with a Jake Peavy in your way.

    Brad Penny (Los Angeles Dodgers)
    W-L 16-4
    ERA 3.03
    K 135
    W 73
    WHIP 1.31

    The Monster, Penny is 15-4, and he could be 19-4 if his bullpen hadn’t blown four more games he deserved to win. He has as many quality starts as Peavy (25 in 30 starts), and as many starts allowing one earned run or none (16). But Penny also has won just two of his last nine starts (with admittedly crummy run support).

    Honorable mentions include Aaron Harang, Cincinatti Reds, John Smoltz, Altanta Braves, Dan Haren, Oakland Athletics and if you believe closers are in the mix, J.J. Putz, Seattle Mariners.

    Who do I think will win? Peavy. Who do I want to win? Peavy, Triple Crown threat? You can’t do much better than that.

    All statistics provided by Yahoo Sports as of Thursday, September 27, 2007. ‚àë

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    update and some reasons to enjoy the weekend

    Thursday, September 27th, 2007

    The Brewers got drilled by the Padres tonight which cuts the Cubs magic number to two. The Cubs now enter the final three games of the season up two in the standings. Now I know that no one thought the team would get swept by the Marlins, and they are really bad record wise, however there is some spin to think about the series. The Cubs pitched their four and quasi five against the Marlins with Marquis and Trachsel. Lilly pitched game one but he pitched against Dontrelle Willis who has good potential when he pitches. There is no excuse for getting swept, but the Marlins have a lot of good hitters, and the first place teams are losing all over the league. Also the Cubs were hitting a little in the final two games, with Ramirez and Soriano both hitting shots that would’ve gone out in any park in the last game. Bottom line: we shouldn’t get swept…but we did and the magic number decreased by two in the process.

    Good news. Consider this: because the magic number is two the Cubs could clinch every game from here out. If we win any game, and the Brewers lose on the same day we’re in. Ben Sheets has been pulled from his start tomorrow and Greg Maddux will face Chris Capuano…go Madd Dog. On Saturday Chris Young will pitch against Dave Bush. Honestly, there is a chance we could back our way in without winning…but let’s not try.

    Worst case scenario right now…and a real reason to SETTLE DOWN CUBS FANS…worst case scenario the Cubs are tied with the Brewers on Sunday with Jake Peavy starting against them. Currently, Peavy is not slated to start but if the Brewers somehow win both Friday and Saturday they will then need to pitch him on Sunday in order to make the playoffs.

    On a final note: don’t turn on this team yet. How they play this week has absolutely no bearing on how they will do if they make the playoffs. Also, how they have played for the last century has nothing to do with how they will play these three games. Consider this: because they have played so amazing this month they laid the Cardinals to rest and put themselves in a position that they could play weak this series and still be in control of the division. Again, the Cubs currently have the biggest division lead in the National league. And if I am remembering right, they are something like 17 games over .500 since June.

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    Looking for ONE good start

    Thursday, September 27th, 2007

    The numbers say that this should be easier than it is. The numbers say that the Cubs should have come into Miami and taken big steps in the direction of knocking the Brewers out of the playoff picture. All say I have been running through the scenarios in my mind. One win…only one win and only one Brewers loss in four remaining games guarantees at least a game 163 at Wrigley Field on Monday. That is the second to worst case scenario (let’s not talk about the worst case scenario). Which means that if the Cubs would only split these four remaining games against the Marlins and Reds the Brewers would forced to sweep the Padres, who are also fighting for their playoff lives, or not make the playoffs. Sounds easy…

    Steve Trachsel was bad again…I mean bad. Following up on the bad from Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis, Trachsel was just as bad. It seems to me that each start from Trachsel was worse than the numbers suggested and today was like that as well…even though his numbers were bad enough. It has been consistently nice to be behind two or three runs in the second or third inning of each game in the series. Trachsel gave up a lead off double to Hanley Ramirez. He scored on a sac fly by Mike Jacobs. Trachsel got out of the first with only one run damage, the Marlins stranding runners and Trachsel throwing 30 pitches in the inning. The Marlins scored two more runs in the second inning as the Marlins scored two runs through their bottom of the order. Trachsel went one, two, three in the third and fourth. In the fifth Hanley Ramirez homered to lead off the inning and Dan Uggla followed with a walk. Trachsel was pulled and Kevin Hart gave up a run scoring double, that was debatably fair, and the Cubs were down 5-1. Dempster pitched the eighth, with the score now 5-4. and gave up a lead off walk and an insurance run scoring double to put the game away. Trachsel’s final numbers: 4.1 IP 5H 5ER 2BB.

    Lou Piniella started Geovany Soto again even though he said he would be starting Jason Kendall for the remainder of the year. He also started Craig Monroe in the outfield for “defensive purposes.” DeRosa and Theriot were killer bad today going 0 for 9 and stranding 10. I am wondering if Lou should drop Theriot to eighth again and move Jones back to second. Jones was two for four again today, but struck out being over anxious in a critical bases loaded situation in the seventh.

    The Cubs stranded ten runners. They had ten hits: two for Soriano, one for Lee, four for Ramirez, one for Soto, and two for Jones. But the Marlins bullpen shut them down again as they have done all series.

    The Cubs made a game of it scoring three runs in the sixth to make the game 5-4. Scott Eyre came out to pitch the bottom of the inning and loaded the bases with none out. Kerry Wood came in and was stellar. Getting a pinch hitter to strike out and coaxing Hanley Ramirez into a double play to end the inning…no runs after bases loaded none out. It looked like the Cubs would ride this into a win. They loaded the bases in the seventh, but Jones struck out flailing at out for the strike zone pitches. The strike zone was goofy all series, as it was again today. The ump was consistently calling a very low strike and DeRosa seemed lost all series. But here’s a note to Cubs hitters: protect the plate and SWING!!! The strike zone was the same all game.

    The Cubs move on to Cincinnati to face the Reds. Tomorrow night is Zambrano against Arroyo and Saturday is Hill against Harang. Hold your breath it could get interesting.

    The Brewers begin a series against the Padres tonight. I would like to personally thank Ned Yost for the moronic move of hitting Albert Pujols with a pitch in the eighth inning of last night’s game when they were only down 3-2. He gets suspended for tonight’s game, his reliever McClung gets suspended until Sunday, and the Cardinals use that runner to break the game open. Brilliant move Ned! Anyone who thinks that retaliation was more important then keeping runners off base is clueless. Thanks again…it made today easier.

    I know this is completely maddening, but take comfort in the fact that this is happening around the league. The D-Backs have watched their lead shrink to one after losing two of three to the Pirates. The Mets are blowing it in the East after getting swept by the Nationals. The Rockies have won ten straight and are battling the Phillies, Padres, Mets, and D-Backs for the wildcard. Who will be in the playoffs next week? Who has a clue?

    And yet another reason why I like Lou Piniella: Feeling that the Cubs were pressing too much he invited Bill Murray to join the team on the field for batting practice and the clubhouse before the game.

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