View From The Bleachers

April 21, 2008

Role Players Know Their Role

Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 11:08 pm

First Star – Carlos Zambrano (.341)
Second Star – Aramis Ramirez (.224)
Third Star – Carlos Marmol (.083)
Top Play – Ramirez home run in the 4th scoring two (+.181)

Well, yesterday’s recap generated some good discussion so maybe today we need to talk about my views on abortion and the race for the 2008 presidency. Or, how about we compromise and talk about the fact that we beat a team not named the Pirates to continue our hot play.

Starting Pitching – I looked at the probables for the game about three days ago and figured this one would be a good one. With Zambrano pitching the way he has been to start the year and Maine always a quality guy, it had the makings from the beginning for a good game. Granted it’s not as appealing as a matchup that would have featured Santana, but that’s quite alright with me. I’d be fine with never facing Santana all year.

Overall, I thought Zambrano was about as good as we can ever really expect from him. It’s hard to expect him to go out and go nine innings all the time, but if we can get seven out of him with three or less given up, we’re going to win a lot of those starts. To me, it’s on the ace of the staff to go out and rest that bullpen at times. You can’t expect that out of the fifth starter, but definitely out of the top two. To make that happen, walks have to be at a minimum and pitches need to be kept low. To this point, Zambrano has taken care of business in that department. I usually look for the starter to limit the pitches thrown in the inning to no more than 15, which allows them to go seven and throw 105 pitches. With tonight’s numbers factored it, Zambrano is at 15 pitches / IP. That is a career low for him and a good sign that he’s finally putting everything together. Couple that with the fact that he’s only issued five walks in 33.2 inning and you’ve got the makings of a legit ace.

Unlikely Heroes – Both whipping boys came up big tonight with insurance RBI’s in the 8th. For Ronny Cedeno, his two run single came after a good at bat in which he fouled off a couple of pitches to get something he could work with. He’s played well of late and has maximized his playing time. He’s not ready to supplant anyone in the starting lineup on a permanent basis just yet, but he’s making the most of his role and helping the team. For Pie, his homerun put the game away. As soon as he hit it and I saw that it was going to go out, my mind immediately went to the amount of people will be actually be mad at the idea that he hit a home run because it means he’s going to “want to start swinging for the fences”. This is garbage thinking. Sometimes we make too much of home runs. We come out and say that it’s bad when we win with the home run because it means we can’t play small ball. It’s bad when a non-power guy hits the home run because he may think he’s more of a power hitter than he really is. The fact is, I don’t care how Felix Pie drives in runs, as long as he’s driving in runs. I don’t care how we win games as long as we win games. Someone once said “Every team will win 60 games, every team will lose 60 games, it’s what the team does in the other 42 games that decides the season.” That is right on the money. The trick is to get those wins under our belt, regardless of the way they happen and then take out chances in the post season. Tonight, Felix and Ronny helped us do that. Case closed.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Geo should never have attempted to throw the runner out at third on a bunt by John Maine in the 6th. With a 2-0 lead, there is no reason to try to be a hero. Take the sure out and allow the runner to get to third.
  • Lee got his gold glove today before the game and I can’t help but wonder what one of those bad boys would bring on e-bay.
  • Zambrano needs to work with the rest of our staff on holding runners. He does a great job at varying his time in the stretch, throws crazy pickoff moves and has a quick delivery to home plate. Imagine how much pressure that would take off Geo if the rest of the rotation was as good at preventing stolen bases.
  • Luis Castillo has 106 infield hits since 2006. Is it just me or does that seem like an insane amount?
  • Ryan Theriot was scratched from tonight’s game due to back spasms
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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail

  • Brian

    Throughout all the previous converstations on this blog about Cedeno, I have always been a supporter of him. It is nice to see him finally putting it all together. With Theriot playing the way he has been, I agree with you, Joe, that he is not ready to crack the starting lineup at this time, but I am glad that the Cubs did not get rid of Ronny when everyone was calling for it. In the long run, if he can keep up his level of play and his approach at the plate (I don’t expect that he will bat .333 for the season, but he has really improved his plate discipline), I think he has a lot more upside at SS than Theriot, and Theriot, because of his versatility, could end up becoming our utility infielder.

    Speaking of getting rid of people, what do you think we could get for Soriano right now?

    Ok, just kidding, but it is nice to see this team playing so well with him out of the lineup right now! I can’t wait to see what this team is capable of when he returns and gets on one of his hot streaks.

    Finally, I thought the ESPN team did a good job on the game tonight. I really agreed with their point that once Howry gets going, we will be really tough to bet if we are leading after 6. Howry, Marmol, Wood….I like it!

  • http://none Lynn

    i think Lasorda said that, good point!

  • Matt Jacobs

    Here’s my thing with Cedeno. Two weeks of good play doesn’t balance out the two or three years of craptastic play. Baseball has an incredible way of averaging things out. So either he’ll revert because that’s the way he really is, or he’ll be somewhere in between what we’ve seen this year and the past few.

    I just don’t think “he suddenly got it.”

  • Brian

    I am not saying he suddenly “got it”, and I said in my post that I don’t think he will keep up this level of play, especially at the plate, for the whole season. But what I am saying is he is showing an obvious level of improvement and a much higher level of discipline at the plate. That is what we want from our young guys… show improvement, to get better.

    Now, I agree, right now we are still dealing with a small sample size, but I do think, as you said Matt, that he will probably be somewhere in between what we’ve seen this year and the past few years. If this is the case, and next offseason he continues to mature and improve, then we will see something a little better yet.

    That is my whole point. With the improvement he has made to this point this season (yes, small sample), if Cedeno can continue to build on it, he presents a better upside, in my opinion, at SS than Theriot. And that is by no way a knock on Theriot. He plays hard and has done everything the Cubs have asked of him.

  • blaker

    the ESPN announcers said that Pie’s minor league batting coach will be with the team the next couple of weeks and try to get PIE started up again.

  • Brad

    Ronny Cedeno has impressed me this season. I was very down on him, but he has proven that he knows what he needs to improve on and is working hard. That is really all you can ask from a player. If Pie can make similar strides then I will be happy. I think its taking time for the new coaching staff to get the bad habits the old staff imparted upon them.

  • cubbieluv53

    Craptastic? Too funny. I still think the little booger got lucky and needs to be traded.

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