Archive for September, 2008

He's A Steamroller, Baby

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Ted (The Human Steamroller) Lilly is on the mound for the Cubbies, vs Ben Sheets for the Brewers. It’s a sunny afternoon at Miller Park. Let’s go!

In his pregame show, Lou used the word “audition”, so I’ll use it, too. The Brewers are fighting for their life today, while the Cubs are holding auditions. And The Auditioning Cubs take a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the first. Daryle, I take it all back.

Ted Lilly mows ‘em down. Brewers go 3 up and 3 down in the 1st, with 2 Ks.

Now Ted (The Human Steamroller) Lilly blasts a ground rule double over Corey Hart and bouncing over the fence. But, with runners on 2nd and 3rd, Fuku flies out to center TO END THE INNING.

I hate to say it, but Ronny Cedeno E6s Prince Fielder to 1st. The Steamroller gets the Brewers to ground into a fielder’s choice and then tap a bouncer back to the mound. Oh, yes, Ted Lilly is looking good today. We move to the 3rd inning with the Cubs leading 2-0.

An error and wild pitch put Cedeno on 2nd with no outs. Sheets walks two to load the bases with one out. Fontenot lines a single to right, scoring two runs. Cubs lead 4-0, and that’s all for Ben Sheets. Mark DiFelice is the new pitcher. And so the inning ends. Fuku will lead off the Cubs 4th.

In the 3rd Ted Lilly rolls right over the Brewers, 3 up and 3 down. I’m likin’ it.

Fuku draws a walk!! And steals 2nd!! Wooo Wooo Fuku!! And takes 3rd on Micah’s ground out!! Where he dies as Daryle Ward fans to end the scoreless inning.

He’s a Steamroller, Baby!! 3 up and 3 down in the Brewers 4th. Score is 4-0, Cubs.

Lilly Steamrolls ‘em again the the 5th, 3 up and 3 down. Score is 4-0, Cubs.

And Fuku hits into a 6-4-3 double play to end the Cubs scoreless 6th. There have been 6 hits in this game. The Cubs have 6 hits.

In the Brewers’ 6th, Ted begins to throw some balls. He walks one and has to face 4 batters to get 3 outs. He’s a Steamroller, Baby!!

The Brewers’ bullpen is gettin’ ‘er done. The Cubs have gone 3 up and 3 down in the past 3 innings. Score is 4-0 after six and a half innings.

Ryan Braun breaks up the no-hitter with a double to left leading off the Brewers’ 7th. And somehow what should have been Prince Fielder’s fly out to short right center drops for a single. Two pitches into the 7th, The Steamroller is through for the day. Carlos Marmol comes in with Brewers on the corners and no outs. Marmol gets his Brewers 3 up and 3 down. Cubs lead 4-1.

Jason Marquis is pitching in the bottom of the 8th. One out, one walk, two hits, one run and one hit batsman later Neal Cotts comes in to face Prince Fielder. Score is 4-2. One pitch/E6. Score is 4-3. Neal Cotts is gone (through no fault of his own). Ooops, that was not scored as an error. Give Fielder a hit. Michael Wuertz comes in and gets two FCs to end the inning. Cubs lead 4-3. Jason Marquis didn’t do so hot. But Michael Wuertz goes to the head of the class.

Theriot singles and Fuku slams a 2 run homer in the top of the 9th. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!! Cedeno singles to right. The Cubs are lighting up the Brewers’ closer, Salomon Torres. And Mitch Stetter comes in to pitch to Micah with one on and no outs.

Micah pops out and Felix Pie walks. Stetter is gone; Todd Coffey is in with 2 on and 1 out. Reed Johnson singles to left, scoring Cedeno. Cubs take a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth with Kerry Wood.

Three up and three down in the bottom of the 9th. Cubs win 7-3.

Ted (The Human Steamroller) Lilly had a no hitter through 6 innings today. Daryle Ward, batting clean-up, had a 2 run homer. Ronny Cedeno did not, in my opinion, distinguish himself today. Michael Wuertz performed exceedingly well today. Kosuke Fukudome broke the game open with a 2 run homer in the 9th. Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood performed up to their high standards. Jason Marquis had a rough go today.

For the Brewers, Ben Sheets didn’t have it today. Mark DiFelice and Dave Bush looked good in relief.

Tomorrow CC and Z will pitch.Dodsworth ipod UKM: The Ultimate Killing Machine full

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It's Miller Time

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

The Cubs have a strong offensive lineup tonight, vs. Jeff Suppan who has struggled in September. Let’s hope his struggles continue. The roof is open at Miller Park, it’s a beautiful night in SE Wisconsin. Go Cubs Go!

The Cubs’ hitters made good contact in the 1st. Five batters came to the plate, and each drove a ball to the outfield. Two for singles, and Hoffpauir was robbed. Granted, Dee Lee’s single was off the glove of Craig Counsell, but it ended up in left field. They keep hitting like this, it will be a good evening.

There is a 2 or 3 second delay between the radio action and the ESPN video feed. So I get a radio heads up about what I’m gonna see. I like that.

The Brewers’ hitters didn’t get anything out of the infield in the 1st inning. Granted, Ray Durham’s single ended up in right field after glancing off the mitt of Dee Lee. If this keeps up, it will be a good evening.

The Cubs’ batters continue driving balls to the outfield in the 2nd, including Jim Edmond’s which sails over the fence for four bases. Cubs lead 1-0.

The Brewers find the long ball in the 2nd, including Jason Kendall’s RBI double over Alfonso’s head. Wake up, Alfonso. Game is tied 1-1.

In the 3rd, Suppan, looking very impressive, strikes out the side (Dee Lee, ARam and Hoffpauir) after allowing a single to Fontenot.

Dee Lee turned a beautiful 3-6-3 double play in the 3rd. You gotta admire that play.

I’m looking for Carlos Zambrano to come in from the bullpen in a couple of innings.

Am I the only one who’s tired of hearing about “Fred and Ethyl Mertz’s 45th Wedding Anniversary” type announcements during the game? Geez, Louise!

**GAME CHANGING PLAY ALERT** In the 4th, Hoffpauir loses his footing in right field, turning an out into a double for JJ Hardy. Oops. I hope he didn’t hurt himself on the slip.

Mike Fontenot is 3 for 3 so far tonight. Alfonso is 0 for 3 so far. Ryan Theriot is 2 for 2 so far. Maybe Soriano should not be batting in the lead off position.

**SECOND GAME CHANGING PLAY ALERT** In the 5th, Hoffpauir singles with 2 outs, placing Fontenot on 3rd. But Micah tries to take 2nd and he’s thrown out, ending the inning. So I guess he didn’t hurt his leg on the slip in right field. Maybe he rattled his brain, though. Then again, he wasn’t out by much at 2nd. So we’ll give Hoffpauir an “A” for aggressive base running, but he gets an “F” for f***ing up.

Soto gets pulled during his 6th inning at bat. He was wincing in pain while swinging at a pitch. Oh, man, we don’t need Geovany hurt. Oh man. Koyie Hill replaces Soto. Koyie fans. The next batter, Jim Edmonds, singles but is put out trying to steal 2nd base. He was out by a mile. Did Theriot miss a hit and run sign? Or what?

In the Brewers’ 6th, with Sean Marshall pitching, another fly ball to left sails over Alfonso’s head. We’ll call it a double for Ray Durham. Nice play, Alfonso. How’s the vacation going? Marshall walks Ryan Braun, and then makes Price Fielder look pretty uncoordinated as he goes down swinging.

Replacing Sean Marshall with 1 out in the 6th, Jeff Samardzija is throwing at 98 mph. Corey Hart slaps a fly to left. Too bad Alfonso is moving like a snail tonight. He casually watches the ball drop in front of him for an RBI single. That’s three hits so far he maybe should have had. 0 for 3 at the plate; 0 for 3 in left field (except for the gimmees). I am not, at this moment, in the Alfonso Soriano fan club.

Leading off the Cubs’ 7th and pinch hitting, my man, Kosuke Fukudome, does not distinguish himself. A dribbler back to the mound? Well, at least he doesn’t strike out like the next two batters, Alfonso and Fontenot, do.

Alfonso is now 0-4 at the plate. Maybe Soriano will step it up next week in the playoffs. Maybe.

Brewers 7th inning. Chad Gaudin pitching. Great play by Theriot. Then, catcher’s interference. Balk. Single. Three run homer to left. Brewers lead 5-1. Pick off. Double off the wall. Carlos Marmol steps in and puts out the fire.

Cubs 3 up and 3 down in the 8th. Seth McClung is looking very impressive, tonight.

And Carlos Marmol is looking pretty good himself tonight. He faces 5 batters and gets 4 outs.

Going into the top of the 9th, McClung has the Cubs 9 up and 9 down since entering the game in the 6th inning. (Jim Edmonds singled but was put out trying to reach 2nd on a blown hit and run.) Now it’s 10 up and 10 down. 11 up and 11 down. Ryan Theriot draws a walk.

Darlye Ward comes in to pinch hit with 2 out and a man on 1st. I have a very bad feeling about this. And the mighty Casey has struck out.

Looking back on it, I think the momentum of this game totally changed in the 4th inning when Micah Hoffpauir slipped in right field and turned an out into a double for JJ Hardy. No runs scored in the inning. In fact, the other 3 batters were all put out, including two Ks. But, for me, somehow the momentum shifted. I can’t explain it.

The Cubs now have about 96 hours to “get a grip”, or this is going to be a very short postseason.

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A Moral Dilemma

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Hypothetically speaking, say you were to get lucky and score tickets for a Cubs playoff game. You got them for face value, and they’re damn good seats. You’ve never seen the Cubs live during the playoffs, and you think this may be the year.

Then you open up the paper and read a story on how much these tickets are going for on eBay and Stubhub, and you could stand to make chunk of change. You’re not in financial straits, but extra cash never hurt. It a moral dilemma of proposterious dimension. A blue blooded Cub fan that can’t decide if being part of history would be as nice as sizable bump in the bank account.

What would you do? Sell the tickets? Or go to the game?

By the way, they’re for game five of the NLDS. Let’s hope the Cubs make my decision easier, and just win in three or four.

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The Tale of Theriot

Friday, September 26th, 2008

A recent thread once again brought up the greatness of Ryan Theriot. I have been meaning to do something like this for awhile, so I guess it is time.

Below is a look at where Ryan Theriot stands offensively and defensively in comparison to other every day shortstops in the National League. The numbers below will pretty clearly show that Ryan Theriot, is, in fact, below average both offensively and defensively.

Now… this does not mean that I dislike Ryan Theriot, or that he does not have place on this Cubs team. I believe that he does, and has played a good role for the Cubs. I just believe that many, many people extremely overrate what he brings to this team, and I show why.

Defensively

Out of 11 qualifying NL SS’s, Theriot is:

  • 7th in Fielding %
  • 11th in Range Factor
  • 8th in Zone Rating
  • 10th in RZR (which has 12 qualifiers)
  • 12th in OOZ, which doesn’t have qualifiers

Baseball Prospectus gives Theriot a 98 in their Rate2 stat, where 100 is average.
Offensively

Theriot has an OPS+ of 93. That, by definition, is below average. For those of you who do now know, OPS+ is “OPS normalized for both the park and the league the player played in,: with 100 being the average. Out of 9 qualifying NL SS’s, Theriot is:

  • 8th in OPS
  • 9th in total bases
  • 7th in runs created
  • 8th in Gross Production Average
  • 10th (of 11) in Equivalent Average
  • 8th (of 11) in EQR
  • 10th (0f 11) in RAR
  • 10th (0f 11) in RAP
  • 8th (of 11) in RARP
  • 9th in VORP

Theriot is 7th in total Win Shares (batting & fielding combined), and 7th in batting and 9th in fielding. Of course, a player on a winning team will have more win shares. Now, one commentator thought that it would be good to compare Derek Jeter and Ryan Theriot. I am not going to touch their defenses, because they are both at the bottom defensively, but lets look offensively at their numbers this year. Of course, it is important to remember that Derek Jeter is having his worst year since 1997.

(“winners” in bold)

  • OPS:Theriot – 737, Jeter – 773
  • OPS+: Theriot – 93, Jeter – 106
  • Runs Created: Theriot – 75, Jeter – 88
  • Gross Production Average: Theriot – .253, Jeter – .269
  • Win Shares: Theriot -13 , Jeter – 16
  • EQA: Theriot – .260, Jeter – .275
  • EQR: Theriot – 71.8, Jeter – 85.2
  • RAR: Theriot – 19.1, Jeter – 30.6
  • RAP: Theriot – 4, Jeter – 14.6
  • RARP: Theriot – 22.8, Jeter – 34.1
  • Theriot – 25.2, Jeter – 38.9

Theriot, in his best year, is nowhere close to Jeter, who is having his worst year of his career. Jeter is pretty significantly better in each category.

Let me be very clear. I do not dislike Ryan Theriot. I just do not think that he is a great baseball player, or an All-Star, or the Cubs MVP, or anything like that. He is a role player, and an average one at best. And he simply does not compare to Derek Jeter.

Oh … and more fun one. People around here hate Derrek Lee, mostly for reasons not known to me. But one reason is because Derrek Lee’s propensity for double plays this year. Would you believe it if I told you that Ryan Theriot grounds into double plays at a higher rate (18.1%) in double play situations than Derrek Lee does (17.0%).

But go ahead and keep bashing Derrek Lee and praising Ryan Theriot. Maybe my next post will be comparing those two.

NOTE: If you would like explanations/definitions of these stats, go to:

  • B-R (OPS+)
  • THT (Win Shares, Runs Created, Gross Production Average)
  • Baseball Prospectus (EQA, EQR, RAR, RAP, RARP)
  • ESPN (Fielding %, Range factor, Zone rating)
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Bring On The Rain

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Depending upon which report you believe, it was either raining or threatening to rain at Shea Stadium as game time approached. The prediction was that rain would begin to fall, would increase in intensity, and would continue for days.

Of course, The Cubs and The Mets were approaching this particular game from completely different perspectives. The Mets have, at most, four games to pull themselves into the post season. So they were in the “Go For Broke”, “Do Or Die”, “Pull Out All The Stops” and “It’s Now Or Never” mode.

The Cubs, on the other hand, are in the playoffs and have locked up home field advantage for the duration. So they were in the “Husband Your Resources”, “Don’t Catch Cold”, “Don’t Get Hurt” and “Let’s Get The Young Guys Some Experience” mode.

It has been said that : ”Amateurs argue tactics, while professionals discuss logistics”. So any specific tactics I mention in this piece will be considered only in the context of the larger overall logistical picture.

Lou said in the pregame show that he is considering using Z out of the bullpen in the near future. You do what ya gotta do.

Micah Hoffpauir had a big night at the plate tonight. Five hits, comprising two four-baggers, two singles and one double. Kosuke Fukudome drew two intentional walks. Rich Harden pitched six full innings.

I’m experiencing this game on radio only tonight. Since I can’t SEE the game, I ask: Is Koyie Hill still telegraphing pitches as he did last night?

**BIG CUBS INNING ALERT** With 2 outs in the 1st inning, Micah Hoffpauir takes Pedro Martinez to right center with a home run to start the festivities. Let’s get this one in before the sky opens up. Jim Edmonds walks and takes 3rd on Mike Fontenot’s right field single. Edmonds scores on Casey McGehee’s single to right. Cubs lead 2-0. Fuku looks at strike 3, ending the inning.

In the Mets’ 1st, Jose Reyes is safe at 1st base on an error by Hoffpauir. Reyes steals 2nd and takes third on Dan Murphy’s 6-3 at bat. Reyes scores on David Wright’s sac fly. Cubs lead 2-1.

**CUBS SCORING ALERT** In the 3rd, Ryan Theriot draws a walk and scores on Micah Hoffpauir’s double off the wall. Fuku looks at strike 3, ending the inning. (Is there an echo in here?) Cubs lead 3-1

Rich Harden walks two Mets in the 4th and they both score on Ryan Church’s double to right. This ties the score 3-3 with 2 out. And the rain picks up. If they can get the 5th inning in the game is official. The 4th inning ends with the score tied 3-3.

In the bottom of the 5th, Jose Reyes draws a walk and steals 2nd, where he dies. This is now a complete and official game, the score of which is tied at 3.

David Wright walks to lead off the Mets 6th, but Harden ends the inning by striking out Ramon Martinez. A strong finish for Rich Harden. Score remains tied at 3.

**BIG CUBS INNING ALERT** Feliz Pies leads off the Cubs 7th with a single to right. Let’s get him around. Pie steals 2nd. Theriot walks and Micah Hoffpauir hits his 2nd homer of the night, a 3 run blast to right off reliever Riccardo Rincon. Cubs lead 6-3 in a game which could be called at any time due to rain. Mike Fontenot doubles but dies at 2nd when Koyie fans to end the inning. Cubs lead 6-3.

Chad Gaudin (or is it Gaugin?) is pitching for the Cubs in the bottom of the 7th. He gives up a double to the 1st batter, Robinson Cancel, who takes 3rd on Marlon Anderson’s ground out to short. Cancel scores on Jose Reyes’ ground out to short. Chad Gaudin/Gaugin gave up a double but got the next 3 out in order. Not too bad.
The 7th inning ends with the Cubs leading 6-4. Can we call the game now??

Neal Cotts gives up a single to David Wright to open the Mets 8th. Carlos Delgado hits into a 5-6-3 double play. When’s the last time you remember a 5-6-3 double play? Beltran singles, Church singles, and Cotts is gone. The tying run is on at 1st, the lead run is at the plate. Say hello to Bob Howry. Beltran steals 3rd. Ramon Martinez singles to left, scoring the Mets 5th run. The tying run is at 2nd base with 2 outs. Cancel singles to right, Fuku’s throw is in time to nail the runner Church, but Koyie Hill misses the tag. The game is tied at 6.
Neal Cotts faced 4 batters and gave up 3 hits.
Bob Howry faced 3 batters and gave up 2 hits.

In the 9th, Fontenot singles to right and takes 2nd on a wild pitch. McGehee fans and Fuku is intentionally walked. Fontenot moves to 3rd while Fuku is forced at 2nd on Hill’s 6-4 fielder’s choice. Pinch hitter Daryle Ward chops the ball back to the mound and is thrown out, ending the scoreless inning. Cubs had a runner at 2nd with no outs, but could not score.

Bottom of the 9th. Kevin Hart is pitching. Jose Reyes singles to right. Daniel Murphy bunts foul with 2 strikes. On the play Reyes stole 2nd, but since it was a foul ball, he returns to 1st. David Wright fans as Reyes steals 2nd again. An intentional walk is issued to Carlos Delgado. Carlos Beltran singles to right, winning the game. I will live. And The Cubs will live to win another day.

The Mets used everything they had tonight. The Cubs played numerous backups and rested their horses. The question is whether the Cubs’ horses will be up to the challenges in the next week or two or three. I am comfortable with the way Lou is very intelligently doing everything he can to maximize the Cubs’ chances going forward.

So we shall see what we shall see. I hope I can get the Miller Park games on TV this weekend.Assassins move

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