Archive for October, 2008

Year in Review: Derrek Lee

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

What They Said Before the Season:

Ron Shandler – “It took another half-season for power to return; luckily high 1H h% propped up his value while we waited. 2H surge (and 7 HR/164 PX Sept.) gives hope for still more power recovery. Return to 40 HR level not out of the question”

My Pre-Season Thoughts – After injury cut 2006 short for Lee, many expected him to return to his 2005 numbers and become a poor man’s Albert Pujols for the Cubs. While Lee continued to hit for average and get on base at a great clip, he saw his homerun production decrease from 46 in 2005 to just 22 in 2007. Lee will continue to play a gold glove first base and be an on base machine. The big question is if the power stroke will return. Look for Lee to improve on the 22 long balls but not hit more than 30 this season. (Editor’s Note: I think I did pretty well with that comment from the beginning of the season)

Projections vs. Actual Ransom the movie

Ron Shandler was pretty solid here, except for the prediction for Lee to return to being a power threat.

The Double Play Breakdown

We had a question yesterday about who was on base during Lee’s double plays. I decided to take a look and break it down for you. Here are the results.

Ryan Theriot – 16 times

Kosuke Fukudome – 3 times

Alfonso Soriano – 2 times

Mike Fontenot – 2 times

Mark DeRosa – 1 time

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Eric Patterson – 1 time

Reed Johnson – 1 time

What I take from that is a few things. First, Ryan Theriot clearly did his job by getting on base in front of the heart of the order. Secondly, the same doesn’t appear to be true for our leadoff hitter, Soriano. As the leadoff hitter, shouldn’t he have been the one doubled off by Lee more than twice, especially more than Fukudome.

Questions for Discussion

  • Would you be open to the Cubs trading Derrek Lee if it meant Micah Hoffpauir would become the starting first baseman next year?
  • Will we ever see Lee hit more than 25 homeruns in a season again?
  • If you were an opposing GM, would Derrek Lee interest you and how much would you give to get him?
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Lunch Break: Lefty Bat on the Horizon?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

I hope your day is going well so far. I wanted to drop some misc. thoughts on you at lunchtime and see what your thoughts are.

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  • Jim Hendry is reportedly seeking left handed help for a lineup that was terribly right handed in 2008. Names rumored are Brian Roberts and Raul Ibanez, who I mentioned for RF a week or so ago. The question then becomes what you do with Kosuke Fukudome if you bring in Ibanez. You can’t possibly find enough at bats for the both of them in RF, so Fukudome would have to either be traded, demoted to Iowa, or quietly negotiated out of his contract and shipped back to Japan. I don’t think I’d go that far, but Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue thinks that will be what happens. What’s the answer? I’d like to see Fukudome start the year in Iowa and if he succeeds, platoon him with Ibanez in RF and Pie in CF.
  • According to the NY Post, the Braves are leading the campaign to trade for Jake Peavy. I don’t think Peavy is essential to us winning the world series next year, but you certainly would agree that it would go a long way toward that goal. The main hurdle I see for Hendry and the Padres is the fact that we have intentions of bringing Ryan Dempster back. Because they’re not going to bring in both, it puts Hendry in a pickle. The Padres want to get the done soon and I don’t see Dempster getting signed early.
  • Andrew Jones has reportedly asked for a trade. Is there anyone in all of baseball that doesn’t deserve the right to ask for something more than Jones? Who’s going to want him and his contract? You think the Cubs had a hard time moving Jacque Jones in 2007, wait till you see what the Dodgers would have to eat to move Jones anywhere.
  • Taco Bell is running a free taco promo during the World Series. Stay tuned to their website on here.

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Year in Review: Ryan Theriot

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

With this series, I want to take a look back at the major players on the 2008 team and evaluate what we got from them this past year. Let’s start off with everyone’s favorite, Ryan Theriot

What They Said before the season:

Ron Shandler – “Scrappy player had a very strong first full MLB season. Nice base skill growth in 2H. The power he showed late in ’06 turned out to be a fluke, but the speed is here to stay. Good bet for 30+ SB.

My Thoughts – The little engine that could is definitely a fan favorite, but fan love doesn’t assure success in the Major Leagues. Theriot flew under the radar last year in part because many felt he was misused in the lineup in the number two hole. The leadoff role seemed to be his best spot in the order, with a .300 average and a 100 OPS+. The fans feel he can handle that role, but whether Lou Piniella agrees is another story. Theriot should be slated for the starting SS job out of spring training, but could be on a short leash if he struggles and Ronny Cedeno shows some success at the ML level.

This will anger a great deal of Cub fans, but by far the most overrated player on the team last season was Theriot. After bursting onto the scene in 2006 with sparkling offensive production to the tune of .328 / .412 / .522 and an OPS+ of 135, Theriot regressed significantly in the full time role posting .266 / .326 / .346 and an OPS+ of just 72. Very few shortstops were more inept offensively than Theriot, despite his Charlie Hustle type attitude toward playing the game. There is no question he plays hard and has a heart the size of Texas. Unfortunately, most fans fail to look at the numbers before affixing their man crushes on him.

Projections vs. Actual

Best Games / Worst Games

April 7 – vs. Pittsburgh – (WPA .461) – Comes into the game in the 9th inning to replace Michael Wuertz and play SS with the score tied at 8-8. Walks to leadoff the 10th and proceeds to steal second in front of Soriano. Went to third on Daryle Ward reaching via an error, but is stranded when Derrek Lee and Aramis both strike out to end the inning. In the top of the 12th, with the score still tied at 8, Theriot again leads off with a walk and steals second. Soriano causes hell to freeze over when he walks and both advance to scoring position on a wild pitch to Felix Pie.Theriot would go on to score on a sac fly by Ramirez and the Cubs win 10-8. (Box Score)

April 24 – vs. Colorado (WPA -.368) – Grounds into a double play in the 1st inning. Grounds into an out to the shortstop in the 3rd. Strikes out swinging in the 6th. With runners on first and third with 1 out in the 8th, lines into a double play to end the inning. Commits an error in the 8th. Cubs lose 4-2. (Box Score)

Where he ranks at his position among 17 MLB qualifiers

Batting Average (.307) – 2nd

On Base % (.387) – 2nd

Slugging % (.359) – 15th

OPS (.745) – 10th

Stolen Bases (22) – 4th

Runs Created (81.7) – 11th

BB/K Ratio (1.26) – 1st

Fielding % (.975) – 10th

Range Factor (3.90) – 17th

Zone Rating (.818) – 11th

VORP (27.3) – 10th

Projected Role for 2009

My guess is that, barring some sort of blockbuster trade, Theriot will remain in tact as the starting shortstop next year. There are mixed camps on that fact, but the fact remains that, looking at the numbers, it could be a lot worse. I don’t think 2008 was a career year. It’s important to remember that he’s still young and improving his game. If he can begin to develop a bit more gap potential, he instantly goes from the average shortstop pool to the above average pool. He’s never going to be an elite guy in the middle of the lineup, but he can be valuable in the 2nd spot of the order and, I believe, even the leadoff spot.

Question(s) for Discussion

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  • Do you feel my claim that Theriot’s 2008 was not going to be his career year is correct?
  • Will he continue to improve his game?
  • Do the Cubs need to be looking to improve at the SS position for 2009?
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Cub Convention Passes on Sale 11/6

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

CHICAGO The Chicago Cubs today announced weekend passes for the 24th annual Cubs Convention will go on sale Thursday, November 6, at 10 a.m. CST.  Passes will be available for purchase through two methods – by visiting or by calling at 1-800-THE-CUBS.

The 24th annual Cubs Convention will be held at the Hilton Chicago, 720 South Michigan Avenue, from Friday, January 16 through Sunday, January 18, 2009.  Each fan can purchase up to four weekend passes while they last.  The convention pass, valid for entry during the entire convention weekend, costs $60 plus convenience fees.

The hours of the convention are as follows: Friday 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to midnight and Sunday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Included with each pass is access to all autograph/photo sessions, question and answer sessions as well as the memorabilia and vendor booths.

Rooms at the Hilton are currently sold out for Convention weekend, but fans can check back for cancellations or availability by calling 312-922-4400.  As a reminder, fans with room reservations under the Cubs Convention rate can purchase weekend passes for $15 each (limit four per room).

Proceeds from the Convention benefit Cubs Care, a fund of the McCormick Foundation.  The 2008 Cubs Convention raised more than $300,000. To date, the Cubs Convention has raised nearly $4 million for Cubs Care.

The McCormick Foundation, through its fund Cubs Care, has granted more than $13 million to Chicago non-profit organizations since 1991. Grants help support non-profit organizations which aid children with special needs, support youth sports programs, help victims of domestic violence, and assist social service efforts in the Lakeview community.

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Cup of Joe: Aerodynamic Bats, Coach Greg Maddux, Manny Ramirez

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Notes from around the Web for this morning

  • The Cubs released RHP Leonel Perez and removed LHP Carmen Pignatiello from the 40 man roster. – (Source: Baseball America)
  • In the latest edition of Carrie Muskat’s mailbag, a reader asked the question about the Cubs need for a leadoff hitter. Carrie mentioned that Jim Hendry may revive talks with the Orioles for Brian Roberts, but that it would force Lou to have to convince Soriano to hit lower in the order. I’m tired of this “convince” terminology. What ever happened to the days that the manager decided who played, where they play, and for how long? I want to believe that Lou doesn’t feel like he has to cater to Soriano, but I’m not convinced. – (Source:
  • Jesse Estrada is slated to do some starting in the Arizona Fall League. Estrada is a fringe prospect at this point for the Cubs and probably needs to do something this fall to show the Cubs brass that he can make a trip to the Majors. He’s 24 and was less than impressive in Iowa this year, finishing with a ERA over 5.00. He did show a lot more propensity to strike batters out once he was promoted to AAA. One of the toughest challenges Estrada faced in 2008 was a line drive off the face in May. – (Source: Inside the Ivy)
  • Phil Rogers asked the question recently as to whether the Cubs would entertain the idea of bringing in Manny Ramirez and addressed the issue of moving Alfonso Soriano to LA to “soften the blow” for the Dodgers. Not only do I not want Manny and his antics, but I think it would be foolish to put him out there over Soriano, who is younger and less crazy. – (Source: Chicago Tribune)
  • Nick Carado mentions that Greg Maddux is considering retirement and has an interest in becoming a bench coach. I love Alan Trammel, but there has to be a way to get Maddux in here to help out on the bench. Even if it means two bench coaches, it’s worth it. – (Source: Boston Globe)
  • Jon Heyman had this quote about Andrew Jones. “[Frank] McCourt, who reportedly has unusual financial issues for the owner of a marquee team, is said to have been apoplectic over Jones’ putrid performance and at one point is believed to have considered the extraordinary but absurd step to request a refund of Jones’ $18.1 million salary.” That would be outstanding. If anyone needs to refund some money, Jones is the guy. What a massive bust. – (Source:

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  • Reebok introduced a new line of baseball bats called the Vector O series. The concept is that the holes near the base of the barrel, above the handle allow for a more aerodynamic swing thus creating more bat speed and a greater amount of power. Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t the argument against non-wood bats always been that they propel the ball at speeds to high for the pitcher to react to? Isn’t a bad idea, then, to create something that will be even more dangerous for the pitcher?
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