Archive for February, 2009

World Baseball Classic (and a bit of an intro)

Saturday, February 28th, 2009
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So I’m Liz, another of the new bloggers here. By way of introduction I will tell you that I’m a transplant, only living in the Chicago area since 2001. But, I’m no less of a Cubs fan for it, and have been a student of the game since about age 8 when my dad took me to my first game at Yankee Stadium. My dad was a die-hard Mets fan, but he also had a temper similar to Lou Pinella’s back in the day and the 2-hour straight-shot into the Bronx was a much nicer drive for him than “F**^%$ Flushing” (his description, not mine. Personally I preferred Shea but I wasn’t doing the driving!) So, I saw a lot more of Lou and his colleagues than I did of Keith Hernandez and that cast of lovable losers.

I’m not heavy into stats and will likely contribute more of the human interest, softer-side topics, which might annoy some of you but may encourage others. Time will tell. Since I continue to be a student of the game, I will be much more interested in hearing your opinions than in giving my own, though I will always have one.

On that note, let’s talk a little bit about the upcoming World Baseball Classic. For anyone who may also be playing student today, it starts on Thursday (5th) and continues through the 23rd, double-elimination in four brackets starting in various locations around the world then moving to the US for later rounds/finals. Notable Cubs who will be playing in the tournament are Lilly (USA), Fukudome (Japan), Soto (Puerto Rico) and the on-again off-again now-this-morning-on-again Marmol (Dominican Republic).

How do you feel about the World Baseball Classic? Good thing? Bad thing? Good thing with bad timing? Do you even care one way or the other? Do you worry that someone, say, Geovany Soto heaven forbid, will come back injured? (You will learn over the course of the season that he is my favorite Cub.)

Let’s hear your thoughts!

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The King of Pessimism?

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Okay, fine, I will be the King of Pessimism for the time being. It beats being the Queen of Apathy.

I have tried to be optimistic this entire off season. We all do, I think, every year. We try to convince ourselves that the team is improving and the management is doing all it can to field a champion. After last year’s regular season success, there wasn’t much we needed to address. So what did Jim Hendry do? As far as I can tell…not much good. Let’s dig deeper.

In no particular order…

  • The first mistake this offseason, in my opinion (and I’ll no doubt take some heat for this) was not signing Rafael Furcal. He could have been had, especially early on, for the same type contract we gave Bradley. Why was it a mistake NOT to sign him? He filled two major holes for us. Solid defensive shortstop. Great, switch-hitting leadoff batter. That would have made us a much better team. And it would have allowed us to trade either Theriot or Fontenot or both. More on that later.
  • Trading Mark DeRosa. For nothing. Minor salary dump on the team MVP and all around good guy and versatile player? Huh? What the…oh yeah, Joe has rules on this blog. You get my point. Put on your thinking cap. Imagine Furcal at short and DeRo at second. Nice thought, isn’t it?
  • This one is optional. Take it or leave it. With Furcal, we could have gotten Peavy. Trade the Padres Theriot, Fontenot, Marshall, Hill and all the other out of options players we have. And some arms from the farm. Thinking cap time again. Imagine this rotation: Zambrano, Lilly, Peavy, Dempster, Harden. Filthy. Best in baseball. Hands down.
  • Right field — why isn’t Adam Dunn our right fielder? He wanted to play for the Cubs and you can mail in 40 – 50 homers and 100+ walks. How would that look in the middle of our lineup? Pretty good to me. At half the Bradley price tag.
  • Aaron Miles — good move. One of the only ones this offseason. Would have been a better move if we’d done what I mentioned above. Furcal/DeRosa with Miles as the backup? Plus we’d still have DeRo for backing up Ramirez.
  • Heilman — good pickup, too. He can be nasty. Live arm. Could fill the five spot if necessary or pitch out of the pen. Even better if we have Peavy, because he becomes Harden’s insurance.

So (not Taguchi — don’t get me started) here we sit. We added a head case and lost a great guy. Couple of minor moves and some NON-moves that hurt us. Do you blame Jim Hendry or the ownership issue? I blame Hendry this time — and that is not to detract from past good things he has done. This year, though, I think he blew it. I hope I am wrong.

The King of Pessimism. (But not forever)

Sherm

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Inside the Boxscore: Game 3

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

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Boxscore

I’ve realized something about spring training over the years that makes laugh. I enjoy spring training box scores and stats, but on a game to game basis, I could care less who wins. In fact, oftentimes, I don’t even know who we’re playing (or care) until I look. I often wonder if the players take the same approach. I’m sure the rookies put their time in and may even do a little scouting of the pitchers / hitters, but I would guess most seasoned vets tend to coast a little in spring training and, at times, forget who the opponent is that day. That being said, let’s take a look at what jumps out in the box.

Ryan Theriot got the nod in the leadoff spot, which makes three different guys in that role in the first three games. Interesting, because all three have been successful there in those opportunities so far. Theriot seems to have been the weakest of the three games, with just two singles and a caught stealing. The biggest knock against him that I have is his baserunning instincts. He’s just not as good of a basestealer as his speed would suggest, which lends itself, all to often, to a low steal success rate. In 2007, he came into the season with some late season success under his belt and took people by surprise with his speed. Last year, I think he got to ambitious and tried to force the issue a little too much. If he can focus on getting good jumps and running in good situations based on the count, hopefully he can improve on the regession in success rate from last year.

Acolytes dvd

Micah Hoffpaiur continues to rake the ball to start out the spring. There is no question that he can hit. Unfortunately the strike against him is defense. It really comes down to the numbers game. His best chance to make this club is to hit so well that the Cubs have to find a way to have him on the roster. Force their hand and make them adjust their plans. If he can continue to hit the way he’s hitting, it definitely lends itself well to disproving my theory that he won’t make this club outright for opening day.

Mike Fontenot Clash of the Titans rip It’s All About Love divx hit the ball well and drove in 4 RBI. He did leave three guys on base, though.

Explain to me again why we have So Taguchi in camp? Seriously, this guy is not good.

Sick Girl ipod

Jake Fox picked up another hit and is 3-for-6 early on. He reminds me a little of Hoffpauir, but he’s younger and a little more versatile. He’s probably not versatile enough to serve as the corner IF backup, but certainly with his experience playing 1B, OF, and C, he could have a role on this team. I actually wouldn’t be opposed at all if he made the roster as the backup C / 1B and then the Cubs would just need to keep a 3B instead of someone who could play both. Fox certainly has a better bat and more upside than someone like Koyie Hill.

Ted Lilly made a “start” before heading to the WBC and pitched two strong innings. I’m very happy with him slotting in there as a top tier 3rd starter type guy. He’s definitely proved a lot of the critics wrong, especially any that had something to say about potential anger issues.

That’s all I’ve got. What did I miss? Let’s discuss!!!

 

Pufnstuf divx

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Stat of the Week: Longest Hitless Streak

Friday, February 27th, 2009

I decided to see what the longest streak for a player who played a regular position, and not just exclusively a pinch hitter, for this team was.

Here is a summary of the results:

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Each week, Stat of the Week is provided in conjunction with a partnership with Baseball Reference and it’s Play Index tool. Check it out today.

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Milkit Badly

Friday, February 27th, 2009

A laurel, and hearty handshake, for our new right fielder and training table spacehog, Milkit Badly.

Tightness? I’ve got tightness, too. In my chest. Every time I think about the rightfielders we DON’T have. Adam Dunn and the fifty homers that he WANTED to bring to Wrigley. Bobby Abreu and the mere $5M deal he was willing to accept.

It’s not even the thirty mil we’re paying the guy (hey, it’s not my money.) It’s the three years we are going to have to deal with this.

Here’s a perspective worth mentioning: between Bradley and Fukudome, we’ve tied up $78 Million dollars! That’s right. For a Japanese Dreidle and guy who could be a guest star on House (Tuesdays at 9, 8 Central on Fox. Do I get money for that?) I’ll save you the diagnosis. It’s in his head. I don’t have a good feeling about this guy. There’s a reason he has a closet full of different jerseys.

$78 mil. Could have had Manny in rightfield for that. And say what you want about defense, blah, blah, blah…you KNOW you’d love to see Manny in a Cub uniform.

I’ll address centerfield and THAT three headed beast later. For now, let’s hope that Milky can fight his way through this latest devastating “owie” and return to play the game. Sooner rather than later.

More later. Or not.

Sherm

Gordon’s Thoughts

Honestly, I didn’t know about Bradley’s injury until I read Sherm’s post.  I wrote my comments below last night as my wife was upstairs ridding herself of food poisoning.  They started with a simple question, What should the Cubs expect to get out of Bradley.

I spent an hour this morning trying to figure out what we are getting in Milton Bradley.  I was not in favor of his signing.  He might be a great guy.  He might be obsessed with winning.  He might be a changed man.  But before I looked at his numbers, I felt there were to many question marks, from injury to personality, to make him the cornerstone of our free agent class.

What numbers do you expect from your right fielder, 3,4,5 hitter, major free agent signing (I should have written this before I looked at his numbers, but I’ll try to be fair)?  140 games. 500+AB’s
280-300 avg. 380-400 obp. 450-500 slg.  25-30 HR. 90-100RBI. 80+ runs scored. 50+BB’s. 100 K’s

Each of these numbers could be a post/argument in themselves. Be nice.  I would argue that the Cubs should expect the high end of each of these numbers.  We want to be an elite team, we (should) spend elite money, and those are the baseline for elite offensive numbers.

The Cub closest to these numbers is Ramirez who last year (and for his career) is at or exceeds the high end of all the numbers except for career OBP.  which is .341.  Both Lee and Soriano have had multiple years with those types of numbers. Although Soriano’s .obp has been chronically in the 320’s-330’s. And last year his runs, walks, and rbi  were below those numbers.  Lee had a 4-year span from 2002-2005 where he was exceptional, and even last year, when most fans began to notice a decline he fell within the range (except for HR’s).

All of this leads up to Bradley.  Except for BB’s (80), OBP (.436),  SLG (.563), and AVG (.321) Bradley has never really been close a premier hitters numbers, (and his career numbers are significantly less than last years).  Still, those statistics do look positive in a post Moneyball world but how do those averages play out into a baseball season?
What Bradley has not done, startled me.

  • He has never played 142 games in a season.  His season highs are 141 (2004), 126 (2008), 101 (2003).  In 9 seasons (discounting the first 2 where he was breaking in) he averaged less than 90 games played.
    • Lets put this in perspective…the “injury prone” Aramis Ramirez has not played less than 123 games since 2001 and has played 140+ all but 2 years.
    • Put another way, Ramirez and Bradley are the same age, but A-Ram has played 500 more games, and has 2000 more AB’s.
    • The injury prone Alphonso Soriano had never played less than 145 games before he came to the Cubs.  He’s played in 135 (2007) and 109 (2008) so his 2 worst years health wise still beat Bradley’s 2nd and 3rd best years.
  • He has never hit 25 HR’s: His season highs are 22 (2008), 19 (2004)
  • He has never driven in 80 RBI: 77 (2008) 67 (2004) 56 (2003)
  • He has never scored 80 runs: 78 (2008) 72 (2004) 61 2003)
  • Lee, Ramirez, and Soriano each have multiple years exceeding these numbers.

So Bradley is not an elite player, what is he?  It turns out he might just be a less flexible, less healthy, slightly more offensive Mark DeRosa.  In 23 more games DeRosa drove in 10 more RBI and scored 30 more runs. Bradley walked 11 more times and hit 1 more HR in 90 less AB’s.

Wouldn’t you rather have DeRosa? Where you know day to day what he is going to give in all phases of the game. Offense, defense, chemistry as opposed to Bradley’s wild card?

I have not even begged the question for what we are going to do for the 40,50, 60 games that Bradley most likely will not play?  Fukudome? Hoffpauir?  How does these moves make us a better team?

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