Archive for October, 2009

Tuesday Cup O’Joe:

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

I’m working on a post that takes a look at who earned their money in 2009, but it’s not ready yet. Until then, you’re stuck with some random findings to discuss.

  • Apparently the world (or at least thinks that 19 year old Starlin Castro is Major League ready. Need her evidence?

    He played rookie ball in 2008, then jumped to high Class A this season, then Double-A, and now is competing in the Arizona Fall League. He’s the youngest player in the AFL, but after one week of play, he’s keeping pace with the big boys, and through Sunday, was hitting .500 (7-for-14). He went 3-for-5 in the AFL opener. – (Source)

    Heck, who knew that was all it took. If that’s the case, then maybe we have a lot more guys down there that are ready. I’m not trying to be a hater. I’d love to see Castro up here in 2010, but rushing a 19 year old kid is just not the way to go. Would it be an ideal situation to see him at SS, with someone like Ryan Theriot at 2B? Sure, but right now barring any changes, I’d like to see Theriot at SS with Jeff Baker given a shot to show his stuff in a full time 2B role. In case you’re curious, here are Castro’s AFL stats as of 10/25/09

  • MLB Trade Rumors posted an off-season outlook for the Cubs. I suppose it’s an important thing to look at as we head down the stretch here before players are eligible to file for free agency. Some of the highlights:
  • The Cubs have about $124.2MM committed before arbitration raises to Hill, Baker, Theriot, Heilman, Marmol, Marshall, Guzman, and Gorzelanny.  Fontenot, at two years and 139 days of service time, is on the bubble for Super Two status (which could influence his 2010 status with the team).  Heilman, Cotts, and Fontenot are candidates to be non-tendered.  With at least seven arb cases, there is payroll uncertainty, but I’ll put the Cubs around $135MM committed. – (Source)

    Just to update that note on Fontenot, he just missed the cut to be considered a Super Two. That means his contract auto-renews for next year and he’s not awarded arbitration a year early.

  • Carrie Muskat had a chance to sit down with Geo Soto the other day. The article was ho hum so I thought I’d answer the questions for Geo to make it a little more interesting and worth reading. If you’d rather read the real answers, that’s fine too (Source) – What’s the first thing you want to do this offseason?Geo – Definitely light up a fatty and relax….oh wait, I mean eat Dorito’s and Twinkies…no wait, I mean lift weights and watch film. Yeah, that’s what I meant to say. – When you were growing up, was there a player you idolized?

    Geo – Oh definitely, I’d have to say Rick Wilkins. I loved and aspired to being just like him….a one hit wonder that had a great year and faded into mediocrity. – If you could trade places with someone on the team, who would it be?

    Geo – That’s easy….Sam Fuld. He dives around in the OF and runs into walls. He tells me that he sees stars when that happens. How cool would that be? I could see stars and not even need to get high to do it. I’ve gotta try it. – This offseason, when do you start your workouts?

    Geo – Um, we’re supposed to work out in the off-season? – Is there a comfort food you crave?

    Geo – A better question would have been “is there a comfort food I don’t crave?

  • Project Prospect has a nice little piece on the Top 100 prospects in baseball. They’ve compiled it from a host of various sources. Interesting read. – (Source)
  • Ken Rosenthal mentioned recently that “Multiple teams are in contact the Cubs about outfielder Milton Bradley, with one source saying, “You would be shocked at the level of interest.”. I’m calling B.S. – (Source)
  • Are you ready for the Wrigley Field high rise district? It may be coming. (Source)
  • Curious to see what Derrek Lee’s path to the pros was? Take a look. If nothing else, check out this vintage Derrek Lee photo.
  • The Cubs took a look at some sites in Naples, FL for a potential spring training move to Florida. (Source)
  • Kyler Burke picked up the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year Award. He’s a favorite of mine, so I was happy to see him have the year he had this year. (Source)
  • Finally, it looks like another ESPN employee is out due to sexual issues. According to ESPN’s PR guy “Steve Phillips is no longer working for ESPN. His ability to be an effective rep of ESPN has been significantly & irreparably damaged.” – (Source)
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Step Up To The Mic: World Series

Monday, October 26th, 2009

I think I mentioned that I plan on doing this from time to time when important transactions or things like that take place. The concept here is to have people step up and post their thoughts on things so we can have them in writing for future reference. I can’t think of how many times I’ve probably regressed on opinions or things of that nature, but can’t find them to reference. I’m going to set this up for us to reference when looking back, which should be fun.

Let’s begin today with getting your thoughts and predictions on the 2009 World Series. With the Yankees advancing last night, the stage is set. I ask you to predict the following:

1. Will A-Rod win the series MVP?

2. Who will win this series and in how many games?

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The Hit List

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

I thought that in light of the Cubs hiring of a new hitting coach this past week, it would be appropriate to post something about hitting, in this case a book by Ted Williams.

I saw the name of the primary author (Ted Williams) and knew I was gonna have to look at this one. It’s titled “Ted Williams’ Hit List – The Ultimate Ranking of Baseball’s Greatest Hitters”. The authors are Ted Williams and Jim Prime. It was published in 1996.

I could describe this as an “un-sabermetric” work. Although metrics such as OBP, Slugging Percentage, et al. are included, this is really about Ted Williams’ eyes and his gut reactions, coupled with his love for the art of hitting.

Hank Aaron is quoted at the top of the inside front jacket cover: “Ted loves talking about hitting and he knows what he’s talking about.”

Ted Williams himself opens the book with these words: “The prime interest of my life is baseball, and to me the heart of baseball is hitting….Mays and Aaron and DiMaggio rank high as all-round players. They could do it all on the basepath and in the field – but don’t forget one thing: All those guys were great hitters, and if they couldn’t have hit nobody would have ever heard of them.”

Mr. Williams continues: “I truly feel that the technique of hitting has – in my eyes – deteriorated over the last 35 or 40 years. I see that gradual decline and it concerns me. I see hitters not taking advantage of the pitch; hitters not hitting according to the type of pitcher they’re hitting against; hitters not compensating for different styles of pitching, different kinds of deliveries. I see hitters not hitting according to the count; hitters not hitting according to the wind and other conditions; hitters not hitting according to the dimensions of the ballpark. Hitters apparently not even realizing what they did the last time at bat! And on and on.”

Ted Williams ranks the top 25 hitters (in his opinion) with 3 or 4 page write ups on each. He follows that with an “Honorable Mention” of a few who almost make the list.

Rogers Hornsby ranks #4 on Ted’s all-time best hitters list. “…he averaged an incredible .402 over a five-year span, and in 1924 he achieved the highest average in the modern history of the game, hitting .424. His .358 lifetime mark is second only to Ty Cobb’s .367, but unlike Cobb over in the American League, Hornsby also featured power in his offensive arsenal. In fact, he led the National League in homers on two separate occasions and hit over 300 round-trippers throughout his career.”

– “And Hornsby was a smart hitter too. He gave me the most positive advice when I asked him, “What do I have to do to become a great hitter?” He couldn’t have been nicer, and I’ll always have a warm spot in my heart for him. Hornsby’s advice was this: “Get a good ball to hit.”

– “I’ve read that Hornsby was so completely dedicated to hitting that he avoided movies and reading for fear that they would detract from his sharp eye at the plate.”

“In the late ‘50s, a baseball old-timer was asked by a young sportswriter how the immortal Georgia Peach, Ty Cobb, might fare in today’s “new and improved” game. “Oh, he’d probably hit about .320 or so,” allowed the old man. “Is that all?” shrugged the reporter. “That’s not so great.” “Maybe not, came the reply, “but you’ve got to remember he’s 73 years old.”

Speaking of Shoeless Joe Jackson, whom he admired immensely, Ted says: “He still led everybody in batting in the 1919 World Series. He hit .375 and had a good Series and all the rest of it. If he was trying to throw the Series, he did a damn poor job of it.”

Speaking about Henry Aaron and Willie Mays, Ted says: “While Aaron seemed content with being the consummate ballplayer, Mays was also the consummate performer, always drawing the spotlight. They were like two sides of the same coin. You could say that Aaron had a flair for consistency while Mays had a consistent flair.”

About Tris Speaker (#13 on the list): “He struck out a total of 220 times in his 22-year career. Hell, that’s ten times a season. Some players do that in a week.”

On the subject of Hack Wilson: “His record 190 RBIs in ‘30 stands with DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak and Maris’ 61 home run season as marks that stand beyond the reach of mere mortals. In that same year, Wilson batted .356 and powered 56 home runs, a National League record. If he had been able to sustain, or even approach that pace for a few more years, he would have eclipsed Babe Ruth as the nation’s #1 sporting icon. Unfortunately, after attaining this hitters’ Everest, it was all downhill for Hack Wilson.”

– “His downfall was alcohol, which he is said to have consumed in prodigious quantities. Some wags of his day say that he was a lowball hitter and a highball drinker.”

While speaking about Albert Belle we are reminded: “One of the guidelines for MVP selection is “General character, disposition, loyalty and effort,” and apparently he was found wanting in this regard.”

Our coauthor, Jim Prime, proclaims in the introduction to this book “There was never anything phony about Ted. He was always brutally honest with the press and with fans.” That description applies to this entire book as well. Brutally honest. Too little of that going around these days.

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GirlieView (10/23/2009)

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

I think today I’ll just wish you a happy weekend and get to the Lizzies.


  • So far, the best played postseason game was the last game of the regular season.
  • [Marquis] is a 4 or 5 starter and thinks he is an ace.
  • My screen name celebrates my youth, my early blind belief in and enthusiasm for both a player (Pepitone) and a team (the Cubs) that seemed truly awesome.
  • Pepitone still has that long pretty hair although he can take it off any time he wants.
  • It is pretty difficult to make a judgment about Cutler when he is working behind an awful offensive line.
  • It’s better to be a Nit-picking bunghole than a Bung-picking Nithole.
  • You could rebuild Wrigley! Essentially building a duplicate with nice amenities in a spot that was a little more fan friendly.
  • I love the idea of MB being moved to the Yankees.


  • What’s that saying about: ”Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool,…”?
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Predicting the Unpredictable No-Hitter

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

A few years ago, Bill James designed a system to predict the likelihood of a particular pitcher throwing a no-hitter at some point, taking into account his career strikeout and double-play rates. In The Bill James Handbook 2009, we listed the ten pitchers most likely to achieve this rare feat during their career, led by Giants ace Tim Lincecum. Coming in at #8 on the list with a 12% chance at a no-no: Lincecum’s teammate, Jonathan Sanchez.

By late June, Sanchez had lost his spot in a strong Giants rotation. When Randy Johnson went down with an injury just a few days later, Sanchez was given another shot. On July 10, Sanchez took the mound with Sigfredo “Freddy” Sanchez in the stands, the first time the father had seen his son start a Major League game. Nine innings and 11 strikeouts later, Sanchez completed the no-hitter, allowing only Chase Headley to reach on an error in the eighth inning.

Of course, we can’t claim to predict every no-hitter, but we can give you a pretty good idea who might be next. From the “Career Targets” section of The Bill James Handbook 2010, due out November 1:

Most Likely No-Hitter
% chance to reach milestone
Tim Lincecum, Giants 25%
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers 23%
Rich Harden, Free Agent 21%
Justin Verlander, Tigers 20%
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers 19%
Jon Lester, Red Sox 18%
Zack Greinke, Royals 17%
Jonathan Sanchez, Giants 15%
Jorge de la Rosa, Rockies 15%
Javier Vazquez, Braves 15%

Of course, Verlander, Lester and Sanchez have already etched their names in history, but our system doesn’t know that. The system gives strikeout-machine Lincecum a one-in-four shot at throwing a no-hitter before his career is over. Lincecum, Greinke and Harden may not be surprises on this list, but how about Yovani Gallardo and Jorge de la Rosa? You might laugh, but a year ago you probably had the same reaction when you saw Jonathan Sanchez’s name on the list.

Also in the Career Targets section of The Bill James Handbook 2010, you will find the most-updated odds that Alex Rodriguez breaks Barry Bonds’ career homerun record, Albert Pujols reaches 3,000 hits, and that Dustin Pedroia breaks Tris Speaker’s doubles record.

To pre-order The Bill James Handbook 2010, visit

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®,

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