Archive for May, 2010

In the News: Big Z shall return!

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Hey, Cubs fans. Heat, glorious heat has returned to the Chicago area – and I’m lovin’ every minute of it, Jerry! There’s something about a hot day that screams baseball. I want to watch it. I want to play it. I want to…oh, crap…I’m at work. I can’t do a damn thing but pass along these riveting Cubs news stories:

Big Z gets stimulated – er, I mean, simulated. I just can’t get enough of the simulated game jokes. I was even contemplating writing a parody post in which Carlos gets tossed from the game but The Heckler beat me to it. In any case, Z threw 73 pitches yesterday to Tyler Colvin and Jeff Baker. (Balls and strikes info was not recorded, according to Carrie Muskat.) And he’s on track to return to the Cubs rotation this weekend against the Pirates.

In the meantime, we’re left to debate the merits of a six-man rotation or otherwise bide our time before Tom Gorzelanny is either DL’d with a sore pinky or sent to the pen. I don’t put that much stock in pitchers’ win-loss records, but I believe MLB coaching staffs still do – and the 6-0, multimillion dollar Carlos Silva ain’t goin’ anywhere. Nor are Demp, Lilly or Wells.

Andrew Cashner: Still not leaving Iowa anytime soon. In a related story, there’s been some chatter in the baseball press that the Cubs simply must put Cash Money, who’s dominating in Triple A, in their rotation this season. Well, er, no they don’t. And with the rotational gridlock that’s still in progress, we’re going to have to wait a little longer to see the Pacific Coast League’s Player of the Week. My guess – and it pains me to say this – is that Ted Lilly will be allowed to walk after his contract ends this season and Cashner will take his spot in the rotation heading into 2011. The future is now, folks.

Ricketts buy Sheffield Ave. rooftop. On Friday, the news broke that the Ricketts family bought an interest in a rooftop seating business located at the top of building on Sheffield Ave. The move could be seen as the final move in the Cubs “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” relationship with the rooftop owners over these many years.

Hey, maybe the Cubs aren’t so bad at drafting. Johnathan “Hold The” Mayo of MLB.com posted a study yesterday of which MLB teams have done the best over the years at drafting young talent. Cynical Cubs fans with visions of Corey Patterson dancing whiffing in their heads might assume we’re at the bottom of the list. But you might be surprised how high the Cubs ranked. Off the top of my head, I’d guess they fared well because of their pitching prospects over the years.

Want to buy some Wrigley dirt? Well, now you can. A company called Steiner Sports sells it in small vials. It’s too bad they don’t sell the dirt in bulk. I’d consider buying several tons, ripping all of the grass out of my lawn and then reseeding my yard with Wrigley dirt and Scotts Wrigley Field Grass Seed Mix.

On a related note, I had a dream last night that I was a member of a contingent of cheerleaders who run into the outfield during Cubs games and hurl baseballs and small bats into the Wrigley bleachers. It must’ve been my first day on the job, however, because, upon entering the field, I fell to my knees and screamed, “Oh my God – I’m actually on Wrigley Field!” Then I rubbed my hands in the grass, which was surprisingly damp and muddy. Perhaps they should check on that drainage system.

And, on that note, I bid you adieu.

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Tuesday Trivia – Old Man Shutouts

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

It’s been a long time since we busted out the trivia, so we’re a little overdue. For those unfamiliar with how this works, all guesses should be put in the comment section. Please refrain from using google searches. I’ll update correct answers as I get a chance throughout the day.

Q: Since 1960, five players age 35 or older have pitched a shutout for the Cubs. Please name all five. (Note: One player did it three times, two players did it twice, and two did it just once.)

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Cubs By the Numbers

Monday, May 24th, 2010

The ERA of the Cubs bullpen this year. That puts them ranked 26th in baseball, ahead of only the Reds, Brewers, Angels and Diamondbacks. I feel like the group has improved since the showings we saw early in the year, but not by much. I’m a fan of the bullpen by kids approach and wish Hendry would be a little more patient with some of the young arms we have in the system before going outside for help. All we’ve seen with hired help is guys performing for a period only to completely bomb out. Think recently and remember names like Remlinger, Howry, Eyre, Hawkins. Need I go on? Give these kids a chance. On a positive note, Milwaukee’s ERA out of the pen is 6.22 and the Diamondbacks are sporting a very sexy 7.70 ERA. It could definitely be worse for us.

The number of saves by former Cubs closer, Kevin Gregg. You’ve got to be Gregging kidding me. How is it that this bum pitched well in Florida, sucked here with every straight meatball he threw, and then goes to Toronto a saves games like it’s going out of style? Something is wrong with that. Do you think it’s a fluke or was it something about his time here? I think he’ll come back to normal and we’ll begin to see the blown saves pile up for Gregg. Until then, I’m gonna be angry.

The number of walks drawn so far this year by a guy I simply wrote off all off-season. Geovany Soto has changed his approach at the plate and is turning himself into an on base machine. The 30 walks drawn so far this year puts him tied for 4th in the NL and just three off the lead. I’ve heard people make the case that the main reason for the increase in walks is primarily due to the fact that he’s spent the majority of the time hitting in the 8th spot, which sees him being pitched around in favor of the pitcher. I want to believe that isn’t true. I’ve called for Lou to bat him higher in the order and will continue to do so until it happens.

The on base percentage of what many would have considered our best hitter coming into the season. That .225 OBP makes him the lowest on base hitter in all of baseball when you look simply at guys who have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title right now. I don’t know what the problem is and I don’t know what the solution is. Right now, no one does. I’ll tell you what the solution is not. The answer is not to boo Aramis out of town every time he strikes out. It’s not to bench him because he’s simply not trying. Do you really think we’re better with Jeff Baker in there? Aramis Ramirez, in spite of the awful hitting, gives us the best chance to win because his ceiling is the highest of all the hitters on this team. Lee and Ramirez will hit. In the meantime we have to be patient and let them work out their issues lower in the order, not on the bench.

The number of pitches seen per plate appearance by Derrek Lee. One of the worst things to see with a guy who is struggling at the plate is a lack of patience. Lee has shown patience at the plate and is making the pitcher work. He’ll start seeing mistake pitches and will capitalize on those soon. I believe that. That patience ranks him 14th in all of baseball when it comes to the number of pitches seen each at bat. Ramirez ranks 40th with a 4.07 P/PA number. Be patient Cub fans. Good things are coming with these two.

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I Own You – SP Edition

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I thought it might be fun to take a look at five starting pitchers on this staff to see who they have done really well against in their career and who has owned them at the plate. I used a minimum of 25 plate appearances for the numbers generated below for everyone except Tom Gorzelanny. For Gorzo I used 10. I didn’t run numbers for Randy Wells because of his lack of history so far. Not many surprises here, but there were a few interesting nuggets.

Ryan Dempster

The Bad

                 PA  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
Luis Gonzalez    28 12  3  0  2   5  5  1 .545 .643 .955 1.597
Todd Helton      26  9  1  0  3   5  5  3 .429 .538 .905 1.443
Fred McGriff     25  7  1  0  2   5  8  3 .412 .600 .824 1.424
Brian Giles      46 17  5  1  2  10  6  6 .436 .500 .769 1.269
Jeff Bagwell     42 12  1  0  3   7  9  7 .375 .524 .688 1.211
Shawn Green      28 10  2  1  0   4  6  2 .455 .571 .636 1.208
Ryan Klesko      27 10  2  0  1   1  4  5 .435 .519 .652 1.171
Doug Glanville   30 11  2  1  1   5  2  4 .423 .467 .692 1.159
Tony Womack      31  9  1  1  1   2  6  2 .375 .500 .625 1.125

The Good

                PA H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
J.J. Hardy      30 2  1  0  0   2  1  7 .074 .103 .111 .215
Randy Winn      25 2  0  0  0   0  3  7 .091 .200 .091 .291
Corey Hart      29 3  0  0  1   3  3  8 .115 .207 .231 .438
Phil Nevin      25 5  0  0  0   1  2  4 .217 .280 .217 .497
Felipe Lopez    31 5  2  0  1   4  2  9 .172 .226 .345 .571
Rafael Furcal   41 6  3  0  0   1  7  8 .176 .317 .265 .582

There really aren’t any major surprises in the names that own Ryan Dempster other than maybe a guy like Tony Womack. He’s not a good hitter, but for some reason he liked Dempster. It seems like Demp owns guys that played for the Brewers. Corey Hart and J.J. Hardy just can’t hit him. On a side note, Tom Glavine faced Demp 10 times and never reached base.

Carlos Silva

The Bad

                  PA  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP   SLG   OPS
Victor Martinez   37 15  6  0  4  13  3  1 .455 .514 1.000 1.514
Carlos Guillen    39 18  4  1  3  14  2  1 .486 .513  .892 1.405
Juan Uribe        40 20  1  0  5  10  0  1 .500 .500  .900 1.400
Grady Sizemore    52 21  5  2  2   5  8  4 .477 .558  .818 1.376
Jim Thome         26  8  0  0  4   7  3  3 .364 .423  .909 1.332
Hank Blalock      25 10  5  0  1   1  2  0 .435 .480  .783 1.263
Brian Roberts     36 16  2  0  3   7  1  4 .457 .472  .771 1.244

The Good

                  PA H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Mark Ellis        26 4  1  0  0   0  0  2 .174 .174 .217 .391
Bobby Crosby      27 5  0  1  0   4  0  3 .192 .192 .269 .462
Garret Anderson   31 5  1  0  0   4  3  3 .179 .258 .214 .472
Ivan Rodriguez    37 7  1  0  0   4  2  3 .212 .250 .242 .492
Ichiro Suzuki     28 8  0  0  0   0  0  1 .286 .286 .286 .571

Big ups to Batman for owning three guys that have a chance to be hall of fame players in Ichiro, Pudge and Garret Anderson. That Ichiro stat may come in handy when the Seattle series rolls around this year. You have to imagine he’ll want to prove himself to his old team as well.

Carlos Zambrano

The Bad

                 PA  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
Jason Bay        50 14  4  1  5  16  9  8 .341 .460 .854 1.314
Luis Castillo    28 11  0  0  0   1  8  1 .550 .679 .550 1.229
Prince Fielder   49 13  5  0  2   6 12  8 .361 .531 .667 1.197
Carlos Lee       60 21  5  0  5  14  5  7 .382 .433 .745 1.179
Paul Konerko     31  8  1  0  4   6  3  6 .286 .355 .750 1.105

The Good

                  PA H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Adam Everett      32 3  2  0  0   0  2  9 .103 .161 .172 .334
Geoff Blum        38 5  1  0  0   5  3  9 .143 .211 .171 .382
Rafael Furcal     25 3  2  0  0   1  1  6 .130 .167 .217 .384
Willy Taveras     26 5  0  0  0   1  0  7 .192 .192 .192 .385
Russell Branyan   35 5  1  0  1   2  0 16 .143 .143 .257 .400
David Wright      26 3  0  0  0   3  4 10 .143 .269 .143 .412
Ryan Freel        27 3  0  0  0   0  4  5 .136 .296 .136 .433
Willie Harris     26 4  0  0  0   1  2  3 .174 .269 .174 .443
J.J. Hardy        26 2  0  0  1   1  4  5 .091 .231 .227 .458
Todd Helton       25 3  0  0  0   0  5  6 .150 .320 .150 .470

Apparently J.J. Hardy can’t hit Big Z either. It’s a little surprising to see how bad a guy like David Wright has done. Todd Helton also makes a 2nd appearance in the post.

Ted Lilly

The Bad

                 PA  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
Bobby Kielty     26  9  1  0  2   6  4  3 .409 .500 .727 1.227
Alex Rodriguez   50 14  4  0  5   8  7 13 .333 .440 .786 1.226
Bret Boone       34 11  2  1  1   6  6 12 .393 .500 .643 1.143
Doug Mirabelli   25  7  0  0  3   4  3  8 .318 .400 .727 1.127

The Good

                 PA H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Darin Erstad     27 2  1  0  0   1  2  2 .080 .148 .120 .268
Aubrey Huff      28 3  0  0  0   0  3  0 .120 .214 .120 .334
David Eckstein   46 6  1  0  0   2  2  5 .143 .182 .167 .348
Lance Berkman    28 3  0  0  1   2  1  8 .115 .143 .231 .374

Doug Mirabelli? What business does he have being on this list?

Tom Gorzelanny

The Bad

                  PA H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP   SLG   OPS
Chris Young       11 4  2  0  1   2  4  1 .571 .727 1.286 2.013
Geovany Soto      13 7  2  0  1   5  1  1 .636 .615 1.091 1.706
Mark DeRosa       17 6  3  0  1   3  5  2 .500 .647 1.000 1.647
Ryan Braun        25 9  1  0  3   9  6  2 .474 .600 1.000 1.600
Derrek Lee        17 7  2  0  2   5  2  0 .467 .529 1.000 1.529
Justin Upton      11 4  1  1  1   1  1  2 .400 .455 1.000 1.455
Damian Miller     11 4  1  0  1   1  2  2 .444 .545  .889 1.434
Adrian Gonzalez   10 4  1  0  1   3  1  1 .444 .500  .889 1.389
Brad Ausmus       11 4  2  0  0   5  2  1 .500 .636  .750 1.386

The Good

                 PA H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Brian McCann     11 0  0  0  0   0  1  2 .000 .091 .000 .091
Juan Pierre      11 1  0  0  0   0  0  1 .100 .182 .100 .282
Ryan Ludwick     12 1  0  0  0   2  1  1 .111 .182 .111 .293
Craig Biggio     13 2  0  0  0   0  0  2 .154 .154 .154 .308
Aramis Ramirez   19 2  0  0  0   1  2  4 .118 .211 .118 .328
Jonny Gomes      12 2  0  0  0   1  0  5 .167 .167 .167 .333
Orlando Hudson   12 1  0  0  0   0  2  1 .100 .250 .100 .350
Jeff Francoeur   14 2  0  0  0   2  1  2 .167 .214 .167 .381

Maybe we need to look at dealing Gorzo to a team that we play often. Look at how Geo and Lee have hit against him. That said, Rammy may want to take that series off. Also, what the heck is up with Brad Ausmus? He’s a terrible hitter. How does he make this list?

We close with a song by a great band, Shinedown, called “I Own You”

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Game 45: Dodging the Grabow / Howry Bullet

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

First Star – Sean Marshall (.305 WPA)
Second Star – Michael Young (.270 WPA)
Third Star – Carlos Marmol (.219 WPA)


It’s strange. Maybe I’m the only person feeling this way, but despite the fact that over the last week the Cubs have played better, I still feel rather lukewarm about our team. I want to believe that the wins this week against quality competition are signs of encouragement, but the fact remains that our two biggest bats are not hitting. Until they do, we have no chance.

Today’s Notes:

  • As the title of the posts implies, we dodged the bullet aimed squarely at our series win that Lou fired from his double barreled bullpen suckage gun. To bring in not only John Grabow, but also Bob Howry with a small lead late in the game is….well….inexcusable. I actually chuckled a little when Howry came in and wondered if the rest of the team curses a little under their breath when these guys come in. I know if I’d battled all day and we were winning, I’d be pissed to see Lou want to piss it away with two guys that don’t have any business being relievers on this team. Thankfully today Lou sobered up before the damage was fully done and brought in Sean Marshall to put the fire out and preserve the lead. Seymour commented “Maybe we should have them both split the first inning of games so they are not in the pen anymore… any takers?” Nope, what I want is their release. Grabow, unfortunately, is not going anywhere just yet. Howry is on a short leash considering he’s basically a trial. Today he failed the test.
  • Batman grabbed win # 6 today, which gives him…..wait for it…..the most wins on the team. Forgive me for asking and not curbing my excitement, but could he actually be, well, good this year? Could he have a career year in Chicago? He’s done nothing so far to show he can’t if you don’t factor in the past. If you only look at what we’ve seen so far, then you have to believe that maybe this good showing to start the season can be long term. It’s a legit possibility that he could be the better Carlos in the rotation this year. How crazy is that?
  • Good for Lou for getting Tyler Colvin a start today. Wait, what’s that? He didn’t start one game in the series that included a friggin DH? To quote Charlie Brown, “Good grief” Instead we get two catchers in the lineup.
  • Jeff Baker, please get off my baseball team. You’re not very good. Anyone want him?
  • Props to the Blackhawks for winning today and moving on to the Stanley Cup Finals. At least one team I enjoy watching can play for a championship this year.
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