View From The Bleachers

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Friday

26

August 2011

46

COMMENTS

Game 131 – Good Golly, Garza!

Written by , Posted in General

Cubs 3, Braves 8
Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

What Went Right:

  • Pena – Carlos, Carlos, Carlos. He has been pretty impressive of late. Today he had 2 hits, one of which was a bunt single! Impressive. Then with Johnson batting, Pena stole second! Len and Bob made a bad joke about Pena looking like Campana on the base paths. I guess if you were 1 foot taller and had 100 lbs on somebody, someone might find a resemblance there somewhere, but I just wasn’t seeing it today. Maybe I need to get my eyes checked. Pena also had a diving, head first slide into first for a single as well. Maybe being taken off waivers gave the guy a confidence boost. I approve.
  • Youngsters – What was impressive about the youngsters today? Tyler Colvin’s triple. That boy has wheels! Hopefully he can find his swing soon so that he can steal bases for us. Castro got his 167th hit of the season in the 1st inning and stole second. Why Quade doesn’t have him attempting to steal more baffles me. He has speed. He gets on base. We have nothing to lose. See what the young guys can do! Maybe somebody will want to take one (or four…) of them off our hands. Everyone needs 52 outfielders, right? No? Oh, maybe that’s just us.
  • Samardzija – Wait, what? Yes. Jeff Samardzija has actually been not bad lately. I never thought those words would find their way into a sentence, but they have. Today, he posted straight 0’s across his frame. He has a 0.71 ERA in the month of August. Maybe he isn’t so bad after all. Maybe.
  • Ramirez is still hot. He ripped a 2 out double in the 8th inning to extend his streak to 14 games.

What Went Wrong:

  • Garza and Grabow- Matt had an uncharacteristically bad game today. 6 runs on 8 hits with 6 Ks and an error in 5 innings. I was really excited to watch this game today, because Garza is usually so great to watch. Boy, was I surprised when he dished up that 3 run shot to McCann in the first, and then never really settle into a groove. He was more shaken than D.C. after that ‘quake.
  • Grabow was himself. Most of the damage had been done at that point, so handing a round-tripper to McCann was nearly unremarkable. Just another day in the life of ol’ John.
  • Errors – The Cubs had four (four!) errors today, which consequently led to 4 unearned runs. Remember kids, actions have consequences. In the case of the Cubs, those consequences are 103 years of bad, bad luck. Be careful.
  • Blake DeWitt was put in to pinch hit. I thought we were done with him.

The Takeaway:
The Cubs fell back to their same habits today: errors, bad pitching, little offense. It was disheartening to see them struggle today, especially because I had to recap a bad game. It has been nice that the Cubs have been doing pretty well lately though. Hopefully it is a sign of things to come next year.

Miscellaneous:

  • Len and Bob had a brief interview with Jimmie Johnson. He asked Len and Bob if they could really tell what pitch that was thrown from all the way up in the booth. I chuckled. What a down to Earth guy.
  • Mike Flanagan passed away this week at the age of 59. I never got the opportunity to hear him call a game, or see him pitch, but word has it that he was a funny guy and a great pitcher and teammate. His death was ruled an apparent suicide. Some say it was caused by the depression he experienced after being blamed for the Orioles’ recent struggles. I am deeply saddened by this news.

Stars of the Game
Base on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Brian McCann (.262 WPA)

2nd Star – Freddie Freeman (.122 WPA)

3rd Star – Martin Prado (.121 WPA)

  • Doc Raker

    Yes Katie you need to get your eyes checked. In fact everyone needs to get there eyes checked every year. I know a guy.

  • Doc Raker

    Yes Katie Pena sure is on fire. He is hitting .240 in August with 3 home runs, quite the surge for a .220 hitter. Sorry Buddy, Pena is still slugging under .500.

  • BLPCB

    Off-topic, but did anyone see the Yankees game? They belted 3 grand slams

  • Pena is at .250/.368/.500 for August. That’s a pretty good month so far. Batting average is really not the best way to judge a hitter is it? I wouldn’t say he’s on fire maybe, but having a good month yeah, I’d say so.

  • Norm

    I think its safe to say that Pena has played as expected, yes?

    Brian McCann is one of the most underrated players in the game.

  • Buddy

    Yep. Pena’s at .450 slugging overall, .495 vs. RHP. Lots of baseball left as well. As long as he’s platooned next year, I don’t mind the Cubs bringing him back on another one-year deal. That’s assuming they don’t give Fielder zillions of dollars on a mega-year contract, swindle the D’backs out of Paul Goldschmidt, etc.

  • Doc Raker

    More like batting average isn’t the only barometer of offensive production, it certainly is pertinent. Walks only get you to first base and only result in an RBI if the bases are loaded. I know the saber wisdom is OPB and OPS but I think the importance of each stat will vary depending on what type of offensive player you are comparing. Penas lack of BA but acceptable OBP is great for a leadoff hitter but not so great for an RBI guy. I want my RBI guys to actually get hits at a rate higher than .270 so as to maximize their RBI potential. I will take the high OBP for the top of the order set up guys but Pena is being paid to drive in runs so the .229 BA says a lot to me. This belief that Pena is a worthwhile RBI guy because he has a high OBP is saber folly, an incorrect analysis of the numbers in my opinion.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Nailed it, Doc. I’m afraid we’ve spent the last few months talking ourselves into keeping Pena. I’ve enjoyed how he’s produced at times, but I can’t divorce that from how abysmal he was at the beginning of the year. And I like him a lot in the field and in the clubhouse, but I don’t think he figures heavily in our future.

    And let’s not forget, Boras is his agent. No way he takes another one year deal. Not when he’s positioned to be the cheaper option for the teams that swing and miss in the Pujols/Fielder sweepstakes.

    I think we ought to look at it as a choice between Ramirez and Pena. Over the next couple seasons of rebuilding, both their spots will open up to new players. Which one brings back more value to the team next year? If we’ve got to keep one, I think Aramis is worth more to the team in terms of offensive production.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    “Everyone needs 52 outfielders, right? No? Oh, maybe that’s just us.”

    Nice job, Katie.

  • Noah

    But Doc, you present the conundrum that often happens without all the necessary data. Let’s say you have two batters, and you are told in advance that both of them around to have an OBP of .350. On is going to bat .220, the other is going to bat .270. Who would you prefer? Well, of course you’d prefer the guy who is going to hit .270, for the reasons you mentioned. Hits are in fact more valuable than walks in several circumstances.

    But that’s not the option you’re typically given. Typically you’re given the choice between a guy who puts up a .220/.350 and a guy who puts up a .270/.320. And batting average is a lot more dependant on luck than an ability to draw walks. So if your .220 guy has a rough season with BABIP and finished around with a .200 BA, he’s still got a .330 OBP. If your .270 has a rough BABIP year and bats .240, his OBP is going to be around .290.

    And I’m sorry to say your analysis of the numbers is just wrong. How can I say that? Because they’ve done studies. And every study has shown that higher OBP is more important batting average for winning, and that RBIs are an essentially meaningless predictive statistic.

  • Norm

    @doc, regarding “rbi guys”…
    when there is no one on base, who would you rather have up to bat? The 230 avg with 350 obp, or the 270 avg and the 310 obp?

    or how about a man on first, with 2nd and 3rd empty?? the 230/350 or the 270/310?

  • Buddy

    Here we go again. It’s always entertaining!

  • Well obviously, I’d rather have Teixeira..Pujols, AGonz…Fielder..and the like. Pena’s snd on the team in RBI’s…plays solid “D”…it’s been a decent investment for this season. I agree that he should not be a long term solution at 1B.

  • Doc Raker

    Who is a more valuable RBI guy? The .200/.350 guy or the .350/.350 guy? Now take the same two guys and ask who is the more valuable leadoff guy. Maybe the same guy, maybe the other guy, depends on other things like an ability to steal bases. My point is that Pena’s acceptable OBP does not make up for the loss of advancing runners with hits.

    Do those studies you sight account for how many bases the base runners advance with the .200/.350 guy vs the .350/.350 guy? A man on second scores on a single, the same base runner stays at second on a walk.

  • Doc Raker

    Norm- you have to write a line up before the game starts so who do you want in what situation only relates to pinch hitters. The real question is: Given those two different hitters who should bat 1 or 2 and who should bat in an RBI spot? Pena is a crummy RBI guy because of his low BA and would make a crummy leadoff hitter because he can’t do anything else a leadoff hitter is suppose to do. His offensive production value is lower than any of those numbers suggest on there own.

  • Norm

    But a player only comes up with men in scoring position about 25% of the time…if that. So sure, in those 25% of plate app’s, the higher average is probably better. But what about the other 75%?

  • Norm

    Doc, agree, Pena’s ideal lineup spot probably isn’t 3rd or 4th.

  • Noah

    But the .350/.350 guy doesn’t exist. Like I said, if you’re guaranteed that two guys will have the same OBP, you take the guy with the higher BA. Essentially what you’re arguing is that the Cubs should have signed Adam LaRoche instead of Carlos Pena.

    And by the way, I’d just like to go on the record that I would really dislike the Cubs sticking with Pena unless it was on another one year deal. And that would still be my third option, behind trying to trade for a Billy Butler/Adam Lind type and going for Pujols or Fielder.

  • Doc Raker

    The point: batting average does matter. It is not the only stat that matters since the greatest game is so complex but BA does matter. So whenever some one brings up BA how about we save the ‘BA is not the best way to evaluate offensive production’ banter. We all know OBP and slugging percentage is part of the puzzle but that doesn’t mean we are suppose to ignore BA. Ignoring BA get’s us guys like Pena for $10M while the Cardinals sign guys like Lance Berkman for $7M.

  • Buddy

    I’d love to have Butler or Lind too, but their teams aren’t dealing them. If the Cubs don’t land Fielder or Pujols (which they probably won’t), they’ll likely go with another one-year band aid. Pena would be fine. Berkman probably won’t accept a one-year deal. The other FA options don’t look very good to me (D Lee, Overbay, Branyan, N. Johnson, B. Hawpe, etc).

  • Buddy

    I don’t think the Cubs missed out on Berkman because they ignored BA. My guess is they were probably concerned about his health, like many other teams were. Congrats to the Cards for rolling the dice and getting rewarded.

  • Doc Raker

    JJ- You are a genius. Stay off the Pena for 2012 bandwagon and keep an eye on that CA team in the Little League World Series. Jswanson be handing out free Big Sky tee shirts but don’t fall for it, CA is the team to root for.

  • Noah

    I don’t get how Pena over Berkman would be an indication of preferring walks over hits. Berkman’s career walk rate is 15.5%. Pena’s 13.7%. Berkman’s career OBP is .408. Pena’s is .350.

    Berkman has just been an all around better player than Pena has been for a long time. Berkman’s 59 career WAR have him pretty close to being in a Hall of Fame argument. No one will ever argue that Carlos Pena (18.7 WAR) belongs in those arguments.

    Whatever reason the Cubs didn’t sign Berkman instead of Pena has nothing to do with favoring walks over hits, because Berkman is better than Pena at both drawing walks and getting hits. There were likely concerns around the league regarding his health. He’s a couple of years older than Pena as well. And I did hear rumors that there was a pretty limited number of teams he was interested in joining, most of which were southern or near southern. I did particularly hear that he was not interested in joining the Cubs.

    But to say that a stats/saber guy would prefer to pay Pena $10 million over paying Berkman $7 million is just untrue.

  • Noah

    Well, I said a Butler and Lind type. Guys in or approaching arbitration (although Butler has a pretty team friendly 4 year deal) who teams might be looking to give up. Honestly, while I doubt they’d be willing to move him, I’d at least give a call to the Marlins about LoMo. I haven’t been able to keep up with the news too much, but my understanding is a bit of a rough year plus something involving Twitter really has him out of favor there.

  • Buddy

    Sorry if I missed that Noah. And count me in on Logan Morrison as well. However, despite the recent headbutting, I’m sure he’s staying put too.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Doc, I caught the end of the LLWS game last night–you’re boys looked pretty solid. It was hard not to pull for the Pennsylvania team in front of their local fans, and it might have gotten a little dusty in the room when they took the lap around the field after the game. But congratulations, your kids are one of the few California teams I’m rooting for. I’ll be watching tomorrow.

    Any chance you’ll be at the Cubs’ games in San Diego to close out the season? We could discuss rebuilding strategies over brats.

  • Doc Raker

    SD to close out the season is very possible JJ. If I can swing it I will let you know.
    * I would think the disinterest in Berkman was injuries and a decline in production in 2010. Still a better choice in Feb 2010 than a guy coming off a .196 year regardless of said OBP.
    * OVLL vs Big Sky should be great baseball, can’t wait. Heartbreak for someone but what a great experience for those youngsters. And to think that they can earn a dinner with Seymour is just surreal. Did I mention over 8000 teams start this LL tourney.

  • Lizzie

    @Doc many props to your boys, they looked great last night and there’s not much PA could have done against a pitcher having a night like that! I’m afraid they may have a challenge on their hands getting these games in this weekend … interior PA sometimes doesn’t fare well during coastal storms. Fingers crossed it stays dry!
    @Buddy what did they end up doing with Morrison? I had him on my fantasy team and he was all of a sudden marked NA but I was away at the time and didn’t have time to do anything other than replace him.

  • Norm

    Morrison was sent down to the minors. Supposedly because he stopped hitting, but some think it was punishment for talking too much on Twitter…
    He’s back now…

  • CubbieDude

    Doc Raker: My uncle confirmed today that Ocean View is the school (now administrative offices) a block from his house where I was walking with my dog twice a day just a few months ago. Small world. He really smiled when I told him how the local LL team was doing. I thought that name (Ocean View) sounded familiar.

  • Buddy

    The Lo Mo demotion was a punishment. There’s quite a back story there if you’re ever bored and want to research it.

  • BLPCB

    Doc, is there a 3rd place game for the losers?

  • I shiver to comprehend how long all of the LLWS dinners with Seymour will take. Let us hope the Montana boys make short work of the Cali boys so they can all line up for their garden salads, dry…it would suck to show up to 5th grade with a goatee.

  • Jedi

    Ah crap, I spend half the day in the car and I miss out on the sabermetric proselytizing. Well done Doc.

  • Doc Raker

    *Cubbiedude: What a small world. Wish I had known I would of had you and Seymour over for dinner. Let me know if you are in Ocean View country again.
    * BLPCB- The losers of the US Championship and the International Championship will play each other so all 4 teams will play 2 more games. Winner vs winner and loser vs loser although I hate to use the word loser in describing any of these kids or teams.
    * jswanson- buckle up, a big one on the way. Best of luck to you and the MT crew, I have a feeling the OVLL sticks may break out today.
    * To All- Dinner with Seymour is being planned for the weekend of January 20 in Glendale AZ. Old man baseball is being played also, come join us.

  • Doc Raker

    Jedi- thanks.

  • BLPCB

    Doc – Thanks. Just saw on SC the 3rd place game is being cancelled due to Hurricane Irene.

  • Norm

    OBP being more important than AVG is sabermetrics?

  • Doc Raker

    I don’t know Norm, I am not a sabermetric apostle. I get the impression it is to some since everytime Carlos Pena’s weak BA is brought up someone has to tell us it doesn’t matter because he has a good OBP. Pena is a good 8th hitter and should not be in the Cubs rebuilding plans so should not be on the roster for 2012. Let’s move on and rebuild.

  • Jedi

    19th, 1st, 16th, 2nd, 14th, 24th, 1st, 15th, 6th, 8th, 10th

    Those are the rankings of OBP for the last 11 World Series champions.

    15th, 2nd, 9th, 6th, 15th, 13th, 2nd, 14th, 1st, 9th, 9th

    Those are the rankings of AVG for the last World Series champions.

    Not enough difference to warrant such reliance on OBP…if anything, it shows you have to be at least a mediocre hitting team no matter how much you get on base (none of the AVGs were in the bottom half of the league). It’s timely HITTING that scores runs. Ultimately, I’d like to have the best pitching staff; but I’m not going to overpay for guys that take walks but can’t hit. After four years of Kosuke I would think Cubs’ fans can understand better than most that OBP is good in moderation…a blind devotion to the stat gets you a team full of guys who aren’t necessarily looking to come through with the big hit (like Kosuke).

  • BLPCB

    Believe it or not, but today at the pool, I saw a guy wearing a Huntington Beach shirt.

  • Doc Raker

    Were is your pool BLPCB?

  • BLPCB

    Its in Wilmette. I work at the Park District

  • Norm

    17th, 1st, 9th, 4th, 14th, 13th, 1st, 17th, 4th, 7th, 10th

    Those are those same winners ranking in Runs. Does that mean Runs aren’t a good indicator of who is going to win the WS?

    You don’t look at WS winners to determine the effectiveness of AVG or OBP; you look at runs scored since we’re only talking about offense.

    Nobody is saying AVG doesn’t have its use. I’m just saying it’s not as important as OBP in team run scoring…that’s not an opinion.

    http://www.baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?48531-Correlation-Between-Stats-and-Runs-etc.&p=643271#post643271

  • Jedi

    Norm, who said anything about runs? Stats in a vacuum mean crap. Go get a team of Kosuke’s and then tell me how useful that high OBP is…because that team will suck with RISP (a measurement of HITTING) and consequently they won’t score many runs.

    Just what use does AVG have to you? Because any time it’s mentioned you start in with the “yeah, but look at that crappy hitter’s OBP” routine. That’s not an opinion.

  • Jedi

    Point being, we need more run producers (guys who HIT the ball), not another stable of guys who are great at getting on base and even better at failing with runners in scoring position.