Archive for February, 2012

Who Am I?

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Who Am I? is a feature here at VFTB designed to give some of the focus back to those who make the site a success: YOU! We’ll tell you a bit about one of our regulars and you guess who it is. We’ll be back later in the day with the answer.

(Would you like to be included? Let me know at lizzie@viewfromthebleachers.com … the more the merrier!)

Who Am I?

  • I was born in Elkhart, IN, and now live in Fort Washington, MD. I’m an IT professional and I enjoy fishing, hunting deer, waterfowl and the Mrs. We have five children.
  • I’ve been a Cubs fan since I was nursing from a bottle, but no one in particular encouraged my love of our team. I’ve never been to Wrigley Field.
  • I could take or leave Jim Hendry, and I’m withholding comment on Theo until two or three years down the road. I usually go with my gut feel rather than stats. Stats are SO subjective and changeable.
  • I jumped right in and started commenting as soon as I discovered VFTB (courtesy of an ESPN link.)
  • Carlos Zambrano’s ass would be sore if he was my kid. I think poor behavior is often overlooked in order to put a 1 in the win column.
  • Nothing makes me happier than good seats, a beautiful sky, the shout of vendors hawking crappy beer, and the words “play ball” echoing around the stands.

Who Am I?

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GO: Songs of Shame

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Tell us the songs on your iPod you’re embarrassed to like. C’mon, we’ve all got some!

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FOX and The Murder of Saturday Baseball

Friday, February 10th, 2012

It won’t be much longer now.  With pitchers and catchers about to report, we’re only a few weeks away from baseball season.  And as happy as I am to have the game back, I know the common frustrations that accompany every baseball season are on their way back too.

Specifically, I know I have several Saturdays worth of frustration to look forward to.  Why?  Because FOX is trying to murder Saturday baseball.

Unless you’re a Cubs fan living in Chicago or nearby, or you’re willing to watch whichever game FOX thinks you ought to care about each week, you know what I’m talking about.

As part of FOX’s deal with the MLB, they have an exclusive broadcast window every Saturday from 12:10-7pm CT.  That’s why the most Saturday Cubs games–at least, the ones not broadcast by FOX–start at 12:05pm.  In fact, the Cubs are one of the few teams that routinely try to start their games ahead of the blackout schedule.  Most other teams regularly start their Saturday games in the evening.*  FOX’s blackout window cuts a wide swath through the heart of the weekend, creating a vacuum for viewers on one of the few days they can watch their teams.

*The plethora of day games on Sunday is likewise the result of ESPN’s own blackout window, which starts at 4pm CT.  You can see the blackout policy spelled out in detail here.

The problems really start when FOX decides to fill that vacuum with their regional scheduling.  Instead of covering one game–like ESPN does on Sunday nights–and forcing the rest of the teams to schedule around them, FOX grabs two or three or even four of the best match-ups from the schedule and shows you only the team or teams from your part of the country.**

**Here’s the archaic map they use to arbitrarily determine which teams you’ll get to see.  Hello, Montana–you’ll get the Mariners and like it!

That means on a Saturday FOX picks up the Cubs game, unless you live in the Chicago area, or in the area near the Cubs’ opponent, you’re not going to see the game.  Since I live in LA, the chances I’ll see the Cubs play on FOX are very slim.  In fact, even when they’re the first game of a FOX national doubleheader, me and the rest of the LA audience don’t get to see the game–we get syndicated cartoons instead.

Try to follow the “logic” of FOX and the MLB here:  instead of letting baseball fans watch the game they want to see, or even giving them the option to watch the game of their choice on either the local FOX Sports network or FX, they presume baseball fans will just be happy to watch whatever game they’re shown.  Like I’m going to watch three hours worth of Angels or Dodgers baseball just because they’re the teams I live closest too.  Or that I want to watch an entire four or five hour contest between the Yankees and Red Sox because that’s what they’ve deemed to be the game of the week.  At most you’ll get a couple innings out of me–I’m far more likely to plant myself on the couch and watch hours of baseball if I’m able to see my team.

So instead of force-feeding baseball fans one or two games every week, why not give us a choice?  Keep the regional action on the local FOX network if you must, but show the alternate game on FOX Sports or FX.  No doubt more baseball fans would watch every Saturday if they were going to get to see their team play.  I can’t imagine they’re really getting more viewers over on FX with the umpteenth showing of Fantastic 4: Rise of the Sliver Surfer.

It’s like FOX is working off a model designed long before cable and satellite TV.  Today you have hundreds of channels to choose from.  And if you can’t find anything on live TV, you can consult your DVR or watch a DVD.  Or find something on Netflix or Hulu.  Or fire up the Xbox and play some Halo or Modern Warfare.  There are simply too many other options available to expect me to invest a bunch of time in a game I don’t care about.

The biggest problem is that there is no way to circumvent the blackout.  Not the expensive MLB Extra Innings subscription on DIRECTV.  Not the equally pricey MLB.TV subscription.  Nothing gets you past the blackout.  You might be alright if you have an ESPN Zone in your area, or a quality sports bar, but even those options are dwindling.  Most places simply won’t pay the exorbitant fees to show the blacked out games.***  It’s not worth the one or two customers they might draw to make sure they can broadcast ever Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians game.

***One example:  There’s a local Claim Jumper Jedi and I used to frequent during football season because they carried all the games.  They dropped their NFL Sunday Ticket subscription this season because DIRECTV wanted them to pay a separate fee for each of their ten screens.  Needless to say they had a significantly smaller Sunday crowd this season.  There’s no reason to go out to a restaurant or sports bar if they don’t have any more games available than I have at home.

In fact, my only access to a blacked out Cubs game is to listen to the game on my MLB.com Gameday Audio subscription.  Since they don’t blackout any games, and since the Cubs’ abundance of weekly day games means I’m listening to a large percentage of the season while I’m still at work, the Gameday Audio subscription might be the best $15 I spend all year.

But that I’m eager to listen to the game online instead of watch whatever game FOX is airing illustrates the problem they’ve created for many baseball fans.  Shutting me out from watching my team is not the way to get me to watch your network.  Look at the declining number of people who actually watch baseball for all the proof you need.  Even the audiences for the playoffs and the World Series are shrinking.  And I really do think FOX’s Saturday policies are at least partially to blame.  People are getting out of the habit of watching baseball on TV–the way to get more of them to tune in is not to cut them off from their teams.

It’s high time for FOX and the MLB to dump their antiquated blackout rules and give us baseball fans the option to see our teams on one of the few days we’re able to watch them play.  Common sense should not be too much to ask.

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Morning News: Rankings, Cocaine, and Madonna’s next challenge

Friday, February 10th, 2012

 

NL Central Rankings I linked to this in the comments a few days ago. But I found it intriguing for a few reasons. First of all, Schoenfield has Wood and Volstad earning rotation spots – but not Randy Wells. Unless 1) a pitcher is dealt, 2) Wood is ridiculously dominant and/or D) Wells completely and totally self-destructs, I just don’t see a rotation breaking camp without Wells included. He might not be in the rotation by May or June, but I bet he begins April as a starter.

Also, not sure I agree with how Schoenfield assigns points and arrives at his totals; but I definitely agree with his conclusion. The Brewers have the division’s best pitching staff and either the best of second best heart of the lineup. Braun’s looming suspension is still an issue, but the rest of the division is so weak that the Brewers have a very 2007 Cubs feel about them. Meaning it might take them a couple of months to be consistently good, but they have the best talent in the division.

More Rankings Keith Law says the Cubs have the 20th best farm system (and I know that Keith’s word is the Law for some more rabid baseball fans). It’s an ESPN Insider article, so apologies if you can’t access the full content of the link. I’m lukewarm on Law, and his ranking here is a decent example of why – the Cubs check in one spot ahead of the Nationals (they have Bryce Harper). I also find it hard to believe that there are 10 other teams more bereft of farm talent than the Cubs.

Oil Can Blow Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd confessed that during his playing days he had a habit of regularly using cocaine (shocker!). Boyd also asked that his contact information be passed along to Ron Washington in case the Rangers could use an additional coach or just someone to taste test the clubhouse nose candy. Ok, so I might’ve made up the last part.

The New iPad’s Here, The New iPad’s Here! Almost. Word is that it’ll be announced in early March. So in case you were still deciding what to do with that tax refund, Apple’s making the decision easier for you.

Be Excellent To Each Other, Party On Dudes It’s not quite Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan forming a musical team that solves all of the world’s problems; but Madonna might be able to buy a few more months of peace in the Middle East. Fresh off her Super Bowl appearance – that I was pretty sure ended with her being frozen in carbonite and being whisked away by Boba Fett – Madonna is grabbing headlines in Israel. Her fans have started a Facebook campaign imploring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off any assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities until AFTER Madonna’s May 29th show in Tel Aviv.  Madonna’s fans want the war rhetoric quelled so that celebrities, like Madonna, don’t cancel events for safety concerns. So see – Madonna might be just what is required for everyone to get along in the Middle East. Keep an eye out for Rufus and/or a time traveling phone booth.

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Northside Archives: Who Is Dale Sveum?

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

We’re mere weeks away from the start of the season, and within a month Mesa will be hosting Cubs baseball. While the off-season has brought changes galore, perhaps the biggest change on the field is the bald guy with the weird last name that’ll be going out to change pitchers. No more searching the bowl of candy beans for the manager’s angry eyebrows – Sveum is definitely a new face though the casual fan might not notice the difference at first. Old, New. Still not clear? OLD, NEW.

Grammar Police Let’s get this right from the start, spelled S-V-E-U-M; E before U. For those scoring at home that’s a Castro (E; error) before a LaHair/Rizzo (U; unassisted). Pronounced sweɪm or swaym whichever makes visual sense phonetically – say it out loud, it still sounds funny. Let’s just call him Dale.

Dale the Player Not a particularly distinguished career. But let’s not undersell it either, most kids would kill for 12 seasons on an MLB team, 2800+ PAs, and anything more than one HR (Dale hit 69 HRs during his playing career). He broke in as a 22-year-old so he clearly showed promise; and yet earning a spot on the 1986 Milwaukee Brewers (of the American League) wasn’t terribly difficult, they had six position players aged 24 or younger. Dale was a 3B by trade, except the Brewers had a future HOFer (Paul Molitor) holding down that position. Sveum became an accomplished utility infielder, even getting the occasional game in LF.

Dale’s career line of .236/.298/.378 is far from impressive. But dig a little deeper into his OPS, OPS+, BABIP…nope, he still sucked. He played nearly everyday (mostly at SS) for the 1987 and 1988 Brewers; the rest of his career was spent as a wandering utility infielder. Part of that wandering can probably be attributed to an injury he suffered colliding with a teammate in September 1988. He spent a bit more time in the minors as he recuperated and at various points later in his career.  After his time in Milwaukee ended in 1991, Dale had stints with the Phillies, ChiSox, A’s, Mariners, Pirates, Yankees and the Pirates again. The closest he came to the post-season was as a member of the 1998 Yankees; however, they waived him in early-August.

Dale the Manager By 2008, those same Brewers – now in the NL Central – were fighting and scratching their way to the playoffs. They’d finish with 90 wins but the wild card was their only path to the postseason as the spent the regular season chasing the greatest Cubs team in at least 20+ years, perhaps since WWII. As the playoff chase heated up, so did Brewers manager Ned Yost. The Brewers had finished 2 GB of the Cubs in 2007 and then traded to acquire C.C. Sabathia at the 2008 trade deadline.  Sabathia was meant to be their ticket back to the playoffs for the first time since 1982. There was a lot of pressure to win, and Ned Yost felt it.

And it broke him. Yost’s troubles began September 1st when the Brewers started a stretch of 14 games in which they managed only 3 wins. They entered September with a 5.5 game lead in the wild card, when Yost was fired they sat tied with the Phillies after having just been swept by Philadelphia in a four game series. Perhaps the Brewers were having a sense of déjà vu. It was 2007 when Yost and his Brewers led the Cubs by 8.5 games in late June before succumbing and allowing the Cubs to take the NL Central crown for the first time. During that stretch in 2007, Yost was ejected from 3 games in the season’s final week and roundly criticized for every single decision he made (mostly because none of them worked out to the Brewers benefit). The Brewers were watching the same movie a second time, and they already knew the ending. With a highly unorthodox move, they canned Yost in 2008 with two weeks to go.

That opened the door for third base coach Dale Sveum. He steadied the ship, pitched Sabathia seemingly every day that ended in “y” and it yielded a 7-5 finish.  The Brewers secured the wild card, but they were aided by a season ending series against the Cubs who had already started to rest their players. In the playoffs they met those same Phillies (who had overcome the Mets to win the NL East) and lost the NLDS in four games. After a total of 16 games, Dale was 8-8.

Dale the Coach He returned to the Brewers the following season, as Ken Macha’s hitting coach. Ron Roenicke kept him in the same position after Macha departed following the 2010 season. Before his turn as 3B coach (and then interim manager) for the Brewers he had been their bench coach starting in 2006. But the current Cubs regime probably knows him best from his days as the Red Sox 3B coach in 2004 & 2005.

It is to Dale’s credit that he has been able to fill so many different coaching positions for multiple managers. Also impressive, he was able to deal with a promotion for two weeks that ultimately saw him passed over for the main job, and yet he remained on the coaching staff. I dare say a young Lou Piniella, Dusty Baker, or a host of other managers wouldn’t have been so magnanimous in similar circumstances.

Other Notes

  • During his career he played at various points for Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella, and Gene Lamont.
  • Former major league 1B John Olerud is Dale’s cousin.
  • He led the league in errors…at shortstop…in his second full season…at age 24…with 27 errors…in 127 games.  My guess is he won’t have a quick trigger with Castro.
  • Dale did, one time, hit three homers in a single game.
  • No word so far on whether he’s a horse racing enthusiast.
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Morning News: The February Doldrums

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Petey Pablo would approve: New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski ruffled the feathers of some members of the Patriots family (namely former safety Rodney Harrison) with his decision to party and take his shirt off following the Pats Super Bowl loss. Harrison called him “immature” (he’s 22…and has a history of acting like it) and said if Harrison or any of the old guard Patriots had been there, he’d have gotten “his head rung”. Maybe this is a sign that I’m not yet an old fuddy, but I don’t see a huge problem with this. I’m sure Gronkowski was upset about the loss…people react to disappointment in different ways. Perhaps Gronkowski grieves better with his shirt off.

Congrats Coach Boeheim: Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim became the third coach in five years to pass North Carolina’s Dean Smith on the list of all-time winningest Div. I Men’s basketball coaches (following Bob Knight in ’07 and Coach K in ’10) with Syracuse’s 64-61 win over Georgetown. UCONN’s Jim Calhoun is also within striking distance of Smith’s former benchmark of 879 wins, but is on medical leave so may not get there any time soon. Once (if) Calhoun passes Smith it will be a long time before anyone else gets close – Bob Huggins is next on the active list with 700 wins.

He must have liked the fountain: It sounds like Yoenis Cespedes’ trip to Miami went quite well. The Cuban star took a hard hat tour of the new ballpark and was given a look at Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Of Miami, Cespedes said: “It would be good (to play here). There are a lot of Cubans and they would support me a lot. Hopefully I can play for the Marlins.” I’m not sure where to get a good mojito in Chicago, but someone better figure that out before Cespedes gets to town, as it sounds like the Cubs are fighting an uphill battle in this one.

 

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Chet’s Corner: Baseball Movies

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

The season is literally a mere stones throw away and soon we will be knee deep in baseball drama.  We will be placing blame for losses, make ludacris predictions, and in general, act like we too could manage a big league team, if only we were given a shot.   Baseball fans….nothing quite like them.

I figured I would take this calm before the storm to write on the lighter side.

Every baseball fan has a favorite baseball movie.  If you don’t, then you are officially a baseball curmudgeon.  Baseball is a sport meant for Hollywood. I figured I would share with you my favorite baseball movies of all time.  Without further ado, here is my top 5!

1) The Natural  

First of all, I want you to find me better theme music in almost any other sports movie.  You can’t do it!  This is an essential ingredient to the baseball sports movie.  A bad score is an immediate turn off.  The Natural score stands up there with Rocky and Chariots of Fire for best scores in a sports movie.  The entire soundtrack literally leads you right up to the final moment when the ball blows up the lighting structure and the whole thing goes orgasmic.  If you did not get chills at that moment then you need to have yourself checked out.

Okay, so back to the homerun that blew out the lights.  First of all, making reality a necessity in sports movies is a massive mistake.  Roy Hobbs would never win a game with a grounder up the middle.  Roy Hobbs wins games with massive, steroid induced, home runs.  Homers that, on the rise, smash into a lighting structure on top of the roof of an old time ballpark that probably had outfield walls that were 420 feet deep in the alleys as it is.  If the lights aren’t there to stop it, that ball travels 600 feet in the air.  You know what?  I believe it, because Roy Hobbs is a man.  A man of men if you will, which brings me to my final thoughts on a wonderful movie…..

Roy Hobbs is an enigma, we can’t figure this guy out to save our life.  He never answers a question directly in the entire movie.  Every time somebody asks Roy a question he deflects or flips it around on the other character.  He has mastered the art of being elusive.  “Where you from Hobbs?”….”Oh, all around really”  What the hell is that!?

The last, and saddest point, you couldn’t make this movie in the HGH age.  If this movie comes out after the year 2001 viewers will immediately be awaiting the scene when little Bobby Savoy is injecting an over 40 Roy Hobbs with HGH in the clubhouse.  I love you Roy, but your cover is blown!

2)  Bull Durham

Yup, the only thing better then the big leagues in Hollywood is the minor leagues in Hollywood.

If Tim Robbins doesn’t play the single best meat head, young, dumb, bonus baby ever, I don’t know who does.  Costner is actually believable as a career minor leaguer.  He doesn’t have the build or the moxy of a major leaguer but he epitomizes the head down grinder that sticks in the minors for years on end.  Playing just well enough to be there, but not well enough to get out.

The movie is probably a better comedy then it is a baseball movie but in the end they go well together.

3)  The Rookie

Disney and sports movies usually don’t go hand in hand for me.  I loved this one however.  Being in my late thirties, I am instantly a sucker for this flick.  This one tugged at the heart strings of anybody over 35,  it said, “I can still do this…I can still achieve my dreams.”  The Rookie did for the aging what Rudy did for the untalented and undersized, it gave hope.  The fact that it was a “true” story adds to the fire.

My favorite unrealistic part of the movie had to be the sound effects of the ball traveling from his rocket arm into the catchers mit just about anytime he threw it.  It wasn’t the subtle hum or hiss you normally hear from a pitched ball but the sound of a Boeing 747 traveling at top speed into the catchers mitt….  SSSHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMP… strike one.

4)  Moneyball

I know, it’s too soon.  This movie came out a few weeks ago….I have watched it three times in two weeks.  Every time I pull up the menu on my Apple TV it is there, waiting for me.  Baseball….Brad Pitt…..Jonah……his daughter and that song……Brad Pitt again doing a baseball movie and doing it well, and I keep saying Brad Pitt because even dudes like him……..Jonah, probably making Paul Depodesta wish he had let them use his name…….THE SOUNDTRACK!!!! But most of all…..

The opening scene!  This was the clincher for this movie.  I could not get enough of the dramatic presentation of the 2001 division series between the A’s and the Yankees.  It was the perfect lead in to an imperfect yet perfect baseball movie.   Get past the all the made for Hollywood timeline and the dramatizations and you have a great look at baseball behind the scenes.

Speaking of scenes,  I have two favorites other then the intro.  The first one is when they are sitting in the room with all the scouts trying to figure out how to replace the departing players.  The girlfriend comment goes down as one of the best all time in a sports movie.  The second scene is when they are recruiting Scott Hatteburg at his house.  For some reason that seemed somewhat real to me.  I am sure it isn’t how these things go down but I liked it nonetheless.

Finally, the end when he is driving and the song that is playing. If you haven’t seen the movie, and I don’t want to spoil it more then I already have, but this is an example of how the cheese needs to be embraced in baseball movies.  I cried….nuff said.  I’m a crier.

5) For Love of the Game      

Costner again, doing baseball.  It seems to fit him.  This time the roll is much different.  We have the whole age thing along with a romance (remember, embrace the cheese) plus a little comedy on the side.  This is basically a romcom baseball movie that I loved.

It introduces the freak injury to sports movies.  Many great sports movies add an injury to the star to up the ante.  In this one the pitcher almost saws off his pitching thumb with a radial saw.  I totally believe the comeback.

A little extra cache is added by making the main character a Detroit Tiger and then some is taken away by inserting the Yankees and Yankee stadium into the mix.  Overall a good number five movie.

Runners Up:    Eight Men Out,  A League of Their Own, Summer Catch (Jessica Beil!!!!) , The Babe, Sugar, Major League

So that’s my list, what about yours?

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Cespedes, Gisele, and Kobe walk into a bar

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Cespedes: Yoenis is reportedly meeting with Miami tomorrow to discuss a possibility of signing with the team. However, according to team president David Samson, Cespedes is not needed. “We want him, but we don’t need him,” Samson said. “The difference is this: When you want a player, you aggressively go out and try to sign him. When you need him, that’s when negotiations get very one-sided.” That makes sense, considering all the wheelin’ and dealin’ the Marlins have done this offseason. Other than Miami, the Cubs are the only other NL team that is reportedly interested in him. So, if the Cubbies sign the 26-year-old outfielder, does that mean Soriano is going bye-bye?

Talking Back: In response to Gisele’s comments about her husband’s teammates, New York’s running back, Brandon Jacobs, had some wise words: “She just needs to continue to be cute and shut up.” The real question here is: is she really that cute?

Kobe: Kobe Bryant has surpassed Shaq for fifth place on the NBA All-Time scorers list, with 28,601 career points. Surprisingly, Shaq is OK with it: “I never wanted to be the best Laker,” Shaq said. “I wanted to be the most dominant. I was that.”Obviously, Kobe is the best Laker. He is one of the most talented players to play the game. He is the closest we’ll ever get to having another Michael Jordan. Here’s a clip describing Michael Jordan’s dominance in the NBA:

Baseball-Themed Song of the Week:

Springsteen. Baseball. 56 days until the Cubs home opener!

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Reasons For Optimism In An Un-Optimisitic Year

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

I think it’s been made fairly clear that this season probably won’t be the most enjoyable if all you care about is wins. The way the team is currently constructed, it may be a stretch to finish over .500. That’s not to say that the season will not be fun to follow. I’m looking forward to watching the progression we see for some of the talent we’ve acquired this off-season as well as watching the continued development of guys already in house. With that being said, I thought it might be nice to give you a few names to keep an eye on this year and why you might want to be optimistic.

Travis Wood – In 2010, Wood made his big league debut for the Reds in an outing against the Cubs. He was brought in this off-season as part of the deal that sent Sean Marshall packing. For some, that was a disappointment considering Wood’s ERA last year was 4.84. However, if we look beyond that stat we see that Wood posted a FIP earned run average of 4.06. In addition, the Bill James projects him for an ERA of 3.75. Also factor in the fact that Great American Ballpark is a tough place to pitch, ranking as the 8th highest scoring parks in 2011 and the 3rd highest home run hitting park in all of baseball in 2011. Looking at his career home / road splits we see this:

    Split  ERA  G GS    IP HR  WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
     Home 5.30 15 13  73.0 10 1.493  8.0  2.71
     Away 3.58 24 22 135.2  9 1.179  6.4  2.31

Notice the drastic difference in ERA and WHIP, not to mention the HR totals. He gave up more home runs at how in roughly half the innings pitched. Before you argue that Wrigley is just as much a home run / offensive park, I would point to the fact that in the middle of the park at 14th, tied with Detroit in terms of home runs and 23rd in overall offensive output. It’s not the hitters park we’ve all been told it is, primarily due to the win blowing in often early in the year. The move from Cincinnati should do a lot toward boosting Wood’s production and confidence.

Geovany Soto – For some reason, Geo hasn’t been able to produce the kind of consistent production we’d like to see. Looking at the year he had last year, I believe he’s due for a rebound in 2012. Looking first as his BAbip, Geo posted .280 in 2011, which was almost 20 points lower than the league average and 30 points below his career average up to last season. Because players tend to regress to their norms, Geo should be in line for an increase in that department, which should lead to more offense from Geo in 2012. 2011 also saw a drastic increase in his strikeouts (26.2% of his plate appearances) which was five percentage points higher than his career average leading up to 2011 of 21%. Couple that with a major decline in his walks, dropping from 16% in 2010 to just over 9% in 2011 (his lowest total since his rookie year) and I think you’ve got someone who is poised to see those numbers regress toward the mean.

Ryan Dempster – His 2011 campaign was one that started terribly, with an ERA of 9.58 in his six starts in the month of April. However, from May on, Dempster had an ERA of just under 4.00. Still not the number you want to see from someone who would be considered the workhorse in the # 2 starter role, but a lot more acceptable than 9.58. Looking at Dempster’s secondary numbers, we also notice that in those starts from May through the end of the season, the BAbip for hitters facing Dempster was .327, which is high. It seams to me that not only did Dempster improve once the calendar change to May, but he was a tad unlucky when it came to balls put in play as well.

I know it’s not a lot, but hopefully these little nuggets will give some hope as well as something to watch for as the season takes shape in 2012.

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