Author Archive

5 Things a Cub Fan Needs To Know for July 24

Friday, July 24th, 2015

by Nate Head

Fresh from a day-off

Coming off four games in three days in Cincinnati, it’s safe to say the Cubs needed a day off. They got one yesterday, hopefully recharging the depleted bullpen, as virtually every reliever on the 25-man was used at some point in the series. Signs of fatigue are popping up at the plate, too. Cubs’ hitters are expanding the zone, taking good pitches, over swinging—the whole nine.

Cubs’ players aren’t the only ones who needed a break. Nail-biting fans of the north siders likely have nothing left on their fingers after riding the turbulent waves throughout this series that produced three games decided by one run. Chicago salvaged a split with the Reds, highlighted by dramatic comeback wins on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

More Schwarber, Please

I’m satisfied with what catcher Miguel Montero has done this year, but rookie Kyle Schwarber is exactly what the Cubs need right now. While Montero has been on the disabled list (thumb) this past week, Schwarber has been one of the few consistent hitters in the lineup. In 13 games this year, the 22-year-old slugger’s stat line is impressive: .409/.447/.705. Schwarber’s defense behind the plate draws plenty of skepticism, and while he’s performed modestly behind the dish so far,the doubt isn’t necessarily unwarranted. A play in the early game on Wednesday comes to mind, where Schwarber took absolutely the worst route possible to an infield fly, which forced Anthony Rizzo to sprint in 90 feet from his position to make the catch. But, like many things in baseball, I assume it will come with experience—or at least hope. Manager Joe Maddon has shown that he is a firm believer in experimenting with lineups and using his whole team, and I expect him to find a way to effectively utilize Schwarber.

Bullpen, keep it up

A dark horse candidate for team MVP right now, the Cubs’ bullpen has been stellar. Believe it or not, Chicago’s relievers rank 4th in the NL in ERA with their collective mark of 3.20 (8th overall), and 2nd in opponent’s batting average (7th). Yes, that includes Edwin Jackson and Pedro Strop’s efforts this season. The bullpen put on a clinic in game two on Wednesday, as the combination of Wood-Strop-Soriano-Rondon-Motte went 7 innings behind starting pitcher Dallas Beeler’s disastrous start, striking out 11 Reds hitters and not allowing a single run. Jason Motte looks like Maddon’s most popular choice to close out games right now, and he has done well in those situations. A new addition to the crew, league veteran Rafael Soriano, is showing he could be a quality addition, pitching a scoreless inning in each of his two appearances with the team.

Castro needs to claw out of slump

Shortstop Starlin Castro’s hitting drought has been hard to watch for me, personally. Castro’s body language after making an out is nearly depressing at this point, as it looks like he wants to split his bat over his knee every time he makes an out. Maddon has stuck by his slumping shortstop, spewing encouraging words to the media when the topic is mentioned. When he’s at his best, Castro is a relaxed free-swinger at the plate. Right now, it looks like he is over-analyzing every pitch and is actually trying too hard to return from his hitting hiatus. Whether it is to attract more teams (maybe just the Phillies) at the deadline or to simply help out the lineup, Castro needs to start hitting. In his career, Starlin has faced just one of Philadelphia’s probables for this weekend’s series, Cole Hamels, and has fared well, going 3 for 6 against the left-hander, and possible future Cub.

Series pitching probables

On the surface, this three game set against the Phillies at Wrigley may not seem very important. However, Chicago is literally clinging to their second spot in the NL wild card race with a mere .5 lead over San Francisco. Philadelphia has the worst overall record in the league at 34-63 and should help bolster the Cubs’ win column. Naturally, the Cubs encounter them on their hottest stretch of the season as they have won five of six games after the All-Star break. Let’s take a look at the expected pitching matchups:

Friday: Jon Lester vs. Jerome Williams

Saturday: Jake Arrieta vs. Cole Hamels

Sunday: Jason Hammel vs. Aaron Nola

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Who Will Be The 2015 Statistical Leaders?

Friday, February 27th, 2015

by John Dewan

In addition to our projected Defensive Runs Saved leaders, which we highlighted in a Stat of the Week a few weeks ago and will be expounded upon in The Fielding Bible—Volume IV to be released on March 1, we provide a spring update to the Bill James Projections each year to account for players who have changed teams and gained or lost apparent playing time as teams have put together their rosters. That update will also be released on March 1, so let’s look at which hitters and pitchers are projected to lead baseball in various categories.

First, here are the projected hitting leaders:

Projected Hitting Stat Leaders, 2015
Stat Player Projected Total
AVG Miguel Cabrera .321
Yasiel Puig .316
Jose Altuve .316
HR Giancarlo Stanton 40
Jose Abreu 38
George Springer 38
RBI Miguel Cabrera 123
Jose Abreu 121
Paul Goldschmidt 115
Runs Mike Trout 131
Mookie Betts 112
Paul Goldschmidt 107

A few of the usual suspects like Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt make their way back on to the projected leaderboards, but the 2015 leaders also have some new blood. Jose Abreu was a star in his first season in MLB, smashing 36 home runs and knocking in 107 runners despite a DL stint that held him to 145 games. This year, we like Abreu to exceed those numbers in a full, healthy season.

George Springer hit 20 home runs in his first major league action in 2014 in only 345 plate appearances. We think he’ll come close to doubling his playing time and home run total in 2015. And while Mike Trout has a healthy lead in projected runs scored, we expect Mookie Betts to play well and benefit from hitting atop the powerful Red Sox lineup in route to scoring 112 runs.

Projected Pitching Stat Leaders, 2015
Stat Player Projected Total
Wins Clayton Kershaw 21
Adam Wainwright 17
Felix Hernandez 16
Stephen Strasburg 16
Saves Trevor Rosenthal 49
Craig Kimbrel 47
Fernando Rodney 47
Aroldis Chapman 47
ERA Clayton Kershaw 2.37
Michael Pineda 2.74
Matt Harvey 2.84
K Yu Darvish 248
Clayton Kershaw 245
Stephen Strasburg 237

Clayton Kershaw will lead both leagues in wins and ERA but fall three strikeouts short of the MLB triple crown for pitchers based on our projections. He’s amazing. He’s joined by other elite starters including Adam Wainwright, Yu Darvish, and Stephen Strasburg at the heads of those lists.

The ERA leaders are particularly interesting. Behind Kershaw, both Michael Pineda and Matt Harvey are coming back from injuries. Pineda was outstanding in 76.1 innings last season, maintaining a 1.89 ERA and a miniscule 0.8 walks per nine innings. He’s been great whenever he’s been healthy in his career, but unfortunately, the healthy stints have been few and far between. Harvey is coming back from Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss all of the 2014 season.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.

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Are Defensive Runs Saved Predictive?

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

 

by John Dewan

Defensive analytics have grown in leaps and bounds in the last decade. At Baseball Info Solutions (BIS), we eat, sleep and breathe defense, but there is always more to learn. A recent research project uncovered some remarkable new information.

One of the public perceptions has been that a player needs three full seasons before his defensive metrics provide a true indication of his defensive abilities. That has been my own personal rule of thumb, though I’ve known there is some reliability to sample sizes smaller than three years.

Based on the new research, BIS has found that Defensive Runs Saved based on as small a sample size as 350 innings in the field (about a quarter of the season) produces reliable results. This is a very significant finding.

The research produced another significant finding. Defensive Runs Saved is a better predictor than many other statistical measures in baseball even over limited samples. Most notably, DRS is a better predictor of future performance than batting average and OPS with partial season data.

We’ll have more on this in the upcoming book, The Fielding Bible—Volume IV, but here is a table that summarizes the results. We use the statistic called the correlation coefficient to show how predictive each statistic is—it produces a number between -1 and 1, with numbers near zero meaning no predictability and numbers near -1 and 1 meaning high predictability.

Correlation Coefficients of AVG, OPS, and DRS
Statistic 350 Innings 700 Innings
Batting Average 0.46 0.47
OPS 0.52 0.51
DRS 0.55 0.59

 

As you can see from the table, DRS is more predictive than batting average and OPS after just 350 innings. The same is true if you increase the samples to 700 innings.

In the study, we ran correlations of three years of defensive data versus the subsequent year’s DRS totals for position players. The first used 350 innings for DRS and 175 at-bats for batting average and OPS—both about one fourth of an MLB season—over both samples. The second used 700 innings and 350 at-bats. The full explanation of the study of the predictive power of Defensive Runs Saved as well as the rest of our latest defensive research can be found in the upcoming Fielding Bible—Volume IV, which will be released in early spring of 2015.

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How Do Shifts Affect League-Wide BABIP?

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

by John Dewan

I was recently asked the following question [by Rob Neyer]: If infield shifts work so well, why aren’t league-wide BABIPs (Batting Average on Balls in Play) dropping? It’s a great question. Shifts are designed to to take hits away from certain pull-heavy hitters, and with the huge increase that we have seen in the number of shifts used across baseball over the last few years, intuitively we would think that this would affect the league’s batting average. And it does! However, the effect is almost imperceptible because the number of batted balls against a shift is still a small percentage of all batted balls put in play.

First, for reference let’s look at what the league-wide BABIP has been over the last 10 years, as well as the shifts data that we have been collecting at Baseball Info Solutions since 2010:

Season

BABIP

Shifts

2014

.299

13,789*

2013

.297

8,134

2012

.297

4,577

2011

.295

2,357

2010

.297

2,464

2009

.299

-

2008

.300

-

2007

.303

-

2006

.301

-

2005

.295

-

*Projected by year end

Based on research that we have done at BIS, we know that the shift lowers the batting average on grounders and short liners (the ball in play types most affected by the shift) by about 30 points. So far this season, the batting average on grounders and short liners on shifted plays has been .230, and on non-shifted plays it has been .265. That’s a significant difference. However, despite the shift being employed far more often this season than any previous season, it has still only been used about 10% of the time. Therefore, the overall batting average on all grounders and short liners in baseball has been .262, only a 3 point difference from the .265 average on non-shifted plays.

And that’s just grounders and short liners. If you factor in ALL balls in play, that 3 points gets diluted even further, because the infield shift has no effect on balls hit to the outfield. The league-wide BABIP this season is .299, but it would be .300 without the shifting. So, in general the shift is only going to lower the overall BABIP by about 1 or 2 points, and that gets lost in the noise when looking at year-to-year BABIPs.

However, just because it might be difficult to see the impact that shifting has had when looking at year-to-year numbers doesn’t mean that shifting hasn’t had a meaningful effect. So far this season teams have saved 127 runs throughout baseball by shifting. If we assume all those runs would have been earned, that means the league’s overall ERA of 3.80 would actually be 3.85 if teams weren’t shifting. So, the shift does make a difference.

On Tuesday, Tom Verducci published an article for Sports Illustrated supporting the idea that MLB should at least consider making the defensive shift illegal. The thought is that scoring in baseball has declined too much in recent years, so let’s regulate the options available to the defense to keep things more exciting for fans. However, as the data above shows, the shift is just a small part of run prevention. A difference of 1 or 2 points in league-wide batting average is nothing compared to, for example, when the pitcher’s mound was lowered after the 1968 season. While shifting definitely makes a difference, regulating it isn’t going to reverse recent run-scoring trends. In fact, by taking away the shift and limiting the strategies that teams can use to gain an edge, MLB would actually be making the game less exciting.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.

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Castillo wins it in the 11th after bullpen blows another late lead

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

by Luke Jett

After another rough outing for Cubs closer Jose Veras, is it time for manager Rick Renteria to make a switch? The right hander blew a two run lead in the ninth inning Friday night to give the Cardinals life heading into extra innings. In the inning, he surrendered the two runs, but only on one hit. He hit two guys and walked another, coupled with a passed ball, to recap a horrendous inning for the Cubs closer.

Is it time to make a switch? I was tending to lean on the small sample size and the relatively short outings so far. But after tonight’s debacle, it has me thinking maybe it is time for a change. Veras now has an ERA north of 12 in his four appearances and in both save opportunities, he has blown them. There is one reason Renteria would keep him in the closers role and that is for the chance that he bounces back and becomes a flippable piece at the deadline.

I find this theory highly unlikely, seeing as they have Veras under an option for next year. I would like to see Pedro Strop or Hector Rondon get a shot to close. Both pitchers threw scoreless innings tonight and Rondon picked up his first career save. The Cubs went through basically the same scenario with Carlos Marmol last year. You have got to wonder how long Renteria’s leash is on Veras.


With two outs in the 11th inning, Welington Castillo parked a three run home run and Rondon shut the door to give the Cubs a 6-3 win.  This all coming after Jose Veras blew another save. The Cubs led 3-1 going into the ninth before Veras allowed two runs on just one hit to go along with two hit batsman and a walk.

The Cubs had to come back once again after Yadier Molina’s second inning RBI single, the only run starter Jeff Samardzija allowed. Ryan Sweeney cracked a single into left to score Anthony Rizzo in the 7th to tie the game. The Cubs broke the tie with a sacrifice fly from Rizzo and a RBI single from Nate Schierholtz, which gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the 8th.

  • Rondon closed out the 11th inning to pick up his first career save and continued his scoreless innings streak that is up to 16 now.
  • Emilio Bonifacio went 1-3 today. He has reached base safely in all 10 games so far.
  • Schierholtz went 4-5 with a double and a RBI in the win. He raised his average from .185 to .281 just tonight. Early numbers are fun.

Tomorrow won’t be any easier for the Cubs as they will face Cardinal ace Adam Wainwright who supports a 1.29 ERA in his first two starts. He will be opposed by Cubs swing man Carlos Villanueva, who picked up the win in his only start of the year last Sunday against the Phillies. He gave up one run in five innings of work in that start. Let’s take a look at Wainwright’s scouting report.

MLB.com

Wainwright pitched well in a loss Sunday, hurt by two two-out doubles. He’s already walked six after issuing only 34 free passes in 2013. Wainwright is still trying to find the feel for his cutter, but he doesn’t believe he’s far from getting it.

Wikipedia

Wainwright has a sinkerball, throwing it in the 90-92 mph range. He also throws a good deal of cutters (85–88) and curveballs (72–76)That has dropped more than 8 inches before from top to bottom of the pitch. Less commonly, he also throws a four-seam fastball (90–94, tops out at the mid 90s) and changeup (83–86). He uses all of his pitches against left-handed hitters, but he does not use the changeup against right-handers. Wainwright’s most-used pitch in 2-strike counts is his curveball.

In spring training of 2013, he started incorporating an elevated four-seam fastball, making his curveball more effective.

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What I Did On My Winter Vacation

Monday, February 10th, 2014

by Seymour Butts, correspondent

As most of you are aware, I spent last week in Mesa, AZ at Randy Hundley’s Cub Fantasy Camp. The detail of the camp are not likely to be interesting to you with the exception of the usage, for the first time, of the new Cubs spring training facilities.

The Campers were actually the first individuals to use any of these fields for baseball. In discussing this with Randy Hundley the feeling was that it was a test run so that any issues could be identified before the professional players got on the fields. This was the case. There was an underground sprinkler issue that took most of the week to find and fix. In one of our afternoon games, the sprinklers came on and rotated circuits around that field for about 10 minutes. We were not on the field that was having pipe-leaking issues at the time, so it may have been the valves were mislabeled. The problem was there was no pattern or notice to the circuits changing and I, among others, got a nice shot of water in the back. At least it was about 80 degrees there that day.

There were 2 new coaches this year Bobby Howry and Mike Remlinger. We tend to think we know their personalities from watching on TV, we were wrong. You could not meet two nicer guys than these. Bobby was saddled with a poor team that thinned its ranks due to injury. He ended up as a pinch runner and outfielder due to this by Thursday. Remlinger had a smile that never left his face. And Raker, he drives a Prius. Thank goodness someone cares about the environment.

I’m going to try and show photos of some of the highlights:


This is one of four identical fields located at the west end of the complex. These are the fields we used Monday thru Friday. There is an elevated platform large enough that we had lunch there daily in the middle. It is wired to the hilt with outlets and Ethernet ports about every eight feet all around the periphery.

On Monday between games, we were all given a guided tour of the entire complex by the facility manager. Our first stop was the weight room:


We were told that this is not only the largest, and best equipped, weight room in the minors, but likely bigger than most all Major league facilities. The prior facility at Fitch park was roughly 30 by 40 feet, with less than a tenth of the equipment in this room.

In a rear corner of the weight room is the tub area. Some are hot, some cold, and one in the middle has a treadmill and underwater viewing windows.

Next we have the major league locker room:

And a class room for film review and even English language classes:

On Wednesday morning we had a visit from some of the Cub Minor league players who were already in town:

Among those present were Messer’s Edwards, Black, Johnson, Jokisch, and Vogelbach. Pay attention to the guy in the grey shirt. That is Dan Vogelbach. I saw him when he played for Boise and was fat. He is no longer lard laden, and looked very solid. C J Edwards can’t weigh more than a couple of bats.

Saturday we played against the former Major Leaguers in the first baseball of any kind to take place on the new Cubs Stadium.

There were of course a number of first for the stadium in that game. First Pitcher: Mike Remlinger. First Batter: Randy Hundley.

There were a number of other firsts of course, but the one I will remember is pictured below:


First DP turned: Seymour Butts. It was against the pros’ fastest runner, left handed batter Bobby Howry who uttered an expletive when he hit me a two hopper straight up the middle for a 6-3 dp.

Come to Camp! It’s a blast.

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Super Bowl Predictor System

Friday, January 31st, 2014

by John Dewan

After correctly predicting the Super Bowl winner 90 percent of the time over a 20-year period, the Super Bowl Predictor System is ready for mothballs.

Why is that?

Just like many of you, I am a fan of a specific team. I haven’t missed a Chicago Bears game since the start of Walter Payton’s career. In January of 2007 the Bears were going to the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl Predictor System said the Bears were an overwhelming favorite. The Chicago media was all over this.

Except, Peyton Manning had something to say about it. Despite an opening kickoff return for a touchdown by the Bears’ Devin Hester, Manning led the Colts to an upset victory.

I should have quit while I was ahead. That Bears Super Bowl launched a performance slump where the Predictor System has missed five of the last seven Super Bowls. The overall record of the system is down to a 64 percent success rate. Not horrible, but with its recent record, here’s what I have to say: Sayonara.

For those of you who still want to know what the system says, it says that Manning is going to lose again. But I ain’t gonna bet against him a second time. The Seahawks won 7 of the 12 predictors, with two going to the Broncos, and three ties. The details:

Category

Win%

Team with Advantage

Points Scored

.553

Broncos

Points Allowed

.617

Seahawks

Point Differential

.617

Broncos

Fewer Net Passing Yards

.596

Seahawks

Rushing Yards

.532

Seahawks

Rushing Yards/Carry

.553

Seahawks

Opponent Net Passing Yards

.553

Seahawks

Opponent Rushing Yards

.596

Tie

Opponent Rushing Yards/Carry

.574

Tie

Opponent Total Yards/Game

.638

Seahawks

Turnover Differential

.574

Seahawks

Regular Season Record

.532

Tie

For old times sake, here’s how the system is designed to work. Each of the 12 predictors predicts the Super Bowl winner correctly 53 percent to 64 percent of the time. When taken together they have a greater success rate. However, now for the first time since we started the system, there is one stat that is just as successful as the 12 indicators put together. It’s Fewer Opponent Total Yards, which has predicted the winner 30 out of 47 times (64 percent). This too suggests that the Seahawks, the better defensive team, are going to win.

I’m picking the Broncos.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.

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Missing Priorities

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

by Mark Strickler

‘Are you really better off than you were 8 years ago?’ ‘Where’s the beef?’ We all know these phrases from our past – they were poignant at the time and they also have some relevancy insofar as the 2014  Cubs. In 2010 the Ricketts family bought the Cubs – at the time Sam Zell was the owner and (for some curious reason) he decided to keep the unprofitable part of the organization (i.e. the Chicago Tribune and other print media) and jettison the profitable parts (the Cubs, it’s relationship with Comcast Sports and WGN.) Since that time the Cubs have belly-flopped – we’ve all been sold on a rebuild that promises the moon and the stars but offers next to nothing for now or the immediate future. The team has plummeted in terms of results since 2010 and it only improved a little last year. So what do we have to look forward to – is it a positive future or a shoeshine and a smile? My short term predictions are as follows:

  • The Cubs will be a below .500 team in 2014; lower attendance and sales will start to have more impact on liquidity for the Ricketts family. These results are due to a strategic fault by Joe/Tom Ricketts and Epstein – they miscalculated the importance of putting a decent product on the field during the rebuild. I expect the 2015 team to be close to or above 100 losses;
  • Some highly touted prospects will make appearances in 2014 and 2015. The results will be mixed – this also applies to major hopefuls that are currently on the roster. The “net net” is that the rebuild will not produce a serious contender for the foreseeable future;
  • The top management will devote too much of their attention toward construction projects and other lower priority objectives such as mascots and making Wrigley a better advertising platform and party area. They will also sever or greatly reduce their relationship with WGN and seriously erode their national exposure, future fan base and merchandise sales. Their myopic short-term vision will ultimately combine to force the upside-down Ricketts family to sell the Cubs and either “sell short” or barely break even.

So here’s why I’m thinking these things will happen. I invite reader comments so that we can discuss in a positive and analytical manner.

Last year’s Cubs team was better than the previous but still not enough to motivate many of us to watch regularly. The talent level was better than in 2012  but still produced a last place team. What makes us think that the 2014 team will be markedly better? This year’s offseason hasn’t produced any major signings that have led me to believe that this team will be better. I predict a worse record in 2014 than last year and another last place finish.

With regard to talent we got to see some of our future last year. Starlin Castro projects to be a decent hitter but I don’t see him ever being an average shortstop. He will never get to the level that Shawon Dunston was defensively and he can’t even dream about being the same kind of middle infielder that Don Kessinger was. My projection is that he will put on more muscle and eventually be an average to above average left fielder or an American League DH. As for Anthony Rizzo – he can really put some zip on his hits but I hate his mechanics. These flaws will become more apparent as he gets older, he is an average to above average first baseman with is glove. If he plateaus he will have a career similar to Derrek Lee’s. Wellington Castillo is a work in process at best – I will have to see more of him before I can rate him as anything more than average to above average. Travis Wood is an above average prospect but may not be in our future because of the money that he will want. Samardzija will likely be gone by the All Star game if not before. He probably won’t be worth the money he will get due to competitive considerations.

As for the guys in the minors – Baez can hit but he can’t field well (40+ errors and he isn’t 18 anymore.) He projects as a potential All Star left fielder. Kris Bryant also projects as a good-hitting potential All Star left fielder – how many guys can we put out there and who will play on the left side of the infield? Almora has all kinds of question marks for me. Good athletic build, good swing (unlike Corey Patterson) but not enough zip – I think he plateaus as an above average corner outfielder. Again, we have problems with how many guys we can put in left field and Almora doesn’t have the bat for right in my opinion. At starting pitcher we have two or three guys who might compete for the last two spots in the rotation and in the pen we might have a couple of guys to look at. To say the least I’m not thrilled about the future. We have future question marks at catcher, starting pitcher, relief, closer, first base, second base, third base and center field. I’m not convinced the rebuild is going so well.

What about the off-field activities? Will you and I really benefit from all the construction activities, billboards and (wow) a mascot? Let me preface my comments by first saying I hate mascots, I’d rather see “Pennywise the dancing clown” (from Stephen King’s book “It”) than Clark the Cub. Mascots suck and I put them in the same category as the Astros choo-choo, Hawk Harrelson, Ronnie Woo Woo and other baseball annoyances. The game is about balls and strikes, not smelly guys and gals in creepy-looking uniforms. The decision that the Ricketts family is contemplating (terminating the Cubs relationship with WGN) has more long lasting consequences. Generations have grown up watching the Cubs on WGN because it’s available almost everywhere and their grandfather or father were Cubs fans. Can they really keep that national fan base without national TV exposure? What about people like me that don’t live in Chicago that won’t pay for MLB Extra Innings just to watch a losing team who doesn’t improve? (Granted, I still get Extra Innings but now I watch the Indians because I’m so disgusted with the Cubs.) What will these fans do when they can’t watch the Cubs? My guess is that (like me) they will adopt other teams to watch.

In conclusion I’m not as optimistic as others about the Cubs future. This year is a “fish or cut bait” season for me after following the team for 45 years. Will they turn the corner? Or will I be so disillusioned with the team that I abandon them like I did the Blackhawks after William Wirtz sold that team down the river? It was too late for me when Rocky took over the Hawks and it might be too late when some future owner straightens out the Cubs. I hope it won’t be.

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Wood finally beats his former team. Cubs shutout the Reds 2-0

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

by Rob Willer

The Travis Wood trade has been an interesting one for both ball clubs over the past two seasons. Sean Marshall was a workhorse for many years in the Cubs pen and was due for a hefty raise as a reliever. The Cubs maximized his value and traded him to the Reds for Wood, Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes. Torreyes was traded to the Astros this year for international slot money which has proven to be quite valuable as it helped the Cubs sign some very impressive international talent. Sappelt has bounced around from the majors and minors this year and seems to be a fourth outfielder at best for his career recently designated for assignment. The real get in the trade for the Cubs was Travis Wood.  The 26-year-old Wood has enjoyed a breakout campaign with the Cubs thus far in 2013, pitching to a 2.79 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 33.7 percent ground-ball rate. He was 0-4 in his career against the Reds which of course included three losses this season against the pesky Reds. The Reds now are 13-4 against the Cubs this season. Wood went seven innings allowing six hits and fanned seven. Wood got his 22nd quality start and it was a beauty.

Kevin Gregg gave up a double in the ninth while earning his 31st save in 35 chances. Just think about that for a second Kevin Gregg has 31 saves after the Cubs got him for literally nothing probably one of the best in season moves this year. Pedro Strop continues his stellar performance out of the pen pitching a scoreless eight. His 2.93 earned average with the Cubs is very encouraging. Overall with the Cubs Strop has appeared in 29 games and turned in 26 scoreless relief outings.

Ryan Sweeney and Luis Valbuena homered off Bronson Arroyo (13-11), who had won his last four starts against the Cubs. These would be the only runs of the game for each team as the Cubs would muster enough offense to get their all-star a win. The Reds squandered a perfect chance to be with in a game of first with 17 games to go in the regular season. After last night’s loss the Reds sit at 2 games back of the National League Central Leading Cardinals. If you look at the top three teams in the National League Central their playoff efficiency percentages range from 99.0 to 99.8 tough year to compete folks. Side Note: The Pittsburgh Pirates have clinched an above .500 season for the first time since 1992. Another astonishing stat that 21 years have passed since they finished above .500. We are only in our second year of the Epstein rebuild folks if we can above .500 in 2015 I’ll take it.

It was the Cubs’ sixth shutout this season which kinda surprised me that they had that many as team. The Cubs go with Edwin Jackson (7-15), who leads the NL in losses. Yippee 19 million dollars for 15 losses. Can’t wait for his second year under contract.

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