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An Ugly Win

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy Cow!

The Cubs won a nail-biter 7-5 last night over the Astros. The game was a rather sloppy affair, and I walked away thinking that we won one we didn't really deserve. That is probably an unfair characterization, considering the offense scored 7 runs, but we did come from behind twice, and we did get a huge lift from Craig Biggio's first error of the season.

On the other hand, the Astros scored two gift runs in the top of the 4th inning. Jeff Kent led off the inning with a legitimate double (during the play he pulled up with a hamstring injury and is day-to-day). Morgan Ensberg followed by hitting a fairly deep fly ball to center field. Corey Patterson was trying to imitate Andrew Jones and Jim Edmonds by playing shallow, and did a nice job of going back on it. He should have caught the ball just shy of the warning track, but the ball bounced right off the palm of his mitt and Ensberg was credited with a gift triple by Bob Rosenberg, the Cubs official scorer. Adam Everett then hit what would have been a double, but Moises Alou misplayed the ball, kicking it into the ivy. He first started looking for the ball, and then threw his hands up, requesting the double rule to be invoked. However, Alou apparently forgot the ground rules as:

  • 1. The ball was in plain site, just not where he was looking.
  • 2. Moises touched the ball before it went into the ivy.
  • 3. Moises started looking for it.

The most comical part of the play occured after Everett ran home, and Alou saw the ball. He didn't let on, and started kicking at the ivy over the ball and ripping some out, conveniently covering up the ball. All of his efforts didn't help him out though. Everett was awarded a double, and Alou was charged with a two-base error.

Despite their defensive struggles, both Alou and Patterson made up for their miscues at the plate. Patterson had an RBI double in the second inning, and a two-run dinger in the fourth which scored Alou, who had reached on a walk. Alou also hit the flyball that Craig Biggio dropped (in much the same way Patterson did), which ended up scoring Mark Grudzielanek and Michael Barrett.

Aramis Ramirez hit his 15th home run in the 6th inning off of Kurt Bullinger (Jim's brother). The Cubs have played 76 games, which puts Ramirez on pace for 32 home runs. Last year, Ramirez hit 15 for the Cubs in 63 games. I really hope he makes the all-star squad.

ESPN is reporting: The Expos approached Cabrera, 29, with a four-year, $30 million contract offer in the spring. Cabrera refrained from signing the deal to assess his options, and now he's made his decision: He plans to file for free agency in November, which means the chances of him playing in Montreal -- or anywhere in an Expos uniform -- in 2005 are negligible. Jerry Crasnick ESPN Insider, "Shortstop turned down lucrative offer"

When I saw this, I immediately thought... let's make a trade! However, a little deeper consideration and Cubdom ought to be a little more cautious. Cabrera is having a poor year offensively (to be kind), and is in the final year of his contract earning $6 million.

  • Orlando Cabrera - .239/.298/.330, 4 HR, 10 SB, 21 RBI, 75 games
  • Ramon Martinez - .263/.323/.366, 2 HR, 0 SB, 22 RBI, 60 games

As you can see, if Cabrera continued his current offensive production, he wouldn't be an improvement over Ramon, and he might even be worse. He definitely wouldn't be worth the additional $2.5 million more than Martinez that he is owed over the remainder of the season. (Defensively, Cabrera owns a gold glove from 2001, and is having a comparable season this year.)

However, the assumption that Cabrera wouldn't improve if he played in front of 38,445 fans a day rather than the 19,391 may be faulty (see Aramis Ramirez 2003) (Attendance numbers are Cubs average attendance (home & away) vs. the Expos. The 'spos home attendance is horrible, with an average of 9,192 fans coming to see them in Montreal/San Juan.

If the Cubs were to trade for Cabrera (who will be paid approx $3 million the rest of the season), the trade should include about $2 million cash from the Expos in return for a decent, but not stellar minor league prospect (and Rey Ordonez if the Expos will take him). Or, the Cubs may be enticed to pick up all of Cabrera's salary if a bullpen arm were added to the deal, say Chad Cordero. However, this trade would probably require a top-flight prospect.

Chad Cordero, 2-1 with 4 saves in 35 games, 42.1 IP, 7.87 K/9, 27 K's, 24 BB's, .209 BAA, 1.35 WHIP, 2.55 ERA.

Editors Note:This post was edited significantly about 8 hours after I initially posted it, mainly because it wasn't terribly clear.

Posted by Byron at 9:24 AM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Adding Speed to the Mix

Sunday, June 27, 2004

I was reading about Rickey Henderson's 130 steal season the other day, and started thinking about the fact that OBP and SLG don't do a good job of explaining the impact of speed on the game. So, I am going to invent three new statistics, OBP-CS, SLG+S, and OPSS (Onbase plus slugging & speed).

OBP: On base Percentage = (Hits + BB + HPB)/(AB + BB + HBP + SacFly).

I'll modify OBP by subtracting Caught Stealing from the numerator (the top one). If you think about it, if I get a single, and then get caught stealing, its just like getting thrown out by the catcher at first.

OBP-CS: On base Percentage adjusted for steals = (Hits + BB + HPB - CS)/(AB + BB + HBP + SacFly).

SLG: Slugging % = (Total Bases) / (At bats).

I'll adjust SLG by adding stolen bases to total bases, because if a batter gets a single and then steals second, its essentially the same as a double. This should show up in our adjusted slugging.

SLG+S: Slugging & Speed % = (TB + SB) / (AB).

OPSS: On-base plus Slugging & Speed = (OBP-CS)+(SLG+S) is just like its cousin, Onbase plus slugging, but adds my two new stats.

These new statistics should do a better job of factoring in the role of speed in a player's game. Furthermore, if a player is an excellent base stealer, they will be rewarded statistically for not racking up the Caught Stealings. On the flip side, a poor baserunner will cannibalize their OBP-CS each time they are caught stealing.

Stats in action:

Rickey Henderson Career :

  • .401 OBP, .419 SLG, .820 OPS, 1406 SB, 335 CS, 80.76 SB%
  • .376 OBP-CS, .547 SLG+S, .923 OPSS: DIFF = .103

Babe Ruth Career:

  • .474 OBP, .690 SLG, 1.164 OPS, 123 SB, 117 CS, 51.25 SB%
  • .463 OBP-CS, .704 SLG, 1.167 OPSS: DIFF = .003

Barry Bonds Career through June 26, 2004:

  • .437 OBP, .605 SLG, 1.042 OPS, 503 SB, 140 CS 78.23 SB%
  • .425 OBP-CS, .661 SLG+S, 1.086 OPSS: DIFF = .044

Ryne Sandberg Career:

  • .344 OBP, .452 SLG, .796 OPS, 344 SB, 107 CS, 76.3 SB%
  • .332 OBP-CS, .493 SLG+S, .825 OPSS: DIFF = .031

Vince Coleman Career:

  • .324 OBP, .345 SLG, .669 OPS, 752 SB, 177 CS, 80.95 SB%
  • .294 OBP-CS, .484 SLG+S, .778 OPSS: DIFF = .109

As you can see, factoring speed into the "holy grail statistics" for Sabermeticians (OBP, SLG, OPS) allows speedsters to be evaluated on an even playing field with the big boppers. Guys like Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman who have stolen significant numbers of bases, with a high success ratio are deeply undervalued by the OPS measuring stick. Henderson and Coleman both have 100+ points added to their OPSS scores if you take into account their speed. This is essentially the difference between Mark McGwire (.982 OPS) and Bernie Williams (.882 OPS) or the difference between Barry Bonds (1.035 OPS) and Albert Belle (.933 OPS).

If there is already a similar statistic out there that factors in speed, I'd love to know about it, and I will continue to work on calculating some more OPSS when I have a bit more time.

There is a second post dealing with this subject here

Posted by Byron at 10:45 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

SouthSide Slug Fest

After the game finished today, Kenny Williams sent Miguel Olivio to Seattle for Freddy Garcia. The newsies are reporting that Garcia will make a good South Side team a lot better, as their starting pitching depth has been one of their primary weaknesses. Since I don't know too much about the junior circuit, other than what I see on Baseball Tonight and Sportscenter, I'll take ESPN at its word. However, some of the quotes in the paper seem to have indicated that the trade might negatively affect the Sox' clubhouse chemistry. Garcia was quoted saying he loved playing in Seattle, Olivio was too upset to comment, and Jose Valentin said he knew they were trying to acquire a new pitcher, but didn't think Miguel (Olivio) would be the one to leave. It might just have been the choice of quotes, but I didn't read anyone saying that they were thrilled to have Garcia coming aboard etc.

Trust me, losing isn't lovable

Sunday's game was another difficult game to watch, mainly because the Sox broadcasting crew was calling the game, but also because the Cubs played poorly, losing 9-4. Maddux pitched 4 innings, allowed 11 hits, 2 walks, 9 runs (7 earned), and couldn't seem to spot his pitches. He went deep in most counts, and gave up a lot of flyballs, including home runs to Miguel Olivio, and Timo Perez.

The Cubs offense wasn't really up to the challenge, scoring 4 runs. Sammy Sosa was largely responsible for 3 of them, as he hit a solo home run in the 2nd and a 2 run shot in the 3rd. The other run scored in the second inning when Paul Bako nearly grounded into a double play with the bases loaded, but Ramon Martinez went into second hard, which allowed Ramirez to score and Bako to reach first.

One of the few bright spots in today's game was three innings of no-hit (but 2 walk) pitching from the bullpen. Of course, the news was tempered when I learned that Remlinger is back on the DL due to tendinitis. Also, Todd Hollandsworth fouled a ball off his shin that will probably cause him a few days of pain, and maybe a trip to the DL.

Corey Patterson had a very bad day on the basepaths. He was caught stealing ahead of Sammy's second home run in the third inning, and then got thrown out at first in the seventh inning. He was attempting to steal second when Alou flew out to Timo Perez in right field. Jose Valentin faked turning a double play, and Corey never picked up the fly ball until Perez caught it. Patterson was easily picked off first, which ended a possible run scoring opportunity for the Cubs.

Trust me, losing isn't lovable

Saturday's game was a difficult loss as well. The final score was 6-3, but it seemed like a blow out. Carlos Zambrano pitched well, except for the third inning. He walked two batters, ahead of a Paul Konerko home run, and then allowed a single before giving up another shot to Joe Crede. The Cubs batters were a bit flat and only managed three runs, thanks mostly to a Corey Patterson home run, and a double, as well as some assorted singles by the rest of the lineup.

If I had decided to spend my Saturday evening blogging, I would have written something to the effect that Sammy was starting to swing the bat really well, and I expect him to have a very hot week or two as June turned into July. Sort of wish I had said so last night, cause then I would have looked really good today. Sammy hit two home runs on Sunday, and is about to go on a tear... you heard it here last!

Posted by Byron at 9:26 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Bad Guys 1, Good Guys 0... and thats good!

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy Cow!

The Cubs played the White Sox yesterday, and the Cubs won. Thats really all you need to know.

Frankly, for most Cubs fans I think beating the Sox is a step below beating the Cards and Astros, but a step above beating the Pirates, Reds, and Brewers. On the other hand, Sox fans would probably prefer one win over the Cubs to two wins over the Twins, and Yankees.

Anyhow, since the Sox broadcast team of Hawk Harrelson and DJ (Darrin Jackson) called the game, I have been informed that my team are the "Bad Guys" and the White Sox are apparently the "Good Guys." This brought to mind a Dusty Baker quote I read in Jay Mariotti's piece in the Sun-Times earlier this week.

Speaking about his loss in Subway's promotion to sell Dusty Baker Sandwiches and Ozzie Guillen sandwiches, Dusty explained his loss by saying, "Most of my life, I haven't been with the majority anyway. In cowboy movies, I would always root for the Indians." So, I guess if Dusty could be comfortable being a Bad Guy, I can be too. In Dusty we Trusty (what a stupid slogan :) ) OK, enough drivel. Like I said, the Cubs won the first game against the Sox by a score of 7-4.

On the Mound: Mark Prior had a pretty good outing, pitching 5 innings allowing 1 (earned) run on 2 hits, 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts. His pitch limit was apparently 100 pitches today as Dusty pulled him after 99, even though he probably could have pitched another inning. His pitches per inning ratio is still pretty high. Today, he was doing a pretty good job of spotting his breaking balls, although he hung a number of them, but his fastball wasn't going where he wanted it. Prior wasn't wild, he just couldn't paint the corners consistently and thus went deep to almost every Sox batter.

John Leicester deserves a mention as he has continued to throw well. He threw 2 scoreless innings in relief and has lowered his ERA to 1.13 in 8 ip. Farnsworth entered the game in the eighth, but struggled again, allowing 2 walks, and then a 3-run home run to Paul Konerko. After that, Dusty brought in Kent Mercker to face Jaime Burke, who doubled. So Johnie B. brought in LaTroy Hawkins to get the final out in the eighth. Hawkins also pitched the ninth to record his 10th save.

Hawkins, who officially became the closer on June 5th, now has one more save than Joe Borowski who had the job for two months.

  • Hawkins 1-0, 10 saves, 2.13 ERA, .85 WHIP, 3 blown saves
  • Borowski 2-4, 9 saves, 8.02 ERA, 2.44 WHIP, 2 blown saves

At the Plate: Mark Grudzielanek was the hero, hitting a 3 run home run off John Garland in the fifth inning. Also deserving mention was Todd Hollandsworth, who hit a triple to drive in Sammy Sosa, and went 2-4 as the DH.

In the field: The defense was awful yesterday for both teams. There was a high sky at the Cell, and any pop-fly was an adventure. There were easily 4 or 5 balls that should have been caught that were dropped, but most of them were foul, so only Ross Gload and Juan Uribe were credited with errors.

One dropped foul stuck in my mind because of something Steve Stone said when Jermaine Dye (I think it was Dye) dropped a ball. He said the only thing worse than not having sunglasses in the field was when a player had sunglasses on top of their hat. Of course, Aramis dropped a foul ball today with his sunglasses over the bill of his cap... I'll bet Stoney was saying I told you so.

In General: I haven't had a ton of time to watch the last couple of games against the Cards or comment on them here, but I have watched most of the highlights. I don't want to do a blow by blow, but the Cubs bullpen has struggled pretty badly in the last few games. I would not be suprised to see Jim Hendry send a low rated minor league pitcher to a struggling team in return for another decent bullpen arm. I have heard a lot of folks clamoring for Eddie Guardado from Seattle, but I don't know if he's actually available...

Eddie Guardado, LHP SEA: 2-0, 30 games, 1.26 ERA, .81 WHIP, .165 BAA, 9.59 K/9 14 S, 4 BS

... sure hope he is. That would be one way to answer the Beltran trade.

Some Pictures: I made a passing remark about Moises Alou's offensive struggles 11 days ago, and they seem to be continuing. I then saw a comment (Weeks T. Olive) on the Cub Reporter about Moises' .205 AVG .255 OBP and .409 SLG in June, so I decided to make a graph of Alou, Lee, and Ramirez OBP and SLG % over the course of the season.

FYI: I have eliminated the first 10 games of the season so the graph doesn't show the huge swings caused by the first few games. May 1 = game #23, June 1 = Game #51

Moises Alou, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez On Base Percentage over time through June 25th

As you can see, Derrek Lee's OBP (yellow) is climbing through the roof this month, Aramis OBP (red) has been climbing since it bottomed out in late April, and Alou's (blue) is taking a nose dive.

The next chart illustrates Moises, Derrek, and Aramis' SLG % over the course of the season. The results are interesting as we see Alou and Aramis start out very hot, and then fade a bit, while Lee is heating up. All three essentially have the same SLG % right now.

Moises Alou, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez On Base Percentage over time through June 25th

I wanted to include Corey Patterson on the past two graphs, but adding a fourth line made the graphs incredibly jumbled and difficult to read, so I have isolated Patterson's OBP and SLG and its interesting to see his OBP rise while his SLG falls off a bit.

Moises Alou, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez On Base Percentage over time through June 25th
Posted by Byron at 4:34 AM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!


Friday, June 25, 2004

Carlos Beltran goes to Houston... I go to weep.

Here's to hoping that Scott Boras gets Beltran all the way to the Free Agent Market. The last thing the Cubs need is another Superstar in the NL Central...

Trust me, losing isn't lovable!

The Cubs lost to the Cardinals 4-0, on a four run fourth. I didn't get to see the game, but I'll update you all when I do.

Posted by Byron at 7:54 AM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Happy "Ryne Sandberg Game" Day Cubdom!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

From the Cubdom.com Cubs Calendar

June 23rd, 1984 - The Ryne Sandberg Game, 2 game tieing homeruns in a comeback win vs. the Cardinals. This game is cited as the turning point in the Cubs 1984 pennant winning season.

Twenty years ago today, the Cubs beat the Cardinals 12-11 as Ryne Sandberg homered twice off Bruce Sutter, thus endearing him to Cubs fans forever. Now, its time for the Baseball Writers of America to elect him to the Hall of Fame!

I was hoping to have my Ryne Sandberg fan page finished before today, but check it out!

Update: They finally released The Sandberg Game on DVD! You can buy it from the Amazon link above.

Trust me, losing isn't lovable

The Cubs lost 10-9 on Wednesday to the Cards. Glendon Rusch finally had a rough outing, and the bullpen collapsed after the Cubs offense scored 6 runs in the sixth inning. The Cubs committed 3 errors, and the winning run scored on a Paul Bako passed ball. Ouch!

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy Cow!

On Tuesday, the Cubs came back in the 8th inning on an Aramis Ramirez two run double! With Grudzielanek on second, and Sammy on first, A-Ram hit a double, on which Grudz scored easily. Wendell Kim went a wavin, and nearly sent Sammy to his death, but Mike Matheny dropped the ball as Sammy slid in with the go-ahead run.

Greg Maddux struggled a bit, allowing 3 (earned) runs in the first, but then settled down for the next four innings, not allowing any Cardinals to reach base. He finished the night having thrown 6.2 innings and allowing 4 runs. The Farns recorded a win, and Hawkins his ninth save. Yet another Come from behind win!

Posted by Byron at 10:58 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Sound the Alarms! Send out the trucks! We have a (potential) fire here!

Monday, June 21, 2004

With the Cubs win yesterday, most of Cubdom is reveling in a mid-June surge that has some writers decreeing the end of the annual June Swoon (Cub Reporter: Day of Rest). However, here at the official home of Cubdom, the proprietor is beginning to fear a dark and growing cloud on the horizon. Before making flat footed claims of the end of the annual June anomaly, theCubdom is concerned about another recurrent phenomena in Cubs history: the oft-injured pitching phenom.

Kerry Wood's injury has me really concerned because they can't find a physical cause for his pain, which probably means they're not looking in the right spot. (Of course the other potential cause would be psychological... and that's worse.)

Since I have no first hand knowlege of Woody's condition, I am left to read the written accounts of Wood's comeback, and they have me worried. When you read the articles, there are no quotes about him being pain-free. In the recently finished Mark Prior-achilles-a-thon, every time he threw there was a quote about him being pain-free. With Wood, all we keep hearing are vague statements about progress, an even fuzzier timetable for his return, and about how Rothschild is taking "extra precaution." All of this I think adds up to the conclusion that Kerry's pitching pain is not subsiding, and the Cubs are trying to decide whether he should pitch through the pain.

Thats enough negativity for a winning ball club: I voted for the all-star squad again this morning, and here is who I voted for.

Position:American LeagueNational League
First Base: F. Thomas, CWS J. Thome, PHI
Second Base: A. Soriano, TEX Todd Walker
Third Base: M. Mora, BAL S. Rolen, STL
Shortstop: M. Young, TEX J. Wilson, PIT
Catcher: I. Rodriguez, DET M. Piazza, NYM
Outfielder: V. Guerrero, ANA L. Berkman, HOU
Outfielder:I. Suzuki, SEAD. Roberts, LA
Outfielder:M. Ramirez, BOSB. Bonds, SF

Big Frank is one of the more notable votes, because I'm not a huge fan of the Big Hurt, being a southsider and all. However, his numbers at first are the best in the AL, and also being underreported.

The only "homer" vote on this ballot was Todd Walker, who I actually had to write-in. The second basemen in the NL are particularly weak this year. Walker, who would probably be in about third place if he weren't a write-in, is tied with Jeff Kent in HRs at 10, has a comparable batting average, but fewer RBIs. A lot of this is due to Walker being a lead-off hitter/bench player, and Kent hitting down in the order. Mainly, I voted for Walker because Jeff Kent is one of my least favorite players... probably due to a case of the Joe Morgan's on my behalf. I don't like Kent because he draws comparisons to Ryno, and I don't think he's half the ball player that Ryno was.

Melvin Mora got his first All-Star vote off my ballot because he is having a better statistical season than A-Rod, and this needs to be highlighted. On the NL side, I badly wanted to vote for Aramis, but I can't call myself an intelligent fan if I ignore Scott Rolen's MVP quality season.

In the outfield, I selected two masher's from each league, and they were pretty easy picks. Vlad the impaler is lighting up the AL, and may be en route to an MVP. In Boston, Manny is reminding Theo Epstein that his bat is better than A-Rod's. In the NL, Barry Bonds and his nearly .370 AVG with unreal power, and incredible OBP make him a no-brainer, and will probably rob Rolen of the MVP. Lance Berkman is playing very well, and has gotten some votes from me already this season, but isn't a lock.

Also in the outfield, I have selected a lead-off speedster for each league. Now that the all-star game matters (pause for laughter), it is important to pick players who will form a well-rounded lineup, not just win the home run derby. As a result, my most exciting player in baseball, Ichiro gets the nod in the Junior Circuit. His offense has been very good again, and the defense still makes me drool over him. In the NL, Dodger's line-up igniter Dave Roberts gets the nod. He has 22 steals so far, and missed about a month due to injury. He has the best offensive numbers of the lead-off guys I considered, with a plus OBP. I'd love to see him selected in the NL, and watch him tear up the basepaths... after Pudge leaves the game.

Around the League: Another Cubs off-day gives me time to pause and remark about some of the interesting things I see in the standings.

First up, its almost criminal that I haven't mentioned the Devil Ray's resurgence yet; but I am concerned about the quickly developing Cubdom.com jinx. The D-Rays, one of the most exciting young teams in baseball, have won 11 consecutive games and climbed out of the AL East cellar past the Blue Jays and Orioles. More impressively, they are 2 games below .500 and have already played 14 games against the Yanks and BoSox.

The worst record in baseball still belongs to the Expos, and rightly so. I read the other day that there is a fair amount of tension between the players and Frank Robinson... yeah, that makes sense. There's gonna be a fair amount of tension on any team playing .328 ball.

The Phillies are still strugling to take over a very winnable NL East. They are in first place by percentage points over the Marlins, and the Mets are 2.5 back with a .500 record. Both the Marlins and the Phils would be in 4th place in the NL Central.

After a horrid start, the Giants are back in contention in the NL West, 1.5 games back of the Dodgers. The difference is that the Giants are gaining fast, while LA is strugling to put runs on the board. As of today, I am officially changing my prediction, and expect that the Giants will win the NL West.

The AL West is shaping up into a nice 3 team race, with the A's on top and the Rangers (-.5) and Angels (-1.5) close behind. Although the top three teams in the AL West have a lower collective winning percentage than the top three in the NL Central, I think the AL West is the toughest division at this point, mainly because they have to play the Yanks and BoSox, while the NL lacks dominant teams in the East and West.

If the season ended today: The Yankees, Twins, and A's win their divisions with the Red Sox as the wild card. The first round matchups would be Yankees vs. Twins and A's vs. Red Sox... sound familiar?

In the NL, the Phillies, Cardinals, and Dodgers win their divisions with the Cubs as wild card entrants. The first round matchups would pit the Cardinals and Phillies against eachother, leaving the Cubs to do battle with the Dodgers. Now that would be an exciting post-season, all four teams are charter franchises from the NL.

Posted by Byron at 1:12 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Cy Zambrano

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy Cow!

Carlos Zambrano continued his Cy Young quality season with his 8th win, lowering his ERA to 2.25. Despite feeling woozy with a headache before the game, Zambrano pitched six and two thirds innings, allowing 1 (earned) run on 5 hits, 4 walks, and 8 punchouts. The Cubs won their second straight game, 8th out of 9 played, and 12th of their last 17. The Cubs pitchers have allowed only 2.43 runs per game in the last week.

The Cy Young Contenders: To begin, I eliminated all pitchers with less than 7 wins. Next, I eliminated all pitchers with an ERA above 3.5, and then lowered the bar to 3.1 when there was a clear gap between pitchers with a 3.4ish ERA and those with a 3.0+ ERA. These two criteria left me with 7 pitchers who I would consider voting for as Cy Young right now.

Pitcher Record ERA WHIP K/9 IP/Start
Tom Glavine 7-3 2.07 .961 4.50 6.94
Carlos Zambrano 8-2 2.25 1.125 8.34 7.38
Jason Schmidt 9-2 2.26 .943 10.16 7.6
Carl Pavano 7-2 2.81 1.02 5.25 7.38
Roger Clemens 9-2 2.84 1.24 9.90 6.3
Randy Johnson 9-5 3.05 .899 10.16 6.67
Matt Clement 7-5 3.07 1.11 9.46 6.67

All of these pitchers are having excellent seasons, but I am going to eliminate Clement because he has the weakest won-loss record and ERA in the group. Next, I am eliminating the Big Unit because Johnson is the only pitcher remaining with a 3+ ERA and has 5 losses. Then, I would vote Pavano off Cy Young's island because he has a significantly weaker ERA than Glavine, Zambrano, and Schmidt, as well as only 7 wins.

Now, I am down to my top four pitchers, Glavine, Zambrano, Schmidt, and Clemens. Purely by the numbers, I would eliminate Clemens next because of his higher ERA, and shorter average start. By definition, the Cy Young winner should be the most dominant pitcher in his league, and the Rocket has been leaving games nearly a full inning sooner than the other three guys left on the island.

The final three, Glavine, Zambrano, and Schmidt not suprisingly have the three best ERA's. While I don't think a pitcher's won loss record is the best determinant of his record, I will eliminate Glavine next, partially because he has the fewest wins, but mainly because his k/9 ratio is significantly less than Zambrano and Schmidt's. A pitcher's k/9 ratio is one of the better statistics for gauging a pitcher's dominance.

Next, as much as I don't want to, I would eliminate Zambrano and crown Schmidt as winner of thecubdom.com's "Cy Young through June 20th" award. Schmidt averages an extra out per start more than Zambrano, and has a better k/9 ratio. His ERA is .01 point higher than Carlos, and he has an extra win.

All of this is to say, I believe Zambrano is the second best pitcher in the National League right now, and I would select him to start a crucial game before any other pitcher but Schmidt.

Similarly, I believe Matt Clement is probably the seventh best pitcher in the NL right now, which isn't bad considering he was considered the Cubs #5 starter at the beginning of this season.

i don't agree, byron.
i think that a pitcher's history in baseball plants a clear psychological advantage in his camp when he has a career worth of dominance behind him and is not showing signs of slowing down. clemens gets the cy if it were given tonight.

Au Contraire Mon Petit Frere...

The Cy Young Award is for the best pitcher this season. Picking the Cy on best career numbers would eliminate guys who have break through years, what about the Pat Hentgen's of the world? If its about psychological advantage, Pat Hentgen never would win the award, it would always go to some 6-10 mangy looking left hander who seems to throw the ball from 45 feet away.

I agree with Schmidt as the "summersolsticyyoung" award. After watching his start a couple of days ago, I was thinking to myself about how he just piles up victories and rarely gets himself in trouble during a game. Much like 2000/2001 Curt Schilling, but with slightly less gaudy numbers (especially K/BB ratio which Curt had humming at around 20 for a spell in 2001). But their delivery is very similar as well, delivering that over the top 97 mph fastball that is too tough to hit and impossible to lay off.

I really wish Kerry Wood had that sort of economical motion with a reliable heater that he can't get under and have end up somewhere over the umpires helmet. He looked like he had found a happy medium in his starts this year, striking out a couple of batters fewer per 9 (not done the research) and walking fewer batters. Wood does share Schmidt and Schilling's elbow scars though....

that should read: "BUT walking fewer batters." GO CUBS.

I was just thinking about this the other day, and I too came up with Jason Schmidt as the current front-runner.

But Carlos is definitely in the hunt. Go Z !!!

Posted by Byron at 8:27 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!


Saturday, June 19, 2004

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy Cow!

The Cubs brought their new-found brand of late inning clutch wins back to Wrigley Field today!

In a matchup of the two best pitching Marks in baseball, the A's Mark (Mulder) got the better of the Cubs Mark (Prior), but the Cubs were the team slapping each other over the head at the end of the game.

Mulder pitched 8 innings, allowing 2 (earned) runs on 10 hits, 2 bases on balls, and 4 punchouts. Prior, still on a pitch count, pitched 5 innings, allowing 3 (earned) runs on 6 hits, a walk, and 5 strikeouts.

However, the real story today was the Cubs lineup and bench. Having re-activated Sammy Sosa yesterday (Friday) and Mark Grudzielanek today, Todd Hollandsworth and Todd Walker were both in reserve on the Cubs bench instead of starting in the field. In the ninth inning, Hollandsworth pinch hit for Kyle Farnsworth and got a single. Next, Walker pinch hit for Grudzielanek and also got a single. When Michael Barrett doubled off Chad Bradford, the Cubs notched another come from behind victory to beat the Athletics 4-3.

It was the Cubs first victory over the A's since Connie Mack managed the team while it played in Philadelphia... I love interleague play.

Trust me, losing is not lovable.

On Friday, Sammy Sosa returned to play his first game since sneezing May 16, and being sidelined with a back ailment.

Although "the gladiator" sprinted out to right field rather than "Lemon" Todd Hollandsworth, the Cubs fell to the mighty Athletics 1-2. Matt Clement threw a gem for 8 innings, allowing only 2 earned runs, but was out-dueled by Mark Redmond who only allowed 1 run in 8 innings of work.

Ramon Martinez committed an error in the fourth inning, ending the Cubs defense' errorless streak at 91 innings. However, the Cubs have not permitted an unearned run since June 1st, a string currently sitting at 17 games (through Saturday, June 19).

If the season ended today: The Cubs would win the NL wild card and face the Dodgers in the NLCS. The Cardinals would win the Central and face the Marlins in the first round.

In the American League, the Yankees and Twins would face off, with the Red Sox (as Wild Cards) playing the A's.

The Cubs currently have the second best record in the NL (3 behind St. Louis) and a 1 game lead over the Reds. The A's, Red Sox, and Yankees also have better records than the Cubs. If the Cubs were in the AL East, they would be 6 games behind the Yanks, who have the best record in baseball.

The Cubs have the second largest differential in Runs Scored to Runs Allowed at 63 more runs scored than allowed. The White Sox are first with 67, while the Diamondbacks are worst at -75, followed closely by the -73 Rockies.

Posted by Byron at 6:41 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Take that SpaceMen

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy Cow!

Cubs Sweep! Cubs Sweep! Cubs Sweep! Holy Cow!

The Cubs beat the Astros 5-4 to sweep them in a four game series for the first time since 1967. The Cubs are now in second place, 2 games behind the Red-Birds.

Glendon Rusch pitched 8 innings, allowing 2 (earned) runs on 4 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, and earned his 4th win.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Cubs 3, 4, 5, and 6 hitters (Patterson, Alou, Hollandsworth, and Lee) combined to hit 11 for 20 with 5 RBI and 4 runs scored. This occured with Aramis sitting on the bench, and Sammy on the DL. (My guess is we'll see Hollandsworth in Left tommorrow giving Alou a day off.)

Notes: Two runners thrown out at the plate... ouch (Lee and Hollandsworth). Even if Hollandsworth was actually safe, that really hurts.

Corey Patterson is turning into the second coming of Mark Grace, left handed doubles hitter (and triples!). Corey is looking great in the past week or so. I think we are seeing the return of pre-2003-injury C-Pat.

Its fitting that the Cubs scored their second run following Roy Oswalt's 6th inning throwing error. In each of the past three games, the Cubs second run was scored with the aid of an Astros miscue. On Tuesday (June 15), Tom Goodwin reached second when Lance Berkman dropped a flyball in left. He eventually scored the tieing run when Aramis Ramirez drove him in with a single. On Wednesday, C-Pat bunted for a hit and then took second on Brad Ausmus' throwing error. Corey then scored on Paul Bako's subsequent double. Tonight (June 17), Todd Hollandsworth got an infield single and then took second base on Roy Oswalt's throwing error. Derrek Lee then drove him in with a double.

In the series against the Astros, the Cubs committed 0 errors while the Astros were guilty of 5 errors in the series. The Cubs have now gone 9 games (84 innings) without committing an error.

Through Yesterday's game (Weds) #66 the Cubs have the best fielding percentage in the Majors at .990 and have only committed 26 errors. Thats an average of an error every 2.5 games.

The Cubs pitching has allowed the second fewest number of runs (255 to LA's 243), and has the third smallest ERA 3.77 (behind the Dodgers 3.76 and Expos 3.64). The Cubs also lead the majors in unearned runs with only 7. The Dodgers are second with 11.

Remind me again, what does great Pitching and Defense accomplish again? :)

Oh Me of little faith: When Glendon Rusch took the mound in the seventh inning, I was second guessing Master Dusty believing he was pushing his luck. When Rusch returned in the 8th, I was even more concerned that Dusty was asking too much from the Glendo-man. Of course, I was wrong as Rusch went 1-2-3 in both frames.

Posted by Byron at 8:56 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Lets punish them for being Astros.

I really don't like the Astros. Yeah, the Cardinals are our chief rivals, but I can handle the Cards. The Astros, I just don't like. Seemingly a consistently good team, the Astros have always done in the Cubs when it counted. (Remember 1998 when we lost our final games at the hands of the Astros?) Now, the tables are turned and tonight is a chance to really kick the 'Stros while they are down.

The Cubs are currently riding a 5 game winning streak, which has me feeling pretty good. I am not quite ready to change my mind about the Cubs being underdogs in the Central, but the better our record when Sammy (1 day), Grud (2 days), and Kerry (soon) return, the more likely I'll be to lift the tag, and resume expecting a division title.

Following Tuesday's game, I felt the Cubs reached an emotional high point when they came back in the 9th inning vs. Octavio Dotel to win 4-2.

Yesterday, Wednesday's game was another come from behind W, when we posted 2 runs in the seventh and 8th to win 4-1.

If we can win tonight, we'll have swept the 'stros 4 straight in Houston, and tie our season high of 6 consecutive games.

Lets Go Cubs!

Posted by Byron at 4:11 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

D. Lee - D. Man!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Much has been written in various Cubs blogs about Jimmy Anderson's 'fantastic' performance last night in closing out the game and picking up his first career save. I am here to ask Cubdom to take a step back, and recognize what we really saw last evening: a relief pitcher doing his job. Anderson went 4 innings, allowed 2 (earned) runs, 5 hits and a walk to pick up his first save. Thus, for yesterday night's outing Anderson had a 4.5 ERA, and a 1.25 WHIP. These numbers are the definition of average, which is what most people expect from Jimmy Anderson.

However all performances must be viewed in a proper perspective, and thus Jimmy Anderson's outing was the stuff of legend. After a 15 inning game Sunday, which required 9 innings from the Cubs' pen before eventually being victorious, the Cubs were a road weary team in need of a pick-me-up. Anderson may very well be the 25th man on the Cubs roster, and a 4 inning appearance from your mop-up man in a critical game fits the bill. Way to go Jimmy Anderson.

Yesterday's game was an important game for the Cubs, as I have already mentioned. Mark Prior was scheduled to pitch against Roger "the Rocket" Clemens, #22 vs. #22. Cy Young vs. Cy Old. The Franchise vs. The Rocket...

Like most overhyped pitching matchup's, the game didn't meet the pre-game hype. The Rocket finally showed his age and failed to be the first player over age 40 to start a season 10-0. (YES!! YES!! YESSS!!! HA HA HA TAKE THAT YOU EVIL OLD MAN! NOBODY MAKES HISTORY ON MY CUBBIES!) (editor's note: I really do like the Rocket, but I don't like it when he plays the Cubs in "historical games" like trying to win #300 etc.)

Prior, on the other hand, pitched very well, but only went 5 innings because he was on a pitch count, and the Astros knew it. From top to bottom, the Astros are a very disciplined, very professional offensive team. Their batters know how to work the counts, take walks, and lean into inside pitches, etc. Yesterday, they did an excellent job of fouling off pitches and hitting in deep counts. Their strategy cost them in the strikeout department (8 in 5 innings), but succeeded in forcing Prior out fairly early.

The Cubs Offense played very well last night, spearheaded by Todd Walker who has busted out of his recent slump(2 HR's, a 410 ft triple, and a single) the Cubs scored 7.

Derrek Lee has been red hot since the beginning of June, and batted 5-5 including 2 walks on Sunday. On Monday, Lee had another 2 doubles to start the game.

Lets play matchmaker: Choices:
A: Moises Alou
B: Michael Barrett
C: Todd Hollandsworth
D: Derrek Lee
E: Corey Patterson
F: Aramis Ramirez
G: Todd Walker

June 2004 Stats so far:
#1: .296|.345|.667| 5 | 9 | 4 | 5
#2: .208|.276|.415| 3 | 5 | 5 | 9
#3: .377|.441|.736| 3 |12 | 5 | 8
#4: .269|.345|.385| 2 | 5 | 5 | 13
#5: .392|.448|.608| 3 | 7 | 5 | 4
#6: .333|.407|.521| 2 | 9 | 5 | 10
#7: .244|.286|.333| 0 | 5 | 3 | 4

The answers are in comment #1. (I'll figure out the table in this blog applet pretty soon.)

Some Notes: In Sunday's game, Matt Clement threw 6 innings, allowed only 1 (earned) run on 6 hits, 1 walk, and 8 strikeouts. The Cubs won the game 6-5 in 15 innings. The starting pitching is looking very strong.

After Saturday's outing when Francis Beltran allowed 3 (earned) runs in one third of an inning, I was concerned about Dusty's decision to pitch Beltran with a 2-1 lead in the 7th on Sunday. Beltran mowed 'em down 1-2-3, thus prooving that Dusty is a better manager than I.

In the 7th inning of Sunday's game (against the Angels), Aramis Ramirez fielded a sacrifice bunt off of Alfredo Amezaga's bat that was tremendous. Ramirez' fielding this year has been unreal. Scott Rolen: 4 errors, Aramis Ramirez: 3 errors.

In the 8th inning of Sunday's game, Ramirez hit a towering pop-fly that Vladimir Guerrero lost in the Sun. Ramirez was not hustling, and only ended up on second base. See my last two posts for why this matters.

In the 9th inning of Monday's game against the Astros, Aramis Ramirez and Moises Alou both hit solo home runs to make the score 6-0 and 7-0. Both of those home runs reminded me of typical Sammy Sosa home runs... when the game has already been decided.

Sammy and Grud are both working on rehab assignments and could be back very soon. Sammy is expected back on Friday, three more games. (Editors Note: Despite all the bad things I say about Sammy, he's still an awesome player, and the Cubs really need him back.)

Answers to the Matching
#1: G, Todd Walker
#2: A, Moises Alou (.208 Avg! uh oh)
#3: D, D. Lee - D. Man! (.736 SLG)
#4: E, C. Patterson
#5: F, Ramirez (.392 AVG, .448 OBP)
#6: C, Todd Hollandsworth
#7: B, Michael Barrett.
Posted by Byron at 5:10 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

O Joyous Day

Monday, June 14, 2004

Today is shaping up to be a great Cubs day! As I type, the Cubs are beating Houston 5-0 in the 8th. And...

The mail came today and finally brought my long awaited 2004 Cubs media guide. Having never owned one, I decided that my new job as chief (read: sole :) ) contributor of the newest, bestest, greatest Cubs fan site on the web, made me an official member of the media, and so I deserved to get one.

Now I doubt Paul Sullivan of the Tribune, or Bruce Miles of the Sun-Times (editor's note: Bruce Miles is the beat writer for the Daily Herald... my bad.) had to buy their copy on ebay, but we (read: I) here at thecubdom.com are taking it one step at a time. Today, buying my own media guide. Tommorrow? Probably still buying it.

Anyhow, since I had an exam today, I haven't gotten to look at it too deeply, but what I have seen is amazing. 356 pages of information about the Chicago Cubs. Its not a coffee table book, or a novel, its just pure unadulterated Cubs info. Stats, historical feats, player bios, and more. It not only has the correct seating capacity of Wrigley Field (through January which explains the discrepancy between Cubs.com and ESPN.com as I talked about two post's ago.) but the break down of the types and number of seats at Wrigley.

  • 2,550 Infield Club Box
  • 960 Outfield Club Box
  • 3,950 Infield Field Box
  • 3,216 Outfiled Field Box
  • 2,394 Terrace Boxes
  • 12,200 Terrace Reserved
  • 1,059 Mezzanine Boxes
  • 5,106 Upper Deck Boxes
  • 4,380 Upper Deck Reserved
  • 119 Family Section
  • 107 Group Section
  • 3,304 Bleachers
  • 213 Dugout Level

Did you know? 6 players have worn #23 for the Cubs? Leroy Herrmann (1932), Carmen Fanzone (1971-1974), Pete LaCock (1975-1976), Mike Gordon (1977-1978), Jim Tracy (1980-1981), and Ryne Sandberg (1982-1994, 1996-1997). Ahh, the joys of my media guide :)

Posted by Byron at 8:57 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

A Sad "Ryno"versary

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Ten years ago today would have been the saddest day of my young life, except I was at summer camp, so it was more like 9 years and 362 days ago. In a stunning announcement, Ryne Sandberg, my all-time hero, best ballplayer who ever lived, and thus the greatest second baseman ever, retired.

1994 had been a rough year for Ryno, he wasn't playing real well, but that didn't matter to me. He was still Ryno and I would drop everything to watch him hit. I first learned about his retirement in the showerroom at camp when I saw a newspaper with the announcement. I didn't have enough time to read all the details, and as a result didn't really internalize it until I got home. A sad day indeed. (Check out some other famous dates in Cubs history by checking out the Cubs Calendar.)

However, the story didn't end there as you all know. Ryno came back to play another two years, and the day he announced his return might just have been the best day of my life. Still, the story isn't complete and I am waiting to hear the joyous news that Ryno has been elected into Baseball's Hall of Fame.

It is a travesty of justice that Ryno wasn't given the honor of being a first ballot electee, and I am going to remind everyone to write their sports writer and plead for Ryno ballots.

  • 1984 NL MVP .314 AVG, .367 OBP, .520 SLG, 19 home runs, 32 stolen bases and lead the league with 19 triples and 114 runs. Ryno also had 200 hits and 84 RBI in leading the Cubs to their first division championship since 1945.
  • In 1990 Ryno lead the NL with 40 home runs and 116 runs scored. Ryno was the first second baseman to lead the league in home runs since Rogers Hornsby in 1925.
  • Hit above .300 in 5 seasons.
  • Won 9 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1983-1991. The first second baseman to ever win 9 gold gloves.
  • Finished his career with a .989 fielding percentage, the highest ever for a second baseman. Ryno also had tremendous range and could leap high to steal bloop line drive hits.
  • Holds the major league record for playing error free ball in 123 straight games at second base.
  • Through '94, Sandberg had 17 streaks of error free ball of at least 30 games. Five of these stretches lasted over 50 games.
  • Finished his career with 344 stolen bases, and 282 home runs.

Elect Ryne Sandberg to the Hall Of Fame Now!

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy Cow! Despite allowing more than 3 runs, the Cubs won yesterday's game. (The Magic Divide for the Cubs is 3 runs allowed. 3 or fewer runs allowed (33 games) and the Cubs play at a .788 win %, if they allow 4 or more runs (28 games) they play at a .214 winning %). Thus, a 10-5 Cubs win is truly a remarkable occasion.

Some Notes: I had to watch the game on MLB.tv and so I "got to" hear the Angels commentary team of Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler, which made me wish Joe Carter had gotten a job in Anaheim. Both of these guys were horrible, but Rex Hudler especially. Hudler sounded like he was auditioning for the role of an action hero, or video game commentator. Every play required an overly enthusiastic (and simple) explanation of what you had just seen. To make the telecast even more unbearable there wasn't a moment of dead air for the first three innings. Steve Physioc (who of course was Psycho) made me think... "Gee Chip Caray's not so bad after all."

On the field, I am wondering if someone passed along Steve Stone's comments about Aramis Ramirez hustle. After hitting a ball to dead center, well out of the park, Aramis was running hard around the bases. No home run trot yesterday.

The Cubs bullpen had a meltdown in the 6th inning. Dusty brought in Francis Beltran who pitched 8 pitches and allowed three hits and a run scoring fielder's choice. How's that for pitch efficiency? 4 batters on 8 pitches, only he allowed 3 runs in the process.

Finally, in a little suprise, watching Jose Macias in right I noticed that he has a pretty good arm. Speed, strong arm, flexibility... a pretty good 25th man.

Posted by Byron at 1:00 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

How Big is Wrigley Field anyway?

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Update June 2008 This page comes up for a lot of Google searches, but the post is from 2004. For the permanent Wrigley Field Seating Capacity page, click on the link.

Determining Wrigley Field's seating capacity is like figuring out your true weight. When you step on the scale, you see a number, but you have to ask yourself did you just have a drink? Are you wearing clothes? Did you just eat a steak dinner, or did you starve yourself for the last 12 hours to get that number down?

Everybody knows that Wrigley Field has a seating capacity somewhere above 38,500 and below 40,000 but a sampling of sites around the web illustrates the difficulty in pinning down the exact number.

  • Cubs.com - 39,345
  • Sportsline.com - 38,957
  • ESPN.com - 39,558
  • Ballparks of Baseball.com - 38,965
  • Baseball Digest.com - 38,884 (dated in 2000)
  • The Baseball Cube - 38,902

Now, of course all of these numbers could be accurate, depending on the number of bleacher tickets the Cubs decide to sell. However, while perusing some older newspaper clippings, I finally caught a break as to the actual seating capacity at Wrigley. I found an article written about the Cubs recent expansion this offseason. While the articles I had read earlier had said, about 200 seats, this article specifically said 213 seats were added, and then used the capacity number from Cubs.com 39,345. However, this number has not been updated since last year, leading me to believe ESPN.com is accurate in reporting 39,558 as the correct seating capacity at Wrigley. (39,558 - 213 = 39,345). UPDATE 2005: The Cubs added another 80 seats this year bring the Wrigley Field capacity to 39,638

Checking the Cubs 2004 Attend-O-Meter we find that the Cubs are at 1,254,580 fans through 32 home games. Using our newly found seating capacity number, the Cubs are opperating at 99.1% capacity so far this year. This is second only to the Red Sox who are filling Fenway at a 101.1% clip.

Now for Something you care about: Cubs lost to the Angels 2-3 last night. The homer-less Cubs lost another game, driving their record to 5-13 when not going yard.

Steve Stone was apparently suffering from PMS on last evening's broadcast. He lambasted the Cubs on multiple occasions for not hustling, but failed to mention that the only reason the Cubs scored their two runs were because of hustling players.

In the 1st inning, Todd Hollandsworth hit a weak ground ball to the right side that looked like a sure bet for right field. However, Adam Kennedy made a fantastic play to get to the ball and would have thrown out Hollandsworth, except he was hustling down the line. Corey Patterson scored from third on the infield single.

In the 2nd inning, Jose Macias nearly grounded into a double play, but Paul Bako hustled into second and forced a weak throw from Angels Shortstop Alfredo Amezaga. Macias was also hustling and barely beat out the play at first. Although Ramon Martinez would have scored from third regardless of whether the Angels had turned two, the hustle was evident.

On the mound, Maddux pitched pretty well, but took the loss as the Cubs couldn't solve John Lackey. Maddux pitched 7 innings allowing 7 hits, no walks, 3 (earned) runs, and striking out 6.

Yesterday was the 33rd time this year the Cubs had given up less than 4 runs. They are 26-7 in those games which is a .788 winning percentage.

Posted by Byron at 8:53 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Hitting Back

Friday, June 11, 2004

Yesterday: Cardinals 12, Cubs 4.
Today: Cubs 12, Cardinals 3.

Hitsapalooza: The Cubs came back after being demoralized (at least this fan was) yesterday by the Cardinals offensive output. Today was the Cubs turn to put a hurtin on the Cards, and they did. A 10 run inning in the fourth was highlighted by 9 consecutive hits and 9 runs with 2 outs. Moises Alou and D. Lee both went deep, while the rest of the Cubs poked holes in the Redbirds' infield defense.

Observations: With Aramis Ramirez on third and Todd Hollandsworth on second, Derek Lee saw 8 pitches before driving in Aramis with a high chopper. He did an excellent job of fouling off some tough pitches, and really contributed to the Cubs big inning by forcing Danny Heren to show all of his pitches.

Carlos Zambrano got a two out hit to keep the inning alive. If Zambrano gets out, the Cubs score two and its a 3-2 game after the 4th inning. Instead, the Cubs offense rumbled to an 11-2 score after the fourth.

In Aramis' second at bat of the fourth, he doubled off the Ivy in centerfield. Edmonds tried for a webgem and instead ended up ripping up the ivy pretty badly. I hope they dock the Cardinal's share of the gate for the added expense of repairing the Ivy... which has to be in tip-top shape since the White Sox (and a few of their Ivy poisoning fans) are coming in 3 weeks. Man, I really don't like Jim Edmonds...

Those aqua velva commercials playing between innings are really bad.

Chip Caray said: that the Cubs have won only 5 games this year when they didn't hit a ball out of the ballpark. Which startled me at first, but then got me thinking. How many times have the Cubs not hit dinger's this year? So, I'll go count: The Cubs have gone dinger-less in 17 games this year (28.81% of the 59 games played so far.)

  • In those games, the Cubs are 5-12 (Win % = .294).
  • Nine of these 17 games have been played at Wrigley while 8 were played on the road, including all three games played in Chavez Ravine (Dodgers).
  • In those 17 games, the Cubs have scored 61 runs, and permitted 64. This is a suprising number considering the Cubs win % when not hitting a homer.
  • The Pythagorean standings would suggest that the Cubs should have an 8-9 record in homer-less games.Check out Rob Neyer's page with current pythagorean standings.
  • In the Cubs 5 homer-less wins, they have scored 49 runs and allowed 8.
  • In the 12 homer-less losses, the Cubs have been outscored 56 to 12. This includes six shutouts.
  • The Cubs have gone 26-16 when at least one homer is hit during the game.
  • The Cubs have gone yard in 71.2% of their games (42 of 59).
  • The Cubs are tied for fourth (with the Cardinals) in home runs in the Major Leagues, and second in the NL. The Yankees have 87 and the White Sox have 83 (with DH's). The Rockies are tops in the NL with 81, followed closely by the Cubs and Cards at 80.
  • The Cubs are hitting 1.36 home runs per game, which is well above the MLB average of 1.079.
  • The Cubs are on pace to hit 220 home runs this year. The franchise record is 212 set in 1998.

Injury Update: Sammy is heading to West Tennessee for three rehab games. Maybe he does mean it when he says he wants to win more than anything else.

Kerry is still suffering pain at "the point of full extension," but the Cubs can't find structural damage. Sounds similar to what happened in 1998.

Joe Borowski has structural damage in his shoulder and is going to see Dr. Lewis Yocum, the Angel's doc. A google of Lewis Yocum turned up articles about Mike Fetters suffering a muscle tear in the elbow and needing surgery, as well as Pedro Astacio's torn labrum. Yocum is described as an upper extremeties specialist by professional team physicians.com. Not Good. Good Luck JoBlow, Cubdom loves you.

The Race for the Playoffs: The Reds have lost three consecutive games, and the Cubs are now in fourth place. The Astros are .5 a game back of the Reds , with the Cards trailing the Reds by 1.5 games. The Cubs are 3 back.

Posted by Byron at 5:06 AM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Falling off the Peleton...

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

The Tour de France is about ready to get going this year, and its time for some cycling metaphors. Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker have made several comments that the team is gonna just try and "draft" for a while until they get healthy and then make a run at it. However, in baseball, especially when you are playing within your division there is no such thing as drafting. You either win, or you lose. You either move ahead in the standings or you fall behind.

Since the Cubs have gone 8 and 13 since their off day May 17, the Cubs are definitely falling behind.

Today's game reminded me of the mid-90's Cubs. In a 4-12 loss, the Cardinals took complete advantage of an over matched Cubs pitching staff, with a manager who didn't know when to take the ball from his pitchers. In Prior's second start of the season, he had a horrible outing, allowing 5 runs in 3.2 innings. He walked 5 and left the mound after giving up a grand slam to Edgar Renteria.

Troublesome tactitioner Dusty managed the Club today. (As opposed to masterful motivator Dusty.) After walking the bases loaded, Dusty allowed Prior to pitch to Renteria which is something that his pitchers supposedly appreciate. Dusty sticks with his guys and allows them to work out of their own jams. On the other hand, when a guy has given up 4 hits and 5 walks in 3 innings, he isn't going to get out of an inning and just turn it around the next inning... even if his name is Mark Prior. Following Renteria's grand salami, Beltran retired Marlon Anderson on 3 pitches.

My next opportunity to second guess Dusty's tactics occured in the 5th inning when Dusty sent Glendon Rusch up to pinch hit. I realize the bench is short, but if it is important enough to pinch hit then use an actual hitter, and not a pitcher. Now, I realize that Dusty was going to pull Leicester and Rusch wasn't gonna pitch, but why not call on Zambrano or Wood? My second point isn't a real strong argument, but I was yelling at the TV, so it gets included.

Finally, the tactical error that got me angriest was when Dusty had Renteria intentionally walked in the eighth inning. There was one out in the eighth with Tony Womack standing on second. Dusty walked Renteria to put the double play in order against Ray Lankford. However, following Lankford, the following Cardinals were due to bat: Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, and Reggie Sanders (with gimpy Albert Pujols on the bench.) Now, it should be pointed out that Scott Rolen had already hit an RBI double in the first and driven in 5 during the previous two games. Nor was Rolen's production against the Cubs a fluke like Mr. Mackowiak's baby birthing bashing spree. No, Mr. Rolen is sitting pretty atop the NL with 63 Ribbies through 59 games and is on pace to drive in 173. By walking Renteria, Dusty did not take the opportunity to get Edgar out and thus ensured that Rolen would come up with men in scoring postion unless Lankford hit into two. The result was another four innings scored immediately following Lankford's sac fly.

Drowned in the onslaught of Cardinal runs this series has been C-Pat's emergence from his slump. In the first thee games against the Cards, the much boo-ed centerfielder is hitting .333 with a .385 OBP. He has hit 2 dingers, and driven in 3.

Watched a bit of Basketball last night. Haven't watched much since the Bulls were broken up, but the Finals were on after the Cubs. Kobe Bryant was spectacular, and hit a jaw dropping 3 to force overtime. With about 2 or 3 minutes left in regulation, Kobe drove to the hoop and scored on what looked a bit like a finger roll. After watching that play, it reminded me a bit of MJ. Oh well, I wish the Bulls weren't horrible.

Posted by Byron at 9:18 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Cubs drop series to Red-Birds

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Tonight's game is going well, the score is 7-3 in the sixth inning, but the offense sounds like it is rolling along well... Clement just struck out the side in the seventh... D. Lee just hit a double. He has already driven in three already tonight.

Monday's game was disappointing as the Cubs dropped the game 3-4 to the Redbirds. The big play of the game was Jose Macias getting thrown out (by a mile) at home by Jim Edmonds. For St. Louis, Scott Rolen hit a three run homer off of Glendon Rusch, who "only" allowed 4 runs in 7 innings pitched. His ERA currently sits at 3.99 which is actually better than Maddog's. Still, I am getting antsy to see Kerry Wood return.

Perusing the Cubs official site today, I saw something interesting: you can now see the press notes distributed by the Cubs to the beat reporters. (Check it out.) You need to register with MLB.com, but it is well worth it.

The Cubs haven't had an inside the park home run since October 6, 2001 (Sammy). The Cubs have outscored their opponents in innings 1-3 and 7-9, but not innings 4-6. I would love to know why the Cubs aren't scoring in the middle innings. The Cubs have won 5 games (of 25) when their pitchers allow 4 or more runs, the Cubs have lost 5 games (of 30) when they score 4 or more runs.

If the season ended yesterday: The Yankees, White Sox, and Angels would win their divisions, and Boston would take the Wild Card. In the NL, Florida, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles win their divisions, with St. Louis taking the NL Wild Card. Both the Red Sox and the Cardinals have a better record than the other division leaders in their league, but not in their division. Bob Costas, stop whining about the Wild Card and admit you were wrong.

Posted by Byron at 8:42 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Maddog heats it up

Monday, June 7, 2004

The Cubs won Sunday 4-1 over the Bucs. Maddog pitched well, going 7 strong innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits, walking none, and striking out 6. The Cubs won their first series in two weeks. The last series we won? Against the Red-Birds in Wrigley.

After yesterday's game, I started thinking about Maddux performance and so I compiled some numbers. In his last 5 starts, Maddux is 2-1 with a 2.94 ERA in 33.2 IP, not bad. I have also been telling anyone who will listen that Maddux always starts poorly and then improves, this seems to be happening this year too.

This chart shows Greg Maddux cumulative ERA by start number over the past three years. The pattern is unmistakable, and makes me very happy that he will be in the rotation for the next couple of summers.

Posted by Byron at 12:00 AM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Late Inning Collapses

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Today, the Cubs offense finally scored some runs, breaking a streak of 29 innings in which they scored 2 runs.

Today's game was very similar to the game the Cubs played last Sunday (May 30th) it was a pitcher's duel until late in the game, and then the Cubs really poured it on. The Cubs ended up winning 6-1, but the game was knotted 0-0 going into the top of the seventh when Zambrano allowed a solo home run to Jason Bay. However, the Cubs scored 3 in the seventh, and another 3 in the eighth to give Zambrano and Carlos Francis Beltran some breathing room to finish the game.

Zambrano finished the day having pitched 8 innings of 4 hit, one (earned) run ball, and striking out seven. His ERA now stands at 2.27 with a 6-2 record. If the "Baby Bull" keeps it up, we may be crowning Carlos Zambrano as a Cy Young award winner in November. Who'da thunk it? Cubs #4 pitcher, a possibly Cy Young winner!

Derek Lee reminded Cubs fans why they were excited about him coming into the season by bashing a pitch onto Waveland Avenue today. Although the score was already 4-1, all Cubdom felt some relief to watch Lee connect... maybe, just maybe he's coming around.

Friday's game was a different story. In Prior's return, he pitched 6 innings of shutout baseball allowing 2 hits, 0 runs, and striking out 8. Not bad for a guy coming off the 60 day DL. On the other hand, the Cubs offense, despite many opportunities couldn't push a run across until the 8th inning, leaving Prior with a no-decision and giving the win to LaTroy Hawkins... except there's that Joe Borowski thing. JoBlow-ed another save, and raised his ERA to 8.02 en route to losing his 4th game. To steal a line from Steve Rosenbloom (one of my favorite Chicago Tribune columnists): Danny Graves, Closer- 26 saves, 3.27 ERA, 1st place vs. Joe Borowski, Closer- 9 saves, 8.02 ERA, 4th place - Discuss.

A comment on another Cubs fan site (CubsReporter, I believe) went something like this: So how many games have the Cubs blown when leading in the ninth inning This got me thinking, so how many games have they blown? Well lets see...

Cubs losses when leading before opponent bats in the 9th

  • April 17, 2-3 vs. Reds - Kerry Wood
  • May 28, 5-9 @ Pitt - JoBlow
  • May 28, 4-5 @ Pitt - Beltran
  • June 4, 1-2 vs. Pitt - JoBlow

Cubs losses when leading before opponent bats in the 8th

  • April 10, 2-5 @Braves - Andy Pratt

Cubs losses w hen leading before opponent bats in the 7th

  • None

But what about the flip side, how many games have the Cubs won after trailing in the late innings?

Cubs wins when trailing before batting in the 9th

April 9, 2-1 @Braves - John Smoltz

April 16, 11-10 vs. Reds - Danny Graves

Cubs wins when trailing before batting in the 8th

  • None

Cubs wins when trailing before batting in the 7th

  • May 19, 4-3 vs. Giants - Scott Eyre
  • June 5th , 6-1 vs. Reds - Kris Benson

As you can see, we are only down one game when it comes to late inning heroics when there are leads to be protected, but the Cubs records in games when the deciding run is scored after the sixth inning is a bit more telling. (editors note: after starting to look at these games I realized I needed to do a seperate page just on the Cubs late inning triumphs and failures, so check out thecubdom's newest feature: The Chronicles of Glory and Suffering.)

Deciding Runs scored by Inning
% of wins
% of losses

What the table tells us is that the Cubs have scored the deciding run by the sixth inning in 71.4% of the games they win (or they score the run after the sixth inning 28.6% of the time). On the other hand, the Cubs opponents score the deciding run after the sixth inning in 38.5% of the games. This shows us that either

  • 1. the Cubs bullpen is weaker than the opposing bullpens we have faced thus far
  • 2. Cubs starting pitchers are surrendering leads late, perhaps from being left in the game too long
  • 3. Cubs hitters like to get their work done early and then mail it in, or
  • 4. opponents hitters don't like day games and decide to wait until the fifth inning to start hitting.

I personally think factors 1 and 2 are slightly more important than factors 3 and 4, but you can be the judge of that.

Finally, I will leave you all with a little trick I learned in a statistics class I took. The following graph is an ogive (pronounced o-jive) and is a graph of the cumulative percentage of deciding runs scored by inning. The graph has three lines, two of them are meaningful and one is for reference. The first line (blue) is the cumulative percentage of decisive runs scored per inning in wins. The second line is black and illustrates a perfectly balanced team which wins or loses their games by random chance. The third line (red) illustrates what happens in games which are lost by the team.

Essentially, for both the Blue and Red lines, the innings where the line climbs the most are the innings where the Cubs are winning or losing games. In the graph, the Cubs winning line (blue) jumps up quickly showing that the Cubs offense is scoring runs that are not being answered by their opponents due to the pitching. In the losing line (red) the line escalates quickest in the later innings. The thing I find most interesting is the jump in the red line in the third and fourth innings, which reflect some Sergio Mitre starts and Greg Maddux' early season struggles.

Posted by Byron at 12:00 AM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Prior Watch concludes

Thursday, June 3, 2004

Mark Prior is pitching tommorrow.
Mark Prior is pitching tommorrow.
Mark Prior is pitching tommorrow.

Click your heels like Ron Santo, swish, swish, swish, swirl, swirl, swirl, getting dizzy... poof you are back at Wrigley in the warm sunshine with number 22 on the mound. Do you feel fulfilled? Has the season suddenly righted itself? Does Prior's return overcome the other seven injured Cubs? (Ryan Dempster doesn't count because the Cubs signed him with the knowledge that he wouldn't be healthy.)

I am just as excited as the rest of you, don't get me wrong. The pitcher with the sweet mechanics and a business degree from USC will undoubtably bolster the Cubs simply by replacing Sergio Mitre, but I doubt that he is "the fix" for our season. (Did I mention I am getting a business degree, and my brother will be attending USC next year? Almost makes us brothers, eh Mark?)

Our season is still very much in jeopardy, until we start winning games consistently, and we won't start winning games consistently until Sammy returns, and we get a legitimate daily double compination of an effective leadoff hitter and #2 man. If I were Dusty, I would ask Jim Hendry to find me a prototypical leadoff hitter with a high OBP (to get on base in front of Sammy, Aramis, and Alou), and some speed (to get in scoring position.)

To explore who might be available in a trade, lets define our scope as players hitting lead off on teams who are

  • 1.) below .400 or
  • 2.) ten games back or more or
  • 3.) the Pirates because well... Randall Simon, Kenny Lofton, and Aramis Ramirez.

Drum Roll please... The teams out of it by June 3rd are, the Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Royals, Mariners, Expos, Pirates, Diamondbacks, and Rockies. Thus, since we are interested in a lead off hitter, the main suspects are:

Team Player Pos Bats Salary OBP Avg SB R RBI HR H BB
Blue Jays Reed Johnson RF R $318,000 .372 .318 2 21 29 5 57 11
Devil Rays Carl Crawford LF L $320,000 .344 .299 24 32 13 1 60 14
Royals Angel Berroa SS R $372,500 .245 .217 1 20 10 2 33 3
Mariners Ichiro Suzuki RF L $6,528,000 .383 .339 13 30 20 3 80 16
Expos Endy Chavez CF L $300,000? .304 .273 8 17 10 4 42 8
Pirates Jason Kendall C R $8,571,429 .393 .322 5 27 19 0 56 15
DBacks Alex Cintron SS S $335,000 .311 .254 2 22 15 1 51 17
Rockies Aaron Miles 2B S $300,000 .291 .274 3 13 11 2 29 3

Inspecting our list of suspects, we immediately eliminate Johnson, Crawford, Berroa, Chavez, Cintron, and Miles because they make near the league minimum. These guys, are either good enough to be kept as great values by their current teams, or not good enough to be worth persuing. The only two remaining prospects are Ichiro, and Jason Kendall. Kendall doesn't make a lot of sense for the Cubs because they already have Michael Barrett who is producing well, and by trading for Kendall the Cubs would open up another hole in the lineup and significantly increase the payroll.

Ichiro on the other hand is an interesting opportunity, he has a rifle of an arm, a gold glove (two actually), and a fantastic bat which is well suited to the leadoff position. However, the Mariners signed Ichiro to a 4 year, $44 million extension through 2007, and probably aren't too interested in trading away their franchise player. Even if the Seattle ballclub was interested in trading Ichiro, the Cubs would need to clear a spot in their outfield, which would be Corey Patterson. Although the Mariners might take the opportunity to raid the Cubs pitching prospects, I doubt either side is terribly interested.

Now, the not so usual suspects. Jack Wilson PIT, Orlando Cabrera MON, Carlos Guillen DET, Omar Vizquel CLE, Julio Lugo TB, Rich Aurillia SEA, Craig Counsell MIL, Rafael Furcal ATL. All of these players are shortstops for teams that are probably not going to make the playoffs. Some people will argue that the Braves could make the playoffs, but I believe John Schuerholtz will be a seller rather than a buyer this trade season.

Team Player Pos Bats Salary OBP AVG SB R RBI HR H BB
Pirates Jack Wilson SS R $1,850,000 .357 .341 5 27 20 4 73 5
Expos Orlando Cabrera SS R $6,000,000 .282 .234 8 22 15 3 47 13
Tigers Carlos Guillen SS S $2,500,000 .396 .316 2 38 33 6 62 26
Indians Omar Vizquel SS S $6,250,000 .366 .298 4 30 22 2 57 22
Devil Rays Julio Lugo SS R $1,750,000 .295 .257 6 21 33 5 48 9
Mariners Rich Aurillia SS R $3,175,000 .300 .238 0 19 19 2 39 14
Brewers Craig Counsell SS L $3,166,667 .337 .245 7 25 9 1 38 22
Braves Rafael Furcal SS S $3,700,000 .324 .258 5 23 8 2 32 12

After constructing the above table, I blacked out the names and teams and asked my friend Andy to pick the shortstop he wanted. He picked Carlos Guillen, and I have to agree: his single season statistics look like the best fit for a Cubs leadoff hitter. Although he doesn't have a long track record of success, his numbers this year would definitely look nice at the front of the Cubs order. From the table above, I think Hendry would better the team if he acquired Jack Wilson, Carlos Guillen, Omar Vizquel, or Rafael Furcal (who has been hurt this year, but is now back to full strength.)

Furcal would be my #1 pick, because he is young, a great fielder, a solid bat, and has lots of speed. Furcal, at age 27 is a switch hitter who has been hitting leadoff most of his 5 year career. He typically steals about 25 bags a season, and has a career OBP of .346 and a .283 AVG. The Braves may be willing to trade him soon, because he is approaching his free agent year (he will be eligible to be a free agent following 2005.) and the Braves have another suitable shortstop in Jesse Garcia who makes a tenth of what Furcal earns. Time Warner, which owns the Braves has recently been cutting the Braves budget. Trading for Furcal and signing him to a contract extension could anchor the Cubs at shortstop and leadoff for years to come.

Omar Vizquel is 37 years old and in his 16th Big League season. He is slightly outperforming his career numbers this year, which is not suprising since Vizquel has improved dramatically throughout his career as a hitter. As a veteran, Vizquel is eligible to invoke the 10-5 rule, since he has played more than 10 years, and 5 with his current team. As a result, Vizquel could nix a possible trade ala Fred McGriff and Rafael Palmeiro, but since the Indians aren't in contention, he might welcome a switch of scenery. Some drawbacks to trading for Vizquel include the fact that he has never played in the National League, and that he has lost most of the speed he had early in his career. Vizquel currently bats second, which would make a decent fit in the Cubs lineup behind a healthy Grudz. On the plus side, Vizquel has an excellent eye and rarely strikes out. Additionally, Vizquel owns nine gold gloves, and would be an excellent short term pickup.

Jack Wilson, the Pirates shortstop probably won't be available until Alex Gonzalez returns somewhere towards the end of July. The Pirates are trying to contend, and are getting career years out of Jack and Craig Wilson. Wilson, the shortstop, is 27 and only in his fourth year in the league, leaving him two and a half years from free agency. If the Cubs did trade for him, they would be taking a significant risk considering that Wilson is currently hitting 86 points above his career batting average, and 61 points above his career OBP numbers. Like Vizquel, Wilson is currently hitting in the 2 hole, which might provide a smooth transition into the leadoff spot, or serve as an effective second hitter behind Grudzielanek.

Guillen, who is 29 and is in his 7th season has a career OBP of .342 and .269 AVG. He isn't really a leadoff hitter (he is hitting 6th for Detroit), although his numbers this year suggest he might be suited to the role. However, following Detroit's embarassing year, owner Mike Illitch has decided to spend some money to make the Tigers semi-competitive, and Guillen might not be available.

Posted by Byron at 12:00 AM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Thoughts on Chip Caray, Dave O'Brien

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

The Cubs lost another game today. Roger Clemens pitched pretty well, and Matt Clement faded late. The Cubs lost 1-5, as the offense continues its early summer sabatical.

Because I live out of the Chicago market, but not far enough away to watch the games live on the internet, I watched the game on ESPN. (About half the country is in the official black out zone, but can't get Fox Sports Net games on cable.) I have finally figured out the solution to the Cubs TV broadcasting issues. Chip Caray, whose contract runs through this year, should be replaced (I had been waffling on this point because I didn't have a replacement in mind.) Your new broadcaster should be... Dave O'Brien. Watching the game today, I just wanted to have he and Rick Sutcliffe call all the games. WGN could do it too, pull a three man booth with O'Brien calling games and Stoney and Sutcliffe doing color.

My friend, Chris, has advocated a Stoney and Sutcliffe booth, beliving Steve Stone could manage the limited needs for a play by play man on TV, and the two could talk baseball. I wouldn't mind that either.

Posted by Byron at 12:00 AM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Good Riddance Damian Jackson

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Our Chicago Cubs lost a rough one tonight, 3-5. Glendon Rusch had a tough outing, allowing 3 (earned) runs in 5 innings pitched. Francis Beltran and Jimmy Anderson threw 2.1 innings of scoreless no-hit baseball, but then Dusty brought in "The Farns." In my opinion, Kyle Farnsworth appeared unprepared to pitch when he first came in the game (maybe he didn't throw enough warm-up pitches.) With one out in the eigth, and facing his first batter, he gave up a very hard hit single to Richard Hidalgo, and then a fly ball that was nearly a home run to Morgan Ensberg. At this point, the Farns started to look like himself, but a questionable call by the first base umpire ended in Brad Ausmus reaching first on a Todd Walker error. The next batter, Mike Lamb split the left center field gap, which scored two runs. Farnsworth then retired four consecutive batters to finish the game. Although he got tagged with the loss, neither of the runs scored against him were earned.

Offensively, the Cubs were offensive. Solo shots by Todd Hollandsworth (2nd inning), Todd Walker (3rd inning), and Moises Alou (4th inning) were the only runs scored by the Cubs. In the fourth and the sixth innings, the Cubs loaded the bases with none out, but failed to score. Corey Patterson struck out twice in bases loaded situations, and Ramon Martinez struck out once, and hit into a 1-2-3 double play to end another.

The Cubs myriad of injuries really hurt the team tonight. Aside from not starting Sammy Sosa, Mark Grudzielanek, and Alex Gonzalez, the bench featured David Kelton (from AAA), Jose Macias, and Rey Ordonez. Provided a healthy club, Ramon Martinez probably would not have batted in either bases loaded situation, and instead Walker, or Hollandsworth would have pinch hit from the bench. Furthermore, in the ninth inning, Dusty used Rey Ordonez (.247 AVG, .291 OBP, .310 SLG for his career) to pinch hit with a man on first and one out. Once again, Ordonez, who isn't even on a healthy Cubs roster, was the best choice left on the Cubs depleted bench.

The Wisdom of Chip Caray: "Glendon Rusch pitching on 3 days rest has yet to win in the Major Leagues, but he's pitching real well tonight." - Chip Caray commenting on Glendon Rusch's performance after four innings tonight.

At the time, the Cubs were trailing 2-3 in the middle of the fourth. Rusch had permitted three earned runs in 4 innings (a 6.75 ERA), seven hits, a walk (a 2.00 WHIP), a hit batsmen (2.25 Runners/IP), and 2 home runs. Come on Chip, lets think before we speak.

The Wisdom of Cubs Fans: Preliminary All Star Game voting results have been released. Mark Grudzielanek is currently fourth in the second base voting... the same Mark Grudzielanek who is batting .467 with a .529 OBP, and a .467 SLG percentage... in 4 games. Come on folks, I like Grudz just as much as the next guy, but you can't vote for a guy as an All Star who has only played four games in the whole season.

Good Riddance: Jim Hendry dealt Damian Jackson to the Royals yesterday for... well it doesn't really matter. (Gookie Dawkins and a player to be named later by the way.) Long-time reader's know how I feel about Damian Jackson (click here to see the Damian Jackson thread.)

Although none of the papers mentioned it, I assume Hendry dealt Jackson because he was no longer needed with Rey Ordonez on the team, and his 40 man roster spot was needed for... MARK PRIOR, WOOHOO!

The Cubs announced yesterday that Prior will start the June 4th game against the Pirates, and all of the newspaper columnists wrote cheery articles this morning.

Looking ahead: The Cubs' June schedule looks a bit daunting for a banged up team. The first round of interleague play starts on the 11th in Anaheim, and games against the A's and White Sox follow. When not playing junior circuit teams, the Cubs continue facing off against NL Central Foes, the Astros, Cardinals, and Pirates. All of the teams we face are pretty good with a record above .500 or recently handed the Cubs devastating blows last week.

Games Against
Win Pct as of June 1st
Team ERA
Team OBP
White Sox

The Composite team is a weighted average of the individual opponents. For example, since we face the Astros 2.66 times more than the Pirates, the Astros winning percentage is given 2.66 times more weight in the composite numbers than the Pirates (White Sox, A's, and Angels.)


Posted by Byron at 12:00 AM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

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