The Red Menace

GAME 115 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (73-41) @ CHICAGO CUBS (54-60) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 pm CDT, TV: Fox Sports Midwest, CSN
Greg Maddux, RHP
8-9, 4.57 ERA
91/26 K/BB, 20 HR in 147.2 IP
Mark Mulder, LHP
13-5, 3.79 ERA
79/50 K/BB, 15 HR in 147.1 IP
SS Dave Eckstein RF #Jose Macias
3b #Abraham Nunez 2B #Neifi Perez
1B Albert Pujols 1B Derrek Lee
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B Aramis Ramirez
2B Mark Grudzielanek SS Nomar Garciaparra
RF *John Mabry C Michael Barrett
LF So Taguchi LF Matt Murton
C Einar Diaz CF *Corey Patterson
P *Mark Mulder P Greg Maddux
So are our arch-rival Cardinals the antidote to this poisonous play that has afflicted our poor Cubbies? I'd say we'll have to wait one more day. Z is due to pitch tomorrow and happened to be on the mound the last 2 times we ended long losing streaks. Save your energy complaining about the lineup, at this point, you might as well try anything. There's a bunch of rain in the forecast today, so they might not even play this one. If the game is rained out, we can try and lose 2 games tomorrow. Twice the fun! Also, John Koronka was called back up today and Rich Hill sent back to Iowa. Another interesting choice by the Cubbies. Todd Wellemeyer is actually pitching well, Sergio Mitre is a better pitcher, Glendon Rusch should be in the rotation, but the Cubs choose Koronka, I assume only cause his day in the rotation coincides with Hill's. If anything I hope for some good baseball this weekend, cause the last week or so has been anything but that. Go Cubs!

Comments

The Score says Koronka's going to the pen, Rusch will move back to the rotation.

Which job makes a bizarre move even more bizarre.

Ok...Dusty and Hendry are officially smoking crack...
There isn't a better pitcher to bing up as a reliever than Koronka? Van Buren? Haines? Bueller? Anyone?
Geez....

So we are going to have a guy starting who hasn't thrown more than 3 innings in almost 2 months?

Sounds good to me (~rolls eyes~). Another good one Hendry and Baker.

Right. Because if there's one thing Rusch has shown over the last year and a half, it's that he's incapable of making spot starts.

The problem is that whoever they start as a rookie pitcher will look bad, so why not use Koronka...they know he's bad. The other starter possibilities like Rusch, Mitre, Welly are capable of being good but not with Dusty as manager or with the team currently on the field. I'm sure any one of them could succeed with the Cardinals, Braves, Marlins, etc. (except Koronka)...thus his call up is VERY LOGICAL.

We're sunk and we're gonna have to pay through the nose.

I'm not worried about getting Rusch "stretched out." He did pretty well earlier both this year last year making the transition from a middle reliever.

He's a better question than why was Koronka brought up, why was it a pitcher that was recalled at all?

Seriously, has any other team in baseball history gone an entire season with a 12 pitchers?

koronka in the pen??? Great we have the younger version of Remmy in there now which should take Dusty/Rothschild a good few months to realize. I think Koronka could be respectable as a reliever but he'll be much more effective against righties then lefties.

And if you're just using him in the pen, why not just move Hill there? It's where he belongs until he gets some confidence in a third pitch.

Van Buren or Haines would require a 40 man roster move so I understand that.

Cardinals still have 12 guys in their bullpen and they actually have starters who go deep into games, but I agree with you. No reason to have 12 of them. NONE.

Not 12 in the bullpen...you know what I mean.

Braves have 13

Actually, just looked at a few others and they all have 12 as well (BAL, CHW, BOS).

Lots of teams gave 12 pitchers in the majors these days. In fact, Washington and Milwaukee are the only teams in the NL currently carrying only 11 pitchers.

I guess I just assumed most teams went down to 11 like Bleeding Blue was also assuming.

Here's an idea for the 40-man move...take Koronka off the 40-man roster!!!! WTF are they protecting him for anyway...? Hmmmm?
See? Nice and easy....but the Cubs seem to like nice....and rough!!

You can blame Jose Macias on the current practice of carrying 12 pitchers.

Carrying 12 pitchers means one less roster spot for a position player, of course. That forces you to hang onto borderline talent (e.g., Macias) for the simple reason that they can play multiple positions and not do anything else well.

Someone like Macias is subpar at every position he plays, but he can play a number of them (6 or 7 in his case, right?). As such, he saves you a roster spot.

So, until the Cubs decide to go with 11 pitchers (or until they go out and get Chone Figgins), we'll have to live with the likes of Macias.

Koronka has to clear waivers to get off the 40. But I do think he should be traded.

Well, you learn something new every day.

I had no idea the 11 man staff had gone the way of the 3rd catcher (or 4th catcher if you're the Minnesota Twins)

Re: Wood

"What's confusing to us, somewhat, is we don't know what the cause is exactly [of the pain]," Baker said. "We probably won't know what the cause is until after the season or whenever we shut him down. He's been analyzed by many doctors who have guaranteed ... that it's not career threatening if he continues to pitch. [The pain] doesn't come up unless there's a great number of pitches."

Still confused huh? Doctors don't study pitching mechanics, but pitching coaches should. Why is this such a mystery? Get the surgery, work on the mechanics in the offseason.

And GREAT number of pitches, doesn't he always go out by the third inning of these games? Ugh....

or of a decent 5-man staff....

Jody Gerut was placed on the DL for his knee.

The Dusty/Hendry epitaph should read: "Swept at home by the Reds; Lost each game by at least 5 runs". That's just remarkably bad.

Carrying over from the previous thread:

Please stop referring to the playoffs as a crap shoot. Its not. If it is, then lets stop having it. We'll just play 162 games and the team with the best record will be crowned champ. I agree, the best team does not ALWAYS win. But the World Series Championship is the best way of going about it. Calling the playoffs a crapshoot is a loser's way of explaining how you can win 100 games in the regular season (when you mostly played inferior competition) and not do squat against real teams. Its not perfect, its the best we got.

"I guess I just assumed most teams went down to 11 like Bleeding Blue was also assuming."

To hell with the facts. Full Screed ahead.

This is a OK move from this standpoint Koronka as a Garbage inning pitcher. He sucks and that's where sucky pitchers belong. Hill gets to go down to AAA to work on a 3rd pitch hopefuly. In a blowout game we don't have to worry about wasting are few quality middle relief arms. It works fine. The next two starts in that spot come up at Houston and Colorado two hitter's parks. So I am thinking the plan is to let Rusch start those games and then we get back from that trip to send Koronka down and recall Pinto.

It's amazing Dusty (and I would assume his coaches who could give him a little nudge if he doesn't know) never knows the problem. Doesn't know why Wood's arm is hurting, isn't embarassed by the pathetic performance rather he is bewildered. He's getting paid 5 million dollars to be "bewildered?"

I simply haven't seen anything that makes Baker worthy of 4 million a year. I'd rather give the job to someone wanting to prove he can manage rather than someone who knows just how far Barry Bonds can carry him.

I have worked for various companies and NONE of them would accept the answer "I don't know what the teams problem is....I'm not embarassed we have been losing and not reaching our goals--I'm just bewildered." They would have demoted that manager instantly or fired him.

judging a manager by what he says to the press is about as smart as judging a beauty contestant by how she answers the "if you could change one thing about the world..." question.

I like this beauty contestant analogy, but let's take it a step further.

You might not judge beauty according to the answer, but you might not marry her if she said, "I don't know."

But when the manager's words of bewilderment match his actions managing the game...that speaks volumes.

baker is in an idiot, we all know that. He does his best work behind the scenes because the guys on the teaam perceive him as "one of them." His managing philosophy is to try and make the dugout a "happy place" where there are no side distractions. However, he has failed miserable in game mananging situations (see 2002 and 2003 playoffs) and has recently failed to keep harmony in the clubhouse (see 2002 giants, 2004-05 cubs). So my question is, if you bring in a guy to do job A (keep players happy) and job B (manage the game) and he is now sucking at doing them both, why is he still here?

And Chad, I agree. To say that the playoffs are a crapshoot is an easy way out for people who can't see that some teams do well against the crappy teams but don't have it in the playoffs when the competition is good every night.

The Braves have not been a good playoff team but they have been a good team for a long time. that's all most of us are saying. Doesn't it get old trying to convince the board that the braves are disappointment?

Yee Haw...Another fine beginning to a wonderful Cubs game.

Fair....can we judge him for the poor performance of the team, that we're in the midst of our 3rd losing streak of 7 games or longer, that no one is held accountable for their mistakes, particularly his beloved vets, that Kerry has spent signficant time on the DL on 3 occassions the past 2 seasons without an apparent clue of why, that the bullpen really hasn't been that good for 3 years now, the last 2 being particularly atrocious, that he has trouble grasping the concept of the double-switch or that when the question is, who is the first pinch-hitter off the bench, the answer is Jose Macias?

Question: Can somebody enlighten me as to how the freakin' A's are so good? I don't follow them closely, and I'm looking at their stats and nobody is having an off-the-charts season offensively. Their bullpen looks great, and their starting pitching looks good. But they're unbelievable! Tell me how they're doing it.

The Cubs have mastered the art of digging yourself into a hole EARLY in a game -- it doesn't matter who we have pitching either. Lets see IF the Cubs' offense has some life today...;-)

"I simply haven't seen anything that makes Baker worthy of 4 million a year. I'd rather give the job to someone wanting to prove he can manage rather than someone who knows just how far Barry Bonds can carry him."

I think virtually all would agree that Baker is not worth $4MM. And that would be a damn good reason not to sign a new contract with him at that level. However, he is under contract through next year...so the amount he is getting paid is pretty much irrelevant at this point...as he'll get the money whether he gets fired tomorrow or at the end of the year.

I have always loved watching Greg Maddux pitch (although that's not the reason for my moniker here) - his artistry and dominance was just special for someone who didn't have an overwhelming fastball. My dad and I would often watch his games on TBS, even when we lived thousands of miles apart, just because they were something special. But this season is making me rather sad, seeing his getting beaten around like a pinata too many times. Sure, his record should be something like 10-8, if the team could score any runs for him, and he'd have a running shot at 15 wins again, but a 4.66 ERA just isn't Maddux, it's mediocre. He's a top-10 all time pitcher, but unlike Roger Clemens, who's adding yet another phenomenal season to his resume, Maddux is a shell of his former self. He'll get to his 400 IP, and certainly has earned over his career the money he's due next year, but as a longtime fan, I'd like to start the 5 year waiting period sooner than later.

Adam --

I think if things keep going as they are, the Cubs and Dusty will work out some kind of deal --say $2 million to call it quits.

"Question: Can somebody enlighten me as to how the freakin' A's are so good? I don't follow them closely, and I'm looking at their stats and nobody is having an off-the-charts season offensively. Their bullpen looks great, and their starting pitching looks good. But they're unbelievable! Tell me how they're doing it."

They don't have that pesky burden of wearing a "C" on their chest? He'll if I know.

Same goes for the Astros, their offensive numbers look kinda crappy on paper. It's all about consistent pitching...If we had that, we'd be able to cover up some gapping offensive holes...but right now, we ain't got no nothing.

Why are Burny and Walk getting a day off when they had one on Sunday when Lee and maybe Aram have not had a dayoff since the AS break and Nomar could probably use one too? Those two hit lefties enough where they do not need to sit aganist a lefty. Not looking at Mulder's stats my guess would be his splits would be even comparing his success aganist lefties and righties.

"They don't have that pesky burden of wearing a "C" on their chest? He'll if I know.

Same goes for the Astros, their offensive numbers look kinda crappy on paper. It's all about consistent pitching...If we had that, we'd be able to cover up some gapping offensive holes...but right now, we ain't got no nothing."

Maybe they're getting all their hits at the right time, too? Just a guess, since I don't watch them much.

ARAMIS !!!!!!!!!

Gimp get's an RBI...go Aram

The idea that the playoffs are a crapshoot stems from they're being no discernible trait that defines the World Series winner every year.

Is it the team with best record? No, look how many WC entries have won it

Is it the team with the best manager? Nope, every year, a different team

Is it starting pitching that wins? The Angels won the 2002 World Series with a pretty mediocre staff. I'd argue the Cubs had the best staff in 2003; The Braves only won one series despite one of the best starting staffs ever assembled

Best closer? The Yanks would win every year

Offense? Rangers got crushed in the late 90's; Giants lost to the Marlins in 2003, etc, etc

Defense? Red Sox won over the Cards last year

Speed? The Red Sox again

Every year, a different reason why the team wins the World Series. Not so much a craphshoot as no definitive reasoning behind who wins each year.Whatever reason you may THINK is a successful way to win a World Series, there's an example of why that isn't the case.

Sometimes it's the hot team (2002 Angels, 2003 Marlins), sometimes it's the best team (1998 Yanks), sometimes it's the best starting pitching (2001 D'Backs), etc, etc.

Now we need three basehits to get him home. dusty's frustrated on the bench because his first inclination was to pinch run for aram with maciASS but then remembered that he inserted MaciASS into the game in RF (which was promptly taken advantage of by eickstein in the first inning). "damn, dude, i gotta stop drinking the night before these day games" Dusty says

Justin--

Solid starting pitching (numbers are skewed a bit on Haren, Blanton, Saarloos, and Zito, who were all lousy to various degrees early), a very reliable bullpen, and a lineup full of guys with decent OBP. I'll be interested to see if their younger pitchers keep it together during the stretch run--I don't know whether Haren or Blanton are used to pitching this many innings.

The A's have had some hot-hitting of late; I'm sure if you sorted their stats since June 1st, you'd see some lofty numbers. And the pitching of late has been outstanding, Zito caught fire, Harden is back off the DL, Haren found his groove and Blanton has been a bit above average. The bullpen is pretty fantastic as well.

This is my last comment on the matter, as I'm sure most don't care. For the 26 teams active from 1991-2004, the period we're talking about...

1. ATL 1,341-859
2. NYY 1,271-926
3. SFG 1,179-1,023

All myself and some others were trying to say is that regardless of the cherry-picking involved to produce those numbers, that result is phenomenal.

Regarding the playoffs, fully half the Braves' eliminations over this span were in series-deciding games, and they lost another five series 4-2, got bounced 4-1 once and swept in three once. They've won more series than they've lost over this span, at 14-12.

=====

The A's: Their offensive numbers are probably still a little poor because their team collectively slumped for the first month-plus of the year. Then they went 42-12, which is similar to what the Cubs are going to have to do to sneak in. If they had the A's bullpen...

"Why are Burny and Walk getting a day off when they had one on Sunday when Lee and maybe Aram have not had a dayoff since the AS break and Nomar could probably use one too? Those two hit lefties enough where they do not need to sit aganist a lefty. Not looking at Mulder's stats my guess would be his splits would be even comparing his success aganist lefties and righties."

Good question...for Burny, I'd say it's because he has been absolutely horrible and has nothing left to provide this year. For Walker, only thing I wonder is if it has to do with him having some minor injury....or he is not part of the future plans of this team (which would suprise me)

Yes....Get Lee and Aram a break, soon, please....it's sad to watch Lee burn out like this.

rob-

That still isn't a crapshoot which implies luck. Your post just goes to show how complex baseball is and how many different ways there are to win and construct a team. Also, with so many ways to win, isn't pathetic that the Cubs can't find one, EVER?

disagree....the playoffs are basically a series of coin flips. think about it, even the very best teams in baseball win 60-65% of their games (that's 97 to 105 wins, roughly). that's against everyone, including the bad teams.

get two of these good teams together, like you do for a short series in the playoffs, and the odds of winning one game for either team is pretty much 50%, probably 55% at the highest.

7 games is nothing when you're talking about 55% chance of the better team winning. each game becomes a coin flip. the series barely favors the better team.

it's why when people say "well why haven't the a's won in the playoffs?!?", it's all i can do not to jump through my modem and strangle them. they made the playoffs 4 straight years, 2000 through 2003. that is the accomplishment. they've lost all 4 first round series 3-2. they lost in game 5 of the series of coin flips every time. all 4 years the A's have had slightly better records than their opponents in the playoffs (yankees twice, twins, red sox). with tiny payrolls, to do that well in the regular season and then lose in a coin flip game 5 is really damn good.

i got a little off topic. but my point is, the playoffs are basically a coin flip. i like the term better than crapshoot.

justin re: A's: 1) read moneyball. not the bible or anything, but shows you the process, and why the name players aren't always the best. gotta look at the right numbers.

2) they're 7th in OBP in baseball, and 3rd in the AL, only behind the red sox and yankees. once the pitching matured a little bit, they were going to start winning some games. haren, harden, zito, saarloos, blanton. the numbers have been fantastic since the end of june, and street at the end is nasty.

Korey has nearly as many K's (520) as he does hits (526) in his career. Anyone wanna bet that Korey doesn't end this season with more Ks than hits?

No takers? No surprise

I personally don't think the playoffs are a crap shoot at all...I just think that things that carry a team through an entire season to a great record are not necessarily the things that carry a team for the playoffs.

In the playoffs you need 3-4 Starters versus 5...and there is a heavier value on your top two starters, than 3 and 4 that take you through the middle games. Furthermore, a well rounded team with a strong offense and solid pitching staff can get you 100 wins...but in the playoffs, a strong offense could be shut down by playoff quality pitching...again putting more pressure on your pitching staff.

It's kinda like 2003, I think the Cubs were better built for the playoffs than they were for the regular season...I think Atlanta has been better built to dominate during the regular season, but they lose some of their advantage in the playoffs.

We actually got a lead-off walk...Now we have Patterson up to bat...it's time for this Cub team to shift into gear...;-)

For one thing the A's offense is the opposite of the Cubs. While the Cubs hit for a high average and power they don't walk so their offense is sporatic at best. Pitchers that keep the ball in the park or who don't throw strikes much tend to beat the Cubs. The A's on the other hand have little power and don't hit for average but walk a lot. To beat the A's you must throw strikes as we can see from the Cubs staff that is not always easy to do.

Green Lantern,

Those sure are a lot of assumptions in your reasoning. You forget about the streakiness of the teams going into the playoffs (which I think gives the WC an advantage), injuries,and matchups (good hitting team meets a good pitching team). I think it's a stretch to assume that all playoff teams are equal.

I don't think the playoffs are a coin flip but rather demonstrate that there are many ways to win. Were the dbacks the best team in 2001? Of course not but they had a manager that knew to ride his two horses all the way.

"I personally don't think the playoffs are NOT NOT NOT a crap shoot at all..."

I meant to say Not a crap shoot.

The Cubs have actually have taken THE LEAD early in a game -- this hasn't happened in well over a week...I like this momentum...Lets hop it continues...;-)

OK folks, I'm aware that if I said the Cubs demise this year was due to Jose Macias you'd all laugh. Ha,ha, ha...Still, I hate seeing him start at any position OF, 2B or 3B. Why do I feel this way?

Here's some facts I'd like to find out. I'll call it: THE MACIAS FACTOR.

How many starts has Macias had this year? Is there another team with it's "utility" player who has as many starts in multiple positions? For example, (the great) Chone Figgins for the Angels is a team that can make the "utility" player concept work, because that player is actually good in the infield and outfield; even the Pirates Rob Mackoviak and the Cardinals John Mabry should qualify for this study, they're not as good as Chone but obviously an upgrade over Macias.

Conversely, is there a team that has a utility player we'd consider worse than Jose Macias? If so, is that player used as much as Macias?

Does Macias have a role on a winning team? Is the fact that this team was built to be at best .500 mean that Macias looks worse than he really is?

How would Macias look on the Angels, Cardinals or Braves? Would they keep such a player on their roster? The Cardinals took E. Nunez and turned him into a super-sub. He was not a player one noticed on the Pirates. What happens when a player is transformed like that.

Rob G. and all you guru's...Help us fact find some answers to my questions on... THE MACIAS FACTOR.

and as I type, Macias bloops one over Eckstein to score CPat...Cubs lead 3-2, maybe hate is too strong a word. Help.

Ok, Neifi with a double, Macias with an RBI, Patterson with a Double, Maddux with an RBI. Who woulda thunk it.

Somebody please call hell to check the temperature!!! I mean putting the ball in play with a man on 3rd and less than two outs, patterson gets a hit and maciASS follows with an rbi single. Are these really the cubs?

Until Hairy went down Macias had VERY little playing time. I think Macias is the least of the worries on the team. Again, Macias means nothing if Burny, Aram and Lee hit about .150 as they have done during this losing streak and the pitching staff has a 5+ era.

I will agree that our need for him to fill in shows a weakness on the bench...but he is not the reason this team is so mediocre/bad...especially over the last 10 days.

well sure, if you won 100 games and one of your best players gets hurt the week before the playoffs..... you're not as good of a team as your 100 wins shows. i don't think that undermines my point.

"streakiness" i guess matters, but the point remains the same. any team that made the playoffs is good enough to get a bounce to go their way rather than the other and stop a "hot" team.

matchups? if it's a good hitting team against a good pitching team, well, then they're both good and going against each other....i don't see how that changes my assertion.

what IS true is that the #4 and #5 pitching spots are made irrelevant, giving more power to those teams with really good front of the line guys. (diamondbacks in 01 won on this alone basically, 03 cubs were helped tremendously by it). other than that, it's a series of coin flips.

If D. Lee and A. Ramirez can get hot again then things will get interesting (assuming we can get runners on base ahead of them)...;-)

"The Cubs have actually have taken THE LEAD early in a game -- this hasn't happened in well over a week...I like this momentum...Lets hop it continues...;-)"

We were winning for much of the game on Tuesday. 2-1 and 3-2.

Anyway Scott, I still love your optimisim. I think you are the only one here who hasn't completely given up and it's a nice change of pace.

guess I can still use the work Hate in the same sentence with Macias.

getting thrown out at 2B...typical.

Re: Adam mainly, but perhaps some others: All of those points in your 4th/5th starters post are definitely true; you'll get no argument from me on any of them. However, it's as simple as observing gambling lines or Tradesports to see that even an extreme mismatch like Royals-Yankees will only give the Yankees, at most, a 70% chance of winning an individual game, even if the Yankees' premier starter is pitching. Surely the playoffs have to be closer than that--but using 70-30, if the Royals played an ALDS against the Yanks, they'd win it 15% of the time. Since the gaps between playoff teams aren't that extreme to begin with, and there are 4 5-game series each year, an undue upset is almost a given.

But again, all your points are correct, which is why I think the best resolution is that it's a healthy mix of both, where your best shot is to have two ridiculously good starters and be well-versed in prayer or animal sacrifice should you reach Game 5 or 7.

"getting thrown out at 2B...typical."
At this point, I am all for trying anything and everything agressive on the base paths.

Adam: I'm trying to view the glass as half-full...it will be a minor miracle IF the Cubs win today and break their losing streak as they play The Cardinals...I would love to see the Cubs win this series (yet, I wouldn't bet on it)...Come on D. Lee...;-)

Aren't the cardinals the ones who started to walk DLee last series? I think that really put him into a funk. Too bad dusty didn't make them pay by having the hot bat of Aram behind him, instead we put Burny out there. Idiot.

Aramis just batted D. Lee in -- ya gotta love it...Ramirez is 2 for 2 today and has 83 RBIs now...Come on Barrett...;-)

There are more components to playoff baseball than just the starters though. For example if you make an error in a regular season game that costs the team a game, no big deal cuz it's one of 162 and chances are it won't make that big of a difference cuz you play the royals, drays, or pirates a lot and so you get the favor returned more often than not. In the playoffs however, stealing that extra bag (see Dave Roberts) or making that one extra play (see Derek Jeter) has a magnified impact.

So, we can't we assume that great teams (or at least hot teams) will make a greater number of "impact" plays and make fewer mistakes? If so, then we have to assume that the better team wins the majority of play off games.

It is amazing how the best team in baseball is the team that can break us out of our misery. Granted...I am not sure that any of us have the confidence that this team will come through with a win. But 4 runs? Wow!

I will agree however that if it's a game 5 or game 7 then it is basically a coin toss because the two teams have proven (in both the season and in the playoffs to be equally good) and so the winner is almost impossible to predict.

We haven't had 4 runs EARLY in any game in a long time...Now the key is to pitch well and protect the lead...We also need some insurance runs...The Cardinals can come back quickly.

IT seems like Barrett walks a ton when he is in the 5 and 6 spots...great to see. His OBP is above .400 since July 1.

"It is amazing how the best team in baseball is the team that can break us out of our misery. Granted...I am not sure that any of us have the confidence that this team will come through with a win. But 4 runs? Wow!"

Not just 4 runs, but 4 runs the right way. 2 two out RBI's, 1 rbi coming from putting the ball in play with a man on third and 1 out...and a bunch of people doing a little to accomplish what they had to do in their at bats.

Meanwhile, Maddux had retired 9 in a row before Grudz single.

no, gabe, bc the "better" team, in some sort of socratic ideal, isn't decided by one or two plays here or there, which it could in the playoffs. that might not have been that clear. a 100 win team doesn't make THAT many more "big" plays than a 92 win team. i guess that's what i'm trying to say. both teams are pretty good, in the course of 3 to 7 games it's awful hard to separate them.

it's something that really bothers me about baseball. especially the best-of-five format in the first round. jeez. how much trouble would it be to take a TINY bit of luck out of it and play 2 more games?

personally i would like to see the following:

the top two wild card teams have a playoff game the monday after the regular season ends. one game. winner plays the team with the best record. playoffs ensue as they do now, but all best of seven series.

this would:

- reward the 3 division winners, the best teams in the regular season. they don't have to go through this "coin flip" to start the playoffs

- penalize those teams that don't win the division. not only this coin flip game, but they would also use one of their TOP pitchers in that game, meaning that the best team in the league gets rewarded by facing a team with a messed up rotation.

basically, the current format doesn't reward the better teams from the regular season enough. this would penalize the wild card teams, which would be a start. it's funny that by adding an additional wild card team you can make the division races more important, which right now, they really aren't.

1. Macias and Nefi 1-2. Well, that should certainly jump start the offense. I do see that Murton is starting against Mulder. Apparently even Dusty has seen enough of Lawton trying to hit lefties.

2. Mabry and Nunez definitely helped the Cardinals a lot this year witn Rolen's and Sander's injuries and Walker's health problems. I read a couple of reports where Walker has indicated he will retire at the end of the season.

3. Some thoughts about what went wrong since the Bartman game. When I use the term "hole," I mean that the team is without a solid regular or better at that position or in the rotation or in the bullpen for this season and for 2006.

a. Sosa's rapid deterioration. Until August 2002 Sosa was one of the best players in the game, an offensive force, taking walks, hitting over 50 or more home runs, a respectable batting average. At the ostensible age of 34 it was reasonbable to expect 4 more good seasons from him. I have some reason now to doubt the age and to suspect the "s" word. Although adding Lee and Ramirez mitigated this loss, the Cubs inablity to acquire by free agency or development a superstar to replace him was and is a major blow and one that management is not responsible for. However, it is Hendry's and the Cubs organization's fault for not acquiring one of the three superstars that became available the last two off-seasons: Vlad, A-Rod, or Beltran. They could have even picked up Manny Ramirez on waivers after the 2003 season. It will be interesting to speculate how much the Tribune Company will lose in revenue from having to discount ad-sales as people stop watching and listening to this team play its dreary way to the end and the impact on ticket sales when probably a weaker team comes back to play next season. A hole in rf and a big hole in the offense.

b. Projecting Patterson to become a player he never has been because of his wonderful "tools." Corey's minor league statistics in Class AA and AAA were pretty mediocre: low OBP and a batting average rarely above .280. Frankly, when I have watched him on ESPN or on my trips back to the states, his bat speed seems slow to me and he seems always off balance at the plate, at any good pitcher's mercy. The bet that Corey would become a great player and fill the CF position for six years has come up snake eyes. Again, that is Hendry and the organization's scouting bias resulting in a poor decision. A hole in CF and a sucking chest wound for the offense.

c. That players like Nefi and Hollingworth would be anything more than replacement level players over the length of the season. Here Dusty seems to remember the little hot spells of his veterans and tries to imagine that he shows enough faith in them, they will sustain it. But people are what they are and eventually baseball will show it. Burden on Dusty. Also, Hendry for not being a little agressive on finding fisrt rate bench players like Mabry or Jay Payton. Two holes at LF and SS, and sucking chest wound to the offense due to the bench performance compared to other teams.

d. Not signing Clement for this season despite Prior and Wood's health history. Sorry, this is one Hendry and Baker should have seen coming. It was not reasonable for them to assume that Prior and Wood were going to give them 35 starts as dominate pitchers. Prior has a fragile elbow and is accident prone. Wood, besides the shoulder, has a chronically bad back. Nor was it reasonable for them not to expect Maddux to continue his decline, especially without a strong offensive or defensive team behind him. Clement was also a deal compared with the other starting pitching on the free agent market (see the Yankees). Holes at the 3,4, and 5 starters.

e. Keeping the highly overrated Larry Rotschild as the pitching coach. Has ever a pitching coach been given so much young talent and manage to turn it to dreck? Either that or the talent has been highly overrated. Hendry will have to make the choice who has been screwing up the last two years, Larry or himself. Dusty's and Jim Hendry both get dinged for keeping Larry around to torture the pitchers. (Dempster is adequate in the overrated closer role, but whether he is comning back is big ? Five open slots in the bullpen.

f. This follows from above. Despite lots of praise for it the last 4 years, when the crunch came the farm system did not produce. Compare the Cubs' situation to Oakland's and Atlanta's. If anything, those two teams have lost far more talent to free agency and injuries this season then the Cubs have, but their systems have come up with players to fill the gaps. The Cubs system has not. Whether it is the scouts bias for players with "tools" over those that actually can play and produce, poor player development and coaching in the minors, abuse of young pitchers (a large % of the Cubs pitching prospects seem to have crashed and burn the last 3 seasons), or Dusty's bias toward playing marginal veterans in the field over rookies or Rotschild's inability to coach young pitching talent, the young Cubs have not contributed anything to the current team beyond a isolated game here or there.

Having now gotten into this mess, the Cubs have big holes in their rotation (3,4,and 5 starters), their bullpen is a complete mess (5 random minor league free agent signees may do better then this lot, certainly can't be any worse); inferior players at all three of the current outfield positions, and a question mark at shortstop (will Garcippara come back or will he head to Atlanta or LA and, if not, can Cedeno provide offense at shortsop at the ML level as he has had only one good season showing he can hit or will Dusty insist on starting Nefi all next season).

I expect the current Cubs management, knowing the Tribune Company's record of dropping the axe on GMs and managers when a good season (84), (89), (98), and (03) is followed by a couple more typical Cub seasons,, will try a short term fix to get back in contention next season (thereby saving their jobs). Like most such attempts it will probably blow up in their faces.

A more radical move, if a GM knew he or she would be around for a few more seasons, would be to cut payroll for 2006. Then try fill some of the gaps with young players like Murton, Greenberg, and Brandon Sing. Put Sing in left for instance. If he is willing, see if Garcippara would be willing to move to CF and see if he can play it well and stay healthy, as Robin Yount did. See if Cedeno is the answer at short. Try these and other like experiments that won't tie up your money for years in declining assets like a 33 year old lead-off man who will be 38 at the end of his five year contract. With the pitching, again, go the route that allowed Hendry to find Dempster and Williamson - pick up guys who will need surgery and see if they can snap back. Hopefully, some folks can rebuild their trade value, some young talent can fill in a couple of the above holes, and the free agent class after the 2006 season will be stronger then this one. A couple of good trades, a couple of free agent signings that make sense, and suddenly this web site will be a happier place in 2007.

Macias hitting .301 :-)

i think larussa is gonna throw these games to the cubs down the stretch to ensure that dusty is the manager next year....what does he have to lose, right? a couple more losses down the stretch this year to make sure that he gets to see jose macias lead off a few times next year? sounds like a good deal.

(sarcasm....i know we're all a little testy these days...)

The Cubs Are Back...Macias and Neifi get on base AND D. Lee gets a 3 run homer...Gotta love it...;-)

Gabe, am I correct in assuming 73 is a response to mine? I agree in that a steal or an error or a redirection of an outfielder's throw home will matter more to one's season in retrospect if it occurs in the playoffs, but the changes to the single game being played are still the same. If Roberts steals the base on May 10 instead of October 10, and everything else except the bunting and TV station is exactly the same, then the probability of winning is the same in both games, with the important exception of how pitchers might be used in later innings, like how Beckett was brought in for the NLCS clincher as a reliver.

All the little things that can happen in the playoffs (or any game) definitely have an impact. My main point was the the difference between a team that wins 100 games and a team that wins 65 has to be smaller than the difference between the same 100 win team and an 88 win team, yet even after accounting for any intangibles that come from being the best (or the worst), the 65 win team can easily take a short series given a minimal amount of tries, which the postseason currently provides.

Dear Cubs,
Welcome back from your summer vacation. We missed you while you were gone.

Love,
TCR

"Macias hitting .301 :-)"

This is horrible to see, Adam. He'll now probably be back with the club next year.

well written ron. one play affects a game as much in october as it does in june. when it's two good teams, it's gonna be a coin flip, more or less.

also, mulder is overrated. the A's are almost already the winners in that trade, and it will get more lopsided as the years go. BRILLIANT.

DLee finally shows some semblance of his first-half self. He crushed that ball.

This is the kind of game where we need Woody and Williamson to come out of the Bullpen and pitch well...Dempster as a closer should be fine...A few more insurance runs would make me feel better though...;-)

didn't wood pitch the last 2 games already?

i have no idea why he's not having that surgery this week. pitching three times in three days (or maybe it's four) doesn't make any sense.

we know dusty uses his pitchers lots, but that would be a bit much.

It will probably also be happier if Dusty is managing in LA in 2007.

get your shit together Maddux...you were doing great.

Bad Lineup??? ha ha

Baseball is weird sometimes, huh?

Neifi and macias are the two hottest hitters on this team, ride them...until they buck you.

Maddux gave up a few hits BUT he was able to strike out the big guy...Now its time for the Cubs to score some more runs...They need to build up a bigger cushion.

Wood pitched:
Aug 5 - 1 IP
Aug 8 - 1 IP
Aug 10 - 1 IP

That's it. it would be back to back days only. relax guys

The Cubs have been outscored 52-22 during their 8 game streak. In 6 of 8 games, the opponent has scored 6 or more runs.

Cubs have to score 10 runs to win. 7 is not enough with this staff.

manny, there's no way that wood should pitch 3 out of 4 days. i'm not saying that it's going to happen, it was a thing that scott said.

if it does happen i'll be pretty pissed.

Nice to see CP have a multi-hit game.

GL-
I hope not too, but if we need him, pitch him...

Cubs capitalize on a BIG BREAK from St. Louis...I like the fact that the Cubs have scored in EVERY inning so far today...;-)

"I hope not too, but if we need him, pitch him..."

Why risk additional injury just for a chance to win one more game in a season that is going nowhere?

If he can't pitch back to back days, he shouldn't be with the team...

Agreed, he should be having surgery right now.

From reading the Trib and Suntimes today Wood seems to agree.

D. Lee is back in action...Home Run #2 -- out to Waveland Ave...;-)

Baker better have same "bad" lineup tomorrow.

Manny -- just curious -- do you really think leading off with Macias and Neifi is a good (or at least non-bad) lineup? Serious question. They have obviously performed today, but I'm interested in your opinion about that lineup.

i have statede many times that I think lineups are WAY overrated. And macias and Neifi are the two hottest hitters on the team. They have lost the last few games and scored no runs, so why not a change and get the hot hitters on the top.

The lineup today did not bother me.

Great Defense by the Cubs today (so far)...And it's amazing they have scored EVERY inning so far...I would like a few more runs as a cushion...You can't take anything for granted with these Cardinals.

ron galt-

thank you for clarifying that point (no sarcasm intended). I understand what you're now and see where you're coming from.

I do not agree with you that big plays in June mean as much as big plays in October. I mean, really, you can't believe that yourself. The magnitude of the games is much much more.

Green Lantern-

I like your playoff system except for the one game and you're out between the two WC teams

Re: The A's

I'm up a big fan of Moneyball concepts. But from what I saw, the team OBP for the year isn't anything ridiculous, which was sort of my point. I was wondering how they were so good despite not looking much like a Moneyball team, though their splits since starting the amazing run might show more Billy Beane-friendly numbers

Corey Patterson looks VERY GOOD today...he's had 3 hits so far and a run batted in...Maddux is still pitching and showing the young guys how to do it...Lets hope we can close these Cardinals down - right now.

Cubs Win 11-4 and Maddux goes all the way to help the Cubs snap a brutal losing streak...!!

Do the cubs have the cardinals number this year? I mean, even the games we lost were extremely close. the cubs could easily be 5-1 versus the cardinals this season.

Or do you guys think that the Cards have packed it in and are waiting for October (basically feeding us cub fans the scraps from their table)

CUBS WIN!!!!!!! IN DUSTY WE TRUSTY!!!!!!!! feels good to finally say that again...

Anyone else mad that Baker took out Murton in the ninth. That is is a great way to devlop a guy the moment he goes 0 for 8 you pull him in a game that is already decided. If he wanted Holly out there he could have pinched hit him for Aram then had him play in RF and Macias at 3rd.

gabe....you're missing ron's point. the GAMES are of larger magnitude, duh, that's what the playoffs are.....but the impact of one play ON THAT GAME doesn't change, no matter if it's june or october or even febtober. re-read what he said about roberts' steal and the month.

re: my playoff system...that's the whole point gabe. you penalize the teams that didn't win their division by making them play that playoff game. right now there is really no difference between winning the wild card and winning your division, and i think that's wrong. gotta reward the teams that win more in the regular season.

it would make division races like a's-angels a lot more interesting again, like it was before the wild card. if the yankees are behind these two with a week to go, they will play each other and it will be meaningless.

under this system, the division winner would have a HUGE advantage, the loser would have to play a one game playoff with the yankees or whoever. i think it's cool.

Since the lineup worked I guess we need to find something to complain about today.

Lee's 2 HR's
maddux's CG
macias and Neifi go 4-10, 3 runs, 1 RBI
Cubs win 11-4

All just wasn't good enough.

IN DUSTY WE TRUSTY!!!!!!!! feels good to finally say that again...

Because you don't trust dusty during a losing streak?

Blue-
No, I just post that whenever the Cubs win.

You happened to forget to put the CUBS WIN!! part in there. I sure it was only an accident, right?

Should be happy today, Cubs won, instead of trying to go after me. :)

We know Burnitz and Walker have had real trouble hitting recently and maybe Dusty wanted try using other folks that seem to be hitting better...Many of us have been tough on Dusty BUT I think he made some wise decisions today...It seems like Maddux wanted to go all the way and Dusty let him do that...Our Bullpen needed the break.

No one trusts in Dusty... except for you.
If anyone still thinks Baker is a competent manager, then they have NO baseball smarts.

Comment #112:

You mean to say that when teams play well, they have good stats and when they play bad, their stats are bad too? WOW, call Guiness!

For the record BIG JOHN STUD, I guess I have NO baseball smarts.

Well, that's one down. 18 to go.

Thanks for taking another look at that Gabe & Green, I didn't initially explain that very well.

Manny...you are a troll of the highest order! I usually get annoyed by your antagonistic nature, but tonight it's funny. Cubs win.

Baker looks like an ass among managers... unless he's going up against 110 year old Felipe Alou.

Great win yesterday, and I know we're all hoping for another today (and the next, ad infinitum) but let's realize that this wasn't a typical Cardinals team we just played:

MIA
Scott Rolen
Reggie Sanders
Yadier Molina
Larry Walker

If those guys had been in the lineup, it's very likely this game would have been much closer than it was.

Not trying to rain on the parade. Go Cubs.

i went to Fenway Wednesday night. the Red Sox can play! they do all the little things to beat you. very impressive. makes you very aware of how bad the Cubs are. it tells me how bad the overall attitude of this team is...on one ab Manny Ramirez was down 0-2, worked the count to 3-2, fouled off three consecutive pitches and got the walk. Gabe Kapler made a throw to third on runner tag, didn't get the guy-but the fans gave him a standing O for the effort. In the 9th, the Red Sox were up by 2, Kapler beat out a grounder to short for an infield hit-pure hustle. they scored 9 runs that inning to put em away. they never backed off-every ab, every play in the field was full intensity.

maybe the cubs are showcasing Wood to get a taker...ha ha.

i predict that zambrano will hit someone today and will get suspended...

the cubs probably brought up Koronka because if they bring up their good pitchers and they fail, they diminish their trade value. thats the only reason i think of anyway.

Why is dusty pushing maddux out the door... i know he is no longer a cy young candidate but he is still an upper tier pitcher who is craft and knows how to win plus he stays healthy. We need to push dusty out the door.

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