Cub Plays Of The Week

As measured by David Appelman’s wonderful Fangraphs site, which calculates Win Probability Added—the methodology is explained here—the five worst and five best moments in the remarkably dramatic Cubs week that began with last Sunday’s game against the Phillies and ended with Saturday’s game against the White Sox. The Five Worst (in ascending badness): 5.) Monday v. Mets, 6th inning. Paul LoDuca doubles off Rocky Cherry, driving in Carlos Delgado to cut Cubs lead to 4-3. (Decreased likelihood of Cub victory by 22.3%) 4.) Saturday v. White Sox, 8th inning. Paul Konerko homers off of Bob Howry, giving White Sox 6-5 lead. (-24.1%) 3.) Saturday v. White Sox, 6th inning. Joe Crede homers off of Jason Marquis, tying game, 5-5. (-25.2%) 2.) Monday v. Mets, 9th inning. Michael Wuertz walks Carlos Delgado. Mets win 5-4. (-33.9%) And the #1 Worst Moment of the Week for the Cubs… Thursday v. Mets, 9th inning. Carlos Delgado hits two-run single off Scott Eyre. Mets win 6-5. (-45.7%) The Five Best (in ascending gloriousness): 5.) Saturday v. White Sox, 5th inning. Jason Marquis hits 2-run homer off Javier Vazquez, giving Cubs 5-3 lead. (Increased likelihood of Cub victory by 22.5%) 4.) Thursday v. Mets, 6th inning. Angel Pagan hits 2-run homer off Jason Vargas, giving Cubs 3-1 lead. (+25.5%) 3.) Saturday v. White Sox, 8th inning. Ryan Theriot hits leadoff triple with Cubs trailing 6-5. (+26.4%) 2.) Saturday v. White Sox, 8th inning. Aramis Ramirez triples to score Alfonso Soriano, giving Cubs 7-6 lead. (+29.1%) And now, the #1 Best Moment of the Cubs Week: Friday v. White Sox, 7th inning. Angel Pagan hits 2-run triple off Mike MacDougal to tie game, 3-3. (+35.7%) Notes: I didn’t include Sunday’s game vs. the White Sox, because, at this writing, Fangraphs hadn’t posted the play-by-play log of the game. Also, that game is dead to me. Nice week for Angel Pagan and, unfortunately, Carlos Delgado. Finally, regarding Derrek Lee’s grand slam on Saturday, not only didn’t it rank among the top 5 most positive events of the Cubs' week by Fangraph’s WPA measurement, it wasn’t even among the top 20! WPA aside, those of us Cub fans who saw it, heard it, or learned of it from the ESPN Mobile report on their cellphones while serving as the official scorer at their son's Little League Game, will probably never forget it.
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Thanks for the pleasant memories cubnut.

2.) Monday v. Mets, 9th inning. Michael Wuertz walks Carlos Delgado. Mets win 5-4. (-33.9%)

Apparently I don't understand these numbers. Wuertz walks in the go-ahead run in the 9th for the Met's win. This decreased likelihood of Cub victory by 33.9%? I would say it should be more like 100%.

Please explain what I'm missing here.

"Please explain what I’m missing here."

I will take a stab... It decreased the likelihood of victory by 33.9%. Meaning the likelihood of victory before the walk was 33.9%?

Anyway, we are now past one quarter mark of the season done and we are basically a .500 team (2 games under). No big shock to me here, but a bit surprising that we are in 3rd place and 6 games out of the division lead. My hope was the division would all suck (pretty much has) and we could maybe get a little hot in Sept and sneak into the playoffs with 84 wins. Still could happen, but if MIL stays anywhere near the pace they have set for this first quarter, we all can start planning our October vacations.

MANNY: I think I'm under .500 in our W-L record pool. So maybe I'd win a ROB G pencil.

But I'd rather lose and see tham as the Wild Card or DIV. rep!

Nice take, Cubnut, thanks.

The numbers are misleading. The walk was worse than the double. Hits happens, BBs are avoidable.

My best moment this week was waking up every morning and realizing that Andy MacFailure is no longer associated with the Cub organization.

Eric the Great (from previous thread):
After watching how much money they’ve wasted on Alfonso Soriano’s 9 RBI and 3 SBs, I think the Cubs are ready to think twice about wasting more millions on the unreliable Carlos Zambrano. An ace doesn’t pitch like this, and he sure doesn’t rate a $15MM/yr paycheck.

The best thing for everyone would be to straighten out Z. He has ace stuff, no doubt, but at this rate whoever signs him will be getting a bargain because he's not pitching like an ace at all. The issue is control and whether or not you think a pitcher can "learn" control. Not getting him signed at the beginning of the year isn't really all that big of deal.

1. Well done Cubnut. Couldn't agree more about Derrek. I can't wait to have him back this week.

2. Z - Even if he finishes the season 13-13 with a 4.80 ERA, there's no f-ing way he goes for $15MM per, unless it's for something like 8+ years. The Cubs or whatever team that signs him will never sniff that number again.

3. NL Central - No one's truly (statistically) dead in May, but the Reds and Cardinals look as close as you can get. Either team *could* make a run but I think they are going to start thinking about 2008. The Pirates have some nice pieces but neither the depth nor the resources to put together a real run. So I guess I see it as a three-team race at this point. And if the Brewers keep playing .300 ball like they have the last 10 (they won't) then we're in it my default.

4. MVN - At least they have all the teams unlike all-baseball but the name is sort of presumptuous; there's some bad MLB blogs representing the teams here. Glad to say my Cubs aren't one of those.

"by default."

Levine @ 9:40 on ESPN 1000 to shed some light on the "changes"

From the last post:
Wow…Dempster as a starter.
That would have been effing hilarious….no, it would have been sad.

As a starter:
162 games, 51-58, 4.99 ERA, 988IP, 1031 Hits, 809K/517BB

As a reliever:
177 games, 7-12, 68 Saves, 3.93 ERA, 166Hits, 164K/92 BB.

a 4.99 ERA as a starter….that is truly horrific. Lou should take a sobriety test just for thinking that.

The Cubs should take a good look at Carmen Pignatiello--you know, see him again for the first time. He's always under the radar, I guess for three reasons: there's almost no such thing as a lefthanded closer; he's not a loogy; and the Cub bullpen is already stocked with lefthanders, albeit underperforming ones.

But Pignatiello is quietly accruing a strong record at AAA like he did at AA. Here are his numbers at Iowa this year:

10 g, 10.2 inn, 9 h, 2 r, 2 er, 1 bb, 11 k, 0.94 whip

The bb/k ratio is impressive and is typical for Pignatiello. Last year at West Tenn (AA) he had a Rich Hill-like 19 walks and 74 strikeouts in 60 innings. He strikes guys out even though he's not a power pitcher.

Do the Cubs have a lot of relievers who are stingy with walks? Cherry is another one, by the way, who gives very few free passes, although he's taken a few lumps lately.

I am very relieved that the Dempster starting experiment lasted zero games.

I am also trying to figure out how taking a starter who should have gotten a win in his last outing and replacing him with the guy in the bullpen who wound up blowing that game would be an improvement.

Really, I don't get moving Guzman out of the rotation at this point. He's done pretty well in all 3 of his starts. Not spectacular, but certainly within what you'd expect for a 5th starter.

Levine is confirming Dempster will stay in the pen. According to him the reason they were thinking this because Pinella wanted to add power arms in the pen. Guzman and Marmol will be added to the "back of the pen". He also left the door open that Erye and Howry might go on the DL if their velocity doesnt return by June. Cotts could be Iowa bound, and he also mentioned Aardsma could be headed there for the Sux.

Re: #3 and #2...

Yes, Manny, your take on the numbers is correct.

I know it's not wholly fair but it is notable that the majority of the five worst came off the bullpen. We could really do with someone who just finishes ball games for us.

This roster is such a cluster. We have talent, but Hendry is the worst GM in baseball.

6. Jacque Jones 5,633,334
11. Cesar Izturis 4,250,000
13. Cliff Floyd 3,000,000

Look at this waste of payroll on the roster.

Dont forget the 3.25M they owe Rusch and Prior's owed another 3.55M as well this year. (hopefully insurance will cover some of it).

Dempster was miscasted as a closer, cause he doesnt throw that hard. Pinella doesnt know what to do with him right now, which is a direct shot at the GM.

Howry and Eyre seem worn out. Maybe Hendry should have fired Dusty and shut those guys down for this year? Idiot!!

He blew the Furcal signing last year, which cost us the need to get Pierre. We should have had furcal.

Now we have a Right Handed heavy lineup up and down and we dont enough talent to have the best defensive CF (PIE) in the organization with the major league club, because there are too many holes in the rest of the roster.

The farm system is lousy, nobody is down there we can bring up to fill needs on the major league club. Take a look at for recent draft history.

We can win this year, but its in spite of Hendry, not because of him. I am looking forward to his firing once the team is sold.

"Dempster was miscasted as a closer, cause he doesnt throw that hard"

Trevor Hoffman and the League of Sub-90 Closers say "hi."

Hoffman's Changeup is one of the greatest off speed pitches in the history of relief pitching. You cannot compare.

Dempster, doesnt have the mental makeup or the control to pitch in late innings. He'd probably be a good closer in KC, where there isnt any pressure.

I'm not a big Ryan Dempster fan, but his numbers this year are not horrible. He's converted 9-out-of-10 save opportunities, has a BB/K of 8/21 and has given up only one gopher ball in 20.1 innings. I have to admit, I get nervous every time he comes into a ball game, but the truth is that he has done a fairly good job so far this year.

That's why I made it Hoffman and the League

Todd Jones. Mariano (last several years). Wickman. Borowski. going further back, Eckersley. Quisenberry.

Please tell me what line of work Dempster is suited for, based upon your psychological profile of the man.

"6. Jacque Jones 5,633,334
11. Cesar Izturis 4,250,000
13. Cliff Floyd 3,000,000

Look at this waste of payroll on the roster.

Dont forget the 3.25M they owe Rusch and Prior’s owed another 3.55M as well this year. (hopefully insurance will cover some of it)."

You forgot Wood at $1.75 million too. So to add up in total your players, it comes to about $20 million. OUCH....

"Hendry is the worst GM in baseball."

He is not good, that is for sure, but the worst? I don't know.

Please tell me what line of work Dempster is suited for.

Pie thrower?

Sorry, Tran, couldn't resist. Not anti-Dempster, but a closer can't live on the hairy edge like Dempster does, going to three balls on batter after batter. Whenever Dempster gets ahead, he thinks, I better not throw a strike, he might hit it.

I don't think the Cubs want him out there the next time they play the Mets, do you? He burned that bridge.

Pie-thrower works for me, lol. My objections there were two-fold: 1. I can't stand armchair psychology, and 2. there are plenty of successful closers who don't break 90.

To be a good closer, you need to throw strikes, and throw ground balls. Obviously, we know where D's problems lay

(very nice article, btw, Cubnut)

Dempster is 12th in WHIP (1.03) among MLB closers and 9th in opponents BA (.186).

That is eminently respectable and gives lie to the idea he is loading the bases every time he pitches. He has a not so good ERA because of that spectacularly bad outing against the Mets, but he has been doing a decent job for us and is so not the problem.

I don't exactly like Dempster and support the idea of grooming Marmol or Guzman to be an eventual successor, but right now he is doing a good job and should be allowed to continue.

Agree. Dempster's totally servicable as long as he throws strikes. Which he has done, this year.

Bleeding Blue:
Really, I don’t get moving Guzman out of the rotation at this point. He’s done pretty well in all 3 of his starts. Not spectacular, but certainly within what you’d expect for a 5th starter.

I'm not a big fan of comments that just say, "yeah I agree", but yeah... I agree. Gooz is servicable as a 5th starter.

Trevor Hoffman and the League of Sub-90 Closers say “hi.”

David Weathers heard that and he is pissed. As I said in a past post, closing games is 5% stuff and 95% grit. Todd Jones, for all his mediocrity, can still close games because he doesn't get rattled.

Let me clarify my earlier remark about a possible DL trip for Eyre and Howry. It is not an immediate possibility. According to Levine the reason Guzman and Marmol are in the back of the pen is so Eyre and Howry can get more rest so by June they will have regained arm strength. I assumed from that if they were not healthy by then come June they would be DL bound. Reading my 1st post I thought I should clarify that.

95% grit?

Tru Value Hardware 4 closer!

from last thread:

George, What you say is the crux of my argument against trading Murton. Murton is a superior player to Jack Jones and Cliff Floyd in my opinion right now. Just because Murton has more value does not mean you need to trade him. In Murton the cubs have a player who can cheaply fill a corner ouffield spot with plus production. He can provide this cheaply under club control for 4 more seasons after 2007. This would enable a well run team to spend money elsewhere. Instead what will happen is this. The cubs will trade Murton in an incredibly shortsighted deal for a Ron Villone or a Julian Tavarez. Then try and make due with a fading Cliff Floyd and Jack Jones. Then in the offseason we will resign a further fading Floyd or throw unnececessary money at a guy like Randy Winn or some other dreak because we dont have murton anymore. Then when a Raffy Furcal type game changing Free Agent comes available. Convieniently we wont have the money because we are Paying Cliff Floyd or Randy Winn 8 million dollars to give = or Lesser production than Murton could have for 400K. The cubs never have any sembence of a year to year plan. They just throw money at guys who youve heard of and hope for the best.

Levine also noting that Marshall will "likely" be called up for a start on Sat in LA.

“Dempster was miscasted as a closer, cause he doesnt throw that hard”

He's been consistently throwing 92-93 and touching 94 at times lately. The problem isn't velocity it's command. F. Cordero's velocity has been way down this year...I've seen a lot of 89 mph FBs and he's been above average this season I believe. Huston Street clocks in at 89-91 regularly too...Chad Cordero same range..etc.

Had to toss in two more low speed closers from the "Old Days". Roy Face and Hoyt Wilhelm.

Face was only about 5'7" but pitched in relief for 16 years. Wihelm pitched for 21 years mostly in relief and even as a young pitcher could not break an egg with his fast ball.

additional comment: Wilhelm was good enough even without a top notch fastball to be elected to the Hall of Fame

Apples and Oranges methinks...

Elroy Face goes in the category of forkball specialist, he was the historic 50's-60's predecessor to Bruce Sutter variant we all know as the split finger fastball.

Hoyt Wilhelm was probably the greatest knuckleball pitcher of all time, with Phil Niekro (never a reliever) in the family photo.

Lee Smith is another one that comes to mind, who wracked up saves long after losing the fastball. Bryan Harvey with the Marlins, as well.

Not trying to pile on here, I'm just having fun brainstorming closers who didn't throw hard.

Not trying to pile on here, I’m just having fun brainstorming closers who didn’t throw hard.
Rod Beck as a Cub. Damn I hated that roller coaster ride.

Doug Jones was effective for along time as a closer without any kind of fastball whatsoever. Kaz Sazaki was really good for a few years in Seattle before going back to Japan.

Dempster has had two bad games all year, three if you count the blown save where he gave up one run. This talk of moving him is baffling. Can we count on Guzman to throw strikes when the pressure is on? Come on.

God, I name my fantasy leagues after Rod Beck, and I forgot him. How embarassing.

I'll preface this by saying I like K-Pat, but it made laugh so I'll share it. This is from my Yahoo Sports notes:

"The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore reports Baltimore Orioles OF Corey Patterson is batting .196 in May and has no hits in his last 17 at-bats. Overall, Patterson is batting .221 with a .289 on-base percentage. A solution offered by manager Sam Perlozzo may be for Patterson to bunt more."

Yup, that should do it.

Keith Foulke was another soft tossing closer who had a good run.

how about the immortal Dave Smith.

THT giving Z the Mark Prior arm slot treatment
..complete with vid clips.

Guzman and Marmol are probably the two guys least suited to being late inning guys, especially if you want your back end to be like Dennis Eckersley and not walk anyone.

Marmol could make a find long releiver, and Guzman a fine starter. Loading up the rotation with fly ball lefties to get ready for June is just stupid. The ball hawkers will be happy, though.

My money is still on back problems for Z. I'm no doctor and no expert on pitching mechanics, but it seems like he's keeping his back stiffer through his motion and thus not completing his motion like he used to. The shots with the angle measurements on THT seem to show that pretty clearly.

Does anyone remember when Z went down last year with the back injury? It might be interesting to look at his before/after splits for that injury.

Just a quick question - What exactly does Larry Rothschild get paid to do for this team?

I mean we have serious 'suckage' coming from Z, Eyre, and Howry (to some extent). Is it mechanical or physical? If it's mechanical, I've already made my point. If it's physical, then let the trading begin.

I mean we have serious ’suckage’ coming from Z, Eyre, and Howry (to some extent).

I always love how people attack coaches/gms for the bad, but never praise for the good.

If you want to bring up Z, Eyre, and Howry, why not bring up Hill, Marquis, Lilly, Guzman, even Dempster, Wuertz, etc.

I agree with your assessment vorare on Z's back. I mentioned it during parachat yesterday that Z was visably "stretching" his back in the 5th and 6th innings. I do the same thing when I wake up with a stiff back and I don't normally throw 115 pitches every 5 days. If he was doing it in warmups. I wouldn't have though twice about it. However doing it in the 5th and 6th after you should be warmed up already. That is cause for alarm to me at least. Anyone who has ever had back issues can attest to how debilitating they can be.

ugh... i lost a comment in the mvn abyss...

I mean we have serious ’suckage’ coming from Z, Eyre, and Howry

Come on... at least look at both sides of the issue. If you are going to critique Rothschild, maybe you should look at the bad AND good. Since you gave the bad, I will give the good: Lilly, Marquis, Hill, Guzman, even Dempster, Wuertz, etc.

Not trying to bring up a very old argument, but it is refreshing to see a manager say, "hey, this isn't working lets try something else." I don't like the idea of moving Demp to the rotation, but sometimes making a change for the sake of change is a good thing. Maybe this will send a message to the rest of the team, play the right way or you are outta here

What does "back of the pen" mean? Sixth inning or eighth?

What does “back of the pen” mean?
with the goats and ducks?

8th and 9th is the 'back of the pen'.

agree with Some Guy, and LOL at Cubster.

I take back of the pen not to mean "late innings" but "low on the list of preferred pitchers."

as in, "fill out the back of the pen." filler, not high-leverage.

I'm sure this is old news by now:

First baseman Derrek Lee is expected to make his long-awaited return to the Cubs lineup, at which time his fill-in at the No. 3 spot, Alfonso Soriano, is expected to bat second for the first time since he was a rookie in 2001. It's a move that was in the works before Lee was injured nine days ago in Philadelphia, prompting manager Lou Piniella to move Soriano from the leadoff spot to No.3. Ryan Theriot is expected to remain in the leadoff spot, where he has batted the last seven games.

Click here for the full story.

I think "back end" means the last guys to come into the back end of a ballgame, like the set-up man in the 8th and the closer in the 9th. Wasn't Marmol supposed to have more of closer-type stuff, and mentioned as a possible future closer candidate by AZ Phil?

There is no question that Marmol has nasty stuff...he just often has struggles controlling it. He stuff is good enough to close if he can harness his nastiness a little bit.

The whole Dempster doesn't have the mental makeup to be a closer thing just puzzles me.

At the start of last season people were debating if Dempster should be called an "elite" closer because he'd had such a good run in the 9th. So far this year, he's 9 for 10 in saves.

If you look at where Dempster has struggled, its been in non-save situations or when he's not being asked to pitch in save situations on a regular basis - as was the case for much of last year.

I don't think Dempster is anything better than an average closer - with the Todd Jones comparisons being most interesting - but saying he doesn't have the mental makeup is a conclusion that simply flies in the face of the evidence.

George Altman (who kept Sammy Sosa's number warm for several years) asked, "What exactly does Larry Rothschild get paid to do for this team?" and he mentioned Howry as a guy Rothschild hasn't helped.

By Howry's own testimony last fall, Rothschild has tried to teach him a breaking ball or other offspeed pitch. But Howry is a poor pupil.

Considering that Howry throws 91-93 and likes to throw only fastballs, it is remarkable he's as successful as he is.

This damn disappearing post crap is getting old...

The Dempster doesn't have the mental makeup to be a closer is really an odd statement.

Dempster is 9 for 10 in saves this year, and just over a year ago there was debate on TCR whether he should be considered an "elite" closer.

Where Dempster has really failed is in non-save situations and in cases like most of last year, where he's simply not being asked to get saves on a regular basis.

I don't think Dempster's anything more than an average closer, mostly because he lacks great "stuff," but saying Dempster doesn't have the mental makeup to be a closer simply flies in the face of the evidence.

This damn disappearing post crap is getting old…

I agree.. Rob, Trans, AZ Phil, et al... I have been losing several comments, and many of them without links or anything like that.

But some go through - so my ip can't be blocked or anything like that.

Maybe we can turn the spam blocker down a bit?

BTW, I didn't see it mentioned, but Ryno got thrown out of another game Saturday night.

Apparently he was ejected in the 7th for arguing during a game against the beloit snappers.

Damn shame, I had tickets for that game, but went to up to Miller Park for the night instead.

Ryno getting tossed again is really a surprise. I don't remember attending one game when he got ejected as a Cub.

Ryno getting tossed again is really a surprise. I don't remember attending one game when he got ejected as a Cub.

Although they double clutched I think the Cubs were thinking of doing a switch with Dempster and Guzman for a couple of reasons. One, they told us about and the other implied. (1)They don't feel Guzman can take them six innings or more without getting hurt which (2)implies Dempster can.

And they're right, if history tells us anything. Dempster on average lasts into the 7th inning. His last three years as a starter he went 6.1. Prior to that he averaged 6.2 per start. And on average he allowed 3-4 earned runs per start. No doubt many of those runs scored after he left the ball game.

So, if what we're looking for in a fifth starter is a guy who gives up 3 runs one start and 5 runs the next but stays in there until the 7th, the bullpen may get a rest.


From someone who has been a manager for 17 years, I've found upper management expects your successes and wants to know what you're doing about the non-successes. If Howry is 'a bad pupil', if Eyre doesn't have it anymore, and if Z is hurt, then I sure HOPE Larry is giving Lou and Jimbo this info so they can make the necessary roster changes.

Levine says Cotts down so Marshall can start in LA on Saturday according to an ESPN 1000 update. I imagine someone else will be called up for the San Diego series. I imagine a pinch runner type maybe Buck Coats. It makes no sense to call up Marshall so he can sit for 4 games.

I don't know very much about the inner workings of the spam-filter, or why this is happening.

But believe me, the last thing that we want is to turn down the the setting on the spam-filter. That'll be a greater inconvience, I am quite certain. I'd just recommend getting in the habit of highlighting your post, right-clicking and selecting "copy" before you try to submit a length message. It's a two-second habit worth developing.

Three hardest relievers in baseball-

None of them closers.

Take away Dempster's meltdown vs. NY and his HR to Pujols, and he's given up two runs in 19 innings. This is not a problem on this team. I'm still baffled why this even came up.

It came up because Dempster embarrassed himself by announcing his return to the starting rotation.

I meant the switch shouldn't have come up, i.e., Lou should keep things as they are. I wasn't talking about why it came up as a discussion.

The article after Ryno got tossed the first time said as a player he was tossed (and I don't remember which) either once or twice.

Real Neal said: 8th and 9th is the ‘back of the pen’.

Thanks for the info!

Tito said, Take away Dempster’s meltdown vs. NY and his HR to Pujols, etc.

Maybe Dempster's an effective closer, but you can't prove it by anything he's done this year, since he hasn't protected a one-run lead a single time.

He has protected 2-run leads on three occasions but two were back-to-back against the Nats at home.

Except for an accounting oddity that makes the save threshhold three instead of four, he would have three saves this year, two against the Nats.


Three run lead with no one on, is the rule for a save. Has been for, what, 30 years?

VA Phil, the larger issue is that Dempster has done nothing, outside of his NY meltdown, to be removed from the closer's role. If there was a truly viable, proven candidate to take over, OK. But that's not the case. And even so, Dempster has pitched very well.

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