For NL Central, These Are the Best of Times

As you may have noticed, the top three teams in the NL Central, the Cubs (48-29, .623), Cards (45-33, .577), and Brewers (43-34, .558), also currently have the three best records in the National League. Who'da thunk?

Here is how the Big 3 rank against the rest of the NL in various categories.

First, hitting:

Cubs 1 4 1 1 2 1 9 6 2
Cards 5 10 3 2 6 4 12 15 1
Brewers 8 3 12 10 4 6 7 5 11

*Ranked in descending order of striketouts, i.e., Cards have the second fewest batting strikeouts in NL.

Gotta love where the Cubs sit in OBP, and, it goes without saying, runs scored. It's so un-Cublike.


Next, pitching ("S/ERA" is starters' ERA, "R/ERA" is relievers' ERA, QS is Quality Starts):

Cubs  1 1 4 1 4 7 5 2
Cards  6 3 13 10 7 5 10 6
Brewers  7 6 12 7 10 3 12 9

Interestingly, the Cubs are just fourth overall in the NL in strikeouts, a category they have dominated in recent years.

And here, a few fielding numbers (Fielding Percentage, Caught Stealing Percentage, Defensive Efficiency Ratio):

Cubs 12 5 3
Cards 2 3 1
Brewers 9 2 5


One last quick note (lunch hour is over): In games decided by three or more runs—an area which I think receives far too little notice especially versus the team's record in one-run games, which are often decided on a single play or two, maybe even a chance bad bounce—the Brewers are 19-21, the Cards are 23-16, and the Cubs are 27-8.


God forbid for the first time in my lifetime, they have a kick ass team with an awesome record and they can't run away with the division!!


Please just once!!

Vitters continues his hot streak going 3-for-6 with 2 doubles in Boise’s 7-4 win over Everett. He's now raised his average to .345.

Tito — February 7, 2008 @ 2:25 pm
Don’t forget, The Real Neal says there’s a good possibility that Dempster will be the Cubs’ best SP this year. So, it’s, like, a lock.

you were on the dumpster's side for starting?

damn...for a year+ it felt like i was the only person who liked it.

after all the back/forth i know the fears/concerns, but damn...not like he was some ace closer and he keeps the ball insanely in the park.

I also said that Dempster was due to have a good year ... by my prediction was that it wouldn't happen again until 2010.


i know there were others that thought it was a good idea. i just lost track of who and when and etc.

guy keeps the ball in the park...he wasn't an elite or irreplacable closer...he threw without velocity issues with regular workload without showing stress (though SOMETHING was really screwed up last Sept.).

i totally understand the concerns about his pitch counts, workload, etc...i just think the positives (and team need) outweighs not taking that chance. glad its working out so far even if its at a level that's beyond what everyone thought was probable. hope he keeps it up. hope he's sharp in sept/oct, too. guess we'll find out.

Congrats, Real Ne-al, and I'm glad you came back to gloat. I still think Big Z is their best pitcher, but I'm happy to admit that I did not expect Dempster to do this well.

If someone made a prediction that Dempster could be the Cubs best pitcher this year, they damn well have the right to gloat.

I thought people were way too hard on Dempster as a closer, but I never thought he would be anything other than a very mediocre starter. Anyone predicting anything close to this can go ahead and pat themselves on the back (just be prepared to be roasted if he has a Marquis-like 2nd half.)

absolutely, but it's important to note that previously when he was a starter he didn't have that splitter which is now his #1 pitch. He used to throw a ton of curveballs and his curve wasn't even a plus pitch for him. He ditched the curve and now he's essentially a FB, slider, splitter pitcher and he's done a fantastic job (if indeed it's intentional) of mixing speeds on his fastball. He was reaching back and hitting 94 a few times Sunday along with his usual 89-92. It also didn't hurt to have Maddux around for a couple years to learn from either. He's credited Maddog quite a few times in interviews I've read this year.

he didnt have "that splitter"?

ton of curve balls?

New article up on ESPN about Baseball's Best Duos so far - Cubs are all over it.

from that article...(emphasis mine)

It's easy to take Marmol for granted when he's sucking up outs in the seventh and eighth every night. He's averaging 12.80 strikeouts per nine innings, and he's been borderline flawless with the exception of ERA-wrecking flare-ups against San Diego, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.


quick look using the BR PI index and 12.8 K/9 is good for 22nd all-time with at least 40 appearances in a season. The top 25 are all after 1989 and all specialized relievers.

Yeah, no wonder they're all specialized relievers since I set the target at 40..duh. Let's try this...

That's K/9 over 10 and at least 30 games with 90% of them as a starter

Randy Johnson had a 13.41 K/9 in 2001
Pedro 13.20 in 1999
then Johnson again for 6 more seasons...

39 players total fit that criteria including Kerry and Prior, both in 2003

As someone here pointed out not too long enough, a quick glance at Demp's BABIP suggests he can't keep up this pace forever.

It's .247, one of the best in the majors along with other early-season surprises like Gavin Floyd, Shaun Marcum, Justin Duchsherer, Joe Saunders, Scott Olsen and surprisingly Cole Hamels.

I was really surprised to see that we had the #1 starter's ERA in the National League. Then I noticed that Marquis has it all the way down to 4.43. And Lilly's got it down to 4.71. Gallagher's tossing up a 3.92.

I guess our rotation has suddenly turned it on in the last 3 weeks.

I was surprised too, & thats why I'm not so sure we need to focus attention on trading for another starter.

Its a shame that besides Zeus and Wood, everybody else in the pen seems really schizophrenic, wasting some very nice starts, as well as offence.

I know that you're not supposed to trade for relievers, but I sure would like a bit more consistency.


Birthday Boy (Aram turns 28 today)
The Venuzulan Corey Patterson (Lou must really hate gingers)

(Also Burres has the flu and Albers will make the start, so the VCP will most likely be on the bench)



"Birthday Boy (Aram turns 28 today)"

He's 30.

In his first 4 full Cubs seasons (2004-2007), he has never hit below .291, and has averaged over 30HR and less than 65K per year.

His K's are up surprisingly this year (49 already), but so are his BBs (his OBP is over .400 for the first time), and he is on pace for another .290+ and 30+ HR year.

A hearty "thanks!" to Jim Hendry and the Pirates for this cornerstone to what has been the most consistently competitive Cubs team I can remember -- since his arrival in 2003: two playoff appearances and one near miss in 5 years, and a great first half of 2008.

Enjoy him, becasue we will miss him when he is gone.

Well he is hitting so good maybe he found the Fountain of Youth with one of his latest swings. Yes he is a child of 78 and not 80.

lol ... "Tejada math".

Strange Lineup... After K-Fuk bats first, that's five righties in a row, followed by four lefties in a row...

if i remember right back in april on a couple of
posts i stated that dempster would be our
2nd best pitcher and win 15 games.

C'mon. The game's not 15 minutes old and the Cards already out to a 2-0 lead (HRs by "Shoe Maker" and "Ankle").

"I know that you're not supposed to trade for relievers..."

I don't think Hendry will go that route, primarily because of the amount of money that's already tied up with two of the middle - relief veterans in the pen. They certainly haven't performed up to expectations, considering the resources expended on them. Shades of Veres and Remlinger in '03.

Recent comments

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  • Maybe Theo will sign Shark just so he can call Billy Beane and say: "Let's see...Russell? Check. McKinney? Check. Hammel? Check. Ninja? Check. Any other deals?"

  • To be fair to Emery and Trestman the foreshadowing of last year started happening well before them with the failure or mismanaging of multiple draft classes forcing the team to overspend in a free agency market that is even worse than baseball. Kyle Long seems like a good pick but they traded away another good one in Olson because of Martz's stupidity and inability to change his offense to fit the team talent.

  • HAGSAG: I think Domonic Brown does fit the criteria of a reclamation project, but unless he is willing to accept a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training, I don't think the Cubs would be interested given where the Cubs are right now. A couple of years ago? Yes. But probably not now.

    Brown would be better-off going to a club that is rebuilding and re-establish his value there, like Chris Coghlan did with the Cubs. And if he can re-establish his value, he could get traded to a contender at the trade deadline and take it from there.  

  • "they just fade away"

    (Except in the cases of no-fade lefties like Moyer, Orosco and Rich Hill.)

  • Amazing to me how quickly it fell apart under Trestman. Year 1, they were a Chris Conte brain fart away from making the playoffs. Year 2 -- coach, staff and GM all fired.

  • I am sure Jonathon Mota will be signed next.

  • AZ Phil, what is your thoughts on Domonic Brown as a reclamation project?

  • He also played LF in deference to Curtis Granderson.

    Meh... other moves to make...hope to see a move or two soon.

  • I haven't seen much Bears football this year - difficult to watch the games out here, but the game I saw the week before I was watching in shock as I saw them actually make tackles. And Cutler has looked really good, too.

    I guess people can quibble about play calling, but the team I saw is way more than 50% better coached (my only very minor disagreement with your comment).

    Under Trestman, the team didn't do anything right. This team played like a well coached team when I saw them play the Rams.

  • "What is sometimes overlooked about Vogelbach because of his "bad body" and because he has struggled so much defensively is that he is a hard worker, has a great attitude, loves to play the game, and is very well-liked by his teammates, and while that may not seem important, teams do actually value stuff like that. "

    As well they should. Replace a word here and there and you are describing any worker someone would hire.

  • Hak-Ju Lee signs a minor league contract with SF Giants.

    Some closure on the 6 degrees of Separation for Matt Garza/Chris Archer

  • Hahahahaha

  • -0.3 WAR in 7.1ip last year...

    -3 WAR projected over the course of a season.

    the cubs just added an all-star reliever's worth of work by losing b.schlitter.


  • Rockies sign Brian Schlitter to a minor league contract. Good luck in Coors Field. Enough said.

  • i'll take him over frandy since it's unlikely he'll progress as a SS (and 2nd isn't looking much better).

    i hope patton's delivery deception skills play well in the bigs over time. cubs need pitching options that are MLB-ready and dude fits the bill for a MLB/AAA mix...both needed.

  • I'm not saying he's great, but can we agree on the word "decent"? Became a pro at 23, called up at 26; nothing wrong with that trajectory, he hasn't been knocking around. Even in the majors his SO9 is 9.7. In the minors it's 12.2, so he's always missed bats, and without being a wild man: his walks are low. He cost the Cubs an unheralded A-ball middle infielder and a roster spot.