TCR Thursday Notes
...it's like Friday Notes, but on Thursday...and on 'roids.
Alright, I've been compiling links and notes for about three weeks now and finally had a chance to get it all down today, so plenty of diversions for the off-day today before we knock the silly out of the Redbirds this weekend. And yeah, some of this stuff is old.
- Let's go back in the time machine and talk about home field advantage for the All-Star game. I think most of the sentient baseball universe realizes the absurdity of awarding home field advantage for the most important games of the year to the league that wins an exhibition contest. MLB says they can't do the rational thing of awarding it to the team with the best overall record, as it won't give them enough time to plan and book events in the potential cities. I call SHENANIGANS!!!
When do they start booking these hotels and start planning? Using the current All-Star method, you know that after the season ends, one of four teams could be hosting the majority of the games. After one round, it's down to two teams. If they use the best record, there are seven teams that could host the majority of the games (throw out the playoff team with the worst record), and after the first round, it would be down to three cities (once again throw out the record of the worst team left). This doesn't seem like such a scheduling catastrophe as MLB makes it. And the NBA and NHL seem to have figured it out.
- The horror of shattering bats...in pictorial form.
- MLB Trade Rumors has been compiling scorecards for the general managers in baseball. These scorecards are better known as spreadsheets to the rest of the world. It includes all of a GM's roster moves and you can find Jim Hendry's at this link.
- You just can't get enough good breakdowns of Rich Harden's mechanics.
- Jonah Keri of ESPN's Page 2 breaks down the first half of AL play by using the 1984 Cubs team. The entry for the Texas Rangers...
You couldn't mess with Reuschel either. Larry Bowa, Reuschel's teammate on the '84 Cubs and opponent for many years beforehand, tells a great story about the big righty. Playing for the Phillies one series in the late '70s, Bowa's team got smoked by the Expos in Montreal. Bowa told Montreal reporters he didn't mind, because the Phillies would be traveling to Chicago, where they'd beat up on a lousy Cubs team -- and by extension, Reuschel. The first time Bowa stepped to the plate, Reuschel drilled him in the ribs. Bowa swore at Reuschel as he hobbled down to first, while Reuschel stayed silent. Leading off first base, Bowa shouted to Reuschel that he was going to steal second. Reuschel quickly picked him off. Later in the game, Reuschel singled with one out. Bowa told his double play partner Dave Cash that if a grounder comes his way, send him a good toss and he'll bean Reuschel in the forehead on the throw to first. Sure enough, the next batter hit a perfect double play grounder to Cash. But the Phillies' second baseman juggled the ball before flipping it to Bowa. The bobble gave Reuschel extra time, which he used to slide high into second, spiking Bowa (Reuschel outweighed him by 80 pounds), unleashing a pool of blood and forcing Bowa to leave the game. Back in the dugout, Bowa waved a white towel of surrender in Reuschel's direction. Reuschel quietly tipped his cap, thanking Bowa for the tribute.
- Fresh off the heels of my piece about Bob Howry, Jerry Crasnick ranks the bullpens for the rest of the season. He has the Cubs at number two behind the Angels. I say you're being a bit kind Mr. Crasnick.
Although Bob Howry's overall numbers aren't pretty, manager Lou Piniella keeps running him out there. Howry has a 5.30 ERA, but he's stranded 21 of 24 inherited runners.
Sure, Howry might strand some runners like he did Tuesday in the sixth inning, he then proceeds to give up the go-ahead runs of his own the next inning.
- Josh Kalk, Pitch f/x guru, breaks down the rest of the season for the Cubs at The Hardball Times. He has some good factoids in there, but it's clear he doesn't follow the Cubs on a regular basis. I don't want to pick on Josh, because I think he does some great work, but...
Clearly, this is a front office that understands how important getting on base is and it isn't a surprise that what once was a very free-swinging Cubs team a few years ago has been completely transformed.
Mostly the same front office...different manager though.
Lou Piniella has done an excellent job of keeping his regulars fresh and keeping his bench sharp.
Geovany Soto and Henry Blanco disagree.
The middle of the rotation is held down by Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly, who both could be front-line starters on many teams.
A lot has been made of the poor pitching of fifth starter Jason Marquis this year, but really for a fifth starter he is one of the best in the league. He keeps the Cubs in games and gives the offense a chance, which is really all you should ask of your fifth starter. In a playoff series, this will all become moot anyway as he will either be relegated to the bullpen or be off the playoff roster.
The 4.73 ERA of Jason Marquis versus the ace material of Ted Lilly and his 4.37 ERA?
And where he goes off the deep end...
So, in the beginning of August, the Cubs management should start looking ahead to the postseason.
Come on now, yeah the Cubs have the best record in the NL and all the outlying numbers say they're the best team, but they're five games up in the beginning of August. You don't take your foot off the gas pedal and risk getting passed up, no matter how bloody likely it may seem.
I make it sound worse than it is though, cause there is plenty of useful info in there.
- That article did lead me to this fantastic study of the fabled inside change-up. Our man Ted Lilly is either one courageous mother-effer or a bull-headed ox.
To summarize, the writer John Walsh took a look at Pitch f/x data for 2007 and came up with CQ or "Courage quotient" - how many times a pitcher throws an change-up inside to a hitter compared to the outside part of the plate. Ted Lilly is the only pitcher to throw more inside change-ups than outside out of any of the pitchers Walsh looked at. It sure worked for him last year, so you have to wonder is he still doing it in 2008 or did the advance scouting catch up to him instead?
- One of our wonderful readers does a thorough breakdown of the Cards, Brewers and Cubs schedules for the rest of the season. The quick summary is the Brewers have the easiest road to the playoffs with more home games and lesser opponents. 26 games at home, eight of those against the Nationals and Padres, with another three-game set at San Diego as well.
- And my favorite recent discovery, Chicago Tribune has been posting scouting reports and post game reports from Inside Edge. For the pitchers, there's a breakdown of the type of pitches, in what counts and what locations they favor. For the hitters, you've got spray charts and which pitches and what locations they do best at. Take Kosuke Fukudome for example and you'll learn that he's got a .315 batting average against fastballs and .474 versus changeups but is .238 and .233 versus the curve and the slider. For the post-game reports, there's a grade on a variety of different game situations.
Enjoy the off day and go Dodgers.