Should the Cubs Tank the Division?
I'm not really advocating this strategy, but hear me out. The current NL standings after the jump.
and the Wild Card standings
So the Cubs have a seven and a half game lead on a playoff spot and ESPN has them at 97.4% chance of making the playoffs and 81% at winning the division. BP goes with 98.04% to make the playoffs and 79.41% to win the division. Plus they lead the league by a healthy margin in runs scored (57 over the Phillies) and are second in runs allowed with 490; just 11 behind the Dodgers. That is a good baseball team that - sans any black cats crossing their paths - is headed to the playoffs.
But here's the rather small dilemma for the Cubs. If they win the division and finish with the best record in the league, there's a real good chance they'll have to face the division winner with the worst record. That's because they can't play the wild card if it's from the same division and with the Brewers at around 86% to make the playoffs with the Cardinals on their heels, that seems pretty likely. Right now, the Cubs opponent looks like the winner of the NL West between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in a five game set. That means either facing the trio of Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Randy Johnson or the slightly less intimidating Chad Billingsley, Derek Lowe, Clayton Kershaw troika of the Dodgers. The Dodgers could also throw a healthy Brad Penny at us or Hiroki Kuroda, whom we should not forget dominated the Cubs' asses at a level not seen since the last soft-tossing lefty or rookie made his major league debut against them. Furthermore, both West teams added a huge bat recently to their lineups. The D'Backs with Cub-killer Adam Dunn, and the Dodgers with Manny Ramirez. And the Dodgers should be adding Rafael Furcal before it's all said and done as well. So I don't think their current records or the records they end up with are truly reflective of what will be on display during the playoffs.
Counter that with the NL East, where the Mets and Phillies are tied and the Marlins are lurking. The top two teams go only one deep with studs in their rotations (Johann and Hamels) and then a cavalry of question marks. The Mets go with Pedro Martinez, Oliver Perez and John Maine; all of whom are capable of real good starts, but kind of in the way that Ted Lilly is capable of one. They're not striking fear into the hearts of batters. The Phillies go with Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer and either Kyle Kendrick or Brett Myers.
I think the Cubs will have the upper hand in any pitching matchups with Zambrano, Harden and Dempster with Lilly lurking, although the Brewers and D'Backs sure could give the Cubs a run for their money in that department. And as the saying goes, you have to beat the best to be the best. Plus a trip to the West Coast means I most likely get to catch a game or two in person. But if they do lose out on the division, but still win the wild card and have to face the NL East winner, I hardly think all will be lost.
That is other than their pride.
Phil, I just wanted to say thank you for diligently tracking the Cubs prospects in extended spring training and sharing your knowledge with us. It's remarkable how you're able to keep box scores for multiple games at once. I, and I'm sure others here, appreciate the data and insight you provide for us.
Boy, that is a nifty K:BB ratio Hudson has going at almost 4:1!
I hope he continues improving.
And of course the Bucs won again playing AZ (not PHIL). They dont seem to have a problem yet with the bottom feeders.
They picked up 3 games this last week.
I'm looking forward to them coming to the Chi.
Don't mess with the SI jinx. Since the Javy/Cubs cover came out, he is 2-for-20 with no walks.
BRADSBEARD: If all three are assigned to Eugene, the Cubs can play Galindo, Paredes, and Paniagua at the same time by moving Paredes between SS-3B-DH, Galindo between 3B-1B-DH, and Paniagua between 1B-LF-DH.
The Cubs like to have their players (including their minor leaguers) learn to play more than one position even if they eventually are projected to settle at one spot, and I suspect that will be reflected at Eugene, with just about everybody who will be assigned there able to play at least two positions.
Thanks - at least the scorer was consistent
I don't think the error call was completely out of the blue but the ball took a very bad hop and would have taken a very good play to get it. Same with one of the Stella throws where I think it could have easily been ruled a hit. Neither were cut and dry calls though imo.
chased a high fastball...
I think his BABIP during his run has been around .950
Great stuff CubbyBlue!!! I think it inspired today's six spot as well.
That's all fine and good, but I think it's short-changing the Arrieta-like affect of his beard
Was the error scored on Zobrist's third ab ruled correctly? Ron was saying that it was a pretty tough chance for the fielder
Did anybody see that Zobrist strikeout?
That was extremely disappointing.
Strangest win of the year, and one of the sweetest. Twice I thought it was easily in the bag, then after the first 2 hitters in the 9th I thought all was lost. Big game for Grimm, Strop & Rondon. But, man, those Cards can hit for power.
Very satisfying, gut-check win today. The beers on the trip back to Chicago are going to taste fantastic.
It's still very early but this game felt very important to me and probably knocked 2 years off my life. Seemed like every inning was big.
Yes then they moved him two spot then not so much, back batting 7th