Strategy for Mets Series
It's going to be a pretty laid back way week for the Cubs as they ready themselves for the playoffs. The only kink in that plan is they're playing two of the teams fighting for a playoff spot. Lou has already indicated that you wont' be seeing anymore lineups like Sunday:
"I can't let these guys all sit," Piniella said. "We have to use them
to keep them as sharp as possible. We'll play our regular lineup in
these games [against New York]. The worst thing that can happen is
Major League Baseball calls us and tells us, 'Hey, you people have a
responsibility,' and we're going to honor that.
I'm not exactly sure that's the worst thing that can happen, the worst thing that could happen is that Soriano gets nailed with a fastball or Ramirez shreds a hamstring, etc, etc. But Lou is right that you just can't sit them for a week. As I discussed last week, I think Lou should be weary of using his starting pitchers versus the Mets. When it comes to the question of unfamiliarity between a pitcher and a hitter, I think the advantage goes to the pitcher. The less a team has seen a pitcher, the bigger the disadvantage. Now I don't worry much about Jason Marquis going tonight since he's been in the league long enough that many of the Mets hitters have seen enough of him already and he probably won't pitch against them if they are the Cubs first round opponent. But the rest of the week has Harden vs. Johan, Zambrano vs. Perez and Lilly vs Pedro. First, let's applaud the Mets for having two pitchers who are simply known by their first names.
Second, I understand that you don't want to completely sit your starting pitchers and risk getting them rusty, but I do hope Lou sticks with a plan to limit them to 5 innings and no more than two times through the lineup. If you look at some of the numbers, Harden has only faced one Mets hitter at least 10 times and that's Carlos Delgado. Lilly is in much of the same boat, with only Delgado and Luis Castillo getting more than 10 AB's. Zambrano being a native National Leaguer, has faced most of the Mets lineup quite a bit more, including a one-run effort earlier in the season.
All in all, it's probably not a big deal, but what else are we going to worry about this week?
Some random notes after the jump....
- The Cubs 2008 division champ hats are pretty sweet. I usually hold off until the Cubs playoff run is over before purchasing any merchandise to see how far they get. Who wants a 2008 division champ shirt if a 2008 NL Pennant or 2008 World Series Champs one is coming down the pipeline? But I might have to break my rule on that one.
- I was updating our Cubs 40-man roster page, and didn't realize that the Cubs practically called up the entire roster.
- You can download Eddie Vedder's new Cubs anthem from the Pearl Jam website. I'm going to try and get it up on the sidebar over the next day or two.
- Arizona Phil recently gave us his thoughts on the playoff roster and I think I agree with his rotation. Dempster for Game 1 seems like a no-brainer now, because not only does Dempster have experience in the bullpen for later in the series, but he's also been lights out at home. At the moment, I think I'd like to see Dempster, Harden, Zambrano, Lilly but that could change depending on the opponent and how they throw this week.
As for the rest of the roster, I'd like to see this:
C - Soto, Blanco
INF - Lee, Ward, Fontenot, DeRosa, Cedeno, Theriot, Ramirez
OF - Soriano, Edmonds, Fukudome, Johnson
SP - Zambrano, Lilly, Harden, Dempster
RP - Wood, Marmol, Samardzija, Cotts, Marquis, Gaudin (assuming he's healthy, which sounds like he is), and anyone not named Bob Howry.
Sadly, I think Howry will make the roster and then it's just a matter if Gaudin is healthy and if Lou can stomach crushing the soul of Marquis for another season. I think Marquis has done enough down the stretch to shake those "he's a first-half pitcher" tag, so as long as he's not whining about being put in the pen, he'd be nice to have around in case our slightly fragile starting rotation gets hurt.
That also eaves one spot for either Micah Hoffpauir or Felix Pie. I actually think the Cubs need a righty bench bat like Casey McGehee, but he just hasn't done much. I'd probably give the spot to Hoffpauir myself. Although Pie offers more dimensions to his game, Hoffpauir might actually get a hit. And would anyone want to see Lou having to be forced to use Pie as a pinch-hitter? But that could all be subject to change when they figure out who the Cubs opponent is.
- I discovered a neat trick/tool for you Mac users. I've always had problems isolating MLB.com clips to store on my own computer because I'm weird like that. But I came across Tube TV and have been saving clips from the 2008 season that you can find at cubs.com. Just find the clip you want, paste the URL in the Tube TV browser and download it. You can then convert if if necesary for your Ipod or Apple TV, but that's not necessary.
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.