Playing the Field

Well there isn't much to do this week but speculate, so let's take a look at the potential Cubs first round playoff opponent. There's a poll at the end of the post.


New York Mets - 65% odds to make the playoffs

Scenario: If Mets win the Wild Card, they'll be the Cubs first round opponent. 

NL Rank
RS 775 2nd
RA 688 6th
BA .267 4th
OBP .341 4th
SLG .424 6th
HR 170 6th
Starters' ERA 3.98 5th
Relievers' ERA 4.21 10th
K/9 Rate 7.20 6th
Team Defensive Efficiency .704 3rd


What They're Good At: Throwing Johan Santana, scoring runs and making plays in the field.

What They're Bad At: Relieving. 

Why The Cubs Don't Want to Play Them: If the Mets clinch before Sunday, that means Johan Santana in Game 1 and he's been aces since the break (2.34 ERA). While certainly below the level of the Cubs starting pitchers, Oliver Perez, Pedro Martinez, Mike Pelfrey and possibly John Maine all have the potential to scrounge up an excellent outing. Although they've performed as a unit better against lefties than righties, they do load up on lefties against the Cubs mostly righty staff and the quartet of Reyes, Wright, Beltran and Delgado is quite formidable.

Los Angeles Dodgers - 91.51% odds to make the playoffs

Scenario: If Brewers win the Wild Card, Cubs will play the division winner with the worst record.

NL Rank
RS 665 13th
RA 626 1st
BA .262 6th
OBP .330 7th
SLG .394 13th
HR 128 13th
Starters' ERA 3.93 3rd
Relievers' ERA 3.25 1st
K/9 Rate 7.50 5th
Team Defensive Efficiency .699 8th


What They're Good At: Pitching, getting injured and penciling in Manny Ramirez

What They're Bad At: hitting, especially with any power

Why The Cubs Don't Want to Play Them: They say pitching wins in the playoffs and that is about the only thing the Dodgers do well, other than praying that Manny Ramirez will score some runs for them. But their hot streak came mostly against the likes of San Diego, Pittsburgh, Colorado and sweeping Arizona. A matter of fact, they just loss two of three at home to the Giants and feature a middle infield of Angel Berroa and Blake DeWitt. They're starters of Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and either Greg Maddux or Clayton Kershaw have been quite good, but they're going to have to be great.

I guess that was more of a why the Cubs Do Want to Play Them. 

Philadelphia Phillies - 99.63% odds to make the playoffs

Scenario: If Phillies blow the division but hold on to the Wild Card.

NL Rank
RS 773 3rd
RA 657 3rd
BA .255 10th
OBP .332 6th
SLG .436 2nd
HR 208 1st
Starters' ERA 4.24 7th
Relievers' ERA 3.25 2nd
K/9 Rate 6.71 12th
Team Defensive Efficiency .704 4rd


What They're Good At: Hitting home runs, relieving, making plays in the field.

What They're Bad At: Striking out hitters, middle of order is very strikeout prone

Why The Cubs Don't Want to Play Them: Cole Hamels has owned the Cubs twice this year and Brett Myers has a 2.62 ERA since coming back from his demotion and Jamie Moyer continues to defy the laws of science and aging. Nearly as good a 1-8 as the Cubs and a formidable quartet of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Pat Burrell. The bullpen has been lights out for most of the season despite a small misstep the last time they faced the Cubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks - 8.48% odds to make the playoffs

Scenario: If Brewers win Wild Card and Diamondbacks overtake Dodgers for NL West crown.

NL Rank
RS 697 10th
RA 674 5th
BA .251 13th
OBP .327 8th
SLG .415 8th
HR 152 10th
Starters' ERA 3.93 4th
Relievers' ERA 3.98 6th
K/9 Rate 7.69 3rd
Team Defensive Efficiency .696 12th


What They're Good At: Starting pitching, striking out hitters, having Cub-killer Adam Dunn in the lineup, beating us last year in the NLDS

What They're Bad At: Hitting, making plays in the field

Why The Cubs Don't Want to Play Them: The trio of Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Randy Johnson could be a bit intimidating and the bullpen is "good enough". Ted Lilly might throw a fastball to Chris Young as well.

And for comparision's sake, a look at the Cubs statistical dominance. It's a shame they just don't play these on paper.

Chicago Cubs

NL Rank
RS 829 1st
RA 641 2nd
BA .278 1st
OBP .355 1st
SLG .444 1st
HR 177 5th
Starters' ERA 3.76 1st
Relievers' ERA 3.98 5th
K/9 Rate 7.82 1st
Team Defensive Efficiency .713 1st


What They're Good At: Just about everything.

What They're Bad At: the 7th inning

Why No One Wants to Play the Cubs: Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and even Ted Lilly can shut down any lineup. If you don't have a lead going into the 8th inning, you won't have one to end the game. If you are leading late in the game, there's a good chance the Cubs will be leading to the end the game. The entire lineup doesn't consist of one easy out...not even the pitcher in some cases.

I don't think it matters much who the Cubs end up playing at what point. I think the Phillies are probably the best team besides the Cubs right now and fully expect the Cubs to see them in the NLCS. If I had a choice, I'd take the Dodgers as the first round opponent, the chances of Furcal and/or Kent being ready seems pretty slim and the Cubs can just workaround Manny Ramirez. If the Brewers somehow right the ship this week and get Sheets and/or Yovani Gallardo available and healthy in the playoffs, they're about the only other team that could put a scare into the Cubs.


I'm still more scaredified of the Dodgers' pitching, than the Mets, personally.

sure, overall its better than the Mets and they got Saito back. But all you have to do is score 2 runs against them to win....

That's a lot, can we do it? Anyway, Manny has been hitting 9-run homeruns nightly, so it might take more. What about after Harden pitches his 5 innings and we have to run out Howry and Someninja, or whoever, for two innings? Plus, I'd really love to knock out the Mets in the first round.

if any team pitches to Manny with runners on, they're retarded, unless the bases are loaded of course and then I still might consider walking him.
Personally I think Lou is going to use Marmol for 2 innings a few times in the playoffs.

Yeah, ok. I just feel like arguing. I think either team would be ok.

also want to say I think the Dodgers pitchers numbers are a bit inflated. Besides getting to pitch at Dodger Stadium and Petco, the offenses in the NL West have been terrible. The Rockies were the best at 9th in the NL in runs scored.

Perhaps that's true, but they've also pitched well against the my don't-feel-like-looking-it-up-to-verify opinion.

more importantly, are you going to change your sig line next week?


2007 TCR Keeper Champion
2008 Silver Medal Winner

we're giving out medals this year? who sprung for that? And what's the 4th place medal? Aluminum?

Ok, that was in the Olympic spirit. Yahoo gives virtual trophies on your fantasy sports page. I fully expect the silver one, but Agility has been gaining on me, so it might be bronze. You get a hardy handshake and a pat on the back.

Yesterday I would have said the Mets, but I switched to the Dodgers.
The prospect of facing Santana in game 1 of a short series makes me a bit sick to my stomach.

I think we tend to underestimate the importance of a dominant single starting pitcher in a first to 3 series. You lose to their ace, you need to win all 3 games against the rest of the staff.

If you don't have a lead going into the 8th inning, you won't have one to end the game.

When they're on, Marmol and Wood are a great closing combination. But so far this year, the Cubs have lost 15 games when their opponents didn't have a lead going into the eighth.

Recent comments

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  • based on what SF has been doing every other year lately, getting access to the postseason playoffs seems to be what's important. bring on dat short series!

    that said, skipping the sudden death 1-game WC would be nice from here on out.

  • I know what you are saying, but I feel compelled to point out that there's no such thing as luck, curses, etc. The Cubs this year have as good as a chance as the Pirates to move on to the next round. If the Cubs proceed to the next round or not tomorrow, it will not be because of luck, but because one team outlasted the other. When/if the Cubs are lucky enough to make it to the league series, that's where they may find their biggest challenge. The Dodgers have a good, deep pitching staff.

  • debuting the new format 1 game "sudden death" WC matchup at yankee stadium does a perfect job of showing the intense emotion and drama this game can be.

    that said, i'm ready to not see yankee stadium or hear fans at yankee stadium for another 5 and 1/2 months. at least i don't have to sit through the braves with their "tommy hawk chawp" this postseason.

  • i'd like to know why the internet radio feed of the game (which is always delayed by a few seconds at best) is almost a minute faster than the ESPN cable TV coverage. wtf?

  • i dont know what order they'll be in, but i pretty much expect fowler/schwarb/rizzo/bryant/montero/castro/lastella/arrieta. any change at all (aside from the first 4 guys) wouldn't shock me, though. coghlan is still a wildcard in the lineup joe could always march d.ross out there with very slow arrieta pitching.

  • Yup. Have to agree. Baseball, like golf, certainly has that psych component for the player. There is no real reason why a fielding position should affect a batting average. The Cubs are 106 years over due for a little luck. Don't you guys think so? Maybe the rookies can bring some dumb luck on.

  • probably stacking capable lefties vs cole while keeping the "hot" castro in the game. fwiw, he's 1-6 lifetime with 0 bb/k vs cole (double).

    i chalk bryant's issues at the plate while playing OF up to coincidence so far.

  • I will call your dead horse, "Trigger".

    In one game, when anything is possble, I am glad that Joe Maddon is our Manager.

    He knows the stats better than all of us. It would seem, IF La Stella gets the start at 3B, it will be only up to the point that they were to get the lead (crosses fingers). From everything I have read, the game will be managed like a hoops game: offense/defense. So expect La Stella to be out of the game by the 5th. This team is incredibly deep which is so surprising. We never woulda thunk it.

  • i don't know what their roster plans are, but j.herrera is out there practicing with the team.

    i can't imagine him making any roster, though. dude had 4 PA the entire month of sept. him being a good dude to be around while keeping the clubhouse loose seems to be his main role at this point.

  • I know it's my own personal dead horse to beat --but Bryant has been a lousy hitter when playing the OF this year. Given that it's his first playoff game, I really hope they keep him in his natural position and don't mess with his routine.

    Lousy as in 8-for-45 with one XBH and no HR. Small sample and all that -- but why take the chance?

  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.

  • Dallas Beeler, Corey Black, David Garner, Pierce Johnson, Steve Perakslis, James Pugliese, Duane Underwood Jr, and Rob Zastryzny threw early-morning bullpen side-sessions at Riverview yesterday.  

    Underwood threw last, and received specific one-on-one instruction from pitching coach Mike Mason. 

  • HAGSAG: There are only five advanced instructs squads left, and presently the only "co-op" team operating is the Angels/Cubs.

    The league was originally established as a "parallel" league to the AFL (a sort of "junior AFL"), for players too advanced for traditional ("basic") instructs but who were unable to get placed on AFL rosters due to AFL player-limits.

  • He is but I would think it'd be better to start out with offense and then bring in Jackson and LaStella once they have a lead. Stella has very good PH #s too.