Archive - 2007

October 4th

The Cubs first playoff game in four years ended just about as well as their last one. Your TCR writers had a little running dialogue during and after the game. -------------- Rob G: The Cubs leadoff the third with a double by Z and promptly ended the inning with Z still standing on second. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is losing to the Braves in 1998 and 5 is the ball getting through Leon's Durham glove in 1984 how disappointing was that inning? Or as Cubs fans were we conditioned enough to fully expect that exact outcome. Cubnut: I was completely unphased by it. I figured Zambrano stranding Young in the first inning was a momentum boost for us. Now we're just back to even. Plus yes, we are conditioned to expect failure. Rob G: Judging by the home plate umps O'Hare size strike zone and the current groundball ratio of about 18:1 between the two pitchers, anyone else think this game will still be scoreless in the 10th? 11th? 21st? And how many pitches should Z go so he's good enough to go for Game 4 on three days rest? Cubnut: Before answering your question, Rob, I'm going to take a moment to register my upset at Drew's bomb: Crap! Regarding the pitch count question, 100 seems like a nice number, don't you think? We're at 52 pitches through four innings, so I would say we're on a nice pace. I'm more concerned that Zambrano might be the only guy in our lineup who can hit Webb, and if we put in a reliever, we'll lose Z's bat!

October 3rd

What Ifs Box Score, Play-by-Play, Photos W- Webb, well-played playoff baseball, second-guessers L- Marmol, dreams of 9th inning heroics. S - Valverde Series stands at 1-0 D-backs Things to Take from This Game 1. As Good as Advertised Webb and Zambrano were both pleasures to watch in this game. While each one gave up some baserunners, they also both managed to pitch out of modest, recurring trouble with ease. Z, remarkably, had better control than Webb, walking just one to Webb's three. 2. Plenty of chances to Second Guess There are at least three big points in the game where managerial decisions stood out. First, the decision to have Z. swing away with a runner on second and zero out in the fifth. Had he successfully bunted the runner over, Soriano's fly ball to center would have created a run. Second, the decision not to take down Theriot for a pinch-hitter (Ward, I would hope) with the bases loaded in the sixth. Theriot hit a chopper for an infield hit and RBI, who knows what Ward would have done. The most important decision, however, was 3. Pulling Z after 85 pitches Other than a mammoth HR to Drew, Z looked like he was having an easy time dispatching with the D-backs, but he got pulled after 6 innings, with 85 pitches, a walk, a run, and eight K's to his name. The rationale, which certainly is reasonable, being that Z needs to come back on three days rest, you have Marmol available in the bullpen, and Z has had a recent of history of cramps and here we are on a hot Arizona evening. Problem is, however, that.... 4. Marmol Struggles Marmol didn't have control of his breaking stuff, and when he got behind to Reynolds, had to come in with a low fastball, and Reynolds hit it out to left to break the 1-1 tie. He continued to struggle, eventually giving up a sacrifice fly to Conor Jackson. (A fly that featured the strongest throw from Jacque Jones that we've seen in two years.) The D-backs score 2 runs in the inning after Z. leaves, for a 3-1 lead. Lyon and Valverde hold the lead in the 8th and 9th, although Lyon gave up a couple of warning-track shots to Ramirez and Floyd, and Valverde walked Ward to bring Soriano up as the tying run. Soriano finished the game, and an 0-5 night, with a 6-4 forceout. Your we-need-to-win-three-out-of-four details, below.

(props to reader Chad for that title way back when and Carlos for the video) Game Chat : BR Preview : Press Notes Carlos Zambrano vs Brandon Webb Lineups
Soriano LF Young CF
Jones CF Drew SS
Lee 1B Byrnes LF
Ramirez 3B Clark 1B
Floyd RF Reynolds 3B
DeRosa 2B Salazer RF
Soto C Snyder C
Theriot SS Ojeda 2B
Zambrano P Webb P
Rob G's Keys to the Game: Throw some damn strikes Z! This is the lightest hitting playoff crew baseball has seen in a long time and the defense behind you is pretty solid. Don't get cute, go after them. Stolen Bases are your friend! Webb doesn't pay much attention to runners and he doesn't give many opportunities to score runs. Soriano, Theriot, Lee and Jones should all look to try and steal if the chance arrives. Spy vs Spy! A close game seems like a high probability which means the bullpens will factor in greatly into the game. Cruz, Pena, Lyon, Valverde vs Wood, Marmol, Howry and Dempster.

Feel free to add your own in the comments, as you'll see we're an optimistic if not biased bunch, except Cubnut who was obviously traumatized over yesterday's fiasco. And we all seem to really like the Indians. Arizona Phil: NLDS: CUBS over AZ (4 games) PHI over COL (4 games) ALDS: CLE over NYY (4 games) BOS over LAA (3 games) NLCS: CUBS over PHI (7 games) ALCS: BOS over CLE (5 games) WS: CUBS over BOS (7 games) Cubnut NLDS D-Backs over Cubs in 4 Rockies over Phils in 5 ALDS Yankees over Indians in 4 Angels over BoSox in 5 NLCS Rockies over D-Backs in 7 ALCS Yankees over Angels in 6 WS Yankees over Rockies in 6 Dr. Joseph Hecht NLDS: Cubs over Dbacks in 4 Phils over Rockies in 5 ALDS: Angels over Redsox in 5 Indians over Yankees in 4 NLCS: Cubs over Phils in 7 ALCS: Indians over Angels in 6 WS: Cubs over Indians in 7 Christian Ruzich NLDS Cubs over Arizona in 4 Phillies over Rockies in 4 ALDS Angels over Red Sox in 5 Indians over Yankees in 5 NLCS Cubs over Phillies in 6 ALCS Indians over Angels in 6 WORLD SERIES Indians over Cubs in 7 Transmission NLDS Cubs over AZ in 5 Rockies over Phillies in 5 ALDS Angels over Red Sox in 3 Indians over Yankees in 5 NLCS Cubs over Rockies in 6 ALCS Indians over Angels in 7 WORLD SERIES Cubs over Indians in 7, with Z and Sabathia both pitching the full 13 innings of Game 7. Rob G. NLDS Cubs over Dbacks in 3 Rockies over Phillies in 5 ALDS RSox over Angels in 5 Indians over Yankees in 5 NLCS Cubs over Rockies in 6 ALCS Indians over Red Sox in 7 WORLD SERIES Cubs over Indians in 7, just like I predicted in January

October 2nd

The Cubs got around to naming their playoff roster and the only big surprise is that Craig Monroe was left off for either Ronny Cedeno or Mike Fontenot. Also Kevin Hart made the team, leaving Trachsel, Ohman and Marshall off. We shall go to war with these 25 - glory awaits thee: Starters (3): Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Hill Relievers (8): Ryan Dempster, Bob Howry, Carlos Marmol, Mike Wuertz, Kevin Hart, Scott Eyre, Kerry Wood, Jason Marquis. Infielders (6): Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Mark DeRosa, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, Ronny Cedeno. Outfielders (6): Jacque Jones, Felix Pie, Matt Murton, Alfonso Soriano, Cliff Floyd, Daryle Ward. Catchers (2): Geovany Soto, Jason Kendall. Soto was also named the Game 1 starter behind the plate although the full lineup wasn't announced. The DBacks did though announce their lineup for Game 1: Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Eric Byrnes, Tony Clark, Mark Reynolds, Jeff Salazar, Chris Snyder and AUGIE! Ojeda with Brandon Webb batting ninth.

Leon Johnson drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, scoring pinch-runner Darwin Barney with the winning run, as the Cubs AZ Instructional League team edged the Oakland A's Instructional League team 5-4 this afternoon at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.

My apologies for the brief distraction but it appears that the MVN overlords have taken it upon themselves to alter our posts based on an apparent strict no profanity policy. If you are as appalled as us by these actions, please let your voice be heard by emailing the offending party. Now back to your regularly scheduled Dempster-bashing.

Hi, everyone. What's new? With the Cubs back in the playoffs for the first time in four years I thought it was a good time to dip my toe back in the Cub Reporter writing pool again. Truth be told with the group of guys writing here now, I've been content to sit back and relax, and just read and enjoy. But since it's playoff time, I thought it was time to dust off the old Ex-Cub Factor and see whose quest for the Commissioner's Trophy is, ultimately, doomed. For those who are unfamiliar with the Ex-Cub Factor, I wish I could point you to the pages and pages of stuff I've written about in the past, but all my All-Baseball archives are in limbo at the moment. I was able to find a couple of pages that show what the Factor has looked like back to 1980 (as well as showing my propensity for starting a big project and then not following through, but that's another story). So what is the Ex-Cub Factor? As I wrote long, long ago:
The Ex-Cub Factor was originally coined by writer and Cub fan Ron Berler, who wrote an article in 1981 stating that since the Yankees of that season had five ex-Cubs on their roster, they were doomed to lose the World Series if they got there. Chicago newspaper legend Mike Royko picked up on the factor early on, and was a tireless champion of it, especially after Berler's 1981 prediction turned out to be right, as the Yanks lost to the Dodgers in six games.
The ECF is very simple: if you have three or more ex-Cubs on your playoff roster, you cannot win the World Series. Only twice since 1945 has the factor not held, 1960 and 2001. Interestingly in both of those cases, the ex-Cub-laden team won the Series by beating the New York Yankees in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game Seven of the Series. As Mel Allen said, "how about that?" On to this year's rosters (a caveat -- playoff rosters don't need to be set until tomorrow morning so it's possible that some of these guys will be left off the rosters once they're finalized. Of course, that only matters for one team, as you will see). Here are the ex-Cubs currently lurking on the rosters of the eight playoff teams: PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (3): Antonio Alfonseca, Tom Gordon, Jamie Moyer LOS ANGELES ANGELS (2): Gary Matthews, Chris Justin Speier ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (2): Juan Cruz, Augie Ojeda CLEVELAND INDIANS (2): Joe Borowski, Kenny Lofton CHICAGO CUBS (1): Steve Trachsel BOSTON RED SOX (1): Julian Tavarez COLORADO ROCKIES (1): Latroy Hawkins NEW YORK YANKEES (1): Kyle Farnsworth So as you can see, the Phillies are phucked this year, since all three of those guys are locks to make the roster. All they can hope for, I guess, is to match up against the Yankees and hope that the Game Seven Corrollary continues to hold true. One thing I think is interesting (though unrelated to the Factor itself) is that every single other team in the playoffs this year has at least one ex-Cub reliever. The Cubs have scattered their late-inning pitchers around baseball like a Johnny Appleseed of million dollar arms and ten cent heads, and many of them are pitching for a ring this year. Odd. Oh, and to answer two questions that come up every so often: * The Cubs can be affected by the Ex-Cub Factor. This came up in '98 when the Cubs had three ex-Cubs and I got a ruling from Ron Berler himself. * Players who only played in the Cubs' minor league system do not count. For this year that means the Red Sox don't need to worry about Eric Hinske.

In Moneyball, Michael Lewis quotes Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane as saying:
“My sh_t doesn't work in the playoffs. My job is to get us to the playoffs. What happens after that is f_cking luck.”
In Baseball Between The Numbers, the editors of Baseball Prospectus ask the question raised by Beane’s frank self-analysis: Why hasn't the guy’s sh---t worked? To get to the answer, BP identified 26 different measures of team quality—everything from things like regular season won-loss record, late-season W-L record, run differential, and team playoff experience to the more arcane Percent Of Runs Scored On Home Runs and Isolated Power—and after a lot of number-crunching and analysis, they concluded that three factors have “the most fundamental and direct relationship” to playoff success:

October 1st

The pitching matchups for the first three games: The Matchups
Player W L ERA IP K BB HR SB DP WHIP FIP VORP
C. Zambrano 18 13 3.95 216.3 177 101 23 4/7 22 1.33 4.55 43.4
B. Webb 18 10 3.01 236.3 194 72 12 26/35 21 1.19 3.19 66.0
Player W L ERA IP K BB HR SB DP WHIP FIP VORP
T. Lilly 15 8 3.83 207.0 174 55 28 14/18 13 1.14 4.16 46.7
D. Davis 13 12 4.25 192.7 144 95 21 6/12 27 1.59 4.64 28.6
Player W L ERA IP K BB HR SB DP WHIP FIP VORP
L. Hernandez 11 11 4.93 204.3 90 79 34 20/25 25 1.60 5.78 20.3
R. Hill 11 8 3.92 195.0 183 63 27 23/28 17 1.19 4.30 40.2
Games 4 and 5 are yet to be set as the Dbacks haven't decided on Webb for Game 4 on 3 days rest or Micah Owings. If the bats are struggling for the Dbacks they can always look for Owings for an offensive surge as well (333/349/683). While the Game 1 edge definitely goes to the Snakes and likely Cy Young runner-up Brandon Webb, Games 2 & 3 are decidedly in our favor and it's not really that close. A few other notes just from the numbers: - If you think the Cubs have trouble holding on runners, looks like the boys in blue should get their track shoes on for Games 1 & 3. - All the Dbacks pitchers look a bit walk-happy. Patience young jedi - patience! - Since losing Orlando Hudson on September 5th and his vacuum cleaner glove at second base, Webb's ERA has jumped a bit to 3.65 in the ensuing 5 starts. He had a 2.91 ERA before that point. If the good Z comes out in Game 1 and we manage a victory, I think this series goes no more than 4 games (Wow, way to go out on a limb Rob). Here are the boxes from our six games this year, the Dbacks winning 4 of 6 and both series 2 of 3. July 20th - Marquis outduels Webb for a 6-2 win at home. Earth almost vanishes out of existence. July 21st - A miccroosm of each team's season. Rich Hill pitches brilliantly but the team can't score runs for him. Dbacks win a one-run game. July 22nd - A nice outing by Sean Marshall but Petit owns us for 6 and the Dbacks go Pena, Lyon & Valverde for the 7th, 8th and 9th and the win. August 24th - Another nice outing by Sean Marshall (maybe he should pitch Game 4?) and the bullpen keeps the door closed. August 25th - Death by a lefty. Looks like Game 2 will be the rematch. August 26th - Death by Marquis. Another one-run Dback win. Game chat is open for the tiebreak game which looks like it might be over before it started. Go Rockies!

spcubsdbacks We'll talk numbers today, a more in-depth preview and breakdown for tomorrow.
Category Cubs DBacks
Runs Scored 752 (8th) 712 (14th)
Runs Allowed 690 (2nd) 732 (5th)
Team Defensive Efficiency .712 (1st) .700(7th)
Starters ERA 4.19 (2nd) 4.23 (3rd)
Relievers ERA 3.76 (3rd) 3.95 (7th)
Batting Average .271 (7th) .250 (16th)
On-Base Percentage .333 (9th) .321 (16th)
Slugging Percentage .422 (8th) .413 (9th)
Check out that Cubs reliever ERA, what a turnaround from those dreary April-May days. 3 Questions for Debate 1. Should Ryan Dempster close or does Lou push him back into lower leverage situations and go Wood, Marmol, Howry for the 7th, 8th and 9th? (FYI - Dempster gave up 7 home runs in September and had a 9.82 ERA) 2. Should Zambrano pitch Game 4 on three days rest which would also set-up Ted Lilly to go in Game 5 on normal rest? Or do the Cubs go with Jason Marquis in Game 4 who is four appearances removed from his last decent game? (FYI - Z's only effort on 3 days rest this year resulted in 5.1 IP and 4 ER against the Reds) UPDATE: Reader Wes tells us that Lou in a radio interview has already decided he's going with Z on three days rest. So debate whether it's a good idea or not. 3. Who should make the playoff roster? The team will likely carry 11 pitchers - Z, Lilly, Hill, Marquis, Dempster, Howry, Marmol, Wood, Eyre are locks. The final 2 seem to be a choice of Kevin Hart, Steve Trachsel, Sean Marshall, Mike Wuertz and possibly Will Ohman. Who should make the bench? The locks are Kendall, Soto, Lee, DeRosa, Theriot, Ramirez, Soriano, Jones, Floyd and Murton. Ward will be in if his sprained thumb is healed enough. That leaves 3 spots open for Monroe, Pie, Fontenot, Cedeno and Blanco and Hendry said there's little chance they'll carry 3 catchers. QUICK UPDATE: Start times have been announced for the first 3 games, 9:30 pm CST for Games 1 and 2 and 5 pm CST on Saturday. Bad for most of you guys, great for me as I might be able to make it home and watch in glorious TBS HD. The move does make sense as the Dbacks are the only West Coast team hosting the first 2 games of the division series. The Angels and either Padres or Rockies will start out on the road in the Eastern Time Zone.

September 30th

Our enemy finally has a face and it is the face of a slitherin menace. The Mets collapse (yeah 1969 karma is a b-tch) will send us to the Valley of the Sun beginning Wednesday. I'll break down the Dbacks further this week but it appears rotations have been set, at least for the first 3 games: Game 1 Wednesday @ Arizona: Carlos Zambrano vs Brandon Webb Game 2 Thursday @ Arizona: Ted Lilly vs Doug Davis Game 3 Saturday @ Wrigley: Livan Hernandez vs Rich Hill Things will get considerably more interesting starting with Game 4 as both teams will have the options of going with their "ace" on 3 days rest and it very well might matter which team is down 2-1. Then of course the decision on Game 4 will effect Game 5's starters. If the Cubs and Dbacks both decide to let their pitchers get their full rest than it'll likely be Jason Marquis and Micah Owings in Game 4 although Marquis's last few performances seem to have Lou rethinking that decision.

Game Chat Ted Lilly vs Homer Bailey Lineups:
Soriano LF Keppinger SS
Fontenot 2b Hanigan C
Lee 1B Votto LF
Floyd RF Encarnacion 3B
Ramirez 3B Cantu 1B
Jones CF Coats CF
Cedeno SS Ellison RF
Kendall C Lopez 2B
Lilly P Bailey P

September 29th

It's not only important for young Cubs players to learn the finer points of pitching, fielding, hitting, and base-running, it's also important for them to learn "Why We Fight" and which teams need to be targeted in a special way for defeat. So in what is the Arizona Instructional League version of the Windy City Classic, the Cubs defeated the White Sox 6-4 this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.

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