Archive - Apr 2008

April 30th

Luke Sommer beat-out a dribbler down the third-base line for a game-winning infield single, as the EXST Cubs rallied to edge the EXST Angels 8-7 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.

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SP Jeff Suppan SP Ryan Dempster
  1-0, 3.48, 11 K, 10 BB
3-0, 2.90, 21 K, 14 BB
       
2B Rickie Weeks LF Reed Johnson
CF Mike Cameron SS Ryan Theriot
LF Ryan Braun 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Prince Fielder 3B Aramis Ramirez
RF Corey Hart RF *Kosuke Fukudome
3B Bill Hall 2B Mark DeRosa
SS JJ Hardy C Geovany Soto
P Jeff Suppan CF *Felix Pie
C Jason Kendall P Ryan Dempster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cubs are one loss from dropping out of first place behind the Cardinals and into a second place tie with the Brewers. A loss would also give the Cubs their first real losing streak of the season (I start counting at three) and they'd lose a second consecutive series to their main competition for the Central crown. So yeah, today would certainly be a nice day for a win.

Dempster will take to the mound to try and help accomplish that and he did start the one lone victory in the opening series. We'lll happily take another six inning, two walk, five strikeout, one earned run performance if you have it in you. He hasn't had a lot of experience versus the members of the current Brewers (possibly the reason for his last success), but do watch out for Jason Kendall who's 13 for 28 versus Dempster for a 464/583/536 line.

2nd Basemen | Poll
1st Basemen | Poll

We march on around the diamond. Today it's the double play partner of yesterday's vote. The Cubs so far have the 2nd best first basemen and second basemen in the division. Can Ryan Theriot keep the streak going? Answer - no!

Your scrap-tastic contenders after the jump....

UPDATE: Thanks to you wonderful readers, it was brought to my attention to check Tejada's projections since he revealed his true age. His WARP-3 three year projection is updated in the chart and went down from 4.13 to 3.2. I'd still rate him first though even though he now drops behind Hardy and Wilson in the WARP-3 projections.

April 29th

Five Cubs pitchers combined to throw a two-hitter and Gian Guzman drove in three runs, as the EXST Cubs defeated the EXST Giants 5-1 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.  

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SP Ben Sheets SP Jason Marquis
  3-0, 0.96, 24 K, 4 BB
1-0, 3.47, 15 K, 9 BB
       
2B Rickie Weeks LF Reed Johnson
CF Mike Cameron SS Ryan Theriot
LF Ryan Braun 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Prince Fielder 3B Aramis Ramirez
RF Corey Hart RF *Kosuke Fukudome
3B Bill Hall 2B Mark DeRosa
SS JJ Hardy C Geovany Soto
P Ben Sheets CF *Felix Pie
C Jason Kendall P *Jason Marquis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, you're not imagining things--this is the Brewers' second visit to Wrigley Field in the season's first month while the Cubs have yet to visit Milwaukee and won't do so until after the All-Star break.

While the Cubs (16-9) were losing two of three on the road to the Nationals and scoring 10 runs this past weekend, the Brewers (14-11) were dropping two of three at home to the Marlins and scoring six runs. The Brewers, who led the NL in batting with RISP (.303) going into the series, went just 1-for-26 against the Marlins in those same situations.

I delayed my end-of-homestand post for a day so I could see how Sean Gallagher followed up on his brilliant outing from last week.

The results? Mixed.

Gallagher retired the first ten Fresno hitters he faced. He entered the sixth having surrendered only one run and retired the first two routinely before an infield single dripped from the faucet. A stolen base followed, then an intentional walk, then an accidental walk and Gallagher called it a night, leaving the bases loaded and the water running for Carmen Pignatiello.

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1st Basemen | Poll

I started off with the first basemen yesterday and I'll leave the poll up until I get through all the positions. If you need a primer on all this, be sure to check out that first post as well on the first basemen.

Today though we move to the second basemen. While Hendry tries to win by sheer numbers, it's about quality, not quantity. Your contestants after the jump....

April 28th

Quotation marks make their first appearance in the Hits of the Week headline since this week's list includes two walks.

So here they are, the five hits...er, that is, offensive events...that did the most to enhance the Cubs' chance of winning during the past week, as measured by FanGraphs' Win Probability Added (WPA):


#5 Big Hit:
Tuesday, v. the Mets, 4th inning-- With the bases loaded and two out and the Cubs already leading 1-0, Reed Johnson drives a single to left field, scoring Ronny Cedeno and Henry Blanco, and the Cubs' margin is three, which, on a day when the Mets can't seem to get an important hit, is more than margin enough. WPA .151

I was going to try and get this up before the season started, but that clearly didn't happen for a variety of reasons. But that's no excuse to let the work go to waste. Basically I thought it would be fun to go through each position player in the division and the starting pitchers and see how we rank them. Who’s the best now? Who will be the best over the next 3 years? I'll be using Baseball Prospectus's WARP-3 numbers for the most part, which includes both offense and defense and most importantly for this exercise, projections for the next three years. Once we get through the eight positions and the starting pitchers, I'll finish it off with a Bill Simmons inspired (ripped off) trade value chart.

Here are the ground rules. We're trying to figure out who you'd rather have on your team. Do your best to take your Cubs bias out of the equation if possible (that shouldn't be hard for some of you). But we're also trying to figure out who has the best players on the their team right now, so I'm going to use the players projected to get the most playing time this year. Sure, Jay Bruce will eventually take over center field duties in Cincinnati, but who knows when. The chart after the jump includes their 3-year WARP-3 averages (2005-2007) and their projected 2008-2010 averages.The final column, appropriately labeled "Rob's Rankings", are simply how I ranked them before looking at any stats. For the most part I was pretty close to what the numbers bear out. I should also note that I did my rankings before the season started.

We'll start off with the toughest and most talented position, the first basemen. Your gladiators after the jump....

April 27th

I Bet You Didn't Use the Term Base-Clogging Even Once
"We talk about it. On-base percentage. We've
been doing a better job. What can I say? Two of our new additions,
(Reed) Johnson and Fukudome, have done a nice job in that regard."
- Lou Piniella

"We're second in the league in runs scored to Arizona,
and to me, you score runs, you win. On-base percentage, hitting with
men in scoring position, left on base -- those are all byproducts of
how many runs you score."
- Lou Piniella

Moneyball was So 2003
"That'd be a great thing if that was contagious, because then we'd be
like the Oakland A's. The big thing there is on-base percentage. That
means you have a lot of chances to score a lot of runs and put pressure
on the other team consistently."
- Daryle Ward

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SP *Ted Lilly SP *John Lannan
  1-3, 7.30, 18 K, 11 BB
1-2, 3.42, 21 K, 10 BB
       
CF Reed Johnson 2B #Felipe Lopez
SS Ryan Theriot SS #Cristian Guzman
1B Derrek Lee 3B Ryan Zimmerman
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Nick Johnson
RF *Kosuke Fukudome CF Lastings Milledge
LF Mark DeRosa RF Austin Kearns
2B Ronny Cedeno LF Wily Mo Peña
C Henry Blanco C Wi Nieves
P *Ted Lilly P *John Lannan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cubs go for the series win and a winning road trip (3-2).

Lilly is coming off his first win and best outing of the year, on Tuesday when he beat the Mets. Though his pitching line was pretty attractive--6IP, 4H, 1ER--he also walked four and needed a couple of key pitches to avoid some serious problems.

The Cubs may face a good test in young Lannan, who fanned 11 New York Mets in just six innings on April 17th, then blanked the Braves for seven innings this past Tuesday, on his way to a victory over John Smotz.

Ronny Cedeno, hitting .400 (10-for-25) over the last week, gets bumped up in the order to seventh, Henry Blanco gets the obligatory Sunday start for backup catchers, and Geovany Soto gets a much needed day off, during which he can contemplate an atrocity so awful, veteran baseball man Lou Piniella has never seen anything like it.


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April 26th

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Carlos Zambrano SP *Matt Chico
  3-1, 2.67, 27 K, 5 BB
0-4, 6.04, 17 K, 10 BB
       
CF Reed Johnson 2B #Felipe Lopez
SS Ryan Theriot SS #Cristian Guzman
1B Derrek Lee 3B Ryan Zimmerman
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Nick Johnson
RF *Kosuke Fukudome CF Lastings Milledge
LF Mark DeRosa RF Austin Kearns
C Geovany Soto C #Johnny Estrada
2B Ronny Cedeno LF Wily Mo Peña
P #Carlos Zambrano P *Matt Chico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so it falls to Cub ace Carlos Zambrano on this, Hack Wilson's 108th birthday, to reverse the curse:

The Chicago Cubs have never won a game in Washington's Natonals Park. For the love of God, they've never even held a lead!!!

The Chicago offense went hitless in seven AB's with men in scoring position in Friday night's 5-3 defeat. Ryan Theriot, however, was able to extend his National League lead in Caught Stealing.

April 25th

...just a few notes promoted from the comments and other site fun.

- Rich Hill will get his next start skipped with the day off Monday. 10 or so days off should really help him with his control problems.

- Another gem from ex-Cub, now blossoming writer Doug Glanville; that includes this gem:
And I recall seeing an electric young pitcher, Kerry Wood,
when he was the ripe old age of 19. He had yet to set foot in a major
league stadium when we watched him pitch in an instructional league
game in Arizona. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me and everyone else
from realizing that he was a man among boys. Years later, he would set
the record for most strikeouts in a game. He just had something that
made his blank sheet of experience rise to the top of a pile of
bullet-point-riddled résumés.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Ryan Dempster SP *Odalis Perez
  3-0, 3.00, 16K, 11 BB
0-3, 3.38, 20 K, 12 BB
       
CF Reed Johnson 2B #Felipe Lopez
SS Ryan Theriot SS #Cristian Guzman
1B Derrek Lee 3B Ryan Zimmerman
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Nick Johnson
RF *Kosuke Fukudome CF Lastings Milledge
LF Mark DeRosa C #Johnny Estrada
C Geovany Soto LF Wily Mo Peña
2B Ronny Cedeno RF *Rob Mackowiak
P Ryan Dempster P *Odalis Perez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WIth tonight's first-ever visit to Nationals Park, the Cubs will have played in three different cities in three different time zones, necessitating somewhere around 2,700 miles in air travel, all in a little over 72 hours. Gotta love those schedule gremlins.

Even with yesteday's loss to the Rockies, the first-place Cubs have won 8 of 10. After opening the season 3-0, the fifth-place Nationals, who needed 13 hits against the Mets on Thursday to raise their team average to .233, have lost 16 of 20.

For those of you who might be interested in looking ahead a little bit, he are projections for the Cubs 2009 payroll, potential Cubs free-agents, Cubs players eligible for salary arbitration, 2009 minor league option status for Cubs players presently on the 40-man roster, potential post-2008 Cubs minor league free-agents, and Cubs minor league players who will be eligible for the December 2008 Rule 5 Draft.   

Remember, these are projections based on the way things stand right now, and are very much subject to change.  

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