Archive - Sep 2008

September 30th

Brad Boyer put the Giants on the scoreboard with a solo home run in the bottom of the 6th and the Cubs were held to just three singles, as the Giants shutout the Cubs 2-0 in AZ Instructional League action at Indian School Park Field #2 in Scottsdale this afternoon.

RHP Billy Petrick, hampered by shoulder weakness since the start of Spring Training and on the Daytona Cubs DL since the end of May, got the start for the Cubs today, and he looked OK. He was removed with one out in the bottom of the 2nd inning after throwing 20 pitches (15 strikes), during which time he allowed one hit (a harmless single) and no walks, with one strikeout, a pop-up, and two ground outs.  

I'm a little under the weather, so bear with me and this rather bare bones preview...all the substance, none of the fluff.

I never understood the positional breakdowns that many folks do for a series or playoff preview. I understand a team is only as good as the sum of its parts, but Derrek Lee will never have to battle against James Loney at any point in the series. It's more about how one team's pitching and defense will fare against the other team's lineup.

Cubs Offense vs. Dodgers Pitching and Defense

Cubs Hitting: .278/.354/.443 .797 OPS(1st in all those except BA, which they were 2nd), 87 SB's at a 72% success rate (8th in NL)

Dodgers Pitching: .251/.315/.376 .691 OPS, 3.68 ERA (1st in all those except BA, which they were 2nd)

Cubs Hitting vs. Right Handers: .274/.350/.443 .793 OPS

Dodgers Pitching vs. Right Handers: .239/.300/.361 .661 OPS

Dodgers Pitching vs. Left Handers: .268/.334/.396 .730 OPS

Cubs are 64-48 when a right-handed pitchers starts the game.

Dodgers Defense: .693 DER (9th in NL), .825 RZR (12th in the NL)

Dodgers Rotation: Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Greg Maddux

--At the Baseball Analysts, Ross Roley explains why the Cubs have a 22% likelihood of winning the World Series. That's the marginally bad news. The good news is, that's the highest probability for any of the competing playoff teams, according to Roley. The Brewers come in second at 16%. The Angels, with the best record in baseball, weigh in at just 13%. Predicting the result of a short series is an inexact science at best. Still, it's nice to see a headline that reads, "Why the Angels Won't Win the World Series (and the Cubs Will Win It All)."

--At ESPN.com, Tim Kurkjian poses Five Questions relevant to the Dodgers/Cubs series and so as not to ruin it for you, I'll just provide the answers here: considerable, yes, very, as much as possible, and a good thing. Kurkjian likes the Cubs in five games.

--Tim Dierkes at The Hardball Times also likes the Cubs in five, pointing to the Cubs' superior hitting and fielding over the Dodgers' miniscule edge in starting pitching.

--There was a lunchtime rally of Cubs fans today in Daley Plaza with Jim Belushi "among the luminaries," according to the Tribune. I must have missed the last luminaries election, but I wouldn't have voted for Jim Belushi.

September 29th

Matt Downs clubbed a grand slam home run to cap a nine-run 2nd inning, and the Giants coasted to a 9-4 victory over the Cubs in AZ Instructional League action this afternoon at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa. 

September 28th

How the Cubs and their NLDS opponents stacked up in a variety of statistical categories. (Team's National League rankings appear in parens; "DER" refers to Defensive Efficiency Ratio and "RZR" refers to Revised Zone Rating. Throughout, * means stats are through Saturday, 9/27. ) 

CUBS
  L.A.
 Hitting
855 (1st) RS
700 (13th)
184 (5th) HR
137 (13th)
.355 (1st) OBP
.333 (6th)
.445 (1st) SLG
.400 (13th)
 800 (1st) OPS
733 (11th)
     
 Pitching
668 (2nd) RA
645 (1st)
3.87 (2nd) ERA
3.68 (1st)
2.30 (3rd) K/BB
2.51 (2nd)
711 (2nd) OPS vs.
691 (1st)
66% (4th) SV %
65% (5th)
     
 Fielding*
.706 (1st) DER
.693 (9th)
.832 (6th) RZR
.825 (12th)

 

Here's another interesting set of numbers—the performance of the Dodgers offense before and after the acqusition of Manny Ramirez:

Game times have been released for the first three games of the NLDS:

5:30 pm CST for Game 1 @ Wrigley on Wednesday, October 1st

8:30 pm CST for Game 2 @ Wrigley on Thursday, October 2nd

9:00 pm CST for Game 3 @ Dodger Stadium on Saturday, October 4th

I imagine they'll wait to see how the other series are doing before they announce game times for games 4 and 5. I'm a little surprised they could get clearance for such a late start on Thursday at Wrigley, but so be it. Stock up on your favorite stimulant and stay up late to enjoy your Cubs.

It's all settled, the Dodgers and their league-leading pitching staff will roll into Chicago starting Wednesday. The Cubs were 5-2 against them this season, including a three game sweep at home in three low-scoring games. They split a four game set in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers ride into October with a 17-7 record, albeit it against an extremely easy schedule (Padres, Diamondbacks, Giants, Rockies, Pirates).

I think the Cubs are the far superior team, but the Dodgers do have a good staff and the games will probably be close and low-scoring. That means a lucky break or two and the Dodgers can make this interesting.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Angel Guzman SP *C.C. Sabathia
0-0, 7.04, 6 K, 4 BB, 7.2 IP (NL)
10-2, 1.78, 121 K, 24 BB, 121.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soirano CF Mike Cameron
SS Ryan Theriot 2B #Ray Durham
1B Derrek Lee LF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Prince Fielder
CF Reed Johnson SS J.J. Hardy
RF *Micah Hoffpauir RF Corey Hart
2B Ronny Cedeno 3B *Craig Counsell
C Henry Blanco C Jason Kendall
P Angel Guzman P *C.C. Sabathia

 

First, Paul Sullivan writes that despite his recent travails (5.40 ERA in September), Jeff Samardzija has made the post-season roster and that Chad Gaudin will likely be a spectator.

As for today's game, Mark DeRosa (calf strain) was hoping to get in a few swings so he
didn't have to go into the playoffs cold. Alas, he is not in the starting
lineup. Geovany Soto (sore hand) is also sitting.

The Brewers begin play tied with the Mutts for the Wild Card, with a one-game tiebreaker tomorrow at Shea in the teams' futures if things don't get settled today. (As I post this, the Marlins and Mets are waiting out a rain delay at Shea.)

 

"It's not going to matter because, well, it is going to matter but it's not going to matter,"

Translated into English, it means that Lou Piniella decided that Carlos Zambrano would not pitch the first inning or two of today's regular season finale at Milwaukee and Angel Guzman will.

Translated into Sullivanese...

September 27th

Tony Campana had four RBI, Logan Watkins scored three runs, Josh Vitters had two doubles and a walk, and Jake Optiz smashed a double and a triple, as the Cubs rallied from a 7-3 deficit to defeat the Angels 9-7 in AZ Instructional League action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa. 

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP *Ted Lilly SP Ben Sheets
16-9, 4.17, 180 K, 63 BB, 198.2 IP
13-8, 2.98, 157 K, 45 BB, 196 IP
       
RF *Kosuke Fukudome CF Mike Cameron
SS Ronny Cedeno 3B Bill Hall
1B *Micah Hoffpauir LF Ryan Braun
LF *Daryle Ward 1B *Prince Fielder
CF Reed Johnson SS J.J. Hardy
2B *Mike Fontenot RF Corey Hart
3B Casey McGehee 3B Rickie Weeks
C Henry Blanco C Jason Kendall
P *Ted Lilly P Ben Sheets

 

A Brewers win and a Mets loss (Mets currently up 1-0 in the 3rd) and the Brewers would clinch and the Cubs would know their opponent for the NLDS. To honor the occasion, Lou has trotted out the "B" squad. The game should be on Fox for most of the country I believe.

September 26th

As announced earlier, Ryan Dempster will go Game 1 and he'll be followed by Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden and finally Ted Lilly if a  Game 4 is necessary.

I would have preferred Dempster, Harden, Z and then Lilly, but Harden's start last night where he seemed to be topping out at 90 mph most of the game was worrisome, although he still managed to never really get hit hard. If the series does go five games, the Cubs will start with Dempster and then it will be possible to use Zambrano on four days rest, followed by Marmol and Wood to finish it.

That makes the Cubs 7th inning problems, seem not so problematic.

The Angels shutout the Cubs 2-0 in AZ Instructional League action at Angels Minor League Complex Field #3 at Diablo Park in Tempe this afternoon.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Ryan Dempster SP Jeff Suppan
17-6, 2.99, 183 K, 75 BB, 201.2 IP
10-10, 5.06, 85 K, 66 BB, 172.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF Mike Cameron
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B *Ray Durham
1B Derrek Lee LF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Prince Fielder
RF *Micah Hoffpauir SS J.J. Hardy
C Geovany Soto RF Corey Hart
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B *Craig Counsell
SS Ryan Theriot C Jason Kendall
P Ryan Dempster P Jeff Suppan

 

The Cubs continue their Spoiler Tour 2008 and will do their best to knock out their division rivals. The only thing that probably really matters for the Cubs is that the races are still undecided on Sunday as the Phils, Brewers and Mets have their aces scheduled. Meaning if they have to use them, they won't be able to go again until Game 2 at the earliest and possibly not until Game 3 of the NLDS. Of course if the Brewers end up winning the wild card, none of that will matter to the Cubs either as they'll see the Dodgers and Derek Lowe in Game 1.

As for personal goals, Dempster goes for win number 18 and will try to keep his ERA under three for the season and Geovany Soto is looking to match or pass up Billy Williams Cubs rookie record of 25 home runs - Soto is at 23.

So maybe you and a group of acquaintances divvy up some Cubs season tickets. Now that the boys are going to the playoffs and playing an as-yet-undetermined number of games at Wrigley, what do you do? What else—you sue!

The Tribune offers this story about litigious Cub fans, including Laurence Wright, a Northbrook businessman who is sick of getting ground under the heel of The Man...even when The Man is an 84-year-old with heart and hip problems.

September 25th

In what may be a preview of the World Series, the Cubs defeated the Angels 3-2 in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this afternoon.

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