Buy Low, Sell High

Anyone who has played fantasy baseball is familiar with the concept of trying to acquire players when they're slumping and trading players when they're on a hot streak. Let's take a look at the Cubs roster and see if we can spot any trends for the second half of the season. There are of course the traditional statistics such as ERA, wins and losses, WHIP, etc, but for the most part I'll be looking at some of the peripherals that are good indicators of what to truly expect from these guys. I'll begin with the starting rotation.

Carlos Zambrano - 8-3, 3.13 ERA, 5.76 K/9, 3.05 BB/9, 1.89 K:BB, 0.59 HR/9, .297 BABIP

There are three areas of concern with Big Z. The 5.68 ERA he put up in June, the alarming decline in his strikeout rate and of course, the shoulder strain that put him on the disabled list. Yeah, he'll be back by Friday, but anytime a pitcher goes down you have to worry about re-injuring himself. You can try and chalk up June to just having a bad month and maybe his shoulder was acting up on him before he actually told anyone, but what you really have to be worried about his is the 5.76 K/9 rate he's sporting this year.

It seems to have been a conscious decision on his part to go less for the strikeout and gain some more control on his pitches. His walk rate has dramatically improved to go along with the decrease in his strikeout rate (3.05 BB/9 this year compared to 4.20 and 4.84 the last two seasons). And you can't argue with the success he's had for the most part this year, but there's not a lot of pitchers that can put up ERA's in the low three's with that low a strikeout rate...I mean, we're talking almost Jason Marquis territory here. His groundball to flyball ratio has improved as well with his new approach and I think he can still dial it up whenever he needs to, but I' d sure feel a lot more comfortable if he got that K/9 rate above six at least.

Ryan Dempster - 9-3, 3.26 ERA, 7.37 K/9, 3.51 BB/9, 2.10 K:BB, 0.86 HR/9, .258 BABIP

Dempster was as lucky as they get early on in the season, sporting a BABIP in the low .200's which he had no chance in hell of sustaining. The lowest BABIP in the last five years for any pitcher with at least 150 innings was Chris Young in 2006 with a .237 BABIP and that was quite abnormal and he also pitches in a park where flyballs go to die. If you look at the leaderboards over the last few years, you'll see a few pitchers in the .250 range every season but most pitchers hover around the .300 mark.

The correction has already started and despite his last outing, Dempster is still well ahead of the bell curve and will possibly get a a well-deserved All-Star spot. Sure his career numbers suggest that he's still due for some more correction, but I think anyone who's watched him this year realizes that this is a different Dempster from past least as a starter. His walk rates are still quite high, but he's fooling batters, keeping the ball in the park and seems to be able to induce a double play whenever he needs one.

That all being said, he's a prime candidate for one of those multi-year contracts Hendry likes to give out to players he finds off the scrap-heap that have career years with the Cubs (see Rusch, Glendon). And hopefully Hendry realizes that trying to catch lightning in a bottle makes for a hazardous work place.

Ted Lilly - 9-5, 4.56 ERA, 8.44 K/9, 3.21 BB/9, 2.63 K:BB, 1.52 HR/9, .292 BABIP

I covered Ted Lilly in yesterday's game thread, so I'll just recap. He finished June with a 3.21 ERA after a 6.46 in April and 4.72 in May. His biggest problem has been his home run rate which has skyrocketed to 1.52 HR/9 this year (it was 1.64 heading into yesterday's game). Also prior to yesterday's game, he was giving up a home run on 13% of the flyballs hit off him, which is an astoundingly high number. Most pitchers are in the 10-11% range and with yesterday's performance, it's already down to 12.6%.

So expect Lilly to continue to improve, the control isn't quite as good as last year, but he's still missing bats and expect a few less balls to fly over the fence.

Jason Marquis - 6-4, 4.96 ERA, 4.64 K/9, 3.59 BB/9, 1.53 K:BB, 1.21 HR/9, .289 BABIP

The same Jason Marquis that should be expected. He's not going to strike out a lot, he's going to put people on base, much to the chagrin of Cubs fans and Lou Piniella. He makes up for those walks by keeping the ball in the park and on the ground and at the end of the day, he's useful maybe 50% of the time (if that much). I took a look at his quality starts over the years (defined as at least six innings pitched and an ERA of 4.50 or below for that game).

Year GS QS QS%
2008 15 5 .33
2007 33 15 .45
2006 33 13 .39
2005 32 18 .56
2004 32 19 .59







A bit of slippage this year, but some of that can be attributed to Lou's quick trigger with Marquis and not being able to reach six innings. If you look at his game logs this year, I'd say nine of his 15 starts have been useful. He's gone at least five or more innings and given up three or less runs. There is value in what he does, mostly that he stays healthy and you can reasonably expect him to keep the team in the game on the days he starts. Can the Cubs do better? Sure there's more talented pitchers out there, but don't underestimate the value of staying healthy.

Of course, we'll all be doing a little happy dance the day he leaves the Cubs.

Sean Gallagher - 3-3, 4.36 ERA, 7.88 K/9, 3.35 BB/9, 2.35 K:BB, 1.01 HR/9, .315 BABIP

A rather pleasant surprise after a forgetful spring, the 22-year old has shown signs of brilliance. Sporting a four-seamer that hits the mid 90's, a two-seamer that dives away from lefties and solid control of his breaking stuff (a slider and a curve), I think better days are ahead for Gallagher. He still has quite a bit to learn about the art of pitching, but that probably could be said for most 22-year old pitchers. A look at his game logs show that six of his nine starts have been what you have to consider at least useful.

His numbers right now are promising and the looks of that BABIP suggest that they should get a little better. They also suggest that he'd pretty much have to be included in any deal that would get C.C. Sabathia to the Cubs.


[Gallagher's] numbers right now are promising and the looks of that BABIP suggest that they should get a little better. They also suggest that he'd pretty much have to be included in any deal that would get C.C. Sabathia to the Cubs.

Him or Marmol. If I'm an Indian one of those guys HAS to be included.

well it isn't going to be Marmol, pretty sure he's untouchable. If you're going for it this year, then giving up a starter to get a starter is reasonable. I would guess a Gallagher and not-screwed-in-the-head Rich Hill plus one more marginal minor leaguer would get it done.

Costly considering the Cubs have 8 players set to make $100 MM next year and very doubtful they'd be able to sign Sabathia. Not to mention Eyre, Howry, Dempster and Wood are all set to be free agents. 

I think we've had all kinds of indications that payroll is available for the Cubs in 2008. I've said all along that I'd be shocked if the Cubs do manage to get a rental on Sabathia, there are just other teams with alot more to give. At this point I say probably the most likely move is AJ Burnett, and that comes at the price of not having to give up very much at all I wouldn't think. And I would fully advocate taking Marquis out of the rotation, but much like Barry Zito, he Cubs have money put into Marquis and it seems to be the main factor in his playing time.

Hopefully he can channel one of his 'good' starts tonight.

Oh, I think the Cubs can add whatever payroll they want for this season. I was talking about signing Sabathia to an extension which is doubtful...and kind of a bad idea for someone who is so out of shape.

Dierkes passes along Gammons' thoughts on the starters Hendry might be looking into. Note the comment about Gallagher, however.

In other news from Gammons, apparently the Rays are looking at Murton.

In other news from Gammons, apparently the Rays are looking at Murton.

Maybe we can get Jae-kuk Ryu back? :)

I'll take Jacob McGee, sure he'll be out for over a year, but that be a nice score for Murton right now.

as for the rest of the starters list...meh.

The problem is the A's are quite in the race, so there's absolutely no reason for them to move Harden. Burnett would be okay, his K/9 rate is over 9 which is fantastic, but also is sporting a BB/9 rate of 4.49, which will drive Lou (and me) bonkers. The .336 BABIP though suggest better days are ahead. Randy Wolf for Murton wouldn't be terrible either, but neither Burnett or Wolf are really that big of an improvement over what we have going.

Wolf's peripherals fwiw: 8.17 K/9, 3.42 BB/9, 1.01 HR/9, .317 BABIP 

He hasnt stayed healthy his entire career and almost every contending team (sans the Angels, Cards, D-backs, Rays, Red Sox) are going to be willing to pay through the noise for him. The only reason the A's are still in the playoff hunt is because they played over their head, while the Angels, Tigers, and Yankees have been playing under the ability of their talent to an extent. If somebody offered Beane a king's ransom for Harden he would pull the trigger.

well yes, if somebody offered Beane a King's ransom for Harden, he might consider moving him. But no one will because "He hasnt stayed healthy his entire career".

And the A's are quite the surprise this year, but a +64 run differential is a pretty good indicator that they'll stay in this.

Whatever deal Beane can get for Harden right now, he can get for Harden in the offseason.

ryu is such a nice guy and loves the game. he's just not good.

saw him a lot last year and a bit this year and wow...he was/is in GREAT shape. great athlete.

he's just tapped out with his talent and better suited for pen work at this point. shame...sure isn't for a lack of working.

I presume "nice guy" doesn't mean "animal lover"?


i forgot about that. regardless...he's a very classy dude who's a very nice guy. he's handling being in weird/humid durham, NC pretty well for a guy who was vaulted to the majors at an early age as a pimped out starter and is now trying to find a career of some sorts in the pen.

he's really good with the kids and fans. the kids find him a real curiosity because even though we have asians around here we don't have many that look like athletes on the level he does. he's a 6'4" 230lb. beast of a kid. all muscle, all athlete...he just looks like a star. too bad he doesn't pitch like one.

Give the guy a break. He made a stupid mistake throwing at that bird AND he was accurate enough to actually hit it. The mistake doesn't define his character and his outlook on life.

It wasn't a huge deal to me that Ryu threw at the bird, though of course I think it was a dumb and destructive thing to do.

But defending the guy because he was accurate enough to hit the bird in the first place probably isn't the best way to go about getting people to agree with your argument that he shouldn't be held at fault.

but he was AT FAULT for throwing at the bird. even he admitted as much. all i'm sayin is that we all make mistakes and we all deserve a break from them.

Joke. Loosen up, bro.

Didn't he throw at it a bunch of times and then finally hit it? Hardly a virtue.

I think they found Rich Hill's problem!

so much win. so so very much.

...and Wolf buys Lou some "Umpire clout" which he could sorely use.

Brett Myers assigned to AAA (a move he had to accept since he has 5+ years of service time).

Freddy Bynum called back up by the O's.

Alfonso Soriano does

"Our medical people say [Soriano] is the fastest healer they've ever seen," says Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. "

Tyler Colvin named Southern league player of the week, Donald Veal named to Southern League All-Stars.

I'm not conerned about Z's reduced SO numbers - I recall that when he first came up, his main "out" pitch was that awesome sinker that hitters beat into the ground. Then if he needed it, he could blow it by the hitters with no problem. Maybe this is a good development, since he had a tendency to put more guys on base last year, along with the increased SO's.

problem is, when he first came up he was still K'ing hitters and had a higher GB/FB rate.

Year  GB/FB
2003  2.28  55.4% 7.07 
2004  1.63  50.7% 8.07 
1.62  50.0% 8.14 
1.24  46.9% 8.83 
2007  1.37 46.8%  7.36 
2008  1.51  48.5% 5.76 



You know, I really the cut-off point in that graph would be '07, when he showed up with that 3/4 arm angle... but I was surprised to see that it wasn't. Odd.

I didn't know that - thanks for the numbers. So how about this one - he's trying to be a complete pitcher, using his full arsenal, rather than just going for the K every time. If it saves more wear and tear on his arm (and he's still effective, big caveat), then I'm all for it.

yeah, the saving more wear and tear on his arm gets kind of lost with the DL stint and all.

Z's got great movement on his pitches and I do think he's gotten better at "pitching' this year than just throwing. But he's going to have miss a few more bats for him to keep up that low 3 ERA. Above a six K/9 would be nice, above seven would be ideal.

speaking of...zito.

yeah, he did cruddy for a few innings and etc etc etc, but one thing i noticed was how much more cerebral he was with his selection.

it seems rather than trying to "push" his stuff (and getting no where with it) he's now using what he's got in a more intelligent fashion. how much of this is molina or the coaches...i dunno.

he threw a TON of high fastballs on/near the same high plane where his curve ball would break and was not mixing up too much with where he threw the fastball. he wasnt working a ton around the plate with was being mainly used as a deception pitch in tandum with the curve. he danced around with his curve location and mainly used his fastball for what was mentioned above...but he did use his changeup all over kinda like how people would normally use a fastball (or zito would traditionally use his curve) to set up for other stuff. it seems the "new" zito might be becoming a hell of a changeup/curve pitcher if it clicks. his fastball is practically an afterthought now. not like the changeup is new or the fastball is gone...he's just using them differently it seems (the inside fastball that was a big part of his game earlier seems to be disappearing lately, too).

STL wish a 2 run lead already after 1 inning...geez...lose already.


sweet...mets tie top 4th.

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC. 

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 15 min ago view
  • 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. 

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 17 min ago view
  • 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).  

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 27 min ago view
  • 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.

    The E-Man 2 hours 10 min ago view
  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 6 hours 55 min ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 6 hours 56 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 16 hours 37 min ago view
  • 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.

    johann 19 hours 35 min ago view
  • 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.

    crunch 19 hours 48 min ago view
  • 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.

    The E-Man 19 hours 56 min ago view
  • 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.

    The E-Man 20 hours 2 min ago view
  • 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...

    crunch 20 hours 20 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 20 hours 56 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 21 hours 14 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 21 hours 16 min ago view
  • soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.

    he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.

    crunch 21 hours 34 min ago view