Marginally Meaningful Cubs Baseball is Still Being Played

The Cubs have won 8 of 10, and 7 of their last 8 to get within 5.5 of the wild card and 8 of the Cardinals. At the very least, it makes the games bearable to watch for the time being. The Cubs have 19 games left and play a few more games than their current competitors, so they're actually just 4 back in the loss column to the Rockies and tied with the Marlins and Braves in that category. They trail the Giants by 2 in the loss column but play them next week. So they'll need some help from teams to beat the Rockies, but in a round-about way, they still control most of their own destiny for the rest of the season.

As for the sort-of-big weekend series versus the Cardinals, it's already guaranteed that the Cardinals won't be able to clinch anything this weekend. That's not going to stop them from trying to bury the Cubs though. They'll send out John Smoltz, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright for the series against Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano. 

Lineups for tonight:

Lopez 2b Theriot SS
Hart RF Fukudome CF
Braun LF Lee 1B
Fielder 1B Ramirez 3B
McGehee 3B Soto C
Cameron CF Bradley RF
Kendall C Fontenot 2B
Escobar SS Scales LF
Looper P Harden P

I wouldn't be suprised if things get a little chippy tonight. The teams have become almost as intense rivals as the Cubs and Cardinals and there were 3 HBP's last night and a few almost HBP's, following Braun getting hit by Dempster the night before.

In the hot 'n cold department, Soto's found his groove with a 1.252 OPS in September and 7 XBH's in 7 games played. Derrek Lee has a 1.333 OPS since August 25th with 9 HR's in 19 games. Then there's Milton Bradley, who hasn't walked since August 30th and has a .447 OPS in that time. Bobby Scales keeps getting playing time in LF despite a .617 OPS in September and some boneheaded defense and baserunning, while Micah Hoffpauir has a 1.122 OPS since being recalled. Godenot has returned as well for the final month with a 1.071 OPS in 8 games (6/14 at the plate).

Parachat actually had a small crowd last night, so stop on by.


No score in Jacksonville in Double A of the 5th.

Papelbon pitching for Smokies. Guyer reached on an error in 4th with 0 outs, Adduci failed at a sac bunt and M. Smith doubled, but Guyer was thrown at home.

I've been wondering about Papelbon. I wasn't even sure he was still with the organization. Did he have a decent year? Can we trade him for his brother?

Harden pitching badly. 5-0 Brewers in the top of the third.

Under any rosy scenario, we would likely be talking about the Cubs losing 3-4 games the rest of the season to get in the playoffs. Looks like one will be tonight.

On the other hand if they come back and win it maybe they won't lose any more at all.

Now, where is that crack pipe I was looking for earlier?

2-1 now, bottom of 8th. Smokies get one more shot.

Way to keep the momentum Cubbies...solid effort tonight.

So much for a strong finishing kick by Harden to up that salary drive. More like a kick to the ding-dong.

Fukudome and Bradley need a little break here...

One of life's most baffling mysteries is David Weathers continuing to be a fairly effective major league pitcher. He's fat, with nothing on his pitches. Well done, David, however the hell you do it.

boneheads? per Trib/Sullivan

Milton Bradley and Geovany Soto weren't into the game either. Soto violated Rule 7.05 by using his mask to try to pick up a ball that got away from him, allowing a baserunner to advance.

"I don't think Soto knew the rule," Piniella said with a laugh. "I'll be honest with you. We told him he couldn't use his helmet either, just to make sure."

Later in the inning, Soto tagged out a runner at home on a bases-loaded grounder instead of just stepping on the plate for a force.

Bradley looked so disinterested during his second-inning strikeout that Piniella yanked him after the third. Piniella downplayed it afterward, saying it was only a double-switch.

Soto has done this at least a couple of times, but I believe that this is the first time he has been caught.

As for Bradley, that is a pretty silly comment from Sullivan.

So is the Bradley hot streak over? A little less than a week is all we get? Damn what a bummer.

Despite all of Bradleys walks and his relative health he is gonna struggle to out perform Soriano who played on one knee most of the year and will be on the DL to finish out the last month.

I will use PA for Rob....

Bradley 470 PA, .256 BA, 61 runs, 17 2b, 12 HR, 40 RBI
Soriano 522 PA, .241 BA, 64 runs, 25 2b, 20 HR, 55 RBI

Bradley should finish near Soriano in PA, but i don't think he has a shot in hell of beating out the one legged gimp in extra base hits or RBI.

Soriano has had a shitty season, but please tell me what kind of season is worse than shitty when your under performing a guy on the DL and who played on one leg when you were considered healthy most of the year?

OBP is conspicuously missing you knucklehead! You're such a douchebag.

The worst thing you can do is make an out and Bradley finds ways to get on base. Bradley is one of the most valuable players on the team! Get with the program.

Also, just kidding.

I wouldn't mind paying half of Bradley's salary to see the Milton Bradley Circus moved to another city, to be honest.

thanks for the use of PA, now let's see if you can graduate to OBP and OPS.

I haven't seen any stat worth it's weight that doesn't suggest Alfonso Soriano as one of the 5 worst regulars this season. Bradley's Septemeber slump is gonna put him in the running at this rate.

They both sucked though this year, Soriano considerably worse, especially when you factor in defense and for the money he makes versus the production received.

more Paul Sullivan/Trib douchbaggery...after hasseling Z about the no trade he's apparently backing off because it was about stoopid "sources" (probably wrongway phil rogers):

A day after falling apart on the mound and leaving a postgame news conference in a huff, Zambrano was able to sit back and laugh about his situation. He knows he has the hammer with a full no-trade clause in his contract, and sources indicated Wednesday he has no intention on waiving it this off-season.

I'm no sabermetrics guru but I thought I could pretend like I understand these things...

Since Bradley was brought in to balance our righty hitters in the 3/4/5 spot (DLee-ARam), he's obviously failed miserably. So with this initial premise I thought I'd just look at BA/RISP. With his higher walk rate batting 2nd made sense until the last fall off the table slump. Now all we can hope for is a reset of his 2010.

using hardball times data, looks like Bradley is having a slightly worse and very miserable season (compared to Soriano's also miserable season). I realize RISP is probably enhanced if your top of the order guys are getting on and the hitter is in the 3/4/5 slot. Soriano in 2008 was probably helped by the bottom of the order getting on leading to his career high in this stat.

I don't know what their "clutch" stat is but on a scale of -10 to +15 it's interesting to see how it correlates with BA/RISP. So I added some comps.

if you compare BA/RISP. ARam is having a career year on that stat...too bad it's a diminished sample size.


2009 BA/RISP .205 (career season high .297, 2006 w Oak)
Clutch -5.5 (career low -7.5, 2004 w Dodgers)


2009 BA/RISP .216 (career season high .276, 2008)
Clutch 0.7 (career low -6.8, 2005 w Texas)


2009 BA/RISP .423 (career high)
Clutch +7.0 (career high)


2009 BA/RISP .313 (career high .364, 2007)
Clutch -3.0 (career low -3.8, 2005 and high +4.8, 2007)


2009 BA/RISP .364 (career high .397, 2006
Clutch 0.2 (career low -2.5, 2007 and career high 13.7, 2006)

Wow. Lee's career low in "clutch" was the 2005 season.

I guess that goes to show that some great all around performances can make up for not overperforming in those RISP situations. If that makes any sense at all.

Or is just shows that clutch stats are worthless.

Care to elaborate on that one? How could clutch stats be worthless? They seem to be the exact opposite of that.

They are worthless because they tend to tell us very little about a player's ability. They almost invariably have HUGE variation from year to year, and due to small sample sizes a small amount of random noise can make a fairly significant difference in the numbers.

So what you mean to say is that one year's clutch stats aren't always indicative of a player's ability to perform in clutch situations? That's a lot different from saying that they're worthless.

Yes, I think the first part of what you said is true.

But I also think that they are worthless overall, and tell us very little if anything due to small sample sizes. A small amount of noise (which is impacted by luck, quality of pitcher, quality of defense, etc.) can have a big impact on such small sample sizes.

They do tell us how Player X performed in "clutch" situations, but because those situations have so many factors that go into it, the relatively small sample sizes make it pretty worthless.

you're right, you're no sabermetrician. :)

to be an effective baseball player, there's basically 4 things I look at...

you get on-base, you drive in runs, you hit for power, you can play defense...if you want to add a 5th, you can add baserunning and speed, but it's very much the 5th wheel...

1. you get on-base

it's pretty easy, look at OBP

.376 vs .303 (Bradley vs. Soriano)

.371 vs. .326 for their careers

2. you drive in runs

yeah, there's RBI's, they don't tell a good story. They don't tell you about the RBI opportunities. I've preached this for a long time but BP and the game logs of individual players on Baseball Reference do.

Bradley: 288 Runners have been on-base (ROB) when he's come up, he's driven in 28 of them for a woeful 9.7%

Soriano: 276 ROB, 35 driven in (this excludes driving themselves in) for an also woeful 12.7% 

Generally about 15-16% is considered average and only Ramirez and Lee are above that this year for the Cubs. The only thing about driving in runs and hitting with runners on, is that is has shown to fluctuate greatly from season to season.

Bradley's ROB% from 2008 in descending order (2007, then 2006 and so forth): 15.6, 16, 14, 12.9, 12.8, 17.6, 12

Soriano's ROB%:  16.4, 13, 13.9, 16, 16.2, 14.1, 17.7

3. you hit for power

Bradley: 12 HR's, 30 XBH's in 2009 (terrible)

Soriano: 20 HR's, 46 XBH's in 2009 (about the only decent thing from him all season)

Soriano obviously has the career advantage as well...

4: you play defense

I think Soriano has been a disaster this season and certainly taken a step back from some decent years he had before that, mostly thanks to his arm. Left field tends to be the place you sacrifice defense so comparing him to his peers versus Bradley's right field and center field peers is hardly ideal. Nonetheless...

Soriano BP rate2 (100 is average): 114 for his career in LF, 102 in 2009 (that's a tough one to swallow)

Bradley BP rate2: 104 for his career in RF, 107 in 2009

Soriano UZR/150: 5.4 for his career in LF, -13.1 in 2009, 5.2 in 2008, 22.4 in 2007

Bradley UZR/150: 7.8 for his career in RF, 6.6 in CF, - 2.3 in 2009, 14.2 in 2006

There's some decent cumulative stats that try to sum up a player into one stat. WAR and WARP are the most prominent.

Bradley: 1.3 WAR in 2009, 2.4 WARP

Soriano: -0.8 WAR in 2009,  0.8 WARP

Salary: $16M for Soriano this year, $7M for Bradley

Does this mean we have to start fully articulating unironic stances on issues essential to the game of baseball now?

I think the clutch stat shows how well they use their left foot while driving (the ball)

ta da boom...

clutch stats carrying unnecessary baggage?

as in Clutch Cargo?

Recent comments

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  • HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC. 

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 49 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 52 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 2 hours 1 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 44 min ago view
  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 7 hours 30 min ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 7 hours 31 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 17 hours 12 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 20 hours 10 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 20 hours 22 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 20 hours 31 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 36 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 55 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 21 hours 31 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 21 hours 48 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 50 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 22 hours 8 min ago view