Phoenix Top Dog in AFL East

Danny Espinosa (WAS) had three hits and drove-in four runs and Josh Bell (BAL) cracked a three-run homer to cap a seven-run 4th, as the Phoenix Desert Dogs drubbed the Mesa Solar Sox 11-1 this afternoon at HoHoKam Park, clinching the AFL East crown and earning a berth in the 2009 AFL Championship Game versus the Peoria Javelinas next Saturday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium. 

box score

Starlin Castro (playing 2B and batting 2nd) and Josh Vitters (playing 3B and hitting 6th) were in the Solar Sox original starting lineup, but Vitters was a last-minute scratch. I don't know why Vitters was pulled, but he did suffer a muscle strain taking batting practice a couple of weeks ago, so perhaps that problem flared-up.

Castro got four AB, and went 1-4. He lined-out to the CF (laser-rope) in the bottom of the 1st, ripped a ground-single through the box into CF, stole 2nd, and advanced to 3rd on an overthrow in the third. grounded out 4-3 (outstanding stop & throw by Desert Dogs 2B Jemile Weeks) on a "bang-bang" play in the 5th, and popped out to 3rd on the first pitch he saw leading off the bottom of the 8th.  

Andrew Cashner is scheduled to make his final AFL start for the Solar Sox tomorrow afternoon against the Surprise Rafters at HoHoKam Park.   


A few days old, but here's a breakdown of the best and worst defensive players by UZR over the last three years. You'll notice that 4 of the 5 worst have been big trade and free agent targets by the TCR fandom.

UZR is a lame stat.

also, i think a lot of teams would love hawpe and his arm in their RF.

UZR definitely has it's limits, but Hawpe is still god-awful defensively.

The main problem with UZR for outfielders (besides the in the gap problem that applies to infielders as well) is that it doesn't take into account balls that both people can catch. If your RF always backs up your CF on catches that they both can make - guess who winds up with a great UZR and guess who winds up looking like crap at the end of the season. Any range factor metric is going to have this exact same problem.

The +/- system takes a step towards addressing it, but does so at the expense of allowing in subjectivity.

Jose Ascanio (underwent arthroscopic surgery on right shoulder on Oct. 2)...While players can sometimes recover and return in seven months, Ascanio is expected to be on an 8-9 month timetable. That means that best-case scenario would probably have him back pitching in Pittsburgh in May/June at the earliest.

tiny print on that site...a bit hard to read.

supposedly asking 5/50...I figured 4/40 would get him signed myself.

No suprise here, Grienke wins the AL Cy

NL should be interesting, Carpenter vs. Wainwright or does Lincecum end up benefitting from a split Cardinals vote?

I think you can make a case for all three pitchers, but in the end I think that it will be a Cardinal. Carpenter has the ERA, Wainwright made giant strides this year and has the innings, wins, and a nice k rate, while Lincecum rolls with the K's and doobies while equipped with an anemic offense. In the end, it goes to Wainwright.

my ballot would probably be Lincecum, Carpenter, Wainwright fwiw, but can't really complain if any of them win it...

Adam Wainwright- ERA 2.63; 233 innings; 8.19k/9; 212k's; 19 wins; WHIP 1.21

Chris Carpenter- 2.24 ERA; 192.2 innings; WHIP 1.01; 6.8k/9, but a 3.7:1 k/BB; 17 wins; 144 k's.

Tim Lincecum- 2.90 ERA; 225.1 innings; 10.44k/9; 1.15 WHIP; 15 wins; 261 k's.

I've got 2.48 ERA for Lincecum

If he had the Cardinals offense, he's probably up therein Wainwright in win totals, although Giants did seem to have a good defense, then of course how good a defense does Lincecum really need.

it's a 3-way coin flip to be honest...

I think I inadvertently took his career ERA.

yanks decline s.mitre's 2010 option for 1.25m...still under club+arb. control, though.

Anyone know if Bruce Levine has had any update on Bradley? Last week he said something about a trade in the next 3-4 days.

shocking to learn that a rumor has not come to fruition...

can't imagine why any team at this point wouldn't just wait for the Cubs to cut Bradley before spring training...

I know you have expressed your indifference about Grabow and not really a fan of the money, so do you just use Marshall as the only lefty out of the bullpen? or do you assume Gaub will make the club out of spring?

I offer Grabow arbitration and wait to see if he takes it...chances are he will because a team doesn't want to give up a draft pick for a set-up man. That'll cost the Cubs probably an extra $1M this year, but if Ricketts is serious about propping the farm system, he'll roll the dice. Maybe the Cubs get lucky and a team with a protected pick signs him or one that signed a few other FA's and the Cubs score some extra draft picks. If he does sign with another team, I wait until February when inevitably some lefties will still be around and sign one or two on the cheap. I imagine you can find a few on the trade market for Jake Fox who will likely be traded, since he's out of options and in Lou's doghouse.

In general,  I could care less if the Cubs have even one lefty in their pen. It's a stupid unnecessary crutch for a manager so he can make safe moves that the media won't blast him on. The Angels did plenty good for awhile with their pen with no lefties (before Oliver and Fuentes). Better off finding good relievers that can get guys from both sides of the plate and you'll trust for an inning or longer. Cubs had a great LOOGY in Ohman and couldn't figure out to use him.

And I don't mind Grabow, he can get guys from both sides of the plate, I just think's just slightly above average and I'm also not sure Lou will use him properly, which is a full inning at a time, rather than a match-up lefty.

Well said Rob.

You do not think that he would walk into the set-up role? You think Lou would play the match up and use Guzman and Grabow? I think the arbitration move makes sense since if you do loose him, you still get compensation in return. His value is ultimately hurt by the compensation pick, so he would most likely take the aribitration.

You do not think that he would walk into the set-up role?

he could, but he's a reliever, they're more volatile than a sorority house right before their periods*.

If he has two lefties in the pen, he'll probably let him go longer, but if Marshall gets hurt and Gaub is not ready, he's gonna hold him back for lefty match-ups just like he did with Marshall when he was the only lefty in the pen, although he can get lefties and righties out as well.

*(buy your cheap misogynistic jokes right here)

I don't really see what all the fuss was/is about Grabow to begin with?

5 BB/9 isn't really someone I think you just assume is an 8th inning guy. Lou will use him as a Loogy because he is a lefty. Splits aside.

I just don't think you kill your budget on a Middle reliever. The better approach is to make your trades and fill the rest of the team out. Then you re-assess what is out there and what you have to spend.

Last year Joe Beimel and Will Ohman BOTH took deals in March in the One year 2 million dollar range. Looking at their 2008 stats and Grabow's 2009 stats, and you can make that case to an arbitrator.

I don't see any realistic way that John Grabow gets 5 million from an arbitrator. 2.5 to 3 million is absolute max. Hendry holds the hammer. He should excercise his leverage and give himself some payroll room.

the guy is an innings guy...the guy is an iron-man when it comes to being able to throw many games a year without needing time off...the guy has a low/mid 90s fastball with a nice change and slider...he's left handed.

the guy is looking to make 3-4m a year, not 10-15m...

will ohman, unlike grabow, is a 2-pitch (fb/slider) loogie...btw. ...and joe beimel probably should be used more as a loogie than he is.

Plus, he might just be the Messiah.

maybe if he had more control...esp. vs. righties.

he uses his change effectively vs. righties, but the fastball has to be "on" ...and his slider is almost ineffective vs. righties.

he's got 3 pitches that are good, but in reality he's working with 2 pitches per batter, per side. his control, though not awful, is pretty important day-to-day to his effectiveness.

Jesus had a wicked change.

I doubt that scouting reports are going to come into play in a courtroom. Grabow is 31. He is what he is at this point.

Stats, lefty middle reliever, age, Player A,B and C are comps and make 2 million per season.

A note from Ma Grabow and a recommendation from TCR reader Crunch isn't going to get him double and a half what Ohman and Beimel got. That isn't how arbitration works.

Someone with a BP script needs to look up his closest comps and see what they make.

it goes by service time, not age and although you can argue anything, it's going to ultimately come down your basic stats of ERA, holds, IP, saves and that he was ranked a Type A free agent...

being a lefty isn't going to matter...

Affeldt might be a good comp, he got 2/7 plus a $1M bonus and guys like Howry and Eyre got in the 3.5 to $4M range, so I back off $5M. $3.5M-$4M is more reasonable...

fwiw, Ohman was his second comp on BP and the only recent one, not that it would ever get mentioned in arbitration case

amusingly, here' their 2007 take on him..

You can make a strong argument that no team needs a LOOGY. Mike
Scioscia won 92 games and a division title in 2004 without having a
lefty reliever on his team. LOOGies do more harm than good because they
end up facing just as many righties than lefties as a result of walks
and pinch-hitters, and take up precious roster space without providing
enough innings.

im saying what he is...not a recommendation.

he is what he is. he's also not comparable to will ohman, fwiw. i'm giving you beimel out of his use, but the ONLY reason he sees batters vs. righties is ONLY because he can keep the ball in the park when he screws up vs. them. beimel the reliever's only saving grace being an innings guy rather than a loogie is his ability to keep the ball in the park.

So are we in TCR agreement that Jim should let the market play out with Grabow, instead of making him Priority A and lock him up to a multi-year deal for too much money?

priority A? too many years? what? where? huh?

if the guy gets a 2yr 7-8m deal i won't lose sleep. i don't think it's that huge of a priority. it's not like a GM can only talk to 1 guy/agent at a time before moving on to the next task.

2.84 ERA last year, 3.36 ERA in 2009 with a bunch of holds, some saves and Type A free agent status...

he'll get a very, very nice raise if he goes to arbitration, $4-5M range easily...they don't get too deep in those cases.

*(buy your cheap misogynistic jokes right here)

Do you have anything with Mark Prior and a vagina?

There's a whole warehouse full in the archives under Silent Towel's comments.

Comedic gold, they were. Personally, I miss the references to diamond dry and infield rakes.

over the last 3 years, Cubs are in the bottom 5 as a team, glad we shored up those fundamentals.

those 20 steals from soriano while hitting 30 homers/30 doubles don't go as far as they should.

I'm sure there's a point in there I'm failing to follow...

fwiw, and anyone that has paid attention in the last 30 years of baseball analysis woud note, a quick look at the top and bottom baserunning teams by BP's metric shows very little relationship between a good offense or a good team.

It's nice to have, and you certainly would prefer your team to be good at all areas of the game, but it's very much low on the totem pole of areas you need your team to excel at....

im still pissing around about wasting the best power hitter on the team in the 1 slot for a few years.

the team hasn't been a base stealing team for years no matter where you put soriano and his power, though.

i'm just glad this long-running stupid joke of soriano being a leadoff man is over.

for all the bitching about guys like pierre leading off the soriano thing made even less sense to me by far.

Fundamentals are nice. Being able to actually run fast would be nice. The 2009 Cubs ran like those late 80's Red Sox teams.

Wavin' Wendell was obviously the problem.

Michael Barrett drags down the total average

I wish Ryan Theriot would stop pretending that being fast means he can steal bases.

You can solve that problem by firing the base stealing coach. Not Lou, though.

So what did Jake Fox do to not play much in september and piss Lou off?

Was he being benched to not hurt his offseason trade value.

Or like one other player from previous season does
Lou get pissed about player saying the wrong things in the press.

where's jake fox vs. oh look, it's bobby one actually figured that one out last i heard.

I definitely banged my head against the wall on this one. I could not understand why Fox was not playing over Scales. Then the season ended and I forgot about it.

Recent comments

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  • Oh what do you know, Cubster? Go back to your day job.

    --- Ducks, puts on Cardinals cap, runs.

  • Russell had a severe hamstring last year while with the A's system, forcing him to miss the first half of 2014. I've even wondered if his injury last year was a component of Billy Beane putting him on the trade market. He was quoted saying that last year's injury was a 10 out of 10 when it happened. Last night he said his hamstring soreness was a 1/1.5 out of 10. Hamstring injuries are tricky though, so I'd expect the medical team to be overly cautious here.

  • ...I want to reinforce the observation that there was no sea of red in the crowd. The usual Cardinal fans roaming the stadium were few and far between.

    Also, almost every 2 strike pitch brought the fans to their feet. Good for those in knee rehab.

  • "1st team hit hit 6HR in a game in the postseason." rises above obvious...i checked it with the official fact-finding commission of Douche, Douche, and Douchestein. they agreed with you, but they're a bunch of f'n douches so who cares?

    btw, the cubs are 2-1 in the post-season series.

  • I should be able to watch the game on the NFL replay app, whatever that thing is called. I've got it on my iPad. This is the first year I haven't forced myself to somehow watch every game - no I take that back, last year was - in quite some time. Last year was so unbearable, no pun intended.

    You make some good points about Cutler, and I was a holdout defender of Cutler for a long time. I gave up on him a bit after one too many dumb interceptions, but last year doesn't count. Trestman was the worst coach in Bears history.

  • Nice little reportage there!. I think you're older than me. Considerably older. Maybe several generations. Working out is so essential, especially as age kicks in, isn't it? I still lift weights, and so I'm confident that when I get to be at the hip breaking age, mine won't be a statistic. But I have a ways to go for that to be a concern.

  • What was impressive to me is that the Cubs won despite poor base running, several defensive miscues, Russell leaving due to injury, Arrieta having an off game and getting knocked out early, and Rondon giving up 2 runs in the 9th. If they can win a game like that... 

  • I was there too. The crowd was absolutely electric. People were standing for every big and semi-big moment, from the first inning on. It felt incredibly strange and exhilarating to see the Cubs (the Chicago bleepin' Cubs!) score playoff insurance runs on the Cardinals. What a game. One to remember.

  • 14 in attendance. What's the record for attendance in the fall? I guess I should ask what the record attendance listed is in one of your recaps.

  • I was there too, with my grown son. This is my miracle year-- I rose to the top of the season ticket list after eight years, completely unexpectedly, and my wonderful wife agreed to put the ticket fee on the emergency credit card. The whole point of course was that the Cubs were going to be good this year, and then for a while, so to get season tickets with the guaranteed shot at the postseason was incredible timing. We got to the remote lot at 4:10 after stopping at Nhu Lan for our usual banh mi sandwiches, only to find the lot full, way earlier than normal.

  • Wrigley was electric tonite
    Not many card fans
    Video board was great, they played "there goes my hero" by foos over ryno highlights before he came out. Spectacular

    Good times hopefully they win tomorrow but think Lester will beat poopy pants on Wednesday.

    Happy 4th anniversary of Theo's signing

    Go Cubs !

  • Yeah. "Goodbye!" is a lame HR call.

    I miss Len and JD -- although, driving home from a friend's, WBBM played all 6 HR calls in a row -- and Len got to call the Bryant/Rizzo back-to-back. Very fun.

  • Lackey has been a beast against us. His stats on 3 days rest, however, not as nice. There is plenty of hope.

  • And, no dreadlocks grown yet.

  • Captain Obvious Strikes Again!!!

  • Amen, brother.