Strategy for Mets Series
It's going to be a pretty laid back way week for the Cubs as they ready themselves for the playoffs. The only kink in that plan is they're playing two of the teams fighting for a playoff spot. Lou has already indicated that you wont' be seeing anymore lineups like Sunday:
"I can't let these guys all sit," Piniella said. "We have to use them
to keep them as sharp as possible. We'll play our regular lineup in
these games [against New York]. The worst thing that can happen is
Major League Baseball calls us and tells us, 'Hey, you people have a
responsibility,' and we're going to honor that.
I'm not exactly sure that's the worst thing that can happen, the worst thing that could happen is that Soriano gets nailed with a fastball or Ramirez shreds a hamstring, etc, etc. But Lou is right that you just can't sit them for a week. As I discussed last week, I think Lou should be weary of using his starting pitchers versus the Mets. When it comes to the question of unfamiliarity between a pitcher and a hitter, I think the advantage goes to the pitcher. The less a team has seen a pitcher, the bigger the disadvantage. Now I don't worry much about Jason Marquis going tonight since he's been in the league long enough that many of the Mets hitters have seen enough of him already and he probably won't pitch against them if they are the Cubs first round opponent. But the rest of the week has Harden vs. Johan, Zambrano vs. Perez and Lilly vs Pedro. First, let's applaud the Mets for having two pitchers who are simply known by their first names.
Second, I understand that you don't want to completely sit your starting pitchers and risk getting them rusty, but I do hope Lou sticks with a plan to limit them to 5 innings and no more than two times through the lineup. If you look at some of the numbers, Harden has only faced one Mets hitter at least 10 times and that's Carlos Delgado. Lilly is in much of the same boat, with only Delgado and Luis Castillo getting more than 10 AB's. Zambrano being a native National Leaguer, has faced most of the Mets lineup quite a bit more, including a one-run effort earlier in the season.
All in all, it's probably not a big deal, but what else are we going to worry about this week?
Some random notes after the jump....
- The Cubs 2008 division champ hats are pretty sweet. I usually hold off until the Cubs playoff run is over before purchasing any merchandise to see how far they get. Who wants a 2008 division champ shirt if a 2008 NL Pennant or 2008 World Series Champs one is coming down the pipeline? But I might have to break my rule on that one.
- I was updating our Cubs 40-man roster page, and didn't realize that the Cubs practically called up the entire roster.
- You can download Eddie Vedder's new Cubs anthem from the Pearl Jam website. I'm going to try and get it up on the sidebar over the next day or two.
- Arizona Phil recently gave us his thoughts on the playoff roster and I think I agree with his rotation. Dempster for Game 1 seems like a no-brainer now, because not only does Dempster have experience in the bullpen for later in the series, but he's also been lights out at home. At the moment, I think I'd like to see Dempster, Harden, Zambrano, Lilly but that could change depending on the opponent and how they throw this week.
As for the rest of the roster, I'd like to see this:
C - Soto, Blanco
INF - Lee, Ward, Fontenot, DeRosa, Cedeno, Theriot, Ramirez
OF - Soriano, Edmonds, Fukudome, Johnson
SP - Zambrano, Lilly, Harden, Dempster
RP - Wood, Marmol, Samardzija, Cotts, Marquis, Gaudin (assuming he's healthy, which sounds like he is), and anyone not named Bob Howry.
Sadly, I think Howry will make the roster and then it's just a matter if Gaudin is healthy and if Lou can stomach crushing the soul of Marquis for another season. I think Marquis has done enough down the stretch to shake those "he's a first-half pitcher" tag, so as long as he's not whining about being put in the pen, he'd be nice to have around in case our slightly fragile starting rotation gets hurt.
That also eaves one spot for either Micah Hoffpauir or Felix Pie. I actually think the Cubs need a righty bench bat like Casey McGehee, but he just hasn't done much. I'd probably give the spot to Hoffpauir myself. Although Pie offers more dimensions to his game, Hoffpauir might actually get a hit. And would anyone want to see Lou having to be forced to use Pie as a pinch-hitter? But that could all be subject to change when they figure out who the Cubs opponent is.
- I discovered a neat trick/tool for you Mac users. I've always had problems isolating MLB.com clips to store on my own computer because I'm weird like that. But I came across Tube TV and have been saving clips from the 2008 season that you can find at cubs.com. Just find the clip you want, paste the URL in the Tube TV browser and download it. You can then convert if if necesary for your Ipod or Apple TV, but that's not necessary.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.