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.
Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?