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.
I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?
He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.
What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.
(All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)
Lester will probably be all right.
I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.
I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.
Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?
He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.
But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.
The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.
Yup. Thanks Q
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTNekUcY-XM
I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.
O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.
Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.
I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.
You don't think he's improved? He looks completely different out there than he did when he first came up. The last I checked his K rate was in the low 20% range - 22-23 or so. When he came up it was 40%+.
To me, what is scary about him if I'm the other guy is that he IS learning the strike zone. This guy could easily be the MVP someday.
So, playing .500 for the rest of the year puts them at 91 wins. You would think there is enough talent to do a little better than that, right?