Playing the Field
Well there isn't much to do this week but speculate, so let's take a look at the potential Cubs first round playoff opponent. There's a poll at the end of the post.
New York Mets - 65% odds to make the playoffs
Scenario: If Mets win the Wild Card, they'll be the Cubs first round opponent.
|Team Defensive Efficiency||.704||3rd|
What They're Good At: Throwing Johan Santana, scoring runs and making plays in the field.
What They're Bad At: Relieving.
Why The Cubs Don't Want to Play Them: If the Mets clinch before Sunday, that means Johan Santana in Game 1 and he's been aces since the break (2.34 ERA). While certainly below the level of the Cubs starting pitchers, Oliver Perez, Pedro Martinez, Mike Pelfrey and possibly John Maine all have the potential to scrounge up an excellent outing. Although they've performed as a unit better against lefties than righties, they do load up on lefties against the Cubs mostly righty staff and the quartet of Reyes, Wright, Beltran and Delgado is quite formidable.
Los Angeles Dodgers - 91.51% odds to make the playoffs
Scenario: If Brewers win the Wild Card, Cubs will play the division winner with the worst record.
|Team Defensive Efficiency||.699||8th|
What They're Good At: Pitching, getting injured and penciling in Manny Ramirez
What They're Bad At: hitting, especially with any power
Why The Cubs Don't Want to Play Them: They say pitching wins in the playoffs and that is about the only thing the Dodgers do well, other than praying that Manny Ramirez will score some runs for them. But their hot streak came mostly against the likes of San Diego, Pittsburgh, Colorado and sweeping Arizona. A matter of fact, they just loss two of three at home to the Giants and feature a middle infield of Angel Berroa and Blake DeWitt. They're starters of Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and either Greg Maddux or Clayton Kershaw have been quite good, but they're going to have to be great.
I guess that was more of a why the Cubs Do Want to Play Them.
Philadelphia Phillies - 99.63% odds to make the playoffs
Scenario: If Phillies blow the division but hold on to the Wild Card.
|Team Defensive Efficiency||.704||4rd|
What They're Good At: Hitting home runs, relieving, making plays in the field.
What They're Bad At: Striking out hitters, middle of order is very strikeout prone
Why The Cubs Don't Want to Play Them: Cole Hamels has owned the Cubs twice this year and Brett Myers has a 2.62 ERA since coming back from his demotion and Jamie Moyer continues to defy the laws of science and aging. Nearly as good a 1-8 as the Cubs and a formidable quartet of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Pat Burrell. The bullpen has been lights out for most of the season despite a small misstep the last time they faced the Cubs.
Arizona Diamondbacks - 8.48% odds to make the playoffs
Scenario: If Brewers win Wild Card and Diamondbacks overtake Dodgers for NL West crown.
|Team Defensive Efficiency||.696||12th|
What They're Good At: Starting pitching, striking out hitters, having Cub-killer Adam Dunn in the lineup, beating us last year in the NLDS
What They're Bad At: Hitting, making plays in the field
Why The Cubs Don't Want to Play Them: The trio of Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Randy Johnson could be a bit intimidating and the bullpen is "good enough". Ted Lilly might throw a fastball to Chris Young as well.
And for comparision's sake, a look at the Cubs statistical dominance. It's a shame they just don't play these on paper.
|Team Defensive Efficiency||.713||1st|
What They're Good At: Just about everything.
What They're Bad At: the 7th inning
Why No One Wants to Play the Cubs: Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and even Ted Lilly can shut down any lineup. If you don't have a lead going into the 8th inning, you won't have one to end the game. If you are leading late in the game, there's a good chance the Cubs will be leading to the end the game. The entire lineup doesn't consist of one easy out...not even the pitcher in some cases.
I don't think it matters much who the Cubs end up playing at what point. I think the Phillies are probably the best team besides the Cubs right now and fully expect the Cubs to see them in the NLCS. If I had a choice, I'd take the Dodgers as the first round opponent, the chances of Furcal and/or Kent being ready seems pretty slim and the Cubs can just workaround Manny Ramirez. If the Brewers somehow right the ship this week and get Sheets and/or Yovani Gallardo available and healthy in the playoffs, they're about the only other team that could put a scare into the Cubs.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.