This all still sucks donkey balls, but I'm starting to look at the positive. The only one being that my October is suddenly going to have a lot more free time.
I moved some stuff around on the right sidebar and there's a handy payroll cheat sheet to help you plan out the 2009 Cubs team.
IN short, forget the won-loss record, the Cubs tanked in September--well before the playoffs began. They appear to have reverted to their natural previous lack of discipline at the plate and their pitching lost their season-long control of the strike zone.
We may not have noticed because most of the teams in our division, i.e. The Reds, Astros, Pirates, and Brewers all sucked worse....
So what made the 2008 Cubs different from other teams?
I think it was plate discipline and command of the strike zone.
Plate Discipline-- led to league leading on base percentage, OPS, and run differential.
ERA--thanks to improved command and fewer walks the Cubs led the league in ERA (not just K's) most of the season and wound up third in ERA to go along with their usual league first in strikeouts.
NL Team ERA (Season)
NL Team BAA (Season)
(1) Cubs .242
(2) Dodgers .251
But look what happened in September:
Our pitching lost command of the strike zone. Defense suffered and the team ERA ballooned. Even though we still led the league in BAA it didn't matter. More base runners led to more runs allowed.
Turning to the offense: On the season
(1) Cubs .797
(11) Dodgers .732
What happened to our offense in September?
While the Dodgers ascended, we tanked.
Forgetting the strength of schedules, given our statistical reversals in September and the importance of being hot at the end of the season if you want success in the playoffs, in retrospect maybe we should have seen disaster coming.
Didn't the Cardinals and White Sox disprove the importance of being hot at the end of the season thing?
Mostly we let too many guys on and then gave up the big hits in the playoffs. The Dodgers didn't let that many guys on, and when they did we didn't get the big hits. Defense, control, brains, timely hitting, timely strikeouts, everything betrayed us. Pretty much a perfect scenario for the Dodgers. Shrug.
What I actually wanted to ask if if Rob could be the 2008 salaries to the left of the players' names on the list he made.
I'd like to keep each name on one line as much as possible, but I'll see what I can do. For now there is the Cot's Cubs page link that is available under "Quick Links" on the left.
Also -- the Dodgers pitched lights out. Every damn one of them.
Next year's Wrigley vibe will be very interesting -- if the Cubs play well, will it be the joy ride it was this year, or will people hold back? Will the booing be frequent, as it was in 2004?
One last bit of advice from my 49+ years of living -- all this talk about not committing emotionally to next year's team becasue we got burned this year?
Go all in. Live with passion, not with fear. Celebrate the good times and suck it up and work your way through the tough times. Remember how it felt when Z threw the no-hitter and when A-Ram hit the walk-off against the Sox and when the Cubs swept the Brewers in Milwaukee and whatever personal memories you had -- I was at Wrigley with my 11-year old son when Marmol struck out a hitter with 2 outs and bases loaded in the 9th. We both went nuts, and will always remember that moment. Life is all about accumulating great memories. Bland memories suck.
I say it all the time. You can't get maximum excitement unless you are willing to accept maximum devastation.
And on an emotional scale maximum excitement tops out at 100% while maximum devastation clocks in @ -120%
When the playoffs started, I told a fellow fan in our office that if my heart was going to get broken again, I'd just as soon they do it right away. If I have two more wishes, I think I'll wish for a nice stock market rally first.
Great comment at the end, though: "I thought Wrigley was a shrine to futility"
We're having sex with our sisters?
you said we were acting like Cardinal fans.
Chad, you just expanded your "legacy" on this site.
From the "It's a Small World" department. I graduated high school with Josh Hancock. I say this only because you never know whom you might offend. That is not to say I was offended, just thought you might like a bit of perspective.
No I didn't. I was replying to someone who did.
We're all bummed but is anyone surprised about:
- Dempster pitching poorly after he couldn't really handle the 9th inning in 2007; in terms of having the guts to pitch in a big spot
- Soriano stinking in the playoffs when there are good pitchers focused on his ABs.
- Not having enough LH bats to keep RH pitchers honest
- Edmonds bat looking slow
- DLee's poor performance the since April (he was great when nobody was on base)
I was concerned about these things, but we played so well all season, i was hoping it wouldnt come back to bite us.
I guess we can hope for some LH Hitting in 2009, but even that wont get me excited till we get through the first round and have 2 wins in the NLCS.
Demp did handle the 9th inning last year. He had 3 blown saves, Kerry Wood had 6 this year.
Dempster also blew a non-save opportunity last year.
Kerry blew a non-save opportunity this year too, so no dice there. And Dempster actually had a lower ERA in save situations then Kerry.
Few things here:
First you were being a jackass for omitting Dempster's blowing the four run lead.
When did Wood blow a non-save?
What were their records in 1 run opportunities? 2 runs? Any monkey can get three run saves.
Just taking a quick glance through gamelogs, it looks like 7 of his saves came in 1 run games and 12 came in 2 run games. So 19 of 28 saves, which is pretty impressive no?
Kerry had 12 1-run saves and 9 2-run saves of 34 total saves. So, pretty comparable numbers.
And on the non-save situation thing, I was going by baseball reference's record in non-save situation stat, which shows Kerry with 1 loss. Haven't gone through to see which one that was. I think there was an overtime game he lost in.
I wasn't forgetting Demp's blown game against the Mets, but I think he gets an inordinate amount of hate for that one game. I also think we're hypocrites for how we look at different players. If Demp had blown 6 saves this year, he'd be crucified.
I'm not even saying it was a mistake to move Demp from the closer spot. He worked out well as a starting pitchers, and closers are overrated anyway. Starting pitching is far more important and he helped us this year. I just get sick of the flak Demp got last year and the blindness to Wood's inconsistencies.
love the right side-bar...cool stuff
Why in the hell did Hendry agree to give out NTCs like candy the last few years? Now it comes back to bite the Cubs in the ass, because without them, the Cubs would/should surely deal away Lee's mediocrity for a similar underwhelming contract like say, Jose Guillen (RF).
The Cubs could then target either Teixeira or Dunn in free agency for 1B, which would be a strong addition for the team.
I'd also be all for bringing in Furcal and Sabathia, but hey, it's not my money.
I gag at the thought of replacing Lee with Dunn. Just horrible.
Surely you can't be serious.
NTC these days mean less about loving your city and more about having total control of your trade situation and/or what payout it'll take for them to bribe you to leave.
they're becoming pretty common, but "movable" things that just gives players/agents control over their lives.
Lee is a 10/5 player after this season.
Correct me if i'm wrong but the NTC goes auto at that point.
correct, he had a NTC before this season to bridge the gap until his 10/5 rights.
Same for Soriano and Ramirez I believe....
It's the new owner's money, which is why I'm skeptical that the Yank-ification of the Cubs will continue.
I'm the world's biggest Jim Hickman fan, by the way, or maybe the second biggest, since you grabbed his name.
Doesn't an NTC just mean that the Cubs will have to pony up some dough to get him to sign off on a trade? Hendry always has extra cash for that sort of thing.
Adam Dunn is in physical danger when playing in the field. He needs to burn his mitts and get to the AL as soon as possible.
It's very weird when you look at it, but basically the only difference in Lee's stats from last year to this year is a 35 point drop in BABIP - which lowered his BA, OBP, and SLG. He also had nearly twice as many double plays, but this suggest that last year a few of those made it up the middle or through the hole in the left side. Almost all of his count stats were exactly the same. It's actually uncanny:
Runs - 91 / 93
Hits - 180 / 181
2B - 43 / 41
HR - 22 / 20
RBI - 82 / 90
SB - 6 / 8
BB - 71 / 71
SO - 114 / 119
TB - 291 / 288
I actually don't think we need to get rid of him. His defense is awesome. He is a leader. I think he is just slightly miscast. I think he'd be great in the 2-hole. He has a solid OBP, he hits to the right side a lot. He sees a lot of pitches. He is not terribly slow when on base.
Here would be my plan for 2009:
Find a lead-off 2B or SS. Play Theriot at the other position hitting 8th. Hit Lee 2nd, Ramirez-Soriano-Soto-DeRosa (RF) in some order from 3-6, although I like the order I have them in. Fukudome in CF hitting 7th. If he bombs again, let Pie play and hit there. And keep Johnson as a backup.
I also get rid of Cedeno because he is a turd. And I get rid of Ward and give his spot to Hoffpauer. I keep Blanco.
Add a really great hitter to this lineup and I would say Lee makes a great #2 hitter, but I don't see anyone in the lineup better suited for #3 than Lee. I really liked Rammy when he was a #5, and Soriano makes all sorts of sense at #6 (Soto also makes sense at 5 or 6). But bumping Soriano, Rammy, or Soto to the 3-hole is to miscast them in the same way that Lee has been miscast. But I guess if you are looking for slugging, Rammy makes as much sense as anyone on the roster for that spot.
The question is not, is Lee better than his replacement? The question is, is Lee better than his replacement PLUS whatever you would get in exchange for Lee? The team has an aggregate value that is maximized if you trade Lee for whatever he is worth, no more, no less, and get a lot of bats out of Hoffpauir.
To say, "I don't want to trade Lee, I like him," is a nonsequitur. Good luck trading guys you don't like.
No that's not a non sequitur. You may think it's a bad reason, but it's not a non sequitur. Nice big word droppage, though.
Steve Stone was just on WSCR and believes Cubs will try to trade Dlee.
Steve Stone says a lot of stuff...I don't think he's batting 1.000 or even .400.
there is no question in my mind that the cubs would like to deal dlee and make a run at tex but that is not an option.
who would take lee at this point and just not opt for tex. and if they want lee as the booby prize because they can't get tex then what do the cubs do? hoffpower? that's not the upgrade we need. unless we can get carlos beltran (not happening).
the problem and why the chances of this happening are somwhere between 0 and 0.5% are that to pull it off, you need to sign Teixeira first because you can't trade Lee away and then hope Teixeira agrees to sign. So if you do sign Teixeira, you then are banking on finding another team to make a deal, assuming they take the contract or most of it and that Lee will agree to all of it.
who would take lee at this point and just not opt for tex
Depends on what Teixeira is worth on the FA market. There are teams that can afford Lee at 2 years/$26M but not Teixeira at 6 years/$150M (and that's a smaller contract than Boras will ask for).
not a good year for the Midwest.
They were already dead to me.
hey, we made the playoffs 2 years in a row.
that alone is quite awesome a feat, for us.
but it wasnt our time!
someday hopefully before im a corpse it will be our time.
personally i dont think we will go all the way until #23 is at the helm after going his time in the minors.
no basis in logic whatsoever. just a feeling. or rather, one more thing my mind has convoluted to help cope with this years collapse.
I think the 2009 Cubs will look very much like the 2008 Cubs. Hendry will try to bring Dempster and Wood back, both for on-field ability, and apparently being the team leaders. I assume they'll also pay Harden's option.
Howry will go, new power arms will come from within--like Guzman and Hart. Cubs will add a new LOOGY or left handed reliever of some sort.
Only new position player will be at 2B (with DeRosa moving to RF) or RF. Johnson will be back. Pie may go in the deal for a 2B (like to Balt for Roberts), which would leave a Johnson/Fuku semi-platoon for CF (with Lou telling Fuku you have to hit to play).
Cubs won way more games than anyone in the NL in the regular season for a reason. Better talent, playing within themselves and doing what they could do to win.
All the crap I saw in the playoffs came from guys trying too hard:
--Dempster trying to be perfect once he got ahead and missing by a mile.
--Theriot trying to make the spectacular play in game 2 rather than just flagging the ball down.
--Soriano forgetting how well the Cubs did when he walked and set the table.
Next time Dempster starts game 1 of the playoffs, he'll be better at it. Next time Theriot will go for the easy play and not try to be Superman.
The best way for the Cubs get to have a next time is to not reinvent the wheel. Tee it up again with basically the same team, win the regular season marathon, and then hope they learned some lessons the last two playoffs.
So many thoughts about the end to what was my most enjoyable season as a Cubs fan up until last Wednesday (and I've been a fan since George Altman played with Banks, Santo & Williams):
1. The roster Hendry put together, the players skills, and Pinella were enough to win the NL Pennant.
2. The reason they didn't and haven't for 100 years has nothing to do with curses, goats, bad luck, etc.....they've either played worse than other teams or never had the players, coaching to compete. I wish the media would take all this 'over-the-top' crap and shove it up their laptops, but they won't until the Cubs finally do win a World Series. Meanwhile, we Cubs fans will have to continually listen to this crap ever year they make the playoffs.
3. Pinella made 3 major errors IMHO: First, he never should have let Dempster pitch after he walked Ramirez in the 5th. Samardzija or anyone except Marmol/Wood might have gotten out of the inning with a 2-0 lead. Two, he shouldn't have started Fukudome in Game 1 or 2 - this was about putting the best lineup on the field to win and not care about anyone's feelings. Third, I would have started Lilly in Game 3 - our best pitcher in September didn't pitch one inning in this series.
4. This series exposed the Cubs two most glaring weaknesses - no leadoff hitter, not enough LH hitters. No one could have expected Dempster to walk 7 hitters in 4 2/3 innings or the Cubs to make 6 errors in 3 games (much less 4 in one game).
5. If Hendry and his team remain in charge of the 2009 Cubs, they need to (in order of importance): (a) trade for B. Roberts or sign Furcal as a FA; (b) sign Abreu or Ibanez to RF (or name the LH OF of your choice); (c) trade Soriano to NYY, BOS, LAA, LAD, or NYM if at all possible - if not, he moves to 5th or 6th in the order; and (d) re-sign Dempster.
If they re-sign Dempster they still will have the best rotation in the NL with Z, Lilly, Harden, and Marquis. I wouldn't trade Marquis - name another 5th starter in baseball with 30 or more starts who had an ERA lower than Marquis, a better record, more IP, and whose team won more than half his starts.
I'd like to see this opening day 2009 Cubs lineup:
B. Roberts, 2b
B. Abreu, rf
A. Ramirez, 3b
D. Lee, 1b
I would re-sign Blanco to a reduced price 1-year contract, DeRosa would get 400+ ABs playing RF/LF/3B/2B, Hoffpauir would play 1B against a lot of RH pitchers.
I would wish Soriano great success as an AL DH.
Thanks Rob G., et al for OUTSTANDING coverage during this season.
Soriano is going nowhere, Hoffpauir is likely not taking playing time from Lee, and the Cubs certainly will not sign two of Ibanez and Abreu (I don't expect them to sign either). I wouldn't put it by Hendry to overpay for Roberts, but I don't know what the Cubs have left to give now that Hill sucked and Gallagher, Murton, and E-Patt have been traded off. The Orioles likely don't need more outfield and the Cubs are just about out of starting pitching prospects, since they need Marshall to fill in in case of injury.
Ibañez, Abreu and Pie/Johnson might be the worst defensive outfield in the history of the game.
It wouldn't be any worse than the Soriano, Fukudome, Manny outfield that was suggested in the comments on the previous post.
But, yes, that would be terrible and hey would be extremely overpaid with high risk that none of them hit all that well. At least Manny would crush the ball.
Unfortunately, we cannot count on the Astros, Brew and Cards to all have the problems they had in one season. Imo, 2008 was the best shot at a World Series we may have for who knows how long.
Secondly, our scouting of opponents needs improvements.
Finally, I do not believe that Lou Piniella will be able to win in the post-season as at this time in his life/career, he is unwilling to make the really tough decisions and have to confront difficult situations.
NO WAY Fukudome should have started. Secondly, KNOWING Soriano's HORRIBLE post-season BA, OBP, other managers would have considered moving him in the order.
Tonly LaRussa would not have as much of a problem with the above, imo.
I second George's comment above....
Thanks to all of the TCR crew for putting together another great season of work covering Cubs baseball.
This place truly makes it more enjoyable to be a Cubs fan.
To Angelfan wife:
even 100 win teams don't get a guarantee to go to the Championship series
...misery loves company
...so throw an F-bomb if it makes you feel better
Fucking Red Sox... (thanks Cubster I feel a tad better)
Still love my fucking Angels even though they crapped out out in the playoffs. Have to say though, as upsetting as tonight's loss was, it was nothing compared to the pain I felt for you guys this past Saturday.
On a side note I think Rob played it cool and downplayed our experience this past Saturday. We seriously didn't see it coming because generally Dodger fans fucking suck and were surprised they even knew they were leading in the series. Nonetheless, there were moments I felt like I was in Oakland at a Raider game, hoping I wasn't going to get a knife in the back when standing on one of the rare moments there was something to cheer for (and yes I have been to a Raider game). As much as it irritated my husband I wore my Angel cap, it got me some respect for having the guts to do so from our neighbors, who told us they would get our back if needed that night. So there you go...got to support your team no matter what...you guys know a little something about that don't you?
Needless to say its been less than a happy household around here as of late. I guess I'll just have to go look at my picture of Rob and I at game 7 of the World Series in 2002. :)
Lastly for Rob...
Don't worry honey, you still have your Mistress...
Dear (RobG's) AngelFanWife,
You are so cool. :)
I'm a Memphis fan. The national championship game, and the 4th and 27 conversion by Cincinnati in 2001 to keep the Tigers from their first bowl game in 31 years, were the only times sports have made me as bad as I felt in 2003.
What I'm saying is, frankly, I'd rather go out with a whimper like the past two seasons than feeling like I did on those occasions. It doesn't take away the numbness I still feel, but... there are worse ways to lose.
While I realize it's gonna be difficult to sell ownership on spending more big money on a FA big bat, I wonder if putting DLee in the #2 spot solves some problems.
DLee is obviously not a true #3 hitter (2005 was an aberration of power), and ARam is your *best* hitter- who lacks true cleanup hitter pop. So put DLee- a solid obp guy with great pop as a #2 hitter, then ARam a solid #3, and thumper as your cleanup- a guy who can hit .250 with 35-40 HRs. Soriano? Sure, his BA would go down and Ks go up, but that's what you expect out of your cleanup hitter.
Hendry has a hard-on for Roberts, who is your leadoff hitter. Then it goes:
as your 1-4. Does that work?
Regarding the above comments on Roberts: I thought he was a FA this year, not true? If the Cubs could get him, I'd be satisfied moving DeRosa to full-time RF and have Fukudome/Pie platoon with Johnson in CF.
I would really like to see Furcal at SS too, the Cubs can afford it.
1. Roberts, 2B
2. Furcal, SS
3. Ramirez, 3B
4. Soto, C
5. Soriano, LF
6. Lee, 1B
7. DeRosa, RF
8. Johnson/Fukudome/Pie, CF
Looks like a damn fine lineup to me.
here's a question for those of you who know about the inner workings of baseball than I:
I remember one of our managers (Dusty Baker, I think) being ejected or serving a suspension. And whoever it was made a comment in the press that it was far more nerve-racking to watch the game on TV, and that he was more frustrated and also that the game seemed more cut and dry. So, with this in mind, I have a couple of questions:
1.) Do MLB managers and teams have scouts or staff/coaches who watch the games on TV and communicate to the Manager during the game (akin to a football coach in the press box on headphones to the Head Coach). I ask this because often it is easier to really spot trends like the Cubs continuously swinging at pitches 6" low and outside, etc. and to get a different feel of the game by watching camera feeds. I know that they can see okay from the dugout, but certainly pitch location and pitcher/batter body language is more defined on a TV broadcast.
2.) Does anyone else think that the detachment of not being in the dugout is sometimes a more lucid perspective? Obviously you need to be in the dugout if you are a manager, pitching/batting coach, or basepath coach. But keeping in mind the Dusty baker (I think) comment I cited above I get the feeling there is a different perspective that one gets with a television, and that a team would benefit from having at least one coach working that angle with a live feed to the manager.
I'm not positive, but I believe that's not allowed. I agree it would make it easier to spot things like pitch location (especially because from the dugout you can basically only see if it's high/low, you can't really tell inside/outside.
But, I don't think it's legal because you'd be able to steal the opposing catcher's signs.
"I will serve it and I will learn from this experience," Piniella said before Monday night's game at Milwaukee. "These things won't happen again."
it was Lou who said that...then he watched Alan Trammel manage the team in Milwaukee in early June 2007. Lou was suspended 4 games after the dirt kicking incident with ump Mark Wegener vs the Braves when Cedeno was thrown out at 3B. Stoopid Cedeno.
The Cubs won 3 of the 4 games managed by Trammel (one vs the Braves, 2-3 vs Brewers)
and the TCR commentary...
The Angels, with the best record in the league, lost in the first round?
Blow up the team! Get rid of your only power/speed threat! Dump the manager that has won two division titles in a row! Sign Brian Roberts!!!!!
And THIS from Cubs.com...- sigh -
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"And when it all works, this is what it looks like, he said, referring to back-to-back postseasons and a 97-win season. It's like the Braves. That's the model -- the Braves and the Red Sox and the Yankees. Play like a big market, flex your muscle like a big market and hopefully perform like one on the field."
Pretty much what jimmer said in the other thread. He also mentions that payroll will be increased again next year.
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