TCR Friday Notes

...1,753 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.

- I had been on record saying that the Cubs choosing between Dempster, Marquis, Lieber and Marshall wasn't much of a choice at all. Just pick whatever shade of gray you're in the mood for and go from there. If anything, Marshall still having options made him the obvious choice to get sent down and be available when the inevitable injuries hit. Now that the decision has been made to go with Dempster and Marquis with Lieber to the pen and Marshall suddenly fighting for the LOOGY role, I will say I feel a bit reassured, at least in one area. 

Cubs pitchers have a tendency to run up their pitch counts early in games and it's particularly worrisome with Ryan Dempster early on, who still has to get use to pacing himself as a starter. But, with Lieber, Hart and possibly Marshall in the pen, that really shouldn't be much of a problem, as all three can go multiple innings. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Dempster and possibly Marquis will be getting some really quick hooks in their games this year to see Lieber come in for three to four innings.

- Sports Illustrated has gone and ruined our season, predicting us to lose in the World Series to the Detroit Tigers. I believe last year they picked the Los Angeles teams to square off and I'm sure we all remember how 2004 went after SI picked us to win it all. Curse you SI....

- Speaking of the Cubs and Tigers in the World Series, I stumbled across this gallery from the 1945 World Series.

- ESPN's Page2 goes through each and every painstaking year since we last won it all. 

- Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus takes a look at the Cubs signing of Reed Johnson and thinks it's another "uncreative use of resources", par for the Cubs' course.

- Doug Glanville's second career as a freelance writer sure looks promising. He writes in the New York Times about some of his past spring training exploits.

3 days until Opening Day....


I agree on the rotation, and I want to acknowledge that Mr. Hendry was pretty smart this offseason to stockpile/keep starting pitching. While I would rather have Haren or Santana et al, we have to be realistic, and I think he did a good job assembling cheap arms. The Leiber signing was brilliant, little money so limited downside.

I think we all learned from the 2006 pain how important pitching depth is.

And losing your top hitter of 2005 for most of the season.

hit it.

Big Lead has Cubs at 96 wins...yikes.

This mirrors my prediction. I see this team being like the 2004 Cardinals. They just keep winning and no one is quite sure why.

I'm not too worried about a prediction from the Perez Hilton of sports.

Sounds all well and good. But being realistic here. Where has this team really improved? Probably a marginal-good upgrade at catcher. Hopefully a lateral move in Center and Right field. Unless our new magical outfield defense is going to will us to 10-12 more wins? I just don't see this team as a 92-96 win Club. Keep in mind last year also, Zambrano and Lilly made 34 starts, Hill made 32 and Marquis made 33. Not since 2003 have we been so fortunate to keep our Starters so healthy.

From June 3rd til the end of the season (109 games - which, to me is long stretch of time) the Cubs went:

63-46 .577

Over 162 games that translates to 93 wins.

My point?

That the team last year proved that they could play .577 baseball. Even with small improvements (and I believe this team to be improved over last year years.

96 wins.

I'm with aaronb on this one...don't see the improvement in the lineup or the rotation. The bullpen and defense did get better.

Aramis is the only hitter I expect to improve from last year. 

Derrek, Soriano, DeRosa, Theriot...status quo or worse.

Fuku, offensively a slight improvement over what we had....maybe.

Everyone's expecting a big year from our one-year wonder prospect in Soto with no real back-up, but we have 20 contingency plans for Pie, who's been tearing up the minors for year.

87 wins without a big trade I say....

Soto doesn't have to do much to be an improvement over last year, though. Same goes for Pie/Johnson in CF and Theriot at SS:

2007 Cubs:
C: .239 .304 .369
SS: .254 .309 .331
CF: .254 .305 .404

I wouldn't be surprised at all if Lee's power came back (it looked to be there by the end of last season), in which case you can bump his line up nicely as well.

90 wins thanks to two trades: a surprisingly early one in early June and the addition of -- wait for it -- Brian Roberts in July.

Tell me why the Cubs can't continue to do, at least what they did last year when the played .577 baseball?

And remember, that's how the finished. It's not like they got off to a lucky start and went downhill from there once they were exposed (achem, Milwaukee). They proved that they could play at that level for an extended period of time. I see no reason why they can't do that over 162 and win at least 90 games.

Cubs spring optimism...feel it!!!

Maybe Soto does hit like Barrett did to start the year (who saw that coming last year?), maybe Fuku hits like JJ did to start the year, etc, etc, etc...

Personally, I don't see how we improved other than our bullpen and defense. Unless Soto and Pie do indeed put up 800 or above OPS numbers, but I'm not counting on it.

87 wins should be good enough and we probably do make a deal or two.

I don't think you are hearing me.

Who were the Cubs last year? The team that was 9 games under .500 on 6/3 or the team that played .577 for the rest of the year. Even if the Cubs where 4 games under on 6/3, everything else being equal, they would have won 90 last year.

It took some time for them to figure themselves out but they finally did.

oh geez, of course I "heard" you...

but I don't see how this team is bullet-proof from a 2-month swoon, whether it happens early, middle or late in the season or one month at a time. 

Our talent is older and extremely unlikely to get better (except Aramis) or so young, that nothing should be expected of them. They're not Brewer, Rockies or Dbacks young, where they've been around for a few years and improvement should be expected. We absolutely have no idea what we'll get from Soto and Pie. I mean, of course, we have some idea.

It's still a middle of the road offense with a good pitching staff, a staff made much better because of good defense behind them.

But damn Ryan Theriot is our leadoff hitter, might as well have Juan Pierre.

"but I don't see how this team is bullet-proof from a 2-month swoon"

This is the exact point of contention.

I say that the first two months of last year were the result of a team that hadn't found itself. Then Zambrano lands the shot heard round the world and they take off from there. i know all seasons will have an ebb and flow to them but i don't think that this team will play, at any point, 9 games under .500. See what I'm saying?

So the point I'm making is that if this team is oveall the same (unimproved) that this team is a .577 team. I think we will get better as I expect Dlee and Aram to crack 30+ homers each and while DLee's doubles made his slugging % look nice, we know that there is a big difference between them.

for the love of Ron Santo...I know what the hell you were saying, you're just going to be wrong. :)

Sigh. Nevermind.

I think this team will contend all year, and that won't be a super hard challenge in the division. I'd put the win total somewhere in the 83-90 range, with the lower totals probably being most likely. My main worry going into the season is the bottom of the rotation and the 'new' guys, Fukudome, Pie, and Soto. The bench isn't very good either, but Johnson makes it a little better than it was just a few days ago. The bullpen has a chance to be completely lights out. If Kerry Wood can stay healthy and effective it will be awesome, but I probably wouldn't bet on it.

will the cubs be playing regulers tonite and
then cut back a little on saturday.
hope he plays regulers tonite since the game
is on wgn at 9 central.

Cubs say it's not being talked about, local alderman says it has....

bunch of other stuff about the stadium sale.

Thanks for the link at BP.

Silver writes, "A year ago, I might have blasted this transaction — but the platoon splits make clear that Johnson provides a pretty substantial upgrade over Pie against left-handed pitching."

That is the summary.

What the writer does not mention is how Murton's defensive liabilities will subtract from his offensive production. I really like orange guy as a solid hitter - but his limitations and lack of versitility has hurt his opportunity to stay with the Cubs anymore.

"we got a full tank of gas, half pack of cigarettes"

Do you enjoy being broke? *grump*

was listening to the score, and frankly I am sick of the same old stereotypes and cliches regarding cubs fans. The Mike North fill in was rambling on and on about how cubs fans give Hendry a pass and sox fans hold Kenny accountable. Not sure that moron has ever spent a day reading manny posts on TCR. We are not drunk, baseball ignorant, status quo fans. Wake up to 2008.

p.s. Red Sox nation? Yankee nation? When will people start using facts to declare the nation's team? outselling all clubs in spring attendance? I believe record setting day 1 ticket sales. I believe record setting sell out streaks? we are more than meets the eye you bone heads.

Nicely said Bigz

Mike North is the village idiot of Chicago sports radio.

Which is really saying something.

he was out today, was another guy filling in.

Boers and Bernstein are the only guys on the radio here with a real thought.

Mike North proclaimed a month ago he would take Jazz/Illini alum Jeron Williams over Lebron James.

Nuff said.

...should read Vegas, baby. Vegas.

"I had been on record saying that the Cubs choosing between Dempster, Marquis, Lieber and Marshall wasn't much of a choice at all. Just pick whatever shade of gray you're in the mood for and go from there."


i still like dumpster the starter, though...not like im expecting anything more than a 3.75-4.25 ERA type pitcher...aka, almost everyone else on that list up there give or take an opinion or two (personally, i still think lieber is a disaster).

i just hope the "september dumpster" isnt the one that shows up...i'd much prefer the one that gave up a handful of homers in the 2 years before sept. 07.

and yeah...just how many 6+ inning games can this guy work? even though i like the dumpster-the-starter move i'm still very concerned about that one.

Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • 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. 

  • 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?

  • AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?

  • Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.

  • AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.

  • I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.

    But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.

  • Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.

    Jason deGrom -- oh, my.

  • Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.

    Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.

  • Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.

    Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.

  • that game sounds fun as hell.