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....

Comments

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.

http://thebiglead.com/?p=5182#more-5182

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.

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=...

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."

amen.

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

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  • jacos 25 min 43 sec ago view
  • For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.

    [Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]

    Charlie 1 hour 31 min ago view
  • tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.

    crunch 1 hour 38 min ago view
  • I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.

    Tito 4 hours 3 min ago view
  • I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.

    And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.

    When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.

    VirginiaPhil 4 hours 7 min ago view
  • Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.

    billybucks 4 hours 12 min ago view
  • I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.

    Tito 4 hours 15 min ago view
  • Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.

    My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.

    VirginiaPhil 4 hours 28 min ago view
  • Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.

    VirginiaPhil 4 hours 32 min ago view
  • HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.

    Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.

    Arizona Phil 4 hours 37 min ago view
  • Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?

    Hagsag 8 hours 22 min ago view
  • It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.

    Still impressive.

    John Beasley 8 hours 24 min ago view
  • Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.

    He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.

    billybucks 15 hours 18 min ago view
  • Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.

    Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.

    billybucks 15 hours 23 min ago view
  • 101 wins...most since 1910 (104).

    neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.

    crunch 15 hours 38 min ago view
  • Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?

    billybucks 15 hours 41 min ago view