I Know You Are, But What Am I?

GAME 61 PREVIEW BOSTON RED SOX (32-29) at CHICAGO CUBS (33-27) Wrigley Field, 7:05pm CT, TV: ESPN
"The Cubs are just simply not a good team. They beat a lackadaisal, average team twice in a row and will likely sweep, but that doesnít make them good. Their closer is highly unimpressive. I donít like their bullpen. Zambrano now is an injury concern, what with his blister before and turf toe. Take Derrek Lee and Neifi Perez out of the equation, and theyíre lousy. Perez and Lee, repeating last year, and this club is below .500. Theyíre not a good club, period." --Evan Brunell, Fire Brand of the American League
And if a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass a-hoppin'. Replace "Zambrano" with "Schilling" and "Lee and Perez" with "Ortiz," and it's like looking in a mirror, isn't it, Evan? I'm not too upset, though. It must be hard when you finally win a World Series and then, a third-of the way through the next season, you're in danger of finishing behind a team that you beat by twenty games last year. So, I can understand the frustration. Tonight, Glendon Rusch takes on knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. If the wind is blowing out, that'll be good for Wake and bad for the Cubs bats, so think "lake breeze" thoughts.
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Comments

He also says Glendon Rusch is having a terribly fluky season - this from the guy who sponsored Tim Wakefield's Baseball Reference page.

Wakefield's ERA+ was 157 in 2002 in boston. Career - 109. That sounds almost like a......what would you call it.....

fluke.

Interesting point about the Cubs not being as good without Lee or Perez. And if you replaced Perez with a pony and Lee with an oak coffee table the Cubs would be sooooo bad. And if you made the Cubs bat with those little squiggly fun straws instead of bats they'd be horrible. HORRIBLE!

Nice argument.

Without his bicycle, Lance Armstrong probably wouldn't win the Tour de France every year, either.

Without Woods, Prior and Garciaparra the Cubs
would finish dead last.

without Schilling the Red Sox would be .500

WOW. That is maybe the dumbest set of arguments I have ever heard. The funniest thing is a Red Sox fan critizing the Cubs' bullpen.....or ANY bullpen for that matter (good work this year Keith Foulke!).

No matter, though. If our "suckiness" continues to become apparent to opposing fans only after we commence with sweeps of their respective teams, I guess I'll take that!

Go watch the video on mlb.com and see the real arrogance that the Red Sox fans have. I know the video is there to stir up controversy. However there were a couple of comments that left me dumbfounded. I guy said that the "Monster" seats were better than the Bleachers. His argument was the "Monster" seats were closer to the field. That might be true, if it weren't for the 40 ft. drop below you to the playing field. One guy also said the Cubs can't have better fans, because the Red Sox have a "nation." I understand that the Red Sox are the team of New England, but I think in an ESPN poll a couple of years ago the Cubs were the favorite professional team of both Iowa and Nebraska.

Go watch the video on mlb.com and see the real arrogance that the Red Sox fans have. I know the video is there to stir up controversy. However there were a couple of comments that left me dumbfounded. I guy said that the "Monster" seats were better than the Bleachers. His argument was the "Monster" seats were closer to the field. That might be true, if it weren't for the 40 ft. drop below you to the playing field. One guy also said the Cubs can't have better fans, because the Red Sox have a "nation." I understand that the Red Sox are the team of New England, but I think in an ESPN poll a couple of years ago the Cubs were the favorite professional team of both Iowa and Nebraska, along with a lot of other parts of the Midwest/country.

I don't know why anyone would make those comments, saying that we WOULD be below .500 without D.Lee and Perez-- It may or may not be true, but well... we're NOT. We're above .500 and we've got a better record than the Red Sox.

Despite all of that I definitely think there's more love between Bosox and Cubs fans than there is animosity. This was furthermore cemented when the Sox swept the Cards in the WS... seriously, how could you not appreciate that?

Some of the senseless theories that have abounded around TCR the last 2 months, that I think we can put to sleep for awhile:

1- Cubs are playing .500 ball against bad teams wait till they play against "good teams".
2- Cubs are a only a .500 team. (They are 33-27 and on pcae for 89 wins, even with all the injuries)
3- Cubs will be sellers in July. (Right, Cubfan?)
4- Dusty has no control of his team. (They only have won 15 of 20 since the team meeting Dusty called.)
5- Fire Dusty. (HA HA Where would they be without him the last 2 years with these injures?)
6- Dusty doesn't want to be here and will leave after this year. (Besides some wishful thinking, this is just another unproven grab at an unrealistic idea.)

I was at Saturday's game, and it was as close of a playoff atmoshpere I have seen in the regular season. Even more so than the game I was at vs. NYY in 2003 and Clemens going for 300. The Cubs coming back from 4-0 agaisnt teh reigning World Champs, shows me this team is primed for a run this year.

Props so far to Baker for going back to Holly, wow has he performed great the last week or so. I wouldn't of done it, as I would of left Dubois out there to sink or swin (he was still treading water in my eyes), but it has paid of huge so far the past week as Holly has driven in some big runs.

SWEEP tonight!!!!!!

In Dusty We Trusty!!!!

But Boston is so cool, you guys! We've got God on our side! Sometimes, he pitches through me!

As per my reply in the comments on FB:

"CubNation - I think you know just as well as I do that that statement on how the Cubs are similiar to the Red Sox is laughably false, so I won't bother refuting it. On your last paragraph though, I have to disagree with you. Many teams a year after winning a World Series have slipped. I'm not upset at being behind the Orioles. DISCLOSURE TIME: The Orioles are one of my favorite MLB teams. Heresy I know, but I root for them to win every time they do not play the Red Sox or Indians. It's just hard thsi year because I root for them to both win and lose.

Also, why would I be fustrated by finishing behind a team that we beat by 20 games last year? What does that have to do with anything? If it was the 2004 Orioles, then yeah, I'd be pissed. But this is the 2005 Orioles, and they're in first, as they should be, and the Yankees are fourth."

And what does sponsoring Wakefield's BR page have to do with how good he is? Can't I sponsor my favorite player on BR, regardless of talent? You guys are ridiculous.

If you again, read my blog and try to get the full story and not the ABBREVIATED version that ran here, you'd then see I give the Cubs credit. Shame on you, Ruz, only providing part of the story. Here it is:

"But Ö they have momentum, they have the spark. Theyíre playing with clarity, with that extra spring in their step, and thatís carrying them higher than they should be, itís making them into a good team. God help the fans if the team loses that extra spring, because theyíll tilt back into mediocrity (any team with Jose Macias, Jerry Hairston, Enrique Wilson and Henry Blanco on it is automatically not good)."

And Dempster is just not that good. Foulke is the ONLY reliever EVER to have 7 straight season of 75 IP or more with an ERA under 3. Think about that for a while. And think about Foulke's statistics since May 3rd, while you're at it.

Oh, let me just tell you for the fun of it.

Foulke is baaaack.

Come on, guys. Do some research.

And Curt Schilling is an idiot.

I did some research and for the last 5 seasons, including this season the Cubs outdrew the Red Sox on the road and the Red Sox outdrew the Cubs at home, percentage attendance wise. This season is different, with the Cubs outdrawing at home and the Red Sox on the road.

"Props so far to Baker for going back to Holly, wow has he performed great the last week or so. -- MannyTrillo"

He's not playing tonight. Dubois is.

In Dusty We Trusty!!!!

CUBSWINTHEPENNANT:
"Without Woods, Prior and Garciaparra the Cubs..."

It is Kerry WOOD, not WOODS. Last time I checked Tiger Woods played golf.

Sorry, but it is a pet peeve of mine and others on here to at least get his name right.

The Cubs are on a pace to win 89 games....

So what else is new? The Cubs have been playing at the same winning percentage under Dusty Baker no matter who's injured or what year it is.

The real question is, Will the Cubs ever break out above .550 under Dusty Baker? Will this be the year?

CUBSWINTHEPENNANT:
"He's (Holly) not playing tonight. Dubois is."

Thanks for the lineup update... I wonder if Holly doesn't like knuckleballers??

People who transpose letters are my pet peeve but I would never be so fricking anal as to bitch at you about it.

"I was at Saturday's game, and it was as close of a playoff atmoshpere I have seen in the regular season. Even more so than the game I was at vs. NYY in 2003 and Clemens going for 300. The Cubs coming back from 4-0 agaisnt teh"

And if you look at the keyboard the "s" key is just to the left of the "d" key so that it's very easy to inadvertently hit the s after a d.

And I can't believe I'm bothering to explain this to you.

You need rest, Manny.

Thanks CUBSWINTHEPENNANT!!!

I appreciate you pointing out my typos.

Go Cubs!!!

Evan,

Maybe it's just me, but the supposed "credit" you gave the Cubs appeared to be nothing but a few more backhanded jabs. The fact of the matter is the Red Sox are good, but are going nowhere fast unless they overhaul that terrible, terrible bullpen very quickly.

The Cubs are probably a 90-95 win team, with the possibility of a few more if the injury situation improves and some key deals are made.

hey, our closer did get hit a little bit last night but he still kept the win, and besides, dusty must have been talking to him about how we haven't been winning enough one run games...

I'm sorry, Evan, but I've just been going through Foulke's appearances on MLB.tv because I was thinking about trying to acquire him in my fantasy league (I think that counts as research), and the very last thing he is right now is "baaaack". His fastball velocity is down (86-87mph now, as opposed to its usual 90-91) and his control of the pitch right now is pretty poor. He's leaving a lot up and he's missing some spots pretty badly. And the slider he's experimenting with is sub-standard, and he really should give up on that. I dread to think what Foulke's numbers would be like if it wasn't for his changeup, which looks as good as ever to me.

As it is, his numbers are still monumentally disappointing, even if you only look at since May 3rd as you request (4.20 ERA, 15 IP, 16 H, 1 HR, 5 BB, 11 K). Before that of course he was a whole lot worse (7.62 ERA, 13 IP, 16 H, 5 HR, 5 BB, 7 K). I suppose then he has improved, but he's still got a long way to go, and he's not going to get there without refinding his fastball.

One last thing, what's he done with his motion? It hasn't quite got that same balk-like pause in it that screws with the hitter's timing.

He's a truly great reliever. Not this year though.

And I'm also sorry, Evan, but you can't write things like "they're not a good club, period", and then retort that your comments have been taken out of the overall context of your argument.

Unfortunately for yourself, you're wrong in that assessment. These Cubs are a good ballclub, albeit not a very good one. Besides Lee and Neifi (actually, Neifi's a strange inclusion given the emptyness of his batting average), you clumsily neglect to mention Ramirez, Nomar, Walker, Barrett and Patterson from the lineup alone. Each and every one of those players is comfortably above average when playing at their natural level - yes, even the underperforming Patterson, of whom I think you'll find your very own Theo is an admirer. Really the Cubs are one big corner outfield bat short of a really good lineup. Fortunately, the Cubs have the kind of young pitching trading chips, and the right GM, to pull off a move to net us that exact player, or at least I live in hope.

It's strange that you neglected to mention the rotation - Prior, Wood, Zambrano, Maddux and Rusch, and Mitre as the sixth starter. Clumsy of you. With the exception of Rusch and Mitre, those names speak for themselves. Rusch certainly has been lucky this year, but, even if he's not Cy Young as his ERA right now would suggest, he's still a good pitcher, and very much above average for a back of the rotation starter (you might like to check out his numbers last year, and bear in mind he forced your Matt Clement out of the rotation in September). Mitre meanwhile is a promising-ish young arm.

The bullpen has largely settled down and been decent, led by a few largely unknown names, which is doubtless why you don't like it. It's by no means a great bullpen, but it's not that bad either as long as Dempster keeps going at the back end of it. Will he? It's too early in the experiment to say, but the results so far have been encouraging. Highly unimpressive? Maybe, if the only closer that comes close to impressing you is Eric Gagne.

And the bench. Well, you got that bit largely right, useful contributor Jerry Hairston aside (and Todd Hollandsworth is also a decent fourth outfielder). Otherwise, it's a disaster. Needlessly too, because the Cubs have Ben Grieve and Mike Fontenot at Iowa, and both are not only ready but better than Macias/Wilson and the surplus bullpen arm of Bartosh.

What's that? It's not fair to include Prior, Wood and Nomar in things when they're injured? Sorry, mate, you must include more caveats in your "they're not a good ballclub, period", because, injured or not, those three belong to the ballclub. Without those three, I think this team is alright (definately not as great as they've been playing lately, but a long way from being just mediocre or even bad). With them, hopefully from about the break onwards, I think this team is good and can go places. And with an extra deadline acquisition or two as well, really good and really going places.

CUBSWINTHEPENNANT - Manny wasn't pointing out a typo, at least he didn't think he was. Fully 30-40% of Cub "fans" still believe his name is Kerry Woods. I've actually argued with people on this point.

It's one of my pet peeves too, if your a fan learn the name, so I see where he's coming from. More often than not it isn't a simple typo.

Mark - believe me, it wasn't a backhand jab. They're playing with the clarity and crispness of the Red Sox of 2004 lore, from August on to our World Series. Out of all the Red Sox opponents thus far (so that excludes the Nationals, the White Sox, etc.) the Cubs easily are the one who have the best chance to win the World Series.

Look at the Red Sox - supremely talented and stumbling. Now think of the Cubs in the same playce, they wouldnt bee 11-17 over the 28 previous games, they'd be something likek 2-26. An exaggeration, but certainly worse than 11-17. That was my main point.

John, you provide a compelling argument. I don't buy it, but of course you're a Cubs fan, I'm not. Everyone has rose colored glasses.

Frankly, I don't have the time (call it lazy if you want) nor the want to focus on the Cubs to refute your claims, but I will say that when I talked about the Cubs right now, I talked about them sans Nomar and Prior and Wood because whaddya know, they're not playing!!

So no, not clumsy of me. I'm talking the Cubs 25-man roster as assembled June 12th, 2004. I could go on and break down each of your claims, but again, I just don't want to waste my time on it.

PS: Also kudos for looking up Foulke from May 2nd. Now look him up from May 17. He's been solid for a while.

Okay, I'm getting warmed up, so what the hell...

We talked about Foulke, so I'm going to ignore that point except to say that you should watch some more MLB.tv because he's been crisper with velocity, command, and movement as of late.

"you clumsily neglect to mention Ramirez, Nomar, Walker, Barrett and Patterson from the lineup alone."

Patterson has been booed unmercifully by you guys, so I'm ignoring them. Ramirez is good, but my POINT was that Lee and Neifi are performing above where they usually are (and save the Lee love. He's good, but career wise, is above where he should be. Maybe he's reached a new level, if he has, great. But right now it's above where he usually is and you can't count on him to sustain it, Neifi either). Nomar is out, as I stated, so he's not a Cub. Barrett is a very good catcher, and Walker has no range defensively, but is good for the stick, like he was for us.

"Really the Cubs are one big corner outfield bat short of a really good lineup. Fortunately, the Cubs have the kind of young pitching trading chips, and the right GM, to pull off a move to net us that exact player, or at least I live in hope."

I don't think it'll happen. I also think you HAD that bat in Sosa, and you made a terrible trade. Say what you want about having to get rid of him, with the $ you are paying, and the players you got in return, it was a TERRIBLE trade.

"It's strange that you neglected to mention the rotation - Prior, Wood, Zambrano, Maddux and Rusch, and Mitre as the sixth starter. Clumsy of you. With the exception of Rusch and Mitre, those names speak for themselves. Rusch certainly has been lucky this year, but, even if he's not Cy Young as his ERA right now would suggest, he's still a good pitcher, and very much above average for a back of the rotation starter (you might like to check out his numbers last year, and bear in mind he forced your Matt Clement out of the rotation in September). Mitre meanwhile is a promising-ish young arm."

Again, Prior and Wood are not on the team.

Rusch, as someone left in my FB comments, made me retract my Rusch fluke statement. Maddux is not his former self and is just merely a good #4 at this point, his ERA is around 4.00. Good for his age, and good for the rotation, but not a stud anymore. Mitre, is too early to say anything on, and you even admit that. Don't count on Mitre. Zambrano, as someone said in the FB comments, keeps getting hurt but finds a way to get out there. Fair enough, but when is the big injury coming?

"The bullpen has largely settled down and been decent, led by a few largely unknown names, which is doubtless why you don't like it. It's by no means a great bullpen, but it's not that bad either as long as Dempster keeps going at the back end of it. Will he? It's too early in the experiment to say, but the results so far have been encouraging. Highly unimpressive? Maybe, if the only closer that comes close to impressing you is Eric Gagne."

You're probably right. I don't know enough about the bullpen, much less the unknown names, to say anything. I will say this - they're unknown for a reason. Also, Boston has not hit Maddux and Zambrano, but they've hit the bullpen.

"And the bench. Well, you got that bit largely right, useful contributor Jerry Hairston aside (and Todd Hollandsworth is also a decent fourth outfielder). Otherwise, it's a disaster. Needlessly too, because the Cubs have Ben Grieve and Mike Fontenot at Iowa, and both are not only ready but better than Macias/Wilson and the surplus bullpen arm of Bartosh."

The Red Sox won last year on the strength of their bench, and arne't this year because our bench is less deep. Payton is no Kapler. You guys cannot overlook the importance of the bench. It is the ONE thing that I feel comfortable saying will 100000000% be your downfall. I don't care if Prior and Wood come back and aren't scored upon the rest of the way or Dubois morphs into Barry Bonds, you aren't winning it with that bench.

"What's that? It's not fair to include Prior, Wood and Nomar in things when they're injured? Sorry, mate, you must include more caveats in your "they're not a good ballclub, period", because, injured or not, those three belong to the ballclub."

They aren't playing, so I'm not including them. Fair or not, it's fair to me. They were not included in my assessment of the Cubs, and won't be until their back. Why should they be? You don't play, you don't get included in the assessment. Now let's include them.

One of the best rotations in the game, when Wood and Prior are healthy, which they never seem to be.

Nomar has shown he is no longer the superstar he was. Since the trade he has hit .264 .332 .389. Stop counting on Nomar. We did during 2003.

Evan-

Please pass on the wisdome that comparing "Cub Nation" with "Red Sox Nation" is laughably false?

"It's one of my pet peeves too, if your a fan learn the name, so I see where he's coming from. More often than not it isn't a simple typo.
Posted by: Eric (paytonrules)"

You misspelled "you're" again. I wouldn't have mentoned it but you're being an ass.

People still insist on saying the Cubs and Red Sox are brothers in arms.

It's like they want to forget the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series.

Yes, we can identify with the fact that it's been a long time since you won it, but now we can't identify with your fustration because we finally got it.

And you can't identify with our current fustration because we finally won it and now they're reverting to the Sox of old. (Although they finally looked crisp tonight, except for waste of space Bellhorn.)

All you guys got are the White Sox (ewwwwwww!!! right?)

The media saturation is just tiring, and it put me in a bad mood this weekend. I know most of you just met me over this weekend, and I want to apologize for my blunt and not so glossy statements (read, curt) and I apologize, it's been a rough weekend both baseball, media, and personal life wise.

I do hope for a Cubs Red Sox world series, though. One day we'll get there.

And we'll win.

;P

take half my 10 dollars away, and ill have 5 dollars.

unlike most cub fans, i hate the red sox.

i hate their stupid culture, their stupid overrated ballpark, and their stupid ugly players.

The Red Sox are the Yankees sans Steinbrenner.

Eric (post #24)-
Thanks man...exactly. When I screw up, it is clearly a typo. But like you said, sadly, many "Cubs fans" think Kerry Wood's name is Kerry Woods. And not becuase of a typo, they really think that is his name...ugh!!

CUBSWINTHEPENNANT:
"You misspelled "you're" again. I wouldn't have mentoned it but you're being an ass."

Very classy...

Evan-
As a diehard Cubs fan and season ticket holder I can care less what you say about the Cubs. You said all your favorite teams are AL teams, so how much do you really follow NL baseball?? As you mentioned "Frankly, I don't have the time nor the want to focus on the Cubs..."

Well, if you don't follow the team on a everyday basis, or even want to follow them, except for the last 3 days when they lost the series to the Cubs, why should I care what you think about my team? Sounds more like sour grapes than a truly unbiased, informed assesment of a team I am 100 times more familiar with.

I think you have enough worries as a BOS blog "writer" with this 2nd highest payroll team not even being in the playoffs, then to worry about the Cubs.

Like I said to the many BOS fans who came up to me Saturday after the game offering their congrats...
"Good luck the rest of the season, as I can care less what you do."

You should look at the Cubs the same....

According to BP.com's Post Season odds, the cubs are at 51.55 and have a better chance at winning the division, than the yankees and red sox do at making the post season, combined.

MannyTrillo - you pretty much nailed it on the head about not caring what the Red Sox do the rest of the season. I don't care what the Cubs do the rest of the season now... but I did this weekend!

As for your inquiry into my favorite teams, here they are:

Boston, Cleveland, Baltimore, San Diego, San Francisco, Pittsburgh. (The latter four are in no order).

Oh, and PS:

"Well, if you don't follow the team on a everyday basis, or even want to follow them, except for the last 3 days when they lost the series to the Cubs, why should I care what you think about my team?"

You shouldn't. You know more about the Cubs than me. But everyone has an opinion, right?

However, I don't know NOTHING about them. I read every single team's blog on A-B, and on MVN as well. So while I may not want to follow the Cubs, I do know what's going on with them via TCR and BTI, as with every other team.

"It's one of my pet peeves too, if your a fan learn the name, so I see where he's coming from. More often than not it isn't a simple typo.
Posted by: Eric (paytonrules)"

You misspelled "you're" again. I wouldn't have mentoned it but you're being an ass.

Just reprinting it here to point out the irony.

I don't think anybody from the Cubs side of things have said the Cubs and Red Sox are "brothers and arms." Frankly, and judging from the tone of this board, Cub fans wish the national media would just shy away from: a. the curse of the goat and b. this "connection" with Boston. All of this, "I hope you win won now" and hand holding is really annoying. To put it bluntly, if the Cubs win the 2005 World Series, I sure as hell will not going to be thinking about how neat it was that the Red Sox won it in 2004. Just as the Red Sox fans were not thinking about the Cubs either last year.

Evan- "They aren't playing, so I'm not including them. Fair or not, it's fair to me. They were not included in my assessment of the Cubs, and won't be until their back. Why should they be? You don't play, you don't get included in the assessment."

Alright, fair enough... now on the flip side:

Evan-- "Take Derrek Lee and Neifi Perez out of the equation, and theyíre lousy. Perez and Lee, repeating last year, and this club is below .500. Theyíre not a good club, period.î

So, why are we taking them out of the equation? Sure, their career numbers may not be as high as their current performance, but... they ARE performing, right? They're on the team, they're playing right now, and they're playing well. So why not count them?

And of course we all have opinions, but can't we at least be consistent/fair in forming them?

Good point, BC. Lee and Neifi should be counted. A little "having it both ways". Sorry about that.

RE Opinion comment: It makes sense to them but it doesn't come out that way. I probably thought too rashly, but I had a puppy tearing all over the room trying to keep an eye on both him, the game, my friends I was talking to, and my comment. Lesson for me to think things through more clearly, eh?

Perfectly understandable. My own puppy, she enjoys waiting for me to look away before tearing into things =) How are they so smart and so dumb at the same time?

Mine loves to play dumb. He knows what's going on when it's playtime and time to eat, but oops I didnt know I wasn't supposed to go potty there...

>>> Take Derrek Lee and Neifi Perez out of the equation, and theyíre lousy. Perez and Lee, repeating last year, and this club is below .500. Theyíre not a good club, period.î

By the way Foulke's stats since May 27:

1-0
2 Saves
1.50 ERA
6 IP
K/BB-1
WHIP-1.3333333333

Evan--"I will say that when I talked about the Cubs right now, I talked about them sans Nomar and Prior and Wood because whaddya know, they're not playing!!"

That'd be all well and good, except your most damning quotes didn't include any "right now" caveats. If you'd written "Take Derrek Lee and Neifi Perez out of the equation, and right now theyíre lousy", or even "Take Derrek Lee and Neifi Perez, plus the injured Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Nomar Garciaparra, out of the equation, and they're lousy", then what you'd written may have had a little more weight to it. I know this is as much a matter of words as anything else, but you're a writer, and using words to clearly convey your exact intent is your job, as is mine.

Evan--"Also kudos for looking up Foulke from May 2nd. Now look him up from May 17. He's been solid for a while."

I'm well aware of Foulke's numbers in their entirety, regardless of which date you want to cherry-pick. But, let's look at Foulke's numbers since May 17th anyway (3.00 ERA, 9 IP, 11 H, 0 HR, 2 BB, 5 K). Ignoring the obvious sample size issue that makes this a thoroughly pointless exercise, since he's a bad outing away from a high post-May 17th ERA, those perhipheral numbers alone bear out the fact that he's not looking good and that his fastball is nowhere near there yet - he's not striking as many out, as a result he's allowing a lot of (hard hit) balls in play, as a result he's allowing a lot hits. He hasn't allowed a home run, so that's a step in the right direction, but his control has been a lot worse than those two walks suggest. He's not hitting his spots, and when he misses over the plate, he's getting hit. If his peripheral numbers remain weak, largely because his fastball is a disappointment, that bad outing won't be too far away either. And he should give up with that slider.

Evan--"We talked about Foulke, so I'm going to ignore that point except to say that you should watch some more MLB.tv because he's been crisper with velocity, command, and movement as of late."

If you say so, Evan, if you say so. I've watched all the MLB.tv there is to watch on Foulke, and his fastball has routinely been 86-87 every single time, last time (June 8th) as a month ago. Movement on his fastball was never the problem. His command has been improving, yes, I've acknowledged that, but it's still not anywhere near his usual level of hitting just about every single spot.

Evan--"Patterson has been booed unmercifully by you guys, so I'm ignoring them."

What a ridiculous argument.

I don't know whether the Fenway faithful are booing Manny Ramirez, I have the fortune of not watching many Red Sox games, but, whatever, he's hitting .248. Who cares if that counts as underperforming, he's just not hitting right now, so I'm afraid I'm just going to have to disregard the existence of Manny Ramirez. Therefore, if David Ortiz cooled off, you'd have a lousy team. Or something. Yuh, right, whatever.

Evan--"Ramirez is good, but my POINT was that Lee and Neifi are performing above where they usually are"

Like heck it was. Your point was that Lee and Neifi are performing above where they usually are and everyone else is pretty ordinary. So far, with a few glaring exceptions, the rest of the team has been pretty ordinary. But that overlooks the fact that the ordinary (or worse) performance we've got from a number of players so far represents underperforming (or not playing at all), and that therefore we can expect improvements from them to help off-set the coming back down to earth of players such as Lee, Neifi and Rusch (and let me be categorical about this, those three will all come back down to earth). Overall, I think the sum of the performances the Cubs have got out of their players so far this year is roughly right. The way that whole sum has been split up between the players is, of course, surprising. That doesn't mean it's necessarily unsustainable, and in my view, biased or not in your view, it's not unsustainable.

Evan--"I also think you HAD that bat in Sosa, and you made a terrible trade. Say what you want about having to get rid of him, with the $ you are paying, and the players you got in return, it was a TERRIBLE trade."

I agree it was a terrible trade. I disagree with the reason for it being a terrible trade being that Sosa is that big bat we're now missing. After all, Sosa's performance so far this year in Baltimore (.251/.312/.444 in 191 PA, plus time missed to injury) has been worse than Jeromy Burnitz's, and I'm not happy with him in right field either. If it wasn't entirely clear Sosa was well past his peak last year, it surely is now. I don't miss Sosa one bit.

In my view, it was a terrible trade more because the Cubs handled the public relations side of things terribly, and backed themselves into a corner from which they were unable to demand the kind of return that a name like Sosa should demand, regardless of the fact that he's no longer the same player he once was. The Cubs aren't worse off for not having Sosa, but they are worse off for getting nothing but a useful utility player, a bench player (currently wrongly in Triple-A) and a retired minor league arm for him. It was a pathetic haul.

We'd still be a big bat short even with Sosa.

Evan--"Rusch, as someone left in my FB comments, made me retract my Rusch fluke statement."

Wow, out of all the things you said, the one thing you choose to retract and, somehow, you stumble upon retracting something you shouldn't even be retracting it. Rusch having an ERA touching 2.00 was a fluke.

Evan--"Maddux is not his former self and is just merely a good #4 at this point, his ERA is around 4.00. Good for his age, and good for the rotation, but not a stud anymore.
"

You'd take Greg Maddux as your number four. Obviously he's not a stud anymore. But he's still better than every other number four in the game. Name me a fourth starter you'd rather have.

And since when are you in a position to tell us not to count on Mitre? Firstly, he's typically our sixth starter, and so we're obviously not counting on him. Secondly, I bet you don't even know his first name. After all, you "don't have the time (call it lazy if you want) nor the want to focus on the Cubs". I'm not going to start lecturing the Red Sox on Abe Alvarez. Save us uninsightful comments on Sergio Mitre then.

Our rotation, even without Prior and Wood, is still better than yours. Matt Clement is your ace right now, I think that says it all. We, meanwhile, will take our chances with Carlos Zambrano's health, thank you very much.

Evan--"You're probably right. I don't know enough about the bullpen, much less the unknown names, to say anything. I will say this - they're unknown for a reason."

You're right, the reason being you don't follow the Cubs.

Your comments on our bench are still fair. I don't disagree with them. Do me a favour, enlighten Dusty Baker on the subject. You think we here don't spend an eternity whining about Jose Macias?

Evan--"Fair or not, it's fair to me."

That's nice.

Evan--"Nomar has shown he is no longer the superstar he was. Since the trade he has hit .264 .332 .389."

Yes, an 6-for-46 (.130) slump will do that for your numbers if the total sample size is only just over 200 at-bats. Todd Helton went 6-for-63 (.095) between 05/15 and 06/04 inclusive. I guess that means he's finished, done for, kaput as a superstar. Your very own oh so super Nomar replacement Edgar Renteria is currently in a 6-for-43 (.140) slump in June. And your very own Manny Ramirez went went 9-for-57 (.158) between 05/02 and 05/21 inclusive. Maybe you should stop counting on him.

The only differences between Nomar's slump and the slumps those other four others players are one) Nomar's slump happened right at the beginning of the season where it's much more glaring and two) Nomar got injured before he got the opportunity to turn things around. And turn things around he would have done, because baseball is all about hot and cold streaks, and hot follows cold as cold follows hot.

Last year, Nomar hit .297/.364/.455 for the Cubs whilst playing injured (which you could really tell from his fielding). I think that's a lot closer to the kind of performance we can expect from him that the misleading numbers you post.

Hell of a rebuttal John.

Don't mess with John Hill. He gives you a reason for his argument and then gives about 6 statistics to back it up. I'm glad he's on our side.

Can't we all get along? I think anyone who watched the Sunday night game on ESPN realizes that Joe Morgan is the true enemy. God, what a pompous jackass. Can someone on TCR flay him a bit in a future post?

At one point, in the middle of a Sosa hand-job, he said something like "superstars can never be replaced by replacements".

I had to mute the fucking TV to keep from kicking the dog in frustration

Excellent rebuttal John! Im impressed. You've pretty much swayed me with a few exceptions. Here they are.

Oh, and as for Foulke, let's just agree to disagree. I guess that's fair enough.

I don't know whether the Fenway faithful are
booing Manny Ramirez

We aren't. We're booing Renteria, though that did stop. So I guess we're not booing anyone currently.

I have the fortune of not watching many Red
Sox games, but, whatever, he's hitting .248.
Who cares if that counts as underperforming,
he's just not hitting right now, so I'm
afraid I'm just going to have to disregard
the existence of Manny Ramirez.

You should. Right now Manny is nothing but a .248 hitter. You CANNOT judge a team on future potential, because it's so fluky. Maybe Manny never recovers. Maybe he does. You don't know, so you judge on current events.

Wow, out of all the things you said, the one
thing you choose to retract and, somehow, you
stumble upon retracting something you
shouldn't even be retracting it. Rusch having
an ERA touching 2.00 was a fluke.

A fluke, yes, but what he's shown this past year, two years shows that he's past the 5.00 ERA stage, so no, it's not a fluke. I'm sure he'll end up around 3.50 but on who he was, is a massive improvement. IIRC, Remember Roger Lafrancois said it was that he had finally developed a good change.

You'd take Greg Maddux as your number four.
Obviously he's not a stud anymore. But he's
still better than every other number four in
the game. Name me a fourth starter you'd
rather have.

Based on age, salary, and current talent, a lot. But some names: Brian Moehler (the man has a 2.90 ERA either way you cut it), Bronson Arroyo, Carl Pavano, John Lackey ... oh, just let me stop there. He's a good #4, but not the best.

Secondly, I bet you don't even know his first
name.

Sergio. Again, I read all 30 teams MLB blogs. I know very well who Sergio is, and have tracked him for a while because I heard his name in Red Sox trade talks when we traded Nomar, so I know who Sergio is, thank you very much.

Matt Clement is your ace right now, I think
that says it all.

You're right. I love Matt Clement. And that's not sarcasm. I really like him, he has been tremendous for us.

Do me a favour, enlighten Dusty Baker on the
subject. You think we here don't spend an
eternity whining about Jose Macias?

You DO. Again, I read TCR daily. I know you whine about him. Which is why I mentioned him. ;)

Your very own oh so super Nomar replacement
Edgar Renteria is currently in a 6-for-43
(.140) slump in June.

Nomar replacement? Do you mean Orlando Cabera who hit .294 .320 .465 with great defense and great clubhouse mentality? Orlando Cabrera over Nomar I'll take any day. Now if you want to focus on the NON-Nomar replacement, who replaced Cabera, let's.

Edgar Renteria is terrible.

And your very own Manny Ramirez went went
9-for-57 (.158) between 05/02 and 05/21
inclusive. Maybe you should stop counting on
him.

I have.

By the way, thanks for having this discussion with me - I love having these discussions because I learn more, both about various teams, but I also learn more mentally, how to phrase things, etc.

Another thing, no one has picked up on this yet so I want to.

I have stated that Derrek Lee is performing above career norms, so he probably won't sustain it, and thus you can't count on him.

That flies in the face of my more recent comment that Manny is performing below career norms, so he probably won't sustain it (negative to positive not positive to negative ala Lee - and yes I know the 2004 Lee is not a terrible negative, but you know what I mean), and thus you can't count on him.

Just to clear something up, I am from the school of theory (population: one?????) that

1) You can count on someone currently to continue putting up numbers. So you can count on Lee much more than Lee, but

2) You can't count on future success based on numbers. So you can count on Manny more than Lee.

So basically, I'm saying I can't count on Manny now, but the track record is there to (hopefully) count on him later. Vice versa for Lee, although, again, the later counting on isn't such a terrible counting on, it's no Triple Crown counting on. Lee (2004 or 2005, either one) either way is great. It's that he's tremendous this year.

If Lee finishes this year at his current projection and repeats it for next year, he's for real.

Anyways, curious to hear your thoughts on that (above) subject. Unlike most people, I don't stubbornly hang onto opinions. If someone proves me wrong or provides an alternative line of thinking that I like better than my current one, I won't be afraid to switch. I'm here for improvement, not petty arguing.

Good stuff in here.
Evan the one point that I'm not getting is you keep referring to the team now and how we can't count the injuries, and can't make assumptions for the future. Yet a lot of your initial argument seemed to be by judging the Cubs based on not having two current healthy and overperforming players (Lee and Perez). It just seems like you are arguing from a very narrow standpoint that only makes logicial sense in your head, yet doesn't allow much room to have a factual "debate". Although JH has done a fantastic job.

secondly towards others...for crying out loud, Wood/Woods...are you kidding me? Get the hell over it if it is a "pet peeve"...that's one of the more pathetic calling out of a mistake I have seen here. Why does it matter in anyway. It's one thing to say "reminder, it's Wood not Woods" versus self indulgent crap about your pet peeves and about how fans should know the names and blah blah blah. Cry me a friggin river. You aren't related to Carrie Woods, so why does it effect you, even momentarily if someone has the name wrong.

I just hate reading stupid crap like that...get over yourselves.

Evan, what you posted in 50, I didn't read before I posted 51...and it did somewhat deal with my confusion over not talking about theoreticals but then cutting down Lee at the same time.

I think, in general, things do balance out. So a lifetime .300 hitter is not going to continue hitting .200 or .400 over a full course of a season. UNLESS, they make some key adjustments. And to me, clearly Lee is approaching his plate appearances differently. He used to have a huge hole inside, but managed to close that off and wait for the pitch he wants. Do I expect him to hit .380, at the end of the year, No...but do I think he can stay up around the league leaders in all 3 categories, Yes I do.

So I guess the best way to put it is I expect Lee to end up with better numbers than Manny, but the gap will end up being closer than it is now...so in a sense, I am counting on Lee to ultimately overperform come seasons end, and Manny to underperform, but both closer to the norm than they are now.

2.5 months into the season isn't chump change....while it may not give the whole story, it is not something that can easily be written off as a fluke.

from post 11 by Mannytrillo:

things that I think we can put to sleep for awhile
______
1- Cubs are playing .500 ball against bad teams wait till they play against "good teams".
2- Cubs are a only a .500 team. (They are 33-27 and on pcae for 89 wins, even with all the injuries)
3- Cubs will be sellers in July. (Right, Cubfan?)
4- Dusty has no control of his team. (They only have won 15 of 20 since the team meeting Dusty called.)
5- Fire Dusty. (HA HA Where would they be without him the last 2 years with these injures?)
6- Dusty doesn't want to be here and will leave after this year. (Besides some wishful thinking, this is just another unproven grab at an unrealistic idea.)
______
1. We still have a good stretch to play against "good teams"...I don't think we are close to being able to put that belief to sleep. A bad series against the Marlins, and a bad 10 game road trip, and we are right back at .500.

2. Cubs may very well only be a .500 team...a bad stretch puts us right back there. They are outperforming my expectations, and that's great and fun...but it's still WAY WAY too early to put the first to statements to sleep. IT could turn south just as quickly as things got hot.

3. I was a big person who was professing the Cubs were as likely to be sellers as buyers, and it strengthened through early May. Unless we tank it quickly, I was wrong, and can admit as much...a happy surprise to see the Cubs turn it around.

4. 15-5 since the team meeting. I guess if you are going to use that as an argument to say Baker has control of the team, than I'll ask why he didn't control them for the 40 games before that? IF that was the simple answer, why not knock his team into shape before that. More than a team meeting, the biggest turnaround I see is the offense...and that happened because the players started to take pitches and became more patient...that should have been the coaching from Day 1, not needed in a team meeting 1/4 of the way through the season.

5. I found it laughable to hear people wanting to fire Dusty after 2003 and 2004. But after the first month and a half of this season, when Dusty kept getting burned by the same mistakes over and over again, I was beginning to understand the arguments...but now, those have been put to bed in my mind for hte rest of this year...but a short losing streak, and people will be calling for Dusty's head again.

6. Who knows...Dusty seems to have issues with the Chicago media and speeks about it often...but noone knows what is truly going on in his head so I think that argument is as realistic or unrealistic as any other regarding Dusty's choice for the future.

problem with comparing #s is not every player can be depended on to maintain their brilliance or their suck.

ballplayers arent video games...a AI engine isnt determining probability based on stat values assigned to ability.

we can all sit here all day and talk about how choi has holes in his swing, he knows he has holes in his swing and where they are...its been 4+ years now and theyre still not plugged and it could take another 4+ for him to make it click.

if he plugs that he will/should be a better hitter and you can toss his history out the window.

and guys like neifi...contact hitter, low K, low BB...only thing he's doing too differently this year is taking a lotta 1st pitches. he's as likely to hit .250 as he is .350 over any given stretch...he's gonna swing, he can put it in all fields, he'll either find a glove or a hole when he puts it in play. neifi's offensive production can be summed up as skillfully lucky.

there's some guys you can count on like clockwork for their production, mostly cuz these players have very little to tweak with their game and they show up in their peak shape yearly...mark grace #1.

Evan--"As for Foulke, let's just agree to disagree. I guess that's fair enough."

Fair enough. Could I just say though I'm most definately a Keith Foulke fan, and that, while I don't think he's on the verge of coming around yet (because he's not looked good to me lately), I still think that he'll either come around before too long and return to being the dominant reliever he normally is, or it'll turn out that he's injured, or something like that, an obvious excuse. I don't believe that he's reached a stage in his career where his performance has any reason to drop off without explanation and irrepairably so.

Evan--"Right now Manny is nothing but a .248 hitter...Maybe Manny never recovers. Maybe he does. You don't know, so you judge on current events."

Rubbish, at least to me. Current events are pretty much the last thing I look at. Any player, absolutely any, can have a long and inexplicable slump. And pretty much the vast majority of players can go on long and unsustainable hot streaks. Neither should be given much credence at face value. Past performance and underlying trends, plus any knowledge regarding adjustments (particularly useful with pitchers when they add/refine pitches) are of a far greater importance, at least to me.

And what I know is a) that Manny has an extremely good record of past performance and b) there's very little in Manny's peripheral indicators (walks, strikeouts, batted ball data) to suggest that decline from that past performance (for there is some, probably age-related) should be anywhere near this steep. Even you yourself have observed an extremely unnatural split that Manny has this year, namely that he's 8-for-60 (.133) against lefties. Good luck to southpaws keeping that up, because they're going to need it. There's nothing, absolutely nothing, in his stats to me that suggests that he's not capable of hitting at least .290 this year. To therefore write him off as "nothing but a .248 hitter" is ridiculous.

Furthermore, I haven't watched anywhere near enough Red Sox games to make any judgements based on the way that he's hitting, and I don't have the knowledge to do that anyway, but he didn't look too bad to my untrained eye in the series against the Cubs. The home run he hit off Joe Borowski, bad pitch or not, was absolutely crushed and onto Waveland.

You should count on Manny. Oh, and you should give him a break.

Evan--"A fluke, yes, but what he's shown this past year, two years shows that he's past the 5.00 ERA stage, so no, it's not a fluke. I'm sure he'll end up around 3.50 but on who he was, is a massive improvement. IIRC, Remember Roger Lafrancois said it was that he had finally developed a good change."

A 2.00 ERA is a fluke (and the Red Sox helped see to that last night) unless you're called Pedro or Maddux or Santana and you're at your peak.

At the beginning of the year, I thought Rusch was more in the 4.00-4.25 ERA area. Obviously what he's done so far is nice, but my prediction from here on out remains 4.00-4.25 ERA. Overall that'd give him a 3.50 ERA on the year. Which is magnificent given he'll earn $3.2m and be our nominal fifth starter.

Bleh, I don't particularly like his changeup. It's alright, but it's nothing special - he doesn't get many swings and misses with it, and he could do with improving it. What I do really like about Rusch though is his fastball. It's only high-eighties, but he moves it around inside and out with a lot of confidence, invariably hitting his spots too, painting (although he got a lot of help yesterday from the ump on the outside corner, I have to say). His curveball's pretty nice too when he throws it, which is just infrequently enough that no-one really expects it. Mark Bellhorn froze on a few of them yesterday. He pitched okay by his (new) standards I thought.

Evan--"Brian Moehler (the man has a 2.90 ERA either way you cut it), Bronson Arroyo, Carl Pavano, John Lackey"

Is Arroyo really your fourth starter? Schilling and Clement rank ahead of him, but I'd definately take Arroyo over Miller, Wakefield and Wells. Carl Pavano is so overrated it's a joke and he's more expensive than Maddux too. John Lackey and Brian Moehler, bleh, I don't know enough about either, but needless to say their numbers are well out of line (for the better) with past performance (Moehler's unsustainably so given his peripherals, he's every bit the fluke Rusch is and then some), and I'll wait a little longer before I come to a conclusion either way on Lackey. The last two have the advantage that they're both a lot cheaper than Maddux. Whatever, if not the best, Maddux is among the best fourth starters in the game (and you could even make a case for him being our fifth starter if Rusch does end the year with a 3.50 ERA). And he's definately, without a question of a shadow of a doubt, the best fifth starter in the game.

Evan--"You're right. I love Matt Clement. And that's not sarcasm. I really like him, he has been tremendous for us."

And he was pretty good on the most part for us too, especially considering he was a throw-in as part of a trade to acquire Alfonseca (unfortunately, a throw-in in the other direction happened to be a young pitching prospect that'd never pitched above Low-A ball by the name of Dontrelle Willis). But he was still by no means the best pitcher on our staff with the exception of the first few months in 2004 when Wood and Prior were both out and Zambrano was still gearing up. That's my point. I'm glad you like him though.

Evan--"Nomar replacement? Do you mean Orlando Cabrera who hit .294 .320 .465 with great defense and great clubhouse mentality? Orlando Cabrera over Nomar I'll take any day. Now if you want to focus on the NON-Nomar replacement, who replaced Cabrera, let's.

Edgar Renteria is terrible."

Well, Renteria is Cabrera's replacement and Cabrera was Nomar's replacement, but Cabrera really was just an interim guy, so Renteria is kind of the replacement for Nomar. At least for me.

Wow, you do like to make judgements on small sample sizes. Orlando Cabrera had a pretty nice 248 plate appearances with the Red Sox. Unfortunately, in the approaching 3500 plate appearances or he's had in other uniforms, excluding the career year in 2003, he's proven he can't hit his way out of a paper bag. His defence is also now overrated, having by most measures pretty sharply declined since his youth to the point where he's only about average. And, please, you don't actually buy Theo Epstein's "we made the Nomar trade because we needed to improve our defence" excuse, do you? Yuh, and the Cubs traded Sosa because they were concerned about his strikeouts suppressing Sosa's batting average.

And Renteria's better than Cabrera (though that's damning with faint praise), and he's not terrible at all (merely, not brilliant). So he's had a, well, terrible start as a Red Sox (in a mere 251 plate appearance), but big deal. Actually, my bad, the contract he got was a big deal, $40m over 4 years. But he was never worth anywhere near that, and I said that at the time, and you can hardly hold that against Renteria. Hold it against Epstein, because that's a move I simply can't believe he made, especially with Hanley Ramirez in the wings.

Working backwards: What is it with you and small sample sizes? Can I understand a small sample size being say, a month? Yes, but we're talking ~250 plate appearanches! Half a year for most guys, who fall around 500 AB. That is NOT small sample size. After 100 AB, what you do is accountable, both in slumps and seasons. Edgar Renteria is lucky he has that hot streak in New York under his belt, or he's another Christian Guzman.

His defense is average, and that's a liberal statement. Nomar was TERRIBLE. (Go look at his BOS FPCT, RF, and ZR.) and Cabrera was tremendous in this factor. I think you need to look at Cabrera again. His defense last year was NOT crappy, and it's not this year - I've heard a lot of kudos for him this year for his defense.

You completely disregard his 2003 career year. Why? He hit that exactly the same as he hit in 2004. Fenway was a nice little park for him. Bottom line is that like it or not, .294 .320 .465 is Cabrera's line for us, and there is no way around it, making him the best offensive SS Boston has had in two years. And his defense, well, we covered that, so I recommend you bone up on that.

As for Arroyo - no, he's actually our fifth. SHOULD he be our #2? (W/O Schilling.) HELL yes. But the team does not view it that way. As a matter of fact, when Schilling comes back, guess who is going to the bullpen. Yes, Bronson. I've bitched about it (here, here, and here.) but ... that's how it is.

Your Manny Ramirez argument... yes, he is hitting well against lefties (near career levels) but again, I direct you to his chart (which earned me a kudos on WEEI, the Red Sox flagship radio station, by the way). When are you going to accept that he can't hit lefties anymore? What will it take? Bottom line: He can't hit lefties anymore. I would love him to, but considering he's STILL trending this way ...

Also, note that his BA v. RHP is trending downwards as well. He's not Manny of the old anymore, he's an albatross of a contract. Will he end up at .248 with 39 HR? It's looking more and more that he will, but I hold out hope for the .270 line.

Evan--
"Right now Manny is nothing but a .248 hitter...Maybe Manny never recovers. Maybe he does. You don't know, so you judge on current events."

Rubbish, at least to me. Current events are pretty much the last thing I look at. Any player, absolutely any, can have a long and inexplicable slump. And pretty much the vast majority of players can go on long and unsustainable hot streaks. Neither should be given much credence at face value. Past performance and underlying trends, plus any knowledge regarding adjustments (particularly useful with pitchers when they add/refine pitches) are of a far greater importance, at least to me.

Wow. Just ... wow. I've stated that 100 AB is the magic line, so we'll move on.

WHY THE HELL WOULDN'T YOU FACTOR IN CURRENT STATS! We live in the present, John, not the past nor the future.

If someone, for ten years straight from age 22-32, puts up a .310/.410/.640 line suddenly morphs into a .220/.320/.410 (loosely tied around Jason Giambi, folks) how long are you going to hold out hope? When can you say "Okay, he's done." 100 AB? 250? Or are you going to, five years from now, say "Guys, he had ten straight seasons of a SLG above .640. Yes, the five previous seasons have been crap, but he's only 37 and I think he can revert back to past form."

The PAST, as in what he has put up, is only a GUIDELINE to what he will put up, NO GUARANTEES. The FUTURE is only CONJECTURE as to what he will put up with age factored in.

The present is what he puts up in the present. Now, let's use my Lee argument. I've said he's performing way above career norms, and should regress. I've also said Manny is performing way below, and probably won't "regress" (more like progress). There's a reason for that. Age, injuries, a slower batting eye (as Sam comments: I'm wondering if there's something wrong with Manny's eyes. Maybe his body has just slowed on him, but from some of the swings he took yesterday, he looks more to me like he's just not seeing the ball very well. As a result, he can't afford to wait on the ball the way he used to: he has to start his swing earlier than he would have in years past. Which in turn leaves him swinging at pitches he can't hit, pitches he would have taken for ball before. Maybe a little lasik surgery would help? God I'd love for that to be true.) whatever. They all contribute to the PRESENT, not the past, nor the future. If Manny puts up a .248 line in 250 AB, whatever he's done in the past, while an awesome accomplishment only becomes what he CAN do. It doesnt mean what he DOES. It's much harder to PROgress than it is to REgress. Maybe Lee's 100% healthy, but what about when he tweaks a hamstring? Or he loses that "feeling" (that statisticans hate, but I, as a baseball player, know it's there ... so much in baseball can not be quantified) and etc. etc. etc. ...

Evan--"What is it with you and small sample sizes? Can I understand a small sample size being say, a month? Yes, but we're talking ~250 plate appearanches! Half a year for most guys, who fall around 500 AB. That is NOT small sample size."

Whatever. A sample sample size as far as I'm concerned is a sample size that's unreliable when it comes to predicting future performance and therefore shouldn't be used to that end. Derrek Lee this year has 275 plate appearances, in which he's hit .377/.462/.693. I defy you to argue that, because that's more than 100 at-bats, we can rely on those numbers being a useful indicator as to what Lee will do the rest of the year and beyond. Go on, make my day.

Streaks, hot and cold, often come 50+ plate appearances at a time. Such a streak, if involved in a sample size of just 250 plate appearances, can seriously distort numbers either way. Look for instance at Nomar. Last year he hit roughly to (my) expectations (.297/.364/.455 in 185 PA, excellent production for a shortstop, especially a half-injured no less). He has a lousy fortnight this April (from 04/05 to 04/20), which drags his overall numbers down pretty sharply, and you're then here at the first opportunity jumping on him, saying;

Evan--"Nomar has shown he is no longer the superstar he was. Since the trade he has hit .264 .332 .389."

It's clear you've either not got much of a clue as to how to use baseball statistics effectively or you've got an axe to grind with Nomar. Or both.

It's also worth noting that those terrible two weeks followed Nomar having a sensational spring - he hit .433/.431/.850 (1 BB, 2 SF explains the OBP) in 63 plate appearances, albeit in the great Arizona hitting environment and in meaningless Spring Training games. Alternation between hot and cold though, that's the way baseball goes.

The only real exception to this is when things really change. A pitcher might lose velocity off his fastball, lose his mechanics or add to or improve a pitch, a hitter might start taking a different approach at the plate, he might become more or less patient, he might lose the ability to hit the ball hard and far, or he could put on 20 pounds of muscle over the winter. Or, as you suggest, a hitter's eyesight could deteriorate. A lot can happen.

Most of that though can be best tracked through underlying peripheral performance indicators. For hitters, I'm talking strikeouts, walks, home runs, extra base hits, batting average on balls in play and batted ball types (line drives, groundballs, flyballs, infield fly balls). For pitchers, it's strikeouts, walks, home runs, batting average on balls in play, batted ball types. Screw batting average and on-base percentage and ERA, in my experience, if you want to look at what a player's sustainable performance level is, look at those, compare it to their track record of past performance and then factor in their age relative to typical ageing patterns.

And you do that for Manny Ramirez, and there's not much wrong with him. There's been only the slightest degradation in his strikeout rate from last year, his walk rate and his power are only marginally down, and his batted ball types have actually improved, his groundball/flyball ratio is slightly lower and he's actually hitting more line drives and popping up less. In spite of that, the only real difference on last year, explaining his drop-off, is his batting average on balls in play being down 56 points on last year, from .324 to .268. His career batting average on balls in play is an astonishing .341. In the long run, especially given his actual improvement so far this year in terms of his batted ball types, there is absolutely no question in my mind that Ramirez's batting average on balls in play won't trend dramatically upwards, taking with it his average.

So there's a trend in his numbers against lefties and you pointed it out on a radio station. Wow, I am shocked and amazed that Ramirez can't hit .438 against lefties every year. Obviously the fact that he's no longer doing that represents him declining as opposed to what he had been doing being right up there alongside statistically impossible, completely unsustainable and sample size of just 73 at-bats alert. Obviously.

And obviously Manny's not worth $20m now, but he's never been worth $20m.

Look, I'll make a bet with you. Manny and .290 this year. I'll take over. You take under. Winner gets the other's advertising checks (if they actually exist, for all I know they don't!) for October through March (aka the offseason).

Evan--"Edgar Renteria is lucky he has that hot streak in New York under his belt, or he's another Christian Guzman.

"His defense is average, and that's a liberal statement."

Or rather, he's unlucky he's had another cold streak since being in New York, or he's having another typical Renteria season (he was hitting .293/.338/.419 at the end of May, roughly around his career numbers). Honestly, stop worrying, what is it with you? It's a long season.

And yes, his defence is overrated and merely average, I don't dispute that. In fact I've said it all along. And, in fact, Renteria as a whole is overrated and merely average. And I've also said that all along. And there's absolutely no way he was worth, is worth or ever will be worth the money he's earning. And, you guessed it, I've said that all along too. But there's still no way that he's "rubbish".

Evan--Nomar was TERRIBLE. (Go look at his BOS FPCT, RF, and ZR.) and Cabrera was tremendous in this factor. I think you need to look at Cabrera again. His defense last year was NOT crappy, and it's not this year - I've heard a lot of kudos for him this year for his defense.

Nomar was terrible.

Please don't make defensive arguments involving fielding percentage and range factor, because I might have to shoot you.

I don't think I need to look at Cabrera again at all.

I didn't say Cabrera's defence, last year or at any other stage in his career, was or is "crappy". It's most definately not. Unfortunately, it's not particularly great either. It's now (it used to be better) somewhere between slightly below average and slightly above average, or at least that's the consensus by measure of Fielding Win Shares, Rate2, Fielding Runs Above Average, Ultimate Zone Rating, Zone Rating and David Pinto's Probablistic Model of Range. Given how wildly fielding statistics tend to vary in their assessments of the exact same player, that there's pretty much a consensus is a miracle.

And quite a few of the fielding statistics point to an improvement in Cabrera's defence this year, of which you say you've heard others speak. That'd suggest there's some reliability to fielding statistics, if not yet anywhere near enough.

Evan--"You completely disregard his 2003 career year. Why? He hit that exactly the same as he hit in 2004. Fenway was a nice little park for him."

I don't disregard it. I said that in the rest of rest of his career, bar one career year and his spell in Boston, he's proven he can't hit his way out of a paper bag. His 2003 is quite clearly an outlier though, and his spell in Boston, relative to the rest of the career at least, doesn't involve that many plate appearances.

And Fenway wasn't a nice little park for him at all. In 2004 he hit .266/.298/.376 at Fenway (all as a Red Sox) in about 116 plate appearances. He obviously did most of his damage on the road then.

And I'm the one that needs to "bone up"? Yuh, whatever.

Evan--"WHY THE HELL WOULDN'T YOU FACTOR IN CURRENT STATS! We live in the present, John, not the past nor the future."

We live in the present, but we're trying to predict the future. I've explained my position way up above. Current stats are only of a limited use, and even then that's more for spotting underlying trends as opposed to saying "Manny's hitting .248, therefore he'll probably hit .248 the rest of the year".

If Manny was seeing the ball so badly, his strikeout rate would have gone through the roof. It hasn't. I don't buy it.

Evan--"If Manny puts up a .248 line in 250 AB, whatever he's done in the past, while an awesome accomplishment only becomes what he CAN do. It doesnt mean what he DOES."

Obviously. But since I'm not saying anything to that effect, I'm not sure what that has to do with anything whatsoever.

Evan--"Maybe Lee's 100% healthy, but what about when he tweaks a hamstring? Or he loses that "feeling" (that statisticans hate, but I, as a baseball player, know it's there ... so much in baseball can not be quantified) and etc. etc. etc. ..."

Of course it's there. That's why, when you're using statistics, you try and look at as big a sample size as possibly wieldable, to try and compensate for the that baseball is a game of good streaks and bad streaks, of seeing the ball like a beachball and of not seeing it at all, of everything going your way and of nothing going your way, of playing healthy and of playing with a niggling injury, and being comfortable in your environment and being uncomfortable, so on and so on and so on. That's why you shouldn't regard anything more than your arbitrary 100 at-bats as automatically statistically significant.

Lee won't keep it up. I absolutely guarantee it.

I'd reply to this, but it's becoming more and more obvious we're coming at this from two very different vantage points, and thus the subject matter above could be just argued to death. You have a total dependency on statistics, and not just statistics, but "statistics under the skin" meaning all these """"obscure"""" statistics. I tend to lean on AVG SLG OBP with forays into WARP and VORP and splits and situational hitting and then also the traditional scout of view.

SO, I am bowing out of this discussion because I don't see what else I could say to change your mind. I will say some of the above has made me think, but none of my position has been drastically altered. I thank you for an interesting discussion.

Go Red Sox!

(One last note: You say that Manny can't be expected to hit .438 all the time. No, but over his career, he has hammered lefties all the time - IN A SMALL SAMPLE SIZE by your regards (and the cumulative BA is also small sample size by your methods). Then you throw out his small sample size this year. To me, that's a contradiction.)

Anyways, I'll stop there.

Evan--"You have a total dependency on statistics, and not just statistics, but "statistics under the skin" meaning all these """"obscure"""" statistics. I tend to lean on AVG SLG OBP..."

I disagree regarding having a total dependency upon statistics. It's just in this case I don't watch enough Manny Ramirez to make comments based upon the mechanics of his swing, or anything like that. And the statistics, or at least my interpretation of them, don't think there's much wrong with Manny. Besides, you've not said anything about the way Manny's hitting and swinging of much substance yourself - most of your argument has been based upon statistics too.

I also disagree that strikeouts, walks, home runs, extra base hits, batting average on balls in play and batted ball types are "obscure". You'll find that these, if you know what you're looking for, are a much better predictor of future AVG, OBP and SLG than current AVG, OBP and SLG. Of course, AVG, OBP and SLG, adjusted for ballpark, are the mainstream numbers that matter most as far as measuring present production, of course that's the case.

Evan--"You say that Manny can't be expected to hit .438 all the time. No, but over his career, he has hammered lefties all the time - IN A SMALL SAMPLE SIZE by your regards (and the cumulative BA is also small sample size by your methods). Then you throw out his small sample size this year. To me, that's a contradiction"

Ramirez is a .347 lifetime hitter against left-handers. That's in 1767 plate appearances. Evidently, that's not a small sample size, even if it's obviously made up of a lot of small sample sizes put together (1767 small sample sizes, you could say).

Last year he hit .306 against lefties in 201 plate appearances (excluding any SF). Certainly, it's not as good as before, but it's hardly disasterous, and the sample size is obviously smaller, although by no means insignificant.

This year he's hit .143 (9-for-63) against lefties in 73 plate appearances (excluding any SF). One, now that is a small sample size. Two, there's deterioration in his peripheral numbers, but nothing to suggest a drop-off anywhere like near this big. His biggest problem so far is that when he puts the ball in play he's hitting just .170. That is never ever going to last, I absolutely guarantee you that. To say that the bottom line is that Ramirez can't hit lefties any more is ridiculous.

Evan--If someone, for ten years straight from age 22-32, puts up a .310/.410/.640 line suddenly morphs into a .220/.320/.410 (loosely tied around Jason Giambi, folks) how long are you going to hold out hope? When can you say "Okay, he's done." 100 AB? 250? Or are you going to, five years from now, say "Guys, he had ten straight seasons of a SLG above .640. Yes, the five previous seasons have been crap, but he's only 37 and I think he can revert back to past form."

There's a slightly different situation at play with Jason Giambi, and you know that. And Giambi's peripheral numbers have absolutely gone to pot, they can't sustain anything much higher that he's currently hitting. That's not the case with Ramirez at all, not in the slightest.

If Manny's still hitting .254 (he went 2-for-5 last night, with a HR) at the end of the year, then get worried.

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