Don’t Be Fooled

Now is not the time for irrational exuberance. The win last night raised the Cubs' post-season chances from 1.10% to 1.72%. The optimist in me points out that the Cubs improved their chances by 56%, while the pessimist in me wonders how there can possibly be an optimist in me after 30 years of following the Cubs. Tonight our creaky warrior, Carlos Zambrano, takes on Houston's little giant, Roy Oswalt, who is six feet tall in the same way I resemble Brad Pitt. No matter, he brings the heat and is one of the main reasons, along with Clemens and Pettitte, that the Astros are in good position to capture the wildcard. Have you seen their upcoming schedule? Milwaukee, San Diego, Los Angeles, Cincinnati -- if they haven't put some ground between themselves and the pack of dogs in the NL East, I'll be shocked. Back to Zambrano and his back for a second...apparently the Cubs have given El Toro a regimen of exercises to help his back. When I went to physical therapy for my back last year, I got a series of exercises, and let me tell you, they worked great. When I did them. All the prayer stretches, cat-and-camels, and Superman stretches in the world don't help you when you spend your time slouched in front of the computer chatting with your friends in distant places. Carlos, man, take it from a guy who knows: DO YOUR STRETCHES. You'll be glad you did. One final note -- I got an email from Peter Bragiel, who has created a website for Wrigley Field beer vendors. check it out, find the vendor who serves your section, and make sure to tip generously on the next Old Style you buy.


What a cool website, Ruz. I'll be sure to figure out who serves in my section before the next time I go to a game.

Positive or negative the truth is we don't have enough starting pitching to win the wild card.

Matt Clement could have made a huge difference this year. If Clement started the year with us we could have made Dempster the closer from day one. I don't know what the vorp would have been but I'm guessing at least 6 games.

I think finishing above .500 is a huge goal for the Cubs right now. If I'm Hendry I keep Patterson, Pie and Murton and have them compete for two outfield spots. I bring in a stud outfielder and and a starting pitcher. I'm thining Jason Schmidt and/or Jeff Weaver will be available in trade. I sign Nomar to another one year-incentive laden deal and look to trade Barrett for a better defensive catcher. I keep Wood in the pen-flipping him with Dempster as the closer. Oh yea, one more thing: Fire Dusty and his staff.

Kerry Wood - 7ip - 1 Hit - 4 BB - 12 SO's - .045 OPP BA Against.

Can you say dominate out of the pen? How about totally unhittable? Nothing like hitters stepping to the plate knowing they have no chance.

I also noticed we don't have any more people complaining that Wood out of the pen is going to be this huge disaster because he had a habit of giving up 1st inning runs as a starter. He doesn't have to hold anything back in the pen.

The season may be lost to an extent but it sure is a joy to watch Kerry Wood step into games these days. I now know what it feels like if your a Dodger fan and Eric Gagne comes into a game. The other team just has not chance.

Cubs find winning formula

{...Wood arrived and pitched a flawless eighth. He has not allowed a run in his first six relief appearances.

''He is throwing more strikes out of the bullpen than he was as a starter,'' Baker said of Wood, who struck out two and has fanned 12 of the 26 batters he has faced since moving to the bullpen.

Wood's sore right shoulder has knocked him out of the rotation and given the Cubs a trusted setup man for Dempster. Baker said he was toying with the idea of bringing Wood back for the ninth, but he decided against it because he wanted to save him for the series finale today.

''I'm having more fun than I thought I would,'' Wood said of relieving for the first time on any level during his career. ''But it's easy to have fun when you're having success.''...}

The Cubs should consider making Woody a permanent part of the Bullpen...He is thriving in his new role and he really enjoys it too...Maybe Wood will become a Mariano Rivera of the Midwest...;-)

MikeC I totally agree. He's made to let it all out. Maddux's style is to economize-same as Lieber when he was here. Kerry never learned how to pace himself. It changes the game completely with him down in the pen. He struggled to pitch 200 innings every year. This situation seems to work, I say go with it. Look how tough the Astros were when they had Dotel and Wagner. It was a six inning game with those guys.

When the Cubs officially drop out of the race, will we see Mike Fontentot? Figuring the Cubs will deal Hairston in the off season, we could end up fleecing the O's in this deal. Who would have thunk it?

Ruz, gotta love the beer vendor site. Makes me miss my old pal Howie, who was a bleacher beer vendor back when such a thing existed. Howie would never sell us a beer from an older rack, only from a fresh one. Howie's picture was in Newsweek when the Cubs announced they were discontinuing beer vendors in the bleachers.

It's probably a good thing that I don't recognize most of the vendors today...

Oswalt can be had! He has been less than dominating his last three starts. 28 hits in 20 innings. 0-1.

Zambrano is the better pitcher right now. Go Z! Go Cubs!!

Kudos to those who thought Kerry Wood should have gone to the bullpen earlier in the season. They were right and took a lot of unwarranted abuse from the TCR posting police for expressing that opinion.

First off, why would you trade Barrett? Catcher defense is not killing this team. And also I think Jeff Weaver is a free agent after 2005 - do you really want the Cubs to shell out 3 years, $21 million on him? A full year of Glendon Rusch would probably yield similar results.

The Cubs should look to trade Barrett for a better defensive catcher? Sure, by all means. Tell Jim Hendry that he should be looking to trade a guy whose .839 OPS is the best in the National League among catchers and is second only to Jason Varitek among all major-league backstops. After all, offensive production at the catcher position grows on trees, right?

Nobody's arguing that Barrett is Gold Glove material. But he's so far above the norm in terms of offensive output at a position where it's very hard to find it (especially at a reasonable price) that he easily compensates for his shortcomings behind the plate. If the Cubs were to get another defensive-minded .230 hitting catcher with a .600-.650 OPS who would represent nothing more than another sure out, Barrett's detractors would be the first to scream about the black hole in the lineup.

Playoff chances!

Well of all the remaining days left in the season there are just FIVE days in which the Cubs can gain a game on every team ahead of them in the standings....just five (and 3 of those days it would only be a half game on most as they are days most teams are off).

So even if the Cubs win out...there will be days SOMEONE ahead of the Cubs stays even. That is the problem with so many teams between the Cubs and the leader. So even if the Cubs have the best record from here on out....overcoming everyone will be an impossibility because from here on out....there will be someone ahead of the Cubs winning each day....all but 5 days the remainder of the year.

If Clement started the year with us we could have made Dempster the closer from day one

No, No, and No. Can we please move beyond the revisionist idea that injuries or a lack of starters somehow forced Dusty to use Dempster as a starter.

On "Day One," Dusty's rotation was Zambrano, Maddux, Wood, Dempster, with Prior coming in the first time a 5th starter was needed. If Dusty wanted to use Dempster in the pen, he had several other options for the rotation.

Dempster was picked as the 5th starter, over Rusch, Mitre, and whoever else was in the running because Dusty wanted him there. Dusty wanting Rusch to be his 3rd lefty in the pen played a role, but it was completely Dusty's choice.

Cubfan, I don't follow you. The Cubs still have the possibility of winning as many as 100 games. Which means they could win 99, 98, 97 etcetera.

What do you project as the minimum number of wins to take the NL wildcard this year?

"I think finishing above .500 is a huge goal for the Cubs right now."

I think it's ESSENTIAL to maintaining the momentum of becoming a winning organization.

If the Cubs finish below .500, Dusty and his staff need to find themselves something else to do. They have no legitimate excuses.

Matt Clement freakin sucks right now...

"If the Cubs were to get another defensive-minded .230 hitting catcher with a .600-.650 OPS who would represent nothing more than another sure out, Barrett's detractors would be the first to scream about the black hole in the lineup."

I for one would not. Catching is a defensive position and that's what you should look for. The answer to the catching problem is to trade Barrett and sign Bengie Molina or trade for Johnny Estrada or Brian Mccann. ATL will most likely put on of them on the block and both are upgrades from Barett.

We currently are even with Milwaukee...and trail NYM, Florida, Philadelphia, Washington and Houston....there are only FIVE days left where we can game a gain on all of those teams (although most if not all of those days we could only gain a half as they are off days for most teams...and some maybe off days for us as well)....

My point is if the Cubs win today...we still don't gain on Philadelphia or Washington...whoever wins that game stays even with us....and there are some days where the teams ahead of us ALL play each other so yes we gain on some....but stay even with the rest....AND on days we lose (which by my forecast we will lose some of them) we fall behind to teams because teams ahead of us are guaranteed to win on all but five days remaining.

We'd need a perfect run and we'd need the teams ahead of us to all lose the games they play any division leader AND all teams currently behind the Cubs....AND we have to hope when teams ahead of us play each other that the team further ahead of us loses 2 of 3 games to the team closest to us. It's a scenario that is so implausable it just isn't going to happen.

Plus I see nothing that gives the Cubs joy to celebrate they are able to finish above .500--Dusty said at some point teams break...well the Cubs broke in early August this year.

What is the magic number for the wildcard? 88 games. Houston would need to go 24-19 (they may surpass this amount)...Washington 25-19 (they probably will go no higher than 22-22)...Philadelphia 25-18 (probably will go no higher 23-20)..Florida 27-17 (they probably will go no higher 25-19)...NYM 28-16 (they probably will finish out below .500)
and Chicago and Milwaukee 30-12 (both will probably go no higher than 21-21)

My point is if each day Philadelphia, Washington or Houston's impossible to put a dent in that one teams lead. So each day..all but FIVE the Cubs will not gain on at least one of those we stay even at best (or lose a game) to those teams ahead of us. It's not like we face all those teams head on and hold the key to our own success. And it isn't like they all play Colorado and Pittsburgh here on out. One thing with unbalanced scheduling is the teams play games within their division and since the entire NL East is ahead of us...half the damn division will stay ahead of us because HALF the damn division is winning virtually each day from here on out...(or they play Houston or Milwaukee....which doesn't help us out either).

Cubfan CWTP is correct. We all know that the Cubs will not win every game from here on out BUT if the rest of the teams all play @.500 baseball and we go .750 (not likely) we will win the wild card. Now, I agree that its not likely that all those teams will swoon but the team that I think has the best chance of playing well, the Astros, is the team that we play 8 more times this season.

The baseball prospectus simulator was showing an avg of 89.5 wins for the NL wildcard this year yesterday. today it's 89.2.

To get to 90 wins, the cubs need to go 38-10. 41-7, 93 wins, would seal the deal for sure. yes, it's a hell of a hot streak, but Maddux finally hitting form could make a huge difference.

Cubfan, i think an 88 win wildcard is optimistic. The Astros won it with 93 last year. And with 6 teams that tight, it's unlikely that none of them won't go significantly above .500 over the rest of the season.

Remlinger is about to get shelled live on ESPN... if anyone cares.

Barrett's defense isn't as bad as it's made out to be, and he's already made some significant improvements as a Cub.

His CS% is a good example of that. In '04 it was .250 -- low, especially since only caught for Maddux a handful of times. In '05 he's improved that overall percentage slightly to .260, but if you factor out the Maddux starts (where his CS% is .100) he'd have a CS% of .321 which would be good enough for 5th in the NL and 10th in the MLB.

I stand corrected.


and your assessment is even worse news for the Cubs. This team is .500 be .750 for 42 games is just highly highly unlikely and something they have not been able to do for any stretch of this season....ain't gonna happen.

Yes someone in the East will win 10 games more than they lose from here on out...if it's the Mets...they will go 87-75....Florida 88-74...Philadelphia...90-72...Washington...90-72...and if the Astros do it...91-71

So the Cubs at best need a 29-15 ....660 winning percengage for roughly 1/4 season....

Again...isn't gonna happen.

Cubfan: sure, it's a long shot. That's why the simulator runs 98.3% against us making the postseason.

Just saying, that's what it takes.

That 1.7% is probably the set of outcomes where the other teams all win in the neighborhood of 86-88 games, as opposed to winning 90-92. The chance of a "true" .500 team going 32-10, which is what the Cubs need to get to 90-72, is about six-hundreths of a percent.

Assuming they're a .500 team, the Cubs' best-case scenario, with a likelihood of 1%, is finishing 87-75. The other teams, to get to that level, must go no better than:

Houston 23-20
Washington 24-20
Phillies 24-19
Marlins 26-18
Mets 27-17

Given that 29-13 probably involves taking many of the games with Houston, and that the Nationals aren't likely to hit their mark, this isn't totally out of the question. Unfortunately, we need to start scoreboard-watching now, as a tear by any of these teams or slump by the Cubs ends it.

you cant assume what kind of team this is...there's 2 new bats (lawton/garc) and 2 new bullpen arms (williamson/wood)...there's also the sept. tallent coming in.

its just not 1930 anymore...and come sept. there's a new pool of tallent to draw from.

yeah, the cubs are practically outta it, but historical records mean nothing when a team's makeup has changed so dramatically.

hairston should be back soon, too.

By the way if you take the Astros current winning percentage over the next 43 games they will only win 87 games. So, its not far off that the Stos will only win that many. That also means that if every team plays to their current winning %, that the Cubs can easily jump into the lead. When I say easily, I don't mean this it will be easy for the Cub, I mean that if the Cubs get mega hot, they will be able to jump in. Really, all we really need to do is have the NL east beat the shit out of each other and us take care of Houston ourselves.


You are forgetting about pitch calling, blocking balls in the dirt, and blocking the plate on a play to the plate. Pitch calling is suspect W/ him. Z and Maddux have better numbers with Blanco and they have caught them roughly (within in 10 innings) the same amount. Ball blocking he is improving but he is average. He is the worst at blocking the plate (ok maybe Piazza is worse), but everytime there is a play at the plate he doesn't make the play. Some of it has to go on the outfielders, but overall his D is a liability.

Davey Johnson is going to manage the US team for the IBAF World Cup which will be held in September. It is bascally the minor league version of that world baseball classic. I am assuming Dopiriak and Moore will be on that team. Maybe Gallager and the way Pawelek is going he wouldn't be a bad LOOGY for the team.

There certainly is more to a catcher's defense than CS%. My point was that Barrett has demonstrated that he's capable of improving his defense. Given that he's only been a catcher for a few years, I'd guess his defensive faults have more to do with a lack of experience and training than any physical/talent handicaps as may be the case with other poor defensive catchers.

Now, you find a defensive whiz catcher in Barrett's price range that's able to "learn" to put up an .800+ OPS.

I know I'm daring to dream here but when Hairston is activated Friday, hopefully Hendry will take the Macias man out of the 'Dusty's Random Lineup Generator' and DFA him. Again, I know I'm dreaming and he'll probably send down Murton, the one guy who doesn't deserve to be down (of course he doesn't deserve to rot on the bench either due to Dusty's pure unbridled hatred for those stupid rookies).

Really, all we really need to do is have the NL east beat the shit out of each other and us take care of Houston ourselves.

Don't you see what you are saying? Every team in the NL east is BETTER than the Cubs right now....When any team in the NL East plays any other team in the NL east it means SOMEONE is going to keep even OR move a game up on the Cubs....If they beat up on each other we still have no shot because we are in a hole.....We aren't starting off right now with an even record against the NL east teams...we are kinda far behind them...and since they play each other predominately the remainder of the year it won't matter how hot we are...because someone will still keep ahead of us because they all play each other so much.

Essentially we would need the NL East teams to all go about .500 and the Cubs to go on a roll in order for the Cubs to get ahead of them.

Basically the Cubs have to get passed the Mets by a game or two...and then hope like hell the Cubs keep winning and the Mets become the Marlins, Phillies and Expos worst nightmare....I doubt that will happen but someone in the East (in addition to Atlanta) is going to have to be the Cubs best friend from here on out.

Ruz, thats what I already said in post #18. Let's face it Ruz, you're Dusty Baker and I'm Matt Murton. (You know I'm kidding, right!)

And Cubfan, you keep missing the point. Its and end game, we keep standings during the season just as a marker. They don't really mean anything. The only thing that really matters is total wins. We are saying that the Cubs can out win every other team in the race, YES, its unlikely, but NO, its not impossible. Like I have said, if every teams plays to their current winning percentages, the Cubs will have to win 30 more games.

The hard part of this whole plan is the Cubs winning 30 more games. There is no reason that the teams ahead of us will play better than their current winning percentage. IF, IF, IF the Cubs win 30 more games, I think the Cubs will have a GREAT chance of winning the wild card.

Chad you really think 88 wins would give us a great chance of winning the wild card?

I realise that's all the Astros are "on pace" for right now, but thats assuming an even pace all season. But remember, they started out in a huge hole. If you look at how their record since May or June, you see they've been winning at a much higher rate that will likely put them over the 90 win mark.

I realize it's an end game Chad....but to get to the end have to play all games.

And all remaining games has many of the teams ahead of us in the playoff race playing each other...meaning in each of those games..teams who are ahead of us will keep on winning. When you have Philadelphia playing Washington or NYM playing Florida each day between now and the end....we simply can't overcome everyone.

And if you want to throw out playing to winning percentage then the Cubs are due to be 78-84 with their winning percentage.

The Mets and Phillies have an easier schedule remaining than Chicago...and the Astros have a MUCH easier schedule than any remaining wildcard team. (And Milwaukee has a pretty weak looking remaining schedule also).

No one really gives the Brewers much of a shot of winning the wildcard...for good reason. They are 6.5 games out of first with 6 teams to overcome and tied with one team also trying for it. There's good reason no one is saying the Brewers have much of a shot--they are 4 games under .500 with only 42 games left to play. Until they show they can remain above .500 and stay above it...and increase above .500 then no one really expects them to overcome a whole division who is over .500 (and likely all but one team in the east will finish above .500).

Well in Milwaukee you are seeing the Chicago Cubs......a mediocre sub .500 club who isn't mathematically eliminated from post-season play. The only thing Milwaukee doesn't have that Chicago has is crazed fans unwilling to see and admit to reality.

Winning percentage since June 1

Astros 45- 23 .661
Phillies 38-29 .567
Mets 34-32 .515
Marlins 34-35 .493
Nats 36-30 .546
Brewers 34-35 .493
Cubs 32-38 .457

Looking at how "hot" the teams have been compare total win percent to that percent from June 1 to present...

Astros .661-.538 = +.123
Phil .567 -.529= +.038
Mets .515 - .508 = +.007
Florida .493 - .517 = -.024
Nats .546-.534= +.012
Brewers .493 - .483 = +.010
Cubs .457 - .483 = -.026

Now since June 1 the Astros, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, an Brewers have all played at a better winning percentage than their overall winning percentage.

The Cubs and Marlins have played at a worse winning percentage than their overall winning if you want to use stats...and figure momentum...well

Houston 92-70
Philadelphia 87-75
Mets 83-79
Washington 87-75
Marlins 83-79
Brewers 79-83
Cubs 77-85

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  • probably saturday depending on what they do with hammel (assuming friday for ham).

    crunch 3 min 57 sec ago view
  • Lester is going to get one more start, right? It sure would be nice to see him get a shot at 20 wins.

    Charlie 34 min 47 sec ago view
  • Nicely done! I think in my 10-14 games I went .500 or a little over. Strangely, I went to the Cards games they mostly lost (incl Saturday) and the one SF game they lost, plus a couple Brewers games they lost, too. I should have gone to just Reds games. But still - saw mostly very good baseball on the North Side this year. Regardless of what happens come October - the Cubs are positioned for some good times in the next 3-5 years.

    The E-Man 1 hour 59 min ago view
  • Attaboy!

    billybucks 2 hours 51 min ago view
  • First Cub victory at home this year for me!
    Saw all four starters this year

    jacos 4 hours 15 min ago view
  • RIP Arnie. We could use a lot more like you -- a man who succeeded and failed on his own terms, a true original, and, finally, a remarkable example of graciousness towards others.

    billybucks 12 hours 11 min ago view
  • Cubs finish 33 over at home. I was, personally, one game over at 3-2, which was one of my better years in a while.

    I do hope that's the last time we see the Cardinals this year. A lot of power, which is dangerous, particularly in a short series, and they have really shut down KB all year.

    Oh, and Jon Lester? Damn!

    billybucks 12 hours 23 min ago view
  • Yes. Boating accident at 3AM. Very sad, but stupid. Young men do stupid things.

    billybucks 13 hours 18 min ago view
  • lester puts 2 on and is taken out at 96 pitches. oh well.

    edwards in.

    crunch 14 hours 2 min ago view
  • 2 out in the 7th, lester at 84 pitches, ross taken out for the standing O.

    it's possible contreras will catch lester for another inning+.

    crunch 14 hours 9 min ago view
  • What a weird day.  Jose Fernandez and Arnold Palmer, but then Scully and, on a much more modest level, Ross....

    Transmission 14 hours 42 min ago view
  • d.ross gets his 2nd standing O on the night (last home game of the season)...hits HR #10...curtain call. baseball.

    crunch 14 hours 45 min ago view
  • as a fan, he only "owes" us the game on the field and not getting in the way of others on his team being ready to play (imo).

    it's exponentially worse to his family and friends, but this dude most likely had 15+ years of play left and even though he just turned 24 a couple months ago he had already established himself as a top guy in the game.

    crunch 18 hours 7 min ago view
  • Carrie Muskat [email protected]

    Updated #Cubs probs vs Pirates: Mon, Hendricks vs Kuhl; Tue, Lackey vs Vogelsong; Wed, Arrieta vs Taillon; Thu, Zastryzny vs Nova

    crunch 18 hours 29 min ago view
  • I know what you're trying to say, Charlie, that none of us feels what his loved ones must be feeling.

    On the other hand, what makes a death like this tragic is precisely the loss, based on Fernandez's youth and brilliance, to the baseball world.

    So, for example, we can say that Princess Diana's death meant more, in aggregate, to millions of admirers who didn't know her personally than to her loved ones.

    VirginiaPhil 18 hours 30 min ago view
  • boston pitching snags a couple of mlb team records...

    "Over nine innings of play, Boston's staff struck out 11 straight Tampa Bay Rays hitters Sunday, breaking the major-league record for most consecutive strikeouts in a game.

    The previous record was held by former New York Mets right-hander Tom Seaver, who struck out 10 straight hitters in 1970.

    Not only that, but with a strikeout to end the ninth, sending the game into extras, Boston's staff also struck out an MLB-record 21 batters over nine innings."

    crunch 18 hours 55 min ago view