Good News and a Mid-Day Buzz-Kill

Tonight when the Braves visit the Mets, former Cub Rick Sutcliffe will be in the ESPN broadcast booth for the first time since he was diagnosed with colon cancer during spring training. Sutcliffe, who has been receiving chemotherapy and radiation, is scheduled for surgery on June 16th, which he hopes will lead to a clean bill of health.

On an infinitely more mundate note, Dayn Perry at foxsports.com argues that the Cub Express must be seen as wobbly, given that Ryan Dempster appears to be pitching with a rabbit's foot or similar in his pocket--Dempster's .211 batting average against on Balls in Play is way below the normal .290-.300 range--Carlos Marmol is on pace for an ungodly number of innings pitched, and Jason Marquis is just not very good.

Perry does, however, end on this semi-upbeat note:

If they do get to the postseason, then they'll have the kind of team
that's built to succeed in that environment. Teams with good defenses,
high-strikeout pitching staffs, and dominating closers tend to do well
in the playoffs, and all of that describes this year's Cubs model.

...the team defense has been exceptional, and the
pitching staff ranks third in the NL in whiffs. As for the closer
thing, Kerry Wood has looked strong save for two isolated bad outings.
If he continues to grow into the role, then the Cubs will have a real
shot at ending their comically long title drought.

Of course, unless the pitching holds up, they won't get the chance.

Comments

<i>Jason Marquis is just not very good.</i> Wait... you mean our 5th starter is not very good? Shocking. How many teams have "very good" 5th starters? And of course Perry ignores the fact that Hill (who WILL probably get better) and Marshall are in AAA and can step in to the rotation, and Kevin Hart isn't far behind.

<p> I don't think the issue is that we need a Cy Young candidate pitching in the fifth spot. </p> <p> The issue is that, if one assumes Zambrano and Lilly are solid, then you have: the control-challenged and arguably very lucky Dempster; the unproven Gallagher and Hart: Hill, who, by his manager's own acknowledgement, is so messed up that he could benefit from a stress break on the Disabled List; and Sean Marshall. </p> <p> That's why I think at least a little anxiety is warranted.<br /> </p>

To call Dempster "lucky" simply because of his BABIP is not entirely accurate since he is ignoring the fact that Ryan has gotten 53 of his outs in 63IP through K's which means he is in full control of those outs and not dependent on luck.

Yeah, and Dempster has thrown 63 innings, that's 189 outs. It's a large enough sample size that no statistician is going to easliy conclude that mere luck is involved. Put differently, at this point in the season it seems more reasonable to conclude that something has improved in Dempster's game than to conclude that he's simply been lucky for 2 months. And while we're at it, going into the 2008 season, the odds of Dempster being this good/hot were probably about the same as Hill crapping the bed and being dumped down to AAA. Similarly, the odds of Howry sucking and Eyre being injured were probably about the same as Wood staying healthy and Marmol continuing to be excellent. This stuff tends to even out -- it's not like the Cubs have caught nothing but good breaks this year.

<p> a .211 BABIP is virtually impossible.... </p> <p> The league leader the last two years was Chris Young (Welcome to Petco) and he had a .237 in 2006 and .265 in 2008. Most pitchers are around the .300 mark.  Even if he bucks the trend to something like a .270 to .280 BABIP, that'll do considerable damage to his ERA. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> &nbsp; </p>

I wonder how many more "not very good" outings we will have to wait until Marshall is added to the rotation. I have been a fan of Marshall for a while, and I believe that he has more upside than does Rich Hill. Maybe it wont be too much longer and the Cubs will be willing to eat that terrible contract of Marquis.

marshall should be here in another week or 2. gallagher is holding the slot for him. he's gonna have to be impressive to keep the job vs. marshall.

Who in the division has better overall pitching? Astros have Oswalt, Valverde and nothing else, Brewers have Sheets and nothing else, Cards seem to be doing it with mirrors and Izzy is a mess. Maybe the Reds -- if Arroyo gets turned around and the kids keep pitching well, plus they've got Cordero in the pen.

So which SP will we acquire before the trading deadline? It's never too early to speculate about this. ;-) /go go sledge-o-matic

If I were to rank them as of today, my guess would be (in order) 1. AJ Burnett 2. Joe Blanton 3. Andy Pettitte 4. Greg Maddux 5. Mike Mussina 6. Roger Clemens 7. Mark Prior (turns and runs away from the keyboard)

You'd better run, punk!

Heh. I came up with some of those names. I was quick to drop Prior and Trachsel from consideration, though. ;) Burnett seems possible. Others in the maybe pile are Jason Jennings (really doing badly this year, but so are the Rangers), Odalis Perez (ditto, s/Rangers/Nats/), and if the White Sox put away their division, perhaps we'll see Livan Hernandez (actually doing pretty well this year) or CC Sabathia (change to the NL might do him good). More... Randy Wolf, Kip Wells, Brett Tomko... All of a sudden, our Iowa crew is looking pretty competitive. :-)

Well, I would argue with Dayn about the pace the Cubs are on. It seems to me that if we keep the present winning percentages (19-8, 9-10) up we would win ~57 at home and ~38 on the road and that adds up to a more reasonable 94-95 not 100+.

Yesterday the winning percentage was .622, which equates to 100 wins. The Cubs won't be able to sustain that, but it's a nice dream.

the biggest & brightest of the red flags waved in the article is Marmol's workload; he is money that can't just be spent; some of it [him] must be saved for later, but how do you NOT use him?

Apparently Lou can't! My hope is that this José Ascanio kid takes a step forward into Lou's good graces. That along with Angel Guzman's late season return should be enough to make Lou lighten Marmol's workload. Hopefully it won't be too late.

Counting on Guzman is like the Padres counting on Prior. Lou using Marmol to protect a 6 run lead like he did a couple of weeks ago is stupid.

Was that the day that he pitched after not pitching in 6 days?

Could be I'll check.

Yes. Even then people were mad about it, but I don't see how you justify NOT pitching him after 6 days.

I was half joking. Stranger things have happened though. Woody has been healthy all year!!!

Understood Doc! After three days rest- Apr 22 NYM W 8-1 - 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 14.1 1.88 Apr 21 NYM W 7-1 - 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 13.1 2.02 After 4 days rest- Apr 30 MIL W 19-5

Okay to be fair and correct Cubs scored 4 runs and 5 runs respectivley the inning after Marmol pitched in both Mets' games.

Thanks... I was just going to point that out. The only "bad" situation I saw was <a href"http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN200805100.shtml">May 10th</a>, where he pitched with a 5 run lead after pitching the day before.

I know he had time off before, but the 19-5 Milwaukee game was irritating too.

So to finish my thought, Lou needs to plan that the Cubs will finish big in games and there for does not need Marmol in some close games. GOT IT!?!!? I just hope the kid's arm doesn 't fall off.

Me, too - I worry that his overuse in the early part of this season may reap bad dividends if someone else doesn't step up soon. It'd be nice if our veterans like Weurtz and Eyre could start to show something - Weurtz has almost as many innings as Marmol at this point, but his performance has been kind of fugly.

Weurtz has a 3.13 ERA. Not exactly Marmol, but who is? Hardly ugly.

why can't a reliever pitch 100 innings? this concept is so strange.

I think this is a very fair question. If I remember correctly, PAP is not a Chadball™ approved stat; nonetheless, I would be interested in some sort of PAP-like stat that looked at relief pitchers. PAP relies heavily on pitch count which for a relief pitcher is obviously not a reliable thing to measure when attempting to gauge potential for injury. Any of you freakin' geniuses have any ideas on how this could be assessed?

"Any of you freakin' geniuses have any ideas on how this could be assessed?" you put a human being out there to watch the guy. you talk to him after performing and the day(s) afterward. you work him again. return to step 2...and reassess. carlos zambrano says hello. all humans are not created equal.

And how do you put that in a spreadsheet college boy?

you gotta use a LOT of special characters and some real basement rocking algorithms. seriously, though...best way to know what you got is to use it and see how it reacts. its not an exact science, then again neither is treating every pitcher like they have the same body/genetics/build. long story short...there is no sure thing, just guidelines to feel out what you got...rest is pushing it to find the dude's ceiling and stamina.

Meh. I want predictive algorithms!! Cut the humanities crap and give me some math!!

<p> My guess at the process to track this... </p> <p> - Track pitch counts per outing </p> <p> - Track number of days used in a row </p> <p> - Track number of days off between outings </p> <p> - Track pitch types and velocities </p> <p> - Track injuries </p> <p> - Track performance ups and downs  </p> <p> Feed it into HAL and analyze... </p>

WTMF? Cubs Theriot, SS Fukudome, RF Lee, 1B Ramirez, 3B Hoffpauir, LF Soto, C Edmonds, CF DeRosa, 2B Gallagher, P is this abomination true?

<p> I agree...why the fuck is Edmonds playing? </p> <p> I kid...I kid. </p> <p> I assume Soriano has an owie or they want to give him 2 days off.  </p>

I was thinking about this. Today's game is far more important than this weekend's games as we have totally pwned the pirates. We should be playing our best today and rest them vs. the buccaroos.

<p> it's may...there's nothing important about today's game. </p> <p> Left Field in Houston is pretty easy, I mean Carlos Lee almost looks good out there and the Pirates throw 3 lefties verse us this weekend. If they wanted to give him a day off, today was the day. You definitely don't want Hoffpauir out there in PNC Park.<br /> </p> <p> Lou keeps trying to give Derrek one I heard, but I'm guessing Derrek keeps telling him to put him in. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p>

theriot/fukudome/dlee/aram.... lou does read TCR... now if he could only apply that when soriano is back. the 2hr .400 ob% guy batting 2nd...a 10hr .300 ob% guy not leading off... fuku has more SB than soriano, fwiw...which is just about nothing since its only 1. still... and yeah, i could care less who's sick of soriano-batting-1st or not...and yes, i know he's probably still gonna be leading off...maybe this year he'll get more RBIs than extra base hits.

So what's up with Z's shoulder? http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/961223,CST-SPT-cubnt21.article

Recent comments

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  • Also - what did Bosio say when we went to talk to Rondon? "OK, Hector, tie game, 9th inning, 2 outs, 2-0 count on the hottest hitter in the game. Let's try the ol' fastball right down the middle and see how that works, hmmm?" Terrible pitch. I've never been a fan of using closers in non-save situations -- they are used to pitching with adrenaline pumping and celebrating the last out of the inning. I realize it was a a swinging bunt and an error that caused the problem, but that may have been the worst pitch I have seen Rondon throw in a long time.
  • Ugly series save a few clutch Homeruns. 2 first inning Homeruns allowed. 2 complete innings (out of 27) with a lead (8th and 9th game 2). 6 Leads/Ties given up top half of the inning after scoring. 9 9th inning unearned runs. Brutal roadtrip coming up while SF plays 22 straight against teams with losing records. Like the Cubs odds, obviously, but long way to go.
  • No more f'n Pajama Parties, Joe! Losing a series at home to the Reds (who have a worse record than the Brewers) in September is not what we are looking for, gentlemen. 3 series losses in a row -- let's get that fixed immediately. Bad error by KB as Crunch describes -- almost like he was surprised the ball was hit to him. I think if he makes that play we win the game.
  • solid smack to him...right through his legs. he wasn't even in motion, totally stationary. no bad bounce, either. it was hit very hard, but also squarely wiffed...not even any glove contact. it happens...not a good time for it to happen with 2 outs, though. that was the inning ender, easy.
  • Can someone tell me about Bryant's error who saw the play? You cannot give the Reds (or most teams) 4 outs. In this case with Joey Votto coming up.
  • un...fucking...believable... tie a game in the bottom 8th, give up 3 runs in the top 9th...why the hell not. awesome.
  • DAT TIE THO.
  • Ugh Hammel...the new Haren. The 3-5 starters have imploded and killed yet another series.
  • Just about to type the same thing.....Augh!
  • 5 times in the last 3 games, Cubs have taken the lead or tied the game in the bottom half, only to give up runs in the top half.
  • <p>I'd like to see stats on opposing pitcher batting average. It's probably not real, but seems like we give up hits all the time to f-ing pitchers.&nbsp;</p>
  • Tony Four Sacks # 27
  • Hammel has k'd Votto twice. /baseball
  • Sore Ribs doesn't worry me too much. Getting a "precautionary MRI" has me assuming he is going to be out at least a few days, possibly more.
  • Maybe he got injured diving for the ball in LF? I really hope it's not code for a "strained oblique"....