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

Jason Marquis is just not very good.

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.

I don't think the issue is that we need a Cy Young candidate pitching in the fifth spot.

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.

That's why I think at least a little anxiety is warranted.

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.

a .211 BABIP is virtually impossible....

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.

 

 

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 May 10th, 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!!

My guess at the process to track this...

- Track pitch counts per outing

- Track number of days used in a row

- Track number of days off between outings

- Track pitch types and velocities

- Track injuries

- Track performance ups and downs 

Feed it into HAL and analyze...

WTMF?

Cubs
Theriot, SS
Fukudome, RF
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Hoffpauir, LF
Soto, C
Edmonds, CF
DeRosa, 2B
Gallagher, P

is this abomination true?

I agree...why the fuck is Edmonds playing?

I kid...I kid.

I assume Soriano has an owie or they want to give him 2 days off. 

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.

it's may...there's nothing important about today's game.

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.

Lou keeps trying to give Derrek one I heard, but I'm guessing Derrek keeps telling him to put him in.

 

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.

Recent comments

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  • HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC. 

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 32 min ago view
  • ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels. 

    M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores)  the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating. 

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 35 min ago view
  • E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.  

    Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).  

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 45 min ago view
  • PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.

    The E-Man 2 hours 27 min ago view
  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 7 hours 13 min ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 7 hours 14 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 16 hours 55 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 19 hours 53 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 20 hours 5 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 20 hours 14 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 20 hours 19 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 20 hours 38 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 21 hours 14 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 21 hours 31 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 21 hours 33 min ago view
  • soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.

    he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.

    crunch 21 hours 51 min ago view