King for a Day: the Cubs' One-Time Game #1 Starters

As noted here and everywhere else yesterday, Lou Piniella has decided to give Carlos Zambrano the Opening Day assignment at Houston. It will be the fifth time Zambrano has had the honor; the Cubs have gone 2-2 in Z's previous Opening Day outings.

Fergie Jenkins started seven openers for the Cubs, while Rick Sutcliffe started five, and Rick Reuschel, four. The real fun in looking over this list at Baseball-Reference.com is noting which Cub pitchers got to go in Game #1 once, but never again. Here are the last ten such Cub pitchers:

Cubs Clutch Hitting Gets Lost in the Translation

Prepping for the first game of 2nd Round WBC play in San Diego on Sunday, Team Japan edged the Chicago Cubs 3-2 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park on a cool & breezy Thursday afternoon in Mesa, AZ. 

box score

Carlos Zambrano - Opening Day Starter and Could Still Pitch in the WBC

The headline pretty much says it all as Lou made it official today on the Cubs' Opening Day starter. If Lou skips the 5th starter as he mentioned, the rotation for the month of April could look like this.

Beware the BABIP

I harp a lot about BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) and how it's a good indicator if a player is due for a slump or a rebound from year to year, and even within a season. The general guideline is that a player will generally settle within a range of .290-.320 on their BABIP, with the league average being .300 for a hitter and .290 for a pitcher. Now pitchers have much less control over their BABIP than hitters, that is unless they throw a knuckleball or particulary good change-up that is hard to get good contact on, but hitters actually can outperform or underperform that guideline quite significantly thanks to an ability to hit line drives, speed and a few other minor factors. That being said, they don't outperform it by that much. If you look at the 3-year leaderboard for BABIP on Fangraphs, only three players have topped the .360 mark (Jeter, Holliday and Chipper Jones with Ichiro just missing). Now those are some of the best hitters in the game and their career BABIP's are pretty high as well (except for Chipper who has a .328 career BABIP) and it's been shown that players regress more towards their own BABIP levels than the league averages. That all being said, when you see a player hitting anything over .340, you need to start worrying that it will fall back a bit unless they've been able to sustain it for a few seasons. On the flip side, if a guy is suddenly below .280 he's either had a really unlucky season or he's about to leave major league baseball (see Jones, Andruw).

The All-Time Greatest Cubs Team

I believe I heard in the promo that on today's 30 Clubs in 30 Days show on MLB Network that covers the Chicago Cubs that they're going to announce their all-time greatest Cubs team. That seems pretty easy for the most part and I'm not sure of their criteria, but let's see if we can guess.

Red Alert! Lou Says Something About the Lineup Order

I don't put much stock in what Lou says about the lineup order a month before the season, but he seemed to indicate that Kosuke Fukudome is in line to bat second after the outfielder dropped by camp today with Team Japan.

Gameday Open Thread/Cubs @ Mariners

Rich Harden gets his first start of Cactus League play with Aaron Heilman set to pitch as well. Lineup is Miles 2b, Theriot SS, Hoffpauir 1B, Fox DH, Fontenot 3B, Johnson CF, Deeds RF,  Hill C, Taguchi LF

Ronny Cedeno will start at 2B  and Cub-for-a-minute Garrett Olson will start for the Mariners.

The Top 10 Best Seasons Ever by a Cub

As part of this Cubs history kick that started with Wiklifield, I had this idea of trying to figure out what was the best individual season by a member of the Cubs. As I started pouring through the research I decided that the burden of annointing the best Cubs' season ever was too much for this humble Cubs fan. Now I realize as a blogger and top 10 list-maker, I'm suppose to just present my opinion as fact and not accept any other arguments, but I decided for this instance to enlist the rest of the TCR writers.

I put together a list of 27 great Cubs seasons and put it to a vote and would weigh it MVP-style (10 pts for a first place vote, 9 for a second place vote, etc). The criteria for this list were all the Cubs' NL MVP seasons and Cy Young winners and then the best of the rest based on sabermetric dominance in either WARP-3 or Win Shares (Lee in 2005) , historical signifcance  (Wilson's RBI record in 1930) or place in Cubs history (Sutcliffe in 1984). Now there may have been a few names that deserved to be in that
original top 27 list over some other names, but I'm sure I didn't miss
the top season. As I mentioned in the poll, just think of it as the
NCAA tournament...there's a lot of arguments on who deserved to be in
the original 65 picks, but those that are left out never really had a
chance to win the whole thing. 

The only instruction I laid out for their votes was to use whatever
criteria each writer saw fit. Some of us have a sabermetric slant to
the world, some like MVP trophies, some just remember what we saw and
its impact at the time and so forth and so on. Transmission, Cubnut, Dr. Hecht and myself ended up participating and our ballots are listed at the end of the post. The final results for the readers voting is also at the end. We by no means believe this is the list to rule all lists, but it was an interesting exercise nonetheless. I mean if Arizona Phil or Christian had submitted their ballots, the final results could have been very different. Also, we tend to believe with our eyes and hearts and I don't think any of us saw much baseball before 1950 - and for some of us - not much before 1980. Speaking for myself, I had a hard time giving double credit for a player, generally focusing on what I felt to be their best season, even if they had a second or third great season that deserved to be recognized. But this is more art than science and the final results certainly are skewed by a small sample size.

Cubs Flush Royals at HoHoKam

Alfonso Soriano belted a two-run home run, Mike Fontenot drove in two runs with a homer and a double, So Taguchi drove in three runs with a bases-loaded triple, Joey Gathright scored three runs and drove in one, and Derrek Lee had an RBI double, as the Cubs drubbed the Kansas City Royals 9-1 in afternoon Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon, before 8,987 fans under overcast skies and in mid-60's temperatures

box score

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  • The Padres signed RHP Trey McNutt to a minor league contract...

  • Yeah, she's a good egg. The whole superdelegate thing is shady as fuck though.

  • the perks of being a big fundraiser model representative citizen.

    honestly, though...the dnc could do worse and she's involved in all kinds of dem party stuff.

  • I didn't realize Laura Ricketts is a superdelegate.

  • pretty much...also agree that it wouldn't surprise me to see him land with the cubs, too.

    the trade to free up room for him would be interesting.

    it would help if he didn't play such a mixed-bag CF. he's anything but sure out there with his wacky routes.

    the O's are favored because of links for weeks and they're about to land y.gallardo (giving up that draft pick).

  • holy crap...j.mejia got busted AGAIN for PEDs.

    3rd time...lifetime ban.

    at one point he was the "closer of the future" (and the actual closer) for the mets. 26 years old. unreal.

  • I agree with what you said, but isn't it so weird that the White Sox are not linked to Fowler? They seem like an ideal fit.

  • oddly...or not...fowler's been strongly linked to the O's lately.

  • Olmos takes another 40 man roster Roulette bullet. The new lefty will be gone when Fowler comes back.

  • seen him in the minors...rather boring lefty. really slow secondary stuff (very slow slider) and a fastball that barely hits 90 on a good day.

  • The Cubs have claimed C.J. Riefenhauser LHP on waivers from the Orioles. Edgar Olmos was again DFA.

  • They should have someone standing behind him to take the ball out of his glove when he's looking for a sign from the catcher, and throw to first. I vote for Baez. That way he can cover the rest of the infield, too.

  • but then d.ross wouldn't have someone to pitch around him or IBB him to put him on base...it's almost moot...almost...not really...but almost...kinda...

    just checked...7 IBB last year...hard to tell how many times he was pitched around, but even assuming it's 0 that brings his ob% to below .230 with a sub-.500 OPS.

  • the intro to the all-star game would take an hour longer just to announce the team...awesome.

  • Think how much more valuable Lester contract looks if he doesn't ever have to do that mockery of hitting thing he does!

  • TV schedule is out:
    http://muskat.mlblogs.com/2016/02/12/cubs-announce...

    It's irritating that it's so difficult to watch Cub games.