September 2008

Billy Petrick Back on Hill

Brad Boyer put the Giants on the scoreboard with a solo home run in the bottom of the 6th and the Cubs were held to just three singles, as the Giants shutout the Cubs 2-0 in AZ Instructional League action at Indian School Park Field #2 in Scottsdale this afternoon.

RHP Billy Petrick, hampered by shoulder weakness since the start of Spring Training and on the Daytona Cubs DL since the end of May, got the start for the Cubs today, and he looked OK. He was removed with one out in the bottom of the 2nd inning after throwing 20 pitches (15 strikes), during which time he allowed one hit (a harmless single) and no walks, with one strikeout, a pop-up, and two ground outs.  

2008 NLDS Preview: Cubs Scoring vs. Dodgers Run Prevention

I'm a little under the weather, so bear with me and this rather bare bones preview...all the substance, none of the fluff.

I never understood the positional breakdowns that many folks do for a series or playoff preview. I understand a team is only as good as the sum of its parts, but Derrek Lee will never have to battle against James Loney at any point in the series. It's more about how one team's pitching and defense will fare against the other team's lineup.

Cubs Offense vs. Dodgers Pitching and Defense

Cubs Hitting: .278/.354/.443 .797 OPS(1st in all those except BA, which they were 2nd), 87 SB's at a 72% success rate (8th in NL)

Dodgers Pitching: .251/.315/.376 .691 OPS, 3.68 ERA (1st in all those except BA, which they were 2nd)

Cubs Hitting vs. Right Handers: .274/.350/.443 .793 OPS

Dodgers Pitching vs. Right Handers: .239/.300/.361 .661 OPS

Dodgers Pitching vs. Left Handers: .268/.334/.396 .730 OPS

Cubs are 64-48 when a right-handed pitchers starts the game.

Dodgers Defense: .693 DER (9th in NL), .825 RZR (12th in the NL)

Dodgers Rotation: Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Greg Maddux

Cubs vs. Dodgers—Stacking Up the Stats

How the Cubs and their NLDS opponents stacked up in a variety of statistical categories. (Team's National League rankings appear in parens; "DER" refers to Defensive Efficiency Ratio and "RZR" refers to Revised Zone Rating. Throughout, * means stats are through Saturday, 9/27. ) 

CUBS
  L.A.
 Hitting
855 (1st) RS
700 (13th)
184 (5th) HR
137 (13th)
.355 (1st) OBP
.333 (6th)
.445 (1st) SLG
.400 (13th)
 800 (1st) OPS
733 (11th)
     
 Pitching
668 (2nd) RA
645 (1st)
3.87 (2nd) ERA
3.68 (1st)
2.30 (3rd) K/BB
2.51 (2nd)
711 (2nd) OPS vs.
691 (1st)
66% (4th) SV %
65% (5th)
     
 Fielding*
.706 (1st) DER
.693 (9th)
.832 (6th) RZR
.825 (12th)

 

Here's another interesting set of numbers—the performance of the Dodgers offense before and after the acqusition of Manny Ramirez:

Cubs vs. Dodgers

It's all settled, the Dodgers and their league-leading pitching staff will roll into Chicago starting Wednesday. The Cubs were 5-2 against them this season, including a three game sweep at home in three low-scoring games. They split a four game set in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers ride into October with a 17-7 record, albeit it against an extremely easy schedule (Padres, Diamondbacks, Giants, Rockies, Pirates).

Game 161 Thread / Cubs @ Brewers (3 of 3)

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Angel Guzman SP *C.C. Sabathia
0-0, 7.04, 6 K, 4 BB, 7.2 IP (NL)
10-2, 1.78, 121 K, 24 BB, 121.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soirano CF Mike Cameron
SS Ryan Theriot 2B #Ray Durham
1B Derrek Lee LF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Prince Fielder
CF Reed Johnson SS J.J. Hardy
RF *Micah Hoffpauir RF Corey Hart
2B Ronny Cedeno 3B *Craig Counsell
C Henry Blanco C Jason Kendall
P Angel Guzman P *C.C. Sabathia

 

First, Paul Sullivan writes that despite his recent travails (5.40 ERA in September), Jeff Samardzija has made the post-season roster and that Chad Gaudin will likely be a spectator.

As for today's game, Mark DeRosa (calf strain) was hoping to get in a few swings so he
didn't have to go into the playoffs cold. Alas, he is not in the starting
lineup. Geovany Soto (sore hand) is also sitting.

The Brewers begin play tied with the Mutts for the Wild Card, with a one-game tiebreaker tomorrow at Shea in the teams' futures if things don't get settled today. (As I post this, the Marlins and Mets are waiting out a rain delay at Shea.)

 

"It's not going to matter because, well, it is going to matter but it's not going to matter,"

Translated into English, it means that Lou Piniella decided that Carlos Zambrano would not pitch the first inning or two of today's regular season finale at Milwaukee and Angel Guzman will.

Translated into Sullivanese...

Cubs Rally to Defeat Angels at Fitch

Tony Campana had four RBI, Logan Watkins scored three runs, Josh Vitters had two doubles and a walk, and Jake Optiz smashed a double and a triple, as the Cubs rallied from a 7-3 deficit to defeat the Angels 9-7 in AZ Instructional League action this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa. 

Reader Beware: May Contain Over-analysis of Meaningless Cubs Game

You just can't put too much stock into any of the games the Cubs play this week, even if they're against potential playoff opponents playing for everything as the Cubs play for nothing. But if you consider them the practice tests before the Cubs have to take the ACT's next week, I think a few members of the Cubs need to do a cram session this weekend.

Errors & Walks Doom Cubs in Maryvale

The Brewers took advantage of four errors and seven walks to defeat the Cubs 10-1 at Maryvale Baseball Complex Field #7 in AZ Instructional League action this afternoon in Phoenix.

While the main purpose of "Instructs" is to provide lots of coaches and instructors and a less-pressurized, more low-key environment that allows pitchers to work on a new pitch or on their secondary stuff and position players to try a new position, make adjustments as a hitter, or improve their baserunning, the fact is somedays the Cubs youngsters look better than they do on other days. And today was just not one of the good days.

Game 157 Thread / Cubs @ Mets (3 of 4)

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Carlos Zambrano SP *Oliver Perez
14-6, 3.77, 128 K, 68 BB, 184 IP
10-7, 4.10, 168 K, 97 BB, 184.1 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano SS #Jose Reyes
SS Ryan Theriot LF *Daniel Murphy
1B Derrek Lee 3B David Wright
3B Aramis Ramirez CF #Carlos Beltran
RF Mark DeRosa 1B *Carlos Delgado
CF Reed Johnson RF *Ryan Church
2B Ronny Cedeno C *Brian Schneider
C Henry Blanco 2B #Argenis Reyes
P #Carlos Zambrano P *Oliver Perez

 

After a lifetime spent listening to ballgames on the radio, I have come to associate certain parks with a certain tone, a certain pitch in the crowd sound. Obviously, my ear is well attuned to the way that Wrigley Field crowds come across on-air. Same with Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park, and the Metrodome. (Loved hearing all those Twins fans Tuesday night!)

Shea Stadium is another one of those parks. Unlike what you hear over the radio from those other parks, however, the crowd sound that goes out over the airwaves from a raucous Shea isn't one of collective joy. It's much more coarse, much more dangerous, a wild, unruly roar—like the sound of inmates rooting on two guys aiming to shank each other in the middle of the yard.

Mmmm...Secret Sauce

One of the many toys at Baseball Prospectus is something they call "Secret Sauce". BP has successfully cracked the code to playoff success and nailed the last 45 World Series winners. What? How have you never heard of this amazing prediction system? Because I made that last part up, but nevertheless a fun tool to look at as we await our playoff opponent.

I looked back through 2000 and BP did predict three World Series winners and six of the 16 participants in the World Series correct. You scoff, but what's your playoff prediction success rate?

The formula is simple enough and rather intuitive to what is commonly believed among baseball folks that power pitching, a good closer and good defense wins in the playoffs. In this case, BP uses FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average), EqK9 (Equivalent Strikeout Rates per 9 innings) and WXRL (Win above Replacement Pitcher for the team's closer) and comes up with a score.

Their predictions and the 2008 rankings after the jump.

Cubs Teach Giants a Thing or Two at Fitch

Junior Lake drove in three runs, Matt Cerda had three hits, and Brandon Guyer belted a solo home run, as the Cubs defeated the Giants 5-2 this afternoon in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.

Quick Cubs Hits

- Sean Marshall will start Tuesday and Rich Harden will start Thursday. Letting Marshall start Tuesday means he'll likely get the start for the likely season finale on Sunday as well. Lou also said he won't be lightening any workloads for Harden or Zambrano this series. Pushing Harden to Thursday also means Lilly will get moved to a Saturday start.

Tags: 

Strategy for Mets Series

It's going to be a pretty laid back way week for the Cubs as they ready themselves for the playoffs. The only kink in that plan is they're playing two of the teams fighting for a playoff spot. Lou has already indicated that you wont' be seeing anymore lineups like Sunday:

"I can't let these guys all sit," Piniella said. "We have to use them
to keep them as sharp as possible. We'll play our regular lineup in
these games [against New York]. The worst thing that can happen is
Major League Baseball calls us and tells us, 'Hey, you people have a
responsibility,' and we're going to honor that. 

I'm not exactly sure that's the worst thing that can happen, the worst thing that could happen is that Soriano gets nailed with a fastball or Ramirez shreds a hamstring, etc, etc. But Lou is right that you just can't sit them for a week.  As I discussed last week, I think Lou should be weary of using his starting pitchers versus the Mets. When it comes to the question of unfamiliarity between a pitcher and a hitter, I think the advantage goes to the pitcher. The less a team has seen a pitcher, the bigger the disadvantage. Now I don't worry much about Jason Marquis going tonight since he's been in the league long enough that many of the Mets hitters have seen enough of him already and he probably won't pitch against them if they are the Cubs first round opponent. But the rest of the week has Harden vs. Johan, Zambrano vs. Perez and Lilly vs Pedro. First, let's applaud the Mets for having two pitchers who are simply known by their first names.

Second, I understand that you don't want to completely sit your starting pitchers and risk getting them rusty, but I do hope Lou sticks with a plan to limit them to 5 innings and no more than two times through the lineup. If you look at some of the numbers, Harden has only faced one Mets hitter at least 10 times and that's Carlos Delgado. Lilly is in much of the same boat, with only Delgado and Luis Castillo getting more than 10 AB's. Zambrano being a native National Leaguer, has faced most of the Mets lineup quite a bit more, including a one-run effort earlier in the season. 

All in all, it's probably not a big deal, but what else are we going to worry about this week?

Some random notes after the jump....

Game 153 Recap: Cubs 5, Cardinals 4

Cubs Clinch Division, First Back-to-Back since 1907-1908, Earliest since 1932

W - Lilly (16-9), You, Me, Santo, Harry, 104-year-old-dude-who-threw-out-the-first-pitch, all Cubs fans.

L - Pineiro (6-7), the rest of the NL Central

S - Wood (32)

Box Score, Photos

Things to Take from This Game

1. A bases loaded three-run single for Soriano

Well, two rbis and an error leading to the third run.  In the bottom of the second Soriano lined a single right at Brian Barton in left. The ball kicked off his glove and rolled to the wall, clearing the bases.  The Cubs raced out to a 3-0 lead.

2.  More fielding problems, more runs.

The Cubs got two more runs in the fourth, as Soto began the inning by smashing one through Glaus at third.  DeRosa hit a double high off the ivy to score Soto, and after advancing to third on a Fukudome ground out, scored on a nicely executed suicide squeeze by Lilly.  5-0 Cubs through four innings.

3. Glaus homers in 4-run Sixth

Lilly looked great, very economical, through five. In the sixth Felipe Lopez gets an RBI single on a smash up the middle off Theriot's glove, and Glaus unloads a no-doubt three-run home run into the left field well.  Suddenly we had a close game.  5-4 through six.

4.  Lilly Recovers, Marmol and Wood close it out

Other than a leadoff walk to Glaus in the ninth, the last three innings passed uneventfully as Lilly pitched the seventh, with Marmol and Wood doing their jobs to close out the game.  A soft fly out to Edmonds off the bat of Aaron Miles ended the game, and a happy Cubs team celebrated between the pitcher's mound and first base.

 The Back-to-Back NL Central Champion Details, below.

Tags: 

Game 152 Thread / Cardinals @ Cubs

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Adam Wainwright SP Carlos Zambrano
9-3, 3.20, 84 K, 26 BB, 121 IP
14-5, 3.41, 127 K, 65 BB, 182.1 IP
       
CF *Skip Schumaker LF Alfonso Soriano
LF Ryan Ludwick SS Ryan Theriot
1B Albert Pujols 1B Derrek Lee
2B Felipe Lopez 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Troy Glaus CF *Jim Edmonds
RF *Adam Kennedy RF Mark DeRosa
SS *Aaron Miles 2B *Mike Fontenot
P Adam Wainwright C Henry Blanco
C Jason Larue P #Carlos Zambrano

 

In his post-game press conference Thursday, a giggly Lou Piniella implied he was planning to go out last night to tie one on in celebration of the spectacular comeback victory. (I believe the exact quote was, "This is going to be a bad night for me.") It's a relief then, looking at today's lineup, to see Lou didn't stumble into the lockerroom still drunk and blindly pencil Koyie Hill into the leadoff spot as his second baseman or give a spot start to Michael Wuertz.

Geovany Soto gets the day off owing to irritation of a joint in his left hand. He is listed as day-to-day.

Our man Zambrano makes his first start since last Sunday's no-no at Milwaukee. I took a look at the last ten National Leaguers to throw complete game no-hitters before Zambrano to see how they fared in their very next outing.

Game 151 Recap: Cubs 7, Brewers 6 (12 Innings)

Brewers Give the Cubs a Game, Cubs Happily Accept

 

W - Wood (5-4), Rob G's childlike faith in spells, fairies and magical comebacks
L - Villanueva (4-7), Brewers' base-running coaches.

 

 

Things to Take from This Game

 

1. Harden reprises Marquis
Like Marquis the night before, Harden got into all sorts of trouble in the first before settling down.  The difference between the two starts being that Harden escaped with only one run allowed. Three very economical innings allowed him to get to the fifth, where Harden again struggled.  There he snuck out of a bases loaded jam with 115 pitches thrown, and just the one run from the first.  Velocity looked good, but Harden had no command on the fastball.  6 walks, 9 K's

 

2. DeRosa struggles at 2nd, Cubs struggle in 6th.
DeRosa had a throwing error in the first as he chose to try to turn a very tough DP instead of going to first.  The first run of the game scored on the play.  A bobbled grounder in the sixth helped spark a big inning for the Brewers, abetted by Samardzija's struggles to throw strikes.

 

3. Solo Scoring
Edmonds and Ramirez hit solo home runs, but that was the extent of the Cubs scoring.

 

4.  Crazy-ass rally.
The Brewers ran into two outs on the basepaths in the top of the ninth, squandering a chance to blow the game out.  Instead it's "just" 6-2.  Bottom of the ninth, two outs, and Ramirez squeaks a double just under Braun's glove. Edmonds and DeRosa single, scoring Ramirez.  Soto, who had made a nice block of the plate and nice throw in the top of the inning, takes the first pitch from Salomon Torres and hits a game-tying 3-run homer.

 

5. Lee wins it.
With runners on 2nd and 3rd in the bottom of the 12th, Lee singles up the middle to drive in the winning run.  The Brewers had 25 (yes, TWENTY FIVE) runners LOB to the Cubs' 11, plus the running gaffes.  The Cubs certainly had their issues between Harden's wildness and DeRosa's early-game defense, but overall the Brewers deserved to lose this.

 

The almost-there details, below.

 

Tags: 

Game 150 Recap: Cubs 2, Brewers 6

Wait 'Till... The Weekend

 

W - DiFelice (1-0)
L - Marquis (10-9), drinking champagne on a thursday afternoon

 

Things to Take from This Game

 

1.  Horrid first four for Marquis
Marquis loaded the bases with a single and two walks, and Fielder cleared them with a double.  After that, Marquis settled down well enough, but the Cubs never overcame the deficit

 

2.  Short-Sheeted
Ben Sheets left after two innings due to tightness in his right forearm.  The Brewers emptied the bullpen, and they pitched very well.  Six relievers in six innings, no runs added on to the solo homer Ramirez hit off of Sheets.  The Cubs manage one run off of Torres in the ninth, but there never really was a sense of an imminent comeback.  Before the ninth, the Cubs had eeked out just four hits on the game.

 

3.  Who Cares, Our Magic Number Still is 4.

 

The rather uninspired details, below...

 

Tags: 

Pages