Friday Notes

TCR Friday Notes

- Everyone's favorite topic...lineups!!!

On days when switch hitter Aaron Miles plays second base and Kosuke Fukudome plays center field, Piniella said he likes this lineup: Soriano, Miles, Lee, Bradley, Ramirez, Fukudome, Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot. That's a right-switch-right-switch-right-left-right-right alignment.

Armchair managers commence bitching! Between rumors of 400 AB's and now batting second,  Aaron Miles has all the makings of being the new ¡Neifi! It's like no one in the Cubs organization has noticed that his likely unrepeatable .343 BABIP last season accounted for nearly all of his .753 OPS "success".

TCR Friday Notes

- Bruce Miles and the beat writers are back in business with the start of spring training. Miles says Geovany Soto has come to camp in great shape, Z is sporting a 'stache and will not pitch for Venezuela in the WBC. He also says that Z is holding off on laser eye surgery due to an infection and some odd eye geometry on his behalf. There appears to be some video at the Trib of Z and the Cubs in Arizona on the sidebar, but I can't get it to load.

- Fangraphs takes a look at the best outfield arms and comes to the shocking revelation that Alfonso Soriano is good and Juan Pierre is not. 

- An interview with the Phils former GM, Pat Gillick, gives some insight on the Cubs corner outfielder pursuit this winter.


--On whether the Phillies may have overpaid for Ibanez (three years, $31.5 million), given the one-year, $6 million deal that Bobby Abreu
just signed with the Angels: "The Cubs were after [Ibanez] pretty
thick. Lou [Piniella] and he had a good relationship, so I think Lou
was plugging pretty hard for him. I don't think [the Phillies could've
waited]. The Cubs were searching for left-hand hitting. My opinion is I
would prefer Ibanez to Milton Bradley, just from an
injury standpoint. Milton Bradley to me is an American League player, a
DH/part-time outfielder. He's not a day-in, day-out player in the
National League."

TCR Friday Notes

- Colin Wyers, whom writes at GROTA and Statiscially Speaking, begins a series at the Hardball Times looking at the überstat systems like Win Shares, WARP and WAR.

-  The Hardball Times also looks at hitters with an affinity at swinging at first pitch fastballs - Gathright (in a bad way) and Soto (in a good way) are mentioned.

-  Fantastic piece by Stats Inc. on newly acquird Aaron Heilman and his repertoire. There's some words of warning in there, but it's pretty clear he has filthy stuff.

More after the jump...

The Week That Was....

The rest of the world might have been on holidays the last few weeks, but general managar Jim Hendry was busy shuffling the deck chairs on the Cubbie Titanic. Things happened at a rather fast and furious pace last week, so let's revisit with a more in-depth look. What you may have missed while in your drunken egg nog stupor...

Cubs Sign Gathright

Granted, this was before the holiday break, but it's not like I can let a Cubs move go without commenting. Gathright, as we all know by now, can jump over a car and he can also jump over a pitcher if needed. He'll also take a swing at Julian Taveraz which certainly warrants a +1 if this was Deadspin. We also know that Gathright grades at 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale for speed, one of those five tools that Corey Patterson supposedly possessed. A shame that scouting scale hasn't been revamped to include a sixth tool for "baseball IQ" or "can't layoff a breaking pitch".

Back to Gathright, we know he's fast, we know he can jump a car or player, but what he can't do is play baseball very well.  He's a track star wearing a baseball uniform. The speed is fun and all when you're getting a .365 BABIP like he did in 2007, but when lady luck isn't on his side, he's a .265 hitter with a slugging percentage below his on-base percentage. When Ryan Theriot says you hit like a girl, you've got problems.

And as for his 80-grade speed, you'd think a guy so damn fast could steal at better than a 75% clip. While passable by the laws of baseball sabermetrics, when your only real benefit on the field is your wheels, he should be much closer to the 80% or higher range like Dave or Brian Roberts. Of course, speed also is beneficial in the field, but Gathright rates as below average by BP's fielding metric over his career

I still contend that on a one year, $800K deal, he was brought in as no more than a backup plan and motivation for Felix Pie this spring training. I don't think that contract will keep the Cubs from cutting him if Pie can put together a nice spring training. If he does stick, we just hope Piniella uses him appropriately, which would be not much at all.

TCR Thursday Notes

...it's like Friday Notes, but on Thursday...and on 'roids.

Alright, I've been compiling links and notes for about three weeks now and finally had a chance to get it all down today, so plenty of diversions for the off-day today before we knock the silly out of the Redbirds this weekend. And yeah, some of this stuff is old.

- Let's go back in the time machine and talk about home field advantage for the All-Star game. I think most of the sentient baseball universe realizes the absurdity of awarding home field advantage for the most important games of the year to the league that wins an exhibition contest. MLB says they can't do the rational thing of awarding it to the team with the best overall record, as it won't give them enough time to plan and book events in the potential cities. I call SHENANIGANS!!!

When do they start booking these hotels and start planning? Using the current All-Star method, you know that after the season ends, one of four teams could be hosting the majority of the games. After one round, it's down to two teams. If they use the best record, there are seven teams that could host the majority of the games (throw out the playoff team with the worst record), and after the first round, it would be down to three cities (once again throw out the record of the worst team left). This doesn't seem like such a scheduling catastrophe as MLB makes it. And the NBA and NHL seem to have figured it out.

TCR Friday Notes

...the triumphant return.

- Fun with projections: At their current .642 winning percentage, the Cubs would win 104 games. They have played a considerable amount of extra home games though to this point, so if you use their current .784 home winning percentage and their current .467 road winning percentage, that comes out to (roughly) 63 home wins and 37 on the road for a total of 100 wins. If they "tank" the rest of the way and just play .500 ball, they'd still be good for 90 wins on the year. This would also be a good time to note though that the highest home win total since 2002 is 57 wins done by the 2003 A's and Giants and the 2004 Yankees.

TCR Friday Notes

...returns after a one week break.

- There was a brief discussion in the comments about who should be the Cubs All-Stars. I think the deserving candidates are Carlos Zambrano (leads NL pitchers in VORP), Carlos Marmol (leads NL relievers in WPA), Geovany Soto (leads NL catchers in VORP) and Aramis Ramirez as a backup at third base to Chipper Jones. Ramirez is just a few notches behind Garrett Atkins in VORP for the backup spot, but he has a slight edge in home runs, RBI's and huge lead in OBP...and the Rockie kind of suck right now.

On the outside looking in, are Kosuke Fukudome(12th among all NL outfielders), Ryan Dempster (12th in VORP) and Derrek Lee (4th in VORP). And don't be surprised if Soriano gets himself back into the mix before too long.

- I noticed today that you can view Iowa Cubs highlights from their home page. Neat.

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  • Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 14 min ago view
  • video of Maddon.

    http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561343809737202839-4

    always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.

    Rob G. 16 hours 25 min ago view
  • from Muskat:

    #Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs

    Rob G. 16 hours 30 min ago view
  • http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561339391889382475-4

    Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.

    Rob G. 16 hours 35 min ago view
  • great defense

    Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.

    Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.

    I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.

    Rob G. 16 hours 47 min ago view
  • If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?

    Craig A. 16 hours 58 min ago view
  • #Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.

    Fun with FIP

    • J. Hammel   3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
    • J. Arrieta     2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
    • J. Lester     2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
    • K. Hendricks  2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
    • J. Lackey     3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
    Rob G. 17 hours 23 min ago view
  • zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k

    he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.

    crunch 18 hours 3 min ago view
  • JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.

    My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.

    Jackstraw 19 hours 16 min ago view
  • Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...

    billybucks 19 hours 33 min ago view
  • joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1

    not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.

    really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.

    crunch 19 hours 37 min ago view
  • Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.

    Eric S 20 hours 21 min ago view
  • Classic Scully - great stuff.

    Thank God we'll still have Hawk next season. (cricket cricket cricket)

    Eric S 1 day 1 hour ago view
  • Here's Scully's call on Bryant's 10th-inning homer:

    "And it's a long fly ball, a mean fly ball, and a gone fly ball."

    VirginiaPhil 1 day 2 hours ago view
  • When the Cubs were the old, hundred-year Cubs, one bad hop did not undo their opponents.

    VirginiaPhil 1 day 2 hours ago view
  • If only he was clutcher. More clutcher.

    Jackstraw 1 day 3 hours ago view