I wanted to introduce myself to you since it seems that you’ve never heard of me, which is a bit surprising since I’ve played against the Cubs a total of seventy games over the last six years. Of course you probably haven’t watched much baseball over the last few years if the Cubs record is any indication….(Hmmm, I think that came out wrong, let me start over). My name is Craig Wilson and I wanted to offer my services to the 2007 Chicago Cubs (and hopefully beyond). I assume you’re unfamiliar with my credentials, you’ve probably been
too busy driving a $100 million dollar team into the ground while keeping the fanbase excited about the season trying to build the World Championship team that the good fans of Chicago deserve. Sorry to hear about the bad ticker by the way, Ryan Dempster will do that to a fella..haha!
Archive - 2007 - story
The first Friday of the New Year, the first edition of TCR Friday Notes for 2007. - The annual Cubs convention is fast approaching, January 19th to the 21st. I've never been but I hear good things if you like insanely large crowds. I'm supposing though that many of you are going and I'd like to throw two things out there. First, if anyone cares to volunteer as our TCR correspondent, we'd love to have daily reports. You can do it anyway you wish and I suppose it depends on your schedule and Internet access. Either update as the day goes on or just provide a daily recap at the end of the day. The most important element that needs to be covered is the Q&A with Jim Hendry which I believe is on Saturday morning. Never being there I don't recall if it's at the same time as the session with Hendry, but also anything with Lou Piniella or any of the other higher-ups like Oneri Fleita. And it doesn't have to just be one person, if different people want to take different days, that would work as well. Secondly, if the readers who are going care to meet up, I'm more than happy to help facilitate it any way possible. Someone would have to volunteer to sort of spearhead the whole thing like when and where to meet, but if you need me to post something so everyone is on the same page, just let me know.
I figured I'd borrow one of their concepts since I'm about to plug their book. For those unfamiliar with The Hardball Times, well where have you been? Great baseball writing, informative well-researched topics and it's free. This though was my first foray into picking up their annual and it was well worth the twenty-ish bucks I put down. Our pitching really sucked That's not earth-shattering in of itself, but usually when you give up a lot of runs like we did last year, some of that can be attributed to a shoddy defense. That just wasn't the case for the Cubs last year and THT aren't the first to pick up on it. John Dewan has an essay on Team Defense using the metrics he helped created in The Fielding Bible. A real basic summary is that his researchers watch every single inning of every single game and record detailed information and then compare each player to his peers at the position basically rating everyone on a plus/minus system. A "+43" for a player means they made 43 more plays than the average player at that position. Pretty cool stuff and I keep meaning to pick up the actual book. You can find the 2006 season numbers for individual players in the Bill James Handbook 2007. As for our overall defense, it's broken down quite wonderfully into middle infield, corner infield and outfield along with information on turning double plays, handling bunts and outfield throwing. I know, you're dying for the results. Well, our outfield was exceptional, +44 for the unit, good for fifth best among outfielders with the Braves leading the pack at +63. The overall rank for the defense was a +49, also good for fifth best in the league, the middle infielders received a +8 and the corner infielders (surely missing Derrek Lee although he didn't rate so great individually if I recall in previous years) received a -3. We sucked at turning groundball double plays (28th), middle of the road at fielding the bunt (16th) and very surprisingly turned up above average at outfield throwing (11th), which takes into account opportunities, how many extra bases are taken and kills (runners thrown out). I'll venture a solid guess that unless Soriano is a trainwreck in the outfield, we'll even be better as a unit next year. My only criticism/question is where do catchers and pitchers fall? If I read the explanation right, they don't seem to be accounted anywhere. I'm sure it's explained in The Fielding Bible but if anyone knows, let me know in the comments.