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   1. Walt Davis Posted: April 30, 2012 at 10:36 PM (#4120378)
You seem to have the "goods" right (but missed Russell! :-) ... as to "significant" bads (i.e. ones that might actually matter in the longer term) ...

Ian Stewart -- not a promising start to the "maybe he just needs a change of scenery and we'll have a league-average 3B for a few years" idea
Soto -- hopefully just a random slump
Soriano -- a trade does not look likely
Volstad -- actually pitching OK in many ways; 16/4 K/BB, 1.27 WHIP with 2 HR in 22 IP. He's been fine so far despite my concerns.
Marmol -- sigh
   2. SouthSideRyan Posted: April 30, 2012 at 10:57 PM (#4120393)
Heading into tonight, Stewart's LD% was greater than his BABIP. Call him the anti-LaHair.
   3. McCoy Posted: April 30, 2012 at 11:05 PM (#4120401)
For Bryan LaHair what would a "reality check" look like for him? As was mentioned in the previous thread he strikes out a ton but as an ungodly BABIP right now. What does his line look like if he simply falls to a .380 to .400 BABIP? Can he stay in the lineup while not having an ungodly BABIP?

As for looking ahead if LaHair continues to hit I could see them moving him to the OF to bring Rizzo up as well.

I'm not impressed with Dale but it is true that he doesn't have much to work with. That being said I don't think the coaches are handling the pitching well. Perhaps they aren't doing a terrible job but I wouldn't say they are top notch in that category. I was also not pleased to see that Dale took a long time to move Bryan up in the batting order. I don't know if he did that because he was new to the clubhouse and needed to support the "veterans" or what but having one of his only two hot bats in the lineup so far apart and one of them stuck at the bottom of the lineup cost the Cubs some runs. I do like that it appears that Dale is letting the team run and that they seem to be doing it intelligently. 71% success rate and it doesn't appear to me that the Cubs are running themselves out of innings.
   4. puck Posted: April 30, 2012 at 11:44 PM (#4120421)
Ian Stewart -- not a promising start to the "maybe he just needs a change of scenery and we'll have a league-average 3B for a few years" idea


Wow. So, league avg. LD%, his K rate is at a career low 22.2%, and he's still hitting .160. Maybe the Rockies sacrificed the guy's luck, spirit, or both for all those winning streaks.
   5. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: May 01, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4120596)
For the record, 8 and 15 projects out to 56 wins. I don't think the Cubs are *that* bad.
   6. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 01, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4120669)
Pythagoras projects out to 63-99. I don't think they're that bad either.
   7. zonk Posted: May 01, 2012 at 11:50 AM (#4120675)
LaHair is NOT going to survive where his hits+K's = 95% of his ABs... One way or another, that ratio is highly unsustainable... but he's a fun hitter to watch and I'm not so sure he really isn't going to carve out a nice little Brian Daubach career for himself. All the better for us, because with Rizzo raking, that means someone might actually be willing to part with a modicum of value for him (or - let him flail away in LF... not like Soriano is earning himself any gold gloves).

I tend to agree with Walt on Volstad -- he just seems to get singled to death and the BBs, while low, always seem to hit at precisely the worst time. I read this morning rumors of his rotation spot being in danger. That would be a huge mistake - not because of what was traded for him, but because with a guy like him, you've got to ride out those streaks where everything falls in. I still think Volstad will be a solid mid-rotation member for a long time, eventually.

Geo Soto really needs to start hitting... With Clevenger raking (though hurt) and Castillo almost certainly major league caliber, Soto is an enigmatic luxury. At this point, Soto is probably the most logical trade chit -- but he can't be stinking up the batters box.

Beyond that... hoo boy... a whole lot of cookage in the OF, no? Soriano's 2011 is looking like a swan song/dead cat bounce from 2010. I don't think you could even pay someone to just take him at this point. Even if you covered every dime -- who wants a LF that hits like an undisciplined, powerless middle IF? I gotta think this is his last year in Chicago and I wouldn't be shocked if they just cut the cord before it's up. DeJesus likewise looks like last year was a portend of things to come more so than just an off year.

I'm warming to the idea of just extending Garza... He's young enough that he ought to still be quite fine in 2-3-4 years and I think he's really grown as a pitcher. He shouldn't be getting more than 15 mil -- but if he'd do say... 5/70? I'd pull that trigger and I hate giving pitchers long deals.
   8. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 01, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4120815)
Volstad: It's not like Wells or Wood have done much of anything this year to take the spot away from him.

Soto: I'd trade him by the all-star break assuming his numbers get to where they should be. He's a free agent after 2013, so he's really not very valuable to us (not in the sense of OMG we can't compete in 2013!, but in the sense that we only have one year left of him, and if he hits to the point that we still want him, he's not going to be cheap.

DeJesus: Not hitting for power, but his 352 OBP is still respectable. Plus, how can you not love the SSS fun that has been Tony Campana? I'm fine writing him in to the 25 man roster for the next 2 seasons, then cutting bait once he costs actual money.

Garza: Unless his elbow explodes, there's no way he makes less than 15M/Y in his next contract.
   9. Dan Posted: May 01, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4120829)
I don't see why Garza would take 5/70 when he's likely to be one of the top pitchers on the FA market.
   10. zonk Posted: May 01, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4120857)
So 5/80?

He's a fine pitcher, a decent #2 on a decent team, a great #3 on a great team -- he's not an ace... If he costs more than 5/80, then I think he's a chit. I'm not LOOKING to move him - I think he's got another year before he's FA eligible, so there's no rush - but if I were Thed, then I'd be looking to either get a deal signed or start quietly shopping him. He's probably worth more this summer (health assumed) than he is in the offseason. I suppose maybe that changes depending on who's in contention (a small market club might not necessarily want a possible 12-15 mil hit this offseason) this July.
   11. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 01, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4120858)
CJ Wilson was the top pitcher on the market last year - Sabathia was never technically "on the market" - and he took 5/75. John Lackey got 5/82 as the top pitcher on the market in 2010.

Pitcher contracts haven't exploded at the same rate as contracts for big hitters. Maybe the Matt Cain contract is the new normal, but that isn't for sure yet. Cain also had a much better record of actually preventing runs from scoring than Garza does. He's a bit of a FIP bet. I might guess something like 6/90 for Garza, assuming that this is the year his run prevention closes the gap on his FIP. 5/65 is a decent bet if he turns in another cromulent ERA, excellent FIP year.
   12. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 01, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4120864)
Arbitrary rankings of what # a pitcher is might be my least favorite thing in the world. A decent #2 on a decent team? How many starters do you think are better than Matt Garza right now?

Wilso took 5/75 because he wanted to play in LA. He would've got a lot more elsewhere.
   13. zonk Posted: May 01, 2012 at 02:38 PM (#4120868)
I suppose I might go 6/90... Garza has been relatively healthy, he's exited the "danger age", and his numbers are heading in the right direction. There's enough upside in that 6/90 (if he keeps incrementally improving his BB rates and his K rate can maintain, perhaps steps up into near-ace/ace status).

I think I'd still try to keep him under 15 per year -- if he'd take 6/80, I'd sign tomorrow.... 6/90 is probably my absolute, take it or leave it ceiling.
   14. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 01, 2012 at 02:40 PM (#4120876)
Garza since becoming a Cub

fWAR: 10th
xFIP: 8th
FIP: 9th
   15. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 01, 2012 at 02:47 PM (#4120885)
Numbers like FIP are useful, but not determinative. (xFIP is not useful. HR rate is predicted better by HR/Con than by FB/Con, the lower error of xFIP is a statistical artifact of the lower variance of FB rate.) A pitcher who continually underperforms his FIP may lack a skill which FIP doesn't measure. These skills are real, just difficult to pick up a small statistical sample.
   16. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 01, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4120891)
Except Garza has historically outperformed his FIP.

ETA: And why wouldn't you include CC's "extension" of 5/122 (with vesting option)
   17. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 01, 2012 at 03:23 PM (#4120935)
Except Garza has historically outperformed his FIP.
Fair point. On the other hand, the notion that Garza is an elite pitcher depends on trusting a year of FIP over a career of acceptable above average-ness. It's still a risk.

On Sabathia, I said it in my post. He was never technically "on the market". The larger point is that there is some precedent for good-not-great pitchers making $100M+, but there's significantly more precedent for them falling in the 5/80 range. Garza isn't Sabathia or Santana or Lee, he's a lot more like Wilson and Lackey and Zambrano and Lowe and Burnett. (Which might be a little scary, when considering locking him up to a longterm deal, I guess.)
   18. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: May 01, 2012 at 03:31 PM (#4120939)
The Cubs had just nine home runs in April, the first time they haven’t reached double-digits in that category for a month since August of 1981 when they also had nine.


I hadn't seen the "since" part before. Sad.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: May 01, 2012 at 04:16 PM (#4121003)
The Cubs had just nine home runs in April, the first time they haven’t reached double-digits in that category for a month since August of 1981 when they also had nine.

That was the strike dual-season year; play didn't start again until Aug 10. So it's really been even longer than that.

Cubs 2B that year hit 193/249/269 and SS hit 193/277/233. :-)
   20. Walt Davis Posted: May 01, 2012 at 04:26 PM (#4121011)
Pythagoras projects out to 63-99.

I had them at 65 so I'm sticking with it.

McCoy asked about LaHair and his BABIP. I'll cheat and just use on-contact numbers. With that K-rate, even if he put up a Ruthian 400/800 on-contact, he'd hit 233 with a 466 SLG. Right now on contact he's hitting 676/1353 -- even for a small sample that's just silly awesome.

Matt Kemp is 556/1190. I'm taking the under. :-)
   21. Walt Davis Posted: May 01, 2012 at 04:42 PM (#4121026)
Hey, three in a row. Sorry meant to expand on my having them at 65 to tone down the suggestion of my brilliance. :-)

Soto, Stewart, Soriano, Byrd have all been much worse than I expected; LaHair much better. Stewart really does have to start hitting at some point -- his BABIP this year and last is below pitchers' BABIP and even Don Zimmer would notice if he'd become that bad of a hitter. He is hitting a ton of GB. Anyway, point is, even I expect the Cubs' offense to get better from here although not dramatically (maybe high 80s OPS+).

On the pitching, Dempster was one question mark for me -- I was expecting average-ish but so far he's been excellent so maybe 2011 was just a bump. Already mentioned Volstad and, miracles of miracles, SRJ also has a K/BB of 3 and a HR/9 of .4. So I may have under-estimated the rotation as suggested although overall staff performance has ended up about where I thought. The bullpen has been a disaster even if not quite in the ways I expected.
   22. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 01, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4121034)
I think disaster is a bit strong to describe the pen. Last night not withstanding, they've been pretty good since the nightmare of games 1 and 2.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: May 01, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4121083)
OK, maybe it is but the bullpen is the opposite of the rotation -- terrible peripherals, below-average results. The pen has taken 6 losses already. Not that we've had a lot of them, but b-r gives the ERA in save situations as nearly 10 with 9 BB, 9 hits and 2 HR in 6.1 IP. Granted I'm not sure how they're defining "save situation" and that could still be a couple of disaster outings but I don't think so (i.e. I think they stop counting once the save is blown).

And, timing, they're coming off 2 runs in 2 IP to lose a tied game in Philly.
   24. McCoy Posted: May 01, 2012 at 08:26 PM (#4121223)
Dale said yesterday that Wood when he comes back will not be the setup man in the pen and that Dolis would be the setup man.
   25. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 02, 2012 at 11:22 PM (#4122269)
Jeff Samardzija: future HOFer or future inner-circle HOFer?
   26. McCoy Posted: May 02, 2012 at 11:27 PM (#4122272)
You misspelled LaHair.

Castro with a CS and a PO today so it is 10 stolen bases and 5 outs on bases.
   27. McCoy Posted: May 03, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4122465)
Randy Wells and Scott Maine are sent down to make room for Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood today.
   28. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: May 03, 2012 at 11:01 AM (#4122470)
Jeff Samardzija: future HOFer or future inner-circle HOFer?

He really looked great last night against Cincinnati. Great velocity and command on the fastball, and nasty splitters as well.
   29. Walt Davis Posted: May 03, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4122851)
Randy Wells and Scott Maine are sent down to make room for Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood today.

Maine? The reliever who's pitching well goes down? Trust me, I know Maine is no great shakes but not like we've got good options out there.

And can I go back to disaster after the latest meltdown?
   30. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: May 03, 2012 at 06:12 PM (#4122911)
As I said in the chatter, Dale was too little too late when he pulled Marmol. Marmol is a guy who has days where he couldn't throw a strike if he had promised a sick boy in the hospital that he'd do so. Yet Dale stayed with him and it cost the team the game. Quade did this constantly last year, too. When Marmol is like this, the torment will go on and on until he's pulled. I'd be interested to see how many times in recent years Marmol has actually finished an inning when he's like this.
   31. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 03, 2012 at 06:57 PM (#4122948)
Marmol is a guy who has days where he couldn't throw a strike if he had promised a sick boy in the hospital that he'd do so.

"Mr. Marmol? It's about a little boy in the hospital. I was wondering if you could do something to lift his spirits."

"Sure, I can help you there."

"Yeah, well, I promised him that you would throw two strikes."

"You promised a kid in the hospital that I'd throw two strikes?"

"Yeah, what, no good?"

"No, it's no good, it's terrible! I mean, you don't throw strikes like that, it's hard to throw strikes! And where the heck did you get two from?"

"Well, two is better than one."

"That's ridiculous! I'm not a strike pitcher!"

"Huh. Maybe I did overextend myself."
   32. zonk Posted: May 03, 2012 at 07:09 PM (#4122952)
As much as I can concur on the most recent Marmol debacle, I think it's pretty clear that he's not long for this team... One way or another, he's not worth much right now - so the only thing to do is keep running him out there and hope he has an unhittable stretch to pick up some value... because, you know, other teams don't pay attention to his periods of uselessness ;-)

OTOH - I think I'm ready to pronounce myself a believer in both LaHair and Samardzija
   33. Brian C Posted: May 03, 2012 at 11:58 PM (#4123155)
I'm back from Cincinnati, where I had the chance to attend Tuesday night's rainout and Wednesday night's win. A few things to report:

1) GABP is a lot more appealing in person than it is on TV. On TV, it always seemed very ordinary to me, but the river setting feels very appropriate for the city, and it's a good deal smaller than I had imagined. They figured out how to do something that I haven't seen in a stadium before, which is to open the upper deck concourses to the field; basically, the two upper decks share a concourse, so you can see the field from the concourse like you can from the concourses from the lower bowl in most other new stadiums. I don't know if Cinci is the first to figure this out, but it's the first I've seen it, and it's a very clever design.

2) My wife doesn't really get the BPJ nickname. I explained it the best I could, but she just doesn't think he looks like Jesus. I said that's not really the point, but it didn't work for her.

3) Speaking of, Samardzija hit easily the longest batting practice HR of the night, into the top of the bleacher section in left, where it landed with such force that it ricocheted back onto the field. He had another long HR, too, into the back of the Reds' bullpen. So maybe we keep the BPJ nickname, only replace "bullpen" with "batting practice". Dude's going to go Zambrano on us at the plate if he can stay in the rotation.

4) LaHair was the next most impressive, consistently hitting balls over our heads (we were six or so rows up in right). He clearly has more power than anyone else on the team. And, of course, he hit one in the game, too.

5) I'm glad we weren't at the game today, because I would have wanted to jump out of the aforementioned upper deck, cursing Marmol's name on my way down. Man, has it ever all gone wrong with him. We had the game on the radio, and Thom Brennaman was just beside himself that any Reds hitter would even bother to swing at any pitch Marmol was throwing. And as much of a blowhard as he is ... he's right. Marmol couldn't get the ball in the strike zone these days if he was standing there putting it on a tee. Obviously Stewart's error hurt him, but still, five batters and three walks issued. He literally couldn't be worse than he's been. It's too bad they can't send him to Iowa, where he could get some regular work and figure things out. With any luck, we'll find out he's hurt. At least that would give us some hope for him in the future.

6) Skyline Chili is overrated.
   34. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: May 04, 2012 at 12:30 AM (#4123177)
Eric - Fantastic
   35. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: May 04, 2012 at 12:39 AM (#4123181)
1) GABP is a lot more appealing in person than it is on TV. On TV, it always seemed very ordinary to me, but the river setting feels very appropriate for the city, and it's a good deal smaller than I had imagined. They figured out how to do something that I haven't seen in a stadium before, which is to open the upper deck concourses to the field; basically, the two upper decks share a concourse, so you can see the field from the concourse like you can from the concourses from the lower bowl in most other new stadiums. I don't know if Cinci is the first to figure this out, but it's the first I've seen it, and it's a very clever design.


I was also impressed with GAB during my only visit there in 2005. One thing that stood out to me was how the field seemed even smaller than it appears on TV. Then again, the Reds were thwacking Kerry Wood fastballs into my section, so perhaps that altered my perception.
   36. UCCF Posted: May 04, 2012 at 05:05 AM (#4123226)
Any chance the Cubs might try to peddle Marmol to the Yankees now that Rivera's out for the year?

(Not that I think he's better than Robertson, or even Soriano. But he's still got the shine of the proven closer despite his (small sample size?) early season struggles this year, and picking up a replacement for Rivera allows them to keep the rest of their bullpen structure in place rather than shifting everyone into new roles.)
   37. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 04, 2012 at 06:41 AM (#4123231)
Samardzija: Having thrown about 120 innings of ~120 ERA+ ball over the last two years, he's already accomplished more in the majors than I ever expected, so I have to give him credit for that. His biggest problem has been walking batters, but since the second half of last year, well, he hasn't been giving away first base. A full year of this and I will be optimistic.

Marmol: I remember people giving me a hard time (I don't remember where) years ago for suggesting that Marmol was something other than untouchable. Sigh.

Love Eric J's Paul O'Neill redux for Marmol.
   38. zonk Posted: May 04, 2012 at 09:57 AM (#4123330)

2) My wife doesn't really get the BPJ nickname. I explained it the best I could, but she just doesn't think he looks like Jesus. I said that's not really the point, but it didn't work for her.


Heh... Watching the game on TV with the gf, I tried to explain the same thing... she does agree that he's got a slight Jesus-aesthetic to him, but doesn't care enough about the 2008 bullpen travails to capture the larger meaning... she also said that "Jesus wouldn't have been walking almost five per nine while performing miracles, either". OK, I made that last part up - but I think I'd have proposed on the spot if she had said it.

Also - concur on skyline... cinnamon? Really?
   39. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 04, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4123363)
Skyline is awful.
   40. Cabbage Posted: May 04, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4123398)
Skyline chili strikes me as one of those things that is great if you grew up eating it. I don't mean that as a knock either. I eat a lot of slavic-style food, and I know that's not for everyone (aspic!).
   41. Brian C Posted: May 04, 2012 at 11:34 AM (#4123425)
That sounds plausible, Cabbage. I didn't hate it - if I had to eat there again, it wouldn't be that big of a deal - but I definitely didn't get where the appeal comes from. But a lot of regional fast food chains are like that, they inspire fierce loyalty even though they're not really very good (In-N-Out, I'm looking in your direction here...).
   42. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 04, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4123426)
You leave In-N-Out out of this.
   43. McCoy Posted: May 04, 2012 at 11:45 AM (#4123429)
I've felt the same way about Ben's Chili Bowl in DC.
   44. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: May 04, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4123431)
I don't like In-N-Out fries, but the burgers are great.
   45. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 04, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4123445)
Regarding LaHair's ungodly on contact numbers, here is 1992-2012, 3000+ PAs:

Mark McGwire .387 / .927
Ryan Howard .403 / .821
Jim Thome .397 / .800
Russell Branyan .376 / .784
Manny Ramirez .400 / .750
Barry Bonds .367 / .781
Adam Dunn .367 / .759
Sammy Sosa .377 / .748
Mo Vaughn .398 / .716
Andres Galarraga .395 / .709
Alex Rodriguez .381 / .714
Larry Walker .386 / .705
Miguel Cabrera .395 / .694
Ryan Braun .387 / .702
Carlos Delgado .368 / .718
Matt Kemp .401 / .684
Jim Edmonds .380 / .705
Juan Gonzalez .371 / .707
Jose Canseco .365 / .710
David Ortiz .362 / .695
   46. zonk Posted: May 04, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4123466)
Marmol officially out as closer...

That really sucks - his value is close to nil right now... I hope he can put it back together to become at least moderately flippable.
   47. Brian C Posted: May 04, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4123484)
That really sucks - his value is close to nil right now

I'd say that it's worse than that, his career is close to over. Remember when Ankiel's control problems were so extreme that he couldn't pitch anymore? He never walked 12 batters per nine innings. Rich Hill never walked 12 batters per nine innings. Steve Blass himself didn't put up numbers quite like this until June '73, and of course was never good again.

Marmol's only put in 8.2 IP this season, but it's not like he's been struggling for a week - he was good in August last year, but other than that, he was brutal in the second half last year and has been brutal for a full month now this year.

He's radioactive, and I think it's fair to wonder if he'll ever be a good pitcher again. How many pitchers recover from a near-total inability to find the strike zone over a period of longer than a few games? I'm not asking rhetorically.
   48. Brian C Posted: May 04, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4123486)
Never mind.
   49. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 04, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4123514)
It's not exactly the first stretch Marmol has had like this. He'll certainly never get back to being great or even good, but he had a walk/inning rate in 2009 all the way up til July 16th. He can still bounce back to be a mediocre and infuriating reliever.
   50. zonk Posted: May 04, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4123528)
I suppose it's not limited to just the Cubs, but one thing that's always driven me nuts about them is that really, going all the way back to Lee Smith until Marmol -- they have never done a real good job grooming inhouse talent to close (i.e., getting a closer on the cheap) and then they fail to deal them at top value.

Smith was a draftee and Marmol a foreign FA -- good finds both, but in between -- it was always either paying for one in the offseason or shipping talent out for one. What's more - Smith was traded for a decidedly unimpressive haul and now it looks like Marmol wouldn't fetch a bag of balls.

The Cubs really don't seem like they've had problems developing 'prototypical closers' -- plenty of hard-tossers with limited arsenals have graduated through the system in the last 30 years -- but for whatever reason, there's just an awful lot of bringing in Myers, Aguileras, Becks, Smiths, etc... sometimes they work out quite well, sometimes they fail spectacularly.

I suppose they're no worse at this than other teams -- but I guess I just consider 'closer' such a crapshoot, almost fungible thing that I hope the new regime is better at identifying when, whether, and what resources to allocate to the role.
   51. Brian C Posted: May 04, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4123538)
Along those lines, the ascension of Dolis in this bullpen confuses me a little, because he's been decidedly unimpressive to my eye, and his minor league track record isn't much to crow over, either. Meanwhile, Scott Maine seems to have things figured out pretty well, and he gets sent back down first chance the Cubs get.

I know that the roster will be in flux all year, but I don't really get it. I'd rather have Maine than Russell even if they're dead-set on having only one lefty, because Russell looks like a pure loogy to me, while Maine looks like his stuff is good enough to be a threat to righthanders as well.
   52. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 04, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4123547)
Zonk,

I don't think that's really been a recent problem. Before Marmol, you had Wood, before him you had Dempster on an injury rehab contract, before him you had the Hawkins abomination for a few months, but before that it was Borowski off the scrap heap.
   53. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: May 04, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4123569)
I have that "Life Stories" book from the New Yorker that includes the excellent piece on Steve Blass. I finally got around to reading it the other night.

I wonder what type of command Marmol has when he's warming up. Blass never really lost his stuff. He could still find his spots while warming up. But you put a batter in the box, even if it was just a teammate, and the wheels came off.

One of the problems for Marmol is that his command of the fastball has never been too great. It's always been about that slider. And when he was still relatively new to the bigs, he could get away with missing by a lot with the slider, because hitters were still flailing away due to its movement. But now, the command of the slider has weakened a bit, hitters are more patient with him, and when he gets into fastball counts (which is often), he can't spot that straight ball worth a damn.

It's unfortunate to see it unravel like this, because Marmol was once one of the most exciting aspects of the Cubs. It seems like a lifetime ago that Sweet Lou would stroll out to the mound and bring in Marmol to clean up another pitcher's mess, because he was the arm in the pen most capable of missing bats with absurd ease.

I kind of subscribe to the notion that it's nice to have a lights-out closer you can depend on year after year, but it's not impossible to find pieces off of the scrap heap to fill the role (like Tampa Bay has done). So in that sense, this isn't DEVASTATING for the Cubs. It's just a sad story to watch unfold.
   54. Cabbage Posted: May 04, 2012 at 03:33 PM (#4123629)
It's sad, really. In 2010, his K/9 was 16.0.
   55. McCoy Posted: May 05, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4124290)
Castro Tracker-11/8
   56. McCoy Posted: May 05, 2012 at 03:29 PM (#4124298)
You know this team wouldn't be half bad if the pen wasn't so wretched. With just a typical pen the Cubs would probably be around .500 right now even with all the holes on offense.

Colvin, Pena, Cashner, and Zambrano are doing well for their new teams while Marshall and Ramirez are struggling. Though Ramirez would be an upgrade for the Cubs at third.
   57. Brian C Posted: May 05, 2012 at 09:38 PM (#4124437)
Cashner's walked 10 batters in 13 innings. He's also allowed all 4 runners he inherited to score and has benefitted from a .188 BAbip against. So he has a low ERA, big deal, he's not really doing very well.

On the flip side of that, Marshall's basically been dominant aside than two bad outings.
   58. McCoy Posted: May 05, 2012 at 09:54 PM (#4124444)
Cashner came into a game with the bases loaded with no outs and struck a batter out and got 4 groundballs. 2 of them got through to score 3 runners. Yesterday he allowed his 4th inherited runner to score when he again gave up a groundball that got through allow the runner from second to score.

Cashner is walking a bunch of players but he is also striking out a bunch of players and inducing a ton of groundballs. He has nearly 3 groundballs to every flyball. A .188 BaBIP against is not a knock against him.
   59. Brian C Posted: May 05, 2012 at 11:17 PM (#4124480)
Cashner is walking a bunch of players but he is also striking out a bunch of players...

No, he's not - 7.6 K/9 is just not very impressive (league average is 7.5), and that's especially true against 6.9 BB/9. Whether he's getting a lot of grounders or not, he's just not going to have sustained success with that kind of K/BB ratio.
   60. McCoy Posted: May 05, 2012 at 11:34 PM (#4124483)
So he can't sustain the grounders but the walks are going to stay the same? Cashner has struck out 11 batters in 13 innings. The NL is at an all time high in SO/9 so just because he is slightly above average doesn't mean he isn't striking out a ton of batters. Right now he's a reliever that is keeping the other team from putting the ball in play and when they do they are usually hitting on the ground for mostly an out and occasionally a single.
   61. McCoy Posted: May 06, 2012 at 11:50 AM (#4124609)
Cubs DFA Blake DeWitt to make room for Travis Wood. By my count that will give the Cubs a 13 man pitching staff. I don't think the problem is that they don't have enough pitchers. Excluding their backup C (who the Cubs just don't seem to want to play) the Cubs now only have 3 guy bats on the bench. Plus Travis Wood wasn't even pitching all that well down in AAA.
   62. Brian C Posted: May 06, 2012 at 12:05 PM (#4124618)
I don't think the problem is that they don't have enough pitchers. Excluding their backup C (who the Cubs just don't seem to want to play) the Cubs now only have 3 guy bats on the bench.

This is true, but in all likelihood TWood is just here to make an emergency start, and then the Cubs will call up Cardenas or Valbuena.
   63. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: May 06, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4124629)
the Cubs now only have 3 guy bats on the bench.

Going by 2010-11, Joe Mather looks like a girl bat to me.
   64. McCoy Posted: May 06, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4124632)
Apparently the flu got to Garza.
   65. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: May 06, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4124648)
That was the strike dual-season year; play didn't start again until Aug 10. So it's really been even longer than that.


Not much longer. They hit 4 in April of that year.
   66. McCoy Posted: May 06, 2012 at 11:49 PM (#4125138)
Nolasco ties Willis for all time wins as a Marlin and Cashner got lit up in the 8th today. Reyes got a clean single with a line drive. Bonifacio got on, I would say with some bad defense, via a bunt. Reyes stole third and Bonifacio stole second and I would place the blame on both of those things on Cashner. IBB follows and he strikes out Infante. He then walks Stanton for a run and then the catcher lets a ball clank off his glove for another run. Bloop single to right ends Cashner's day when another run scores. The final run that is tallied against Cashner comes when the catcher once again clanks a ball off his glove to allow another runner to cross homeplate.


So Nolasco ties Willis in all time Marlins' wins and both were in the Cubs' farm system. The Cubs got basically nothing for Nolasco and got a mediocre reliever and Matt Clement for Willis.
   67. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 07, 2012 at 12:21 PM (#4125360)
I believe they got Josh Donaldson as compensation for Pierre leaving. Donaldson then became part of the Rich Harden trade.
   68. McCoy Posted: May 07, 2012 at 02:09 PM (#4125486)
Cubs call up Adrian Cardenas today. I can't find it confirmed yet but I assume the Cubs are sending Wood back down.
   69. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 07, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4125494)
Yep, Wood was only up to take Garza's start, and Garza will be back by time his spot comes up.
   70. zonk Posted: May 08, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4126601)
Jeff Samardzija -- all-star...
   71. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 09, 2012 at 10:28 AM (#4127252)
Ryan Desmpter - winless Cy Young?
   72. zonk Posted: May 09, 2012 at 11:07 AM (#4127291)
Ryan Desmpter - winless Cy Young?


Geez but he's been lights out... His gem last night actually hurt his ERA+ -- now he's at 372. Granted, he's got 3 unearned runs (to just one earned in 35 1/3), but his peripherals are just sterling.

If nothing else, if he can stay healthy -- and so long as doesn't exercise his 10/5 -- he ought to be extraordinarily valuable as a chit later this summer... One year left, figure about ~7 million left owed this year? He could be a top-flight SP rental for just about anyone.
   73. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: May 09, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4127329)
That's a big *if* though, isn't it? I get the impression Dempster is pretty happy in Chicago. Maybe he'd be ok with a rental, and if it's clear the Cubs aren't going to bring him back next year he might be more agreeable with moving now.
   74. Brian C Posted: May 09, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4127333)
Maybe he'd be more amenable to a deal if the Cubs were interested in bringing him back next year. I don't think they would be, but that would be an easier sell, I think: "Hey, go try to win a title for a few months, we'll keep your seat warm."
   75. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 09, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4127340)
Dempster may like Chicago but I doubt he will fight to stay while all his long time teammates are sent elsewhere. Even Derrek Lee decided to take a shot with a contender when theu came knocking.
   76. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: May 09, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4127357)
Perhaps, but it feels to me like he's trying to establish a long term presence in Chicago and with the Cubs, much moreso than Lee and more along the lines of Kerry Wood (who did leave, but never wanted to and couldn't wait to come back).
   77. zonk Posted: May 09, 2012 at 12:21 PM (#4127364)
My impression of Dempster is that he's just generally a good fellow... Maybe he likes Chicago - who can blame him - but if the team approached him about a trade, I tend to doubt he'd veto it, especially since it would be a chance to go to a contender and possibly win a ring (he came up a year late with the Marlins rental and left two years early with the team-that-shall-not-be-named version).

You gotta think all the contenders except maybe the Braves and Cardinals (and then you've got the whole in-division thing, too) are going to be looking hard at another SP. Dempster would be a significant #2 upgrade for even LA and Texas.

I doubt he'll continue to be the NL's best pitcher (look it up - I'd say right now, he's pitching like it), but if he's around 125 ERA+ish, still sporting 9.5 K's/9 with K/BB ratio around 3.5-1, while continuing to be stingy with the HRs? What's a Dempster worth? I have to think he's worth a good haul or a blue-chipper/A prospect. I'm not saying you get to clean out a system for him, but I think it would entirely reasonably to expect a top farm system's near-best prospect in return. Either that - or I think he's easily worth 3 B's.... Consider, too, the Cubs may have a few useful spare parts to toss in, too.
   78. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 09, 2012 at 12:24 PM (#4127368)
Agreed, Moses.

Slight correction on your numbers zonk. You were looking at the ER-HR columns. His R-ER is 6-4.

What's so crazy about Dempster's numbers, is it's not just that he's getting hard luck no decisions. The Cubs are 0-5 in games he's started.
   79. zonk Posted: May 09, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4127370)
Perhaps, but it feels to me like he's trying to establish a long term presence in Chicago and with the Cubs, much moreso than Lee and more along the lines of Kerry Wood (who did leave, but never wanted to and couldn't wait to come back).


Well, if so - then he's got to be willing to give quite a hometown discount... I'm not opposed to keeping him, but it would have to be substantially below market value. He's 35 and while he's been very, very good -- it's not like he's been a Maddux or Jenkins. No offense to him, but he's not even a Hall of Very Gooder. I think my high limit would be 3/30 -- and I'd much prefer to stay lower. If he stays healthy all year and continues to pitch well, that's probably a fair bit less than he might be able to wrangle on the market -- but we're rebuilding and we don't need any 36 yo's making ~15 a year.
   80. McCoy Posted: May 09, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4127387)
You gotta think all the contenders except maybe the Braves and Cardinals (and then you've got the whole in-division thing, too) are going to be looking hard at another SP. Dempster would be a significant #2 upgrade for even LA and Texas.

If Dempster stays this good or anything close to it it won't matter if a team needs pitching or not they'll want him for the stretch run.


Remember when we were all debating whether or not Dempster had anything left? Good times.
   81. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 09, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4127388)
I think Dempster would come back for 3/30. I'm not sure I'd even want that. I'd rather not go beyond 2 years.
   82. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: May 09, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4127393)
Maybe he'd be more amenable to a deal if the Cubs were interested in bringing him back next year. I don't think they would be, but that would be an easier sell, I think: "Hey, go try to win a title for a few months, we'll keep your seat warm."

From my impression of Dempster, this seems like the type of thing he'd go for (but hey, what do I know?).

I was at the game last night and spent much of the day feeling really bad for him (as I do for most Dempster starts). At the very least, he deserves to be on a team that can score more than one run a game.

have to think he's worth a good haul or a blue-chipper/A prospect. I'm not saying you get to clean out a system for him, but I think it would entirely reasonably to expect a top farm system's near-best prospect in return. Either that - or I think he's easily worth 3 B's.... Consider, too, the Cubs may have a few useful spare parts to toss in, too.

I could see a team like the Tigers going for something in that vicinity (maybe not their best prospect, but definitely high-end).
   83. Walt Davis Posted: May 10, 2012 at 01:38 AM (#4127996)
Barry Bonds .367 / .781
Adam Dunn .367 / .759


Oops, forgot about this thread just before that cool list was posted. I like this one as it nicely shows how Ks hurt batters. Dunn hit the ball as well as Bonds, just slightly different contact rates. :-) Not suggesting Dunn could have cut the Ks without sacrificing the production, more a reminder that you need to _hit_ like Bonds if you're going to _not hit_ as often as Dunn and it still adds up to "only" a 128 OPS+.
   84. McCoy Posted: May 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4128147)
If LaHair doesn't strikeout in his next 4 AB his strikeout ate will then be 1 strikeout or every 3 AB. His last 10 games has seen his strikeout rate go from almost 1 out of every 2 AB to 1 out of every 5 AB.
   85. Brian C Posted: May 10, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4128214)
Somewhat relatedly, since the beginning of May, his BAbip is "only" .368, but he's still hitting .370/.485/.741 in that time.

Not that there are any real conclusions to draw from a week's worth of games, but his power is undeniable, he's been working deep counts all year, and defenses can't overshift against him because he's perfectly willing and able to hit to the opposite field. It might be that his strikeouts earlier in the season were keeping his numbers down as much as his high BAbip was holding them up.
   86. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 10, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4128235)
but we're rebuilding and we don't need any 36 yo's making ~15 a year.


What does rebuilding have to do with it? All things being equal, in fact, a rich team like the Cubs that are rebuilding ought to have a lot of spare cash to toss around. But either Dempster is worth it, or he isn't. The status of the team ought to have little effect.
   87. McCoy Posted: May 10, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4128300)
I got a new laptop and one of the criticisms of it that I read online is that the keyboard is rather firm compared to other laptops. So if I'm missing a letter that is the reason why.
   88. McCoy Posted: May 10, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4128320)
Selective endpoints and all but after their Friday game on April 20th the Cubs were 3-11. Since then the Cubs have gone 10-7 and it isn't like they won those games because they are scoring a bunch of runs either. They've averaged 3.24 RPG over those 17 games and actually averaged more in their first 14 games (3.57 RPG). Starting pitching is keeping this team in games and when the bullpen holds up they win and when they don't the lose.

Hindsight suggests the Cubs would actually be sitting pretty if they had kept Zambrano, Pena, and Ramirez, traded away Byrd for anything in the offseason, let Campana play centerfield and had LaHair play primarily a corner outfield spot.
   89. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:00 PM (#4128336)
Hindsight suggests the Cubs would actually be sitting pretty if they had kept Zambrano

I think that hindsight would suggest that it's highly unlikely Zambrano would have the same results in Chicago that he's had so far in Miami.
   90. zonk Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4128341)
Taking 2 of 3 from both the East and West division leaders is nothing to sneeze at... and I've decided that I'm sold on Bryan LaHair.
   91. McCoy Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4128342)
Just playing around with WAR if you subtract Soriano, Byrd, Stewart, and Volstad's WAR and add Zambrano, Ramirez, Pena, and double Campana's WAR you get a difference of 4 WAR which could mean the Cubs would have a record of 17-14 right now and be 3 games back of the Cards and be 1 game back of the 5th seed.
   92. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:06 PM (#4128346)
I wonder why I'm being offered the opportunity to edit McCoy's posts, but no one else's.

But as soon as I submitted this one, the problem seems to have been fixed.
   93. McCoy Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4128350)
You can't really. It's a bug in the script. I also get the option of editing your last post while not being able to go back and edit my post but if I tried to edit your post it wouldn't let me. But as soon as I submit this post that will change.
   94. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:09 PM (#4128351)
I'm pretty skeptical that LaHair would have the same WAR playing LF every day as he does playing 1B.
   95. McCoy Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4128353)
I'm pretty skeptical that LaHair would have the same WAR doing virtually anything including somehow jumping into a time machine and watching the start of the season all over again.
   96. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4128358)
You can't really. It's a bug in the script. I also get the option of editing your last post while not being able to go back and edit my post but if I tried to edit your post it wouldn't let me. But as soon as I submit this post that will change.


Yes, it happened again. Strange.
   97. McCoy Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:29 PM (#4128370)
The Cubs offense has been horrendously bad so far this season. Has the hometown papers picked up on that yet or are they simply focused on Marmol and Wood? The Cubs offense is threatening to not even score 550 runs this year. The last time the Cubs scored less than 600 runs in a season was in 1992 when they won incredibly 78 games. Thanks mostly to a very good pitching staff. The only other time the Cubs have scored less than 600 runs in a 162 game season was in 1963 when they won, again incredibly, 82 games. They only allowed 578 runs while scoring 570 runs. It helps to have two godawful expansion teams in the league. The last time the Cubs flirted with 550 runs scored over a typical regular season was way back in 1917 when they scored 552 runs and went 74-80, though they actually played 157 games.
   98. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4128397)
Well a lot of it is the run environment. You have to go back to 1992 to find a lower R/G total. And anecdotally isn't April supposed to be the lowest scoring month?
   99. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:54 PM (#4128403)
Article on Sveum's defensive shifts: ESPNChicago
   100. McCoy Posted: May 10, 2012 at 02:54 PM (#4128404)
The cubs are still second to last in rpg in the nl and if I recall they are very very close to a tie with last place. Plus they've actually scored less in may than in April on a per game basis.
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