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   1. Walt Davis Posted: July 13, 2009 at 07:43 PM (#3252098)
We haven’t seen a single game from him this season that’s anything like last year.

Now, don't overstate things:

Apr 10: 6 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 10 K, 2 BB
Apr 21: 6 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 8 K, 2 BB
Apr 26: 6 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 9 K, 2 BB
May 12: 6 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 K, 1 BB
Jun 13: 6 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 9 K, 2 BB (that was after the DL stint)

and how quickly they forget:

Jun 29: 7 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 9 K, 1 BB

No denying everything else has been pretty much crap. The peripherals are starting to look not so good too as he's now giving up more than a hit an inning on the year. With that walk rate, it's a WHIP over 1.5 and a nasty HR rate. He's Jose Lima with strikeouts right now. Let's hope he figures out whatever's wrong. Of course it could just be that all those injuries have finally caught up with him.
   2. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: July 13, 2009 at 08:33 PM (#3252137)
Those are all decent starts, but the 6/29 one is the only really good one and the only one that really jumps out at you like last year.

Last year, he gave up more than 1 run 4 times in 12 starts (worded better, he allowed 1 run or fewer 8 times). He never went deep into many games, but did pitch 7 innings four times. In his 12 starts, he struck out at least 10 5 times.

So if you're saying I'm holding him to an impossible standard, then I agree because last year's Harden was an impossible standard.
   3. McCoy Posted: July 13, 2009 at 10:19 PM (#3252244)
A lot went wrong this first part and yet the Cubs are at .500. Which to means that the Cubs are an above .500 true talent team. ARe they likely to go 38-38 the rest of the way? I kind of doubt it. I think the Cubs have the players and I think Hendry can pull off a trade or two for them to make a run at it. I just don't know if sub 90 wins is going to do it. I would say 46-30 is a reasonable upper level expectation for this team and I don't know if that is enough especially since they don't play the teams ahead of them a whole lot from here on out.
   4. Sweet Posted: July 13, 2009 at 10:57 PM (#3252273)
Thanks for this, Moses. I agree with nearly all of it, although I'd note that Z's stats this year are closely in line with his career averages.

Z, 2009 versus career:

IP/GS: 6.4 versus 6.6
ERA: 3.53 versus 3.48
H/9: 7.9 versus 7.6
K/9: 7.2 versus 7.6
BB/9: 3.8 versus 4.0
HR/9: 0.6 versus 0.7
K/BB: 1.9 versus 1.9

In other words, while we might "deserve a little more for the $17 million," I don't think we should be at all surprised with what we've got.

Summarizing the key BPro stats for the team thus far:

EQA: .249, 14th in NL (Philly, .278) and 25th in MLB (ditto)
VORP: 51.6, 14th in NL (Philly, 156.0) and 26th in MLB (Tampa, 180.1)
SNLVAR: 11.4, 4th in NL (San Fran, 13.6) and 6th in MLB (ditto)
WXRL: 4.500, 8th in NL (Los Angeles, 8.812) and 15th in MLB (ditto)
Defensive Efficiency: .708, 2nd in NL (Los Angeles, .718) and 3rd in MLB (ditto)

Those pretty much jive with observational evidence: bad offense (but not historically bad), good (but not great) starting pitching, an average bullpen, and good defense (though there the numbers are a little rosier than my eyes would suggest).

FWIW, I think 88 wins takes the division, as it would have, comfortably, in 2007 (85 wins) and 2006 (83 wins).
   5. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: July 13, 2009 at 11:07 PM (#3252280)
FWIW, I think 88 wins takes the division, as it would have, comfortably, in 2007 (85 wins) and 2006 (83 wins).

I think I agree, and I don't think that contradicts with my comment that the division is better than 2007. Last year the Astros and Cards tied for 3rd with 86 wins, behind the Cubs at 97 and Brewers at 90. In '07, the Brewers were 2nd with 83 wins and the Cards were third with 78. I think we could see 4 teams right around .500 again (I'm expecting the Reds to fall further back, otherwise we can have 5 teams within striking distance of .500). And to reiterate a key point, the Cubs have a lot of non-division games left (I'm not sure how that compares to everyone else in the division) and plenty of games against the strong out of division teams (Phi, Fla, Col, LA, and SF).

I agree with nearly all of it, although I'd note that Z's stats this year are closely in line with his career averages.

Good point. There's just something that feels missing though, and maybe that's just unfair expectations.

I would say 46-30 is a reasonable upper level expectation for this team and I don't know if that is enough especially since they don't play the teams ahead of them a whole lot from here on out.

I agree that 46-30 seems about the ceiling for this team, but I don't like their chances of approaching that. Now, if the Cubs can rattle off an 8 out of 10 streak early in the 2nd half, I could see that being a good justification for expecting more out of this team.
   6. SouthSideRyan Posted: July 14, 2009 at 02:05 AM (#3252551)
Was kinda hoping for a separate category solely for Aaron Miles. Other than that, well done.
   7. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: July 14, 2009 at 03:41 AM (#3252710)
(this is just a bit of $0.02 on a variety of topics. Sorry if I garble my words or am hard to follow and apologies if my amateur-statsing is horribly incorrect or misunderstanding simple concepts.)

On the topic of Rich Harden:

Interesting little look at his stats: his FIP is 5.09 but his xFIP is a pretty-good 3.91 (which is backwards; normally he out-performs his xFIP). That suggests to me that a bit of the problem is in his HR/FB (which is considerably higher than it normally has been). I happened to come across a pretty good blogpost (with some comments at the bottom that are helpful as well) on Harden's problems that's quite thorough and interesting, that explores a little more into his increasing number of HRs and his pitching in general. Optimistic, certainly, but an interesting read nonetheless.

On Kosuke Fukudome:

What I'm afraid of is that his offensive numbers will continue their slide. From what I can tell, the leadoff spot fits him well, if only because it gives him a venue wherein he can take a lot of pitches, but he seems to do a lot worse when he tries to be aggressive (his OPS+ after a 1-0 count is 140 and with an 0-1 count is 49, but that's expected given the count. Not sure if there's something that actually quantifies his splits when he swings at the first pitch vs. taking the first pitch out there). Fangraphs values him highly because of his defense (UZR/150 of 10.6), interestingly. If he's leadoff, hopefully he just takes a ton of pitches and settles down.

On Milton Bradley:

Here's his monthly OBP, SLG, # of XBH, and BB:
April/March: .333, .294, 2, 9
May: .348, .439, 7, 9
June: .377, 95, .348, 5, 10
July (so far): .500, .393, 2, 13
It's the absence of power that is so irritating with Bradley. He walks a ton and he seems to be walking more and more, but for his position in the order his lack of power has been quite irritating. Perhaps Lou ought to consider moving him out of his position in the lineup? Given that he's getting on base quite a lot (and there's a definite upward trend in his number of walks and OBP), wouldn't another position in the order suit him better? The new order (with Kosuke up top, Fonzy in the middle, etc.) seems to work more nicely, as he's not in a power position and he can both get on base and drive people when necessary. I think relying on him to do the latter, with power, is a mistake, however, given his SLG and XBHits..

On the topic of Jose Ascanio and Kevin Hart:

I think that they can both benefit from playing time. Ascanio's got a very nice FB, and he struggles to control his breaking stuff at times, but Lou seemingly always took him out whenever he got in trouble (in contrast to Marmol, who would stay in in such situations). I think that letting him continue would have been a good idea - it would allow him to reassert his breaking stuff. I've always like Hart's stuff (the first time I saw him was in person at a Cubs-Dodgers game w/ the bases loaded and no one out. Allowed one run. I've liked him since then), so hopefully he can get a spot.

On Jake Fox:

Since the Cubs have a fairly veteran staff, I’d like to see Lou trust him back there and give him the majority of starts with Soto out (let Hill catch Wells and Hart, but Fox can handle the veterans). Fox’s surprising adequacy begs the question: Why haven’t the Cubs been grooming him for this type of role in the minors? He’s not that young anymore, so his best shot to help the big league team is in this type of role.


I was actually wondering the same thing today. Does anyone know if there is some reason Fox hasn't been groomed for a utility role? Also, does anyone know why Fox was taken off catcher in the minors? Is he just really bad at throwing out baserunners or something? (also, will teams run on him if he is our catcher?).

On the bullpen:

I agree that it could be a strength in the coming season. Having Marshall their doesn't just give us versatility, it also gives another guy to put into high-leverage situations: Gregg as a closer and Marshall, Marmol, and Guzman is pretty good for tough innings near the end. That moves Heilman to the back part of the bullpen (where he's a net positive considering how well he *can* pitch and considering what other teams out there throw into that part of the bullpen) and gives free reign for Ascanio/Samardzija/whoever to possibly develop and pitch well.

On the Cubs in general:

I keep getting upset at the amount of money we've spent on this team. They're not absolutely horrible, but for their cost (you mentioned the $38 mil outfield), they're not up to par. It's really frustrating to watch them, knowing how much money is committed to a lot of these guys.

On the Moses Taylor Recaps:

I've missed them! They're really good and I think you're basically spot-on here. I hope they continue because they're funny, informative, well-written, and wholly accurate!

Hopefully we can pick it up for the rest of the season!
   8. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: July 14, 2009 at 04:06 AM (#3252750)
Regarding Fox

Why haven’t the Cubs been grooming him for this type of role in the minors?


Couldn't agree more. I thought the same thing about Julio Zuleta (who was signed as catcher). I mean, a decent bat cheap that can play 4 positions and even play a little catcher in a pinch?

What's not to like?
   9. SouthSideRyan Posted: July 14, 2009 at 04:07 AM (#3252751)
Fox was taken off of catcher in the minors cause he couldn't catch the ball. He looked like an emergency catcher back there. I didn't catch the early game Sunday, so I don't know, did he look any better?
   10. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: July 14, 2009 at 02:22 PM (#3252998)
Was kinda hoping for a separate category solely for Aaron Miles.

Since he hasn't been around much lately, I haven't been as frustrated with him. Him being hurt upgraded him to bad.

Also, does anyone know why Fox was taken off catcher in the minors?

The story that Fox has been telling lately is that during spring training in 2007, he was catching someone in the pen when Lou called down to the pen and asked if Fox could play LF. The way Fox tells it is that Lou wanted to know if he had the ability, not if he wanted to play there. Fox said yes, just because he wanted to get into the game, and then had to scramble to find a glove he could use since he only had a catchers glove. Fox says his agent and his dad were in the stands, and his agent turned to his dad and asked when Fox started playing LF, and his dad said just then.

During spring training this year, there was some talk about him being moved to third and making the team as a reserve. I thought it was a silly idea, mostly because all we'd ever heard about Fox prior to this season was how terrible he was defensively.

I've missed them! They're really good and I think you're basically spot-on here. I hope they continue because they're funny, informative, well-written, and wholly accurate!

Thanks for the kind words. Things are settled down now, so I'm planning on writing them. In June, I helped two of my brothers move - one of them from California to Virginia, on top of moving myself into a new house, which has required a ton of work to get ready. Sunday was the first time in over two months where I sat around all day and did absolutely nothing. It was heavenly.

Fox was taken off of catcher in the minors cause he couldn't catch the ball. He looked like an emergency catcher back there. I didn't catch the early game Sunday, so I don't know, did he look any better?

He didn't catch at all in the first game. It was only two innings, and I thought he was fine. Some nerves, I'm sure. There are some rumors out there that the Cubs plan on making a move and not using him back there again, which I'm a little disappointed to hear. Both FOX and ESPN talked about the failed waiver claim on Coste (basically the claim was awarded before Friday's game to the Astros, who were 0.5 game behind the Cubs; the Cubs lost and the Astros won so if the claim was awarded Saturday the Cubs would have gotten him).
   11. SouthSideRyan Posted: July 14, 2009 at 02:49 PM (#3253044)
Fox only caught 13 games in the minors in '07, and wasn't called up til late July. I'll call BS on that story.
   12. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: July 14, 2009 at 02:57 PM (#3253059)
It doesn't make the story untrue, it just means its not the whole story. It could simply be the first time he played anything but catcher. If it happened early enough in ST, they could have decided after that day to move him off C.
   13. SouthSideRyan Posted: July 14, 2009 at 03:04 PM (#3253070)
Yeah, I probably should have read the part about it being during spring training.
   14. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: July 16, 2009 at 09:46 PM (#3256483)
The Cubs signed lefty reliever B.J. Ryan and will send him to their spring training facility in Mesa, Ariz.

Ryan, who was a closer for Toronto, will work out in Arizona and report to Triple-A Iowa. "We're very excited and see a lot of upside," assistant GM Randy Bush said.

There's no timetable yet for his stint at Iowa.


Seems like a low risk, high reward gamble to me. He's probably got nothing left, but it's worth a shot.
   15. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: July 17, 2009 at 12:31 AM (#3256714)
I doubt he's got anything left, but it seems like it might be worth a shot.

(wow, I totally just rephrased the previous comment).

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