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   1. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 02, 2007 at 02:43 PM (#2556015)
Call me crazy, but even though the 1998 team won 90 games, I'd take the 2007 version of the Cubs over the 1998 version five games out of seven.
   2. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 02, 2007 at 03:00 PM (#2556038)
The 1998 team (which needed 163 games to get to 90 wins) really sputtered into the playoffs, going 28-31 in August-September. Both the starters and bullpen entered the postseason chewed up beyond all recognition, and Riggleman had zero trust for any reliever not named Beck or Mulholland. Then they had to face a team that won 106 games. The Cubs actually got three very good starts from Tapani, Clark and Wood, but the Braves pitchers blew the Cubs hitters away. They posted a .454 OPS in the series, with Sosa going 2 for 11.
   3. Bunny Vincennes Posted: October 02, 2007 at 03:09 PM (#2556048)
I never thought that 1998 team had a chance. I would also take the 2007 team over the 1998 team.
   4. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 02, 2007 at 03:11 PM (#2556051)
The teams appear to have similarly mediocre hitting and quality but unspectacular pitching.

Not at all fair to Arizona. They have a terrible offense. They're 14th in runs in a great hitters' park. They have terrific front-line pitching. Webb is a Cy Young candidate and they have five relievers with ERAs of 177, 176, 173, 152, and 144. They've all appeared in at least 50 games, so it's not small sample sizes either. Put those relievers behind those decent but unspectacular non-Webb starters, and they'll hang tough in a lot of games.

I've been saying for a month, and I'm not about to stop saying it now: the Cubs will go as far as Carlos Zambrano. I think whichever team wins game one will have a huge advantage. If the Cubs can knock down Brandon Webb, then they have a definite advantage. Cubs have a better offense and Lilly's better than their #2. If Webb beats Z, then they have to win one of the next three to have him match up against Lilly.

Best records in the NL since June 2:

COL 64-43 ---
PHI 62-45 2.0
CHC 63-46 2.0
ARI 57-48 6.0

Fitting that they're the four teams in the place, when you ignore the first two months of the season.

Call me crazy, but even though the 1998 team won 90 games, I'd take the 2007 version of the Cubs over the 1998 version five games out of seven.

Well, 2007 had the better pythag record. 1998 only had one good starting pithcer. And he was injured for the plyoffs (of course being the Cubs they gave him a despertion start in Game 3 anyway). While '98 over all had the better offense, they also had two bigger batting black holes (Blauser and Servais) worse than anything this year. Its a much deeper squad this year, that's for sure.
   5. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: October 02, 2007 at 03:12 PM (#2556055)
I had zero excitement abut the 1998 WC. There was such a huge difference between the Braves/Astros and the WC contenders (Cubs, Giants, Mets), that the Cubs/Giants playoff game seemed an exersize in futility. You just knew the winner was going to get swept. I remember Mac saying late in the year that he would gladly change places with Sammy, ie give Sammy the record in exchange for the WC. While I suppose one has to say that, I didn't believe it for a second. Trade perhaps the most famous record in sports for the priveledge of going three and out in the LDS? No fricken way!
   6. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 02, 2007 at 03:14 PM (#2556059)
I mentioned this elsewhere: The Cubs actually both out-scored and allowed fewer runs than the D-Backs. I do agree, though, that the D-Backs have to be considered the favorites, both because of home-field advantage and because they probably have the best pitcher in the series in Brandon Webb. Although if Big Z pitches like he has lately, he's certainly capable of out-pitching Webb. If Big Z can win Game 1, I really like the Cubs' chances here.

I also like this Cubs team better than any of their recent good teams - 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004. Not so much in the sense that I think they're a better team, but just that they're a more enjoyable team to watch and to root for.
   7. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 02, 2007 at 03:21 PM (#2556074)
It's funny. In 1984, I was so confident that the Cubs were the best team in the NL, certainly better than the Padres, and was stunned that they lost. It still hurts -- even more than 2003. I also thought the Cubs would put up a good fight against the Tigers, enough to give them a decent chance to win anyway.

In 1989, I figured that the Cubs and Giants were on relatively equal footing. I was disappointed that the Cubs lost, but it didn't break my heart as much. They played fairly well, but lost at Wrigley and lost a few tight ones at Candlestick. Besides, either team would've been cannon fodder for the A's anyway (as the Giants were).

In 1998, I never had any thoughts that the Cubs had even the slightest chance against the Braves, so it didn't bother me at all to see them lose.

In 2003, I thought the Cubs-Braves series could go either way, but that the Cubs were slightly better. When they won, I was convinced that they were better than the Marlins and not as good as the Yankees or Red Sox. We know what happened there.

It seems to me that we're in trouble when I think the Cubs are prohibitive underdogs (as against the Braves in '98) but also prohibitive favorites (Padres '84, Marlins '03). They do best when I don't have a gut feeling either way.

That's how I feel about the NL playoffs, particularly this series against the D-Backs, a franchise I have come to loathe. (The only NL franchises I probably like less are the Mets, Marlins, and Cardinals.) I feel that the Cubs have a good shot to win and that they matchup better against the D-Backs than against any of the other 6 playoff opponents, but I don't feel strong enough to say that they *will* win or should be favored.

Game 1 should set the tone. Webb is a terrific pitcher, but which Zambrano will show up? Big Z has been up and down all season -- all career it seems -- and though he finished the season with a couple great starts, it wasn't that long ago when he was shaky. More importantly, let's face it, in big game situations (playoffs, opening days, etc.), Zambrano has a tendency to get more excited and throwing harder (not necessarily the best thing for a sinkerballer). I don't know what to think about Mr. $91MM, but we'll see.

I definitely like the Game 2 matchup between Ted Lilly and Doug Davis, though Davis has pitched quite well after the break. I also like the Game 3 matchup between Rich Hill and Livan Hernandez, though I worry that Hill may get caught up in the excitement of a playoff start in front of the Wrigley faithful.

If they can win two of the first three, I like their chances.
   8. Bunny Vincennes Posted: October 02, 2007 at 03:31 PM (#2556093)
I think using Soto in this series is particularly key, Kendall has absolutely no, and I mean zero chance of throwing anyone of the DBacks out.

Not to mention Soto can actually hit, also.
   9. and Posted: October 02, 2007 at 03:44 PM (#2556117)
This is the first time in my memory that the Cubs have a decent manager. That might explain the uncharacteristic late season push.
   10. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: October 02, 2007 at 03:45 PM (#2556119)
More importantly, let's face it, in big game situations (playoffs, opening days, etc.), Zambrano has a tendency to get more excited and throwing harder (not necessarily the best thing for a sinkerballer).

That is definitely my biggest fear. Even if the Cubs were to drop game 1, I think they have the best of the pitching matchups in games 2-4. Game 5 would definitely be in the D'Backs favor. Home field helps the DBacks, but the Cubs were ok on the road (Lee's insane splits being the biggest exception). I think to win the series, the Cubs are going to have to get to the DBacks pen one of these games, which I don't believe they were able to do in any of the games this year. They need to get Webb out early, which isn't likely with their normal lack of patience. Even if Theriot isn't hitting, hopefully he'll be really work the count to make up for Soriano's non-stop swinging.

I'm afraid I'm too confident this series. I think the Cubs should win, which is a step above thinking they could win. Whatever little playoff experience means, the Cubs have a huge edge there (both among the players and coaches). Hopefully it matters this series.
   11. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 02, 2007 at 03:52 PM (#2556127)
The teams appear to have similarly mediocre hitting and quality but unspectacular pitching.

Not at all fair to Arizona.


Well, it might not be fair to the Cubs either. What I meant was that the Diamondbacks have a good pitching staff, but they don't look like world-beaters to me. Yeah, they're better than the Cubs, I think, but I didn't mean to categorize either team very precisely.

I've been saying for a month, and I'm not about to stop saying it now: the Cubs will go as far as Carlos Zambrano. I think whichever team wins game one will have a huge advantage. If the Cubs can knock down Brandon Webb, then they have a definite advantage.

I agree. Really, either team has a starting rotation capable of coming through in a big way, but Webb is by far the most reliable quantity on either roster. In a five game series, that is huge.
   12. H_Vaughn08 Posted: October 02, 2007 at 03:57 PM (#2556131)
I'm just going to enjoy it as much as possible without projecting too much. It is nice to feel that they actually belong there and have a chance, which they did not in '98. Given the '03 and '84 experiences, I'd probably be more nervous if they go up 2-0 than if they split it 1-1. I really like that the bullpen is rested and that Wood, Marmol and Howry looked pretty effective closing up the season.
   13. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 02, 2007 at 03:57 PM (#2556134)
This is the first time in my memory that the Cubs have a decent manager. That might explain the uncharacteristic late season push.

Yeah, but to be fair, Baker did lead the Cubs to their best September since the Great Depression. Sure, it was against a weak schedule, but for the Cubs the month is usually Sleeptember.
   14. Cabbage Posted: October 02, 2007 at 04:03 PM (#2556150)
re soto v. kendall

Whomever can better keep Z calm should start game one. After that, Soto should take the rest of the starts
   15. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 02, 2007 at 04:11 PM (#2556165)
I want to stress that when I'm talking about Mr. $91mm getting excited, I'm not referring to his tendency to resort to histrionics, etc. That's stuff that he regularly does and it's part of his personality. I don't understand why the media always seems to think "Carlos will be a better pitcher if he curbed his emotions"; IMO, Zambrano is good because of his intensity.

What I'm talking about, though, is a tendency to become over-excited in big games -- not to simply be passionate about the game, but to want to throw every pitch 300mph. When his excitement causes him to rush his pacing and his delivery, that leads to bad results.
   16. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 02, 2007 at 04:12 PM (#2556167)
Though a rookie, Soto is a Spanish speaker which probably outweighs any veteran savvy Kendall might provide.

I would understand Lou's desire to give Z the veteran. Don't be shocked if Blanco is on the NLDS roster and starting game one.
   17. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 02, 2007 at 04:16 PM (#2556177)
I know what you mean, DJF.

Take solace in the fact that Arizona was only 9th in the NL in walks so they aren't the most suited to exploiting that possible weakness.
   18. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: October 02, 2007 at 04:16 PM (#2556178)
I'm too young to remember 1989. In 1998, I remember thinking that the Cubs could win it all before they got crushed by Atlanta. Just goes to show that you don't trust a 15 year old's analysis.

In 2003, I had the feeling that we could beat Atlanta. A big part of that was that we won 88 games, but the team was greatly improved by the additions of Aramis Ramirez and the lack of Shawn Estes. Give us Aramis for a full year and an average pitcher instead of Estes, and the team would probably have been 95 wins or so. I thought we would win the Marlins series because Wood and Prior were untouchable against Atlanta, and it continued until the 8th inning of Game 6. Oh well, it was a fun ride that year.

2004 saw us blow a WC lead. Let's move on.....

This year, I think will be harder to predict than 2003. This team, over a 162 game stretch, might very well be capable of 90-91 wins, which puts us ahead of Arizona, but Arizona has improved themselves over the stretch. This should be an interesting series, but I think the Cubs win it in the end.
   19. Spahn Insane Posted: October 02, 2007 at 04:33 PM (#2556212)
What I'm talking about, though, is a tendency to become over-excited in big games -- not to simply be passionate about the game, but to want to throw every pitch 300mph. When his excitement causes him to rush his pacing and his delivery, that leads to bad results.

Zambrano tends to work at a fast pace whether he's on his game or not, so I'm not too concerned about that, but I am concerned about his tendency to overthrow when he's keyed up--it has negative effects on his control (both in and out of the strikezone, leading to walks and hard-hit balls), and the movement of his pitches.

I'm somewhat optimistic that he'll be a little less jacked up pitching Game 1 on the road than he would be at home in front of a fanatically partisan crowd, but that's just speculation, and I don't kid myself--he's going to be very excited regardless of what field he's on, and he's going to need to find a way to reign that in. His performance last Friday was an encouraging sign for me--he seemed very businesslike in mowing down the Reds with the division on the line, and with the Cubs desperately needing a win after the Florida sweep. (I was a little concerned about his velocity--he spent the whole night in the low 90s or less--but that's sometimes a good thing in terms of his command. I'm happy when Groundball Carlos shows up, as opposed to Throw a Paper Wad Through a Brick wall Carlos.)
   20. Spahn Insane Posted: October 02, 2007 at 04:35 PM (#2556218)
And I'm not making any predictions, in any series, not for reasons of superstition, but because I have no damn clue who's going to win any of them. I can't remember a postseason where all four division series were this evenly matched.
   21. rr Posted: October 02, 2007 at 04:42 PM (#2556228)
Silver predicted a Cubs sweep on BPro (free content).
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 02, 2007 at 04:49 PM (#2556239)
The great thing about the postseason is all the baggage a team has to carry as a caution against injury or wearing out the frontline talent gets stowed in steerage unless absolutely necessary.

Lou has the frontline pitching and frontline offensive talent. Lou is the better manager. If he uses Marmol in a more decisive fashion this series should be brief.

I would say four games for Cubs. But since I loathe and despise everything to do with Phoenix I say 3-0 to the Cubs.

Regards,

Harvey
   23. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 02, 2007 at 04:59 PM (#2556265)
The great thing about the postseason is all the baggage a team has to carry as a caution against injury or wearing out the frontline talent gets stowed in steerage unless absolutely necessary.


To be fair, the Cubs had an excellent bench which is somewhat marginalized in the playoffs. I still expect Lou to use his platoons - which gets some leverage out of this advantage.
   24. SouthSideRyan Posted: October 02, 2007 at 05:06 PM (#2556282)
I would understand Lou's desire to give Z the veteran. Don't be shocked if Blanco is on the NLDS roster and starting game one.


Wouldn't be shocked, would be stunned beyond all comprehension. That's a Dusty move. Blanco didn't see the light of day all September, he isn't touching the postseason roster.
   25. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 02, 2007 at 05:09 PM (#2556286)
Zambrano tends to work at a fast pace whether he's on his game or not, so I'm not too concerned about that, but I am concerned about his tendency to overthrow when he's keyed up--it has negative effects on his control (both in and out of the strikezone, leading to walks and hard-hit balls), and the movement of his pitches.

That's essentially what I was trying to get at.


I'm somewhat optimistic that he'll be a little less jacked up pitching Game 1 on the road than he would be at home in front of a fanatically partisan crowd, but that's just speculation, and I don't kid myself--he's going to be very excited regardless of what field he's on . . . .


To me, the issue first came to my attention in Game 2 of the 2003 NLDS, when he was trying to throw 98mph sinkers.

For such an effective pitcher, it seems really odd that everyone is worried about how a guy making $91.5MM will handle a big game.
   26. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 02, 2007 at 05:13 PM (#2556292)
Silver predicted a Cubs sweep on BPro (free content).

That's kind of a triviality in what is really nice analysis, although I think Dag Nabbit is more right than Silver about the Diamondbacks' pitching. I'm going to do my best to resist wishful thinking. If the Cubs are the real favorites here, I think it ain't by much.
   27. Bunny Vincennes Posted: October 02, 2007 at 05:14 PM (#2556295)
re soto v. kendall

Whomever can better keep Z calm should start game one. After that, Soto should take the rest of the starts


I think Soto grabbing Z's jersey the other day and telling him what's what was a big sign that he can handle Z.
   28. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 02, 2007 at 05:21 PM (#2556303)
BTW, Soto has accumulated 10 VORP in 60 PAs.

Wouldn't be shocked, would be stunned beyond all comprehension. That's a Dusty move. Blanco didn't see the light of day all September, he isn't touching the postseason roster.


My reasoning is that he may displace Kendall who can't field and hasn't hit lately.

That was an excellent article by Silver but I think he's being overly dismissive of the DBacks bullpen.
   29. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 02, 2007 at 05:23 PM (#2556308)
Also, I refuse to believe that Livan Hernandez is going to get a start for the same explanation Silver gives for the Cubs avoiding Jason Marquis.
   30. Hack Wilson Posted: October 02, 2007 at 05:44 PM (#2556332)
Augie Ojeda starting a playoff game-didn't see that coming. I wish him well (OK not that well).
   31. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 02, 2007 at 05:44 PM (#2556334)
My reasoning is that he may displace Kendall who can't field and hasn't hit lately.


I would really be shocked if Kendall isn't on the postseason roster, but this does sort of beg the question. If Soto's the better hitter, Soto's better at throwing out basestealers, and Soto's at least as good at handling pitchers, what exactly does Kendall bring to the table - if it's veterany goodness you're after, Blanco probably does have him beat.
   32. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 02, 2007 at 05:56 PM (#2556351)
Lou has the frontline pitching and frontline offensive talent. Lou is the better manager.

I think Lou's done a terrific job. However, one should also note that Melvin's also done a terrific job. He did a great job identifyig his best relievers and using them for crucial situations when needed. He dragged the most out of his important pitchers. I also love the fact that on multiple occassions when he bullpen was depleted and the game out of reach, he used position players on the mound. If teams aren't going to let relievers go beyond 2 innings ever, they need to do that more often. That way he didn't burn one of his good arms when it didn't matter.

I'm not saying Melvin's better, but I don't think anyone here has really followed both teams close enough to make any firm statements on who was the better manager this year.

When do they announce the post-season roster anyway?
   33. 1k5v3L Posted: October 02, 2007 at 05:57 PM (#2556354)
I do agree, though, that the D-Backs have to be considered the favorites,


Are you kidding me? The Dbacks are huge underdogs in this series. And I'm not saying this because I'm trying to reverse jinx or pull a screaming Vaux here. The Cubs have the edge in the rotation and on offense and defense. The Dbacks greatest weakness on offense is that they strike out far too much and don't walk enough; the Cubs pitching strength is that they strike out a lot of batters and don't walk too many.

In order for the Dbacks to win, they'll need amazing pitching from their starters, shutdown work from their bullpen AND amazing clutch hitting from another one of their inexperienced youngsters. Because I can assure you that Eric Byrnes won't hit for sh!t, and the rest of the lineup just doesn't have enough punch to score many runs.

I'm actually going to be stunned if the Dbacks win this series, or even force a game 5.
   34. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 02, 2007 at 05:58 PM (#2556356)
I also love the fact that on multiple occassions when he bullpen was depleted and the game out of reach, he used position players on the mound.


I agree that Melvin's done a great job and is probably the favorite for Manager of the Year. But if D-Backs position players come in to pitch during this series, I think that would be pretty good news for the Cubs.
   35. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:00 PM (#2556357)
Also, I refuse to believe that Livan Hernandez is going to get a start for the same explanation Silver gives for the Cubs avoiding Jason Marquis.

But Marquis would be the fourth starter, while Hernandez is slotted third. Sure, they could give that spot to Owings, but I think Hernandez's rep as a "big game" pitcher will win him the spot (yes, the 02 WS should have ended that, but I don't think so). Marquis...not so much.
   36. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:02 PM (#2556359)
If Soto's the better hitter, Soto's better at throwing out basestealers, and Soto's at least as good at handling pitchers, what exactly does Kendall bring to the table - if it's veterany goodness you're after, Blanco probably does have him beat.

That was my reasoning, KS. Blanco has veterany goodness, has a huge advantage in experience catching Z and possibly Hill (while Kendall hasn't caught any of them a very large number of times), and is the far superior defensive replacement.
   37. SouthSideRyan Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:02 PM (#2556361)
There's no need for Blanco's defensive prowess if you have Soto. Despite the tank job he's done for most of the year, I still think Kendall's a better hitter. That's why you take Kendall over Blanco.
   38. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:10 PM (#2556375)
The Cubs have the edge in the rotation and on offense and defense.

Well, if the Cubs have the edge on defense, then I'm not sure that Lilly & Hill and better than Davis and Owings. Sure, their ERA+s are better, but defense plays a role in that, and their ERA+s are only a little better. Add Micah's offensive value (no joke there at all), and he may not even need a defensive adjustment to be better than Hill.

Anyone want to figure out the difference in MO's RC and the average NL hurler (check b-ref's NL league batting splits)? Subtract that from his runs allowed to come up with an ERA modified for his offensive value, and you'll have a better idea how much he brings to the table.

Webb is also the best pitcher on either team. I can't see any team with him on it an overwhelming underdog in a best-of-five.

The Dbacks greatest weakness on offense is that they strike out far too much and don't walk enough; the Cubs pitching strength is that they strike out a lot of batters and don't walk too many.

Really? That's nice. (check). Dang. It's not true. Nine teams have struck out more often. And they're 8th in walks. They are average at displine and good at contact. They suck at the least sabermetric darling of all stats, batting average. Or, to make it more saber-friendly, they suck donkey dick when hitting the ball in play.
   39. Neil M Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:17 PM (#2556385)
I was a little concerned about his velocity--he spent the whole night in the low 90s or less

True for the most part, retro, but I do recall him getting a couple of strike 3s on high fastballs at 93-94. To me, that made the rest of his outing that much more impressive.
   40. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:19 PM (#2556388)
When do they announce the post-season roster anyway?

They don't have to until some time tomorrow morning.
   41. 1k5v3L Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:32 PM (#2556408)
Nabbit, Dag, I refuse to allow your rational use of numbers and such other modern inventions to pull me out of my overwork and caffeine overconsumption induced panic. As the prototypical Dbacks fan this year, I prefer to indulge in my manic-depressive state, and today I'm freaking out like a cat tied to a stick. So take your reason to someone who bothers to think, ok? I'm gonna continue panicking all I want.

In reality, the Cubs advantage on defense is very slight, almost negligible. Their edge on offense will hopefully be partially neutralized by the fact that the Dbacks hit better at home, where they could play 3 games, and have been hitting quite well lately, especially in September. Finally, I'd have felt a lot better if we had the option of skipping Livan altogether and going with a 3 man rotation ourselves.

I fear Livan will stink, which is why in my dreams the Dbacks take a 2-0 lead to Chicago, carried by a dominant Webb performance in a game where Zambrano loses his marbles in the 3rd inning, and aided by a Davis start where his curve is absolutely unhittable and his cutter is generating dozens of groundballs. I can hope, right?

And Micah is a beast. I'm looking forward to seeing him hit 2 homers off Zambrano at Wrigley, after throwing high and tight to Z in Z's first at bat and getting Carlos off his rocker. Webb and Micah give me reasons to dream, kids...
   42. Weeks T. Olive Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:33 PM (#2556409)
I'm not sure that Lilly & Hill and better than Davis and Owings

But the comparison isn't Owings to Hill, it's Hernandez to Hill. Owings will be matching up with short-rest Z in Game 4.
   43. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:44 PM (#2556439)
In 66 innings over the last four years Davis has struck out 72 and walked 24 against the Cubs with a very respectable ERA. The one caveat is that in prior years Doug held right-handed hitters in check. But in 2007, as some of his expected, his OPS went up 100 points from .701 to .805. Now that was mostly average based so maybe it was bad luck as opposed to Doug taking a step back. He certainly didn't finish well not getting past the fifth inning in any outing since September 4th. Yikes.......
   44. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:45 PM (#2556440)
In reality, the Cubs advantage on defense is very slight, almost negligible.

Actually, looking it up, I ain't sure the Cubs have that advantage anyway. The Cubs have a modest (0.09) edge in ERA. Park pushes it in favor of the D-backs. The Cubs led the league in Ks (yet again). D-backs were middle of the pack. Both teams walked a lot; the Cubs ever so slightly more. And both were mid-pack in homers allowed (AZ again a little worse - 169 to 165).

OK, so if AZ has the better ERA+ despite have noticably worse Ks, and about the same at W & HRA . . . then how do the Cubs have a better defense? Something screwy going on there.

But the comparison isn't Owings to Hill, it's Hernandez to Hill. Owings will be matching up with short-rest Z in Game 4.

This short rest thingee .. . . .I like it, but it scares the CRAP out of me. I remember in '01 hearing that pitchers had done horrible on short rest in rest years in the postseason (exception: Jaime Moyer). While Arizone made it work that year, I'm still at least a little nervous here. Z's only bad start in the stretch was when he had short rest.
   45. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:49 PM (#2556446)
Chris is absolutely correct about the short rest being an issue. While pitchers are physically capable of handling the role pitchers are also VERY strong creatures of habit. Pitching a day early throws their whole process off kilter.

I would pitch a starter in relief before starting him on short rest..............
   46. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:50 PM (#2556447)
I like it, but it scares the CRAP out of me. I remember in '01 hearing that pitchers had done horrible on short rest in rest years in the postseason (exception: Jaime Moyer). While Arizone made it work that year, I'm still at least a little nervous here. Z's only bad start in the stretch was when he had short rest.


But even if Big Z pitches worse than vintage Big Z in Game 4, he only has to pitch better than Jason Marquis for it to be a good move (assuming no residual effect thereafter). What makes it damn near a no-brainer from my perspective is that you still get Lilly in Game 5 on regular rest. If you'd have to go with both guys on short rest, then I might have thought twice, even given Marquis as the most likely 4th-starter option.

Besides, Nate Silver said the Cubs would win in 3 and he correctly nailed the final regular-season records of both Chicago teams. I have complete confidence. (well, okay, maybe not)
   47. Neil M Posted: October 02, 2007 at 06:53 PM (#2556453)
This short rest thingee ..

You have to think 5 games. According to the log5 projections in Silver's article, Lilly vs. Webb as against Z vs. Webb is a wash (47%-53% in both cases). It comes down to Z on short rest or Marquis in Game 4. I'd go with Z every time.
   48. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 02, 2007 at 07:01 PM (#2556460)
Chris is absolutely correct about the short rest being an issue. While pitchers are physically capable of handling the role pitchers are also VERY strong creatures of habit. Pitching a day early throws their whole process off kilter.

Yeah, except when it doesn't...

Zambrano has pitched in one game on three days' rest his entire career, the bad start against Cincinnati on Sep 18 of this season that Dag Nabbit referred to. I agree with both Silver (who points out that the option of Marquis versus short-rested Zambrano in what will either be an elimination game or a potential clincher is a no-brainer) and Nabbit (who points out that it scares the crap out of him).
   49. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 02, 2007 at 07:02 PM (#2556462)
Besides, Nate Silver said the Cubs would win in 3 and he correctly nailed the final regular-season records of both Chicago teams. I have complete confidence. (well, okay, maybe not)

PS: Phil Nevin says hi!
   50. Sweet Posted: October 02, 2007 at 08:04 PM (#2556568)
Chiming in late to note that, while it's somewhat less scientific than Silver's customarily fine analsyis, 8 out of 10 of ESPN.com's baseball writers are picking the Cubs -- Gammons (Cubs in 4), Stark (5), Phillips (4), Neyer (4), Olney (4), Law (5), Kurkjian (5), and Caple (4) vs. Bryant (D'backs in 5) and Keri (4). So basically, we're doomed.

Also wanted to update and add to a summary I did for a game chatter a while back. Doesn't add a whole lot to Silver's approach:

2007 Cubs BPro Rankings:

<u>VORP:</u>

1. NYA 356.5

16. CHN 138.0 (9th in NL)

24. ARI 114.0 (14th in NL)

30. KCA 24.1


<u>SNLVAR:</u>

1. SDN 25.0

5. CHN 21.9 (3rd in NL)

11. ARI 20.1 (6th in NL)

30. FLO 4.5


<u>WXRL:</u>

1. SDN 15.7

2. ARI 14.5 (2nd in NL)

16. CHN 8.9 (9th in NL)

30. TBA -1.8


<u>ARP:</u>

1. SDN 82.3

6. CHN 54.7 (4th in NL)

17. ARI 29.0 (10th in NL)

30. TBA -95.4


<u>Defensive Efficiency:</u>

1. TOR 0.714

3. CHN 0.712 (1st in NL)

9. ARI 0.700 (7th in NL)

30. TBA 0.662

***

The Cubs and the D'Backs are mirror images of each other on the WXRL/ARP split, suggesting that Melvin utilized his good relievers much more effectively than did Lou.
   51. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 02, 2007 at 08:15 PM (#2556581)
But even if Big Z pitches worse than vintage Big Z in Game 4, he only has to pitch better than Jason Marquis for it to be a good move (assuming no residual effect thereafter). What makes it damn near a no-brainer from my perspective is that you still get Lilly in Game 5 on regular rest. If you'd have to go with both guys on short rest, then I might have thought twice, even given Marquis as the most likely 4th-starter option.

I think the question is this: do the Cubs stand a better chance winning when it's Marquis vs. AZ's #4 followed by fully rested Z vs. Webb. OR do they stand a better chance of winning when it's short res Z vs AZ's #4 followed by Lilly fully rested against Webb?

I think it still works, but the difference even a fully rested Lilly has a much lessened chance of winning because of who the opposing pitcher is.

If the Cubs are up 2-1 heading into Game 4, I'd just as soon let everyone have regular rest.

According to the log5 projections in Silver's article, Lilly vs. Webb as against Z vs. Webb is a wash (47%-53% in both cases).

I don't buy this at all. You ever heard the old criticism of stats: a person with one foot in boiling water and the other in ice water is, on average, feeling normal? That analogy was designed to describe Carlos Zambrano, circa 2007. His end-of-the-year numbers indicate he was a good pitcher. At no point in the season was he good. He was either rotten or the best pitcher in the league. Lilly, though, he had some swings, was much more consistent. If Good Carlos shows up, having him pitch is a HUGE advantage over having Lilly pitch against Webb. If Bad Carlos shows up, none of this makes any difference, because the Cubs are up sh1t creek without a paddle.

Chris is absolutely correct about the short rest being an issue. While pitchers are physically capable of handling the role pitchers are also VERY strong creatures of habit. Pitching a day early throws their whole process off kilter.

Yea. Then again, to argue against it myself, this is partially mental, so if the hurler is on board with the idea, it can work. Also, maybe his early experience with short rest can help Z and the Cubs figure out how to prep better this time. I really have no idea how much (any) good it'll do, but I like thinking such thoughts.
   52. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 02, 2007 at 08:20 PM (#2556591)
The Cubs and the D'Backs are mirror images of each other on the WXRL/ARP split, suggesting that Melvin utilized his good relievers much more effectively than did Lou.


But how much is that going to translate to this series? It's been mentioned on probably a quadrillion other threads that the D-Backs did a great job of identifying their top relievers and using them in their highest-leverage situations, which is how they beat Pythagoras. Piniella, on the other hand, didn't start using his best reliever - Marmol - in really high-leverage situations until fairly late in the season and he used Eyre a lot in higher-leverage situations in the first half before he realized that Eyre was godawful (although he's really not anymore).

So maybe it took Lou longer to figure out who his best relievers were, but if we think he has figured that out by now, is that really going to be an edge in this series for the D-Backs? Then again, as far as I know, Dempster's still the closer, so maybe Lou hasn't quite figured it all out yet.
   53. Jack Sommers Posted: October 02, 2007 at 08:32 PM (#2556619)
Re Posted from the Dugout

This is the ERA+ of the D Backs Divisional Opponents

SD-112
Col-110
LA-108
SFO-106

This is the ERA+ of the Cubs Divisional Opponents

Pitt-90
Stl-93
Hou-95
Cin-96
Mil-100

Clearly, the D backs were facing MUCH MUCH better pitching when facing divisional opponents.

We can joke and say that the NL West teams all had great ERA+ BECAUSE of the D Backs, but I'm sure if you take away their games played against the D Backs, their Team ERA's don't change much.

The D Backs offense generated just an 88 OPS+, which is pretty weak, but part of that is due to the fact they were facing the best pitching in the league much more frequently.

Meanwhile, playing so many games against such weak pitching staffs, the Cubs managed just a 97 OPS+

So I think it is very likely that the perceived gap between the two teams offense is reduced or mitigated at least somewhat by the vast difference in the strength of competition they faced in divisional games, which make up the largest chunk of the schedule.

By the way, the D backs led the NL in ERA+ with a 114 Mark, Cubs 113

My thinking is that these are two pretty evenly matched teams, and the series should be a close hard fought one. The playoffs are a crapshoot anyway, and so much can turn on one play, one pitch, or one umpires call, so they are impossible to predict.
   54. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 02, 2007 at 08:35 PM (#2556628)
This is the ERA+ of the D Backs Divisional Opponents

SD-112
Col-110
LA-108
SFO-106

This is the ERA+ of the Cubs Divisional Opponents

Pitt-90
Stl-93
Hou-95
Cin-96
Mil-100


I had no idea the gap in pitching quality was that big. That strikes me as a huge difference.
   55. 1k5v3L Posted: October 02, 2007 at 08:39 PM (#2556632)
First 10,000 Cubs fans at Wednesday night's opener will receive Steve Bartman bobblehead dolls.
   56. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: October 02, 2007 at 08:42 PM (#2556642)
My thinking is that these are two pretty evenly matched teams, and the series should be a close hard fought one. The playoffs are a crapshoot anyway, and so much can turn on one play, one pitch, or one umpires call, so they are impossible to predict.


Right. Anything from a sweep to a 5 game victory by either side would be unsurprising.
   57. Spahn Insane Posted: October 02, 2007 at 08:46 PM (#2556651)
If Soto's the better hitter, Soto's better at throwing out basestealers, and Soto's at least as good at handling pitchers, what exactly does Kendall bring to the table - if it's veterany goodness you're after, Blanco probably does have him beat.

Well, Kendall's still pretty good at working walks even when he's not hitting, but that's a pretty thin reed for a guy who's likely to be a bench player in a best of 5. Then again, it's probably more helpful than having Blanco, whose strengths, such as they are, are redundant with Soto's.
   58. Jack Sommers Posted: October 02, 2007 at 08:47 PM (#2556654)
I DO want to emphasize that I don't believe the difference in the quality of divisional pitching opponents erases all of the 9 point gap in team OPS+....it doesn't in my mind. After all the cubs played 6 games against all the those NL West teams, and the D backs played 6 games against all the Central teams, (9 against the Pirates) But I do believe it chops the perceived advantage the Cubs have down at least a bit.
   59. Spahn Insane Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:00 PM (#2556676)
I'm not exactly excited by the prospect of Z pitching game 4 on 3 days rest (particularly if the Cubs are down a game), but I suppose it's better than running Marquis out there and sacrificing a chicken.

Then again, as AR pointed out, the sample size of Z's pitching on short rest consists of one start, which was poor but not THAT bad (4 runs in 5.1 IP)--it wasn't the kind of disastrous start that leaves your bullpen running on fumes for 2 days, and the Cubs were still in the game when he left it (trailing 4-2). And while I don't discount the importance of pitchers' routine and such (along with the obvious healing of muscles/ligaments that occurs with normal rest), Lilly of course pitched great in his short rest start.

Anything can happen, and probably will.
   60. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:05 PM (#2556681)
Two things:

- we don't actually know any OPS+/ERA+ for 2007 yet. Sean is still using last year's park effects.

- that being said, I just figured average opponent ERA+ & OPS+ for both CHC & ARI for 2007 (including interleague play):

Average opponent OPS+:
CHC 98.9
ARI 99.7

Average opponent ERA+:
CHC 98.7
ARI 101.9
   61. SouthSideRyan Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:11 PM (#2556689)
First 10,000 Cubs fans at Wednesday night's opener will receive Steve Bartman bobblehead dolls.


Only the first 10,000? There's gonna be about 25,000 Cub fans that get nothing for their souvenier.
   62. Spahn Insane Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:17 PM (#2556710)
I'm curious to see/hear how much of an "Atlanta '03" effect there's going to be in Arizona, given the large number of Cub fans in Arizona. I'm guessing a lot less of one than we saw in '03--I can't imagine D'Backs fans being as unsupportive/complacent as Atlanta fans were after their gazillionth straight division title.
   63. Jack Sommers Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:19 PM (#2556718)
So roughly 3% difference in the ERA+ faced is could translate to about 20 runs, give or take, right?

Cubs scored 752 runs, D backs 712, so the difference of 40 runs is about cut in half.
   64. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:21 PM (#2556722)
Unexpected by true: the Snakes ranked 12th in league attendance this year.
   65. SouthSideRyan Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:21 PM (#2556724)
   66. 1k5v3L Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:23 PM (#2556731)
Only the first 10,000? There's gonna be about 25,000 Cub fans that get nothing for their souvenier.


They get Moises Alou wobblehand dolls, covered with genuine Moises piss.
   67. Jack Sommers Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:25 PM (#2556735)
D backs attendance started picking up when the Cubs came in August, and was better from there on out.

Chase Field will be close to full, if not quite sold out. As of this morning they only had about 2000 seats left for game 1, and about 5-6,000 left for game 2. I'm guessing half of those are gone by now.

Estimates on number of Cubs fans who'll have tickets range anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2
   68. 1k5v3L Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:26 PM (#2556738)
Cubs scored 752 runs, D backs 712, so the difference of 40 runs is about cut in half.


I'd like you to figure out that the euro is actually worth $1.20 instead of $1.41. The exchange rate is killing me...

In the end, in a 5 game series, anything can happen. I personally predict that Micah is going to go deep on Z...

(Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
   69. Meatwad Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:37 PM (#2556762)
we seem to be forgetting that blanco will have to be on the DL to have soto on the roster.
   70. SouthSideRyan Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:55 PM (#2556805)
Nope meatwad, rule was changed, and never really required Blanco to be on the DL. Pagan would've worked just fine. Regardless, the rule is only that any player(pitcher or position) needs to be on the DL to be replaced by a player in the organization by 8/31. (i.e. Novoa, Prior, Guzman, Pagan, and somebody I'm forgetting I think) Soto is a LOCK.
   71. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:56 PM (#2556806)
we seem to be forgetting that blanco will have to be on the DL to have soto on the roster.

Not true. Soto can even replace a pitcher.
   72. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 02, 2007 at 09:58 PM (#2556812)
Here's a question: would Soto be eligible for ROY next season?
   73. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 02, 2007 at 10:03 PM (#2556821)
To elaborate: he won't make the plate appearances benchmark but I don't know where to find how many days he has been on the active roster of a major league club. Would the postseason count toward this total?
   74. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: October 02, 2007 at 10:04 PM (#2556824)
Here's a question: would Soto be eligible for ROY next season?


yes he will.
   75. SouthSideRyan Posted: October 03, 2007 at 01:23 AM (#2557024)
Via Comcast:

Soto to start game 1.

Monroe, Ohman, Marshall, Blanco, Fuld out.

Cedeno, Fontenot, Hart, Marquis, Pie, Ward, Wuertz in.
   76. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 03, 2007 at 01:30 AM (#2557032)
Soto to start game 1


That is so cool. I mean, on the one hand, as we discussed above, it's a pretty obvious decision. But can you imagine Dusty Baker making this decision? Hell, Dusty wouldn't have started Soto at all this season until <u>maybe</u> after the team clinched the division (not that I think there's any chance this team actually wins the division with Dusty as the manager, of course).
   77. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 03, 2007 at 01:33 AM (#2557033)
Oh, and I'm glad to see Hart make the team and I'm glad to see that Ward is healthy enough to be on the roster.
   78. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 03, 2007 at 02:02 AM (#2557053)
Monroe, Ohman, Marshall, Blanco, Fuld out.

Only one left handed reliever? Granted, the two left handed starting pitchers will suppress the need but color me surprised.

I'm glad to see that Ward is healthy enough to be a possibility.

Dusty wouldn't have started Soto at all this season until maybe after the team clinched the division

Didn't he start Blanco 18 of the last 20 games of the season in 2006?
   79. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2007 at 02:02 AM (#2557054)
Trachsel got cut right?

Pretty weak bench to me. Ward's hurt, Pie, Cedeno, and Fontenot can't hit which leaves what? Kendall (who won't swing and couldn't hit anything anyway) and who ever isn't starting in right.

I can't imagine too many matchups, PH vs RP that favors the Cubs with this bench.
   80. SouthSideRyan Posted: October 03, 2007 at 02:37 AM (#2557084)
What do you expect out of a bench McCoy?

Silver in his preview called it the best October bench he's seen since he started doing previews. I don't know how long he's been doing previews, but I agree that it's a solid bench.

Ward took batting practice today and threw the ball around to ensure he was healthy. Lou says that's why he didn't announce the roster sooner.(checking to see if Ward was healthy. This isn't a nagging injury, he hurt his hand sliding into a base.

Murton vs. lefty or Floyd vs. righty are as good as it gets for a bench player. Floyd vs. lefty or Murton vs. righty still ain't too bad for a bench player.

Kendall can still work a walk or get hit by a pitch.

Cedeno hit like an MVP in what amounts to a full season at ages 22 and 24 in AAA. He's better than his major league stats have shown, and he's shown flashes of brilliance(in a limited sample) since coming back up.

Mike Fontenot is completely worthless, but oh well.
   81. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2007 at 02:48 AM (#2557092)
I don't expect much out of a bench but when I see people like Silver praising this bench as though it was somehow better then others I tend to speak up and disagree.

Like I said in my first post about the only usuable parts on this bench is whoever isn't playing right and Kendall not swinging.

To me having Pie, Cedeno, and Fontenot is like having Goodwin, Macias, and Perez on your bench.

I just don't see how this bench is so much different then all the other benches out there to the point that I would say that this is the best bench in recent memory.
   82. Meatwad Posted: October 03, 2007 at 02:53 AM (#2557097)
its the bestbecause we had types lke neifi, macias, IPOR, goodwin, lenny harris etc.
   83. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: October 03, 2007 at 02:56 AM (#2557099)
But is it not the best possible bench with the available talent on the 40 man roster? If you're complaining about roster construction at this point, well, there's no help for you. I think it's a good bench, and for the most part Lou's done a fairly good job getting the most out of a lot of those guys this year.

I hate to see Marquis make it, since I'm not sure exactly where he'd make sense appearing (PH? except he didn't hit this season). But not sure who I take over him, since Ohman's toast and Marshall wasn't used out of the pen in a LOOGY situation yet.
   84. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2007 at 02:58 AM (#2557101)
Also Ward has been a horrible to average PH. The only thing saving him is the intentional walks. Ward as a starter has been great. Ward as a PH has been a failure for most of the season. His PH numbers got salvaged by a September that saw him go 3/9 in PH duties with one regular walk, along with 2 doubles. Before that month he was batting .250 with a .281 SLG as a PH.
   85. SouthSideRyan Posted: October 03, 2007 at 02:58 AM (#2557103)
Pie is better than Goodwin at every facet of baseball.

Same can be said about Cedeno/Perez and Fontenot/Macias.

Additionally, Daryle Ward and Murton/Floyd compared to Hollandsworth and Walker or O' Leary and Karros/Simon isn't particularly close.

Kendall/Bako is a laugher too.
   86. Meatwad Posted: October 03, 2007 at 03:01 AM (#2557107)
seriously we should all be hopefull, we have the most talented team in a long time, the rest of the nl isnt all that great, this is the best oppertunity to win the nl the cubs will have for a long time. we need to enjoy this.
   87. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2007 at 03:01 AM (#2557108)
Yes I think it probably is the best bench the Cubs can do with the options they have. I don't doubt that, I just don't understand the kudos for it. It is a bench like everybody elses bench. Yes Lou didn't pull a Cox and put three catchers on it, but outside of age (and okay future potential) there isn't much difference between the three I mentioned and the three Baker Boys.
   88. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: October 03, 2007 at 03:04 AM (#2557113)
Well, then we'll just agree to disagree, since I think SSR sums up my feelings pretty well and I don't feel like arguing about this.

---

Trib Baseball Blog talks about the 25 man roster, with bonus quotes from Lou. 2nd entry done is the DBacks lineup for tomorrow. Good info to have.
   89. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2007 at 03:13 AM (#2557120)
Pie is better than Goodwin at every facet of baseball.

Same can be said about Cedeno/Perez and Fontenot/Macias.

Additionally, Daryle Ward and Murton/Floyd compared to Hollandsworth and Walker or O' Leary and Karros/Simon isn't particularly close.

Kendall/Bako is a laugher too.


Pie may be better but it hasn't produced anything on the field that is better then what Goodwin did. Pie may have more future potential then Goodwin ever had but that isn't the point. What is important is what is going on right now and right now Pie isn't better Goodwin in his day. Same can be said for Cedeno and Macias.

Karros and Simon stack up very well to Ward/Murton/Floyd in terms of bench players. And if you wish to talk in terms of purely PH then Tom Goodwin 2003 blows away Ward.

Hollandsworth in 2004 put up great numbers and Walker put up very good numbers. I guess I don't see how it isn't particularly close on this one.

As for Kendall. Kendall's numbers got boosted because of some weird walk situations when he first came over. Once that little bit of oddity ended he put up his dreadful numbers that we expected. On top of that he was a horrible defensive catcher. at best for Kendall it is a wash.
   90. SouthSideRyan Posted: October 03, 2007 at 03:19 AM (#2557123)
I don't see why his September #s shouldn't count just as much as the others. It doesn't matter what month "saved" his #s. You'd actually assume that his #s being saved by his hitting in September would be a good thing. Additionally, I don't think his IBBs should be completely discounted. It makes sense for an 8 hitter as he's likely being pitched around to get to the pitcher, but I would imagine most of Ward's pinch hit oppurtunities are in the 9 spot.
   91. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2007 at 03:27 AM (#2557126)
I'm not saying you should discount his numbers merely because they happened in September. What I was trying to point out is that for 5 months Ward failed at the job he was supposed to do. Now obviously PH has has an extreme sample size problem but as you yourself noted his PH duties largely fell in crucial times against the best relievers the other team had to offer and for 5 months he shown himself to be less then mediocre in this role. In three games in September he succeeded. I can't really see how the IBB shouldn't be discounted. His getting walked had to do with handiness and the situation and not because they were afraid to pitch to Ward. In terms of what matters most and that is getting a hit Ward failed. So when situations come up in which Ward is used as a PH and the other team is going to pitch to him why does the IBB matter? Why should they be factored in?
   92. 1k5v3L Posted: October 03, 2007 at 03:28 AM (#2557129)
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/03/sports/baseball/03cubs.html
   93. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2007 at 03:33 AM (#2557134)
Those articles always sicken me. They mention the ESPN one which was to me downright unprofessional and creepy. The guy is a normal person a "civilian" as the mobster shows would say and really he should be left alone if wants to be left alone. I could understand it if he was trying to cash in like a Buttafuco or the guy who got his dick cutoff. But this guy has simply wanted to live his life and be left alone, and these reporters seem almost proud about the stalker moves they are employing in trying to snag Bartman.
   94. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 03, 2007 at 03:36 AM (#2557137)
What I was trying to point out is that for 5 months Ward failed at the job he was supposed to do. Now obviously PH has has an extreme sample size problem but as you yourself noted his PH duties largely fell in crucial times against the best relievers the other team had to offer and for 5 months he shown himself to be less then mediocre in this role. In three games in September he succeeded. I can't really see how the IBB shouldn't be discounted. His getting walked had to do with handiness and the situation and not because they were afraid to pitch to Ward. In terms of what matters most and that is getting a hit Ward failed.


You might have an unrealistic expecation of your pinch-hitters. Pinch-hitting is hard. National League pinch-hitters as a group hit .228/.311/.357 this year for an OPS of .668. Ward hit .268/.423/.341 for an OPS of .765. BB-Ref says that's an sOPS+, which I think means, Ward's OPS as a pinch-hitter relative to an average pinch-hitter, of 134. As a team, Cubs pinch-hitters had a sOPS+ of 97 with a line of .208/.314/.335.
   95. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2007 at 03:59 AM (#2557148)
No I don't have unrealistic expectations for our PH. Again if you ignore the IBB, Wards number drop down to about average and the three hits September got him there. Through the first 5 months his batting average was about average and his slugging was below average.

As far as the PH go again it was September that got them back to 97 OPS+. Through the first 77 games the Cubs PH were great but that was mostly because the starters were horrid and the bench had better players. Once Lou made the switches the PH took a nosedive for several months and then the September offense brought everybodies numbers back up.
After 77 games the PH OPS+ was 133. One month later it had plummetted to 103. One month later it had fallen to 81, then in the final month it went up to 97.

So why did it go up in September?
Ward got 3 hits, 2 doubles, and 3 walks
Floyd drew 3 walks
Murton hit a homer and drew a walk
Fontenot hit a single and drew a walk
Monroe hit 2 singles
Cedeno got a single and a double
Soto got a walk
Theriot hit a double
Kendall got a walk
   96. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 03, 2007 at 04:13 AM (#2557158)
Don't forget, Goodwin got that one hit that one time.
   97. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 03, 2007 at 04:31 AM (#2557171)
What I was trying to point out is that for 5 months Ward failed at the job he was supposed to do. Now obviously PH has has an extreme sample size problem but as you yourself noted his PH duties largely fell in crucial times against the best relievers the other team had to offer and for 5 months he shown himself to be less then mediocre in this role.

Few things:

1) failed at the job he was supposed to do? Then he must've really excelled at jobs they jerry-rigged for him in the season. He ended with an OPS+ of 144.

2) If, as you yourself mention, his PH largely came against the best relievers in the game, then one shouldn't expect him to post a league average batting average. That's why they're the best relievers. If he can hit the elite closers better than others hit average players, he has no business being on the bench in the first place.

3) as has already been pointed out, he wasn't a less than mediocre pinch hitter. He was above average by the standards of the role.
   98. SouthSideRyan Posted: October 03, 2007 at 04:51 AM (#2557179)
This is pretty interesting.

"I think we're going to try and stretch Marshall out in Instructional League," Hendry said, referring to the Cubs facility in nearby Mesa. "If we're fortunate enough to go to 7-game series after this, he could be bigger factor in this."
   99. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2007 at 05:13 AM (#2557193)
1) failed at the job he was supposed to do? Then he must've really excelled at jobs they jerry-rigged for him in the season. He ended with an OPS+ of 144.

Yes in fact he did. Ward coming off the bench was not very good. Ward playing first base because Lee got suspended was very good. Ward playing right field when Floyd went on bereavement was very good.

2) If, as you yourself mention, his PH largely came against the best relievers in the game, then one shouldn't expect him to post a league average batting average. That's why they're the best relievers. If he can hit the elite closers better than others hit average players, he has no business being on the bench in the first place.



NO I don't expect it which is why I said he is at best average for a PH. His numbers are average for a NL PH this year. Before september they were slightly lower.

3) as has already been pointed out, he wasn't a less than mediocre pinch hitter. He was above average by the standards of the role.

Again no he wasn't. You are looking at his OPS+ and saying yep pretty good and yet you are not even bothering to see what happened to get those OPS+ numbers. His OPS+ as a PH are good because of the IBB. Not because he had a high average or because he was knocking the cover off the ball. So out of the three things which is the most likely to vanish come playoffs or come really any pivotal moment? Is it the ability to crush the ball? The ability to make contact? Or to have an opposing manager issue an intentional walk? The reason Ward looks good is because of the IBB and that is the most likely plus for Ward to vanish in the playoffs. It has nothing to do with him, he does not control it.
   100. McCoy Posted: October 03, 2007 at 05:21 AM (#2557200)
National League pinch hitters received 38 intentional walks this year. Ward got 7 of them.

Out of the 4328 PA that PH got Ward got 18% of the IBB. His 7 is more then any other team in the league got as a whole for their PH. The bottom 8 teams have less IBB combined for their PH then Ward has all by himself.
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