Saturday, October 22

Possibly Uninteresting Fact

Team BA for Playoff Teams (2005 Regular Season)
Red Sox ---- .281
Yankees ---- .276
Angels ------ .270
Cardinals --- .270
Braves ------ .265
White Sox --- .262
Padres ------ .257
Astros ------ .256

Team BA (2005 Postseason)
Padres ----- .302
Astros ------ .272
White Sox --- .263
Braves ------ .255
Yankees ----- .253
Red Sox ----- .240
Cardinals ---- .235
Angels ------- .227

Team ERA (2005 Regular Season)
Cardinals ------- 3.49
Astros ---------- 3.51
White Sox ------ 3.61
Angels ---------- 3.68
Braves ---------- 3.98
Padres ---------- 4.13
Yankees -------- 4.52
Red Sox -------- 4.74

Team ERA (2005 Postseason)
White Sox -- 2.50
Cardinals --- 3.19
Astros ------ 3.43
Angels ------ 3.65
Yankees ---- 4.40
Braves ------ 5.19
Padres ------ 6.84
Red Sox ----- 7.56

These two teams in the WS could not be better matched.

Friday, October 21

The 2005 Cubs: Part II

3 Players who should find the exit before 2006

1. Corey Patterson
I’m done with this jackoff. His terrible batting was not saved by intermittent moments of brilliant defense, and if he turns his back on Winter League to keep partying on the Northside, he should see the door. Let it be noted that he played more games than ANYONE with similar batting stats (.215 BA, ), and had the 2nd worst BB-to-K ratio of ANYONE IN THE LEAGUE with 0.19 (Wily Mo Pena had a BB-to-K of 0.17, but played in 23 less games). It’s awful, it’s unacceptable, and it’s sure as shit not worth a spot in any MLB starting lineup; how on earth he managed the 5th MOST AT-BATS ON THE CUBS ROSTER is just too much to even think about. Off with his head!

2. Cliff Bartosh, RP
Sure, everyone needs a LOOGY, but if Remlinger is not safe from the chop, then this chump shouldn’t be either. Bad numbers across the board despite being used as a garbage pitcher (if you can’t throw strikes when the other team is up by 7 in the 8th and have pinch-hit for half their starting lineup, then you have issues), and somehow managing to remain on the active roster for most of the year and only appearing 19 times – why bother with him on the team? Flush him out as he didn’t do much, didn’t get many opportunities as a result, and is taking up valuable room for *gasp* a AAA, Major League-ready reliever (*cough coughJermaine Van Burencough cough*). So long, enjoy the free sweatpants.

3. Jeromy Burnitz, OF
Man, am I going to cop some shit for this one. If we’re looking at our lineup objectively and without emotional bias and/or preference (you know, how it’s sometimes supposed to be done), then Burnitz wouldn’t make the grade. There are homes for guys like him, and unfortunately they’re far from competitive ones, but his mediocre “small” numbers (.254 BA, worst in the regular lineup, 262 with RISP) could be shadowed sufficiently by solid power (24 HR, 87 RBI) and honorable defense just long enough for us to get something good in return.

I don’t know what his contract situation is like, but he’s one bird that’s worth flying the coop earlier in terms of his relative league value. Our OF needs a complete overhaul, hopefully with Murton getting the lion’s share of LF time, and with Pie on the way, Burnitz has trade potential and the all-important trade value, something fellow punk Patterson certainly does not. Heck, package them to Boston for Damon, I don’t care. They just can’t stay here.

2 things we need most in the Off-Season

1. A #3 starter
Who knows what Maddux is thinking about 2006, but one thing is certain: we need another solid starter to give us a (hopefully) healthy 4-man rotation that would look good on paper. Our days of waiting around for Wood to leave the hospital should be over, and with a 4-man set of Prior, Zambrano, Maddux and someone else would give us more competitiveness and put less strain on the over-worked bullpen.

I’m not sure who is coming up, but if AJ Burnett were attainable (I’m not sure what we’d need to give up to get him), or a guy like Kyle Lohse in Minnesota (9-13, 4.18 ERA, 1.43 WHIP in 2005), someone durable and decidedly non-flashy/economical, it might be worth the jump.

2. Outfield, outfield, outfield
This is obvious. With potentially 3 guys I could think of who shouldn’t see Wrigley’s outfield again, a solid CF/RF who can leadoff is the big prize on the horizon. I remember hoping that we could get a Damon-type scratch-hitter, and he was quoted as saying he wouldn’t mind moving to the Cubs, should the situation ever arise.

I need to quit the hope and put whatever shred of trust I have in the front office to put their priorities right: a lot of problems will be solved with a solid lead-off man. Heck, you guys know that given how you covet that pest Eckstein. If he lays down a suicide squeeze one more time in this postseason, I might puke up a kidney.

1 man who can lead us in 2005

1. Carlos Zambrano, SP
Again, shoot me down from the rafters for this one. His fiery temperament has steered him through matchups against some of the best in the NL: Chris Carpenter x 2, Josh Beckett (ouch, maybe not), Ben Sheets (should have been), and Dontrelle Willis to name but a few. His batting was no slouch (24-80, .300 BA, HR, 6 RBI, 8 R and 7 XBHs), and sometimes anomalies like that can mean the difference between the W and the L.

Despite all of his innate talent, those 33 or so starts that El Toro gets are vital. Not only did he find 13 NDs in 2005, some of which were truly ridiculous (7 IP, H, 0 ER, ND vs. White Sox, CG, ER, ND vs. Cardinals, 8 IP, 2 ER, ND vs. Braves, 7 IP, ER, ND vs, Astros to name but 4), but the mere fact that his cojones glisten brightest in the summer sun against the biggest fish in the league is no coincidence.

He brings 110 percent to the big matchups, and it’s about time the team thanked him for it. Another solid year in 2006 should see him a lot closer to 20 wins than 10, and should bring the Cubs closer to the chance of a postseason.

Wednesday, October 19


Eat it, St. Louis Cardinals!

cardinals III
Sitting the night away...

cardinals Ii
Don't worry, Mark. You didn't want to keep pitching anyways. There's tanning to be done!

bush cardinals
I hear he was ready for the 10th, if needs be.

But seriously:

Eat it, St. Louis Cardinals!

Tuesday, October 18

Cubs Countdown: Number 5

Where have I been lately, aside from disappointing everyone? It's a mystery to me, much like the 4 consecutive CGs by the Pale Hose, but it will not last. I do have some thoughts on the postseason so far, despite one of my WS horses falling in the final furlong, but the 'Stros should see me good on Wednesday. Their rotation is the stuff of dreams, and wet ones at that. Let's hope the White Sox bring their galoshes.

But retrospectively, I've put together a little Cubs countdown, some of it factual, most of it complete bullshit, and a tiny bit possibly true. Enjoy it over the rest of the week, and there will be more postseason reflections this week (sorry to be an absentee blogger lately), especially if those fucking Cardinals tie up the series tomorrow night.


5 things the Cubs did well in 2005

1. Derrek Lee
MVLee showed the kind of form that has silently been expected of him since he joined. With indisputed career highs in almost every offensive category, Lee was the glue that held this shaky, injury-ravaged squad together. Without Lee, our team would have challenged for the worst in the NL, without doubt. I’ve gushed about him enough this year, so in this instance, I shall revert to silent, unspoken reverence of his achievements. However, I will say this: DO NOT EXPECT THE SAME AGAIN NEXT YEAR, AS THAT’S NOT HOW TEAMS WIN PENNANTS.

2. Ryan Dempster
Dempster did whatever was asked of him in any situation. 5-3, 33 SV, 3.13 ERA: without these juicy stats, our season could well have ended 15-18 wins short of where we finished up. It was nice to see him blossom into the utility man he perhaps always dreamed of being, and it helps us greatly in the long run. If we snag him into a longer contract, come Free Agency time, we have the flexibility to chase top SPs or a stud closer if one is available, safe in the knowledge that whichever one we don’t pick, Dempster can play the role. His pitches were on point this year, and his reliability was a huge cornerstone of the little success that we found. His last ER was given up on August 12, his last BSV was July 24, and with a run of 19 straight saves to round out his season, this man deserves a diamond-encrusted locker in the clubhouse.

3. One-Run Rags to Riches
Our Cubs managed to reach dizzying heights in the fingernail-chewers this year. We posted a reasonable, perhaps statistically fair 26-20 mark in 2005, good enough for best in the NL Central and 3rd-ish overall in the National League. This marks a welcome change from seasons past where the Cubs were frequently falling to the 9th inning blowup (Are you listening LaTroy? Farns? Joe-Bo?), and shows a sign that our team does have some fight after all. When your season ends up where it almost always does – undeniable mediocrity – you have to take the bright spots where you can find them, and if we come back with a similar bite next year, who knows where we could end up.

4. Redbird Beatdowns
The Cubbies managed to outwit the Cards in the season series, 10-6, and it’s this kind of performance against the perennial NL Central winners that continues to give us hope. It’s not often that Dusty Baker outsmarts his opponents, but that record represents the best against the Cards by any team in 2005. That’s right folks, just wallow in that for a moment: the Cardinals’ worst record this year came against the Cubs. Delicious. I can smell La Russa’s hair burning.

5. Starting Pitching
The trio of Maddux, Zambrano and Prior, while not as dominant as other NL threesomes, went 38-28 with solid ERAs and control (4.24, 3.26 and 3.81 respectively). Goddamn, where did we fail them? If they all show up for work next year, we should be sitting well with a good up-down top 3, and considering what we wasted from them this season past, I would imagine that the loss column from MZP will greatly diminish in 2006. Let's not all forget just how close we were this year, optimistically speaking, and little things like I'm pointing out might in this next segment can easily translate to 15 more wins if we fix them and fix them properly.

4 things the Cubs did badly in 2005

1. Wasting Quality Starts
Without counting, I can think of at least 15 starts by Maddux, Zambrano, Prior and Williams where the pitcher in question went at least 7 1/3 innings, giving up 3 runs or less in their outing, and losing or getting the dreaded ND. When your guys are throwing like that, make it count. Zambrano had 2 CG NDs this year, which is just mind-blowing. I call it the “Clemens Effect” – pitching like an All-Star and taking the loss. If, and the “if” is huge by the way, the Cubs convert ¾ of those quality starts to wins, we’re looking at the Wild Card. Criminal ineffective offense in those clutch situations was what really put the dampener on 2005.

2. Kerry Wood
Again, KW had more expectations foisted upon his weary shoulders than Neil Young, post-Harvest. Again, he failed to achieve. The hard-throwing lugnut managed just 10 starts, and his substantial DL trips really ruined our rotation and the efforts to replace him with any pick ‘em lying around in our minor league system (Mitre, Koronka, Hill) was never going to be a solid fix. Wood’s injury woes continued in 2005, and with average stats in the few appearances he did make (21 G, 1o GS, 66 IP, 3-4, 4.23 ERA), whether in the bullpen or in the rotation, didn’t make the grade. He’s never won more than 14 games in a season, and despite insane strikeout numbers, early-career wear ‘n tear means his best years are realistically behind him.

3. Scoring Position Blues
As a team, the Cubs batted a measly .257 with RISP. While our opponents all season long only fared slightly better at .264, that translates to a lot. With RISPs and 2 outs, the definition of our year is cleared. The Cubs batted .227 with 2-out RISPs, scoring an additional 196 runs. Our opponents hit .273 with 2-out RISP opportunities, translating to an extra 363 runs hung on our weary pitching staff. That alone will swing 12-15 games away from you over the course of a year, if not more.

4. Front Office F-ups
Despite poring over mounds of statistics and footage, I still cannot figure out our trading and transaction strategy in 2005. Perhaps the best I can do is “What the F*ck?!?!”, surely the Cubs Front Office mantra all season long. With the stupefying moves we did make (you know what they say, sometimes it’s what you don’t do that defines you), trading away misunderstood journeyman OF Todd Hollandsworth (I know, I know, I beat him to a bloody pulp all year long and yet I miss him), essentially swapping Jason Dubois for Matt Lawton (who played 18 games before heading to the Yankees for 2 scrub bush league players), not to mention the endless up-down-up-down trips for several fragile minor league egos – it all adds up to a day late and a dollar short in any pennant race. Executive decisions ended up ruling our team; the constant uncertainty about our everyday OF (Players who tasted the OF in 2005 for a significant period of time: Lawton, Hollandsworth, Patterson, JHJr., Burnitz, Neifi, Macias, Dubois) killed any chance of continuity, making it no surprise that we kept batting guys on cold streaks because there was little hope of finding an everyday rhythm. At the end of the day, you can make all the moves, shuffles, transactions and activations you want, but you need to let the players play. Dusty’s unwillingness to let certain guys play over others, for whatever reason (#1 reason = BLIND LOYALTY!), was more hindrance than tactical genius, and we can only hope next season is different.

Thursday, October 6

The Playoffs in 100 Words or Less

ALDS: Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox
Can Ortiz be a hero again? I doubt.
White Sox 3, Red Sox 1.

ALDS: New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Figgins = clutch. Wang and Chacon in postseason? Uh-oh, unless Sheffield becomes BMOC.
Angels 3, Yankees 2.

ALCS: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Chicago White Sox
I hate Comiskey. Vlad will shit on it. Colon unloads, Guillen implodes, hangs out with Kyle Orton.
Angels 4, White Sox 2.

NLDS: Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves
Don’t mess with Texas. Chipper Jones is old. Sorry Francoeur, it’s not August anymore.
Astros 3, Braves 1.

NLDS: San Diego Padres vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Fuck St. Louis, but they’ll win with ease. I hate Poo-holes.
Cardinals 3, Padres 0.

NLCS: Houston Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Revenge is sweet. Mulder is shite. Biggio hits HRs, and Pujols cries on MVP award.
Astros 4, Cardinals 3.

THE WORLD SERIES: Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Clemens is scrappy, Washburn needs his pappy. Berkman vs. Guerrero = everyone’s a winner. Pitching beats Scioscia’s bitching, hell freezers over.
Astros 4, Angels 2.

PS. I wrote this in 11 minutes. I bet I'm wrong, but I'm sticking to it, Mariotti-style.

Tuesday, October 4

He's Baack....

It's been a long month. Illness, the inevitable deluge of work, a trip back to the ol' slop-bucket, alcoholic alma mater, and general ennui. I mean, football season is on too, and I've lost count of the hours spent bookworming on possible stars for every fantasy team in the book.

But, the nose is off the grindstone, and I do have a lot to say about the last month, a month that's seen "same old, same old" from our Cubbies, as well as unparalleled luck, fortune and success for perhaps my 8 least favourite franchises in the entire league.

I will be back. Tomorrow. Postseason. Stuff to say about it. Hopefully daily.

Next Week. Cubs. What the f*ck: Looks like we got a case of the Septembers. Also daily.

Sorry for letting everyone down. I'm back now, and angrier and statistical-ier than ever.