November 30, 2007


You gotta love it when your division rivals make moves that make their teams crummier. Let's look at the offseason so far

1. Dusty Baker signs with the Reds

The Reds are actually a very dangerous team, on paper. Luckily, the shakiest part of their team is their pitching staff, and Cubs fans have first-hand experience with how Dusty handles pitchers (especially young ones). Homer Bailey had better make a precautionary appointment with Dr. James Andrews. I did like the Cordero signing, sort of, for the Reds....but the rest of their bullpen still stinks and Cordero can be pretty streaky.

2. Brewers trade Estrada and sign Kendall.

This makes no sense to me at all. They got rid of Estrada because his bat is declining and he can't throw anyone out. Then they signed Kendall (for more money!), who can't hit the ball out of the infield and also can't throw anyone out. Great job guys. Also, please make Turnbow your closer...the rest of the division will thank you for it (the sad part is, he *is* the best reliever that they have...unless they swap in one of their mediocre starters to give some room for Parra and Villanueva. That would be too smart though)

3. Cardinals sign Cesar Izturis.

He's still okay defensively...but he's just David Eckstein with a little more glove and a less bat (and that's not saying a lot).

4. Astros sign Kaz Matsui

Thank God....for awhile there it looked like the Cubs would get him. Moving to Coors inflated his numbers from lousy to merely mediocre (and that's mainly from when he played at home - he's even worse on the road). This will be even better if it gets Chris Burke out of their lineup, since he actually has some upside.

5. The Pirates are the Pirates
The best move that the Pirates have made (so far) is NOT trading Jason Bay. He's still their best player, and if Littlefield were still there you know he would have traded him while he had the lowest value of his career. Good luck, successor guy. You've got a lot to work with

October 07, 2007

Correction: Prior

Prior's contract is over now, and I don't really see him wanting to come back to the Cubs, or the Cubs wanting the headlines associated with him coming back. So now we have 2 5th starters in Marquis and Marshall that we need to upgrade.

Wait till next year

Oh well...what can you say? Shit happens, and you can just throw numbers out the window when it comes to the postseason. All the analysis in the world still can't fight the Law of Large Numbers. The first game was a coin flip, with the two best starters on the NL playoffs teams facing off, and in the other two games, Lilly and Hill just didn't have it. The third game was really the most winnable of all of them. Hill didn't have his good stuff, but we yanked him early enough to hand it over to our bullpen, who did an adequate job. The real problem was that Hernandez clearly had nothing left in the tank from the 2nd inning onward. Only scoring one run against him on a day that the wind was blowing out at Wrigley is just inexcusable. We just couldn't hit the ball out of the infield (4 double plays?! Christ).

There are things to be excited about though. Lou definitely had a big impact on this team, once he got a feel for everyone in May/June we really went on a roll. The rest of our division still sucks, and should only get worse next year. The only serious contender is Milwaukee, so we'll only have a 2-team race. And, we'll have just about everyone back next year. Here's who we will have

Soriano (healthy!)
Ward (if the Cubs pick up his option)
E. Patterson

Marquis (ugh...though a servicable 5th starter)
Mark Prior (the wild card for the umpteenth year in a row)

We lose
Kendall (I hope - the possibility of re-signing him has dropped considerably since soto emerged down the stretch)
Floyd - Not as big a loss as you would think
Wood (though I'm confident he will re-sign)
Trachsel (Thank God...what a retarded trade)

That's it! Just from this, if the Cubs do absolutely nothing in the offseason, we'd have a roster of

LF Soriano
RF Jones/Murton
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
2B DeRosa
C Soto
CF Pie
SS Theriot/Cedeno

B Blanco
B Ward
B Jones/Murton
B Theriot/Cedeno
B Fontenot

1 Zambrano
2 Lilly
3 Prior
4 Hill
5 Marquis

(Ranking the bullpen the way it should..)
S Howry
S Eyre
S Wuertz
S Wood
S Dempster
S Ohman/some other LOOGY

Clearly our most important needs are

1. In general, guys who can get on base. We really need someone who can take a walk in the 2-hole. Similarly, we need someone other than DeRosa who can hit behind Ramirez and Lee in the 5-hole. Cliff Floyd was not the answer.

2. An upgrade at SS. Theriot was league average at best at SS, and did not belong in the 2-hole any time after the All-Star break. He was certainly the best of all our options, though I haven't given up on Ronny Cedeno. If Cedeno can somehow emerge to the talent he showed in Iowa, this will be less of a problem. The guy has talent - maybe he just needs Lou to remind him to take a pitch every once in awhile. He make Soriano look patient

3. An upgrade in CF/RF. Jones did an adequate job once his role was finally clearly defined by the team, playing great defense and moving his hitting from atrocious to just OK. Murton is also good, but I don't think at this point he will ever be great. Like Cedeno above, we really need Pie to make the leap. They should follow Rich Hill's example - he kicked ass in the minors, looked awful in his first year, and now is a plus MLB regular. An upgrade needs to be made at one of these positions though, and Cliff Floyd is not the answer...and I don't think any of the current free agents are either.

4. An upgrade in the starting rotation. Zambrano, Lilly and Hill are all certainly good pitchers - clearly a better top 3 than anyone else in the NL (except LA and SF, who have many many offensive issues). Who knows what we will get from Prior. You could write an entire book on the Prior/Wood speculation over the past 4 years - ever since Dusty, the Cubs medical staff, and the rabid Chicago newspapers destroyed their shoulders from 2003 onwards. Even if he's just OK he could make a great addition to the team. Marquis sucks, but he would be OK as a 5th starter on a good team.

5. Another possibility is to graduate Eric Patterson and have him play 2b, while DeRosa plays mainly RF and in general is our Super-Utility player. Patterson should be ready to contribute now.

Here's some ballsy offseason ideas (thus, moves will never get done).

1. The Cubs sign Andruw Jones (though something really must have happened to him this year...sheesh). Then they make a package centered around Felix Pie (and regrettably probably Carlos Marmol) and trade for Edgar Renteria (or someone similar...hopefully not Tejada who is the other big SS on the trade market). Thus we have a new 2-hole hitter in Renteria and Jones can hit in the 5-spot.

2. The Cubs trade for Coco Crisp - I have the feeling the Sox will trade him away for pennies. Murton should be enough to get it done. Crisp would be great in the 2-hole. Then the Cubs again trade Pie and Cedeno/Theriot as part of a package for some SS or power-hitting RF or SP as Prior/Marquis insurance. Pie or Crisp could also move to RF for additional awesomeness on defense, and we could shop Jones yet again. Atlanta should be looking for a new CF...

3. Let the Kids Play! Do nothing, and let Pie, Cedeno, Patterson, ans Soto show that their minor league numbers were not flukes.

I'm depressed about these playoffs (the other team I was rooting for, the Phillies, also got swept), so I'm just rooting against the Yanks and Sawx now. Go Indians I guess. At least I actually have lots of positives going in to next year.

October 04, 2007

I feel old

Today's starting pitcher for the rockies is only 2 months older than my younger brother.

Right decision

Lou made the right decision pulling Carlos Zambrano last night. Our bullpen has been great in the second half, and Marmol has by far been our best reliever. Sometimes you just get hit.

As Lou pointed out, the reason we lost was not because he pulled Zambrano, but that the Cubs only scored one run on 4 hits. Brandon Webb was just unhittable last night.

June 20, 2007

Thanks for the memories

It's too bad you started sparring with the wrong team this year. Have fun in San Diego, I hope we enjoy the pennies we got back for you.

April 18, 2007

Soriano Injured, Pie called up

Was pretty distressing to see that Soriano was hurt, though thankfully it wasn't very serious. Pie was called up and he looked good in his debut. I was unhappy with the fact that they bumped Guzman from the roster to make room for him, but word is that he's going to be starting in AAA. He's been looking great so far this season so I hope it's just a matter of time before he becomes our fifth starter. I was really hoping they'd release Ohman, who has just been awful thus far this season.

I really hope Pie impresses and sticks around...if so the Cubs will have an excuse to break up some of their OF logjam. Since Pie is a lefty the Cubs can go ahead and trade Jacque Jones for a shortstop or some prospects. If they go ahead and release Ohman and eventually Miller I'd love to see this Lineup/Roster

CF/RF Soriano
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
C Barrett
LF Murton/Floyd
2B DeRosa
SS Izturis

B Floyd
B Ward
B Cedeno
B Theriot
B Blanco

1 Zambrano
2 Hill
3 Lilly
4 Marquis
5 Guzman

C Dempster
B Howry
B Eyre
B Cotts
B Wuertz
B Cherry
B Wood/Miller/Marmol/Novoa

April 03, 2007

Carpenter headed for DL?

Rotoworld reports:

Chris Carpenter is going to miss his next scheduled start due to soreness and stiffness in his right elbow.

He might be spending some time on the DL. If so, this is good news for the Cubs and other NL central teams. The Cardinals were probably still the frontrunners but they walk a razor thin line to maintain that. If Carpenter misses any signifigant time they will be in big trouble considering their shaky bullpen and complete lack of an adequate replacement.

April 02, 2007

Opening Day! And AL East preview

Hooray for baseball! Glad to see the season finally starting, even though the Cubs lost today. I guess they left their bats in the southwest...I think Carlos will pitch better than he did today (he better).

Next, my AL East rundown. This is by far the easiest division to do, year by year. Once you pick between the Yankees and Red Sox, the rest of the standings just fall into place. Here it is, from bottom to top

Tampa Bay (65-97)
This team has some promise now, finally. No team, with the exception of maybe the Diamondbacks has more talent young position players with this much upside. I think they're going to surprise a LOT of people this year, but their record will still be pretty lousy. Even when the youngsters are focused, there will still be far too many slugfests for them to win. Some teams can get by with a large hitting-to-pitching ratio (see: Yankees, Mets, Cubs), but the Rays pitching talent just can't compare at all.

Baltimore (68-94)
This team, however is the anti-Devil Rays. They have lots of great pitching (and Leo Mazzone) but they will struggle mightily to score runs. And again, that's not going to cut it when the Yankees and Red Sox lineups can put up runs even against the best starters in the league. Again, you can get by on *only* pitching...but not with the pack end of their rotation. If they can find adequate replacements for Jaret Wright and the corpse that is Steve Trachel's career they could sniff at .500. On the offensive side, they do have an established star in miguel tejada, a rising star in Nick Markakis, and an overrated star in Brian Roberts. But really, who else do they have? Mora, Huff, Millar and Gibbons have no upside at all, and Patterson still is a shadow of the Patterson of the first half of 2003. Hernandez had a great year behind the plate last year, but there's a reason why they call them 'career years'. Expect lots of 2-1, 3-2, 4-2 losses from this team.

Toronto (81-81)
Toronto is the sexy pick to upset the Sox-Yanks combo at the top of the division...but we must admit that a lot of this probably stems from an unconscious desire to see those two teams thrown from the top of the standings every year. This is still a very shaky team. They have a great one-two punch in Halladay and Burnett - probably the best 2 starters on the same team in the AL. I think Burnett will stay healthy this year...Halladay will probably take his annual DL trip or two but pitch well while on the roster. The rest of the rotation just has to hope the offense and decent bullpen can keep them in the game.

On offense, again there's no one who really jumps out. Vernon Wells is being paid superstar money but isn't really a superstar. Glaus is another quality player, though streaky, and Overbay isn't really your prototypical power-hitting first baseman - how many first basemen hit second? The rest of their outfield is overrated, Riccardi should try to flip them for some decent pitching (i.e. someone in the Phillies or Dodgers logjams). Aaron Hill has some upside, but Royce Clayton is a huge hole in the lineup, in a division where having a merely average player can be considered a hole.

2. New York Yankees (83-79)
It's going to be a long year for George Steinbrenner. The Yankees will have to blow away all their opponents to have a shot at winning the divison, because their pitching is almost as uncertain as the Mets'. Pettitte is the real ace of this team, but he and Mussina are both aging and project to regress this year. Pettitte should be further hurt by the loss of Roger Clemens and his maniacal workout routines and general energy...he always seemed like a guy who fed off the energy of his teammates to me. Wang is great but is a statistical aberration. This injury to start the season could be a harbinger of more trouble this season as well, especially if Igawa/Rasner/Karstens/Pavano/Hughes start off badly, which they probably will. I think Igawa was probably one of the worst signings of the offseason, though it was overshadowed by such awful deal as the Meche, Matthews, and Pierre deals. On the other hand, Yankees can afford to gamble with fringe starters that no one has ever seen before. I definitely get the vibe that he's the kind of pitcher that will get hit HARD the second time around the league, if not the second time around the lineup.

I don't really have much to say about the offense, other than that their first base platoon will be vastly improved the fewer games that Mientkiewicz plays. Losing Sheff should hurt it a little bit, but the fact that I still penciled the Yankees in for a winning record after my discussion of their pitching problems speaks volumes about how unstoppable their offense is.

1. Boston Red Sox (92-70)
As much as I loathe Red Sox fans, damn do they have a great team this year. Their offense isn't quite as good as the Yankees, though I think Pedroia and Crisp will turn in quality league-average type seasons, as will Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis. Those could be considered 'holes' in a AL east lineup as I mentioned earlier...but their defense or OBP or other peripherals should really work well with the way that this team is built. I'm not a big fan of Wakefield or whoever starts in the 5th spot in the rotation, but with their quality offense and bullpen (my thoughts about the Papelbon move notwithstanding) they should be fine. I think Dice-K will be a monster this season, and may even wrest the Cy Young away from Santana.

1. Red Sox 92-72
2. Yankees 83-79
3. Blue Jays 81-81
4. Orioles 68-74
5. Rays 65-97

March 30, 2007

AL Central Preview

Man, I've been lazier than I thought I would be on these things.

Kansas City (74-88)
The astounding Gil Meche contract notwithstanding, at least this team is finally getting to the point where there might actually be some light at the end of the tunnel. New GM Drayton Moore has really cleaned house, with his masterstroke being the demotion of the awful (and awfully high-paid) Angel Berroa. Their farm system is starting to look good again, and they have the top prospect in baseball breaking into the big leagues this year. And, whaddya know, he's a local kid ans actually LIKES playing in KC. We'll see if he still feels that way after 5 years.

On offense, they'll have a good core of Alex Gordon, Billy Butler (when he eventually makes the team), Ryan Shealy, and Mark Teahen. Teahen was the only good story on an awful Royals team last year. Of course, with Gordon in his natural position it would probably be best for the Royals to trade him for a commodity they more clearly need (i.e. Pitching). The rest of their offense are mainly stopgaps that don't really have any long term future with the team or, really, baseball.

Pitching-wise, they might at least bring themselves up to league average in the near future. Meche clearly isn't their long-term ace, but he would be a quality 3rd starter in a good staff. Now that Grienke has gotten over his anxiety-related problems, he should become a quality pitcher, as should Luke Hudson. Odalis Perez was a great pickup from LA, he probably just needed a change in scenery.

Conclusion on the Royals: will be in the basement again, but they will likely be a great spoiler team in the second half for what should be a great playoff race in this division. Watch out in 2008-2009.

Minnesota (80-82)
Just like last year, their fate will depend on how soon their management wises up and starts playing its best players rather than its highest paid players. Case in point - Matt Garza is being sent to AAA while the highly paid and highly erratic Carlos Silva is sticking around in the rotation. This has shades of the Francisco Liriano situation from last year, because he can only contribute to the team if he plays. Of course, Garza is not nearly in the same class as Liriano...but Silva is not nearly in the same class as Garza either. Changes need to be made.

Aside from that, this is still a pretty solid team. I'm still surprised by last season's surge, though having Liriano and Santana as your top two starters for a stretch means you're pretty much guarunteed to win 40% of your games. This year it's again Santana and the also-rans, though some of the also-rans have some good upside. Boof Bonser, aside from having one of the most hilarious names ever, has a good chance to grow into a solid 3rd starter for any team. He'll probably experience some more growing pains this year though. Garza also has lots of upside, if he ever pitches. The rest of the rotation though...well...let's just say that the Twins's quality bullpen will definitely prove its worth if the team gets anywhere this year. If this team played all its home games at Wrigley or Coors then I think the combo of Ponson, Silva, and "Gopherball" Ortiz would set a new MLB record for number of homers coughed up in a season. The Twins desperately need to upgrade in those three spots if they ever expect to contend again.

As far as position players go, they're looking pretty good. Mauer, Cuddyer, and Morneau, who got the MVP award that Mauer or Santana deserved more just own his own team, are a solid core to a decent offense. Kubel should do a decent job in the DH role if the Twins stick with him. Torii Hunter is going to swidnlle a lot of money from someone next offseason - he's clearly overrated with his bat and his defensive skills are slipping too. Their non-Morneau infield is meh, though they have a cool nickname (The Pirhanas) they're all light hitting infielders who had a bit too much luck last season. Clearly though, the Twins cuold do better than Rondell White in LF. He's a decent enough bat when he is healthy...but he's never healthy. His backup isn't much of an upgrade either.

Unless there's a major ovarhaul in the pitching staff, I think this team might be lucky to be at .500, especially given the division they are in.

White Sox (82-80)
On offense, the Sox are fielding nearly the exact same lineup as last season. Only in center field has the name been changed to protect the terrible production out of the position. They should still to a decent job of scoring runs, though I would expect declines from Crede, Pierzynski, and especially Podsednik. The real issue here is pitching.

This offseason GM Kenny Williams planned to ensure that his team could contend for a few more years. There are a few problems with his plan and the reasons behind it though.

1. The AL central is the toughest division in baseball, and probably will remain so for the next few years.

2. He traded both one of his blue chip starters and his highly touted (though probably overrated) starters away. In return, he got a few more prospects but failed to move the pitchers he should have moved (i.e. Jon Garland). They ended up with a 5th starter with upside (Danks) a 5th starter with downside (Gavin Floyd), and a quality prospect in Gio Gonzalez.

3. Given the quality of the division they play in they needed to go for the jugular while their championship window was still open. How many quality teams manage to keep together so many pleayers after as good a 2 years as the Sox have had? They're mortgaging their present for a shot at the postseason in teh future...but the odds are about the same either way. Why mess with what is working?

Detroit (85-79)
What a great year these guys had last year. They should do well again this year but fall short of the playoffs...too many offensive players had career years, and their pitching will likely backslide a bit too. Sheffield should be a fantastic addition to their lineup, and will make quality starters like Guillen + Pudge better players. The rest of their team should be pretty good as well...but they clearly need to limit the damage done by Sean Casey at 1B. If they can get Marcus Thames to get some ABs there they will be a much better team.

On the pitching side, Bonderman is a bona fide ace. Verlander, however, is due to have a disappointing sophomore slump largely from the number of innings he pitched last season. The back end of the rotation features Robertson and Maroth, who are spectacularly okay. With Rogers out of the picture as well this team had better hope that they can score some more runs this season, though their quality bullpen will make sure this won't hurt them as much as it might other teams.

Cleveland (89-73)
I think this team is going to be great, but I don't forsee multiple 90 game winners from this division again this year. Their lineup is incredibly stacked from top to bottom...the only real question are whether Jhonny Peralta will bounce back from last year's awful season (yes), and whether Andy Marte will live up to all the prospect hype he's had the past few years or just be merely okay (answer: okay).

The big question mark here is the pitching, followed by an even bigger question mark next to the bullpen. Sabathia is a money pitcher and is the well-deserved ace of this staff, and Westbrook is a quality number 2. Cliff Lee (now injured) is good when he's good, as Yogi Berra would say. He's maddeningly inconsistent though. Sowers has tons of upside however, and will probably be the team's 3rd best starter after the season plays out. Byrd is an innings-eater at best, and if his control falters at all hopefully he will be outta there in favor fo Fausto Carmona, who is another great youngster with upside.

The bullpen will be this team's Achilles Heel. No one really stands out at all in this group, so the Tribe should swing a deal later this season to shore up this part of their team. With that offense though...the bullpen might not need to be better than merely average.

CLE 89-73
DET 85-79
ChW 82-90
MIN 80-82
KC 74-88

March 22, 2007

Papelbon, continued

Jim Caple summarized my rambling point best by this statement in today's ESPN chat:

...the closer is the most overvalued position in baseball. Think of how many guys came out of nowhere to be effective closers (Eddie Guardado, JJ Putz, etc.) and you realize how replaceable that role is. A good pitcher is always more valuable than a closer. And don't give me how devastating it can be to lose a game in the ninth inning. Sure it hurts. But you remember the loss because it happened at the end of the game. No one remembers how many games you lose earlier because a mediocre starter dug you into an early hole in the second inning, then forced you burn out the bullpen for the next game.

Trifecta is in play

2 breaking news items for today that made me say "what?!"

1. The Red Sox confirmed that Papelbon is shifting back into the closer's role. I am shocked that any organization that employs Bill James would do this - Paps is clearly more valuable as a starter than a reliever, and while he is a fantastic relief ace, clearly he would be of more value to the team as a starter. The only way this would work out in their favor would be if whoever was option 2 was so awful that Papelbon's value as a starter would be less than the difference between him and this phantom reliever. Their relievers would certainly be good enough...certainly the difference between closer Papelbon and any of the Boston relivers is far, far less than the difference between starter Papelbon and Julian Tavarez (who is taking his place). With Papelbon in the rotation I had the Sox winning the I'm not so sure.

2. Tubby Smith leaves Kentucky after 10 years to take a job at....Minnesota?!. I understand that things must have sucked for him at Kentucky, due to the racist tradition there left by the infamous Adolph Rupp. Still though, you figure he could have moved to a better job than perpetually mediocre Minnesota. Seriously, what the hell?

3. Third bit of news makes me happy instead of confused. Prior pitched today against major leaguers and had this stat line:

4IP 4H 1R 1ER 2BB 3SO 0HR and no extra base hits.

Maybe he will be an option for the 5th rotation spot after all. This improvment certainly shows he has more upside than the junk-balling Miller. I'm still not sure if Prior's injury risk is enough to say that he has more upside than Guzman at this point though. Still Prior/Guzman > Miller.

March 21, 2007

AL West Preview

I'm finally getting around to writing down my preseason thoughts...I meant to do each team but I'll be lucky to do each division. I'll start with the AL West, going from worst to first

4. Seattle Mariners (70-92)

Good lord, is Bill Bavasi trying to get himself fired? Let's recap the worst offseason moves:

1. Traded Fruto and Snelling for Vidro - an electric reliever prospect and a glass-man outfielder for a fading second baseman (who can't play 2B anymore) owed $12m over the next two years. Snelling may be a big injury risk, but he still would have made a better DH (and for much less money) than Vidro, who can't play 2b anymore. Vidro gets lots of credit as a player due to his position - a second baseman who hits 15 HRs is much more valuable than a DH that does the same. You know you're in trouble when your number 3 hitter is a punchless contact hitter.

2. Traded Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez - again, a flamethrowing reliever for a mediocre pitcher with an injury history. At best, Ramirez is a 4th starter. At worst, he's a junk-baller who will have a hard time staying afloat in AAA.

Quality Players: Sexson, Johjima, Ichiro, Felix Hernandez
Holes: Lopez, Betancourt, the rest of the rotation
Concerns: Putz is injured and probably won't be nearly as effective as last season

3. Oakland A's (78-84)

I love the A's...but I think their window is closed (for now). Their only plus offensive force now is Nick Swisher, everyone else is average or below average (I don't think Piazza has much left in the tank, even as a DH). Similarly, their rotation is starting to run out of steam. If Harden can stay healthy for an entire season this win total can be notched up a few, but right now the only lights-out starter they have is Haren. I salute the A's for their years of success but their era has passed for now.

Quality Players: Swisher, Haren, Street, Bradley, Chavez (sort of)
Holes: Ellis, Kendall, Stewart
Concerns: Harden + Crosby are both glass men at this point. The back end of the rotation is pretty scary too.

2. Texas Rangers (83-79)

I have a hard time projecting this team...even without their bandbox ballpark they probably have the best offense outside of the Northeast Monetary Nexus. They have Mark Teixiera as the centerpiece of their offense and nearly everyone else is at least league average. Plus, for once they have *some* pitching. Padilla and Millwood will keep them in games and the rest of the staff has some upside...though I don't think McCarthy will pan out as well as Texas's staff will have hoped (look at that HR rate!)

Quality Players: Tex, Kinsler, Young, Lofton (underrated), Millwood, Padilla
Holes: Blalock
Concerns: McCarthy + Texas = lots of gopherballs.
Wild Card: Wilkerson and Sosa have Tremendous Upside Potential

1. Anaheim Angels (88-74)

In contrast to Texas, the Angels have the horses on the pitching side of the equation. Lackey is a bona fide ace, and Escobar and Santana are quality starters. When healthy, Colon and Weaver are also great. A (healthy) Anaheim rotation is easily the best in baseball. On the offensive side, they have lots of upside. Vlad is always solid, but the real keys to their season will be their amazing young middle infield of Stephen Drew and Howie Kendrick, along with breakout catcher Mike Napoli. If Colon and Weaver manage to make 75% of their starts, watch out.

Quality Players: Kendrick, Drew, Napoli, Cabrera, Vlad, Lackey, Escobar, Santana
Holes: Anderson, Kotchman/whoever is on 1b
Concerns: Gary Matthews Jr will regress to the fourth outfielder that he actually is.

March 08, 2007


3 baseball related items of note this week

1. I got this year's Baseball Prospectus, chock full of more baseball information than I can ever read. They're pretty down on the Cubs this year, though they expect them to improve. The gist of the Cubs article was that Dusty Baker leaving the team alone would account for several wins - it was pretty scathing towards Dusty. After reading their statistics, I'm not inclined to disagree. I do happily wave goodbye to lousy 'speed' players like Freddie Bynum, Neifi Perez, Hairston...though we still do have Cedeno and Izturis in the mix, at least they have some upside. They also project a big regression for Howry, Eyre, and Ohman so our bullpen might still end up imploding this year as well.

2. Prior made his first spring start last weekend, and, while I know it was only his first start (and his second one total in the past three years), it sure seems that he has a giant fork sticking out of his back. I've been hoping for a return from Prior, but at this point what I'm hoping is a strong spring from Angel Guzman (he's been great so far) leading him to beat out Prior AND Miller for the 5th roation spot. Though of course if Prior could put things together...that would be great too.

3. Jennie and I watched Pride of the Yankees earlier this week - it was a great flick. I looked up Gehrig's numbers and, good god, they weren't exaggerating the kind of power he had.

March 02, 2007

Chicago Cubs Baseball is on the Air!

I caught some of the first spring training game while walking around yesterday, though I was in class for most of it - I tuned in around the 2nd inning. I hadn't realized it, but I hadn't truly felt that baseball was officially underway. But then, when I turned on WGN, Pat and Ron were discussing Ron's lunch and Ron made sure to let everyone know that he does not like beans. After that, it sunk in that it's now baseball time.

February 28, 2007

Santo non-election, spring opening lineup

All I have to say is, BOOO to the Veterans Committee. Santo belongs in the Hall of Fame, even just on his playing stats alone. He won 5 consecutive gold gloves and posted an OPS+ of over 100 in 12 of the 15 seasons he played. Compare him to Brooks Robinson, who was a no-doubt hall of famer, who won 15 gold gloves but who only had 10 seasons of OPS+ over 100 in 10 of the 22 seasons that he played. Ron's career was cut short by diabetes, but there's no doubt that offensively he was better than Robinson on a season by season basis, and just about as good defensively. I boo you Joe Morgan, Bob Feller, Tom Seaver and all the other tools who keep closing Ron out of the Hall.

Now that that's out ofthe way, I want to offer a big thumbs up to Sweet Lou's first Cubs lineup of spring training he currently has slotted

CF Soriano
LF Murton
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
C Barrett
RF Jones
2B DeRosa
SS Izturis

This is exactly the lineup that I would have chosen, he (or someone there) must understand that a) Matt Murton needs ABs because b) Matt Murton can get on base, and c) Michael Barrett is a great batter. I can only hope that this is the regular lineup opening day and beyond during the regular season.

February 23, 2007

Spring Training!

Spring training is finally here!

For those of you who don't know, or haven't known me for the past few years, I've become quite obsessed with baseball. Which means that I get to subject you all to my rambling team-by-team (or division by division, depending on how lazy I am) previews of the upcoming season. I'll probably start breaking things down more throughly about the teams I care about (i.e. the Cubs + to a lesser extent the NL central in general) sometime after I receive the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA projections in a week or so.

My first order of business is to make a preliminary projection for the standings/awards in the upcoming season. I'll likely change this to my final predictions right before opening day. (note that these W-L records probably won't add up to the right number of games, this is just an estimate)


NYY 94-68
BOS 89-73
TOR 84-78
TB 74-88
BAL 69-93

CLE 90-72
CHW 87-75
DET 80-82
MIN 76-86
KC 71-91

LAA 86-76
OAK 82-80
TEX 78-84
SEA 70-92

Cy Young: Santana (duh)
MVP: Grady Sizemore


ATL 94-68
PHI 89-77
NYM 76-86
FLA 71-91
WAS 59-103

MIL 87-75
CHC 84-78
STL 80-82
HOU 78-84
CIN 73-89
PIT 72-90

LAD 93-69
SD 86-78
ARI 85-79
COL 75-87
SF 68-94

Cy Young: Schmidt
MVP: Andruw Jones

January 21, 2007

And we're back!

We just got back from a relaxing and enjoyable trip home. Here are a few highlights:

  • Before we left, Jennie and I both went to graduation. Jennie recieved her Bachelor's Degree and I got a Master's Degree. Jennie's parents and brother Jim came out to watch and we had a good time. I'm lucky to have such not-crazy (future) in-laws, I feel as comfortable with them as I do my own family.

  • The drive back was uneventful and fairly easy (in my opinion). It rained most of the way. Kira was very good in the car, and loved running around Penn State when we got there. Also, Herwig's (an Austrian restaurant in downtown State College) rocks. Their potato salad = the greatest...I now have an obsession with German/Austrian Potato salad.

  • We got ice skates from the Crosses, so we all laced up our skates this year at the annual Christmas Eve ice skating event. I had tons of fun - for once my skates didn't murder my ankles/calves and I skated for the entire time. We're hoping to bust them out at Tenney Park now that we're back in Madison, but the ice is still too thin. We apparently brought the cold weather back with us.

  • We did Christmas Eve at my parents' house and Christmas Day at Jennie's. It's a good thing our families have offsetting traditions, it made things super-easy for both of us. I bought Jennie tickets to Giselle (next week) and a print of one of her favorite poems (see Jennie bought me tickets to Man of La Mancha and will get me tickets to the Cubs home opener in April (Jennie Rules!).

  • We got a bunch of wedding-related tasks complete. Getting a hotel for out-of-towners was by far the most difficult. It's nice to have a bunch of this stuff out of the way. Our main tasks remaining is to get the stuff together for our officiant and to figure out what we're going to do for a rehearsal dinner (most of the restaurants we called are booked).

  • Jennie had a great job fall into her lap - she's teaching sewing for the UW Theatre department starting tomorrow. She's looking for another part-time job to suppelement it. Right now her front-runner is to work at a kennel out on the west side, near Woodman's.

  • We caught up with various friends that we haven't seen in awhile, several of which will be involved in the wedding in some capacity. We hung out with Millie and Kate a few times, and I drove down to UVA and had a fun evening with my old friend Matt Harrington. I forgot how great a college town Charlottesville is.

  • Sarah was in town this Christmas and it was nice to see her too. She made curry for all of us one night and it was freaking awesome. We're probably going to try to add it to our repertoire once we figure out all the ingredients we need, and where to find them.

  • We took a trip down to Fredericksburg to hang with Jim and cook him things to put in his lonely refrigerator. We've managed to get him to watch the first 5 seasons of Buffy, so now there's someone else who gets our Buffy-related jokes. Also he's revived an interest in Madden for me...I just started a franchise on the Madden 2006 copy he left me when he was out here. As if I didn't have a bunch of other games to play....not to mention homework/research.

  • We found an awesome book while packing up books in preparation for painting. It was all about code traffic and the special forces in WW2. Jennie finished the book right before we went to the Spy museum in DC with my parents, which further heightened the experience. We're both super interested in WW2 + cryptography related stuff now - I got a book on Turing and Jennie bought two books on various special forces stuff related to the book we read.

  • We ate at Legal Seafood in DC, which was awesome, and I feel like there's now a precedent to eat as much of the good East Coast seafood as we can while we're at home. It's just not the same here in Wisconsin. I feel like both of us have really turned a corner in our appreciation of seafood - we were pretty much only shrimp and crab eaters before. Now we've found we actually like some fish! If only good fish weren't so expensive and tricky to cook...

  • I bought a few wedding-related clothes (including some nifty suspenders!) at Tyson's, which can be a scary place traffic-wise. Jennie got some awesome new clothes including a cool new winter coat. We ate at Legal Seafood there, the second time this trip (yay swordfish!)

  • The drive back was fairly uneventful. It certainly did not feel like the 14+ hours that it took. There was some snow along the way but none of it was really sticking. The best part was in western ohio, where all the trees were coated with ice. The sun was going down at that point, so all the foliage looked like it was made of shimmering crystals. It was pretty awesome.

Those are all the highlights I can think of for now. We'll be back in VA in 3 weeks for Jennie's cousin's wedding.

As for now, I'm starting my RA-ship tomorrow. My schedule for the upcoming semester is pretty awesome: I only have class on TR. My goal is to come in on MWF for most of the day as well, since I'm most productive at the office when I don't have a pile of computer/video games to tempt me. It makes scheduling things super great - I don't have to worry about missing class to go to the wedding next month...and it would make it easier for me to take the day off and go to a Cubs day game (like the home opener - so excited).