Two and a half years after posting last, I'm doin so tonight. Eight games to go, a game and a half lead. The Cubs should pull this off. More later.
No One's Reading, So What The Hell?
One of the most boring debates on sports messageboards is who is, or what makes, a fan. You're not going to get me into this. Scroll down this
if you're into it. You also know that a discussion has been brought near to the bottom when someone
decides that folks are interested in the fact that he makes six figures.
There's no right or wrong reason to be a fan. Think about it, most players take the LaTroy view that they are "playing for the other 24 guys" in the lockerroom. Indeed, if you took the entire Cubs roster, put it in St. Louis, and brought the D-Rays roster, dressed them in Cubbie blue, I'd root for the Cubs. We are indeed rooting for laundry. It's irrational, but it is what it is.
So, if someone wants to bitch about the Cubs, complain they are unlikable, or just a crappy team, so be it. They can still be a Cubs fan if they truly hold that as part of their identity. Just as you can be a Cubs fan, enjoy rooting for the team, care little about the statistical nuiances of the game, as long as you hold that as part of your identity.
I'm a Cubs fan. There's no reason for it. I enjoy the statistical aspect of the game, I like discussing strategy, complaining about Dusty, bitching that Corey needs to understand the value of a walk, and generally everything that is funny
about the Cubs. But I'm not going to get my borderline personality into a tizzy when someone says that they like the Cubs without an in depth understanding of the game. So be it.
One Tenth Over
Incredible isn't it? I haven't updated mainly because I think Andy Dolan
does a much better job at summing up the Cubs than anyone else, and it's overkill to post there and here. But I wanted to express my feelings in a longer fashion.
The Cubs split in St. Louis. Last night's win will ultimately prove more costly than today's loss. Nomar is out at least two months with a ruptured tendon, ripping his groin muscle away from the bone. That probably hurt. The two to three month prognosis translates to 6 months in Cubs' training staff years. My guess is that the Cubs will not resign Nomar after the season. If that's right, his career Cubs stats
will be: 57 Games, 216AB, .264/.326/.389, 4HR, 24 RBI. Really, really sad.
Nomar was going to hit. Regression to the mean works both ways. Just as Derrek Lee
is not going to hit .417 this year, so Nomar would have approached .300/.350/.500. It's sad because during his stint with the Cubs, he seemed to enjoy playing for the team and the fans. The fans liked him. He seems like a good guy. Just a sad thing.
Nomar's injury coupled with today's loss
got me off my ass. This is the second time the Cubs have been shutout this year. Like the previous time, Ryan Dempster pitched a solid game (six innings, one earned run), with nothing to show for it, but a shrinking ERA. Dempster is doing an adequate job of filling in for Matt Clement, both in performance and in taking tough-luck losses. (Next time, the Sun Times' resident jack-ass mentions that the Cubs really miss Clement, remember that Clement was so awful that he was benched for the "pennant run" last season. He's also getting paid a ridiculous amount of money for a guy who has a career record of 70/75 and an ERA of 4.32. Good riddance, Matt.)
But today's game highlighted the worst aspects of Dusty Baker's management style. I'm tired of Dusty-bashing (the forced use of Neifi at second, while not sound, worked, prior to Nomar's injury). But his complete failure to look at statistics as a guide to match-ups pisses me off. He's managed the Cubs for three years during which Mike Remlinger has occupied a prominent space in the bullpen. Remlinger is a useful pitcher, if used to his strengths. While a lefty, Mike dominates righties and gets toasted by lefties. His splits
for this year? .300/.417/.400 vs lefties, .083/.083/.083 vs. righties. Small sample size? Sure, but it holds up over the last three years
: .266/.329/.428 vs. lefties, .184/.289/.273 vs. righties. Three years, strong statistical evidence that Remlinger, despite being left-handed, should not be brought into a game to get a lefty out. Three years, long enough for a manager watching every game, every inning, every pitch to figure it out.
So, today, with the Cubs down 1-0 in the bottom of the eigth, with Michael Wuertz having retired four batters in a row, Dusty decides to bring in Remlinger to face Larry Walker. The only explanation for the move is a lefty-lefty match-up. It wasn't based on an individual match-up as Walker was hitting 444/565/722 in 18 at-bats against Remlinger. Remlinger proceeds to give up a homerun to Walker. Dusty then takes him out because Pubols is a righty. You know, the kind of hitter Remlinger is actually really good against. Two more runs given up by Chad Fox. 4-0 and it's over.
Now, Dusty would claim to be playing the percentages. Lefty-lefty match-ups are generally preferable. That's the book. Gotta take Remlinger out against righties, righties hit lefties hard. But that's the aggregate and using the aggregate when you have special knowledge about the specific makes no sense. Dusty can't be excused for this. I've known about Remlinger's inverse split for three years. So have you, presumably, if you're reading a presumed-dead Cubs blog. But it's the easy way--lefty-lefty matchup is the rule, I was just following the rule.
It would be nice to see someone really make him justify his use of pitchers in the ninth. This is pretty easy stuff to figure out. I'll write more later tonight.
Kerry Wood is set to pitch tomorrow. He was scratched once for a bad back. Then pushed back a day to get in his full five days between starts. No one is buying this crap. The disaster of last spring and regular season has left the Cubs with zero credibility when it comes to the status of injuries.
If Wood starts tomorrow, I'll regain some interest in the season. But if Wood's scratched, and Prior's out indefinitely, there's really no point in pretending the Cubs will be competitive this season. So, for all our sake, let's hope the man can take the hill tomorrow, or 1999 will seem like a dream season.
Within days of hearing that Kerry Wood is suffering from bursitis, we learn today that Mark Prior
is suffering from elbow inflammation and irritation on the ulnar nerve. Wood is "playing catch" on flat ground at least until Wednesday when he may pitch off a mound. Prior? Well, he's out indefinitely. That's not good.
When asked about the injury to Wood, Dusty Baker said "Back in the old days, everything was bursitis." Well, now a days everything's ball-bearings. But that provides no relief to this Cubs fan. The only possible argument or hope that the Cubs would be better this year than last was that they would have a full seasons from Wood, Prior, and Garciapara. If Prior and Wood go down, we're looking at a team reminiscent of those grand mid-90's Cubs squads, with Rusch, Mitre and Dempster filling the roles of Kevin Foster, Amaury Telemaco and Jim Bullinger. [Hey! Don't forget Frank Castillo.--I've tried.]
Before jumping out the window, though, we should at least wait a week to see if there is quick progress. But like you, I have no patience for another spring-long Prior watch. Chuck at Ivy Chat
makes much of a "window of opportunity" for the Cubs--win now when we have Prior, Wood, and Zambrano. But if Prior and Wood aren't able to pitch complete seasons, there's no opportunity at all--just another forgetable season.
Leave A Message
As I start this up again, please leave a message if I don't have your link up or if your link has changed.
To date, spring training hasn't produced anything of interest. I, like you, am tired of anything Sammy. I can't say that I've always hated him. It's impossible to deny that he put on one of the greatest five year runs in the history of baseball. But honestly, I've never understood why it is so important for some people to lord their success over others. Fine, you're a stud, now turn off the damn music. It's a symbol of power I guess, like a dog pissing on a tree.
But at this point, anyone who harbors good will for the guy just isn't paying attention. Which was why I found it absurd last weekend to drive down Randall Road in Geneva, and see a 10' by 8' poster saluting Sammy and crying about the trade. Think about that, taking the time to make a poster and hang it on your back fence for all the world to see, honoring a guy who forced his way out of town by being an ass.
We all waste time. Semi-annually updating a Cubs blog seems like a waste of time. But all I could think of when I saw that piece of hagiography was "good Lord, what's wrong with these folks."