Cubs Now!
Thursday, April 21, 2005
  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. 
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