Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back-handed Compliment of the Week

Courtesy of Mr. Brandon Emil Phillips:

“We have to beat these guys. I hate the Cardinals. All they do is bitch and moan about everything, all of them, they’re little bitches, all of ‘em. I really hate the Cardinals. Compared to the Cardinals, I love the Chicago Cubs. Let me make this clear – I hate the Cardinals.”


Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Tale of Two Disgustingly Good Twenty-Year-Olds

Batting Average: 
Jason Heyward

Starlin Castro
Jason Heyward
Starlin Castro
Jason Heyward
Starlin Castro
Jason Heyward
Starlin Castro
Jason Heyward
 Starlin Castro
Jason Heyward
Starlin Castro
As of August 5, Heyward and Castro have identical OPS numbers (.823) and according to UZR* have both been above average in the field, although Castro is doing it at a much more difficult and important position defensively.

Fangraphs has Heyward at 2.6 WAR. Castro is at 2.2.

Excluding pure results, we all know there are two criteria that baseball voters steer towards when deciding end of season awards:

1) "What have you done for me lately?"
2) Dramatic moments

The graphs above clearly show that Starlin Castro has been doing more for you lately, and quite frankly, a lot more. While Jason Heyward has been trending downwards in nearly every offensive category for several weeks (battling injury, admittedly), Castro has been on an absolute tear since July. If these trends continue, Castro will deservedly pass Heyward as the favorite for National League Rookie of the Year.

Unfortunately, as we all know, Jason Heyward won the ROY Award back on April 5 when he went deep in his first at bat in the majors. His three-run shot on opening day went a True Distance of 476 feet according to HitTracker, and it ranks as the third longest home run of 2010.

A three-run home run in the first major league at bat of your stellar rookie season? That kind of theater is an intangible that Starlin Castro just can't duplicate.


You might not want to engrave Heyward's name on the ROY plaque just yet. Castro, along with Gaby Sanchez and Jaime Garcia, are making strong cases.

** Yes, I did. They're rookies. What else do you want me to do?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Will Aramis Ramirez Opt Out?

One of the big concerns for Cub fans going into 2010 (one of several, actually) was whether or not Aramis Ramirez would opt out of his contract. Ramirez has a base salary of $15.75 million this year, but can opt out and become a free agent after the season is over. If he doesn't opt out, he'd be due $14.6 million in 2011, and then another $16 million club option in 2012, with a $2 million buyout.

At first Aramis not opting out seemed to be the scarier proposition; the way he was swinging the bat, he looked like he wasn't going anywhere. After battling injuries and possibly still feeling the effects of his bum shoulder from 2009, Aramis was literally one of the least valuable players in all of baseball the first half of the season. When he went on the disabled list in early June, Ramirez had the lowest wOBA of all qualified batters in baseball (.231) and had been worth -1.2 WAR up to that point. Yes, there is a negative sign in front of that figure.

Lately though, he's been the Aramis of old. Over the last 30 days, his wOBA is .486, with an OPS of 1.171. He's back on the positive side of replacement level now as well, worth half a win for the entirety of 2010.

In fact, over the last 30 days, let's see how Aramis ranks in all of baseball in several offensive categories:

.486 wOBA - 1st
1.171 OPS - 1st
10 HR - 2nd
25 RBI - 2nd (Tie)
.437 ISO - 1st
12.4 wRAA - 6th
23.5 wRC - 8th
1.32 Cumulative WPA - 4th

So what's Ramirez going to do? ZIPS has him putting up a .365 wOBA the rest of the year. When the offseason rolls around his overall 2010 numbers won't be sexy. But he might be sexy on the free agent market, especially if he continues to hit like the top 10 third baseman he is.

A weak crop at the position may ultimately influence his decision. Here's a look at some of the notable names of third basemen near Aramis' age or younger that could be or will be free agents after this season (age in parentheses).

Garrett Atkins (31) - Designated for assignment by the Orioles (the ORIOLES!!) in June.
Adrian Beltre (32) - Having an excellent year with the Red Sox, and holds a very cheap $5 million player option for 2010. If he reaches 640 plate appearances, which he might, it increases to $10 million.
Wilson Betemit (29) - Swinging a ridiculously hot (.480 wOBA in 70 plate appearances) and ridiculously lucky (.452 BABIP with an 11% LD rate) bat for the Royals in limited opportunities. A nice little player, but won't command anywhere near the money as Aramis.
Jorge Cantu (29) - Having a disappointing season in Florida (.319 wOBA, 0.5 WAR) after two nice seasons. Pretty bad defender at third as well.
Eric Chavez (33) - Injured since May, and even then he hasn't been any good for a while.
Bill Hall (31) - Playing okay in Boston but also is not going to be commanding a multi-million dollar salary.
Brandon Inge (34) - Two years older than Aramis with a worse bat.
Jose Lopez (27) - Solid glove, not to mention the youngest guy on this list. Too bad his bat is terrible (.264 wOBA, -19.5 wRAA).
Jhonny Peralta (29) - Working on an underwhelming season in Cleveland (.315 wOBA, 0.7 WAR)
Miguel Tejada (37) - Oldest guy on this list who is putting up his worst season since his sophomore year in 1998. The clock may have struck midnight on an excellent career.
Ty Wigginton (33) - Having an average year in Baltimore, and doesn't play third base very much anymore.

Can't say I'm exactly blown away. I could see Adrian Beltre hitting free agency again, considering he can make more than his $5 million player option and the Red Sox desire to add another bat and leave Youk and Victor Martinez at the corners. But after Beltre, Aramis Ramirez is the best 3B option, assuming he doesn't revert back to his sub-replacement level performance from the first half. The real question then becomes this: Is there a team that is going to give an over 30 third basemen with recent injury problems a long term contract worth more than $30 million?

Here is my hunch of what will happen:

Aramis exercises his player option and makes his guaranteed $14.6 million in 2011, then most likely gets bought out of his final year for $2 million and hits free agency before the 2012 season. He could once again be the big fish in a third base class that includes the likes of Casey Blake, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and God.

I'm going to have a post in the near future that details Aramis' Ramirez immediate future a little more closely, including what teams will be his most likely suitors and what he can expect financially.

Raise your hand if you can make a guaranteed $14.6 million next year.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Once a Cancer, Always a Cancer

Milton Bradley assaulted one of his teammates on the field last night.

No word yet if a suspension is coming.

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 18: This is What a Crash and Burn Looks Like

Textbook. We will discuss yesterday's epic meltdown later.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Worldwide Wes
The figurehead at the top. All decisions go through him. No one even knows what he looks like.

Maverick Carter
The brains of the operation. Brings in the money. Wes and Carter are practically invisible on the streets.

LeBron James
The enforcer, directly beneath the two at the top. Has no problem sharing the load to get what he wants

Dwyane Wade
Has an established corner that he's not giving up. Likes to think he's in charge of everything.

Chris Bosh
Third banana, has never really done anything.

Michael Beasley
About to get popped for the good of the Barksdales.

Kobe Bryant
Cold-blooded assassin from far away with a reputation. On good terms with the Barksdales, but that can change quickly.

Joe Johnson
Lone wolf with no ties to anyone. A sharp-shooter who follows the money.

Derrick Rose
Up-and-comer, viable threat to the Barksdales with something to prove.

Carlos Boozer
Rose's enforcer.

Joakim Noah

Rose's androgynous enforcer.

Amare Stoudemire
"No one else came to New York? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit, well at least I got paid."

Charles Barkley
Obese black male.

David Stern

Everyone actually works for him.

NBA Players Union

Making it easier for players in The Game to get what they want. Good intentions, questionable results.

NBA Owners

Pass the buck and pretend they are powerless when things go south, even though they're the morons calling the shots in the first place.

College basketball/NBA Draft
It's really only a matter of time before it's their turn.

General Public

Walking the fine line between desperately seeking information, and just not giving a shit

Cavaliers Fans

Just cannot catch a break in life.

Knicks Fans
Same situation as Bubbles, but you enjoy their misery.

Pretty much no reason to believe a single word they ever say about anything.

At the complete mercy of all this bullshit.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Dream Is Over

I just came home to find this waiting for me in my sink:

It was a good effort, Bulls fans, but it's clearly over.

Your Interest Interests Me

Apparently, a few weeks ago the San Francisco Giants were interested in acquiring Ryan Theriot, who is arguably the worst regular starter in the entire National League.

No, seriously. Ryan Theriot has the lowest OPS of any player in the National League who has had 300 plate appearances or more.

Ryan Theriot has the lowest cumulative WPA of any player in baseball.

Ryan Theriot has the lowest ISO of any player in baseball.

The only player in the NL with as many plate appearances as Theriot and a lower wOBA is Nyjer Morgan.

The only player in the NL with as many plate appearances as Theriot and less WAR is Raul Ibanez.


If anyone is willing to give anything for Ryan Theriot, and I mean ANYTHING, the Cubs need to jump on it. Immediately.

In fact, if you're reading this Brian Sabean, I just want you to know that to save you airfare I am offering to personally drive Mr. Theriot to San Francisco should you trade for him. All I ask is that you split gas money.

(hat tip to PFD over at Another Cubs Blog)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 5: Cubs 9, Diamondbacks 4

After a long hiatus of holiday pleasure and, well, just not giving a shit about Cubs' baseball, I'm back with the Cubs' WPA recaps you've all come to know and love.

Cubs' MVP: Sean Marshall, .126 WPA
In a game with a lot of offense, Sean Marshall earned a surprising game MVP for extinguishing any hopes of an Arizona comeback. Marshall entered the game with one out in the seventh and pitched a perfect 1.2 innings, striking out three batters.

Sean Marshall has been good this year. Like, really good. He's currently eighth in WAR amongst all relievers in baseball, fourth amongst non-closers. His ERA, FIP, xFIP, and tERA are all comfortably under 3. He's striking out more batters than ever before, getting more ground balls than ever before, and has only given up one home run all season.

Marshall became arbitration-eligible for the first time this season. The Cubs would be wise to move him this year while he's still cheap to a contender looking for bullpen help. Boston, perhaps?

Diamondbacks' MVP: Chris Young, .214 WPA
Young continued his impressive 2010 rebound campaign by reaching base four times, scoring two runs, and stealing two bases. His disastrous 2009 season where he posted a .314 wOBA is looking like a thing of the past.

Last year Young struck out over 30% of the time and had a career high 55.6 fly ball percentage. His plate discipline rates and batted ball types are once again much more in line with his 2008 numbers, a season in which he was worth 2.2 WAR in 160 games. Through 81 games this year he's been worth 2.5 WAR, good for eighth amongst all NL outfielders.

Cubs' LVP: Andrew Cashner, -.104 WPA
For the first time since his callup, Cashner pitched on consecutive days. It wasn't pretty.
Cashner threw thirteen fastballs, but only three for strikes. He entered the game in the sixth and promptly got Stephen Drew to ground out, but couldn't retire any of the next three batters.

It's been a while since Cashner has had a good outing. He's given up runs in each of his last six outings (although the two he surrendered to Pittsburgh on 6/30 were unearned).

For those of you keeping score at home, Cashner has pitched 15.1 innings during his 36 days in the bigs. He's on pace to pitch around 110 innings in 2010, a season where he needs to get to at least 150-160 innings to continue a safe progression to starting pitcher. It's a way of life.

Diamondbacks' LVP: Ian Kennedy, -.399 WPA (-.377 pitching)
Kennedy got knocked around, giving up a week's worth of Cub offense in under six innings. The former Yankee gave up seven earned runs on nine hits, including a leadoff homer to April Fukudome. He did strike out six and walk none, but giving up seven runs to this Cub offense is a tradeable offense.

Biggest Hit of the Game:
With nobody out in the fifth inning, Kelly Johnson triples home a run off Tom Gorzellany to cut the lead to two (.146 WPA). He would be stranded at third.

Biggest Hit of the Game for the Winning Team:
With two on and nobody out in the second, Starlin Castro triples home two runs to increase the Cubs' lead to three (.144 WPA).

Biggest Out(s) of the Game:
1) With runners on the corners in the third inning of a 4-1 game, Mark Reynolds grounds into an inning-ending double play (-.118 WPA).
2) After Kelly Johnson's previously mentioned RBI triple, Arizona's win probability rose to 42.1%. After four straight batters failed to drive him in from third base, their win probability had plummeted to 23.4%.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's Getting Difficult Just Telling People I Know You

If you ever wonder if certain Cub fans deserve their "misery," just read through this thread.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

White Sox Win BP Crosstown Cup

Omar Vizquel and BP CEO Tony Hayward display their trophy at the team's championship parade just outside U.S. Cellular Field Sunday afternoon.

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago White Sox won the first annual BP Crosstown Cup this weekend, defeating the Chicago Cubs twice and winning the season series 4-2. The Cup, sponsored by British Petroleum, was awarded to the Sox after their clinching victory Saturday night. Afterwards, White Sox players were eager to pledge their support for BP.

"We really wanted to win this one for Tony (Hayward)," said White Sox designated hitter Omar Vizquel. "He said he wants his life back. Hopefully this will get him a little bit closer."

"I really hope British Petroleum paid a lot of money for this sponsorship," White Sox GM Kenny Williams added. "Like, a LOT of money. Better here than that little spill people keep talking about. I don't see what paying claims to some guy who used to catch shrimp has to do with baseball."

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen added, "F$#@! s&;^*, and ^$$@!, you know? %**^!"

After looking horrible the first two games at U.S. Cellular Field, the Cubs pulled off an impressive 8-6 victory on Sunday to save face. Fans of the team were relieved to hear from the team's manager that their incompetence over the weekend wasn't so much bad baseball as it was a political protest.

"Look, we wanted no part of that Cup, and I think we demonstrated that with our play on the field," said Cubs' skipper Lou Piniella. "We didn't actually try to win a game until we knew the White Sox had clinched it. Sure, we won at Wrigley when Lilly almost threw a no-hitter, but we didn't even get a damn hit until the seventh inning ourselves. Then Marmol tried like hell to blow it in the ninth. We pretty much won that game by accident."

Also of note, President Barack Obama made a phone call to the White Sox clubhouse Sunday morning before their finale with the Cubs to express how proud he is of his hometown team for winning The Cup. He also admitted the exciting crosstown series in his home town has made him reconsider his handling of BP's oil spill.

"Look, if there's one thing I've shown consistently throughout my presidency, it's that I like sports. They're like, ahh, super important to me. I mean, three days after I gave that speech from the Oval Office about how I wouldn't rest until the spill had been resolved, I was sitting in a sky box watching my White Sox. They never come to Washington, I just figured it would be okay.

"After I phoned the team, I talked to Tony Hayward and let him know he doesn't have to set aside any money in that silly escrow account we talked about. I know he's good for it. If he's got the White Sox' back, that's all I need."

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said after the game that he was so thrilled clutching a piece of hardware endorsed by British Petroleum that he hopes to expand sponsored rivalry trophies to other opponents.

"We're in talks right now with the Minnesota Twins and Phillip Morris to get a nice gold platter to give to whichever team wins more games that season. Kinda like what they do at Wimbledon, except it'll look more like an ashtray.

"We're also working on a Nike-sponsored 'Child Labor Night' at the ballpark where all the ushers and vendors are the kids of season ticket holders, and they'll work for no pay with no bathroom breaks. But we may have to wait another year for that one."

Cubs' owner Tom Ricketts was also asked what he thought of adding more sponsored rivalry trophies to his team's schedule.

"Who is this again? Sorry, I'm kind of a fucking moron," he said.

You Know What, Let's Just Have Fun Out There

Per Paul Sullivan, after yesterday's loss dropped the team to ten games under .500:

The Cubs lost the BP Cup and Saturday's game, but the mood in the clubhouse was upbeat without Carlos Zambrano around.
Well as long as they're having fun, who cares? I mean, that's all you can really ask from a professional baseball organization.
After a great losing effort, Lou Piniella announces to the team 
they're all going out for ice cream.*

*Not pictured: the latin faction, now leaderless

Damn You, Physics!!

Cashner was pumping HEAT last night...

...but when you make solid contact with a 100 mph fastball, it's going to go a long ways.

Still, Cub fans have to be pleased that Cashner is only getting 2-3 innings a week out of the bullpen on a team that never has a lead.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Request to Mr. Selig

The White Sox have won nine games in a row against the National League, and are 13-2 in interleague play. They're three games over .500 for the first time this season, and trail the Twins by 2.5 games.

At 37-34, they'd be just three games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central.

The Cubs are 31-40, nine games out of first and only six ahead of last. They're 6-8 against the American League this year.

Eventually the White Sox will have to stop playing AAAA teams and face the harsh reality that they are members of a superior baseball league. While they certainly hit like an NL Central team (.322 team wOBA, 22nd in baseball and 10th in the American League), their pitching has been elite. Their 3.86 FIP is the best in the American League as is their 4.12 xFIP, and their 7.53 K/9 is tops in the AL by a full strikeout.

This is a team that might actually matter if they switched leagues. They're essentially the San Francisco Giants of the AL, putting up similar numbers but doing so against superior competition.

The Cubs, on the other hand, are hopeless. The only way to make the 2010 season watchable at this point is a full fledged FIRE SALE, followed by a 60-65 win season that nets the team the first overall pick in the 2011 draft. The Cubs would be in position to select an impact player, like Rice 3B Anthony Rendon or TCU pitcher Matt Purke or UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole to name a few. They'd have their choice.

Or they could draft a fourth round talent with the first pick and it would be hilarious. But either way, it'd be something.

By playing their remaining 91 games in the puny National League, the Cubs run the risk of getting "hot" and finishing around .500 by season's end. We can't take that chance.

Mr. Selig, hockey season is over in Chicago and the Hawks are already facing difficult decisions regarding fan favorites from the Stanley Cup champions. The Bulls are certainly in the LeBron sweepstakes but they are by no means a lock to land King James in free agency, and the last time the Bulls went fishing for a hot trio of free agents they caught Ron Mercer. The Bears are still months away and quite frankly, they'll probably suck again.

Swap these two teams, Mr. Selig. Make Chicago baseball interesting again. We don't ask for much.

"Look, what do you want me to do?"