Friday, May 15, 2009

Checking in on Kosuke

If you've seen any stat from Kosuke Fukudome's 2008, it's his average splits. Every month, Kosuke got fewer and fewer hits.

Fukudome had a torrid April, in which he just absolutely knocked the cover off the ball. How's May going so far in comparison?

April: .338/.461/.592
May: .343/.465/.486

In a word: good.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Milwaukee Loves Pittsburgh

How did the Brewers all of a sudden pass the Cubs in the NL Central standings?

Hint: the current headline at their website is, "Brewers win 17th in a row over Bucs."

Answer: Scheduling, son!

Sure, they managed to snag a couple of road series wins along the way, most notably a three-gamer in Philadelphia. But those series wins weren't nearly as helpful as the five Ws the Brewers got from playing the league's worst team.

Remind you of anyone? Like, say the Cubs from April 2008? We had a record that was something like six games above .500, if I'm not mistaken--and had gone 6-0 against the Pirates in the month.

Milwaukee sucks. We're gonna torch them after a couple more months of good baseball.

Bring on the Pirates!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Gathright = useless.

Joey Gathright is about as useful as a poopy-flavored lollipop.

Soto is almost certainly hurting.

And Derrek Lee will have better numbers than James Loney this year.

That is all.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chicago Cubs Position Battle: Micah Hoffpauir or Derrek Lee?

It's early, but already there's been all kinds of press regarding Derrek Lee's slow start at first base.

Most Cubs fans know that Lee was at one point a very capable middle-of-the-order hitter. They fell in love in 2005, during a career year. Since then, the picture hasn't been nearly as pretty, as three-year declines in power are never a good sign.

To begin this season, Lee is hitting a paltry .217/.283/.348 through 11 games. Of course, this is an extremely small sample size. Furthermore, Lee's not alone in terms of slow-starting Cubs hitters. Free agent pick-up Milton Bradley and 2008 Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto have combined for only three hits so far.

But Bradley and Soto aren't as worrisome because they're aren't as high a risk to be in the declining portion of their professional careers. Bradley's numbers have continually been trending up over the past several years, and Soto is still a young dude. Neither of these hitters have three-year declines in power weighing them down at the plate.

Nor do they have 29-year old lefty sluggers breathing down their necks.

Lee's hold on the starting first base job is being threatened by Micah Hoffpauir. Micah is 5-for-14 against righties this season, with two doubles to boot. His success against righties might force Lou Piniella to give some of Lee's at-bats to Hoffpauir when the team is facing a right-hander.

It's interesting to look at what a Lee-Hoffpauir platoon might be able to produce. Adding Lee's appearances against lefties to Hoffpauir's stats against right-handers generates a slash-line of roughly .421/.450/.526, an excellent line indeed.

If Lee's role in the offense is diminished any time soon (either fewer at-bats, or a drop in the line-up), it will be interesting to see what Lou does with his line-ups. A team that used just one left-handed bat in last year's NLDS will now be able to use up to four in a given line-up. Against righties, Lou may use a line-up something like:


If Lee is dropped in the order against righties, it would seem to make sense for him to hit in the 5th spot, giving us a line-up of:


We'll see what happens, I guess.

Positional changes that must be made

We are two weeks into the season - it feels like a lot more than that because it's the 20th of April - and already snap judgments are being made. Players that busted their butts to make the roster are already on the bubble to get dropped. Guys that surprisingly won starting jobs are already on the brink of losing them. In other words, baseball is harsh and often unfair.

On the Cubs the lineup remains set, even though a few players are dramatically underperforming. Probably the one who is on the biggest bubble is Mike Fontenot. After two weeks he's batting in the low .200's. Luckily the biggest challenger to his job legitimately sucks - Aaron Miles. We're going to assume that Lou does in fact have the brains that God gave him and isn't entertaining the idea of abandoning Lil' Babe Ruth for the bench in favor of the Switch Hitting Sultan of Suck. But who on the Cubs is at the brink of prematurely losing their gig?

Neal Cotts - On GROTA I recently voiced my belief that Cotts knows exactly what Lou's shoutin' voice sounds like. The only thing saving his ass is the complete lack of alternatives. There's not even another lefty reliever on the Cubs 40 man roster according to In Triple A, there are two options - Jason Waddell (0.00 ERA in 4 IP) and J.R. Mathes (9.64 ERA in 4.2 IP of work)

Kevin Gregg - Gregg is not on the brink of getting ejected from the team, but he is on the bubble of losing his closer's role to Carlos Marmol. The one thing that leads me to believe Lou will give him some more time is the way Gregg stepped in to stop the bleeding on Saturday against the Cardinals.

Oddly enough, the "real" bubble guys - Joey Gathright and Dave Patton, who were respectively the 24th and 25th men on the roster - are probably safe, despite mediocre-so-far results. But the Cubs probably will need to find another lefty sometime soon, and they will especially need to re-evaluate how they back up Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Theriot. Another back-up type who can cover the left side of the infield may prove to be more valuable than speedy Joey Gathright.