Showing posts with label Carlos Silva. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carlos Silva. Show all posts

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cubs make errors in field, judgement

From the You've Got to be Kidding Me Department, Carlos Silva got into a dugout altercation with Aramis Ramirez during the Cubs' spring training loss to the Brewers on Wednesday, proving that no game is meaningless enough to prevent a Cub from being a hotheaded douchebag. Silva refused to talk to the media after the incident, making it impossible to know whether he was angry with his teammates for making three errors in one inning, or at himself for giving up two home runs in his first spring training start as he attempts to grab a spot in the starting rotation.

The Cubs made five errors Wednesday, bringing their four-game spring training total to 14. This might be the first time Mike Quade is happy he suffers from alopecia, because he's probably realizing that one season as Cubs manager would have made his hair fall out anyways.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Week 23 awards: It's all about divisional play (and guys named Carlos)

The Cubs are 5-10 against Houston this season with three games remaining against them. As you might painfully recall, they are also 5-10 against the lowly Pirates. Divisional play has killed the Cubs all year--they're 28-42 against the Central, just two games better than those Pirates. The first-place Reds have dominated divisional foes, going 42-25 including a 12-4 mark against the Cubs.

Granted, the Cubs' real problem is that they suck against, you know, everyone, but you absolutely have to take care of business in your own division if you want to have a successful season. On the bright side, the Cubs are 9-6 against the Brewers.

Ryno of the Week: Carlos Zambrano, you are one confusing son of a bitch. Not only did he post another good start this week, he went 8.2 innings. My eternal quibble with Zambrano is his high pitch counts and short outings, so I was amazed to see him come one out from a complete game. But since he couldn't get that final out, Carlos Marmol mopped up for one of his three saves this week. He's saved nine straight without a blown save, is 30/35 overall on the season, and still has a ridiculous K/9 inning rate of 15.83. You think he might get a raise on his $2.125 million salary in arbitration this winter? The Cubs may want to consider inking him to a long-term deal, says the Bleacher Report.

Honorable mentions: Ryan Dempster, Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney

Goat of the Week: He hadn't pitched in over a month, so this probably isn't real fair. But taking out the shortened start in which he had to leave due to injury, Carlos Silva has had four straight starts of five innings or less, and has allowed five runs or more in three of them. Five starts ago, his ERA was 2.96; now it's 4.22. In fairness, 10-6 with a 4.22 ERA is better than most of us would have predicted before the season.

Dishonorable mentions: Blake DeWitt, Alfonso Soriano

Monday, July 26, 2010

Week 16 awards: Cubs go 1-2 on unjustified three-week ESPN run

Does ESPN not have access to the MLB standings? Despite being in fourth place, the Cubs found themselves in prime time the last three Sundays. They actually made ESPN's decision look good the last two weeks, beating Roy Halladay and then engaging in an exciting duel against Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals. Unfortunately they couldn't quite pull it out last night to finish off what would have been their first home sweep since a two-gamer against the Rockies back in May.

The 3-3 week went according to script with the Cubs playing down to a bad team and getting their act together against a good one; they're now 7-17 against the Astros, Pirates and Nationals but are 9-5 against the Cardinals, Phillies and Rockies.

Overall the offense fared well yet again, sparked by the solid play of the two sub-25-year-olds at the top of the order. The team is third in the majors in runs during the month of July (guess who's first, I dare you ... nope, it's the Giants) and second in home runs. If only the young guys in the bullpen were half as good as the Cubs' young hitters.

Ryno of the Week: Starlin Castro has been raking. He hit nearly .500 this week and is batting over .380 this month. He's over .300 for the season, in fact, and piled up stats this week like Nicolas Cage piles up painfully bad movies--six RBI, four runs, four doubles and two stolen bases over the last seven days.

Honorable mentions: Aramis Ramirez (who leads the majors in HR and RBI this month), Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee, Randy Wells

Goat of the Week: Oh, Carlos Silva. I haven't completely turned on you yet, but I'm definitely worried. In Silva's last two starts, his ERA has almost gone up more than his innings pitched (ERA up 0.9, innings pitched = 2.1). He'll get another shot against the Astros tonight after lasting just one inning against them last Monday.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cubs "ace" throws up, throws well

AP photo

8-0, 2.93 ERA

Those, my friends, are the numbers of Carlos Silva. What are we supposed to make of this? What kind of twisted, incomprehensible world are we living in? Those numbers are more mysterious than the numbers from Lost. They don't make sense. They hurt my brain, but in a good way.

The Tribune reported that Silva was battling the stomach flu yesterday and was constantly trying to throw up between innings. He did so at one point, but his illness did nothing to prevent him from another great outing.

Here are a few more numbers for you, because I just can't help myself:

  • Silva is owned in 84 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. Many people thought he wouldn't make the team, let alone most fantasy team owners' rosters. Eight-four percent is more than Derek Lowe, Raul Ibanez and Orlando Hudson.
  • Silva now has eight quality starts this season; he had 11 the last two seasons combined.
  • He has won six straight starts.
  • He is not only effective, but efficient. He has only reached the 100-pitch mark twice all year, in each of his last two starts.
  • His WHIP is 1.06, fifth in the NL and just slightly worse than that of Ubaldo Jimenez (0.93). Jimenez is the only NL pitcher with more wins than Silva.
Pat Hughes referred to Silva as the Cubs' ace during yesterday's radio broadcast. I'm freakin' out, man. The snozberries taste like snozberries.

By the way, I think this calls for a Milton Bradley update: he's hitting .212 with three home runs and 21 RBI.

The Cubs still managed to waste some prime scoring opportunities yesterday, but they piled up double-digit hits (10) for the third straight game and put up enough runs to get the win. Marlon Byrd is scorching hot right now with four straight multi-hit games, and it was nice to see Soto come up with a couple knocks.

Interesting factoid: Did you know that it is in fact within the rules of Major League Baseball for Ryan Theriot to draw a walk? No, seriously, I looked it up! And he proved it with two walks Monday, giving him 10 on the year. The Cubs drew six walks in all yesterday, which was nice to see since they are 13th in the league in that category.

One final note: it really seems like the bullpen might be rounding into form. I mentioned yesterday that they allowed just one earned run all of last week, and yesterday Jeff Stevens and Sean Marshall combined for two scoreless innings. At the moment, there's no one Lou could summon from the 'pen who would really worry me: Howry? Perfect as a Cub (though I do acknowledge that could change in a hurry). Stevens has a 0.00 ERA. Russell has a 2.70 ERA, 14 K and just 3 walks. Gorzelanny? Tough to know how he'll transition to relief, but he was solid as a starter. Cashner has looked great, and we know what Marshall and Marmol have done. I don't know how long this feeling will last, but it's nice not to pee my pants a little every time Lou comes out of the dugout.

Next up are the Brewers, against whom the Cubs are 5-1 this year. They'll have to face Gallardo tonight, but it will get easier after that with Randy Wolf (4.66 ERA) and Dave Bush (4.97) taking the mound.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Week eight awards: Meh

The Cubs kept their momentum by taking two of three against LA, but their mojo ran out at the hands of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Two one-run duds were sandwiched around yet another win by Carlos Silva, and the week ended with the Cubs in pretty much the same position they were in when the week started. That's been the team's tendency at home this season; their four homestands have looked like this:


They just can't seem to put together any type of streak at home, mostly because they can't score runs consistently. This was a bit of a strange week in that despite scoring just 16 runs in six games, the Cubs won three times by shutting out their opponents in each win. While Derrek Lee and Mike Fontenot heated up a bit, most of the hitters were ice cold. Averages from last week:

Byrd: .238
Fukudome: .222
Castro: .217
Soto: .214
Theriot: .160
Soriano: .111

It's hard for a team to get hot when two-thirds of the order is batting like ... well, like Aramis Ramirez. Perhaps it's time to see more of Tyler Colvin? Please? And perhaps it's well-past time to move Ramirez down in the order? Might I suggest 10th?

Ryno of the Week: Ted Lilly looked great and deserved a win when he helped the Cubs beat the Dodgers 1-0, but Carlos Silva edges him out because of this stellar in a very important game against the Cardinals: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K. His performance ultimately prevented a sweep, and Silva became the first Cubs starter to begin a season 7-0 since Ken Holtzman went 9-0 in 1967.

Honorable mentions: Derrek Lee, Mike Fontenot

Goat of the Week: The choices for this "award" on the offensive side were detailed above. John Grabow also threw his name in the hat by allowing five earned runs in two appearances, and then he was placed on the DL with what I believe is being called a "strained ability to pitch effectively in the major leagues." But overall, I have to go with Ryan Theriot who reached base in just 19 percent of his plate appearances and has a .313 OBP for the season. One could say his job is to "set the table," but instead, he's been getting up halfway through dinner and angrily knocking all the plates and glasses off the table.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Can we call it a comeback?

It's hard to fathom that Carlos Silva has been a productive member of the Cubs' pitching staff through the first quarter of the season. When the Cubs acquired him in December in exchange for Milton Bradley, he had two positives going for him: he was a warm body, and the move saved the Cubs about $6 million.

Jeff Baker at the Seattle Times opined:
This is a huge deal for the Mariners. It's a no-brainer.
From Larry Stone at the same paper:
I understand why the Mariners are making this move -- Silva has absolutely no role on the team any more after two disastrous seasons and little hope for a turnaround. He went 4-15, 6.46 in 2008, and was 1-3, 8.60 in eight games in '09, spending most of the year on the disabled list. Bradley, at least, is healthy and can be very productive when he's focused and happy.
The blog Jorge Says No! added:
It has come to this. The Cubs were forced to take on one of the worst contracts in baseball just to get Milton Bradley off their hands. On one hand they should be celebrating that Milton is gone and they got some savings in return, but Carlos Silva has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball over the past two years.
I'm not trying to hammer these writers. Rather, their thoughts are representative of what pretty much every baseball fan thought about the trade. The Cubs had an albatross on their hands, were admittedly desperate, and agreed to take on a different albatross in exchange for their own. As Stone said, the man had an ERA over six the last two years--how else were we supposed to view the trade?

Brian Brennan, always looking for a way to snag an extra six-pack, tried to take advantage of Trevor Sierra's eternal optimism by betting him that Silva wouldn't even make the Cubs' Opening Day roster. Who could blame him? Silva was basically throwing batting practice the last two seasons--there's no spot on the 25-man roster for the batting practice guy.

But of course he did make the team, and now he's 5-0 with a 3.35 ERA. The Cubs are 7-1 in his starts. What in the world is going on here? Should we feel confident that he's back to his old form, or is this just a mirage, much like the thousands of people Milton Bradley sees yelling at him when he goes to bed at night? Let's take a quick look at his history.

While Silva was just plain awful with Seattle, he was offered a four-year, $48 million contract for a reason. From 2004 through 2007 with the Twins, he won at least nine games each year, had three seasons in which his ERA was 4.21 or lower, and amassed at least 180 innings all four years. (Not exactly a reason to dole out nearly $50 mil, but solid nonetheless.)

But even when he had success in Minnesota, lefties did significantly more damage against him than righties. In all four seasons, his WHIP and HR/9 were much higher against lefties. But when he went to Seattle, lefties really banged him around:

2008 vs LH: .348/.381/.555, 2.19 BB/9, 4.37 K/9, 44.5% GB%, 14.6% HR/FB%, .355 BABIP
2009 vs LH: .380/.436/.718, 3.94 BB/9, 2.25 K/9, 48.5% GB%, 21.1% HR/FB%, .359 BABIP

(hat tip: Dave Cameron, FanGraphs)

But so far this year, it's been a much different story:

2010 vs LH: .212/.264/.273, 2.45 BB/9, 5.89 K/9, 43.4% GB%, 4.5 HR/FB%, .247 BABIP

His WHIP against lefties is significantly lower than that against righties, and five of the six home runs he's allowed this season were to right-handed hitters. That FanGraphs article points out that Silva has altered his pitch selection to southpaws: he's using his changeup 40 percent of the time against lefties and 29 percent of the time overall, compared to 15 percent last year. Going away from his sinker has increased his fly ball rate, but to this point it hasn't hurt him. When the weather turns warm and the wind starts blowing out, this strategy could backfire.

Perhaps Silva is more comfortable throwing his changeup because he changed his position on the rubber prior to the season. From an emotional standpoint, it also seems entirely possible that he's been positively affected by his mother's presence here in the U.S. (see?)

Now, if Silva was going to have a misleadingly strong month, it would be April. He's 17-7 in that month in his career, easily the best record of any month. He also hasn't pitched in the NL since 2003, which means hitters don't have a good scouting report on him yet. There's also no question that his performance has regressed here in May. Probably the worst comparison to be found (in terms of being optimistic about his future performance) is the one originally posted at and then by Brian in the comments section of this blog:

Carlos Silva in first 6 starts of 2010:
3-0, 6 GS, 36 IP, 3.50 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, 7 BB, 24 K

Carlos Silva first 6 starts of 2008:
3-0, 6 GS, 42 IP, 2.79 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, 9 BB, 18 K

Carlos Silva in 2008 after those 6 starts:
1-15, 22 GS, 111 IP, 7.84 ERA, 1.760 WHIP, 23 BB, 51 K

All in all, it seems likely that Silva will continue to regress at least a little: he's never finished a season as a starter with an ERA as low as 3.35; his K/9 is the highest he's ever had; and his BAbip (average on balls in play) is also the lowest he's ever had (.283), though it's not so low as to be impossible for him to maintain.

On the other hand, he seems to have made some key adjustments that could enable him to perform much closer to the levels he was accustomed to in Minnesota as opposed to the struggles he encountered in Seattle. Few if any thought he'd be in the Cubs' rotation in mid-May, but perhaps the Cubs have found a fifth starter for the next two years.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Silva pitches well, offense does just enough in 4-3 win

It's May 13, the Cubs have played over 21 percent of their schedule, and Carlos Silva is still without a loss. He bounced back from two mediocre starts and moved to 4-0 with a solid outing against the Marlins yesterday. The Cubs are 6-1 in Silva's starts and three of their four wins in May have come in games in which he took the mound. It's quite possible that Silva could retire today and we would still say two years from now that Hendry fleeced the Mariners. I'm only half joking.

The offense didn't exactly bust out of their slump, but two big doubles by Mike Fontenot and Marlon Byrd--along with a wild pitch by Chris Volstad--enabled the Cubs to eke out a victory. Derrek Lee and Starlin Castro chipped in two hits apiece, and Aramis Ramirez was given another day off. Oh, that reminds me: a quick word on Aramis Ramirez saying he's his own hitting coach. Really, Aramis? Rudy Jaramillo and his $2.4 million contract beg to differ. Look, I know you're a veteran and all, and a player who's had a great deal of success in the past. Clearly you do have a pretty good idea how to hit a baseball. But right now, you don't. Your major league-worst .159 batting average indicates that if you are your own hitting coach, you suck at it. You're fired. Luckily, the Cubs happen to have another hitting coach on hand, and it just so happens that he's been paid to work with major league hitters for the last 20 years. Maybe just have a chat with him, chew the fat, a little tete-a-tete. Maybe drop the macho "I can do it all" shtick, because you can't. Not right now, anyway.

On that note, I also think it's time for Piniella to move both Derrek Lee and Ramirez down in the batting order. It doesn't have to be permanent, of course. I still have faith that both of them will have solid seasons, but right now, they are two big black holes in the middle of the lineup. Theriot and Fukudome tend to get on base (.357 and .422 OBPs, respectively), then Lee and Ramirez strike out, pop it up, etc., and the inning ends. To wit: yesterday, Lee popped out with runners at first and second and nobody out, and grounded out with a runner at third and only one out.

After our resident minor leaguers are done stabbing a rally in the chest dozens of times, the bottom of the order does decently, but the pitcher comes up and it's all for naught once again. On Monday, Lilly's first two at bats came with runners and first and third and then with the bases loaded. Suffice to say, those situations did not work out in the Cubs' favor. Move Lee and Ramirez down until they finally get hot, Lou, and then move them back up where they can do some damage. Right now the only thing they're damaging is Ron Santo's heart.

Carlos Marmol raised Santo's blood pressure in the ninth yesterday (and mine), though he did escape with his fifth save of the season. For some reason, he seemed to be overly reliant on his slider. Against Brian Barden, he threw five sliders and one fastball. Against Gaby Sanchez, four sliders and a curveball. I haven't seen that many sliders since I got drunk and went to White Castle with a stolen credit card. He finally did strike out Hanley Ramirez looking with a fastball on the inside corner, but where was that pitch for the first five hitters of the inning? But I digress. Marmol got the job done and the Cubs avoided the sweep.

Up next are the Pirates, who were just swept by the Reds and failed to score in their last two games. Just over a week after the Cubs were embarrassed in Pittsburgh, they get a chance for some revenge.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fun with statistics
  • Starlin Castro had six RBI after three major league at-bats. The man he essentially replaced in the lineup, Mike Fontenot, had 71 at-bats before Castro's call-up. In those 71 at-bats, he had ... six RBI. Fontenot nearly doubled his season's RBI total in his 72nd at-bat of the season with a pinch-hit grand slam.
  • Aramis Ramirez has the same number of strikeouts (31) as hits and runs combined (20 + 11 = 31). Ramirez also has a lower batting average (.159) than Ryan Dempster and a lower OBP than Carlos Silva who, prior to this year, had not played in the National League since 2003.
  • Speaking of Silva, he has four quality starts this season; he had one all of last season (granted, he was injured for a significant portion of it). Silva has three wins on the season; he had five the last two seasons combined.
  • Ryan Theriot had back-to-back games with two stolen bases on April 12 and April 14. He has stolen only two other bases this season.
  • Marlon Byrd has 23 RBI this season. The man he essentially replaced, Milton Bradley, notched his 23rd RBI on July 25 of last year.
  • Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez have combined for fewer hits than Tigers rookie Austin Jackson.
  • Of the four Cubs starters with the most starts, Gorzelanny and Dempster have the best ERAs (2.83 and 3.44, respectively) but the fewest wins (1 and 2). Silva and Wells (3.50 and 4.57) have three wins each.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cubs finally find the road to victory

The Cubs scored just 319 runs on the road last year (compared to 388 at home), more than only Houston, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Every time they were in a park other than Wrigley, it seemed to be as difficult for them to score one run as it was for Frodo to trek to Mordor and destroy the ring. YOU SHALL NOT PASS ... third base. The offense constantly looked uncomfortable on the road. Or uninterested. Or unable. Definitely un-something.

Unfortunately, this trend has continued here at the beginning of the 2010 season. Nineteen runs in the first eight road games. One run combined in two games started by Jonathon Niese and Mike Pelfrey, respectively, to begin this series with the Mets. A road batting average (.195) that makes you wish Mario Mendoza was on the roster.

In fact, the Cubs had yet to score more than five runs in any road game this season. That is, until Wednesday. They finally broke out the bats, scoring nine runs by banging out 14 hits and drawing nine walks. Alfonso Soriano was 3-for-4 with a home run and came just a double shy of the cycle. He appears to be in one of his patented hot streaks--he has 13 hits in his last 28 at-bats.

On the mound, Carlos Silva continued his rather unbelievable early season success, allowing just two hits and one run in six efficient innings. There's no need to get carried away and assume Silva's name will be etched on the Cy Young Award when the season concludes, but it is worth stepping back and enjoying the apparent resurgence of a player the Mariners dumped in exchange for a guy who can't seem to count outs, and when he does, does so with his middle finger. Silva is now 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA, the latter being good for sixth in the majors. Pretty amazing, even if it is only three starts.

But Wednesday's game wasn't all positive. While I know he's the one guy we all just know is going to break out of it eventually, I'm going to allow myself a bit of worry about Aramis Ramirez. I'm honestly not sure that I've ever seen him look this bad. Normally a disciplined hitter, he has struck out in 20 of his 67 plate appearances and walked just five times. He has exactly one multi-hit game, way back on Opening Day. The Cubs' offense has had a lot of problems this year, but Ramirez's .194 OBP has to be at the top of the list.

But enough of that. The Cubs got a nice win and will look for the series split against (gulp) Johan Santana tonight. It will be a match-up of lefties with Tom Gorzelanny going for the Cubs.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Is Carlos Zambrano the Cubs' worst starting pitcher?

I have little doubt that that question rings of hyperbole, but it's not intended. I'm quite serious when I wonder if the Cubs' $18 million man is the weak link of the staff. And I'm not asking this simply because Zambrano' s 9.45 ERA is easily the worst on the staff right now, or because his WHIP is the most inferior, or because he's been okay-to-bad in all three of his starts this season. Allow me to elaborate.

First, a non-statistical reason: the most important factor for how you feel going into a baseball game is the pitching match-up. If you say to someone, "You think the Cubs will win today?" their first response will be, "Who's pitching?" And right now, I feel the worst about the Cubs' chances when Zambrano is scheduled to pitch. And it's not just this year--his struggles and inconsistency last year resulted in a rather uncomfortable feeling on days when he took the mound.

The truth is, being a Cubs fan, I overdose on optimism before pretty much any game. There are always reasons to believe that the Cubs will pull out a victory. So usually, I rev myself for any Zambrano start as well, thinking, "He'll have his good stuff today." But as soon as he inevitably goes 2-0 on the first hitter, I remember why, deep down, I was less than excited to watch him pitch.

Dempster's pitching today? Sweet. Lilly's turn in the rotation? Nice. Randy Wells is on the hill? I'll take it. Big Z's slated to go today? Hmmm ...

But maybe my feelings are unfounded, or perhaps I'm simply overreacting to his slow start. Let us explore:

After saving 85 games in three seasons as the Cubs' closer, Dempster became a starter in 2008. He surprised everyone with a 17-6 record, the result of a 1.21 WHIP and 2.96 ERA. He followed that up with a more pedestrian, but still solid, 11-9 campaign last year.

Jim Hendry brought Lilly to the Cubs from Toronto in 2007, and the consensus was that he would be serviceable but not a savior. He went 15-8 with a 3.83 ERA in 2007, won 17 more in 2008, and collected 12 wins last year while posting a career-best 3.10 ERA. He has arguably been the Cubs' best starter over the last three years.

Wells got called up to the majors last May and made a run at the Rookie of the Year award. He finished 12-10 with a tidy 3.05 ERA.

While Zambrano had at least 14 wins every year from 2004 through 2008, he gathered just nine wins last year and had a 3.77 ERA.

To recap: Lilly, Dempster and Wells all had more wins, a lower ERA, and a lower WHIP than Zambrano last season. But there's more:

I'm a HUGE proponent of the importance of going deep into games. This will be vitally important for Cubs pitchers this season given the struggles of the bullpen. Rich Harden is a great example of a pitcher who is flawed in this area--his value is severely diminished by the fact that, no matter how well he's pitching, he just can't seem to keep his pitch count down. Unfortunately, the same is true of Zambrano:

Pitcher------------Average innings per start in 2009
Silva (2007)-------------------6.12

Silva's is a very small sample size for this year, so I threw in 2007 when he had a solid season with the Twins. This year, he's averaged 6.5 IP in two starts, compared to Zambrano's 4.43 in three starts.

Zambrano is simply too wild. While this might (I repeat: might) not be true of his emotions any more, it remains true of his pitch control. He threw an absurd 121 pitches in just five innings against Milwaukee on Thursday. Even when Zambrano is going good, he doesn't match the skill set owned by pitchers like Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, or other pitchers who can be efficient on the mound.

I have one more piece of evidence in my case against Zambrano--defense. Somewhat amazingly, Big Z has made an error in all three of his starts this season. On Wednesday, he inexplicably tried to pick off 39-year-old Jim Edmonds with two outs, and threw the ball away. Edmonds would later score. I'm inclined to think that his fielding errors are really mental errors rather than an indication of limited athletic ability. But whatever they are, they represent another chink in Z's armor.

Obviously, we've all seen Carlos Zambrano at his best. Jim Hendry didn't give him five years and $91 million for no reason (and I for one did not oppose the contract extension at the time). Hopefully his first few starts this year will look like an aberration when the year is through. But for now, based on both history and the first two weeks of 2010, I think it's fair to ask: Is Carlos Zambrano the Cubs' worst starting pitcher?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Week two awards

Goat of the Week: The Cubs went 3-3 this week with their three losses coming by a total of four runs. So really, no one did all that baaaaaadly (like a goat, get it?). But for my goat, I'm going to go with Carlos Zambrano. Discounting Gorzelanny's start since he was literally knocked out of the game in the third inning, Zambrano had the worst start by any Cub last week. Though the four runs he allowed weren't that awful, he gave them up in just five innings, needing an incredible 121 pitches to get through those five innings. The bullpen was forced to work overtime, and they lost 8-6. Sadly, it wasn't even close to being Zambrano's worst start out of three this season given his Opening Day disaster. Much more on Big Z tomorrow.

Dishonorable mentions: Aramis Ramirez, Jeff Samardzija

Ryno of the Week: Marlon Byrd said he loves playing the outfield in front of Wrigley's bleacher bums, and apparently he enjoys the batter's box as well. He was 9-for-26 (.346) with one home run, five RBI and three runs scored last week. He also hit a home run about 9,000 feet on a 3-0 pitch, making me that much more confident that he's on steroids.

Carlos Silva and Ryan Dempster had strong weeks as well. Silva went seven innings on Friday, allowing two unearned runs, just five hits, no walks, and he struck out five. It's very early, but it's starting to look like Jim Hendry may have turned a steaming pile of Milton Bradley into a solid fifth starter. Dempster looks as comfortable at Wrigley as he did in '08: he was 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA last week. (Reason #800,001 that wins and losses are stupid: Dempster won last Monday while allowing five runs in 6.1 innings, but got a no-decision yesterday while allowing just one run in 7.2 innings.)

Honorable mentions: Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee

Did you know ...
  • Pirates starters have an MLB-worst 8.38 ERA. Yet the team is 7-5.
  • The highest OBP in the majors is owned by ... Scott Podsednik.
  • Jason Bay has struck out 18 times already, which is more than he has hits, home runs, RBI and stolen bases combined.
  • Trevor Sierra said Derrek Lee has been taking a lot of pitches and having good at-bats. He was right: Lee leads the NL with 4.93 pitches seen per plate appearance.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New weekly awards

I introduce to you some weekly awards that I hope to continue to dole out as the season continues. First up is the Goat of the Week, to the player who most reflected the Cubs' generally miserable and accursed existence. There were many to choose from this week, but I'm going to go with Alfonso Soriano. Three hits in 21 at-bats, no walks, six strikeouts. He also made a pathetic effort on a foul ball in Sunday's game, and then dropped a ball that was right in his glove, leading eventually to two runs and a 3-1 loss. And while this Sori excuse for a left fielder was several feet from the wall when he dropped that fly ball, he had this to say: "At the last moment, I take my eyes off the ball and just think about the wall. ... I've got to have a little stop, because I don't want to go into the wall. If you go full speed into the wall, it can be dangerous." (From the Tribune) Oh. My. God. He's making $19 million and he's openly admitting that he's afraid to run into the wall. Go play cricket, Alfonso.

While Tyler Colvin hasn't proven much yet (other than the home run in his first at-bat, he's yet to get another hit), if he has success at the plate, Lou has to consider playing Colvin in left. I was hoping Soriano's poor defense last season was a result of his knee. But now it's clear that he's just a big pansy.

Dishonorable mentions: Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot, Esmailin Caridad, John Grabow

On the positive side we have the Ryno of the Week*, which goes to the player who best exemplified the success and awesomeness of Ryne Sandberg. The Week 1 award goes to Carlos Silva (polite applause as Silva accepts the award ... Wait, no, don't eat the award, Carlos! Oh, dammit, he ate it.). Silva allowed a run just two batters into the game on Friday, but finished with six innings and just one run allowed. He also displayed one of his very un-Cub-like characteristics in his outing: efficiency. Silva pitches to contact, and did so exceptionally in his first start, needing only 71 pitches in those six innings. He was taken out of the game by Lou Piniella at that point, which absolutely enraged me. Seventy-one pitches? And then Lou went to his already overused bullpen?

But wait. According to Piniella, Silva had some shoulder stiffness which precipitated his removal. Silva says that wasn't the case, and that any discomfort he did have was a result of a play back in the 4th inning. Well, who knows, but I'm glad there was some reason Lou took him out. The way he was pitching, he may have been able to get a complete game victory in his first start with the Cubs. Who would have thought that possible one month ago when the Mariners' castaway allowed six runs in two innings in his first spring start? Who would have thought that an overweight man with an ERA over six the last two seasons, a man whom a wise friend of mine bet would not even make the Cubs' Opening Day roster, a man who once let a kitten die in his arms just to see what it would sound like (I admit that the last one is unsubstantiated) would be Week 1's Ryno of the Week (and he gets it partly because of the unexpected-ness of his success)? Keep it up, Carlos.

Honorable mentions: Carlos Marmol, Randy Wells, Kosuke Fukudome, Derrek Lee, Tom Gorzelanny

*There are three reasons I've named it thusly, all of them rather weak:

1) Ryno sounds like "rhino," which provides some animal symmetry to "goat." Goat of the Week, Rhino of the Week. Get it?
2) Ryne Sandberg was my childhood hero growing up, and of course his nickname was Ryno.
3) Sandberg is the manager for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, and there's at least a decent chance he will become the next Cubs manager. This makes him relevant today, not just back in the 80s and 90s when I followed him as a player.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Gorzelanny and Silva to begin season in starting rotation

This according to Carrie Muskat over at Gorzelanny stole the fifth starter spot from Sean Marshall--Marshall had a strong outing on Wednesday to lower his spring ERA to 1.64, but Gorzelanny followed with six strong innings yesterday to lower his ERA to 3.07. I think Marshall's career splits played a role as well (4.86 career ERA as a starter, 3.15 as a reliever). It's likely that my prediction from February 5 that Gorzelanny would start the season in the rotation played a role as well. Right? Yeah, it's likely that my prediction played a role.

Silva has had a solid spring while Jeff Samardzija (who will go to the bullpen) did not. I still don't think the Cubs will need a fifth starter until April 19 (though they may prefer one), so it will be interesting to see which back-end starter will get the bulk of the starts before Lilly returns.

Piniella also said that lefty James Russell (0.00 ERA in nine innings) is very likely to make the team as a reliever.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cubs spring training update

With less than two weeks remaining until Opening Day (shiver), the Cubs' roster stands at 40 players. Not many position battles have been officially decided, but some of the competitors have fallen by the wayside.

Starting pitcher 1: Carlos Silva and Jeff Samardzija continue to battle for one rotation spot. Silva has a 5.73 ERA, but had two consecutive solid starts before leaving yesterday's start early with a tight right quad (he's expected to be fine). Samardzija has a 9.00 ERA in just four innings of work; he'll start again today.

Starting pitcher 2: One spot will go to a lefty, which leaves Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny fighting for it. Marshall has a solid 2.57 ERA in seven innings, while Gorzelanny's is 3.12 but he's walked eight in 8.2 innings.

Bullpen: Carlos Marmol and John Grabow were locks from the start, and it appears that Esmailin Caridad has worked his way into the 'pen as well (in 8.1 innings, he has not allowed an earned run, and has one walk and seven strikeouts). With Guzman out for the year, it's very likely that the two potential starters who don't crack the rotation will make the team as relievers. Of course, when Lilly returns (hopefully in mid- to late April), one reliever might be relieved of his spot in the bullpen.

But for now, two spots remain. A few early spring candidates have been sent down in the last week or so, including Andrew Cashner, Blake Parker, Jeff Stevens, Mitch Atkins and David Patton. The latter three all saw time with the big club last season.

Remaining bullpen candidates:

John Gaub--LH; 6.75 ERA
Justin Berg--RH; 1.50 ERA
James Russell--LH; 0.00 ERA in eight innings
Mike Parisi--RH; 4.15 ERA
Jeff Gray--RH; has not been able to pitch due to a groin injury

Second base battle: Lou Piniella suggested last week that Fontenot has a leg up on the battle to be the starter at second. Fontenot is hitting .294 this spring, while Baker has struggled to the tune of .115.

Backup outfielder: Tyler Colvin is making things tough--he's batting .442 (19-for-43) with a home run and seven RBI (second only to Fontenot). Sam Fuld still has a decent shot to make the team due to his .299 average in the majors last year, but he's batting just .125 this spring. Micah Hoffpauir, who could potentially be used in the infield and outfield, is just 8-for-34 (.225) this spring.

Backup infielder: Veterans Kevin Millar (.300) and Chad Tracy (.269) continue to duke it out, and while Bobby Scales is still on the radar, his .100 average isn't helping his cause.