I share my season tickets with two other guys. This week we will be getting together to pick out who gets what games. Always makes me think of the scene from Fever Pitch when they divide tickets.
Jim Bunning is a Hall-of-Fame pitcher. I’m not old enough to remember seeing him pitch during his career, but thanks to the MLB Network I watched a game that he pitched against the Cubs (I think it was during the ’71 season) on Classic Games several months ago. He was at the end of his career, but he still showed flashes of what made him great.
After retiring from baseball, Bunning became involved in local politics. In 1977 Bunning became a city councilman before moving to the Kentucky House as a State Rep. In 1986 Jim Bunning ran for and won election as a U.S.
Representative from Kentucky’s 4th district. Then in 1998 he became Kentucky’s junior Senator and that’s where he is at today.
You can look up Bunning’s pitching stats here. But after last night, I think you need to add one more wild pitch to his career stats.
Watch the 4:14 video here as he takes a stand against extending unemployment benefits.
Bunning may be a Hall-of-Fame pitcher……………….but Senator?………….
Don’t forget to bring a glove to the ballpark in KC this season.
I just read a report that a baseball fan is suing the Kansas City Royals for $25,000 over an incident last season. According to the report, the fan sustained a detached retina after being hit in the eye by a hotdog that was thrown into the crowd by Slugger the Lion.
I know the back of your ticket warns fans to watch for flying baseballs, I guess flying hotdogs aren’t covered.
This story just reminded me of one of my favorite videos from Youtube.
Continuing my spring look at the Cubs…………………….
Ryan Dempster…. Cubs #3 Starting Pitcher
After winning 17 games in 2008, Ryan Dempster collected just 11 wins in 2009. On the surface it seemed to be a disappointing year, and it was. But the stats suggest that Dempster was just about as good in ’09 as he was in ’08.
His K/9 rate in ’09 (7.7) was similar to ’08 (8.1). He actually continued to lower his BB/9 rate for the fifth year in a row, going from 4.8 in 2005 to 2.9 in 2009. His ground ball-to-flyball ratio has remained constant and his innings per start went up slightly. The only thing that seemed to hurt him was that his HR allowed rate went up from 0.6 to 1.0 per 9. Run support was also an issue. Of the 53 NL starters that threw 140+ innings, Dempster ranking 37 in run support.
Prediction: 210 Inn, 187 K’s, 14 W’s, 3.70 ERA
Fantasy Impact: Current Mixed 5×5 ADP is 164. He is going in the same range as Ted Lilly, Scott Baker, and Roy Oswalt. For me, Dempster is the clear choice here when health is factored into the equation.
The “I didn’t know that” stat – Good thing Jason Kendall has gone to the KC Royals. He has faced Dempster more than any other batter except Lance Berkman. In 58 at-bats, Kendall is hitting .408 against Dempster. Of course maybe Ryan knows this as he has hit Kendall more (4 times) than any other batter.
When healthy, Ted Lilly will be the Cubs #2 starter.
Lilly had minor (?) off-season shoulder surgery. Although he would love to be ready by opening day, it’s looking like mid to late May are more realistic probabilities. For me, the biggest question will be; how will the time off and short prep time hurt his control.
While Lilly’s K-rate has remained steady through the years, the secret to his recent success has been the reduction in BB/9. In Toronto, Lilly was walking 4+ hitters per 9. Since joining the Cubs, Lilly has walked 2.4, 2.8, and 1.8 per 9. Keeping walks to a minimum is a must in Wrigley Field.
Last season the percentage of fly balls hit off Lilly increased to over 50% while his HR’s allowed per 9 went down from 1.4 to 1.1 (still a high total). What was the reason for fewer HR’s allowed? Could be he was just lucky or the wind was blowing in………. I don’t know. But what I do know is that you can’t afford to give up HR’s at a high rate and walk people. Lilly’s control will be the key to his season.
Prediction: 165 Inn, 131 K’s, 11 W, 4.45 ERA
Fantasy Impact: Lilly’s ADP in mixed 5×5 is currently 153. That’s 14 spots higher than Carlos Zambrano. I say pass on Lilly here and take a different pitcher or go in another direction.
“I didn’t know that stat” – During Ted Lilly’s three years with the Cubs, he is tied with Adam Wainwright for most wins in the NL with 44.
Lilly photo from ESPN.com
******** Updated *********
Talk about a perfect title for this post. I was referencing his walk rate, when no sooner did I publish this post that I read Lilly now has a knee problem. I’m not going to change my performance prediction just yet, but keep an eye on Lilly this spring and be ready to downgrade him with any further negative news.
Like most sports fans, I have become an instant expert after watching just a few games. This is why I can say after only four games that the US Men’s Olympic Curling Team needs to change its lineup. John Shuster, the Skip, is struggling with the final rock.
The US team is now 0-4 and Shuster is 0 for 4 with the final rock in game winning attempts. I know the Skip always throws last, but Jason Smith in the three hole is much more accurate right now and Shuster looks like he has had his confidence broken.
As pitchers and catchers report to camp, it’s time to start breaking down the players that will make up your 2010 Cubs. I’ll start with the pitchers and work my way through the roster.
First up: Carlos Zambrano
This past winter Carlos Zambrano was the subject of trade rumors involving the Yankees, according to published reports. But the Yankees went on to sign Javier Vazquez and Zambrano reiterated his desire to stay in Chicago and play out his remaining 3year, $53mil contract. Considering Carlos has a no-trade clause, if he wants to stay, he stays. CNBC.com
Carlos will begin his tenth season as the Cubs number 1 starter, but will he finish there? For a couple of years now I have been predicting that the high number of innings that Zambrano threw at an early age will come back to hurt him. And last year he did have his lowest innings (169) total since ’02 due to two DL stints, but neither was arm related. That might help him this year.
Zambrano’s biggest problem through the years has been his lack of control, both with the strike zone and his personality. Last season he was slightly worse than his career numbers with 4.15 BB/9 compared to 4.05. But his strikeouts (8.1/9) however returned to 2005/6 levels.
At age 28 (yes he’s still just 28); Carlos should just be entering the prime of his career. If he can stay healthy and throw just a few more strikes (????), I’m predicting a return to ace status.
Prediction: 203 Inn, 181 K, 17 W, 3.68 ERA
Fantasy Impact: Current ADP in mixed 5×5 is 167. If my prediction is good, Zambrano is great value here.
“I didn’t know that stat” – Carlos Zambrano is 5th on the Cubs all-time Strikeout list with 1324 and will move up to second with just 108 more K’s
Right on the money with my pick of Sugar being the first Hero out.
See my picks here.
Taken from an email I received today from Cubs.com:
The Inaugural MasterCard ® First Chance Pre-Sale offers Chicago Cubs fans the first opportunity to purchase individual tickets at a premium for all Cubs home games, including Opening Day, in advance of the February 19th on-sale date.
Starting Monday, February 15th at 10am CT, fans will have first access to all Chicago Cubs 2010 regular season home games by going to Cubs.com and paying a 20% premium on the face value of the ticket. However, if you use a MasterCard card during this Pre-Sale promotion you will save 5% on the pre-sale price.
Looks like the Cubs are scalping their own tickets at a 20% clip until official sales begin on the 19th.
But what makes it small ball?
My first inclination was to think of the stolen base. Surely the NL must run more to manufacture runs. Nope.
In 7 of the last 10 years American League teams have attempted more SB’s per game than NL teams. Now some might want to attribute that to the extra hitter (DH) per game. But I don’t think so. Over the past 10 years AL teams have attempted 0.836 SB’s per game compared to 0.808 for the NL. The difference of 0.028 per game equates to 4.536 SB’s per 162 games. With 14 teams in the AL that multiplies out to 63.5 stolen bases for DH’s. Looking at last year’s numbers, it appears that AL DH’s stole appox 35 bases. Even if you give them credit for 63 steals, the AL would have stolen just as many bases as the NL.
Maybe it’s all the homeruns? Nope.
Over the last 10 years AL teams have hit 1.095 HR’s per game, NL teams hit 1.055. So, they do hit more homers, but not as many as you would think considering the use of the DH. In fact it averages out to just 6.5 HR’s per season per team. That’s not much.
How about the sacrifice bunts (SH)? Maybe!
Over the past 10 years AL teams have average 0.224 SH’s per game while the NL has had 0.429. Clearly the NL is bunting runners over more, but really it’s just the pitchers. NL pitchers had 671 SH’s last year, 0.18 per game. Subtract that percentage from the overall NL percentage (0.429 – 0.18 = 0.249) and it looks a lot like the AL total.
Of course you can’t take away the pitchers because they do bat and they did bunt. But really, other than the fact that your number 9 hitter can’t hit and is essential forced to give up at bats with a bunt. Both leagues really play the same.