Back in March I wrote a post about a quote that I had read
from Nolan Ryan. You can read it HERE.
Basically Ryan said that the Rangers should win 92 games
this year. I questioned his opinion. Well with four games remaining in the 2010
season, the Rangers sit at 88 wins. They still have a shot at Ryan’s
But no matter what happens, the Rangers have had a good
season and will go into the playoffs next week as the AL West Champions.
Last week San Francisco pitcher Tim Lincecum struck out his
200th batter on the season. It was the third time in his career that
he has passed the 200 strikeout mark. He is now one of seven active pitchers that
have struck out 200+ batters in a season three times or more. It’s clear that
he is one of the dominate strikeout pitchers of today, but can we gleam anything
about his future from these first four seasons?
I wanted to look just at K’s. This is the 3rd
time in his first four seasons that Lincecum has passed the 200 K mark. I
wanted to compare him to all the other pitchers that struck out 200+ batters
three times or more in their first four seasons. For some reason, I just
assumed that it would be a large sample size and that I would be able to further
breakdown the comparison. I was quite surprised to find that only 6 other
pitchers had accomplished this feat since 1901. Of course as I thought about it
there are several reasons why the list is so short, the main one being that not
many pitchers get an opportunity to pitch enough in the first couple years of their
career to reach 200 K’s.
But, be that as it may, there are still six others that have
done it. So, can it tell us anything about Lincecum?
All six are names that you know, but only one is a HOFer
(another one should be). Here is the list.
As I look at the list, I realize that the sample is way to
small to “predict” Lincecum’s future. You have two great pitchers, Seaver and Blyleven.
One, Langston that had a solid but not spectacular career. Gooden, a great
young pitcher that had problems off the field. Nomo was an import from Japan
that was already in the middle of his professional career. And Kerry Wood, a
kid with a great arm and tremendous stuff that just refused to change his horrible
pitching motion until his elbow snapped.
There is just no way to compare Lincecum to these guys to
get a predictive outcome. And yet, maybe the lack of sample size is the
comparison. When I went back to see how many pitchers had struck out 200 or
more batters twice in their first four years, I expected the number to be over
100. I was shocked to find that only 19 pitchers, including Lincecum, had accomplished
the feat. Six are in the HOF, Blyleven will probably make it in January, and
Roger Clemens is on the list. Nearly half of the list is a top flight HOF type
Maybe just the mere rareness of the feat is the predictive
value. I don’t know.
I do know this. I watched Greg Maddux’s career from the very
beginning with the Cubs and I will happily tell stories to future grand kids
about him and the way he pitched. And now I’m going to start paying more
attention to Tim Lincecum.
The Cubs start their final home stand tonight and they do it
right in the middle of a playoff push. Not theirs of course, the Giants. San Francisco
is a half game ahead of the Padres in the NL West and they come to town looking
to sweep the Cubs. Unfortunately for them, they meet Chicago at the hottest the
Cubs have been all season. The Cubs have won 6 in a row, 8 of 10, and are now
17-7 under Mgr. Mike Quade.
It’s kinda hard to believe that the season is coming to an
end. I mean, it’s been a long difficult season and it seems like months since
the Cubs have been out of the race, but I also feel like it was just days ago
that I was sitting in Wrigley on Opening Day thinking that this could be the
year. And I really thought that. Looking back now, that seems crazy considering
all the holes in the Cubs roster, but I guess it’s the curse of being a Cub
fan. You always think that this is the year. Well, obviously, this wasn’t the
year. I’m not ready to write the post-mortem on the season just yet, but with
the final week of home games about to start, realization of another lost season
is starting to hit home.
I must be watching too much tv. I thought for sure that as
pale as Tyler Colvin is, he must be a vampire ( not that there is anything
wrong with that).
But after being impaled by a broken bat yesterday, I guess
we know he’s not.
Starlin Castro returned to the lineup last night. Barring
injury, you can expect to see Castro in the lineup every game from here on out.
Right now Castro is hitting .309, that would put him at
sixth in the National League but he currently doesn’t have enough plate
appearances to qualify for the batting title. It takes 502 PA to qualify,
Castro has 441 right now. With 15 games remaining, Starlin needs 61 more PA’s,
basically 4 per game which should not be a problem batting in the two-hole.
Just to put Castro’s season in perspective. If he were to
finish the season at his current .309, that would be the fourth highest batting
average for any first year player qualifying for the batting title since the
divisional era began. The only averages higher were Ichiro (.350) in 2001,
Pujols (.329) in 2001 and Chris Coghlan (.321) last year.
On the down side, Castro committed his 26th error
last night. The kid has a great arm and can catch the ball, it’s just seems that
sometimes he is too casual with his play and that leads to “unforced errors”.
On the whole, Starlin Castro has had a wonderful rookie
season and should be a mainstay in the Cubs lineup for years to come.
The “I didn’t know that” stat- The highest batting average for a first year
player that qualified for the batting title was .373 by George Watkins in 1930.
Watkins played seven years in the majors with four different teams. Watkins
only topped .300 one more time in his career and finished with a lifetime .288
Over the last week I’ve read several blogs and articles
about Pete Rose. For those that are not aware, last week was the 25th
anniversary of Pete’s record breaking single to pass Ty Cobb on the all-time
hit list. Commissioner Selig allowed the Cincinnati Reds to have a special ceremony
honoring Rose and let Pete take part in the event. As you know, Rose is not
allowed to be a part of MLB in any way without approval from the Commish.
After the event, a Roast was held for Pete Rose. Several
ex-teammates of Rose were in attendance. According to reports, when Pete spoke
at the end of the event he gave a heartfelt and remorseful speech during which
he broke down in tears and apologized to family, friends and teammates for his
The events on the field in Cincinnati and the Roast
following have once again started talk about Rose and his lifetime ban from
baseball. But talk is all it will ever be while Bud Selig is on charge. I don’t
believe Selig will ever reinstate Rose. There may have been a time when it was
possible, but the way Rose handled his confession and the release of his book, My Prison Without Bars, just days before
the HOF announcement in 2004 really ended any chance Pete had with Selig.
My opinion: Pete should not be
allowed back into baseball in an official capacity, but he should be in the
HOF. Here’s why.
Pete broke the single most important rule of the game. A
rule that goes to the very heart of the sport, any sport, which is, the
integrity of the play on the field. I know that some people claim that he only
bet his team to win, and this may be true. But it ignores what impact that zeal
to win his bet today may have had on his actions as manager yesterday or tomorrow.
Did he not pitch Dibble yesterday in a crucial situation because he knew he
wanted him available for today? Did he give Concepcion the day off yesterday
because he wanted Davey ready for today? I don’t know the answers to those questions,
and that’s the problem. If I can’t be sure that everything I’m watching on the
field is done in an attempt to win the game today, then I can’t believe that
the game is legit. Pete had direct influence over the integrity of the game and
that can’t be allowed to happen again.
As for the HOF. Pete Rose was a great player. I don’t think
that has ever been in dispute. In fact I would love to meet the guy that does
try and argue against Pete’s play. I had the pleasure to see Pete play several
times in person and hundreds of times on tv and he was one of the players that
you always wanted to see bat.
At Wrigley today, I time my bathroom breaks around seeing
the Cubs bat and then guys like Pujols or Dunn or Howard. Back then, I never
wanted to miss Rose. Nobody did.
The HOF is a museum. It’s there to preserve and record the
history of baseball. Pete Rose, and all that comes with him, is a part of that
history. A huge part. We can’t just write-out the parts we don’t like, this isn’t
a Texas schoolbook. Pete Rose the player should be honored in the Hall. But we
also need to recognize what he did in terms of gambling and his suspension. A generation has now passed since Pete played,
if we don’t do something now to acknowledge Rose, he will eventually be known
more for gambling on the game than he will be for playing it.
Tonight they go for the three game sweep of the Cardinals.
The best I can tell, the Cubs haven’t taken three in a row in St Louis since
the late 80′s (I need to verify that stat).
I actually didn’t see any of the game. I was mostly watching
the White Sox. They were taking on the Twins in the first of three games for
what is basically the AL Central crown. The Sox had a 3-2 lead after six before
giving up 2 in the seventh and 5 more in the eighth. Final score, 9-3 Twins. As much as the Cubs
have helped end the Cardinals season, the Twins really closed the door on the
Sox last night. Barring a complete collapse, both the Twins and Reds will be
representing the central divisions in the playoffs.
If you can’t win it all, what’s the next best thing?
Preventing someone else from winning it all, particularly if
that someone else is the Cardinals, Mets, or especially the Cardinals.
Last night the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija put a big dent in
the hopes of St Louis fans by beating the Cardinals 5-1. At the same time, the
Reds were finishing off the Diamondbacks 7-2 to extend Cincinnati’s lead in the
NL Central to 7 games.
One down and two more to go to effectively nail down the
Oh yeah…….. One more thing, the Cubs were officially
eliminated from the playoffs last night.
They call August the ‘dog days of summer’. The time when the
summer sun and every day grind of Major League Baseball takes its toll on
players and teams trying to put together good seasons. The good teams separate
themselves from the pretenders and the hopes of fans in the majority of the
country fade away.
September rolls in and sports fans start to turn their
attention towards football. Chicago has always been a Bears town. Sure the Sox
are still in the hunt for the AL Central title and the NHL Champion Blackhawks
will be starting training camp soon, but the Bears are king.
And so I just wanted to take a moment to remind fans that
baseball is still going and there are things of great interest happening.
On Tuesday the Twins and White Sox start a three game series
in Chicago. The Sox are six back and will probably need to sweep Minnesota if
they are to have any shot at the division title.
Today the Rockies host the Padres in the first of three.
Just last week the Rockies were 7.5 games out of first place, but after winning
10 in a row while San Diego went 4-6, Colorado is just 1.5 behind. At the same
time, the Giants host the Dodgers for 3 games. The Giants are 1 behind the
Jose Bautista needs four more homers to reach 50 for the
season. He would be the first to get to 50 since ARod and P Fielder in 2007.
Side note……. In 2001, 7 players had 49 or more homers.
Four pitchers; Sabathia 19, Halladay 18, Wainwright 18,
Jimenez18, are within two wins of 20 victories on the season. Last year nobody
The Cubs need to finish 19-0 to save a .500 season. They are
currently 62-81. Actually, they just need to go 11-8 to avoid their 6th
90+ loss season in the last 14 years.
So……. Don’t go away just yet. We still have some baseball
Another win today for the Cubs as they beat the Mets
7-6. After today’s victory the Cubs are
now 7-3 under Mike Quade as manager. Maybe it’s just a small sample size, or
weak opponents, but the Cubs seem to be playing better baseball since Lou left
and Quade took over.
I watched the pre-game show this afternoon and they had an
interview with Quade. I wouldn’t have thought so last week, but Mike really
seems to be up for the job. I think he’s excited about the opportunity to
manage a big league club and that enthusiasm seems to be rubbing off on the
players. Of course coming after the last five months of lethargic Lou, anyone
would appear to be exciting and fresh.
If nothing else, I think Mike Quade and the story of who
might manage the Chicago Cubs next season will keep me interested in the team
for the final month of the season. That and watching players like Starlin
Castro and Tyler Colvin as they use the last four weeks to cement their
position in the 2011 lineup.
As far as the game goes, it looked liked September was going
to start as poorly for Randy Wells as August ended. After going 1-4 in 6 starts
with a 5.91 era in August, Wells gave up 3 runs in the first inning on 3 hits
and a walk. But after that he actually pitched fairly well in a no-decision.
Soriano had a three run homer in the fourth and Blake DeWitt
added another 3-run homer in the sixth to put the Cubs up 7-4. The Mets scored
single runs in the seventh and eighth innings but Carlos Marmol came on in the
ninth to save the game and move the Cubs to 58-77 overall.