Results tagged ‘ St Louis ’

It’s A Small Sample Size, but………….

The National have as many wins (8) as the Angels (4) and the Red Sox (4) combined.

 

The Pirates have scored less than half as many runs (19) as the Cubs (40), yet they have the same record (3-7)

 

Who said only the Cubs play day baseball? The Tigers have played 10 games (7-3) this season, all day games.

 

Conventional wisdom…..pitch lefties against the Reds to neutralize their lefty/lefty heart of Votto and Bruce.  So far the Reds are 3-1 vs left handed starters. Oh, BTW, they are just 1-5 vs righties.

 

What did I buy Pt I? The Dodgers cost Magic Johnson and his partners $2Billion, looks good so far as LA is off to a 9-1 start.

 

What did I buy Pt II? Artie Moreno signed Albert Pujols for a quarter of a billion dollars. He has 0 HR in his first 41 AB’s. That is the longest homerless streak to start a season in Albert’s career.

 

They guy Albert displaced at first base, Mark Trumbo, is tied for the team lead in homers despite limited AB’s (16)

 

Albert who? The Cardinals lead the majors with a .299 team batting average and are second in HR’s (15)

 

What does it mean Pt I?  Shelly Duncan has seen the most Pitches/AB (5.06) of any player. He is hitting .320 with just 6 strikeouts. Adam Dunn is second in P/AB (4.85). He is hitting .200 with a league leading 16 K’s.

 

What does it mean Pt II? Chad Billingsley leads the majors with a 0.63 ERA. He has a 15.0 K/BB ratio. Jake Westbrook is second in ERA with 0.64, he has a 0.80 K/BB ratio.

 

Baltimore hitters have 41 extra base hits (XBH), which is tops in the league. Pirate hitters have just 14

 

Who saw this coming Pt I? Jack Westbrook, Joe Saunders, and Kyle Lohse have a combined record of 5-0 with a 0.87 ERA.

 

Who saw this coming Pt II? Tim Lincecum, Dan Haren, and CC Sabathia are a combined 0-3 with an 8.25 ERA

 

Edinson Volquez leads the league in stolen bases against (5), but wait, he also leads the lead in caught stealing against (3)

 

Defense was a big concern for Detroit going into the season, and they do lead the league in the errors category…………. with the fewest (1)

 

Austin Jackson is hitting .405 (15 of 37) with 2 HR’s, he has 4 RBI. J.P. Arencibia only has 2 HITS (0.71 BA), he has 5 RBI.

4 (+1) Things You Might Not Have Known- 2/22

 

Spring Training Edition

 

  1. Last spring Jake Fox lead all players with 10 spring training Home Runs. He hit 2 during the regular season.
  2. Alfonso Soriano hits well in spring training. Over the past 5 seasons with the Cubs, Soriano has hit  .281 with 19 HR’s
  3. In 2011, Erik Almonte of the Brewers led all players in hits with 32. He finished the spring with a .416 batting average. During the regular season he was 3 for 29 (.103)
  4. I’ve watched the first two episodes of HBO’s Luck, maybe it will take some time to grow on me, but so far…… I’m not impressed.

Bonus.  Last year’s World Series winning St Louis Cardinals were 14-16 in the spring. The best record belonged to Kansas City at 20-10. The Royals finished the regular season at 71-91.

 

Other things you may not have known

 

 

Jim Hendry Fired!

 

The Judge has spoken.  (Read the case For/Against Jim Hendry here).

 

On a day when the Cubs are in fifth place, 18.5 games out of first with a 54-70 record.

 

Jim Hendry is out.

 

Fired as GM of the Chicago Cubs.

 

This is a team with money to spend and fans that come out to the ballpark. {In fact, today (Today!!) the Cubs and Wrigley Field are hosting the largest crowd to see a baseball game there in 33 years.}

 

Over his 9 years with the team they had a .500 record. No really!   .500.   They were 749-747 under Hendry. Now in the grand scheme, that record probably makes him one of the most successful GM’s in Cubs history, but it’s not good enough if you don’t win a World Series or at least a National League title somewhere in there. And he didn’t.

 

Case Closed.

 

 

Realignment

Realignment of baseballs teams is not something new, but it’s getting looked at anew after last weeks ESPN report that Major League Baseball and the Players Association are discussing the options of realignment.

Baseballs first major realignment took place in 1969. Prior to that; each league, American and National, had one division each.  From 1901 through the 1968 season each league sent the winner of their division directly to the World Series. And while the overall number of teams in baseball increased slightly from 16 in 1901 to 20 in 1968, the structure of the leagues didn’t alter. But that all changed in 1969 when Major League Baseball expanded with the addition of 4 new teams (Seattle Pilots, KC Royals, Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres). Instead of 2 twelve team leagues, each league separated their teams into 2 six team divisions. A new round of playoffs was created and now 4 of the 24 teams made the post-season.  Although a couple of teams moved over the next few seasons, Seattle to Milwaukee and Washington to Texas, the leagues remained the same until the next round of expansion.

In 1977 two new ball clubs were added to the American League, the Toronto Blue Jays were added to the AL East and the Seattle Mariners went to the AL West. The American League now had 14 teams and the National League had 12, and this is the way it stayed until 1993 when the NL expanded to 14 teams with the addition of the Florida Marlins in the NL East and the Colorado Rockies going to the NL West. But the overall system of two divisions in each league remained unchanged, albeit for only one season.

In 1994 baseball decided to break each of their 14 team leagues into 3 divisions. Each league created the 5 team East and Central divisions, as well as a 4 team West division. With the advent of 3 division champions, the leagues also added a “wild card” team to the playoff structure. Each league would now send 4 teams into the post-season. A new round of playoffs was created, the League Division Series.

This 3 division system is the same that MLB employs now, although since 1994 two new teams have been added, Arizona and Tampa Bay in 1998; one team changed leagues from the AL to the NL, Milwaukee, also in 1998; and another team just moved, Montreal to Washington.

And now we’ve reached 2011 when the talk of realignment has started again. Although there has been sporadic talk over the years of doing something with the league structure, I believe that the current drumbeat to do something is the loudest it’s been. The main reason that this talk is gaining traction is because, according to reports, the Players Union is on board with making a change.

The first thing we should look at is, why? Why realign at all? I think the main reason is fairness, or balance. In the current configuration of teams, at the beginning of any given season a team from the 4 team AL West has a 31.8% chance of making the playoffs while a team from the 6 team NL Central only has a 23.1% chance at post-season. There are other reasons as well, competitive balance and geography to name a few, but those factors are not being looked at in regards to the current realignment proposals.

So if “fairness” is the goal, the obvious solution is to make all divisions equal. But how?

So here are the two potential options being thrown out.

Two leagues of 15 teams, with 3 divisions of 5 in each league. Each league would have 3 division winners and 2 wild cards.

Or

Two leagues of 15 teams, with just one division of 15, the top 5 teams from that league making the post-season.

My initial reaction to both plans was; No, I don’t like it.

With 30 teams, it’s easy to create six 5 team divisions. But that leads to two 15 team leagues. That’s something that baseball has always avoided because of the odd number which makes scheduling league play impossible. But with the advent of inter-league play 15 years ago, the thought of playing teams from the other league during the regular season became a reality and is now common place.

But do we want teams playing inter-league games on the last weekend of the season? And just to be clear, some teams will be playing inter league games then; there’s no way around it. As my friend posed this question to me; The Cubs are 1 behind the Cardinals with three games to play, do you really want to be playing those last three of the season against the Royals? And of course my first reaction was no; that would be horrible. But as I thought about it more I realized that it’s not a valid question. The question presupposes that if it weren’t for the 15 team league and inter-league play throughout the baseball season that the Cubs would be playing the Cardinals on that final weekend. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This year the Cubs end the year against the Padres, not even a division opponent. In fact, of the current 1st and 2nd place teams in the six divisions right now, only 2 of the 6 sets of teams are playing against each other the final weekend of this season. So if the final opponent of the season doesn’t matter in the scheduling, that removes the barrier to leagues with an odd number of teams.

So then the question becomes; One 15 team division or three 5 team divisions?

Again my initial response was, three divisions of five.

Let’s keep the rivalries intact, I want those September Cubs-Cards matchup’s to have extra meaning. But you know what? I was wrong. One of the things that give those games meaning is the close location of the two cities, and that won’t change. The other thing that can make those games special is a tight race in the standings. But they don’t have to be in the same division to be close in the standings. If it’s the last weekend of the season and the Cubs and Cards are tied for the fifth spot in the playoffs, I have a feeling the excitement would be just as great as if the two teams were playing for first in the NL Central.

Think about it this way, we already have the ‘one division’ playoff race right now. Every team in the league currently competes for the wild card spot now. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the central or west divisions, if you have the better record, you are in the post-season.

The one division plan also helps alleviate the competitive/economic balance problem. For the past decade the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Tampa Rays have been behind the power curve being in the same division as NY and Boston (yes I know Tampa was in the World Series two years ago).  But now Toronto could still finish behind both NY and Bos and still make the playoffs.

The thing is, the past two seasons the same 4 teams from each league (3 Div Champs and 1 WC) would have still made the post-season. But in 2008 things would have been different. The LA Dodgers won the NL West with 84 wins, but that was only the 7th best record in the NL overall. The Mets, Astros, Cardinals, and Marlins all had a better record than the Dodgers but didn’t make the post-season because LA was in the weak NL West. The irony here, at least for a Cubs fan, is that the Dodgers swept the “number 1 seed” in the first round of the playoffs that year; of course that number 1 team was the 97 win Cubs.

One of the last issues would be tradition. I’ve talked to a couple of people that say we need to maintain divisions, that they are part of the game. How if we change the system now for “fairness”, it would just be another example of the softening/PC fixing of America. But really, that’s just a matter of perspective. Sure we have had divisions for 40+ years and that’s what everyone is used to, but for the 60+ years before that we only had one division. I’m fairly certain that if the internet was around in the fall of 1968 there would have been plenty of people complaining about how baseball was becoming soft and that they didn’t need any of that ‘flower power hippie stuff’ in their game.

In Conclusion (for all that skipped ahead or those brave enough to have read the entire post), I say baseball should realign. Move one team from the NL to the AL and have just one division of 15 teams with the top 5 teams making the playoffs.

I’d love to hear your opinion and thanks for reading

(Also, this week I will be posting reviews and photos from one White Sox-Mariners game as well as last night’s Cubs-Yankees game)

Making the Case: Jim Hendry

Jim Hendry was promoted from assistant GM/Player Personal Director to General Manager on July 5th, 2002. That was nearly 9 years ago. I think it’s fair to say that Hendry has had plenty of time to make his mark on the Chicago Cubs and that he is responsible for the players on the field. The question I’d like to look at today is, Should Jim Hendry be back next season as the GM of the Chicago Cubs? Let’s look at a couple of topics and I’ll make the case For or Against.

The Record:

Since Hendry’s first day back in ’02 thru Sunday’s extra inning loss to St. Louis, the Cubs are 718-712. During those nine seasons the Cubs have made the playoffs three times.

The first playoff appearance was the fateful 2003 season when the Cubs were just five outs from making it to the World Series before losing to the Marlins. Chicago also made the post seasons in ’07 and ’08, both times being swept out in 3 games in the NLDS. While a .502 winning percentage and only one playoff series win might not seem like much, let’s put things in perspective. In the previous 1430 games before Hendry, the Cubs were 670-760, .469, with only two winning seasons and one playoff appearance, which the team lost 3 games to nothing against Atlanta.  Overall, the team has been more competitive the past 9 years and the playoffs always seem to be a possibility before each season.

Is this where we are at? Content with a .500 team, because that’s what Hendry has given us.  Look, I’m not asking for 90+ wins every season, which is unrealistic. But there have been 59 teams that have won 90 or more games in the last 9 years and the Cubs have only done it once. Just on average they should have done it twice. And that is just not acceptable for a team that is in the top 10, if not top 5, in revenue. I’m not trying to say that money buys you wins, but it doesn’t hurt.

The Roster:

Over the years Hendry has made several good trades that have helped the Cubs both in-season and over the long run. In 2003 Jim made a trade with Pittsburgh for Kenny Lofton. Lofton made an immediate impact on the Cubs that summer hitting .327 and helping lead the team to the playoffs from the lead-off spot in the lineup. While Lofton turned out to just be a one year rental for the Cubs, Chicago also received Aramis Ramirez from Pittsburgh in that trade. Ramirez has been a cornerstone for Chicago at third base and has now played more games there than any other players except Ron Santo and Stan Hack. During his tenure Hendry has also traded for Derrek Lee and Nomar Garciaparra as well as getting other teams to take disgruntled players Sammy Sosa and Milton Bradley. In 2007 Hendry was able to sign the number 1 free agent on the market, Alfonso Soriano, the first time the Cubs have ever gotten the top guy and then came back in 2008 and signed the top Japanese player, Fukudome, that was out there.

As for the minors, the Cubs Opening Day roster in 2011 contained 16 players that started with and came up through the Cubs system. This includes players like Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and 2008 ROY Geo Soto that look to be mainstays up the middle for a long time to come.

On the other hand, while Hendry’s signings and trades looked good at the time, the Cubs have since been hamstrung under the weight of those deals. But being buried under millions of dollars in deals doesn’t have to be a never ending problem, in fact Chicago will be freeing up huge amounts of salary after the 2011 season. The problem is, the Cubs didn’t win anything while they accumulated all those players and spent all that money. And without winning a championship, what’s the point.

As for the minors, the Cubs have only had 2 of their last 9 number 1 picks in the amateur draft make the team (Colvin & Cashner) and they have come up dry this season when they needed a pitcher or 4 to fill in due to injuries. It might be easy to say that they have a few guys that look good but just aren’t ready, but he has had 9 years to restock the minors, why do we have to wait another couple of years to see if they can play.

The Conclusion:

Considering the overall record of the Cubs under Hendry, which will probably be under .500 by the time this season is over, I can only think of one reason why Jim Hendry should remain as the Chicago Cubs GM this off-season.

Hendry and Pujols Hug it out : Courtesy - YahooSports.com

How Much $$$$$


Baseball players basically work as independent contractors.
Yes they belong to a union that controls the overall workplace structure and
rules, but after a fixed amount of well paid servitude to the ballclub at the beginning
of their career, players are free to seek what they think is the best offer.

 

And with the nature of the limited MLB free market system,
every contract is independent of all other contracts. Meaning; just because
Player “A” hit 28 homeruns and received a $10 million contract, it doesn’t mean
you will get $11+ million if you hit 30 homers. You’re only worth what someone
is willing to pay.

 

This brings us to Albert Pujols.

 

Yesterday Albert Pujols, through his agent, told the St. Louis Cardinals that he would only be willing
to negotiate an extension of his contract until the start of spring training,
after which point he will stop all talks and then test free agency after the
2011 season.

 

So what is Albert worth?

 

Well; if you did compare him to other players, not that many
compare, Pujols is at the top of the list. And so if he were to make more money
than anyone else next year, his contract would be 30+
million dollars.

 

Is Pujols worth that much? To St. Louis I would say yes. He
is the face of the Cardinals. He sells tickets and merchandise and parking
spots and food and drink. St Louis is a great baseball town and Cardinals fans
will still love their team, but I think not signing Albert would be costlier in
the long run than signing him would.

 

I think the Cardinals managing partner, William DeWitt, has
four weeks until he signs a 150+ million dollar contract with Pujols.

The Best Teams in the Playoffs???


I’m sure over the next couple of days people are going to
hear about the Seattle Seahawks and how they
made the NFL’s playoffs this year with a losing record (7-9). There will be hand-wringing and calls to
revamp the system. Complaints that 10 win teams(Giants & Tampa) are out of
the playoffs while the 7-9 Seahawks will be 10 point underdogs at home against
an 11 win New Orleans Saints team.

 

And when the Seahawks lose that first game, people will be
complaining again about how they shouldn’t have been in. “See” they’ll say.

 

So do we change the system? No more divisions, just two big
conferences with the top 8 making the playoffs.

 

Can what happened in the NFL happen
in MLB?

 

Can a team with a losing record win
a division in baseball?
It hasn’t happened yet, but I guess it could.
The Dodgers won the NL West in 2008 with just 84 wins, they beat the 97 win Cubs in the first round
before getting knocked out of the post-season. In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals
entered the playoffs as the NL Central champs after winning just 83 games. The
Cardinals went on to win the World Series that year, becoming the WS winning
team with the lowest win percentage in MLB history.

 

I know that there has been a suggestion that MLB expands the
number of teams in the playoffs and that they should also change the structure
of the leagues. The idea would be to eliminate the divisions and just have the
AL and NL and the top five from each league making the playoffs.

 

While this sort of change might eliminate the 83 win type of
teams from making the playoffs and give teams like Baltimore and Toronto a
better chance considering they are stuck in the same division as the Yankees
and Red Sox, I think I would be against this.

 

I just like division races.
I like the division heavy schedule. I like the idea that’s teams from all
around the country make the playoffs. And if that means that the Cubs might
make the playoffs with 82 wins and Toronto sits home with 85 wins, so be it.


So even though I think that the New Orleans
Saints will crush the Seahawks
, Congrats to Seattle for making the
playoffs.

 


Fork in the Road

The Cubs hit primetime tonight to play the last MLB game
before the All-Star break. Tonight’s game is a fork in the road for the Cubs.

Fork_in_Road.jpg

 

If the Cubs win, they will have completed a fairly successful
5-2 road trip. When you couple that with the fact that Cincinnati has lost 4 in
a row, the Cubs would “only” be 8.5 games out of first. Chicago then starts the
second half of the season with a 10 game home stand. No matter how much the
front office may be looking to make deals and dump salary, there is no way that
the Cubs will start making “white flag” trades before July 25
th,
which is the end of the home stand. They also have 6 games remaining against
Cinn this year and 12 more against St. Louis.

 

However if the Cubs lose tonight, all bets are off.
Supposedly both the Mets and Yankees are making a push to get Ted Lilly and I
think the Cubs will make a trade if the right offer comes in. And yes, I know
that it’s only one more loss, but just the impact of losing 3 out of 4 to the
Dodgers and ending the first half on a sour note might just be enough to send
Cub fans off to do other summery type things during the break and not come back
when it’s over.

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