Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (6-6) at Colorado Rockies (10-2)

Team Overview

The Cubs head to the thin air of Colorado to face the team with the best record in baseball. Here are their numbers so far on the season (NL rank in parens)

Rockies Cubs
wOBA .337 (4) .333 (5)
SP FIP 4.52 (14) 4.35 (11)
RP FIP 2.77 (3) 3.42 (7)
DRS 12 (1) -11 (13)

I started writing this yesterday, so those Rockies offensive numbers have probably moved up a tick.

Batters

Player wOBA ZiPS wOBA   Player wOBA ZiPS wOBA
CF Dexter Fowler .295 .341               SS Starlin Castro .407 .328
RF Seth Smith .428 .366 2B Darwin Barney .352 .293
LF Carlos Gonzalez .287 .378 CF Marlon Byrd .362 .340
SS Troy Tulowitski .489 .387 3B Aramis Ramirez .383 .348
1B Todd Helton .354 .340 1B Carlos Pena .278 .372
2B Jose Lopez .274 .329 LF Alfonso Soriano .346 .342
3B Ian Stewart .038 .340 C Geovany Soto .292 .353
C Chris Iannetta .390 .358 RF Tyler Colvin .261 .315

Tulo has obviously been hitting out of his mind, and hit two HRs yesterday. Smith has Jeff Baker-sized platoon splits but is left-handed, where it’s much nicer to see that manifest itself. Expect to see a lot of him in this series. Stewart has been battling some sort of stomach bug since the start of the season, which has affected him at the plate. Helton has been having back issues, and was only able to appear as a pinch hitter in a few games last week.

Pitchers

Player FIP ZiPS FIP          Player FIP ZiPS FIP
LHP Jorge de la Rosa 4.15 3.87 RHP Ryan Dempster 4.54 3.78
RHP Jhoulys Chacin 3.17 4.04 RHP Carlos Zambrano 5.35 3.83
RHP Jason Hammel 5.91 3.70 RHP Matt Garza 0.64 4.03
RHP Esmil Rogers 2.86 4.11 RHP Casey Coleman 8.09 4.97
RHP Greg Reynolds 5.59 5.18 LHP James Russell 0.91 5.45
RHP Huston Street 1.79 2.97 RHP Carlos Marmol 2.30 2.76
RHP Rafael Betancourt 6.09 3.48 RHP Kerry Wood 5.26 3.56

The Rockies are missing top pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez due to a cut on his thumb. He’ll be back for their next series.

Matchups

ERA, FIP, xFIP, and ZiPS FIP listed for each pitcher.

Friday: Matt Garza, RHP (5.68, 0.64, 1.30, 4.03) vs Jhoulys Chacin, RHP (2.77, 3.17, 3.62, 4.04), 6:40 PM CT

Garza has a ridiculous .541 BABIP on the season, hence the large split in ERA and FIP. With a flyball pitcher like Garza, you have to worry about the home run ball in this game. Chacin is the kind of pitcher who can succeed at Coors. He gets strikeouts and has a decent ground ball rate. Even more importantly, he’s managed to suppress HRs.

Saturday: Casey Coleman, RHP (7.20, 8.09, 5.27, 4.97) vs Jason Hammel, RHP (4.91, 5.91, 4.52, 3.70), 6:10 PM CT

Coleman was hammered by the Brewers in his first start. Lucky for him, he gets to face another good offense in an extreme hitter’s park for his second start. Hammel was basically a replacement level pitcher with the Rays until he was traded to Colorado in 2009. Somehow he managed to shave a point and a half off his FIP while moving from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park. Go figure. The biggest difference-maker was the plunge in his walk rate, which went from around 4 per 9 to the low 2s.

Sunday: Ryan Dempster, RHP (6.30, 4.54, 3.25, 3.78) vs Alan Johnson, RHP (NO PROJECTION), 1:10 PM CT

Meet the Rockies version of James Russell. He’s posted 5+ ERA in his last three seasons as a starter in AAA. Not only are the Rockies hamstrung by Ubaldo’s injury, but Thursday’s double header fouled up their rotation schedule. Of course, this just means that he’ll pitch 7 innings of one run ball, strike out 7, and walk no one. Dempster’s strikeout and walk rates looks slightly improved from previous years, but he’s had trouble with HRs, especially as he runs out of gas. He’s still the Cubs best starter, so expect to see some regression.

Prediction

The Cubs stave off a sweep by winning the last game of the series. Assuming the bullpen doesn’t blow the lead the Cubs build against Johnson.


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139 thoughts on “Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (6-6) at Colorado Rockies (10-2)

  1. 1

    I’m bringing this over, because it’s pretty much all you need to know about the MLB draft from the Cubs’ viewpoint.

    [quote name=Muck Muckintuck]What’s the consensus on what the Cubs will do in the draft? BPA? (dying laughing)[/quote]
    The No. 9 pick will be:

    1. Athletic middle infielder/CF OR very big/small power pitcher.
    2. High floor
    3. Signable
    4. Wilken’s favorite player, regardless of perceived value.

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  2. WenningtonsGorillaCock · Edit
    3

    [quote name=Mish]The greatest trick the Cubs ever pulled is convincing people that they aren’t retarded.[/quote]I’m not convinced (dying laughing)

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  3. 4

    [quote name=Mish]The greatest trick the Cubs ever pulled is convincing people that they aren’t retarded.[/quote]
    That hasn’t happened since…World War II.

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  4. 5

    MB, I’m of the position that I won’t be surprised on who used. So Sandberg could have used and it wouldn’t shock me. And when you paint that picture with Maris, it is a little easier to see that it might not have been Roids. But Gonzalez was jacked. I’m not saying that he used for sure, but he sure looked like he was.

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  5. 6

    I’m eventually going to set up a page here on OV with regularly updated Base Runs Per 9 innings (BsR9), but I want to wait until at least the beginning of May. I thought I’d throw the numbers here for the Cubs starters though.

    Garza: 5.93
    Coleman: 10.90
    Dempster: 5.99

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  6. 7

    [quote name=Muck Muckintuck]MB, I’m of the position that I won’t be surprised on who used. So Sandberg could have used and it wouldn’t shock me. And when you paint that picture with Maris, it is a little easier to see that it might not have been Roids. But Gonzalez was jacked. I’m not saying that he used for sure, but he sure looked like he was.[/quote]I think there’s a very good chance he used too. It’s just not something I’m ever going to use when I look at the numbers. One other thing not often talked about is that more pitchers have tested positive for PEDs (minors and majors combined) than position players. It makes much more sense too, but the point is that it wasn’t like Bonds was facing 1950s pitching. He was facing pitching that were using the same damn things he was.

    I just refuse to consider it because I don’t have the time or patience to carefully consider what circumstances led to the performance of more than 10,000 Major League players. Not to mention that it’s impossible.

    Like I said in the last thread: sports is the only profession on earth in which people care about improved performance. Find me one employee anywhere in the world who improved his or her performance and was called names because of it. In a little place called reality, employers actually like it when employees improve their performance. Why can’t the employees of MLB teams do it?

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  7. 9

    [quote name=mb21]I think there’s a very good chance he used too. It’s just not something I’m ever going to use when I look at the numbers. One other thing not often talked about is that more pitchers have tested positive for PEDs (minors and majors combined) than position players. It makes much more sense too, but the point is that it wasn’t like Bonds was facing 1950s pitching. He was facing pitching that were using the same damn things he was.

    I just refuse to consider it because I don’t have the time or patience to carefully consider what circumstances led to the performance of more than 10,000 Major League players. Not to mention that it’s impossible.

    Like I said in the last thread: sports is the only profession on earth in which people care about improved performance. Find me one employee anywhere in the world who improved his or her performance and was called names because of it. In a little place called reality, employers actually like it when employees improve their performance. Why can’t the employees of MLB teams do it?[/quote]That’s an excellent point. I think it doesn’t matter because they’re not playing a game that pays them mult-million dollar salaries, at least that’s what the public outcry is about. I don’t think anybody would care if it was a softball player juicing so he can hit a HR everytime because most people woule wonder “What’s the fucking point?” But since these guys get paid huge money to play baseball and Joe Public makes $45,000 a year to have a boring job working at a desk, people get pissed that it’s not them.

    I think what we can all definitely agree on is that the group of people that definitely don’t give a shit about performance enhancers whether it’s baseball or regular job is the business owners.

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  8. 10

    I think what we can all definitely agree on is that the group of people that definitely don’t give a shit about performance enhancers whether it’s baseball or regular job is the business owners.

    Exactly. It’s why MLB owners said nothing and there’s even evidence suggesting that they taught them the “safe” way to use those PEDs. They’re not idiots. Right now they’re teaching them the “safe” way to not get caught.

    It’s not like everybody stopped taking them. I’d guess they’re almost as prevalent in baseball today as they were before testing. It’s fairly easy to beat a drug test. There’s material everywhere online if you care enough about it. I’ve also thought it was highly unlikely that MLB is actually sending all the samples in for testing. I’m guessing they take the samples and randomly choose 1 of 10 to send for testing. Maybe even less than that.

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  9. 11

    Tonight’s game preview will include a Base Runs estimate for scoring rather than using wRC. BsR is the best run estimator around.

    I hope to have BsR for pitchers done, but that may have to wait for a few days.

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  10. 12

    [quote name=mb21]Exactly. It’s why MLB owners said nothing and there’s even evidence suggesting that they taught them the “safe” way to use those PEDs. They’re not idiots. Right now they’re teaching them the “safe” way to not get caught.

    It’s not like everybody stopped taking them. I’d guess they’re almost as prevalent in baseball today as they were before testing. It’s fairly easy to beat a drug test. There’s material everywhere online if you care enough about it. I’ve also thought it was highly unlikely that MLB is actually sending all the samples in for testing. I’m guessing they take the samples and randomly choose 1 of 10 to send for testing. Maybe even less than that.[/quote]I don’t doubt that for a second. They still have a product to protect and it wouldn’t look good if 75% of random tests fail. Jose Canseco is widely considered the guy who kind of blew the whistle on this whole thing but I’m wondering, if he never spoke up, do you think it would have been exposed? Or would Bonds and Clemens still be playing? (dying laughing)

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  11. 13

    I’ll say one more thing. For the most part, it seems like what steroids definitely does is prolong a players career. And I’d bet you that the same people who are crucifying Bonds, Clemens, etc. are the same ones that would have wanted their fave players using to prolong their careers.

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  12. 14

    It would have been exposed. The home run record is too valuable to some people. It may not have been exposed as soon, but eventually it would have been.

    I also think everybody knew at that point anyway. I remember talking with a friend of mine as we watched the Dbacks in Arizona. It was late in the season and both of us knew that there was something going on. Steroids was the obvious answer. I think any person that gave it much thought reached the same conclusion. Something was clearly going on. At the same time, neither of us cared. Baseball had been down for several years and by that point in 1998 it was back. As much as people hate steroids, baseball simply isn’t as popular or as rich today as it is without steroids. There is no way that baseball attracts as many fans as they did without that. Baseball owes its riches to steroids.

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  13. 15

    [quote name=mb21]It would have been exposed. The home run record is too valuable to some people. It may not have been exposed as soon, but eventually it would have been.

    I also think everybody knew at that point anyway. I remember talking with a friend of mine as we watched the Dbacks in Arizona. It was late in the season and both of us knew that there was something going on. Steroids was the obvious answer. I think any person that gave it much thought reached the same conclusion. Something was clearly going on. At the same time, neither of us cared. Baseball had been down for several years and by that point in 1998 it was back. As much as people hate steroids, baseball simply isn’t as popular or as rich today as it is without steroids. There is no way that baseball attracts as many fans as they did without that. Baseball owes its riches to steroids.[/quote]Me too. I remember when they were talking about McGwire and how he openly had a bottle of Ando in his locker and he would say it’s Ando, it makes you bigger and stronger. But nobody gave a shit. Nobody did or said anything about it because him and Sosa were destroying baseballs and baseball itself was making a comeback. The hypocrisy is laughable.

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  14. 16

    [quote name=Muck Muckintuck]I’ll say one more thing. For the most part, it seems like what steroids definitely does is prolong a players career. And I’d bet you that the same people who are crucifying Bonds, Clemens, etc. are the same ones that would have wanted their fave players using to prolong their careers.[/quote]I tend to think it has an adverse effect on enough players that overall it may even create shorter careers. That’s another thing that isn’t talked about. Steroids aren’t just a huge bonus. They come with huge risks. It’s not any wonder that Bonds’ knees were breaking down late in his career. I’d almost guarantee it was from that, but it’s ignored. Over the last 5 or so years I’ve come to realize that anything that doesn’t support the idea of home runs leading to all the home runs is summarily dismissed. The size of the parks doesn’t matter. The changes in nutrition and exercise are ignored. The changes to the bats, balls and the environment created around them begging them to hit home runs. They didn’t build smaller fields to see the same number of home runs hit.

    As much as people say they despise the steroid era now, the home run is still the most exciting play in baseball. It has been for a long time and it will continue to be. Whether they come from clean players or guys who took every drug known to man and then invented some himself, it still excites the crowd. There’s just something about watching a person hit a baseball really far.

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  15. 17

    [quote name=Muck Muckintuck]Me too. I remember when they were talking about McGwire and how he openly had a bottle of Ando in his locker and he would say it’s Ando, it makes you bigger and stronger. But nobody gave a shit. Nobody did or said anything about it because him and Sosa were destroying baseballs and baseball itself was making a comeback. The hypocrisy is laughable.[/quote]
    Great point. We knew early on what was going on because Mark McGwire told us. Hadn’t thought about that one. (dying laughing)

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  16. 18

    As much as people say they despise the steroid era now, the home run is still the most exciting play in baseball. It has been for a long time and it will continue to be. Whether they come from clean players or guys who took every drug known to man and then invented some himself, it still excites the crowd. There’s just something about watching a person hit a baseball really far.

    False. All I could think about in 1998 was how many fly ball outs I was missing out on because of evil steroids.

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  17. 23

    From that Stark article:

    2) Carlos Zambrano launched a 428-foot home run Wednesday. Across town, Paul Konerko pounded 39 homers last year — and not one of them went that far, according to the home run sleuths at hittrackeronline.com. And while we’re on this roll, none of Nick Swisher’s last 65 homers have traveled 428 feet.

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  18. 24

    [quote name=Mish]ESPN and nuance goes together like JG and heterosexuality.[/quote]
    So, it’s like the best at it?

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  19. 25

    [quote name=Mish]Carlos Zambrano launched a 428-foot home run Wednesday. Across town, Paul Konerko pounded 39 homers last year — and not one of them went that far[/quote]
    Big Z – Verdict: Legit

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  20. 30

    Also who i am intrigued by for the Cubs to draft..

    I would LOVE to get Sonny Gray. Dont know if he will fall that far. I also think Dylan Bundy would be awesome. I am very intrigued by Pruke if he is there (i think he will be.) As a gamecock i was originally enamored with JBJR. but dont want him since i see him as a lesser brett jackson. Want to go BPA. but i realyl want one of the College arms

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  21. 31

    KG on Vitters:

    Hitting .360 in three games with three walks; it took him 30 games to draw his third Double-A walk in 2010.

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  22. 32

    I don’t follow the amateur ranks that closely, but from where I stand, the Cubs lack a true middle-of-the-order style bat. I know a couple players may project to it down the road in the system, but they aren’t necessarily close. Is there anyone in the Cubs draft range (as in range of their draft pick, not from the talent level they will likely draft from) that would be that bat?

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  23. 33

    2) Carlos Zambrano launched a 428-foot home run Wednesday. Across town, Paul Konerko pounded 39 homers last year — and not one of them went that far, according to the home run sleuths at hittrackeronline.com. And while we’re on this roll, none of Nick Swisher’s last 65 homers have traveled 428 feet.

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  24. 34

    Bubba Starling or George Springer Mish.

    But to be honest the pitching is so fucking incredible in this draft espescially where the cubs are that it would be silly not to go that way

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  25. 36

    [quote name=bubblesdachimp]Also who i am intrigued by for the Cubs to draft..

    I would LOVE to get Sonny Gray. Dont know if he will fall that far. I also think Dylan Bundy would be awesome. I am very intrigued by Pruke if he is there (i think he will be.) As a gamecock i was originally enamored with JBJR. but dont want him since i see him as a lesser brett jackson. Want to go BPA. but i realyl want one of the College arms[/quote]
    Leave Dylan Bundy alone. He needs to go to school.

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  26. 37

    [quote name=bubblesdachimp]Bubba Starling or George Springer Mish.

    But to be honest the pitching is so fucking incredible in this draft espescially where the cubs are that it would be silly not to go that way[/quote]
    Definitely got this vibe from most of what I’ve read, and I would defer to your knowledge on such matters.

    Anyways, the Cubs can surely draft the next Pujols in the 13th round anyways.

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  27. 38

    A college arm makes so much sense for CHC at No. 9. Wilken prefers them, most of them are big and athletic (which Wilken also prefers) and they’re safe bets to make the bigs. Add in the fact that they’re the best value at that spot and it’s too perfect for CHC.

    That’s why I expect Archie Bradley to be the pick.

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  28. 39

    Teams picking in the teens are getting great value this year, as most of the guys in the 8-14 range would have likely been top-5 picks last year.

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  29. 40

    The bats in this draft are jsut significantly worse than the pitching IMO. Espescially in the #9 pick range.

    If we dont take one of the following I will be infuriated becuase it means we fucked up and didnt take a high impact ceiling player:

    Sonny Gray (n
    Jed Bradley
    Danny Hultzen
    Matt Purke
    Taylor Jungmann
    Dylan Bundy
    Bubba Starling

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  30. 42

    [quote name=Jame Gumb]Leave Dylan Bundy alone. He needs to go to school.[/quote]
    (dying laughing)
    (dying laughing)

    Is he going to Texas?

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  31. 43

    [quote name=Jame Gumb]A college arm makes so much sense for CHC at No. 9. Wilken prefers them, most of them are big and athletic (which Wilken also prefers) and they’re safe bets to make the bigs. Add in the fact that they’re the best value at that spot and it’s too perfect for CHC.

    That’s why I expect Archie Bradley to be the pick.[/quote]

    I would not be opposed to Archie Bradley FWIW. I would just personally prefer someone different like the other people i listed. Fucking arizona got super lucky in not signing Barret Loux so they got two top 7 picks this year. Granted they most likely wont take BPA with both but they could really rebuild that rotation this year

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  32. 52

    [quote name=bubblesdachimp](dying laughing)
    (dying laughing)

    Is he going to Texas?[/quote]
    If he doesn’t sign with a pro team, he will. I’m sure some team will throw enough money at him.

    [quote name=bubblesdachimp]I would not be opposed to Archie Bradley FWIW. I would just personally prefer someone different like the other people i listed. Fucking arizona got super lucky in not signing Barret Loux so they got two top 7 picks this year. Granted they most likely wont take BPA with both but they could really rebuild that rotation this year[/quote]
    I don’t think luck has anything to do with it. Loux was WAY overdrafted and basically told by ARI to fuck off. I think that was ARI’s scouting department doing their homework.

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  33. 53

    [quote name=GBTS][/quote]
    die laugh.

    Thanks for telling us, Alvin. I thought life was actually Rain Man.

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  34. 54

    Right i know that Zona fucked up but they picked a good year to fuck up and not sign their first rounder.

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  35. 55

    mb21:

    I’m not saying Sandberg used. I don’t know if he did or not, but those are numbers that jump out at a lot of people. Just because he stood on a podium and talked about steroids means he didn’t do them?

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  36. 56

    [quote name=Jame Gumb]die laugh.

    Thanks for telling us, Alvin. I thought life was actually Rain Man.[/quote]I think he just wanted to show off that he knows recent pop culture.

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  37. 57

    [quote name=bubblesdachimp]Right i know that Zona fucked up but they picked a good year to fuck up and not sign their first rounder.[/quote]
    I think they drafted someone they knew they could get away with not signing because they knew this draft was stacked. We talked about this year’s top-heavy draft last season, so you KNOW scouts knew that too.

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  38. 61

    What’s with all the talk about the MLB Draft? Have we learned nothing over the last 5 years? The Cubs do not draft highly ranked talent. Take every player you discussed so far or will discuss in the next 2 months and cross the off the list.

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  39. 65

    [quote name=GBTS]What 80s character should be next to get a BCB account? I’m thinking Drago.[/quote]J.J. Evans would be dynamite.

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  40. 66

    [quote name=ZappBrannigan]I just burst out laughing at work. The Babbit Bros are going to get me fired[/quote]
    They’ve reportedly been banned. You’re safe.

    When do they get added to the BCB Memorial Wall?

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  41. 67

    [quote name=GBTS]What 80s character should be next to get a BCB account? I’m thinking Drago.[/quote]
    J.R. Ewing? He might be too recent.

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  42. 71

    My girlfriend was flipping channels and came across Twin Peaks the other day. I told her that’s a good recent show, and she looked at me like I was a fucking idiot.

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  43. 72

    [quote name=GBTS]My girlfriend was flipping channels and came across Twin Peaks the other day. I told her that’s a good recent show, and she looked at me like she was fucking mb21.[/quote].

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  44. 78

    [quote name=mb21]What’s with all the talk about the MLB Draft? Have we learned nothing over the last 5 years? The Cubs do not draft highly ranked talent. Take every player you discussed so far or will discuss in the next 2 months and cross the off the list.[/quote]
    Vitters, B-Jax, Cashner three of the last five drafts. Colvin was the biggest reach. Simpson was drafted because he was the highest guy on the Cubs board and they were pretty sure he would be gone by the time their next pick came. The draft last year also wasn’t a particularly good one, so if there was a time to reach, that was it.

    They paid way, way, way above slot on a few other guys too, Szcur being one of them. In fact, he got 1st round money, signed him at 1.5 million. It’s worth mentioning he was a 1st round talent that fell because people were afraid he wouldn’t stick with baseball. Simpson signed about 500K below slot at 1.06 million, so we basically signed him for the equivalent of a sandwich picked and used regular first round money on Szcur who was a first round talent anyways.

    Chances are that this year, in a draft that is being called the deepest and best one in the last 5 years or so, the Cubs will draft one of the high talent guys and spend some money.

    I mean, if the Cubs don’t draft a high end guy, I will officially hate everything about the Rickets and be convinced that we’re completely screwed. But the Cubs drafting has actually been pretty good. Colvin is the real big issue. That was a stupid pick. But Simpson is OK, mostly because they spent above slot elsewhere to make up for it and the draft class was rather weak.

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  45. 81

    [quote name=Berselius]Cubs lineup tonight

    Castro
    Barney
    Byrd
    Ramirez
    Pena
    Soriano
    Colvin
    Soto
    Garza[/quote]
    Soto batting 8th makes Zapp a sad panda

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  46. 82

    There’s simply no excuse to draft Simpson in the 1st round. Even if you think some team may take Simpson in the 2nd round, you play the odds and plan to draft him no higher than the 3rd or 4th round. He was a 5th round talent. I don’t believe any other team would have drafted Simpson in the 2nd. That’s called a bluff and the Cubs didn’t realize it.

    Colvin was the same. 3rd to 5th round talent. Overall, the drafts the last two years the Cubs have spent middle of the pack money. I loved the Brett Jackson pick. I also liked the Cashner pick if they were going to use him immediately as a reliever. Once they converted him back to a starting pitcher, I’m wondering why they didn’t just take one of the guys who was actually a better starting pitcher.

    It really doesn’t matter though. That’s what I’m saying. Take the Baseball America draft board prior to the draft, find the Cubs spot, look at least 10 spots down and that’s the best possible player they’ll draft.

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  47. 85

    [quote name=mb21]There’s simply no excuse to draft Simpson in the 1st round. Even if you think some team may take Simpson in the 2nd round, you play the odds and plan to draft him no higher than the 3rd or 4th round. He was a 5th round talent. I don’t believe any other team would have drafted Simpson in the 2nd. That’s called a bluff and the Cubs didn’t realize it.

    Colvin was the same. 3rd to 5th round talent. Overall, the drafts the last two years the Cubs have spent middle of the pack money. I loved the Brett Jackson pick. I also liked the Cashner pick if they were going to use him immediately as a reliever. Once they converted him back to a starting pitcher, I’m wondering why they didn’t just take one of the guys who was actually a better starting pitcher.

    It really doesn’t matter though. That’s what I’m saying. Take the Baseball America draft board prior to the draft, find the Cubs spot, look at least 10 spots down and that’s the best possible player they’ll draft.[/quote]
    But that’s not really fair. Wilken very much explained the pick. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Simpson was the guy I felt was the best talent left on the board. I’d heard he was going to be taken in the sandwich rounds, so we wouldn’t be able to get him later on.”

    That is literally the only acceptable excuse. I mean, it means one of three things:
    A) Wilken is terrible at recognizing talent.
    B) Wilken knows things that we do not.
    C) Rickets is a cheap ass douchebag.

    For right now, I’m going to have to stick with B given Wilken’s great track record and the fact that this isn’t something where we can just look up and crunch numbers like with knowing Barney hitting 2nd is stupid as hell.

    I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here, in that, if he felt Simpson was THE BEST guy left on the board, and that he was 95% sure Simpson was going to be gone come the 2nd round, then it was the smart pick. Sure, the media may not love it, but it is the smart move IF that was the situation.

    I also don’t think it’s C simply because we went overslot on quite a few different guys and spent a crapload in the international market.

    As far as Cashner goes, he as a starting pitcher has as much or more upside than anybody that was drafted before him. Furthermore, you can’t just assume that this year, in a great draft class, they won’t draft to the normal talent. They drafted like normal people with Vitters, Jackson and Cashner. All three went right about where they were projected to go.

    I certainly don’t know for SURE that’s what was going on. But I do think it’s very possible. Obviously, if they make some BS stretch pick again this year, I’ll be pissed and I will be the first person to say you’re right. But Colvin aside, if they pick a guy that is within 5 spots of where BA says they should go, I will assume they were telling the truth with Simpson and that Colvin was the only really stupid pick they made.

    I could definitely be wrong on this one, in that Rickets is just a cheapass, but I really, really hope I’m not.

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  48. 86

    Also, to be fair MB, and to give full disclosure, I’m trying to be very optimistic here. I really, really want to believe the Ricketts are going to try to win and aren’t going to suck as owners.

    Simpson may not have been the best pick, but it is justifiable if Wilkens was telling the truth. It might mean that Wilkens needs to go, that I don’t really know, but I’m just saying, there is justification. And I just hope to God this draft proves they aren’t full of crap.

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  49. Mercurial Outfielder · Edit
    88

    If anyone missed Chuck’s latest installment on the Cubs’ money woes, go check it out. I’m becoming very dubious of Ricketts’ claims. Snake Oil for sale at Clark and Addison.

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  50. 89

    @ Tim and Adam –
    Listened to your discussion of Zambrano on the latest podcast and I want to posit a reason you didn’t really explore behind why the media unfairly maligns Z. I believe it’s because people looked at how well he pitched so early in his career, and how lethal his stuff was, and they expected him to develop into Pedro Martinez. Obviously that’s totally unfair but I think that unreasonable expectations, coupled with his large contract, are the root cause behind the irrational hate.

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  51. 90

    Thanks, Eddie. That’s a good point. I know I saw his electric stuff and figured he’d have the potential to absolutely dominate, but even though he hasn’t won a Cy Young doesn’t make him an outstanding pitcher. You’re right, people fail to realize how much he has accomplished just because they expected even more (which is unfair).

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  52. 91

    [quote name=AndCounting]You’re right, people fail to realize how much he has accomplished just because they expected even more (which is unfair).[/quote]
    Why did people expect more? For one Steve Stone was droning on for years that Carlos was yet to reach his “potential.” That was followed with him then saying that if Z ever gets his emotions in check he might be able to reach his potential. People in Chicago media and fans have taken this as fact instead of opinion. There is no way to know if Carlos could have been better, we only know that he’s been the best the Cubs have had since Maddux.

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  53. 92

    To that end, Zambrano is, in general, a 4WAR player. Because his bat is usually close to a win above the average pitcher.

    So he has been pretty darn good for us.

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  54. 93

    [quote name=melissa]Why did people expect more? For one Steve Stone was droning on for years that Carlos was yet to reach his “potential.” That was followed with him then saying that if Z ever gets his emotions in check he might be able to reach his potential. People in Chicago media and fans have taken this as fact instead of opinion. There is no way to know if Carlos could have been better, we only know that he’s been the best the Cubs have had since Maddux.[/quote]For me, it’s always been his stuff. I don’t know how much other commentary has influenced me . . . it’s probably impossible to know. But his pitches have so much velocity, just crazy unique movement. It just seems like it should be unhittable. And sometimes it is. But it’s also really hard to control (and I think it’s difficult for umpires to call his pitches sometimes). But all that doesn’t mean he should be the best pitcher ever.

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  55. 94

    [quote name=Eddie]@ Tim and Adam –
    Listened to your discussion of Zambrano on the latest podcast and I want to posit a reason you didn’t really explore behind why the media unfairly maligns Z. I believe it’s because people looked at how well he pitched so early in his career, and how lethal his stuff was, and they expected him to develop into Pedro Martinez. Obviously that’s totally unfair but I think that unreasonable expectations, coupled with his large contract, are the root cause behind the irrational hate.[/quote]
    I agree with this. Fans are really good at placing unreasonable expectations on others. For that matter, we’re all good at placing unreasonable expectations on others.

    The interesting thing to me is that if you look back at those early years, you’ll see that the order of the rotation was Wood, Prior, Clement, Estes, and Zambrano. Then Z moved up to the 4th starter’s spot. Then the 3rd. By default he became the top of the rotation starter and at that point ridiculous expectations were placed on him. It’s really odd.

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  56. 95

    [quote name=AndCounting]For me, it’s always been his stuff. I don’t know how much other commentary has influenced me . . . it’s probably impossible to know. But his pitches have so much velocity, just crazy unique movement. It just seems like it should be unhittable. And sometimes it is. But it’s also really hard to control (and I think it’s difficult for umpires to call his pitches sometimes). But all that doesn’t mean he should be the best pitcher ever.[/quote]yeah, early in his career if he could have thrown more strikes he’d have been the best starter in baseball. His control has always held him back, but control is often something that doesn’t improve much for pitchers. For that matter, pitchers usually don’t improve a whole lot after they get into the big leagues.

    Zambrano always had the potential of throwing a no-hitter whenever he took the mound. I think fans became disappointed in his overall performance as a result.

    The sad thing is that his overall performance has been excellent. He’s already a top 5 Chicago Cubs starting pitcher in history (WAR) and could move up further with a few more decent seasons. That’s 135 years. One of the best pitchers that has ever worn a Cubs uniform and to think how poorly he gets treated is troubling in my opinion.

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  57. 96

    [quote name=mb21]I agree with this. Fans are really good at placing unreasonable expectations on others. For that matter, we’re all good at placing unreasonable expectations on others.

    The interesting thing to me is that if you look back at those early years, you’ll see that the order of the rotation was Wood, Prior, Clement, Estes, and Zambrano. Then Z moved up to the 4th starter’s spot. Then the 3rd. By default he became the top of the rotation starter and at that point ridiculous expectations were placed on him. It’s really odd.[/quote]
    I remember back when Z was still in Wood and Prior’s shadow that there was some story where Theo Epstein was supposed to have said that he thought Z had the best stuff of the three and people laughed.

    So it isn’t just unreasonable expectations because Z (in the public mind) was never supposed to be the savior of the rotation. It became that way when the other two kept getting shut down, but it didn’t start that way and I seem to remember that there has always been an attitude about how Z just isn’t good enough.

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  58. 97

    [quote name=Doogolas]Also, to be fair MB, and to give full disclosure, I’m trying to be very optimistic here. I really, really want to believe the Ricketts are going to try to win and aren’t going to suck as owners.

    Simpson may not have been the best pick, but it is justifiable if Wilkens was telling the truth. It might mean that Wilkens needs to go, that I don’t really know, but I’m just saying, there is justification. And I just hope to God this draft proves they aren’t full of crap.[/quote]I still don’t think it’s justifiable. I don’t play fantasy baseball, but drafting in it is relatively simple. You rank the players and you take the best player available in the 1st round. If there’s a guy you really, really want, but know his overall ranking is 3rd, 4th or 5th round, you’re not going to use your 1st round pick to grab the guy. You’ll take your chances, take the better overall player and hope you can get him in a later round.

    Drafting Simpson was something that not even the least knowledgeable fantasy baseball player would have done. The MLB Draft has players left on the board so it’s impossible to know if the team Wilken is speaking of would have taken him. My guess is they’d have taken one of the better players on the board and hope that Simpson was available later. There’s just too many players passed over each and every year early on to know what a team is going to do when the pick comes to them. Most teams draft best player available so if the 8th ranked player drops for whatever reason, he’s still there and the idea that the team picking 37th was still going to take Simpson becomes that much more unlikely. In reality you’ll have the 8th, 11th, 17th, 24th, 26th and 31st ranked players fall. The team picking at 37th expected all of them to be gone, but now they’re not. I find it very hard to believe any team is instead going to stick with their original plan and pick someone ranked lower.

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  59. 98

    [quote name=Aisle424]I remember back when Z was still in Wood and Prior’s shadow that there was some story where Theo Epstein was supposed to have said that he thought Z had the best stuff of the three and people laughed.

    So it isn’t just unreasonable expectations because Z (in the public mind) was never supposed to be the savior of the rotation. It became that way when the other two kept getting shut down, but it didn’t start that way and I seem to remember that there has always been an attitude about how Z just isn’t good enough.[/quote]Good point. He never put together the kind of season that Wood or Prior did so therefore he’s no good. That’s basically what it’s come down to.

    By the way, I told Ryno back in 2003 on the blog we first met up on that I thought Z had the best stuff of the 3. Good to know that Theo agreed. I didn’t even think it was close to be honest. I still don’t. I also agreed that Wood and Prior were more likely to reach their ceilings than Zambrano was because of Zambrano’s poor control.

    You’re absolutely right though. At no point has Zambrano done enough to make the fans or media happy. I don’t get it.

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  60. 101

    [quote name=mb21]I still don’t think it’s justifiable. I don’t play fantasy baseball, but drafting in it is relatively simple. You rank the players and you take the best player available in the 1st round. If there’s a guy you really, really want, but know his overall ranking is 3rd, 4th or 5th round, you’re not going to use your 1st round pick to grab the guy. You’ll take your chances, take the better overall player and hope you can get him in a later round.

    Drafting Simpson was something that not even the least knowledgeable fantasy baseball player would have done. The MLB Draft has players left on the board so it’s impossible to know if the team Wilken is speaking of would have taken him. My guess is they’d have taken one of the better players on the board and hope that Simpson was available later. There’s just too many players passed over each and every year early on to know what a team is going to do when the pick comes to them. Most teams draft best player available so if the 8th ranked player drops for whatever reason, he’s still there and the idea that the team picking 37th was still going to take Simpson becomes that much more unlikely. In reality you’ll have the 8th, 11th, 17th, 24th, 26th and 31st ranked players fall. The team picking at 37th expected all of them to be gone, but now they’re not. I find it very hard to believe any team is instead going to stick with their original plan and pick someone ranked lower.[/quote]
    The thing is, when Wilken ranked the players and our pick came up, Simpson WAS the top guy on his board. At least that’s what he claims. And by that, I mean he claims that Simpson WAS the best overall player available and that he would not be available later because someone was going to take him.

    To your Fantasy analogy, what if there’s a guy you think is the best pick available, even if he’s not the guy everyone is gonna be jumping on, but you have a friend who you KNOW is going to take him. Wouldn’t the logical thing to do be to take the guy YOU feel is #1 even if it’s not consensus?

    I mean, I don’t know for sure, like I said, I’m being optimistic here. But if what Wilken said is true, that’s how it played out. Where he had Simpson #1 and he had it on good information that Simpson would go in the sandwich rounds. I can’t say if this is true, but if it is, that is solid justification.

    However, it could still out to be a very stupid decision, where Wilken outsmarted himself. I’m not saying that’s not the case, but I think the pick is justifiable.

    However, if the Cubs go with a big stretch again this year, I’ll agree with you completely that it was a BS pick and the Ricketts are going to be extremely cheap. If they pick the other way, you still don’t have to change your mind, I totally see where you’re coming from and I was pretty upset at the pick myself, I just am taking Wilken at his word here and am OK with it, even if I’m not super duper happy about it still.

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  61. 103

    Who has final say in draft picks? Scouts? GM? What I’m wondering is why nobody else in the org said “Hey Tim, you realize this guy has 5th round talent? Why are you picking him in the 1st?” Didn’t somebody else evaluate Simpson?

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  62. 104

    You guys think Z had better stuff than 1998 Wood? I remember that slurve or whatever the fuck it was looked unhittable.

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  63. 105

    Wilken does not have final say on who is drafted. I remember him talking about wanting to draft Nomar, but whoever he worked for (Blue Jays I think) wouldn’t do it. I’m sure it’s a committee that works on it and the Scouting Director has the most influence of course. He must have convinced them Simpson was the guy.

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  64. 106

    [quote name=Muck Muckintuck]You guys think Z had better stuff than 1998 Wood? I remember that slurve or whatever the fuck it was looked unhittable.[/quote]Not 1998 Woody. I’m not sure I’ve seen a pitcher in my life except for Pedro Martinez who had better raw stuff than 1998 Kerry Wood. That curve was insane. Batters literally had no chance. If they saw the curve they may as well have stepped out of the box and started taking practice swings.

    I do think a young Z showed better stuff than Wood and Prior in 2003 and 2004.

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  65. 107

    The thing is, when Wilken ranked the players and our pick came up, Simpson WAS the top guy on his board. At least that’s what he claims. And by that, I mean he claims that Simpson WAS the best overall player available and that he would not be available later because someone was going to take him.

    I realize that, Doog, but what I’m saying is that he wasn’t the top pick or even the second pick on other team’s boards with the possible exception of one mystery team. In fantasy baseball Pujols is the top pick, right? Imagine you’re playing in a league with people that just hate the guy and nobody is going to draft him until the 5th round. What round do you draft Pujols in? It’s not the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd round even though he’s at the top of your board. You take someone else (Utley?) and then in the 4th round you grab Pujols before anyone else does in the 5th. That way you have Utley and Pujols rather than Pujols and some 2nd rounder.

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  66. 108

    If you draft 1st overall, you wouldn’t draft Pujols in that make believe league until the 5th round. The Cubs should have done the same thing with Simpson.

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  67. 109

    [quote name=mb21]Not 1998 Woody. I’m not sure I’ve seen a pitcher in my life except for Pedro Martinez who had better raw stuff than 1998 Kerry Wood. That curve was insane. Batters literally had no chance. If they saw the curve they may as well have stepped out of the box and started taking practice swings.

    I do think a young Z showed better stuff than Wood and Prior in 2003 and 2004.[/quote]I was a senior in HS in 98 and remember thinking after seeing Woody that he might become the greatest pitcher in baseball history. I thought he was going to throw 10 no hitters and shit.

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  68. 110

    The thing with taking the 169th ranked player or whatever he was is that if someone wants to take him in the sandwich round, you let them.

    If I think Starlin Castro is going to have the best fantasy year of everyone in baseball, but he is ranked somewhere in the 4th or 5th round, I figure I’ll make a stretch in the 2nd round.

    If I know the President of the Starlin Castro Fan Club is in my league and is going to take him before my pick comes back around, that is fine with me. There is just no reason to make that big of a leap in that early of a round.

    Even if Simpson was the top guy they had, if they lost him chances are they could have gotten two of their next highest rated that actually were plausible to go early in the draft. If Simpson was ranked #1 and #2,3,4,5,6, etc. were already off the board, you have to wonder why the Cubs’ draft board was so different than everyone else’s. We know it isn’t advanced metrics at work, so what is it? Gut?

    The Cubs’ don’t have the track record of success for me to put any faith in their gut instincts.

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  69. 111

    i dont know md. Baseball America isn’t the gospel. The draft is such a crapshoot that if Wilken really believes Simpson was the guy (highly debatable, i think it was about $) then you go with it.

    All of us flamed him for Colvin and he was right. So im willing to defer to his judgement until proven wrong

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  70. 113

    Best Stretches of Cubs pitching in my lifetime

    1. 1998 Wood
    2. 2nd half of 03 Prior
    3. That time which Rich Hill was Cy Young
    4. 08 Harden
    5. The first month of 2005 or 06 Maddux when he had an era under 1.00 after 5 starts.

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  71. 114

    Sure, I agree with you MB, they shouldn’t have done it. THAT I agree with.

    However, if Wilken really did have Simpson as THE BEST PLAYER LEFT IN THE DRAFT OMGOSO*UG(@*VGHSG I MUST HAVE HIM!

    And he was CONFIDENT another team was going to take him before he got another chance, and he was just CERTAIN that Simpson had THE MOST TALENT of anyone, then taking him is justifiable.

    It might be a HUGE fault with Wilkens, that he will stretch to take his guy even though it goes WAY against the grain and there still would have been a solid chance he’s around next pick.

    I mean, I agree that it was the wrong decision. But I feel that if Wilkens REALLY felt that strongly, that it is justifiable. There’s a weird line here that I’m trying to point out. Wherein, I may not agree with the pick, but I don’t think it has any meaning on what will happen going forward in that I believe it was honestly what Wilken felt, and convinced the Cubs, was the right decision.

    @Aisle: The Cubs may not have a great track record, but Wilken absolutely does. He’s drafted very, very good major league players time after time after time after time in his career. Roy Halladay, I think Oswalt(?), Vernon Wells, Billy Kotch, among others. He has an extremely good history drafting players.

    He started doing the Cubs draft in 06 I believe with Colvin. Then 07 was Vitters, 08 was Cash, 09 was Jackson and 10 was Simpson.

    So far, Colvin has made it to the MLB and could potentially be a solid, average-ish player.

    Vitters is in AA at the age of 21 and has started hot. Cashner is at the MLB as a starting pitcher with #2 to low #1 potential, and Jackson is currently chilling at #1 on almost every Cubs prospect list and absolutely killing it again this year.

    I may not trust the Cubs in general, but I absolutely trust Tim Wilken. Which is why I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on Simpson. So far, he has produced more successful picks since 06 than probably anyone. I mean, 2/5 are in the majors with two more knocking on the door and in the top prospects list. Four of five (Simpson is the only one so far that hasn’t) have been in the top 100 prospects at some point.

    He’s also got: McNutt and Jay Jackson to his name for top 100 prospects.

    I mean really, Wilken has one helluva track record. So I’m rolling with him on this one.

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  72. 116

    although that quote from the “scout” about Hanley Ramirez is fucking stupid. In his first year he hit a lot more HR’s than Castro will (dying laughing)

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  73. 117

    [quote name=dylanj]on pure stuff nobody will ever match 1998 wood. that game vs Houston is Nintendo baseball[/quote]
    That looking strikeout to Dave Clark on three straight curveballs was especially ridiculous.

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  74. 118

    The draft is not a crapshoot. There’s evidence everywhere you look about first rounders being more valuable than second rounders and second rounders being more valuable than third rounders and so on. Not to mention that the first 5 picks are more valuable than the next 5 and so on. That’s the opposite of crapshoot. Just because some players in later rounds end up better than players in earlier rounds does not make it a crapshoot. The same thing happens in the NFL and nobody in their right mind would ever say the NFL draft is a crapshoot.

    I don’t care what Wilken thinks anyway. The question is what did the others think. It’s game theory. You don’t take the player you want until you know he’s likely to be taken. Even then, as 424 said, you let the other team reach.

    This just isn’t about what Wilken thinks. It never was. That’s never why anybody criticized him. It’s because no other team valued him much higher than the 4th or 5th round and the Cubs took him in the 1st. They could have taken him in the 3rd and taken two better players in the 1st and 2nd than they took in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

    game thread up: http://www.obstructedview.net/chicago-cubs/games/chicago-cubs-at-colorado-rockies-4-15-2011.html

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  75. 119

    The reason expecting more than 15-20HR from Castro, pretty much ever, is that he hits line drives and groundballs 75% of the time. He’s never gonna hit enough fly balls to his for much more power than 15-20HR.

    He will, however, likely hit for a very, very high average year in and year out.

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  76. 120

    MB, I’m saying it’s ONLY justifiable if Wilken was very certain Simpson was going to be gone.

    And if Simpson would have been gone and it turns out Wilken was right, he did have the best talent of the guys left, and he got him 1st round, then it’ll be glorious. Stretch or not, it will have been the right move.

    I don’t think that’s the case. I really don’t. But that’s justification. Simply that he believed the best guy available was Simpson and would be gone.

    With Wilken’s track record, I’ll trust that that’s what was happening.

    I DO agree it was the wrong decision. I do not think it was the way to go. I think you have to let another team take that leap of faith and go with the guys that most people feel are more talented than Simpson.

    But there still was justification there. Even if it’s not the decision I really like.

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  77. 122

    [quote name=Horny Goat]is there a Cubs game today?[/quote]
    looks like it, but there’s “audio difficulties” on extra innings.

    there was over a foot of snow in western NE overnight and today.

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  78. 124

    [quote name=Horny Goat]1B ump got nailed in the foot. ouch[/quote]That was a rocket. The ump did refuse to be carted off though so maybe nothing got broken. Had to hurt like a bitch though.

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  79. 125

    Colvin keeps stinkin. GIDP

    Rockies PBP guy said Cubs had very good weather opening week. really. 40s is warm?

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  80. 133

    [quote name=Horny Goat]what should’ve been a sac fly turns into a triple, error and 4 runs. unreal (dying laughing)[/quote]It’s a Way of (L)ife. (dying laughing)

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