Goatriders of the Apocalypse

OK, this is gonna sound crazy

You can tell that Pitchers and Catchers Report is coming up soon. 

The natives are getting restless.  Bored with waiting for the Big Trade to happen, brains frozen solid, we're all getting bat guano crazy around here.  Picking fights with one another.  Making stupid proposals.  Pretending that Mikey Fontenot is the difference between glory and mediocrity-as-usual. 

I'm no better.  I've not taken a decent breath for four days.  My throat is raw, but not as raw as my nostrils.  I'm all Ny-Quilled, I feel like Mike Phelps on the business end of the bong.  So here's my thought for today.

We haven't won a World Series for over a hundred years, and as presently constituted, will not win one this year, either.   I mean, we COULD, I guess, just as we could have last year, and the year before.  If we get ALL the breaks...but in my humble opinion, we've enjoyed more than our share of breaks the past two years.  The Houston series in Milwaukee?  Ben Sheets going down again and again?  Not to mention Gallardo?   Tony LaRussa losing his battle with the bottle?

We can't rely on breaks anymore.  we need to spend some money....

...but we HAVE!  Who spent more money in 2007 than Hendry?  Who then went out and gave Fukudome another 40 mill in 2008?  Who then went out on a pre-emptive strike and retained Dempster, which in retrospect looks like an over-pay?  Sure, the payroll has not yet been brought in line with their revenues (remember, chant it as a mantra if you must, 3rd in Revenues, 8th in Payroll), but money has been spent.  In fact, each year that passes, things get worse.  Ramirez, Zambrano, Soriano, Dempster, Fukudome, they all have huuuge back-loaded deals that start to kick in with a vengeance in 2010 and beyond. 

This is why, when we all look at Jake Peavy, when all it would take for us is to throw a couple of handfuls of "prospects" at the Padres to bring him here?  Peavy's contract is back-loaded, too.  When the five guys above are cashing their big checks, Peavy will be getting one just as large, if not larger.  Although his role as Ace Pitcher fits in perfectly with our staff, and would make us the prohibitive favorite in the entire league, it is possible to understand why Hendry isn't making the deal.  His salary is no good fit with ours.

But we HAVE to win NOW, dammit!!! 

There's one other man that can do the job.  A man who has never played on a losing team.  A man who has carried his teams to 10 playoff appearences in the past 14 years.  Four World Series.  Two World Championships.  A World Series MVP.  A man who has led the league twice in outfield assists, who hits 30 points higher with men on base. 

A man who wants a long term contract, yes, but could possibly accept a one-year deal for the right price.  So sign him for a year, and in the meantime, work out a trade that would send one of our other long-terms packing (either Z or Soriano, preferably the latter), and then maybe keep this guy around if everything works out.

Yep, I'm talking Manny!!  He turned down one year at $25 million with the Dodgers.  You know what, it ain't My money, I don't care.  Find out how much he WOULD take for one year?  I bet the number will be more than the A-Fraud ($27MM).  But even if he wanted 30 or 32 million for 2009, it wouldn't cripple us down the road, and our payroll would still be in line with our revenues.

I am convinced that with this guy, the good far outweighs the bad, even though there's a lot of bad.  Yes, he quit on the Sawx last year.  SO WHAT??  It's the Sawx!  Screw 'em!!  They deserve it, the Massholes.  If we sign this guy, then move Soriano to second base, we lead the league in errors, we score over 1,000 runs, we have an assload of FUN, and we win a pennant! 

Tomorrow I promise to lay off the Ny-Quil.

All I know is that in Game 2

All I know is that in Game 2 last year, in the span of about one inning, every Cubs infielder had a defensive boner. DeRo bobbled. Theriot tried to scoop up a ground ball with a brick instead of a glove. It was UGLY.

Do the Cubs win Game 2 if none of that happened, or the NLDS? Eh. Probably not. But it was like somebody popped a paper bag, that was how quick the air deflated from the ballpark.

Moving Soriano to second does NOTHING to solve that problem. Replacing his cannon arm in left with a guy who plays defense with about as much passion as one would have when doing taxes does not help. Manny is not the answer. I'd rather see the Cubs grab Hudson before I see them sign Ramirez, but I don't think they need to do either. The next big move doesn't have to come until July, if even then.

Soriano

Pray tell, who in their right mind would take Soriano? This is my favorite Cub fan lament: "Just trade him!" As if someone will come screaming their good fortune if we made him available. An aging, undisciplined left-fielder with mounting leg problems. Yes, I'm sure they'll be lining up. Face it, Sori's contract will be a millstone around our neck until we have him killed or maimed.

I'll quote Rob's last

I'll quote Rob's last sentence:

"If we sign this guy, then move Soriano to second base, we lead the league in errors, we score over 1,000 runs, we have an assload of FUN, and we win a pennant!"

He's not saying TRADE Sori, he's saying MOVE him to second.

Just remember...

runs prevented are more valuable than runs scored.

wait, what?

wait, what?

agree

runs prevented = runs scored

I maintain our "delta-runs scored" would exceed our "delta-runs allowed" with Manny in left and Sori at second compared to Sori in left and Font/Miles at second.

I'm not debating

the value of Manny by any means, but by any comparison you like to use against other LF'ers, Soriano is plus in LF. That cannot be said with him at 2B.

As far as runs prevented being more valuable than run scored, let's look at it this way. Any run your team gives up requires at least 2 runs to overcome. This is why such a high a priority is placed on pitching and probably why you espouse rightly so, that the addition of Peavy would be such a plus.

The Cubs do in fact have a potent offense and should rack up plenty of runs, but in those close games or when you're facing an opponent's staff ace, scoring runs is usually a premium. Defense like speed, usually doesn't take a day off while offenses frequently do.

Therefore...runs prevented are more valuable than runs scored.

This is completely absurd

How about this: for every run you score, they have to score two to overcome it. Aren't we right back to where we started?

And offense doesn't really take a day off. A given team is going to get a certain number of hits/walks in a season. Sometimes the non-hit days for players will overlap and teams won't score. In the long run, however, the runs will lead to wins.

If you wanted to argue that a run allow takes the pitcher as well as requiring more runs to be scored by the offense, I could buy that. However, the actual run scored on offense is exactly as valuable as the run allowed on defense.

I can disagree with

someone without calling their argument absurd and for you to contend that an offensive production is more reliable to count on than the pitching and defense that can prevent it is defying logic.

While it is certainly true that pitchers can make mistakes, they certainly are the most dominant factor in determining a games outcome. The defensive prowess of a team also is a pretty much a constant and goes a long way in preventing extra opportunities for an opponent to score either by not committing errors or by covering more ground to prevent a hit in the first place.

Offensive production by any measurement you would like to use, is the least predictable of the three categories and while you can't win if you don't score more than your opponent, there are many examples of prolific offenses that haven't even been a 500 club let alone won a World Series.

If a team has to be deficient in any area, offense is the category that will forfeit the fewest losses.

I think the greater theme

I think the greater theme for the end of the 00's in baseball management is a return to valuing defense. The 2008 Rays were a prime example of this, as well as the Reds' letting go of Dunn and Griffey, and the tough time low-D high-O players are having finding jobs (aside from Raul Ibanez...wtf). Juiced up hitters made teams so hungry for home runs and power over the past decade that they forgot about glovework and the like.

Your point, which I find extremely valid, makes this revival of the value of defense look like common sense. I think you're absolutely correct in saying that a player's offensive production will vary significantly over the course of a season, while the same defender shows up every day (barring injury).

my point

is that the idea that a run on defense is more valuable than a run on offense because "a team has to score two runs for every run allowed" doesn't make any sense. That's the part that I was calling absurd.

Defense is extremely valuable, but I would argue that a defensive player can have no value over the course of a week. He just needs to not have the ball hit to him. In that case, the defensive player contributed nothing. A "slump".

I can't imagine there are

I can't imagine there are many games where a single defensive play isn't made at every position on the field, much less consecutive games.

but a defensive player could

but a defensive player could be practically uninvolved if he only makes replacment level plays

but a defensive player could

but a defensive player could be practically uninvolved if he only makes replacment level plays

Now I see - how often is a

Now I see - how often is a player's range useful?

Actually, that speaks to the Value Estimations at fangraphs - how much are the best fielders worth, versus the best hitters?

Also--while this is all well and good in theory, it's tough to apply this kind of discussion to real life without having to deal with the specific pro's and con's of an individual player.

I'm sure fangraphs has enough data for someone to make a rough estimate of the effect that would be had on our win/loss record if we had Manny in left and Sori at 2B instead of Sori in left and Fontymiles at 2B.

In fact, I'll go look now.

My rough math plus Fangraphs

My rough math plus Fangraphs data says:

Manny's bat is worth 5 wins, and his glove is worth -2. (5 - 2 = 3)

Soriano's bat is worth 2 wins, and his glove at second base, historically, costs his team about a game. (2 - 1 = 1)

In left, Soriano's excellent arm and poor glovework combine to create an average LF; neither gain nor pain. So take away that loss created by sticking him at 2B. (2 - 0 = 2)

Fontenot's bat is probably worth about a win; last year it was worth about 1.5, so I allowed for some regression here. His glove at 2B is good, though; he's worth about 1 win. (1 + 1 = 2)

In the end, Manny and Soriano give you 4 wins.

And by my math, so do Soriano and Fontenot.

No to mention at

a $25M savings.

we would have to trade Sori

If we were to consider signing Manny PAST 2009.

And would it be easy to do? Hellsnaw. That's why I give Hendry a year to do it.

Manny turning down

1 year for $25M should be a pretty strong indicator he is going to hold out for at least a 2 year contract.

It's a shame that Zell cocked up the Cubs sale. If Ricketts were in control by now and the reports are true how big a Cub fan he is, he could go out and spend whatever it took to make the Cubs as bulletproof as possible for a World Series Championship.

Hell, there would even be a third statue constructed in his likeness.

I don't think that Zell

I don't think that Zell really helped Ricketts' situation much, but he certainly didn't tie his hands any either. In buying the team Ricketts is already putting a good deal of his total net worth towards the purchase of the team alone, so to suggest that he still has piles of money laying around that he could have put towards the roster is a bit of a stretch. I would venture a guess that no ownership group outside of Cuban would have had enough money to come in and buy the team at the price of $900M and then turn around and infuse more money into the roster just months later without earning any revenues first - and Cuban likely would have never got approval from 23 other owners anyway. Ricketts is already up against a mountain as it is, but you're expecting the guy to walk on water.

Not expecting

him to walk on water but if Ricketts was firmly in place now, I don't think it's unrealistic to think he'd spend enough to make another big acquisition like Peavy.

So had the deal gone through

So had the deal gone through before, when Ricketts couldn't finance the purchase alone, the team would be in a better position now? I don't think Ricketts brought in additional investors because he needed someone to keep him company. My point is that the guy has already poured over half of his personal worth into purchasing the cubs. Thats a pretty big commitment already from Ricketts & co, which is why I would imagine the new ownership group will want to generate some revenues before they increase payroll spending significantly or any other expenses for that matter. I'm not claiming to know anything as a hard truth here, but I would at least let the process play out and let his group actually be named the new owner of the team before I started reaching for hand-outs. I'd say that Ricketts has done what he can to this point, and the man that will determine the players on the roster is Jim Hendry.

How much...

Ny-Quil? I heard there was alcohol in that stuff. Do you cut the syrupy taste with tonic water and a lime?

straight 'tuss

I ain't cuttin' my buzz with no water.

I don't know

I don't understand why you don't think the current roster can not win the world series without some breaks. They have a real chance on talent alone. On paper I think it will be the Cub's, Dodger's, Phillie 's and Met's in the playoffs again. With Manny I would give the Dodger's the edge in hitting, but I think their pitching may have taken a step back. The Met's have choked even worse than the Cub's the last 2 years and I don't see that changing. Once you get past the first 4 in the Phillie's line up I see as many question as there are on the Cub's. I think that we have an advantage over the Phillie's in the bull pen, even with out a loogy.
As for Manny, yes I would like to have his talent, but I don't want to have to root for him. Does that mean the Cub's should not think about him, no. While I agree with you about Soriano and his contract I don't think moving him to second is the answer. It has been 3 years since he has played there and IF my memory is correct he was at best middle of the pack on defense. I would be tempted and I repeat tempted to trade him now for whatever we could get, just to get rid of his contract. We could take a run at Abreu or Dunn for a 1 or 2 year deal. My idea is at least as crazy as your's if not more so. That could also free up the money for the Peavy trade. No matter what happens I would guess we both gave the bee's nest 2 good hits. Lets see what we stired up.

Soriano is a miserable second baseman

Which is why he has spent the last three years in left field.

Manny is not a real good left fielder either.

If we were to go this route, we would be a fairly miserable defensive team. We might also be the best offensive team since the Big Red Machine. Who in God's name could they pitch around?

Logic says that sure, the Cubs roster COULD win as comprised. But this is the Cubs. Logic also said we should have beaten the Dodgers last year; won the Central in '04; beaten the Marlins in '03; beaten the Padres in '84; won the East in '69, etc.

Logic simply does NOT apply with the Chicago Cubs. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you will truly understand.

You know I love you in a

You know I love you in a non-gay way Rob, but I think you're totally wrong about this.

We have been following the most ass-backwards ballclub in baseball history. I mean c'mon, College of Coaches? Team motivators? Larry Himes?

Logic doesn't apply because the Cubs have never TRIED logic. The Cubs have never really TRIED building a complete team with well-rounded players. Building a well-rounded team with solid defenders is new for a change. Splurging on Manny Ramirez and relocating Alfonso Soriano is not the way to go - because you just know that in the DS or the CS, one or both would eff up on the field at their positions.

Besides ... this offense already has no holes (well, maybe Fukudome). These guys are going to be outstanding.

I can hope you are right

and expect the worst, because that's all we've gotten the past 100 years.

We've never tried anything like THIS before. This would be akin to the '69 Cubs bringing in Hank Aaron, or the '84 Cubs bringing in Mike Schmidt.

It seems like we've tried everything else.

Schmidt

But then we would have never been blessed with The Penguin...ha

I agree

I agree with everything you said. I have said more than once in various replies the reason they have not won a world series is that they are the Cub's. The Cub's have a way of pulling defeat from the jaws of victory. I will say it here and know I am going to bet beat up for it. I was rooting for them to get to the world series last year, but if that was not going to happen then please let them go down like Cub's. And that is what they did. I know Manny is no gold glover, but how much better/worst is he that Soriano. I don't know, but I am sure someone will tell me.

I would say that you're

I would say that you're grossly underestimating the Phillies. Their bullpen is outstanding with Madsen and Lidge at the back end, and Romero is a good lefty reliever as well. Their lineup is sick, far past the first four spots in the order, as they have more good lefties in the lineup than that alone; with Victorino-Utley-Rollins-Howard-Ibanez. When the cubs face a team like the Phillies in a 5 or 7 game series then everyone will clearly see how having an effective lefty in the pen could be beneficial.

I also don't know what team, in this current market, would even consider making a trade with the cubs to take on Saddlebags Soriano with the type of money that is still owed to him. Money could be made to sign Manny much easier than convincing another team to take Soriano off our hands - in terms of Soriano the cubs made that bed and likely will have to sleep in it for a few more years.

Phils definitely have a good

Phils definitely have a good offense. Lilly would almost certainly start at least once in such a series.

As for the effective lefty, I'd cross Joe Beimel off your list. Look at his line against lefties last year. His ERA is minuscule because of 2 HR allowed in 2 years; that can't be sustained. How much would Dennys Reyes cost? Or Ron Villone?

I am also fairly certain Sean Marshall will be in the bullpen for the playoffs, regardless of whether or not he is the fifth starter over the course of the season. If not, I'll assume he earned himself a spot as the Game 3 starter, in which case we could send Lilly and Marshall to the mound in back to back playoff games.

Also, don't forget Gregg and Marmol have excellent numbers against lefties as well. Why do they HAVE to be left handed, if it doesn't translate to effectiveness against lefties (see Joe Beimel)?

The only detractor for

The only detractor for Dennys Reyes is that he, as a Type B free agent, costs any team that signs him a draft pick. The draft pick likely would be a bigger loss than the money spent in Reyes' case. Beimel doesn't cost a draft pick because the Dodgers didn't offer him arbitration, but as you stated he may not be as effective as his numbers would lead one to believe.

I'm not saying that right-handed pitchers can't be effective against lefty hitters, but for the most part any RH pitcher enters an at bat against any LH hitter at a disadvantage. A LH batter usually takes away a RH pitcher's breaking pitches because of the angle the batter gets to watch the ball from, so by adding a LH reliever to the bullpen the cubs would be better equipped to use their pitchers more often in situations that they can be successful. With a lefty in the bullpen those at bats could instead begin on even ground or in some instances the advantage swings to the lefty pitcher that can use all of their pitches in the situation. Not all lefty relievers are effective against LH hitters, but there are some that can give even the best left-handed hitters in the game fits.

Phillies

I have great respect for the top for in their line up. What I said was that they have as many questions as we do in the bottom half of their line-up. Ibanez has a good track record, but he is 36 and changing leagues that equals a question mark. Which Wertz is going to show up the one from 05 or 08. Feliz is going to miss the start of spring training with a bad back, not a good thing for a 3rd baseman. Lidge's stats have been up and down see 06 vs 08. Romero is going to miss the first 50 games because of drugs, so when he does show are they going to get the 06 or 08 version. All real and fair questions. That is why today I would not give them a hugh edge over the Cub's. Lilly would be one of the three starters in the play offs edge to us against their lefties. That leaves Cotts and Marshall in the bull pen. Someone earlier said that Gregg's and Marmol's splits against lefties was ok so that takes care of the 8th and 9th innings. I never said that there was a team that would take Soriano and his contract. All I said is that may-be if we did trade Soriano would that free up money for Peavey. Would their contracts be close to a wash I don't know. I just added a crazy idea to a blog titled a crazy idea.

I'm not really saying that

I'm not really saying that they have any huge edge over the cubs, my point was that they are a solid team that likely will be an obstacle along the way. It will be a great matchup if it comes to fruition in a Playoff Series. I completely agree that each team has its question marks throughout their respective rosters, no doubt. I'm not criticizing you or anyone for throwing out crazy ideas like the team trade Soriano or sign Manny, in fact I probably appreciate the crazy talk more than anyone out there.

If there's one thing HC is

If there's one thing HC is good for, it's crazy trade and acquisition proposals.

Cubs-Phils would have been intense last year, and it would be just as interesting this year as well.

BTW

I have a healthy fear of the Phils

Amen

!

the maths

IF you believe that a team's Pythagorean record is a true indicator of its ability, then runs prevented are more important than runs scored.

Let's take an example of 3 teams with a 100 run differential between runs scored and runs allowed. The baseline team scores 900 runs and allows 800. This is theoretically a 91 win team.

Next, let's take an offense heavy/defense weak team. They score 1000 runs, but allow 900 runs. This team would expect to win 90 games.

Finally, a defense heavy/offense weak team that goes 800 RS - 700 RA would be expected to win 92 games.

The difference is small, but it is there. Runs allowed are a little more important than runs scored.

That said, Manny in a Cubs uni would be pretty sweet. Though for the sake of symmetry, we should then try to acquire Carlos Lee so that the LHS of the field could be Ramirez territory and the RHS could be Lee land.

I'd ask for historic max's

I'd ask for historic max's and min's on both RS and RA. Which was the last team to score 1000? Allow only 700?

historic perspective

Good questions. Last year the Cubs allowed 671 runs, which was 2nd in the NL behind the Dodgers, who allowed 648. Toronto led the AL with 610 RA. The 1999 Indians were the last team to top 1000 RS with 1009. 900 RS/800RA is kind of on the high side, I just pulled that out of my ass for no particular reason. But the point remains the same if I say the high team goes 950RS-850RA (90 wins), the mid team goes 850RS-750RA (91 wins), and the low team goes 750RS-650RA (92.51 wins (up to you if you want to round up or down there) ). I'd rather have a team with a 100-run delta that gives up less total runs.

This point is extremely

This point is extremely interesting. There are a ton of things I want to look at.

How does run differential correlate with runs scored? runs allowed?

Also, are there 2008 examples of this point? Do the pre- and post-Manny Dodgers work?

Here's another

Here's another question.

Take the Texas Rangers. They score a lot of runs, and allow a lot of runs as well.

By your argument, would moving this exact team to Petco Park for home games increase their winning percentage?

Should every team build a pitcher's park as soon as possible?

hmm...

Pythagorean winning percentage (for those who don't know or need a clarification) is (Runs scored)^2/[(Runs scored)^2 + (Runs allowed)^2]. Since the Rangers gave up more runs than they allowed last year, moving to a less offense-friendly environment would actually hurt the Rangers. It's really more of a predictive tool for future success - it's what told us that the '07 Mariners and D-Backs were frauds (seen by their falls in 2008) and that the '07 Indians would be pretty good (despite not doing so well in 2006). Pythagorean record shows that the '09 Angels are due for a tumble, which will likely be all the steeper due to not retaining Teixeira.

The ratio of a team's run differential to how many total runs they score makes a big difference. For extreme purposes, let's look at a team that has a +162 run differential (for reference, the '08 Cubs run differential was 184 runs). Team A scores 162 runs and allows 0. Doesn't take a lot of math to figure out that team's record. Team B scores 3162 runs and allows 3000. This team wins 85 games.

Every team should try to build a winning team, park factors be damned. But any advantage that prevents 1 run is slightly better than an advantage that would score 1 run.

I don't have the time to really delve into the relation between runs scored/allowed and run differential; suffice it to say it's just complicated. Take a look at the 2008 standings on Baseball Prospectus for a little more detail if you'd like to (you don't need to be a subscriber to see these).

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/standings.php
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/team_audit.php?dispgroup=div&standings...

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