Goatriders of the Apocalypse


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NLDS Series Preview: Cubs scouting report

Jason has already done this, but I wanted to look even further in depth at the upcoming roster for the NLDS against the Dodgers.  But before I get too deep into it, let's address something...

The general consensus that I've seen in the past few days has been fear mixed with panic.  Now that the playoffs are here, everybody is nervous for the Cubs.  Some people are particularly disturbed by the first round opponent - the "D" in Dodgers stands for "dangerous," and the potent combo of ex Red Sox Lowe and Ramirez have some Cub fans quivering in their boots.  Don't get me wrong, I'm nervous too, although I think most of my anxiety is for it to start.  The two days is killing me.  But, while the Mets were perhaps more vulnerable than the Dodgers due to their numerous injuries, let's keep in mind the following points:

  • The Cubs beat the Dodgers in the season series
  • The Dodgers are entering the playoffs with 14 more losses than the Cubs, and that's in a division drastically weaker than the NL Central
  • If the Cubs can't beat the 84-win Dodgers, then they don't deserve to get to the World Series, and, lastly ...
  • How do you think Dodger fans are feeling about meeting the Cubs right now?  If you thought you were nervous, you should see what they are saying.

Anyway.  There remains some degree of speculation as to what the playoff roster will consist of.  Lou apparently met with Hendry earlier today, but nothing has been announced since that point.  However, there are certainly some likely candidates, and I will attempt to clinically and fairly evaluate the Cubs post season talent.

Starting Rotation:

Ryan Dempster - The Game One starter.  Strengths: Gives home field advantage a new meaning, having gone 14-3 in the friendly confines this season.  Confident about his stuff.  Primarily throws fastballs, and his key secondary pitch is the slider.  Knows how to perform magic tricks.  Weaknesses: throws a few too many balls, although it didn't effect him in the regular season when he walked 76 in 206.2 innings.  Melts like a hot tub of butter with a runner on third (teams are batting .333 against him in that scenario).  Still banned from Vegas due to That Incident With the Hooker.

Carlos Zambrano - Game Two starter.  Strengths: Undeniable no-hit stuff.  Is a fierce competitor who would pitch with a knife in his shoulder if he had to.  Carries within him a rage as hot as a fiery inferno.  Swings that bat better than perhaps any pitcher in baseball.  Weaknesses: Inconstancy.  Despite throwing a no-hitter earlier this month, Carlos has a 7.08 ERA in September and a 5.80 ERA since the All Star Break.  Is primarily a fastball pitcher, and has had trouble locating pitches and maintaining velocity in the past 2 months.

Rich Harden - Game Three starter.  Strengths: Dominating stuff.  Teams are batting .183 off of Harden this year.  Great strikeout ability, has 181 k's in 148 innings of work.  Perhaps the best #3 starter on any team in the playoffs this season - and that's even if Josh Beckett pitches Game 3 for the Red Sox.  Weaknesses: Arm issues.  Has missed time throughout the season and in past seasons due to problems with his delivery.  If he has reached his expiration date for the '08 season, it may be problematic for the Cubs.

Ted Lilly - Game Four starter.  Strengths: Mentally tough.  Capable of being a slump-buster (not in the Mark Grace sense).  Can dominate a game.  Keeps the body parts of gutted opponents in a freezer in his basement.  Weaknesses: Currently under investigation by the FBI for the mysterious Green Creek murders.  Occasionally gets pummeled by opponents. Has only thrown 200 or more innings twice in his career; this year and the last.

The Bullpen:

Kerry Wood - closer.  Strengths: Dominating strikeout stuff.  Has developed a closer's mentality during the season.  Weaknesses: Developed a case of Rod Beckitis during the month of September.  Has a September ERA of 7.45, but his post All Star Break ERA is 3.02.  Scares the crap out of me when he lets runners on in close situations.

Carlos Marmol - set-up man.  Strengths: Unbelievably dominating stuff.  After having one of the ugliest month-long-spans in recent memory, buckled down and allowed only 5 earned runs in 34 innings of work after the All Star Break.  Weaknesses: Unproven in the post season.  While dominating, has completely fallen off in the past.  Looks like the dramatic gopher when he prepares to go into his delivery.  Big ears.

Jeff Smardzija - 7th inning man.  Strengths: Good stuff.  Able to strike out tall batters in a single bound.  Has played in Big Game Situations in the past as a TE for Notre Dame.  Weaknesses: A rookie.  May be used to big games, but probably is not used to being in a position to determine complete success or failure.  Sometimes suffers from a lack of control.

Sean Marshall - 1st Lefty Specialist.  Strengths: Reliable.  Has a 2.81 ERA as a reliever.  Weaknesses: Not really good against left handed hitters.  Righties are batting .229 against Marshall, lefties are batting .273.

Neal Cotts - 2nd Lefty Specialist.  Strengths: Is left handed.  Weaknesses: Totally unreliable.  Lefties are hitting as well against him as righties (.269/.263).  Under the delusion that he may somehow win World Series MVP.  Used to pitch for the White Sox.

Bob Howry - Long Inning Specialist.  Strengths: ... Weaknesses: Human gas can.  Has given up 12 homeruns - as a relief pitcher.  Post All Star ERA of 6.47.  Incapable of producing real tears of emotion.

Jason Marquis - other Long Inning Specialist.  Strengths: Easy to make fun of due to his last name.  Capable of eating up innings in case of route.  Shockingly may be one of the best #5 pitchers in baseball.  Weaknesses: Ultimately not worth the money he's being paid.  Unreliable in clutch situations.  Not used to pitching in relief.

The Starting Lineup:

Geovany Soto - Catcher.  Strengths: Calls a great game.  Hits the ball well.  Shows good plate discipline, especially for a rookie.  Can hit the ball a mile.  Weaknesses: Sore hand may limit playing time.  Looks like a glam-rock star.

Derrek Lee - First Base.  Strengths: Solid defensive first baseman.  Good overall offensive game.  Still able to steal an occasional base.  Weaknesses: Hit into an absurd number of double plays this season - is it a fluke, or is it him?  Loss of power in the second half.  Sometimes grows a very scruffy beard which, according to my fiancee, detracts from his hotness.

Mike Fontenot - Second Base.  Strengths: Has taken a surprisingly solid approach to hitting this year.  High SWP Factor (Scrappy White Player).  Is batting .323 with runners in scoring position.  Weaknesses: All the heart in the world won't make up for limited range defensively.  Is short enough to play a hobbit.

Aramis Ramirez - Third Base.  Strengths: If you Google "Aramis Ramirez clutch homerun" and look through the images, while there may be many pictures few will be duplicates.  (That's a long-winded way of saying Moy Clutch.)  Best Cubs third baseman since Ron Santo.  Defensively better than his reputation suggests.  Weaknesses: Looks like Charles Barkley.  Supports cock fighting, which means that an animal lover will bean him sooner or later.  Can go into abysmal slumps that never seem to end.

Ryan Theriot - Short Stop.  Strengths: Good singles hitter.  Gets on base often (.387 OBP this year).  High SWP Factor.  Is a .368 hitter in the leadoff spot.  Weaknesses: Lacks in slugging.  Gets caught stealing waaaay too often.  Defensively inadequate (just ask Colin).  Cries when eating spicy Cajun food.

Alfonso Soriano - Left Field.  Strengths: Phenomenal hitter.  Cannon-arm in left field.  A game-changer with his bat.  Is loved by the ladies.  Weaknesses: Defensively shaky.  Has suffered a series of leg injuries the last couple of years.  Probably not the most ideal leadoff hitter, but is perceived as being psychologically fragile.

Jim Edmonds - Center Field.  Strengths: Donates large sums to animal shelters.  Still capable of making big plays defensively.  A still-surprisingly good power hitter.  Bad mouths the Cardinals organization.  Weaknesses: Old and infirm.  Used to play for the Cardinals.  Started out well with the Cubs, but has slowed down since the All Star Break, batting only .232 but with 10 homers.  Has ulterior motives for his support of animal shelters.

Mark DeRosa - Right Field.  Strengths: Versatile; can play multiple positions.  Disciplined at the plate, and has shown the ability to hit epic homeruns.  Because of his last name, allows for wordplay involving the word "Hero" - aka "DeRo is my Hero."  Weaknesses: A jack of many trades, a master of none, DeRosa won't be winning a Gold Glove any time soon.  May be playing hurt.  Is very streaky - either rips the cover off of the baseball, or misses it all together.

The Bench -

Henry Blanco - Catcher.  Strengths: A legend in Venezuela.  Capable of intimidating even Carlos Zambrano.  Prison tats = intimidating.  Has a .292 AVG off the bench.  Weaknesses - May or may not be playing with an artificial spine.  Looks as though he has a bit of a mullet.

Darryle Ward - First base/outfield.  Strengths: Capable of using his large butt as a flotation device.  Has long experience as a successful pinch hitter.  Hit a walk-off homerun against the Marlins.  Weaknesses: Probably should have retired already.  Inconsistent offensively this year.  Hasn't done a whole lot with the bat.

Ronny Cedeno - Middle Infield.  Strengths: Versatile; able to play two key positions.  Weaknesses: Unreliable in big moments - think Alex Gonzalez in Game Six.  Should be nowhere near a clutch situation while holding a baseball bat, regardless of early bases-loaded success.  When he enters a game along with Bob Howry, causes great fear in the hearts of Cub fans everywhere.

Reed Johnson - Outfield.  Strengths: Full SWP Factor.  Solid batting average - .303 on the season.  Can play all outfield positions.  Batting .364 with runners on, and .556 (5 for 9) with the bases loaded.  Weaknesses: Poor choice in facial hair.

Kosuke Fukudome - Outfield.  Strengths: Can curse on television in Japanese and get away with it.  Great plate discipline.  Actually understands what Hiro and Ando say.  Outstanding glove in both right and center field.  Weaknesses: Outside fastballs, 'nuff said.  Has lost all consistency as a hitter.

Felix Pie/Micah Hoffpauir - Outfield.  (One of these guys will make the squad, but which one?)  Strengths: Pie: good defensive skills, speedy, loves to win.  Hoff: Epic power-hitting skills*, solid pinch hitter.  Weaknesses: Pie: unable to deliver offensively so far in 260 career at bats (although he's batting .300 since he was called up in Sept).  Hoff: not really an outfielder at all, but forced to play there because he'll never replace Derrek Lee at first base.

(*Against Pedro Martinez only)

Overall - A solid team.  The Dodgers apparently have a better bench than the Cubs, but I fail to see how.  The Cubs bench, Ward excepted, appears to be defensively reliable and even has the ability to deliver the occassional blow via the bat.  Not to mention the Cubs have additionally talented pinch hitting help in guys like Carlos Zambrano, who hefts a mighty stick.

We'll take a closer look at the Dodgers tomorrow.  I promise it'll be completely, totally unbiased.  Really.  ::snicker::

Lou ain't gonna change things now

I learned something this week.  I always wanted to be a "Yankee Fan"...by that I mean I wanted to have the ability to walk into any social setting and automatically assume it was about me.  I also wanted to go to any street corner and get a bagel with a shmear, and I wanted to feel like I just had a total lobotomy without actually having to deal with the pain and gore.  AND I wanted to spend the last week of the regular season looking down at all the peons, having to scramble for THEIR playoff lives, safe and secure in our own.

It was freakin' boring.  I am SO ready for games that matter.

At the 2006 CubsCon, I had the 'honor' of asking Johnnie B. (Dusty) Baker whether or not he ever planned to 'set' his batting order, because I figured the lack of offensive continuity in 2005 was due to the juggling of the order.  Dusty, of course, came back at me with several 'dudes' and an actual reference to 'the horses', as in "Can't win without your horses".  Dude.  I did this, because we're accustomed to blaming batting orders for our problems.  Our guys didn't have a clue on how to approach an at-bat situationally; must be because they didn't know where they were in the batting order on any given day.  In 2008, I don't remember a single occurrence where one of us questioned the approach of a hitter that wasn't Ronny Cedeno.

Soriano is not a leadoff hitter.  DPLee has not functioned well as a third hitter in 2008.  When the season started, it seemed that Fukudome was born to bat second, and lately I still feel that way.  He could bat second, in Hiroshima, for the Carp.  I doubt we've played three games in a row this year with the same 1 thru 8 lineup.  There are some basic premises Lou has followed: Soriano 1, Lee 3, Ramirez 4, and everyone else has been slotted based on some secret criteria none of us mere mortals are privy to.  He doesn't try to go L-R-L-R...he seems to ride the hot hand pretty much when determining his slots.  It takes a reckless man to turn away from the modus operandi in the postseason, and Lou ain't reckless at 68 years of age. 

Expect Soriano to lead off, Lee to bat third, Ramirez 4th, just like we've seen all year long.  It sounds boring, and could very well kill us in the end.  But I am willing to wager things of tangible worth on the notion that our 1-3-4 hitters will be static in the NLDS.

The Waiting Game

During the summer, back when I was five, I didn't understand why the Cubs didn't play on certain days.  Heck, if I could play baseball every day out in the cul-de-sac (or "The Court" as it was referred to by the neighborhood kids) so should the Cubs.  As I grew older, I started to understand that baseball players put a great deal of strain on their bodies during the season and need days off to recover.  However, to this day I hate off days in baseball, particularly for extended periods of time (I'm looking at you All-Star break).

It has only been a matter of hours since the last out was recorded to close the Cubs regular season schedule and I'm already frustrated with the down time.  The time spent waiting for playoff baseball to begin is even more frustrating than I thought.  The Cubs clinched last weekend and allowed us to look towards the postseason, and I'll admit, it was exciting to debate about the possibilities.  Moreover, even though they were not meaningful games for the Cubs, there was still baseball to be played that we could analyze and discuss on top of it. 

However, now that the regular season games are done, all the substantive discussions are replaced with the speculations of so-called "experts," obligatory fluff pieces about our WS drought, and the incessant ramblings and freak outs by fans that for some reason find a cliff that has a comfortable edge for any number of reasons despite being a fan of the team that had the best record in the NL (OMG... the Dodgers have been so HOT lately [7-7 in last 14]; they have MANNY... his dreadlocks have been touched by the divine!; Jeff Kent is sooooo dreamy!).  Wait.  Scratch that last one.

I can't wait until Wednesday when the first pitch is thrown and we can get back to baseball.

Here Come the Dodgers

With the Dodgers officially coming to town, I thought it might be time to educate myself about a team that I've chosen to ignore over the last year or so: The Los Angeles Dodgers.  Being a West Coast team and in a faulty time zone, I barely even catch the Dodgers-Cubs games, let alone the Dodgers-non-Cubs games.  Other than Vin Scully, I couldn't name a half dozen Dodgers off the top of my head.  So, today I correct that and you all are invited along on the journey.

(in my defense: Okay, after looking the team up, I recognized and remembered all these players.  Like I said...off the top of my head)

Who You Should Fear

Manny Ramirez - (.396/.489/.743 for a whopping 1.232 OPS)

Yeah, I thought I heard something about Ramirez being good since being traded over to the Dodgers but...holy hell.  I would list this as a decent to solid pickup for the Dodgers.  And as a bonus, for the first time we get to listen to Tim McCarver say "that's just Manny being Manny" while the Cubs play.  Good times.  Manny is an unbelievably talented hitter and seems to enjoy the pitching of the National League.  Scary.

Andre Ethier (.302/.373/.507 for a .880 OPS)

Quite the drop-off from Manny, eh?  But still, a very solid player with some very real ability.  He has even home-road splits, so it doesn't look like his numbers are being suppressed by his home ballpark.  Yeah, not a bad player.

Rafael Furcal (.357/.439/.573 in 143 at bats)

I'm a little scared, but the guy who should be really scared is Lee.  Just think, we are one errant throw by a pitcher from having Ward as our first baseman.

Dodger's Bullpen

Lots of pitchers with ERA's in the twos.  Joe Beimel is really good situational lefty (2.03 ERA), Hong Chi-Kuo is quite good in many innings, Jon Broxton strikes out lots of people, and Takashi Saito saves games.  Yep, it's a hell of a bullpen.  Try to beat the starters.

Solid, but unspectacular

Matt Kemp (.292/.340/.461)

I'm fairly certain these numbers are the definition of solid but unspectacular.

Russell Martin (.279/.384/.395)

A very good catcher, but he shouldn't be one of your best hitters.  But I'd love to have him on my team if we didn't, you know, have a ridiculously sweet catcher ourselves.

Jeff Kent (.280/.327/.418)

He used to be good, but now he's not.  Now he's just kind of mediocre, bad at defense, and a grumpy gus.

Chad Billingsley (16-10 3.14 ERA; 3.40 road ERA)

He's a very solid pitcher with a better than 2:1 K/BB ratio who gave his team 200 innings.  But let's face it, he shouldn't be a team's #1.

Derrek Lowe (14-11 3.29 ER; 4.42 road ERA)

He's been murder on the Cubs more than a few times with that viscious sinker of his, but as shown by his road splits, he's not as good as his ERA.

Not that good

James Looney (.291/.341/.437)

On the surface, those numbers aren't terrible, but they're certainly not good for a first baseman.

Juan Pierre (.283/.327/.329 plus 39 stolen bases)

Hey, remember this guy?  Yeah, he's not very good.  What is that, a .656 OPS?  Yikes. But on the plus side, he has no arm, no power, and can't get on base.  But hey, he's fast!  To be clear, our scrap-heap center field is way, way, better.  Well, maybe I overstated that.  But they're better.  Way better.

Blake DeWitt/Nomar Garciaparra

DeWitt's not that good and Garciaparra is never healthy.  Not a super combo.

The Back End of the Rotation

Kuroda, Maddux, and Kershaw are names that strike fear into none but the most fragile of fans.  Once we get past the first two members the the Dodger's rotation, there's just not much there.

Okay, now you know as much as me.  Go Cubs.

Game Recap: Brewers 3, Cubs 1

And just like that, the 2008 regular season comes to a close.  CC Sabathia finally was able to beat the Cubs, although Lou hardly trotted out his best players today.  What's more, Sabathia pitched again on short rest and went the distance - 122 pitches and 7 strikeouts to notch another big win.  With all due respect to Webb, maybe the Brewers lefty should get some votes for the Cy Young.

The Cubs were offensively quiet today; in fact, Theriot and Ramirez accounted for all their hits.  The Cubs pitching was pretty effective - Angel Guzman rediscovered some of that God-given talent and struck out 4 Brewers in 2 innings of work, before turning it over to an assorted cast of characters.  Gaudin, Cotts, Hart, Marshall, Wuertz, and Howry, proceeded to get some work, and ironically it was only the guys up for post season roster consideration who looked bad.

I'm sure some Cub fans are a little frustrated that the team couldn't hold onto their thin lead and force Milwaukee into a one-game with the Mets, but this was clearly not today's objective.  Lou Piniella was looking to get all of his relievers a little work.  In the process, he discovered something we've known for quite a while - the only time Bob Howry doesn't let a hit drop onto the playing field is when it cannot be contained by the park.  Unfortunately, that's often.  In the 8th inning, Howry managed to secure 2 outs before giving up the game-changing homer, but even the second out of the inning was one that almost escaped the ballpark.  This takes us to ...

Series Recap

Well, I was hoping for a sweep, but upon reflection it would have required a minor miracle.  But chin up, Cub fans.  The Brewers look far from invincible.  To get to the post season, they have loaded up their workhorse ace and probably sooner rather than later, he's going to wear out.  And while Bob Howry has to be the most concerning post season selection I've seen since Lou penciled in Jason Marquis, the are unlikely to use him in a tight spot.  We might see Howry come in if they are leading by 8 or losing by 8, but I doubt he'll be pitching in a close situation.  Let's keep that in mind.

Bring on the Dodgers

Now that Milwaukee has clinched, the Dodgers are lined up to play the Cubs.  This is the first post season in a long, long while in which all New York teams will be watching from home, which is rare and makes things more interesting, at least for me.  This will also be a particularly interesting NLDS because, while the Cubs have beaten the Dodgers in the season series, it was mostly in low-scoring games and without the presence of Manny Ramirez.  Back in June and July, 1460's Jon Miller and I went back and forth on this a lot - the Dodgers were a little concerning.  But now that September is finally ending, I say bring 'em on.  If the Cubs can't beat the weakest team to make the playoffs, then they don't deserve to beat anybody else.

I'm going to start on a Post Season Scouting Report, which I will publish at some point tomorrow.  In the meantime, let's give Milwaukee their moment, but let's not forget something - we owned them all year long, and we'll own them in the NLCS if we have to.

What Comes Next

We're just a few hours away from the final game of the baseball season.  I've been feeling particularly nostalgic this weekend, thinking back on my 2004 trip to New York City where I watched the Cubs lose two crushing games against the Mets.  Believe it or not, it was my first trip ever into New York town, and it has remained my last to this point.

In many ways, the '04 Cubs were on paper the best team we've seen.  They had a tremendous starting rotation, the offense was ridiculously solid, but there were cracks at the seems that became increasingly visible as the year progressed. In particular, the poor defensive fundamentals and Dusty Baker's abuse of his young pitchers torpedoed that team.

The '08 Cubs, however, are on a different level.  With 97 wins, they're the winningest Cubs team ever since they went to a 162 game schedule.  More impressively, they did it in a division in which the 4th place team would be playoff bound if they were in the western division.  Imagine how many games the Cubs would've won in a division like Anaheim's.

I'm already anxious about What Comes Next.  The Cubs will either play the Mets or the Dodgers, and while they've played well against both teams, let's not forget one simple tenet: any squad that makes the playoffs is already some kind of champion.  Nothing is easy from here on out.  But an 11-game winning streak would be pretty cool.

Blog Changes

There will be a few minor things we're going to do differently starting in October.  And as you are reading this right now, so are my co-writers and web designer, who are all saying the same thing: "what the hell is he talking about?"

First, the Zambrano Meter has pretty much topped out for the year, so I will be making a new one - the goatriders.org 11-Win Playoff Zambran-0-Meter.  Unlike the regular season's 120-win Meter, this one has a chance of being filled.

Second, I don't know how well it'll work, but I plan on game-casting the first game of the NLDS.  I welcome all of you to join me not in the shout box but in the comments section of the blog.  It's nothing I've really ever done before.  Maybe the Cubs will get blown out by a ton of runs and, in an act of total frustration, I will give up on the gamecast.  Maybe I'll get distracted by food and will forget to post.  Who knows?  But I welcome you all to watch the game with me.  It should be a nerve-wracking time.

A little note on competative integrity

Since you have the Internets - and don't lie to me; if you're reading this, you have the Internets - it's possible that you are hearing some grumblings about the facts that Sweet Lou is resting some of his regulars against the Mets, who if you hadn't heard are trying to give a third of New York a stroke. (For once, I approve of what the Mets are doing.)

So, right now the Mets and Brewers are tied up in the Wild Card, with the Mets only a game back on the division-leading Phillies. And the Cubs are in the thick of it, facing the two Wild Card teams down the stretch. (Remember when everyone was warning us about how tough it was going to be, facing the Mets and the Brewers on the road to end the season? Yeah, I still get a chuckle out of that.)

And so there's a suggestion that, in games that could possibly decide the Wild Card and NL East race... maybe, oh, I don't know, Casey McGehee shouldn't be playing?

And I'm sympathetic to this line of thinking, I truly am, mostly because I don't think Casey McGehee should be on the roster at all. (Did you know they still don't consult me when they do these things?) And, to Brewers fans that don't think that Bob Howry should be pitching in close game situations, most Cubs fans will agree with you wholeheartedly.

But here's the thing - worry about what your own overpriced and ineffectual setup man did, not what ours is doing. There are certain perks that come with clinching early, and this is one of them. This probably makes it easier for the Cubs, and harder for some other teams. To the victor goes the spoils and all that.

Now, you could argue that I'm not being honest here, seeing as my arguement is:

  • Entirely self-serving.
  • Not the one I'd be making if our positions were reversed.

I solve that problem by not caring about it. The playoffs are enough of a crapshoot as-s, and anything that moves the odds in the favor of the Cubs not being blown out in the first round by the JV squad that the Dodgers call a baseball team is a-okay by me.

Playoff Matchups - A nifty graphic, and then some thoughts

Goat Reader KCassidy speculated in the shout box recently as to what the playoff match-ups might look like.  A while back, I did a very pre-emptive graphic to convey how strong the Cubs rotation is.  I've updated it for the playoffs.  Commentary after the rather large image:


Pitching Matchups

So. First and foremost, let's praise Jim Hendry for assembling the deepest starting rotation by far of any team in the NL this year.  Now, for Milwaukee, I left off Ben Sheets as he may or may not pitch again this year.  As for the other teams, let's break it down...

Dempster vs. the other team aces is not an easy win for the Cubs, and especially with Santana and Sabathia, having to win 3 games in a 5 game series in which both might pitch twice will be no easy task.

One other thing to consider - some of these teams may go with 3-man rotations.  That may help them or maybe it'll actually hurt them.  Regardless, the Cubs are so much deeper that it's ridiculous.  I'm sure Colin will do the splits a little later, but while the Battle of Aces is no sure thing, I'd take Harden, Zambrano, and Lilly over any of their opponents.

Also, if I have time, I might also do a comparative split with the Cubs pitchers and the AL playoff starters.

And since we've been low on reader comments the last few days, I'll finish by saying this: please feel free to express your opinion about all of these matchups.  Did I get some wrong?  Did I leave a pitcher off that list who should have been on it?  Will Dempster's home field dominance give him an advantage, as he'll be pitching at home for perhaps the entirety of the playoffs?

Playoff fatigue

Just a random afternoon thought for you...

I can think of two cases in the past in which a playoff-bound Cubs team fell flat on their faces after reaching the NLDS.  I'm talking about the '07 team, and the '98 squad.  Both teams limped into October.

I'd like to create a hypothesis about the likelihood of post season success for teams that clinch in the last week of the season, as compared with teams that clinch earlier than that, but I haven't had the time to do research.  However, I suspect that it'll be much ado about nothing.

But if it isn't, then the Cubs being the first to clinch in the NL might be a happy little advantage.  At this point, we're almost guaranteed that whichever team the Cubs play next week, it'll be a team that didn't get in until the bitter end.  That means that their regulars won't be as well rested, their starting pitchers will have been run harder, and hopefully a little bit of that competitive fire that got them into the playoffs will have burned out.

Just a thought while we wait for the Cubs to beat the Mets tonight.

Cubs Lose to Mets....YESSSSS!!!!

Ok, you might think that I have gone mad.  I haven't been around here since last week, and I haven't read any of the blogs.  I know, ten lashes.

So if this 'theory' has been thrown out there, my apologies and there was no plagarism intended.

But here is my thinking;  don't we want to play the Mets in the first round of the playoffs?

Of all the possibilities, hosting the Mets is the best, at least to me.  Keep me away from the Dodgers in a short series, and I want nothing to do with the arms of Arizona.  Philly's power scares me in a short series, too.

The Mets entered the game with a one game lead over the Brewers for the wild card position and two and a half games behind Philadelphia for the NL East title.

So now, with a Mets win, they stay ahead of the Brewers...now, the Phillies lost, so that lead is just one and a half now.

So here is how I see it the rest of the way....Go Mets, Go Phillies, Brewers, you just keep doing what you do...this way, we can root, root, root for the Cubbies the final three games of the year, and get that post season groove back on, and welcome the Mets in October, the most beatable playoff contender out there.



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