Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Injuries

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If this offends anyone I'll take it down.

That is all.

Chris Singleton is a dope


I know it's apparently of poor taste to read something on another website, disagree with it, and blog about it on GROTA but I just can't help myself.

Chris Singleton, a contributor to ESPN, wrote this award-winning article today about how the Cubs (like the Mets) have had a disappointing season, but unlike New York they haven't had enough injuries to justify their poor play. I found this factoid to be completely astonishing -- a team that has seen four of its starting pitchers and two of its star hitters miss significant time on the DL (to the accumulated total of more than 400 missed days) has been too healthy to suck.

I was so astonished by his claim that I did a Google search to find his EMail address -- I wanted to tell him to his electronic "face" that his employment by ESPN astonishes me. I was not surprised, though, when I found the second Google hit for "Chris Singleton ESPN" to be one of those Yahoo question pages, asking "Why did ESPN hire Chris Singleton?" Damned if I know, Yahoo question guy.

Sadly, perhaps because Chris is a "famous" retired pro athlete, his EMail address is nowhere to be found. Still, I've exchanged enough EMails with ESPN writers to make an educated guess, and so I have fired off the following message to Chris:

Dear Mr. Singleton

It occurs to me that, in getting your job at ESPN, you may have had the fortune of knowing the right people. After all - if, to get your job, you had written for them your article about the Cubs not suffering enough injuries to justify their problems, they probably would have read it, shaken your hand and shoved you out the door (or the nearest window if you weren't on the bottom floor at the time).

Nobody would disagree that the Mets have had a lot of bad luck this year, but what you failed to consider when you wrote your article about how it's no excuse for the Cubs is this: so far, they have lost more than 500 days of man-time due to injuries. That includes:

Carlos Zambrano -- May 5th to May 23rd (18 days)
Aramis Ramirez -- May 10th to July 7th (58 days)
Chad Fox -- May 11th to current (89 days and counting)
Rich Harden -- May 23rd to June 13th (21)
Aaron Miles -- May 26th to June 10th (15)
Ryan Freel -- May 30th to June 26th (27)
Jason Waddell -- June 16th to July 10th (24)
Angel Guzman -- June 21st to July 7th (16)
Reed Johnson -- June 22th to July 7th (15)
Reed Johnson -- July 30th to present (20 and counting)
Aaron Miles -- June 21st to August 5th (45)
Dave Patton -- July 5th to current (54 and counting)
Ryan Dempster -- July 8th to July 29th (21)
Ted Lilly -- July 21st to August 18th (28)
Andres Blanco -- August 4th to present (23 and counting)
Geovany Soto -- July 12th to August 8th (27)
Carlos Zambrano -- August 9th to August 26th (17)

That means the Cubs have lost 518 days so far due to injuries. While some of those injuries have been blessings (Aaron Miles twice, for example) it's still hurt the team.  At times four of their starting pitchers have been on the DL -- Zambrano, Harden, Dempster, and Lilly have combined to miss 105 days so far, which would probably average out to 20-or-so starts. The heart of their lineup -- Ramirez and Soto -- have missed 85 days, with key contributors missing plenty of time too. And that's not even counting the numerous games played by guys who probably should have been DL'd -- Soto, whose shoulder has bugged him, Bradley and his dinged up legs, and Lee and his sore neck being easy examples.

It's true, sir, that the Mets have lost more key players than the Cubs, which is probably why they are well under .500. But to say that the Cubs can't blame injuries when they've had so many (17 trips to the DL so far, which equals the number of times a Mets player has been designated to the disabled list) is pretty ridiculous.

Honestly, Mr. Singleton, your article reaks of intent before the fact.  Like so many bad writers out there, you had a presumption before you'd typed your very first word and facts be damned it was that presumption that you chose to support. The only problem is that your presumption was ridiculously wrong. Maybe you should consider acknowledging that fact in order to save some illusion of credibility.

Best wishes,

Kurt Evans
Goat Riders of the Apocalypse
www.goatriders.org

Bradley proof of Murphy's Law?

New and fragile Cub Milton Bradley has already been removed for injury this spring, despite making only one appearance so far.  Hopefully it isn't a sign of things to come.   He apparently has a "tight quad," which occurred - in his own words - because sometimes when you work hard things get tight.


I'm hardly a genius or anything, but I always thought that leg injurys tend to be symptomatic of not maintaining muscle.  For example, when Moises Alou signed his big contract with the Cubs before the 2002 season, he spent that first year often injured and underproductive in part because he didn't work enough the previous winter to stay in shape.  For a guy like Bradley, who already has an injury-prone reputation, coming to Spring Training out of shape would be terminal.  Let's hope he's just been working too hard.


Oh, and in the last Bench Aaron Miles! plug until March at least, I wrote an article for AJ's new blog in which I go into epic detail as to why the guy belongs on the bench.  I may have even thrown in a hobbit reference, so I welcome you to go check it out.

And so it begins...

As I saw Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times report in his Twitter feed, Milton Bradley left his first game in a Cubs uniform early with mild tightness in his quad. Here’s the story on the Sun-Times Web site.

Le sigh.

There’s been a bunch of talk about Bradley’s health and durability since he signed with the Cubs during the offseason, and this will not help the situation.

To me, it sounds like a precautionary move just to make sure MB wouldn’t aggravate it anymore. In fact, Wittenmyer said that Bradley worked out for about an hour after he was taken out of the game. Conspiracy theorists will see this as a smoke screen by the coaching staff to assure us fans that all is well, but I think Lou just wanted to protect his prize off-season addition.

Repeat after me: It’s February 26.

So let’s not freak out yet like I’m sure many writers in the greater Chicagoland area will do tomorrow (Yeah, I’m talking to you Rosenbloom).

Carlos Zambrano has shoulder tendonitis

Cubs.com is reporting that Carlos is simply suffering for a bout of rotator cuff tendonitis, which is probably the best we could have hoped for.  They say he will be out for a week and there's no reason to think they are being anything less than forthcoming.

Ask Dr. Jason: What is tendonitis?

Tendonitis of the rotator cuff is when is hurts to throw a baseball.  Similar to the flesh eating virus, tendonitis presents itself with the same symptoms as your basic flu, except for the fever, nausea, and vomitting.  The aches and pains part is the same, though.

The Cubs would be insane to bring him back next week unless the Brewers are threatening to overcome the Cubs for the Central lead and, even then, they're probably better off with Marshall.  In all seriousness, tendonitis is little tears in the tendons and absolutely nothing will help other than rest and anti-inflamation medication.  Let Carlos rest.  His rotator cuff is sleepy.

But still, good news.

This message was approved by the Mark Prior Institute

 

Carlos Zambrano to have MRI tomorrow

According to 670 The Score ("Goat Riders: We Listen to Sports Talk radio so you don't have to"), Carlos is scheduled to have an MRI tomorrow.  To me, this makes it a certainty that he's going to hit the DL.  If it hurts enough to look for structural damage, it hurts enough to take a couple weeks off.

 

Kerry Wood? Hurt? Unpossible!

From the Trib:

Wood pitched one inning Tuesday against Houston, and had his charity bowling tournament Wednesday. But he wasn't in the bullpen during Friday's 11-inning affair, leading to the question of whether he was available to pitch.

"No, he wasn't available," Piniella said.

Is Wood OK?

"He wasn't available," Piniella repeated. "He was OK, but he wasn't available."

After stonewalling the question and turning to another subject, Piniella eventually went back to Wood's situation.

"Woody's back was bothering him," he said reluctantly.

So the blister problem was fine?

"Yeah, it was his back," Piniella said.

Can Wood pitch Saturday?

"We'll see when we come to the ballpark," he said.

Faaaaaaaaaantastic!

Hoffpauir and Patterson Up, Hart Down; And A Look At Our Second Base Options

Well, here it is. Hoffpauir and Patterson are up. Kevin Hart is shipped out. And Patterson is playing left and leading off today. You could push me over with a feather after hearing that last one.

I’ll hopefully update this post in a little while, but in the meantime, here’s a table showing our options at second base, should DeRosa see playing time in left:

Mark DeRosa
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
MLB
208
40
65
13
0
8
35
29
46
3
0
.313
.398
.490
.888
Projected
263
40
76
15
1
7
40
30
54
2
1
.289
.362
.433
.795
Eric Patterson
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
AAA
181
27
59
13
3
5
26
10
41
10
0
.326
.361
.514
.875
Translated
184
20
50
9
2
4
19
7
44
8
0
.273
.301
.408
.709
MLB
6
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
3
1
0
.000
.000
.000
.000
Total
190
20
50
9
2
4
20
7
47
9
0
.263
.289
.395
.684
Projected
325
40
85
15
3
8
37
22
64
13
6
.262
.308
.400
.708
Mike Fontenot
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
MLB
88
16
21
7
0
2
12
12
16
2
0
.239
.337
.386
.723
Projected
229
34
60
15
2
5
26
23
43
4
2
.262
.329
.410
.740
Ronny Cedeno
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
MLB
95
19
28
7
0
1
19
10
16
3
1
.295
.368
.400
.768
Projected
234
30
65
12
1
5
30
15
43
5
3
.278
.321
.402
.723

Patterson can run the bases, no question. Projections for defense: DeRosa +4, Cedeno +2, Fontenot -3. DeRosa's played worse than that so far this season, while Cedeno and Fontenot have played better. I don't have projections for Patterson. I’ll leave Patterson at a zero, then, and I’ll leave the other numbers unadjusted for now.

wOBA
Defense
Offense/112
Defense/112
Runs/112
DeRosa
0.352
4
1.36
0.69
2.05
Cedeno
0.318
2
-1.95
0.34
-1.60
Fontenot
0.326
-3
-1.17
-0.52
-1.69
Patterson
0.311
0
-2.63
0.00
-2.63

This isn't giving Patterson any credit for his baserunning, which is a plus. And I’m not entirely behind those defensive estimates. Cedeno looks like the best option of the three, although I think Murton is probably a better left fielder than any of them are second basemen. (These, unlike my full WAR numbers, are not adjusted by position.)

How will Soriano’s injury impact the Cubs?

Soriano is going to to the DL for six weeks with a broken hand.

The return of Micah Hoffpauir a day early won’t be the end of the roster moves:

Infielder-outfielder Micah Hoffpauir will come up today from Class AAA Iowa to take Soriano's place on the roster. The Cubs need another hitter for the American League parks coming up.

It's possible they could recall either outfielder Matt Murton or infielder-outfielder Eric Patterson from Iowa by Friday. Currently, the Cubs are carrying 13 pitchers.

Mark DeRosa moved from second base to left field Wednesday. Expect DeRosa to see significant time in left during Soriano's absence, which will be about six weeks or even longer.

So, I’m operating under the assumption that two of Patterson, Hoffpauir and Murton will be called up. Hoffpauir has the least baseball talent of the group, so of course he’s the only one that’s guaranteed a callup.

What I’ve done is taken a player’s minor league numbers and figured out their Major League Equivalency – essentially an estimate of how they would have performed in the majors. Then, I combined those numbers with their MLB numbers. All of those numbers were then fed into the ZiPS projection tool, which uses those figures (in combination with their career numbers) to come up with a projection. (I also did a projection on Soriano for the rest of the season, based upon his numbers to date. Here’s an explanation of how projection systems work.) Here’s the table:

Eric Patterson
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
AAA
181
27
59
13
3
5
26
10
41
10
0
.326
.361
.514
.875
Translated
184
20
50
9
2
4
19
7
44
8
0
.273
.301
.408
.709
MLB
6
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
3
1
0
.000
.000
.000
.000
Total
190
20
50
9
2
4
20
7
47
9
0
.263
.289
.395
.684
Projected
325
40
85
15
3
8
37
22
64
13
6
.262
.308
.400
.708
Micah Hoffpauir
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
AAA
62
12
19
4
0
3
15
1
12
0
0
.306
.308
.516
.824
Translated
62
9
16
3
0
2
11
0
13
0
0
.259
.268
.417
.685
MLB
14
4
8
3
0
0
1
1
6
0
0
.421
.450
.579
1.029
Total
76
13
24
6
0
2
12
1
19
0
0
.316
.325
.474
.798
Projected
191
21
52
12
0
8
33
13
36
1
0
.272
.319
.461
.779
Matt Murton
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
AAA
177
25
55
10
1
1
14
28
16
3
2
.311
.411
.395
.807
Translated
184
18
47
8
0
0
10
21
17
2
2
.254
.330
.316
.646
MLB
14
2
3
0
0
0
4
1
2
0
0
.214
.267
.214
.481
Total
198
20
50
8
0
0
14
22
19
2
2
.253
.327
.293
.620
Projected
286
39
79
15
0
8
35
31
37
2
1
.276
.347
.413
.760
Alfonso Soriano
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
MLB
211
36
60
11
0
15
40
15
46
7
1
.284
.330
.550
.880
Projected
341
57
97
21
1
21
63
23
76
13
5
.284
.330
.537
.866

All three of them represent a sizable falloff. Hoffpauir is the one most capable of replacing Soriano’s power in the lineup, but that’s really damning with faint praise here. Murton is probably the best hitter of the group, given his superior on-base percentage. (Although his projected advantage over Hoffpauir is mighty slim.)

Of course they still have to play defense. So let’s look at some defensive projections, measured in runs saved/allowed versus the positional average. Murton projects as a +3 corner outfielder over the course of a season, Patterson as a +8. (Soriano projects as a +6; the projections don’t know about his leg injuries this year.)

Hoffpauir’s defense is an absolute cypher. We can look at minor league defensive numbers – Hoffpauir played 13 games in the outfield last season at AAA and was just off the charts bad. But he only played in 13 equivalent games in the outfield, hardly enough to pass judgement on.

What we do know is this. Hoffpauir has been a first baseman pretty much since his days in college. That tells me that, up until Lou Piniella saw him hitting this spring, nobody involved in talent evaluation saw much of a future for him in the outfield. Based on a charitable set of assumptions – that he’s an average defensive first baseman, and that he has the tools necessary to play the outfield – you’re looking at a –5 fielder. Again, that’s the charitable view.

Let’s assume that Soriano misses 36 games, and let’s assume that whoever fills in for him will average 3.1 plate appearances per game. That’s 112 plate appearances. We can figure out runs above average on offense and defense over that period in time. So, put it together and what have you got?

wOBA
Defense
Offense/112
Defense/112
Runs/112
Soriano
.367
6
2.82
1.03
3.86
Murton
.337
3
-0.10
0.52
0.42
Hoffpauir
.336
-5
-0.19
-.086
-1.06
Patterson
.311
8
-2.63
1.38
-1.25

Again: I'm making some charitable assumptions on defense for Hoffpauir. Even still, he lags significantly behind Murton, even while they're basically tied as hitters. The problem is that a lot of Murton’s value is wrapped up in his walks, while Hoffpauir’s value comes more from his low-wattage power.

That’s assuming that any of them were to be filling in for him in left field. There are two other players on the Cubs who could be filling in in left: Reed Johnson and Mark DeRosa. That requires a bit more chaining to figure out, because then you have to also look at who’s playing center or second while those two are playing fill-in. I’ll take a look at that later.

Soriano has a broken hand

Reportedly a minimally displaced fracture in the fourth metacarpal in the left hand.

From the Trib:

Alfonso Soriano will be in a splint for three weeks with a broken bone in his left hand, and is expected to miss approximately six weeks of action.

X-rays of the hand taken at Northwestern Memorial hospital revealed a minimally displaced fracture of the left fourth metacarpal, located just under the fourth finger on his left hand.

Soriano was hit in the left hand by a pitch from Braves starter Jeff Bennett and was removed from the game for a pinch-runner in the second inning..

The Cubs will call up outfielder Micah Hoffpauir from Triple-A Iowa on Thursday to take Soriano’s place on the roster. 

More updates later.

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