Goatriders of the Apocalypse

AJ Burnett

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Regression's a biatch (Game Recap: Cubs 5, Astros 11)

Has Carlos Silva run out of steam?

Those who watched last night's game know why I'm asking. For those who missed the Hutt's most recent gem, check this line: 1 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 5 ER, 0 K. Frankly I'm surprised the Astros didn't score more runs, but if there's any team that can get nine base runners in an inning and only score five of them it's them. (If there were two such teams, it'd be them and us, of course.)

Carlos Silva doesn't appear to be in shape, really. I mean, not that I'm much of a beacon of health myself, but come on, this is professional athletics. Starting pitching require full exertion; maybe he's just out of bullets.

Another theory: you know how Larry Rothschild is rumored to have fixed Silva's mechanics, improving his breaking stuff to better complement his fastball? Something about the shoulder being pulled, or pushed, or twisted, or something? I bet that's been causing Carlos pain, which has built up over the course of the season, and is now rendering him unable to pitch effectively.

Behind door number three, another theory: regression. The man pitches to contact, and doesn't have the stuff to get strikeouts when he needs them. Oftentimes, ground balls and pop flies do land in the gloves of your defenders. But sometimes, those balls turn into hits.

So those are some theories for you to chew on. At the same time, Silva could come back in his next start and dominate. I wouldn't hold your breath on that one though! Because I think you might suffocate! Because you'd be waiting a long time for Silva to have a good outing! Because he probably sucks! Do you get my joke? Awesome.

Speaking of recapping the game, the Cubs lost. I guess we had a chance to win after six innings, after an Aramis Ramirez home run made the score 8-5 'Stros. But the 'pen couldn't keep it close, and the offense would end up being done at that point. Pretty typical follow-up to laying a smackdown on Roy Halladay, no?

I just got "We Believe" in the mail via Netflix today so now I'm gonna go watch that. Toodle-oo! Go Cubs!

Friday Odds and Ends, Pitching Is King Edition

Sean Gallagher goes to the pen, Sean Marshall stays in the rotation. (Meanwhile, Jason Marquis stays in the rotation. Isn’t life grand?) Piniella says that Marmol is starting to be a “little bit of a concern.” Out in Cub fandom the words “full blown panic” might be more descriptive.

As the All Star Break nears, trade rumors mount. Chris DeLuca runs them down. Short version: the Cubs could pursue Sabathia or Harden if they had better prospects, or Randy Wolf if they didn’t learn a lesson from the Steve Trachsel deal last season. DeLuca adds:

Another Padre who definitely might interest Hendry is former Cub Greg Maddux.

Definitely might.

Meanwhile, the Toronto papers are split on whether or not Burnett is or isn’t being shopped for a shortstop. The team’s president denies actively shopping Burnett, but says the Jays could deal him to “affects the long range betterment of the club.” Spoken like a Canadian.

The Brewers, on the other hand, are in the thick of the bidding for Sabathia. Rosenthal says that the Cubs and Phillies can’t match the Brewers’ farm system.

Trading Bedard is not priority number one for the Mariners, but they’re not ruling it out. Stark also makes a valuable point:

There's no commodity teams chase harder at the deadline than starting pitching. And it's mind-boggling how rarely it gets them anywhere. … So remember, friends, there's no assurance that trading for a C.C. Sabathia is going to give your team any better chance of winning the World Series than trading for, say, Tim Redding. And that's a fact.

The reason, said [Rockies GM Dan] O'Dowd, is simply that those starting pitchers only get to play every five days. So "just look at the number of starts a starting pitcher is going to get by the end of September," he said. "It's probably 10. So if the guy doesn't dominate in eight of those 10 starts, it's a disappointing trade."

Too true.

Jays looking to deal Burnett for a SS

According to ESPN.com, the Blue Jays are looking to deal starting pitcher A.J. Burnett for a shortstop because they are not impressed with play of Mini Me or John McDonald.

Rumor has it an American League GM is quoted as saying, "They're offering Burnett to any team that needs pitching."

Well the Cubs need starting pitching and they have a decently skilled shortstop riding the pine...so Cedeno (and perhaps a pitching prospect) for Burnett?

Sounds like both side would be getting a decent deal out of this. What do ya think?

Just a little late afternoon trade speculation for everyone.

The Sorianoless Cubs

Goat Friend and Iowan broadcaster Jon Miller recently EMailed me from his boat because he'd noticed something of particular interest. 

To paraphrase - because copying and pasting is just too much like cheating - Jon has noticed that in the 19-or-so games that Soriano has not played, the Cubs have averaged 7 runs per game.  In the 51-or-so games in which Soriano has batted leadoff, the Cubs have averaged 4.98 runs per game.  Pitching-wise, it's a wash - without Soriano, the pitching staff is allowing 4 runs a game, and with him, they're allowing 3.98.  Likewise, without Soriano, the Cubs are 12-7, a .631 clip.  With him, they are 33.18, a .647 clip.

First and foremost, I think that neither Jon nor myself would suggest that the Cubs are a better team without Soriano.  In terms of why they've averaged so many more runs per game without him, a lot of it has to do with the drubbings they've dealt Pittsburgh, and the relatively small sample size.  Over a 19-game span, even the Royals can look like the Yankees.

That said, the real interesting sampler will come over the next few weeks.  I believe Colin posted something to the effect that the Cubs should score roughly 4 fewer runs without Alfonso in the lineup while he's out - how that will translate in the wins-loss column is anybody's guess.  Will the Cubs win roughly the same number of games, except they will be closer in score?  Or will the rest of the Cubs lineup step up and lay some offensive smack down on their rivals?

As we've said about a million times, the Cubs are such a good, complete team, that they should win even without their talented left fielder.  However, my sports fanatic friend at work thinks we're all crazy, because he believes that Soriano is hands-down the best hitter on the Cubs, and they will ache from his loss. 

Burnett: saying the right things

A.J. Burnett has been in the news lately as he has been lamenting for the chance to play in a city where they love baseball.  I've been speculating that Burnett would be a Cub probably since the middle of May.  As we draw nearer to the trade deadline and as the Blue Jays fall farther from contention, it seems likely that they'll be dealing A.J. before the end of July.

As somebody over at the Desipio boards said, it would be like the second coming of Kerry Wood.  Burnett has great strikeout stuff, questionable durability, and he seems to find it impossible to win more than 12 or 14 games in a season.  

However, while I question his durability, Burnett would evoke more confidence than even Ryan Dempster in a short series - at least, for now.  He's not my first choice, but as I said recently, I'd rather see Burnett than no improvement at all.   In the past, Jim Hendry has seemed unable to formulate a Plan B when Plan A fails - this time, however, perhaps he can do everything possible to land Sabathia but keep a trade for Burnett as a backup option. 

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