2007 Sabermetric Year in Review: Chicago Cubs

OK, the will-they-or-won’t-they-but-you-know-they-eventually-will thing with the Cubs and the Orioles over Brian Roberts is reaching tension levels not matched since Pam and Jim.  Other than that, my adopted home team is swimming along nicely.  Stop #26 on the tour is just up the street to Wrigley Field (which is every bit as gorgeous as it looks on TV).
Record: 85-77 , 1st in NL Central (lost 3-0 to Diamondbacks in NLDS)
Pythagorean Projection (Patriot formula): 87.51 wins (752 runs scored, 690 runs allowed)
Team Statistical Pages:
Baseball Reference
Baseball Prospectus
FanGraphs
MVN Blog:
View from the Bleachers
More Cubs Resources:
Latest News
Contract Status 
Trade Rumors
Overview: Y’know, don’t tell anyone, but the Cubbies have a really good team.  The kind of team that might just make a run at… the thing that we’re not supposed to say… the thing they haven’t done in 100 years…
What went right: Where the heck did Carlos Marmol come from?  He pitched in 2006 and didn’t do anything close to this.  Marmol’s strikeout rate almost doubled from 2006 to 2007, and his walk rate fell.  However, he’s a pitcher who lives and dies by the flyball.  In Wrigley, a flyball pitcher is at the mercy of which way the wind is blowing.  His HR/FB was down in ’07, so he probably has some uppance coming to him this year, but what a season for Marmol.
The Ted Lilly signing worked out pretty well too.  Lilly actually out K-ed Zambrano, out VORPed him and issued fewer walks.  Not bad for a guy who had that “$10 million for an average starter” look about him at the beginning of the year.  Speaking of big marquee signings from last off-season, Alfonso Soriano didn’t disappoint, although if I’m not mistaken, he magically got older by about four years recently.  He’s now 32, and that’s hardly over the hill, plus it seems like he’s got some life in him, but I think people still think of him as a young pup that is still on the upside of his career.  He put up good numbers this year, but the trend line is probably going to be pointing downward soon.
What went wrong: It wasn’t that Matt Murton had a bad year.  It’s that I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why he didn’t get more playing time (and still doesn’t.)  His line of .281/.352/.438 looked a lot like Jacque Jones’s .285/.335/.400 and Cliff Floyd’s .284/.373/.422.  At one point, the Cubs had a trade going for Jones (who’s not the best defensive CF… not that Murton was the answer there either) but it was nixed by the Cubs owners.  It’s just that no one knows who owns the Cubs.  So, what was the logic behind that one?  A cheaper, younger player who can do the same thing as the older, more expensive model. 
Yeah, that about sums it up: Even though they traded him, it still makes me giggle.  Angel Pagan.  Second place: Rocky Cherry.
Say it with me now, “Ryan Therriot is neither a shortstop nor a #2 hitter”: Just keep repeating that over and over.  Yes, he can run the bases, play several positions, and is otherwise a handy guy to have on an NL team.  He also has an on-base percentage of .326.  To me that screams “#8 hitter!”  Lou Piniella has the guts to bat Alfonso Soriano in the #1 spot, but then bats Therriot behind him?
Why is Ryan Dempster still a closer?: Because he has “closing experience.”  I know that Kerry Wood is now the Cubs closer and that Dempster is going back to starting, but if the closer is supposed to be the best pitcher on the team, why wasn’t Bobby Howry working the ninth?  Yeah, he gets his strikeouts, but he also walks a lot of guys.  Well, now the Cubs will install Kerry Wood, and assuming his arm is still attached to his body, he’ll save 30 games and be hailed as a great new closer who no one ever knew had it in him.
Outlook: Kosuke Fukudome is in town, and there’s been a lot of talk about where to put him in the lineup.  My recommendation: second.  If he’s as much of an OBP machine as they say he is, then hit him where he will get extra at-bats.  The other piece of outlook that has to be resolved is the question of who will buy the team.  Cubs fans seem to want Mark Cuban and he seems to be interested.  Now that would be the kind of match that would give baseball in Chicago some character that’s been missing ever since the death of Harry Caray. 

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One Response to 2007 Sabermetric Year in Review: Chicago Cubs

  1. All I know is that if Ryan Dempster is confident they’ll win a world series, I am not.

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