Friday, January 21, 2011

"Come hell or high water"

In the immortal words of the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl video that we would always watch in Mike Gresher's basement, (and thanks to him for randomly sending this to me). I absolutely love this quote from an old school Bear:

"When you came to play the Bears at Wrigley Field...and you're up against guys like Doug Atkins, Ed Obradavich, Sam Morris, Richie Pettibone....When you have some of those gorrilaz lookin at ya. Come hell or high water, the Bears were gonna put a physical beating on you. I don't care if you won or gonna know you in the damndest game you ever been in your whole life..."

They were going to put a physical beating on you. That is exactly what this team needs to, and intends to do on Sunday. I love it....."you gonna know you in the damndest game you ever been in your whole life..." I sure hope the Packers know it on Monday.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gorzo gone, good move for Cubs

With excess pitching depth after trading for Matt Garza, Jim Hendry was able to clean up some of the slop that will make up the back end of the 2011 rotation by trading Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals for three prospects. While effective for the Cubs last year, Gorzelanny is the definition of diffidence on the mound, his 4.68 career ERA and 4.54 FIP reeking of "blah."

In return Hendry was actually able to grab a decent prospect in former 1st round pick Michael Burgess. An outfielder with a strong arm, Burgess is described by The Hardball Times as having "exciting power and does a solid job of taking walks. There is still concern he will hack his way to obscurity, but don't discount a 22-year old with downright dangerous power."

THT ranked Burgess as the National's 9th best prospect and while strikeouts have been an issue in the minors, he lowered his K-rate to 23.1% in A+ this year and tore up AA after 87 plate appearances to close the season.

Of the other two prospects, right-handed pitcher A.J. Morris looks interesting with a 3.02 career K/BB, 1.21 WHIP and 3.64 ERA in 128 innings.

As for the Cubs starting rotation, hopefully Andrew Cashner has developed his change-up enough to step up and take a rotation spot, leaving Randy Wells, Carlos Silva and lost cause Jeff Samardzija to battle it out for the final rotation slot.

Good move for the Cubs. I’m cautiously more optimistic for this upcoming season than most with the only real hole on the team appearing to be second base. If Carlos Pena is solid, Zambrano sane, and Garza improved by the league change, I think this team can compete in 2011.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Derrek Lee vs. Paul Konerko: WAR Graphs

On the eve of our new year, Derrek Lee signed a one year $7.25 million deal with the Orioles. I'm still not sure exactly why he wasn't a good fit to return to the Cubs, who instead spent millions more on a weaker defensive first baseman and lesser all around hitter in Carlos Pena.

This fixation with a power lefty bat simply will not go away. I pray that Carlos Pena is the answer to the decade-long ailment the Cubs suffer from. It seemed to begin with Matt Stairs. Stairs lasted a year, his lefty stick replaced with a Coors-bloated Jeremy Burnitz, who morphed into Jacque "Strap" Jones, who was replaced with what all Cubs fans assumed was a blessed gift from the East in Kosuke Fukudome. Then there was the Milton Bradley soap opera that I have exorcised from my memory. The most recent casualty of the Lefty Power Bat Blues is Derrek Lee, who they have cast aside in favor of the almighty left-handed thumper.

I actually do like the Pena signing, but I would rather have Double Play Derrek manning first.

Long intro into my actual point, which was this comparison between former and current Chicago first basemen. I've just started playing with these WAR graphs that you can create over at FanGraphs and I thought this would be a pretty interesting comparison given that both players were free agents this year, and both will be 35 in 2011. WAR is Wins Above Replacement and estimates how many wins a player would be worth to his team over a replacement player, such as a Triple-A call-up, using a combination of offensive and defensive metrics.

This first graph shows each player's best season on the left, down to his worst on the right. Lee's incredible 2005 (1.080 OPS, .446 wOBA) gives him the highest plot on the graph, but as you can see their plots are incredibly intertwined, Derrek looking to have the slight advantage most likely due to superior defense.

What's interesting about these graphs is that by the contracts each player just signed, one would not think that Derrek Lee was the better player. The plots are eerily similar, but there is clearly a slight nod toward Lee. Derrek though had to settle for a one year deal despite being a year removed from .306/.393/.579 season, while Konerko cashes in on a three year deal at $4-5 million more per season. And all because of the last two plots on the last graph. The fact that Derrek had his mid-30's career year in 2009 and Konerko had his in 2010 means that Paul Konerko is a much richer man, despite being a slightly worse player.

(create graphs pitting up to four players against each other here)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hoping Dayan Viciedo wins the White Sox 3B job... that I can have myself some delicious moon shots at the CI position on my fantasy team next year: White Sox 3B Options