Analogs

I was reading a political blog, Ezra Klein’s over at the Washington Post, earlier today, and I noticed him describing a phenomenon that applies to sports as well. I’m loathe to bring up politics here, because I’m not really interested in debating them, so suffice it to say I just want to share the analogy.

Basically, political reporting on the Obama cabinet’s economic plans had spent an inordinate amount of time on Larry Summers’ personality and whether the people he’s working with like him. But Klein points out that that’s a silly way to report:

Imagine two worlds. In both worlds, the Obama administration pursues the exact same economic policy. But in one world, an external oil shock sends the price of energy hurtling skyward, which retards recovery. Voters feel economically stressed, and Democrats lose seats in the 2010 election. In the other world, the price of oil rises more gradually, the economy seems like it’s gradually improving, and Democrats either hold the line or gain a couple of seats.

In the first world, you’re going to read a lot of stories about how Larry Summers was a meanie who rendered the economic team dysfunctional and impeded the Obama administration’s efforts to revive the economy. In the other, you’re going to read a lot of stories about how the famously prickly Larry Summers managed to keep his ego in check and leverage his considerable brilliance to help the Obama administration save the American economy. But the relevant variable was not Summers — it was the oil shock.

A commenter there makes the same point I’m about to – this is the same thing that goes on in sports reporting and among fans. A player can be trying to do everything right but go through a slump, but reporters feel the need to blame it on something. Sometimes it’s just bad luck. But right now while the Cubs are scuffling, we get a lot of reporting about Carlos Zambrano’s personality and whatnot. If the team gets on a hot streak, expect to hear about extra time in the batting cage or how they all came together around some event or something, even though the relevant variable may very well not be anything that happens off the field.

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The Tribune Comments Continue to be a Cesspool

Carlos Zambrano said after winning his 100th game last night that he’s going to retire at the end of his contract. Why? “You know how many Mother’s Days I haven’t spent with my mother? Twelve. You know how many things I’ve been [missing] in my life? It’s good to be here, it’s good to play baseball. But in five years. … I will retire.”

So he would like to spend time with his family. You’d think that was laudable. Obviously you’ve never spent time in the Tribune comments section! According to “GA Cubs Fan,” you’d be wrong:

And Carlos, PLEASE stop talking. All of us miss important times due to work and other committments, all while earning a HECK of a lot less than you. I hope medical people and emergency workers are working should you need them during “special times”.

You see, if you make a lot of money you should love your mom less. Maybe, GA Cubs Fan, Carlos thinks his job isn’t as important as being a doctor or a firefighter? I don’t know, chew on that for a little.

“One Eye Covered,” though, knows that missing 12 mother’s days isn’t a big deal:

Missed 12 mothers day? Come on. Something tells me she doesnt mind. I wish this guy would just shut up and pitch. Before, during and after the game. Just zip it.

Perhaps this commenter has great insight into whether Carlos’s mom would like to spend mother’s days with him. I have some doubts.

Finally, there’s this gem from John Anthony of Dixon, Missouri:

Good, please go. That would make it one less bum who speaks broken English. Eat another cheeseburger and get outta the country. Go back to where you belong!

John hates foreigners! They’re always coming to this country and taking jobs that hardworking Americans can do, like throwing 95 mile-per-hour fastballs and hitting home runs!

Bad news, John. Carlos is staying when he retires.

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Kosuke Fukudome Update For June 4, 2009

Kosuke Fukudome, 44 games played, 2009: .308/.434/.500, 5 HR, 32 BB, 30 SO

Kosuke Fukudome, 44 games played, 2008: .319/.421/.450, 2 HR, 29 BB, 27 SO

2009 Kosuke is still doing better. He’s hitting for more power and his BABIP, at .354, is high, but not so high it’s unsustainable, either. He seems to be getting better at center field, too – his UZR/150 at the position has risen to -4.8. That’s still a little below average, but not as bad as it was, so he seems to be coming around as a center fielder, too.

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Nate McLouth

Nate McLouth was traded to the Braves today, meaning that everyone’s favorite Cub-killing, undeserved-gold-glove-winning center fielder will be playing against the Cubs tomorrow. So that’s the bad news. The good news is, the Cubs play the Braves four more times (after tonight) this season. They play the Pirates 13 more times. That saves them nine games against McLouth, which, based on his career line against the Cubs, will save the Cubs pitching staff something like 1.6 home runs, 1.6 doubles, 1 stolen base and 5 walks.

Yeah, not sad to see him leaving the division.

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Ahem

Sorry for the lack of posting here. I’ve been sort of busy with other things, and haven’t had time for much more than keeping up my posts at Out of the Ivy. That should change starting right now, so stay tuned.

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Bullpen ERA and notes

I heard – although I didn’t check – that after Saturday’s game the Cubs had the worst bullpen ERA in the majors. Since then, though, the pen has been pretty good – I don’t believe it had given up a run until Carlos Marmol’s earned run tonight. That’s reduced the bullpen ERA to 5.23, and as of last night, that was good for 23rd overall, so they’ve improved relative to other teams, anyway.

In looking at these bullpen stats, I took away a couple of interesting points, though:

  • The Cubs have only used their bullpen for 93 innings before today (tack on another 1.2 today). That’s good for 7th-fewest overall. Part of that may be that the pen isn’t reliable and Lou tries to avoid using them, but part of it is that the starters have been going deep.
  • The bullpen is also ranked 7th in batting average against. Opponents are only hitting .238 against Cubs relief pitching.
  • Walks are the problem. The Cubs pen has walked more batters than any other bullpen in the majors, which is why they’re giving up so many runs.
  • Spending a lot of money doesn’t guarantee bullpen success. There are some small-market teams doing worse than the Cubs, but the Angels and the Yankees are both there, too.

Anyway, the bullpen situation is still easily fixable. Carlos Marmol, in particular, needs to stop walking so many people. And some of the pitchers in the back end of the pen probably need to clear out. But the Cubs have enough talent in the bullpen and in the high minors that the pen shouldn’t lose a lot of games for them, even if it may never be a strength.

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Cubs 6, Padres 2

That was quite a win, wasn’t it?

banks

You can’t tell, but Ernie is nodding.

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