Thursday, July 30, 2009

Random Number of Random Thoughts

1. Mark Buehrle again
This time Buehrle fell short on his perfect game bid, but he managed to set the record for most consecutive batters retired in the process. He broke teammate Bobby Jenks record of 41, and finished at 45. Quite the accomplishment, and it was a shame that he took the loss in that game. As good as the Rays lineup is, I think going perfect against the Twins would have been much harder (duh its never EASY to throw a perfect game) because getting Joe Mauer out three times in one game isn't very easy. Not to mention Carlos Gomez would surely be bunting in the late innings for a base hit.
The question that comes for me out of this is which streak is better? Buehrle's 45 is certainly impressive, but I think Jenks getting 41 is more impressive (again put it in perspective). Jenks was pitching in the ninth inning where the pressure is turned up and he faces a number of different guys and the always dangerous pinch hitter. 

2. The Cubs outfield
The most maligned group of players in baseball reside in the Cubs outfield. Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, and Milton Bradley make a combined $48 million this season and believe me we all know it. This month though you can't really ask them to do much more than they already are. 
Alfonso Soriano .333/.386/.568/.954 5 HR 16 RBI
Kosuke Fukudome .296/.376/.506/..883 2 HR 8 RBI
Milton Bradley .274/.459/.387/.846 2 HR 8 RBI
Certainly you want more power from Milton if he is going to be the five hitter, but overall there can't be much complaining about how they've played this month. Soriano is back to playing like a MVP candidate, Fukudome has settled into the leadoff role ten times better than I thought he would, and Milton's OBP is sick. 

3. The ideal Cubs lineup
It seems like Lou has settled into the Dome, Riot,Lee,Rami,Milt,Sori,2B,Hill,P lineup for now, and since it has been working there really isn't a reason to change it around. Still allow me to nitpick for just a moment. As I posted above Milton Bradley has a .459 OBP this month, watch the guy bat and he clearly knows the strike zone and clearly knows the value of a walk (to a fault sometimes). Ideally he would hit second after Fukudome that way his walks can be driven in by the big boys. That also moves Theriot down to seventh or eighth, making the entire lineup stronger. 
Of course this plan counts on Geovany Soto and his return. If Soto is back in shape and ready to play baseball he can bat fifth and drive in runs. Put the second baseman after Soriano and watch all those runs that score. 

4. Bullpen coming together
ESPN said the Cubs bullpen was their main strength in the division race last night, and while that isn't really true at all, they do have a good bullpen working right now. Kevin Gregg has been really solid since May. He still has issues in non-save situations, but as the race heats up he will be used in those situations less and less. Carlos Marmol has solved his control issues enough where they aren't getting him in trouble anymore. Angel Guzman has become a fine seventh inning guy, and Sean Marshall has stranded 90% of the runners he's inherited. Those four made a solid core, and the addition of John Grabow should set in place a great group.
With Grabow able to take lefties, Marshall will be free to pitch more than one batter at a time. This gives the team two seventh inning guys, who can also move to the eighth when Marmol or Gregg need the night off. The month of September will iron out the final two slots for the hypothetical playoff roster, though you can't expect they would pitch much in October.

5. The Cliff Lee trade
The Phillies knew if they wanted to repeat as champions they needed to get a front line starting pitcher to go with Cole Hamels. The Cubs have Z, Harden,Lilly, Dumpster etc. St. Louis has Carpenter and Wainwright. The Giants have Lincecum and Cain. 
They really wanted to get Roy Halladay, but when the asking price became too high, they went after AL CY Young winner Cliff Lee. Lee came a bit cheaper and brings the same ability to the table. He isn't quite as good as Halladay, but there isn't a huge gap. The Phillies are the heavy favorites to repeat as far as I'm concerned. Barring a major injury they have the lineup to get the runs and the pitchers to repeat.

6. Is Bobby Jenks still the closer?
The joy of writing this as I watch a game can be seen right here. Matt Thornton is in to pitch the ninth of a one run game. Jenks is/was? the closer. This will be an interesting development to follow. 
As I type this he blows the save. Stay tuned.

7. TCB vacation
I can't promise a ton of content Friday and Saturday because all three of us are going to be gambling/on vacation. To celebrate everyone's favorite White Sox writer turning 21 we will be turning St. Louis upside down. Sunday night we will be back up and running at 100%. Obviously if anything major happens we have you covered, and as always keep our twitter on top of your mind because the trade deadline is at 3pm tomorrow. 


  1. When they said Buehrle broke Jenks' consecutive outs record, I also thought about which was more impressive. To me, Buehrle's is.

    While it's true a closer has to face all his hitters in crunch time and also be consistent over many appearances, a starter pretty much HAS to throw a perfect game to approach a record like that. To get to 45, it's likely he'd have to follow it up with several perfect innings as well, as Mr. Buehrle did against Minnesota.

  2. I think it's tougher on a starter because they have to see the hitters 2 or 3 times. Hitters can make adjustments as the game goes on. With relievers they just come in face 3 hitters then face 3 different guys the next day. Both are incredibly impressive but I think Buehrle's was more impressive than Jenks'.