cactusThe Cubs lost to the Dodgers today, but, let’s get real, you were watching the NCAA Tournament. Oh, Southern … so close to history.

  • Scott Feldman’s outing today was modestly better than his last one, but he still gave up four earned in his five innings of work on seven hits. It’s nice that he walked none and struck out five, but if pounding the zone was the only thing he was trying to do, the Dodgers were content to take what he was giving them. Again: results don’t really matter all that much, but we’re getting close to the season. And Feldman is very important.
  • Dale Sveum essentially said Michael Bowden is making the pen, and Bowden was rewarded with … 0.1 innings of work today. Which is fine, because it was clean.
  • Hisanori Takahashi got the other 0.2 in that inning, and he struck out one, allowing nothing. With Bowden claiming one of the two open spots in the pen, Takahashi is a prime competitor for that other spot, together with fellow lefty Chris Rusin. If it isn’t one of them, there’s a huge, long list of righty non-roster invites from whom to choose (and little to differentiate them).
  • Speaking of which, Jaye Chapman threw a scoreless inning (striking out one), and Jensen Lewis threw a one-earned-run inning (one hit, one walk) while striking out two. The Cubs are either going to have one of the most veteran-heavy AAA bullpens in baseball, or a number of these guys are going to be given a chance to go play elsewhere.
  • Starlin Castro, when he’s played, has quietly had a huge Spring. He had another two hits today, including his first Spring homer.
  • Brent Lillibridge did as Brent Lillibridge does, adding two more hits and a walk to his gaudy Spring totals. Brian Bogusevic also had another two hits, but his spot on the roster is much, much more questionable than Lillibridge’s.


  • MightyBear

    I think the Cubs will go with Takahasi because he’s a veteran and because Rusin and the others can still get work down in Iowa and come up as needed. I think Blake Parker will also be one of the first guys up as needed for the bullpen. Thoughts?

    • MightyBear

      I also think the Cubs bullpen is going to be very good this year. Another reason I think the Cubs will surprise this year.

      • Die hard

        Well they will be asked to enter during the 5 th and 6 th innings of most games and even if right they will be gassed by June 15

        • jt

          Shark, Wood and Jackson combined for 85 2012 starts
          92% greater than or equal to 5 IP
          67% greater than or equal to 5.6 IP
          59% greater than or equal to 6 IP
          37% greater than or equal to 7 IP
          I expect both Wood and Shark to improve in ’13
          I would expect a low IP/game from Baker
          I have no clue as to Garza in 2013.
          An argument for Lillibridge is that he help allow an 8th RP’er during the year if needed.

    • justinjabs

      I would bet on Takahashi too. Bowden’s been a lock for me since February.

      Not sure why they wouldn’t do Take if he’s been successful – you figure it’s easier to trade him than it is Rising if he does a good job in the bigs.

    • Westbound Willie

      Brett- when you note the score such as you did above you noted the team with the least runs first . Why do you do that? No offense but girls give scores that way. The team with the most runs should always be listed first. You can get your man card revoked otherwise.

      • TWC

        For frack’s sake, you people who reach for the emasculating//sexist insults when confronted with something that confuses you is simply idiotic and, frankly, embarrassing.

        Nevertheless, in answer to your question, Ace follows the convention where the teams’ scores are listed in away-home order. That way you know where the game was played, in addition to the result.

        Do try to be less of a dick next time you ask a question, mkay?

        • Dr. Peter Venkman

          Yes, it’s true. This man has no dick. 😛

          • Danny Ballgame

            Walter Peck

            • Cubbie Blues

              Richard Minus

              (couldn’t help myself)

        • DarthHater

          Yes, better to stay away from the emasculating sexist insults. Stick with Silly Horsebit and go for the toilet insults, instead. There’s just no substitute for good, old-fashioned eschatology.

      • Brett

        My bad. Is this your first time reading about sports?

        • MichiganGoat

          Yes, yes it is but it’s not the first time he’s been sexist.

      • Hansman1982

        No offense but here’s something offensive.

  • Die hard

    Today’s game is a season preview… Cubs will have to score 6 runs to win given pitching …. How often is that going to happen?

    • MightyBear

      I disagree. I think the Cubs are going to win a lot of 3-2 and 4-3 games this year. Even lower if its still freezing ass cold in Chicago for awhile.

      • Die hard

        Cubs defense is not up to it

      • DocPeterWimsey

        The problem is that teams that win a lot of 3-2 and 4-3 games also lose a lot of 3-2 and 4-3 games! That written, I guess that playing a greater number of 1-run games would be a step forwards, as average teams tend to play in more close games than do bad teams.

        • jt

          Another blanket statement that just is not true.
          Teams with a deep bullpen that involve themselves in a lot of one run games often win a lot of one run games.
          Teams with a pen that is not so deep than involve themselves in a lot of one run games often lose a lot of one run games.
          Form follows function…
          Design matters..

          • bbmoney

            I can’t agree with that at all, and it’s also a blanket statement, which likely has no supporting evidence….other than anecdotal.

            Sure it helps to have a good, deep bullpen. Doesn’t mean you’re going to win the majority of your 1 run games. Far too much luck involved and far to small a sample size to make that claim for a single season.

            • jt

              The tendency is to look at teams such as the ’12 ‘O’s.
              But looking at the looking glass from the other side?
              The ’12 Yanks
              The were involved in 47 1-run games. In only 33 of them did NY score 4 or fewer runs. These are the games that depend upon the BP not the hitting rally vs a weak opposing bullpen.
              If you look quickly at the Yanks pen ERA’s it looks impressive. But Logan and Rapada were essentially Loogys. That is to say about 150 games played and only 84 IP total.
              Soriano, Robertson and Eppley totaled 174.3 IP twixt them. That is an avg of 58 IP for each for the year. Now it does not seem impressive.
              Below are for 1-run games only when the Yanks scored 4 then 3 then 2 then 1 then 0 runs in a one run game
              Yanks scored ….Yanks win……Yanks lose
              total ………………………11W……….21L
              It in not just that the BP loses games or does not hold leads. A BP without depth also forces the starters pitch more innings. Who knows? It may also force starters to more often pitch to contact in order to limit the pitch count.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Sure, that happens some years. But the general rule is that the teams with high (absolute) run-differential play in fewer 1-run games than teams with low run-differentials. There is a simple probabilistic reason for that: if you expect to give up as many runs as you expect to score, the most probable outcome is a tie game late. If you have a high positive run differential, then the distribution of scores does not simply shift to the right, but it also becomes skewed and slightly flatter. DItto this in reverse for teams with high negative run-differentials.

                One way where this really shows up is if you look at the differences between winning percentage in 1-run games and 2+ run games over a decade or so. From 1998-2007, the list of teams with the biggest negatives (that is, much lower winning percentages) was dominated by playoff teams, with several of them actually playing sub 0.500 ball in 1-run games. They just didn’t play that many 1-run games! Conversely, the teams with the biggest positives included several 90+ win teams, with the 2003 Tigers (yeah, the 119 loss team!) leading the pack.

                So, if you could keep the ’04 Sox (0.440 team in 1-run games) or the ’03 Tigers (slightly over 0.500 in 1-run games) in a game close, well, then anything could happen. Of course, teams like the ’03 Tigers and the ’01 Reds just couldn’t keep teams close, whereas the rest of the league had problems keeping teams like the ’04 Sox or the ’03 Yankees close.

                • jt

                  On average the team with the greatest run differential is going to win. That is going to be true to a greater extent when teams are scoring a ton of runs ( steroid era) as opposed to the era Koufax and Gibson. But sets of conditons can exist where well above average pitching can change that.
                  Showalter, like Kelly in Minn., could have tried to limit the damage in some of the 2012 Balt blowouts. But with a less rested BP, those runs well might have shown up in closer games. So like Kelly, he managed his resources.
                  Stengel is quoted as saying “I don’t want Ford pitching the most innings; I want him pitching the most important innings.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    No, the relationship between run-differential and winning was unaffected by the steroids era, as was the relationship between net OPS and winning. These also were unaffected by the DH. Remember, in both cases, the increase in slugging happened both *for* teams and *against* teams; overall run-scoring went up, but the relationship between run-differential and (especially) net-OPS remained largely unchanged.

                    You have a very bad habit of taking the infrequent outcomes that we expect to see every few years simply by chance and trying to put meaning into them. Managers not bothering to “limit blowouts” are not why we occassionally get winning teams with run differentials near zero; we expect to see those once in while for the same reason we expect to flip 90 heads in 162 tosses of a fair coin about 7 times in 100 tries. That is all there is to it.

                    (At any rate, when teams have lots of blowouts against them, then it means that they have one or more really bad starting pitchers; if they manage to play 0.500+ ball in spite of this, then it will almost certainly be because the other starting pitchers pitched so well that they gave their teams a significantly better than 50:50 chance to win.)

                    • hansman1982

                      Going with your coin flip, it is also possible to have it land heads 162 times out of 162.

                      Heck, if we played enough baseball, you would probably, eventually, get a 162-0 and a 0-162 team.

                      That doesn’t mean that means anything or that anything should be taken from these occurances other than they are possible (then you have to look at how often it happens).

                      (Pfft, jt, when you go to the roulette table, don’t look at the board that shows what has happened, that doesn’t mean jack-diddly)

              • bbmoney

                Jt this is my point. thats just picking one or two teams from one season to try to make your case. that isn’t nearly enough data to have any kind of relevance to your argument and you very well could be cherry picking teams to fit your case. You need to look at years of data for every team to make a valid statistical argument. Everything I’ve read on the matter goes against your point. It helps to have a good bullpen… Just like it helps to have great fielders…..but it doesn’t mean you’re going to win most of your one run games.

                The other problem is that a “deep” bullpen is too subjective a term.

                • jt

                  a condition to the scientific method is that the performance must be reproducible. I understand that you are making a set of general inferences. That is to say: this is a better way of doing something than the other way…etc. In general, I accept that. But when you start assigning particular qualities to particular constituents, that goes out the window.
                  The sets of differential equations that Albert Speer developed for distribution worked because the constraints of WW II limited variables. The models, based upon his work, made for the stock markets failed because there were too many things that could be manipulated. The dynamics were just too great.
                  Jason Marquis would tire and wouldn’t be able to keep the ball down. Though he could control the vertical plane he threw to (how far in or out from the center of the plate). He could get enough movement to get line drives instead of long fly balls that turned into home runs. The team could move the 1b, 3b, LF’er, RF’er closer to the lines. He gets a Neifi Perez type and the the pitcher. If he gets both those outs and he has a 1 in 7 chance that one of those liners are hit at the 1B or 3B then he has a good chance of getting out of the inning limiting his RA to 2 or 3 runs. Yes, we saw him doing that more than a few times. That is not luck. That is probability. Sometimes he gets nicked for 5 or more runs. Sometimes he “gets lucky” and it is only 1 or 0. But throwing the ball a few inches in or out with just enough movement gives him a chance. And that is by design.
                  A silk purse can not be made from a pigs ear. There are limits. The worse the situation, the more limited the design options and therefore the less management has an effect. But it is not luck. It is probability and probability can be manipulated.

                  • bbmoney

                    What I hear you saying is that there are too many variables to prove that deep bullpens are a big factor in winning 1 run games more often than not.

                    Which is all good in my book. I just come to a different conclusion given the lack of any non-anecdotal evidence.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            It’s not anecdotal, it’s statistical. If you look at seasons over the course of several years, you’ll find a relationship between numbers of 1-run games and how close a team is to 0.500. That is, it’s a horseshoe, with the best and the worst teams tending to play in fewer 1-run games than 0.500 teams. If you just look at the absolute difference between winning percentage and 0.500, then the relationship becomes more linear.

            Of course, you do get one or two average teams that do very well in 1-run games each year and really elevate their winning percentage, and you always get one or two average teams that do really poorly in one run games and really hurt their winning percentage. That’s just a probability thing: every X replicates tends to generate a 1 in X outcome. There also is no “heritability” to this, however: that a team that does well in 1-run games one year makes no prediction about the next year. (The Angels were getting close to that, but it took one “normal” year to drag them back to expectations.)

            At any rate, nobody has found any relationship between bullpens and close games. In general, teams that play in a lot of close games are pretty average: that might mean that a bad component drags down a good one, or that they are simply average all over the place, or some combination thereof. For example, teams with good starting but bad bullpens will find themselves in a lot of close games because the bullpen will allow the opposition to get back into the game. However, teams with bad starting pitching (which is a surefire way to suck) won’t be in as many close games regardless of how good or bad the bullpen is because they’ll give the other team a lot of quick leads.

            Again, it gets back to our discussions about the correlation between net OPS and winning percentage that has existed throughout the history of baseball. In probabilistic terms, combining good-to-great batting OPS with great-to-good pitching OPS means that, game-in and game-out, you expect to out-score the opposition more often than not and thus win a lot of games. However, if you combine bad-to-great batting OPS with great-to-bad pitching OPS, then you expect: 1) to have a lot of games where you give up nearly the same number of runs as you score, and 2) to play about 0.500 ball.

            • jt

              There is a bit of circular logic here.
              In general, If a team has resources to be balanced they are going to be good.
              The Yanks were a good team because they could hit and their SP’ing was pretty good and their RP’ing was good enough when needed. They also had enough money to bring Andy Pettite back.
              The Nat’s bought some players but also created resources by being lousy for a few seasons.
              On balance, middling teams do not have the resources to achieve the equilibrium of “good”. The Phil’s, for example, lost it through age and injury while not having the farm to replace. Due to a high payroll they didn’t have the resources to buy there way to balance. They were an average team that achieved average results.
              But the BP made the Buc’s created a close to a 0.500 team. They could not hit and the SP’ing was not good. They were a lousy team but really good in one area. There was no balance yet they were close to an average team. They won the games they could
              The BP made the Brewers close to a 0.500 team. The BP just sucked. If they traded BP’s with The Reds then the standings would have looked a lot different. They lost the games they could
              So yeah, there is a flaw to these teams. A sore thumb as it were.
              But how ’bout The A’s, Giants and ‘O’s.
              The A’s had 8 SP’ers who started 145 games with an ERA of less than 3.50 for the eight of them. Balance that with a real good BP. Now toss in just enough hitting. Beane built the resource of SP’ing depth where The Pirates didn’t.
              The Giants had 50 1-run games, great SP’ing, a real good BP and Buster Posey with other hitters who were just “good enough”. They had 4 bad years to get the resources via their farm to create some kind of balance.
              Then there is the ‘0’s. The 2012 Giants scored 718 runs. The 2012 A’s scored 713 runs. The 2012 O’s scored 712 runs. Their offenses were similar. They each had great BP’s. The O’s, however, had 10 losses in which they were outscored 128 to 38. Say Showalter works his BP to limit the damage of those 10 games to an average of 7 runs per game. The RA for the O’s thus becomes 647 and the Pyth suddenly starts to resemble that of 2 Bay Area teams. It didn’t matter if they lost 19 to 3 or 7 to 3….they lost. What did matter was that they had the resources (rested RP’ers) to win the games they had a chance to win. That could also be said of The A’s and Giants.
              Yes! there must be some sort of “balanced good”. But that balanced good does not always have to weigh heavily toward the SLG.
              What is the resource that The ‘O’s, Giants and A’s had in common? They all max’d the resources at hand. They max’d the dollar/player value. They created the balance twixt the need for pitching, defense and run production. They max’d the on field strategy even when that meant allowing a blowout. Yeah, they did more with less through proper management of resources

    • Rcleven

      Only when Feldman pitches.
      He is what he is.
      No better no worse than his numbers.

  • Cub Fan Bob

    Why isn’t Parker, beyond not being left handed, not a serious consideration for the last spot? He has been perfect so far.

    • MightyBear

      He’s not left handed. They would only have one lefty in the bullpen in Russell and he’s going to be the 7th inning guy.

    • Andrew

      You can’t look into 6 innings of spring starts to make roster decisions. Parker has faced mostly AA and AAA batters because he has come into games late.

  • Coach K

    I was at the game. Feldmans line is a bit deceiving. He was hurt by a bad play by Rizzo at first. Rizzo backed up on a hopper and completely misplayed it. It went as a hit since he completely whiffed but its a play he should’ve, and the majority of the time would’ve, made. The next batter hit a ground ball through the hole where Rizzo would’ve been had he not been holding the guy at first. With the wind blowing out to the right Castellanos snuck one over the right field fence for a 3 run homer one or two batters later.

    Although that doesn’t change the line, it wasn’t as bad as the line looks. One of those runs never should have been on. Another wouldn’t have been on had it not been for the other. Unfortunately, that’s baseball. Hopefully this helps some of you that weren’t at the game sleep a bit easier.

    • jt

      I now look for these reports..
      they are really good!

      • Coach K

        Haha. Not a problem at all. Just don’t look for them anymore. I’m now on the highway heading back home. My vacation is over. Glad I could help though.

    • Dustin S

      Thanks, I appreciate the report too. I listed to the game on gameday audio and they kind of called the homer and Rizzo’s play that way, but the detail helps.

      • Coach K

        No problem at all.

    • Westbound Willie

      Sounds like a bunch of excuses. How do you explain the last three years of badness? The sun was in his eye or the dog ate his homework?

  • cubfanincardinalland

    I was thinking about the difference in the bullpen last year at this time to now. It is greatly improved. Last year they were scanning the waiver wires looking for warm bodies. This season, they have 11 or 12 legit major league ability relief pitchers to choose from.

  • Gopher Cub

    If the Scott’s (meaning Feldman and Baker) can be solid I feel the Cubs could be very much like the Orioles were last year. This means winning a ton of wild and close games.