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And the Crosstown Classic belongs to the Cubs. Boom. Face.

The conditions weren’t exactly working in his favor, but Travis Wood managed yet another solid outing. With his arm. With his bat, he was far better than solid. But we’ll get to that.

The Cubs’ bats put the wood to the White Sox yet again, and gave them a four-game winning streak for the first time this year. It’s another good day on the North Side in a season that could use a few more.

The only negative for the day was the first earned run of the year given up by Kevin Gregg … which came after he’d struck a guy out looking for the third out. Twice. Didn’t get either call. Whatever. You’re not bringing me down today, blue.

may 30 box

Full box.

  • itzscott

    What a pleasant surprise Valbuena’s been

    • willis

      He’s starting to make me have that gym class rope feeling. Love that dude.

  • Die hard

    Yep – Castro thriving at 2 spot

    • SirCub

      Haha. Only you, Die Hard.

    • MichiganGoat

      Or you could explore the stats and make an educated arguement… that’s a possibility

      • Die harder

        NEVER!!!

  • SirCub

    Yea, but I almost feel like its a good thing he’s given up a run now. Because before, it was like, “Oh, he has a 0.00 ERA. Probably just has like 2/3 scoreless innings or something.”

    But now, since it’s 0.63, you know that he has, at minimum, like, 12 scoreless innings.

    My logic makes no sense.

    • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

      Actually, I had the same thought when reading the box score…..

  • Kyle

    Your Chicago Cubs offense: 4.12 runs/game, 7th in the NL. League average is 4.05.

    • SirCub

      What does it fall to if you take pitchers out of the equation?

      • Kyle

        I dunno. Something completely irrelevant, though.

      • ALb_daKID

        Ummm…. Aren’t pitchers part of the real offense? Or just part of the pretend offense??

    • hansman1982

      4.56 since May 1 or good for 11th in MLB.

      April was a terrible, terrible month with 3.53 RPG.

      • SirCub

        Seriously though, if you take out runs driven in by pitchers, that number falls to 3.8, good for 23rd in MLB.

        Let’s not get too excited.

        • Kyle

          Why would you take them out?

          • SirCub

            Just to get an idea of how the team’s real offense has been doing. Cause I kinda doubt the pitchers’ hitting is sustainable.

            • hansman1982

              But the only one who has performed above and beyond has been Wood, and it’s only been 27 PA.

              It’s like saying this team would be terrible without Navarro.

              • SirCub

                I’m just saying that the offense is still pretty much who we thought they were at the beginning of the season, regardless of a month’s worth of positive regression.

                • Kyle

                  You thought it would be above average before the season?

                  • SirCub

                    Nope, below average. And it is below average. They’ve just scored a few more runs than average when you grab a random sample that happens to include their pitchers putting up over 1 WAR at the plate.

                    • Bret Epic

                      How can you take out the pitchers spot if we’re considering all pitches, as well as the DH for the American League? I’m sure that the Cubs have likely been one of the most productive teams without a designated hitter, but are you subtracting the production of the DH? I’m sure that most DH’s are more productive than Cubs pitchers overall.

                    • SirCub

                      So I looked it up. You know how many times in the past 10 years a team’s pitchers have combined for >= 1 WAR over the course of a season? Three.

                      Three times for 15-16 NL teams for 10 years. And no group of pitchers has ever put up an oWAR of over 2.

                    • SirCub

                      Also, nope. Cubs pitchers have been more productive than all but 3 team’s DH’s over the past month.

                    • Kyle

                      1) It’s not a random sample. It’s the entire population of data that we have, and a fairly significant chunk of the season.

                      2) As mentioned above, our pitchers are known to be rather strong hitters.

                      3) We have a bunch of other variances that you could choose to smooth out of you want. Cherrypicking one is just introducing bias to the analysis.

                      4) The NL average without runs driven in by pitchers (which is still a very bizarre stat that we have no reason to pay attention to) is 3.9 runs/game. The Cubs have scored 3.8 runs/game by that standard.

                    • Kyle

                      No one’s denying that the pitchers’ performance to date is fairly significantly flukish.

                      What we’re denying is the relevance of picking out that singular fluke and leaving the remaining data as having some sort of predictive value.

                    • Bret Epic

                      We do have strong hitting pitchers, something I figured would be the case coming into the season. All of them have decent hitting instincts, except maybe Garza.

                    • SirCub

                      1) It is a random sample. The numbers we’ve been talking about are for the month of May, where the Cubs have been average offensively, and their pitchers happened to have put up a 132 wRC+.

                      2. They’re good, but they aint that (32% better than the average ML hitter) good.

                      3. I’m not saying we should only consider team offense minus pitcher offense. Just that, if you do that, it happens to make a difference in this one instance, when it usually doesn’t.

                      4. Yea, that is a dumb stat. What isn’t a dumb stat is offensive WAR, which the Cubs total for the month of May falls by a third if you remove their pitchers contribution. It’s been really, really ridiculous and unsustainable. That’s my only point.

                    • Kyle

                      Offensive WAR minus pitchers is also a dumb stat.

                    • SirCub

                      Well, if the question you want to address is, “Gee, I wonder how much a team’s pitchers can affect their offensive production?” it’s actually a useful stat.

                      Notable players whose production at the plate the Cubs pitchers have matched or beaten in the month of May:

                      1. Nisk Swisher
                      2. Evan Gattis
                      3. Ryan Braun
                      4. Mitch Moreland

                      If you wanted to know what the Indians would be like in the month of May without Nick Swisher?

                      Their WAR drops from 5.1 to 4.1.

                      Brewers without Braun? 1.7 to 0.7

                      The Cubs pitchers have been some where between Ryan Braun and Nick Swisher in terms of the total value they have to their teams offense. That’s insane.

            • Kyle

              Well, first, don’t do that. It all counts. Is the pitching offense sustainable? No. But neither are Jerry Hairston and Darwin Barney’s BABIPs, nor our general lack of optimal sequencing in our offensive outputs. You can’t pick out one unsustainable thing and ignore the rest.

              Second, even if you were going to do that, you’d at least have to take out the DH and pitchers from everyone before you made an MLB rank comparison.

              • SirCub

                Not doing a scientific study here. Just making a general point. The Cubs offensive production looks better than it has been due to some unsustainable “clutch” hitting from a group of players who we can consider going forward to essentially non-hitters.

                Yes, there are lots of other effects that make the team’s production look better/worse than it has been. But that single one hasn’t been insignificant, and I just wanted to point it out.

                • Kyle

                  Your point is irrelevant for a variety of reasons and you are making it poorly.

                  The biggest problem being that you’ve cherrypicked a single aspect of the offense that is overperforming. All offenses will have some aspect that is overperforming, and will look worse when you take that aspect out.

                  Then you compared that hamstrung offense against unchanged offense for other teams (including 15 offenses from teams that play under a different ruleset that gives them nine full-time hitters).

                  The fact that we’re still better than seven teams under that sort of statistically unsound handicap is even more impressive.

                  • SirCub

                    I agree with you. If I say, “Take away player X’s good month, and he looks bad,” that’s cherry picking.

                    But pitchers are different. Pitchers are essentially not a part of a team’s offense, if you look back at total offensive production for NL teams over the last 10 years, you’re going to find very, very few times that pitchers have been involved in any significant way.

                    • Kyle

                      Jackson, Wood, Feldman and Samardzija are a combined 20 runs better than their peers offensively for their careers. It’s not a complete coincidence, the Cubs do have an unusually good group of hitting pitchers.

                      But again, even if you want to make that point, if you aren’t taking the pitchers out for all teams (and ignoring the AL teams), you aren’t making a real comparison. How can we possibly know if your point is relevant or not without doing that check?

                    • SirCub

                      I’m pretty sure that taking out the runs generated by other teams’ pitchers isn’t going to make much of a negative difference for most other teams.

                • frank

                  You’re right–the pitchers’ offensive production has been both significant and unsustainable, and it makes the offense look better. But Kyle’s point is that there are other unsustainable things going on with the rest of the lineup, the “real offense”, that make the offense look worse than it is–and that those things are equally significant as the pitchers’ production. To get a true view of the offense, you have to take all of it into account.

                  • Kyle

                    If he gets to take out the runs driven in by pitchers, then I’ll counter by using OPS instead of runs scored, because the Cubs have been unusually flukily bad at converting OPS into runs, mostly due to poor sequencing variance (aka bad clutch hitting).

                    The Cubs’ non-pitchers had a .725 OPS going into today.

                    The NL average for non-pitchers was .727 going into today.

                    I can’t be bothered to add in today’s stats, but I’m pretty sure we’ll have an above-average, non-pitcher OPS.

                    • SirCub

                      Okay, I have absolutely zero problem with your saying that. The Cubs’ offense has been average to slightly below average offensively this year, depending on the metric you use (wRC+ of 95). Which is pretty much what I expect, if not a little better.

                      I’m just making the point that if you hold up the month of May as an example of how good the Cubs can be offensively, you’re ignoring that a pretty huge chunk of what they did was done by people who will almost certainly not be able to do it again.

                    • Kyle

                      I would never hold up the month of May specifically. We’ve got the whole year of stats and I’m not going to carve out a month just because it makes the Cubs look better.

                    • SirCub

                      Haha, then I don’t know why we’re arguing. Hansman pointed out that in the last month the Cubs have been 11th in the league in terms of run scoring. I countered that it’s probably mostly attributable to the pitchers. Then the internet exploded.

          • SirCub

            To be fair, RBI’s are dumb, and are not just showing how well the pitchers are doing at driving in runs, but also how good of a job the previous hitters in the lineup are doing at getting on base.

  • hansman1982

    The teeny-tiny 0-2 strike zone strikes again even with an excellent receiving job by Castillo.

  • mike

    It seems like the cubs pitchers this year have been the best in the league. Seems like all of our pitchers are getting hits and RBIs

    • Die hard

      Ahem– been arguing all season for them to bat 8 but guess Sveum knows best with lifetime .230 BA

      • cubchymyst

        Didn’t LaRussa bat his pitchers 8th so that he had a better table setter for the top of the line up? Maybe Sveum is actually being brilliant.

        • hansman1982

          He did it so that Pujols would have 3 high-ish OBP guys ahead of him and still get the benefit of extra AB’s the 3-spot would bring him.

        • DarthHater

          heh

    • hansman1982

      Sadly, though, they have a terrible, terrible OPS. The non-Wood pitchers peak out at .542.

  • UCF

    Seems like Valbuena is sustaining his OBP. Any worth to moving him up to the two spot and dropping Castro down in the order? That would put three lefties in a row at the top of the order…but I’m not completely against that.

  • Corey

    Here’s to never seeing castro and rizzo combining for a whopping 1 for 9, haha.

  • Zogie

    The cubs pitchers continue to hit. Travis Wood had a big day today. A solid 6 IP with 6 Ks along with a Grand Slam which ignited the cubs today for this huge win. A few other guys to mention would be the bottom of the order guys. It is always a plus to see the bottom of the order produce. Castillo and Valbuena combined to go 5 for 8. Schierholtz even did some damage today after being well rested. Another positive is that Marmol had another solid inning of relief. One of the best games to watch this year and hopefully this good play continues. On the bad side, Castro was swinging early again today with no results. Just not a good day for the young shortstop. My shout out goes to Travis Wood for his all-around effort. Again I have all the ABs recorded if anyone has questions

  • Jarred

    Make up game or not, Is this the first time the Cubs have swept the Sox since inter-league play began?

  • DReese

    No podcast this week Brett?

  • Seth

    Watch out Chris Davis, Travis Wood is catching up.

  • baseballet

    TWood now has the 7th best WHIP in the NL!

  • Rich H

    Why is it when the Cubs are going good it is not sustainable but all of their numbers say they are actually winning a lot less than they should be? Someone has gotten off the logic train on this one. Take a win for what it is and hopefully this gets some of the guys that have been struggling going.

    To get wins like these with very little contribution from the guys we were suppose to be built around is a nice ego boost for the whole team because Castro, Rizzo and Soriano now have seen that even when they sputter a little bit the lower half can pick them up. Hopefully that takes a little pressure off of Castro and lets his game come to him.

  • Corey

    Keith Law’s latest mock draft has Colin going 1st to the Astros, with the Cubs selecting Appel.

    Shark. Garza. Wood. Appel and Feldman/villa/jackson.

  • Frankdatank

    I heard Juan Fransico was DFA’D by the Braves. Do the Cubs have a chance of picking up the power hitting 3rd baseman?

    • Kyle

      They have a very good chance at picking him up he’s waived, but I don’t think they need or want him.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Cubs should target Danny Valencia 3B with Orioles. Above average right handed stick with good defense and still only 28. Package of Soriano & Feldman for Valencia & LHP Hader prospect from O’s system. Cubs should pick up 80 percent of Sori’s remaining salary.

  • jt

    Map The Cubs runs/game over the season. Lots of clumps where there is a high continuous run production and lots of clumps where there is a low continuous run production.
    Yeah, a team runs into hot and cold pitching. Yeah, a team will consistently run into inconsistencies.
    The Cubs have scored 29 runs in the past 4 games. In the previous 4 games they scored 8. If they soon again go through a patch of games where the RS is an average of 2 are they again bums?
    Perhaps these guys are starting to learn how to be less consistently inconsistent? Perhaps some of the rough edges are starting to be smoothed over. Perhaps the team is beginning to mature.
    Stat-heads can not define if this is so or not. But stat-heads can give insight into whether this could be the case. That is those stat-heads who can see something other than luck being at play.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      ” That is those stat-heads who can see something other than luck being at play.”

      Don’t distributions predict clumping? (They had better, or I’ve got some seriously effed up papers!) You have to remember, that part of the “luck” is how good your opponent is: a level of performance that trounces the Astros is good for a loss against the Yanks or Sox. It goes further: the level of performance that beats an opposing team’s #5 starter is good for a loss if their #1 pitcher is starting instead.

      That is the “luck” factor in sports: the stuff that is out of your hands. And that’s why most sports statistics follow pretty simple distributions: you provide most of the mean, and the competition provides most of the variance.

      • jt

        A population of tortuous in the undisturbed wild reflects a provided mean. Weather, cycles of other species etc disrupts equilibrium and provides the competition that creates variance. But the undisturbed system over long periods of time is not dynamic. The weather stays within ranges and the other cycles do their spin with the population adapting over time.
        Baseball teams are not static. The roster changes, injuries occur and players abilities wax and wane over an undefined time.
        Rules change. The strategy of the spitter gives way to the development of slider. Drysdale considered a 2 bouncer to be a guy who hit the ground twice while getting out of the way of a brush back.
        Shit happens! But it does not explain all changes.
        Has Luis Valbuena been lucky or has there been a qualitative difference in his approach? Has Wood been lucky or has there been a qualitative difference in pitch location and/or movement? Has Rizzo’s good and bad cycles been cause by luck or has he been trying to pull the ball with a shorter string to increase his May total of 2 HR’s vs hitting the ball to left center for doubles?
        Yeah, shit happens but so does evolution. The thing is that evolution occurs a lot faster on a baseball field than it does in the wild.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think some folks just hate the word “luck.”

      But it’s a hell of lot easier for people like me to type than “variance not attributable to true talent or performance, and not predictive of future performance.”

      • TWC

        It’s also a lot easier for people to dismiss things they don’t understand by saying “NO! He SUX!” than comprehending the phrase “variance not attributable to true talent or performance, and not predictive of future performance.”

        • jt

          I would say that it is a lot easier for folks to say “var yadda yadda…..” rather than consider they way in which the talent and/or performance has changed. It is easier to say a batter has been lucky rather than say the pitchers have yet to find the hole in his swing and look for the change of pitch patterns when they do find it.
          Shit happens! But tactics also change.

      • jt

        Computer orientation of fielders causing a decrease in RA is not “luck”. It is finding order in that which was thought to be totally without order.
        Also, you assume a player’s and/or teams mean is static. But players and teams learn, mature and fade over time.
        Dempster was not unlucky in April of 2011. He sucked. He was not lucky the other 5 months. He was really good in about 80% of his games. He changed the way he pitched. The mean in April was not relevant to the mean of the other 5 months. Why? Because he was not pitching the same.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Lineup could be DeJesus, Castro, Rizzo, Valencia, Sweeney, Castillo, Schierholtz, Barney.

  • Rcleven

    Or the White Sox are a not so good team. Look at your clumps of runs and off the top of my head without looking they will be aginst sub .500 teams.

    • Kyle

      That’s normal.

      • jt

        I’ll agree. Clumping is normal.
        So Cubs are coming off a 4 game clump where they avg 7.25 runs per game.
        Gamblers fallacy has them due for a clump of low RS games and the position on the league run score scale should be about to dip. Then that particular scale doesn’t have much meaning.
        But what makes the gamblers fallacy fail in a game of skill?
        What allowed The Cubs to score 122 May runs in 26 games when they only scored 92 in 26 April games?

        • Kyle

          You do realize gambler’s fallacy is a fallacy, and what that means, right?

          • jt

            Gambler’s fallacy applies to pure chance.
            The Cubs scoring for the next 4 games is dependent upon the past for games only as to the condition of the athletes and not the number of runs that had been scored previously. But that only applies if the number of runs scored is a function of chance alone.
            The gamblers fallacy fails in a game of skill because it is not dependent on chance alone.
            Were The Cubs “lucky” to score 30 more runs in May than April?
            Was there that much less skill in the competition?
            Was there a fundamental change in The Cubs?
            Any one or combination of the 3 could be possible. For a stat guy to limit the answer to the first does a dis-service to the management for whom he works.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    I’ll say this:

    The Cubs will not truly be competitive until Starlin Castro gets out of the 2 hole. Either lead off with him, or drop him to 6. He’s had success leading off, seeing a pitcher for the 3rd time and starting that illusive, “crooked number” inning.

    • Die hard

      Better duck — the four brainless horsemen will come after you

      • TWC

        Brainless?

        Pot, meet kettle.

      • MichiganGoat

        You really don’t like those pesky things like numbers and stats.

        • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

          I don’t know why we’re even going rounds about this, sleepy Dale is just going to keep the lineup card like this:

          CF Free Agent or David DeJesus (L)
          SS Starlin Castro
          1B Anthony Rizzo (L)
          RF Jorge Soler
          3B Luis Valbuena (L)
          C Welington Castillo
          LF Brett Jackson (L) or free agent, swap with Valbuena
          2B Darwin Barney

          • Die hard

            Darwin Bellyfire on short leash I’m afraid

          • MichiganGoat

            Sleepy Dale… because he won’t take our best OBP man who we are trying to build trade value out of the leadoff spot so that our struggling SS that keeps swinging at balls outside of the zone and put him in the leadoff because he has a few more points as a leadoff hitter yet those numbers are based on 1/4 of his total career ABs. How dare he acts so sleepy. Just because we are not performing the way we hope does mean we change things just to change.

            • Die hard

              You lost us at Sleepy

              • MichiganGoat

                Read, research, and think… Sleepy was not my word.

    • Rich H

      I agree with the time to move him down part of your statement. He was lost today give him some time lower in the lineup to get the pressure off. When a guy is struggling you do not lead him off to break his slump.

    • Carew

      Agreed. Didn’t he do pretty well when he was lower in the lineup? for that one or two games…

    • Rcleven

      OBP isn’t high enough to lead off. He would be better suited to be hitting in the seven hole.

    • Kygavin

      Why if you want him out of the 2 hole would you have him lead off? If he isnt going to hit 2nd, which i think he would be a perfect fit if he walked more than twice a month, he should hit 6th or 7th

      • Die hard

        Psychological is his issue and he hits better when can swing at first pitch

        • MichiganGoat

          ??? He can do that hitting anywhere plus after the first pitch that whole no pressure first pitch thang goes away.

        • Kygavin

          Because nothing helps an OBP/walk rate like swinging at the first pitch….

          • Die hard

            Then maybe he needs to sit out a series to get his head on straight–something has to be done by somebody before the kid drops another 20 pts

            • Kygavin

              My vote is stop swinging at every slider in the dirt. Maybe Soriano is having the wrong kinda “veteran leadership” on the young hitters

        • Kygavin

          When putting the first pitch in play Castro is 4-18 with 1 2B this year

      • MichiganGoat

        Agreed this idea that his struggles will magically go away if he leads off because 1/4 of his career AB show a few points increase is really irrational and fandom at its worse. I agree butting him 6 or 7 makes sense if Dale thinks he needs a less stressful place to hit.

        • DarthHater

          Bah. I said trade him a year ago and you all hooted me down. I was right. :-P

  • Die hard

    Draft Mercado for defense only and take pressure off Castro who can slide over to 3B

    • Timothy Scarbrough

      I think I finally came to appreciate diehard.

  • Wester

    So I guess the white sux don’t have TWTW

  • cooter

    I’ll say it again. Marmol seems to be quietly doing a lot better.

  • http://bleachernation.com therealPattyP

    Awful job managing the bullpen in a blowout by Sveum. Just put in a mop up guy not burn out the closer like that.

    • TWC

      Well, let’s not waste a moment reveling in a series in which we crushed the White Sox. No, let’s talk about how Sveum sucks.

      Gregg hadn’t pitched since Sunday. Hard to burn a guy out when he only pitches one inning every 4 days, huh?

      • hansman1982

        And he would have had a GREAT outing had the Ump not blown the call…

    • hansman1982

      There it is…

  • willis

    What an awesome few days for the Cubs. Loving it. As far as Castro, not sure who you put where, but maybe moving him down some wouldn’t be the worst idea. I like him in the 5 or 6 spot. I’m not sure who I would like 2 though. I guess Valbuena or Schierholtz.

    Big ups to Wood. Rough day to pitch and he came out and did a fine job. His bat helped as well but he was able to wiggle out of jams all day, which is very tough to do with the wind howling like it was.

    On to AZ. Let’s keep it rolling.

    • Rich H

      A little side note on this. Barry Bonds moved from the lead off spot to 5th in the order for Pittsburgh. Yes I know it was a money based decision but he became a much better hitter when he moved down in the line up. Then later in his career he hit 3rd.

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    Gregg hadn’t pitched since Sunday. He needs work to stay sharp. Didn’t have his best command today.

  • Rebuilding

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Castro and Valbuena switch places, but then you don’t break up the lefties and the righties for late game matchups. If you are punting this year anyway you might as well leave Castro at 2 and get a few more at-bats.

    Maybe someone remembers, but when Castro came up I don’t remember him having the pronounced open stance he does now. It seems like he is lunging toward the plate to close the left leg. It seems to me that much movement could cause some timing issues. That and his lack of pitch recognition.

    • Die hard

      Agree — he used to try to hit everything to right center which made him see pitch better

    • Rebuilding

      This is a bad angle, but it’s the best video I could find from 2010. Castro seems to be a lot more suare with a lot less movement pre-swing

      Check out this video on YouTube:

      http://youtu.be/M2bIjwqvpfQ

      • Die hard

        Yea- had more confidence then– somebody messing with his head

        • MichiganGoat

          This could also be the league catching up to him and he’s trying to readjust but he does seem lost at the plate lately.

          • Rebuilding

            Yes, maybe they’ve just figured out that you really don’t have to throw him strikes. I just wonder why he seems to have changed his stance so much after his early success. It’s a fairly unorthodox, open stance

            • MichiganGoat

              That’s a good question for Dale and the FO maybe it’s something the coaching staff is working and we’re seeing the decline while he figures out a new technique

            • Cheryl

              But they’ve known since last year that you don’t have to throw him strikes.

              • Die hard

                Not a priority yet? Quade for all his faults did try to tough love this kid but the FO sided with the kid which sends the wrong message and didn’t do him any favors

            • Die hard

              Corey Patterson redux?

  • N8theGr8

    Holy Cow! Darth, why didn’t you (or anybody else, godsakes) throw the ol’ kicked dead horse meme between SirCub and Kyle about 5 posts in??? Those 2 just statistically twisted my thinkin’ parts….

  • Rebuilding

    Here is a much better video from Castro’s debut. His stance is barely open at all and he’s moving forward instead of sideways. He always seems unbalanced now.

    Check out this video on YouTube:

    http://youtu.be/v1WG5R007rs

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