Buy Low, Sell High

Anyone who has played fantasy baseball is familiar with the concept of trying to acquire players when they're slumping and trading players when they're on a hot streak. Let's take a look at the Cubs roster and see if we can spot any trends for the second half of the season. There are of course the traditional statistics such as ERA, wins and losses, WHIP, etc, but for the most part I'll be looking at some of the peripherals that are good indicators of what to truly expect from these guys. I'll begin with the starting rotation.

Carlos Zambrano - 8-3, 3.13 ERA, 5.76 K/9, 3.05 BB/9, 1.89 K:BB, 0.59 HR/9, .297 BABIP

There are three areas of concern with Big Z. The 5.68 ERA he put up in June, the alarming decline in his strikeout rate and of course, the shoulder strain that put him on the disabled list. Yeah, he'll be back by Friday, but anytime a pitcher goes down you have to worry about re-injuring himself. You can try and chalk up June to just having a bad month and maybe his shoulder was acting up on him before he actually told anyone, but what you really have to be worried about his is the 5.76 K/9 rate he's sporting this year.

It seems to have been a conscious decision on his part to go less for the strikeout and gain some more control on his pitches. His walk rate has dramatically improved to go along with the decrease in his strikeout rate (3.05 BB/9 this year compared to 4.20 and 4.84 the last two seasons). And you can't argue with the success he's had for the most part this year, but there's not a lot of pitchers that can put up ERA's in the low three's with that low a strikeout rate...I mean, we're talking almost Jason Marquis territory here. His groundball to flyball ratio has improved as well with his new approach and I think he can still dial it up whenever he needs to, but I' d sure feel a lot more comfortable if he got that K/9 rate above six at least.

Ryan Dempster - 9-3, 3.26 ERA, 7.37 K/9, 3.51 BB/9, 2.10 K:BB, 0.86 HR/9, .258 BABIP

Dempster was as lucky as they get early on in the season, sporting a BABIP in the low .200's which he had no chance in hell of sustaining. The lowest BABIP in the last five years for any pitcher with at least 150 innings was Chris Young in 2006 with a .237 BABIP and that was quite abnormal and he also pitches in a park where flyballs go to die. If you look at the leaderboards over the last few years, you'll see a few pitchers in the .250 range every season but most pitchers hover around the .300 mark.

The correction has already started and despite his last outing, Dempster is still well ahead of the bell curve and will possibly get a a well-deserved All-Star spot. Sure his career numbers suggest that he's still due for some more correction, but I think anyone who's watched him this year realizes that this is a different Dempster from past least as a starter. His walk rates are still quite high, but he's fooling batters, keeping the ball in the park and seems to be able to induce a double play whenever he needs one.

That all being said, he's a prime candidate for one of those multi-year contracts Hendry likes to give out to players he finds off the scrap-heap that have career years with the Cubs (see Rusch, Glendon). And hopefully Hendry realizes that trying to catch lightning in a bottle makes for a hazardous work place.

Ted Lilly - 9-5, 4.56 ERA, 8.44 K/9, 3.21 BB/9, 2.63 K:BB, 1.52 HR/9, .292 BABIP

I covered Ted Lilly in yesterday's game thread, so I'll just recap. He finished June with a 3.21 ERA after a 6.46 in April and 4.72 in May. His biggest problem has been his home run rate which has skyrocketed to 1.52 HR/9 this year (it was 1.64 heading into yesterday's game). Also prior to yesterday's game, he was giving up a home run on 13% of the flyballs hit off him, which is an astoundingly high number. Most pitchers are in the 10-11% range and with yesterday's performance, it's already down to 12.6%.

So expect Lilly to continue to improve, the control isn't quite as good as last year, but he's still missing bats and expect a few less balls to fly over the fence.

Jason Marquis - 6-4, 4.96 ERA, 4.64 K/9, 3.59 BB/9, 1.53 K:BB, 1.21 HR/9, .289 BABIP

The same Jason Marquis that should be expected. He's not going to strike out a lot, he's going to put people on base, much to the chagrin of Cubs fans and Lou Piniella. He makes up for those walks by keeping the ball in the park and on the ground and at the end of the day, he's useful maybe 50% of the time (if that much). I took a look at his quality starts over the years (defined as at least six innings pitched and an ERA of 4.50 or below for that game).

Year GS QS QS%
2008 15 5 .33
2007 33 15 .45
2006 33 13 .39
2005 32 18 .56
2004 32 19 .59







A bit of slippage this year, but some of that can be attributed to Lou's quick trigger with Marquis and not being able to reach six innings. If you look at his game logs this year, I'd say nine of his 15 starts have been useful. He's gone at least five or more innings and given up three or less runs. There is value in what he does, mostly that he stays healthy and you can reasonably expect him to keep the team in the game on the days he starts. Can the Cubs do better? Sure there's more talented pitchers out there, but don't underestimate the value of staying healthy.

Of course, we'll all be doing a little happy dance the day he leaves the Cubs.

Sean Gallagher - 3-3, 4.36 ERA, 7.88 K/9, 3.35 BB/9, 2.35 K:BB, 1.01 HR/9, .315 BABIP

A rather pleasant surprise after a forgetful spring, the 22-year old has shown signs of brilliance. Sporting a four-seamer that hits the mid 90's, a two-seamer that dives away from lefties and solid control of his breaking stuff (a slider and a curve), I think better days are ahead for Gallagher. He still has quite a bit to learn about the art of pitching, but that probably could be said for most 22-year old pitchers. A look at his game logs show that six of his nine starts have been what you have to consider at least useful.

His numbers right now are promising and the looks of that BABIP suggest that they should get a little better. They also suggest that he'd pretty much have to be included in any deal that would get C.C. Sabathia to the Cubs.


[Gallagher's] numbers right now are promising and the looks of that BABIP suggest that they should get a little better. They also suggest that he'd pretty much have to be included in any deal that would get C.C. Sabathia to the Cubs.

Him or Marmol. If I'm an Indian one of those guys HAS to be included.

well it isn't going to be Marmol, pretty sure he's untouchable. If you're going for it this year, then giving up a starter to get a starter is reasonable. I would guess a Gallagher and not-screwed-in-the-head Rich Hill plus one more marginal minor leaguer would get it done.

Costly considering the Cubs have 8 players set to make $100 MM next year and very doubtful they'd be able to sign Sabathia. Not to mention Eyre, Howry, Dempster and Wood are all set to be free agents. 

I think we've had all kinds of indications that payroll is available for the Cubs in 2008. I've said all along that I'd be shocked if the Cubs do manage to get a rental on Sabathia, there are just other teams with alot more to give. At this point I say probably the most likely move is AJ Burnett, and that comes at the price of not having to give up very much at all I wouldn't think. And I would fully advocate taking Marquis out of the rotation, but much like Barry Zito, he Cubs have money put into Marquis and it seems to be the main factor in his playing time.

Hopefully he can channel one of his 'good' starts tonight.

Oh, I think the Cubs can add whatever payroll they want for this season. I was talking about signing Sabathia to an extension which is doubtful...and kind of a bad idea for someone who is so out of shape.

Dierkes passes along Gammons' thoughts on the starters Hendry might be looking into. Note the comment about Gallagher, however.

In other news from Gammons, apparently the Rays are looking at Murton.

In other news from Gammons, apparently the Rays are looking at Murton.

Maybe we can get Jae-kuk Ryu back? :)

I'll take Jacob McGee, sure he'll be out for over a year, but that be a nice score for Murton right now.

as for the rest of the starters list...meh.

The problem is the A's are quite in the race, so there's absolutely no reason for them to move Harden. Burnett would be okay, his K/9 rate is over 9 which is fantastic, but also is sporting a BB/9 rate of 4.49, which will drive Lou (and me) bonkers. The .336 BABIP though suggest better days are ahead. Randy Wolf for Murton wouldn't be terrible either, but neither Burnett or Wolf are really that big of an improvement over what we have going.

Wolf's peripherals fwiw: 8.17 K/9, 3.42 BB/9, 1.01 HR/9, .317 BABIP 

He hasnt stayed healthy his entire career and almost every contending team (sans the Angels, Cards, D-backs, Rays, Red Sox) are going to be willing to pay through the noise for him. The only reason the A's are still in the playoff hunt is because they played over their head, while the Angels, Tigers, and Yankees have been playing under the ability of their talent to an extent. If somebody offered Beane a king's ransom for Harden he would pull the trigger.

well yes, if somebody offered Beane a King's ransom for Harden, he might consider moving him. But no one will because "He hasnt stayed healthy his entire career".

And the A's are quite the surprise this year, but a +64 run differential is a pretty good indicator that they'll stay in this.

Whatever deal Beane can get for Harden right now, he can get for Harden in the offseason.

ryu is such a nice guy and loves the game. he's just not good.

saw him a lot last year and a bit this year and wow...he was/is in GREAT shape. great athlete.

he's just tapped out with his talent and better suited for pen work at this point. shame...sure isn't for a lack of working.

I presume "nice guy" doesn't mean "animal lover"?


i forgot about that. regardless...he's a very classy dude who's a very nice guy. he's handling being in weird/humid durham, NC pretty well for a guy who was vaulted to the majors at an early age as a pimped out starter and is now trying to find a career of some sorts in the pen.

he's really good with the kids and fans. the kids find him a real curiosity because even though we have asians around here we don't have many that look like athletes on the level he does. he's a 6'4" 230lb. beast of a kid. all muscle, all athlete...he just looks like a star. too bad he doesn't pitch like one.

Give the guy a break. He made a stupid mistake throwing at that bird AND he was accurate enough to actually hit it. The mistake doesn't define his character and his outlook on life.

It wasn't a huge deal to me that Ryu threw at the bird, though of course I think it was a dumb and destructive thing to do.

But defending the guy because he was accurate enough to hit the bird in the first place probably isn't the best way to go about getting people to agree with your argument that he shouldn't be held at fault.

but he was AT FAULT for throwing at the bird. even he admitted as much. all i'm sayin is that we all make mistakes and we all deserve a break from them.

Joke. Loosen up, bro.

Didn't he throw at it a bunch of times and then finally hit it? Hardly a virtue.

I think they found Rich Hill's problem!

so much win. so so very much.

...and Wolf buys Lou some "Umpire clout" which he could sorely use.

Brett Myers assigned to AAA (a move he had to accept since he has 5+ years of service time).

Freddy Bynum called back up by the O's.

Alfonso Soriano does

"Our medical people say [Soriano] is the fastest healer they've ever seen," says Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. "

Tyler Colvin named Southern league player of the week, Donald Veal named to Southern League All-Stars.

I'm not conerned about Z's reduced SO numbers - I recall that when he first came up, his main "out" pitch was that awesome sinker that hitters beat into the ground. Then if he needed it, he could blow it by the hitters with no problem. Maybe this is a good development, since he had a tendency to put more guys on base last year, along with the increased SO's.

problem is, when he first came up he was still K'ing hitters and had a higher GB/FB rate.

Year  GB/FB
2003  2.28  55.4% 7.07 
2004  1.63  50.7% 8.07 
1.62  50.0% 8.14 
1.24  46.9% 8.83 
2007  1.37 46.8%  7.36 
2008  1.51  48.5% 5.76 



You know, I really the cut-off point in that graph would be '07, when he showed up with that 3/4 arm angle... but I was surprised to see that it wasn't. Odd.

I didn't know that - thanks for the numbers. So how about this one - he's trying to be a complete pitcher, using his full arsenal, rather than just going for the K every time. If it saves more wear and tear on his arm (and he's still effective, big caveat), then I'm all for it.

yeah, the saving more wear and tear on his arm gets kind of lost with the DL stint and all.

Z's got great movement on his pitches and I do think he's gotten better at "pitching' this year than just throwing. But he's going to have miss a few more bats for him to keep up that low 3 ERA. Above a six K/9 would be nice, above seven would be ideal.

speaking of...zito.

yeah, he did cruddy for a few innings and etc etc etc, but one thing i noticed was how much more cerebral he was with his selection.

it seems rather than trying to "push" his stuff (and getting no where with it) he's now using what he's got in a more intelligent fashion. how much of this is molina or the coaches...i dunno.

he threw a TON of high fastballs on/near the same high plane where his curve ball would break and was not mixing up too much with where he threw the fastball. he wasnt working a ton around the plate with was being mainly used as a deception pitch in tandum with the curve. he danced around with his curve location and mainly used his fastball for what was mentioned above...but he did use his changeup all over kinda like how people would normally use a fastball (or zito would traditionally use his curve) to set up for other stuff. it seems the "new" zito might be becoming a hell of a changeup/curve pitcher if it clicks. his fastball is practically an afterthought now. not like the changeup is new or the fastball is gone...he's just using them differently it seems (the inside fastball that was a big part of his game earlier seems to be disappearing lately, too).

STL wish a 2 run lead already after 1 inning...geez...lose already.


sweet...mets tie top 4th.

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  • TLS has options. He will be up again in Sept, and maybe earlier.

    Rob Richardson 39 sec ago view
  • Very odd -- TLS .308/.419 in July (in 26 AB). Strange move for a team struggling to score runs. Hard to imagine Coghlan doing better than that. Maybe they like Coghlan better as a PH?

    billybucks 11 min 4 sec ago view
  • Sorry to nitpick -- but the first game wasn't a save.

    billybucks 25 min 48 sec ago view
  • Wow La Stella sent to Iowa and Coghlan brought up. I'm not a huge Stella fan but he has been hitting lately and is to me better than Coghlan. Neither are good defensively but I guess Coghlan can play the outfield allowing Bryant to stay at 3rd more where he's better.

    johann 27 min 17 sec ago view
  • Not 2nd to last but Cubs are definitely bottom of the pack in the 2nd half in oWAR and wRC+. #1 in dWAR though which is certainly a good sign for the playoffs.

    johann 32 min 22 sec ago view
  • I was going to say that you wouldn't want Heyward to achieve Soriano's OBP--.317 with the Cubs--but now I see that he's already done that. Pitchers have lost their fear of him.

    Oh, well, at least Chapman seems to be as good as advertised.

    VirginiaPhil 40 min 59 sec ago view
  • Thanks to E-man and Quiet Man for the link on Chapman in a previous post. It's funny because I never really noticed Chapman's delivery until I saw him doing it in a blue uniform. Two saves in a Cubs uniform already. I hope they don't need him today, despite that smooth delivery.

    Old and Blue 42 min 56 sec ago view
  • Cubs are middle of the pack in average, 5th in OPS, 2nd in walks, 4th in runs scored in MLB. Their runs scored ranks 17th in the MLB in July.

    Boston, leading everything, continues to rake in July.

    Old and Blue 45 min 23 sec ago view
  • Lester has given up one run or fewer in 11 starts this year. So I'd answer yes. Three of his last four starts were duds, yes. Not worried about him at all. Arrieta is concerning, to be sure. I look it at as, what he was doing was historic, so the regression was bound to happen. He showed in his start against the Mets that he's still capable, and I'd bet on him regaining his form.

    Tito 1 hour 41 min ago view
  • marlins getting a.cashner and c.rea from SD

    crunch 1 hour 48 min ago view
  • This is not an attack...But In what stat are the Cubs second from last in MLB, in hitting? I don't see this.

    Dusty Baylor 2 hours 54 min ago view
  • How odd the stats:

    Cubs 1st in pitching in MLB

    2nd to last in hitting.

    In May they were 1st in both.

    The E-Man 3 hours 11 min ago view
  • trevor clifton (high-A) could be interesting in a couple seasons...could even become a high/middle rotation guy. he's got a lot of pluses in his pitching except control.

    eric leal's (high-A) progression through the minors should be worth watching even if only projects to be an mid/end-rotation starter.

    we also gotta keep a long-distance eye on guys like jose paulino (ss-A) and preston morrison (A).

    crunch 11 hours 50 min ago view
  • As Johnny Bach used to say when it was time for the MJ Bulls to crank up the defensive pressure: "Release the Dobermans!", and Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Harper would just suffocate the other team.

    I'd love to add Carl Jr. to that group - he's got the stuff.

    billybucks 12 hours 10 min ago view
  • Historically, the Moneyball guys have been great at identifying productive hitters. Not so much with pitchers.

    billybucks 12 hours 11 min ago view
  • Wow - Pierce Johnson with an ERA of 8.01 in 42IP!

    What a stud prospect! Must be pitching with a pierced johnson.

    Looks like Ryan Williams is the only legit prospect there. That is sad...

    The E-Man 12 hours 13 min ago view