Anarchist's Brunch- The Dog Days edition.

Anarchist's Brunch- The Dog Days edition.

I probably could have written a wrap last night for the Cubs 3-2 victory over the Padres last night and still had enough to come up with a Brunch this morning. But, as has been the case much of this Cubs season ( and possibly career) alcohol was needed. Or a movie. Or both. Some kind of distraction. August truly is the Dog Days of a baseball season. Especially when you're team isn't winning. And the Cubs, well they aren't winning.

They did win last night. And it was a noticeable win. Because Shark was Shark for 8 innings and being a top of the line starter that everyone wants him to be.  That's two in a row for killer Samardzija starts. And once again it was easy to see coming. When Samardzija can get strike 1 early in the count. And the batter has to guess split or slider , they're usually gone. What was most encouraging was Sveum leaving Shark in there for the 8th inning. Granted that decision seems like a no brainer after watching this bullpen in action. But Strop has been lights out and 9 times out of 10 that's usually the button Sveum will push. But Shark is "the ace" of this club at least, and Aces should get the benefit of the doubt, especially when they're barely 80 pitches through 7. And when Shark got into trouble, And he got into trouble quite early that inning, Sveum let Shark decide his own fate. So when Shark got Uber-annoyance Jedd Gyorko to strikeout, his fist pump was very well warranted, as it was matched by Dioner Navarro's fist pump, my fist pump, and I'm sure countless other Cub fan's fist pumps too.

But this win comes off the heels off a beyond goofy loss, and won't mean much unless it's the start of a nice winning streak. Which, with the Dodgers next and a return to the allergic grounds of Wrigley Field, probably isn't gonna happen. And that's hard to take. This Cubs team shouldn't go into the tank like last year's team did. There's no Jason Berken, Justin Germano, or overmatched Chris Rusin going to the bump every fifth day where you simply don't have a chance. Rusin has been great. Arrieta, with one game exception, has been good. Dejesus was middle of the road, and while Soriano had some killer hot streaks, Junior Lake replaced it with one of his own.

And yet this team continues to flirt with 20 games under .500. That should be unacceptable. I know, I know, another draft pick. Add him to the fantasy team everyone has in their heads.  Everyone has this Almora--Castro-baez-Soler-Bryant-Rizzo-Alcantarra-Olt lineup that's gonna lead us to the promise land when everyone that follows minor league ball says it will be above expectations that a third of those players might make an impact. When Rizzo got here everyone said he was the first and the rebuilding would start around him. But now everyone's ready to bus toss him so we can draft some 18 year old from Alabama or Florida or who knows be cause this guy, THIS GUY is the future.  And when he hits .240 We'll bus toss him and root for another top 5 pick.

Losing begets losing. Winning begets winning.

I want the Cubs to win. And I don't see why they can't win more right now. Rizzo should be hitting .280, Castro around .300 because that's where he's always hit. The offense shouldn't be this punch and judy. The stating pitching should be strong and with Strop not giving up any hits and Save bot 6300 being more reliable than not, yeah the bar's kinda low down there, then wins should be more common than they are. And if that means picking 8th then so be it. Javier Baez was picked 9th by the way. Can be done.

Granted, this ends in a week or two. Brooks Raley, Ryan Sweeny and some other insignificant call ups will be here and the games will feel like running out the string games and individual performances won't be as encouraging because they're in September where all meaningless games are skewed differently. But I'd still like to see some winning baseball. Life is more fun when the Cubs win. Like last night, but hopefully longer.


So we got our "Darwin Barney has power" game last night. Usually good for one or two of those a year. Only one or two.

So Kim's husband goes to the Nats who immediately flip him to the Devil Rays, who gave the Nats two pitching prospects. Nice work if you can get it huh Mike Rizzo. Of course, that decision to shut down Strasburg.....

Kim Dejesus living in Derek Jeter's off season home town.......I smell tabloids.

Oh, I never got to answer Tom's column earlier this week. But I would love to see the Cubs sign Jacoby Elsbury. It's Boras, so he'll probably price him right out of it. But I would love to see the Baez's and Bryant's come to Wrigley and find a veteran star player that's won a ring and won't be afraid to get into someone's grill about it. Elsbury ticks those boxes.

All this talk about losing a father figure in Dejesus. The Cubs don't need father figures. They need older big brothers.

Count me among the millions just ecstatic that Vin Scully is coming back for his 65th season next year. Man has become my voice of late night the past few years thanks to the Baseball package.

Here's something from what I like to call the Meatball Sabremetrics file: Alphonso Soriano has the week of his life, hitting 18 RBI in four games, setting a record for most RBI in a four game stretch and helping the Yankees win 6 out of 7 and briefly re-light their playoff hopes ( which were quickly put out). How in the world isn't Soriano's WAR at least 4?  I mean, even if he goes 0-for the rest of the season, he single handedly won the Yankees those 4 games.Ergo his WAR should never go below 4 right?  WINS above replacement. A replacement player didn't win them those 4 games. Soriano did. Hence his WAR has to be at least 4 right?!!??? No? this is why I don't care much for WAR....

While looking up San Diego Bands to quote in the wrap this weekend, I was delighted as all get out to rediscover the Beat Farmers. What a fun and ridiculous band.

Revolver is my Beatles music of choice today for those keeping score.

Haven't heard from Arguello since the Under Armor game. What did you guys do with him?




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  • I agree with you its so much more enjoyable when Cubs win. Not sure I agree with you about Ellsbury. He is a fine ballplayer but after watching highlights of RedSox Dodger game I don't think we need another player who can't count to 3.

  • Felzz.....

    I love your take on WAR.
    One single stat that compares different players would be great.
    WAR isn't it.

  • In reply to djriz:

    There are so many stats blooming that I can no longer distinguish the garden.

  • In reply to djriz:

    Disagree about WAR. Soriano was important in winning those 4 games, but he certainly didn't win them alone. And when Sori is cold he doesn't lose games alone.

    Regardless, WAR is only useful for comparing the things that it measures. The things it measures are very valuable things to measure. It does not purport to be the absolute measure of a player's value, even though a lot of people seem to want to believe that's the purpose of WAR.

    The problem isn't WAR as a statistic. The problem is that people get caught up on the name of the statistic and gloss over what it actually measures.

  • Sonny boy, I appreciate you wordsmithing skills.
    I know that the elder sib is named Adam, but I've never known the second born's handle. I should ask George, next time I mail him. I rthink we'd all love to see some wins down the stretch, but I'm sick to death of hearing how our farm is going to change the world, I remember Bob Speake, but that was years before your appearance. I doubt that there's a Billy Williams at Daytona.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Why wouldn't there be? There always seems to be in the Cardinals system. I'm sick to death of people who don't understand that every single player was once a prospect.

  • Easily the best brunch I've read yet. Did you watch Sling Blade? Doyle Hargraves was the biggest pr!ck in cinematic history 'begat this and begat that'....i agreed with you on everything from Vin Scully to Jacoby Ellsbury. Great start to my day Felzz. Thank you!

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    I have the same feelings about WAR. We don't know the formula used to calculate it, partially because there ISN'T a single formula to calculate it, and yet everyone treats it like the Holy Grail of baseball stats

    One version of WAR said Darwin Barney was a borderline star last year. Seriously. The other version said he was an okay starter.

    And then there's the whole "replacement level player" concept. Last year the "replacement" starters we pitched after the trade deadline were actually all below replacement level. And wouldn't Donnie Murhpy qualify as your typical "replacement" infielder? We've all seen what he's done.

  • In reply to Jason Pellettiere:

    Here is all you need to know about the validity of WAR.

    Miguel Cabrera = 6.7
    Carlos Gomez - 6.5.

    Gomez is having a great year. I do not question that, but only one player should be mentioned in the same universe as Cabrera, and it ain't Gomez.

    They need to reassess their formula.

  • In reply to djriz:

    I know the non believers in WAR and sabremtrics like to point out discrepencies like this, but I think it just goes to show that people don't quite understand what goes into some of these formulations.

    WAR encompasses defense as well as offense. If we didn't obviously Miggy is far and away more valuable. But Gomez is a high end defensive player and Miggy is terrible. On top of that Gomez covers a ton of ground and Cabrera's range is very limited, almost Ron Cey levels.

    Many people don't spend a lot of time watching the Brewers play, even Brewer fans for crying out loud, but a guy can "win" a game defensively as much as he can buy hitting a HR.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    You can't lump all people that don't worship at the Bill James altar the same. Most of us understand fully what WAR measures. We just question the validity of the formula. Most sabermetric experts find fielding data questionable. If that is true, it puts the accuracy of WAR in doubt. Two other things:
    1). A mentioned above, if a statistic was perfect, it wouldn't have more than formula. At a minimum, they should at least be called something different.
    2). Position fielding factors used in WAR formulas are arbitrary numbers. If they come up with a formula that says a SS has a factor of +15, and a 1st baseman has a factor of -10, fine. But as of now, it's just a guess. That limits the usefulness of WAR.

    Again, an all encompassing statistic would be fine, but WAR, IMO, isn't that accurate. It may be the best we have, been it needs improving.

    ( I have a deep respect for sabermetrics and it's value, and respect those who like it, I just don't see it as the end all be all of statistical analysis. Is it part of it? Sure. But it's not all of it).

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    In reply to djriz:

    "Position fielding factors used in WAR formulas are arbitrary numbers. If they come up with a formula that says a SS has a factor of +15, and a 1st baseman has a factor of -10, fine. But as of now, it's just a guess. That limits the usefulness of WAR."

    It is NOT just a guess. Those are calculated from reams of data on positional averages over many years. You can disagree with the calculation, but it is a calculation.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks. Mike. I just assumed since all the positional field adjustment numbers, from both BR and Fangraphs, are such 'clean' numbers', (by clean I mean 10, 7.5, 15, and the such), they were arbitrary. In my experience with complicated formulas, which these formulas would have to be, it is very rare that ALL the quotients would be so 'neat'. I guess it's just a statistical anomaly.

    BTW, what are the reasons that Fangraphs and Baseball references positional fielding adjustments are so different?

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    In reply to djriz:

    They're rounded. Presumably to make snap comparisons easy. (i.e., moving Baez from short to third will result in a decrease of 5 runs of value.)

    They're different because both sites use different formulas to calculate them. Here's descriptions on how each of them are calculated.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    If they use different formulas, how come they both call it WAR?

    Thanks for the links. The Fangraphs link, doesn't provide the formula they used to determine positional adjustments. But they did reference Tom Tango, so all is good. The BR link did have a formula, but, again, it wasn't how the positional value was determined, but how they calibrated data for guys who played multiple positions.

    Do you think "The Book" would have these formulas in them?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I would question the adequacy of fielding standards with the new overshifting on almost all hitters. We seeing 2nd basemen in short RF. Shortstops playing on the right side of the infield, 3rd basemen forced to cover the entire left side of the infield. When the zone of a fielder doesn't meet the standard definition, how can we trust its value?

  • In reply to djriz:

    That makes some sense but don't sleep on defensive value or base running value. Cabrera is the best hitter on Earth. Gomez is a great defender at a premium spot as well as a really good baserunner. Cabrera is neither of those. To me, its a real testament to Miggy's greatness with the bat that he's able to put up that WAR number whilst being below average with the glove and on the bases. Being able to go first to third on virtually every single, tag up and advance on virtually any fly ball, score from first on any double, and steal a base in a base stealing situation, and playing gold glove D are all things that Miggy doesn't have. Now, who would I rather have on the Cubs? Cabrera, easy. I do think WAR is a good stat though.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Yes, all those thinggs are important. I am just NOT convinced the current formula for WAR is as accurate as others as far as determining runs contributions. For ex. as currently formulated (the best I can tell, anyway), a single and a stolen base is significantly more valuable than a double. How is that?

  • Love your comment about Barney. I guess those 1 or 2 times a year when Barney actually comes thru really supports Dales reasoning for not pitching for him.

  • In reply to kansascub:

    meant pinch hit for him

  • In reply to kansascub:

    Great Brunch. Agree with Felzz on everything except Barney. He is one of those players who could accurately described as an anomaly, whose poor stats belie his worth. His few hits are often timely and defense is superb saving runs, but difficult to quantify. Soriano's WAR is not accurate, nor is Barney's.

  • In reply to IVYADDICT:

    It should be noted that last year Barney had the team's highest WAR 4.8. That was based largely on his defensive rating. This year's leader is Castillo whose numbers are again based on his team high defensive rating. It seems that defensive ratings are disproportionally impacting WAR. Methinks the sabernauticians need to go back to the computer lab.

  • Ha! Wound up getting together with some old friends after the game. Going to brunch with wife this morning.

    I'll have something up again soon. Will definitely write on UA game and some other stuff. May have to combine Sat/Sun recap.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I thought you were doing "Weekend at Bernie's with JA".

    Been there, done that.

  • Yay. He lives....

  • I'm glad I'm not the only one on WAR. I already lost the battle on quality starts. I couldn't stand that statistic. Who thinks having an ERA of 4.5 is "quality. It struck me as so arbitrary. But everyone accepts it and uses it as a guide. And now we gush about how many "quality" starts Travis Wood has even though it's 3-3 in the 7th.....

    Anyway, I'm glad people are with me on WAR.

  • In reply to felzz:

    Don't ask me about FIP. My head will spin.

    (and since when is a home run NOT a ball in play?) :-)

  • One of your best brunches. This madness about losing games is great has to stop. Andrew Luck is not available and the Cubs ain't in the NFL. The play of the team the last month is underachieving and unacceptable. Winning is how franchises are turned around.
    And Ellsbury is the guy they need, for all the reasons you listed. Elite players win games, not AA all stars.

  • I disagree with you on some things. All wins are not equal. Wins right now with the team out of the playoff picture are counter productive. The win I want is in the last game of the year. But I do agree with you that the Cubs are not in the NFL.

  • I'm excited about seeing some of our youngsters play this season. But, I'm not sure how long I can hang in there. I'm looking for significant improvement next season 85-90 wins and that can't happen without picking up at least 2 impact bats and 1 reliable arm.

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    "Everyone has this Almora--Castro-baez-Soler-Bryant-Alcantarra-Rizzo-Olt lineup that's gonna lead us to the promised land"

    Amen, Felzz, you must have read my post from a couple of strings ago. Who needs Shin Soo Choo? We'll have ALMORA!!! in a year and a half.
    I see the point about draft picks, and I see that winning 77 games is no different than winning 67 - but at some point I want to see some things settled in the lineup, and I want some wins strung together that makes me think we have something to build on for next year. Who's gonna play 3rd? Is Barney a keeper? Is Lake? After Shark and Wood, who? Do Navarro and Schierholtz stay another year? Too many question marks, it would be nice to have a few things nailed down for next year. I'd be happy if we could end the year back at 10-12 games under .500.

  • So Washigton flipped DeJesus for prospects? What did we get salary relief? What the? How's that work??

  • In reply to good4you:

    We also get a PTBNL from Washington.

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    Who is tossing Rizzo under the bus? He's getting a lot more support than Starlin, from everyone. (Including the front office.)

    Yes, there are probably more people counting on a Almora-Castro-Baez-Soler-Bryant-Rizzo-Alcantarra-Olt lineup than should be. But you know what? If all we get out of it is a perennial All Star in Baez and a solid center fielder in Almora -- and the others wash out -- that's still pretty f'ing good, and since they, along with Rizzo and Castro, will be cost controlled, that's an amazing core to build a winner around.

    Your point about Baez being taken 9th needs to be put into perspective. 2011 was an insane year. There has never been a year with that many incredible prospects coming out. And you know what: if this front office had picked 8th that year, we'd have Francisco Lindor right now and be going even more insane about the possibilities with him in the lineup. The draft position counts.

    You also like to bring up the Cardinals. They've done a great job. But look at their first round picks: Shelby Miller. Seems to be an impact player. Zach Cox. Looks like a washout. Kolten Wong. Very good second baseman, but not a real high end guy. James Ramsey. Not looking good. Michael Wacha. Who knows? And I mean that genuinely. He could be a multiple time Cy Young guy, he could be a back of the rotation guy. Marco Gonzalez. Ceiling of a middle of the rotation guy.

    Cubs draft picks the last three years: Javier Baez -- Top 10 in all of baseball prospect; Albert Almora -- Top 30 in all of baseball prospect; Kris Bryant -- the best hitter available in the draft. Ceiling of Giancarlo Stanton at third. Every single one of these guys is impact -- that's what you get drafting lower in the order. Guys who need much less to break their way to be impact.

    Winning is not a cold you catch. The team with the most good players tends to win. The Pirates have started winning because they have a lot of good players. The Reds have a lot of good players. The Yankees have won for years, and yet they're on the outside looking in for a playoff spot. The White Sox have been competitive for years, and yet somehow that hasn't rubbed off on this year's team. In the game today, you have to develop your own players. The Cubs have been terrible at that. How terrible? This article gives some perspective:
    Compare the Cubs there, especially, to the rest of their division.

    That's made more severe because the Cubs are broke right now. Whether that's genuine (as I believe) or a fakeout to get the renovations through (as John believes), the end result is the same: we can't buy the big name free agents. They way we're going to compete in the short term is by developing lots of impact talent. We have some good ones but, as this is a down year, why not add the best piece of impact talent we can?

    Drafting third means, at the moment, that either Tyler Beede or Trea Turner will be available. Those are more impact guys coming in. Yep, they probably don't make it. But if it's a numbers game on prospects succeeding, the more top prospects you pick up, the better your chances of success.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks bro. I really needed a good laugh today after a rough weekend playing cards. Cubs broke......thats a classic.......other than that thought.....great insight as usual

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Let me rephrase: the structure of the debt uses to finance the deal (thank you, Sam Zell) puts strict limits on spending relative to revenue. So, until and unless new revenue streams are brought online, the payroll will necessarily be constrained to mid-market status.

    In a word: they're broke.

  • John, any commentary on 2B situation? I keep harping on it but why not give Watkins a comprehensive look? They can't be serious about remediation offensive-particularly OBP issues- if they plan on continuing to run Barney out there. Now and the first half of next yr are great times to get good looks at our "2nd tier" guys- Lake, Watkins, hell even Vitters.

  • I meant "remediating the offense"-damn IPhone !

  • I find the statement that there is no difference between winning 67 games or 77 games to be absolute lunacy.
    Anybody who has played or coached sports knows this. A game like last night is very beneficial to an organization.
    Once again, champion teams are built in increments. It's not a light switch you just one day flip on.

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    The Orioles would beg to differ.

  • Agreed that it is beneficial, but since over half of these guys won't be here when the Cubs are serious contenders, then it doesn't really matter.

    I think in 3 years you might have 7-9 guys or roughly 1/3 of this roster still on the team (Shark, Wood, EJax, Castro, Rizzo, Lake, Russell, Strop).

    So yes, it is valuable for these guys to experience winning and how to win, but the other will be elsewhere. Like it or not, having the 3rd pick vs. the 8th pick is a big advantage.

  • Felzz, you Da Man. Great post all around on so many issues we've all been kicking around here for awhile.

    I have noticed that you and even John have gradually been evincing more and more frustration, subtler at times and nowhere near my level, but I see it and applaud it.

    I can't express how great Shak's performance in the 8th felt. Even though its definitely the dog days, I jumped out of my chair when he got that last strike on a 96 mph heater. I said to my son -- who'll be pitching in college next spring: That's what an Ace does! Shark has heart and the will to compete. Garza has it too, which is why I really hated to see him go. EJax, not so much.

  • I didn't fist pump. But I did pet the dog and give him a treat. Now he wants a signed Shark baseball to chew on during games. Would that be spoiling him?

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