Just a few thoughts…
- Jason Marquis had a tough start on Thursday (5 IP, 5 H, 6ER, 4BB, 1 K, 2HR), taking his 6th loss of the season. He looked good early on connecting for strikes on 20 of his first 28 pitches, but really lost his command after that. In the 5th and final inning for Marquis, he walked the pitcher who was trying to bunt Aaron Miles over to second base. Three batters later, he beaned Albert Pujols with the bases loaded before giving up a grand slam to Chris Duncan. For the past few weeks, this page has been discussing BABIP seemingly nonstop. Those who have read the past few posts from GM have probably learned a thing or two about this statistic. Judging from recent comments however, there are plenty of people here who don’t get BABIP- many of whom seemingly choose not to get it. At any rate, for those who understand and value this statistic, pay close attention to Marquis from here on out. No doubt GM has mentioned this in the past, but of all of the Cubs’ lucky pitchers, Marquis has probably been the most fortunate. With a remarkably low BABIP mark of .252, Marquis- he of the 5.02 K/9 rate- is due for a major correction.
- Coming into this season one of the major concerns of this team was the outfield defense. However, the outfield as it stands now is a pretty solid group. In just his second season on the job, Alfonso Soriano has developed into a pretty good leftfielder. We’ve all witnessed Soriano’s strong throwing arm- he had 22 assists last year and has 11 so far this season- but on top of that, Baseball Prospectus gives Soriano a Rate of 115. Over in center, Jacque Jones has seen the majority of playing time since the demotion of Felix Pie. Much to my surprise, Jones has looked pretty good out there. He hasn’t made any highlight reel catches, but that’s really just because he has made everything look easy. He currently is at a Rate of 113. His arm is still a liability- it was just yesterday that David Eckstein advanced to third after tagging up on a routine flyball to center. It would have been interesting to see what kind of path Jones’ career would have taken if he had been a centerfielder the whole time. Were it not for Tori Hunter being in Minnesota at the same time as Jones, he might have been a much more valuable player throughout the course of his career.
- There are probably a lot of Cub fans out there who are clamoring for Jim Hendry to swing a deal for Ken Griffey Jr. Word of advice: Don’t count on it. With Griffey only 12 homers away from 600, Cincinnati undoubtedly wants Griffey to be wearing a Reds uniform when he reaches the milestone. Given how terrible the Reds have been this season, ownership probably is counting on the Griffey buzz to keep people coming out to The Great American Ballpark. However, word has it the Cubs could be in on Tampa Bay’s Ty Wiggington. Not sure what the appeal there is. He seems like another super-utility player that the Cubs already have in Mark DeRosa. Then again, I’d throw anybody out in right field who could top Cliff Floyd and his Bondsian .396 SLG%. Could a certain Matt Murton be the answer?
- A few thoughts on the Brewers. Two guys who could possibly be due for some regression are Ryan Braun and Francisco Cordero. Braun is currently sporting a BABIP of .393, and could follow in J.J. Hardy’s footsteps. Consider this quote from Mike Harmon over at foxsports.com “The wheels have officially come off of the hot start for Milwaukee shortstop J.J. Hardy. Thoughts of 40-45 home runs were bandied about in late-May, but he's stalled out in late July. He's batting .185 in July (12-for-65) with no home runs and seven RBI. Since June 1, he's produced a weak .204 batting average with three home runs and 12 RBI.” Now, I’m not saying Braun will drop off that dramatically- there’s no doubt in my mind he’s a legitimate slugger- but it’s safe to say he’s a little over his head right now. As for Francisco Cordero, the batted-ball data isn’t what’s worrisome- his BABIP is at .311- but rather his strikeout and walk rates. Right now, Cordero is besting his career rates in these departments by a curiously hefty margin. At 32 years old, it’s highly unlikely that Cordero suddenly has the ability to strike out 12.21 batters per nine innings (previous career high: 10.30) all while walking only 3.00 batters per nine (career rate: 4.22). With Cordero blowing a save and taking the loss yesterday, he might be beginning to regress.
- It’s scary to think just how good the Brewers' infield would be if Rickie Weeks could ever figure it out. There was a time when he was considered the best prospect in a loaded Brewers’ system that included Fielder and Hardy; the next Gary Sheffield they called him. At .215/.333/.371 this year, you have to wonder if he ever really recovered from his wrist injury a year ago.