Random Musings from Wrigley Field's Upper Deck

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Clark and Addison Chronicle pointed yesterday to Baseball Primer's Cubs season preview, but I didn't get a chance to read it until today. David Geiser appears to be in broad agreement with me - he thinks that Mark Prior's absence will translate to a one-game drop in the standings for every month he is out. This would work out to a drop of two games if he is out until the end of May, and three games if he's gone through June. That's actually not as bad as I predicted last night, but it's nice to see that someone else is looking at the situation rationally.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


Apparently, the curse does live.
So, as I was driving home tonight, I was listening to ESPN Radio here in Chicago, and they are running the following poll on their website:

Today's Web Poll

With the news on Mark Prior, I'm adjusting my Cubs season prediction by...

0 games--the injury is no big deal
1-5 games--it will have a minor impact
6-10 games--this could be serious
11-15 games--here we go again
16+ games--the curse lives

The consensus on the air seemed to be 6 to 10 games, except one of the announcers (I'm not sure which one he was) thought 16+ games. This is just BS, and here's why.

Prior last year was 18-6, and he missed a little less than a month of the schedule. That's 24 decisions - add another month to the five he played, and that presumably becomes something like 28 decisions, of which he presumably would have won about 75%. That works out to 21 wins if we could rely on Prior for a whole season.

We're not going to forfeit the games that Prior would have pitched, though. We'll replace him with some combination of Mitre, Wellemeyer, Pratt, and (eventually) Guzman. Those guys are probably about the equivalent of a .500 pitcher, maybe a little worse. Assuming they would put up the same 28 decisions over a full season, they would probably win 12 to 14 games. Taking the low end for the sake of argument, the difference between Prior and his replacement(s) works out to 9 games over the course of a whole season.

But no one is claiming that Prior will miss the whole season (knock on wood). We've heard that he'll be back at the beginning of May, but let's just assume that he's out until the end of May, or even the end of June. The end of May is two months, or one third of a season. The end of June is three months, or half the season. That third or half of the season works out to a difference of 3 to 5 games between Prior and his replacement(s).

Granted, that 3 to 5 games (I'm still saying 2-3, since he'll likely be back some time in May) could be the difference between winning the Central and coming in second, but it's well within the first category on the poll, and it's a far cry from the 16+ game effect that some people are claiming.

Am I missing something important here?

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Crowd attacks man on south side...

What is the deal with those people on the south side of Chicago? It seems like every couple of days, someone has a car accident down there, leading a crowd of people to pull the driver out of his car and beat him senseless. This sort of mob vengeance would never be seen in most parts of the country, and certainly not on the north side, except against people who allegedly interfere with Moises Alou making foul line catches. I don't know for sure, but I think we should just build a wall around the southern half of the city, tell the cops not to go in there, and just let the population handle its own business, since they all seem to be so convinced that they can do a better job of dishing out justice than the police and the court system.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

We make runs the old-fashioned way...

Today's Cubs victory over South Side Brand X featured a beautiful manufactured run. In the eighth, Nic Jackson got on base when he was hit by a pitch. He stole a base on a gorgeous play, waiting for the Sox pitcher to throw a breaking ball, then scooting in ahead of the tag. He advanced to third on a wild pitch. Finally, he scored what turned out to be the winning run on a two-out single by Tom Goodwin. Following what can most charitably be described as an adequate pitching performance by Carlos Zambrano, the Cubs managed a come-back victory, with LaTroy Hawkins getting the win and "Average Joe" Borowski getting the save.

No heroes today. Just a bunch of guys who set out to do the job and who got it done. Nice work, guys.
In all the flap over Dusty Baker's bashing of walks, I don't think anyone has noticed the following: no one is keeping track of walks. Seriously.

I decided I would take a look at the Spring Training games so far and try to see who was hitting well, who was pitching well, etc. The stats on Cubs.com for hitters show games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, total bases, stolen bases, caught stealing, sacrifice flies, sacrifice hits (?), and hit by pitch, plus calculated batting average and slugging percentage. There are no walks listed and no calculated on-base percentage. I tried ESPN.com's stats, and they list exactly the same categories.

Apparently, walks aren't important to anyone any more, not just Dusty Baker. Does anyone know of a place where I can get what most people feel is a pretty important statistic?

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

More mad ticket sales...

The Cubs have now completely sold out 70 home games. That's right - there are only 11 games with any tickets at all left. As Al Yellon reported yesterday, all tickets for the bleachers for every single home game are already gone. The Tribune said yesterday that there were only 400,000 tickets left for the season, which translates into about 2.8 million sold. As of this morning, the sold-out games represent about 2.76 million tickets sold. If we assume that 50% of tickets are still available for each of the 11 remaining games (this is probably on the high side for tickets remaining), then the team has sold very nearly 3 million tickets already. You can expect the season to sell out completely within the next week, possibly in the next couple of days. This is the price we pay for success.

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