The Cubs last week made two additions:
- Mike DiFelice. The quintessential backup catcher who played with the Royals last season hitting .254/.397/.299. I like this move in general since it does give some additional depth in case of injury through September. In particular it would be nice to have gotten a catcher who could actually play.
- Ben Grieve. I love this pickup. Sammy Sosa is ailing and Grieve provides a much needed left handed bat off the bench. He was hitting decently in Milwaukee and still shows some ability to control the strike zone (39 walks in 273 plate appearances) while hitting for some power. I noticed Jose Macias in right field last night (and batting second, grrrr) so I assume Grieve is still a little banged up from his collision with the right field wall on Monday afternoon.
In other Cubs notes Matt Clement once again left last night's loss in the early innings, not a good sign. In the game last night with the Cubs trailing 2-0 Corey Patterson led off the 3rd with a single and promptly stole second base. Baker then had Macias bunt him to third. Nomar Garciapara walked, Moises Alou struck out, and Aramis Ramirez flew out to end the inning leaving the Cubs behind by 2. In that situation (before the sacrifice) the run potential was 1.189 with a 63.2% chance of scoring. Even in order to increase the odds of scoring a single run Macias's sacrifice attempt would have had to have been successful 93.87% of the time. He was indeed successful increasing the odds of scoring a single run minutely to 66.2% but cutting the legs out of a big inning decreasing the run-potential to under a run at .983, down 17%. Given that the Cubs are a one-dimensional team built on power their best strategy is always to wait and see if someone will hit a homerun. Dusty's insistence on playing small-ball seems uniquely ill-suited to this team. The Cubs lost in extra innings 7-6.
The Royals starting this weekend have gone to a six-man rotation for the remainder of the year that will include Zack Greinke, Jimmy Gobble, Brian Anderson, Darrell May, Mike Wood and Danny Bautista. Brian Anderson and Mike Wood have really struggled in their last several starts. I still think that the Royals should go with a four-man rotation next year of (assuming they don't pick up a starter) Greinke, Bautista, May and Wood or Gobble with Anderson as the long reliever/spot starter.
Gobble threw a complete game over the weekend against the Twins, throwing 123 pitches. Although Rany thinks and I agree that this is not generally a good idea for a 23-year old, I think getting the complete game adds a bit to his perceived value which could be helpful since the Royals should be looking to trade him. He did get 20 ground ball outs in the game versus 3 fly balls using a newly developed cut fastball. He's an extreme fly-ball pitcher (.76 GO/AO ratio) normally so some are speculating that this may signal that he's a different pitcher. I hope so but I'm not holding my breath.
There's also an interesting discussion on Rob Neyer's sight between Bill James and Rob discussing Zack Greinke. The short of it is that Bill doesn't "see greatness anywhere there" while Rob is optimistic and thinks that perhaps there is. After watching Greinke throw a number of times I think he'll definitely get better but what he doesn't have is a pitch that just flat out hitters can't hit. I think that's what James was getting at. Greinke doesn't have a moving fastball, a disappearing slider, or an unhittable changeup. He has to locate his fairly routine repetoire - something he does very well especially at 20 - in order to be successful. He tops out at 95 without much movement and is usually around 91-92 with his fastball. His most interesting pitch is his ultra slow curve ball thrown in the 60s and 70s but even that is more of a change of pace and not of the Bert Blyleven/Barry Zito variety.
- After the two homeruns by Dee Brown last night I'm really afraid that the Royals will again start to think he'll be a player. He won't.
- Listening to the rain delay coverage tonight it seems Freddy Patek is certainly down on Abraham Nunez and doesn't think he has what it takes to be the regular right fielder next year. He hasn't shown much yet (.265/.394/.317) but of the outfielders that are on the team he's the one I'd give the at bats to the rest of the way and then see if he can earn the job in spring training.