Toward the end of the regular season a member of the Chicago media asked Lou Piniella about his team being built to the win the fall classic. Piniella answered the question in a frustrated manner and said every team is built at the beginning of the season to win the final game of the year. But the argument could be made, in retrospect after the Cubs were swept out of the first round of the playoffs for the second year in a row, that the Cubs are built for the regular season and not the post-season.
While no-trade clauses and lack of marquee prospects could make changes to the Cubs roster this off-season very difficult, changes must be made by Jim Hendry in order for the Cubs to have a chance to make it to the playoffs in 2009 and end their 9-game losing streak in post-season play.
The Cubs have a solid lineup, on paper, from top to bottom under contract for next year but they are lacking an impact left-handed bat and a lead off hitter that can help beat the elite pitchers in the league, not only during the 162-game schedule but in a short series in October.
A lot was made about the performances of the ‘Big Three‘ in the series against the Dodgers. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-14 with 4 strikeouts) did not contribute again and Aramis Ramirez was almost as bad (2-for-11 with a double, a run scored, a walk and 2 strikeouts). Derrek Lee (6-for-11 with 3 doubles, 2 runs scored, a walk and 2 strikeouts) was the only one of the three that showed up….but he did not drive in a single run in the three games either.
Unfortunately for Lou Piniella, until Jim Hendry finds legitimate solutions to the problems, the Cubs offensive struggles against the top pitchers and top relievers in the league will continue.
This is the first of a three part series on the offensive production of the ‘Big Three‘ against the top three pitchers and closers from each team in the National League, as well as which pitcher each of the Cubs’ sluggers went deep against during the year. First up, the leadoff hitter for the Chicago Cubs….Alfonso Soriano. Before taking a look at Alfonso Soriano’s numbers from 2008, there are several factors that must be considered….
- The injuries to the Cardinals pitching staff did not provide a consistent closer for comparison throughout the season. The CCO listed Ryan Franklin as the Cardinals’ closer.
- The Marlins, due to injury and players returning from the DL, shifted their rotation several times throughout the season. Arguments could be made which pitchers were their top three during the season….and the Cubs did not face Ricky Nolasco in either of the two series against Florida.
- The injury to Yovani Gallardo and the addition of CC Sabathia to the Brewers rotation….as well as the demotion of Eric Gagne and the promotion of Salomon Torres to the closer role for Milwaukee.
- The injuries to the Braves rotation and bullpen led to the Cubs sweeping the season series against Atlanta.
- The Nationals did not have a true closer in the last series at Wrigley. Jon Rauch had success against the Cubs early in the year and was traded before the deadline to the Diamondbacks.
- Injuries decimated the Padres rotation as well and the Cubs did not face Chris Young in 2008. Greg Maddux finished the season as a Dodger but faced the Cubs both times as a Padre….the former Cub is listed as a member of the Padres for this comparison.
- Alfonso Soriano missed the Cubs entire Interleague schedule last season and the numbers for Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee are what they put up against the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays’ respectively….the pitchers’ listed are not necessarily the top three of each staff.
National League Central
- Edinson Volquez – Soriano did not face Volquez in 2008
- Aaron Harang – 1-for-7 with a walk and 2 strikeouts
- Bronson Arroyo – 0-for-4 with 2 walks and 3 strikeouts
- Francisco Cordero – No Official at bat in 2008 – Walked in only 2 plate appearances (2-for-11 in career with a double, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts)
- Roy Oswalt – 1-for-8
- Wandy Rodriguez – 1-for-3
- Brian Moehler – 1-for-8 with a walk and 2 strikeouts
- Jose Valverde – Soriano did not face Valverde in 2008 (No at bats in career against Valverde in regular season)
- CC Sabathia – 4-for-11 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs, a walk and a strikeout
- Ben Sheets – 1-for-7 with 3 strikeouts
- Manny Para – 3-for-3 with a walk
- Eric Gagne – Soriano did not face Gagne in 2008 (No Career at bats against Gagne)
- Salomon Torres – 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout
- Ian Snell – 3-for-6 with a double and a strikeout
- Paul Maholm – 2-for-7 with a double, a home run and a strikeout
- Zach Duke – 9-for-14 with 2 doubles, a home run and 2 strikeouts
- Matt Capps – 2-for-4 with 2 doubles and a strikeout
St. Louis Cardinals
- Kyle Lohse – 1-for-7 with a double and a strikeout
- Todd Wellemeyer – 2-for-7 with a double, a walk and 5 strikeouts
- Adam Wainwright – 1-for-5 with a strikeout
- Ryan Franklin – 0-for-2 with a walk
National League East
- Tim Hudson – Soriano did not face Hudson in 2008 (6-for-35 in career with a double, 3 home runs, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts)
- Jair Jurrjens – Cubs did not face Jurrjens in 2008
- Jorge Campillo – 1-for-3 with a double and a strikeout
- Tom Glavine – 2-for-4 with a home run, a walk and a strikeout
- Rafael Soriano – Soriano did not face Soriano in 2008 (0-for-5 in career with a strikeout)
- Mike Gonzalez – No Official At-Bat in 2008 – Walked in only plate appearance (1-for-1 in career)
- Ricky Nolasco – Cubs did not face Nolasco in 2008 (3-for-7 in career with 2 home runs and a strikeout)
- Chris Volstad – 0-for-6 with 3 strikeouts
- Anibal Sanchez – 1-for-2 with a double and a walk
- Kevin Gregg – 0-for-2
- Matt Lindstrom – 0-for-2
New York Mets
- Johan Santana – 0-for-4 with a strikeout
- Oliver Perez – 1-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout
- John Maine/Mike Pelfrey - Soriano did not face either Maine or Pelfrey in 2008
- Billy Wagner – Soriano did not face Wagner in 2008 (1-for-2 in career with a walk)
- Luis Ayala – 0-for-1
- Cole Hamels – 0-for-6 with a strikeout
- Brett Myers – 1-for-8 with a home run and 4 strikeouts
- Jamie Moyer – 2-for-6
- Brad Lidge – 0-for-1 with a strikeout
- John Lannan - 0-for-2 with a walk
- Odalis Perez – 1-for-2 with a double and 2 walks
- Jon Rauch – Soriano did not face Rauch in 2008 (No career at bats against Rauch)
National League West
- Brandon Webb – Cubs did not face Webb in 2008 (1-for-7 in career with 4 strikeouts)
- Dan Haren – 1-for-4 with a double
- Randy Johnson – Soriano did not face Johnson in 2008 – (1-for-8 in career with 4 strikeouts)
- Brandon Lyon – Soriano did not face Lyon in 2008 – (1-for-11 in career with 2 walks and 4 strikeouts)
- Aaron Cook – 1-for-4 with a strikeout
- Jeff Francis – 0-for-3
- Ubaldo Jimenez – 0-for-3
- Brian Fuentes – 0-for-1 with a strikeout (1-for-3 in career with a strikeout)
Los Angeles Dodgers
(Numbers from Regular Season)
- Derek Lowe – 2-for-7 with a home run and 2 strikeouts
- Chad Billingsley – 1-for-5 with a walk and 3 strikeouts
- Hiroki Kuroda – 3-for-7 with a walk and 2 strikeouts
- Jonathan Broxton – 0-for-1 with a strikeout
- Takashi Saito – 0-for-1 with a strikeout
San Diego Padres
- Jake Peavy – 2-for-3 with a home run
- Greg Maddux – 3-for-6 with a strikeout
- Cha Seung Baek – 0-for-3
- Trevor Hoffman – 0-for-1 with a strikeout
San Francisco Giants
Soriano did not play in either series against the Giants in 2008. All numbers below are Soriano’s career numbers versus San Francisco’s top pitchers and closer last season.
- Tim Lincecum – 1-for-3 with a strikeout
- Matt Cain – 1-for-6 with a home run, 3 walks and 3 strikeouts
- Barry Zito – 5-for-39 with a double, 4 walks and 14 strikeouts
- Brian Wilson – 2-for-2
Alfonso Soriano was on the disabled list during Interleague play in 2008 while the rest of his teammates played the Chicago White, Toronto Blue, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays.
Alfonso Soriano’s 29 home runs in 2008 were hit off the following pitchers:
- Tom Glavine
- Jared Burton
- Johnny Cueto (2)
- Manny Corpas
- Glendon Rusch
- Rick VandenHurk
- Brandon Backe (3)
- Doug Brocail
- Randy Wolf (2)
- Derek Lowe
- Dave Bush
- CC Sabathia (2)
- Clay Condrey
- Brett Myers
- Sean Burnett
- Zach Duke
- Tom Gorzelanny (2)
- Paul Maholm
- Tyler Yates
- Shawn Estes
- Carlos Guevara
- Jake Peavy
- Jason Isringhausen
By the Numbers for Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez will run later in the week and the Faithful should find it very interesting as to which of the ‘Big Three‘ had the best numbers (season) against the top of the rotation starters and closers in the National League.