Cubs Give One Away on Getaway Day – Cubs 5 Brewers 6

Game Nine – Cubs 5 Brewers 6
WP – Kameron Loe (1-0) LP – Kerry Wood (0-1, BS 1) Save – John Axford (3)

Sunday was a tough loss for the Chicago Cubs. Q’s squad had a lead three different times and chased Yovani Gallardo after 106 pitches in five innings of work. But the offense could not capitalize on countless opportunities against the Brewers pitching staff … and it cost them at the end. A team that talks about contending in the division cannot give away games like they did on Sunday.

The Cubs offense finished a pathetic 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base. The Cubs lost for the second time in three games (1-2) in one run contests.

Casey McGehee came off the bench in the eighth and showed the Cubs’ brass once again they should have given him a chance. McGehee lined a 1-0 pitch off Kerry Wood over the wall in right center and gave the Brewers a 6-5 win.

The difference Sunday came down to the big hitters in the lineups. Ryan Braun (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) and Prince Fielder (3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) both hit two run home runs and Casey McGehee hit his first dinger of the year … all six of the Brewers’ runs scored on three home runs.

The middle of the Cubs’ lineup could only manage doubles and in Carlos Pena’s case, walks. Aramis Ramirez had a big day at the plate, 3-for-5 with three doubles and three RBI and Marlon Byrd got on base and scored three runs (2-for-3 with a double, two walks and three runs scored) but Carlos Pena continued his struggles with a 0-for-3 day that included two walks.

Aramis Ramirez hit three doubles in the same game for fourth time in his career, first time since July 29, 2008 and Marlon Byrd’s first two walks of 2011 led to runs.

The Cubs offense showed a lot of patience, and promise, early against Yovani Gallardo. Four of the first six hits off Gallardo went for extra bases (two doubles by Ramirez and doubles by Tyler Colvin and Casey Coleman) but they could not hit late in the game against the Brewers pen.

Casey Coleman had a decent outing. Coleman completed five innings of work and made only two mistakes … and one could have been avoided if the defense turns a routine double play. Coleman allowed four runs on nine hits with a walk and two strikeouts in his first game of the year. All four runs scored on two swings by Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Coleman threw 81 pitches, 52 for strikes, and chipped in at the plate with a double and two sacrifice bunts.

Marcos Mateo was in line for his first big league win after retiring the Brewers in order in the sixth. Sean Marshall did his job again and picked up his third hold of the season.

Kosuke Fukudome made two excellent catches Sunday afternoon but the last one could have cost the Cubs. Fukudome left after a tremendous shoestring catch to end the fifth with a mild strain in his left hamstring. Fukudome is listed as day-to-day and will be re-evaluated Monday.

With Sunday’s loss, the Cubs dropped below the .500 mark again with a 4-5 record on the young season …

The Cubs jumped out to an early lead against Yovani Gallardo. The Cubs showed patience and worked the count … traits this team simply has not done in recent seasons.

Starlin Castro reached on a single to left center on a 1-1 pitch. Marlon Byrd walked on five pitches, his first free pass of the season. Aramis Ramirez then put together an excellent at bat. Ramirez worked the count to 2-2 before ripping a double down the left field line on the seventh pitch of the at bat. Castro and Byrd scored … 2-0 Cubs.

Carlos Pena struck out looking and Geovany Soto struck out swinging to end the inning.

Casey Coleman took the hill with a 2-0 lead … that did not last long.

Rickie Weeks reached on an infield single. Castro and Barney had a little miscommunication on the chopper over the mound. Coleman then induced a grounder off the bat of Carlos Gomez to third base. Aramis Ramirez took his time throwing to second. Weeks was forced but Gomez was called safe on a bang-bang play.

Ryan Braun popped out to first on a 1-2 pitch but Prince Fielder worked the count to 3-2 before launching a homer to left center. Fielder’s two run shot tied the game at two.

Mark Kotsay doubled to left but Yuniesky Betancourt popped out to center to end the inning. Coleman threw 22 pitches in the first, 17 for strikes.

The Cubs took the lead right back in the third. Tyler Colvin doubled down the right field line on a 2-2 pitch. Darwin Barney followed with a bloop single to right center on a 1-0 offering. Colvin scored … 3-2 Cubs.

Casey Coleman sacrificed Barney to second but Fukudome popped out on a 2-0 pitch and Castro grounded out to short to end the inning.

The Cubs tacked on in the fourth … but it should have been more.

Marlon Byrd led off with a four-pitch walk and came around to score on Aramis Ramirez’s second double of the game. Ramirez hit a double into right center on a 2-2 pitch. Carlos Pena walked on four pitches.

Geovany Soto swung at the first and grounded to Betancourt in the shift. The Brewers’ shortstop ran to the bag and barely beat Pena. Soto was called safe on another bang-bang play … but it would not matter.

With runners on first and third and one out, Tyler Colvin hit into a 3-6-3 inning ending double play.

The Brewers tied the game in the bottom of the third. Carlos Gomez doubled to right center on a 0-1 pitch. Ryan Braun then launched a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left. Braun celebrated as he rounded the bases. Apparently the Cubs new coaching staff did not receive the scouting reports on Braun and Fielder.

The Cubs had another chance in the fourth against Gallardo … but could not hit when it counted. Casey Coleman doubled to right center with one out. Kosuke Fukudome walked but Starlin Castro hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice and Marlon Byrd grounded out to second on a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

Aramis Ramirez led off the fifth with a double to right center. Carlos Pena grounded out to second, Ramirez advanced to third but was thrown out at the plate on a grounder to third off Soto’s bat. Ramirez was running on contact and was out by a half mile. With Soto at first, Colvin worked the count to 3-2 before flying out to the track in center to end the inning.

The Cubs made Yovani Gallardo work. The Brewers’ ace threw 106 pitches in five innings, 59 for strikes.

The Cubs stranded another runner in the sixth … and in a tied game, the Cubs had left seven runners on base over the first six innings.

Casey Coleman turned the game over to the pen in the bottom of the sixth.

Marcos Mateo retired the Brewers in order in the sixth on 11 pitches, five for strikes.

Marlon Byrd led off the seventh with a double down the right field line off Sean Green. Aramis Ramirez popped out to center on the first pitch. Ron Roenicke went to his pen for lefty Mitch Stetter.

Carlos Pena walked and Roenicke went back to his pen for Kameron Loe.

With runners on first and second with one out, Geovany Soto stepped in and quickly fell behind 0-2. A wild pitch on a 2-2 offering advanced Byrd and Pena to second and third. Soto walked to load the bases.

Tyler Colvin hit a weak grounder to Fielder on the first pitch of the at bat. Fielder could not make a throw home and had to settle for tagging Colvin for the second out. Byrd scored and gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead.

Darwin Barney popped out to left to end the inning.

Sean Marshall kept the Brewers off the board in the seventh and the game remained 5-4 until the eighth.

Kerry Wood took the hill and jumped out in front of Yuniesky Betancourt 0-2 but he ended up walking him … and it cost the Cubs.

Craig Counsell sacrificed Betancourt to second and Wood struck out George Kottaras for the second out.

Casey McGehee, who has promised to make the Cubs regret not giving him a chance pinch-hit for Kameron Loe. McGehee lined a 1-0 pitch from Wood over the wall in right center. McGehee’s first longball of the year gave the Brewers their first lead of the game.

Marlon Byrd led off the ninth with a single to right. For some reason Byrd ran on a 0-1 pitch to Aramis Ramirez and was thrown out at second. Aramis Ramirez struck out swinging and Carlos Pena completed his bad weekend by popping out to right to end the game.

The Cubs gave Sunday’s game away … poor defense and no clutch hitting.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs open a three-game series Monday night in Houston. Ryan Dempster against Nelson Figueroa.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney
  • studio179

    “The Cubs gave Sunday’s game away … poor defense and no clutch hitting.”

    I get the feeling we will be reading this line often this year.

    • paulcatanese

      Actually you are correct, I see the Cubs as a team that will end up at a .500 clip or slightly below. You see them creep up to one or two over .500 and then lose three or four and drop below .500 and that is how they will end up. Let me suffex that line that I am a Cub fan and if they win, okay and if they lose, okay I will still be a Cub fan and will find something good about the game either way.After being a fan for 66 years,I dont know if I could handle the pressure of them being in the World Series,I just enjoy them for what they are.

      • Aaron

        I think I have them pegged for 72-90. Ironically, if they keep at this current pace, which is a .444 winning percentage, they’d finish at EXACTLY 72 wins.

        But unfortunately, I think that might even be too optimistic, as I think they’re even worse than 18 games under .500

        I made that prediction, thinking that Dempster would have a solid year, Zambrano would be about normal, and Garza would be about what he was with the Rays, but less wins (because of the Cubs terrible offense). I also thought Wells would at least be in the range he was last year….problem is…Dempster has been dreadful, and looks NOTHING like a solid pitcher. Zambrano has been about average, Garza has been even worse than Dempster (if that’s even possible), and Wells is injured. Meanwhile, their biggest FA signing at 1B isn’t even above the Mendoza Line, and they don’t even have a stolen base on the season yet. I also believe there are few players like Nelson Cruz who have nearly outhomered the ENTIRE Cubs team (which only has 7 home runs…and 30 RBIs….just FYI….which amounts to 3.33 RBI per game……WOW)

        • cubtex

          Thanks Mr. Positive. I guess Dempster won’t win a game since he is 0-2. Pena won’t hit a home run. How many games out of first are the Cubs? How many games are left on the year? I guess since Pujols is hitting .147 or whatever his average is now that he will suck all year!

          • paulcatanese

            No,Dempster will win some games, just not as many,and I don’t think it is all his fault. If you have watched him the last couple of years(and Iknow you have) I am sure you would have picked up on when he loses it in a game its usually very quick and damaging. Thats where Quade or whoever needs to have someone ready 6-7th inning. You can tell,or at least I can when he gets up in the zone or they are pulling the ball that he is losing it. Pena will hit home runs,but not many until he gets his head on straight,as I have stated,. down in the lineup until he does. But right now,things look grim for building a proper foundation for the rest of the season and hard work needs to be done.

          • cubtex

            Paul, I am just saying it is WAY to early to judge the season. As Pedroia was quoted as saying to reporters the other day… We are 4 games out with 154 games left…..I think it is doable….what do you think? I am sure you have like me seen some strange things happen in baseball. Dempster will pick it up, Garza will win some games, Z will win some games and Wells and Cashner will be back in a month. Do you think the Cubs cannot be competitive in this division? If the Reds have some injuries or some of their key players have down years….anything can happen. I just don’t get this doom and gloom after 2 weeks in the year.

          • paulcatanese

            True,it is always possible in the Central for a team to get in. With me its not doom and gloom but more logic,with the Cubs. After being a fan for all these years and not seeing any real results one has a tendacy to be skeptical. While the Cubs admitadly have improved the pitching,logic tells me that with the offense they have coupled with the defense and the inexperience of Quade on the major league level creates a great number of if’s for me. Most of my feelings were based on off season moves,trades and not the first four games. I know one could say”why play the season”? As you say it is early and a lot could happen, and I hope it does. By the way,I have seen more ways for the Cubs to lose a game than one could imagine, unbelievable ways,over the years.In addition I have spent some time with the Port Arthur Seahawks (Evangiline League) in the 50’s and also in Austin with my son, in the Regionals who Pitched, for Tulane,back in the 80’s

          • cubtex

            True. I still am not ready to write off the season after 9 games. By the way that Rib place you were talking about outside Austin….The Salt Lick. Definately good BBQ here and I will take the heat over the cold anyday. :)

          • paulcatanese

            I know,was in Austin five days and ate there every night.

  • paulcatanese

    Nice coverage again Neil. Clutch hitting a good topic. Let me start off with Pena,when is he going to start producing? Thats a big out to be in the 5-6 spot in the lineup. When is Quade going to realize this? Quade needs to move Pena to 7or 8 in the lineup if he continues to play him. Down there Pena can relax and get his head together and maybe,just maybe start to put a stroke on the ball. Pena is definatly on his way to duplicate last years production,if he can.

    • Ripsnorter1

      As I posted earlier today, the Cubs started today getting just .138 BA out of the #6 hole.

      And you asked when Pena would start producing. He walked twice today. What more do Cubs’ fans want? He’s already hitting above the Mendoza line, and above .196, and above the .220 that the forum posters here wanted. Some posters here said, “If Carlos can hit .220 and have an OBP of .325, then we’ll be satisfied.So guess what? His OBP is .333 and his batting average started the day at .222. Sure, his 0-3 today dropped him to .190, but that’s awfully close to the .196 he hit last year. So what more do Cubs’ fans want? I’d say that he succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

      Actually, now you see what a .196 hitter with a .325 OBP looks like. And I’d say it looks ugly. It sure isn’t a run producer.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Jake Fox slammed 10 HR in ST. He makes the Orioles team. Yesterday, in game 8, after riding the bench for 10 days, he gets 3 AB and, surprisingly, goes 0-3. Today he got 3 AB and, surprisingly, he goes 0-3. Next he’ll be sent down because he “was unproductive.”

    I wish they’d give the man some AB right away, and let him hit.

    • paulcatanese

      Rip,kind of looks like the Orioles have taken a page out of Quades managerial book. Havent the cubs been doing the same thing with their players? I have seen Fox when he was with the Cubs and he can flat-out hit the ball,,,,Hard.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I just don’t get it. He slams the ball. At least he’s on a MLB team, and a winning one at that. For the moment.

    • John_CC

      Why are you still following Jake Fox?

      • Ripsnorter1

        I follow MLB, and I like Fox, so I look at him on occasion.

    • Aaron

      I have to agree with you on this one. It was obvious coming out of camp that Showalter just could not get over Fox swinging on a 3-0 pitch in Spring Training…..even after the ESPN commentators, and others around baseball came to Fox’s defense, saying that he still hadn’t made the team, and at that point, the game in Spring Training still wasn’t decided, so you have to play to win. Showalter doesn’t put up with that…he’s about as old school as it gets, which is why he rubs a lot of people the wrong way, and ends up building a winner, only to be fired, and see those teams go to the playoffs/World Series…it’s just the way he is.

      A similar thing actually happened a few years ago with Lou Piniella. I believe it was the Spring Training of 2008 or 2009…I can’t really remember. But Jake Fox put on an absolute clinic, blasting a barrage of home runs during pretty much every single day during Spring Training of that year, only to be benched by Piniella. Finally, he went up to Piniella, and asked him for AB’s. Piniella obliged, saying that it took some balls to approach him, and he let him start. Fox blasted a home run in his first AB if I recall correctly, then was cut shortly thereafter. The point is, old school guys like Piniella and Showalter do not like to be shown up. They want to run the show, recognize the talent, and give their approval…so when someone like that comes out of nowhere, and it wasn’t their idea to have that player on the team, they’ll often relegate them to the bench.

      Fox spent a ton of time on the bench, even though he was needed badly in 2009 after the ARAM injury. It’s just bad luck. Maybe he mouths of too much…I don’t know, but it’s a shame he doesn’t get more of a shot.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I remember the Pinella thing with Jake Fox. This guy must mouth too much and he’s paying the price daily. He’d be a better reserve OF on our team that what we’ve got.

      • paulcatanese

        Sometimes the Ego’s of managers far outweigh the ability of the player,and you are right on with youre assesment. I would further suspect Quade of the same if I thought he was a true big league manager,which I do not. The time will come soon that he will have to account for his in-ability to manage. Been a coach too long and is involved in watching instead of implimenting strategy in the fast pace of a game. I realize his hands may be tied to a degree,and this is what the owners have to do, take charge of their ballclub and not only demand but impliment change.

        • paulcatanese

          Meant to say Ego of the manager,no matter what the ability of the player. (little early out here in Calif).

  • Ripsnorter1

    The Cubs started today hitting .210 with RISP. Today they went 2-17 with RISP. (Need I say, “THAT’S AWFUL!”). Now their RISP BA is—are you ready for this?–.190. Compare that to the Cards .208.

    And how about the lowly Pirates? They are hitting .225 and have a 5-5 record. They are ahead of the Cubs in the standings.

    Houston! How about Houston! A poster here insisted that they are the worst of the worst in the NL Central. Surely they are worse than my lovable Cubbies, aren’t they? Houston is 2-7, but they hit .270 with RISP. (It’s their pitching staff that’s hurting them).

    My advice: don’t count on Carlos Pena. .190 is exactly what his BA currently is. And .196 isn’t all that far away from .190.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Carlos Pena only fanned once today. 0-3 with 1 K. That lowered his K rate from .444 to .429.

    • paulcatanese

      Rip,you know it’s one thing to swing and miss, but Pena takes a lot of called strike three pitches, I actually think he has eyesight problems. As well he takes alot of pitches,period,like he would rather get the walk. For a guy that strikes out that much he sure seems fussy about what he attempts to hit.

      • BosephHeyden

        In his defense, some of those called strike three’s where balls, but like Bob mentioned in-game, they had been called steady all day and they were too close to take anyways. I would like to see what everyone else seems to see when they hail him as the prime “Comeback Player of the Year” candidate, but after a game like this, I just don’t.

        • paulcatanese

          I agree when the strike zone shows ball that Pena might have a legitimate beef. But what I tried to point out was not just today but a few times before that he had taken the third strike without swinging. All were very close pitches and were too close to take,as you say. As far as comeback player of the year,he really does not have to have too much production to reach that title as the only way he can go is up. Then again it seems he is capable of going lower with his stats. Its too bad because the Cubs are counting on him.As I had mentioned before maybe a drop in the lineup would help him to get on track. I don’t have the answer for this guy,just know I would not have picked him up for the money he is getting for one year, and he should have been thoroughly been checked out before offering that kind of $$.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Carlos Pena has a chance to redeem himself tomorrow. Nelson Figeuroa is starting. Lifetime, lefthanders have hit .297/.385/.504 against him. And we are playing the lowly Astros. Quade ought to stack the lineup with lefthanders.

    Ya’ll need to pay close attention. This team is a pushover team. If the Cubs cannot beat the 2-7 “stros, then the Cubs may not finish higher than them in the standings.

    But Nelson has, over the last 3 yrs, a 3.66 ERA and 3-2 record vs the Cubs in 5 career starts. LIfetime he’s 3-5 3.79 ERA, so he’s been effective against us.

    • paulcatanese

      What we really need tommorow is for Quade to get this team on the same page. Byrd when asked by reporters after the game indicated that he got the steal sign and Quade said “he may have messed up” but he (Quade also said he would not wanted Byrd to attempt a steal at that time) So who’s right? It dosen’t matter, what does matter is control of the situation. Byrd would have had to believe that the sign to steal was not correct and could have called time to recall the sign, he did not,Quade should be watching as to what was called for then and no question he should know what was called as he is the one putting the signs on. What a mess.

      • Ripsnorter1

        The Cubs don’t have anyone with enough speed to steal a base anymore. Certainly not Byrd. He’s 255 lbs, for crying out loud. We’ve gone through 10 games without a SB; we may as well go 162 games without any. LOL

        • Aaron

          I’m starting to get a feeling that the Cubs might have to part ways with Reed Johnson….not because Hendry wants to, but because Ricketts will come to him demanding more speed, as it’s CLEARLY a problem and a HUGE disadvantage. Hendry’s only option at that point is to go with Tony Campana, as Fernando Perez simply can’t hit.

          • paulcatanese

            Thats where I saw the blurb on Campana,couldn’t quite place it when I posted on the minor lg report. Either way I agree.

    • Aaron

      Are you kidding me?!? Redeem himself? I know you’re joking, but anyway about Pena, as I know your feelings on the guy….but have you seen Pena’s swings lately? I don’t even know a pitch the guy can handle right now. He’s too late on the fastballs. He swings out of his shoes on breaking pitches, and he looks completely off-balance on changeups. At this point, he’s proving to be EXACTLY the hitter I said he was after they signed him…..a sub-.200 hitter.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Like I mentioned, Steve Phillips, former GM of the Mets, said, “Carlos has a huge hole in his swing. He can’t handle anything middle of the plate in, especially if its hard. Rudy Jarmillo is going to have to work hard to see if he can fix his swing.”

        Remember HoJo? Howard Johnson of the Mets. He used to just kill the ball. He hit 38 HR at age 30 in 1991. The next year he could no longer get around on a fastball, and he hit just 7. Just like that. The Mets eventually cut him, the Cubs picked him up, (“I’m going to catch lightning in a bottle,” said the Cubs’ GM) and he went something like 0-34 before he got his first hit. He had a nice .195 season for the Cubs, with 7 HR and 22 RBI. HE ALSO HAD AN OBP OF .335.

        Now ain’t that just Carlos for you?

        • paulcatanese

          You know,even Fielder is not above trying to bunt. I would wager to say if Pena tried it four times a game, his average would go up. As I mentioned before Quade needs to either not play him or move him down to 7-8 in the lineup until he shows improvement.

  • John_CC

    I really hope the Cubs pursue Fielder in free agency. He’s as dangerous as any left handed hitter playing. He doesn’t turn 27 till next month. I think I’d rather have a 5-6 year contract on Prince than 8-10 on Pujols. I really do.

    • Aaron

      I agree. The thing about Pujols, is he’d require at least an 8-10 year deal, just as you said, and would put him at 40-42 years old at the end of it.

      I don’t know if it’s the contract thing or what, or if Bill James’ research has even caught up to Pujols (which states hitters start declining at 32 years old)….but he’s been dreadful to start the season, and wasn’t phenomenal in Spring Training either. He’s hitting worse than Pena if you can imagine that. Does it mean he’ll be bad the whole year? I HIGHLY doubt that given his track record, but if he finishes the year batting under .300, I can bet you money a TON of teams will start paying attention to Bill James’ research. In fact, if that happens where he finishes, let’s say, around .285 and under, I predict that ESPN will even do a story at the end of the year about the decline of hitters in the post-steroids era.

      I’d take Fielder, at 27 years old, anyday over Pujols at 32 years old on a LONG-TERM deal (notice, I did NOT say that I’d take him over Pujols throughout his career to this point, as Pujols is obviously the better all-around player and superior hitter).

      But I’m a little scared about the money he’s after. Supposedly, he wants an 8 year deal worth $180-200 million. That would put him at $22.5-25 million/year.

      It would mean that you’d get Fielder in his prime for 5 years before he starts a decline. HOWEVER, unlike Pujols, Fielder isn’t well known for his physique, which means that he very well might start his decline much sooner than the normal player would. There’s really no way of knowing.

      As with anything in life, all good things come to an end. All good careers, whether we’re talking Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Cal Ripken Jr., etc., all of their careers came to an end, and in most cases, it’s an ugly end. We will never see freaks like Bonds, Steve Finley (remember him?), etc., putting up outrageous power numbers into their 40’s…steroids ruined the game, because it ruined expectations, and fans forgot about the norms.

      I really hope the Cubs land Fielder, but something tells me they won’t dish out the money for him, and even if they could, Fielder can see firsthand the type of trouble the club is in right now, so why would he, or any other big-time free agent want to come to the Cubs, unless they were drastically overpaying for their talents (which is precisely why I called Hendry out on his B.S. that he was saying players wanted to come here….because if they did, then he wouldn’t have to offer huge money and years to players that otherwise couldn’t get the same deals anywhere else….Soriano, Bradley, Byrd, etc. come to mind)

      • John_CC

        You know Aaron, I think what the Cubs have working in their favor this off-season, in regards to the 1B crop is that there aren’t many moneyed teams left that really need a 1B. Boston and NYY are tied up, that leave the Cubs, the Mets (Ike is looking like a keeper) and probably LAAofA along with the Card, who don’t have the money but have to play. So that puts Pujols on a market where the big time players may not be feeling the pinch to sign him to a 8-10 year deal…but he IS the greatest hitter of our generation, so there will be action. But then there is Prince, and it’s easy for us to say – why would he want to play for the Cubs and all the misery? – well, because the are able to pay him 25M$ per for 6 years. And that means a helluva lot.

        I think the Cubs would have a real good shot at Prince if they don’t even enter the Pujols sweeps. I hope they do but do not expect it.

        As to the decline of player at 32 and James, I’m sure he’s probably onto something, but Pujols is special. And while his Pena-esque start looks terrible, I don’t even think about it (unlike with Pena himself) because the track record is so freaking stellar. Pujols is NOT going to drop from hitting .335 to .280 in one lousy season. What James does is find averages amongst numbers, lots of numbers, but Pujols isn’t average. He will continue to out-perform his peers because he is better than most, better than almost all, time will tell.

        • BillyFinT

          Alfonso Soriano is featured. LOL

          CC and Aaron, James was not onto something. His research started rigorously in the 1970s, and by 1990s, numerous other researches, from physical to sports psych., concluded with the same result.

          James used information he could gather (back in the 70s, without powerful processors and harddisk was counted in 128K) between 1950-1970. Later on, the database expanded, and they proved the same thing, whether it’s the Selig Era or not:

          All baseball players of all ages showed decline in performance since they turn 33. It’s not a magic number, and we are talking about average here (out of all players throughout the hundred and forty years of baseball). Though, it’s the Law of Nature. And men cannot fight Nature.

          I have a friend who’s pursuing a doctorate in sports physical science, and he explained to me how the body works. Unsurprisingly, a man’s body stops growing after age 26 (and matches the sabermetric data Bill James got). It’s likely that age 33 is as good as baseball players can maintain their body.

          • John_CC

            I’m a little confused, did you mean say that James WAS onto something (you typed was not onto something)?

            Physical decline is imminent and all of us over the ripe old age 33 know this to be fact with and without all the research! Yes, Pujols will begin to decline after one of the greatest 10 year spans that any baseball player has put together. My point is that the decline of a player like Pujols or ARod will be less severe than a lesser talented athlete and even at 80% of his peak, Pujols would still be considered productive.

            Never the less, great info Dorasaga. And yet more hard proof as to why not to hand out big contracts to career year veterans. 5-6 years for Prince and you’d still be free of him at the decrepit age of 32-33!

          • BillyFinT

            John, I mean to say: Bill James was not onto something, when it’s a FACT. There’s no second thought, no surprise, now that we know it’s a fact. The decline since age 33 is no different between the Steroid Age (1996-2004) and any other time. James’ research in the 1970s proved the same as later scientists did. The link went as far as listing prominent players throughout the last Century, and they all have the same problem, running into that “wall of 33.”

            Anyway, more on that Pujols issue here, as I replied below:


          • Aaron

            It stops growing much earlier than that. However, I believe what your friend is referring to is when enzyme production stops at age 28, and your body starts storing it up at that point. Up to 28 years old, the human body produces an enzyme that allows it to heal up much faster, but at 28, the production ceases, and it begins to store it up, conserve, and release as needed thereafter. Essentially what that means is that you better not have many traumatic injuries post 28 years of age, or you might die sooner.

            We learned about this in our mandatory Nutrition 201 or whatever it was. Our professor said that essentially when your turn 28, you start dying, albeit very slowly, as those enzymes are stored, rather than produced.

            As for James, what he did for the game, and stats in general, was put them into terms that actually meant something. At the time, nobody was focused on a lot of the stats he brought to light. There was so much data in baseball, that the message got lost in a bunch of numbers, and he was able to put it altogether. I’m NOT trying to say that his work with sabermetrics wasn’t already available (because it was), but that Bill James put it altogether.

            It’s just like Einstein…It’s not like Einstein was the first one to discover all of his theories, as they were known…..but he was able to put into mathematical equations, and better describe them to the average person….the same can be said of Bill James.

        • Aaron

          That was precisely what I was saying….It’s not like Pujols is going to fall off the map, as a .285 average is more than most hitters have. Therefore, even in a down year, Pujols would be better than the average hitter. My point, which I didn’t describe that well, was that he would NOT be worth the $30 million/year he reportedly seeks in free agency. In a down year, I’d expect a season around 30-35 hr, 100 RBI for Pujols.

          Let’s keep in mind that the best reference for this “decline” (which really isn’t, because it’s above league average anyway) is Alex Rodriguez. And I’m not trying to accuse him of anything, but there has to also be a reasonable cloud of suspicion around Pujols, as he shared the same locker-room as McGwire, and he posted some huge numbers, and there’s still no test for HGH readily available in MLB. AROD got caught, and we all saw his fall from grace. If you look at his numbers, his average and power numbers were pretty solid, and damn close to what Pujols had, and even greater….however, the one GLARING difference, is that while AROD had huge numbers, they weren’t exactly as consistent as Pujols. For instance, he’d have a string of seasons of 36 hr, 106 RBI, then 48 hr, 130 RBI, then 35 hr, 121 RBI, then 54 hr, 156 RBI…..versus Pujols, who while he wouldn’t have the same glamorous stats, was VERY consistent in the same range, such as: 43 hr, 124 RBI, 46 hr, 123 RBI, 41 hr, 117 RBI, 49 hr, 137 RBI…..and his average and OBP were also more consistent:


          I think one of the things that will end up saving Pujols post age 32, is that his walk rate is tremendous. He usually has anywhere from a +30-+50 walk to strikeout ratio, whereas AROD has the exact opposite, where he strikes out 30-50 times more than he walks. What that should tell you is that Pujols is still very selective, and in the long-run, he’ll be able to weather the storm of aging better than AROD.

          I also believe one of the biggest things to note about AROD is after age 32, he seems to have topped out at 30 home runs, each of the last 2 seasons (it’ll be interesting to see what happens this year). On the plus side for him, he’s also struck out a lot less than he used to, but he’s also played in 20-30 less games than he used to. The other thing to note when comparing these two guys, is that Pujols averages about 44 doubles, while AROD averages about 33 doubles.

          It’ll be REALLY interesting to see what happens this year for all 3 players (the two the Cubs might go after in Pujols and Fielder….as well as their potential future comparison in AROD)

          • BillyFinT

            Aaron, Thanks for the info. I’m never good at chemistry. I got metabolism and understood how ions passed through cell walls to keep us alive, but as far as enzymes and how they can be stored, that blows my brain cells away.

            And that goes back to our earlier question: Should the Cubs sign Fielder? or Pujols?

            First, I’ll like to believe that the Ricketts want to own this club and be respectable. Someone here reported seeing Tom Ricketts leaving the ballpark with disdain while he watched another poor performance from his “asset,” the team. There’s another crop of solid minor league players coming up, and the Ricketts might see a need of one great free agent to build the team around with.

            I don’t know how Pujols should be signed. I don’t see him wear anything other than the Cardinal red. But I really want to see him play 81 games in front of the ivy. You said it well. He walked much more, is selective. He knows his first base; he runs the basepath well. He should be a good influence to the next wave of young Cubbies.

            That’s why I would even be adventurous and offer him 2% of the Cubs as a shareholder, just so the annual dollar paycheck may be subdued.

            The same might not be said about Prince Fielder, whom I can see demand a contract build similar to Ryan Howard. Let’s think about their price. Here’s Howard’s contract extension (effective 2012, so the timing is a good reference point), courtesy of Cot’s:

            12:$20M, 13:$20M, 14:$25M, 15:$25M, 16:$25M, 17:$23M club option ($10M buyout); total 5 years/$125M of guaranteed money.

            Born May, 1984, Fielder is 4 and a half years younger. Even in today’s economy, it’s possible that he will push for a longer contract, say: 12:$20M, 13:$20M, 14:$25M, 15:$25M, 16:$25M, 17:$23M, 18:$20, 19:$20 club option ($10M buyout); a grand total of 6 years/$168M.

            Fielder is a 100 RBI guy. For the next five years, he is easily projected a BA 0.280+, OPS .900+, an OPS+ of 140 or more (the league average would be 100, which means Fielder is way higher than all his peers batting in the Major League).

            Then, he hits 33. Year 2017, the Cubs will owe Fielder $23M. Despite how his last name sounds like, Prince doesn’t field as well as ARod, nor Pujols. His talent is limited to hitting. And if he runs into that wall of natural death, as Aaron put it, he’s another 60 RBI guy, perhaps a respectable 0.800 OPS or 115 OPS+, but that’s about it.

            The same could happen to the great Pujols by 2016, as he turns 36, if we project his talent of 170 OPS+ to fall off the chart later than sooner.

            There’s also the minor question of what the Cubs management expects from the new free agent signee, other than batting? Good defense and a lesson on plate discpline (Pujols)? or pure power for an extra year (Fielder)?

            And it really comes down to one question: How long should the Cubs sign either of them to guarantee a production to drive an offense into the World Series–the only goal?

            Will the Cubs be willing to push for it before 2016 (Pujols)? or 2017 (Fielder)? One thing for sure, the Ricketts and their employee (management) will need to bang on the postseason door sooner than later.

          • John_CC

            Great analysis, questions and thoughts. It is certain to be an interesting off-season next winter.

          • BillyFinT

            Yeah, it’s fun to ask ourselves what’s at stake, question what’s the right move. I’ll beat my dead horse and point out the obvious. Whether it’s 10 years or less with Pujols, or 7+ years with Fielder, the contract will include their final years when the player declines in production. It’s the price to pay so the Cubs can get over the top in the next four or five years.

            Is it worth it? I think so. But should it be Fielder or Pujols? I really don’t know. Each of them offers a different package; youth and power with Fielder; discipline and a living example of all-rounded baseball in Pujols. And I believe the Ricketts need to pursue either one of them, or sign the equal talent–a right fielder, for example, in case they want Colvin to stay on first base.

  • Josh Verlin