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Getaway Day Lineups for Dummies

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Getaway Day Lineups for Dummies

Posted on 16 April 2012 by Dennis Lawson

You can't stop Joey Bombs; you can only hope to contain him.

Consider this line that I tweeted earlier today from Busch Stadium where the Cardinals hosted the Cubs.

“#Cubs lineup avg by batter: .182, .000, .371, .111, .267, .167, .120, .071, .000. #GetawayDay

The last game in a series is often considered a “Getaway Day” for the visiting team, and there are times when the lineup reflects greater concern for the next series than the current one.  That Getaway Day often consists of an early afternoon game that follows a night game, so it makes perfect sense to rest a player or two.  Players who may need an extra day off:

  • Aging veterans who have trouble playing back-to-back days due to the whole “running and throwing” thing that baseball players are required to do (except in the AL where those people are called “Designated Hitters”)
  • Players with nagging injuries that would benefit greatly from 24-30 hours of legitimate rest and treatment
  • The starting catcher, because a man really should the amount of squatting performed in a short period of time
  • Any player who shows up for batting practice while wearing leather pants while holding a carry-on bag

Back to the tweet:  The batting averages for each player in the Cubs’ starting lineup appeared on the board, and the numbers were enough to inspire awe in even the most ardent Cubs supporter (like the guy wearing the SOTO jersey in front of me).  Just imagine this:

  1. Reed Johnson – .182
  2. Blake DeWitt – .000
  3. Starlin Castro – .371
  4. Jeff Baker – .111
  5. Ian Stewart – .267
  6. Joe Mather – .167
  7. Geovany Soto – .120
  8. Marlon Byrd – .071
  9. Paul Maholm – .000

So, the Cubs have an opening day payroll of around $110M, and you’re telling me that Alfonso Soriano ($18M in 2012) sits to give Joe Mather a few at-bats?  Do you see what is wrong with this picture?

  • The cleanup hitter, Jeff Baker, has hit 10+ HR in a season only once, and that was 4 years ago.
  • The guy hitting in the 2-hole has exactly the same batting average as the starting pitcher who has only had 1 plate appearance prior to today.
  • Soto has caught the bulk of the innings behind the plate, so if anybody needs a day off, it would seem like Soto would be a great candidate.

Think of the situation the Cubs find themselves in to this point.  Entering Sunday, the Cubs were 3-6 and trailing the division leading Cardinals by 3 games.  Sure, the season is still young, but why not take a shot at stealing a game and a series against the #5 starter for the Cardinals?  The Cubs likely won’t contend or event simulate contending this season, but it does not hurt a bit to try and snag a few wins here and there when the other team may be looking ahead just a bit or isn’t at full strength.  After all, the Cardinals fielded at team without Lance Berkman, David Freese, Allen Craig, and Skip Schumaker.  If the Cubs face the Cardinals at full strength, the task of winning a few against a division rival does not get any easier.  Sunday represented a great opportunity to take a shot, and the Cubs failed to go all-in on that opportunity.

Naturally, the fantasy baseball implications for using Getaway Day lineups should not be ignored.  While it makes sense that many players could benefit from an extra day off, the missed chances to fill the stat sheet impact fantasy leagues in a significant way.  The implication for fantasy owners is that adding a weighting factor for players who tend to take very few days off should be considered.  Maybe Starlin Castro deserves a bump up the rankings at SS, because he has played all 10 games the Cubs have played this season.  The lesson here could be that owners should consider carefully whether or not a team’s ultimate goal and respective fortunes strongly correlate to what a particular player does, that player deserves a longer look in your fantasy rankings.

On the other hand, the lesson really could just be that Getaway Day lineups are a bad idea for teams dwelling in their division cellars.

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Finding Keepers: Chicago Cubs

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Finding Keepers: Chicago Cubs

Posted on 03 March 2012 by Mark Sherrard

The Chicago Cubs have a lot of new faces this year and a lot of low expectations to go with them.  This is the perfect storm for finding keepers.  Let’s take a look at some players who might be flying under the radar for the Cubs this year.

1B Bryan LaHair put up some gaudy numbers at AAA last year, with a slash line of .331/.405/.664, including 38 homeruns in just 456 at bats.  However, at age 29 and with Anthony Rizzo breathing down his neck, not many are giving LaHair much of a chance to hold onto the first base job for long.  But, if he gets out of the gate quickly, he should stick with the big club and could move to the outfield once Rizzo is ready.

SP Ryan Dempster was the victim of some bad luck last year, as his hit rate was above his norm, while his strand rate was below normal.  This resulted in an ERA of 4.80, the highest he has posted since returning to the starting role in 2008.  Giving normal regression to the mean, he should return to his sub-4.00 level.  Getting some wins, however, is another question.

3B Ian Stewart was another victim of bad luck.  His Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) was just .224 in 2011 compared to a career average of .302.  Giving his low contact rate, he is unlikely to hit much more than .250 in any given season, but he certainly is capable of bouncing back from his .156/.243/.221 line in 2011. With top third base prospect, Josh Vitters still at least a year away, Stewart will be giving every opportunity to prove that 2011 was a fluke.

OF Marlon Byrd flies under a lot of radars as he doesn’t dominate any one category.  However, he is capable of providing double digit homers and a .280-.290 average.  Plus, depending on where he hits in the Cubs order, he could add either 75 rbi’s or 75 runs.  He has lost 40 pounds this offseason and is in his contract year, so he is playing for what could be his last big payday.  However, with Brett Jackson waiting in the wings, Byrd will also be the subject of numerous trade rumors this year, so those of you in NL only leagues that don’t carry over stats should be wary.

SP Paul Maholm quietly put together a fine season last year with a 3.68 ERA and 1.29 whip.  He will not provide a lot of strikeouts, with just 97 in 162.1 innings last year, nor will he rack up a lot of wins for the Cubs.  But is worth targeting in the late rounds.

RP Carlos Marmol has run hot and cold every other year with the Cubs.  So, after a down year in 2011, we can expect a good year, right?  Well, if he can keep his control in check, Marmol is downright unhittable.  He struck out 138 batters in just 77.2 innings in 2010 and is certainly capable of putting up those numbers again.  Watch him closely this spring.

SP Matt Garza posted the lowest ERA and highest strikeout totals of his career in 2011, so its hard to think of him as being undervalued or a potential keeper.  However, Garza seemed to get stronger as the season wore on, posting a 2.45 ERA in the second half compared to a 4.26 ERA in the first half.  If he can carry that over to 2012, he could become a fantasy ace.

The following players are likely not keeper material:

SS Starlin Castro will likely be overvalued after a strong sophomore campaign.  He is a player on the rise, just don’t overpay for him.

C Geovany Soto had a down year after what seemed like a comeback year in 2010.  He still has some power, but he struggles against righthanders, which will limit his batting average.

2B Darwin Barney got out of the gate fast last year before wearing down in the second half.  The Cubs appear to think of him as more of a utility infielder type and he may have to hold off Adrian Cardenas to keep his job.

The Cubs cannot give away aging veteran OF Alfonso Soriano.  So, they will keep plugging him into the lineup for now, but his defense screams DH and he is not getting any younger.

Finally, OF David DeJesus blames his poor 2011 season on his surgically-repaired right hand.  There could still be some upside there, but let someone else take that chance.

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