The 5-Minute Superfan: June 6, 2008
June 6, 2008
Welcome to the second installment of The 5-Minute Superfan. If you’re wondering what the heck it is, check this page out. You might notice this week’s edition is running a bit early – we (that would be the royal “we,” which really just means “me”) will be without consistent internet access for the next week or so, and we wanted to make sure an get a Superfan out. You may notice sporadic articles over the next week. We’ll be back, though. We know you worry.
In case you missed it, this week saw the Cubs extend their season-high winning streak to 9 games (longest since 2001). The Cubs still have the best record in baseball at 39-22, and hold a 3.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals – who are still apparently unaware that they are not supposed to be any good.
The Bare Minimum Weekly Roundup
Sunday, June 1 – The Cubs sweep the Colorado Rockies with a 5-3 win. Youngster Sean Gallagher picks up his 3rd win of the season. The last time a Cubs rookie starting pitcher named Sean won 3 games? You have to go all the way back to… um, like 2 years ago. Sean Marshall won 6 games for the Cubs in 2006.
Monday, June 2 – The Cubs beat the San Diego Padres 7-6 in San Diego’s spacious Petco Park. Carlos Zambrano does what loves to do best: Hit. Big Z has 3 hits in the game, including a game-tying RBI triple. He is now hitting .366 in 41 at bats this year. I bet you wonder where that average would put Z in the pantheon of hitting pitchers in the post-DH era. You didn’t wonder that? Well, I’m gonna tell you anyway. It would put him squarely at the top. In 1993, Dodgers’ pitcher – and now terrible ESPN commentator – Orel Hershiser hit .356 in 71 at bats.
Tuesday, June 3 – Cubs keep streaking with a 9-6 victory over the Padres. That makes 9 in a row. The Cubs came back in this one after being down… well, only 2-0. But it’s still classified as a “comeback,” which makes it the Cubs’ 20th of the season. Best in the Major Leagues.
Wednesday, June 4 – Oh snap! The Professor – and former Cub favorite – Greg Maddux throws a gem and snaps the Cubs’ winning streak, as the Padres beat the Cubs 2-1. Maddux got a no-decision, though, which has been a theme for him this season. He’s pitching excellently with a 3.48 ERA, but has just 3 wins to show for it. If you guessed that it’s because the Padres suck, you’d be an excellent guesser.
Thursday, June 5 – Streak’s back on! Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 at Chavez Ravine. Kerry Wood picked up his 17th save of the year. That’s tops in the National League, but way behind the Major League leader. Somehow Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) of the Los Angeles Angels has 24 saves. That’s like, most of their wins.
Thursday was also the MLB Draft. So how about a “Bare Minimum” within the “Bare Minimum”? Not interested? Too bad. I have the keyboard.
The Bare Minimum 2008 Cubs Draft Roundup
Now, these are not ALL of the Cubs picks for the 2008 Draft, but this is just the bare minium. So we’ll give you the skinny on the first six picks.
Round 1, Pick 19: RHP Andrew Cashner, Texas Christian – A middling kind of starting pitcher who became a dominant closer for TCU. He’s 6’6″, has a fastball in the high 90s and a slider in the high 80s. Still a bit raw and wild at times, but has the kind of arm that could be ready to help the Cubs *this year.*
Compensatory Round A, Pick 41: SS Ryan Flaherty, Vanderbilt – A lefty who has put up good numbers at Vandy, but who is probably too big to stay at shortstop over the long term. Not to mention the fact that his fielding percentage at short has been brutal. Good arm, so he could play third, but may not ever have the power that you like to see at third base.
Round 2, Pick 65: RHP Aaron Shafer, Wichita State – Last year, this big pitcher was thought to be a lock top-ten pick. Dealt with an abdominal injury, so it didn’t happen. This year, he was thought to be again, a lock for a first round pick, but an elbow injury shaved a few MPH off of his fastball. He’s been effective since his injury, but when it comes to young arms and elbow injuries, there’s always a reason to be alarmed.
Round 3, Pick 97: RHP Chris Carpenter, Kent State – No, not that Chris Carpenter. Another big, righty, college pitcher. Sensing a theme? Carpenter had Tommy John surgery in 2005, and is finally feeling completely back. His college numbers aren’t eye-popping, but according to scouts, there are times when he shows *the* best stuff in all of college baseball.
Round 4, Pick 131: SS Matt Cerda, Oceanside HS (Oceanside, CA) – Cerda is the first high schooler taken by the Cubs, and he is currently a San Diego University recruit. He’s got a small frame and a quick, compact, lefty swing. Will probably play second base, as he doesn’t have the range for shortstop.
Round 5, Pick 161: RHP Justin Bristow, East Carolina – Yup, another big, righty, college pitcher. Hmm, what platitudes are left to describe him? Good curveball, hard fastball. Was tagged to be a first rounder in 2005 out of high school (didn’t happen). After a poor first two college years – mostly because he was mostly a position player at that time – he was occassionally dominant in his junior year as a full-time starting pitcher.
The Cubs Count’s Number of the Week: 1
1 is the Cubs’ current National League rank in the following offensive categories: Runs, Hits, Average (by 22 points!), On-Base Percentage (by 25 points!), and OPS* (by 21 points!).
*Here’s a 5-Minute Superfan opportunity for learning: have you always heard your friends and/or folks on TV say “OPS” and you wondered, “what the heck does OPS mean?” OPS stands for On-Base Percentage (“OBP” – essentially, how often a player gets on base by way of a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch) plus Slugging Percentage (“SLG” – essentially, how many total bases a player averages per plate appearance). As a team, the Cubs have a .365 OBP and .451 SLG. Add those together, and you get .816 – the Cubs’ team OPS. Think of it as Overall Player Stat – because that’s really what it is. It’s a way to get an overall picture of a player’s offensive production. And as a rule of thumb to impress your friends: .800 is a nice approximate cutoff where you can say above that number, a player is good, and below it, not great.