Friday, September 30, 2011

Patrick Sharp Returns To Practice

Esspin reports that Patrick Sharp returned to practice today since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Sept. 12:
"I felt good," Sharp said after practice. "As far as a return I wish I could give you a date. I've felt better every 24 hours since the surgery. A noticeable difference. If that continues I'd like to think I can play pretty soon."
I also heard that Sharpie's handsomeness melted the ice. I can neither confirm nor deny but here's my reenactment:




New Derrick Rose Commercial!!!!!

OMG!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chicago White Sox: Winds Of Change

"Winds of change they blow in my direction.
We both see that it's time.
Go on cry don't say words of inspiration.
We both see that it's time.
So walk on by."
- Fitz and The Tantrums

It has taken me a couple of days to process the divorce between Ozzie Guillen and the Chicago White Sox. I still cannot believe that he left...so...abruptly. I remember sitting in the sweltering Arizona heat in March, giddy about the upcoming White Sox season. I (as well as many other bloggers/writers) predicted the White Stockings to compete for the pennant. I did not, however, predict the Sox to finish hovering around .500, get owned by the Detroit Tigers (BABIP Luck Dragons, anyone?), and have the Sox identity leave by season's end.

Did Ozzie wear out his welcome like the distant cousin that keeps crashing on your couch and hogging the tv? Maybe. There seemed to be an underlying narrative that Kenny Williams and Ozzie didn't get along. Whether that is true or not, I do not know. But the soap opera was wearing thin on White Sox fans. Alishia (hard core fan of the South Siders) had this to say:
Aside from the fact that I watched the last out (as long as it took) and Ozzie's last moments on the field with tears streaming down my face, I feel upset that the wrong person is gone, (it should have been Kenny Williams), and I have no idea who they think they can bring in that will do better. I'm also relieved that this is finally over. As a serious fan that hangs on every word from the organization, it was just becoming too painful to watch. It was like being the only child in a horrible, bitter divorce. I may need therapy to get over this one (or an amazing 2012 season).

I'm sad to see him go, but happy for an end to this pettiness.
I tend to think the White Sox are better with Ozzie than without him. Hell, there's been many a time I have said (out loud, mind you) that I wish Ozzie was the manager of the Cubs -- I think most Cubs fans would have him over Lou Piniella (eek!) and Mike Quade (smh).

Apparently K-dub already has a short-list of possible replacements for Ozzie. Whoever Ozzie's replacement may be, the White Sox need to have a better strategy of being competitive over the long-term. And hiring the next manager should be based on that way of thinking.

The Hot Seat Cometh
After the Jim Hendry firing last month, I published that Kenny Williams is on the proverbial hot seat. It just seems like he doesn't understand that you build value from within the organization utilizing a synergy between your scouts and statisticians. Jon Greenberg quoted KW as saying:
"The bottom line is it's a bottom-line business," Williams said. "It hasn't worked out. So you have to be accountable for that."
This is a very finite way of looking at an organization. The "bottom-line" is a result, an output of an organization's inputs (processes, development, management, leadership).

The White Sox can no longer afford to compete on signing high-priced free agents, nor should they. They need a better strategy. And now, all eyes are on Kenny for said strategy (if he needs assistance, I am available at a competitive rate).

The Compensation
Howard Megdal wrote an excellent piece on Returns For Trading The Manager and made this point regarding the transaction for the Sox and Marlins:
It's going to cost the Marlins a pair of prospects: Osvaldo Martinez an infielder, and Jhan Marinez, a relief pitcher. The two rated among Florida's top five prospects to begin 2011, though both have arguably taken steps back this year.

Still, to get a pair of young, cost-controlled players for a manager represents a pretty significant return. Martinez the infielder profiles as a plus glove at second base and shortstop; Marinez the pitcher struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings this season as a 22-year-old in Double-A.
It's difficult to measure the value of trading young players for a manager. In my opinion, intrinsically, the Marlins come out ahead on this one (for now) as Ozzie's familiarity with the organization and South Florida's engaging latin community is more of a benefit to the fish than the Sox receiving two top five prospects.

A Thank You
As a disgruntled Cubs fan, I have respect for Ozzie and I appreciate everything that he did for the White Sox; most notably ending an 88-year drought and bringing a baseball championship to Chicago. For that, he'll always have my respect and admiration. It's too bad I couldn't enjoy him in the Windy City a little while longer.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sheehan, Tango On Moneyball

Will and I saw Moneyball this past weekend and both rather enjoyed the film. We were, however, a bit surprised at its length (it nearly made my wife late for work that afternoon), but felt it overall was a decent-to-very-good film.

The film has resulted in a second considering of the book and its impact on baseball, a considering which produces interesting pieces like this from Tom Tango:
In MLB however, those guys going to college and earning their bachelor’s and masters now have hope that they can earn 50 cents on the dollar to work in a front office... Former pro players lament their inability to land a job in a front office, because they don’t understand the number-crunching aspect of it...

It’s like crossing the color and nationality line. Where once you had just white Americans and Canadians in the NHL and MLB, now you have a huge influx of talent from blacks and players worldwide. This is what we have in MLB front offices: teams have access to a huge supply of talent, and that I think is the impact of Moneyball.

Moneyball made people dream and believe that there’s a different path to MLB.
It's crazy how a little book (only 301 pages, including the afterword) about a little organization that was experiencing a little success has caused mountains and oceans of change. (Of course, the book is not the sole factor, but a major one.)

And I, for one, am happy about that change.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Bears Somehow DON'T Lead The League In Sacks

Well, yeah, they do. The Bears have allowed a league-leading 11 sacks, but they have also thrown fewer passes than the 10-sack Seattle Seahawks. This results in the Bears not leading the league in yet one more category:


In short: This is not good. It's a miracle Jay Cutler is alive, much less capable of throwing the occasional touchdown.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chicago Bears: Game 2 - What We Learned

We Have Regressed As An Offense
In the first half, too many plays were going through Matt Forte: 128/165 yards for 78%. This decreased through the course of the game (to 67%), but Forte accounted for 48% of Cutlers passing yards. This makes the Bears extremely one-dimensional. Sure, we were missing Roy Williams, but the Saints were missing Marques Colston and Drew Brees still had an excellent game.

At this point, the Bears offense has regressed. I say this because this is the 2nd year in the Mike Martz offense and we still see a plethora of inconsistencies: false starts, allowing pressure to the quarterback, dropped passes, etc, etc.

Welcome to the 2011 2010 Bears season.


An Injury To ANY O-Lineman Hurts...
...like ripping a band-aid off -- oh yes, there will be blood. With the injuries to Gabe Carimi and Lance Louis, there's no telling when or if the O-Line protection will get better. This makes me extremely nervous as a Bears fan.

Hello? Coaching? Leadership?
Why Lovie Smith had Jay Cutler in the game (who was sacked 5x already) with three minutes left is beyond me. Have him lick his wounds and fight another day. But no, Lovie and company put Cutler back in the game -- only to get sacked again (that's 6). That's embarrassing. In my opinion, Lovie didn't do Jay any favors -- he puts Jay at risk of injury in situations when the game is out of reach and the O-Line is getting run over like road kill. Stop. It. Now.

I Should Have Been A Sports Agent
I posted last week:
I heard that as each Sunday goes, so does Matt Forte's price. To me, this isn't a bad thing. This means Forte is playing at a high level (and hopefully the Bears are winning). If Forte continues to have the offense go through him (which it does) and the Bears are winning, his price increase is a good problem to have.
The Bears are not doing themselves any favors allowing so much of the offense go through Forte and they will understand the word 'leverage' very quickly (and how little of it they have). If there was one person I could be right now (besides Aaron Rodgers), it would be Forte's agent [Adisa Bakari] -- cha ching!

I Haven't Changed My Stance
The Bears will be 9-7 this year. But if they continue to play like they did against the Saints, they'll be lucky to be 8-8.

Interesting Stat
Jay Cutler has now been sacked 11 times in only two games. This is 21% of the sacks from last season (52).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Congrats To Committed Indians; Buehrle To The Cubs?

The 2011 CBS Chicago's Most Valuable Blogger Awards have concluded. We here at Cubs Stats had been fighting hard to finish well in the competition, so we want to heartily thank all the Cubs Stats loyals who tolerated our voting twitter blitzes and — even more so — those who voted and voted often for our humble blog.

The fan's choice winner, Committed Indians, and the editor's choice winner, Second City Hockey, are both Blackhawks blogs — who'dathunkit, right? I watch just about every Blackhawks game that comes my way, but as a native Floridian, I'm admittedly behind the curve. Maybe it's time to study up and write nothing but Jonathan Toews articles. Hmm...

In the meantime, I suggest any White Sox (and even Cubs) fans out there read Jeff Zimmerman's Fangraphs article on Mark Buehrle and the DL:
Buehrle has been pitching’s iron man for the past decade, and that ability to consistently make his scheduled starts has increased his value. How much he’ll help the team that signs him this off-season is up for debate, but one thing is pretty certain: His health won’t be a concern.
Hey, the Chicago Cubs have a terrible bottom end of the rotation. And nothing makes the bottom end better than an upgrade at the top end.

Could the Cubs sign Buehrle? Yes. Would it be a good idea? No. Not unless they can very quickly build a winning team around him. Mark Buehrle, an amazing fielder, tends to keep his ERA unnaturally low, but he has never had the statistics of an ace. Moreover, the Cubs would need to vastly overhaul their outfield and corner positions before free agent pitchers are even worth thinking about.

On the other hand, the White Sox — despite this year's standings — remain well within striking distance in the relatively weak AL Central. Re-signing Buehrle makes much more sense on the south side than the north side.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back To The Future For Nike

We here at Cubs Stats have an affinity for shoes and great marketing. But more importantly, we love it when two companies can come together and create an awesome synergy for a common good.

Recently, Nike has teamed up with the Michael J. Fox Foundation and have delivered the most awesome product of all time: The NIKE MAG (a.k.a. - The McFlys). Yes, these McFlys!

Here's some things you should know about the shoe:
The footwear, which was unveiled by Nike in Los Angeles on Thursday, comes with a couple of caveats. First, the shoes lack the self-lacing mechanism depicted in the film. Second, there are only 1,500 pairs in existence. Third, they can be bought only via auction through eBay.

...

The shoes were designed to be precise replicas of the film version, right down to the contour of the gray fabric upper, the speckled Zolatone sole and glowing Nike logo strap. The astonishingly light 2011 Nike Mag (the name refers to "magnetic levitation") is the company’s first rechargeable shoe, and can glow for five hours between charges. -- Vancouver Sun

You can bid on these sweet kicks on it's own page: nikemag.ebay.com/shoes. The proceeds go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation and will fund Parkinson's disease research.

A message from Michael J. Fox:


Cheers to Nike for making this happen!

Current bidding is at $2700 per pair -- hoverboard not included (sad face).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chicago Blackhawks: Painting The Logo

I'm excited for hockey season to start! Btw - Cubs Stats will be at the Chicago Blackhawks Training Camp Festival this weekend. If you're attending as well, say hi to us!



Video courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Looking At Total QBR And QB Passer Rating For Week 1

Bears win. What a load off my heart, mind, and sports ego.

With the 2011 NFL season now truly underway, we have an opportunity to delve into some of the new statistics from the past few months. The most interesting and hooplah-ified stat from the off-season, Total QBR, is a brain child of ESPN and a slew of analysts.

One of my bigger concerns about the stat is its inclusion of sacks as a metric against quarterbacks. Yes, QBs do control the amount of sacks they take, and, yes, scrambling QBs take more sacks than pocket QBs — BUT anyone who's watched the Bears play these past four years knows the sack issue has run much deeper than just the QB position.

And so, as we might expect, early signs from QBR indicated Jay Cutler was one of the worst starting QBs in the league. That obviously didn't correlate with my own perception and the consensus among NFL analysts and insiders alike.

Among it's many and secret complexities, QBR rates events according to their leverage in the game (i.e. a 10 yard pass on 1st and 15 is obviously not as important as a 2 yard pass on 4th and 1), so it should be relatively distinct from Quarterback Passer Rating, the old school stat that ignores sacks and context entirely.

Well, maybe not so much. Here's Week 1 from the NFL, excluding tonight's games:

Yeah, so Cutler's Total QBR and old school QB Rating are pretty much the same — despite his five sacks. That makes me feel a little better, but I am a little surprised at how similar these two systems appear. I wonder how this chart will look after 4 or 5 seasons?

Some of the biggest disparities:
Remember, with QBR, 50 is average, 70 is good, 100 is perfect. With QB Passer Rating, 80ish is averageish, 100ish is goodish, and 138.5 or something is perfect.

I'm not sure why Kolb and Collins got extra hate from QBR, or why Schuab — who was playing against a deer-eyed Colts defense — got so much love, but maybe a closer look at their stats would explain the difference.

Chicago Bears: Game 1 - What We Learned

Jay Cutler Believes In Sharing
Jay Cutler distributed the ball to nine different receivers against the Atlanta Falcons. He looked calm, confident, and methodical as he shredded mylanta for 312 yards and two touchdowns. His win probability added (WPA) was .49 -- yes, please! Consider this, Aaron Rodgers had a .50 WPA on Thursday against the Saints.

Forte Increasing His Price Is Good
I heard that as each Sunday goes, so does Matt Forte's price. To me, this isn't a bad thing. This means Forte is playing at a high level (and hopefully the Bears are winning). If Forte continues to have the offense go through him (which it does) and the Bears are winning, his price increase is a good problem to have.

Bears Defense Is Gooder
The Bears defense had six (6) guys with double digit win probabilities (Brian Urlacher had a .23 WPA). That's just amazing. Maybe I see a Narrative Ninja in all of this but it looks like the defense is playing at a higher level than last year. Yes, I know one game is a small sample but I believe the additions of Henry Melton and Amobi Okoye have helped the Bears depth chart immensely. If the Bear defense continues to have several players contribute double digit win probabilities, quarterbacks will have lines like Matt Ryan's: he was sacked 5 times and his WPA was 0.02 -- helloooooooooo.

New Bromances Will Blossom
I love the size and athleticism that Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth bring. And rookie Dane Sanzenbacher...I heart him not only cuz he a shawty (5'11") but because he has an awesome name too.

We Still Have Some Cause For Concern
It seems like it took awhile to establish the running game. Matt Forte and Khalil Bell combined for 92 rushing yards. Perhaps this was more attributed to mylanta's defense -- idk -- but this has to get better during the season.

Cutler was sacked 5 times. Ugggghhhhh.

Interesting Stat
Devin Hester (127 yards) and Matt Forte (158 yards) accounted for 61% of the Bears total yardage on Sunday. It'll be interesting to see how this number fluctuates and how it is correlated to wins or losses through the course of the season.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Chicago Bears Are Terrible


You can see it in their faces. This team just doesn't want to win.

On the sidelines, Jay Cutler pouts. He frowns. He mopes.

Cutler is and always will be a bad leader — that's right; he's not not a leader; he's a bad leader. Mopiness is contagious.

The longer the Bears team leave Cutler in the starting position, the more they risk Brian Urlacher and Johnny Knox (the greatest wide receiver since Jerry Rice) will catch the mopiness and diabetes and — before we can say Sweetness fives time — the Chicago Bears will be last in the division again.

And what about Mr. Lovie Smith? He looks as checked-out as a boyfriend watching a chick-flick. He's holding a purse short of a shopping spree. He stares emotionless at the field, waiting for his whimper of a career to melt away into the soupy oblivion of NFL history.

Do you know how you can tell Lovie Smith doesn't prepare for games? That he doesn't care about what happens? That he doesn't meticulously plan each week to make the Bears defense a top-five domination machine of pure offense-frustration?

You. Can. See. It. In. His. Face.

A real coach — one who puts the time and effort into making a winning team — rants and raves on the sidelines. Every time his players walk instead of jog to the huddle, he throws down his headset, screams until his face turns Ditka-red, and pisses his pants in uncontrollable rage.

A real coach doesn't talk in normal tones to a ref; he yells at them mercilessly, belittles their physical appearance, calls their children "disappoint," and smashes the gravestones of their ancestors, howling wildly and drunkenly at glistening full moon'd night.

A real quarterback doesn't get sacked. He doesn't just mamby-pamby around the backfield for one or two full seconds so that a hulking defensive lineman can pulverize him. A real quarterback punches defensive ends in the face, smashing both their opponent's face mask and the metacarpals in their non-throwing hand. A real quarterback, like Ben Roethlisberger, takes charge in the backfield and in life — he pushes around defenders, throws passes so hard they kill birds in flight, and then celebrates in a dance club's men's stall and threatens to throw a slant route at the judge's face if he doesn't call mistrial.

A real quarterback doesn't sulk; a real coach doesn't sigh.

Alexei Ramirez: 2011 Gold Glove Winner

We have mentioned this many times and it deserves repeating until the voters get it right:

Alexei Ramirez was robbed of the Gold Glove last season. Alexei became the victim of a popularity contest; Derek Jeter won the award despite a -4.4 UZR (Alexei's was 10.8) -- I blame NOT Jeter's reputation but his bachelor lifestyle.

Not only is Alexei the most valuable player on the White Sox roster this season (4.4 WAR, which is higher than Paul Konerko) he also leads MLB at shortstop UZR (11.3). Annnnnd it doesn't hurt that he's one of our faves at Cubs Stats. Oh, that guy on the Northside [Starlin Castro], his defense, well, it needs some work:
Yup.

If Alexei does NOT win the Gold Glove, I will create a trophy with my bare hands and personally deliver it to him at Spring Training.

That's no lie.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Anomaly That Is The Chicago White Sox

We have a situation:

The White Sox have an AL leading FIP...

Total FIP In 2011

Haven't struck out that much (yay!)...

Total Strikeouts In 2011

Play average defense but (marginally) lead the AL Central in UZR...

Total UZR In 2011

Have very little speed...

Total Speed In 2011

AND cannot put the ball in play...

Total BABIP In 2011

Yup. This seems about right.

Go Rays.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cubs Den: Beane And Forst On The Radar?

Over at Cubs Den, John Arguello makes a compelling case that the Cubs may be poised to snatch away Mr. Moneyball himself — no, not Michael Lewis:
There are rumors that the Cubs met with both Beane and Forst while in SF-- and that Ricketts brought along Tim Wilken, Oneri Fleita, and Ari Kaplan, three key front office execs that the Cubs would like to keep...

The Cubs extended Oneri Fleita not too long after this meeting. It could well just be coincidence (and ESPN's Bruce Levine says they did it because the Tigers were after Fleita), but Ricketts has said that he would allow the new GM to make these decisions and the fact that he signed him to a 4 year deal makes you wonder if perhaps Beane has signed off on it.
Wow, wouldn't that be cool?

My GM wishlist looks something like this:

1) Andrew Friedman (not gonna happen)

2) Brian Cashman (odds are against it)

3) A tie: Theo Epstein / Rick Hahn / Billy Beane (one is possibly evil, one doesn't have a lengthy history of success, and one has stumbled recently)

4) Many, many others. (Such as Gerry Hunsicker of Astros fame, presently working for the Rays.)

Getting Billy Beane could be a pretty awesome step forward.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Alfonso Soriano Contract Is NOT A Sunk Cost

Brad wrote an interesting article on Bleed Cubbie Blue regarding Alfonso Soriano about him being broken but useful.

Brad answers two important questions regarding Soriano:
What can Soriano offer the Cubs? And, more crucially, do the Cubs benefit from playing Soriano?
I have read the term "sunk costs" regarding Soriano's contract. It's true, Soriano is owed $54M from the Cubs over the next three years. But this money is NOT a sunk cost but rather a prospective cost for the Cubs and an avoidable future cost for any team willing to trade.

Now the cash the Cubs have already paid to Soriano, that is a sunk cost (because payment has already incurred and cannot be recovered) -- that money gone, playa.

The Cubs are now left trying to valuate his skills and determining his prospective cost to the organization (determining price to value). The problem, as it stands right now, before the trade deadline teams didn't jump on absorbing even a portion of that contract (avoiding the future cost) and the Cubs have a prospective cost of $54M. That's a lot of cash and cash rules everything around me.

One Of These Doesn't Belong: Walks, Home Runs, And The Chicago Cubs

Not cool bro, not cool:


Hey, y'know, you can still score a lot without walking. Just don't strikeout too much...



Oh... Well, maybe if you lead the league in home runs, you can still—


...Go Rays.