Introducing the Newest Member of the Cubs: Paul Maholm

Jed Hoyer said in a recent interview that the club’s main priority going forward is to add solid pitching. We’ve seen the Cubs acquire many players coming off down years this winter, and their newest addition is no exception. Pirates lefty Paul Maholm confirmed the rumors today with this tweet:

Maholm is 29 years old and has pitched with Pittsburgh for his entire career. He has a career win percentage of 42%, but that was with the Pirates, who have had their struggles, to say the least. I looked at Paul’s game log and found his deserved win-loss record was 13-13. (See this article for more info on my made up statistic.)

That record’s alright, especially for the price the Cubs got him at, but the main concern here is that he made only 26 starts. That’s because Maholm went on the 60-day DL with a strained left shoulder. Hopefully he can bounce back from that injury and stay healthy for the Cubs. Even if he doesn’t, with their pitching depth increasing daily, I think the rotation will be fine.

In conclusion, if Paul Maholm stays healthy he can fit quite nicely into the 4th or 5th spot in the Cubs rotation. Welcome to Chicago Paul!

A New Take on Matt Garza

Last year on Opening Day, the Cubs rotation (as hard as it is to believe) was actually looking pretty good. They had Ryan Dempster, a 15 game winner in 2010, at the top of their rotation. Then came the “new and improved” Carlos Zambrano and the winter acquisition of Matt Garza. In the 4 and 5 spots were Randy Wells and top prospect Andrew Cashner. Many Cubs fans cautiously dubbed the rotation as a strength.

Well, Cashner and Wells both went down in their first starts with the Cubs, Dempster won a disappointing 10 games, and Big Z was, well, Big Z. But the common belief between Cubs fans was that Matt Garza did alright. In fact, he was considered as the best pitcher on the Cubs, even though he only had 10 wins. In the words of Carrie Muskat, he was a “tough-luck pitcher”.

And with Garza trade rumors flying, I decided to take a look and get my own opinion on this guy’s value. And what I found surprised me. We all knew Garza was good. But after a little digging, I found out Matt’s 2011 season was phenomenal. I’m no Theo Epstein, but I think Matt Garza is seriously underrated. What I did was this:

MLB.com has a game log for every player in the major leagues. It shows every game they played and what they did in it. I simply went to Matt Garza’s game log, and looked at every start he had. I ignored if he won or lost, and just looked at how he did. I considered a start worth a win if he pitched six innings or more and gave up three runs or less. I kept a tally of his “deserved wins and losses”. And like I said, what I found shocked me.

Note: Unless you’re really interested in the stats, feel free to just look at the deserved wins and losses, because for the casual fan, this may get a little dry… The pictures are there for the same reason.

Start #1: April 3

IP: 7.0 ER: 3 – deserved win

1 win, 0 losses

Start #2: April 9

IP: 5.2 ER: 5 – deserved loss

1 win, 1 loss

Start #3 April 15

IP: 6.0 ER: 5 – deserved loss

1 win, 2 losses

Start #4: April 20

IP: 6.0 ER: 0 – deserved win

2 win, 2 losses

Start #5: April 25

IP: 6 ER: 1 – deserved win

3 wins, 2 losses

Start #6: April 30

IP: 8.0 ER: 3 – deserved win

4 wins, 2 losses

Start #7: May 6

IP: 6.0 ER: 5 – deserved loss

4 wins, 3 losses

Start #8: May 11

IP: 5.0 ER: 1 – deserved loss

4 wins, 4 losses

Start #9: May 17

IP: 6.0 ER: 0 – deserved win

5 wins, 4 losses

Start #10: June 6

IP: 4.0 ER: 4 – deserved loss

5 wins, 5 losses

Start #11: June 11

IP: 6.0 ER: 1 – deserved win

6 wins, 5 losses

Start #12: June 16

IP: 6.0 ER: 5 – deserved loss

6 wins, 6 losses

Start #13: June 21

IP: 5.0 ER: 2 -deserved loss

6 wins, 7 losses

Start #14: June 27

IP: 7.1 ER: 3 – deserved win

7 wins, 7 losses

Start #15: July 2

IP: 9.0 ER: 1 – deserved win

8 wins, 7 losses

Start #16: July 7

IP: 2.0 ER: 6 – deserved loss

8 wins, 8 losses

Start #17: July 14

IP: 7.0 ER: 0 – deserved win

9 wins, 8 losses

Start #18: July 19

IP: 7.0 ER: 1 – deserved win

10 wins, 8 losses

Start #19: July 24

IP: 7.0 ER: 2 – deserved win

11 wins, 8 losses

Start #20: July 29

IP: 5.2 ER: 6 – deserved loss

11 wins, 9 losses

Start #21: August 3

IP: 7.0 ER: 0 – deserved win

12 wins, 9 losses

Start #22: August 9

IP: 6.0 ER: 3 – deserved win

13 wins, 9 losses

Start #23: August 14

IP: 5.0 ER: 2 – deserved loss

13 wins, 10 losses

Start #24: August 20

IP: 7.0 ER: 0 – deserved win

14 wins, 10 losses

Start #25: August 25

IP: 5.0 ER: 3 – deserved loss

14 wins, 11 losses

Start #26: August 30

IP: 6.2 ER: 2 – deserved win

15 wins, 11 losses

Start #27: September 5

IP: 7.0 ER: 1 – deserved win

16 wins, 11 losses

Start #28: September 11

IP: 7.0 ER: 3 – deserved win

17 wins, 11 losses

Start #29: September 16

IP: 9.0 ER: 3 – deserved win

18 wins, 11 losses

Start #30: September 21

IP: 9.0 ER: 0 – deserved win

19 wins, 11 losses

Start #31: September 27

IP: 7.0 ER: 2 – deserved win

20 wins, 11 losses

That’s right. Over the whole season, if Matt Garza would have had the run support (average runs scored per game in 2011 was 4.6) and the bullpen could hold his leads… He would have a 20 win season. To put that in perspective, Clayton Kershaw won the NL Cy Young with 21 wins.

Now, I’m not saying we should strip Kershaw of his Cy Young and give it to Garza. All I’m saying is that Garza is not the 10 win pitcher he’s made out to be. He’s much, much more. Trade rumors have been swirling around, but I think many times the best move a team can make is to hold on to their players. And on a team full of mediocre pitching, Garza is one guy the Cubs need to keep.

5 Reasons the Cubs Should Sign Prince

I know there’s been a lot of speculation going on about this, so I’m just going to come out and say it.

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The Cubs need Prince Fielder.

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First base is wide open right now, and players like Prince don’t come around that often. Yes, his base running makes Soto look like Carl Crawford. Yes, his defense will cost runs. And yes, the team that gets him will probably have to overpay. So why am I saying we should even consider signing Prince? Well, here’s 5 reasons…

1. Pure Offense

The team that signs Prince is not going to be expecting a 40 steal season. No, Prince will make his money doing what he does best: hit. With Pena and Aramis gone and Soriano declining, the Cubs need a force in their lineup, and personally, is there a more intimidating hitter than Prince Fielder?

2. Age

If you’ve been following the Fielder sweepstakes, you know by now that Prince is 27, while Pujols is who knows how old. The point being, it’s pretty commonly believed that a players best production comes between the ages of 27 and 33. Even if next year’s Cubs are the Astros of 2012, Fielder will be in his prime for years to come, years in which the Cubs will (hopefully) be contending.

Note: Fielder’s first 6 years in the bigs average 37 homers and 106 RBI’s, plus an on-base percentage of .390. If that’s the start, I can’t wait to see his prime.

3. Defense

I know what you’re thinking. Defense? A reason to sign Prince Fielder? Well, let me just tell you, it’s not as bad as it seems. His fielding percentage is actually just below league average, and he scoops 70% of throws in the dirt, compared to the average 80%. Also, his range factor is just 4% below league average. I’m not trying to make Prince look like a Gold Glover, because he’s far from that. But all confusing defensive statistics aside, consider this: Prince’s defense only cost his Brewers team last year one run.

4. Leadership

If Epstein and Co. do what they say they are, there’s going to be a lot of young players in the Cubs clubhouse pretty soon. They need a role model, someone to be an example of how to be a big leaguer. Prince can be that veteran presence. His hitting is great, and him being a mentor is just one more reason to pick Prince up.

5. New CBA Rules/Supply of Sluggers 

With the MLB and the Player’s Union just agreeing on a new collective bargaining agreement, many things changed. One big thing, however, is rules about how teams can spend their money. Teams now have a salary cap on the draft, so only a certain amount of money can be put into the farm system. That automatically makes teams more reliant on free agents. With the Cubs less likely to produce that slugging first basemen through their player development, their attention has to turn to getting one through free agency. And looking at free agent first basemen for the next 3 years, there’s not an All-Star type first basemen hitting free agency anytime soon. So the Cubs have to jump on Prince now.

The reasons are there. The downsides are obvious. But at the end of the day, I think that if the Cubs have the money, Epstein and Co. should make it their top priority to get Prince blasting homers at Wrigley in 2012.

Hi Everyone

Hi everyone,
My name is Nate. I’m a 13 year old boy living in the Netherlands. I’m American, but my dad’s job has our family moving around. I’ve also lived in Moscow, Russia. I’m the definition of a baseball junkie, and the Chicago Cubs are the center of my obsession.

Anyway, it’s no surprise that out here in the Netherlands I don’t get much baseball action. Soccer is the main sport here, so people are talking about David Beckham and Lionel Messi while I’m thinking of Jose Bautista and Prince Fielder. My obsession with baseball is almost lost here, and that’s why I’m starting this blog.

Well, it looks like an interesting offseason ahead for the Cubs, so expect some more posts.

Nate

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