Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Are You Not Entertained?

It's never easy to make your Major League debut. Think about how nervous, excited, or anxious you may get for your first day of school, or first day at a new job. Now, imagine that there are 40,000 people around you and millions more watching you on TV, tracking your moves online, or listening to your performance on the radio. No matter if you're usually cool as a cucumber, there will be butterflies.

We witnessed Chris Sale's inability to retire a batter in his debut this past Friday.

Not the best debut for some
Last night, the not as lovable as in the '80s loser Cubs threw Marcos Mateo to the bottom of the 10th inning wolves of a tie game. Facing the 7, 8, 9 hitters of this year's San Francisco Giants isn't exactly the same as the lions of the Coliseum in Rome, but extra inning pressure is different than the usual mopup or big lead environment you'd prefer to have a rookie pop his cherry with.

"Just take the picture"
Mateo is older than your usual freshman, at 26, but this product of San Crostobal, Dominican Republic has been having a nice season across three levels of the Cubs system. Most of his innings and success came in Double A, but even his Triple A minor league splits look very good, with a 10.13 K/9 inning ratio, a 51.4% groundball percentage, and 2.31 FIP with Iowa.

Overall, he pitched just 1 inning of rookie ball, 20 2/3 in Double A, and 10 2/3 in Triple A. His combined numbers are fantastic, when looking at a 1.22 WHIP, 11.8 K/9, and 6.43 K/BB ratio. His groundball percentage in Double A was also a strong 51.6%. It's interesting that at both levels, he had unlucky BABIP's of .362 in AA and .333 in AAA.

Last night, he struck out Juan Uribe to start things off, gave up a single to Travis Ishikawa, struck out Freddy Sanchez, then was lucky to get out of the inning. Andrés Torres hit what was officially ruled a double to shallow right, and Ishikawa, the Pride of Federal Way, was thrown out at home by Mike Fontenot's relay of Tyler Colvin's throw.

The Ladies Love Pat the Bat
The bottom of the 11th was more one-sided. Edgar Renteria jumped on a first pitch slider for a single to left. The next batter, Aubrey Huff, may have been sitting slider, as he took two fastballs to a 1-1 count before ripping a slider to right. Sweet Lou calls for the intentional pass of Buster Posey to load the bases and set up a force at the plate. Well known ladies' man, Pat Burrell, pounces on Mateo's first pitch, a 91 mph meatball right down Broadway. Burrell hits a deep flyball to centerfield, ending the game as Renteria scores easily.

Sorry, this recap is not exactly "Casey at the Bat", I guess. At least Mateo's pitch f/x data on texasleaguers is cool to peruse.

Fans of losing teams need to find patterns of hope. Derek Lee certainly hasn't brought us any. I think some fans want Aramis Ramirez to opt out of his contract. The outfield is a disaster.

Is there inspiration in the bullpen? When the Cubs stunk eight or nine years ago, some of us were excited about this kid called Zambrano who looked like he threw a heavy fastball.

Can we really get excited about Tyler Colvin? I'm not. He strikes out too much and doesn't reach base enough. He didn't in the minors, either. Brett Jackson? His minor league OBP looks good, but the Cubs won't be very good if he's one of the their top 3 players. Hayden Simpson? He hasn't even thrown a pitch as a professional. Maybe we can get excited about previously unheard of Thomas Diamond. I don't know. I'm not that psyched about him.

Oh yeah, we still have Starlin Castro. He's only 20 years old, playing good defense at Shortstop (5.1 UZR/150), and his slash line in the Major Leagues is .308/.355/.444. That'll help for a little while.

"Let's Go, bud.  You're all we got!"

1 comment:

  1. Less Cubs talk, more Chris Johnson. Thanks. Check out his numbers since the All Star Break.

    As of a couple days ago (as of AS break):

    He leads the NL with a 1.204 OPS and is tied for first with a .462 OBP. He's third in OBP, first in slugging and first with 21 RBI.

    For the entire season, he's he's first among MLB rookies with at least 140 ABs with a .351 batting average and a .554 slugging pct. He's 8 for 18 with 14 RBI with RISP since the break.