When Everyone Loses, The Brewers Win
One of the good things about leading the wild card is that there are all kinds of ways that you can win. First off, you can win. It’s been a few days since that happened, so let’s focus on the other one. The teams chasing you can lose. Just as you have only 27 outs to work with in any game, the teams attempting to chase down the Brewers for the Wild Card have only 23 games to work with. Every passing day, and every passing loss brings them closer to elimination.
Sure, the Brewers were swept by their likely first round playoff opponent at home, but the Phillies (who play the Mets this weekend) laid an egg against the Nationals, and the Cardinals were defeated by Adam Dunn and the D-Backs. All is well. Besides, you could be a Cubs fan…
The Ghost of Dusty Baker, The Ghost of Billy Beane
The Cubs have both the Wild Card and the Division to play with, meaning that they have an insurmountable 9-game cushion, and according to BP, a 99.5% chance of making the playoffs. Their mentality is that they’re in already, which is why they’re in full blown panic mode.
If is now a well excepted axiom that young pitchers (until they reach the age of 22 or so) are more vulnerable to injury than are older pitchers. Young pitchers are most at risk around age 22, have their lowest risk at 24, and then see their risk gradually increase over time. This is referred to as the “injury nexus.” Once you have reached a certain point in your career, you can throw 120+ pitches per game without too much trouble (you will still have the risk that comes with putting miles on your arm, but it won't accelerate like it does for younger guys). Pitcher abuse still hurts you, but not nearly as much.
Carlos Zambrano is now 27 years old, however, in his younger days (when he was 22) he was managed by the incompetent Dusty Baker, slayer of Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and most recently Aaron Harang. No one pointlessly works pitchers harder than Baker.
Baker also abused the heck out of Big Z when he managed the Cubs, and until recently, Zambrano seemed fine. That could all change today as Zambrano will undergo an MRI to determine why he has suffered a loss of control and velocity over the past month. In Zambrano has anything seriously wrong with him, Cubs fans should look back to Baker. He is the gift that keeps on giving.
When the Cubs traded for Rich Harden, everyone including me thought that Billy Beane got taken to the cleaners. Harden, however, is very injury prone, and his absolute dominance when healthy can cloud one’s judgment on this issue. Now Harden is experiencing “some discomfort.” And Lou Piniella is acting all squirrelly about it.
Which brings me back to the trade. Billy Beane does not get taken to the cleaners; he takes other people to the cleaners. Perhaps he has done so again.
The Cubs can probably survive losing Harden or Zambrano. They cannot survive the loss of both.
The NFL Starts Tonight
Get your fantasy lineups in! Giants v. Redskins tonight. I don’t think this will be a particularly good game, but it will be interesting to see how the Giants’ defense reacts to losing Osi Umenyiora to injury and Michael Strahan to retirement. It will also be interesting to see if Jason Campbell has improved at all.
The Crystal Ball
The Football Outsiders’ DVOA Projections are online.
The Packers are projected for 10.4 wins. Sweet.
Is brought to you by a 24 ounce glass of Miller Lite, which was absolutely outstanding.
7 hours ago