1000 word recap of Paul Maholm's Cubs debut last night
Other comments on last night's game
You'd think that conditions like last night's (freezing, wind howling in) would be conducive to pitching, But when you can't locate multiple pitches, you're going to get hammered. Maholm walked two and hit two batters in the first inning, as well as a double, a homer, a sac fly, and a stolen base by none other than Aramis Ramirez. He settled down and got mostly grounders for the next three innings, though still managed to give up a homer to Lucroy in the third.
For the pre-emptive complaining I've seen about the Cubs offense, which has scored 3.6 runs per game in only 5 games, keep in mind that it's April and the temperature has been cold. I'd hazard a guess that they're outperforming expectations! This is a year!
News in lying eyes and small sample size
Soriano has had a hit in every game so far this year, and has looked far better defensively than he has in the past. He's still not pre-Red Sox Carl Crawford out there, but I recently enjoyed watching him make a great diving catch the other day, and he made a running catch right up on the wall that he had shied away from in the past.
Ian Stewart says bring it on to LHP
Via Muskat, Stewart relishes the chance to prove he's an everyday guy, and was glad to get the start against Narveson. I figured Mather would vulture a lot of his starts against lefties at 3b, but I looked at the numbers today after Bubbles made a comment about it and he actually has a very small platoon split in his career numbers. Even when you add regression, his projected numbers vs lefties are still a tick better than Mather's. Later in that same piece Sveum recognizes that no such skill exists with LaHair, and we'll see a lot of Jeff Baker at 1B vs LHP.
Terry Francona to his former team: STFU, GTFO
This piece over at Aerys Sports breaks it down. The Red Sox apparently had NO IDEA that Francona would be annoyed with them after the team and Boston media took an enormous dump on him all offseason. LSA +1 Rec'd Chicken and Beer to Francona for saying thanks but no thanks.
Various articles using pfx to say that Jeff Samardzija is the real deal
This article at the Hardball Times from OV Excecutive Chairman Harry Pavilidis takes a look at Samardzija's start through the pfx levers he's been working with at Brooks Baseball. The most impressive thing I took away from this was that Samardzija was throwing just about as hard in his start as he was in relief last year. And that he was throwing 97 mph sinkers. Jeebus.
Brad from Cubs Stats and Fangraphs wrote a piece on fangraphs using their own pfx tools framework to break down his awesome start. I've never been a fan of using his 2011 numbers for evidence of a transformation – for every mention of SIERA and FIP, you can just as easily look at his HR/FB%, BABIP, and walk rate to cool your jets a bit, not to mention how those things would translate from relief to starting. The pfx data gives me a much better handle on what the scouts have been raving about, which we didn't have much of a framework to quantify in the offseason.
RJ Anderson also has a piece up at BPro looking at the start, though it's subscription only.
Justified had its season finale last night, and here's the thread for discussing it. One of these days I'll get around to actually watching the show.
Minor league update
In case you missed it this morning. Spoiler alert: the middle levels of the Cubs minor league system are not very good.