Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (35-45) at Oakland Athletics (48-35)


When I checked the schedule before my work trip to San Francisco two weeks ago, I was bummed that the A's weren't also in town to allow me to knock another stadium off my list. When I got there, I was glad that they weren't in town, as raw sewage backed up through the drains and flooded both clubhouses and the umpires' room following a day game on 16 Jun. Too bad this didn't happen before Moneyball was filmed. Or maybe it was a good thing. Now it is the Cubs turn to visit that stadium. Hopefully the players will get hazard pay.

Team Overviews

MLB ranks in parens

  Cubs A's
wRC+ 89 (23rd) 103 (8th)
BSR -0.1 (14th) 2.7 (11th)
UZR 10.1 (8th) 5.5 (14th)
DRS 2 (16th) -22 (26th)
SP FIP- 94 (6th) 105 (17th)
RP FIP- 113 (27th) 90 (10th)

I kind of scratch my head at how the A's have succeeded for the last season and a half. They won 94 games last year in a division with a clear favorite (Los Angeles Angels of Disneyland), but had no particular aspect of their game that blew you away. Their offense, starting pitching, bullpen, and defense were above average but only just so. Maybe it was just that they didn't seem to have any real weaknesses. Also, the variance fairy, or whatever we're calling it these days. True to form, their shit didn't work in the playoffs and they lost to the Tigers, 3-2. They're on pace for the same record this year, and their numbers if anything look worse. Maybe they sent a bucket of fried chicken to the Diamondbacks' voodoo idol or something.

The Cubs have won three series in a row…so they got that going for them. Enjoy it while it lasts. Or don't.

Injury updates and roster moves

The Cubs put Ryan Sweeney on the 60 day DL following his breaking a rib last weekend in a collision with the wall. He's pretty much done for the year. Young Player Brian Bogusevic is taking over the majority of the CF duties until DeJesus gets back. Speaking of DeJesus, he's not expected to be back for another 2-3 weeks. 

After trading Feldman and Clevenger, the Cubs called up Chris Rusin to take Feldman's turn in the rotation tonight, though it sounds like it will be Villanueva's spot the next time it comes around. Dave Sappelt was also called up to replace Sweeney. Pedro Strop and Matt Guerrier are expected to join the bullpen tomorrow. There should be a flurry of other intra-organization moves over the next few days as the rosters shake out. Maybe we'll start seeing some promotions in the minors soon too. 

It looks like the A's didn't make any IFA moves today. Injury-wise, Coco Crisp is day to day with a back injury, while C John Jaso has been battling a hand injury that has made it unable for him to catch (he can still hit, however). Possible Thursday starter Jarrod Parker left his last start with a hamstring injury, and it's unclear if he'll be able to go this week. SP Brett Anderson has been out all year with a stress fracture in his ankle. It has healed much more poorly than expected, and he's still wearing a walking boot. It's not clear whether he'll need surgery, but either way it looks like he's not going to be pitching this year. 


GW gave great coverage of today's IFA signings, which was the main news today along with the trade of Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to Baltimore for RP Pedro Strop and SP (probably future RP) Jake Arrieta. Brett and Sahadev had Keith Law on their podcast not long after the news broke, and they talked a lot of Breaking Bad. Also baseball, I guess. The Cubs also sent money (and international signing bonus money) to the Dodgers to get the Marmol deal done, getting another DFA'd washed up reliever in return in Guerrier. The Cubs got a little salary relief, but I don't know why they didn't just release Marmol.

Brett also recently did a mini-interview with BPro's prospect guy, Jason Parks, who likes the the Cubs system more than most evaluators.

When asked by Carrie Muskat on Sunday whether the Cubs would make a trade before the ASB, Theo said it was '50-50'. It could have gone either way (dying laughing).

Two triples for Junior Lake tonight.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: Chris Rusin, LHP (4.87) vs A.J. Griffin, RHP (3.56, 105, 4.28, 4.23), 9:05 PM CT

Rusin got seven starts with last year's team and was hit hard, never going more than five innings in any start. He's relatively inconsistent, which is kind of a good thing when you're a fringe-y pitcher like Rusin. If memory serves me correctly, he's had a run of solid starts with Iowa over the past few weeks.

Griffin got 15 starts with the A's last year, and posted a 3.06 ERA. His peripherals were more 4 FIP-ish, and his numbers this year have moved more in that direction. Griffin throws a lot of strikes and gets lots of fly balls. Luckily he makes half of his starts in his cavern-sewer of a home park.

Wednesday: Matt Garza, RHP (Probably) (3.83, 99, 3.74, 3.74) vs Zombie Bartolo Colon, RHP (2.79, 83, 3.95, 3.71), 9:05 PM CT

After a rocky stretch coming off his injury, Matt Garza has been busiily pitching himself onto a contender. He struck out 23 batters to 5 walks over 22 innings in his last three starts, allowing just two runs. Pretty much every start could be his last one for the Cubs, as it sounds like an extension is unfortunately not going to happen.

Colon was a solid pitcher for nearly a decade, posting 4-5 WAR in just about every season from his debut in 1997 to 2005. Then his career fell off a cliff with shoulder problems and he was out of baseball completely in 2010. Following an experimental shoulder surgery which may or may not have involved HgH, he joined the Yankees and had an improbably solid year (and also resulted in this hilarious mid-pitch pic that's on his wikipedia page). He's kept it up with the A's, and is having an even better year this season. He's never been a big strikeout guy since 2002 or so, and now he's pretty much turned himself into a contact pitcher inducing a fair number of ground balls.

Thursday: Travis Wood, LHP (2.85, 91, 4.40, 4.19) vs Jarrod Parker, RHP (4.11, 122, 4.61, 3.89), 3:05 PM CT

Parker had an amazing rookie year, posting a 3.47 ERA and 3.43 FIP in 29 starts. This year has not been so great. He had a lot of luck with HRs last year, which has regressed this year. Despite his poor peripherals, he's been helped by a .259 BABIP this year. He left his last start with a hamstring problem, and the A's are supposed to re-evaluate him today after he throws a bullpen.

The Travis Wood bandwagon keeps rolling along. He's still sitting at a .218 BABIP, and getting a lot of fly balls without letting many leave the yard. Aside from that the biggest difference is that his control has been much better this year. He'll regress, but he's already provided nearly 2 fWAR and 2.5 bWAR (not to mention ~0.5 WAR with his bat), which is already twice as much as I expected the Cubs to get out of him all season. 


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