Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images)
The Cubs went 1-5 this week -- snapping their consecutive-winning-week streak. The Cubs started the week off well, crushing the Pirates on Monday, but didn't win a single game after that against the Pirates or the Dodgers. It isn't a coincidence that the streak ended the week of the trade deadline. A lot of action took place on Monday night and Tuesday afternoon as the Cubs traded Geovany Soto, Reed Johnson, Paul Maholm, and Ryan Dempster. The two biggest names in that deal coming back to the Cubs had to be pitcher Arodys Vizcaino and third basemen Christian Villanueva. While I was hoping Garza would also be traded, his recent injury likely complicated things. Theo and Jed will likely see what they can get for him over the winter -- it would help if he came back strong for the rest of the season.
Runs Scored: 26 | Runs Scored per Game: 4.33 | Runs Allowed: 33 | Runs Allowed per Game: 5.5
Don't let the 4.33 runs per game figure fool you - the Cubs offense looked overmatched for most of the week, scoring six runs over the course of four games. On the other side of the ball, the pitching also had a rough go, yielding over five runs a game. It's tough to expect more from a team that has pitchers like Casey Coleman starting. Again, that's what happens when two of your better starters are traded.
Cubs starters pitched 32⅓ of the 54 innings played this week, or 60% of the innings pitched. That's down from 72% from last week. Once I have some time, I'd like to look at the major league average to see how the Cubs compare - look out for that in the next couple of weeks.
The Three Most Important Plays
8/5 Bot 7, man at 1st and 3rd base with 2 outs, 5-4 Cubs: Andre Ethier doubles off James Russell to give the Dodgers the lead, resulting in a -459 WPA. The Cubs had a 66.3% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 20.3% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
8/5 Top 7, man at 1st and 2nd base with 2 outs, 4-3 Dodgers: Alfonso Soriano doubles off Javy Guerra to give the Cubs the lead, resulting in a .427 WPA. The Cubs had a 27.7% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 70.4% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
8/5 Top 9, bases empty with no outs, 6-5 Dodgers: Anthony Rizzo homers off Kenley Jansen to tie the game, resulting in a .355 WPA. The Cubs had a 14.5% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 50.0% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
Most Valuable Cub Hitter*
Darwin Barney: Barney showed some power this week - belting a home run and then launching a triple that split the gap in right center field. Isolated power, or ISO, measures how good a player is at hitting for extra bases by only counting the doubles, triples and home runs a player hits. An easy way to calculate ISO is to take a player's slugging percentage and subtract his batting average from it (SLG - BA). This gives us a rate of extra base hits per at bat. As we can see below, Barney's ISO has jumped in each of his three seasons in the majors.
We can also see that the dip in ISO that Barney had in the middle of 2011 looks like it reappeared in the middle of 2012. IN 2011, that dip was followed by a steady rise in his ISO - let's hope he continues to follow last year's pattern. While Barney still has the second worst ISO among NL second basemen, his league leading fielding has kept his value close to 2 WAR -- he currently stands at 1.9 WAR. FanGraphs identifies players between 2-3 WAR as "solid starters." Could Barney be part of a Cubs championship team? If he continues to develop some power and patience -- currently at a career high 5% walk rate -- he could definitely move up to the 3-4 WAR level, which in my opinion is a championship-caliber second basemen.
Most Valuable Cub Pitcher*
Justin Germano: Germano made his major league debut with the Padres in 2004. Since then, he has only pitched 266 innings over the course of seven seasons and he now finds himself on his fifth team. Given his past, I would guess that many of us expected very little from him, but Germano has thus far done a great job of filling in for the injured Matt Garza. He pitched 10.1 innings over the course of two starts this week -- one each against the Pirates and the Dodgers -- and only gave up nine base runners and four runs, while striking out six. Germano might be a nice fifth starter candidate next year, or at the very least a long man in the bullpen. When Garza does come back to the rotation, I would expect Germano will stay there with Coleman being the odd man out. It'll be interesting to see how a rotation of Garza, Samardzija, Wood, Volstad, and Germano will hold up for the rest of the season.
Least Valuable Cub Hitter*
David DeJesus: While DeJesus had a rough week, he is coming off his second best month of the season in which he posted a .715 OPS -- a far cry from the .895 OPS he posted in May, but enough to be a serviceable lead-off hitter. That said, I would like to see LaHair get a little more playing time in right field before we call it quits on him. BCB reader Sandberg's evil twin mentioned this in regards to me calling LaHair a Quad-A player last week:
"How much do we really know about him after relegating him to platoon status at best. The big start was unsustainable, but it seems a little unfair to brand him as anything other than not able to handle a utility role at the moment. I hope before the end of the season they play him every day for awhile and give him another full look. We’re rebuilding so there’s no reason not to in my mind."
He's right -- I think it is a little early, and unfair, to call it quits on LaHair. It would have been nice to see Theo and Jed find a trade partner for DeJesus, but with him still on the team Sveum might find it hard to sit DeJesus in favor of LaHair. Now that Jackson has been called up, LaHair might find at bats even harder to come by. While it may not be fair, I think LaHair will be relegated to being a spot starter for the rest of the season, barring any injuries or waiver deals.
Least Valuable Cub Pitcher*
Shawn Camp: Camp has been a boon for the Cubs this season. Along with James Russell, Camp has been a rock in the Cubs bullpen. He has now made 54 appearances and is on pace to make 83 by the end of the season. This past week may have been a result of overuse, or of the wear and tear of his previous 50 or so appearances. Camp had his worst outing of the season on Wednesday when he gave up five earned runs on seven hits without recording a single out. His ineffectiveness continued against the Dodgers as he was saddled with the loss on Sunday when he gave up the game winning run in the ninth. It may be time for Sveum to give Camp an extended rest before he considers putting him back in a game. That, or I may just be overreacting to one bad stretch.
Please do keep the managerial decision comments coming - I think they're a great way to keep up to date on how people feel about Sveum's tenure thus far.
The Cubs begin a three-game series against the Padres at San Diego starting tonight, and then come home to play a four-game series against the Reds. Go Cubs!
* The WPA for most and least valuable Cubs is the cumulative WPA over the course of the week. ISO graph courtesy of FanGraphs.com.