Wait 'Til Next Year

Assuming any of the TD staff make it through the next 24 hours, we will bring you a full wrap-up...ah hell, what do you need to know?

Santo to Leno: No

Lost in the shuffle of the game last night was the Ron Santo's Jay Leno sidestory. According to Ron, Jay's people contacted Ron's people about Ron making an appearance on The Tonight Show, tonight. Ron declined. His purported reason was that the Cubs plane was scheduled to land between 2-3 hours before taping, so Ron would have to go directly from the plane to the taping. Pat said that he thinks Ron is just a Letterman fan.

Boo You


In the third inning of last night's game, I heard something that I feel needs comment. The man leading off for the Cubs that inning was booed before he even approached the plate. At that moment, Fukudome was hadn't batted in game 2 and had recorded a putout in right field. True, he went 0 for 4 the night before, but outside of DeRo and The Riot, who exactly hit well in Game 1?

So what, exactly, had Fukudome done to that point that deserved him being booed? Had he misplayed a ball in the infield? Had he left Soriano on second base with no outs in the first inning? Had he done anything to impact the 5-0 score? I just don't get it. We aren't Philadelphia. We don't boo a guy every time he does something bad (or in Fukudome's case, before he does anything).

Now, the hordes of people who read TD on a daily basis will immediately jump up and say I have a man-crush on Fuku, given my blog about him on Wednesday. Maybe I am more of a fan of his than most people, but I was screaming at him after he struck out. And struck out again. And again. His last strikeout (which occurred long after most of you probably went to bed or turned the game off) was looking at two consecutive pitches down the middle of the plate. But I was screaming at Daryle Ward, who did the same thing as the very next batter. I think I probably screamed at every Cub who saw action last night, and I probably cursed those who weren't in the game.

My point is, why is Fukudome getting the Cubs fans wrath? Yes, he hasn't done anything in the series. But name me a Cub whose had a good series? The .500 hitting DeRo, whose error opened the floodgates last night? The .429 hitting D-Lee, who also had an error in that inning and surprisingly, hit into a double play?

I guess I just don't see how in the 3rd inning of Game 2 Fukudome deserved the boos of the fans.

Williamsport Looking Like a Longshot

"No Pizza Hut, again." That's what I was thinking after I watched the Cubs from Chicago, Illinois take another loss last night, dimming their hopes of playing in the Little League World Series. But the thing I was most surprised about was to see a regional LLWS game was being televised, although it was TBS.

Wait, that was the Chicago Cubs, as in the Chicago National League Ballclub, I was watching last night? Because I could've swore they were Little Leaguers the way they were kicking the ball around. I mean, I remember Little League. You booted a ball because you were thinking about how ugly that girl down the street was (even though you liked her), what a great trade you made with that dorky kid to get his Ryne Sandberg baseball card while giving up your Dickie Noles card and the stick of rock hard gum, or how you were tired of getting yelled at because you sucked at baseball. The worst part was, after you booted the first ball, your concentration was even more divided, because you were looking at your coach screaming his head off at you and lo and behold, the next friggin ball went right through your legs.
That's what it looked like last night. It looked like a lack of concentration. Why would the infield's concentration be divided? Because they were all concerned about Zambrano. We were all concerned about Zambrano. The media was concerned about Zambrano. Larry Rothschild hasn't run out to the mound that fast all season, so he was concerned about Zambrano.
Personally, I think the build up to "What Z will we see?" creeped into the minds of the infield last night. After The Riot failed to grab that ball, every camera and every eye turned to see Zambrano's reaction. That included the Cubs infield. The rest is history.

Wrigley Field...it is time


For those of you that follow Arthur you know that I am not one to provide detail stats of errors, hits etc. I like to write from the hip. With emotion that is often in the comedic space or atleast an attempt at comedy. Well there is no comedy here. Just my early morning thoughts after a night of ball busting. I feel like a 15yr old who just had his first jean on jean grind---my nuts heart and I still think I can get in her pants.

Well as all of you readers know...Lionel, Jumbo and myself are diehard Cubs fans. Even with the loss last night and the impossible task at hand I will still watch the game on Saturday with my hat on. Why? that's what the real Cubs fans do.

You dont cry when you lose...you get pissed. You dont get upset when you lose...you get frustrated with poor defense. You dont get mad at your neighbor who is a Sox fan when you lose...you still talk sh*t back.

To my dad who is a 70yr old Cubs fan and to my nephew who is a 7yr old Cubs fan. Keep on keeping on. It is times like these that real fans are seperated from the "poser" and "band wagon" fans...we keep going. To all of you bandwagon fans...thanks for stealing my seat at the game.

We honestly believe that there is a minute chance that we can come back and play game 5. Why? I dont know why...we just do.

I do have one recommendation that I dont think will have high acceptance with Lionel or Jumbo...I am ready. I am ready for the new owner...I have my secret hopes of who it will be because I am now ready for a new stadium. I am ready for some sort of fresh start some sort of acceptance that 100 years are over and that it is time for the next 100 years.

Obviously this post will be obsolete if we come back for game 5. But as of this morning at 8:12am...I am ready for something new...a spark that Lou, Lee, Z, DeRo, Glass-Ego cant bring. I attend 15+ games a year. I am ready to attend them in luxury and comfort.

Cubs Lose Again-It's Over

Top 2. After the Cubs fail to score Alfonso Soriano after his leadoff single, (his only hit of the series) Carlos Zambrano gives up back to back singles to start the inning. Eithier on 3rd. Loney on 2nd. Z strikes out Zambrano. 1 down. All we need is a double play ball. Z gets Blake DeWitt to hit a soft, tailor made double play ball to Cubs 2B Mark DeRosa. DeRosa shits the bed (see above). Steam starts coming out of Zambrano's ears. Next batter, Casey Blake. Sharp liner to DLee. E 3. Rafael Furcal single. Russell Martin bases clearing double. 100 years of history crushing the shoulders of every fan, player, and coach wearing blue. I get sick to my stomach.

Series over.

Divisional Series 2008 Team Scoring
Los Angeles Dodgers-17
Chicago Cubs-5

Divisional Series 2008 Team Errors
Los Angeles Dodgers-1
Chicago Cubs-5

Divisional Series 2008 Chicago Cubs Hitting
NameTEAMPosGABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSBAVG
Alfonso Soriano CHCLF29010000030.111
Ryan Theriot CHCSS28020000020.250
Mark DeRosa CHC2B28242014000.500
Aramis Ramirez CHC3B28121000010.250
Kosuke Fukudome CHCRF28000000040.000
Jim Edmonds CHCCF27121001010.286
Derrek Lee CHC1B27131000110.429
Geovany Soto CHCC27010000120.143
Daryle Ward CHC1B22000000010.000
Ryan Dempster CHCP12010000010.500
Mike Fontenot CHC2B22010000000.500
Carlos Zambrano CHCP11000000100.000

Divisional Series 2008 Chicago Cubs Pitching
NameTEAMWLERAGGSCGSHOSVIPHRERBBSO
Carlos Zambrano CHC014.26110006.167327
Ryan Dempster CHC017.71110004.244472
Sean Marshall CHC003.86100002.111114
Carlos Marmol CHC0018.00100001.032202
Jason Marquis CHC009.00100001.011101
Jeff Samardzija CHC009.00100001.021100
Kerry Wood CHC000.00100001.021000
Neal Cotts CHC000.00100000.210010


There is no next year. There never will be.

Dodgers Lineup for Game 2

1. Furcal, SS
2. Martin, C
3. Ramirez, LF
4. Ethier, RF
5. Loney, 1B
6. Kemp, CF
7. DeWitt, 2B
8. Blake, 3B

Absolutely no changes. Not surprising for a team that scored 7 runs last night. But, will they be as succesful against a pitcher who isn't walking 7 guys?

Cubs Lineup for Game 2


Well, it's time to get back in the saddle and get a W. Here's the lineup for your Chicago National League Ballclub:
1. Soriano, LF
2. Theriot, SS
3. Lee, 1B
4. Ramirez, 3B
5. DeRosa, 2B
6. Edmonds, CF
7. Soto, C
8. Fukudome, RF
So, a few changes. Most notably, The Riot slides into the 2 slot while Fuku moves down to 8. I am guessing Lou is trying to get some guys on base in front of Lee and Ramirez. Hopefully The Riot will be able to spark this offense. DeRo moves up to the 5 spot, switching with Soto. Presumably, Lou is hoping DeRo can get Lee and/or Ramirez home instead of standing on the bases.

Cubs Play Poorly, Lose Game 1; It's Now All on Zambrano

It's not so much that the Cubs lost last night that worries me. It's the way that they lost that's going to lead to a very nerve-racking day for me.

Obviously, Ryan Dempster's performance was not up to par last night. 4.2 IP, SEVEN BBs!, 4 ER, 7.71 ERA. But it's the offense that worries me even more. Apart from a cheap, wind-blown HR by Mark DeRosa (can we just crown him team MVP right now?) the Cubs didn't get anything else going all night long. DeRosa made it to 2nd base in the 4th. Ramirez had an utterly wasted leadoff double in the 6th and made it to 3rd on a fielder's choice. And then Theriot made it to 3rd in the 9th, mostly because the Dodgers didn't care as they already had the game in the bag. All told, the cubs left 8 guys on base (3 by Soriano and his 0-5, 3 K performance alone)...but you're simply not going to win a lot of games when you're not getting more than 3 guys to 2nd base (not counting the HR). The Cubs simply MUST hit the ball a LOT better tonight and going forward if this thing is going to last longer than this week.

And so now, basically, the season comes down to Carlos Zambrano tonight at home. The same Carlos Zambrano who went 1-1 with a 7.08 ERA in the month of September. And yes, that number INCLUDES his no-hitter. I know he's Big Z and everything, the Baby Bull, but I'm not exactly confident that he's going to be able to channel his inner pitcher, chill the eff out, and throw strikes tonight. The good news: in his 2 division series outings, Z has actually pitched pretty well, going 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA over 11.2 IP with 12 Ks. It just doesn't seem like he's going to be able to control himself in a start as big as tonight's, but we'll all be rooting for him I guess.

The key to the series remain unchanged after last night: just don't let Manny beat ya. Manny hit a HR last night, but that really wasn't the knockout blow. Manny's key contribution last night came in the 5th inning. After a getting Derek Lowe to ground out and then a walk to Furcal, Dempster got Russell Martin to fly out for the 2nd out of the inning. Up comes Manny. Dempster gets him down 0-2 quickly...and then proceeds to screw around with 3 high balls and walks him. Frazzled by the AB, Dempster then walks Ethier. Then goes up 0-2 on Loney before giving up the grand slam. Manny's single AB, I'd posit, not only got himself on base, but then knocked Dempster off his game enough that he walked the next batter, and then changed the way he pitched to Loney at 0-2. The Cubs HAVE to keep Manny in check here. Zambrano needs to take care of business with the players hitting in front of him tonight and hope he survives Manny at this point. Here's to hoping he can.

I'm not saying it's time to panic here. But I know I am.

Cubs Lineup for Game #1

While Joe Torre had his lineup set early this morning, Lou's lineup remained a secret until mid-afternoon. And it's not the usual lineup:

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF-I recently heard a story that a relatively famous manager (who's name has failed me) said that he loved to have a power hitter lead off, because there was nothing more devastating than going down 1-0 when the second batter came to the plate. Well, Sori certinaly fits that bill. Soriano hit 5 HR's to start a game this year and has 49 in total. Those of us who miserably watched Game 1 of the NLDS last year inside Wrigley felt the air go out of the stadium when Chris Young went deep to start the ball game.
2. Kosuke Fukudome, RF-No, that's not a typo. Lou has re-inserted Fukudome in the #2 spot for tonight's game. Lou must not be looking at the stats I am looking at, because the #2 hole was Fukudome's worst spot this year. He had 89 plate appearances and hit .154. But I'm guessing that Lou wants a guy at the top of the order who will be patient, taking pitches and allowing things to slow down a little. It's an interesting move, let's hope it works.
Derrek Lee, 1B-Things are back to normal after Fukudome, as Lee is hitting third. Lee batted all of two times in the fourth hole all season and batted nowhere else. Hopefully, he will get off to a good start, as he hit .325 with a .377 OBP in the 1st inning this year. Lee lead the team with 4 hits in last year's NLDS.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B-Aramis comes into the playoffs on a hot streak, hitting .342 for the month, including .393 in the last two weeks. Aramis and Soriano are the two guys who can carry this club; let's hope that Ramirez gets off to a hot start. Last year, he got the big O'fer in 12 AB's against the D-Backs in the playoffs, with 5 K's.
Geovany Soto, C-The youngest starter in the Cubs lineup is the same age or older than roughly half the guys starting for the Dodgers. The thing to watch with Soto is whether he has any lingering effects of that hand injury. He only has 14 AB's in the last 14 days.
Jim Edmonds, CF-Unless there was a righty who destroyed left-handed pitching, you had to figure that the guy with the most playoff experience on the team was going to start in Game 1. Edmonds actually fell 1 HR short of adding to the nearly entire starting lineup of guys with 20 HR's. His .256 BA with the Cubs isn't anything outstanding, but he managed a Fukudome-esque .369 OBP.
Mark DeRosa, 2B-Despite the calf injury, DeRo says he's good to go. Not that that should surprise anyone, as DeRo is a gamer. DeRo is another one to watch to see if he has any rust, playing in only one game in the past week. DeRo managed 25 RBI's in 44 games batting in the 7 hole.
Ryan Theriot, SS-The Riot is hitting double leadoff, except the Cubs use the traditional double leadoff spot in the 8 hole. The Riot went on a tear the last week of the season to protect his .300 season, ending at .307. While only playing a handful (16) of games in the 8 hole, The Riot batted .345 with a .446 OBP. Hopefully, he can set the table for some Sori RBI chances tonight.

Dodgers Lineup for Game #1

To the casual baseball fan, or to even an avid baseball fan who lives east of the Rockies (the mountains or the team), the Dodgers lineup tonight is chock full of guys you may not have heard of or knew were on the team. In fact, 2 guys weren't on the team until July, 5 guys are in their third season or less, leaving Rafael Furcal (in his third full season) as the longest-tenured Dodger in the starting lineup.

1. Rafael Furcal, SS-Furcal was a question mark to even make the roster, so to see him take the first pitch of the NLDS series, it is a surprise. Furcal was one of the best hitters in baseball...that is, until he went down with an inury back in early May. He came back to play four games at the end of the season for the Dodgers, collecting 2 hits, but never playing a full game. He may be the starter, but I'm betting Furcal doesn't finish the game. I am obviously not as baseball savvy as Joe Torre, but I don't think I want a guy who has played nine innings of baseball in nearly 5 months to be my tablesetter. As a Cubs fans, however, I say kudos.

2. Russell Martin, C-The best young N.L. catcher not named Soto, Martin was an All Star last year. He had a solid, but not spectacular junior season in the Bigs, hitting .280 with 13 HR's (both down from last year). The one number that is up for him is his OBP, which was .385 for the season. Despite being a backstop, he managed to steal 18 bags, so he can steal a base for the Dodgers if needed. He is also solid behind the dish, winning a gold glove last year.

3. Manny Ramirez, LF-Anyone else tired of hearing about Manny, how he's going to carry the team, what a great leader he is, how hard is playing? Yeah, me too. Big time. Yes, Manny finished the season hitting .399 for the Dodgers and hit 17 HR's in 53 games, but he also managed 2 errors for a .979 fielding percentage. While he's a concern, remember that he is only a .269 lifetime hitter in the post-season, including .227 in the division round. His best numbers come in the Championship series, where not surprisingly, his numbers are padded by playing the all-too-familiar Red Sox.

4. Andre Ethier, RF-Ethier is in his second full season with the Dodgers and put up some solid numbers. He hit .305 this year with 20 HR's. The surprising fact is that he is in the cleanup spot, a place where he only saw 28 AB's this year. He provides Torre the left-handed stick in the middle of the lineup.

5. James Loney, 1B-Loney is in his first full season as a starter for the Dodgers. As with Martin, Loney put up solid, but not spectacular numbers this year: .289 BA, 13 HR's. He and his 1-sack counterpart may have the most GIDP's in the history of the game for a season...Loney had 25 (just falling short of D.Lee's 27). Loney's only hit .181 over the last month, so hopefully he can continue to clear up the basepaths if Manny or Ethier get on base.

6. Matt Kemp, CF-The 23 years, 8 days old Kemp isn't even the youngest starter in the Dodgers lineup tonight. He is in his first full season, and put up solid but not spectacular numbers (do I sound like a broken record yet?). A .290 batting average, 18 HR's, and 35 stolen bases. OK, so maybe he put up some better than solid numbers, especially for a CF. But, despite his good fortunes, he can be had via the strikeout, which he collected 153 of this year. Kemp is one to watch for the OF, as he has a hose. 16 assists this year between RF and CF. Quade probably isn't going to be sending many against him if they're close.

7. Blake DeWitt, 2B-DeWitt started the year as a fresh-faced 21 year old 3-sack. He ends his rookie year as a 22 and 2 month old 2-sack. He hit .264 with 9 HR's in 364 AB's. Despite being left-handed, DeWitt has actually fared much better against the lefties, hitting .286 with a .404 OBP. DeWitt also has fared much better at Dodger Stadium than on the road, so let's hope that continues. DeWitt is the eighth Dodger to man second base this year.

8. Casey Blake, 3B-Many have praised Blake's contribution to this team (usually as an afterthought after gushing about Manny for 45 minutes). What he brings to the table is the ability to hit the long ball (21 between Cleveland and LA) and a solid defensive 3-sack. He committed only 2 errors at third while with the Dodgers and hit 10 HR's. But don't expect much out of him with the bat another the power. Despite the 10 HR's, he only managed 23 RBI's. He ground into 9 double plays in just 211 AB's, which are D.Lee/J. Loney type numbers.

Stay tuned (or logged on) to TD for updates as soon as the Cubs lineup is announced

Final Cubs Playoff Roster; Game 1 Thought

PLAYOFF ROSTER SET
The roster is set. Per Bruce Miles, Felix "Playoff" Pie has beaten out the much more deserving Micah Hoffpauir for the final spot on the Cubs playoff bench. Clearly Pie's "speed" (in quotes as speed without basestealing ability ain't worth much) and ability to play CF trumped Hoffpauir's ability to hit major league pitching. Still no word on what Daryl Ward is using as blackmail against Lou Piniella to keep his worthless buns on the bench.

Hoffpauir, Koyie Hill, Michael Wuertz, and Kevin Hart will all head to Arizona to continue to work out in case they're needed in later rounds of the playoffs (God willing). (By the way...can they say hi to Rich Hill for us? Remember that guy? Where the hell is he right now?) Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman, and Casey McGehee were all sent home-meaning they can feel free to make plans because they're season's are done-zo.

With the final decision on Pie made, here's your 2008 NLDS Cubs playoff roster, (listed by primary position, not necessarily by where I think they'll be playing):

SPs: 1. Dempster, 2. Zambrano, 3. Harden, 4. Lilly
RPs: Wood, Marmol, Samardzija, Marquis, Marshall, Cotts, & Howry
C: Soto, Blanco
1B: Lee, Ward
2B: DeRosa, Fontenot
SS: TheRiot, Cedeno
3B: Ramirez
LF: Soriano
CF: Edmonds, Johnson, Pie
RF: Fukudome

Here's to hoping keeping Ward, Howry, and Marquis won't jump up and bite us. Or, better yet, to hoping we don't need them.

GAME 1
A thought....I don't want to call Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs a "must win." But...I don't want to stray too far from that either. Call me a worrying Cub fan, but I don't want to live in a world where Dempster, who has been absolutely money at home all year long, loses Game 1 and then we are forced to rely on total nutjob Carlos Zambrano to get a W in Game 2 to avoid heading to LA down 0-2 and needing to sweep two road games to force a Game 5. I love Big Z, but dude's crazy (see his performances since his no hitter). I don't think he'll react too well with that sort of pressure on his shoulders. Yes-if this scenario does play out we're looking good in Game 3 with Rich Harden going against Kuroda and Game 4 with Ted Lilly against Maddux or, more likely, Derek Lowe again on short rest to close it out. But I really, really don't want to be in that position. Don't think my ulcer can take it.

Go Cubs.

Don't Adjust Your Sets

For those who hate to hear about changes to Wrigley Field, you may want to stop reading. For those who love ads, get ready to cheer. Per Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, MLB has decided that it needs to pimp it's new Baseball Channel, so it is putting advertisements on the padded walls in left and right field. Ahhh, playoff baseball, there's nothing like it.
It's obviously important to advertise the Baseball Channel, because it's set to launch....January 1st. Yes, MLB believes that it is important for you, the baseball viewer, to know in October that it's launching an all baseball channel in the new year, so you can call your cable company RIGHT NOW and demand it. I would call, but I haven't seen the ad yet.
Maybe, instead of allowing the Cubs to decide who sings the seventh inning stretch (which is likely to be seen on TV anyways), MLB can do it. Maybe they can get Dane Cook to start it off by saying "There's only one Actober."
In all honesty, I think this is essentially a non-story, despite what the reponses to Paul Sullivan's article says. Yes, it probably means that the Cubs will exploit this opportunity and use it as ad space next year. But the Cubs already have the Walter E. Smithe on the dugout, the CBOE seats, the Bud Light Bleachers, and the Under Armour doors on the outfield. If the stadium were void of advertising, I would be outraged. But it's not. And it's not going to affect the game or the broadcast. It's not like we're going to have to hear Pat or Len say "And Soriano goes crashing into the "Always with Wings" pad down in the right field corner." If it means another opportunity for a new owner to make money without having to rip down Wrigley Field (or whatever it will be called in the future), I'm all for it.

The Impact of Fukudome

There has been a lot written and said about Fukudome in recent weeks. For a while, there was discussion that he wouldn't make the post-season roster. But I think we can all agree that he will, but the question remains whether he'll actually play. You may believe that since Lou soured on his hitting in the regular season, he will end up with playing DeRosa in right and adding Fontenot as the left-handed stick at second. While that may be true, I thought I would provide a compelling reason for Fukudome to be the regular, starting RF for the Cubs in the playoffs.

Fukudome's average went down every month; he ended April batting .327 and finished September batting .178 for the month. That's not convincing, you say? You got me on that one. But looking past his batting average, Fukudome did a lot to help this team. For one, he lead the team in walks, with 81. This despite having more than 50 AB's less than any of the top 4 in the category. His walk totals weren't affected by his poor hitting, as his walk per AB totals were relatively close throughout the year.

Let's look at Fukudome's speed. He was third on the team in steals, with 12 and had a 75% success rate. He also grounded into fewer double plays than anyone with more than 400 AB's. But, you say, he only had 500 AB's, so those numbers are skewed. True, but the percentage was also less than anyone else. He ground into a double play only 2.42% of the plate appearances he faced with runners on base. Besides Fukudome, only Mark DeRosa, who came in at 2.98%, had a percentage of less than four.

Why do I mention these stats (other than to prove my point, of course)? Because in the playoffs, there are fewer hits. The weather is cold, the pitching is better. You need to be able to manufacture runs. I may be telling you something you already know, but the ability to walk negates the fact that there aren't as many hits. It also wears down a pitcher, meaning that you have to dip into the bullpen quicker. The ability to steal is important not just because you can get another base, but because you divide the pitcher's attention. Often, it is the ability to steal which impacts the game more than the actual stolen base. The ability to keep runners on base is vital, because it keeps the momentum in your favor, produces more RBI opportunities, and if nothing else, turns the lineup over. All these factors lead to Fukudome being a huge asset. Maybe he doesn't get all the hits you want or hit the HR, but if you put him in the lineup, I think he will surprise people with his subtle impact.

Finally, I want to mention that Fukudome is a winner. He helped Japan win the WBC two years ago and has two Olympic medals for Japan. Maybe the winner intangible is overblown. But when you look at it, the Cubs are 20-14 when he doesn't start (a .588 winning percentage); 77-50 when he does (a .606 winning percentage).

The Matchup: Part II

Now that we've seen who hits well for the Cubs, let's look at who hits well against the Cubs.

Consistently Good against the Cubs:

Russell Martin-Martin hit .381 this year against the Cubs, and is a .333 hitter for his career against them. He hits well at Wrigley (.353) and has crushed Zambrano in his career (8 hits in 13 AB's).

Jeff Kent-I have always despised Jeff Kent...I don't know if it's the comparisons to Ryne Sandberg or what, but there's a new reason to hate him. He has hit .421 this year against the Cubs, including 2 HR's. In 31 AB's against Wood, he is hitting .419 with 5 HR's and 14 RBI's. He's hit Marquis well with a .364 average. He is also 3 for 4 against Howry.

Andre Eithier-Eithier hit .348 this year, helping his career numbers to .306 against the Cubs and .310 at Wrigley. He hits the Cubs starters hard; .462 against Zambrano, .455 against Dempster.

Good Against Certain Pitchers

Juan Pierre v. Ryan Dempster or Ted Lilly-Pierre is only a career .217 hitters against the Cubs, but has hit Dempster and Lilly well. He is 4 for 9 against Lilly, while hitting .417 against Dempster.

Manny Ramirez v. Chad Gaudin-If Gaudin makes the team, I don't expect to see a Manny v. Gaudin matchup. Manny has taken Gaudin deep twice and is hitting .455 against him.

James Loney v. Jason Marquis-Loney may be a relative newbie, but he has seen Jason Marquis 5 times and has 3 hits against him, one leaving the yard.

Analysis

Generally, the Dodgers numbers are better than the Cubs numbers, although with the Dodgers young team, sample size is an issue. It will be key for the Cubs to keep Eithier off the basepaths, which could be a struggle with the way he's hitting Cubs pitching. Kent has some good numbers, but he has feasted on guys who will be coming out of the 'pen for the Cubs.

The Matchup: Part I

In the first part of The Matchup, we will look at what Cubs hitters have torched Dodger pitching; either a particular pitcher or the staff as a whole. As few of the Cubs regulars have spent any time playing for a West Coast team, the plate appearances are fairly limited.

Consistently Good against the Dodgers:

Mark DeRosa-DeRo hit .333 against the Dodgers this year, dropping his career average against them to .343. In 24 games against the Dodgers, DeRo has a 1.009 OPS, thanks to 10 extra base hits. He hits well at Dodger Stadium, where he has a lifetime average of .353 and an OPS of 1.141.

Ryan Theriot-As I mentioned, numbers are fairly limited, but The Riot hit .333 this year against the Dodgers and has hit .319 for his career against them. He is particularly good against Greg Maddux, who may or may not be on the Dodgers post-season roster.

Alfonso Soriano-Soriano only hit .276 against the Dodgers this year, but he is a lifetime .341 hitter against L.A. He hits especially well against Maddux (.333) and Kuroda (.429).

Good Against Certain Pitchers

Derrek Lee v. Derek Lowe-Look for D.Lee to have a big night against D.Lowe in Game 1 of the NLDS. Lee is a career .393 hitter in 30 PA's vs. Lowe, but has hit mostly singles.

Aramis Ramirez v. Jonathan Broxton-If Joe Torre gets the chance, I imagine he'll bring in Saito to face ARam instead of Broxton. Ramirez has 4 hits in 4 official AB's against Broxton, and walked in his only other plate appearance.

Jim Edmonds v. Chan Ho Park-Park has been a solid reliever for the Dodgers this year, but it's doubtful we'll see a Park v. Edmonds matchup. Jimmers is hitting .319 off the righty with a .409 OBP.

Kosuke Fukudome v. Takaski Saito-One of the few guys Fukudome had seen prior to this year, Fukudome went 2 for 2 against Saito, including a hit that gave the Cubs a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers back in June.

Reed Johnson v. Derrek Lowe-It will be interesting to see how Lou plays the matchups, because the left-handed Edmonds has struggled against Lowe while ReJo has hit him hard. In just 11 plate appearances, ReJo has driven in 5 and has collected 4 hits (a .364 BA).

Analysis

While none of the Cubs have hit for a lot of power against the Dodgers, Dodger Stadium isn't an HR-friendly park. Power is great in the playoffs, but it's often the little things that win games. If guys like Soriano and The Riot can set the table, the Cubs should be able to score some runs.

Playoffs Set: Cubs Face Dodgers

Thanks to Bob Howry's playoff tune-up, CC Sabathia pitching for the 3rd time in 9 days, and the Mets continuing to show that September swagger, the Brewers are in as the Wild Card, meaning the Cubs will face the Dodgers. Stay tuned to TD for all your matchup coverage.

Samardzija In, Gaudin Out?; Playoff News

Lou Piniella has announced that Jeff Samardzija will in fact make the 2008 Cubs playoff roster. Having already announced an 11 man playoff pitching staff, this may be bad news for the Chad Gaudin. The final 2 bullpen spots are going to come from Samardzija, Gaudin, and Bob Howry. While the major media outlets (as in, even more major than TD) are all speculating that the announcement of Samardzija getting the nod spells bad news for Gaudin, don't forget that Bruce Miles said just last Tuesday that he'd be "surprised" to see Howry make the roster.

Gaudin has been solid since the trade from Oakland that also netted Rich Harden in exchange for a Patterson, Sean Gallagher, and a warm case of Old Milwaukee, but a recent injury and resulting lack of confidence in his breaking stuff may have Gaudin watching the playoffs from the sidelines. If Gaudin can somehow convince the Cubs managerial staff that he can hack it, maybe he gets the nod over Howry. But it's not looking good.

It's also looking like, against my learned and always uber-impeccable advice, that Jason Marquis is going to make the playoff squad in a relief role. To tune up for the role, Marquis pitched in relief in last night's dub against the Brewers. How'd it go? 0.1 IP, 1 BB, 2 H, 2 Ernies. Dude sucks guys. Dude sucks. But hey, poor Jason's "passion" is starting...""Starting's my passion, starting is what I feel my best at," Marquis said Saturday. "But we have four pretty good starters, too. We all have confidence in each other. They made a decision to go with the other four [starters], and that's fine." (Link to his dumb quote)

Here's how the hurlers will line up:
SPs: 1. Dempster, 2. Zambrano, 3. Harden, 4. Lilly
RPs: Wood, Marmol, Samardzija, Marquis, Marshall, Cotts, & Howry/Gaudin?

Lou is set to announce the position players for the playoff roster probably today.

*****

In playoff news-it's all coming down to today's last day of the regular season. With the 3 NL division winners set (Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies) it's up to the New York Metropolitans and the Milwaukee Choke...Brewers to determine the wild card. New York is home to the Marlins, who Johan Santana beat yesterday 2-0 on short rest. Oliver Perez goes for the Mets, Scott Olsen for the Marlins. The Cubs, of course, are on the road to Milwaukee. Some dude named CC Sabathia going for the Brew Crew, Angel Guzman (!) for the Cubs. (Sidebar: This matchup seems so wildly uneven doesn't it? The arguable NL Cy Young/MVP vs. a dude who's pitched 94 innings of 6.13 ERA ball across 3 seasons. A team fighting for their playoff lives against a team that clinched over a week ago. But just watch...the Cubs will win this game today. The Brewers, somehow, will blow this...again. And it will be funny. Not to mention helpful-we want the Mets, not the Dodgers.)

If both the Mets and Brewers win today, they will remain tied and will be forced into a one game playoff on Monday in New York. If both lose, same thing.

If the Mets win and the Brewers lose-the Cubs, with the best record in the NL, will face the wild card Mets in the NLDS.

If the Brewers win and the Mets lose-the Cubs will instead face the Dodgers as a division winner can not face a wild card team that comes from its own division in the first round of the playoffs.

We've got to be rooting for the former situation here. I think we want to face the Mets over the Dodgers. The Cubs, at least Alfonso Soriano, agree. The Mets have been battling to make the playoffs while the Dodgers, like the Cubs, have had it sewn up for a while. The Dodgers have been resting players and aligning their pitching staff. The Mets have been forced to throw Johan Santana on short rest, play their balls off, and struggle to even get in. Additionally...the Cubs didn't fare too well having to travel way out west last year to play the Dbacks.

Actually...the best possible situation for the Cubs would be if the Mets/Brewers had to play this playoff game on Monday and have the Mets win that. More innings equals more tired, mentally and physically, players, and less rest for the pitchers. Were that to occur, the Mets would then have to go on the road and somehow be ready to begin the playoffs in Chicago on Wednesday. I'll take it.

Should be interesting to see how this plays out. Either way, though...the Cubs playoff run begins Wednesday. Check in often to TD as we run up to and through the playoffs with the great in-depth and statistically heavy analysis you've come to expect from us. We gon' bring it, and we gon' bring its good.