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by alex ciepley
Some notes about the Cubs games this weekend:
Sergio Mitre has an interesting look, something I'd call "Alex Gonzalez gone bad". He'd be handsome enough if his hair didn't look disgusto-greasy-mussed and he wasn't sporting a pencil-thin mustache reminiscent of Robbie Alomar 1988. He's one of those guys who looks like he hasn't showered in a couple days, but put on clean clothes anyway.
Mitre's been touted as kind of a non-prospect with low upside, due in part to lacking the blazing stuff some of the Cubs' more renowned kids have. His strikeout rate is just OK, and he gives up a decent amount of hits, though that's not uncommon for groundball pitchers. However, in his 2004 debut, he was fierce, keeping the ball on the ground and pitching economically into the eight inning.
I know, I know, it's only one start -- and his spring wasn't so great -- but his performance Saturday made me curious enough to review his numbers from the past three years. I found a couple things of interest: Mitre's strikeout-rate was only 6.54 K/9 over the past three years, but his overall command has been excellent (3.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio from 2001-2003). The thing that excited me most, though, was the following:
HOMERUNS ALLOWED YEAR TEAM INN HR 2001 Boise 91.0 2 2002 Lansing 168.7 7 2003 West Tenn 145.7 6
These are good totals. Strikeout rates and command ratios are good indicators of future success, but as Dayn Perry unearthed in a Baseball Prospectus series last year, low home-run rates might be the best indicator of all. I'm not saying Mitre is a future ace (he isn't), but he has put up some fine numbers in his recent past, and I might've been selling him a bit short.
At the end of the 5th inning in Saturday night's game, Alex Gonzalez went deep into the hole and made a beautiful play on a Marcus Giles grounder. I say it was "beautiful" because it was smooth, easy, and entirely non-flashy -- the effortless type of play that makes Gonzo both excellent and underrated. Derek Jeter would have missed the ball by 3 feet, but YES announcers would have exclaimed excitedly about Jeter's "attempt".
Derrek Lee is quickly becoming one of my favorite players to watch, both at the plate and in the field. No player on the team right now -- Sosa included -- gives me as much confidence that good things can happen when they're playing.
Kerry Wood struck out seven batters in a row for the second time in his career on Sunday. The first game he did it in was pretty memorable, you could say.
Former Cub Will Cunnane had a rough go of it on Sunday. If not for Andruw Jones' exploits on an Aramis Ramirez deep fly, Cunnane would have given up four homeruns in two innings of work. Michael Barrett (just short) and Todd Hollandsworth (just foul) also almost went yard against Will. It would have been Barrett's second against Cunnane in as many innings.