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Matchup/Preview/Game Thread Game # 58 vs. Cubs

Carlos Zambrano Taylor Buchholz
3 - 3, 3.42 3 - 4, 5.55

Whoa, the Cubs, and Carlos Z, and it puts me in mind of something I read over at Fire Joe Morgan the other day.

Keep in mind as you read that I actively dislike the Cubs. I dislike Michael Barrett, who had an atercation with Roy Oswalt, long before he introduced his fist to Pierzynski's face, and I disliked Aramis Ramirez, back when the reason was crappy defense, rather than underperforming his huge new contract.

And I'm not really in the habit of defending Dusty Baker either, but I thought that FJM's take on the whole Dusty Baker Ruins Pitchers thing was kind of funny.

I mean FJM, at their core, are elitist bastards who spend their time deflating all the populist theories (Alex Rodriguez is a choker, David Eckstein is a valuable player, etc). So you figured that they'd take Baker's side in all this, because man, the Chicago masses just *love* to hammer Dusty.

Instead, FJM throws us a changeup, saying that

Except for allowing his like 11 month-old son to run around a live baseball game and almost get stampeded by JT Snow, and making weirdly racial comments about African-Americans being more suited to play in the sun, Dusty Baker is most famous for overworking his pitchers.
in such a way that you are led to assume that FJM, too, blames Dusty Baker for the Decline and Fall of Prior and Wood.

It's certainly impossible to argue that Baker didn't lean on Prior and Wood during the 2003 season, and then again during the 2005 season.

But just to be contrary, what if we assumed that relying on his best players is what Baker SHOULD have done as a conscientious manager?

Baseball Prospectus keeps a little statistic they with a sort of macabre humor call "Pitcher Abuse Points," and as you may imagine, Prior and Wood scored high on this metric during the years in question.

And Carlos Zambrano scores high on it this year.

Zambrano is only 18th in the league in innings pitched, but he's fourth in these "Pitcher Abuse Points" with five "CAT 2" starts at 101 - 109 pitches, five "CAT 3" starts at 110 - 119, and two "CAT 4" at 120 - 129.

And Zambrano was second in all the majors in these Pitcher Abuse Points last year and was third in 2004.

It gets to the point where you wonder how Z's arm hasn't fallen off from all this abuse.

Or look at Livan Hernandez, who we all know is the original "El Caballo," forget Carlos Lee. Livan finished third in 2003, and was tops in both 2004 and 2005.

Yet, somehow, Felipe Alou has acquired no reputation as a ruiner of pitchers, and Livan and Carlos Z just continue to go out every fifth day and function as the pillars of their respective staffs, as freaking workhorses.

So again, not to defend Dusty Baker, who--as FJM fairly reminds us--has some very questionable views on race, but instead of wondering what it is that Dusty Baker does, I think people should be wondering, rather, why Mark Prior is constructed of glass.

And they should also be sure to dole out the extra props earned and deserved by Livan and Carlos Z--and by Jason Schmidt, and by Roy Oswalt, for that matter--who not only are better, but are better, longer

The official site reminds us that Taylor is 2 - 1 with a 3.10 at home, and I figured I'd jump on those juicy home splits while the getting was still good:

Home and Away OPS
Road OPS Cub Pos Astro Home OPS
x .880 "Unbalanced" Barrett C1 Brad Ausmus .801
.087 Henry Blanco C2 Eric Munson .412 x
.952 Phil Nevin 1B Lance Berkman 1.068 x
.730 Todd Walker 2B Craig Biggio .931 x
x .747 Ronny Cedeño SS Adam Everett .571
.879 Aramis Ramirez 3B Morgan Ensberg 1.170 x
.922 Jacque Jones OF1 Chris Burke 1.498 x
x .649 Juan Pierre OF2 Willy Taveras .615
x .599 Matt Murton OF3 Preston Wilson .590
.425 Freddy Bynum OF4 Jason Lane .696 x
.365 Neifi Perez Util/PH Mike Lamb .808 x