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The Cubs didn't win!

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Okay, that's pretty cheap.  The rain stopped a 4-4 tie at Mesa today.  Cappy gave up four in five innings and Justin Lehr was sharp in the sixth.  Billy Hall continued his spring tear: 2-for-3 with a double.  Brent Abernathy had what turned out to be a clutch RBI single to tie the game, and J.J. Hardy singled in 3 ABs in his first game back from injury.

Tomorrow the Brewers are back at Maryvale and Tomo Ohka will stare down the mighty Texas Rangers and the especially mighty Mark Teixiera.  2:05 CT, as per usual, and Daron will be webcasting through mlb.tv.

There are several other things I wanted to bring to your attention today, as well:

2006 Simulations

SG at the Replacement-Level Yankee Weblog has posted truly exhaustive projections.  Depending on whether you like PECOTA, ZiPS, or the Diamond Mind projections, you'll find the Crew headed toward a season with between 79 and 85 wins.  The Cardinals, of course, are projected to take the division in the 95-win department, best in the league and 2nd best in baseball behind the A's.  

These projections are great fun--I love doing stuff like that--but of course need to be taken with a grain of salt.  The major reason I think that the Brewers will outperform their projection and the Cubs--and, to a lesser extent, the Cardinals--will not reach theirs--is the difficulty of simulating injuries.  As I've written before, the Brewers are almost freakishly deep.  There is no one player who could get hurt--besides Damian Miller, maybe--who would seriously impair this team's chances.  Of course if Jenkins or Lee went down for a long time, it would be a psychological hit, but I suspect Corey Hart would do a fantastic job impersonating a good-defense/power-hitting corner outfielder.  

My point?  When you run simulated seasons, the program will insert some injuries based on injury ratings.  But almost never is somebody knocked out for more than a few weeks--like, say, Mark Prior might be right now.  Nobody ever loses a season, like Kerry Wood is always at risk of.  If the Cubs lose Prior, obviously there's no one on the bench ready to be their ace.  Jerome Williams gets more starts instead.  (Or Rich Hill, or...John Koronka?)  If the Cards lose Scott Rolen for much of the season, they can't count on Abraham Nunez going All-Star on the league...especially since Nunez now plays for the Phillies.  

Of course, I can theorize all I want, and SG can run all the simulations he wants, and both of us will be wrong in all sorts of surprising ways.  I just want the projections to be wrong for the Brewers by at least 3 or 4 games.

Junior Spivey update

Hmm.  It's not shaping up to be a major comeback season for Junior Spivey.  He's striking out so much he'd qualify as a Rob Deer All-Star if only he walked and homered more.  This leaves Cardinals fans wondering what their options are.  I've got one idea: aim for under 90 wins.  Just kidding.  Spivey must be better than his spring stats, but I'm not sure by how much.  Once again...thank you Doug Melvin: you sold high, and bought at a discount.  

Brady Clark profile

Jamie at From Robin to Rickie has a nifty Brady Clark piece, including this food for thought:

The disappointment that is Dave Krynzel means no one will be pushing for Clark's job this year. However, word is the Brewers will be playing Nelson Cruz in center at AAA Nashville, Corey Hart logged some time there in late 2005, and there still is the possibility that Bill Hall or even Rickie Weeks (if his defense at 2B gets worse) could be moved to center in the future. I'll predict a move to a very productive 4th outfielder spot for Clark in 2007, with the possibility of him being dealt after this season to a team in need of a center fielder.

Isn't it amazing that our minor league crop is so strong that we're almost always talking about trading just about every vet on the roster?  I guess Damian Miller is safe unless Vinny Rottino turns into a gold-glove backstop, and no one is talking about finding Ben Sheets a new home.  But Lee, Jenkins, and Clark?  Cruz, Hart, and maybe one or two of Gross, Hall, Gwynn, Krynzel, and Nelson give us new faces to look forward to...very soon.