Archive for July, 2006

Cubs win in decisive fashion

Saturday, July 15th, 2006

Carlos Zambrano improved his record to 9-3 today and stole his first base in the process. This pitcher is nothing short of amazing; he came back five days after a shot to his elbow by Joey Cora and struck out seven in six innings pitched. Quite often preference is given to pitchers who are on contending teams when it comes to the Cy Young but Zambrano has accomplished his results for a team that is twenty games below .500. In my book he is running away with that award.

Today was a great day for Cubs’ role players. Ryan Theriot (pictured as a member of the Diamond Jaxx) came up and showed what he can do – he and Matt Murton were the sparkplugs in today’s attack. Theriot had a double and a triple with two runs scored and Murton got two key hits, scored two and batted two in. Neifi had two hits spelling the slumping Ronny Cedeno and had two RBIs as well. Hank White doubled home two runs in the blowout sixth inning that put the game away. Eyre, Howry and Dempster pitched effectively to finish things up, it was the kind of game that we Cubs fans dream about.

Tomorrow’s game is a rare 5:05 PM Central start, it will be carried in some markets by ESPN.

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Daytona Cubs report

Saturday, July 15th, 2006

Like the Peoria Chiefs, the Daytona Cubs (High A affiliate) appear headed toward post-season play. The Cubs finished the first half of the season with a 35-35 record; however, they are currently in first place in the Eastern Division of the Florida State League with a second half record of 14-5. The D-Cubs are led by LSP Donnie Veal (2005 – 2nd round – pictured,) who was promoted from Peoria after starting out 5-3 with a 2.69 ERA. Donnie currently sports a 2-0 record with a 0.37 ERA in 24 IP. He is 6-4 and has an unorthodox delivery that reminds some of Dontrelle Willis. Donnie had shoulder surgery on his pitching shoulder prior to being drafted.

Daytona’s also had a chance to see Sean Gallagher this year; Sean has done nothing but pitch at every level so far. Sean went 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA prior to his promotion to AA West Tenn. In 80 innings he struck out 78.

Out in the pen the Daytona Cubs have an effective righty-lefty pair. RRP Adalberto Mendez (2001 – pictured, undrafted) was signed out of the Dominican Republic. He has a 4-1 record with 14 saves; he has 58 strikeouts in 50 IP and has held opponents to a .209 batting average. LRP Tim Layden (2004 – 6th round) played collegiate ball for Duke and currently has a 5-1 record with a 3.09 ERA.

Grant Johnson (2004 – 2nd) has been a disappointment after pitching so-so last year for Peoria. He is 4-5 with a 4.69 ERA. Opponents see the ball well against this Darien, IL native, hitting .287; his WHIP is 1.53.

Daytona’s offensive attack is led by fleet-footed centerfielder Sam Fuld (pictured.) Sam was originally drafted by the Cubs in 2003 in the 24th round but did not sign; the following year the Cubs drafted him in the 10th round and were able to ink a contract. Sam is a diabetic who attended Stanford University after graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy. Despite leading the Florida State league in batting average and hits he was not chosen to participate in the league’s All Star game. He currently is batting .320 with 20 stolen bases and a .400 OBP.

Catcher Jake Fox was tearing up the FSL before being promoted to AA West Tenn. He hit .316 16 HR 61 RBI before his callup. Matt Craig (2002 – 3rd round) was sent back to Daytona after playing with the Diamond Jaxx last year; during the offseason he worked out as a catcher. He is currently playing first base and hitting .281 with 9 homeruns and 52 RBIs.

Ryan Harvey (2003 – 1st round) continues to be a human strikeout machine. He strikes out in 28% of his at bats and is currently hitting .214. Ryan is a graduate of Jim Hendry’s own Dunedin High School and continues the Cubs’ tradition of picking the wrong guy in the first round. Players drafted after Harvey in 2004’s first round include Lastings Milledge, Brian Anderson, Nick Markakis, John Danks, Conor Jackson and Daric Barton.

So that’s how our High A Florida State affiliate is doing, the next update will be the AA West Tenn Diamond Jaxx.

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Trade winds swirling

Friday, July 14th, 2006

Most of us saw this week where Cincinnati gave up Lopez and Kearns for a number of Washington role players; apparently the Cubs’ Jim Hendry was not interested or in hibernation.

The White Sox have been calling around to clubs – including the Mets – letting it be known that Javier Vazquez or Freddy Garcia would be available. The price: top-notch relief help, which would allow the Sox to fortify their bullpen leading to closer Bobby Jenks, sources told the Daily News. Chicago has 23-year-old Brandon McCarthy ready to step into its rotation. ~ (New York Daily News)

What about dealing a guy like Howry or Eyre or Williamson to the Sox for one of these guys? We could use all the help we could get in that area.

Now there’s word that Bobby Abreu is being floated again; given the current talks between Milwaukee and Carlos Lee I think it makes sense to go “all out” for Abreu.

In fact, I would be willing to put together a package that included (/ means or) Matt Murton/Felix Pie, Rich Hill/Will Ohman and Mark Pawelek/Tyler Colvin to get him; if Philly wanted more veteran help of course we could oblige with players such as Williamson, Nevin or Walker in lieu of one or two of the minor leaguers.

What do you all think, should we part with talent and go for Abreu or “chance it” and hope Milwaukee doesn’t re-sign Carlos Lee? My guess is that Carlos will re-up with the Brew Crew…

In other news, the Cubs lost today to the Mets – no big disappointment there, the Mets are a well-run team with better players. What struck me as amusing was the fact that showed two Cubs players celebrating despite a loss, I suppose that’s what this season has come to.

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Will it play in Peoria?

Friday, July 14th, 2006

Yesterday Joe got the ball rolling insofar as minor league reporting; I followed up by adding some info about players in short season Boise. Today I’d like to update you all on what’s happening in nearby Peoria. The Chiefs are the “Low A” team for the Cubs but don’t let that designation fool you; because of it’s proximity to Chicago many players have been shuttled through this franchise. Here’s some of the key movers and shakers for the Chiefs this year:

Ryan Norwood (1B – pictured:) .316 10 HR 46 RBI Ryne is the Chiefs’ bopper (2004 – 9th round;)
Ryne Malone (3B:) Hitting .327 (2006 – 49th round;)
Davy Gregg (OF:) 19 stolen bases leads club but only hitting .226;
Mitch Atkins (RSP:) 7-3, 1.23 WHIP, 2.72 ERA (2004 – 7th;)
Matt Avery (RRP:) 6’6″, 1.16 ERA 1.07 WHIP (2005 – 9th round;)
Justin Rayborn (RRP:) 5-1 2.61 wins when the Chiefs come back (2005 – nondrafted;)
Jesus Valdez (LF – pictured:) .310 4 HR 45 RBI clutch hitter (2002 – nondrafted;)
Donny Veal (RSP:) 5-3 2.69 ERA Promoted to High A Daytona – more in Daytona update;
Ed Campusano (LRP:) 0-0, 21 saves, promoted to AA West Tenn – more in later update;
Scott Taylor (RSP:) 5-4 3.06 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 86 K in 85.1 IP Power pitcher (2005 – 5th round)

The Chiefs are currently 11-10 in the second half; they are 1 game back but 3 teams are tied for first. They have lost two straight after having one six straight. This team won the first half division title with gutsy play; they were behind Kane County on June 13th by one game and made up the difference, finishing the first half 41-28.

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Midterms ñ Miscellania

Friday, July 14th, 2006

There were many categories I didnít get to this week. The division picks, Comeback player and manager of the year, etc. so let me finish with a few assorted ruminations made in March by the boys. The next time somebody wants you to commit yourself in print, remember this post! Weíll start by being nice.

Lean, Keen Thinkin Machine

Outside of Oswalt, Pettitte, Berkman, and Lidge, (the Astros) got ìKiller Bsî so old their stingers are duct taped on,

Ervin Santana will make a strong run at 20 wins.

If Jim Thome really is healthy, the White Sox offense will be better than last year.

After another rash of injuries and costly field management mistakes the Cubs will essentially be out of the race by Independence Day.

Leo Mazzone’s departure will have debilitating effects throughout the (Braves) organization

The Wood-Prior fiasco continues to deplete this club of any positive energy and needed capital to secure A-list pitchers. Bullpen upgrades are all very well and good. But enough is enough already. Unload and re-tool!

Dunce cap, please

(Couldnít find a qualifying dunce remark from Chris so I put in three of mine instead.)

Leyland and Polanco give Tigers some bite but in this
division not enough to shake things up.

Go ahead and laugh at my picking the Pirates finishing 2nd. By the end of the season everyone will know the name Zach Duke.

Soriano’s public discontentment will affect his offenseÖ

The Bravos will run away with this division.

I’m going to pick (the Braves) because i’m tired of looking like a fool each year.

Iím not convinced that Thome’s not done.

[how about now, Davey?]

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Red’s Fan Erupts

Friday, July 14th, 2006

Here is a reply to an e-mail I sent to Red Hot Mama asking her reaction to the deal that sent Kearns to the Nationals.

“Hi, Joe,
Good to hear from you.

Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns are (I guess “were” is more apt now) beloved by fans for the tribulations they had to overcome to earn the positions they had.

Felix Pie continues to battle for respectability down at the AAA level as he goes 3 for 5 with a run scored and an RBI for the Iowa Cubs. He stole his 8th base of the season which is low for what is expected of him.

Tyler Colvin had a big night at the plate with a 2 for 4 game including a double, homerun, 2 runs scored and 3 RBI. His average is at .208 to this point.

Angel Guzman pitched 6 innings of two run baseball to earn his 3rd win of the season for the AAA Iowa Cubs. Expect him to get another look soon as the Cubs continue to battle the injury bug in the starting rotation.

Ryan Wagner was kicking ass as our eighth-inning man just over a year ago. As someone on my site pointed out, if Wags can ever bounce back he’s got the potential to be better than any of the relievers we got.
That’s a big if, of course, but he’s been so close so recently, it’s hard not to still see that potential.

Furthermore, Reds fans have had more than their fair share of Jim Bowden, and to get taken by him would be worse than being fleeced by about anyone else in the sport. The idea that we’re sending our darling Kearns and Lopez out to the Nationals (whom we all pretty much look down on and make fun of thanks to that experience with Bowden I mentioned
before) makes the trade all the more bitter.

My take is that this is a move with a high potential to make Wayne Krivsky look like a doofus. If this turns out to be another magical Brandon Phillips deal, it’ll just go down as another magical Brandon Phillips deal. If it turns out to be a turkey, it will be a black mark against Kriv-dawg for a long while to come.

But his contract was just extended, so at least he doesn’t have that to worry about for a while.

Hope everything is going well in Cubs land. I had Kurt from GROTA on the podcast last week. Would you be interested in making an appearance in the near future?

Red Hot Mama”

If only Jim Hendry had his cell phone charged for this. We could have made big improvements and given up a guy like Williamson and maybe Eyre or perhaps even Ohman.

Shocking News Update:
Mark Prior has been placed on the disabled list.

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Midterms — AL MVP

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

Here were our picks back in March

Joe, Dave, Mark – Alex Rodriguez
Chris ñ Bobby Crosby
Tommy ñ Manny Ramirez

Letís begin with Chrisí pick. He had a hunch that Bobby Crosby would begin living up to the hype. It was a gutsy out-of-the-box kind of selection but it just isnít working out for Bobby this year. .238 8 35 is well below his standards and if Oakland is going to compete to the end, Crosby will have to shake it off and git r done.

As for Manny, if he really is hurt as he claims, that will drop him fast from MVP consideration because there are just too many solid offensive machines cranking out the rbiís, including teammate and friend, David Ortiz.

Right now, though, Manny is da man. He ranks in the AL:
ï 6th in HR (24)
ï 10th in RBI (65)
ï 2nd in BB (67)
ï 3rd in OBP (.434)
ï 4th in SLG (.615) and
ï 3rd in OPS (1.049)

And now, poor Alex. Boos, jeers, and George have dogged this poorest of millionaires. The Rodney Dangerfield of MLB is languishing with an avg. of .282, 19 homers and 65 rbiís. Not terrible but certainly not MVP stock thus far. And thatís the reason for the boos, jeers and George. A .390 OBP is pretty good as well but not enough to get him over the hump, or anywhere near the hump. Alex will have to wait another year before picking up his third MVP.

The Others: itís going to be fun to see which of these guys will begin leaving the pack in his dust. Youíve got your Papi, your Chisox dream team in Thome and Dye, youíve got your token ex-steroid abuser in Giambi and then youíve got your Midwest sleepers, Travis Hafner of the Indians and Justin Morneau of the Twins. Each one a whisker from the other in most offensive categories. East Coast bias will favor Bosox or Giambi.

Next: Various musings from your VFTB staff

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Farm Notes

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

Here are a couple notes from Wednesday games:

(AA) Eric Patterson went 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI. He also stole a base (29th) and was caught stealing(8th). This raised his average to .281 on the year. He is stealing at a 78.3% success rate, which is useful according to research done on the effectiveness of the stolen base.

Jeff Samardzija pitched five innings while giving up six hits and two earned runs. He walked two and struck out three to get the No Decision. His season ERA is 3.21, which is respectable.

Random Note:

Check out the video on You Tube of this Asian pitching Style. I laughed so hard when he struck the guy out.

Breaking News:
The Cincinnati Reds have traded Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to Washington for Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Royce Clayton and minor leaguers.


Some other Boise news from Mastrick:

OF Alfred “AJ” Joseph (15th round, 2004) continues to blister the ball, hitting .364 2 HR 12 RBI

IF Sammy Baez (2004, undrafted) is hitting .304 0 HR 10 RBI

3B/IF Russ Canzler (30th round, 2004) leads the team with 6 HR

3B Josh Lansford (6th round, 2006) has brought his average up to .270 after a slow start

OF Tyler Colvin (1st round, 2006) his hitting .184, leaving Cubs fans scratching their heads; he was picked #6 overall

SS Steve Clevinger (7th round, 2006) is hitting .154

Jeremy Papelbon (19th round, 2006) is 2-0 with 2 saves and a 0.00 ERA

Mark Pawelek (1st round, 2004) continues to struggle, he is 0-3 with a 4.85 ERA. He is also lefthanded and still very young

Billy Petrick (2003?) is 3-0 with a 2.18 on his second stint with the Hawks. Look for him to be promoted soon

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Now I’ve seen everything

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

For all you soccer enthusiasts, there’s the new Zidane Headbutt game! I would imagine that this game is not amusing to the Italian faithful…

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