Archive for April, 2008

Weekly Farm Roundup

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

In response to a recent request from a reader, I present to you the weekly look at how things are going down on the farm. We’ll do this every weekend.

Iowa Cubs 10-10 (2.5 GB)
Jacob Fox is an interesting case this year. I can’t decide if he’s hot or cold. I guess it depends on how you evaluate a player. He leads the team in RBI and HR, but is hitting just .176. Of his 14 hits, nine of them have been for extra bases. Unfortunately what jumps out at me is the K/BB ratio of 24 to 1. Fox is an interesting cat. He’s 25, so his clock is ticking. Usually it doesn’t take the college guys this long. He got a taste of AAA last year for about 100 at bats and did well with them. I’d really like to see him do something because of his power and versatility on the diamond. He’s capable of playing on the corners both in the outfield and the infield.

On the pitching side of things, Jose Ascanio, who came over from the Braves in the Will Ohman trade, has pitched well so far out of the bullpen. In nine appearances he’s sporting an ERA of 2.25 with a 9.49 K/9 ratio. He’s overpowering guys down there right now and could be in line for a call up if someone like Michael Wuertz continues to struggle and agrees to a demotion (doubtful). Sean Gallagher is also doing quite well, which means we have even more ML ready arms and not enough slots for all of them.

Tennessee Smokies 9-13 (7 GB)
For the Smokies, no one seems to be overly impressing with the bat. The team as a whole is below the Southern League averages in BA, OBP, SLG and OPS. That could be a good reason why they’re not doing so well in the record department. One of the players I follow, Tyler Colvin, is off to a slow start at the plate and has struck out too much. He says he’s working on it, and the strike outs are going to come for a young hitter that’s still learning. The most important for us to do is not freak out and remember that’s he a kid, he’s shown he can be successful so far in the past, and he’s a work in progress. At this point, there is nowhere for him to play anyway. I like his makeup and his interview presence. I know the latter doesn’t help on the field, but it comes in handy when the success comes at the ML level.

I’m slowly loosing hope in Donnie Veal. He can’t seem to shake the control issues that plagued him so badly last year. He’s walked 11 guys in just 17 innings of work. He’s got good stuff if he can just learn to throw strikes and trust his stuff. I’m anxious to find out if the walks have been a result of nibbling around the plate or if he’s just been wild. I’ll have to check into that. He’s still getting his strikeouts, averaging just a shade under nine per 9 IP. I wonder if a move to AAA would lift him up a little, similar to what it did for Jeff Samardzija last year. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Next week we’ll take a look at the Peoria Chiefs and Daytona Cubs.

For the full breakdown on how every player in the system is doing so far, make sure you check out the organizational depth chart provided by Baseball Reference. They break it down by team and position throughout the organization. Here are the links: (Hitters / Pitchers)


Tracked Player Results

  • Josh Donaldson was 3-for-5
  • Ryan Acosta struck out 5 batters and only allowed 2 earned runs over 6.0 innings pitched yesterday
  • Russell Canzler was 3-for-4
  • Jose Ceda struck out 6 batters and only allowed 2 earned runs over 5.0 innings pitched yesterday

Got a player you’d like to see added to the player tracker? Drop us a line in the comments

Organizational Roundup

(AAA) – Iowa Cubs – Won vs. Memphis (16-3)

(AA) – Tennessee Smokies – Lost vs. West Tenn (2-12)

(High A) – Daytona Cubs – Won vs. St. Lucie (8-7)

(A) – Peoria Chiefs – Won vs. Fort Wayne (4-3)

(SS) – Boise Hawks open their season June 17th

(RK) – Arizona Cubs open their season June 22nd

View the full organizational report courtesy of First Inning here.


Minor League Webtopia
  • Mike Muyco is moving from behind the plate to the mound – (Inside the Ivy)
  • Steven Clevenger was promoted to AA
  • John Donaldson was mentioned on Baseball America’s prospect hot sheet in the “not hot” section – “Donaldson (.105/.105/.158 this week) was named the No. 2 prospect in the Northwest League in 2007 after hitting .346/.470/.605 with nine home runs in 49 games for short-season Boise. That success hasn’t carried over into 2008, as Donaldson is hitting only .157/.213/.257 for low Class A Peoria and has only one home run in 18 games. After showing outstanding patience in the NWL in 2007 to the tune of a 37-34 BB-K rate, Donaldson has walked only four times and has struck out 15 times in 2008.” (Baseball America)
  • Arizona Phil dropped some knowledge on us about what’s going on in extended spring training and broke down where the free agent situation stands for the future. Don’t forget to donate to their cause. (The Cub Reporter)
  • The Peoria Chiefs have made some roster moves (Inside the Ivy)
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Ain’t No Thang

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

First Star – Will Nieves (.350)
Second Star – Saul Rivera (.288)
Third Star – Lastings Milledge (.199)
Top Play – Will Nieves homerun in the 9h (+.361)


Rather than recap a game I really didn’t get to watch completely, I’d like to talk about something that Matt mentioned in the comment section yesterday.

Pitches taken is another one of my least liked stats in this new fangled baseball mentality. Wow, he’s seeing 4 pitches per plate appearances. What if three of them were strikes? Or he’s watching the one pitch that’s in his zone and should hit? Not too worry, he’s seeing more pitches so it’s all good. For example, in my first game this year I saw, eight pitches (I’ K’ed), four pitches (I K’ed), and six pitches (I k’ed). Dumb, dumb, dumb.

While we’re at it, 1 Run Losses? What kind of moronic record keeping is this? Why aren’t we keeping 1 Run Wins too? And what’s the difference? A win is a win, a loss is a loss.

Would you agree that it’s important for our starting pitchers to keep their pitch counts low for the game? I think everyone would. Well, it may sound obvious, but the overall pitch count is made of up each individual at bats added together. If guys can see a good amount of pitches, it increases the starting pitchers overall pitch count. It seems elementary, but it’s true. I’m not saying that it’s always important to see four pitches. What I am saying is that if you see a pitch you can hit hard, go for it. If not, be patient, make the pitcher work and more than likely you’ll get the pitch you can drive.

In addition to taxing the starter, taking pitches means we get into the bullpen quicker. Getting into the bullpen is vital because it means weaker pitchers. Guys are in middle relief for a reason, they don’t have the skill to pitch as a starter or as a late inning guy. These are the guys you can capitalize on and begin to put the game away against. To see these guys, that starter has to be out of there before the 6th on most occasions. The only ways to make that happen are pitch counts, poor performance, and injury. Since you can’t control injuries and poor performance by the starter probably already means you’re winning, running up the pitch count is something you can do whether you’re winning or losing.

When I keep score, I count pitches. I like to see a starter average 15 or less per inning. If he can do that, he should be able to go seven with 105 pitches. That’s a great outing that saves the bullpen. Pitch counts, while important, are not an isolated stat. They need to be looked at in the context of the game, but to completely dismiss them is silly.

As for one run losses, they do keep track of one run wins too. It’s in the other side of the column, Matt. What a team’s one run record tells me is that, yes they won the game, but it could have easily gone the other way. If you’re winning games by one run, the team’s run differential is not very much. Luck isn’t the best way to describe it, but it a way, it means that your record is due partially on luck. The White Sox won the world series in 2005 and were very good in the one run games. The next year, with the same team, they weren’t winning those game and saw their record go the other way. It’s all about context for these stats.

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Game 23 Probables & Farm Report

Friday, April 25th, 2008
Series Tale of the Tape

Scouting Report on Today’s Starting Pitchers

Ryan Dempster looks to remain unbeaten on the season when he pitches in new Nationals Park on Friday. Dempster has allowed just four earned runs over his last 18 innings. He’s 6-0 lifetime against the Washington/Montreal franchise with a 3.40 ERA in 18 appearances, including 10 starts.

Odalis Perez is still winless, but it’s mostly not his fault. He’s pitched well enough to win in four of his five starts. The latest example was against the Marlins on Sunday. The only run off him in six innings was unearned, on a Ryan Zimmerman throw from third that nearly landed in the first-base box seats.

  • His fastball reaches the low 90s and he adds a wicked curve that helps him rack up the strikeouts.
  • Too often he leaves the ball up in the zone looking for the strikeout and when he does that and a hitter’s expecting it, look out. Doesn’t have much endurance.
  • Strong mid-rotation lefty.

View the stat preview from Baseball Reference here

All Scouting Information taken from MLB.com and TSN.ca


Tracked Player Results

  • JR Mathes only allowed one run in 6.0 innings pitched
  • Justin Berg only allowed one run in 6.2 innings pitched
  • Jonathan Wyatt was 4-for-5
  • Tony Thomas hit 2 extra-base hits
  • Casey McGehee was 3-for-4

Got a player you’d like to see added to the player tracker? Drop us a line in the comments

Organizational Roundup

(AAA) – Iowa Cubs – Won vs. Memphis (3-2)

(AA) – Tennessee Smokies – Lost vs. West Tenn (1-2)

(High A) – Daytona Cubs – Won vs. St. Lucie (7-2)

(A) – Peoria Chiefs – No Game

(SS) – Boise Hawks open their season June 17th

(RK) – Arizona Cubs open their season June 22nd

View the full organizational report courtesy of First Inning here.

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Losses Feel Bad…Let’s Not Get Anymore!!!

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

First Star – Aaron Cook (.220)
Second Star – Felix Pie (.205)
Third Star – Daryle Ward (.155)
Top Play – Chris Ianetta’s home run in the 7th (+.197)


I sit here at the computer wondering what to write about. I hate writing long recaps of a loss, because I like to put it behind me and move to the game coming up. With that being said, I’d rather lead the discussion for you with some questions and points to ponder. We’ve been getting more traffic lately, which has led to more discussion in the comments. Thanks for keeping it civil and intelligent. It’s appreciated. Don’t forget you can always participate with posts of your own via the diaries.

  • Felix Pie had a couple hits today and has his average up to a staggering .237. Obviously this is not great, but are you starting to see potential in him if you were or are a hater?
  • Jason Marquis went seven strong innings today and kept the pitch count low, despite a first inning that saw his pitches go all over. Is he the third best guy in the rotation right now?
  • Am I the only one impressed with Kosuke’s range in the outfield? He seems to get great jumps on the fly balls and prevents balls in the gap like it’s going out of style. Is there anything that this guy can’t do?
  • Geovany Soto’s four hits in game one of the series was the second time he’s done that this season. In Cub history, only six catchers have done that in a full season. Michael Barrett and Joe Girardi were the most recent. No catcher in Cub history has ever had three or more games with at least four hits. I will go on record and predict that Geo will do it at least two more times this year.
  • What are your thoughts on the concept of using Mike Fontenot in the leadoff spot when Reed Johnson is out of the lineup? In his four at bats, three of them involved three or less pitches seen. His first at bat was very good though, with a six pitch single.
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There's Something About Sori

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

An interesting story is developing from Chicago that involves Alfonso Soriano. I bring this up because Joe asked about trading Soriano away and there has been some talk here recently about how good or bad the signing and the contract will be in the long run. Third base coach Mike Quade talked about Soriano and said that Soriano was definitely hurt and still hurting from the run from first to third last year. He said “He has undoubtedly lost a step.” Quade went on to say that when he is deciding whether or not to send Soriano around the bases he needs to keep in mind that he is slowed down and that he does not want Soriano to get hurt again. This is interestingly vulnerable from a member of the organization. Look for Quade to be pressured to retract the comments. However, if this is an admission that his abilities are beginning to decline (How many people who have “lost a step” ever get that step back?) this is a very bad thing.

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