Archive for April, 2009

Breakfast on the Farm

Friday, April 24th, 2009

What Happened Yesterday – 04.23.2009

Chicago 1, Cincinnati 7

  • The Micah Hoffpauir we excpected to see more of showed up in the field yesterday. If we’re going to have his bat in the lineup, which I’m all for, then we have to remember he’s playing out of position. He’s a 1B by trade and it’s important we remember that when he takes a bad round or misplays a line drive to the OF.
  • Another game and another error by the pitching staff. I’m not sure why Carlos decided it would be a good idea to throw over to first 1000 times in one at bat, but while you’re doing that, doesn’t it enter your mind that one of these may be wild? I wish more pitchers would adopt the Greg Maddux approach and let the runners on base be the secondary focus. For the most part, Carlos is excellent at limiting steals, but I don’t think it’s as important as people make it.
  • Lou Piniella laid the smack down on Milton “Milkit” Bradley before the game and told him that he’ll play when he is 100% healthy (i.e. never) and can run out ground balls. Not the best start, but it’s a small sample size (wink wink).
  • Neal Cotts and Jeff Samardzija both came into the game and both gave up runs. Is there any chance we can rethink that Luis Vizcaino move?
  • Aramis Ramirez picked up a hit, so I’m back on the streak. Any suggestions for who to pick today?

Iowa 6, Albuquerque 0

  • For the second straight night, the Cubs got a great performance from the starting pitcher. Last night it was Randy Wells and tonight it was JR Mathes who ran his record to 3-1 with a six inning, two hit performance. He only struck out one hitter, but he didn’t walk any.
  • Imagine this…the Cubs got three scoreless innings out of their bullpen. If only that sentence could be written about the Major League Cubs and not the AAA-Cubs. Jason Waddell, Jeff Stevens and Kevin Hart all tossed scoreless innings. Waddell and Stevens have now combined to throw 13.1 scoreless innings this season.
  • Jake Fox had a tough night at the plate with three strikeouts, but he did draw a walk and score.
  • Bobby Scales hit a home run for the second straight night in what would become a four run 6th inning,
  • Former Cub, Shawn Estes got the start for Albuquerque and went five solid innings, striking out nine.

Tennessee 6, West Tenn 2

  • Tony Thomas is a man among boys and continues to play that way at the plate. He hit his 4th HR of the season and went 3-for-5 with 3 runs and 2 RBI. He’s hitting .375 on the season.
  • Casey Coleman picked up his third win of the year, running his record to 3-0 with an ERA of 1.50. He went six innings and gave the Smokies a quality start, only allowing two runs.

Wisconsin 8, Peoria 7 & Wisconsin 7, Peoria 6

  • Kyler Burke got on base four times in the DH with a pair of walks and a pair of doubles.
  • Chris Archer, a kid that was drafted out of a H.S. about 2 miles from my house, went four innings as the starter in one of the games, allowing two runs and walking four batters. He’s made three starts this year and in two of them, walks have been an issue. He’s young though.
  • One of the top prospects in the organization, Josh Vitters, went 0-for-7 in the double header.
  • Rebel Ridling, who takes over the spot from Rocky Cherry The Fearless Vampire Killers movie download for best name in the organization, had a HR and a double with four RBI on the day.

Organizational Depth Chart – 3B

I usually use the baseline for evaluating talent down on the farm as .800 OPS or higher. If a prospect is putting up at least that, it’s usually a good sign that he’s playing well enough for that level. Looking over the third base position in the organization, I see five out of the eight that meet that benchmark, the most intriguing of which has to be Josh Vitters, who many consider the top prospect in the organization. Vitters struggled a little in limited time when he was first drafted out of high school in 2007, but rebounded nicely with short season Boise and earned himself a promotion to full season ball this year with the Chiefs. What’s important to remember about Vitters is that he is a high school product, which means he’s raw and needs seasoning. Marquez Smith is off to a nice start with Daytona, but at 24 years old, he probably should be higher in the system. Any thoughts on 3B that jump out at you? I’ve also included a video of Josh Vitters from YouTube.

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Minor League Transactions

From time to time, Baseball America takes a moment to update us on transactions we may have missed with the system. Here was their entry for the Cubs.

Signed: C Mario Mercedes
Released: RHP Bubba O’Donnell, OF TeWayne Willis
Placed on 7-day DL: RHP Justin Berg, C Mario Mercedes, OF Doug Deeds
Reinstated from DL: C Michael Brenly, SS Matt Matulia, OF Jason DuboisOur Man Flint movie

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Accentuate the positive!

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

First off, I’m pretty positive that we stunk it up today, but that is not what I mean. After being tabbed the King of Pessimism and then repeatedly taken to task for having negative opinions about certain Cub players, I’ve decided to be nice and think positive!

1. We scored a run today! Yay! That’s better than yesterday!

2. Geovany Soto may only be hitting .103 but that’s more than twice as good as Milkit Badly! Yay, Geo!

3. Derrek Lee is hitting .207, sure, but that’s twice as good as Soto. You go, Derrek! Yay!

4. At least we took one game from the Reds. Yay!

5. Neil Cotts didn’t walk anybody today! Hip hip hooray!

6. Zambrano went seven innings. At least he gave Aaron Heilman a break. Yay!

7. Alfonso Soriano has a ten game hitting streak! (really? yes.) Yay!

There are probably more, but I’m weary from all this giddiness.

News today is that Milkit won’t play until he is fully healthy. If mental health is included in that assessment, well………….I wonder if we could still get Adam Dunn because it might be years.

Overheard in the Cub locker room after the game Wednesday — this quote from Lou Piniella “Let’s not play Milton for a while…he’s slowly approaching a reasonable sample size.” When asked what that meant, he refused to comment, adding only that he “prefers Super Sizing to sample sizing.”  He then farted, giggled and slammed his office door.

Ah, forget it. I go back to my original comment. I’m positive that we stunk it up today. Thankfully, tomorrow is another day.


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Lunch on the Farm

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

What Happened Yesterday

Chi Cubs 0, Cincinnati 3

  • Ted Lilly was really good on the mound and really bad in the field
  • Milton Bradley had an 0-for-4 day with three big strikeouts
  • Look out for Derrek Lee…maybe he’s heating up.

Iowa 9, Albuquerque 1

  • Brad Snyder had himself a big day with five RBI and two HR
  • Andres Blanco, who is mentioned below, was 3-for-4 with a HR
  • Randy Wells was absolutely unhittable, going 7 innings and allowing just one hit while striking out four.

West Tenn 7, Easy Rider full Tennessee 2

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Dunedin 7, Daytona 5

  • Marquez Smith had a night to forget going 0-for-5 at the plate with two K’s and committing two errors at 3b
  • Jovan Rosa went 2-for-2 but left the game in the 7th after being hit by a pitch

Wisconsin 3, Peoria 2

  • Christopher Carpenter (not that one) started the game and went five innings, allowing one hit and striking out six.
  • Chris Huseby pitched two scoreless innings of relief and struck out four.

Organizational Depth Chart – SS

This one goes out to Tommy, who is president of the Ryan Theriot fan club. When you look at the system at this position, based on the start so far, there are some reasons for optimism. The name that sticks out for me is Ryan Flaherty, who is playing for Peoria. He played well last year with Boise (short season) and received a promotion to Peoria this year. Given his age and the fact that he was a supplemental first round pick last year out of Vandy (perhaps Mark could lend some knowledge here), he should be on the fast track to move up the system. If he continues to show he can handle this level of competition, I don’t see a reason why a promotion to High-A Daytona or even AA-Tennessee couldn’t happen. My guess is that moving to AA would hinge on Darwin Barney continuing to hit well enough to earn a promotion to Iowa. All in all, things look good in the early going for this position.

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10 years is a large sample size

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

It has been the debate that is driving the discussion on the site over the past couple days. What should we make of this Milton Bradley guy and his .0something batting average? I realize that some might get frustrated with the over the top discussion of this topic and all of the permutations surrounding Milton. However, this is the issue of the day for the Cubs and we are bloggers and our world rotates around issues of the day.

Admittedly, it is unfair to make crystal clear statements about how effective Bradley will be at this point in the season. He is adjusting to a new team, new league, and new city. He missed time in spring training and has missed time in the season. We all knew he is sometimes too achy and would miss some time so it comes as no surprise that he has. Certainly this has impacted his development and comfort at the plate. It would seem that his numbers are going to come around, because they almost always do. (Although he seems to be striking out at a higher percentage which is a disturbing trend for a high on base percentage guy.) Thequestion surrounding this, and the one that Lou faces, is how patient should you be especially with the hot hitting Micah Hoffpauir waiting behind Bradley? As I said in response to a post earlier this week, Hoffpauir’s success brings the struggles of Milton Bradley more to the forefront (Which brings a smile to D-Lee’s face because he was facing the mythical shadow of Hoffpauir before Bradley did.)

It has appeared to me over the past week that while Bradley is struggling- due much to being injured and unable to get in a hitting groove- he is doing himself no favors in the things he can control. Here is a major issue. While everyone is OK with the B.A. who gets the job done, people don’t have much time for the B.A. with the .048 average. Bradley is new here and he is not doing much to win fans or more importantly earn their patience. If the fans continue to grow frustrated with Milton Bradley and voice their frustration it seems obvious that this will lead to a blow up and a bad situation. Cub fans are fickle, and honeslty many don’t know what they’re talking about. Soriano still gets major cheers even though he is a MAJOR reason why the Cubs got swept from the playoffs the last two years. You can name player after player who Cubs fans loved almost unconditionally even though they had major flaws as players.

Bradley is taking missteps that are going to cost him in the long run. While he cannot control being injured and getting off to a bad start at the plate, there are things he can control which he seems not to care about. In last night’s game Bradley received criticism for not running out a ground ball. I am fine with someone with a gimpy groin not busting it out on a ground ball. Protect yourself for later. But because you have not engratiated yourself to the fans, or the team, they will not afford you the same grace that they do for Aramis when he doesn’t run out a ground ball.

Some have said that Bradley has brought an attitude to the team that was lacking before. This has been described as a passion for winning. I find it hard to believe that the team previously lacked a passion for winning. It seems that screaming and bumping umpires shows a care for winning. When this causes you to get suspended and miss games and put your team at a disadvantage this does not demonstrate that a passion for winning is what is most important.

This is another thing Bradley can control but does not. Last week in the Cardinals game he strikes out in a crucial situation with the bases loaded. Strike 3 was a close call. But it was undoubtedly a bad call. So argue it. Get thrown out. You’re not going to play the field anyway. But don’t get aggressive with the umpire and bump him while yelling. Don’t get suspended. You have been down this road before. You could control this, but you don’t care about that.

I am surprised that Bradley has decided to appeal the suspension as opposed to serving it now while he is injured. I suppose that winning doesn’t matter more than getting one game knocked off of the suspension that you will have to serve down the road after an appeal. At that time you will probably not be injured, and hopefully being productive in the everyday lineup. Yet you will need to take a game off and pull yourself from the lineup when you could just as easily do so now when you’re not in the lineup anyway. This is something you could control but you don’t care to.

Following last night’s game I read an article that said that Bradley is boycotting the media. I just heard a report that he has not been available in the clubhouse all week. He has not been seen with the other players and is avoiding all attention. A good way to build up team chemistry. This is something you could control but you don’t care to. Sometime last week I heard reporters on the radio talking about the fact that Bradley has not been loved by his teammates because in the past he has been quick to remove himself from the lineup and wasn’t a good team player. That seems to be on display already.

The article following last night’s loss said that on the night of his first Wrigley Field start Bradley arrived late to avoid talking to the press and ran out early so he wouldn’t be asked questions after the game. This left his teammates to answer questions for and about him. A strong way to build up your team and demonstrate the passion for winning as a team. Let your teammates take the bullets for you. A winning strategy of a guy who gives 110%. This is something you could control but you don’t care to.

Now today WSCR is reporting that Milton Bradley is not in the lineup for this afternoon’s game. Lou has said that he will start Milton next only when Bradley comes to him and says he is ready and feels 100%. This could be sending the message “I don’t really care about trying to start you.” Piniella and Jim Hendry both went on record today saying that Bradley needs to talk more with the media. In other words “Start controlling the things you can control.”Atlantis: The Lost Empire movies Ghost Month film

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My (jelly) Role

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

When I opened my email yesterday I got a message from our Joe, saying.  Your role?  I always thought I was the smart cute one.  Apparently that doesn’t fly in NC anymore.  So I came up with 3 ideas of roles to play at VFTB.  As only 1 was pornographic, I can share the other 2 with you.

Periodically I’ll write about another team in The MLB… Maybe one the Cubs will be playing, maybe one in our division, but I’m not going to promise that.  I’m going to try to write about a team that catches my eye, it might even be in the American League.  (Don’t worry Sherm it will always relate to the Cubs and college basketball in some way.)

As a 1st time/longtime Cubs fan what interests me is winning. Not the result of winning, but the process of winning.  Because I don’t want to be the Marlins, who buy a World Series for their 22 fans and then sells off the players. I think that is an offense to the sport.  I want to be the Yanks or Red Sox or Braves (or even the White Sox and Philies and Cards) who build good teams that compete every year.  The Cubs spent the 80’s and 90’s trying catch lightening in a 1 year wonder–when they should have built an organization.  That is what made Dusty’s reign so disappointing, he took a good team, got it to overachieve…but never built off of it, never grew it.  And that is why last year was so exciting (and ultimately frustrating), the team took important steps of improvement as the year went along.  So that we had reason for confidence entering the post season. It wasn’t their losing that hurt, it was how they didn’t even show up that stays with me.

So my second topic is going to be: What do the Cubs, as a 2 time playoff team, need to do/look like in order to improve (or where are they regressing). I call it Why We Won/ Why We Lost. So if you look at last nights game, why did we win that game? Because we got 7 good innings from Lilly, because he pitched out of jams? Because of Lee’s defense at 1st? The Theriot-Miles DP? (if Guzman had gotten out of the 8th without giving up a run, that would have been a reason for wining…as Cotts pitiful pitching on Monday–and subsiquant Marmol sighting– was a cause of losing that game.) Why’d we lose? Bradley’s defense. Lilly’s defense. The bottom of the 7th when we had a 8 pitch inning. Not being able to hit David Weathers (I hold a big grudge from when he was a Cub. I was shocked to hear how good his stats were. I feel like if you don’t hit him, you shouldn’t collect your pay check that day.)  My hope is to gain personally broader understanding of what makes teams good, in the regular season and in the playoffs, while hopefully bringing to light things that everyone else isn’t talking about.

We’ll see how that goes.  And thanks as always to Joe.

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