Archive for April, 2009

Lunch on the Farm – 4/20

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

We begin the roundup with a look at the second base position in the system so far. The other day we took a look at catcher and found that we’ve got a couple names making some noise. Let’s take a look now at 2B.

Stats current through 4/20/09 courtesy of Baseball Reference

Taking a look at this position, there is really only one name that has me excited about the future, Tony Thomas. Thomas comes in as one of the top players in the system as ranked by John Sickels. In his prospect handbook, he mentioned:

Thomas was drafted in the third round in ’07, out of Florida State, earning the slot after a breakthrough junior season. He continued to perform well in short-season ball after signing, but his skills regressed last year in the Florida State League. His plate discipline deteriorated against more advanced pitching. He had a harder time stealing bases, and observers were
unimpressed with his defense at second. His defensive statistics were actually not bad for Daytona, a strong .989 fielding percentage and an above-average range factor being positives, but scouts don’t like his actions around the bag and have been complaining about his range and mobility for years. I’m more concerned about the slippage in his strike zone judgment. If he hits they can find a place for him to play, but he’s got to get back to what he was doing in ’07 for his bat to rebound. I still think Thomas is interesting, but adjustments must be made.

The other name making noise is Bobby Scales, but at this point, he’s probably too old to get excited about.

Results from 4/20/09

AAA – Iowa 7, Round Rock 5

  • Jason Dubois went 3-for-4
  • Jake Fox went 1-for-4, but had another extra base hit (double)

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AA – Tennessee 4, West Tenn 3

  • Tony Thomas went 2-for-5 with a HR The Sicilian movies
  • Wellington Castillo went 0-for-4 with four K’s

High A – Daytona 6, Dunedin 2 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith dvdrip

Top Prospect Tracker

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To view the entire organizational recap of box scores, be sure to visit the Cubs page on FirstInning.com


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Organizational Results for 4/19

Monday, April 20th, 2009

The Long Weekend full

ML – Cubs – Rained out and rescheduled for a doubleheader on July 12, 2009

AAA – Iowa – defeated Round Rock 8-2

AA – Tennessee – Rained out. No makeup date has been announced

High A – Daytona – Lost to Lakeland 4-2

Low A – Peoria – Rained out with makeup set for May

Misc. Notes

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Oranizational Roundup – Catcher

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

I’ve decided to take a new approach to the minor league coverage on the site. I think this might make it a little more fun and give a wider spectrum of how our team as a whole is doing. I’ve broken the organization up into different groups. Each day, we’ll look at one of those groups and see where we stand. We’ll see who is doing well or poorly in their respective levels throughout the season. The goal is to continue to broaden the knowledge of the organization as a whole and, in tern, be more knowledgable when it comes to potential transactions dealing with the team. The groups we’ll look at starts with the catcher position. Let’s take a quick look at the summary of how our catchers have performed to date and see if we notice anything.

Stats current through April 18th, 2009

At the Major League level, how big of a blessing it has been to see Koyie Hill Wonderland the movie

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step in and be the offensive player he’s been as Geo was struggling with an injury. If we just posted the stat lines at the beginning of the year and didn’t attach names, but rather said this was what it would look like through the first two weeks, the logical conclusion would be to assumer Geo was off to a hot start, when in reality it’s the exact opposite.

Down in Iowa, it appears that both Chris Robinson and Mark Johnson are splitting time behind the plate. For Johnson, he’s simply trying to get back the Majors and find a role as a backup. My guess is that he won’t find that role with this team and will either be stuck in AAA as a filler / mentor or be traded to make room for some of the catchers we have in the system. He spent some time with St. Louis, but in a very limited role. It was the first time he had been up since 2004 with the Brewers. He hasn’t been a legit member of a big league team since 2002 with the White Sox. That being said, it’s more likely that we’ll begin to see Chris Robinson getting the bulk of the time behind the plate. For Robinson, he’s making his first trip to AAA after spending the last two seasons with the Smokies in AA and not fairing well. Perhaps another level is what he needs, though his .278 average is deceiving a bit. Looking at his his OBP and Slugging we can see that his average is made up of singles. I usually look for an OPS (On Base + Slugging) to be at least .800 to think a player is really making an impact with the bat. Robinson is not near that in the early going. He should get a chance to prove himself, especially if Johnson continues to struggle.

Tennessee is the home for perhaps the top prospect at the catcher position in the system right now in Wellington Castillo

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. He comes into the season ranked as the # 8 prospect in the system by John Sickels of Minor League Ball and is playing at the AA level for a second year after splitting time between Tennessee and Daytona last year. He hit well in AA last year so I fully expect him to do well again this year and continue to progress. I would not be surprised to see him be promoted after May if his production warrents, for no other reason than to give Steven Clevenger

a chance to get more regular time behind the plate as he continues to try to learn the position. Clevenger is a converted college infielder, but has made a pretty decent transition so far.

The only other kid that stands out to me, and it’s strictly because of his father, is Michael Brenly, who was recently added to the Peoria Chief’s roster after Mario Mercedes went on the DL with a strained calf. Brenly, a 36th round pick in 2008 out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, caught last season in Class-A Boise. Last year he averaged .325 in 39 games with one home run and 18 RBI. His .325 average ranked him third on Boise’s hitting list last season.

So that’s the catcher position for this team so far, at least until Boise and the Arizona Cubs get started. Any thoughts, impressions or comments? Are you encouraged or discouraged? What do you think of the new format for the minor league coverage? Let’s get some discussion going since we have two full days with no baseball. On Tuesday we’ll take a look at the infield.

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Milkit Badly — part 2

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Well, so far it’s been quite a treat having Milkit on the team. He’s 1 for 19, has missed a number of games already with an “owie” and is being suspended. The best thing he’s done for this team so far is have the decency to get injured in the right game — so that Reed Johnson could save the day making a catch that Milkit would have watched sail over the fence for a grand slam.

Meanwhile, Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu and Mark DeRosa are all driving in runs for their respective teams.

More later. Or not.

Sherm

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Series Tied!

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Well you couldn’t have asked for a more exciting game for a beautiful Friday afternoon. I’ll go over the highlights and then ask for your thoughts on some things.

Hoffpauir got his second consecutive start in RF and made the most of it with a double in the first to score Fukudome who had walked. Ramirez singled him home to make it 2-0 Cubs.

The Cubs continued to take advantage of Walters’ shaky start when Fontenot and Theriot each singled in the second and Zambrano walked. Brenly and Kasper pointed out that in Zambrano’s 536 career plate appearances, he has walked 5 times. This was his first walk since 2006. They called this a “stunning development” and mentioned Zambrano has become much more patient. More on that later … you don’t often find the words “Zambrano” and “patient” in the same sentence! Fukudome’s sacrifice fly scored Fontenot. Cubs 3-0.

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The third inning was the Cards’ best … Barden walked, then Shumaker singled up the middle which annoyed Zambrano because he barely missed getting his glove on it. Rasmus got an infield hit which left the bases loaded for Pujols. His sacrifice fly to Soriano scoring Barden gave everyone a sigh of relief until Ludwick hit the very next pitch for a home run deep into the left field bleachers. 4-3 Cardinals.

Walters settled way down for the next two innings and the Cubs made no progress. (Makes you kind of wonder if they should have left him in there for the 5th inning since he had been doing so well, but I’m glad they didn’t!) After the Cardinals added a run in the 5th making it 5-3, the Cubs added two in their half of the inning (Ramirez doubled to left scoring DLee and Soto’s single to right scored Ramirez). Tied 5-5.

The Cardinals added a run in each of the 6th and 7th innings on homers by Barden and Ludwick respectively. Ramirez added another RBI in the bottom of the seventh scoring Fukudome. Cards 7-6.

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Aaron Miles walked while pinch hitting for Heilman, and Soriano hit his game winning home run in the bottom of the eighth. This followed three strikeouts and a fly out by Soriano earlier in the game. While almost everyone else seemed to have Walters’ number early, Soriano didn’t seem to be able to get it together. But he did, when we needed it the most!

Marmol walked Rasmus, hit Pujols and scared the beegeebes out of everyone before he settled down and finished off the ninth to get the save.

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It was a great game. I’m excited to see if we can do it again tomorrow!

So, let’s talk about some things.

First, a disclaimer. I am a fair-weather Zambrano fan. I admit it. When he is doing well I am happy and enjoy watching him. When he is not doing well I tend to blame it on his hot-headedness and he annoys me. So which comes first, do you think? Does he have a bad inning because he loses his head, or does he lose his head because he has a bad inning? I’d have no problem with him getting disgusted with himself after he has a bad inning. But sometimes it seems that him getting disgusted with himself actually causes the bad inning. What do you think?

Next, how do you feel about St. Louis this year? Will they pose a thread in the NL Central? Will they be in it in September?

On a side note, Bob Brenly gave his first (of many) pieces of marital advice to Robbie Gould after the stretch in the 7th. Well, I should rephrase. He doesn’t give many separate pieces of marital wisdom. He gives the same piece many, many times. Enjoy you anyway Bob!

That oughta keep us busy for now. :-)

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Quick Hits from a Loss

Friday, April 17th, 2009

First Star: K. Fukudome (.425 wpa)

Second Star: C. Duncan (.224 wpa)

Third Star: K. McClellan (.147 wpa)

Virus Undead rip


  1. Milton Bradley’s ejection was NOT an indication that he’s about to destruct – If you watched the game, Bradley came into it in a key pinch hitting situation. If he walks or hits in that spot, the game probably turns out completely different. He worked the count as he always does, but in the end he got shafted on the third strike call. It was a curveball that crossed the plate inside, despite Molina framing it to the best of his ability. At that point, when you know you’re not staying in the game because of an injury, let the unpire have it and hopefully get the team excited. As soon as the ump made the call, I slapped the couch and was fussing at the TV myself. I’m not one to argue with an umpire or a referee unless I know I’m correct. Bradley knows the strike zone and felt he was right. Props to him for trying to get the team going desite being able to come back out on the field. I don’t worry at all that his “anger issues” are now going to surface.
  2. We’re not going to win with this bullpen – I don’t know what needs to happen, but this pen is not going to get the job done and it needs to be fixed and fixed early. I have no confidence in anyone in the pen except Marmol. This weekend, I’ll probably take a look at some bullpen options, so look for that post on Monday. In the meantime, it’s imperative for the starters to take as much pressure off the pen as possible. I know Marshall and Harden are your fourth and fifth starters, but it would make me a lot happier if all our five starters can start going nine everyday. Obviously I’m being silly, but please please please guys, give us seven. Am I wrong on this? Do you have confidence in anyone in that pen? Really?
  3. Chris Duncan is terrible in the OF

    Evelyn the movie

    – What makes me laugh about watching him in the field is the embarrassment his dad (Dave Duncan) must feel when he makes bad mistakes. I wonder if sometimes he just pulls him aside and says “Son, you hit the ball great, but you suck in the field.” Do you think Tony LaRussa ever gives Dave Duncan crap about it in the dugout or even when they’re out for dinner? Nonetheless, Duncan beat us and now we need to get some revenge. It’s still possible to win this series, but it just got a lot harder.

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One of the best pictures ever

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

I missed the game yesterday. What did I miss? Let’s talk it up!!! In the meantime, here is a picture that made me laugh out loud at work.

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Lunch on the Farm – 4/14

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Rich Harden goes to the mound today against former Cub whipping boy, Jason Marquis. It should be fun to see the react to Marquis coming back to town. I harbor no ill feelings toward him. He did exactly what he was paid to do. He took the ball and kept you in the ballgame as best you can expect from a back end of the rotation type starter.

AAA – Iowa Cubs defeated Albuquerque 14-7

  • Sam Fuld (.360/.433/.480) – went 3-for-5 with a home run short of the cycle and four RBI out of the leadoff spot.
  • So Taguchi heard my diss yesterday and decided to show up at the plate with a 4-for-6 day and 3 RBI
  • Jake ‘my guy’ Fox (.545/.621/1.136) went 4-for-5 at the plate with two HR’s and five RBI. He needs to be on the active roster. He has value for this team.
  • Mitch Atkins sucked (see the Top Prospect Tracker at the bottom of the post)

High A – Daytona lost to Dunedin 8-6

    Garfield’s Fun Fest movie

  • Tyler Colvin (.235/.381/.294)went 0-for-4 as he continues his quest to rehab from off-season surgery. The lack of power is a bummer so far with the .294 slugging %.

In a game that seemed to be headed for a blowout early, the young, resilient Daytona Cubs (3-2, 3-2) were unable to pull out a win in the first of a three-game series against the Dunedin Blue Jays (2-3, 2-3), falling 8-6. The Blue Jays scored all of their runs with two outs.

Dunedin starter Andrew Liebel (0-1) was dealing early, facing the minimum twelve hitters through four innings, while his offense put up five runs against Cubs starter James Leverton (0-0). The Blue Jays used six hits, including a solo home run by catcher Jon Jaspe, and three stolen bases to build the five-run difference through three innings.

The momentum of the game changed briefly in the bottom of the fifth when the Cubs rallied for five of their own to tie up the ball game. Centerfielder Drew Rundle notched his first hit on a two-RBI double when he came up with the bases loaded and nobody out. Catcher Robinson Chirinos followed suit and used his first hit of 2009 to double in two more runs and bring Daytona within one. Three batters later, Marwin Gonzalez, who later extended his hitting streak to five games in the seventh, would bring home Chirinos with a ground out to second.

But again with two outs in the sixth, Dunedin rallied behind three hits and a walk to plate three more runs and take the lead for good off reliever Craig Muschko (0-1).  Designated hitter Darin Mastroianni led the way with a 2-for-2 night in which he safely reached base in all five at bats, stole two bases and scored two runs.

Any final hopes for another late-game comeback were whisked away as Blue Jay relievers Robert Bell and Daniel Farquhar struck out the final six batters of the game. Left fielder Eric Thames and first baseman Manny Rodriguez both enjoyed three RBI performances.

Low-A – Peoria Chiefs swept a doubleheader against Dayton 5-4 (game 1) and 5-4 (game 2)

  • Tony Campana (.353/.353/.353) -  had five hits on the day and two SB
  • Ryan Flaherty (.467/.556/.733) – got on base five times, including a double and two walks

Falling behind early in both games, the Peoria Chiefs mounted a couple of middle inning comebacks on their way to a pair of 5-4 wins in a doubleheader sweep against the Dayton Dragons. The Chiefs were paced by Nelson Perez’s homer and Ryan Flaherty’s two-run double in game one and some clutch, two-out hitting in game two.

The Chiefs used a big third inning to gain their first lead of the game. Trailing 4-1 with one out, Rebel Ridling walked. Perez, who was tied for the lead in the Arizona Rookie League last season with 10 homers, stepped in and blasted a line-shot to right that pinged off the foul pole to cut the Chiefs deficit to 4-3. The long ball was the Chiefs first of the season. Josh Vitters followed that up with an infield single up the middle, and Kyler Burke lined a single to left. Vitters was eventually thrown out at third trying to advance to on a wild pitch and Junior Lake walked. Flaherty, with one hit already on the day, bounced one just inside the first base line, plating both Burke and Lake to give the Chiefs a 5-4 edge.

Dayton took advantage of a first-inning error to take an early 1-0 lead. Dave Sappelt singled to left. Cody Puckett grounded one towards third but it went underneath the glove of Josh Vitters, allowing Sappelt to travel all the way to third on the play. Jose Gualdron came up and delivered a sacrifice fly to right field, plating Sappelt and putting Dayton on the board.

The Chiefs got that run back quickly in their half of the first. Tony Campana reached on a bunt single to third. After a sacrifice by Josh Harrison, Ridling drove in his sixth run of the young season with a RBI single to right-center to tie the game at one.

The Dragons tacked on three more runs in the second. With one away, Jordan Wideman ripped an opposite field double down the right field line. Miguel Rojas bounced a single up the middle. Campana’s throw to the plate was high as Wideman scored. On the throw, Rojas advanced to second base setting the table for Brandon Menchaca. The right-handed hitting right-fielder lined a single to right, scoring Rojas. With two down in the inning and runners on first and second, Jose Gualdron snuck one through the left side of the infield allowing Menchaca to score to make it a 4-1 Dayton lead.

Jeff Beliveau started game one for the Chiefs on the mound. In his second appearance and first start, the southpaw allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits in three innings of work. Mike Perconte (1-0) came on in relief to pick up the win and needed just 22 pitches two get through three innings without allowing a hit. Erik Hamren picked up his first save of the season, hurling a 1-2-3 seventh inning. Leonardo Astorga started for Dayton. The right-hander, who was draped with the loss, allowed five runs on seven hits in three innings.

The  Dragons again jumped on top of the Chiefs early in game two. Dave Sappelt and Cody Puckett led off the game with consecutive singles and came around to score on a Kyle Day two run triple. Dayton was still threatening with runners at the corners and nobody out after a Humberto Sosa walk, but Chiefs starter Marcus Hatley struck out Gualdron and induced a double play off the bat of Byron Wiley to keep it 2-0.

The Chiefs got on the board in the second as Perez led off with a tailing double to left. After Cliff Andersen was retired, Flaherty drove in his third run of the doubleheader with a single up the middle to make it a 2-1 score.

Trailing 2-1, the Chiefs took their first lead of game two in the fifth inning against Oscar Castro. After one out, David Macias reached second on an error by Dragons first baseman Humberto Sosa. Tony Campana tied the game with a single to left as Macias scored without a throw. Campana stole second and advanced to third on a single by Harrison. With the game tied, Ridling drove home his seventh RBI of the season with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Campana for a 3-2 Chiefs lead.

Peoria added to their lead in the sixth. David Macias and Campana both recorded RBI singles to give the Chiefs some much needed insurance at 5-2. The Dragons rallied in the top of the seventh. With one out and runners on first and second, Ryan Buchter came on to relieve Josh Whitlock. Buchter struggled though and walked three straight hitters on 12 consecutive balls, forcing in two runs. With the bases still loaded and the tying run on third base, Jose Pina came in to try and close it out. The third-year Chief induced a foul pop out by Byron Wiley to the third baseman Macias, and Frank Pfister grounded harmlessly to Flaherty to end the threat and the game.

Hatley, a 6’5 right-hander allowed two runs on five hits over two innings while walking two and striking out one. Kevin Kreier tossed three scoreless innings and allowed one hit with two strikeouts in a winning effort. Whitlock went 1 1/3 innings, Buchter faced three batters and Pina picked up his first save of the season. Oscar Castro was the losing pitcher for the Dragons. Castro allowed five runs in 4 2/3 innings.

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To view the entire organizational recap of box scores, be sure to visit the Cubs page on FirstInning.com

Thanks to the Peoria Chiefs and Daytona Cubs media department for providing game recaps.

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Lunch on the Farm – 4/13

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

A late lunch for the farm today as I took a lunch out with the wife and toddler at Moe’s Southwest Grill. Unfortunately we were not greeted with the customary “Welcome to Moe’s!!!!”, but oh well. That being said, here is your late lunch on the farm.

AAA – Iowa Cubs lost to the Albuquerque Isotopes (no that wasn’t just in the Simpsons) by a score of 3-1, which is a low scoring affair for that park.

  • Jeff Samardzija got the start and went four innings, striking out four hitters and walking just one. He allowed two hits and no runs in the outing, which is encouraging to see. I’m curious as to what is ultimate role on this team will be, not just for this year but for the future. I know he wants to be a starting pitcher, but I really like him in the pen this year because it may lessen my fears a little.
  • JR Mathis came in to relieve Samardzija and got bombed in the 7th inning for three runs.
  • So Taguchi went 0-for-3. He’s hitting .154 on the year and I can’t figure out why we kept him on the roster. We have plenty of OF already and Taguchi doesn’t really add anything to the team, especially at 39 years of age. Why keep him to take away time from someone else?

AA – Tennessee Smokies lost to the Jacksonville Suns 2-0

  • Tony Thomas, who has been crazy hot of late, went 0-for-4 with four big strikeouts. Baseball is just a funny game like that. One minute you’re having the time of your life and hitting the ball all over the place, the next minute you can’t make a lick of contact.
  • Steven Clevenger went 2-for-4 with a couple of singles out of the catcher position. He’s starting the year in AA after being promoted from High A Daytona late last year.

High A – Daytona Cubs beat the Brevard County Manatees 6-5

  • Dylan Johnston went 2-for-5 with a HR
  • Jonathan Wyatt had a 2-for-4 day with a pair of singles and a base on balls.
  • Tyler Colvin went 1-for-2 with three walks as he trys to rehab and get himself up to Iowa.

Top Prospect Tracker


To view the entire organizational recap of box scores, be sure to visit the Cubs page on FirstInning.com A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints dvd

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