Archive for May, 2011

This Week in Farmville: 5/15 – 5/21

Monday, May 23rd, 2011


(Photo credit: Adam Kline)

Overall Minor League Record: 101-69

WEEK IN REVIEW

While the Chicago Cubs find themselves four games under .500 entering the final full week of May (with an identical 20-24 record as they had after 48 games a year ago), the rest of the organization finds itself in great shape as we head towards Memorial Day. A glance at the standings finds each of the Cubs’ minor league affiliates occupying either 1st or 2nd place in their divisions, with Tennessee (27-16) and Daytona (31-12) sporting the best records in their leagues.

Last week, the entire farm system continued its winning ways with an overall record of 21-5, finishing with a perfect 8-0 record on Friday and Saturday. The following is a brief recap of how each team in the organization faired during the week:

Iowa Cubs  – Pacific Coast League

Overall (20-22) – 2nd Place, North Division

Last Week – (5-1)

This Week – vs. Tuscon (1gm), vs. Las Vegas (4gms), @ Round Rock (2gms)

  • While the I-Cubs are the only team in the Cubs’ minor league system with a losing record, the team had an impressive 5-1 record last week putting them within 2-games of .500 after Saturday’s rain-shortened 4-3 win over Tucson.
  • The I-Cubs finished the week on their first three game winning streak of the season after coming up short in their five previous attempts this season.
  • Brad Snyder and Bobby Scales have had the hottest bats during the team’s recent success. Snyder entered Sunday’s action with an eight game hit streak, during which he has connected for two home runs and driven in seven runs. Scales has hit safely in his last five games, his second longest streak of the season after hitting in 10-straight to start the season.

Tennessee Smokies  – Southern League

Overall (27-16) – 1st Place, North Division

Last Week – (6-1)

This Week – vs. Mobile (2 gms), vs. Mississippi (5 gms)

  • The Smokies, which feature six of the Cubs top 10 prospects, dominated the competition last week with a 6-1 record in games against Charlotte and Mobile. The only blemish on their week was 2-1 loss to Charlotte on a rare low-scoring night for Tennessee.
  • Tennessee scored a combined 50 runs in their six wins during the week, which included outbursts of 13, 11, and nine runs in separate games.
  • Cubs highly-touted prospect Chris Carpenter joined the Tennessee roster on Thursday after starting the season at AAA-Iowa. Carpenter, who was the Cubs’ third round pick in the 2008 draft, spent parts of both the 2009 and 2010 with the Smokies as well.
  • There has been no shortage of power in the Smokey Mountains through the first two months of the season as Tennessee leads the Southern League with an astounding 52 home runs in 44 games. For reference, Montgomery is a distant second with 38 homers as a team. Outfielder Ryan Flaherty has led the charge with 10 home runs and 46 RBI.

Daytona Cubs  – Florida State League

Overall (31-12) – 1st Place, North Division

Last Week – (6-1)

This Week – vs. St. Lucie (4 gms), vs. Brevard County (3 gms)

  • Daytona’s 31-12 record is not only the class of the Florida State League, but gives them the best record in all of baseball. The D-Cubs entered Sunday on a four game winning streak and with a record of 15-6 through the first three weeks of May.
  • Aaron Kurcz, who entered the season as the 25th ranked prospect in the Cubs system according to Baseball America, improved his record to 3-0 after a five-inning, one-hit performance against Palm Beach on Wednesday. Kurcz lowered his ERA to 2.38 in the win.
  • Another of the system’s top-ranked prospects, second baseman Logan Watkins, has been less impressive in his first season of Advanced A-ball, hitting just .167 in his first 35 games with Daytona. Watkins looks to be starting to come around, however, hitting a respectable .250 over his last 10 games.

Peoria Chiefs  – Midwest League

Overall (23-19)  – 2nd Place, Eastern Division

Last Week – (4-2)

This Week – vs. Clinton (2 gms), vs. Wisconsin (3 gms), @ Cedar Rapids (2 gms)

  • The Chiefs rounded out the Cubs’ solid week on the farm with a three game winning streak of their own, giving them a 4-2 record on the week. It was the fourth winning streak of three or more games for the Chiefs this season.
  • Leftfielder Anthony Giansanti had an eight game hitting streak come to an end in Friday night’s win against the Clinton Lumberkings. Giansanti entered the streak hitting just .167 on the season, but hit .461 during those eight games and raised his average 50 points to .217.
  • While the Chicago Cubs’ defensive maladies have been well documented this season, perhaps there is hope for the future as the Chiefs turned two double plays on Saturday, giving them a league leading 51 on the season.
  • 2010 first-round pick Hayden Simpson pitched 4 2/3 innings on Saturday, giving up three earned runs while striking out five. While Simpson has yet to collect a victory this season (0-1, 4.63 ERA), the Chiefs are 7-2 in games he has started.

TOP PROSPECT REPORT

#1) Brett Jackson, of (Current Team: Tennessee)

Season: .295/.420/.518, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 13 SB

Last 10 App: On Disabled List since May 12

#2) Trey McNutt, rhp (Current Team: Tennessee)

Season: 1-2, 6 G, 6 GS, 2.38 ERA, 22.2 IP, 16 K, 5 BB, 25 H

Last 10 App: 1-2, 6 G, 6 GS, 2.38 ERA, 22.2 IP, 16 K, 5 BB, 25 H

#3) Chris Carpenter, rhp (Current Team: Tennessee)

Season: (AAA) – 2-1, 1 S, 13 G, 0 GS, 6.41 ERA,19.2 IP, 20 K, 17 BB, 20 H

(AA) – 1-0, 0 S, 1 G, 0 GS, 3.86 ERA, 1.1 IP, 1K, 3 BB, 1 H

Last 1 App (AA) : 1-0, 0 S, 1 G, 0 GS, 3.86 ERA, 1.1 IP, 1K, 3 BB, 1 H

4) Hayden Simpson, rhp (Current Team: Peoria)

Season: 0-1, 9 G, 9 GS, 4.63 ERA, 35 IP, 29 K, 14 BB, 42 H

Last 10 App: 0-1, 9 G, 9 GS, 4.63 ERA, 35 IP, 29 K, 14 BB, 42 H

#5) Josh Vitters, 3b (Current Team: Tennessee)

Season: .257/.296/.431, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 0 SB

Last 10 App: .297/.316/.459, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB

#6) Jay Jackson, rhp (Current Team: Iowa)

Season: 1-3,  0 SV, 6 G, 6 GS, 7.94 ERA, 28.1 IP, 13 K, 14 BB, 35 H

Last 10 App: 1-3,  0 SV, 6 G, 6 GS, 7.94 ERA, 28.1 IP, 13 K, 14 BB, 35 H

#7) Rafael Dolis, rhp (Current Team: Tennessee)

Season: 1-2,  3 SV, 13 G, 4 GS, 2.73 ERA, 29.2 IP, 23 K, 16 BB, 26 H

Last 10 App: 0-2, 3 SV, 10 G, 1 GS, 3.63 ERA, 17.1 IP, 10 K, 1 BB, 20 H

#8) Matt Szczur, of (Current Team: Peoria)

Season: .320/.398/.369, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 10 SB

Last 10 App: .300/.383/.300, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 8 SB

#9) Reggie Golden, of  (Current Team: AZL Cubs)

Season: .333/.412/.400, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SB

Last 4 App: .333/.412/.400, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SB

#10) Robert Whitenack, rhp (Current Team: Tennessee)

Season: (HighA) 3-0, 0 SV, 4 G, 4 GS, 1.17 ERA, 23.0 IP, 25 K, 1 BB, 11 H

(AA) 4-0, 0 SV, 6 G, 6 GS, 2.57 ERA, 35.0 IP, 20 K, 11 BB, 31 H

Last 4 App (AA): 4-0, 0 SV, 6 G, 6 GS, 2.57 ERA, 35.0 IP, 20 K, 11 BB, 31 H

Other Notables

Alberto Cabrera, rhp (Current Team: Tennessee) – Baseball America #11

Season: 5-2,  0 SV, 8 G, 8 GS, 5.62 ERA, 41.2 IP, 30 K, 18 BB, 54 H

Last 10 App: 5-2,  0 SV, 8 G, 8 GS, 5.62 ERA, 41.2 IP, 30 K, 18 BB, 54 H

D.J. LaMahieu, 2b (Current Team: Tennessee) – Baseball America #13

Season: .358/.386/.500, 2 HR, 26 RBI, 3 SB

Last 10 App: .405/.421/.568, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB

Marcus Mateo, rhp (Current Team: Iowa Cubs) Baseball America #18 – Optioned 5/17

Season: 0-0, 1 SV, 2 G, 0 GS, 6.75 ERA, 1.1 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 H

Last 10 App: 0-0, 1 SV, 2 G, 0 GS, 6.75 ERA, 1.1 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 H

Robinson Lopez, rhp (Current Team: Peoria) – Baseball America #19

Season: 3-1, 0 SV, 9 G, 4 GS, 4.15 ERA, 39.0 IP, 19 K, 15 BB, 41 H

Last 10 App: 3-1, 0 SV, 9 G, 4 GS, 4.15 ERA, 39.0 IP, 19 K, 15 BB, 41 H

Kyle Smit, rhp (Current Team: Tennessee) – Baseball America #20

Season: 2-0, 0 SV, 12 G, 0 GS, 7.16 ERA, 16.1 IP, 19 K, 13 BB, 21 H

Last 10 App: 2-0, 0 SV, 12 G, 0 GS, 7.16 ERA, 16.1 IP, 19 K, 13 BB, 21 H

Logan Watkins, 2b (Current Team: Daytona) – Baseball America #21

Season: .167/.266/.233, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 4 SB

Last 10 App: .250/.333/.393, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB

Ryan Flaherty, of (Current Team: Tennessee) – Baseball America #22

Season: .322/.391/.611, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 3 SB

Last 10 App: .417/.512/.722, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 0 SB

Aaron Kurcz, rhp (Current Team: Daytona) – Baseball America #25

Season: 3-0, 0 SV, 8 G, 7 GS, 2.48 ERA, 32.2 IP, 29 K, 15 BB, 29 H

Last 10 App: 3-0, 0 SV, 8 G, 7 GS, 2.48 ERA, 32.2 IP, 29 K, 15 BB, 29 H

Brooks Raley, lhp (Current Team: Tennessee) – Baseball America #26

Season: 1-3, 0 SV, 8 G, 8 GS, 6.03 ERA, 37.1 IP, 22 K, 21 BB, 53 H

Last 10 App: 1-3, 0 SV, 8 G, 8 GS, 6.03 ERA, 37.1 IP, 22 K, 21 BB, 53 H

Junior Lake, ss (Current Team: Daytona) – Baseball America #27

Season: .301/.328/.446, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 16 SB

Last 10 App: .300/.364/.300, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 5 SB

Jae-Hoon Ha, of (Current Team: Tennessee) – Baseball America #28

Season: (HighA) .311/.344/.523, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 6 SB

(AA) .296/.296/.444, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB

Last 6 App (AA): .296/.296/.444, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB

Esmalin Caridad, rhp (Current Team: Iowa) – Baseball America #29

Season: 2-1, 2 SV, 16 G, 0 GS, 8.31 ERA, 26.0 IP, 21 K, 18 BB, 37 H

Last 10 App: 1-0, 0 SV, 10 G, 0 GS, 8.31 ERA, 17.1 IP, 12 K, 15 BB, 22 H

Dae-Eun Rhee, rhp (Current Team: Daytona) – Baseball America #30

Season: 1-0, 0 SV, 6 G, 2 GS, 2.41 ERA, 18.2 IP, 13 K, 13 BB, 18 H

Last 10 App: 1-0, 0 SV, 6 G, 2 GS, 2.41 ERA, 18.2 IP, 13 K, 13 BB, 18 H

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Game 44 – What an 8th

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Cubs 9, Red Sox 3

Box Score / Video Highlights / Condensed Game


A thrilling end of the game to say the least.  After some concerning injury setbacks the Cubs rallied in the eighth to pull off a victory and stop Boston’s win streak at eight.  The Cubs go into tomorrow night’s rubber game with questions insofar as the starting pitcher and center fielder as it was announced that Matt Garza is suffering from elbow tightness and Marlon Byrd was beaned early in the game.  Some highlights from tonight’s game:

What went right:

  • Zambrano pitched a quality game and hung in there – we needed a good start as the Cubs are now down three starters.
  • The Cubs hung in there and didn’t give up – they fought and scratched and kept the game close until the bats woke up in the eighth.
  • Timely hitting and pinch-hitting in the eighth – the Cubs scored 8 runs in the 8th to put the game away.  Barney and Castro did what they did best by setting the table, Ramirez got picky at the plate and coerced a walk out of Albers to load the bases.  Pena did the same and Albers walked the second Cubs run in – Johnson lined the game-winning hit off the scoreboard scoring the tying and winning runs.
  • Keystone Red Sox defense, they looked pretty bad.
  • Kerry Wood rebounded and pitched a strong eighth inning.

What went wrong:

  • Prior to the game the Cubs learned that Matt Garza would not be able to pitch on Sunday, this totally disrupts what was at best an uncertain rotation.  Rumor is that the Cubs will have a Bullpen Day on Sunday – I’d rather see them bring up the best Double A or Triple A option and give Garza two starts off.
  • Byrd got hit in the face and was immediately removed from the game.  It looked pretty bad but Marlon did not lose consciousness and appeared to be cut slightly under the left eye.

Tomorrow the Cubs will go for the series win with Tim Wakefield as the announced starter for Boston, hopefully the wind will be blowing in for the knuckleballer.  The Cubs could use some breaks after losing the opener and tying Game 2.

On this date in baseball history:

  • 1919:  The New York Giants traded Jim Thorpe to the Boston Braves for Pat Ragan.  Thorpe was a better footballer than he was a baseball player, as were a few that came after him.
  • 1952:  The Dodgers scored 15 runs in the first on the way to a 19-1 victory over the Reds.  It was a Major League record.
  • 2005:  Korean Dae-Sung-koo lines a double off Randy Johnson, causing Mike Piazza to lose a million dollar pledge.  Piazza told teammate David Wright that he would donate a million dollars to charity if the Korean got a hit.  I’m unsure as to whether or not Piazza delivered as promised.

Stars of the Game
Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star– Casey Coleman (.273 WPA)

2nd Star –Marlon Byrd (.122 WPA)

3rd Star– John Buck (.115 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Mark 5-3 (.625)

Buddy 3-3 (.500)

Joe 9-10 (.474)

Brandon 1-4 (.200)

Chet 0-2 (.000)

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Game 43 – We Waited 93 Years for That?

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Cubs 5, Red Sox 15

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

The following recap is a guest post by Dustin Godsey

What Went Right

Getting ‘em on – It wasn’t as though the Cubs didn’t give themselves an opportunity to stay in the game, as they racked up 12 hits off Boston starter John Lester. The Red Sox’ big lefty has struggled of late having now given up four or more runs in three consecutive starts, and the Cubs hitters put pressure on him from the start. Chicago put runners in scoring position in each of the first six innings, and it’s hard to complain too much about the offense that knocks around the opposing starting pitcher the way the Cubs did. That said…well, we’ll get to that shortly.

Jeff Baker – Leading the hit parade for the Cubs was Jeff Baker, who finished the night 4 for 5, with hits in each of his four at bats against Lester. It’s no secret that Baker is the ultimate platoon infielder against lefties, but he has been even more impressive so far this season in particular, and has raised his average against southpaws this season to .513.

James Russell – When your first two pitchers of the night can’t give you more than four innings in the first game of the series, you need someone to come in, calm things down and eat up a couple innings in hopes that your bullpen isn’t completely depleted going into the weekend. That was Russell tonight. He wasn’t spectacular, but he pitched three quiet innings, allowing just three hits and no runs.

What Went Wrong

Getting ‘em in – Again, it’s hard to scream too loudly about an offense that gives you 12 hits in the first six innings, but as has been the case often this year the Cubs left a lot of runs on the table. Baker and Aramis Ramirez combined for seven hits from the three and four holes, but didn’t have many opportunities to turn those hits into runs with Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney going just 1 for 10 in front of them.

Doug Davis – Davis threw 24 pitches before retiring an out (though that wasn’t all his fault) and despite a 1-2-3 second inning, it was pretty clear from the start that the bullpen was going to get some work. Despite throwing 42 of his 89 pitches for balls, Davis’ night couldn’t be classified as wild. He stayed right around the strike zone all night, sometimes to his benefit, but often not as he gave up eight hits and walked three in his 3 2/3 innings.

 

Scott Maine – Ugh. 1/3+ innings, 37 pitches, and two balls hit by Youkilis and Saltalamacchia that may have traveled about a quarter mile each. Any thought that the Cubs might stay in this one was erased during Maine’s brief time on the hill.

Defense (again) – Another bad night in the field for the Cubs, finishing the night with another four errors. Errors in the infield. Errors in the outfield. Throwing errors. Fielding errors. Passed balls. Basically the same thing we’ve seen all year from this team.

Misc. Notes

  • Jeff Samardzija pitched the eight-inning in mop-up duty and didn’t look like the same “Shark” we’ve been used to seeing. There wasn’t much on the line though, so I’m not too concerned with the bad outing in this case.
  • With Bob Brenly taking a night off to watch his son play in Dayton, Bill Buckner filled in admirably as color analyst along side Len Kasper.
  • After the Volvo sign above the Green Monster kept it from landing on Landsdowne St., Jared Saltalamacchia’s fifth inning home run ball found it’s way into the hands of none other than Cubs president Crane Kenney, who took in the game from atop the left field wall.
  • The “Good Luck Bruins” sign on the padding behind the plate was a nice show of camaraderie amongst the Boston sports teams.
  • The Cubs and Red Sox will wear throwback uniforms from the 1918 season on Saturday commemorating the last time the two teams me in Fenway Park. Just think, if not for Steve Bartman and Aaron Bleeping Boone, they might be wear 2003 throwbacks instead.

Tomorrow’s Forecast

The pitching match-up for Saturday’s game 2 would appear to favor the Cubs, with Carlos Zambrano matching up against Alfredo Aceves, who is making his first start of the year, and just the sixth in his four seasons. Big Z will look to regain his form after picking up his first road loss of the season earlier in the week in Cincinnati. With Boston putting a right-hander on the mound, the Cubs lineup will undoubtedly take on a different look on Saturday. Kosuke Fukudome will most certainly replace Reed Johnson in RF, and it will be interesting to see what combination Quade goes with at DH/LF. Prediction: Cubs 5, Red Sox 3

Stars of the Game
Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star– Casey Coleman (.273 WPA)

2nd Star –Marlon Byrd (.122 WPA)

3rd Star– John Buck (.115 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Mark 4-3 (.571)

Buddy 3-3 (.500)

Joe 9-10 (.474)

Brandon 1-4 (.200)

Chet 0-2 (.000)

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Cubs / Red Sox Series Preview

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Doug Davis vs. Jon Lester

Making his first big league start since last July, Davis gave up four hits and walked one over five innings, striking out six. He may be the temporary fix the Cubs need for the back end of the rotation. Lester has won his last five decisions and five of his last six starts. He had to battle in his last game against the Yankees, a four-run, six-inning performance. Of slight concern are the combined nine walks in his last two starts.

Carlos Zambrano vs. Alfredo Aceves

The Reds snapped Zambrano’s road winning streak at 10 games in his most recent start. He faced the Red Sox once — June 11, 2005, at Wrigley Field — when he gave up four runs on five hits over five innings. The swingman will make his first start in a Boston uniform, replacing the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka. Aceves made two starts for Triple-A Pawtucket this season, posting a 5.63 ERA. He has made 11 relief appearances for the Sox, producing a 2.60 ERA.

Matt Garza vs. Tim Wakefield

Garza is very familiar with Boston after spending the last five years in the American League. The right-hander is 7-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 110 1/3 innings against the Red Sox. He is 5-3 with a 3.81 ERA in nine career starts at Fenway Park. For the third time this month, Wakefield will make a spot start. This time, he pitches in place of John Lackey, who was placed on the DL with a right elbow strain. Wakefield recently became the oldest player to ever participate in a game for the Sox.

Troy Patterson scouts the Red Sox

Who’s Hot – On the offense it’s pretty clear that Adrian Gonzalez is the best thing going right now.  The team is starting to get more consistent, but Gonzalez is what has this offense going every night.  His walk rate is a bit lower than most expected, but you could say he’s trying to do more with the bat right now.  As for pitchers you need look no further than Beckett and Buchholz.  In his last six starts Buchholz has an ERA of 2.15 and Beckett has an ERA of 1.72 in his last 5.

Who’s Not – The other big signing has quietly slipped back into a funk and Carl Crawford has hit only .234/.250/.298 in the last two weeks.  He can hide right now on this roster and while they are winning the attention will be less, but his OPS of .522 needs to be much higher by the All-Star break or things will get worse for him.  As for pitching we couldn’t have a wider stretch from hot to not as John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka have left the Red Sox hunting for pitching.  Whoever they get to fill their spots while on the DL couldn’t be any worse, but the team would have to hope just for a solid inning total to keep the pen fresh.

News / Notes – Outside of some curious DL decisions the team has largely been able to quite many of the questions early this season.  Currently standing 2.5 games back of the Rays and only 2 behind the Yankees the team is ready to put the bad start out of memory.  They could be looking to catch both teams this weekend, which could add more urgency to these games.

Prediction for the series – I’m going to say the Red Sox win the series 2-1 with Lester giving us a win in the first game and pulling a game out between the starts by Tim Wakefield or Alfredo Aceves.  I think it’s more likely we win against Carlos Zambrano as Matt Garza has pitched well against the Red Sox in the past.  I think defense will play in the series as well and the Red Sox have the better all around defense in this matchup.

Troy blogs about the Red Sox for Firebrand, part of the ESPN Sweet Spot Network.

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VFTB Prediction Contest

Friday, May 20th, 2011

The VFTB Weekly Prediction Contest
Official Rules

  • Each week, on Friday morning, we will open the ballot for predictions on five questions for the games running that Mon – Fri. Questions will, for the most part, be Cubs related but may vary based on what is going on in the season. Each entry must be completed in full with guesses for each of the five questions. Ballot locks Monday morning at 7am Eastern time.
  • Stats will be compiled based on the total number someone is off on each of the five questions. The entrant deemed to be the closest cumulatively among the five questions will be awarded the weekly prize from the VFTB prize pool and be entered to compete in the playoff edition come October for the grand prize, a $100 gift certificate to the Wrigleyville Sports online store.
  • You may win more than once over the course of the season, so continue to play. Each time you win it gives you that many more chances to play come playoff time for the grand prize.
  • Winners and questions will be announced in the Friday post each week, with winners being notified via e-mail to confirm and claim their prize.

Update From Week 6

The winner is:
SusanK

Here are the top performers:

SusanK – 36
odie – 46
Dragon – 47
Zach Fisher – 49
Timo – 60
John R Santoro – 62
Mike Mahon – 67
chris in illinois – 72
BuckeyeLakerCub – 79
cap’n obvious – 81

Here is the link to the full report

Enter to Play This Week

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