Archive for September, 2012

Why I Hate September Baseball

Monday, September 17th, 2012

I wrote in a recap over the weekend that I wasn’t much of a fan of baseball in September. I’d like to clarify that and epxlain why.

In Friday’s game against the Pirates, a total of 14 pitchers between the two teams combined to throw a total of 17 innings. The box score was a mess with substitutions. This, to me, is a complete mockary of the game for two reasons.

For the entire season, teams play with a 25 man active roster of players. Managers have to give careful thought to the strategy they employ as they work their way through the tiresome grind that is the regular season. Then, after five long months, we change the rules to allow for up to 40 players on the roster. As a result, managers are suddenly free to substitute till the cows come home. Why play five months under one set of rules and then suddently, when the games are the most critical, change it up? Doesn’t that cheapen the penant races when you see guys that would not normally be in the Majors facing a team that is in the hunt for postseason play? On top of that it takes entirely too long.

What I’d propose is to either change the roster expansion to the first month of the season if you absolutely insist on mandating the 40 man roster rule, and in turn shorten spring training. This would allow the season to start earlier and then end earlier as well. It would allow for the extra arms in the pen as a result of the shorter spring time. Or, what I’d propose would be to keep the rule as it is currently, but tailor it a little more like a hockey system. Use a system that requires the team to designate 25 players as eligible for that game. The remaining would be healthy scratches.

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Game 146: Rizzo & Cubs Barrage Pirates

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Pirates 9 @ Cubs 13

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

My Streak
So I’m not repeating my double recap from last week – even though yesterday’s game wasn’t recapped, I have neither the time nor the interest to pick it up. Plus some things are just more important. Like my current recap win streak. I haven’t had to recap a Cubs loss since August 22nd. Considering they have only won 11 games since then and 6 of those have fallen to me; I don’t want to willingly break that streak.

Anthony Rizzo
Rizzo’s was having a stellar September already, but on Sunday he took it to another level. A two-run bomb in the 5th that pulled the Cubs to within 2 runs; then a grand slam (his first) in the 6th that put the Cubs ahead for good. Three hits, six RBIs and he pushed his average back to .300 for the year (up 18 points just since August 29th).

Chris Volstad
He was putrid today. Couldn’t throw strikes, couldn’t get outs when he did, for a while it looked like a mercy killing on the mound. Frankly, it should’ve been worse – 10 hits, 4 walks, but only 6 runs.

Insurance Runs
Because of the way that the two teams traded crooked innings in the 5th and 6th, I felt the most important inning today was actually the 8th. A game that was 3-1 after 9 outs, was broken wide open twice by the Pirates in the 5th and 6th but the Cubs fought back to have a 10-9 lead after six innings. It was the 8th inning that effectively Marmol-proofed this game for the Cubs. With one on and one out, Soriano dumped an RBI double into the RF corner. Two batters later with two on and two out, DeJesus stepped to the plate and scored both with a single to right. The Cubs had a four run lead that looked relatively safe, and would prove to be the final tally.

There were quite a few highlights on either side of the ball today. Sappelt and Castro teamed to throw out a runner at third; Chapman used the oft-maligned fake to third throw to first move and actually got an out with! Mather hit a bomb, and Beliveau got his first MLB win. I strongly encourage you to view the highlights at – even if it’s just to glance at Rizzo’s beastly grand slam to the RCF bleachers.

One More Win
This team needs one more win to avoid being, at least record-wise, the worst Cubs team in franchise history. Two more wins and they can let 1962 & 1966 continue as the only Cub teams with less than 60 wins (*162 game schedule). Dare I hope for five more wins, leaving us short of 100 losses. Let’s just get two first. Ok, one.

Just a quick rundown if you’re not checking the standings – only 15 games to go. The Giants, Reds, and Nationals have effectively won their divisions (though I suppose the Nats could collapse, they still wouldn’t miss the playoffs entirely). The Braves have a chokehold on a wild card spot. St. Louis holds the other, for now, with the Dodgers (1 GB) and inexplicably the Brewers (2.5 GB) on their heels. The Pirates (3 GB) and Phillies (4 GB) are next, but both need a whole lot of help to get there.

In the AL, none of the divisions are even close to settled. Only 6 of the 14 teams have really been eliminated. Almost any combination of the Yankees, Rays, Orioles, White Sox, Tigers, Rangers, A’s, and Angels could make the playoffs. With the league’s best record, the Rangers have one foot in the door. And it’s still conceivable that for all his maneuvering and extra wild cards, Montgomery Burns Bud Selig will be sending home TWO teams who have better records than the the AL Central’s division winner. That would mean that before the White Sox or Tigers hosted a superior team in ALDS, three teams who also finished with better records in the AL would already be playing golf.

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Game 144: Rusin Gets a Win

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game


  • Chris Rusin got his first win in the Majors. Don’t take it that I think pitcher wins mean anything, because they don’t, but that got me thinking about two things. First, when you get your first hit in your career, you tend to keep the ball. Same goes for your first or milestone home runs. What do pitchers do? Do they just keep the ball that they made the last out with? Do they keep the last ball they threw each game, not knowing if this will be the one they get their win on? I’m not sure. Second, aside from clunker start # 2, Rusin really hasn’t pitched all that poorly. Three of his four starts he’s gone five innings, and while I know five innings isn’t great, and has limited the damage to one or two earned runs. I’ll take that for a back of the rotation guy.
  • The attendance listed in the box score is just 26,946. I wonder if that makes ownership worried at all. This is why teams like the Cubs and the Yankees and the Red Sox and Dodgers simply don’t do a complete rebuild, but rather reload. The fans don’t want to watch players develop. They want to watch a winning team.
  • There were entirely way too many pitchers used in this game. A total of 14 pitchers threw a total of 17 innings in the game. That’s pathetic and it’s the main reason I tend to tune out non-relevant September baseball. The fact that the rosters expand to as many as 40 players is just ignorant. I plan to address the situation more in my Monday post, but until then know that I hate September baseball.
  • Brett Jackson expressed the other day that he had plans for a big 2013. I wonder if he expects those plans to come in AAA or in the Majors. If it’s the Majors, I’m afraid he may be disappointed. When you strike out 35% of the time you come to the plate, you’re not ready. On the positive side, I do enjoy watching him play center field.
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Take Me Back To Chicago

Friday, September 14th, 2012

It’s possible and even likely that I’m looking forward to this weekend’s Cubs games more than anyone else who reads this site. Even the degenerate gamblers. That’s because after a summer’s worth of aborted travel plans and vacation false starts, I’m finally heading back to Chicago to properly break in my Cubs season tickets.

Faithful readers will remember the conundrum I faced last offseason–do I take what might be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy season tickets from the Cubs, even though I live in Los Angeles? Turns out the decision wasn’t all that hard to make, and in spite of the difficult time I had trying to give away a pair of tickets to a game during the last home stand,  it’s been relatively easy to resell my unused tickets on Stub Hub.

But even though I’ve been able to recoup some of my money, it’s been no fun watching game after game slip through my fingers. After all, I didn’t buy my seats as an investment–I bought them to use them. And until a few days ago, I’d given up hope of making it back to Chicago at all this season.

In fact, it was in the midst of the Cubs’ 11-5 pummeling at the hands of the Nationals last Tuesday that I decided to look one last time for affordable tickets (don’t ask me why a game like that would make me want to see the Cubs in person again this season–I think we just chalk decisions like that up to addiction). And for what seems like the first time all summer, the Cubs’ schedule and airline prices stopped conspiring against me and presented one last open window.

So for about 42 blissful hours this weekend, I’ll be in Chicago. Less than two full days, but long enough to take in a couple Cubs games out in the bleachers, see some old friends, visit some of my favorite places, eat some pizza, and generally have a great time.

It’s been a couple years since I’ve been back to Chicago–no doubt about it, it’s been too long. Too long since I’ve seen the lights of Wrigley Field crest the skyline as the Red Line pulls into the Addison Street station.  Too long since I sat in the shadow of the scoreboard, or leaned over the outfield wall to touch the ivy. Too long since I’ve sung “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with a choir of die-hard Cubs fans. Wrigley Field is my favorite place in the world, and it’s been far too long since I’ve been back.

Tomorrow can’t get here fast enough.

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Pirates Series Preview

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Probable Pitchers

Courtesy of

Friday at 1:20pm CT – James McDonald vs. Chris Rusin

McDonald’s ERA has been on a steady rise since it stood at 2.37 at the All-Star break. J-Mac had an early-season stretch of eight-plus strikeouts in seven of eight starts, and has hit that figure only once in his last 17 starts. Following a rough outing, Rusin showed an ability to bounce back on Sunday vs. the Pirates, allowing one run on five hits over five innings. The lefty was able to mix up his pitches well and had good command of his offspeed stuff.

Saturday at 12:05pm CT – Wandy Rodriguez vs. Jason Berken

Rodriguez can’t pitch better than he did on Monday, when he took a one-hitter into the seventh in Cincinnati. The Pirates lost after he got the hook after 89 pitches, and he’ll be out to make up for that disappointment. This would have been Jeff Samardzija’s spot, but he was shut down after Saturday’s game because he had reached his maximum innings. Berken, acquired off waivers from the Orioles on Friday, was 5-6 with a 3.50 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk.

Sunday at 1:20pm CT – Jeff Locke vs. Chris Volstad

Locke makes his seventh big league start, and ninth appearance, still looking for his first win. The Bucs are counting on him using September to stake a claim to a 2013 rotation job. After allowing one run over five innings on Monday against the Astros, Volstad said he’s felt like a different pitcher since returning from Triple-A Iowa on Aug. 4. He has a 4.08 ERA in his past eight starts.

Monday at 7:05pm CT – Kevin Correia vs. Travis Wood

(No preview provided for Correia.) The left-hander has allowed one run over his last 13 2/3 innings. In each of his last two starts, he opened with four hitless innings before giving up a hit in the fifth. Since Aug. 22, he has a 2.43 ERA in 33 1/3 innings.

Our Take

I wrote earlier this season that I thought it was acceptable to jump aboard the Pirates’ bandwagon, given their recent stretch of futility, and the likelihood that a trip to the playoffs for them might help keep the Cardinals out of the postseason. It appears that was the kiss of death for Pittsburgh. They’re currently on the fringes of the Wild Card hunt, and they’ve don’t seem to be able to make up much ground on the flagging Cardinals or the rest of the field.

In fact, they’ve lost their last six games, a streak kicked off by their sweep at the hands of the Cubs last weekend. As a Cubs fan, I’m hoping that losing streak lasts for the Pirates, at least through the next four games. But I also want those back-to-back throttlings by the Cubs to help the Pirates right their ship, and sail into the playoffs ahead of St. Louis.

Because as much as I want the Cubs to win these games against Pittsburgh (more on that this afternoon), I’m desperate to see them, or really anyone keep the Cardinals out of the playoffs. With their history of getting hot at the right time, and the flaws evidenced by most of the other prospective postseason teams in the NL, it’s conceivable they could make another “magical” run to the World Series. That’s not me saying they currently look like a World Series-caliber team–they don’t. But I’ve learned not to put anything past them at this point.

Bottom line, I want the Cubs to stay hot and sweep the Pirates for a second weekend in a row. But if they don’t, and these games help propel Pittsburgh past St. Louis and into the playoffs, I’ll get over the losses. It’s a Battle vs. War scenario to me, and the only remaining victory for Cubs fans is a Cardinal defeat.

Series Prediction: The Cubs win all four, but the Pirates’ losses are their last of the season, as they make a historic march to the postseason.

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Northside Archives: The New Schedule Is Here, The New Schedule Is Here

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Maybe if you reside in Chicago, a new schedule means absolutely nothing to you. But for those of us beyond a convenient drive’s reach to Wrigley, a new schedule means finding the days on which the Cubs will be visiting a local venue. I took a few minutes this afternoon and glanced at the 2013 schedule, early June and the last week of August are my best opportunities in 2013. That schedule also highlighted several oddities…

Equal, Odd Leagues
As you know, the AAAAstros are switching leagues. No, they’re not headed to the PCL – they’re going to the AL West. Houston starts the season with a tilt against their new division/league/state rival, the Texas Rangers. The switch also means that every division has 5 teams, and every league 15. So there will be interleague play throughout the season, not just during select weeks in May & June. It also means that the MLB schedule opens with an interleague series.

Opening Day, Reds v. Angels
If you’re not aware, the Cincinnati Reds often open the MLB season at home. Often they are the earliest game on Opening Day (not counting those fake ‘Opening Day’ games played in foreign countries for the purpose of advancing the MLB brand). The Reds even host an Opening Day parade through downtown Cincinnati. Cute. Well, nothing says Opening Day like Reds v. Angels! Montgomery Burns Bud Selig and his scheduling geniuses botched this one again. You want excitement on Opening Day, send the Indians to Cincy. Or the Mets to the Bronx. If you have to start with an interleague series, make sure it’s one that demands the attention of at least the involved fan bases. I doubt any Angel fans will be trolling Expedia or Kayak for tickets to Cincinnati on April 1st.

Closing Day, Marlins v. Tigers
Yes, that also means that the season will close with an interleague series. A riveting one too – the Tigers will be visiting the Miami Marlins. You know, because who better to be determining the Tigers potential playoff fate than a team from the NL East? Again, if you MUST have an interleague series (and thanks to the equal divisions, we must), at least let two teams who already hate each other be charged with potentially determining their playoff destiny. Dodgers v. Angels, Giants v. A’s, even Cubs v. Sox (we all know CAPS would LOVE to see the Cubs with an ability to knock out the Sox in the season’s final series). Or even make it a potential World Series matchup. Yeah, it’s a year in advance, but would a Dodgers v. Yankees series be a terrible way to end 2013, even if one of those teams is already eliminated?

Everything In Between
Take a look at the schedule, it starts normal enough. April 29th is when it starts to get weird. From April 29th to May 19th all but 3 games are at Wrigley. They take a weird weekend trip to DC from May 10-12. After the second homestand ends on May 19th, the Cubs play three in Pittsburgh followed by three in Cincinnati. Starting May 27th, the Cubs are in Chicago for all but two games until June 13th. Those two games? Anaheim, CA. That’s right, the Cubs get sent to Anaheim to play two measly games. But that stretch beginning on May 27th, it starts on the South Side of Chicago, two games against the Sox at the Cell followed by two games against the Sox at Wrigley. And that’s it for the Sox…2 two-game series’ in four days is the entirety of our season against our crosstown enemies.

About Those Two-Game Series
In 2012, 2011, and 2010 the Cubs played only two scheduled 2-game series. They played 3 such series in 2009. 2013? Next year the Cubs will play 5 two-game series. The previously mentioned crosstown double two-game series, plus home and away two-game sets with Anaheim, and another two-game series with rival St. Louis. Now before you say, ‘oh, that’s not a big deal’ remember that the crosstown series will include the DH in the first two games and no DH in the final two games. Between the beginning of the season and June 28, the Cubs will use the DH for just 2 games against the Sox and 2 games against the Angels. That probably eliminates any chance of a brief roster change for interleague play, as sometimes occurs. In those previous seasons mentioned above, the two-game trips were all against NL teams. Maybe none of this will wind up mattering; but it will definitely be odd to watch the Cubs on Sunday at Wrigley against the D’Backs, Tuesday and Wednesday in Anaheim, and Friday back home to host the Pirates.

The Cubs schedule isn’t an anomaly. Most teams have a similar stretch of traveling calamity to endure during 2013. For the Cubs, 2013 is probably a good year for a scheduling experiment!

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Game 143: All Soriano, All The Time

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Cubs 5 @ Astros 1

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

The Good  Travis Wood pitched what might be his best game of the season Wednesday night in Houston. Through seven and two-thirds innings, only four Astros had reached base, and none of them made it to second base safely. And while he didn’t make it out of the eighth inning and was eventually charged with a run, he had Bob and Len and most Cubs fans thinking he could go the distance. If not for a long face off at-bat against Brandon Barnes that culminated in a double, Wood would have mostly coasted through eight innings of Astros hitters. This was the kind of night that makes Cubs fans feel better about the Sean Marshall trade.

The Gooder  On any other night, Wood might have been the dominant storyline. But Wednesday night, the spotlight belonged to Alfonso Soriano. He walked (I know!) in the first to extend the inning and advanced to second when Welington Castillo’s single got the scoring started. He homered in the fifth to take the score to 2-0. And he doubled in the seventh and the ninth innings–although he was incorrectly called out at second base in the seventh, so he only got credit for a single, leaving him a triple short of the cycle for the evening. After his second double (you heard me, second base umpire Kerwin Danley!), he was removed for a pinch runner–Mr. Katie Campana himself, who promptly stole third base and scored on a bad throw from the catcher.

But back to Soriano, whose big night wasn’t limited to just the plate. He also made a huge, run-saving play in the bottom of the fifth to steal a double off the wall from Matt Dominquez and double Justin Maxwell off of first with a relay assist from über-fielder Darwin Barney). And it wasn’t just a great catch and throw–he slammed into Minute Maid Park’s left field scoreboard/fence/monstrosity to make the play (I know!). Seriously, it’s worth the forty-six or so seconds that it takes to watch this video.

We’ve mentioned this a couple times already, but Soriano is simply a different fielder this year. And while I’m sure some of the credit goes to Dale and Dave McKay for finally getting through to him, hats off to Soriano for the work he’s clearly put in. Many of us (most of us?) never thought he’d be anything less than a frequent liability and occasional pleasant surprise in left field, but the way he’s developed (I KNOW!) has been a revelation. In his past seasons with the Cubs, there’s simply no way he makes that play–in fact, he probably boots the ball and plays it into a triple. Whatever he’s doing/taking to cure him of his crippling fear of outfield walls, let’s keep it coming.

The Bad  Shawn Camp is bad at pitching. He tried hard Wednesday night to give away a lead and waste Wood’s solid start. Fortunately for the Cubs, he couldn’t even do that right.

The Badder  It’s no secret that this season has tried the patience of even the most loyal and optimistic Cubs fans. While we haven’t talked about it internally, I’m sure most if not all the other VFTB writers are having the same trouble I am coming up with interesting story ideas and opinions while the season slinks to a close. But we’re not being paid to do it–Len Kasper, on the other hand, is paid (I know, I know…). And yet to listen to the broadcasts, you’d think he had a gun to his head keeping him in the booth. Look, I get it–162 games is a lot of time to fill, especially when the team you’re covering has been out of the race for about 152 of them. But show some dadgum signs of life, man! Kasper has a job most Cubs fans would push an old lady into traffic for–he needs to tear up his diploma from the Joe Buck School For Kids Who Can’t Broadcast Good and snap out of it. I’ll even kick in a couple bucks for a new book of hackneyed jokes and puns if that’s what it takes to liven him up for the last couple weeks.

The Ugly  Astros pitcher Mickey Storey had a rough night, taking a Dave Sappelt line drive off the side of his face. He was able to leave the field under his own power. But as we saw in the Brandon McCarthy incident a couple days ago, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s out of the woods just yet (McCarthy seems to be in good shape, and has already been discharged from the hospital). The good news is he appeared to break the impact of the ball with the side of his hand before it hit him in the jaw. We’ll know the full extent of his injuries in the days ahead–in the meantime, it’s a good reminder for any pitchers out there, regardless of what competitive level you play at, keep your heads up.

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Chet’s Corner: 20 Games Left and A History Lesson

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

It seems like a countdown to seasons end, right?  It’s not just that I can’t stand to watch this team at the moment, even though I haven’t tuned into a game for at least a week,  it’s more along the lines of excitement for the future.  I just want this season to finish so we can start with a clean slate.  One has to be excited to see what management will do next to bolster this roster for the present and down the road a bit.

In watching from afar, which means reading the box scores and the articles across the web coupled with the random highlight here and there, I find it the best way to follow at this point.  I managed to waste a few hours watching the Nationals series last week and decided that it was safe to “mail it in” for the actual TV viewing of Cub games this season.  I will make my last pilgrimage of the year to Wrigley on Friday to see the team take on the Bucs.  It acts as a finale of sorts to the long 2012 season.

Anyhow, we have twenty games left and I am hopeful that this team can avoid the 100 loss mark.  If we can win 8 games that gets us to 99 losses.   The last time the Cubs saw a 100 loss season was 1966.   They recorded 103 losses and to this day I can’t figure out how a team with Banks, Santo, and Williams lost 103 games.  I will leave it up to a few of the more “experienced” VFTB readers to give us their first hand glimpse of what went down that season.  Was the rest of the team breathing that year? What happened?

*That same lineup was rounded out with the likes of Glenn Beckert, Don Kessinger, and Randy Hundley…not exactly chopped liver. 

Alas, if we don’t finish the season strong and we do hit that 100 mark, we can always look back in history to find a positive.  The 1967 team saw a turn for the better.  They ended the season with a 87-74 record and a third place finish overall in the ten team National League.  Now, you might be asking yourself, who were the the big bats that the Cubs signed to right the ship?  However, it wasn’t bats at all,  it was almost a carbon copy of the same starting lineup from the previous 103 loss year.  You guessed it, they got some pitching!

The 1966 season saw the Cubs roll out a cornucopia of below average starting pitching.  Ken Holtzman and an aging Ernie Broglio were the only notables on the starting staff until a newly acquired (they got him after the season started in a trade with the Phillies), and relatively unknown, Fergie Jenkins made a few starts.

The 1967 season, coincidentally, was the year Jenkins made a name for himself.  In his first full season as a starter he won 20 games.  It would be his first 20 win season in a streak that spanned six straight.  The Cubs bolstered the starting staff with Joe Niekro and Rich Nye.  Serving in the National Guard and pitching on random weekend dates, Ken Holtzman only started 12 games during the ’67 season but his record was 9-0.

*the last sentence of the above paragraph could probably serve as a catalyst to a whole other post on the “how things have changed since then” topic. 

The same nucleus of players then went on a tear for about six straight seasons that saw the Cubs finish second or third in the National League each year.   Too bad there were no playoffs for most of that run.  In the famous words of Ricky Bobby (and the Major Leagues at that time), “If your not first, your last!”

The only thing that makes me shutter a bit in regards to this teams future is the lack of pitching, either at the MLB level or in the minors.   The Cubs don’t seem to have a pitcher that registers as a true ace in the making.  If you don’t believe me check out Norm’s post on our Minor League pitching prospects…the cupboard is pretty bare.  You can’t win a championship with a staff of 4’s and 5’s.

I want to believe that Almora, Baez, Soler, Jackson, Rizzo, and Castro will make for wonderful lineups in the years to come but history, and common baseball sense, makes me say….wake me when we get more pitching.



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Minors Reports – Top Pitching Prospects Recap

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Here is the post I’ve been dreading. The pitching prospects in the system just aren’t exciting. We all know there isn’t an elite arm down there, but there isn’t even a pitcher that started 10 games that maintained a strikeout rate of at least one per inning (unless you want to include 12 starts for SIXTEEN year old Carlos Rodriguez in the Dominican Summer League). No pitcher in the system where you just can’t wait to check the box score. So yeah, I’ve been dreading to write this because the organization’s pitching is just so darn boring.

Without further adieu, our Top Pitching Prospects:

We have yet to see why most prospect rankings had Dillon Maples as the top Cubs pitching prospect to begin the season. Injury has caused a very slow start to the 20 year old’s career. Have to hope 2013 is a year we can see what he’s all about.

A couple years back, Trey McNutt was neck and neck with Chris Archer as best pitching prospect in the Cubs system. I preferred McNutt because he had a lower walk rate. But he hasn’t been the same pitcher that last two seasons, with his K/9 dropping from 10.2 in 2010, to 6.2 and 6.3 in 2011 and 2012. He was moved to the bullpen after 17 starts this year, and while his K rate went back up to just under one per inning, his walks were high with 14 in 28 innings. He’s a reliever at best and may see Wrigley next year.

Dae-Eun Rhee was a personal favorite of mine heading into the year. But like most other Cub pitchers, his K rate saw a significant drop once he hit AA. He might be another one of the 6th starter types the Cubs are filled with these days.

The biggest bust of the year may belong to Gerardo Concepcion, depending on what you thought of him. Some saw the $6 million price tag and thought the high dollars meant a high quality pitcher. It doesn’t look that way. I’ve heard a few excuses, like the Cubs were holding back on his secondary stuff so he can work on his mediocre fastball, but that doesn’t seem very believable to me. I don’t expect him to ever see the majors, but, he’s only 2o years old, he’s left handed, and has the skills. He just needs to learn how to pitch.

Rafael Dolis has an average fastball of 95. I think that’s the only thing good I can say about what I’ve seen from him. He walks too many and doesn’t strike out enough. I thought he was closer material, but he just doesn’t appear to have the stuff.

I bought into some of what I read on Zach Cates. He came over with Anthony Rizzo from the Padres as a throw-in lottery ticket. It didn’t pay off in 2012, but there is plenty of time. He’s a converted position player, so he doesn’t have much time on the mound, but he regressed from a solid 2011.

So nothing to get excited about so far, but alas, I bring you some hope from Hendry holdover Ben Wells. He’s not an ace, but I think he’s got the best chance of any pre-Theo/Jed pitcher to make an impact. He was one of the youngest players in the Midwest League and demonstrated good control before being shut down with an injury for nearly three months. Delays his progress and I’m guessing would start 2013 in the Midwest League again.

In conclusion, not a single one had an impressive year. There were a few pitchers in the system that weren’t in our Top 20 that had good years; like Alberto Cabrera, who will probably be a fixture in the bullpen, and Nick Struck, who put together a second good year, and Michael Jensen and Erik Jokisch and Starlin Peralta, but they are the same as the group above. Boring.

The silver lining? It can only get better in 2013.

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