Archive for June, 2013

Game 68- *Adult Language Removed*

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Boxscore / Lowlights

 Player of the Game- Shelby Miller (.268 WPA)


After a two hour delay last night the Cubs stepped on to the field, listless and seemingly ready for a whipping.  From the first pitch the Cubs appeared sluggish and unwanting of the opportunity to play.  I can say that I understand that because after an hour and a half I was hoping they would finally call the game too.  The only player that came with much of any fire was Travis Wood.

Wood went 7 innings giving up four runs on seven hits.  He looked dominant early on but appeared to fade in to the late hours of the night.  It has to be hard on a pitcher to prepare for a game and go through their routine and then sit around for another two hours before the actual game gets started.  I could excuse his four run performance, that in total still left his team a chance to stay in the game, but the whole rain delay thing didn’t seem to affect the young Shelby Miller.

Miller dominated the Cubs lineup. Plain and simple.  Then the bullpen dominated the Cubs lineup.  Again, plain and simple.  That is until Darwin Barney got a hold of one and put two runs up late.  I think this is the Cubs move; make it look interesting late when everyone has already turned the game off.

I cursed at the laptop screen several times last night as I watched the game on MLB.Tv.  My wife finally woke up and told me to be quiet.  We are in the eastern time zone so it became a rather late game.

The whole time I watched this game I couldn’t help but think, “wow these guys look like they could care less!”

I don’t think that is a true statement of how the team feels.  Yet, when watching recent games the magic and fire of only a few short weeks ago seems to have been tamped out pretty quickly.  That will happen when you have your aging veteran clubhouse leader turning on your less than dominant  used-to-be emergency closer.  The well has been poisoned.

Dale? Jed?  Theo?  Tom?  Somebody?  Pep talk please.  The open talk about trading current roster members can’t be helping.  I understand the want to be transparent with the fan base, but stop.  Pick up the fragile egos of the millionaires that are payed to play ball and get the best performance out of them.  In reality, if you don’t, all the trade talk is just conjecture and you’ve disappointed your players, yourself, the organization, and the fans who are hoping for a couple cornerstone prospects at the deadline.

The only problem.  The Cubs already looked like they have passed a dead line.  Some have hung up the DNR (Do Not Resuscitate)  flags, others their SOS flags.

I’m tired of seeing the “L” flag.

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The Father’s Day Weekend Hangover

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Let’t start by wishing all the applicable men out there a happy Father’s Day. I had meant to recap both Saturday and Sunday’s game, but sometimes, when you have kids, things get busier than you had planned. Such was the case with my weekend. Saturday I had a very important meeting during the day and then we went out as a family for a Father’s Day meal. Sunday I played golf, followed by 50 minutes of insanity workout. Before I knew it, the day was done and my body felt like it had been hit by a train. As a result, no recaps for you. Instead, I’d like to get some discussion going on a topic that has been on my mind lately.

Who is the Cub’s All Star Rep? – Based on where we are in the standings, it’s pretty hard to fathom having more than one representative in the All Star game, which lends itself nicely to the conversation on who the rep would be. Looking at the roster, you could make the case for four guys who have a shot.

  • James Russell
  • Kevin Gregg
  • Travis Wood
  • Scott Feldman

Raise your hand if you foresaw any of those names as potential all stars before the season started. If you just raised your hand, you’re a total liar. The fact is that the players who should be on that list (Rizzo, Castro, Samardzija, etc) are not. Take that as encouragement that this team is capable of more or as discouragement that perhaps some of the guys we’re counting on may not have as high of a cieling as we had hoped. Either way, who should the rep be, and why?

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Game 65: Edwin Jackson Solid Again, DeJesus Hurt

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – Edwin Jackson – .145 (WPA)


This game featured two starting pitchers with similar beginnings to the 2013 campaign. Both Shaun “I spell my name wrong” Marcum and Edwin Jackson came into the game with bad records and high ERAs, but the peripherals suggested that they were pitching much better than the results (they came in with 3.38 and 2.90 FIPs, respectively). Also, they each had a nice start the last time out.

Edwin continued the trend. He pitched 6 innings, striking out 7 (he had a nasty slider tonight), and allowed only 1 earned run. James Russell came into the game in the 7th and made things interested by giving up 2 runs for the first time this year (his season ERA is still an excellent 2.03). Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg each pitched a scoreless inning to close out the game (I can’t believe I just typed that sentence). Speaking of unbelievable things, I actually think Gregg, packaged with another player (see below), could bring back a non-non-prospect in return. Who would have thought that…well, ever?

The Cubs offense got on the board early with a Nate Schierholtz solo blast in the top of the 1st (see, isn’t Dale a genius for knowing that Nate needed an at-bat in the 1st inning?). The bats really broke out in the 2nd, scoring 4 runs (such a rare thing these days). The inning was capped-off by a David DeJesus 3-run triple – a shot that would have left most ballparks.

It was nice to see Anthony Rizzo have a nice game at the plate. He had 3 hits, including a ringing double, and scored 2 runs. No, I don’t think his moving down in the order had anything to do with it, but it obviously didn’t hurt. I have a feeling that both Rizzo and Starlin Castro are due to break out soon. By the way, has anyone else noticed that Castro is alternating between 2 different types of bat every plate appearance?

Perhaps the biggest story from this game is the DeJesus injury. He injured his shoulder colliding with the center field wall as he attempted to catch a deep fly ball off the bat of Juan Lagares. The x-rays showed a shoulder sprain – which could mean a lot of things, I suppose. DeJesus will be placed on the 15-day DL. I don’t want to sound cynical, but the biggest impact this will have on the Cubs is whatever effect this injury has on DeJesus’ trade value. I could really see DeJesus, especially as part of a package (see above), netting a decent prospect or two in return.

Dale Sveum said after the game that the Cubs may bring up a bullpen arm immediately while they decide what outfielder to call up (the Cubs did play a 14-inning game, so they could probably use an extra arm for a day or so). Brooks Raley (who was just sent down to make room for Henry Rodriguez) and Chris Rusin are the two Iowa pitchers currently on the 40-man roster.

Things could get interesting when the Cubs bring up an outfielder to replace DeJesus, but I doubt that they will. If we’re assuming the Cubs will bring up someone already on the 40-man (which they don’t have to do, necessarily, but it would seem to make sense), here’s how I would rate the candidates:

Boring: Dave Sappelt

Intriguing: Brett Jackson (he’s still struggling, so I really can’t see the benefit of bringing him up).

Hype-inducing: Junior Lake. This would be the most fun for all of us, but there’s no need to rush him up now, and he’s just getting settled in AAA. There’s no way this is going to happen.

So, it will probably be good ol’ boring, Dave “I-defend-Ian-Stewart-on-Twitter” Sappelt. If the Cubs were going to make a 40-man move, Brian Bogusevic has had a really nice season, and it would be good to see what he could do with the major league club.

This will be my last post for a few weeks – I’m getting married next weekend, and I’ll be travelling all over for a few weeks. It’s been tons of fun writing for this site, and I look forward to returning later in the summer. Thanks for reading – see you soon!

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Three Up, Three Down: Baez Heats Up Edition

Friday, June 14th, 2013

THREE UP

All Stats Through Wednesday, June 12

Javier Baez, SS
Age 20, High A
Season Stats:
 59 G, 262 PAs, .285/.340/.557, 5.3% BB rate, 22.9% K rate, 17 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR
June Stats: 
10 G, 42 PAs, .429/.524/1.000, 11.9% BB rate, 11.9% K rate, 5 2B, 5 HR

Ttwo weeks ago I came here and said that Jorge Soler had surpassed Javier Baez for the top prospect in the Cubs system. While Baez had shown some improvement in his strikeout rate from April to May (27.6% K rate in April compared to 22.0% in May), Baez has either been on an incredible hot streak in June or has improved his plate discipline. Now, the utterly insane slugging percentage is a result of his 4 for 4, 4 home run June 10th, but Baez has walked as much in the first 13 days of June as he did all May while being on pace for the lowest strikeout month of his professional career. Baez’s biggest challenge at this point may be that no one in the FSL is willing to challenge him in the zone. A month and a half ago Baez was a big concern. Now he looks pretty likely to get some significant time in Double A this year, and may have reclaimed that number one prospect in the system spot. If Baez keeps hitting and drawing walks while limiting the strikeouts, he’ll be in competition for the number one prospect in baseball this offseason.

Albert Almora, CF
Age 19, Low A
18 G, 82 PAs, .413/.451/.547
6.1% BB rate, 13.4% K rate, .469 BABIP
7 2B, 2 SB, 3 CS

Albert Almora’s full season debut was delayed by a hamate bone injury, but the Cubs’ top pick from 2012 sure looks worth the wait by getting on base in 45% of his first 82 plate appearances. He has not shown home run power yet, but most view him as a guy with an advanced approach who will grow into 20 home run power. Despite the fact that he has not hit a home run to this point, Almora has tallied seven doubles. I also am not  concerned about the stolen base numbers. First, small sample size. Second, Almora had a minor hamstring tweak that caused him to miss a couple of games, which might be impacting his base stealing. Almora has done nothing to hurt his already very high stock, and is pretty likely to move up to Daytona by the end of July.

Chadd Krist, C
Age 23, High A
Low A Stats: 12 G, 48 PAs, .263/.417/.316, 16.7% BB rate, 14.6% K rate
High A Stats: 23 G, 93 PAs, .269/.387/.385, 14.0% BB rate, 18.3% K rate

One of the weak spots in the Cubs’ system has been catcher, with the Cubs both lacking depth and high ceiling talent. But Krist, the Cubs’ ninth round pick in 2012, has been a nice surprise. He has not hit for much power, but has shown a gift for getting on base. Krist is also reportedly solid defensively. The lack of power limits his ceiling, but a good defensive backstop who can get on base has real value.

THREE DOWN

Trey McNutt, RHP
Age 23, Double A
22 G, 26.1 IP, 4.44 ERA
7.18 K/9, 4.44 BB/9, 4.19 FIP

In 2010, McNutt shot through the Cubs’ minor league system from Low A to Double. He dominated at Peoria and Daytona, and was solid in a brief stint in Tennessee as well. After the Cubs traded Chris Archer the next offseason, McNutt became the Cubs’ top pitching prospect. But McNutt never found the same strikeout numbers, never improved his control, and hasn’t been able to find a repeatable motion. Last season, the Cubs converted McNutt to a reliever, but he still hasn’t been able to increase the strikeouts. McNutt is all but a non-prospect these days, another disappointing former top prospect from the Hendry era.

Lendy Castillo, RHP
Age 24, Low A
12 G, 5 GS, 44.2 IP, 7.05 ERA
8.87 K/9, 4.03 BB/9, 4.81 FIP

If Castillo’s name looks familiar but you cannot quite place it, that is because he was the Cubs’ Rule 5 draft pick prior to the 2012 season. He spent a few months of the season up with the Cubs in between stints doing the DL dance. Unfortunately, Castillo has struggled at Kane County in a situation where I’m sure the Cubs hoped he would move quickly up the system. The strikeouts are there, but the problem is that the walk numbers are just too high. The FIP tells us he has likely pitched better than his ERA shows, but even if the ERA matched the FIP these numbers would be a disappointment. You just expect a lot better than a 4.81 ERA or FIP from a 24 year old in Low A.

Elliot Soto, SS
Age 23, Double A
31 G, 97 PAs, .145/.253/.169, .188 BABIP

Among those who follow the farm system, Soto had gained some popularity as a Chicago area native and someone who had many of Darwin Barney’s most beloved traits. He’s a fantastic fielder up the middle with a light bat, but based on all reports is one of those guys with 80 want. Unfortunately, Soto has both had too many legit prospects (Baez, Arismendy Alcantara) demanding regular playing time at shortstop, combined with the fact that his bat might be severely overmatched in the higher minors. He’s a guy who is hard not to root for, but might just not have enough to make it to the Show.

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Game 64: Bullpen Bails Out Samardzija

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – Julio Borbon – .365 (WPA)

Castro
Last time I recapped a game, I focused on Castro – today’s game lends itself to a Castro discussion as well (plus I like the symmetry).

If you are ‘glass half full’ with Castro – this game had plenty for you. He had three hits, and made two outs while hitting the ball hard (and to the opposite field). He was totally screwed out of his 7th inning at-bat – down 1-2 after seeing three balls, the umpire saw it differently. He narrowly missed ending the game with a HR in the 9th (a double instead), and he swiped two bases – one led to the Cubs’ first run, the other to the game-winning run. But for me, none of that mattered. He was aggressive while only being slightly reckless at the plate. He flailed wildly to strikeout in the 7th, and weakly popped out in the 11th, but other than that most of what he jumped out (ball or strike) he hit solidly. He was aggressive from the start, swinging early and often at anything out over the plate. I was pleasantly surprised.

If you are ‘glass half empty’ with Castro – this game had plenty for you. He came into the game on pace to make 18 errors this year, after the game his pace was 23 errors. He was swinging early in counts at breaking pitches, and even had a couple of chances to work a walk that he wasn’t patient enough to get. His 9th inning double could’ve been a triple if he hadn’t Soriano’d it; semi-jogging until it fell short of the basket. And with an RBI ready at second base to tie the game in the 7th, Castro had his worst at-bat of the day. (My heart really isn’t in this paragraph, because I don’t buy into any of that; but Castro’s detractors surely do).

No surprise where I land. His first error forced Samardzija to throw a single extra pitch (Bruce ended the inning on the next pitch). His second ‘error’ is the kind I can live with. He was deep in the hole with the speedy Cozart running; just to field it, whip it over to first and beat Cozart was impressive. The fact that it pulled Rizzo slightly off the bag even though it beat the runner is why Castro was hung with an error. It’s a very good play if he makes it; ultimately it didn’t cost the Cubs anything (some shortstops wouldn’t even attempt a throw that quickly, and by the time they looked up to see Cozart blazing down the line, they might just eat the ball). Overall, I liked the aggression from him today.

Samardzija
The so-called Shark is back to his usual, inconsistent self. Nothing fearsome about him on this day, tagged for 5 runs in 6 IP and 10 hits while only striking out 6 and walking 4. Yuck. Most distressing, he can’t keep his pitch count down. Dale was kind enough to send him out for the 6th inning (an opportunity I didn’t think he’d earned, and he proved me right by coughing up another run) even though he’d already thrown 97 pitches through 5 innings. Having to throw almost 20 pitches per inning isn’t going to get it done. After three great starts, he’s now had three mediocre starts. He can thank the bullpen for bailing him out on Thursday.

Marmol
You could go down the line in the Cubs beleaguered bullpen, everyone did their part on Thursday. But I’m singling out Marmol. The cartoonish slider was dancing all over the place, and Marmol was close enough to the strike zone to make it effective. He recorded three strikeouts and a lot of uncomfortable swings.

There was a lot more to this game – the sun helped DeJesus botch a play, the Reds weren’t exactly impressive in the field, Soriano got thrown out trying to stretch for a double, and the bottom of the Cubs order came up big repeatedly. But most importantly, the Cubs broke the Reds stranglehold on Wrigley Field and finally got a win at home against Cincinnati.

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GirlieView (06/13/2013)

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of 2013 = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.

Lizzies

  • Much better, especially now that we don’t get “yes dear, you’re right, I’m sorry.”
  • Garza should not be talking to the media about this.
  • With Dale Sveum’s first chance to use the DH, he looked up and down the roster and selected Scott Hairston. Scott Hairston?
  • I like the way Smarja pitched, but it was very disturbing having to look at him.
  • Have to agree that the camo lettering wasn’t really distracting, of course that was due to the fact it managed to camo itself on both teams uniforms.
  • I just do not think the Cubs are going to get serious offers for either in July (and potentially no offers for Marmol)
  • Injuries create unanticipated holes and the market for some of the others may take us to unanticipated trading partners. I tried to make that sound like a fortune cookie, How did I do?
  • For added security, do passwords by taping them to the underside of the keyboard.
  • No catcher should be charged with a passed ball when Marmol’s throwing.
  • Until VFTB I did not realize that computers had any other use than porn.
  • What’s porn?
  • Sandwiches on Seymour after he washes his hands!
  • Don’t eat Seymour’s coleslaw, just warnin.
  • isn’t jswan the most valuable Lizzier every Girlieview?
  • Well he is a computer guy. I bet he has a computer program designed to give him all of Lizzie’s favorite quotes and he pulls from that list.
  • My name is Eddie, and I am a Cubs addict.
  • The best thing I found about being a Cub fan is that you will never find more real, diehard fans, who believe in a team.
  • This is much more fun than last year.
  • I can’t wait until gravatar pushes their updates. I’ve commissioned Joe’s cartoonist to Cernak me up a bit.
  • So the book on your head is to help you Cernak up a bit?
  • Cubs hat, Jerry. Fine art of this caliber is sometimes hard to interpret.
  • Len would follow that up with information about the Gin Blossoms upcoming show at Decatur Fest.
  • 5-game win streak, talk of going .500, two days of grand slams back-to-back… I can barely recognize this place.
  • people like to reinforce that fact with boos, curses, and degrading slurs directed at players who stink. If you’re a fan of a team, doing those things to your own players is classless.
  • I feel your nose could be more triangular. Go Cubs.
  • I believe Katie’s nose is just angular, she needs another side for the other 2 angles.
  • He can only play the guys who show up on the roster.
  • the spray paint can on MS Paint is the filet mignon of cartoon facial hair beard-makers.
  • He knows he’s pulling the ham of questionable toxicity out of the fridge and trying to piece together a meal that won’t make him vomit.
  • Zastrynzny is going to make all of us use copy-and-paste a lot
  • Kobe forgot his wallet so Theo pick up the check and kept the receipt saying he would deduct the costs from Bryant’s signing bonus.
  • He took that mouth from Michael Jackson circa ’92. Giant triangles are the way to go.
  • I’m sure the problem is that Castro and Rizzo have decided that hitting isn’t all that fun and they’d rather just suck.
  • Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
  • Marmol has always fallen victim to the vagaries of sliders bounced outside of the zone of strikes.
  • That was all explained in the pilot episode. LaHair’s rich uncle died and left him two season tickets behind home at the Ham Fighter’s park. He switched Murton’s ticket to Iowa with a ticket to Japan…classic Brian. That is also where the whole “Iowa has surprisingly good sushi” running joke came from.
  • It is way past time the MLB did a study on why red-heads are discriminated against in baseball.
  • How is Ian Stewart doing? I wish he would Tweet something.
  • With Stewart’s track record, If the Cubs let him rot he will eventually tweet again and get suspended again, thus saving the Cubs even more money.
  • The fact that he thinks he’ll be handed a big-league job in another organization is laughable.

Lizard

  • me and the wife just had our 2nd baby girl

Shout Outs

A big shout out to the following contributor who submitted his first 2013 Lizzie this time around. We’re happy to have you here!

  • Holden Clark

MVL

Congratulations to jswanson, the Most Valuable Lizzie’er this time around!

Top Ten of 2013 (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard) – In honor of Father’s Day I’ll post the full listing!

1. jswanson
2. Seymour Butts
3. Eddie von White
4. Doc Raker
5. Jedi Johnson
6. Joe Aiello
7. Chuck
8. Buddy
9. Doug S.
10. Jerry in Wisconsin
11. Katie
11. Noah Eisner
13. Jeremiah Johnson
14. cap’n obvious
15. Gymjok
16. LVCubFan
17. Chet
17. Josh Cornwall
19. Bryan
19. Norm
19. Verncrowe5
22. Darlin_Starlin
23. CAPS
23. Dusty Baylor
23. Tom C
26. Mark_from_Toronto
26. Sean Powell
26. wisconsinjpc
29. Bones
30. Aaron
30. Allan
30. Dave
30. Dous Entendre
30. Drew Peterson
30. Holden Clark
30. Hugh Hefner
30. Jim Hickman
30. Josephine
30. Josh H
30. Just Curious
30. mrbaseball2usa
30. Rick Beato
30. Rocco Kavana
30. Still Curious
30. The Whole Damn Show
30. Troy Maskell

Chit Chat

As a result, I’m assuming, of my bull running invitation (from last time) I acquired a young Words With Friends suitor who wanted to know “what grade are you in?” I quickly resigned from that game and blocked the user who was certainly young enough to be my grandson. Or great-grandson if someone got an early start. This weekend is Father’s Day. What are your plans, oh fathers and fathers-to-be and non-fathers?

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Game 63 – The Reds Own Wrigley

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Reds 2, Cubs 1

Box Score / Highlights

To paraphrase the great philosopher Pedro Martinez, it might be time for the Cubs to just tip their hats and call the Reds their daddies. It sickens me to say it, but Cincinnati has won their last twelve games at Wrigley Field. They sort of own the Friendly Confines these days, and it doesn’t seem like there’s much the Cubs can do about it.

Wednesday’s loss wasn’t another lop-sided failure like Tuesday’s 12-2 embarrassment. Instead, it was a relative pitchers’ duel, with Travis Wood and Mike Leake both throwing well deep into the game. It really came down to a few well-timed hits, and the Cubs just couldn’t put together enough of them. In fact, they only managed three hits for the afternoon–meager production that made for a short, impressive day for the Reds’ pitching staff.

In the ten games since their five-game winning streak, the Cubs have gone 2-8, scoring a measly seven runs combined in those games. Translation: I don’t have a lot to say that would be worthwhile about this game or this team right now. There are times when we lose games by getting spectacularly out-pitched or out-hit by an overwhelming opponent. When the other team is that much better than ours, it’s easy to let those losses roll off your back.

Wednesday’s game was not one of those.

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Who Is Number 5?

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Last Thursday, the Cubs drafted University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant, the consensus best position player available, with the second pick of the Rule 4 draft. When they did so, the Cubs turned their Big 3 position player prospects (Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, and Albert Almora) into a Big 4. And every member of the Cubs’ Big 4 is very likely to be a Top 50 prospect in baseball heading into 2014, with some rumors that all four could end up in a significant number of Top 20s..

But what is in the system beyond Baez, Soler, Almora, and Bryant? Who are the candidates for the number five spot in the system? At this point, I think three prospects have established themselves in that “next tier” of Cubs prospects that are in the argument for that fifth spot in the system.

There were, however, some criteria I used to cut out certain players. First, the prospect must have played this season. That leaves the rehabbing Arodys Vizcaino out of the equation. Second, the prospect must have at least met reasonably optimistic expectations for 2013. Sorry Brett Jackson, that eliminates you. Last, the prospect cannot have come out of nowhere. That knocks Kyle Hendricks out of consideration.

THE FRONT RUNNER

Arismendy Alcantara, SS
Age 21, Double A
61 G, 257 PAs, .286/.364/.482
10.1% BB rate, 20.2% K rate
9 HRs, 14 2Bs, 1 3B, 15 SB, 1 CS

Alcantara firmly established himself in the second tier of Cubs’ prospects last season, putting up solid numbers in High A while showing that he can probably stay at shortstop long term. Alcantara has only improved on that performance after moving up to Double A Tennessee this season. Not only is Alcantara young for the level, but at this rate he is in the process of putting up career highs in on base percentage and slugging. Oh, and he has already set his one season high for home runs. Especially considering his ability to play in the middle infield, Alcantara has turned himself from a back end of an organizational Top 10 type to someone who has a legitimate shot at being in some Top 100 prospects in baseball lists.

THE POWER HITTER

Dan Vogelbach, 1B
Age 20, Low A
60 G, 265 PAs, .277/.347/.472
10.2% BB rate, 17.0% K rate
11 HRs, 13 2Bs, 3 SB, 1 CS

The Dan Vogelbach story is well known: he has an advanced approach at the plate and 70 raw power. His issue is that it’s unclear if he could even be adequate defensively at first base, possibly leaving him without a position in the National League. But the potential in that bat is huge. The advanced approach has been on display since day one of his full season debut with Kane County, and the power has picked up with six home runs since May 27. While the defensive issues cannot be ignored, players who can get on base while limiting strike outs with 70 power are very rare.

THE PITCHER

Pierce Johnson, RHP
Age 22, Low A
12 GS, 62.2 IPs, 3.45 ERA
2.98 FIP, 9.91 K/9, 2.73 BB/9

With Arodys Vizcaino currently disqualified from contention for the fifth best prospect in the Cubs’ system, Pierce Johnson is currently the best pitching prospect in the Cubs system. While he does not have quite the ceiling of Dillon Maples, Paul Blackburn, or Duane Underwood, Johnson has a legitimate chance to be a very good 3 in the Majors, and has a much higher likelihood of meaningfully contributing the Majors than any of the three youngsters listed above. The biggest argument against Johnson is that he is a bit old for the level, and as an advanced college draftee should at least be at High A to face some better competition.

Personally, I would list these three players in the order I have them in here. As of today, Alcantara has established himself as the fifth best prospect in the system, and a potential elite prospect in all of baseball based upon his improved patience and power to go along with his ability to play up the middle. Plus, Alcantara has now succeeded in the upper minors.

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Game 62: Anything Else on TV?

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

There was not much to feel good about watching tonight’s game. To be fair there hasn’t been much to feel good in Cubs-Reds games for much of the last three seasons, as the Reds have taken 18 of the last 21 meetings between the two teams. Oof.

Matt Garza was in a giving mood on Tuesday night, offering up two home runs early to put the Cubs in an early 3-0 hole. An Alfonso Soriano sac fly allowed the boys in blue to get one run back in the bottom of the fourth, but Garza just couldn’t shake his kindred spirit. The Cubs “ace” surrendered another bomb to Cub-killer Xavier Paul in the sixth to finish off an impressive eight-spot performance.

Paul was an okay player with the Dodgers, but developing into a nice player in the back half of the lineup with the Reds. Quick story about Paul, I had a friend who pitched against him in high school and he gave up two home runs to him in one game. He swears by the fact that Paul hit one at least 550 feet over the center-field wall. I have no video evidence to confirm nor deny this story.

The Cubs ran into a bit of hard-luck in the second and third innings when Joey Votto turned into the best fielding first baseman of all time. He robbed Wellington Castillo and Starlin Castro of hits on back-to-back plays overlapping the two innings. If you have a chance to go back and watch them, they are pretty impressive plays.

Not to be outdone on the defensive front, defending Gold Glover Darwin Barney flashed some good leather in the third, including a diving stop on an inning-ending double play. Other than the Cody Ransom home run (Ransom scored both runs), Barney’s nifty glove was about the only other thing the Cubs had going for them.

Also kids, want to see how NOT to play a sinking liner in the outfield? Go watch Joey Votto’s “triple” to right field. An embarrassing play for Scott Hairston.

The only other Cubs-related event exciting enough to talk about is the Ian Stewart twitter-debacle. CAPS mentioned it briefly in the comments section of yesterday’s recap, but Stewart essentially aired his dirty laundry with the organization. He had choice words for Dave Sveum and virtually asked the team to release him so he can pursue other opportunities.

The fact that he thinks he’ll be handed a big-league job in another organization is laughable. The twitter drama violated some language in his contract with the team and according to Theo, Stewart will be suspended without pay until they decide what to do with him.

Everyone knows what is coming, it is just a matter of dealing with the MLBPA at this point and I’m not sure they will have much of an argument against the decision. Stewart is probably sprucing up his resume as I write this wonderful recap.

Well done Ian and good luck!

Sidenote: The moment of the Dodgers-Dbacks fight when Matt Williams, Kirk Gibson, Don Mattingly and Mark McGwire were all tied up was priceless. Find a gif of that, you won’t be disappointed.

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