Archive for July, 2013

Chet Chat, Vol. 1 – A Tale of Two Cubs

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

The non-waiver trade deadline is approaching within the next few hours and there are still a lot of playable cards left in the Cubs deck.  Actually, I am writing this on trade deadline eve, so maybe by the time I wake up guys like Jeff Russell, David DeJesus, Kevin Gregg, Shark (yes, lazy, don’t want to spell it all out),  Nate Schierholtz, Ronnie Woo-Woo, and the white haired lady with the visor they always show during the seventh inning stretch will have already been cashed in for the prospect of future wins.

Deep down I even feel guys like Junior Lake are being shopped in a weird sort of way.  Call me crazy, but he doesn’t really fit the Epstein mold.  I don’t see him sticking around if a team liked what they saw and offered up a nice package.

This brings me to a trade that happened last week.  The Soriano trade reminds me of death.  No, not the death of our beloved ball club, nothing that extreme.  It is similar to how we say nice things about somebody after they pass on, we chose to recognize Alfonso for all the great things he did after he was traded and then almost, maybe I am stretching here, but we acted as though we would miss him.  I can’t remember an outpouring of affection like this for Soriano in all his years in Cubbie blue.

I will admit, I was saddened a bit.

I think of my Cub fandom in two chapters; the Sosa years and then the Soriano years.  I liked Sosa for the first few years of his chapter.  He provided a certain amount of excitement that was above and beyond the norm at a sporting event.  He was doing things otherworldly there for a while.  I feel he may have been doing them with a little help (wink, wink) but that was when the league was the wild west.  I am shocked we didn’t see a cyborg jump out of the dugout and take a few cuts for crying out loud.

Sosa’s chapter ended with a teammate smashing his boom box while he drove off the Wrigley player lot before fan appreciation day made it to the latter innings.   Also, we must not forget the bewildering and sometimes downright idiotic defense in right field,  the at times stupid baserunning, the corked bat, and the late and ever so grand “This is my house!” entrances at spring training.  Most everyone on the north side of Chicago felt it was time for Sammy to leave, he had worn out his welcome.

Soriano’s chapter ends with glowing articles written by most of Chicago’s press and bloggers alike.  Everybody seemed to speak of his professionalism and love for the game.  Teammates couldn’t stop gushing over his leadership and value to the young players.

I begin to wonder, if Soriano had half the contract and gave the same effort and results, would he have been more loved by fans during his time with the team?  Could he have been one of the most loved Cubs of all time?  If Bob Brenly were not so quick to judge Soriano on his effort and heart during live broadcasts, would some fans see him in a different light?

The question for me will always be, was Soriano unfairly judged due to the size of his contract?

I know I enjoyed the Sosa chapter more, but most of the joy was not because of Sosa’s towering homeruns, but more because of what the team accomplished.

Soriano’s chapter will always be a question of what could have been and what should have been.  I begged on more then one occasion, usually while watching a game in frustration, for the team to trade him.  Yet, for some odd reason, along with many other fans and writers, I inexplicably miss him.

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Cubs Bullpen Picks a Horrible Time to Choke

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Gotta start off with a quick PSA. In case you were considering choking and think you have picked out a good time to do it, don’t let my headline fool you. There is never a good time to choke, boys and girls. It’s not advised, but for the Cubs bullpen, particularly Kevin Gregg and James Russell, yesterday was about the worst possible day for it to happen and it happened to both of them.

For the last few weeks, both have been on the trade market and have had suitors. With today’s 4pm EDT deadline for non-waiver deals quickly approaching, the blow ups by both of them in the double header against the Brewers was not helpful. On the small picture side, the blowups probably cost the Cubs both games and assured the series loss. Looking big picture, the blowups are the last thing scouts will see before the deadline since the game tonight isn’t until after the deadline. Now we have to hope that the teams interested in both of them are swayed more by the body of work and less on the last thing they saw. I’d like to report a deal for both of them tomorrow morning. I’m a firm believer that you cultivate your pen from within the organization and with scrap heap filler / flyers like Gregg. If you can build a solid pen from that on the cheap, you can spend the money on guys who play on a regular basis and in turn flip those pen guys as assets.

I expect at least one deal today, despite the rather cold stove for the Cubs since the Alfonso Soriano trade, but I don’t know who to tell you it will be.


by Rob Willer

Kane County Stars Shine

Cougars 4 Timber Rattlers 2 

Game Recap: The Cougars started their four game series with the Timber Rattlers with a bang as they pulled out a 4-2 win on Tuesday night. Starting Pitcher Jason Amlung went three innings giving up no runs and four hits while striking out three lowering his earned run average to 4.42. Nathan Dorris was next to hit the mound as he is one of the better middle relief options for the Cougars. Dorris pitched four innings giving up two runs and six hits. His earned run average is 2.81 and he picked up the win improving to 6-3. Dorris regularly hit between 88-90 with his fastball and showed off his curve which sat anywhere from 74-76. Steve Perakslis threw the final two innings without allowing a run for his fourth save.  Right fielder Reggie Golden hit home run number six and it was a towering drive to left-field that still hasn’t landed. Some other notes from the game were Catcher Carlos Escobar who was 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored. Cougars left fielder Oliver Zapata chipped in with a 2 for 4 performance with an RBI triple in the eighth inning.

Possible Promotion for Almora -The atmosphere was electric at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark where we might be in the final days of Albert Almora at Kane County. Almora went 1 for 3 on the night with a walk and is batting .328 on the year for the Cougars. It seems its only a matter of time before he gets promoted to Daytona. For now the Cubs feel he is doing just find in Kane County. Should be an interesting month of August with Cubs Prospects as many promotions could be in order.

Interview Alert- I will be attending Wednesday’s game as well and have a interview in place with Cubs prospect and third baseman Jeimer Candelario. If I’m able to do the interview I will record it and post it for Thursday’s Down with the Farm piece.

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Game Notes – Brewers 5, Cubs 0

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

I wrote in this week’s ESPN Power Rankings that “The Cubs have posted a .545 winning percentage since May 26, which trails only the Dodgers, Cardinals and Pirates in the NL.” With a four game series against one of the worst teams in baseball, you’d think that win percentage would continue to rise. Unfortunately it took a little dip Monday night. Thankfully there are three games to go.

  • Jeff Samardjiza pitched great and had a no hitter into the 5th. It got me thinking and reminded me that I’ve never watched a no hitter from start to finish without prior knowledge of the fact that it was going to happen. I say it that way because sometimes I watch games delayed on DVR or we jump into a game in the 7th because you go get word so and so is close. I missed the Carlos Zambrano no hitter because it was blacked out on TV. One day I’ll see one.
  • We faced a guy last night in Kyle Lohse who is a master at the first pitch strike, which got me wondering a little bit about our staff and how our guys do in that area. Be on the lookout for some research being reported on my end very soon.
  • My boyfriend, Pedro Strop, signed the scorecard on his first rough outing of the year, allowing five earned runs in the 9th and leaving with the loss. His ERA instantly jumped from 0.00 in the NL to over 4. Ouch. That’s why looking at ERA for relievers is so deceiving. If that’s all you go by, you’d be misled based on how well he’s pitched this year, especially how well he did the other night getting out of a bases loaded, no out jam.
  • Today we have a double header, which means both the Cubs and the Brewers are allowed to carry a 26 man roster today due to the fact that it is a day-night double header. Newly acquired starter, Jake Arrieta, will take the spot for the Cubs and get the start in the night game.
  • In case you missed it, the Brewers are now giving away $10 vouchers for future games for every game you purchase in the month of August and September. It’s a good PR move for a team that has been horrible and has lost one of it’s stars to a suspension for the remainder of the year. Sometimes, it’s about doing the right thing. They didn’t have to do this, but in the long run, they will come out ahead for it with the concessions alone once those vouchers are used.
  • Also in the in case you missed it file, former Cub starter and current minor league pitching coach, Frank Castillo, passed away on Sunday near his home. He drown on a boating outing. He was 44 and is survived by a wife and two kids. He was one of my favorite Cubs pitchers growing up. Sad to see people go so young.

Minor League Recap 7/29

by Rob Willer

Iowa Cubs- Brooks Raley was once again dominant on the mound pitching a sharp six and two third innings. Henry Rodriguez struggled again and ended up with the loss giving up two runs which raised his earned run average to 5.40. Mike Olt continues to struggle at Triple A Iowa where he is 2 for 23 which is good for a .087 batting average. Second Base Prospect Logan Watkins pitched in a two hit night also adding a double while Ty Wright hit a home run and knocked in two runs.

Looking Ahead- Iowa will travel to Salt Lake City for a four game series with the Salt Lake City Bees. Current Triple A starter Jake Arrieta will be called up Tuesday to fill in for the night cap of the double header. Since this is a double header the Cubs are allowed to have 26 men on the active roster for the game.

Tennessee Smokies- Dae-Eun Rhee pitched quite the ball game as he went six and one third innings. Rhee gave up two runs both earned and struck out five batter while walking one batter. Arismendy Alcantara had a breakout game going three for four with three singles and four runs batted in. Alcantara is batting .273 through 388 at bats at Tennessee with 13 home-runs and 55 runs batted in. You may remember seeing Alcantara in the futures game where he hit a towering home-run to right representing the Cubs system well. Overall the Smokies managed 10 hits and had eight runs to go along with those hits.

Brett Jackson Demotion- Brett Jackson was struggling in Arizona on his rehab assignment which led him to being sent to Tennessee while Marcos Mateo got promoted to Iowa. Jackson went one for four with a single in his first game at Tennessee.

Featured Article for the Week: Tuesday night I have tickets for the Kane County Cougars game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Fifth Third Ball Park. Wednesday morning’s article will be centered around the game as I will include in game analysis, scouting reports and even some commentary from some fellow writers that will be attending the game.

As always follow me @Rob_Willer for the latest on Cubs Minor League News or stay here at viewfromthebleachers.com

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Farm Report: CJ Edwards Dominates

Monday, July 29th, 2013

by Rob Willer

The Cubs had added Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm to its already talented pool of prospects earlier this week and added Corey Brock on Friday. In this edition of Down on the Farm were going to take a look at C.J. Edwards and Corey Brock.

CJ Edwards

Acquired from the Texas Rangers as part of the package for right-hander Matt Garza last week, the 6 foot 2 right hander made his Daytona Cubs debut Sunday night.Edwards was spectacular striking out the first seven hitters he faced with relative ease by retiring them with his mid 90′s fastball.

On the night Edwards finished with 8 strikeouts and only allowed one hit on just 63 pitches in five innings. He projects to be a number three starter to the back of the rotation all depending on development over the next few years. Either way today was a great start to the Edward’s era and gives Cubs fans hope with talented young pitching prospects. Overall this guy knows how to pitch and its going to be fun to watch him for the rest of the season.

Edwards Watch: His next start will be Friday in Daytona for his home debut..

Corey Black

We then transition to right-handed pitcher Corey Black who was acquired from the Yankees in the deal that sent outfield slugger Alfonso Soriano back to the Bronx. Black is a 21 year old right hander who is considered to be a power arm and pitched in High A with the Yankees this season.

Stats-  Last year Black posted a 3.08 ERA with 50 strikeouts and a .222 opponents batting average in 52 2/3 innings between the Gulf Coast League Yankees, Class A Short-Season Staten Island and Class A Charleston. These numbers are great to see across all three levels with a such a young pitcher. Early indications are that Black most likely will end up in the bullpen with that dominant sinking fastball.

Corey Black Alert- Via Black’s twitter account he announced that he will be starting Thursday for his Cubs debut. Black features a high 90′s fastball with movement.

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Who’s Shifting and Who’s Not

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Over the last few years, the use of The Shift Defense has increased dramatically in baseball. Here are the Major League Baseball totals of the number of shifts in baseball, as tracked by Baseball Info Solutions (BIS).

2010 2011 2012 2013 Projected
2,465 2,358 4,577 7,586

Note: These are the number of plate appearances when a shift was in effect when a ball was put in play.

For many years now, most teams have employed The Shift, but only against a handful of players (David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Adam Dunn, Jim Thome, etc.). Research done by BIS in recent years has shown there are as many as 100 batters against whom The Shift is likely to be effective. More and more teams are now shifting on more and more different players. Here are the teams shifting the most this year:

Team Number of Shifts Shift Runs Saved
Orioles 344 10
Pirates 335 7
Yankees 302 0
Rays 299 9
Red Sox 291 8

Overall, BIS estimates that teams have saved themselves 89 runs by using The Shift this season.

But even as often as these teams are shifting, they are still not shifting against anywhere near the 100 players suggested by Baseball Info Solutions. The most aggressive (and progressive) teams are now up to about 30 different players against whom they use The Shift Defense. We believe that there is still room for even better results by shifting against as many as 100 different players in MLB.

The Shift Defense. Think of this terminology like you would a special defense in football. Like the Goal Line Defense, the Nickel Package, and the Cover Two. Baseball’s Shift Defense is a special defense to be used in a special situations.

Here are the teams who haven’t yet fully bought into the concept and are shifting the least in baseball:

Team Number of Shifts Shift Runs Saved
Phillies 23 -1
Cardinals 27 0
White Sox 31 -1
Nationals 32 1
Dodgers 38 0

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com

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Cubs Bid Farewell to Alfonso Soriano

Friday, July 26th, 2013

The age of social media, especially Twitter, has changed the way transactions and rumors are reported. Now, we’re all but sure to hear about so many more deals before they are actually finalized and announced. As of this morning, there has not been a formal announcement on the deal to send Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees, but because it was being reported everywhere as being a sure thing, you see it. In my opinion, this is both good and bad. It’s great because it makes the trade deadline so much fun. I find myself checking Twitter so often for any updates on anything. At the same time, I feel like it has the potential to get hopes up before deals as truly final. We saw this in full effect last year with Ryan Dempster and this off-season with Carlos Marmol. Both trades were reported as being done and both fell through. It is what it is at this point so we have to live with it.

At this point, Soriano is on his way to New York for the series with the Rays that starts tonight. He hopped a plane last night after saying good bye. No word yet on who is coming back in return, but I’ve heard the Cubs are picking up the majority of the remaining money on the contract so that should increase the value of the prospect we receive. A deal should be announced today so I should have an update later. I thought this quote from Sori said it all “I got that kind of money just because the game gave it to me. I love the game and I respect the game. I love what I do.

There was still a game to play last night and the Cubs offense did everything they could to show solidarity in protesting the Soriano trade by leaving their bats in the dugout each time they came to the plate. As a result, just one run and a series split that could have been a series win.

Junior Lake had another hit in the game and now has 15 hits in his first seven games played, including a hit in each. According to ESPN Stats and Info, that is the third most all time in the first seven games played. Only Bo Hart and my childhood favorite player, Kirby Puckett had more. Next up is a very winnable series with the Giants. If we can take advantage with a win tonight, we can punt the Chris Rusin start on Saturday and close it out with a series win behind Travis Wood on Sunday.

by Rob Willer

The Future Looks Bright

Albert Almora – This young man is the first draftee by the Theo Epstein regime and quite possibly might have the highest ceiling of all the Cubs prospects. Almora was the number six overall pick in the 2012 draft and was taken right out of high school. As an 18 year old he hit .347 in 75 at bats in rookie ball, also contributed a .363 on base percentage and .480 slugging percentage. He then was promoted to Boise to finish out his first season in Short Season A Ball where he still hit .292 in 65 at bats. Early indications show that this man can absolutely hit for contact through his first 351 at bats in the minor leagues he has 113 hits which amounts to a whopping .322 batting average. Those numbers themselves are impressive but for being only 19 years and producing at that high of level provides us with great hope for our future. As the Cubs organization weighs September call-ups to the big league club Almora could earn a call up to Daytona in the coming weeks. Personally he has been just an absolute treat to watch at near by Kane County. Plays the game the right way and gets the job done all you can ask in a young player.

Performance Thursday Night at Kane County: Almora went 4 for 5 with two doubles and raised his batting average to .333 at Kane County.

Dan Vogelbach –  Vogelbach is an interesting prospect for the Cubs as they already have Anthony Rizzo at first base for the next seven years after he recently signed his 42 million dollar contract. He like Almora was drafted right out of high school in the 2nd round. After tearing it up at rookie ball he then made the move just like Almora did and moved to Boise. When he arrived at Boise nothing changed he batted .322 also hit 10 home runs and  drove in 31 runs. To sum up his 2012 season he put up an impressive 1.051 OPS with 21 home runs and 17 doubles in 245 at-bats last season. Those are all star numbers for a 19 year old kid who if all things go to plan projects as a Matt Adams type.  When you think of Matt Adams you think quality hitter and a ton of power with average defense and below average speed. Vogelbach emulates all four of those traits, he will continue to develop this summer at Kane County and we should see him at Daytona by the start of next year.

Performance Thursday Night at Kane County: Vogelbach went 1 for 5 with a double and a run scored. His batting average is still .288 at Kane County.

Javy Baez –  One of the most exciting prospects in baseball is 20-year-old Javier Baez. Baez recently got promoted to Double-A, he could be in line for an everyday big league job by next season. He has been getting high remarks from highly respected sites including Baseball America which ranked him as the No. 10 prospect in baseball in Baseball America’s Midseason Top 50 list. What sets Baez apart from others is possess some of the best bat speed in all of minor league baseball.. Baez has incredible power and has shown it between High A Daytona and Double A Tennessee where he has combined to hit 25 home-runs and 72 runs batted in.   A September call-up is not out of the question although I see unlikely at this point.  Some numbers that worry me though are his 101 strikeouts in 404 at bats which is right at 25 percent between the two levels. If Baez can cut down on the strikeouts to about a 17% rate and improve on his batting average no question he will be up with the Cubs by 2014.

Performance Thursday Night at Tennessee – 2 for 6 with 2 Home Runs and four runs batted in.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Rob_Willer for the latest on minor league news regarding the Cubs organization.

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GirlieView (07/25/2013)

Thursday, July 25th, 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

  • Either Jed Hoyer was using a bit of misdirection (also called lying through his teeth), or things moved a lot faster than he thought they would
  • Once upon a time, an American education thru high school meant you had some pool of knowledge. The pool is now very shallow.
  • It is one of the few shows on TV (comedy division) that actually celebrates being smart versus being dumb
  • A number of hotels will have free toiletries available at the front desk for travelers who forget to pack a razor or tooth brush. If one is staying with relatives, you could call ahead to make sure the local Kwikie mart is fully stocked.
  • Who says pandering doesn’t pay off. My greatest letdown after reading the Lizzies….I have to wait 14 days for another.
  • I am becoming increasingly optimistic that the Cubs are turning this ship around.
  • You did say “ship” right?
  • This is not a horrible season. For me, it’s filled with promise and hope
  • On the ledge (to the tune of “Turn the Page”)*
    On a long and lonesome highway
    East of anywhere
    You can listen to the talkshows
    Moanin’ out their same ol’ song -
    You can think about the error
    Or the strikeouts from the night before…
    But your thoughts will soon be wandering
    The way they always do
    When you’re losin’ lots of ballgames
    And there’s nothin’ you can do
    And you don’t feel much like watchin’,
    You just wish the year was through…
    Here I am
    Cubbie Fan again
    There I am
    hand in the fridge
    Here I go
    Missin’ work again
    There I go
    out on the ledge…
    Well you trudge into a sports bar,
    Can’t win at home or on the road,
    And you feel the eyes upon you
    Smirkin’ at the cap,
    You pretend it doesn’t bother you
    But that’s a load of crap…
    Most times you can’t hear ‘em talk,
    Other times you can
    All the same old cliches,
    “Is he that stuipid, man?”
    And you always seem outnumbered,
    You don’t dare make a stand
    (your only consolation, man, is you’re no White Sox fan)
    Here I am
    Cubbie Fan again
    There I am
    hand in the fridge
    Here I go
    Missin’ work again
    There I go
    out on the ledge…
    Out there in the bleachers
    You’re a million miles away
    Every ounce of energy
    You try to give away
    As the sweat pours out your body
    it’s those beers you had today…
    Later in the evening
    As you lie awake in bed
    With the memories of walks and balks
    Ringin’ in your head
    You play the day’s last bat,
    over in your head…
    Here we are
    pitchers’ count, we see
    Here we go
    Ain’t it a shame
    Here we go
    Called strike three…again
    There we go
    Blame Dale Sveum…
    Here we are
    thrown out again
    Here we go
    Ain’t it a shame,
    Won’t be long now
    Shutout again
    There they go
    Losing the game…
    There they go
    There they go…………
    *with tremendous apologies to Bob Seger
  • some part of me said that I should not be banking with a division rival.
  • Seymour’s novelty Cards chest retractor is a hoot in the cardio wing.
  • some of us can’t spend all day on the internet.
  • you can wed yer kin.
  • Vagaries are real sons of bitches.
  • Luck is being the Oakland news anchor with the day off when the gag of the century gets pulled off with amazing efficiency.
  • I mentioned the wooden clogs didn’t fit his persona very well. He gave me a dirty look. I was eating a hot dog so I guess you can say we had a post game meal together.
  • Uh oh. The old Kevin Gregg is back.
  • I am beginning to believe his baseball IQ is that of a Meatball Sub with ranch dressing.
  • I think you’re being a little generous. Rizzo has to work his way up to the ranch dressing.
  • The first time something like that happens, shame on the player. When it keeps happening, shame on the manager. Where is the discipline this team so sorely lacks?
  • What I don’t understand is why the All Star break has to last until Friday. Do we really need 2 days after the actual All Star game before everyone is back with their teams and ready to go.
  • When dealing for prospects you always go for the best player you can get regardless of position. Players get hurt. Players start to unexpectedly suck. Players demand trades or leave as a free agent. You can always shuffle players around in the field or trade them later for what you need. You can never have too many top prospects.
  • I read somewhere that Shark played football in college.
  • To combat this epidemic, the Cubs should only draft players who didn’t pitch before they turned 18.
  • The big slow curve is Rakers out pitch, and his set up pitch and every pitch in between. Nine innings of slow curve balls, OK, I threw 4 ‘fastballs’ but no one could tell.
  • I could just see a GM thumbing through his twitter feed now, “HaHaHa, Matt Garza for Mike Olt…wasn’t even a thought!”
  • Chetter Chatter?
  • I see your Chetter Chatter and raise you a Chet Cetera.
  • Is it a relative of Chicago tenor, Peter? People would undoubtedly inquire.
  • Greg? Well shit…I’ve spent twenty some years emulating Mike Maddox.
  • Think of the amount the Cubs could have gotten in a trade for Brett Jackson at the beginning of 2012 compared to the beginning of 2013.
  • “Since I’ve been here, that’s the first kid that’s come up and looked like a major leaguer, aggressive, aggressive on the bases…He did a great job and swung the bat really nice.” said Swammy as Dave Sappelt, Luis Valbuena and Brian Bugusevic wimper in the corner.
  • I’m not sure if Carlos Villanueva would be better equipped to be a productive member of the starting rotation by growing the handle bar mustache back, but it does seem like he’s lost his super powers since he shaved.
  • Last year I rode Luis Valbuena pretty hard. I apologize now for those comments.
  • DeMan says something insightful into the pitcher hitter matchup and there is an awkward silence, followed by………………Pearl Jam is in a rain delay at Wrigley Field tonight.
  • It’s not about the money you idiots, don’t you listen to these guys after they sign there megamillion contracts.
  • He will also be able to pick a good school system for his kids,
  • I love the deal.
  • Rangers overpay for Garza. Cubs win in AZ, Lake big night, Deal expected with Soriano and Yanks, Braun exposed again and suspended, Damn good sports day!!

Lizard

  • I don’t think there’s anything entertaining about the guys who cheat being rewarded the most.

Shout Outs

  • Many thanks to Ann Landers who logged her first Lizzie of 2013 this time around! Imagine that!

MVL

  • Congratulations to Doc Raker and jswanson, co-Most Valuable Lizzie’ers this time around!

Top Ten of 2013 (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard) – on account of the fact that this post isn’t quite long enough as it is, I’ll list the full standings this time around.

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

Chit Chat

  • What are your plans (baseball-related or otherwise) for the rest of the summer?

 

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Alfonso Soriano Traded to the…..For……

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

The big news on Twitter yesterday was the conversation that took place between Alfonso Soriano and Theo / Jed. At the end of the conversation, they came away with an agreement with Soriano to waive his no trade rights in exchange for a deal to a certain list of teams. He has said he’d like to win a ring before he retires. The rumors have been around a deal to the Yankees so you have to imagine that they are on the list. Who else is on it or how long it is is anyone’s guess. What’s important at this point is the Yankees. Rumors are that the the holdup to the  deal being discussed, while still “far” away, primarily revolves around the money owed to Soriano and who picks up how much. Since it’s the Yankees, you have to imagine Theo and Jed are asking them to absorb more than they would normally ask a team like Texas. They know the Yankees can afford it and they know they are in desperite times at this point with key guys making a lot of money all on the DL for most of the season. I still maintain that there is no rush on the Soriano move other than the fact that the Yankees, if they are truly interested, may either fall out of the race or decide to punt on Soriano and go after someone like Alex Rios. Soriano is a name you can move in August because his contract will clear waivers. There is no rush. Still, I can see a move for Sori completed before the end of the weekend. We’ll just have to be patient and stay glued to Twitter.

  • David DeJesus returned to the lineup after being on the DL and had a 2-for-6 night. It’s good to have him back. I like him as the leadoff hitter for this team. He’s just a decent baseball player. He’s not a star, but he’s a guy I like on my team.
  • Another multi-hit game for Junior Lake with a double and a single and and RBI. He played LF, giving Soriano a mental day off with all the trade rumors swirling.
  • The fact that Nate Schierholtz is hitting and hitting well is such a plus right now. We’ve got a series coming with San Francisco so you know he’s gonna be jacked about playing against his old team. I’m really hopping he has nights like he did in this game to show teams he can help down the stretch.
  • I’ve decided that I’m against giving Jeff Samardzija # 1 or even # 2 starter money when it comes to contract time. I like him, but I just don’t believe in him enough to trust he’ll be consistent and worth the money.
  • Don’t look now, but we’re about to pass San Francisco in the Wild Card standings and gaining ground on Washington. If I would have said we were going to type that at this point before the season would have started, you would have guessed the Cubs were in contention. Instead it’s been the Giants and Nats that have been disappointing this year.
  • Pedro Strop for president!!!!

by Rob Willer

Mike Olt  makes his Iowa Cubs debut.

Mike Olt (3B, Age 24)

Assigned to Triple A Iowa. July 23rd.

Triple A Stats: 268 AB’s, .213 .317 .422, 12 HR 33 RBI’s (Triple A Round Rock)

Background Info: Olt was a highly regarded prospect with the Texas Rangers last year being ranked the number 22 prospect overall across baseball. He got off to a tough start this spring as he was dealing with vision issues and struggled at Triple A Round Rock in April and May. Recently he got the problem corrected and his numbers have steadily improved with his average up to. 213 and his power has returned with 11 home runs. Most likely Olt will get the majority of time at 3rd base raising questions on what to do with former top draft pick Josh Vitters. Currently Olt is ranked at 43 by MLB.com and was regarded as the center piece of the Matt Garza deal.

Summary of the Game: Back to the game, Olt played third base as expected an batted sixth in the Iowa Cubs lineup. He struck out in his first at bat on a high fastball out of the zone. On the night Olt went 1 for 5 with three strikeouts and a single. During the 6th inning, Olt singled to left and was robbed of an RBI as Donnie Murphy got thrown out at home. He showed great skills in the field with adjusting on a high hop chopper to get the out at first. Brooks Raley started for the Iowa Cubs and pitched brilliantly going seven strong innings giving up three hits and one run while striking out six. Raley was recently up with the Cubs mostly pitching in long-relief. Interesting note to end with is that Vitters started in left-field for the Iowa Cubs going one for three with a single and a walk. Since Vitters is now blocked at third base the Cubs are trying to give him opportunities to play other positions to get enough at bats.

Story-lines to Watch Going Forward: Olt’s progress at Iowa and how long it will be until he is up with the Cubs and playing third base regularly with them at the big league level. Justin Grimm who also was part of the Garza trade will be on the mound Friday for the Iowa Cubs. Grimm has bounced around this season as he made 17 starts with the Rangers to go along with a 6.37 earned run average. This in turn gives Grimm time to work out a few kinks at the Triple A level before trying to earn a spot in the Cubs rotation later on in August and years going forward. Either way it should be a fun week seeing some of our new acquisitions contribute at the minor league level.

Be on the lookout later on this week as I break down the Cubs system position by position evaluating the talent. Make sure to follow me @Rob_Willer for the latest Cubs Minor League News.

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Why Cub Fans Should Care About the K-Rod Trade

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

An interesting trade went down on Tuesday and it, while it didn’t directly impact the Cubs, fans should take note because it’s a deal that could be important over the next week in regards to our continued rebuild. In case you missed it, the struggling Milwaukee Brewers sent reliever Francisco Rodriguez to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for minor league infielder Nick Delmonico. While it may not seem earth shattering, it’s important for a few reasons, but first, let’s look a little at this Delmonico kid and find out why.

According to Jonathan Mayo of MiLB.com, Delmonico was ranked as the #5 prospect in the Orioles system at the time of the deal and immediately slots in as the # 3 guy in the Brewers system. In exchange, the Orioles, who are desperately trying to reward their fans with a playoff birth, get a relief pitcher who will not be closing for them, but rather offering more depth in the pen.

What this trade does, and why it’s important for Cub fans to pay attention to, is it establishes that there are multiple teams that are kicking the tires on relief help. Reports on Twitter had at least four, all of which were reportedly AL, teams were interested in acquiring the services of K-Rod. In the end, Baltimore got him with what we can assume was the best offer. The Cubs also have a pair of relievers who have each had their names in the rumor mill in Kevin Gregg and James Russell. Both have different roles, but nevertheless have drawn interest from other teams. If we’ve established that there is not only a market, but potentially a valuable market for late inning relief help, the Cubs should strongly consider moving one, if not both of these guys in an attempt to acquire a top 10 prospect for each. You’d have to guess Russell’s value is higher given his age and friendly service time, but Gregg should have value to. This K-Rod trade, if nothing else, allows Theo and Jed to read the green a little before making their putt. Now it’s time to make a move.

  • Is it just me, or is anyone else annoyed by the Notorious B.I.G. intro music every time Gregorius comes to the plate for Arizona?
  • Junior Lake continues his assault on America with a 3-for-5 night that included another home run. He’s on an incredible streak
  • Travis Wood pitched pretty good, considering the amount of time between starts
  • Why does Cody Ransom continue to get in games?
  • Dale Sveum’s ejection last night ended with him and the home plate umpire walking away laughing despite yelling at each other for a good two minutes.

 

by Rob Willer

Kris Bryant Promoted to Boise Hawks Short Season A

Kris Bryant (3B, Age 21)

Assigned from Arizona Rookie League to Short Season A Boise Hawks on July 23rd.

Rookie Ball Stats: 6 PAs, .167/.143/.333, 0 HR, 2 RBI’s

The Move: Bryant went to Arizona to knock off the rust for not playing for the past month after trying to finalize his pro contract with the Cubs. My initial thoughts were that Bryant would play 4-6 games in Arizona, then get the call up to Boise. Although, the cubs felt they saw enough with Bryant and moved him up to Boise where he batted 3rd and continued developing as a 3rd baseman in the Cubs system. So far through four at bats Bryant struck out all four times. One of those at bats he went down looking on a debatable pitch with the bases loaded. Even though Bryant struggled at the plate he did not let it affect his glove as he made a great throw to end the 5th inning with the bases loaded. For the rest of the season Bryant should be at Boise as Jeimer Candelario would be blocking him at 3rd for Kane County. The Cubs have a plethora of position prospects scattered throughout their system which in turn can lead to major league talent or assets to trade for young pitching.

Bryant’s Potential: As Bryant develops the debate has already started with Javy Baez moving to 3rd and pushing Bryant to the outfield. The Cubs Front Office has downplayed that and has said Bryant will develop as 3rd Baseman for the time being. Mike Rosenbaum of Bleacher Report gives us in depth scouting report of Bryant.  Things to take away from Rosenbaum’s report are Bryant’s impressive power reaching the top ranking of 80 projected for the future. Also that his overall hitting and plate discipline are above average as well which should bode for some great years in the near future for the Cubs third baseman of the future or right fielder depending on what happens in the coming years. For now Bryant will continue developing through the minors one at bat at a time it won’t be long until he is playing in the majors . Mike Safford voice of the Boise Hawks provides us with video of taking Batting Practice with the Hawks for the first time.  Just seeing Bryant take batting practice exemplifies his ridiculous power at such a young age.

Follow me @Rob_Willer for the latest on Cubs Minor League News.

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