Down on the Farm Report – 7/17/07

The Cubs have started off the second half of the season on a positive note and are trying to close in on the Brew Crew. With the trade deadline nearing, Jim Hendry made a move on Monday night by acquiring Jason Kendall. With the trade, Geovany Soto will likely be heading back to Iowa later today and Lou Piniella is expected to go with the catching duo of Jason Kendall and Koyie Hill until Henry Blanco is able to return from the DL.

There are still a lot of questions as the trade deadline nears and we will have to wait and see what other moves Jim Hendry might have up his sleeve without having to mortgage the farm. Speaking of the farm, read on for the latest updates on the Cubs farm system and more thoughts on the trade deadline.

Iowa Cubs – Record: 51-43

The I-Cubs were 1-3 over their last four games and now sit seven games out of first in their division. They have struggled lately to win and they could be having trouble finding a good lineup with all the changes that have been made recently.

Watch out Cubs fans, Josh Kroeger is starting to light it up at Iowa just like he did at Tennessee. Kroeger is starting to create a little buzz and he could make it to Chicago if he keeps this up. Over the last four games, Kroeger was 8-of-19 with two home runs and seven RBI’s. In his last 10 games, he is hitting .457 with four home runs and 13 RBI’s.

Felix Pie is back again with Iowa and in his three games played he was 5-of-14 with three home runs, four RBI’s, and four runs scored. He sure has the talent; I just wish he could keep his bat working when he is with the Cubs.

Also helping on offense was Eric Patterson who was 7-of-20 with a home run and two RBI’s. Matt Murton was 6-of-19 with a home run and four RBI’s while Scott Moore was 7-of-16 with three home runs and six RBI’s.

From the mound, Juan Mateo pitched his first game for Iowa on Sunday to get the win. He went 6.0 innings giving up an earned run on eight hits and a walk while striking out three. He had made six starts for Peoria and was 2-1 with a 5.24 ERA.

Billy Petrick pitched 6.1 innings of relief for Iowa and did not give up a run. I liked this kid when he was with the big club and he hasn’t done a thing to change my opinion of him. He was recalled on Monday and was available to pitch out of Lou Piniella’s pen.

Kevin Hart was promoted to Iowa from Tennessee and started one game. He pitched 6.0 innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out four. Not exactly a warm welcome in his first game.

Tennessee Smokies – Record: 13-12

The Smokies were 3-2 over their last five games. At 13-12 they currently sit only one game out of first in their division. On offense, Jake Fox continued his good season and in his last five games was 8-of-19 with a home run and six RBI’s. Matt Craig was 4-of-9 with three RBI’s while Tyler Colvin was 6-of-17 with a home run and three RBI’s.

From the mound, Donald Veal had another solid outing although he ended up taking the loss. He pitched 5.0 innings giving up two runs, one earned on two hits and two walks while striking out four. Even with the loss it was still a good sign that he is pitching like he should be.

With the promotion of Kevin Hart to Iowa, Ryan O’Malley was sent down to Tennessee. He has struggled in a big way with the I-Cubs and the hope is that he can turn things around. He didn’t start off real well, going 6.0 innings giving up four earned runs on six hits and no walks while striking out two. It is hard to see how this kid came up in a pinch and pitched well against the Houston Astros on the road. He hasn’t been able to get anyone out lately.

Daytona Cubs – Record: 10-13

The D-Cubs were 4-2 over their last six games and are working hard to get back to .500 for the second half of the season. The D-Cubs put together plenty of offense, with 46 runs in six games, even when they lost. Players of note over the last six games include Kyle Reynolds who was 8-of-21 with four home runs, eleven RBI’s, a stolen base and he scored eight runs. Chris Walker was sent to Daytona from Iowa and in the three games he has played with the D-Cubs he is 7-of-14 with a stolen base. Alan Rick was 9-of-15 with a home run, seven RBI’s and a stolen base.

From the mound, Mitch Atkins pitched well and picked up his 7th win of the year. He went 7.0 shutout innings giving up only four hits and a walk while striking out eight. Jesse Estrada wasn’t as sharp as Atkins but he was able to register his 2nd win of the season. He went 7.0 innings giving up 3 earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out five.

Jeff Samardzija was solid again after he pitched 5.0 innings giving up two earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out two. It is another positive sign for Samardzija. I know he was supposed to move through the system quickly but I am still not giving up on this kid. He is starting to progress like he was expected.

Peoria Chiefs – Record: 13-10

Peoria is 2-3 over their last five games but still have a hold on first place in their division. James Adduci was 6-of-17 with two RBI’s while Blake Lalli was 8-of-19 with four RBI’s and five runs scored.

From the mound, Jose Pina was good enough to win for the third time this year going 5.0 innings and giving up one earned run on four hits and a walk while striking out four. He also pitched two innings of scoreless relief last Friday.

Wade Miller made a rehab start with Peoria on Sunday. He pitched only 3.0 innings giving up two earned runs on four hits and no walks while striking out five. I am not sure what the Cubs plan to do with Miller if he gets back to game ready status. Miller has been solid at times in his career but Cubs fans haven’t seen much of that and it would surely take time for him to earn their trust. Hill and Marshall have struggled lately and if that continues who knows what might happen.

Boise Hawks – Record: 11-15

Boise has strung together some wins and are 5-1 in their last six games and have taken over the lead in their division, even though they are four games below .500. Stranger yet, the Northwest League has an East division, which the Hawks are a part of, and a West division and every team in the West division has a better record than the Hawks. They lead their division by one game but would be one game out of fourth place in the other division.

The pitching was ok but the reason for the wins has to fall to the offense. In the six games since my last update, they scored 49 runs. Helping on offense, was Kyler Burke who was 7-of-14 with a home run, three RBI’s and six runs scored while Marquez Smith was 8-of-21 with a home run and five RBI’s. Ty Wright was 8-of-24 with a home run, two RBI’s, a stolen base and six runs scored and seems to be a regular in my updates for the Hawks. Joshua Donaldson was 5-of-16 with three home runs, five RBI’s, a stolen base and six runs scored while Steven Clevenger was 9-of-24 with six RBI’s.

From the mound, Dustin Sasser picked up his second win going 5.0 shutout innings giving up two hits and a walk while striking out three. He is now 2-1 on the season with a 3.00 ERA.

Al Alburquerque picked up his first win going 5.0 shutout innings in relief and giving up only two hits and a walk while striking out four. This was one of only two solid outings over the last week. When you are scoring 14 runs in a game and win by one you have to say pitching is a problem. They scored more than 10 runs in three of the six games yet won those three games by a total of four runs. The offense is doing well but I hope the pitching can catch up.

That is up for the updates for today. Check back later this week for more information from Down on the Farm.

Trade Deadline Discussion

Uncle Lou has the lineup problems seemingly worked out for now and they are scoring runs at will against some good pitching. With the second half of the season underway I took a look at the lineup to see what could happen before the trade deadline. What follows is my idea and my idea only and shouldn’t reflect negatively on Chicago Cubs Online.

First, what positions would I consider solid.

  • C – Kendall/Hill
  • 1B – Derrek Lee
  • 2B – Fontenot/DeRosa
  • SS – Theriot/Izturis (because of Theriot)
  • 3B – Aramis Ramirez
  • LF – Alfonso Soriano
  • CF – Pagan/Jones (I like Pagan but an everyday starter?)
  • RF – Cliff Floyd (injuries)
  • Rotation – (beyond Z and Lilly, big question marks of late)
  • Bullpen – (has been solid lately)
  • Bench

The most glaring need is in the outfield where Jones has been bad and Floyd has played sparingly due to injury concerns. Angel Pagan has played well but Felix Pie is back with Iowa. DeRosa has also filled in when needed in the outfield. If Pie hits well back at Iowa how quickly do they bring him back up? Another guy getting mentioned is Josh Kroeger.

I would love to see Griffey, Jr. in a Cubs’ uniform. I would also love to add Otsuka or Gagne to the bullpen. Do we need another starter? In the next two weeks, if Marquis, Hill and Marshall don’t turn things around do we look for another starter? Do we use Marmol in the rotation?

There are a lot of questions as the trade deadline nears. Unless something changes drastically in the next two weeks. the Cubs should continue to be buyers.

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt