Down on the Farm Report – 8/28/07

Today we start by talking about the number 33. The number itself does not mean much but before tonight’s game that is the number of games the Cubs have left this season. The season is coming to an end and how the Cubs play over the remaining 33 games will decide whether they will head home for the winter or make plans to play a few extra games this season. I do not have to ask Cubs fans which option they would prefer.

The Arizona Fall League starts on October 9th and rosters were announced on Monday. The Mesa Solar Sox will include: Matt Avery (RHP, Tennessee), Justin Berg (RHP, Tennessee), Grant Johnson (RHP, Tennessee), Rocky Roquet (RHP, Tennessee), Josh Lansford (3B, Peoria), Joe Simokatis (SS, Iowa) and Sam Fuld (OF, Tennessee). Derrek Lee will be one of four new inductees to the AFL Hall of Fame this fall, there has not been a date announced for the ceremony. Geovany Soto and Eric Patterson were named to the All-PCL Team on Monday.

Here is the rest from the Cubs farm teams and more about the number 33. We are down to one-week left in the Minor League season and the September call-ups will join the big league club very soon….

Iowa Cubs – Record: 75-61

The Cubs were 3-1 in their last four games but remain eight games out of first. The Nashville Sounds wrapped up the division title on Sunday and ended the I-Cubs chances at winning the division. They still have seven games left to play before their season ends but they are just playing for pride now.

One of the best players all year has been Geovany Soto. With all the call-ups to Chicago, Soto did get a short stint with the Cubs. It has paid off as he has played well. Since my last update he was 6-of-16 with four home runs and ten RBI’s. For the season he is hitting .357 with 25 home runs and 106 RBI’s. Another interesting note is that Soto is also the cousin of former Cub Ramon Martinez. Ronny Cedeno is back at Iowa and he is hitting well there again. In the four games since the last update he was 5-of-15 with four RBI’s.

From the mound, Kevin Hart improved to 4-1 at Iowa after going six innings on Saturday. He gave up one earned run on six hits and six walks while striking out three. Will Ohman has pitched well for Iowa since being sent down. In five innings pitched he has given up an earned run, five hits, and four walks and has struck out six. Ohman could make it back to Wrigley if he continues to pitch well. Carmen Pignatiello has been with Chicago but has not pitched since August 20th so Lou obviously is not confident he can get the job done either.

Tennessee Smokies – Record: 32-30

The Smokies have hit a cold stretch and dropped all four games since the last update and six games in a row. They remain three games out of first with seven games left to play. The Smokies will need to reverse their fortunes if they hope to make it interesting.

Helping on offense was Casey McGehee who was 7-of-18. Sam Fuld was also 7-of-18 with two stolen bases.

From the mound, Jeff Samardzija pitched well again but picked up his first loss for Tennessee after the Smokies failed to score any runs for him. He went 6.0 innings giving up one earned run on four hits and three walks while striking out four. If Samardzija continues pitching this well it will be very tempting for Jim Hendry to call him up once the rosters expand despite the fact he has already said he would not bring him up this September.

Daytona Cubs – Record: 24-40

The D-Cubs were 2-3 in their last five games and are finishing a long season. Helping on offense was Jeffrey Rea who was 8-of-18 with nine runs scored in the last five games. Matt Matulia was 7-of-18 with a home run and five runs scored.

From the mound, Paul Schappert pitched a complete game to pick up his 3rd win without a loss since being sent down to Daytona. He gave up one earned run on four hits and two walks while striking out five.

Joel Santo pitched 6.0 innings of shutout ball giving up only one hit and three walks while striking out five. He didn’t get the win because the bullpen wasn’t able to hold the lead for him.

Peoria Chiefs – Record: 34-28

Peoria was 2-2 in their last four games and sit 4 1/2 games out of first with slim chances of making the playoffs.

On offense, Marquez Smith is the hottest hitter for the Chiefs. In his last four games he was 5-of-13 with a home run and four RBI’s. Over his last 10 games he is hitting .438 with two home runs and 10 RBI’s. The only other player hitting over .300 in that same stretch was Brian Leclerc with 3-of-8 hitting and two doubles.

From the mound, four Peoria pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter versus the Beloit Snappers. James Russell pitched 3.0 innings giving up only a walk and striking out four. Chris Siegfried pitched 2.1 innings and gave up three walks plus got the win. Matt Maradeo pitched 1.2 innings giving up a walk and striking out three while Jose Ceda pitched the last 2.0 innings giving up a walk and striking out four.

Robert Hernandez earned his 6th win on Friday. He pitched 6.0 innings giving up two earned runs on three hits and no walks while striking out nine. He is 6-9 on the season with a 4.79 ERA, which is not all that impressive until you realize this kid is only 18. He could be someone to keep an eye on.

Boise Hawks – Record: 30-36

Boise is also 2-2 in their last four games and sits one game out of first. If they can put together a good stretch of games they still have a chance of pulling out something positive from a mediocre season.

On offense, Joshua Donaldson was 7-of-13 with four RBI’s in three games. He has been red-hot from the plate lately with a .459 batting average plus a home run and 11 RBI’s in his last 10 games. Luis Bautista is another hot hitter and was also 7-of-13 over his last three games. In his last 10 games he is batting .419 with eight RBI’s.

From the mound, Chris Huseby pitched well again going 6.0 innings and giving up two earned runs on six hits and a walk while striking out three. In his last 10 games, Huseby is 2-3 with a 3.57 ERA.

Thoughts on the remaining 33 games….

The Cubs are at 66-63, just three games above .500 yet there they are in first place. In either of the other two divisions, we would be at least seven games back. I say this but it doesn’t matter how many games over .500 we are now or at the end of the season. What matters is that we are in 1st place on the last day of the season. After all, last year St. Louis was 83-78 but made the playoffs and eventually won the World Series.

Lou Piniella was hired because they thought he gave us the best chance to make the playoffs. We are in first place on August 28th so I guess they might have been right. Since last year we have also added Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly, Mark DeRosa, Jason Marquis, Daryle Ward and re-signed Aramis Ramirez and just recently Carlos Zambrano. There have also been several rookies that have contributed at various times this year including Mike Fontenot, Felix Pie, Jake Fox, Koyie Hill, Sean Gallagher, Carmen Pignatiello, and Billy Petrick. There are many more but you get the idea.

I guess what I am trying to point out is that with all the additions, the call-ups, the send-downs, and the trades we have obviously improved when you consider last year we were 66-96 for the season. The players have played but it is Lou that keeps it all going. I have to say “good job so far” for what Lou has done. I have the utmost confidence that he will keep the Cubs focused for the remaining 33 games.

Here are some things to ponder. The Cubs are 10-14 in August but we are still in first place. St. Louis is coming on strong, but we are still in first place. No, the season isn’t over but we are in first place, right now. If I had told you in March that we would be in first place on August 28th would you be happy? I know I would have been. First place is the goal and right now we are there. You can’t win in the playoffs if you don’t make the playoffs. The best way for the Cubs to make the playoffs is to win their division, which they are currently leading. I don’t care if we win it at 81-81 or 99-63. Everyone starts over once the playoffs start and anything can and will happen.

Let’s all hope for good things the rest of the season. I know there are 33 games left but for now we are in first place and that is what counts. If things go well we will hear about several numbers after the season is over. What is the best number of all? AC000000

That does it for the updates for the Cubs farm teams. Check back later this week for more. Have a good week and as always, GO CUBS!!!

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein