Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 01/10/11

As the Winter League playoffs heat up, several Cubs prospects’ bats cool down, while Marwin Gonzalez kept hitting. Relief pitchers stay in control, while starters struggle.

All this and more in this week’s Down on the Farm report …

Dominican Winter League
The DWL playoffs actually began on December 21, with Licey and Aguilas eliminated and the remaining four teams playing in a round-robin format.

Starlin Castro finished regular season play with a .317 average. However, he has been ice cold in the playoffs. He ended the week going 1-for-23 with one RBI in six games. Castro has also struggled with his defense and will need to report to Fitch Park with more focus than he’s displayed over the last few weeks.

Luke Sommer continues to look good as a situational left-hander, pitching 1.2 innings in three appearances. He did yield his first two earned runs in a 5-4 loss to Gigantes on January 8.

Brad Snyder has joined the Lions for the playoffs after posting a .267 average with one home run for the Licey Tigers during the regular season. He completed the week going 3-for-19. He hit a home run in a 9-6 loss to Estrellas on January 5. Luke Sommer took the loss in the game. Click here for complete box score

Polin Trinidad and Marcos Mateo combined for 1.2 innings pitched and two strikeouts in a 2-1 win over Escogido on January 2. Marcos Mateo earned a hold in the victory. Click here for complete box score

Marcos Mateo bounced back the next day and pitched one inning with a strikeout in the Stars 3-0 victory over Escogido. Click here for complete box score

Outfielder Nelson Perez struck out as a pinch hitter on January 7 in the Bulls’ 7-5 loss to Gigantes.

Venezuelan Winter League
The VWL ended regular season play on December 30, with Zulia winning a tie-breaker with Caracas for the regular season championship. Caribes, Aragua, and Margarita qualified, along with Caracas and Zulia, for the playoffs.

After posting a .324 average with two home runs and 38 RBI during the regular season, Marwin Gonzalez has slumped slightly in the playoffs. He ended the week hitting 4-for-16 with five RBI. His best game was on January 5 in a 14-4 shellacking of Zulia.

In that game, Marwin Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with a walk, a triple, and four RBI. Click here for complete box score

On January 7, Marwin Gonzalez doubled in three plate appearances in a 3-2 loss to Aragua. Click here for complete box score

Eduardo Figueroa figured prominently in two wins for the Indians this past week. On January 3, he pitched one inning, with a strikeout and a hold in a 6-2 over Margarita. Click here for complete box score

Eduardo Figueroa would be credited with the win after pitching 0.1 inning in a 5-4 win against Aragua on January 6. Click here for complete box score

Mexican Pacific League
The MPL began the playoffs on January 1 with Guasave, the first half winner, and Culiacan, with the best record overall. Hermosillo, Mochis and Obregon also qualified.

After compiling a 4-4 record with a 4.07 ERA during the regular season for the Yaquis, Marco Carrillo pitched 0.2 innings with one earned run, a walk, a strikeout, and a home run allowed a wild 17-10 loss to Hermosillo on January 2.

Australian Baseball League
The ABL has continued its regular season play.

Ryan Searle had a rough outing for the Bandits on January 6. He pitched three innings with three earned runs and three walks. He also had three strikeouts as Brisbane pulled out a 7-6 victory over the Canberra Cavalry. Click here for complete box score

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  • Patrick_Schaefer
    • BillyFinT

      Indeed interesting. I’m still trying to analyze (absorb) the info. these guys write, such as that Garza will make 9-10M of Benjamin-s, instead of 6 to 8 million like some had projected. Like the old man in the family says in the Godfather: we’ll see.

    • Tony

      I have read their articles on WAR, and cost per WAR and since they put little value on any prospects (as far as WAR) their findings will always favor the current major league player. The Cubs gave up, what they gave up, sweetened the pot to get JH’s guy, and even if you think the Cubs made out (since they are just prospects), realize the Rays really made out, as they needed to clear a rotation spot for Hellickson, and they moved their best starter, not named Price or Shields, that was about to cost them money, and re-stocked their farm system, and will still be competitive in 2011.

      What I find interersting, is with Top 50, Top 100 prospect lists, for all major league teams, and teams own scouting departments, they are saying the Rays (who do very well in the prospects/development area) were blinded by ones teams “best prospects” and were wanting the same level of prospects (#1 pitcher, #1 OF, etc) in comparison to each team. I find it hard to believe that any ML team (even the Cubs) thinks that the #1 pitching prospect, for all teams is equal.

      As far as I am concerned, the trade is done, and we (I) have vented enough, and it’s time to move on, to the next move JH (will or won’t make) to “help” this team.

    • Gary J

      @Patrick – thanks for posting the article. He had a couple of the points in there that I’d been making… but he made those points far more eloquently than I could.

      A couple of quotes for those that don’t click through…

      “When Baseball America lets the world know that Chris Archer is the Cubs #1 prospect (their opinion—not necessarily ours), they typically don’t provide adequate context to help you understand that Archer may be the #1 prospect in the system, but that is only because someone has to get that distinction in an organization that lacks any true elite level prospects. Immediately though, cries go out from Cub-nation that Jim Hendry has mortgaged his team’s future, when he deals for the Rays’ Matt Garza.”

      “For Garza, the Rays received Hak-Ju Lee—a very nice shortstop prospect that is unlikely to produce enough power to play anywhere but short and is currently blocked in the organization by Starlin Castro, and is possibly a fringe Top 100 prospect at the present; Chris Archer, who was the third player the Cubs received two years ago for Mark DeRosa, possesses a nasty heater, but with questionable control and secondary offerings looks more like bullpen material to us—with all deference to Baseball America, Archer is also a fringe Top 100 prospect; Robinson Chirinos—an extremely old catching prospect who doesn’t look to be much more than a backup at the Major League level; Brandon Guyer, an underrated outfield prospect who could find time in the majors as a fourth outfielder/platoon type player but wouldn’t be on anyone’s top 100 prospect lists; and Sam Fuld, a journeyman AAAA type of outfielder. Neglecting the two mid-tier prospects the Cubs received in return, the expected CAREER WAR value for these players is approximately 8.0—or about what Garza should provide the Cubs in 2011 and 2012.”

      And in an analysis of who got the best player of the Marcum, Grienke, and Garza trades – the author did an analysis of salary, number of years of team control, injury history, etc. and said that while the initial reaction is Grienke, due to his salary and injury history (and coming off a down year) that’s it about a wash. “The important thing is that each of them should be a quality starting pitcher in the Major Leagues for the next two seasons—at least—and should produce at levels that place them somewhere between the top 20% to the top 5% of starting pitchers over that time. They are players of significant worth.”

      @Dorasaga – he’s probably a little under on the estimate. He was talking about the next two years when he gave the number and the estimate for this year’s arbitration for the guy is anywhere in the $4-6M range depending on who’s saying it.

      @Tony – the reason that they put little WAR value on prospects is that so few of them actually become solid MLB contributors. So the values skew low with the assumption that some will never make it and some will and produce – thus averaging out their numbers. What’s more interesting is the verbal analysis of the players themselves. I know Aaron is projecting Ichiro type numbers for Lee (and I truly wish him all the best) but most publications project him as a .280-.290 hitter when he makes the show with speed and no power.

      Also – found it interesting that Hendry mentioned that the Rays wanted a top pitching prospect and gave the choice between Archer and McNutt and the Cubs elected to hang onto McNutt

      • paulcatanese

        Gary,very nice well thought out article.

  • paulcatanese

    Just read bleacher report,maybe JH ought to also. Seems the Mets are not afraid to eat contractsand get dead weight off the books.On second thought maybe JH should not read it,he may put in an offer.

  • paulcatanese

    Good article.In particular on Starlin Castro,It could be a natural let-down after I’m sure a pressure packed season for him and this reflected in his play on defense.He is still very young but…needs to get it together to not let it carry over to the regular season.On Mateo I was pleased to see him do well I project he will be helpfull this year,he can bring it.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Let’s talk Garza (again). Let’s compare him vs. Randy Wells (you know, the piece of junk ya’ll want to ditch into AAA Iowa). Take my advice: DON’T YOU DARE DO IT. Garza’s and Well’s stats are roughly equivalent. (Don’t choke on your spaghetti, Luther! Look at the stats and see for yourself).

    Dare to Compare Garza 2010 vs. Wells 2010:
    Quality Starts–32 starts/18 quality for EACH one.
    (HEY! I thought this Garza was a stud??!!???).

    Wild pitches:
    Garza 12–Wells 2

    Garza 2–Wells 0

    Garza 1.25—Wells 1.40 (sophomore jinx year Garza: 1.54).

    Career Complete games:
    Garza 118 GS, 6 CG
    Wells 59 GS 0 CG

    Career No-hitters:
    Garza 1 Wells 0

    k/9 IP 2010
    Garza 6.6 Wells 6.7

    HR/9 2010
    Garza 1.2–Wells 0.9

    ******************Run Support 2010*************************
    **Tampa Bay was #3 in MLB for runs scored****
    Garza: 5.2 per start
    Wells 3.4 per start

    Cheap Wins in 2010
    (ie, pitched less than 6 innings, gave up more than 3 runs):
    Garza 3—Wells 1

    Tough Losses 2010 (QS but lost anyway)
    Garza: 4–Wells 5

    Bullpen effect:
    ie, the first number was a game where he was winning when he left the game, but bullpen turned it into a loss. The second number is when the starter left the game in a position to lose, but the bullpen came back to rescue the starter’s bacon:
    Garza: 1-5—Wells 2-3

    So Garza’s bullpen was much more effective than Well’s bullpen. Garza had one blown save, and 5 times the bullpen pulled his bacon out of the fire.

    Wells had 2 blown saves in which he would have won, and 3 times the bullpen saved his bacon.

    If you are looking for 20 wins out of Garza, forgetaboutit! He’s Randy Wells with some real run support.

    • Gary J

      But look a year back at 2009 for Garza – 30 starts – 19 quality – but K/9 @ 8.4 (6th in the AL) and 189 Ks total (9th in AL). His K numbers dropped last year because the pitching coach was trying to have him pitch to contact a bit more to save on the pitch count.

      One other stat bunch to look at is how good the contact is that hitters make off them. For that I’d look at BAA (batting average against) and BAbip (batting average balls in play)

      Garza 3 full years as starter – .245 / .233 / .248
      Wells 2 full years – .261 / .273

      BAbip (mlb average year to year is around .290 to .300)
      Garza – .274 / .273 / .271
      Wells – .292 / .315

      As you can see from that, Garza seems to throw a “heavy” ball even though giving up slightly more dingers. Hitters hit for a lower average against Garza and when they make contact, it’s not good contact. This is also an indication generally of pitchers that have good command within the zone and who stay ahead in counts. Not sure that’s the case with Garza as I’ve only seen him pitch a handful of times for a full televised game, but the consistency year to year for that stat would seem to be indicative.

      Worth mentioning from my perspective – I’d rather have Wells as the #5 instead of Gorzo even though that would mean five righties. So I’m not ready to write Wells off. I think he’s a battler and deserves to stick in the rotation. I like Gorzo too, but not 100% sold on his results last year.

      ….although I think Garza is a significantly better pitcher than Wells. Significantly.

      I don’t expect 20 wins from Garza – or anyone on the Cubs staff for that matter. But I think Garza could be the one to pull it off of the top three guys in the rotation. I’d project closer to 15-17 hopefully.

    • Tony

      And yet Randy Wells has virtually no trade value, but Garza was worth Lee, Chirinos, Guyer, Archer.

      All trade winners are not known for a few years, unless you win a championship that year.

    • John_CC

      Wild pitches and balks? Really? Then the stat that shows the biggest difference, WHIP, you have to point out Garza’s stat from 4 years ago to try to even that one out, too? That’s a big reach to try to prove a point, Rip.

      I like Wells, I really hope he gets back on track this year. But the comparison is really not even in the same ballpark.

    • Alan M

      agree…Garza is a real competitor,who does’t hide his dislike for non hustling teammates..Ramirez and Soriano should pay attention. Actually I like Coleman; his 8 2010 starts were excellent. He his smart, competitve and keeps is composure..great genes. I live in the Tampa area and follow the Rays closely..Perez, the throw in the Garza, was on his way to a solid career until he tore up his wrist diving for a ball. He can fly, great guy…high intelligence…a college grad..he is a sleeper

  • Gary J

    Interesting article in the New York Times about Matt Szczur ( I know there was a discussion the other day about how he’d be foolish to not go to the NFL.

    Quality kid it seems like – missed some time this last season donating bone marrow to a girl with leukemia.

    A couple of little tidbits for the folks that don’t click through (although I encourage it – good read)

    Clause in his Cubs contract – “If he commits to play only baseball by Feb. 10, in time for spring training, he will receive a $500,000 bonus”

    Father is encouraging him to go the baseball route.

    Wants to play both if possible – sounds like personally he’s leaning toward football if it comes down to a choice…. but we should know by spring training which way he goes.

    • paulcatanese

      I have been through this coversation before,If you read my blog,I had personal experience with the same choice as the father in this case I was not convincing enough,I hope his father is. Baseball would be his best choice by far. As the Maven had pointed out the speed is at best average for football but excellent for baseball. And then there is the longevity factor of Baseball over Football,no comparison……Football will tear him up. I hope he’s smart.

    • The Maven

      Thanks for the article Gary, it does support what I’ve been saying about Szczur for months.

      One word of caution to everyone. I’ve followed the NFL draft for over 35 years and learned one thing. DON’T trust anyone’s round projection on a player except Mel Kiper Jr. Kiper didn’t even have Szczur listed in the top 50 SENIOR Wide Receivers prior to this college season. Anyone who has read any of Kiper’s Draft Reports over the years knows he plays particular attention to Wide Receivers in his prospectus. Kiper’s analysis has been more accurate year after year than anyone else’s. His draft report doesn’t come out until the beginning of April, so Szczur should be making his decision before it’s published.

  • Ripsnorter1

    It says right here that the trade for Garza was okay. I didn’t want to give up Archer, but it’s done, and I don’t think Jim Hendry got smoked in the deal.

    If Archer becomes a starter by June 1 for Tampa Bay, then lookout! Jim DID get smoked. But I don’t think that will happen, and I think we will be okay.

    I haven’t seen Lee play, so I can only judge the stats. The stats say, at this point, that we didn’t lose anything more than Ryan Theriot. I can live with that.

    Now for the rotation questions:
    1. What will Jim Clueless do with Silva? There just isn’t any place on the roster for him. I hope he gets traded so someone else can pay his salary. But who is that stupid?????

    2. Gorzelanny needs to remain a Cub. He’s cheap enough, and good enough to be a #5 starter. I would start Coleman and use Gorzelanny as an emergency starter myself. I think this is why Jim Clueless wants to deal him: he’s a better starter than reliever.

    3. Here’s to hoping Wells comes to ST with a mind to pitch well, with a real bulldog attitude, so that he can win the 15 games I am projecting for him. I may have to revise my projections downward if he gets lit up in ST, but I hope not. He can still win 10 games even with last year’s attitude/bottle. Did you know that he was #2 on the Cubs for quality starts?
    More than Z, Gorzelanny, Silva, Lilly. His 18 QS in 32 games rates him tied for #53 in all of ML baseball for QS in 2010. He is tied with MATT GARZA, Cliff Lee, . Furthermore his quality start % is just behind Mark Buherle, Jon Garland, Barry Zito, and ahead of Gallardo and Tommy Hanson.
    And remember: This was the sophomore jinx year. The league adjusted to him, and in the second half he readjusted to the league (pre-All-Star ERA 4.61 BAA .283; post All-Star ERA 3.84 BAA .260).
    Well did not have a great 2010, but he ain’t junk, either. I believe he bounces back in 2011.

    4. You want to know the truth: the biggest question mark in the rotation is Garza himself. Stat wise, he’s Randy Wells. Oh, you say the scouts say he has better stuff. But the proof is in the stats.

    • paulcatanese

      Wow, I had no idea about Wells as you have put out there. I may(and I hope I do) have to eat my words as I was one of the ones who said Wells is through and should not be considered. I will reserve all further negative comment about Wells. And I hope you are right.

    • Gary J

      Not worried about Silva so much – he was simply a way to dump Bradley and the headaches he brings… which was a Hendry signing so that’s a checkmark in the “bad” column for his decisions, but he wasn’t the only one fooled into thinking the guy had finally matured based on the year he had in TX. I count that as a negative on JH… but at the time of the three possible players (Bradley, Ibanez, and Abreu) I thought Bradley had the most upside too for the cost. It just happened that his sanity the previous year was the fluke.

      So whatever we get from Silva is gravy in my opinion – he’s serviceable. We got more than we could have expected out of Silva to be honest – but if he was in the pen as the long guy, I’d feel a lot better about it than if he was in the rotation. He comes off the books next year either way. But considering what he did do with the team last year, I’d put that in the “good” trade column for JH as Bradley’s still a nut. It’s all relative though.

      And I’d say Wells is good for 10 wins next year too – I’m with you on wanting to have him in the rotation…. but Garza’s better :-) But double digit wins from a #5? I’ll take that any day.

      And I think Gorzo has more value as a starter than reliever too – and if you’re not going to have him in the rotation, the smart move is to trade a 28 year old lefty with only one year of solid ML success (success being a relative term) and get something for the guy. Decent lefties are so scarce there has to be a taker out there. And I think he’d be selling high to trade him now as last year was his career year so far (sad as that is) and I think he’s bound to revert a little… hopefully there’s a taker. If he’s traded though, I wish him success. He seems like a good guy.

    • Tony

      Gorzo is as good as gone. We have to many starters and he is the only one with any value, that is tradeable.

      Z and Dempster – in the rotation, not going to be traded.
      Garza – That’s 3
      Cashner – 4th, his spot to lose
      That only leaves 1 spot for

      Silva – no one will want him
      Wells – no trade value right now
      Gorzellany – LH starter with “potential” – has trade value
      Coleman – no trade value
      Samardzija – to much money, no trade value (can go to AAA)

      So here is what I would do
      I would DL Silva and see if he will do a rehab assignment at AAA, to see if we can get a bucket of balls for him in a trade and if anyone will even pay a small portion of his pay.

      I would send Cashner to AAA to pitch in a controlled environment (limit his innings for 2011) and bring him up in late May/early June to take a rotation spot. I would also send Coleman and Samardzija to AAA for the same purpose.

      I would start Wells and Gorzellany in the rotation as #4 and #5. Gorzellany (or Wells) will have more trade value in June than right now.

    • John_CC

      Not to diminish Wells’ efforts and quality starts of last year, but the QS has to be on of the biggest BS stats that is praised. Do you really consider 3 earned runs in 6 innings “quality”? There is no differentiation between a 6 INN, 3 ER game and an 8 INN 2 ER game, etc.