Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 05/16/11

Welcome to the Minor League Shuffle! Injuries throughout the organization launched a flurry of activity, but games continue to go on. As bad weather and the early season grind take their toll, the organization suffered its first “O-Fer” on Saturday. However, Nelson Perez seems to be enjoying his new surroundings, as is Jeffrey Beliveau. D.J. LeMahieu is on fire, with a 16-game hitting streak. And another affiliate reaches twenty wins.

All of this, and more, in this week’s Down on the Farm Report.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (20-17)
Peoria started the week by sweeping Kane County 4-0 on Monday. Cameron Greathouse had his second straight good outing. The lefty two-hit the Cougars, striking out five and walking five in six innings of work. Recently promoted Alvaro Sosa and Marcus Hatley completed the shutout. Matt Szczur (2-for-4, stolen base), Pierre LePage (1-for-2, stolen base), and Arismendy Alcantara (3-for-4) paced the attack for Peoria.

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In a real nail-biter on Tuesday, the Chiefs outlasted Burlington 2-1 in eleven innings. After tossing a scoreless inning, starter Hayden Simpson left the game with tightness in his shoulder. Eric Jokisch replaced him and went 6.2 innings, yielding the Bees’ only run while striking out five. Casey Harman and Yohan Gonzalez held Burlington in check the rest of the way, Gonzalez earning the victory. Richard Jones was the offense star, going 4-for-5 and having the game-winning hit. Matt Szczur and Arismendy Alcantara joined Jones with multi-hit games.

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After blowing a lead and allowing five runs to score in the ninth Wednesday, Dallas Beeler took the mound for the Chiefs Thursday. Beeler had just come off of the seven-day disabled list, and held Burlington scoreless for three innings. Robinson Lopez, came on and allowed a two-run home run, but struck out four and walked four in five innings of work. Yohan Gonzalez finished the job in the ninth, as Peoria and Lopez came up with a 6-2 victory.

Leadoff hitter Pierre LePage (2-for-4, double, two RBI) and Rubi Silva (2-for-5) paced the attack for Peoria. Greg Rohan (1-for-4) had three RBI.

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After dropping two to Kane County, Peoria took out their frustration by pounding out eighteen hits as the Chiefs defeated the Cougars 11- 8 on Sunday. Anthony Giansanti had the game of his young career, going 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run, and three RBI. Richard Jones also went yard as part of a 3-for-5 game. Greg Rohan and Smaily Borges had four-hit performances.

Hayden Simpson started and went 3.1 innings, striking out two and allowing three earned runs. Eric Jokish piggy-backed Simpson, and finished the game allowing three runs and striking out four to run his record to 5-0.

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High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (26-11)
Once again, Daytona started the week out right with an 11-7 defeat of Brevard County on Monday. Brett Wallach had a rough start, allowing six runs (five earned) in 4.1 innings. Brent Ebinger then came on and stopped the Manatees in their tracks for 1.2 innings to earn the victory. Jordan Latham and Ryan Buchter earned holds in mop up work.

But Wallach was bailed out by the offense, thanks to Justin Bour, Nelson Perez, and Jake Opitz. Bour’s awakening bat was 3-for-5, including a solo home run. Nelson went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI; Opitz 3-for-4 and three RBI.

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Daytona made it seven in a row Tuesday, as the D-Cubs came from behind to beat Jupiter 4-2. One again, hot-hitting Justin Bour led the charge, going 3-for-4, including a two-run homer. Jae-Hoon Ha shook off a bad night Monday by hitting a double while going 2-for-4 on the evening.

Zachary Rosscup kept the Hammerheads at bay, tossing five innings for scoreless ball, walking and striking out four. While Ryan Searle and Frank Bautista each gave up a run, Searle earned a hold and Bautista picked up his ninth save.

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Following a Wednesday loss to Jupiter, Dayton spotted the Hammerheads a run on Thursday, and then brought out their bats. A position change for Logan Watkins to left field created a spark, and he responded with a 2-for-5 games with a double and two RBI. Every other D-Cub reached base safely, as Daytona came up with four runs in the eleventh inning to beat Jupiter 6-2.

Jeffrey Lorick allowed only an unearned run over 5.1 innings, striking out three while walking one batter. However, Jordan Latham allowed the Hammerheads to tie it up in the seventh inning. Newcomer Ryan Buchter and Ryan Searle then slammed the door, Searle picking up the victory.

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Daytona avenged a Saturday loss to Fort Myers by thrilling the home fans with seven in the bottom of the first inning, as the D-Cubs cruised to an 8-3 win Sunday. Five Daytona players provided their ten hits; led by Justin Bour’s 2-for-4 with a double and his tenth home run. Jake Opitz, Evan Crawford, and Logan Watkins were also 2-for-4, while Jae-Hoon Ha was 2-for-3 with a stolen base. Opitz’s two hits were doubles.

Zachary Rosscup raised his record to 3-0 by going five innings and striking out four, allowing two earned runs. Ryan Searle and Jordan Latham pitched two innings apiece to close it out, Searle allowing an earned run.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (22-15)
After spotting Huntsville a run Monday, Tennessee got out their bats and went to business, blowing the Stars away 10-2. Right-hander Alberto Cabrera started and had one of his better outings; he pitched six innings and allowed two earned runs, striking out three and walking three. Thriving in his new bullpen role, Rafael Dolis, along with Kevin Rhoderick, blanked Huntsville the rest of the way.

D.J. LeMahieu continued his torrid pace, going 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. Rebel Ridling, Josh Vitters, Matt Spencer, and Nate Samson joined LeMahieu in recording multi-hit games, while Brett Jackson had a three-run triple.

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After losing two games, Tennessee received more bad news as Brett Jackson was placed on the seven-day disabled list. That, along with promotions to the parent club, gave the Smokies a new look on Thursday. The new faces came up big, as Tennessee defeated Huntsville 7-5.

Robert Whitenack continues to impress, as he scattered nine hits over six innings, striking out two and walking one, to earn his third victory. Newcomer Jeffrey Beliveau debuted by giving up an earned run in an inning of work. In a new role, Rafael Dolis picked up his first save, allowing an earned run over two innings.

Recently slumping Ryan Flaherty pulled out of it in a big way, clubbing two doubles and four RBI while going 3-for-4. D.J. LeMahieu continued to stroke the ball by having a 2-for-3 night, including an RBI. Matt Spencer cracked his seventh home run, a solo shot. Recently promoted Nelson Perez also got his first Double-A hit.

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Friday saw Trey McNutt take the hill for the Smokies. McNutt went two scoreless innings, and then turned the game over to Tennessee’s shutdown bullpen. Ty’Relle Harris, Kevin Rhoderick, Marco Carrillo, and Blake Parker followed, with Rhoderick allowing the only earned run as Tennessee defeated Huntsville 4-1.

D.J. LeMahieu was virtually unstoppable, going 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Ryan Flaherty blasted a two-run double. Newcomer Nelson Perez made his presence felt, gunning down two runners. Marwin Gonzalez also made his debut in centerfield.

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On Sunday, the Smokies proved the saying “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape!” After dropping Saturday’s game to Chattanooga, Tennessee brought the thunder and gave the Lookouts a 13-1 beat down. Brooks Raley pitched his best game of the season, striking out four and allowing only one earned run in five innings of work. Marco Carrillo then came on and pitched three innings of no-hit baseball, earning his third hold. Carrillo even helped himself by slapping a single and scoring in his only at bat. Rafael Dolis finished the game with a scoreless ninth.

D.J. LeMahieu is giving people a hard time coming up with new adjectives to describe his performance. LeMahieu extended his hitting streak to 16 games by going 2-for-4 with a double, triple, and two RBI. Nelson Perez and Josh Vitters each went 2-for-5; Perez clubbing two doubles while Vitters thumped a two-run homer. While only going 1-for-2, Ryan Flaherty also had a great game. Flaherty walked three times, scored two, and drove in two.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (15-21)
Iowa got off to a bad start this week, losing their first two games and having their Wednesday night game postponed. In a double-header on Thursday, the I-Cubs dropped the opener to Colorado Springs 11-5.

In the second game, the I-Cubs made a comfortable lead an adventure. Ahead 8-1 in the top of the fourth, pitchers Austin Bibens-Dirkx and John Gaub allowed six runs over the next two innings to bring the Sky Sox within a run. Iowa came back with three in the top of the sixth. They then hung on as Colorado Springs scored one in the sixth and two in seventh, as Iowa won 11-10. Chris Carpenter picked up the win in relief with an inning of work, while Scott Maine earned his sixth save.

Bobby Scales accounted for five of Iowa’s 21 hits, including a double. Bryan LaHair and Scott Moore each had three hits, with LaHair slugging his ninth home run. Luis Montanez and Brad Snyder also went deep, each adding two-run shots.

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After dropping two more games, the I-Cubs were down 7-3 to Reno to start the fifth inning on Sunday. Iowa managed to score eleven runs over the next five innings to outlast the Aces 14-11.

Leading the charge for Iowa was Luis Montanez, who was 3-for-5 with a double and six RBI. Chris Robinson and Bobby Scales were also 3-for-5, with Robinson driving in four runs. Pinch-hitter Brad Snyder also blasted a solo home run.

As for pitching, well, what can you say about J.R. Mathes and Thomas Diamond allowing eleven earned runs in seven innings? Diamond would get the win in relief; while Scott Maine pitched two scoreless innings for his seventh save.

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News and Notes
Left-handed pitcher Doug Davis and C Steve Clevenger were assigned to Iowa. The Chicago Cubs recalled C Welington Castillo and selected the contract of LHP Doug Davis; outrighted RHP Thomas Diamond and optioned RHP Justin Berg to Iowa. Left-handed pitcher Jeffrey Beliveau, OF Nelson Perez, OF Kyung-Min Na, and C Luis Flores were assigned to Tennessee. Tennessee placed OF Brett Jackson and OF James Adduci on the 7-Day disabled list. Daytona activated C Mario Mercedes from the 7-Day disabled list. Catcher Luis Flores and 2B Gian Guzman were assigned to Daytona. Peoria Chiefs placed OF Matt Szczur on the temporarily inactive list in order to attend his graduation ceremonies from Villanova University. Peoria activated RHP Dallas Beeler and LHP Graham Hicks from the 7-Day disabled list.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Michael Burgess (OF) – .222, .293 OBP, .737 OPS, 7 Doubles, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 3 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 2-1, 6.41 ERA, 19.2 IP, 14 ER, 20 K, 17 BB, 2 Holds, Save 1.88 WHIP (Iowa Cubs)
  • Micah Gibbs (C) – .320, .427 OBP, .840 OPS, 4 Doubles, HR, 8 RBI, Stolen Base (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Reggie Golden (OF) – is in extended Spring Training
  • Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .311, .344 OBP, .867 OPS, 10 Doubles, 2 Triples, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 6 Stolen Bases, 7 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Brett Jackson (OF) – .295, .420 OBP, .938 OPS, 7 Doubles, 3Triples, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 13 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Tennessee Smokies)
  • D.J. LeMahieu (IF) – .355, .388 OBP, .888 OPS, 12 Doubles, Triple, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 3 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Trey McNutt (RHP) – 1-2, 2.29 ERA, 19.2 IP, 5 ER, 15 K, 5 BB, 1.32 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 0-1, 4.45 ERA, 30.1 IP, 15 ER, 24 K, 12 BB 1.68 WHIP (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .320, .398 OBP, .767 OPS, 5 Doubles, 7 RBI, 10 Stolen Bases, Outfield Assist (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) -.236, .286 OBP, .697 OPS, 7 Doubles, 5 HR, 20 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)

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Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon
  • Aaron

     Daytona seems to be the new Tennessee. Bour has been on fire as well, and I’m wondering how long until he gets promoted, with Ridling going to Iowa. 

    Good developments for sure. It’s just too bad that there’s still no power from the OF prospects. I hope the Cubs focus on that a lot in the draft, along with more power arms for the rotation, as they’re clearly lacking right now.

    Also, Simpson appears to be a bust. I know…I know…it’s just his first taste of pro ball, but his peripherals are VERY pedestrian. It can take awhile to get strength back from his bout with mono, but he was reportedly sitting in the high 80’s his last start, which is not a good sign at all.

    I know this sounds like blasphemy, but hopefully the Cubs fall out of contention fast, Hendry and Quade get fired, and they have a fire sale, otherwise 2012 will be almost identical to this year.

    I’m hoping these guys get called up first:
    B. Jackson

    Players I’d trade/release/option would be:

    That’d almost guarantee you a jump-start. It’s no coincidence that mostly younger teams are playing well at the MLB level now. Most of them played together at the minor league level, and learned how to win together. They know the counts each other swings or takes, and thus the running game can improve. They know how to move runners along, keep innings alive, and when to take pitches.

    The rosters full of free swinging, selfish veterans with bloated contracts should be over. 

    It’s time to make a change, and I really hope the fans send a strong message to Ricketts in that regard.

    • Richard Hood

       As I have said before there should be no interest in a Detriot Tiger Scenerio in Chicago right now. For the main reason being most of the guys you mentioned are not ready yet. Not saying they will or won’t be but give it time.

      You talk about Colvin having his confidence destroyed by not playing consistently yet you want to turn the line up over to some kids that are going to take their bumps and have possibilty of not being able to progress because to much is asked to soon. That makes no sense. There has to be a middle ground.

      I do agree that we need to get younger at the major league level but not a whole sale white flag program in MAY. The only way that would happen is firing JH and before the draft that is a bad bad move. If in the middle of June we are still in the same boat but the division has gotten better then I am all for it.

      • Aaron

        Sorry, but when your lineup features a “who’s who” of aging,  30-somethings, you’ve got MAJOR problems.

        With Soto out, here’s the position “talent”:

        C-Hill, 32 yrs old
        1B-Pena, 33 yrs old
        2B-Barney, 25 yrs old
        SS-Castro, 21 yrs old
        3B-ARAM, 33 yrs old
        LF-Soriano, 35 yrs old
        CF-Byrd, 33 yrs old
        RF-Fukudome, 34 yrs old

        Only Castro and Barney are in their 20’s, while everyone else is on the downside of their careers.

        You say there has to be a “middle ground”, but how do you have a middle ground, when the gap is too wide at the moment between the two sides (young players vs veterans). 

        The gap between the two is like asking a long jumper that’s had a max jump of 12 feet to jump between two buildings spaced 18 feet apart. The difference is too far to make it work, and you’d be setting him up for failure if you pushed him to do so.

        Similarly, the Cubs are at a crossroads right now. They have 6 guys now in the lineup that are 32 years and older, and just 2 guys in their 20’s. The question becomes: How do you have a middle ground, without blowing it up and starting over?

        You can’t ask a long-jumper to go 6 feet further than his max jump, just as you can’t ask a veteran team to run out grounders, hustle on the basepaths, and hustle defensively. They don’t have the same energy as 20-something rookies, and their hand-eye coordination has deteriorated to the point where they’re on the verge of calling it a career anyhow.

        Your type of thinking, “we’ll just plug holes here and there with veterans, and let a young guy try to grab hold of a position in Spring Training, or when an injury arises”…..does NOT work. While you didn’t come out and openly suggest this, it’s almost like you’re saying, “we’ll just let the veterans tank until they ultimately retire, then fill the holes when needed with youth, and if they struggle, we’ll bring in veterans and sign them to 2-3 year deals bridging a gap”

        That way of thinking got us in this position to begin with, as Tom pointed out, especially with the Colvin situation.

        I’d argue that it dated all the way back to the Josh Hamilton debacle, where he was arguably the best talent ever available in the Rule 5, and the Cubs had a glaring hole in the OF to be filled, and instead went with one of the worst defensive outfields ever assembled on the North Side, where Hendry signed Soriano long-term to be a solution in CF, only to find out in Spring Training he could only play LF. Then, because of that move, he had to switch Murton to RF, and the recently signed Cliff Floyd to full-time duty in RF and back-up duty in LF, which in turn, moved Jacque Jones to CF.

        It’s the type of thinking that had Koyie Hill starting nearly every game down the stretch last year after Soto went down with injury, instead of developing Castillo, who ironically is in a similar position in 2011 after Soto went down with yet another injury.

        It’s that type of thinking that had the Cubs sign Reed Johnson (who is now hitting well), instead of allowing Campana to break camp, who can play all OF spots as well, and would bring much-needed speed to the team…which is STILL lacking.

        I don’t get it when some fans suggest that everything is fine, and it’s a long season, blah blah blah, and they fail to recognize what’s happening in front of their eyes…..Aging teams almost never come back from early deficits in their seasons, whereas when teams are infused by young talent (see 2007 and 2008), they’re often jump-started, and make a good run toward the playoffs. I also subscribe to Zig Ziglar’s WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). 

        What I see is an aging roster, full of underperforming, overpaid veterans without an incentive in the world to turn around the season, or improve their stats. Sure, some guys like Pena might be playing for a contract, but even he has made a very good living thus far, and so have the other veterans. So far, what have we seen? We’ve seen a team that lack fundamentals, looks lethargic, and generally disinterested in most games.

        We’ve also seen young players like Marmol, Marshall, Wells and Cashner (before they were hurt), Garza (yes, I said it…even though I still hate the trade), and Barney and Castro, pretty much carry the team. All of them are in their 20’s, and “double trouble” Barney and Castro, at the top of the lineup, have been stranded on base, how many times by overpaid, aging veterans?

        I am NOT trying to say that going all young will lead to success. It’s anything but a sure bet. However, what I AM suggesting is that the Cubs need a different strategy, and I would challenge you to find a year where the Cubs blew up their roster and went young, because I don’t think you’ll find it.

        They’ve almost exclusively tried the “fill the holes with veterans” strategy, and it hurts the team player development-wise, and we’re seeing this play out right now.

        Almost all the young guys I mentioned in my post above, especially Smith, Flaherty, Ridling, and Clevenger…the older prospects, will likely not even see the light of day at the MLB level with the Cubs. They simply wait too long, or not at all, to promote their deserving prospects. It’s a shame, because they could really use talent like that.

        • John_CC

          It gets hard to write the same argument over and over, doesn’t it?   But this is a really argument, you kept all it clean and to the point.

          I think the main point is what you stated at the end: No one thinks that playing a bunch of rookies is going to put the Cubs in contention for anything. But the current makeup of the team is not going anywhere either. SO, the Cubs need a different strategy.  Period. 

          The Koyie Hill playing last year over Castillo was such a travesty. Completely pointless and actually completely wrong.

          Richard, if you disagree, then explain how going with the same group helps the Cubs, and I mean the future of the team. 

          • Richard Hood

             I do not disagree with your point on Koyie Hill. I really do not disagree on much of the points of Aaron other than the damage that can be done to young players by asking too much too soon.

             We can not in any form of reality Trade or release all the guys that on our team and expect it work out good for the present or future Cubs. I went back and looked again at the 2003 Detriot Tigers to see if maybe I was wrong and some of those kids came out of it for the better. You know what there is only one guy still on a major league roster. He is Carlos Pena and we all know what the Cubbie universe thinks of him.

            This idea of youth for youths sake does not work. It has been tried and tried normally by small market teams that live in a bubble away from the media spotlight of big markets. In Chicago these kids would have to justify there spots on the roster time they have a microphone in there face.

            You guys seem to think that a magic wand can be waved over a kid when he reaches a certain age and he is able to handle everything about being big league ready. Life doesn’t work that way. It has to happen in stages. I do think some moves will be made in June or July and the Cubs at the end of this year will look a lot different than the ones at the beginning. I just do not think a run to the waiver wire the 2nd week of May is good for anyone especially not the rookies that are going to be called up to replace those lazy over paid veterans that you guys seem to love.

          • John_CC

             Thanks for the response, Richard, but are still missing the point.  I repeat, I never said that bringing up some of these guys will be a magic wand and  will make the Cubs immediately better. 

            The fact is that in all likelihood Aramis, Pena, Fukudome, will NOT be back next year. That is just the starters. There is a chance that Byrd become trade bait later this summer.  Hill, Johnson and Baker are also most likely to not be back.  That is 3 starters maybe 4, and a lot of the bench.  All these replacement cannot come out of free agency! 

            Let’s see who out of the young promising crop might be able to compete for spots — for NEXT year.  The only way to honestly assess the talent is to get them up against the competition. 

      • cubtex

        I agree Richard. One of the worst things you can do as a major league team is bring up young players before they are ready! The Cubs will no doubt get younger next year with many contracts coming off the books…Fuko,ARam,Pena and will probably look to move Byrd. But to play young players just because they are young if they are not producing makes no sense. What MLB would put Colvin out there evreyday the way he looks?  

        • John_CC

           Cubtex: Do you honestly think that 3 more months of raking off AA or AAA pitching is going to make Brett Jackson or DJ or whoever that much more ready to hit against MLB pitching? Do you really think it will make them that much more “ready”?  Define when a minor leaguer is ready.

          I’ll tell you what I think, and conventional baseball wisdom would tell you will make Brett Jackson (or Castillo, Flaherty or whoever)  ready for next season – some ABs at the MLB level!! 

          What better time to do it then now?  Really.  I am curious to hear how you think this team’s personnel can be fixed. 

          • bacboris

            John, not to take anything away from your post but such an argument is tough to make based on cubs experience of the last half decade. Outside of Colvin (to a small degree) and maybe Hoffpauir who would that theory be applied to?

            We all have an understandable tendancy to fall in love with our prospects but there is a reason why Soto was seen as such an abberation his rookie year. And more than that, I’ll agree that the team should have gotten more time for casey mcgehee over those years veteran hasbens. However just taking a look at: Chirinos, Jake Fox, Fontenot. Theriot, Pie, Ronny Cedeno, Eric Patterson what did being freed of the cubs ‘development obstacles’ prove? For every positive story we hear about Sam Fuld, Angel Pagan, and even Matt Murton can any reasonable fan view that as anything more than the peculiarities of the game?

            I 100% agree with Tom’s assessment of how Colvin’s development should have gone but that doesn’t mean this idea of throw up a bunch of young guys at the wall and see what sticks will work. All you have to do is look at last years parade of relief pitchers to see the flaws. We were promised based on the law of averages that a few were bound to turn out and instead were left in the same quagmire we’ve been swimming in since we realized we couldn’t win a playoff game in 08 and smart money had us completely blowing up the team and rebuilding.

            In a reasonably perfect world, we would let the prospects push out these veterans when they show what they can do. So if you’re argument was trade Byrd or Fukudome, send down Colvin to fix the holes in his swing, and bring up Lou Montanez id say you were onto something. Any notion of mass call up though, should be treated with a real hesitation lest we create a whole generation of wasted talent. Double A players who are being set up to experience some really harsh failure at the hands of seasoned Major Leaguers and turn into mental midgets of the Rich Hill type-set.

          • Keith Moreland

            I agree with bacboris, Richard, et al:  Calling up all the kids, while emotionally satisfying, is a terrible long-term decision for player development, and ultimately the ballclub.

            I wish I could find a link from 2006 and find a similar call-up message.  It would probably ask for Michael Restovich, Nic Jackson, or Buck Coats, or Hoffpauir, all of whom posted a .300 avg. or .800+ OPS in the high minors.

            How about a 13-4 pitcher (Mitch Atkins)?  Or someone who struck out 78 batters in 67 innings at AA,AAA for a 2.69 ERA (Carmen Pignatello)? Or a guy going 11-5 with a 2.51 ERA as a start (Sean Gallagher).  I could go on.

            Point being:  Most prospects are more suspects than prospects.  Not to defend the older players we have in the majors, they are at least Major League ballplayers.

          • cubtex

            John, I feel like if you promote young players too soon and they struggle it could damage their careers permantly! Take Ryan Flaherty this year…He is raking in AA. Last year he was in High A ball and was promoted to AA and hit .183 in about 78 AB’s. Would you want to roll the dice on this kids future now and play in the majors where there would be a very real possibility that he would fail? Let him have a full year of success in the minors. Give the kids every chance to have success when they are brought up. Don’t do it just because you do not like the product on the field.  

          • BillyFinT

             But he rakes the league now. I’ll say promote him, and give him regular at-bats. Get him into the learning curve. If he’ll struggle on a daily basis, then he can go to AAA. Next year, if he plays a good spring, give him a spot again.

            Player development requires patience and also CHANCES. This might be a good year to let more youth play. If the player is talented enough to stay, there won’t be a mental problem. He’ll stay eventually.

    • Tom U

      As of right now, it is my opinion that Jackson, Flaherty, Ridling, and LeMahieu are ready to see big league pitching, but that doesn’t mean they are ready to be promoted.

      Its much more complicated than just bringing in the player. To start from the top, the Cubs would have to decide were the spaces are on the 25 man roster. Ownership would then have to be willing to cough up a huge chunk of cash for those players being traded or released.

      The players would have to be added to the 40 man roster, which in turn, starts the clock on their development. They’ll each have about three years to establish themselves, least they run out of options (like Jeff Samardzija). 

      Then bringing them to the big leagues at this time would probably be well before the Super 2 date for 2014, meaning the Cubs would have these four going to arbitration a year early.

      A good solution would be to promote the four to Triple-A, cut the Iowa players from the  40 man roster, and then give them three to four weeks in Triple-A seeing Major League-esque pitching before promoting them to the show. It will give more time to assess their development and decide on spaces in the 25 man roster.

  • Richard Hood

    Nice report as always Tom. What I am wondering coming into the ML players draft is who you think will be promoted and fast tracked to open up lower end spaces for the guys coming in?  I think that some of our guys at AAA are going to be moved. I would like to have your thoughts on what is going to happen to get some of these guys coming in and that are in EST a team to play on other than short season and rookie ball.

    • BillyFinT

       That’s an interesting question, because a lot have to do with what the management believe to be “better.” Say, LeMahieu, who’s been hitting great… wasn’t he considered a AAAA talent, with limited defensive skills? Can someone confirm that? “Prospects” with such reputation don’t get promoted to the Big, or at least they don’t stay long enough to serve value to the next team (rebuilt or fine-tuned, whatever the Cubs do).

      The case for Ridling is very interesting. Where will Quade play him? Pena is not going away. Maybe Colvin can split platoon time with Ridling in AAA at first base, while they plod the outfield in turn, so both can learn some new skill. We need some creativity here. I’m tired of seeing the Cubs Think of talent development.

      • Tom U

        Richard, I made a post in the Talkin’ Live section on the latest promotions. 

        Dorasaga, let me possibly clear up something that I may have had a hand in perpetrating: DJ LeMahieu is considered to be a good defender. Unless you have heard differently from other sources, I haven’t heard or seen anything that says LeMahieu isn’t anything but fundamentally sound. 

        The question I had about LeMahieu is that at 6’4″ he will eventually have a hard time getting down on ground balls, and will probably have to change positions in the future. My take is that if that is the case, why not do it now, under less pressure? This is not to say that he isn’t a good defender now. 

        The Cubs have said that LeMahieu is their second baseman of the future, but with Barney there now, maybe they should look at other positions for LeMahieu.

        • BillyFinT

          Thanks for the repeated reply, Tom; much appreciated. Yeah, now that you mentioned, the height-groundball comment was once made.

          If fielding groundballs is the only problem, well, think Scott Rolen. He is 6’4”. He’s a damn good fielder who can handle all balls put-in-play, whether liners or grounded.

          If both Colvin and Ridling will fare better and help the team in the future at first base, then I think it’s not necessary to bid for a Fielder or even Pujols. This is what can happen by August:

          Pena and Byrd traded. ARam benched. No more “players-only” meeting established by an one-year guy like Marlon. Quade got a grip.

          Colvin and Ridling, who both had more than 400 innings at first base, are called up and play platoon for Chicago.

          LeMahieu will play third base. Either the age or whatever “not-ready” argument does not make sense. He’s tearing up Minor League. AAA is only a hair better than AA, why not try him at the Big?

          Enough Cubs Think. Change.

  • Tom U

     Thank you to everyone for your comments.