Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 05/28/11

Upcoming Dates to Keep an Eye on …

With the second month of the baseball season coming to end, there are several dates to keep in mind over the next month. The first-year player draft takes place June 6-June 8, but there are a couple of other days that could have an impact on personnel throughout the organization as well as the direction the Cubs’ front office takes in the near future.

Currently, the organization has enough players under contract to field teams at all levels of the organization, including rookie ball. Management will have to make some tough decisions, including the major league level, in order to accommodate the players they draft. Some of those decisions will probably have to be made by June 17, when the Cubs’ short season Single-A team, the Boise Hawks, begin play.

May 30
On Monday, May 30, the Major League schedule will dip below the 122-day mark. It was determined that the Super 2 date for potential arbitration in 2012 would be two years, 122 days. While it is impossible to determine with the Super 2 date for 2014 will be (the year players brought up this season would be eligible), it is a good yardstick to clubs who want to roll the dice with their top prospects.

June 3
A more logical date on the Cubs’ schedule to bring up a prospect might be Friday, June 3. The Cubs have only two off days before the All-Star break (June 2 and June 23) due to the rain this spring. The Cubs start a 10-game, three-city road trip on June 3 in St. Louis. An off day during the baseball season is usually a good time to make roster decisions, plus breaking in a rookie on the road might be a little easier on the player than at Wrigley … the same scenario that took place last year with Starlin Castro.

With the first-year player draft just around the corner (Monday, June 6), the Cubs could decide to wait and stay focused on the draft.

The Cubs may decide to just stick with their current roster and not make any changes with a very difficult stretch of games against the Cardinals, Reds, Phillies, Brewers, Yankees and White Sox leading up to their final off day before the All-Star break.

June 23
The Cubs final off day of the first half is June 23. At that point the Cubs will have played around 75 games, or nearly half of the season. Jim Hendry should have a pretty good idea the direction his team is heading in at that time. The season will have somewhere around 96 days left at that point, so players called up then should be well past the Super 2 date.

Week of June 26
At this point, the minor league teams currently playing will reach 70 games, or the mid-point of their season. Minor league players should have enough at bats or pitching appearances for the organization to have a good idea on the progress of their development. Sometime after this point, fans should see movement up and down the minor league system, as well as experimentation with new roles for some players.

The Cubs have already begun making moves throughout the system. Veteran minor leaguer J.R. Mathes was released Friday. Robert Coello (RHP) was designated for assignment on Friday to make room for Rodrigo Lopez on the 40-man roster. Ryan Searle (RHP) received a promotion to Double-A Tennessee.

The Cubs announced Friday that Alberto Cabrera will be promoted from Double-A Tennessee to Triple-A Iowa. Cabrera is on the Cubs’ 40-man roster. Marco Carrillo also received a promotion Friday. The right-hander has been added to the I-Cubs roster after a solid start to the season with the Smokies.

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Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe
  • Tony

    You have one line that is questionable 

    “Jim Hendry should have a pretty good idea the direction his team is heading in at that time.” 

    Unless he believes the words that are coming out of his own mouth, he already knows!

    • Tom U

      Now, now. Play nice.

  • Zonk

    Hey Tom, nice posts…one thing that would be nice is a mid-season report, kind of a whose stock is up and whose is down type of thing.

    Certainly Robert Whitenack is impressing, and Jae Hoon Ha has had a nice progression to AA at the age of 20.  LeMahieu is showing great contact, and Flaherty also looks like he might be a keeper. 

    On the other hand, a couple guys theoretically close to the majors have been bad; Chris Carpenter has struggled at times, and Jay Jackson is a complete train wreck.  Not sure what is going on there, but the 411 on that would be good. 

    I had almost given up on Vitters, but I have noticed he only has 11 Ks in 170 PAs.  He isn’t walking either, but he at least isn’t swinging and missing, so that’s something.  We also have to remember he is only 21 at AA, and is still young for his level, so there is time.

    • Tom U

      Thanks for the kind words Zonk!

      I’ll be doing another quarterly report toward the end of June, and there are other possibilities in the future.

      To answer some questions:

      Whitenack has looked good, but not as overpowering as he was at lower levels. An undisclosed injury last night will also determine his fate.

      LeMahieu and Flaherty are right now caught in a numbers game. With Castro and Barney doing so well (and Ramirez’s big contract), along with  Baker and DeWitt as capable back-ups, there’s no room at the top. This may be where some movement at Iowa is seen.

      Jay Jackson appears to still be struggling with injury issues, although that has not been reported.

      In a situation that happened with Flaherty last season, the organization may have been too optimistic with Carpenter, especially with him changing roles. If he gets his feet back under him in Tennessee, you might see him back in Iowa.

      Vitters has had a nice bounce-back from an early season slump. It is good to remember how young he is, and to not let the success of others color your judgement of him. It is also important to note that power hitters, like Vitters and Burgess, sometimes take a little longer to develop, and may never have great averages.

      • Richard Hood

        I asked Aaron the other day if he thought as Flaherty and LeMahieu got close to the major leagues if he thought they should keep Barney with his over achieving style and move some of the 2nd base prospects or move Barney. Which would you be more in favor of?

        • BillyFinT

          How about all of them? I mean, it’s becoming more apparent, right? ARam, Baker, and Dewitt will leave as long as Ricketts whispers to his GM: “Hey, Jim. We are losing money at home games. Now, I want to cut the payroll to at least 50% so we can afford to pay you. No more 157 million, buddy. Keep it under 97 meg.”

          There, Hendry will scream and tear his hair. He’ll bring up LeMahieu and Flaherty. The former replaces Baker as a sub (and if Barney struggles his soph. year, there you go), and Flaherty at right field as soon as he learns the position (a DeRosa deja-vu–supersub!), methinks.

          The only thing I’m afraid is that the ego speaks for the Ricketts. Then they’ll keep Hendry and hand him blank checks like the Trib. did since 2004. A youth movement is not the answer for a World Series.

          And yes, I still want to listen to Tom U’s.

          • Tom U

            Thank you Dorasaga, and I also have a great respect for Aaron, Richard, Cubtex, Paul and everyone here at CCO. Your are all very intelligent fans and each have a great perspective. 

            I’m actually working on a piece that addresses a new trend that the Cubs could be on the front end of. With more and more talent coming into the majors, the line of traditional starter/back-up is beginning to blur. Moving players in and out of the line-up to create match up problems and keep players fresh (and maybe reduce injuries) could become the norm. 

            As far as Flaherty, LeMahieu, and Barney go, a traditionalist would probably place LeMahieu at second, Flaherty at third, and use Barney as a super-sub. 

            However, using a non-traditional perspective, I can see a Cubs team in which Vitters, Castro, and LePage would be considered the “starters” but Flaherty, LeMahieu, Barney, and Marwin Gonzalez can each get 350 to 400 at bats in a variety of roles. With a versatile outfield/first base corps of Jackson, Colvin, Ha, and Ridling and catchers such as Clevenger and Gibbs, the Cubs could become a state-of-the-art franchise.

            Of course, everything would have to go exactly right, but its nice to think about (with Cubs fans, hope always springs eternal).

  • paulcatanese

    As long as Quade continues to make comments as he has that Aram will stay in the fourth spot, and “he will come around” is obvious that players will not be brought up and they will stay with the present roster. Or if they are brought up will see limited or no playing time. They have very little pitching in the system that are thought to be of help at the major league level,so that stops that from progression. It really leaves only the outfield for any kind of spot. Quade is not going to switch his catching, is not going to replace Aram, either in his spot to lower in the lineup, and as long as Aram can crawl on the field he will play, apparantly no matter what the results are. He wll not change Pena, so where are they. I have seen stubborn management before, but these guys take not only the cake, but the knife,forks,plates and even the table.Sorry Cub fans this is simply not going to happen. Hello last place save a spot we will be there soon.

    • Tno13

      “I’ve seen stubborn management before….”  So you don’t remember Dusty and Neifi? Neifi was a career utility guy. t least Ramirez has some chops.

      • paulcatanese

        I know this is a late response,but if you get the chance to read my response
        please answer. I dont understand,but I did say I have seen stubborn management before,so I do not know what you are reffering to. I would say
        an additional word here that Quade and JH are determined with more than
        one player that they are sticking with and thats what I was trying to post. I think I had mentioned a number of players in that category.

  • The Maven

    In checking the box scores and transactions this morning, the Cubs may have some windows opening for possible trades.

    Detroit has officially given up on Scott Sizemore, trading him to Oakland. With the Tigers currently in second and needing more production from second base and the outfield, a package sending Jeff Baker and Koske Fukudome might be attractive.

    Another place that Fukudome could end up is Colorado, who look like they’ve lost patience with Dexter Fowler.

    It might also be a good time to see if the Giants are willing to kick the tires on Geovany Soto.

    • Richard Hood

      Totally agree with the trade winds blowing I do not know if anyone is willing to jump in with both feet yet though.
      I still would rather keep Soto and let him play 1st next year if I have a choice but I think that he has the highest value of any cub that could be traded. So it is kind of a catch 22. Keep him as a core piece and hope that if you move him from behind the plate his amount of injuries will go down or trade him to get depth at other positions and maybe an impact prospect.

  • Tom U

    One other mention, the organization has also promoted RHP Larry Suarez to Peoria.

    At 6’4″, 245 lbs., he’s someone who can go toe-to-toe with Zambrano. However, he has produced some “Nook LaLoosh”-type numbers in the past.