Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 07/11/11

A rough end of the week saw only Boise bringing home more than one victory. Austin Kirk had a good follow-up to his no-hit performance, while Carlos Zambrano did well in his rehab assignment. Debuts were less than successful for Nick Struck, Chris Rusin, Matt Loosen, and Frank Del Valle. Iowa saw hot performances by Marwin Gonzalez and D.J. LeMahieu. The organization said goodbye to Augie Ojeda and Fernando Perez, while nine other players found new homes.

Matt Szczur participated in the XM Radio Futures Game on Sunday. Szczur and Brian Harper (USA Coaching staff) represented the Cubs’ organization. Szczur was 0-for-1 (groundout to third) and will report to the D-Cubs after All-Star weekend. The Cubs promoted Szczur Friday and made the formal announcement on Saturday afternoon.

Szczur came into play center in the top of the sixth for Team USA. Szczur showed good range and a quick first step on two plays in the sixth inning. Szczur made a routine catch in the ninth inning. Szczur hit only one time and saw only one pitch. Szczur grounded out to third and nearly beat the throw to first.

Matt Szczur and Brett Jackson received a mid-season nod from Baseball America earlier in the week. Jackson (32) and Szczur (48) made BA’s midseason top 50 prospects list.

All this, and more, in this edition of the Down on the Farm Report.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (13-10)
Outfielder Ben Klafczynski‘s single in the bottom of the twelfth inning brought home Pin-Chieh Chen for a 3-2 victory over Yakima on Wednesday. In a tightly fought contest, Reggie Golden was 3-for-5, while Yaniel Cabezas was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

Starting pitcher Luis Liria held the Bears at bay, allowing one earned run while striking out four in six innings. Kyler Burke had his longest pitching outing as a pro, striking out two and letting in an earned run in four innings. Recently promoted Colin Richardson picked up his first win by tossing two scoreless innings.

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Boise looked like they were in control on Thursday, but had to hold on as a late Everett rally brought them close. The Hawks ended up winning 9-5. Ben Wells gave up a first inning run, and then shut down the AquaSox for the next four innings, striking out three batters. Jose Rosario went the rest of the way, allowing four runs (two earned) in four innings.

Everyone pitched in on the Hawk’s offense, with Travis Garcia‘s 2-for-4 as the only multi-hit performance. Paul Hoilman belted a two-run homer, his fourth of the season, while catcher Jose Guevara also had a two-run home run, his first of the year.

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The Hawks took the lead over Everett 3-2 in the fifth inning on Friday, but couldn’t hold on as Boise ended up losing 4-3 to the AquaSox. Yao-Lin Wang had another good showing, allowing two runs (one earned) and striking out two in five innings. Expect Wang to be stretched out in his future starts in preparation for promotion. Cameron Greathouse had an inconsistent performance, striking out seven but giving up two earned runs in 2.2 innings. Dustin Fitzgerald cleaned up with 1.1 scoreless innings. Pin-Chieh Chen stayed hot, going 2-for-5 with a double and RBI.

Down five runs in the bottom of the fifth on Saturday, Boise exploded for six runs, but couldn’t hold on as they lost to Everett 8-6. Austin Reed allowed four earned runs in three innings, while Jin-Young Kim followed and gave up an earned run in four innings. Charles Thomas had an unusually poor outing, being tagged for three earned runs in an inning of work. Wes Darvill continues to put up good numbers, and was 2-for-3 on the night, while Rafael Lopez was 2-for-5.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (39-47)
Cuban left-hander Frank Del Valle made his debut for Peoria Thursday night and allowed four runs (two earned) in three innings as the Chiefs lost to Beloit 10-4. Dan Berlind continued his struggles, allowing four earned runs in only an inning, while Alvaro Sosa let in two earned runs in two innings. P.J. Francescon restored order by pitching three scoreless innings. Richard Jones tried to carry the load, going 4-for-4 with three RBI, including a two-run homer. Rubi Silva was 2-for-4 with a double.

Friday saw Chicago Cub Carlos Zambrano make a rehab start, only to have his efforts spoiled as Peoria lost to Beloit 4-1 in ten innings. Zambrano pitched four innings, allowing an unearned run while striking out four batters. Su-Min Jung followed with one of his better performances, tossing four scoreless innings. Pete Levitt pitched a perfect ninth, but allowed three earned runs in the top of the tenth. In a pitcher’s duel, Matt Szczur and Anthony Giansanti had the only multi-hit games. Szczur scored the Chiefs’ only run on an RBI single by Richard Jones.

Peoria got back on the winning side of the ledger on Saturday. However, a blown save brought them to extra innings, as the Chiefs defeated Cedar Rapids 3-2 in ten innings. Austin Kirk followed up his no-hit performance by allowing two runs (one earned) over 6.1 innings while striking out five batters. Yohan Gonzalez came on after a wild pitch and walk by Kirk. Brandon May’s throwing error allowed the score to be tied, but Richard Jones cut down the go-ahead run at the plate. Gonzalez went scoreless for the remaining three innings while striking out four batters.

Ryan Cuneo has been hot recently, with 12 hits over his last nine games. Cuneo was 2-for-4 with two doubles. Richard Jones went yard, as his two-run homer gave the Chiefs the lead. Micah Gibbs was 2-for-4 and scored the winning run on Rubi “The Expensive Cuban” Silva’s single in the top of the tenth.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (54-32)
For the second week in a row, rain on Thursday washed out a D-Cubs’ game. The day off seemed to affect their performance on Friday, as Jeffrey Lorick spotted Hak-Ju Lee and the Charlotte Stone Crabs eight runs (seven earned) in an 8-3 loss. Jeffry Antigua, Aaron Kurcz, and Jordan Latham blanked Charlotte the rest of the way. Michael Burgess is showing a spark at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two doubles, while Dustin Harrington was 2-for-3 with a double and his first home run as a D-Cub.

Daytona had a 4-2 lead after one inning on Saturday, but couldn’t get out of their own way as three errors lead to seven unearned runs as they lost to Charlotte 12-6. Angel Guzman started and allowed three runs (one earned) in 1.1 innings. Larry Suarez followed for 1.1 innings, and five more unearned runs came in. Brett Wallach was pressed into service and gave up four earned runs in 5.1 innings. Michael Burgess continued to swing a hot bat, crushing his 11th home run while going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Logan Watkins was 3-for-5 with a triple and an RBI, while Jae-Hoon Ha and Justin Bour also had multi-hit games.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (51-36)
In his Double-A debut, Matt Loosen kept the Smokies within reach, but despite out-hitting Montgomery 7-3, Tennessee ended up losing 4-2 on Thursday. Loosen pitched six innings and struck out five batters, but gave up all four earned runs. Kyle Smit had two scoreless innings. Brett Jackson was 3-for-4 on the evening, while Blake Lalli and Matt Spencer drove in the Smokies’ runs.

The Smokies game on Friday night was suspended after nine innings, tied at 4-4, due to curfew. After being resumed on Saturday, it went another five innings as Tennessee ended up losing to Chattanooga 5-4 in 14 innings. Starter Trey McNutt allowed a two-run homer with one out in the first, but did not return as a two-hour rain delay wiped out the rest of his evening. Six pitchers followed, with newly promoted Ramon Garcia tossing the final three innings. Nelson Perez was 3-for-4 with two RBI after blasting his fifth homer of the season. Blake Lalli, Matt Spencer, and David Macias also had multi-hit games.

In Saturday’s regularly scheduled game, Brooks Raley allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings as the Smokies fell to the Lookouts 6-1. In his first Double-A appearance, Brent Ebinger gave up two home runs in two innings. Kyle Smit finished with a scoreless ninth. Tennessee’s lone run came on Josh Vitters’ solo homer in the second inning.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (41-49)
In his Triple-A debut, Nick Struck kept the I-Cubs in the game, allowing two earned runs and striking out four in 5.1 innings, but wound up losing 3-2 to Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Iowa’s offense simply couldn’t muster any runs until the bottom of the ninth, when Bryan LaHair delivered a pinch-hit, two-run home run. Marwin Gonzalez continues to be devastatingly hot, going 2-for-4 with a double. Ty Wright had identical numbers.

With yet another debut Thursday night, Chris Rusin didn’t pitch too badly. Rusin allowed five earned runs in 4.2 innings, as Iowa lost to New Orleans in ten innings 7-6. Robert Coello helped keep the I-cubs in the ballgame by allowing an unearned run in 3.1 innings. Bryan LaHair and Brad Snyder each drilled three-run home runs, while D.J. LeMahieu and Marwin Gonzalez were each 2-for-4. Blake Parker pitched 1.2 innings and served up the game winning home run.

Starter Jay Jackson continues to show improvement, but was the hard-luck loser on Friday as the I-Cubs went down to the Zephyrs 4-0. Jackson held New Orleans to two earned runs while striking out eight over six innings. Under-utilized Marco Carrillo allowed two earned runs in two innings. The offense only managed four hits, as D.J. LeMahieu extended his hitting streak to nine games. Over the course of the streak, LeMahieu is hitting .429 with two doubles and four RBI.

Iowa only managed two runs Saturday on eight hits as the I-Cubs lost to New Orleans 4-2. Casey Coleman allowed four earned runs on two home runs in six innings of work. John Gaub mopped up with two scoreless innings. Scott Moore was 2-for-3 with two doubles, while D.J. LeMahieu extended his hitting streak to ten games with a 2-for-4 effort in his first start at shortstop.

News and Notes
Iowa released OF Fernando Perez and IF Augie Ojeda. Left-handed pitcher Brent Ebinger was assigned to Tennessee from Peoria. Right-handed pitcher Ramon Garcia was assigned to Tennessee from the AZL Cubs. Right-handed pitcher Oswaldo Martinez was assigned to Daytona from Tennessee. Outfielder Matt Szczur was assigned to Daytona from Peoria. Right-handed pitcher Carlos Zambrano was assigned to Peoria from the Chicago Cubs. Outfielder Ben Klafczynski was assigned to Peoria from Boise.

Peoria placed LHP Graham Hicks on the 7-Day disabled list; activated RHP Robinson Lopez from the 7-Day disabled list. Right-handed pitcher Su-Min Jung was assigned to Boise from Peoria. Right-handed pitcher Colin Richardson and OF Blair Springfield were assigned to Boise from the AZL Cubs. Outfielder Taiwan Easterling was assigned to the AZL Cubs from Chicago Cubs.

Top Prospect Watch

  • Michael Burgess (OF) – .209, .311 OBP, .714 OPS, 19 Doubles, Triple, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 9 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 0-0, 4.05 ERA, 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 K, 6 BB, 2.55 WHIP (Chicago Cubs)
  • Micah Gibbs (C) – .254, .377 OBP, .674 OPS, 5 Doubles, HR, 15 RBI, Stolen Base, 26% Caught Stealing (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Reggie Golden (OF) – .297, .422 OBP, .855 OPS, 3 Doubles, 2 Triples, HR, 9 RBI, 5 Stolen Bases, 2 Outfield Assists (Boise Hawks)
  • Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .278, .314 OBP, .741 OPS, 15 Doubles, 2 Triples, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 7 Stolen Bases, 8 Outfield Assists (Daytona Cubs)
  • Brett Jackson (OF) – .265, .379 OBP, .837 OPS, 10 Doubles, 3 Triples, 10 HR, 32 RBI, 14 Stolen Bases, 3 Outfield Assists (Tennessee Smokies)
  • D.J. LeMahieu (IF) -.366, .386 OBP, .801 OPS, 2 Doubles, 4 RBI, 2 Stolen Bases (Iowa Cubs)
  • Trey McNutt (RHP) – 1-3, 4.50 ERA, 44.0 IP, 22 ER, 25 K, 17 BB, 1.61 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 0-1, 19.29 ERA, 2.1 IP, 5 ER, 2 BB 3.00 WHIP (AZL Cubs)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .314, .366 OBP, .796 OPS, 15 Doubles, Triple, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 17 Stolen Bases, 3 Outfield Assists (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) -.282, .304 OBP, .748 OPS, 18 Doubles, Triple, 7 HR, 38 RBI, 3 Stolen Bases (Tennessee Smokies)

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Quote of the Day

"Pitching is the cornerstone of most championship teams." – Roger Craig

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  • Vivid_Reality

    As much as it pains me to say this, I think we should explore trading Darwin Barney. With MI being the overwhelming strength of the system, he might be our best and most expendable trade chip. DJ looks like he could fill in next year and Scott Moore would be an adequate replacement for the second half. I love Barney but if he netted us a top 100 pitching prospect I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

    • paulcatanese

      I understand your’e point,however I feel Barney is the only one in the infield that provides fire and can back it up. Granted he dosen’t have the power that everyone would like to see, but the clutch type player is hard to come by. he gives a direction to an infield that is there only half the time,and moving him may be a bigger mistake than Gorzo. Besides I feel his future is at shortstop
      as Castro’s glove is betraying him daily and sooner and not later it will start to affect his hitting, I wonder how long it’s going to take for Castro to develop and if he didn’t have the bat, no team could afford his fielding long term. Don’t get me wrong,I think Castro is a wonderful athlete, but needs to go to third base if he envisions a future long term.

      • Cheryl

        It may not be prudent to mess with Castro during this season, but if he plays winter ball I agree that he should try third base.

        • Rbmercer

          There was a piece on ESPNchicago suggesting the Cubs would be better served not going after Pujols and Fielder, but trying to sign Jose Reyes to play short and move Castro to third.

          It’s interesting thought…could hold on to Pena at first and have an infield of Castro, Reyes, Barney, and Pena.

          I’m not sure where I stand on this, just throwing it around for thought.

          • Kojak Osborne Jr.

            Reyes is always injured so I would not be happy if they sign him.

          • Rbmercer

            Yes, that scares me too

          • diehardcubfan

            I was thinking about the Cubs going after Reyes myself a few days ago.  I think a possibilty would be that the Cubs would look at putting Castro at 2B, bringing back Pena and ARAM.  That would probably still be expensive but unless we know the market value of Fielder could be cheaper.

            Originally, I thought about the same thing you did that the Cubs could move Castro to 3B but the more I think about it the less likely I see it happening.
            I do not think the Cubs plan to move Castro to 3B at all.  Also, if the Cubs went with the lineup you suggested I think there is a power void in the middle of the order that somehow they would have to plug. 

          • Rbmercer

            Yeah, I’m not real crazy about moving Castro to third. I really like Barney too, so Castro to second doesn’t appeal to me too much. BUT, Castro could probably be a crazy awesome second baseman.

            Am I the only one that envisions Castro and Barney to possibly be the next Alan Trammel/ Lou Whitaker combo for years?

          • cc002600

            Which ever team (sucker) decides to lay out $15-20M / yr for 5 -7 years for this guy will be very sorry.

            He gets hurt too much.

            No way would I sign him.

            How many times have seen these big contracts go bust ?
            I bet the failure rate is 70%+ on multi-year megamillion $ contracts.

            I could sit here and list a bunch off the top of my head without even trying

            Soriano, Z, Vernon Wells, Beltran, Mike Hampton, Giambi, Kevin Brown, Zito, Santana, Jason Bay…to name a few.

          • Anonymous47701

            I may have to concede in the idea that neither Pujols or Fielder may be coming to the North Side next year, But I strongly disagree with signing Jose Reyes. We already have a middle infield in Castro and Barney, even though the corners remain in question.

      • Brp921

        I agree Paul about Barney and would also add good fundamentals to what you said. I do agree that Barney has the tools to be a good shortstop, but I’m not ready to move Castro to third except out of neccessity, to bring in a player that would make the team better. Watching Castro’s range and some of the plays he makes, as well as some he just comes up short on, makes me beleive if he can put it all together, he can be an exceptional shortstop. I would like to see him get that chance.

        • paulcatanese

          I agree that Castro has exceptional range and could be a great shortstop, but his range has been detrimental to him at this stage in his career. I would even go so far to predict his errors to exceed 40 this year, and thats with Pena over there to bail him out. The biggest factor I see is his overwhelming desire to get everything in sight (not a bad thing) but then try to get an out, resulting in ill advised throws. How do you get someone and reduce his competive nature to hold back? It’s impossible to do. And I would not that to change anyway, simply saying that third base condenses his risk of doing just that. The fact that the Cubs are not going anywhere this year is a two edged sword for Castro, he can stay at short and hope to develop properly or if Aram is moved by trade make the switch now. I got to tell you, his feilding will affect his hitting in the long run, and at this point is his one big asset.

          • Rbmercer

            Shawon Dunston struggled defensively the same way early in his career. Castro’s decision making will mature and he will be a great SS

    • Baron_S

      Have to disagree. Barney seems to bring many more intangibles and a ‘clutch’ instinct than any of the other 2B i’ve seen this year. He’s a keeper — Fix RF and 1B and you’ve got a decent lineup

  • Richard Hood

    There seems to be a lot of chatter on the Cubs moves today as we get closer to the trade deadline. Pena is being looked at by Pittsburg and Arizona. That 5 million for 2012 may come back to burn us if we try to move him. May have to agree to pay it to get more value for Pena this year.

  • cubtex

    Now with ARod out 4 to 6 weeks look for alot of ARam to the Yankees trade talk.

    • Kojak Osborne Jr.

      On twitter I saw that the Angels is also interested in him.

      • Tom U

        The Angels interest in Ramirez dates all the way back to 2007, before he signed his present contract.

    • Tony_Hall

      No, I don’t think so.  ARod is having surgery, so he can be back for the end of the regular season, and the postseason.  The Yankees think and plan that way.  The Cubs let players struggle and wait until January, to fix their problems.  They will use an internal option, that will help some young player get some valuable experience.  

  • MikeT_2008

    Does anyone know anything about how the negotiations are going with our #1 pick Baez? It frustrates me because I work at the ball for the Cardinals Low-A team in the Midwest League and their #1 pick, Kolton Wong, was in uniform and playing like within a week following the draft. I know negotiations for the Cardinals pick (#22) is a lot easier than ours at #9, but it’s just shows that St. Louis’ organization is leaps ahead of ours because their top pick has been getting games under his belt (and playing well) while our top pick is still unsigned. I guess I’m just ranting because since the big league team is going no where I just want to see what the future may hold.

    • MikeT_2008

      In fact I just looked up the draft results and saw that the Cubs highest signed pick was their 16th rounder while the Cardinals have signed 11 of their top 15 picks. I know the issue of signability is there and the Cubs drafted some players who are committed to play in college but like Neil said is his draft recap post that Ricketts has always said he wants to spend on the draft, well I hope he is true to his word and gets these kids playing pro ball asap

      • GrantJones7

        Mike did not know you worked for the QC RiverBandits, i work for teh KC Cougars (Royals), not much i can do as a 16 year old but i think i got the est job i can get there, batboy! Love the job

    • Bredstik

      Mike, we were up your way for a Peoria Chiefs/Quad City River Bandits game a few weeks ago, as my youngest boy had a baseball tournament up there. We were there with a group so we brought a lot of Chiefs fans.  Didn’t go our way that night as Austin Kirk lost 6-0, but we all had a great time. My 9 year old even got to throw out the first pitch, and my wife won some cash in the air money booth!  Beautiful ballpark and a lot of fun.

  • Ripsnorter1

    The Cubs cannot win without DIFFERENCE MAKERS. A difference maker is a slugger who drives in runs. A run producer. 

    Castro is not a difference maker. At SS he is okay. Maybe even at 2B. But at 3rd base, a traditional position for a difference maker/run producer to play, he lacks the power. A team full of Ryan Theriot’s will not win a division. A couple of Ryan Theriot’s on your team is okay, but one cannot expect to win with 8 of them. 

    An infield of Castro, Barney, DJ LeMahieu and a weak hitting 1B, say, Funko or someone who produces like that, would just kill the run production. We’ve already got K.Hill, Funko, Colvin, Byrd (not a run producer), Soriano (doesn’t hit in the clutch), Campana (not a ML OFer in my opinion), Johnson (no power and aging).

     In short–we are a mess and it doesn’t look like the minors is going to produce much in the way of run producers for us in the next 30 years.

    • Tom U

      The thing about LeMahieu is despite not having much power, he is a good run producer. That’s especially good since he’s spent most of his career hitting in the number two or three hole. He not like Rod Carew, who would bat .300 but drive in only 50 or so runs.

  • paulcatanese

    Tom,got to watch the innings that Matt Szczur played in last night. He looked pretty darn good on defense, but I immediatly identified him as a Cub when he swung at the first pitch(joke) he has good speed going down the line from the right side, I don’t know about center though, haven’t seen him play enough, but the three plays he was involved in shows that he has the desire to go thru the wall to get a ball.
    Good post Tom. 

  • Ripsnorter1

    I don’t think Barney has nearly as much value as some here seem to think he does. What team would want him enough to trade for him? It would have to be a team in contention, because Barney has no power, no speed, and does not offer a super-spectacular glove.

    NYYanks? They have Robinson Cano, 15 HR, 57 RBI, slugging .521. NO WAY.
    BoSox? With Pedroia? Are you nuts? slugging .442, 11 HR, 44 RBI. 16 SB.
    TB Rays? Not with Zobrist around. 10 HR, 43 RBI, .474 slugging.10 SB.

    Tigers? Raburn is off his feed (slugged .521 last year), but still 8 HR, 31 RBI.
    Indians? Cabrara is 4 HR, 34 RBI, .279–better than Barney.
    ChiSox? Beckham 7 HR, 25 RBI, .245 is better slugger.

    Texas? Not with Ian Kinsler around: 13 HR, 34 RBI, .251.
    LAA? With Howie Kendrick hitting 8 HR, 29 RBI, .302 BA? NO WAY.

    Braves? Nope. Uggla has 15 HRs.
    Brewers? Weeks has 17HRs.
    Cards? Maybe. Schumaker has 2 HR, 20 RBI and hitting .260.

    Pittsburgh? Neil Walker is much better.
    SF? Mike Fontenot is a better hitter for power.
    Arizona? Johnson has 15 HR, 42 RBI. FORGETABOUTIT.

    Really, maybe–unlikely, but maybe–SF would want him. Cards are unlikely. And everyone else sees him for what Barney really is: a utility infielder. That’s it, Eugene. A utility infielder.

    • J Daniel

      Agreed!  Barney’s value, although he is a good player, is not near what people think.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Barney’s Wins Against Replacement is only 0.9. That means he’s worth less than one full win to his team above a AAA player. 

    Fielding? He’s rated at giving up an extra 18 runs against the average ML 2nd baseman. Not stellar, folks.

    • paulcatanese

      Rip, that just go’s to show how bad the Cubs are, as Barney is the best they have had there for a long time. In fact the whole team is behind in comparison the the rest of the teams as you have pointed out many times.

    • Vivid_Reality

      Dunno where you get your numbers but fangraphs tells a better story. Barney has a better WAR than 7 of the players you listed above. Also according to WAR he is the 4th best non pitching rookie. I could go on about only his positives as you attempted to do with his negatives (4.5 UZR/150 btw, good for 11th best among qualified 2Bmen) but thats not where his value lies.

      His value lies in his cost and rookie status. Theoretically he should only improve for the next 6 years or so and thats what teams are going to trade for. Even a team like the Rays, as you mentioned earlier, could use Barney. Move Zobrist back to right and Joyce to left or even move Barney to short. The Rays have been pretty damn uninspiring as short this year, just a 1.1 WAR combined through 3 players with no one over a .223 average.

      So he could in fact actually net a decent prospect and could be packaged with someone else to get a better haul. That being said I don’t think Cubs brass would ever consider this so in the end it becomes a moot point.

      • Ripsnorter1

        WAR–baseball reference.
        Rdrs/yr–Baseball reference

         Here’s the link:

      • Ripsnorter1

        I would keep Barney as a reserve infielder. He plays SS, 2B, and 3B in a pinch. He has some value. He’s just not going to net you Dwight Gooden in his rookie year. He might net you Jeff Stevens. Or maybe not. Shoot, we gave up DeRosa for him.

        My view: in the minors, the cupboard is pretty well empty, and there are few trade chips that will net us what we need: A RUN PRODUCING OUTFIELDER/FIRST BASEMAN.

        • zonk

          I have to agree with Rip:  Barney ain’t all that.  He is a good fielder, a good teammate, who makes good contact at the plate, won’t take many walks, and has almost no power.  He is Rey Sanchez.

          That doesn’t mean he sucks; I like him as a backup IF.  But as a starting 2B-man, he isn’t good.

          So far, what we see from LeMahieu is about the same. 

          We are in great shape for backup infielders for years to come.  Too bad we have so many other holes!

      • paulcatanese

        Right now,I think the two of them, Castro and Barney make less than Koyie Hill entire salary, and thats a plus.

        • Ripsnorter1

          And what’s wrong with Koyie Hill? You think he’s overpaid?

          If you compare his production (2 HR, 8 RBI) vs. Funko (3 HR, 12 RBI), you’ll find that Koyie Hill–dollar for dollar–is a far better player than Funko. 

          Funko’s production is based on 258 AB vs. K.Hill’s 89 AB. 

          Now compare K. Hill’s production  at $1.1 million, vs. Soriano’s production & salary, and you have the reason Jim Clueless figured ole Koyie was worth keeping around. Soriano has 14 HR, 41 RBI, but he makes $18 million. That’s $439, 024 per RBI (thus far in 2011).

          Hill, on the other hand, is being paid a mere $137,500 per RBI.

           “There is simply no other way to say it: Koyie Hill is a bargain,” says Jim Clueless.

          • paulcatanese

            Yeah,Rip. But wait till Soto is traded, Hill will take over as number 1 and get a five year deal for 50 mil.

  • paulcatanese

    I have to throw this out here. I think the home run derby is a joke. These guys have their own pitcher, throwing at the speed and location they want. Sure their would be a lot of balls flying out of the park, why not? When you can take softball hitters that
    can put the ball in the upper deck,whats the big deal, with the exception that someone is making money, that’s not me.

    • Agustinrexach

      Paul, I feel the complete opposite… Every competitor has equal opportunity to be crowned theHR Champ, it is a legit competition in my book. Its Super fun to watch on a day without games plus there is some charity involved.

      One of may favorite non-cub baseball moments without a doubt was Josh Hamilton’s display in old Yankee Stadium…. Hard to top that for sooo many different reasons.

      • paulcatanese

        Great, thats why I posted it, looking for a response, I just fail to enjoy it, the charity thats involved was not what I was refering to and didn’t mean to say anything negative about that.

        • Agustinrexach

          Paul, no harm in posting your opinión. I really enjoy your daily imput here in the CCO. This one has been boring so far BTW.

    • Tom U

      When my kids were younger, I couldn’t get them to sit still to watch baseball. However, they sat in rapt attention to the Home Run Derby. Since then, its been a tradition with us, grilling hot dogs and having peanuts and CrackerJack.

      • paulcatanese

        Tom, I knew there had to be a reason for my post. Thats great that you have a family outing for that. I put that out there to see what people thought about it and right about now you must have the grill going and getting ready for the event.  Enjoy.

  • Darrell

    “Debuts were less than successful for Nick Struck, Chris Rusin, Matt Loosen, and Frank Del Valle.”

    Struck’s AAA debut was less than successful. He gave up 2 runs in 5 1/3 innings in hist first AAA start. Struck started at Daytona this season and now is in AAA. I think the Cubs would be very please with his first start.

    • Tom U

      Okay Darrell, Nick Struck has done very well , He was my RHP All-Star at mid-season. I’m very high on him, but despite his best efforts, he did lose in his first game at Triple-A. That’s all that statement was meant to reflect.

  • Nathan

    Im interested in knowing if anybody thinks robert whitenack would have been in the mid season top 50 prospects if it werent for his injury? Its good to see jackson and szczur on the list though and hopefully at seasons end youll see other guys in the top 100. I personally believe lemahieu should easily be a top 100 prospect!

    The cubs need to get on the ball with signing their draft picks. A lot of their lower picks are showing some success, imagine if their better guys were playing right now!

    • Vivid_Reality

      In my opinion, no. He would have had a shot at top 100 next year with a dominant full season.

  • paulcatanese

    Fine wine, almost everyone know what it is. It’s rare, and as it ages increases in value, as long as it is uncorked and I understand that. Now take a ballplayer, initally they command a certain price but unlike fine wine they do not increase their value with age, they just get older. They have been uncorked as a young player and everyone knows what happens with fine wine when it is opened. Try as one might an uncorked bottle of wine and kept around will do one thing, turn to vinegar as it gets older. So I would like an explanation why a ballplayer as he gets older and starts to turn to vinegar they can command an extended contract for a higher dollar amount. They don’t get better with age they just get older. But then Jim Hendry must be an expert on vinegar and must believe that their is value for it as he keeps buying old wine and opening it to let it turn to vinegar. And then their is no value left.

  • Tom U

    Tonight’s minor league starters:

    Tennessee – Dallas Beeler (1-4, 4.75)
    Daytona – Dae-Eun Rhee (3-5, 4.24) Game 1
                   TBA  Game 2
    Boise – Luis Liria (2-0, 2.66)

    Iowa is on All-Star Break
    Peoria lost 2-1 to Cedar Rapids. PJ Francescon was the losing pitcher.

    • JW

      Any takers for the Cubs midseason top 10 prospects — I suspect Jackson and Szcur would have to be at the top.

      • Tom U

        JW, I’m a little slow on the uptake. I don’t know exactly what you mean. Are you asking for suggestions for the Cubs’ top ten prospects, or asking if there is a market for any of them?

        • JW

          Sorry, I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for a possible Cubs Top 10

  • zonk

    Overall, I think this has been a disappointing First-Half for our farm system.

    Only Matt Szczur has consistently impressed, and I think emerged as a prospect.  He’ll for sure be a top-10 into next year, barring a complete collapse.

    After Szczur, I can’t think of anyone that has really emerged or distinguished themselves as a prospect.  Performances have ranged from OK (Dolis, Vitters, Ha), mixed (B. Jackson, McNutt), to downright disastrous (Simpson, Jay Jackson).  Maybe LeMahieu, but he looks to me like a quality bench guy, not a future star.

    Prior to this season, the consensus was that the Cubs prospects were high on quantity, but not quality; that we had a good number of major-league potential prospects, but nobody that jumped out as a potential All-Star.  Nothing has happened to really change that assessment.

  • Agustin

    Just wanted to point out that I think we did not do so well on the first half of the season.

    Maybe, just maybe Ryne Sandberg might have been a better option than Quade.

    _Captain O

  • cubtex

    Tom, I want to go back to what you said last night about the Garza trade. Would Brandon Guyer really have been a deal breaker for you? You know my thoughts on how hard it is to aquire proven young starters. Many think starting pitching grows on trees and that teams will give them away. Look at past history. The Brewers aquired CC Sabathia as a rental player several years ago and had to give up their #1 prospect in Matt Laporta and another top 10 prospect and 2 other prospects for 1/2 a season. The Brewers aquired Greinke with a 13.5 million a year salary who is locked up for only another year this offseason and they gave up several prospects including Jake Oridizzi who is lighting it up in the minors.
    Have you been reading the scouting reports on Chris Archer? Most are now saying he is a set up guy because of his constant command issues. Guyer is a 4th outfielder,Chirinos is having a terrible year and Lee is in High A ball and he is still a work in progress.
    I would trade prospects anytime for a proven starter. Would you trade LeMahieu,Jay Jackson and McNutt for CJ Wilson? Where do I sign? Would you trade Vitters and another prospect for another guy comparable to Garza? My point is…you win with starting pitching and most prospects never live up to their minor league hype. See Felix Pie,Sean Gallagher,Jake Fox,Corey Patterson,etc. Give me quality starting pitcher any day and I will take my chances filling out the starting 8.

    • Ripsnorter1

      What qualifies a pitcher to be called “a proven starter?”

      I would have rather acquired Greinke–the Brewers paid less, imo.

      • cubtex

        200 innings pitched for a couple of seasons with a double digit win total. I would say that is a “proven starter”

        We will see about Greinke but he makes almost 3 times more than Garza and right now Jake Oridizzi looks like a better prospect than anyone the Cubs gave up for Garza.

        • cubtex

          I wanted to correct the amount they make. Garza 5.95 mil and Greinke 13.5 mil so a little more than twice as much. I will take Garza at that salary anyday over Greinke.

    • Tom U

      Brandon Guyer was not exactly a deal breaker, but part of what tipped the balance on the trade. 

      Let’s go back to what I said, and fill in the particulars. Hak-Ju Lee and Chris Archer were enough for Garza straight up. Period. Any two of a team’s top five prospects is ample compensation for another team’s number three starting pitcher. If not, the deal should never be done. Like our mother’s always said, just because everyone else is jumping off a cliff doesn’t mean you have to also.

      Next part involves two pieces that each team wanted. The Cubs wanted Fernando Perez, and the Rays wanted a catcher. At the time the trade was made, Robinson Chirinos was seen as the better prospect, and the equity pendulum swung in Tampa’s favor.

      In order to even things up, another player needed to be added. The Rays offered Zach Rosscup. Since the Cubs were willing to offer Sam Fuld in the deal, the proper compensation would have been Alexander Torres instead of Rosscup. 

      A deal at that point would have been equitable. However, it has always been my opinion that wanting Fernando Perez was foolish, and having Elliot Johnson included would have been better for the organization. The deal probably would have been made with that substitution.

      That leaves us to Guyer. He was the Cubs’ number ten prospect, the 2010 minor league player of the year. The Cubs should have been able to make the deal without him. With him in it, it made the deal inequitable, especially since the Cubs didn’t receive Torres in the deal.

      As for placing LeMahieu in a trade, I value him very highly. Here’s a hypothetical trade that would demonstrate his value. The Cubs would have an equitable deal if they traded Carlos Zambrano and LeMahieu to Toronto for Jose Bautista. THAT”S how valuable LeMahieu is, in my opinion.

      • cubtex

        The value of pitchers really changes from year to year imo. Just like we all learned in Economics 101. The old law of supply and demand. The pitchers on the market last offseason was extremely thin. Therefore, the price of Garza was higher than say another year. Maybe another year Archer and Lee would have dine it but not last year. Should they have walked away then? You know my answer. I hope you are right about LeMahieu. You are rating him a hell of alot higher than many other people.

        • Tom U

          Here’s LeMahieu’s numbers and tell me what you think:

          He’s never hit below .300, has a career slugging percentage of .406 and a .766 OPS, all with only 4 home runs, in almost 3 years of professional baseball. He’s also only 22 years old and jumped to five levels in that time.

          • cubtex

            I agree he has shown a good average but he is primarily a singles hitter and doesn’t steal bases. He could develop more pop since he is a big kid. Don’t get me wrong…I like him, but right now he only translates as a middle infielder with his bat. Do you really think LeMahieu,Castro and Barney could play together in the same infield? His upside is higher than Barney’s in my opinion so I would like to see him stay at 2nd.

          • Tom U

            My greatest worry is that at 6’4″, he may not be long for second base. 

            Like I’ve said before, it may take some creative thinking. Players like Wade Boggs and Mark Grace weren’t prototypical for their positions, yet managers found ways to make that work.

            You may also see LeMahieu get 400+ at bats while playing 4 or 5 positions. 

            Its a healthy discussion, with enough intrigue to keep everyone interested.

          • Aaron

            Tom, I have to agree with you on EVERYTHING you just said.

            No, Garza is NOT a terrible pitcher, but he’s a number 3 on a winning team at best.

            To say he’s “ace caliber” like Hendry, and others have alluded to in the past is foolish, but speaks volumes with his inability to identify top talent.

            Fact is, the Blue Jays traded a #3 starter (Marcum) to the Brewers for Brett Lawrie.

            Marcum is 7-3, 3.39 ERA, 19 starts, 111 IP, 93 hits, 13 hr allowed, 33 walks, 101 K’s, 1.128 WHIP (earns $3.95 million….and ironically, has VERY similar stats to Garza throughout his career, and is only 2 years older)

            Lawrie has the following line:
            .354/.415/.677, 223 AB’s, 51 runs, 79 hits, 19 doubles, 4 triples, 15 hr, 49 RBI, 11 SB, 18 walks, 40 K’s
            *Let’s NOT overstate his performance this year. Check out his first 2 years…they left a bit to be desired-

            That is ALL the Brewers gave up for Marcum.

            As Tom so eloquently put….Archer and Lee were enough to land (too much in my opinion) Garza who was ALL hype

            Once again, Hendry got hosed in a trade, and I said that at the time. Hendry would’ve done all those guys straight up for Garza without Rosscup and Perez, but had to save face.

            Perez was a 28 year old 5th OF in the mold of Gathright, while Rosscup was a throw-in and despite his decent stats this year, he’s a 23 year old in his 3rd pro season and has only reached high-A.

            Meanwhile, here’s what the Cubs got…
            Garza is 4-7, 4.26 ERA, 16 starts, 95 IP, 94 hits, 7 hr allowed, 33 walks, 99 K’s, 1.337 WHIP (“earns” $5.95 million)

            Rosscup is 4-2, 2.54 ERA, 9 starts, 49 IP, 43 hits, 4 hr allowed, 19 walks, 50 K’s, 1.248 WHIP

            Perez just got released, but was batting .238/.312/.337, 252 AB’s, 43 runs, 60 hits, 12 doubles, 2 triples, 3 hr, 20 RBI, 17 SB, 27 walks vs 70 K’s


            Guyer was batting .318/.389/.509, 283 AB’s, 57 runs, 90 hits, 22 doubles, 1 triple, 10 hr, 47 RBI, 13 SB, 25 walks, 64 K’s

            Archer struggled early on, but has come on of late:
            4-4, 4.72 ERA, 17 starts, 89 IP, 100 hits, 6 hr allowed, 47 walks, 83 K’s, 1.639 WHIP

            Lee is leading the FSL in hitting with a line of .330/.399/.458, 288 AB’s, 58 runs, 95 hits, 10 doubles, 9 triples, 3 hr, 18 RBI, 20 SB, 30 walks, 52 K’s

            Chirinos is batting .269/.347/.387, 238 AB’s, 23 runs, 64 hits, 11 doubles, 1 triple, 5 hr, 21 RBI, 23 walks, 59 K’s

            Fuld is at the MLB level batting .238/.299/.351, 239 AB’s, 29 runs, 57 hits, 14 doubles, 2 triples, 3 hr, 23 RBI, 16 SB, 21 walks, 33 K’s

            Let’s face it….the Cubs got hosed, and it’s not even close. The only way this becomes a good trade (you MUST factor in salary here with Garza) is if Garza turns out to be an ace. WHICH HE NEVER WILL!!!!!!!!!!!! PERIOD! END OF STORY!!! Face it, he is in fact, Zambrano 2.0

            A fair trade would’ve actually been Brett Jackson straight up for Garza, and maybe sending along Chirinos as well to fill their catching need they had.

            The only real difference between Lawrie and Jackson was age. Jackson is 23 while Lawrie is 21. Lawrie was drafted 16th overall in 2008 while Jackson was drafted 31st overall in 2009. They are both plus speed, slightly above average power, decent OBP ability, and both K a lot.


          • cubtex

            BBCan’t let this go without a response…. Brett Lawrie is all they gave up for Marcum? He is seen as a top 10 prospect in all of baseball! Many see him as a future batting champ and a career .300 hitter. So they gave up 1 player who is much much much(can u see the pattern here) of a sure thing than anything the Cubs gave up. Put it this way so even you might grasp it. Quality is more valuable than quantity.

          • cubtex

            Not one of the Cubs who was traded is considered a future star by several top scouts in baseball. So, genius… You would trade a top prospect instead of 4 question marks who will probably not make any significant mlb impact. In your words….go circle jerk,laughing my ass off, lol. Does that about cover the extent of your vocabulary?

          • cubtex

            Not one of the Cubs who was traded is considered a future star by several top scouts in baseball. So, genius… You would trade a top prospect instead of 4 question marks who will probably not make any significant mlb impact. In your words….go circle jerk,laughing my ass off, lol. Does that about cover the extent of your vocabulary?

  • Neil

    Brett Jackson and Ryan Flaherty have been promoted to Triple-A Iowa.

    • Tom U

      With Junior Lake on the DL, Tennessee has no true lead-off hitter and no centerfielder. 

      Since Matt Szczur will be joining Daytona, look for the possibility of Evan Crawford getting the promotion to Tennessee. Matt Cerda may join him, as Tennessee now only has David Macias to play second.

      Matt Camp may also be reinstated from his suspension.

      • Zach

        What do you think about the possibility of the Cubs bringing up 
        Jae-Hoon Ha to Tennessee?

        • Neil

          Jae-Hoon Ha should be promoted to the Smokies soon … if not already. I have not heard the corresponding roster moves. Ha was promoted to Tennessee when Jackson was placed on the DL. They wanted to leave Ha at Double-A when Jackson returned but could not guarantee Ha playing time.

        • Neil

          I am now hearing Jae-Hoon Ha has been promoted to Double-A Tennessee. Nothing official yet, but that’s what I am hearing.

          • Anthony

            that may get Rohan back to FLA

      • Anthony

        would like to see Rohan moved up, a consistent hitter who can utility as a corner IF and some OF play. As a good a time as any since a 3B and OF were moved to AAA

    • cubtex

      Looks like we will see both in a Cubs uniform within a month.

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments.