A Fitting End to the First Half – Cubs 1 Pirates 9

Game Ninety-Two – Cubs 1 Pirates 9
WP – Paul Maholm (6-9) LP – Ramon Ortiz (0-2) Save – None

The first half ended the same way as the season began for the Chicago Cubs … with a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs lost their third series to the Pirates and are 3-6 versus the Bucs this season. Q’s squad completed the seven-game trip through Washington and Pittsburgh with a 2-5 record … and with Sunday’s loss in Pittsburgh, the Cubs finished the first half a pathetic 2-12 on Sundays.

The Cubs really did not give themselves a chance to win the game. They were overly aggressive, again, with Paul Maholm and to add insult to bad baseball, Q’s team grounded into four double plays in each of the first four innings. The Cubs did not manage their first hit until the fourth and scored a grand total of one run on four hits (1-for-6 with RISP, three left on base) against Paul Maholm and the Pirates’ pen.

The Pirates southpaw continued his dominance over the Cubs impatient offense. Maholm improved to 2-0 in three starts versus the Cubs this season after allowing one run on four hits in 7 2/3 innings. Maholm threw 101 pitches, 66 for strikes.

Paul Maholm threw the ball well but not as good as the Cubs made him look.

Aramis Ramirez (0-for-3) drove in the Cubs only run and Darwin Barney (2-for-3 with a double) recorded half of the Cubs’ hits. Reed Johnson (1-for-3 with a double and a run scored) scored the Cubs only run and made two tremendous diving catches in right field.

Ramon Ortiz started the game and lasted only four-plus innings. Ortiz was serviceable in his first outing against the Nationals but horrible on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh. Ortiz had very little movement on any of his pitches and was extremely hittable. In what should have been Ortiz’s final start as a Chicago Cub, his line was six runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts in four-plus innings pitched.

Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen had a field day against Ortiz. Walker has hit safely in every games he’s played against the Chicago Cubs (18 games) and finished Sunday 3-for-4 with two doubles, a triple and a run scored. The Cubs have not changed their game plan against Walker and until they do, he will continue to feast on Cubs’ pitching.

Andrew McCutchen drove in five of the Pirates nine runs with two sacrifice flies and a three-run homer (1-for-2 officially).

Chris Carpenter and James Russell did an excellent job in relief of Ortiz. Russell retired all six batters he faced on 25 pitches and finished the trip with 5 1/3 scoreless innings (five games).

John Grabow picked a bad time to have another poor outing. Grabow is one of the players the Cubs are looking to move before the July 31 trade deadline and he could not find the strike zone again. Grabow allowed three runs on two hits (both hits allowed came off left handed hitters) with two walks, a run scoring wild pitch and two strikeouts in the bottom of the eighth. Grabow threw 33 pitches, 19 for strikes.

The Cubs are 9-30 in games started by pitchers other than Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano.

With Sunday’s loss, the Cubs dropped back to 18 games under .500 (lowest mark of the season) with a 37-55 record in the first 92 games of the 2011 campaign …

Reed Johnson led off the game and was hit by Maholm’s third pitch of the game. Starlin Castro ripped a 0-1 pitch to short and the Pirates turned the routine 6-4-3 double play. Maholm then struck out Aramis Ramirez swinging on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

The Pirates came out swinging in the first inning and jumped out to an early lead against Ramon Ortiz.

Alex Presley continued his big series (5-for-8 after the first inning single) and ripped a 3-2 pitch into right. Chase d’Arnaud lined out to Soriano in left center going away into the alley. Neil Walker extended his hitting streak against the Cubs to 18 games (hit safely in every career game against Cubs pitching) with a booming double off the top of the wall in straight away center … Walker just missed a home run.

With runners on second and third with one out, Andrew McCutchen hit a towering fly to right. Johnson caught the ball and threw to third. Presley scored on the play … 1-0 Pirates. Overbay grounded out to second to end the inning.

Paul Maholm hit Geovany Soto with one out in the second … but Marlon Byrd grounded into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play.

Ramon Ortiz had his best inning in the second. Ortiz retired the Pirates in order and threw only 12 pitches (30 in two, 20 for strikes).

For the third inning in a row, the Cubs got a free runner but it was erased on a 6-4-3 double play. Soriano reached on a throwing error by d’Arnaud to start the inning. Darwin Barney hit a 1-1 pitch to short and the Pirates turned the routine 6-4-3 double play. Ortiz struck out to end the inning.

The Pirates put the game away in the bottom of the third … with help from a leadoff walk to Paul Maholm. Ramon Ortiz fell behind Maholm 3-0, got the count back to 3-2 before throwing a low breaking ball to put the pitcher on first base.

Alex Presley hit Ortiz’s first pitch into right (6-for-9 in the series). With runners on first and second with no outs, d’Arnaud could not get the bunt down and eventually struck out. Neil Walker just missed another home run … and had to settle for another double off the top of the wall, this one to right. Maholm scored, 2-0 Pirates.

Andrew McCutchen launched a 0-1 pitch from Ortiz over the wall in center … 5-0 Pirates and the game became a laugher in the third inning.

Overbay grounded out to second base and Diaz lined out to a diving Reed Johnson (running in towards the infield) to end the inning.

Reed Johnson broke up Maholm’s no hitter with a double to left to start the fourth. Starlin Castro followed with a single to left. Johnson held at third with no outs. Aramis Ramirez hit a grounder into the hole at short. The Pirates shortstop picked the ball and threw to second but Walker dropped the ball on the exchange and could not complete the double play. Johnson scored … 5-1 Pirates.

Jeff Baker kept the Cubs double play streak alive and grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning … the Cubs fourth double play in as many innings.

Ramon Ortiz worked his final full inning in the fourth. Paul Maholm reached on a two-out single to center and advanced to third when Starlin Castro could not field a q-ball off the bat of Presley. After the error put runners on first and third with two outs, d’Arnaud lined out to third to end the inning.

Paul Maholm retired the Cubs in order for the first time in the fifth.

The Bucs tacked on and chased Ortiz from the game in the bottom of the fifth. Neil Walker led off with a triple to left center past a diving Marlon Byrd. Quade went to his pen and brought in Chris Carpenter. McCutchen hit a 0-2 pitch into center that plated Walker with the Pirates’ sixth run … and closed the book on Ramon Ortiz.

In hopefully his last game as a Chicago Cub, Ramon Ortiz allowed six runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts in four-plus innings. Ortiz threw 73 pitches, 48 for strikes.

Carpenter retired Overbay (ground out to third) and Diaz (ground out to short) to end the fifth.

The Cubs managed their third hit off Maholm in the sixth (Barney, single to right center) but Reed Johnson and Starlin Castro could not drive him in from second.

James Russell sat down the Pirates in order on 10 pitches (seven for strikes) in the bottom of the sixth … and Maholm worked around a one-out error by Harrison in the seventh.

James Russell retired the Pirates in order in the bottom of the seventh and completed the road trip with 5 1/3 scoreless innings in five games.

Darwin Barney recorded the Cubs’ fourth hit of the game with one out in the eighth … a double to left. But Tony Campana and Reed Johnson could not drive him in.

John Grabow was bad again and labored through a 33-pitch (19 strikes) bottom of the eighth. Grabow had little to no command. He walked two batters and gave up three runs on two hits (single by Lyle Overbay and a two-run double by Garrett Jones) and a wild pitch.

While many did not predict the Cubs to have a winning season, most thought the Cubs would at least be competitive … no one predicted the Cubs would play as bad as they did in the first half.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs season will resume Thursday night at Wrigley Field. Matt Garza is expected to start the opener of the three game series against the Marlins.

Quote of the Day

"Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back." - Diana Frances
Share on Fancred
  • paulcatanese

    Glad for the All Star break, it gives all of us to take a step back and relax a little and get rid of the frustration that has bugged us all. I want to say I have enjoyed the first half of the season on this site and have learned a lot of things from the posters here that are pretty astute on the game.Neil,darn good job,Tom and Bryan the same.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thanks Paul, I really appreciate it.

      • paulcatanese

        Your’e welcome

    • Tom U

      Thank you Paul, you are always a class act.

      • paulcatanese

        You are also welcome,Tom, keep the daughter playing.

  • Spoda

    We suck… not that we don’t all realize that…  DOH!

    • BosephHeyden

      What’s more, Milwaukee and St. Louis both won, so they keep their dumb little tie at the top of the NL Central.  I do like that the Reds dropped to three games under .500 and are playing at a Dusty Baker type of level,but the Cubs are still 8 games behind the fourth place team in the majors, a team that beats them constantly on top of that, so yeah…season should officially be done for the Cubs.  Well, unless you’re Jim Hendry.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      If I remember correctly, the phrase coined by Zambrano is “We stinks”.

  • Anonymous47701

    2012 Pitching Staff idea

    C.Zambrano
    C.Wilson
    R.Dempster
    M.Garza
    A.Kirk

    bullpen

    S.Marshall-setup
    A.Cashner-setup
    R.Dolis
    C.Rusin
    D.O’Day
    J.Russell
    C.Marmol-closer

    • Aaron

      At least you’re coming up with ideas…I admire that.

      That rotation’s not half bad. I especially like the CJ Wilson signing. I don’t like Zambrano in it. He’s lost too much life on his fastball. At least Dempster can still run it up to 94 mph (his last start notwithstanding). Those days appear to be long gone for Zambrano though.

      I’m also a big fan of Kirk. I liked him coming out of high school and I love the results thus far in his young pro career. The problem is, I’ve read several recent scouting reports that aren’t enthralled with him as a starter. They’re saying he sits mainly high 80’s, touching 92 mph, which is a far cry from the 95 mph he was throwing out of high school. They like him more as a reliever, but his recent no-hitter would suggest otherwise, as well as his dominance early in the season.

      As for the pen, unfortunately, I don’t agree with any of it. I like Marshall, Dolis, Russell (LOOGY role), and maybe Marmol.

      But I like Carpenter in relief more than Cashner, as Cashner got absolutely torched in relief while Carpenter and his 100 mph fastball have gotten him by just fine. Rusin also projects as a starter, and I can’t comment really on O’Day, as I haven’t followed him much recently.

      I think a great rotation next year would be:
      CJ Wilson
      Garza
      Dempster
      Cashner (if his arm can handle the demands of a starter…otherwise back to relief for him in a role I don’t think he’s suited for)
      McNutt/Samardzija (like Cashner, he’s way better suited for a starting role)/Jay Jackson/Cabrera/Kirk/(whomever finishes strong this year and shows up big time in Spring Training)

  • Skeldor

    I hate the Garza trade the more and more I watch this team play.  Such a desperation move reacting to what Milwaukee did in the off-season.  Not saying the players they gave up are going to be all-stars but still a stupid trade as they could be.

    • cubtex

      I don’t understand how trading for a 27 year old top of the rotation starter who is locked up for 3 years a desperation move?

      • Tony_Hall

        And you never will understand.  This is not the year, Garza is going to get very expensive, and by the time this team is competitive, he will be lost to FA.

        Trade him to Boston now, and get some prospects, that are hopefully better than what we gave up.

        • cubtex

          Yes. You are definately right about that. So, in other words Tony…you never want to aquire a young top of the rotation starter until you are ready to win a division? Hmmmmmm. How do you develop a staff if you don’t have the arms in the minors like a Tampa? Hmmmmm. So the Cubs traded noone from their major league roster and aquired arguably their best starter. You are right. I will never understand.

          • Tony_Hall

            1st – Garza is not a top of the rotation starter.

            4-7 – 4.26 ERA – with a 1.337 WHIP – All while moving to the easier NL.

            He is 2 pitchers – 1 is the dominant top of the rotation pitcher that shows up, is a #1 or #2 starter.  The other is the mediocre, very hitable guy, that is more like a #4 guy.  

            What good did it do to acquire Garza for this year?  Didn’t make the playoffs, not even close.  

            We would have more arms and bats in the minors if we didn’t keep trading them away.  

            And saying Garza is our best starter isn’t saying much.  By the time the Cubs are competitive again, 2013/2014, Garza will be in Boston or NY for way more money then he is worth, and Hak Ju Lee will be a starting SS in the majors.

            I wouldn’t add a pitcher in arbitration years, to a team, that had near zero chance of being competitive.  JH has made this team so bad, that it is going to take years, to get the organization turned around.  Trading away more prospects to get a pitcher who is about to get very expensive, and has lots of innings on his arm just doesn’t make sense.  I have also changed my mind on Marmol, trade him while he has value too.

          • cubtex

            You win with starting pitching. Look at the Giants starting 8 as an example. Hak Ju Lee is a long way from the majors and needs a lot of developing still to call him a major league shortstop yet. He has no power, makes a lot of errors and his stolen base success rate is not good. Can he get better? Of course, but he is by far a sure thing. Other teams are seeing the value in Garza as the Red Sox are making a pitch for him. To me…the Cubs git him cheap. Archer has command issues and people in baseball are now saying he will be a bullpen guy. Chirinos was relaceable,Guyer was replaceable and Lee is in high A ball. The Cubs got a 27 year old TOP OF THE ROTATION starter who is signed thru 2013. How many of those type of pitchers are around? Go ahead….list them. Greinke was a rental fir the Brewers. If the Cubs aquired him…I would agree with what you are saying. Whenever you can add pitching…you do it! It is not when this or that…you add whenever available and you can aquire. The Cubs need to build a starting staff moving forward. Right now, Garza is the only young proven starter the have. If they never aquired him….they would be in much worse shape than they are now….and now is brutal!

          • Tony_Hall

            Matt Garza is no where near Lincecum or Cain, so no comparisons to the Giants, please

            Hak Ju Lee is 2 years from the majors (approx) and may never make it, that is the risk with prospects, and why you need lots of them.

            The Red Sox and Yankees are interested in Garza, because salary doesn’t matter with them.  These are also the teams that wanted Lackey and Burnett.  How’s that working for them?

            Garza is not a Top of the Rotation (ACE).  He is #2, #3 on a good team.  Why won’t you just admit that.  Garza usually ranks in the 40-50 range when ranking pitchers for fantasy (past years and present) and that is why he is  #2 or #3 pitcher.  

            Of course, numbers like these – 4-7 – 4.26 ERA – with a 1.337 WHIP, makes you wonder about this, so-called ACE.  Without Garza the Cubs would still be at the bottom of their division, and with him they are looking like a team that will need a few years to get back to competitive.  Of course that will be about the time that Garza becomes a FA, and sign with the Red Sox or Yankees, who will be happy to overpay for his services.

          • cubtex

            How did you take what I said about the Giants meaning I was comparing Garza to Lincecum and Cain?
            Secondly, Top of the rotation starter does not mean he has to be a #1. So is someone like a Zach Greinke who is 7-3 with a 5.45 ERA having a better first half than Garza. You and I both know that Garza should have 7 wins right now at least. The bullpen blew a couple and he lost a complete game 1-0 game.
            So Garza is a top 40-50 range pitcher…How many of those guys are available to trade for at the reasonable salary Garza makes. Greinke is at 13.5 mil a year this year and next.
            I guess we will just always agree to disagree on this trade…but I will trade away prospects anytime to aquire young quality proven starters.
            Look at the Pirates this year. They are right in the thick of it at the all star break. Why? Kevin Correira is 11-7 (he won 10 games all of last year) Charlie Morton has won 7 games( all of 2 wins in 2010) and Jeff Karstens has won 7(won 3 games last year) It is about starting pitching. The Pirates lineup is extremely average at best. If the Cubs can add to Garza with lets say a CJ Wilson, Dempster comes back and wins 15 next year, Cashner gets completely healthy and is a dominant starter…it is possible they could compete next year. The starting 8 is not as crucial as the starting rotation. There are 4 teams still in it in the NL Central. It is not like they are in the AL East. This is not a 3 year fix. Free agency, some trades and some surprises and it is possible. My cup is half full!

          • Tony_Hall

            Your cup is half full of Cubbie blue kool-aid, and that’s not a bad thing, but you see this getting fixed a lot faster and easier than I do.

            FA, some trades and some surprises…sounds like the 3 moves JH said this team needed to make, to be competitive this year.

            That is where you miss on why people don’t like the Garza trade.  JH did this trade, as a desperation move, to win THIS YEAR.  He thought they would win in 2011.   The man is clueless, and with every move, puts this team farther from a WS, rather than closer.

            Also, Garza will be a FA in just over 2 years.  He is not actually signed through 2013, he is controlled.  If JH was smart, he would sign him to a club friendly contract, that buys out his next 2 arb years, and his first year of FA.  This would be smart from a Cubs perspective, and would also make him more tradeable, with payroll certainty, and at less than his projected arbitration numbers.  No pitcher can turn down a contract like this, because, even they don’t know when their arm or shoulder will need surgery, only that is more likely to be done, than not.

          • cubtex

            I believe Garza will not be a free agent till 2014.

          • Tony_Hall

            We might be saying the same thing, Garza will be a FA after the 2013 season.  

            Here is his Cot’s page – showing 3.149 years of service add in 2011, 2012, 2013, will put him at 6.149 and a FA.  We have him for 2 more years.  

            Matt Garza rhp1 year/$5.95M (2011)1 year/$5.95M (2011)signed by Chicago Cubs 1/18/11 (avoided arbitration)1 year/$3.35M (2010)re-signed by Tampa Bay 1/19/10 (avoided arbitration)
            acquired by Chicago Cubs in trade from Tampa Bay 1/7/111 year/$0.4333M (2009)renewed by Tampa Bay 2/25/09
            award bonuses: $10,000 for All Star, $20,000 for Gold Glove1 year/$0.4046M (2008)re-signed by Tampa Bay 2/15/081 year (2007)re-signed by Minnesota 3/07
            acquired by Tampa Bay in trade from Minnesota 11/28/071 year (2006)contract purchased by Minnesota 8/06drafted by Minnesota 2005 (1-25) (Fresno State)$1.35M signing bonusagent: CAA Sports (Nez Balelo)ML service: 3.149

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Matt Szczur is now playing centerfield for Team USA in the Futures Game on
    ESPN2

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Matt Szczur grounded out to third in his first at bat in the Futures Game. World Team leads Team USA 4-3 after 7

  • Ripsnorter1

    I, too, love this site and am thankful for all the very fine work that Neil, Tom, Aaron, and Bryan do to make this the best Cubs’ site on the Internet. Thank you so very much. 

    • Tom U

      Thank you, Rip.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thanks Rip

  • diehardcubfan

    I want to address the posting of a 9-30 record of the Cubs if Dempster, Big Z or Garza do not start from an earlier blog.  The issue to me here is not so much the fact Wells and Cashner got injured, even though Wells has been horrible since coming back.

    To me the issue is more that the Cubs had no depth of starting pitching at Iowa outside of aging veterans.  That underlines the issue that Tom U addressed a while back about what the Cubs use Iowa for.

    If a Cashner or Wells would have gone down with the Yankees, Red Sox or Cardinals someone from the farm system would have stepped and plugged the gap.  The Cubs had no one except for Coleman and he obviously was not ready.  This continues to highlight the pitfalls in the Cubs organization of a lack of depth in the minor league system. 

    Injuries are a part of baseball and good teams overcome them and they draw reserves from their farm system to plug the holes, not get ML retreads that have seen better days. 

    That is what even frustrates me more about how the ML club has been handled while allow the Iowa team to turn into a mess. 

    If the Cubs hope to even contend in the future they have to build a solid foundation at Iowa and have a conveyor system in place to make sure a steady stream of ML ready talent is in the wings should the ML players on the Cubs roster get injured. 

    This bothers me more than anything else JH has done and that is squarely on his shoulders. 

    • Ripsnorter1

      You are SOOOOOOO correct. You must–you must have 7 or 8 starters to get through a season. Mr. Jim Clueless junked Gorzelanny, a capable 5th starter, for nothing but a handful of trash. Then Cashner and Wells go down, and we have a wounded Coleman (wart on pitching hand) and Doug “I never was any good” Davis and Ramon Ortiz (do you realize he hasn’t had an ERA lower than 5.14 since 2004? That only two years since 1999 has his ERA been lower than 5.14?). 

      This, my friends, is Clueless management.

      • cubs1967

        gorzelanny was traded becuz ricketts is a cheap ass bastard……..that one is not on JH.  tommy boy needs to put on his big boy pants if he wants to own a MLB team.

        • erniesarmy

          Tommy boy needs to get out of MLB period! They guy knows zilch about running a baseball team.

          Until he’s gone this franchise has no chance! Zero! Zilch! Nada!

        • cubtex

          Those 2 wins Gorzo has this year would sure help :)

          • Brp921

            Gorzo has pitched well this year. He has a better ERA than most of the Cub starters. You can’t go by wins and losses. The Cubs would have been a better team this year if they would have kept him.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Tom and probably Aaron will crucify me, but I’m going to say it: OUR MINOR LEAGUE SYSTEM IS A MESS. We have zero ML ready players in our system. 

      • Tom U

        Not at all, Rip. The Cubs have a lot of talent at the minor league level, in just seems that the objectives of the farm operation seems to be at odds with the objectives of the management operation. 

        I’m actually working on a feature story addressing this issue. The false sense that the Cubs were “3 or 4 moves away” from contending lead them down the path to making poor decisions, one of which was stocking Triple-A with fringe players.

        I don’t like to blow my own horn, but some of the criticism I made prior to the season of  certain moves would have made both the parent club and Iowa stronger. 

        I pointed out in the Garza trade ( I would have never made the trade, but that’s another story) that the Cubs didn’t receive equitable value in the trade. In order to receive equitable value, first Brandon Guyer would have had to have been pulled off the table. Two of your top five prospects should have been enough. Next, Tampa would have had to include higher level prospects. I suggested IF-OF Elliot Johnson and LHP Alexander Torres. THAT would have been an equitable deal.

        Another was that I was a big advocate of Marwin Gonzalez starting the year in Triple-A. The way Gonzalez is hitting now, he would have been called up long before Tony Campana or Luis Montanez, and would have contributed either in the infield or outfield.

        The Cubs also rolled the dice and came up craps on Carlos Silva, Braden Looper, and Todd Wellemeyer. The organization went all-in on Trey McNutt being ready this season, and at least one of these veterans was supposed to “keep the spot warm” until he was. They didn’t count on injuries that cost them with Jay Jackson, McNutt, and Robert Whitenack. 

        Had the organization had the modest goal of being competitive this season, and building for the future, the opening day roster may have looked like this:

        1B – Carlos Pena
        2B – Darwin Barney, Jeff Baker
        SS – Starlin Castro
        3B – Aramis Ramirez, Scott Moore
        C- Geovanny Soto, Koyie Hill, Max Ramirez
        LF – Alfonzo Soriano
        CF – Marlon Byrd, Reed Johnson
        RF – Koske Fukudome
        SP- Ryan Dempster
              Carlos Zambrano
               Matt Garza
               Randy Wells
              Carlos Silva
        RP – John Grabow
               James Russell
               Scott Maine
               Sean Marshall
               Marcos Mateo
               Kerry Wood
               Carlos Marnol

        Iowa would have looked like this:

        1B – Bryan LaHair
        2B – Blake DeWitt
        SS – Marwin Gonzalez
        3B – Marquez Smith
        LF – Brandon Guyer
        CF – Elliot Johnson
        RF – Tyler Colvin
        C – Welington Castillo
        SP – Andrew Cashner
               Casey Coleman
               Alexander Torres
               Thomas Diamond
               Austin Bibens-Dirx
        RP – JR Mathes
               John Gaub
               Robert Coello
               Marco Carrillo
               Chris Carpenter

        a much deeper talent base. When some of this talent faltered, there would have been no hesitation to promote players. Now, because you have to keep up the pretense of contending, you had to go with “players who’s names people know” and development has been delayed.

        I hope you don’t believe that is crucifying, you always have thoughtful and insightful posts.

        Now that I’ve finished what I have to say, in a role reversal, I expect Aaron’s post to be a quarter of an inch long. :-D

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

          I actually totally agree with you on this break down and what the problem with Triple A is as we have talked about before. I was even of the camp that Gonzalez should have started at Triple A but did not know enough about the talent level at the winter league he dominated to know for certain.
          I have noticed lately that the Cubs are getting rid of some of the garbage at Triple A. We have both discussed at length what players need to be there now to build for the end of this year and beyond.

           I agree with Rip as well though. Through injury and bad promotions, under performance, and some moves that make you scratch you head our minors seems to be digressed in pitching to the point that a mess is an understatement.

        • Ripsnorter1

          AHHHHHH! I’ve been crucified!!! LOL 

          Nah, I am kidding you. I agree with you that the CLueless plan has hurt both the ML team and our MiL teams.
          Still I don’t think we have any ML ready talent to promote right now. I think we’ve proved that our MiL pitching talent isn’t ready. The Cubs obviously do not believe in Marquez Smith at 3B or any OFs are ready. They don’t believe in Wellington Castillo at this point, either. K.Hill is their man. So I think our MiL systems is in a shambles right now. And I might add, I don’t believe in Hayden Simpson, either.

          Aaron is incapable of a 1/4″ post. He is far too passionate about making the Cubs better to silently and passively sit in near silence.

          • Tom U

            I said this in the past, despite their numbers, Brett Jackson and DJ LeMahieu are ready. Clearing roster spots so they can play every day is the problem. 

          • Ripsnorter1

            DJ LeMahieu has hit exactly 4 HR in his entire MiL career. What position would you have him play? He hasn’t the range for SS. His footwork around 2B and his work turning the double play is not at a ML level right now. He has not the power to play 3B. Still he has a nice swing with excellent bat speed. The Cubs would have to bench Barney to play him, and Barney is a better fielder and maybe a better hitter. You have two of the same players here.

            Wilkins continues to draft middle infielders with no power and not much speed. And that’s his favorite thing to draft. He always goes for this type of player. The Cubs don’t have much pop in the minors, and it is what is killing us in the majors right now: NO POWER.

            Brett Jackson: at age 22, he has real potential. Not sure he’s ready at .265 in AAA Iowa. I’d have to see him hit to tell you for sure. Brad Synder hit .378 in AAA Iowa and he couldn’t hit .180 in ML Baseball.

          • cubtex

            I agree LeMahieu has a second basemans bat right now. That doesn’t mean that one day he can’t play there. And the kid Baez they just drafted has very good pop for a middle infielder.

          • Tom U

            As I said yesterday, LeMahieu has the ability to be a future batting champ, and finding a place for him may take some “thinking outside of the box”. 

            In many ways, LeMahieu reminds of ex-Cub batting champ Bill Buckner. Like Buckner, he’s not a bad athlete, but seems to be without a position. Another similarity is that while Buckner was a consistent hitter, he didn’t have much power. 

            At worst, LeMahieu  may end up like another power challenged ex-Cub batting champ, Bill Mueller.  

          • Tom U

            I posted this over a week ago, but Jackson’s numbers at Tennessee have more to do with his situation than his performance. Since LeMahieu and Gonzalez were promoted, Tennessee has not found someone who can hit behind Jackson. They’ve tried five different players, and have had no success. They’ve even tried moving Jackson to the three hole, but no one was successful leading off. Jackson has had less of an opportunity to see good pitches. 

            And since James Adduci went on the DL and Gonzalez was promoted, Jackson is the only outfielder in Tennessee with any speed. Jackson is running on fumes, while the organization seems reluctant to try defensively challenged IF Junior Lake in the outfield, or call up Jae-Hoon Ha or Evan Crawford.  

          • Aaron

            right you are my friend

          • cubtex

            Aaaawwww. That’s cute

        • Aaron

          I don’t know Tom…I agree with you in principle, but I flat out disagreed with the moves prior to Spring Training even starting. I wholeheartedly disagreed with the Garza trade (which I won’t even get into right now), the Pena and Johnson signings, and the Hill and Baker re-signings. Furthermore, I completely disagreed with the Looper, Wellemeyer, and Ojeda signings, as I thought they prevented actual prospects from getting looks in Spring Training.

          I do agree they should have demoted DeWitt…and I agree with Moore being on the team, essentially replacing Baker, but I wanted Camp (who was absolutely dreadful at Iowa to start the year mind you, and was demoted to AA recently, then suspended….boy was I wrong on that one….in theory, I thought he was the best candidate to fill in at a multitude of different positions, as he spent time at 2B, SS, 3B, LF, CF, and RF in the minors, and would be a great sub…but NOT a good regular)

          Like you, I also wanted either Clevenger, Castillo, or Ramirez at catcher in place of Hill. I especially was fond of Clevenger, because he was versatile enough to play corner IF as well. Even at that time, I thought the Cubs should trade Soto (still do), and go with 2 of those guys.

          I also thought the Cubs shouldn’t waste their time with the Fukudome experiment and just let Colvin play.

          • Brp921

            Aaron, I agree with you on the Garza trade. The Cubs gave up to much to get him. I like Pena’s defence and he has hit for more power than I thought, but I think the money would have been better spent in other areas (Gorzelanny for instance). I disagree though about Reed Johnson. Johnson always hustles, has a great attitude, plays great defence and hits pretty well and can play a part time roll very well. He is a great example for the young players on how to conduct themselves on a major league level. When you have Alfonzo Soriano in the outfield dogging it everyday and Ramirez not hustling on the bases setting examples for the kids, then I think it is very important to have a guy like Reed Johnson around,

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

            If I remember correctly the main place we disagreed this spring on final roster was on Fukudome.I thought that Fukudome needed to be on this team just because he was/is the only guy on this team that can work a count and his approach was needed in our line up. My reasoning stated at the time was that until Jackson proved he could lead off at the major league level Fukudome was our best option there. I still think that is the correct way to play it out of spring.

            We both thought that Camp deserved a chance to be the Tony Campana role and man did I get that one wrong as well. He was something we really needed with his speed and the ability to play off over the place. Too bad he had everything you need to but doesn’t seem to have the ability to work at being on his game enough to stay on a roster.

            I never had an opinion on our signings last year because I never really understood what we were trying to do with Baker and Hill. I still see Baker and DeWitt as pretty much the same and having them both on the bench doesn’t make much sense. But DeWitt really did not earn his roster spot this spring. Barney flat beat him out for 2nd base job and Baker had a decent spring. I thought that DeWitt should have been moved to the minor league camp just to get his head strait.

            And then there was Colvin. This debate is going to rage and rage because half of us guys that are actual baseball guys (not the beer swilling bleacher bums that love his power and his look) think he is a 4th OF on a good team. The other half think he is a going to be a good player. My biggest gripe with playing Colvin all the time was that he took our best OB guy out of the lineup. Now I was not in favor of the way he was handled at all this year but he also did not force any type of change with his play. I am glad that he is getting a chance to work on his approach at Triple A. Lets just hope that he can continue to improve because there has been no doubts about the kids work ethic just his ceiling as a player.

            I do understand why Ojeda and Johnson were brought in. They were brought in to challenge our young guys to bring it this spring. Ojeda pushed Barney to improve and earn his spot. So he should have been cut at the end of spring.

             Now Johnson is where the debate is going to get dicey. He was brought in for the same reason as Ojeda but he also showed he had a little left in the tank. So he became a valuable trade piece for us at this point. Not saying we are going to get a ton for him but I still think a Baker/Johnson trade to Boston could be a good idea. There has been a lot of chatter about the Cubs looking at Lars Anderson who has fallen off from his top prospect status. If we can work out a deal there with Baker and Johnson as the center piece then having him here worked.

            And now to the idea that cubstex and I make a good couple. He seems a little too butch for me. I like my phillies a little more feminine. But I bet the baseball we would watch would be interesting. Just like catching a game at some point with most of the guys here would be a good debate at the principles of making a winning ball club. We all agree on a lot it seems and want the cubs to win. We just disagree on how to get there at times. I think I need to remember that as much as the next guy.

            At some point Aaron we need to catch a game together (hopefully at Peoria I have fallen in love with that place). I’ll buy you a beer and we will just talk baseball. I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening.

        • Dorasaga

          Tom, indeed, this Cub Think of filling Iowa and sub-positions at the Major level with “players whose names people know” is what the media failed to address enough.

          When I saw Hak-ju Lee played on Chase Field (Futures Game) and raised my drink, I know that Jim Hendry is only developing the farm system in order to find those “3 or 4 moves away” from contending. (We don’t really need to know that Lee at age 20 hits almost .400 OBP for A+ in the Rays system. Sure, he’ll end up in conscription and all hell loose.)

          I’m simply comparing Iowa and Tennessee. The stats are telling (minorleaguebaseball.com). The AA team (TEN) is leading the league in batting, which is what the Cubs really need, while AAA (IOW) is dropping to the lower half. Their win% show as well, with TEN winning the first half without much challenge while Iowa is struggling.

          Washed-up veterans are all over Iowa in order to serve the Cubs in need. I don’t even know what this management thought they need. The Cubs need to move prospects up to Iowa and the Cubs in a lost season, play them, and see what they got, as soon as possible.

          We hope that Fukudome be traded, Reed Johnson be released (with a bunch of other non-sense signees that blocks development), then what? Moving LaHair to Right, is that right? or and Colvin subs for both RF and 1B? Didn’t Luis Montanez played that roulette? Why not start Clevenger at First as well (Koyie Hill is the backup backstop, no doubt). Then Pena needs to be moved.

          This is a big mess. The Cubs is in a position to fail when half of their players play out of position while the other half cannot play on a regular basis.

  • Henry

    I do not post much but I read the the updates everyday!  I recommend chicagocubsonline to every cubs fan I know! Neil you do a great job!

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you Henry

  • Ripsnorter1

    Let’s see…. I predicted a 70-92 season from our esteemed team. 

    Currently the Cubs are 37-55 and on a pace to finish 65-97. Hey, I ain’t far off. And who knows? Even Matt Garza can win those 8 games I predicted he’d win, and we’d have a chance at 70 wins after all. Garza, for those most loyal Cubs’ fans, is currently 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA. He’s going to have to hurry to win those 17-20 games some on this forum predicted. (After all, this is the NL, and we all know the AL is sooooooo much tougher, and it is worth 3-5 wins and a full point lower on the ERA just to swap leagues. LOL). Maybe Z will “unquit” the team, and pitch like he did the second half of 2010. Maybe Dumpster will return to being Dempster. Maybe Wells will sober up and pitch like he can. One thing is for sure: I can’t gripe too much at Lopez. The man has done a job for us. But the bullpen has been alright. Marmol leads the league in blown saves, but he really hasn’t pitched all that badly. Marshall has been Marshall. Russell, out of the pen, has been simply great. Wood–if the game is not on the line–has been good. Just don’t trust him in any pressure situation. Samardzija has been a pleasant surprise. Carpenter has been okay. The biggest stinker in the ‘pen is …. John Grabow. And that is no suprise at all. Just another Jim Clueless F.A. signing proving that Jim Clueless is….clueless.

    • BosephHeyden

      Carpenter is one of those guys I think needs to go back to the minors and be kept there for however long he needs to gain control of at least two of his pitches (preferably with the fastball being prioritized).  He needs a little more time to “cook” and then I think he’ll be a potential All-Star caliber closer/primary setup guy.  Right now, though season is very well lost, he isn’t with the correct coaching staff to help him develop control.

      And I agree with Neil:  this should be Ramon Ortiz’s last stint with the Cubs.  All season, there’s been this whole “Oh, we don’t have a backup starter, so we’ll try James Russell as a starter and bring up these washed up vets” vibe.  Well, they do have a guy they could try out at starter who, like you mentioned, is a pleasant surprise, is a starter by trade, and could very well start earning his keep moreso than he is now by starting:  Jeff Samardzija.  I don’t think he’ll do good his first start or two, but I think, if he gets stretched enough, he could be developed into the fourth starter that he should have been developed as since they inexplicably brought him up a year into his being drafted and kept him in the bullpen.

      Of course, all this makes too much sense and I fully expect them to use Roster Spot #49 to coax Mark Mulder out of the ESPN booth to give it another go.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I don’t believe in Riggins. Rothschild was much better. This guy has to take some of the blame for all the pitching injuries in 2011. And frankly, until proven otherwise, I think he is as incompetent as MIKE QUADE. 

        And folks, that’s VERY incompetent.

        • Anonymous47701

          I think they should try Dennis Llewallyn and see what happens.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I agree with Neil when he says he expects Aram back next year.

    I agree with Neil when he says Quade will be back next year.
    I agree with Neil when he says that Jim Clueless will be back next year. 

    • diehardcubfan

      Yes, I will have to agree

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Matt Szczur 0-for-1 for Team USA in Futures Game. Team USA beat World Team 6-4. Szczur made three plays in the outfield, showed a good quick first step in the outfield. Szczur grounded out to third and nearly beat the throw to first … a lot of speed.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Do ya’ll realize that the last LH hitting difference maker that the Cubs developed in the minor league system was–are you ready for this?–Rafael Palmeiro? That was 30 years ago, and they dealt him away for nothing much. 

    That’s the Cubs.

    Hey, let’s have a batting champion–wins two batting titles in a row–and deal him away for used up Bobby Murcer, and a parttime utility man Steve Ontiveras–both were BUSTS after the first year.

    That’s the Cubs. LOUSY GM’s since the 1945 season.

    • Aaron

      Rip,

      I agree with you about the terrible track record of the Cubs developing any decent prospects, especially lefty hitters….but let’s not have revisionist history here….Palmeiro was seen as the equivalent of Mark Grace, but with Grace the slightly better hitter (both had the same power potential at that time). The problem was, he wasn’t seen as having enough power to be an OF, so the Cubs made the decision to include him in the trade with the Rangers.

      Palmeiro didn’t even show a good amount of power until his third year with the Rangers when at 26 years old, he hit 26 hr, 88 RBI. It was about this time when he reportedly started juicing, and went all-out the next few years  when he started hanging with Canseco. 

      But again, I agree with you in principle on everything….just needed to refresh your memory on Palmeiro

      • Ripsnorter1

        Aaron:

        Don’t miss my major premise: The Cubs haven’t developed a Left handed hitting difference maker in 30 years. 
        You know, that’s a long time to go without developing a left handed bat that can hit. 

    • Brp921

      If I rember right Madlock was dealt because the Cubs didn’t want to pay him, but it ended up they had to pay Mercer even more.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Yeah. You’re memory is good. And the Cubs didn’t want to pay Sutter, so they dealt him away to our rivals the Cards. Lee Smith, in like manner, was given away for a handful of garbage. Dennis Eckersley was thrown away like Gorzelanny. Yada.Yada.Yada. 

        • Brp921

          Rip, I beleive Eckersly was offered a spot in the bullpen with the Cubs and fought it, since he had always been a starter. Sometimes a guy has to think he is on his way out of baseball before he’s willing to be flexable. Also I had heard Eck had a problem with alcohol at that time. If thats true then the trade to Oakland for next to nothing (was it Davy Lopes at the end of his career?) might have shook him up enough to straighten out his act a little bit.
           
          Not that it’s a fair comparison, but I think of Carlos Silva insisting he’s a major league guy who’s to good for triple A ball, until he’s released, and only then agrees to a minor league contract.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Let’s not forget that Brett Jackson is fanning once every 3 AB in AA right now. I tell you, he’s not ready for the ML curveballs and cutters. He is a nice prospect, but he’ll need some seasoning still, imo. 

  • Ripsnorter1

    Funko: in 258 AB, he has 3 HR and 12 RBI
    Montanez: in 46 AB, he had 1 HR and 9 RBI–on a pace to rack up nearly 100 RBI in 550 AB. 

    • Aaron

      Again, that’s why I just don’t understand why the Cubs are committed to throwing yet another prime opportunity down the toilet to develop their own talent and have more upward movement in their system. It just doesn’t make any sense to keep the likes of Fukudome, Pena, Hill, Johnson, Baker, etc. on the roster when they’re in the last year or only year of their contracts, and over 30 years old, and simply don’t factor even remotely into the future of the team.

      And let me be VERY clear. I do NOT believe the suggestions I’ve made with guys like Clevenger, Castillo, B. Jackson, Colvin, LeMahieu, etc. coming up and replacing these veterans will necessarily be better than what they already have, but they certainly couldn’t do any worse. The benefit a team receives by making a White Flag type of move is that they will quickly see players separating themselves from the rest of the pack. They’ll see who really grabs hold of a position, who needs more seasoning, and who might never be a solid contributor at the MLB level. It helps in planning via trade, free agency, and draft…..NONE of which the Cubs have been good at recently.

      • The Maven

        Aaron, the reason is that the Cubs do a very poor job in promoting their “rising stars” to their fan base. 

        Because the beer-swilling Rebecca Black-like fans (party, party, party, party…fun, fun, fun,fun) don’t know Jackson, LeMahieu, Gonzalez, Flaherty, etc., they aren’t interested in their development. They would much rather have players they know, like Pena, Baker, Johnson, etc. Unfortunately, these type of fans pay most of the bills, and ownership knows that. 

        Unless there is a significant downturn at the gate, don’t expect many changes.

        • erniesarmy

          Unfortunately, these type of fans pay most of the bills, and ownership knows that. Unless there is a significant downturn at the gate, don’t expect many changes.
          ————————–
          Maven is exactly right, and that is why, with Ricketts as owner, this team goes nowhere. Even if – and that’s a big if – gate receipts plummeted, this guy simply doesn’t know enough about the game to do what needs to be done. He’s a fan, period, and that’s all he is. He has about as much business as I do running a professional baseball team. 

          He’d going running to Hendry yelling, “Jim, Jim, people aren’t coming to the ballpark anymore, what do I do? Oh, please, Jim, help me!”

          As Aaron has indicated numerous times, this franchise has no plan, and that dereliction falls right in the lap of Mr. Ricketts.

  • Tony_Hall

    Maybe they will start to move out some guys.  This would be a good move, trading Soto, dumping Hill and going with Castillo and Clevenger for the rest of the year.  Something they didn’t do last year when Soto was injured, actually give playing time to your next catchers.

    From the Tribune

    “Vote for Clevenger: Welington Castillo appears to be next in line behind Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, but don’t overlook Steve Clevenger, a 25-year-old catcher at Double-A Tennessee. A left-handed hitter, he’s batted .319 with seven homers in 74 games this season (including 14 at Triple-A Iowa), and had only six more strikeouts than walks.
    “I think he could play in the big leagues now,” said Tennessee manager Brian Harper, who served as a coach on the U.S. team in the Futures Game.Harper, a catcher-outfielder who played in the World Series for the Cardinals and Twins, says Clevenger is “one of the best receivers I’ve seen.” He was drafted as an infielder but this is the fifth season he’s caught. Harper believes Clevenger’s profile has risen this season mostly because he has a chance to be a No. 1 catcher, which he didn’t have playing alongside Castillo and Robinson Chirinos in previous seasons.With Castillo and Clevenger in the system, the Cubs could make Soto available in talks before the July 31 trade deadline. The Giants and Brewers are among the teams believed to have an interest in him.”

  • Tony_Hall

    I know it is “only” High A, but Hak Jue Lee is going to be in the majors playing for the Rays, when Garza is off to a big contract with the Yankees or Red Sox.

    “Best positional depth: The Rays were represented by two future shortstops — former first overall pick Beckham and Hak-Ju Lee, who was acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade. Beckham is hitting .277 in Double A; Lee is leading the high-A Florida State League with a .330 average.”