Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/09/11

The Cubs Minor League System Quarterly Report

We are now at the three-quarter mark of the minor league season. At this point a system philosophy seemed to have emerged. However, the disconnect between the minors and the Major League front office appears to be stronger than ever; the in-season revolving door remains, as does the policy of not placing prospects in a position to succeed at the Major League level.

While the Cub affiliates produced twenty-three All-Stars this season, only seven of them were promoted while two (D.J. LeMahieu, Marco Carrillo) were technically demoted. The 40-man roster and the rosters of Triple-A Iowa and Double-A Tennessee are in need of an overhaul, as talent is starting to back up in High Class-A Daytona, Class-A Peoria, Short Season-A Boise, Rookie AZL Cubs, and the Dominican Summer League.

Here’s an overview as to what may be the organization’s direction, as well as how the affiliates have performed for this quarter.

Note: All statistics are current as of August 6, 2011

Organizational Philosophy
For those of you who are fans of dominant starting pitching and a power-hitting offense, please sit down. I don’t want to be responsible for anyone’s health.

From a pitching perspective, the organization has seemed to veer away from the classic hard throwing starters, although some still exist in Trey McNutt, Robert Whitenack, Dae-Eun Rhee, and Matt Loosen. Instead, they appear to be focused more on control pitching and the “quality start”, as hurlers like Casey Coleman, Chris Rusin, Nick Struck, Zach Rosscup, and Eric Jokisch would illustrate. Relief pitching has also changed, with dominant closers no longer part of the landscape. In their place is a “come at you in waves” philosophy, with “squads” of three pitchers at the ready for each game. In some instances there is no clear cut closer, although Chris Carpenter, Frank Batista, Larry Suarez and Francisco Turbi appear to have those qualities.

While the system currently has nine players listed in their respective league’s top ten in home runs, including league leaders in Bryan LaHair and Paul Hoilman, a closer look at the numbers may reveal something else. LaHair and Hoilman, along with Rebel Ridling, Matt Spencer, Justin Bour, and Richard Jones, are all considered somewhat “over-aged” for their levels, and may be taking advantage of younger pitchers with their experience. The focus seems to be more on contact hitting, with 14 players in the organization finding themselves in the top 20 in batting, including seven in the top ten at their particular level. Speed is also the key, as eight players in the system are in the top ten in stolen bases. This doesn’t include Junior Lake, who’s combined 30 steals leads the organization; nor does it include Matt Szczur or Zeke DeVoss, who have a combined 21 and 10 steals respectively.

Defensively, the emphasis is on versatility over playing a set position. This is a key to the team’s offensive future. Moving players in and out of the line-up and using the entire roster has created match-up problems for the opposition, and allowed clubs to take advantage of their improved athleticism.

In short, if the Chicago Cubs decide to let their talent develop from within the organization, the team you see will bear little resemblance to your older brother’s Cubs, much less your father’s or grandfather’s Cubs.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs
The Iowa Cubs posted a 15-20 quarter, as it saw many roster changes. Iowa demoted Esmailin Caridad, Jeff Stevens, Ty Wright, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, and Marco Carrillo; they sold the contract of Bobby Scales while releasing Fernando Perez and Augie Ojeda. This is a turnover of one third of their roster, and as a consequence, their play has suffered.

The change hasn’t seemed to effect Bryan LaHair, as he remains the Pacific Coast League’s leader in home runs with 29, while placing seventh in both batting and RBI with a .333 average and 80 driven in. Another holdover, C Welington Castillo, has put up 15 homers and 35 RBI while batting .315. However, some questions about his catching ability have surfaced again, as the team’s ERA has lowered by 1.65 since Castillo was recently placed on the disabled list.

The new additions to the offense have had mixed results. Marwin Gonzalez began blistering hot, and has maintained to hit .316; while D.J. LeMahieu hit over.300 for most of the time since arriving from the parent club, he has recently tailed off to a .278 average. Brett Jackson also started hot before dropping off to back to hot again. Ryan Flaherty is struggling to hit .200. However, the team has seemed to get a collective lift from the defense these players provide, with several pitchers appearing more relaxed on the mound.

Starting pitching has also received a boost, as Nick Struck and Chris Rusin have recorded some decent numbers. Struck is 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA in the hitter-friendly PCL, while Rusin has a 3.47 ERA. However, Rusin’s playing time has been cut into as the organization brought in veteran right-hander Dave Bush, who has been underwhelming with a 10.97 ERA in 10.2 innings. Casey Coleman has become more consistent, going 3-1 with a 4.00 ERA over the past quarter. Alberto Cabrera is 0-1 over the quarter, with an ERA of 2.89 while averaging a little over five innings per start. Jay Jackson has struggled mightily, seeming unable to hold a lead in any of his contests. Jackson is 3-4 with a 5.18 ERA since June 20.

Relief pitching has been a mess. Since July 1, John Gaub, Scott Maine, Blake Parker, Justin Berg, and Chris Carpenter have given up 25 earned runs for a 4.30 ERA while recording only five saves.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies
After running roughshod over the Southern League for the first half of the season, promotions and uneven play by some newcomers have made the Smokies less of a juggernaut, although they are recently showing signs of improvement. Upon losing more than a one third of their roster in D.J. LeMahieu, Chris Carpenter, Marwin Gonzalez, Nick Struck, Chris Rusin, Ryan Flaherty, Brett Jackson and recently Steve Clevenger, Tennessee stumbled to a 16-19 record this quarter.

To replace those players, the organization has assigned mainly a group of minor league veterans, including outfielders Ty Wright and James Adduci, infielders Matt Camp and David Macias, catcher Luis Flores, and pitchers Marco Carrillo, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Esmailin Caridad, and Jeff Stevens. Add to that some young prospects in shortstop Junior Lake, outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha, and pitchers Dallas Beeler, Brent Ebinger, and Oswaldo Martinez, Tennessee was bound to have some growing pains.

One holdover whose progress is encouraging is Josh Vitters. While his .278 average can be considered only modest, Vitters has hit .297 over his last ten games and, more importantly, demonstrated some leadership. Vitters has come up big in several games, including his extra inning game-winning homer on July 26. Rebel Ridling has remained consistent despite the changes, hitting .290 with 14 home runs and 57 RBI. Recently promoted Matt Spencer had slipped to .258, but remains the RBI leader with 63 runs driven in. However, the new pieces of the offense have struggled to fit in, as Lake has hit only .215 while continuing his poor defense, committing 15 errors since his call-up. Ha has recently raised his batting average to .269, with two homers and 15 RBI. Both Lake and Ha have failed to distinguish themselves as leadoff hitters, and had to be dropped in the batting order.

Tennessee’s rotation is still trying to find itself, as Trey McNutt continues to suffer injuries, and Beeler is currently on the disabled list. McNutt has not been consistent, with flashes of brilliance sandwiched by several poor outings. His numbers reflect that, with a 2-4 record, 4.79 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, and a 39-23 strikeout to walk ratio. Beeler was a tough-luck pitcher, seemingly most affected by the offensive inconsistencies. While only 1-5 with a 4.53 ERA, Beeler’s strikeout to walk ratio is 33-7. Left-hander Brooks Raley remains inconsistent, while the only thing consistent about Bibens-Dirkx is that you can either expect him to strike someone out or serve up a home run. Ryan Searle was converted to a starter at the beginning of July, with mixed results as he is being “stretched out”. However, recently demoted right-hander Carrillo is getting a look as a starter, and has maintained a 1.69 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.

Once Tennessee’s secret weapon, the bullpen has also been a contributor to the Smokies’ uneven play. Closer Rafael Dolis remain in the top ten in the league in saves, but his lack of command of the strike zone has placed many games in jeopardy. Jeffrey Beliveau and Kevin Rhoderick continue to be a powerful lefty-righty combination, with a 2.66 ERA between them. After being promoted this quarter, Martinez and Ebinger show some promise, with ERA’s of 3.63 and 2.84 respectively.

High Class-A Daytona Cubs
Call it “The Angel Guzman Factor“, as the plan to rehab the 30-year old right-hander has contributed to a 16-19 record this quarter. After starting with a record of 7-5, a plan to have Guzman start and pitch two innings every four days was put into place on July 5. The scheduled starter was then “displaced”, starting the game in the third inning. The D-Cubs went 3-4 in those games, with the displaced starters averaging 4.2 innings and a 4.97 ERA. In games following their “Guzman start”, displaced starters were 3-3 with a 6.11 ERA. The question now is how long does the organization jeopardize the development of four starters with the average age of 21.5 over Guzman?

Left-hander Jeffry Antigua, the youngest of the starters, has displayed the most potential. Antigua has posted a 3.55 ERA with a 23-3 strikeout to walk ratio in his four starts. Dae-Eun Rhee is the most explosive, as his 80 strikeouts over 95.2 innings but 4.52 ERA would indicate. Casey Harman has also done well since converting to the starter role, with a 3-0 record and 2.17 ERA in his four starts. Jeffrey Lorick has been solid, but unspectacular going 8-5 and a 4.82 ERA. Zachary Rosscup has been on the disabled list.

Daytona’s bullpen has been a big factor in the team posting a 3.61 ERA, good for third in the Florida State League. Eduardo Figueroa is usually the first man up, and sports a 2.18 ERA over 53.2 innings. Since going to the pen, converted starter Aaron Kurcz has gone 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA while ringing up 23 batters. Closer-in-waiting Larry Suarez is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA, while Juan Serrano is 4-1 and a 3.50 ERA. However, closer Frank Batista has been the mainstay by racking up 21 saves, good for second in the league. Batista has a 1.88 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 48 innings.

Since the organization promoted Junior Lake and Jae-Hoon Ha earlier, they seem to be reluctant to promote any other of Daytona’s position players. If anyone deserves to go up, OF Evan Crawford is second in the Florida State League in hitting with a .322 average and third in stolen bases with 28. Second baseman Logan Watkins also merits some consideration, shrugging off a poor start to hit .281 with 13 steals. First baseman Justin Bour is second in the league in home runs and RBI. Outfielder Michael Burgess has recently raised his average to .229, while his 16 homers are good for fifth in the league. Recently promoted Greg Rohan has also given Daytona a lift, hitting .362 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 16 games. Matt Szczur has hit .256 with two homers and five stolen bases in 19 games since being called-up.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs
It’s been a struggle for the Peoria Chiefs this season, with an 11-24 record over the quarter. Peoria lost two of the league’s top four hitters in Greg Rohan and Matt Szczur to promotion, while only three other teams are worse than their 3.91 ERA.

Remaining is 1B Richard Jones, who is seventh in the league with a .307 average, while being second with 73 RBI and third with 19 home runs. Rubi Silva is second on the team, hitting .290 while splitting time between centerfield and second base. Newcomer OF Taiwan Easterling also has a .290 average in his 16 games with the club. However, many on the team have been scuffling, as C Micah Gibbs is hitting only .254, while 1B Ryan Cuneo has only hit .263. Infielder Dustin Geiger, OF Ben Klafczynski, and OF Jesus Morelli have all had a hard time adjusting since being called-up. Infielder Arismendy Alcantara has done as well as can be expected from a 19-year old, hitting .265 but committing 35 errors. Infielder Brandon May could be lost for the season with a recurrence of his Valley Fever.

While left-hander Austin Kirk posted only a 2-4 record with a 5.06 ERA for the quarter, his 4th of July no-hitter displayed his potential as a future top of the rotation pitcher. After beginning the season as a piggyback starter, lefty Eric Jokisch demonstrated that he was no fluke as he maintained a 7-3 record with a 2.94 ERA. However, the rotation has missed left-hander Graham Hicks, who has spent the entire quarter on the disabled list. In his place, righty Starling Peralta is 2-3 with a 6.75 ERA in six starts. Luis Liria is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in four starts, while LHP Frank Del Valle has been a little more impressive since his promotion. Del Valle is 1-2 with a 4.56 ERA and 17 strikeouts in six appearances, four of which were starts.

The bullpen continues to vex manager Casey Kopitzke, as he has lost several good prospects to promotion. Robinson Lopez has battled the injury bug, while veteran Alvaro Sosa has not provided the leadership he was being counted on. Rookies Pete Levitt and P.J. Francescon have struggled, but Roderik Pichardo has shown some promise. Kopitzke has been recently turning to 6-foot-7, 23 year-old Dan Berlind, with mixed results.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks
Boise finished the first half their season 17-21, five games out of first place. First year manager Mark Johnson has had an interesting time dealing with erratic young pitchers, while juggling six infielders across three starting spots. However, he has enjoyed the production of three very promising players: OF Pin-Chieh Chen, 1B Paul Hoilman, and RHP Yao-Lin Wang.

The most consistent offensive force for the Hawks has been the “Taiwanese Flash” Chen, who has a .295 average and 13 stolen bases and 18 RBI while batting leadoff for most of the season. Hoilman has been a man among boys in the Northwest League, slugging 11 home runs in 154 at bats (an average of one every 14 at bats). Phenom OF Reggie Golden is just scratching the surface of his 19-year old potential, batting .254 with 13 extra base hits (including two home runs) while driving in 20 runners. Catcher Rafael Lopez has taken advantage of the experience afforded a 23-year old to hit .317 with four homers and 26 RBI. Bonus-baby C Yaniel Cabezas has struggled, hitting just .216 with a homer and 14 RBI.

However, a glut of talent in the infield has caused a fight for playing time, as Wilson Contreras, Wes Darvill, Kenny Soccoro, and Brad Zapenas have hovered around .225 as each is unable to get consistent at bats. Add to that the over-aged Dustin Harrington (23 in November) and third round selection Zeke DeVoss, and that equals one major headache for Johnson. Harrington is currently hitting .349, but he has been demoted from both Daytona and Peoria. DeVoss captivated fans with his five stolen base debut, and is now hitting .286 with eight steals. Competition has also affected the outfield, as Blair Springfield has vied for playing time with Kyung-Min Na, Ben Klafczynski, Jesus Morelli, and now, Oliver Zapata.

Wang has lived up to all of his advanced billing, as the right-hander has posted a 2.57 ERA and a 3-2 record in 49 innings (10 starts), while striking out 49 against 12 walks. Twenty-one year old lefty Willengton Cruz has been almost equally impressive, 1-2 with a 2.57 ERA and a 43-16 strikeout to walk ratio in 42 innings (nine starts). Eighteen-year old Ben Wells has shown a lot of unpolished potential, with a 4.24 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 46.2 innings (nine starts) while sporting a 3-2 record. Austin Reed has had less success, as the 19-year old righty is 0-3 with a 6.46 ERA. South Korean right-handers Jin-Young Kim and Su-Min Jung have both had a hard time being consistent, and have shuttled between Boise and Mesa.

As typical in the lower minors, the bullpen suffers the most. Consistent performers get promoted, while less consistent pitchers see less work. Manager Johnson has relied on 22-year old Bryce Shafer, who has experience at higher levels of competition, as his closer. Shafer is 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA, and his eight saves rank second in the league. Dustin Fitzgerald and Charles Thomas have the next most appearances; Fitzgerald has a 4.08 ERA while converted infielder Thomas is at 4.61. Kyler Burke has made the most of his second chance, as the former organizational Hitter of the Year has a 3.25 ERA and, more importantly, a 1.16 WHIP, striking out 25 while only walking nine in 27.2 innings. With Burke’s previous experience, expect him to climb the ladder quickly if his left-handed power arm continues to show command of the strike zone.

Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back." - Diana Frances
Share on Fancred
  • Ripsnorter1

    Great report, Tom.

    Yeah, I was sitting down. The FACT IS THIS:

    Jim Qlueless has messed up the ML roster. 
    Jim Qlueless is messing up the MiL rosters, too.

    No power hitters coming up through the minors=more of the same on the ML level–ie, we will live by signing free agents. That philosophy cannot change without some power bats coming up from the minors. The lack of power bats means a lack of run producers on the ML level, and it also means that the losing will continue. Top tier free agents will be avoided because they cost too much money; instead, third and fourth tier free agents will continue to be acquired because they cost less, and provide just enough excitement for the suckers, er, fans to continue to buy tickets. Case in point: Carlos “Mr. .196″ Pena. Yeah, he’ll hit you 25-30 taters, and he’ll manage a Mendoza line effort in the batting average category, but he won’t win you a division. Or sign a Byrd: a hustling 250 lb singles hitter that drives in–this year?–perhaps 35 runs. Maybe. Sign a Funko, whose top RBI year was 58, and 44 and 13 RBIs!

    The losing will continue. And I haven’t even mentioned the soft tossers on the MiL pitching staffs.

  • Brp921

    I like the idea of injecting some speed into the system so we don’t have count on a three run homer to score, but you have to have a mix of speed and power. You also have to have hard throwers. As they say the best pitch in baseball is a good fastball. Succesfull mid and late relievers are, for the most part, successfull because they throw hard. When a starting pitcher gets in trouble and needs a strikeout, a good fastball is what generally gets it done.

  • jw

    Tom

    Excellent report…keep em coming!

    On the organizational philosophy…are you inferring it from the way the teams are structured or do you have some connection to the organization…your analysis was very interesting and if correct does signal that the organization is capable of some neural response and is capable of some action which to this point I was not sure it could do…

    I don’t mind the shift in some ways… especially if it is to defense and a more intelligent pitcher catcher combo. I think the org in the past was too much in love with hard throwers who were just athletic and not clever…that resulted in a lot of K’s a lot of walks, bored fielders, and broken arms. However, I hope they continue to look for that type…you cannot have a good team without a couple of strikout type arms, i.e. when the ball absolutely cannot be put in play to win a game 

    Likewise the org was in love with all or nothing talent…raw kids who look like high tool players but upon signing and time in the Cubs system are ruined and flash out their promise never to be realized…lot’s of fantastic promises but few superstars and not enough solid players with discipline and training in an organizational philosophy. I do lament that other than Jackson (stretching here)there does not appear to be one Utley Pujols or Posey  superstar in the making on the horizon and it would be nice to have a slugger there somewhere…HR’s are still the best way to score a high number of runs on offense and make the other pitchers and managers adjust and worry about hitters in front

    I was intrigued by Castillo after watching in the spring…I don’t know what happened but hope he gets his act together at AA. I am disappointed they are continuing to waste precious time with Guzman…the org seems fixated on him…why take away time from your better upside?

    • Darrenmcculloch

      They are still holding hope that Guzman is the same top ten prospect from 2003.  Remember when he was supposed to be better than Zambrano? 

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

        I think that Guzman is a mutual loyalty thing. Hendry has shown a lot of loyalty to Guzman through his vast injury history and Guzman repaid that loyalty by signing a minor league deal this year to rehab. I think that Guzman needs to be working on his stuff at Triple A at this point but there must be something physically holding him back.

    • Tom U

      JW, the information on the organizational philosophy comes  from observing line-ups, day after day, of seven levels of baseball. It’s just how I see the battering orders arranged and the pitching staffs set up. 

      Connection to the organization? I wish! Although probably not at this time. Like Donald Sutherland’s character “X” in the movie JFK, if I were in the organization, I would be “arrested, sent to a mental institution, worse” with the way I think about development.

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        great job as always Tom.

      • jw

        Too doggone funny…

        Really enjoy your commentary Tom…CCO just keeps getting better!

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

    Great analysis as always Tom. Now here comes the questions of the day. Do you think that the fact that the Cubs went with sign-ability and not best talent over the last 7 years and almost totally ignored Latin America until recently have anything to do with the state of our minors?

    I think a lot of it has to do with the perceived lack of athletes we had in our system for decades. Our scouting guys went way overboard with uber athletes over the last couple drafts to make up for that perceived deficiency. Now we have very athletic and diverse teams at every level. They just can not seem to learn to play. It may be a coaching problem at the lower levels but you can’t be sure.

     I do know that our minor league pitching coordinator last year is this years pitching coach so there may be a difference in philosophy and approach.   We have changed managers at almost ever level of minors and most of our coordinators over the last couple years but that is kind of the nature of the business.

    I do think that one of the things we can learn from Oakland and Billy Beane as well as Atlanta and there systems is that consistent message is important. They both set a mind set starting at the team presidents level and trickle it down all the way to there CSL teams. We need to find that “Bobby Cox” style of play to build around and look long term.

    There was a story about when Chipper Jones was at rookie ball and he hit a monster shot and stood there and stared at the ball as it went over the fence then went into his homerun trot. When he got back to the dugout the manager sit him the rest of the game. After the game Chipper ask him why. He said that Bobby would have cut you if he saw him showing up a guy that had just as much right to be there as he did. You know I think Chipper got the message as well as everyone else that was on that team. “Would Bobby let you get away with that” was the battle cry in teaching the kids in Atlanta’s system for years. And you know what most of the kids that are kept their seem to get the message.

    • Tom U

      The short answer is, Yes! 

      But don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of mistakes made under the philosophy that people will only pay to see major leaguers, not minor league talent. This site is filled with the names of players that the Cubs organization destroyed or simply missed on, so I won’t list them here. 

      It has been very refreshing to see the talent being brought in from Latin America and Asia. Competition will fuel the desire to improve. High draft picks won’t lolly-gag through the system knowing their place will be secure with the big league team.

  • John_CC

    Great report, Tom. It’s nice to hear the big picture stuff.

    “while Rusin has a 3.47 ERA. However, Rusin’s playing time has been cut into as the organization brought in veteran right-hander Dave Bush, who has been underwhelming with a 10.97 ERA in 10.2 innings.”  Typical.  Has Bush been released yet? 

    “In short, if the Chicago Cubs decide to let their talent develop from
    within the organization, the team you see will bear little resemblance
    to your older brother’s Cubs, much less your father’s or grandfather’s
    Cubs.”  Finally! Please, god, let that happen!  Halleluiah!  

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

    Just a short update on the signed draftees. We are currently standing at 22 with at least 6 sitting at the Commissioners Office waiting on approval. Those 6 are Vogelburg, Maples, Dunston Jr, Gretzky, Shoulders and  according to reports Baez. Sounds like our power spots are going to be pretty filled up in the lower levels very very soon. This next week is going to be very telling on the future of our system and the future is looking pretty bright.

    All of the numbers are from BaseballAmerica.com

    • cubtex

      If all reports are accurate with players like Maples,Dunston Jr., Vogelbach and Shoulders signing…..the Cubs would have hit a homerun on this draft!

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

        I think that Baez is the key. If we can get him signed without having to open a spot on the 40 man to get him (some reports are that is what he is after) then it is a win.

      • Aaron

        I absolutely agree and like i said before…i will gladly eat some crow…salty preferably

        i just hope the rumors are true. Unfortunately, Hendry will use it to his advantage saying he created depth.

        • cubtex

          Ricketts is the one shelling out the dough so hopefully he realizes that. It is time for a change and hopefully one will be made during the offseason. I am really surprised about the Maples signing if that is true. He was a top 50 talent coming in.

  • paulcatanese

    Good report Tom. The features you mentioned, more speed. That would be the essence of improvement for the Cubs. Number one as you have mentioned it also means better defense, and better defense means a lower ERA for the pitching staff. You have proven that with the new stats on the upper minor teams. I am a firm believer in speed, and their is no substitue for it. The long ball coming from the minor league system is really a crap shoot, as what they can drive down their usually is negated when they reach the big club. example, Colvin, plenty of power but cannot get over the weakness he has in his swing, that is for now, he may develop.

    I fear that Rip is right in signing of free agents to provide power, as he, I dont like it, but the options are few,and probably the only way they will have instant power.

    The one player that I think is going to have this power soon is Castro, who continues to amaze me with his bat. He is getting better daily. If, and I say if Aram is around they would be the two that I see with legitimate power for 2012. Pena, while he has power and does take walks, really is inconsistant with his approach and needs to improve that or he shouldnt be here next year.

    In essance, power is great, the home run is great to win a ballgame in the ninth and two outs, but so is keeping the other team off the board and keeping pressure on their defense. To sum up, power hitters that come from the minors are far and few between and unless they pick up the long ball with free agency prospects, and that is not choice for the Cubs as it leads to bad contracts, the future would be bleak.

    I believe in the speed the Cubs have in their system and would like to see a few of them up here, TO PLAY, not ride the bench. A choice has to be made by Ricketts as he is running out of time, I just hope he makes the right one.

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

      Not to be totally against your point Paul but just speed and defense does not work. Look at Seattle and San Diego they struggle to score runs and it costs them. Both teams pitching is top notch something we can not claim and they are struggling to get to .500.

       The key to winning is a blend of defense,speed and being able to drive the ball against top notch pitching. You have to have bashers in your line up. If you fill the team with 26 Darwin Barneys we will make top plays every game and still loose 100 games. We needs to be filling our teams with guys like BJAX.

      Guys that can play to conditions especially at Wrigley. We need run producers and in a hurry because we are long in the tooth at the major league level. Yet we also need athletes to play defense behind good starting pitching. So your idea of speed and defense is not good enough to win at the major league level anymore because we will loose a lot of 3 to 4 games with out the ability to score runs.

      • paulcatanese

        I agree Richard, but where does on get the bashers? The idea of being equal with speed,defense, and home run hitters is in a perfect world, and one would have the division in their back pocket.

        As I was saying the only place that the Cubs would get that would be out of free agency, and lately has not really worked out. I just think that until it is, the best for what they have right now from the system and even if that were to be allowed would be the speed that is ready to move up to the major league level.

        I do not advocate 26 Barney’s,but mean the speedsters that are here now and readily available Jackson,Castro,and Campana. Keep Aram,Pena,Colvin and Soto. That may or may not provide the power that is needed right now, but is better trying to find the free agent that could turn out to be worse than what the Cubs have. The only real slow players her are Aram and Soto(Soto has been a disapointment so far in the power) what you say is true,then again from where?

        • Tom U

          You both have good points. However, I align myself with the Charlie Lau method of hitting (I used it myself. I still have a copy of The Art of Hitting .300 and shared it with my daughter when she played softball).

          Lau pointed out that every advantage is to the pitcher, and to even that out a batter need to execute the proper mechanics of hitting. He didn’t feel that one should alter their swing to become a power hitter, because  that would give the pitcher a greater advantage. He believed that home runs come from good mechanics and a players natural power. 

          It certainly bared out with George Brett. Brett was an average hitter with low to moderate power in the minors. When he worked with Lau, his hitting improved, he matured, and became a good power hitter.

          Unless a player has natural power, power hitting usually develops last. That’s why there is still some time for Flaherty, LeMahieu, Ridling, Burgess, Hoilman, Golden, and Dong-Yub Kim . 

          • paulcatanese

            Thats ironic Tom, as thats the method I believe in,taught at the Jr. College level and High School level and have always believed that a base hit is because of pitcher error and the hitters good mechanics. With proper mechanics at a young age(and even older) one can be taught to switch hit,often with power from the oppisite of the natural side.

  • cc002600

    FWIW, Professor (ha!) Phil Rogers was on Kaplan’s show last night and he said that thinks there is NO chance Hendry comes back as GM after this year.

    Which only confirms to me what I think WILL happen, which is that Hendry WILL be back. LOL

    He thinks the cubs should hire Rick Hahn from sox, and he’s hearing Brian Cashman could be a possibility.

    Again, consider the source…..But I thought I would just throw it out there

    • cubtex

      I believe that as well. I do see a scenario that he will be kept on in a diminished role but there will be a new gm,mng and pitching coach next year. Imo

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

        I really expect there to be some on the board of directors that are going to loose there spots very soon. So that may mean Hendry moves up and over and keeps his input while letting a Cashman or Fielderman or maybe Hahn sit in the big chair. But I really can not see any of them sitting in the GM’s seat without having absolute control. So it will be an interesting October/November in Chicago.

      • cc002600

        well,you may be right, but I don’t see Hendry being fired…..Rickets is not going to pay him to go away with 1 more year remaining, especially given that Ricketts likes Hendry. …..so I agree with you somewhat…..I think he either brings in a president to oversee Hendry, like a Gillick, or its status quo, no change, for at least one more year……I would be SHOCKED if Hendry is fired this winter.

         

  • Demitri

    C- Geovany Soto
    1st- Fielder
    2nd- Javier Baez
    3rd-Josh Vitters
    OF- Brett Jackson
    OF- Tyler Colvin
    OF- Campana/Free Agent

    My dream line up that we might see in 3-5 years. We must sign Fielder this offseason of course. I didn’t know what to put in the other outfield spot so I just put Campana and we could just sign a solid free agent to play that spot. It looks pretty good to me

    • Demitri

      I forgot to put Starlin at SS

      • cubtex

        No faith in Sczur?

        • Demitri

          Oh I forgot about him. Put him in there for the last outfield spot and if everyone plays at the level thats expected from them it would be pretty solid. As for pitching, it isn’t looking to good

    • Tony_Hall

      In 3-5 years, you have Soto still as catcher…

  • Brentcarmona

    thanks tom for the update. look forward to them every time.

    glad the starting pitching in aaa looking better than where it was before.

    wish r flaherty takes some notes from bjax and gets outta that slump hes in. feel like he could be a productive ballplayer at the major league level.

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

      I think a lot of Flaherty’s problems stem from him being promoted at the same time as BJAX . He naturally thinks they are on the same time table.

      • paulcatanese

        Good comment Richard, entirely plauseable, creates a natural compeition and added pressure.

    • Tom U

      One thing to note, his hitting hasn’t effected his defense.

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments.