Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 09/27/11

After taking a look at the infield and catching prospects throughout the Cubs’ system on Monday, next up on the CCO’s Minor League position analysis is the outfield.

Three of the Cubs’ top position prospects roam the outfield down on the farm. Brett Jackson, Jae-Hoon Ha and Matt Szczur had good seasons and each figure to be in big league camp next spring … Jackson and Ha on non-roster invites and Szczur as a part of the 40-man roster.

Position Analysis – Outfield

Welcome to the CCO’s series of articles to summarize and project how the minor league system looks on a position-by-position basis. For the position players, here’s the grading system I will use:

A = more than one player capable of starting in the major leagues
B = at least one player capable of starting in the major leagues
C = at least one player capable of making it to major leagues
D = in need of an upgrade
F = in serious need of an upgrade

Left Field – C
Left field is a very tough evaluation in the minors, as there are few pure prospects at the position. The main population are either career minor leaguers or players playing out of position.

It’s been a long, strange trip for Luis Montanez since he was the Cubs’ first round draft pick in 2000. Changing from shortstop to outfield, battling personal problems, trades, and brief stops in the majors have been a part of the 29 year old’s career. While seeing most of the action in left for Iowa, the right-hander batted .321 with seven home runs and 69 RBI and eight outfield assists. With his offensive and defensive ability, Montanez would make someone a perfect fifth outfielder.

First baseman Rebel Ridling lined up the most often in left for Tennessee, but minor league veterans James Adduci, Matthew Spencer, and Ty Wright also saw plenty of action. The speedy Adduci has 135 stolen bases in his eight-year minor league career, and wound up hitting .308 with four home runs, 20 RBI, and 21 stolen bases for the season. The 26-year old lefty, if he decides to remain within the organization, will probably end up filling holes in the Double and Triple-A rosters, until possibly settling in as an outfield/baserunning coach. Twenty-six year old Wright is like a right-handed version of Adduci, although he has less speed and more power. He split time between Iowa and Tennessee this season and hit .322 with seven homers and 43 RBI overall. He does have a specialized skill that may warrant some attention, as he is a very dependable pinch-hitter. The “Morristown Masher“, 25-year old Spencer played all three outfield positions, as well as first base, for both Tennessee and Iowa. However, it was his performance as a pitcher twice in blowouts that has led to a career shift. Spencer will now go to the Arizona Instructional League to convert to a pitcher full-time. For the 2011 season, the lefty hit .246 with 14 home runs and 70 RBI overall.

The first level fans can see a true prospect at the position is Daytona, where the 23-year old Evan Crawford finished seventh in hitting in the pitching-rich Florida State League. Acquired in the Mike Fontenot deal from San Francisco, the speedy lefty has smoothed out his stroke, although his 98 strikeouts will need improvement. For the year, Crawford batted .307 with two home runs and 50 runs driven in. He was fourth in the FSL with 32 steals, which was good for second in the Cubs’ organization. Crawford has the range to play centerfield, but he may not have the arm strength to see regular duty there.

Peoria ended the season with six players seeing extended time in left field. Among the tops in appearances was 2011 20th round pick Ben Klafczynski. The just turned 23-year old left-handed hitter played solidly for the Chiefs, hitting .243 with a homer and 13 RBI in 43 games for Peoria. Klafczynski is a very fluid athlete, with exceptional arm strength for the position. The organization would like to “fast-track” his development, hoping his offense will catch up soon. Toward the end of Peoria’s season, Klafczynski was platooned with right-hander Jesus Morelli. The 21-year old was signed out of Venezuela in 2008. At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds the organization is excited about his future power potential. Morelli played in the AZL, Boise, and Peoria this season and hit .252 overall with two homers and 13 RBI in 36 games. While lining up mostly in left field, he is said to have right fielder skills.

Boise also had multiple players getting looks in left this season. Seeing the most playing time was 20-year old Blair Springfield. Drafted in 2009, Springfield has battled injuries, which have caused him to struggle offensively. The right-hander played in 43 games between the AZL Cubs and Boise, batting .241 with three home runs and 23 RBI overall. Also seeing action was speedy Kyung-Min Na. The 19-year old South Korean was a man on the move, playing in the Arizona League, Boise, Peoria and Tennessee this season. Overall, the lefty hit .268 with 22 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Still considered a raw prospect, Na still has a lot of time to develop.

The bulk of the playing time in left field for the AZL Cubs went to Eduardo Gonzalez. The 19-year old lefty was signed out of Venezuela in 2009 as a pitcher. He converted to the outfield in the Dominican Summer League in 2010 before being assigned to Arizona this past season. He has shown a good batting stroke, hitting .336, but with little power (only four extra base hits, no home runs) or speed (five stolen bases in ten attempts). He also appears a little lost in the outfield, committing five errors and fielding .906 in 32 games. Also seeing action was South Korean Dong-Yub Kim. Turning 21 years old at mid-season, the righty surprised observers by stealing 12 bases, well for second on the team. At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, there is hope that he can develop into a Hideki Matsui-type of player, as he hit .250 with two homers and 13 RBI in 37 games. While considered raw both offensively and defensively, he did field flawlessly in 29 chances. Also appearing in Arizona was ninth round draft pick Garrett Schlecht. The 18-year old left-hander batted .222 with two RBI in nine games.

Signed out of Cuba, 24-year old Mayke Reyes was one of the bright spots for the dismal Cubs-1 team in the Dominican Summer League. The right-handed hitter batted .297 with three home runs and 18 RBI in 55 games. Reyes may be a little too old to have an impact on the organization, but may be valuable in the future as a coach, much like his countryman Smaily Borges. Twenty-one year old Frammi Cabrera and 19-year old Randher Valdez, both right handed hitters, split time in left for C-2. Cabrera actually saw action with both teams in the DSL, and hit .265 with 25 RBI and 15 stolen bases combined. Valdez has a little more meat on his bones at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds and hit .229 with a homer and 14 RBI in 45 games. However, he may be searching for a position after fielding only .878 with five errors in 41 games. He has been previously tried at first base and catcher.

Centerfield – A+
For what seems like forever to Cubs fans, the centerfield/leadoff spot has been a source of frustration. However, scouting director Tim Wilken and his crew may have assembled the finest set of prospects the franchise has ever seen.

It all starts at Iowa with the organization’s number one prospect Brett Jackson. Some doubted Jackson as he started the year at Tennessee and suffered a hand injury. Coming off the DL, the just turned 23-year old was promoted to the I-Cubs and preceded to tear up the Pacific Coast League. In 48 games batting leadoff, the left-hander hit .297 with 10 home runs, 26 RBI, six stolen bases, and most importantly, a .939 OPS. For 2011 (Tennessee and Iowa), Jackson was .274 with 20 homers, 58 RBI, 21 stolen bases, and a .869 OPS, all from the leadoff spot in the batting order. He also served notice to PCL players not to take any liberties with his defense, with eight outfield assists. With most organizations, Jackson would have been promoted to the parent club after the All-Star break, or at worst, after the trading deadline. Now, Cubs fans will have to hold their breath as Jackson represents the USA on the World Cup/Pan Am team, hoping to avoid any further injuries and be ready for 2012.

Behind Jackson, the organization’s fastest rising prospect may be Tennessee’s Jae-Hoon Ha. In a parallel to 2010, Ha was brought to Tennessee cover Jackson’s injury and promotion, much like Marwin Gonzalez did with Starlin Castro. However, unlike Gonzalez, Ha didn’t need a half season of Double-A ball and the Winter League to show improvement. Just 20 years old and only his second full season in the outfield (Ha was signed as a catcher), Ha was moved to centerfield after spending almost all of 2101 in right field. He demonstrated that he was more than athletic enough to handle the switch, fielding a perfect 1.000 with three outfield assists in 61 games with the Smokies. Ha actually hit better (.283 to .276) when promoted from Daytona, and batted .279 with 11 home runs, 72 RBI, and 13 stolen bases overall. He showed great poise for a young player in his first post-season action, hitting .313 with two homers and five RBI in the playoffs. Ha still has some growing to do as a baseball player, as his 43-percent stolen base percentage illustrates, and on his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame.

The clock will be running on Daytona’s Matt Szczur. Due to a procedural error by the last regime, the 22-year old will have to be put on the 40-man roster following the season. The former Villanova wide receiver showed that he has baseball skills by hitting .314 with five home runs, 27 RBI, and 17 stolen bases in 66 games with Peoria. The right-hander struggled a little in Daytona, going .293 with 10 homer, 46 driven in, and 24 stolen bases overall. Like Jackson, Szczur batted primarily leadoff; and like Ha, Szczur came alive in the playoffs, batting .368 for the Florida State League champions. Szczur was also named the Midwest League’s best defensive centerfielder.

Another player who is being “fast-tracked” is 2011 31st round draft pick Taiwan Easterling. Like Szczur, the former wide out is 18th on Florida State University’s all-time receiving list. Signing with the Cubs shortly after being drafted, the 22-year old tore through the Rookie league, Peoria, and a “cup of coffee” with Daytona, hitting .307 with two homers, 17 RBI, and 10 stolen bases in 48 games combined.

Earning a playoff spot with Daytona, he teamed with Evan Crawford and Matt Szczur to make probably the fastest outfield combination in the organization’s history. However, the righty will need to work on his defense, committing five errors and fielding .981 with two outfield assists overall.

Another big international signing, Cuban Rubi Silva, took over centerfield for Peoria between the promotions of Szczur and Easterling. The 22-year old was actually shuffled up to Daytona for 29 games to cover for players subbing for injured outfielders Brett Jackson and James Adduci. In 93 games with the Chiefs, the left-handed hitter batted .300 with three home runs and 37 RBI. While needing some work in the field, with an outfield percentage of only .967, he had 11 outfield assists and is generally considered to have the best centerfield arm in the system. Silva also appeared 29 times at second base, and is getting an extended look at the position this fall in the Instructional League.
After washing out as a second baseman in extended spring training, Taiwan native Pin-Chieh Chen was moved to center for Boise and took to it, as the saying goes, like a duck to water. The 20-year old was a perfect 1.000 fielding in 65 chances. Batting leadoff until Zeke DeVoss came to the Hawks; the left-handed hitter batted .301 with two home runs and 30 RBI. His 20 stolen bases were good for fifth in the Northwest League. Also seeing action in center for Boise was 19-year old Dominican Oliver Zapata. At 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, the bowling ball-like switch hitter stole 16 bases in 55 games between the AZL Cubs and the Hawks. While in Boise, Zapata only hit .224, but batted .278 with three home runs and 22 RBI overall. He need more polish in the field, committing four errors for a .957 average.

With Oliver Zapata, Taiwan Easterling, and Kyung-Min Na all flying through Arizona, the remainder of the playing time in centerfield went to 13th round draft pick Darien “Trey” Martin. The 18-year old played 18 games and hit .243 with four triples and eight RBI. A big kid at 6-foot-2, 188 pounds, the right-handed hitter may eventually outgrow the position. Another draftee was the son of a former Cub great, Shawon Dunston Jr. Signed at the deadline, the 18-year old left-handed hitter has the same type of raw talent his father had. Dunston made his professional debut in the Instructional League and hit a home run in his first game.

Two of the brightest prospects the organization has in the Dominican Summer League are 19-year old Kelvin Encarnacion and 17-year old Jeffrey Baez. Even in the stolen base-happy DSL, these two are burners on the basepaths. Right handed hitter Baez was fourth in the league with 32 stolen bases, while the switch-hitting Encarnacion was ninth with 28 steals. Both players traveled between the Cubs-1 and Cubs-2 teams, with Encarnacion batting .296 with a homer and 27 RBI, while Baez hit .297 with five home runs and 36 runs driven in.

Right Field – B-
The right field position is filled with interesting prospects throughout the system, any of which could turn out to be something special.

At the number 9 position on your scorecard for the Iowa Cubs, Brad Snyder enjoyed another good offensive season. The former first round pick (for the Cleveland Indians) lost 41 games due to injury and a brief major league call-up. Nevertheless, the lefty ended up hitting .290 with 11 home runs, 57 RBI, and six stolen bases. Always good defensively, Snyder tied a career high with 11 outfield assists. However, after being out-righted to Iowa at mid-season, the 29-year old may never see the majors in a Cub uniform.

Lining up in right for Tennessee was 23-year old Nelson Perez, perhaps one of the best niche players in the system. The left-handed hitter started the season at Daytona, but moved to Double-A after hitting .327 with four homers and 17 RBI in 26 games for the D-Cubs. Perez continued to show power with the Smokies, as 26 of his 59 hits (eight home runs) went for extra bases. He ended up batting .248 with 32 RBI for the season. Not the greatest in the field, his .962 fielding percentage is actually an improvement from his career mark. However, he did flash a big-time arm with 10 assists. But it was a talent he first displayed in the Winter Leagues that may be his ticket to “the show”. Left-handed power hitters that can deliver pinch hits don’t grow on trees.

After being acquired from the Washington organization in the Tom Gorzelanny deal, 22-year old Michael Burgess came with some lofty expectations. However, the lefty struggled some in Daytona, in the pitching-rich Florida State League. Hovering around the .200 mark for most of the season, Burgess finished with a .225 average. However, like Nelson Perez, Burgess was an extra base machine. With very little foot speed, 45 of his 96 hits went for more than one base, with his 20 home runs tied for fifth in the league. He was also 13th with 68 RBI. In a system filled with big arms at the position, his may be the best as he gunned down 11 runners.

Peoria right fielder Anthony Giansanti didn’t even start the season at the position, opening at third base as the organization had some early problems filling that slot. After Greg Rohan took hold of third, the 22-year old finally settled in right field. The hyper-aggressive right-handed hitter batted only .232, but socked 11 home runs and drove in 56. Showing better than expected range, Giansanti fielded .979 with a whopping 18 outfield assists. After being named the best throwing arm in the Midwest League, he will now add catching to his repertoire next season.
Blessed with possibly the best overall tools in the organization, Boise’s 19-year old Reggie Golden is just scratching the surface of his potential. The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder struggled in his first professional season. However, when the Hawks needed help down the stretch to make the playoffs, the right-hander came up big. He hit .391 with four home runs and 11 RBI in the final six games to capture Northwest League player-of-the-week honors. For the year, Golden hit .242 with seven home runs, 37 RBI, and five stolen bases. He’ll have to work harder on his defense, as his five errors led to a .955 average with six assists.

Twenty-two year old Venezuelan Gregori Gonzalez was a jack-of-all-trades for the AZL Cubs, lining up at five different positions. However, the righty had the most appearances in right field on the squad. His .330 batting average was good for fourth on the team, with two home runs and 23 RBI. But the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Gonzalez isn’t a very good defender at any position you put him at, making his probable future merely a system player. Seventeenth round draft pick John Andreoli also saw some time at the position, batting .176 with three stolen bases in 10 games between Arizona and Peoria.

With young players trying to find their place in baseball, right field can be rather fluid in the Dominican Summer League. Seventeen-year-old lefty Edwin Contreras saw the most playing time there with Cubs-1, batting .162 with 13 RBI in 31 games. Cubs-2 turned to 24-year old Elieser Bonne, among others, in right field. The Cuban national was second on the team with a .313 average, with 13 RBI and 17 stolen bases. The organization must feel there is a future for the right-hander, as he was invited to the Instructional League this fall.

Position Analysis – Infield and Catchers

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Quote of the Day

"Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure." – W.J. Slim

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  • J Daniel

    Game last night way to late for me but I read all of the comments and it is exactly the problem the Cubs have.  Play young or try to win.  Play young and might lose even more – especially if many of these guys are the typical Cub minor leaguer – OVER RATED!  The only way to find out is to play them in June  July August – NOT September.  September is like fools gold.

    I do like the comment that was made the other day in regards to what Bowden said the Cubs should do . . . hire Pat Gillick and the asst. Boston gm.  Then clean house and start all over.  I would go that way but the danger is the fans will go nuts.  Hope whoever they bring in has a great plan and does not care what the fans think.

    • paulcatanese

      And the Cub fans are not already nuts? I for one am their already and anything they do towards cleaning house and starting over is a plus for me.

  • Anthony

    Nice analysis and report.

    Some guesswork on my part says Golden will end up in LF, Burgess in LF, Easterling in LF, Klafczynski in RF(arm/routes/athleticism), Giansanti in RF(arm),

  • Ripsnorter1

    There is not a single impact player in the entire system.

    • cubtex

      Not true Rip. If you said no impact players who are ready to contribute tomorrow…then yes I would agree(with the possible exception of BJax) But what about Sczur,Golden,Baez,Vogelbach,Maples,Whitenack,and others. They are just not ready to be impact players now….but they definately could be.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Even Brett Jackson, with his 1 K every 3 AB, isn’t ready. 

        AND ML Scouts says that he won’t be an impact player with that many Ks. This is  from ESPN insider and Baseball Prospectus:

        “The Cubs have a strange minor league system. It’s more deep than star-studded, with plenty of potential big leaguers but few who can actually help turn around a moribund franchise. The most likely player to help in 2012 is center fielder Brett Jackson, the club’s 2009 first-round pick who hit .274 with 20 home runs in 23 stolen bases in 115 games split between Double- and Triple-A. He’ll fight for a job next spring and likely have one by midseason, and although he’s an outstanding athlete with above-average power and speed, his alarming strikeout rate (138 in 431 at-bats this year) prevents scouts from seeing him as a true impact player in the big leagues. — Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus”


        • cubtex

          Yes but some of the players drafted this year and last…it is too early to say how high their ceiling could be

          • Ripsnorter1

            Okay. I can accept that. Let’s hope you are right. Otherwise it will, of necessity, be a continuance of the same policies of Mr. Jim Hendry. 

  • Griffnbell

    How soon could we see Ha, Crawford, or Sczur? 

    • Tom U

      That’s the $64,000 question (somebody needs to adjust that for inflation).  I’ll start with the easiest first.

      Crawford still needs to work his way through the system and cut down his strikeouts. If He can do that, then he will be able to provide everything that Tony Campana has, and more. I believe that Crawford is a better hitter, can drive the ball better, and less limited defensively than Campana. Whether he is faster than Campana remains to be seen.

      Because of the gaffe Hendry made with his contract, Szczur will have to be put on the 40 man roster. This means that he’ll have about three years to show he can make it all the way. He’s made good adjustments at each level, so it’s not out of the question that he’ll be ready in a couple of years, barring injury.

      I see Ha’s development at a similar level to Starlin Castro in 2009. If Ha puts in some off-season work, he can actually get a non-roster invite to spring training. From there, it can be a short step to the majors. Like Castro, if Ha makes it any time soon, he’ll have some learning on the job to do. 

      However, we must remember that Byrd is under contract for next season, while Soriano still has three years left to go. Unless ownership does something about that, it can be a longer time before any prospects have an impact at the major league level.

      • Griffnbell

        I live in Des Moines and am looking forward to seeing some of these guys soon. Luckily I got to see some pretty interesting players this year and I was most impressed with Brett Jackson and Marwin Gonzales. Gonzales looks to me like a very nice player who can play anywhere. Also, I appreciate all of the posts concerning the minors. I have been following the minors for years and this makes it a lot easier to keep up to date, Now I need to see who we hire for GM and manager. The wait is killing me.

  • cubtex

    I saw the game last night and it was nice for some of the kids to get some playing time. That being said…..I do not really see any of those kids being starting major league players with the exception of possibly LeMahieu. Campana cannot hit enough to start. He had a runner on 3rd with one out and the infield in……and he tries to bunt? I know he did that on his own because Q was talking to him in the dugout. Colvin…enough said. I actually feel sorry for him because he is so overmatched. Barney…he had a very good first half,but now he is playing like what the scouts are saying…a utility guy. One other point on Barney….he is not that good defensively at 2nd. I think RIP pointed out this stat. He is way below average at turning double plays and I do not understand his positioning on covering the base on a steal. Mind boggling. LaHair? I am not sure about him. He is still a question mark. He is not an outfielder I can see that. Clevenger? Again a question mark, but looks like a backup at best. I still believe this being the Nl Central and being a high market team….they should never go into full blown rebuilding mode. I pointed out some pitchers who might be available and maybe a scenario where you can move Soriano for Michael Young. Remember all those salaries coming off the books….Silva,ARam,Grabow etc. They need pitching and mixing in a rookie in BJax for the outfield. Let LeMahieu and Barney battle it out for 2B.

    • Calicub

      Sadly I agree with you.

      Colvin has been ruined and unless campana can figure out how to take a walk or hit beyond the infeild he is destined to live as a pinch hitter.

      Clevenger didn’t look to hot either but I wouldn’t mind him on the bench and soto behind the dish next year and maybe he and Soto can turn into a relationship like Blanco and Soto had and maybe come 2013 Clevenger will be ready, or just keep him in the minors.

      DJ and Barney compete for 2B in ST. Is it fair to say that part of Barneys second half flop is due to the fact that he lost 15 pounds of muscle over thr course of year?
      But Dj definately has more upside I think.

      I have a feeling LaHair will be moved this offseason

      • Calicub

        I meant pinch runner for campana but I suppose he’d be more fun to watch as a PH than DeWitt

      • cubtex

        I really feel sorry for Colvin. He is so overmatched and he has no chance to put the bat on the ball. Campana is a very valuable weapon as a pinch runner late in games. That is where he belongs. So…what do they do for the outfield for next year? BJax in center. Can they move Soriano and/or Byrd? If not…..that will be the outfield for next year. I think Soriano and Byrd can both be moved providing the Cubs pick up enough of their salary, because if BJAX is your future CF they need to play him there and Byrd cannot throw well enough or hit enough to be a starting RF.

        • Calicub

          agreed. I think with the year soriano is having someone will pick him up if the price is right.

          I’d prefer to move on from the Byrd experiment. I heard the word last year but Buh Buh Buh Byrd Byrd Byrd is no longer the word.

           Any chance you think Brad Snyder will be given a shot, assuming they move Byrd?  I’m sure Aaron might like that…

          • Ripsnorter1

            Brad Synder: too large a “kitchen” for MLB. Dropped off of the 40 man roster. 

            I predict you’ll never see him in a Cubs’ uniform again.

        • Ripsnorter1

          I really think you are over-estimating Brett Jackson. Too many K’s. 

          • cubtex

            He is at least a top prospect that should be given an opportunity next year to start. At least he walks, steals some bases and is a decent outfielder. Is he a future superstar? Probably not…but he could be a solid mlb starting outfielder.

      • Schwimmer

        Please…stop with this talk about “Colvin being ruined!”  Why is necessary to blame everyone but the guy who is responsible?

        The guy can’t hit.  And, Colvin is responsible for Colvin.  No one, (for example) made Joey Votto a great hitter.  Joey Votto made himself a great hitter.  And, there are many other rookie examples of rookies who got “limited” at bats and proved “little by little” that they should play more.

        Colvin is still a young guy.  If he really has some genuine talent, he should be sent to the minors and start becoming a great hitter for some average as well as power.  And, when he does…he’ll get a chance to be called up.

        And, by the way…to be a major leaguer you need, not only talent and skills, but you also need the “right temperament.”  Maybe Colvin doesn’t have that.

        All I know is that he strikes out way too often and looks horrible “most of the time” when he’s at the plate.  One of the dumbest moves I’ve ever seen is bringing a guy like him up to the majors way before his “offense” every justified it.  LaHAIR should have been brought up months ago because he can play both outfield and 1st Base.

        The CUBS management and manager are responsible for many stupid moves and bad judgment to be sure.  But TYLER COLVIN is not one of them.

        • Bill

          Agree, the problem is Colvin isn’t that good of a hitter, no one ruined him.  The pitchers adjusted to him and quit throwing him just fastballs and Colvin hasn’t been able to adjust.  

          • Anthony

            OK, so he hit what, 20 HR’s as a Rook, well, that takes power. Now, no more fastballs, so if the adjustment is made, meaning less HR’s but a better BA, is that good enough? Or will there be criticism because the power production dropped.

            Only a few can do both, and they get 20M contracts and Ad monies?

            Whatever happened to the desire of having a high OBP leadoff flyer, a contact guy 2nd, your best hitter 3rd, power at 4-5, a gapper at 6-7, and your defenders at 8-9 in the order?

            All I read is frustration(lack of a WS Title) of complaining about the Cubs system and low OBP, not enough “WALKS”, and then the same kids getting ripped about a lack of Power!

            What do you want?

            9 guys in every Cub/Affiliate lineup that hits .350/.400/.900 and walks more than they K?

            Go to an ALL STAR game and you won’t even see it there!

      • J Daniel

        When you say ruined, what do you mean?  Not good enough?  If guys are good for the most part they get it done.  

        • Ripsnorter1

          .147 BA is, as you say, “Not good enough.”

    • paulcatanese

      I also saw the game (of course) but I would have to say they didnt look too bad, but then who was there to compare them with? the 2011 Cubs? Also they(the kids) at this stage have nowhere to go but up or out and that can be decided quickly as there is not a lot of salary involved. The vets on this team on the other hand have reached the direction they are going, they are already down and should be out. Their is no improvement in their future and a huge investment has been given out. Out of the lineup last night, I liked Clevenger’s glove, LaHair hit the ball solid (1 time), Campana as you say, and LeMahieu and that was it. Pitching looked good for the amount of time they were in. Anything else? Needs to come from outside the orginization.

      • cubtex

        Paul, this year has been one of the most frustrating in recent memories. I get wanting new blood…but let’s put some new blood in there who can play. The Cubs have only 1 player who is projected to be a solid major league starter…Brett Jackson. They need to go outside the organization to add. As I said yesterday…Can you imagine how ugly next season would be with an infiield of LeMahieu Castro Barney Pena and an outfield of LaHair  Campana and Colvin would be? If you thought this season was bad…..that would be a train wreck!

        • paulcatanese

          Correct, but until this season I have been oblivious to the inner workings of the Cubs and have just waited until each new season came around and watched what they put out there. Thanks to the CCO I am now thouroghly frustrated and want change. Not informed is ignorance, and now I am informed, happier? God I dont know, but informed, oh yes. Either way it comes around if change is made I will be informed, but happy.
          One other thing, it has been posted that Colemans new success is partialy do to his father giving him some advice, wish I had his fathers phone number to see how he got that done, my kids have never listened to me.

    • cc002600

      I agree. That’s why I have been advocating bringing back ARAM for 2 more

      Believe it or not they are not as far away as you might think from being a

      The other thing that people seem to forget is that its great to give young
      guys a chance, and I’m all for that, but it makes no sense to just completely
      rebuild when you really don’t have the young talent to do that, which they don’t
      right now. 

      Just remember, every year is different, and there are ALWAYS surprises. Teams
      go from last to first or vice versa ALL THE TIME.  Look at this year’s examples:
      D-Backs and Twins.

      Did anyone think the cubs would win a divsion the following year after the
      2002 season ??  Or 2006 ?  or 1988 ? or 1983 ?  Of course not. But they did.

      If you make a couple good moves and you get some career years out of a few
      guys, you can turn it around in a hurry.  Like I said before, it happens EVERY
      year in baseball.





      • Calicub

        Making it to the post season is well and good, but if the cubs continue with their current philosophy of trying to compete “next year”, the cubs will be in same position they have been in over the last half dozen decades.

        Desperate times do not, I repeat, do not call for desperate measures.  Building a team to compete next year will result in the same burn outs in the postseason as did the 08, 07, 03 and all the other postseason campaigns the cubs have had in recent memories. One and done.  I want a team like the Rays or the BoSox of the last decade. A team with a core of youngsters and occasional FA who continue to compete year after year.

        ARAM will not resign for 2 years especially with JH and most likely Qball gone!!! 

        • cc002600

          As we have seen a 1000 times over, the playoffs are a total crapshoot….so you just have to get there first, and whatever happens, happens.  There are so many variables that you can’t foresee in the playoffs.

          Look at 2006 Cardinals. They won 83 games in regular season, limped into playoffs, and got hot at the right time and won it all.  The team with the best record almost never wins it all.

        • cc002600

           Also, I want a team like the Rays or redsox with a core of good youngsters too. But here’s the reality. They are YEARS away from having that.

          Their best young talent is 4 to 5 years away.  So what you going to do in the meantime ??   Watch them lose 100 games every year until 2016 with young talent that’s not really that great ?

      • paulcatanese

        You know, I would sincerely like to agree with you, and it is possible in the Central but I look at the Cubs in that sense as Contender or Pretender?The bottom line is if they make post season play, they need to get through it and win there. I have spent a lot of years just satisfied with a .500 record, and that dosent cut it. Dont misunderstand, I enjoy the season whatever they do but getting to post season has been really heartbreaking if they dont go any further than they have.

      • Chadaudio

        The Cubs will be much worse without A-Ram.  I’ve heard you mention 100 losses without him, and I think you’re probably correct… he was the Cubs best hitter this year – unfortunately Castro just doesn’t have the pop yet.

        But, A-Ram has mentioned that he would only come back if he sees the Cubs being a contender, and if he gets at least a 3yr contract.  That just isn’t going to happen.  Why would A-Ram want to play for a team that doesn’t have a lineup to protect him?  A-Ram is going to get a huge contract, and he is going to play for a team that has a chance for the post season… that’s not going to be the Cubs.  Starlin Castro and Byrd just isn’t enough.

        • paulcatanese

          I dont know how anyone can predict 100 losses without Aram. He has traditionaly not produced in the first half of more than a few seasons and with him in the lineup they still lose. His glove is virtualy disapeared along with his range. They lose with him and will lose without him,You give him too much credit .The bottom line is Aram and Aram alone will not get them to post season, he is not a cog in the wheel he is a clog. He looks wonderful to the Cubs, but they have no one else, of course he would look good. Castro soon will take over Arams power numbers as he is increasing power very quickly. A lineup to protect him? Protect what, a half season at a time? He is not the answer to the Cub’s prayers and the sooner he is gone the better.

          • Chadaudio

            You are basically agreeing with me.  I agree the Cubs lost a lot of games with Aram, and that Aram isn’t the key to the playoffs – it’s just that they are going to loose even more games without him.  It’s just logical, you take your number 3 hitter out, and replace him with nobody (ie Blake DeWitt) and you will loose even more games.  Arams numbers aren’t easy to replace at 3B.  And your number 3 hitter isn’t usually easy to replace either.  I hope you are right about Castro – but he can’t be the only hitter in the lineup (like he will be without Aram).
            I also agree that Aram wasn’t protected well in the Cubs lineup this year… that’s my point – Aram has NO incentive to come back to the Cubs, but plenty to go elsewhere (where he’ll be protected in the lineup – and probably only have to hit 5th).
            In short, I’m not saying the Cubs should sign Aram.  I’m saying he is already gone anyway.  Let’s sign JJ Hardy for less money and move Castro do a different position.

          • paulcatanese

            You caught me, we are agreeing, I guess my eagerness to have him go  is  overshadowing his staying. I do believe though that Castro will soon develop the power and look at it as Castro will produce the whole year vs the half year the Cubs have been getting out of Aram. Not entirely Arams fault as Pena did not give him the cover he should have had, Soriono did to an extent but not enough.
            Castro has had trouble in the three spot as well as Byrd and DeWitt and when they are there they are not there.
            So Aram being gone would mean no three hitter for next year, and the only real candidate would be Castro if he can adjust. However if they can use some of the money to trade for a mid level player they would now be in a position to do so.
            Without trading for pitching its all a moot point anyway, that they must have as the number one priority and what keeps sticking in my mind is the 1/2 year that Aram gives to the Cubs, that and what the bullpen blew would have made a big difference this year.

          • cc002600

            so you want to sign JJ Hardy after a career year ?
            That looks to be the classic “buy high” move to me.


          • Chadaudio

            Busted cc002600.  I guess I was interested in JJ Hardy because he seemed to be a good defensive SS, that wasn’t crazy old, and still seemed like an affordable free agent option.

          • cc002600

            Well, I guess we will have to agree to disagree.  But let me ask you this: He has produced on average .290, 25 HR, 100 RBI every year. How many third baseman are out there that can do that ?  How long did we go before ARAM looking for a 3B to replace Santo ?  Remember all those years ?? 

            I agree, maybe he’s not the answer that would bring them a divsion championship. You’re right, I don’t know.  But I DO know their chances would be MUCH MUCH MUCH better with him there than Dewiit or Baker or DJ.  That’s a guarantee, is it not ? 

            So you are saying we should just accept the fact they will suck for the next 4 years no matter what so we should just let him go ??  That’s makes no sense to me.  You want to give up without even trying ?

          • cubtex

            Let’s get Michael Young for 3rd. I would rather see him there for the next 2 years than ARam. They would probably be around the same price. Michael Young will be making 16 mil the next 2 years and the Rangers would like to dump that contract to sign CJ Wilson.

          • cc002600

            Would love to see it….
            but that will cost you players. ….but yes, I’m with you, if we could do it.

          • cubtex

            If ARam wants 3 years….I think some team would go 40 to 45 mil on a 3 year deal. I would not do that if I were the Cubs. The Marlins are opening up a new stadium…Ozzie Guillen as manager…money to spend and Ozzie would want nothing more to stick it to Cubs fans and sign ARam from them.

          • studio179

            Good. Hopefully, the Cubs offer Rami arbitration and get the Miami Marlins  picks. While they are at it, Miami can take a flyer on Zambrano, too.

          • cubtex

            that is the rumor now that Guillen is in Florida. How about packaging Z cash and a prospect for Logan Morrison?

          • studio179

            That would be great. The new Gm would really turn eyes.

          • paulcatanese

            No not without trying, without Aram yes. But I dont think thats not trying, if his being gone means the money would be there for pitching or they can sign a third baseman with maybe not the stats that Aram had but gives a complete year with the bat,baserunning and defense I would stay that is trying. and would benefit more in the long run. I believe more wins would come around with that type of player, consistant rather than the streaky play that Aram brings. His defense is not only cost the Cubs with throwing problems but his inconsistancy with his range causes additional problems for Castro. Balls that should have fielded by Aram are one time and not attempted the next time. A shortstop and second baseman depend of the range of the first baseman and the third baseman to be the same,each time. I guess I am getting a little technical here, and should just agree to disagree. We probably could go on like this for a long time. I wish though it were possible to put a graph on here to describe what I am trying to say as its almost impossible for me to put itall in words. One thing for sure Santo never ever dogged it from day one to the day he retired and you are right it took a long time to find someone who could play third.

          • paulcatanese

            One addition, I have no idea what Santo’s contracts with the Cubs were, but based on him being around the program for so long a time I would think he fell into the same category as Cavaretta, Banks and Wood, guys who put the Cubs first and not their pockets, something I dont think Aram does.

          • cc002600

            Well, that’s apples and oranges.  Its pretty silly to compare players from 60-70 years ago to today’s players. The whole world is completely different, that’s not a fair comparison, and we could sit here for hours debating that.

            Getting to other point about finding a 3B who can do all those things you’re dreaming of…..let me know when you come up with a name that we could realistically acquire.  Like I said, have you seen the FA list 3B’s ?  If you want Casey Blake or Mark Derosa than go for it, but that will get you nothing and you know it.  Sorry, but just aren’t that many good 3B’s out there. 

            Again, ARAM has his flaws, and I acknowledge that, but when you compare him to the others, you are nit-picking. There’s no such thing as a perfect player.  To me, this is a classic case of familiarity breeds contempt.  You are thinking the grass has to be greener on the other side, but I think you are way wrong. And I think you are overstating his defensive  shortcomings. His glove is nowhere near as bad as you are saying.


          • paulcatanese

            Well I guess you are right it is apples and oranges and it was more than
             a few years ago, but one thing is constant , and that would be selfish, and the player is the only one that counts.Money is all there is and an Agent.
            Never said I liked free agency, and think its the ruination of baseball.

            Getting to finding a 3B who can do all of those things, I did mention they or whoever plays third base that I would be satisfied with some and lesser figures if they could give a full season of consistant playing and would stick to that.

            Whatever Aram brouight with him from the Pirates has long disappeard from his game. I cannot understand that you cannot see him for what he is
            a half season player period, and to see him now demand an extended contract for more money who will be completely over the hill before it is over is not thinking of anything but himself and the stupidity of the team that signs him for that.

            As far as wanting the grass that is greener on the other side, I would say I want the grass that is here, burned out and spotty to be removed. And his glove, well hsi glove may be okay, its just the hand that he puts in it that is done.

          • Chadaudio

            It’s one of those things that doesn’t offer a good option either way… we are stuck when we don’t sign Aram, and stuck if we do sign him.

            I’ve lived through those terrible Vance Law/Louis Salazar 3B years too.  I know how grateful we needed to be for Aram… it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen anyway.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Now that’s a pretty fine post, Cubtex–if a person is interested in reality, they should sit up and take notice. You were right on. I’m just going to re-emphasize what you’ve already said.  

      You’re right: we cannot go into a full blown rebuilding mode. Not with 3 million fans at stake. It is going to take some very judicious FA acquistions. It needs to start on the pitching staff, specifically: the starting staff and a closer. 

      Let me fill you in on LaHair: you are so very right to say he’s not an OF. He can only play 1B. I really enjoyed his early ABs, because the ML pitchers always try to bust one inside with the heat, and he was ready. But right now he has no idea what’s going to happen, because after he sent a few balls out of the stadium, those pitchers made an adjustment. But he hasn’t, and lately he’s been talking to himself on the way back to the dugout after striking out. I really think he may work out to be another Hoffpauir. He’s got all the signs of it.

      Barney: right on. Sub-standard bat with sub-standard fielding. He’s a sub.

      LeMahieu: not enough power to be a ML starter. That may change, but….I doubt it.

      I’d love to have Michael Young, but….is Texas that dumb? Or desperate?


      Completely new ML Coaching staff, starting with Mark Riggins.
      #1 starter
      #2 starter
      #4 starter

      AND…..AND….if you or Tony made out the list, you’d include…..C!

      • cubtex

        Totally agree. This team has some major work to do this offseason, but it is not impossible. Do you honestly think they can aquire 2 starting pitchers better than Garza. I assume you have him listed as a #3 since that what you left off. Do you think Dempster is going anywhere? I don’t. So, you have Garza and Dempster as the 2 sure things imo. One other I would hope is Cashner. So now they need to add 2 from outside the organization.
        1B ? Fielder? PuJols? Pena? Other?
        2B  LeMahieu/Barney
        SS Castro
        C   Soto(if not traded)
        LF Soriano(if not traded)
        CF Brett Jackson
        RF ?    (Byrd needs to be a 4th if he is kept)

        It is impossible to predict what will happen as of now. Let’s see how this offseason plays out and hopefully the new GM can move Soriano and Byrd and upgrade this team defensively and starting pitching

        • Ripsnorter1

          Starting pitching:

          The Cubs need to acquire THREE, IMO, and here’s why:I am not counting on Cashner to be strong enough for it. If one should fault me for that, remember that the Cubs counted on him this year, and they got one–ONE–start out of him. And remember also, “he was healthy” at the start of the year. He’s got a fine arm. If only the Cubs can keep from wrecking it, ala Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, et al.

          Dumpster: he has continued to regress since he signed the big contract. I expect some more regression next year, too. He’s 10-13 with a 4.53 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP this year. More Hits than IP. He’s not an Ace. He’s a #5 starter on a good team.
          Garza: on a good staff, a #3 starter. You don’t agree? Think Giants. Think Cards. Think Phillies. Think Atlanta.  Think Tampa Bay, who dumped him. Think even the BoSox.  He’s a #3 (or lower) on all of those teams. He’s a #2 on the Yanks. #2 on the Blue Jays. I’m glad we have him, but he’s not a Verlander, or a Lee or a Halladay (32 starts, 25 Quality Starts)–guys who you know are going to win the game for you 75% of the time. 

          I want Wells in reserve/spot starter. I don’t want Lopez or Ortiz or Coleman starting. 1B: find a cheap way out. Not Pujols or Fielder. LaHair, if he could hit .250 with 25 taters would be as good as we have now.
          2B: We need a stick here. Where is Dan Uggla?
          3B: We need a productive Bat–you didn’t even list Aram. I supposed DeRosa could pull a Reed Johnson and have a good year for us. 
          LF: We’re stuck. Soriano. CF: We’re stuck.Byrd.RF: We need to sign someone with a bat. C: I’d play Soto and Castillo. 

          • Bill

            Rip, agree with much of what you said but disagree about Garza.  He’s at least a number 2 on most teams and a number 1 on many.  Yes, he’s maybe a 3 with the teams you listed but those are also the best teams in baseball.  His numbers stack up pretty well with the better pitchers in the NL.  The Cubs need another top 2 starter and probably another 4 or 5 starter. 

            I can’t see how this team is going to be any good next year and the FA pickings are slim.  I’d actually like to see them go big after a top of the rotation starter and then fill out the holes with 1 year contracts.  The 2013 FA class is loaded, so I’d rather invest the money in that class.  Use 2012 to see which kids can actually play at ML level.  Quade refused to play the youngsters so we didn’t get to see them.  I’d like to see Soto replaced with one of the kids.  

      • Anthony

        8 Banjo hitters and 4 Aces win Titles

    • Tom U

      Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

      I’m sorry, but is the goal to be the best mediocre team in the playoffs and get eliminated right away, or win the World Series?

      The latter can never be achieved if one clings to the cut and paste methods of the past. Let the fair-weather fans be damned, the time is now to burn this thing to the ground a start from scratch.

      That, or let the tally of years without a championship continue to run.

      • cubtex

        I understand the frustration…but they will have approximately a 120 mil payroll next year. They do not need to blow everything up.  This is not the Pirates or A’s. This is the NL Central. They do not need to throw  years away to rebuild.

        • Tom U

          But they are not the Yankees, Red Sox, or Angels; big market and big money teams with a reputation for contending and winning. The Cubs cannot attract the most elite free agents simply because they are the Cubs. If they want a player like that, they must grossly overpay. How’s that been working out for them?

          In order to turn the Cubs into World Series champions next season (not just a team that ekes into the playoffs) they will need.

          An elite leadoff hitter
          An elite #3 hitter
          An elite clean-up hitter
          Two starting pitchers able of contending for the Cy Young
          And a reliable closer

          All they have right now is an elite #2 hitter and a bunch of players that can maybe competently cover the open roster positions. 

          Can you get all of that for 120 million? Forget about trades, the history shows that they always trade the wrong player for the wrong player.

          • Chadaudio

            Tom U.  I understand your point, but you are taking it to a bit of an extreme.  The best team doesn’t always win the playoffs… as Rip said – don’t forget ’08.  Also, every team has holes… even the Yankees and Red Sox.  Finally, don’t forget, the Giants won it all without any of the key features listed in your batting lineup.

            The Cubs are seriously lacking.  They are lacking so bad that one (and probably even two) off-seasons can’t fix it.  But, the Yanks and Red Sox don’t win every year despite having everything.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I know history, and I also know our minor league system. You’ll disagree and hate me for this comment, but I don’t think we have any starters in our system–pitching starters or position starters. 

        Let the hate mail come, but Brett Jackson ain’t the man just yet–I hope he will be but baby, a lot has–and I mean, just has–to change with his K rate, and beyond that, our best hope in Flaherty. And after that….nothing that is as high as AA.

        • Chadaudio

          No hate mail here – that sounds about right.  I have a bit more faith in BJax then you… but not that much.

      • Ripsnorter1

        2008–we weren’t the best mediocre team in the playoffs that year; we were the best team. What happened? LOU HAPPENED. He quit mid-season. Man alive, the last time that happened was LEO the LIP DUROCHER. 

        The manager quits. The team loses. Happens every time…..

  • paulcatanese

    Unfortunatly with just two games left in a disatastorus season, Qua will go back to his veteran lineup tonight. What does that prove? Rookies were played last night and they lost, so what? What should happen is the rookies should play the last two, at least Qua look at the kids for three games in a row, not one game and out. Of course Qua being such an expert on the quality of players he knows that these kids do not figure at all in future plans for the Cubs and need no further evaluation than one game, and in some cases one at bat, Qua knows, wow what an ego. The ones who did not play last nite should be in the lineup tonite, and tommorow nite. As for Campana and Johnson in center field maybe Qua cannot stand either one of them making catches that do not require the “Patented” sliding  of Byrd to get to the ball. Oh and we need to see Hill out there again to show the kids how to hit or not pass a ball. Pena needs to get to 30, bat him leadoff, hah. Soriono does not need the game to show anyone how its played.Dont need to see Colvin strike out again, its getting painful to watch.I just do not see it any other way, the kids will either be back or not, but dont base it on one game Qua.

    • cubtex

      One other arguement is that if you are Garza who has pitched his heart out all year…is it fair to him to throw a minor league team out there behind him? If I was a pitcher trying to salvage a .500 record in a disastrous season…I would want at least some talent behind me. If I was a veteran pitcher….I would not want to pitch with last nights team behind me. Wouldn’t you agree Paul?

      • paulcatanese

        Yes I agree with you,but you did mention one little thing that needs repeating, Garza has pitched his heart out, and above all I think he is the complete team player. With his attitude I dont think it really matters who they put behind him, he will give 150% and thats what matters to him. ( boy I have come a long way in my estimate of Garza) I again think he is the kind of guy who would enjoy his outing tonight and only if he personally messes up would he be upset. Watched him all year and when he is in the dugout one can clearly see how much he cares. One other point, other than maybe LaHair I think the defense is better with the kids than the vets.
        Now watch this all blow up in my face tonight. But I put this on you, as its been youre support of Garza that had me take a much longer look at him,
        I have to have a cop out somewhere.

        • cubtex

          I am just saying to play a bunch of kids when Coleman is pitching is fine…but do you want to do that with your best pitcher moving forward for next year on his last start of the year? I am just throwing that out there Paul. Maybe Garza could care less who is behind him…but I know that would not be the case with many other pitchers in the league.

          • paulcatanese

            You answered what I was saying, it would not be the case with other pitchers in the league, there were so many games this year that Garza had every right to be upset publicly ( as Z would have done) and he didnt. first game,last game no difference. By the way he is the kind of pitcher I would have been happy to play behind (as I made a ton of errors) kidding but he would be great to play behind.

      • Tom U

        I understand your sentiment, but respectfully disagree. What this time of the year is for, if you’re not in the playoffs, is looking forward, not back. You can debate all you want about its relevance, but game experience is game experience. Garza should be able to understand.

        • cubtex

          It is a business Tom. Players at Garza’s age and service time are looking for that time they can cash in and be a free agent. Playing a minor league team behind him can take money out of his pocket. That might not be Garza’s thought process…but believe me…many pitchers would think that way.

          • Tom U

            Understood, but that’s not his choice. Someone should be looking at the bigger picture.

  • John G

    Is anyone going to watch the Bartman movie tonight on ESPN?

    • studio179

      I was about 20 rows behind him and saw the whole mess live. I’ll pass.

    • Tom U

      Tough choice, that, or Spartacus.

      • paulcatanese

        Tom, Spartacus has less violence.

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments