Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 10/17/11

Welcome back CCO fans! Yes, it’s that time of year again, when our favorite sport moves to warmer climates. Now, the talk turns to Estrellas and Aguilas, Criollos and Senadores, Tiburones and Caribes, Naranjeros and, of course, those Yaquis. With 22 Cub players (and counting), the Winter Leagues will certainly have a lot of local interest. The Arizona Fall League is in full swing, as are the World Cup/Pan-Am games. So as the winter starts to creep in, grab some nachos and churros, because ¡Debo estar en la primera fila!

Note: Coverage will be by calendar week, Sunday through Saturday

Dominican Winter League

Aguilas Cibaenas
Daytona closer Frank Batista is part of the Eagles’ pitching staff this winter. Batista saw his first action on Saturday, with a perfect 1.1 innings pitched as Cibaenas downed Este 6-1.

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Leones de Escogido
The Lions have a pair of I-Cub teammates in catcher Steve Clevenger and LHP John Gaub. Both saw action in Escogido’s 4-3 win over Licey on Friday. Clevenger was 1-for-4 with a double, while Gaub allowed two earned runs in 0.1 inning, but was credited with a hold.

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Clevenger also struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance on Saturday.

Toros del Este
Tennessee Smokie outfielder Nelson Perez is a member of the Bulls this season. In his first action on Saturday, Perez was called upon for his specialty, pinch-hitting, but didn’t see a pitch as he was replaced after a pitching change.

Estrellas de Oriente
The Stars brought in a couple of relievers in Tennessee RHP Rafael Dolis and Iowa LHP Scott Maine. Dolis was the first to be called upon, and gave up an unearned run in 0.1innings pitched in a 5-0 loss to Este on Friday.

Scott Maine was the hard-luck loser after surrendering an unearned run to Escogido on Saturday, failing to record an out in the 3-2 loss.

Mexican Pacific League

Naranjeros de Hermosillo
The Orangemen of Hermosillo are leaning on Iowa RHP Blake Parker early, pitching a perfect inning with two strikeouts in their opening day 5-1 loss to Mexicali on Tuesday.

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Parker then had a couple of identical lines in a pair of wins this past weekend. On Friday, Parker struck out the only batter he faced in a 15-9 win over Los Mochis. Parker took it to the ‘Canes again on Saturday, earning a hold for striking out his only batter faced in an 11-5 victory.

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Venados de Mazatlan
After being loaned to the Mexican League this past summer, former starter RHP Hung-Wen Chen is being cast as a closer for the Stags. Chen struck out a batter in a perfect inning of work in Mazatlan’s 16-2 opening day win over Culiacan on Tuesday.

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Chen had a repeat performance on Saturday, closing out a 13-1 whitewash of Guasave with a strikeout and no runs.

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Yaquis de Obregon
The defending Caribbean Champions Obregon will be depending on a couple of pitchers from the system to look for a repeat. Tennessee RHP Marco Carrillo was signed late by the Tribe, and got a start on Saturday. He held Mexicali to one earned run over five innings with a strikeout, but the Yaquis ended up losing 12-4. Tennessee RHP Oswaldo Martinez also saw action and gave up two earned runs while striking out a batter in an inning of work.

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In the opening game on Tuesday, Oswaldo Martinez earned the victory with an inning of scoreless relief, striking out one in Obregon’s 10-7 win over Navojoa.

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Venezuelan Winter League

Caribes de Anzoategui
The Indians brought in Daytona RHP Eduardo Figueroa, who’s had a rough go early on. In Wednesday’s opener, Figueroa gave up an earned run in 0.2 innings, as Anzoategui lost to La Guaira 6-3. Then on Friday, Figueroa was bombed for four earned runs in 0.1 innings in a 13-4 loss, also to La Guira.

Tigres de Aragua
Iowa infielder Jonathan Mota is off to a very slow start, going 1-for-10 to start the season before finding a spot on the bench. His lone ht was on Thursday, as he was 1-3 with an RBI in a 5-1 win against Margarita.

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Leones de Caracas
Trying to pick up where he left off last year, Iowa infielder Marwin Gonzalez got off to a slow start for the Lions. In the opener on Wednesday, he was 1-for-5 in a 6-0 win over Margarita.

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Gonzales was 0-for-5 in Caracas’ 5-4 squeeker over Lara on Thursday. However, he broke out big against the Cardinals on Friday with a 3-for-4 night, as the Lions defeated Lara 10-3.

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Marwin Gonzalez then followed that with a 1-for-4 performance in a 6-3 loss to Anzoategui on Saturday.

Tiburones de La Guaira
Boise RHP Hector Mayora has started well for the Sharks, tossing 1.2 perfect innings in La Guaira’s 13-4 blowout victory over Anzoategui on Friday.

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Navegantes del Magallanes
The Navs have the greatest amount of representation of Cub prospects of any team in the winter leagues, with six players from the system. Iowa RHP Robert Coello pitched two innings and let in an earned run as Magallanes lost to Zulia 3-2 on Friday.

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However, the biggest acquisition for the Navigators has been Iowa first baseman Bryan LaHair. After winning the Pacific Coast League’s MVP award, LaHair put on a show in Magallanes’ opener on Wednesday, going 4-for-4 with a double, two home runs, and three RBI as they blew past Zulia 14-8. One of LaHair’s homers came off of Iowa teammate Austin Bibens-Dirkx.

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LaHair came back down to earth on Thursday and Friday, going 1-for-4 in a 13-4 win and 0-for-4 in a 3-2 loss, both to Zulia. But then LaHair was on his game on Saturday, as he was 2-for-5 with a double, home run, and two RBI as the Navs beat Margarita 9-0.

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Aguilas del Zulia
The Eagles brought in Iowa RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who had less than a successful Opening Day start for Zulia. Bibens-Dirkx went three innings and served up two home runs, as well as striking out two, and was tagged with the loss as they went down 14-8 to Magallenas.

Arizona Fall League

Mesa Solar Sox
The Arizona Fall League is underway, with the Sox sporting a 3-8 record. However, their performance is not due, in most, to the Cubs’ prospects on the team. Based on the Major League standard of 3.5 at bats per game, Josh Vitters is currently leading the league with a .405 average through nine games. Playing mainly first base, Vitters has two home runs and leads the team with ten RBI.

Shortstop Junior Lake has also hit well, going .333 with three homers, six RBI, and a league best seven stole bases. However, defense has been his bugaboo, with three fielding errors. D.J. LeMahieu started out slow, but has picked up some steam recently. He’s currently hitting .293, including a home run, six RBI, and five stolen bases. LeMahieu has mainly played third base, but made a couple of appearances at first base.

Pitching for Mesa has been its own worst enemy, as the Sox pitchers have consistently failed to hold leads. Starter Trey McNutt has done a decent job, starting two games and tossing five innings. He has a 1.80 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. However, he hasn’t struck out anyone and issued three walks. Reliever Marcus Hatley hasn’t been as lucky. In 5.1 innings he’s given up seven earned runs for an 11.81 ERA and was tagged for two losses. Closer Chris Carpenter and Andrew Cashner have fared a little better. Both have hit 100 MPH on the radar gun, as Carpenter has a 1.59 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 6.2 innings while Cashner has allowed two earned runs in three innings. Carpenter has nine strikeouts, and Cashner two.

Pan-Am/World Cup
The 2011 Baseball World Cup concluded on Saturday, with the Netherlands defeating Cuba 2-1 for the championship. The USA made the medal round, but their third place game with Canada was cancelled due to severe weather. The USA’s final record was 7-4. Iowa outfielder Brett Jackson ended up hitting .412 with three doubles, a home run, four RBI, and two stolen bases. Tennessee LHP Jeffrey Beliveau was 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 4.1 innings with seven strikeouts. Team USA will now begin the Pan-Am games on October 16 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

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  • Redlarczykg

    Tom,

    Great reporting for those wanting to keep up with Cub winter ball!

    • Tom U

      Thank you Red.

  • Aaron

    Tom,

    Thanks for the updates!

    As for our recent topic of discussion (Theo and compensation)…..who do you think the Cubs will part with from their system?

    What I heard recently, is not only are the Cubs unwilling to give up top prospects, but they’re also unwilling to part ways with guys expected to be on their 40-man roster this winter…and the guys that would appear to fit that description would be:
    M. Gonzalez
    Vitters
    Szczur
    Flaherty
    Antigua
    Lake

    ….guys on the bubble would be: Jay Jackson, Rhee, Ridling, and Searle

    Personally, given what the Rays gave up (Winn)n to get Piniella, and the Marlins (2 mid-tier prospects) gave up to get Guillen….I’d say a more than fair compensation package would be:

    Jay Jackson and Rhee for Epstein and Lars Anderson (in every case I’ve come across in baseball, there’s always a prospect going the other way as well)
     

    • cubtex

      Out of those players you listed……I would hope they do not send Vitters or Sczur. The others don’t really project out to be more than role players IMO. Vitters and Szcur could end up being above average mlb starters.

    • Vivid_Reality

      Reported that Boston wants McNutt now. I could live with this but still believe it would be foolish and an overpay. Rhee and J Jackson is probably the most fair offer I have seen yet. Both have decent upside and would add solid pitching depth to the system.

    • Tom U

      Aaron, I haven’t heard exactly what type of players the Red Sox are looking for, except for that they want a “Kevin Youkilis-type” of player. The only player close to fitting that description in the Cubs’ system is Josh Vitters, who should be off-limits. 

      Other than that, we just have to guess. While everybody always wants pitching, there is no precedent for giving up one of your top pitching prospects in one of these incidents. Usually, it is a position player. That would rule Trey McNutt out.

      In looking at the Red Sox needs, they can use a shortstop and a run producing outfielder. The Cubs have already ruled out Starlin Castro, so Marwin Gonzalez could be on the table. Brett Jackson has also been ruled out, and both he and Szczur wouldn’t be considered run producers. The closest the Cubs would have in the system would be Reggie Golden, but I don’t think the Sox are going to want someone as far away from being ready as he is. 

      Catching is also a need, and Geovanny Soto compares favorably to previous comp players Randy Winn and Manny Sanguien. 

      Two other names that could work, and could be a blessing in disguise, are Chris Carpenter and Junior Lake. Carpenter has had control and injury issues, but also a 100 mph fastball. Lake looks like a future offensive superstar, but basically has no defensive position. 

      As mentioned in previous posts, Jay Jackson and Rubi Silva would also be players that would fit their needs and be considered fair compensation.

      I would not give up Rhee or Antigua, and I don’t think Ridling and/or Searle will “get it done”.

      • Dorasaga

        I know I asked Aaron in the latest Theo Watch, but might as well again… Tom, what’s so good about Antigua? He’s age 21 but still inconsistent at single-A.

        Great thanks for the report. The Lions of Caracas in Venezuela should be a fun team to follow. They have passionate fans and a strong baseball tradition. I had the pleasure of watching three of their home games in 2009-’10 online. Great fun!

  • John_CC

    Tom, what do you think playing Vitters at 1B almost exclusively now means to this off-season regarding the near future (2012) 1B situation in Chicago?  If the organization is still hoping that Vitters becomes the 1 rounder that they drafted it seems that they may shy away from the long term contracts on Fielder / Pujols.  And Pena/Boras will be looking for 3 years now (which is insane) so hopefully that puts Pena off the chart too…

    I guess they really need someone in charge and soon…!!

    • paulcatanese

      I agree John, in fact I think they should stay away from Pujols and Fielder altogether. Those contracts will put anyone in a bind for a long time. As far as Pena, good clubhouse guy or not, he would be looking for at least 40-50 million for the three years, and he is just not worth that, wasnt for the 10 he got this time around.

    • Tom U

      Vitters has experience playing first, so playing it in the AFL shouldn’t be considered a big deal. However, Vitters is listed as an outfielder. If he starts to see more action there, that should start to raise some eyebrows.

      I personally don’t believe that the Cubs should sign any free agent first basemen. For one reason, it would be another incident of providing false hope. The free agents now on the market should only be pursued if you believe you are a player away form contending. Anyone who believes that, well I have some referrals for you.

      Another is that the system is pretty stacked at first base. They can’t be all bad! In the 1980′s I saw the Dodgers keep the wrong first basemen in Mike Marshall, Greg Brock, and Franklin Stubbs but got rid of the wrong one, Sid Bream. Bream was key in turning around the Pirates and Braves. I’m tired of seeing the Cubs make the wrong moves with there own people. Keep trying the players in the system. One of them is bound to work!

  • paulcatanese

    I suppose we can attribute any sucess of Cub players in the AFL to Qua, as I’m sure they took notes from the meeting at the end of the season on what to do and improve thier game. Give me a break. Good coverage Tom.

  • Chuck

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com is saying that Troy McNutt is at the center of discussion for compensation.

    • daverj

      I think McNutt is too much.  I’d rather wait a year for Theo or hire a different GM.

      • J Daniel

        Remember, that is what they are asking for.  As the Stones once said, “You don’t always get what you want”.  Seems like the asking price keeps coming down.  They want to get this done today as well so they can make their changes official as well.  I don’t think it will be McNutt but they will get it done by late tonight/early tomorrow. 

        I expect a press conference tomorrow.

      • cc002600

        I agree

      • Ripsnorter1

        Yup.

    • Jay from sandwich

      No way should we give or top pitching prospect they can pound sand.
      Vitters and Szczur are also no way / pound sand as well.

  • paulcatanese

    If Vitters and LaHair can compete and handle the first base job, and, Pena is gone along with Pujols and Fielder from thier respective teams, the Cubs would have as much chance as anyone to finish at the top of the Central Division. With any other teams in the Central those three first basemen will not make enough of an impact to whatever team in the Central decides to bring them in. Also the Brewers and Cardinals become just another team and can be finished ahead of. Also if the two of them (Pujols, Fielder) end up in the American League all the better. Pena is not going to affect another team either way, so is not a factor. The only team one of those two ( Pujols, Fielder) could put over the top would be the Reds, and then what do they do with Votto?

    • Tony_Hall

      I don’t expect Pujols to be going anywhere ( I could be wrong), and they will be getting Wainwright back as well.  St. Louis is going to still be a very good team for the next few years.  Give them 3, 4 years, and those contracts will all catch up to them.

      • paulcatanese

        I dont either Tony, I think he will stay there, he will retire a Cardinal, also I think in the end he will take less dollars to stay. Very surprised if he moves on.

  • paulcatanese

    Still trying to get an image that works.

    • paulcatanese

      Thats not right either, picture is reversed and was supposed to be up on top next to my name. After looking at it, maybe its a good thing, sorry guys.

    • John_CC

      Great picture, Paul!  As Harry would have said…”look at that handsome young man…”

      Did you click Avatar, then browse, then upload?  Wonder why it doesn’t work…

      • paulcatanese

        Yes, I did, but some of the pictures are not the right format, part of the problem. The picture was from Germany 1956 while playing for the Black Knights baseball team (Army).

        • Chuck

          Paul, remember the days going to a Cubs game with Santo at 3rd base?  When the Cubs would be up to bat, he was in the corner of the dugout having a smoke. If you were watching the game on WGN, you could see smoke coming out of the dugout. These days we complain about players having a beer and eating chicken on days they are not pitching.  What goes on in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse.

          • paulcatanese

            Absolutly correct, and check out Leland from the Tigers. The new dougouts have those stairs going away from the stands and guys dont have to go too far.And how about Fielder, they bring a lawn chair in for him to sit in between innings. But then I know what he does in the clubhouse,,,, eat.

        • Dorasaga

          I was thinking: It must be a young Paul in the old, war-torn Germany! Love the shot, Paul. I’m also glad that baseball stayed in Germany after so many changes.

      • paulcatanese

        John, dont know how but when I came back in it was up, If I did it great, if Neil did it for me thanks.

    • Tom U

      Very nice Paul. Like John CC said, very dashing.

    • John G

      You look like Fonzie.

      The one from Happy Days, not our left fielder.

      Except fonzie would never be caught carrying a purse.

      • paulcatanese

        That purse was for carrying telephone numbers,(actually a camera case).Plus thier were’nt  any juke boxe’s in Germany to punch.

  • Demitri

    I know its very early but when will we see an official top prospects list? There will be several new faces on that list

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs in AFL (10/17): Junior Lake (DH): 1-for-4, 2B, BB, 2RBI, SB; DJ LeMahieu (3B): 0-for-4, BB, R

  • John G

    Hahahaha – The Cards would not be where they are, were it not for the Cubs.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ycn-10220791

  • cc002600

    someone help me with this.
    I keep hearing from some of these genuises on the radio that the red sox have the leverage on these neogotiations. whaaaaaaat ??????? How ?

    let’s look at the facts. The red sox have an employee under contract for 1 more year that does not want to be there nor do they want him (if they did, they would have offered him more money and extended him to try and get him to stay, but they didn’t) What am I missing ? 

    All the cubs have to do is say “thanks, but no thanks. You pay him the $7M for next year for doing nothing. And we’ll just hire him next winter. bye, bye.” 

    The cubs are going nowhere in 2012… and outside of a couple guys, there are very few good FA’s out there this winter.  I would not expect alot of activity this winter for the cubs, except maybe they try to get rid of some guys (Z, Sori, Byrd) ….Heck, Randy Bush could do that.  OR bring in Josh Byrnes for 1 year until Theo gets here, then he stays on as his assistant after 2012. 

    The cubs have all the leverage. Not the Red sox.

    I hope TR sticks to his guns !!!
    screw the sawwwwx

    • Jay from Samdwich

      Rickets please do not give up Terry McNutt or any other top prospect. tell him to pound sand we will wait tell next offseason..

    • cubtex

      I said the same thing a couple of days ago. If Ricketts really wants Theo….hire a guy who he was going to bring with him. Make him interem GM making decisions based on Boy Wonder’s philosophy. This puppet GM will run club for 1 year and Boy Wonder will come on board at end of 2012. No compensation paid and Ricketts will have his guy…..1 year later.

      • cc002600

        see ? I knew we could go back to being on same page. :-)

      • Jay from Samdwich

        I agreed and yes you did

      • paulcatanese

        Add a few secret e-mails in there and it could happen.

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments.

  • Dorasaga

    I really hope to see Brett Jackson leading off in the Pan American Games. He was raking hot the past few weeks and comfortable there.

    This Baseball World Cup had served its term. This 2011 was its last. Unlike the WBC (an entertaining exhibition series), this was the real competitive ground where Team USA played their hearts out against other serious talents. I’m somehow sad that, from now on, I won’t be able to see another thing like this for a long, long time.