Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 10/31/11

A Happy Halloween to all from the CCO, and una suerte de vísperas del día de los muertos to everyone in the Winter Leagues.

Rafael Dolis and Hung-Wen Chen experienced the “tricks” of life as a professional baseball player, while Marco Carrillo, Robert Coello, and Bryan LaHair provided the “treats“. Meanwhile, Chris Carpenter continued to bewitch AFL hitters, while D.J. LeMahieu and Junior Lake were running like the proverbial “bat out of hell“.

Along with a recap of the Pan-American Games finals, come in, if you dare, to this week’s edition of the Down on the Farm Report … BOO!!!!

Dominican Winter League

Aguilas Cibaenas
In his last action for the Eagles, Frank Batista gave up two earned runs in a third of an inning as Cibaenas lost to Licey 11-6 last Sunday.

Gigantes del Cibao
The Giants’ Mario Mercedes made only one appearance this week, going 0-for-2 on Sunday in a 3-2 loss to Oriente. However, Cibao also brought in outfielder Abner Abreu, who was acquired by the organization in the Kosuke Fukudome deal. Abreu was 0-for-2 in his debut on Tuesday, this time losing 7-4 to Oriente.

Leones de Escogido
Steve Clevenger continues to receive uneven playing time for the Lions, usually getting only two or three at bats per start. He was 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI in Sunday’s 9-2 win over Este.

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Steve Clevenger was 0-1 with a walk both on Wednesday and Friday, as Escogido lost 5-2 to Oriente Wednesday and 4-3 to Licey on Friday.

On Tuesday, John Gaub failed to record an out, giving up an earned run in a 7-4 loss to Cibao. Gaub rebounded and tossed a scoreless inning in Friday’s 4-3 loss to Licey.

Toros del Este
Right-hander Alberto Cabrera got an appearance for the Bulls on Sunday, allowing an earned run in two innings as Este lost to Escogido 9-2.

Outfielder Nelson Perez is finally beginning to see more action, as he was 2-for-3 on Wednesday in a 5-2 loss to Cibaenas. Perez was 0-for-2 with a walk as the Herd defeated Oriente 6-3 on Friday.

Estrellas de Oriente
Rafael Dolis continued his uneven play for the Stars, failing to record an out in an appearance on Sunday, as Oriente was victorious over Cibao 3-2. Dolis then saw a third of an inning of work in Thursday’s 5-2 win over Escogido. He gave up an unearned run while striking out a batter in an inning as the Stars lost 7-4 to Escogido on Saturday. In that game, Scott Maine gave Oriente 1.2 scoreless innings and a strikeout. Maine also tossed a third of an inning on Friday in a 6-3 loss to Este.

Mexican Pacific League

Naranjeros de Hermosillo
Reliever Blake Parker remains a rock for the Orangemen, extending his scoreless streak to seven innings, as he struck out a batter and picked up his third hold in a thrilling 2-0 victory over Culiacan on Sunday.

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Blake Parker blanked Navojoa for an inning on Wednesday, striking out a batter as Hermosillo lost 6-4. He then held the Mayos scoreless again on Thursday while striking out two in a 4-3 loss.

However, all good things must end, as Blake Parker gave up two earned runs and blew a save on Saturday as the Growers lost 5-3 to Guasave.

Venados de Mazatlan
After a promising start, Hung-Wen Chen has fallen on some hard times for the Stags. Chen struck out a batter on Tuesday, but gave up four earned runs in a third of an inning as Mazatlan lost to Obregon 9-4. Once again, Chen allowed four earned runs in an inning on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to Los Mochis.

Yaquis de Obregon
Marco Carrillo continued to roll along, hurling six innings and striking out three while letting in one earned run in the Tribes’ 3-2 loss to Mazatlan on Wednesday.

After a bumpy ride last week, Oswaldo Martinez is back on track, getting credit for the victory as he tossed a scoreless inning in a 9-4 win over Mazatlan on Tuesday.

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Oswaldo Martinez continued throwing zeroes on Thursday, striking out a batter as the Yaquis lost 3-2 to Mazatlan. He then added another two-thirds of a scoreless inning on Friday in a 5-4 loss to Culiacan.

Venezuelan Winter League

Caribes de Anzoategui
Righty Eduardo Figueroa finally got a chance to redeem himself, throwing a scoreless inning on Friday as the Indians defeated the Cardinals of Lara 9-2.

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Leones de Caracas
Marwin Gonzalez bounced back from a poor showing last week, starting with a 2-for-5 performance on Sunday in a 10-5 win over Lara.

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In Wednesday’s 7-2 win over Aragua, Marwin Gonzalez paced the Lions’ attack out of the number two hole by going 3-for-5.

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Gonzalez finished the week by going 1-for-2 on Thursday as the Pride lost to Zulia 5-2.
Tiburones de La Guaira

Last week saw Hector Mayora roughed up in a couple of appearances. He was able to get back to work on Tuesday, blanking Lara for an inning and striking out a batter as the Sharks lost 7-2. Mayora struck out a batter and earned a hold on Saturday, as LaGuaira fell 10-8 to Aragua.

Navegantes del Magallanes
Robert Coello remains impressive in a relief role. On Sunday, Coello struck out four in two innings as the Navigators bested Aragua 2-1. In that game, Bryan LaHair was 1-for-4.

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Coello continued to have his strikeout pitch going for him on Wednesday, dusting off three batters in 1.2 innings in a IP, 0.00 ER, 3 K, on 10/26 (W 8-1 over Aragua)

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Then on Saturday’s 12-inning 6-5 thriller over Caracas, Robert Coello earned a hold as he shut out the Lions for two innings, striking out two batters.

After Bryan LaHair’s 1-for-4 performance on Sunday, he earned some well deserved rest, not seeing action until going 0-for-3 with a walk in a 3-1 loss to Aragua on Friday.

Bryan LaHair then blasted two doubles and drove in three runs while going 3-for-5 to help propel the Nav’s to a 6-5 victory over Caracas on Saturday.

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Arizona Fall League
The Mesa Solar Sox went 3-3 for the week to maintain their record of a game under .500 at 11-12. Cubs’ hitters saw some reduced playing time, but the rest proved beneficial to some. D.J. LeMahieu batted .400 for the week to raise his overall average to .297. LeMahieu also stole four bases to improve his total to ten, second in the league. Josh Vitters went 4-for-14 to maintain his .355 average while cracking his third home run of the fall. However, things weren’t so rosy for Junior Lake. After being player-of-the-week last week, Lake slumped a little by going only 2-for-18. But Lake did steal two bases to raise his total to 13, tying an AFL record.

Proving to be virtually unhittable in Arizona has been Chris Carpenter. The flame-throwing righty had two more appearances, allowing no earned runs in three innings while striking out three batters. Opposing hitters are now down to a .200 average against Carpenter. Marcus Hatley is beginning to show some signs of life after being knocked around a bit. Hatley did give up three earned runs in three innings this week, but picked up his first victory on Saturday. Trey McNutt struggled in his only start on Tuesday, letting in three earned runs in 2.1 innings while striking out two batters. After suffering what was claimed to be a “minor” injury, Andrew Cashner was back on the mound this week and served up three earned runs in an inning of work on Saturday.

Pan-Am/World Cup
The baseball finals in the Pan-Am games were completed on October 25, with Team USA facing Canada for the gold medal. The USA was up 1-0 in the sixth inning, when Iowa catcher Chris Robinson scored the go-ahead run for Canada, putting them in the lead 2-1. That’s how the game would end up, with Canada grabbing the gold and the US the silver. Cuba defeated Mexico 6-0 to take the bronze. Cubs’ minor leaguer Brett Jackson did not make an appearance, while Jeffrey Beliveau pitched a scoreless inning.

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Quote of the Day

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again." – Bob Feller

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  • Clark_N_Addison

    Wait.. What?  LeMahieu has 10 SB?

    • J Daniel

      It is the AFL though.

    • Tom U

      It seems as though the assignment for LeMahieu was to work on his baserunning, perhaps as a potential lead-off hitter next season.

      LeMahieu demonstrated in his call-ups to have good to very good straight-line speed. One of the reasons his minor league total is so low was due to the fact that he was batting in either the number two or three hole most of his career. Those are spots that you usually don’t run a lot, especially with sluggers like Ryan Flaherty and Rebel Ridling batting behind you.

  • Aaron

    Tony LaRussa just retired….perhaps Dave Duncan is in play after all

    • daverj

      That would be a great play!

      • MikeT_2008

        Absolutely that would be a great play, I would be stunned if he came to the Cubs but hey I thought there was no chance that Theo would come either.

    • John G

      What are the chances the Cards interview Qball for the job after Theo and Hoyer fire him?

  • MikeT_2008

    I know this is a bit off the board but what happened to Hayden Simpson, I know he got demoted this season but A. Where did he go and B. How is he coming along?

    • texcubnut

      I hope Simpson is the compensation for Hoyer or part of the package for Theo!

    • Tom U

      Coming off of a bad case on Mono, Simpson was supposed to work as a piggy-back starter until his conditioning and stamina improved. It had the opposite effect, leading him to become “gassed” shortly after mid-season.

      He was sent down to rookie ball to get some rest and rebuild his confidence. He was not asked to participate in the Winter Leagues in order to recuperate and rebuild his strength.

      Given that he supposedly has four pitches and good control, I wouldn’t count him out yet. However, he has a lot to prove next season.

  • Chuck

    Just saw that Tony LaRussa is retiring.

    • Dorasaga

      Me too, but 012 hours later. LOL

  • texcubnut

    Aaron, would love to have Dave Duncan but what makes you think Tony Larussa is out of play? The St. Louis media and the cardinals fans were brutal to him this year. One of the things Larussa can be is vindictive. What better way to stick it to all of them than to join the Cubs and Theo?  In any case, Larussa’s retirement is temporary at best, wouldn’t you agree?

    • Aaron

      LaRussa might be vindictive, as Rolen and Rasmus can attest to, but there is NO way he would ever join the Cubs. I suppose anything can happen, and Epstein would be the greatest chance the Cubs would have to pull off something like that, but c’mon….dude is one of Reinsdorf’s best friends. Could you actually see him doing something like that to Jerry?

      Duncan is a long-shot at best, as either he’ll stick it out for another year in St. Louis, or he’ll retire to spend time with his ailing wife.

      I’d love for a Cubs staff to include:
      pitching coach-Duncan
      hitting coach-Jaramillo (don’t know who’d replace him, and he’s well-regarded)
      bench coach-Greg Maddux
      1B coach-Dawson (though, along with Maddux, it appears he has no desire to be part of a field coaching staff)
      3B coach-Von Joshua
      bullpen coach-Dennis Lewellyn

      Now why do I basically have 3 “hitting coaches” and 3 “pitching coaches” pretty much in Dawson, Joshua, and Jaramillo, and Maddux, Duncan, and Jaramillo? Fact is, if they all can work together to get in the ears of the players, I think they’d listen. They’d have no less than 3 Hall of Famers on the staff in Sandberg, Maddux (future), and Dawson. That gives them instant credibility, and Maddux can learn under Duncan’s tutelage to be a future pitching coach when he retires (though Maddux pretty much is already ready)

      None of this will come to pass in my opinion, but one can dream, right?

      • John G

        Do you think Kerry Wood is a potential pitching coach? His playing days are numbered and he’d like to stay with the Cubs in some capacity.

        One can dream, right?

        • Aaron

          nope. I think Dempster does, but not Wood. I really don’t think he wants to be a coach.

      • texcubnut

        I love that staff. Wow! Imagine Duncan and Maddux together helping Cubs pitchers. They could make a pitcher out of me and I’m an ex-infielder and 60 years old!!  You are right about Larussa. He wouldn’t turn on his friend Reinsdorf and where ever he ends up as a manager, GM, front office or part owner of a club, Duncan is sure to follow.

    • cc002600

      LaRussa has already said  he’s done managing, plus, he said 2 years ago he would never manage the cubs……

      AND, why would cubs, who are in rebuilding mode, want to hire a guy who is 67 ?……. that doesn’t make sense.

      never, ever, ever going to happen.

      • texcubnut

        He’s not done….I agree he won’t manage the Cubs, but he’s not done. He will end up somewhere in some capacity after taking a year off and do some broadcast work.   Why would any ballclub want Larussa at age 67 you ask? Oh, I don’t know, how about 3 world championchips!!!!

  • Chuck

    According to ESPN, Bruce Levin reports that Theo and Jed Hoyer met with Quade last week in Florida discussing his status.  BTW, my sources did not see Theo at any Starbucks here in FL.

  • Neil

    Cubs will introduce Hoyer and McLeod at 3 p.m. Tuesday with Wrigley Field press conference.

  • Neil

    Cubs to decline Samardzija option, re-sign at lower salary; Jed’s p.c. at 3 p.m. Tuesday; Quade in limbo.

  • daverj

    I think the Derek Lowe deal today gives some indication of what the Cubs could get for Zambrano.  Braves are eating $10 million of the $15 million Lowe is owed in 2012 and received a non-prospect single A reliever.

    Z is a little different than Lowe in that Z has more upside, but also comes with the “personality” issue reputation.  I’d say those balance out so if we shipped Z out, we could expect to get a team to pay about $5 million of his salary and give us a low level minor leaguer in exchange for him.

    • Aaron

      that’s a bit of a stretch there, Sir.

      Zambrano was 30 this year. Lowe was 38…VERY different pitchers, with Zambrano having the better overall stats.

      Zambrano is worth more in terms of prospect value, but the Cubs will still have to pick up a good portion of his salary.

      • daverj

        I don’t think it’s a stretch at all … Zambrano’s “attitude” reputation as well as his declining skill profile make them pretty similar value-wise.

        I’ll happily eat my words if I’m wrong, but I don’t see the Cubs getting any more for Zambrano than the Braves got for Lowe.

        I think the most likely scenario is Zambrano staying a Cub because his trade value is very low right now.

      • cc002600

        I’ve said this for years.  Given the history of latin players fudging their age, I will guarantee you that Z is much older than 30.  Just look at him.

        I would bet he is 33 or 34

        There is NO WAY he is 30.

        Just sayin….

        • daverj

          Agreed.  He both peaked and declined earlier than expected.  That would seem to make him a few years older than reported.

  • Aaron

    After review of free agents, and listening to what Epstein had to say about working counts….I believe Johny Damon, Jason Kubel and Grady Sizemore might top his list. I also now believe Carlos Pena might be a lock to come back for that very reason, while ARAM, Byrd, Soriano, and Barney are not locks to come back at all, other than Barney as perhaps a back-up.

    The Red Sox lineup last year averaged almost 3.95 Pitches/plate appearance, while the guys I just listed averaged around 3.7 P/PA. 

    When Epstein talks about “grinders”, I do not believe he’s referencing typical “grinders” that Cubs fans might think of like Augie Ojeda, Reed Johnson, and Darwin Barney, but guys like the ones I just listed in Damon, Kubel, and Sizemore.

    If the Cubs land Sizemore, then I fully expect them to find a taker for Tyler Colvin and go with an OF of:
    B. Jackson-CF

    and they might also go with Kubel or Damon if they can land them on the cheap. One thing I can tell you is that if the Cubs believe they can get Kubel, Damon, and/or Sizemore in the mix, they will probably opt to let Pena walk, and have LaHair play 1B….but that’s just my prediction.

    • daverj

      Agreed on Sizemore, Damon, and Kubel.  I also think Cuddyer may be a potential target (he can also play the occasional 2B or 3B albeit with relatively weak defense).

      I believe Jackson starts at AAA though.  Given Theo’s management philosophy, I can’t see him bringing up Jackson before June 1 and starting the clock early when 2012 is a rebuilding year.

      • Aaron

        At the same time, Theo is competitive, and wants to win now. If the Cubs are without ARAM, Pena, and one of Byrd or Soriano, plus minus Zambrano or Wells, then I think you’ll see strategic moves for veteran free agents and non-tenders designed to be stopgaps, meaning, no more than 2 year deals.

        Cuddyer certainly is a candidate, but historically, does not seem to fit in Theo’s requirements with his pitches/plate appearance.

        The following guys could probably be had for “make good” contracts, or short-term deals:
        DeRosa (though, like Cuddyer, doesn’t see many pitches…though unlike Cuddyer, DeRosa could be had on a 1 year deal)
        Kouzmanoff (NOT at all a Theo type of player, but could be an option if all else fails)
        McLouth (sees about 3.94 P/PA…more in line with what Theo wants)
        DeJesus (sees about 3.85 P/PA, but in last 3 yrs, it’s been 4.0, 3.95, and 3.95)
        Bedard (he did sign him with the Red Sox, so who knows?)

        *Of the hitters, only Kubel and Sizemore are likely to garner more than 1 year offers. Both could hit 2-3 years, but NOT more than that.
        *All of the pitchers, save for Maholm are coming off injury, and thus, could be had on the cheap if Epstein wanted to give them a shot

        There are more non-tenders, minor league free agents, and Rule 5 picks to come, but those are the most likely MLB players that Hoyer and Epstein will be targeting.

        One thing that everyone needs to keep in mind, is the Cubs have some power hitters stashed away that a lot of people don’t think about, such as:
        Vitters (though he’s well known)
        B. Jackson (like Vitters, he’s also well known)
        Richard Jones
        Burgess (though he’s a long-shot, because of his poor OBP skills)

        While only Vitters and Jackson figure to be solid MLB players, there’s still a lot of potential in that group, and a handful of them could surprise everyone with better coaching (which Epstein is sure to bring in).

        Because of the power stashed away in the minors right now, the Cubs might stay away from sure things like Pujols and Fielder, even though they could be losing both Pena and ARAM. If they continue to block rookies by signing veterans to 3+year deals as Hendry was known to do, then they’ll NEVER be a player development machine like Epstein wants to be.

        With LaHair, Ridling, Bour, Jones, and Hoilman all with power, and all needing a chance to move up in the system, I find it extremely short-sighted to re-sign Carlos Pena.

        It’d be best for the Cubs to re-sign ARAM to a 2 year deal, buying time for Vitters, and part ways with both Pena, Soriano, and Byrd, and bring in some of the talent I listed above. That seems to be the most prudent move.

  • Neil

    Cubs in AFL (10/31): Junior Lake (DH): 1-for-4, 3B, R, SB … Lake’s league leading 14th SB; DJ LeMahieu (3B): 0-for-4

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments.