Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 11/07/11

Pitching took center stage this week, as some of the organization’s position players had the week off. Lefties John Gaub and Scott Maine continued their success in the Dominican league. Blake Parker and Marco Carrillo remained “lights-out” in Mexico, while Robert Coello and Hector Mayora were effective in Venezuela.

Play also opened in Puerto Rico and Australia, while the Arizona Fall League will enter its final two weeks following Saturday’s Rising Stars game.

All of that and more in this week’s Down on the Farm Report.

Dominican Winter League

Aguilas Cibaenas
Daytona closer Frank Batista saw action only once this past week for the Eagles, tossing two-thirds of an inning and allowing two earned runs as Cibaenas lost 9-3 to Cibao on Sunday. Batista also recorded a strikeout.

Leones de Escogido
It was an up-and-down week for Steve Clevenger, posting a 0-for-2 in Sunday’s 5-3 loss to Licey and Saturday’s 5-2 loss to Cibaenas. However, Clevenger did have an RBI on Sunday, and belted his first home run as the Lions lost 8-1 to Cibaenas on Wednesday.

Sunday’s 5-3 loss to Licey was also bad news to starter Chris Rusin, who gave up four earned runs in 2.1 innings, striking out two batters. John Gaub recorded an out.

John Gaub pitched again on Friday and struck out a batter in two-thirds of an inning in the Lions’ 3-1 loss to Cibao.

Toros del Este
Alberto Cabrera saw limited action for the Bulls this week, tossing a scoreless inning as they lost 8-3 to Cibao on Saturday.

Estrellas de Oriente
Lefty Scott Maine lowered his ERA to1.69 ERA and struck out two in 1.1 innings of scoreless work as the Stars lost 2-1 to Cibaenas on Tuesday.

Mexican Pacific League

Naranjeros de Hermosillo
Set-up man Blake Parker continued his impressive showing this winter, picking up his first victory by blanking Obregon for an inning and striking out a batter in Tuesday’s 7-6 win.

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Blake Parker came back again on Wednesday night and shut down the Yaquis for an inning, as Obregon edged the Orangemen 2-1.

Lowering his ERA to 1.32 ERA and WHIP to a microscopic 0.44, Blake Parker earned his fourth hold and struck out a batter in an inning as the Growers got past Mexicali 2-1 on Saturday.

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Venados de Mazatlan
After a disappointing week last week, Hung-Wen Chen started back on the road to establishing himself on Tuesday, as he struck out three and allowed an earned run in an inning of work as the Deer lost to Culiacan 10-4.

Chen was back on the mound on Wednesday as he tried to keep the Stags in the game, tossing 1.1 scoreless innings in a 4-0 loss to the Tomateros.

Yaquis de Obregon
Marco Carrillo continues to impress as a starter, posting a 1.29 ERA as he allowed only one earned run over five innings, including a strikeout, in the Yaquis’ 7-6 loss to Hermosillo on Tuesday. Oswaldo Martinez struck out the only batter he faced in that game and earned a hold.

Martinez then lowered his ERA to 2.79 and struck out another batter, as he threw 1.1 shutout innings in the Tribes’ 8-7 win over Guasave on Saturday.

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Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League

Criollos de Caguas
The Puerto Rican League began play on Friday, with Iowa outfielder Luis Montanez on the Creoles’ roster. Montanez has not seen any action for Caguas yet.

Venezuelan Winter League

Tiburones de La Guaira
The Sharks are looking toward Boise right-hander Hector Mayora a little more often, as he put up 2.1 IP scoreless innings with two strikeouts in La Guaira’s 4-0 loss to Zulia on Saturday.

Navegantes del Magallanes
Teams in the VWL are now going out of their way to limit the damage that can be done by Bryan LaHair. For the week, LaHair was 4-for-18 with a double, RBI, and three walks.

Teammate Robert Coello has become virtually untouchable, as he shut out Caracas for two innings on Friday, striking out a batter and earing his third hold as the Nav’s bested the Lions 6-1. In that game, LaHair was 1-for-4 with a walk.

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Aguilas del Zulia
Austin Bibens-Dirkx provided a pair of bookend victories this week for the Eagles. On Sunday, Bibens-Dirkx struck out four in six shutout innings to pick up his first win and Zulia beat Margarita 4-1.

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Bibens-Dirkx topped that effort on Saturday, blanking La Guaira for seven innings and striking out five batters, as the Eagles defeated the Sharks 4-0, evening his record to 2-2.

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Australian Baseball League

Brisbane Bandits
The Australian Baseball League began play on Thursday, with Tennessee right-handed starter Ryan Searle on the roster for the Bandits. However, his status was listed as “reassigned”, along with several other major league players. There was no further information available.

Arizona Fall League
Mesa used a short week to go 3-2 and improve their record to 14-14. As a representative in the Rising Stars game, Junior Lake maintained his good season by batting .306 for the Solar Sox this week. He hit a double, two triples, had an RBI, and stole three more bases to raise his total to 16. Coming on strong is D.J. LeMahieu, who has batted .325 over his last ten games. This week, LeMahieu added three more RBI and cracked his second home run on Friday. Josh Vitters continues to be a rock for Mesa, as he ended the week with a .338 average. For the week, Vitters five hits included two doubles and two RBI in three games.

This week also saw the return of left-handed pitcher Jeffrey Beliveau from the national team. On Wednesday, Beliveau tossed a scoreless inning and struck out a batter. Another Rising Stars rep, Trey McNutt, didn’t fare as well.

In a start on Tuesday, McNutt allowed three earned runs on three home runs. He also struck out three in three innings of work. Chris Carpenter also struggled in his one outing this week, allowing two earned runs and striking out two in an inning on Wednesday. On the comeback trail, Andrew Cashner had some mixed results this week. On Tuesday, he gave up two earned runs in an inning of work. Cashner game back on Friday and struck out a batter while tossing a scoreless inning. Marcus Hatley is slowly regaining his form, hurling a scoreless inning on Wednesday and striking out a batter in another scoreless two-thirds of an inning on Friday.

AFL Rising Stars Game
The best of the best in the Arizona Fall League participated in the sixth annual AFL Rising Stars game on Saturday night. The Cubs had three representatives in the game … Junior Lake, Chris Carpenter and Trey McNutt.

Junior Lake started the game at short for the East squad and hit third. Lake finished 1-for-3 at the plate with a double and a run scored. The 21-year old infielder struggled in the field and was charged with an error. Lake’s defensive issues have been well documented and he reinforced those reports on Saturday night.

Chris Carpenter took over with one out in the bottom of the sixth and threw six pitches, three for strikes to one batter … and induced an inning ending double play. Trey McNutt faced one batter in the bottom of the eighth and struck him out. McNutt appears to have lost a little weight but still brought heat. McNutt’s fastball was clocked in the mid 90s and he struck out Wil Myers swinging on an 84 MPH curveball.

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  • Toledo

    With gaub, maine, and beliveau all doing well in the system and nearly ready to be in the pen full time, is it time to sell high on marshall?

    • cubtex

      I 100% agree Toledo. If they can package Marshall for a starting pitcher like Jonathan Sanchez, John Danks or someone like that….I would do that in a heartbeat!

      • Aaron

        Your reasoning is correct, but Toledo’s premise for your reasoning is NOT…

        Only Beliveau has shown consistency out of those 3, and while Russell did very well as a LOOGY out of the pen (to the tune of 49 IP, 44 hits, 9 walks, 33 K’s,  2.19 ERA, 1.074 WHIP)….but that’s just hit, he was a LOOGY, as righties hit a robust .312/.363/.539

        Gaub is WAY too inconsistent, and Maine is right in the same boat with him, though they both throw very hard. 

        Marshall has a proven ability to get both righties and lefties out at the MLB level. That is a very valuable asset to have from the left side out of the pen, so you don’t have to make so many switches.

        Beliveau just might be that guy from what I understand, but is that a risk you’re willing to take?

        If I could use a package of Marshall, Soto, etc., and land myself Anibal Sanchez, Francisco Liriano, or something like that, I’m doing that in a heartbeat, and just going with Maine, Beliveau, and Russell in the pen (because you’d need to make several switches with Maine and Russell when they face righties, as both get lit up by them). That means your 4 other spots in the pen will be taken by a combination of this group: 
        Cashner/Samardzija (assuming 1 is promoted to the rotation)

        If you’re in Cubs management, you have to be thinking twice about trading Marshall, instead opting to trade Russell (if there’s a taker), and Gaub or Maine (again, assuming there’s a taker)…..then, going with all 5 of the righties I listed, plus Marshall and Beliveau. That would be a MUCH stronger pen with Marshall versus without him.

        Again, that’s why, unless you can get a front-line starter, you would never want to include Marshall. 

        • cubtex

          Marshall is one of the trade pieces that can bring back some value. I am not saying any of the lefties can do as well as Marshall individually…but they have depth. If Marshall can be packaged with another prospect or 2 for a Sanchez,Jurggens,Gio Gonzales or someone like that….that is what I am saying.

          • cubtex

            Too late for Jonathan Sanchez….Royals just aquired him for Melky Cabrera.

          • cubtex

            If that is all it took to aquire Sanchez….too bad the Cubs couldn’t have taken a flyer on him. Maybe either Marlon Byrd or Tyler Colvin with a low mid prospect could have gotten it done.

          • J Daniel

            Come on?  Really, you would take Byrd or Colvin and low prospect for Melky.

            Like Aaron suggested, they should have signed Melky last year and then sold high like the Royals are.  He had a really good year.

            All Colvin and a low prospect are going to get you is garbage just like them.

          • cubtex

            Do you consider Melky to be a stud outfielder? He had a career year and the Royals are cashing in….but cmon….it’s Melky. Do you think Colvin and Flaherty could have gotten it done? I think they might consider that.

          • paulcatanese

            I know you asked the other day how big Lake was, dont know it you got an answer, on Chicago Trib blog they show him as 6’3″ and 215lbs. That sure fooled me when I watched Sat nite.

          • daverj

            I can’t imagine any major league team preferring Colvin and Flaherty over Melky.  Not even close.  Colvin and Flaherty have little to no trade value.  Melky a decent major league outfielder and leaf-off man. 

          • J Daniel

            Melky is not a stud, had a really good year.  But Colvin?  Really?  He had about a good month and half.  Byrd?  I know he was hurt last year and that definately impacted his year.  He has one year left, is questionable at best, is a 4th outfielder, and is not being traded for a decent mlb pitcher.  You might be able to trade him for a low prospect – just to unload the salary.

          • cubtex

            I am not saying Colvin is good at all. In fact…you probably know my thoughts on him…..but Melky is considered a 4th outfielder on a good team. This is more of a lack of respect for Melky than praising Colvin and Flaherty. I am implying if all it took to aquire Jonathan Sanchez was Melky Cabrera….there might have been a fit for what the Cubs could have offered.

          • daverj

            After last season, I think Melky is now considered a legitimate major league starting outfielder. I think he’s due for drop-off, but he still hit over .300 with 18 HR and 20 SB (which is far more major league production than anyone the Cubs would be willing to offer).  The Giants were looking for a major league ready centerfielder and a lead-off hitter … the Cubs didn’t have that to trade.

          • cubtex

            Don’t agree at all. The Royals stole Sanchez. Look at Melky’s last 3 years.

            .255       7 SB
            .274      10 SB
            .249       9 SB

            That doesn’t look like an everyday leadoff hitter to me. The Giants got hosed if Sanchez is healthy!

          • cubtex

            I guarantee you will see Melky’s numbers looking more like his 3 prior years listed above going to a park like SF. What were the Giants thinking???

          • daverj

            I agree with you that the Royals got the better side of the deal.  And I agree Melky will have some significant regression.  I just don’t think the Cubs were in a position to offer the Giants the players the Giants were looking for.

          • J Daniel

            should say rather than Melky?

          • daverj

            Agreed on all points in your posts J Daniel.  Aaron definitely made the right call on Melky last year.  Wish we signed him.

  • paulcatanese

    Good information Tom, I have two comments. One, are the rosters in these leagues so full that limited playing time is given to the Cub players and they find themselves in and out of lineups?
    Two, I saw a little of Junior Lake this last weekend and have to agree with Aaron’s post from yesterday that I do not think he will fit into the “Theo” mold as an infielder or a hitter. He is a free swinger and dos remind me of others on the Cubs right now. The fielding problem would be better served if he was moved to the outfield with his strong arm and speed to cover ground.

    • Tom U

      Paul, rosters for each team varies, but it’s not unusual for a team to carry 40+ players on their roster. Players will move in and out of the line-up due to availability. For example, Marwin Gonzalez hasn’t played in a week, while Marquez Smith and Arismendy Alcantara have yet to see the field this season. 

      For the other part, that is very perceptive. I’m working on a piece that speculates the reason why compensation hasn’t been worked out for Theo Epstein: perhaps it’s because the principals are all playing in the AFL, and the two teams don’t want to disrupt them. Junior Lake is a player I believe the Cubs are trying to make a part of that.

  • Last_ginger

    The Blue Jays are aggressively shopping for a closer according to Buster Onley.

    • J Daniel

      Maybe this is where you can sell HIGH on Marmol?

      • paulcatanese

        I’ll go along with that, dont think I would like to go thru another year of blown saves, I think we could ask Garza for an endorsement on it and would get it.

      • cubtex

        the problem is that there are alot of free agent closers on the market. Papelbon,Joe Nathan,Heath Bell and others. Not sure why the Blue Jays would give up players to get Marmol when they can sign one as a free agent.

        • daverj

          Good point cubtex.  Marmol is due $16.8 million (I think) total over the next two years.  The free agent closers may be a bit more expensive, but the Jays aren’t going to give up much in terms of prospects for the minimal salary difference between Marmol and the free agent closers.

        • J Daniel

          You are correct, here.  I would just buy one of those guys if I could.  That is what the Cubs should do – sell high on Marmol, if possible, and sign a guy.

          • Last_ginger

            I think they would sign one rather then trade for one. Just thought it was interesting enough to post

        • paulcatanese

           I agree with what you are saying, at best right now Marmol would not be able to be moved as a high end player. I would like to see him moved though would not like to just give him away, but he has definatly lost some creditabilty from this last year. Just no longer see him as a dominant force in the bullpen.

          • Last_ginger

            I think if he dropes that weight he put on last year then maybe he’ll regain the gas on his fastball and slider. Aaron would known more on then i do on this though as i was more of a utility player in high school which was only 4 years ago.

          • Dorasaga

            Can’t agree more. Marmol worked his ass off in 2008-2009, played hard in the Winter League. The result paid him dividend, and he issued a record-breaking 16K per 9 innings the following season. That wasn’t long time ago. He can still come back to form and be dominant.

  • bpot92

    Tom U, Aaron, Neil, or anyone else, is it possible the Cubs could go after a guy like Yoenis Cespedes, Darvish, or other top international free agents and then just get some stop gag guys at the ML level? This would help us get younger and better at the same time.

    • daverj

      I don’t like the idea of Cespedes or Darvish for their expected costs (about $30 million for Cespedes and $100 million for Darvish).   I can’t see Epstein going for either of them for that reason.

      I think your other point about stop gap at the ML level is probably spot on. I expect the Cubs to bring in some veterans on short term deals until Epstein and Company can rebuild the minor league system.

      • cubtex

        Remember though that Theo bid on Dice K

        • daverj

          Yes, but the Red Sox were ready to content at that point.  The Cubs are still a few years off.  No point in committing long term dollars now.

    • Neil

      I don’t see the Cubs going after either one

      • paulcatanese

        Neil, just saw where Mike Maddux has withdrawn his name for Red Sox consideration as manager, any inside word?

    • Tom U

      I agree with Neil. I don’t see Epstein making a big splash now, not his style.

  • studio179

    Hmmm…Heyman’s tweet about Maddux withdrawing consideration from the Red Sox job does add to Heyman’s speculation that the Cubs favor him.  

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments.

  • Aaron

    I just got the news right now about Sanchez….All I can say is, WOW….

    I am actually dismayed that I have been right more times that I have been wrong….for the Cubs sake, is what I mean by that.

    That being said, I am optimistic the Cubs are in great hands, but it does NOT look good that the Royals not only acquired Sanchez, but ANOTHER decent minor league starter for Melky Cabrera.

    The Cubs could’ve had Cabrera, Franceour, Fields (I don’t know how he’s doing in Japan, but he was very good in minors last year prior to leaving, and would’ve added depth at 3B…which the Cubs need right now with ARAM leaving), Milledge, etc. But we literally had dumba$$es in the GM and managerial seats. Nothing those two guys ever did was proactive, and I really mean it. I think the Derrek Lee acquisition might’ve been the only “preemptive” move that guy ever made. If someone can think of another that was reactive, I’d love to hear it. 

    ARAM and Lofton-reactive…Cubs had just lost Patterson for the year, and needed a leadoff man. ARAM was a throw-in

    Garciappara-reactive….Cubs watched division rivals make moves, and Hendry had to make a splash. Anyone remember the articles at the time talking about exactly that?!? I sure do…Now, granted, it was a move that was also widely praised, but it was a move that was reactive nevertheless.

    Harden-this was one of the good reactive trades he made, but it was also a BLATANT reactionary move on his part to the Brewers acquiring Sabathia

    I just hope Epstein is different in that regard…it sure doesn’t seem that way right now, especially with their stated goal of improving the starting pitching. But we’ll never know what they asked for. Perhaps they asked for Brett Jackson? I guess we’ll never really know.

    Hopefully some of the guys that have been non-tendered already like Sizemore, etc., he’ll be proactive and acquire them.  Like I said, I’m excited about Epstein’s pedigree….I just hope he hasn’t lost his touch at all.

    • J Daniel

      Don’t think he has lost his touch at all – he is bringing in to many really good people for that.

    • Demitri

      Epstein in Boston always had to make a move every time the Yankees made a move, or had to get a player just so the Yankees didn’t. Well the Yankees aren’t in the division so Epstein won’t be forced to make moves, but just like you I hope he makes moves that are smart and not just to counter what other teams did.