Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 12/04/11

Bryan LaHair briefly returned to the Venezuelan League but after a solid first game, LaHair struggled and went home Sunday. Meanwhile, Austin Bibens-Dirkx continued putting up good numbers … Bibens-Dirkx had two solid outings this past week.

In Mexico, Marco Carrillo maintained his excellence as he and teammate Oswaldo Martinez contributed to what may end up the game of the winter. While Welington Castillo made a surprise appearance in the Dominican Republic.

To find out more, take a look inside this week’s Down on the Farm Report.

Dominican Winter League

Gigantes del Cibao
Catcher Mario Mercedes had a brief appearance this week, going 0-for-2 on Wednesday in a 13-4 loss to Este.

Leones de Escogido
Tennessee outfielder Nelson Perez and the Lions had a tough week. On Sunday, Perez was 1-for-4 as Escogido lost to Licey 5-2. Back in action on Tuesday, Perez was 0-for-3 for the Pride as bested Cibao 7-0. Perez was saddled with another “O-fer” Wednesday, as he was 0-for-2 in the Lions’ 7-6 loss to Cibaenas in 12 innings.

Toros del Este
Iowa pitcher Alberto Cabrera got a start on Wednesday for Este, throwing four innings and allowing as earned run on a solo home run. Cabrera struck out three and lowered his ERA to 4.29 ERA as the Bulls won 13-4 over Cibao.

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Tigres del Licey
The Tigers were joined this week by Iowa catcher Welington Castillo. Castillo saw his first action on Friday, lining up a designated hitter and going 0-for-3 as Licey beat Este 4-1.

Estrellas de Oriente
Monday’s disappointing 3-2 loss to Licey in 11 innings saw appearances by both Rafael Dolis and Marcos Mateo. Dolis struck out the only batter he faced, while Mateo was hung with the loss as he allowed an earned run and struck out a batter in his inning of work.

Mateo made up for the loss on Wednesday by striking out two in an inning to even his record at 1-1 as the Stars beat Licey.

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Rafael Dolis took the mound again on Friday to mop up as Oriente was blown out 15-2 by Cibaenas. Dolis threw an inning and recorded a strikeout.

Mexican Pacific League

Naranjeros de Hermosillo
Iowa reliever Blake Parker was roughed up a little this week, getting his second blown save on Tuesday as Hermosillo lost 3-2 to Obregon in 16 innings. Parker tossed 1.1 innings and struck out two batters. Parker then allowed an earned run in two-thirds of an inning on Wednesday as the Orangeman lost their second to Obregon 6-5. Parker did strike out a batter and picked up his tenth hold.

Blake Parker didn’t see the mound again until Saturday, when he lowered his ERA to 3.62 as he pitched an inning and had a strikeout in the Growers’ 10-4 win over Mexicali.

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Yaquis de Obregon
In what can be a candidate for game of the season, Marco Carrillo gave up two earned runs in five innings, but struck out four, as Obregon outlasted Hermosillo 3-2 in 16 innings. Carrillo ended up maintaining his 2.42 ERA as his team rallied twice to both tie and win the game. In the game, Tennessee reliever Oswaldo Martinez pitched a scoreless third of an inning.

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Oswaldo Martinez started the week by giving up a solo home run in 1.2 innings on Sunday, striking out two batters as the Tribe lost 8-2 to Culiacan. He then fired 1.1 innings of shutout baseball on Wednesday as the Yaquis defeated Hermosillo 6-5.

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Oswaldo Martinez ended the week by striking out a batter in two scoreless innings on Friday to lower his ERA to 2.49 ERA as Obregon bowed 7-1 to Guasave.

Venezuelan Winter League

Leones de Caracas
Iowa starter Jay Jackson suffered the ups and downs of baseball this week. On Sunday, Jackson was called upon to toss and inning of relief. While he allowed an earned run, he struck out two and improved his record to 2-1in a 5-4 victory over Lara.

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On Wednesday, Jay Jackson started and failed to get out of the fourth inning, as he allowed three earned runs in 3.1 in a 6-4 loss to Aragua. Jackson struck out four has his ERA rose to 5.11 ERA.

Navegantes del Magallanes
Tennessee first baseman Rebel Ridling started putting things together this week, as he was 2-for-3 with a walk on Sunday as Magallanes lost to La Guaria 6-5.

Monday’s contest saw contributions from several players from the Cubs’ system. Rebel Ridling was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Iowa first baseman Bryan LaHair cracked his eighth home run, as he was 2-for-4 and also drove in two runs. While Iowa reliever Robert Coello gave up an earned run in an inning, he also struck out a batter and earned his eighth hold and the Navigators coasted to a 10-4 victory over Caracas.

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Rebel Ridling followed his Monday performance by going 2-for-4 in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to Anzoategui. In that game, LaHair was 0-for-3 with a walk.

The three Cub farmhands appeared together again on Friday. Bryan LaHair was 0-for-4 with a walk while Rebel Ridling was 0-for-5. Robert Coello tossed a scoreless two-thirds of an inning as the Navs lost 7-5 to Aragua.

Bryan LaHair got back a little on track on Saturday by going 1-for-4, but Rebel Ridling was 0-for-3 as the Pathfinders were shut out 5-0 by Margarita.

Aguilas del Zulia
Iowa starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx continued his march through the VWL on Sunday, picking up his fifth win as Zulia beat up on Margarita 7-3 Bibens-Dirkx pitched 6.2 innings and allowed two earned runs. He struck out for to improve his record to5-2.

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Bibens-Dirkx then blew away seven batters on Satuday, as the Eagles nearly squandered the effort but held on to win over Aragua 3-2 in 12 innings. In the game, Bibens-Dirkx tossed five innings and allowed an earned run. Bibens-Dirkx is now in the VWL’s top ten in wins, ERA, strikeouts and WHIP.

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Quote of the Day

"The riches of the game are in the thrills, not in the money." – Ernie Banks

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  • Tony_Hall

    Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Alberto Cabrera, and Jay Jackson – Are any of these going to appear at Wrigley this year, whether as a young guy filling #5, or for an spot start, due to injuries.  We learned last year, we need a lot of starting pitchers, and Theo has said you need to know who even #9 in the rotation would be.  Are any of these 3, in the Top 9?

    • Tom U

      Don’t expect Cabrera to be at Wrigley this season. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is sent back to Double-A, or moved to the pen. He just recently turned 23, so he can use a bit more seasoning.

      Jackson seems to be an enigma. At times, he’ll look like a world-beater. At others, he’ll leave you scratching your head.

      I said last year that Bibens-Dirkx had the best potential to produce a Ryan O’Malley type of performance. He’s an all or nothing pitcher that can strike out 12 or serve up a half a dozen taters.

      • Tony_Hall

        Thanks Tom for the responses.  I am looking forward to seeing the CCO Top Prospect lists coming out hopefully soon.

  • Tony_Hall

    What is the time frame and potential of Rebel Ridling?  He seems to hit, and get on base well.

    Maybe I have always just liked his name, but would love to see him at Wrigley at some point.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Ridling sure had a nice year at AA Tennessee in 2011:
      433 AB…20 HR….80 RBI…309 BA…43 BB…89 K….

      Look at the slugging: .515

      Decent fielder at .993 at1B

      Would be nice if he had more power.
      Worse thing about him:
      Age: 25, will be 26 on May 22,2012

      Compared to LaHair at age 25, Ridling outperformed him:
      .263 BA…356 OBP…465 slugging….822 OPS

      Compared to Carlos “Mr. 196” Pena at age 24/25
      .240 BA….340 OBP…480 slugging age 24
      Age 25 only30 AB in AAA.333 BA…429 OBP…533 slug

      Compared to Ryan Howard, age 25
      .371….467 OBP…690 slug…1.157 OPS

      There’s some difference there……

      • Tony_Hall

        Tough to compare to one of the best hitters in Howard, but those numbers make you think Lahair or Ridling, can be above average 1B in the majors, just not elite 50 HR guys like Howard.  

        With his age, 2012 is a big year for him, especially if the Cubs pass on the big names and go with Lahair.  If Lahair were to struggle, and Rebel keeps on hitting, we could see Rebel Ridling at Wrigley.  

        • Anthony

          why has Howard’s HR count decrease dramatically while he still strikes out 33% of the time?

          could it be ?????

          • Tony_Hall

            We get it, the steroid era is over, actually it has been over.  Guys won’t hit 50 HR’s every year.

          • Anthony

            that is why HGH pre and post season testing is part of the new CBA

            they chose the typical cycling on and off periods

          • paulcatanese

            Plus I would imagine the majority of players who like the new testing would have come from the majority (not HR hitters) that would even things out. Maybe now we will see legitimate distance on home runs.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Howard still hit the 33 taters with 116 RBIs last year. 

            If only Carlos Pena could fall off like that….

        • Ripsnorter1


          You’ve been hitting the Cubbie Blue Eggnog pretty hard this season. Normally you are such a sober guy, too. What is it? Problems at home?  LOL

          LaHair is not going to be more than a .230 hitter in MLB, and that, I am afraid, as a reserve. He’s Hoffpauir. The league will adjust, he won’t be able to, and he’ll struggle with a low BA and marginal power numbers.His glove is too bad to warrant a better opportunity.

          Ridling: likewise, I am afraid.

          Sure, I enjoyed LaHair’s 40 pitch performance one game last year. FANTASTIC! But then the league got him off of the fastball and started feeding him nothing but breaking stuff.It’s like Ronnie said, “You have to hit the fastball to get here, but you have to hit the curveball to stay here.” LaHair could handle the heater inside, so they started throwing him the breaking stuff away. I hope I’m wrong, because I like the guy.

          • Tony_Hall

            New supply of Cubbie Kool-Aide came  in shortly after Theo was hired.  

            Sorry, man, have to give the guy a clean slate and not burden him and his guys, with the ineptitude of the past people at Clark and Addison.  

            I agree Lahair is most likely not going to sustain success over many years.  But feel he has earned an opportunity to play, unless we get Fielder or Pujols.  

            C’mon man, you know you would love to hear now batting, Rebel Ridling…it’s like Crash Davis for coolness for a baseball name.

          • Ripsnorter1

            They would have to break out the Randy Hundley Rebel flags. 

            He once nailed a HR right into a Rebel flag being held up for him in LF.

    • Tom U

      I like how Ridling bounced back from a lost season two years ago from an appendectomy. If he were left handed, I would put him ahead of LaHair. 

      As to both of them, it totally baffles me why fans will accept an over-priced low level player just because he has major league experience over one of these guys. Why not see what your system has got? Your team isn’t going anywhere and the price is right. You may even get lucky. First base is one of deepest in the organization. They can’t ALL be bad.

      • Tony_Hall

        I agree, I feel we have some good depth at the corners finally.  That is why I bounce back and forth on giving Lahair a chance versus signing Fielder or Pujols.    I usually go back to Lahair, as I don’t really believe that Fielder or Pujols will accept a 5 or 6 year deal, that I would consider worth it.  Who ever signs those guys, is going to way overpay in years and dollars. 

  • Tony_Hall

    If anyone is questioning giving Castro a contract sooner, rather than later….Jose Reyes 6 years $106M, with a 7th year option.

    Give Castro a contract, that buys out all of the arbitration years, and at least 1 or 2 years of free agency.  He will still be very young when he hits free agency, but teams need to lock up their young stars, at a younger age to save lots and lots of money, so they can spend it on other players, to make the team better.  

    Castro will sign the deal, just ask Matt Forte, as he was laying on the ground, wondering what just happened to his knee.  Do you think it was running through his mind, that he should have signed a contract giving him $20M+?  Of course it was, and he would have signed it right on the field if he could have.

    Castro won’t make more than league minimum plus a little, until 2014.  Give him a little up front, and pay him a little more in 12, 13, and then 14, 15, 16, can all be good deals for the team, versus waiting and fighting arbitration cases.  Include a 2017, 2018 team options, the team options are in exchange for getting paid 2 years earlier than if he waits on the normal process. (See Evan Longoria for an example of this contract format)

    The best part is if he outplays the payscale in this contract, you can give him an extension, that locks him up longer, versus, having his pending free agency cause issues (see Ryan Braun for an example of extending a guy, instead of letting him get closer to FA).

    • Ripsnorter1

      Speaking of locking up our young start….

      Before we lock up K.Hill to a big extension, could we buy some starting pitching first?LOL

      • Tony_Hall

        Koyie Hill is a little low on the list for guys to lock up, unless he wants a long term contract to be the bullpen catcher.

    • paulcatanese

      Also Tony, Kinzer has an axe to grind with the Cubs, agree Tony,they should get it out of the way before his value (and it will) goes up any more than it has right now.

  • Ripsnorter1


    6 years….$106 million dollars

    • daverj

      Another overpay … thankfully the Cubs have been staying out of this mess.  Other than Sizemore and DeJesus, every signing this offseason has been a bad deal for the team making the signing.

  • Ripsnorter1

    It says right here that the Marlins will not win the division in 2012.

  • Tony_Hall

    Not even the all-might Yankees can keep spending forever…

    This is a good sign, as it’s the Yankees that have driven the market so high.

    The New York Yankees came into the offseason needing starting pitching and perhaps a few other pieces to the puzzle for 2012. The top free agent starters, however, have been linked more prominently to clubs outside the Bronx, and one reason why, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post, is that the club is looking to trim down their payroll by 2014.This doesn’t mean any sort of fire sale, of course, and it doesn’t even mean they will shed any contracts already on the books. It could mean, however, that the organization may be changing its way, at least somewhat.Sherman writes that the motivation for the payroll awareness is the $189 million luxury tax threshold starting in 2014, which is up from the high-170s it which is stands now. By getting under the tax cap, even once, the tax the Yankees would pay to the revenue sharing pot would decrease from 50 percent to 17.5 percent, and they’d received around $10 million in the tax’s disqualification program. That’s about a $35 million bonus, so to speak, for coming in under the tax limits in 2014.So maybe there is no big free agent signing this winter; not C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, and perhaps especially not Yu Darvish, who could be pricier than the two lefties.- Jason A. Churchill

  • Dorasaga

    Tom U, Had Theo or Hoyer mentioned anything about Lahair? The last rumor of Lahair bought by a Japanese team still lingers… I guess this is more a question of the “present” instead of the future, as the Farm is all about. But hey, the future is now.

    • Tom U

      I haven’t heard anything since Team Theo offered Pena arbitration. Like I reported yesterday, LaHair left the winter leagues mainly because he wasn’t getting the proper work in. After he destroyed Venezuelan pitching early on, other teams just didn’t give him anything to hit. 

      Even if Ramirez and Pena don’t come back, and Soriano, Soto, and Byrd are traded, teams won’t pitch around LaHair in the majors, they’ll just go after him. So he didn’t leave because he couldn’t hit, as was reported by some outlets. With the arbitration issue lingering until Friday, the looming compensation, and the Rule 5 draft, don’t expect the team to address first base unless a free agent or trade blows them away. LaHair will decide about going to Japan when he learns how seriously he will be considered for a starters position.

  • Neil

    Bryan LaHair is in Dallas to receive Minor League MVP award at lunch Monday

  • John G

    Neil, I am anxiously awaiting to read “From the wire – Ron Santo elected to the Hall of Fame.”

    What time will the announcement be made?

  • John G


    Santo Finally elected.