Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 04/26/12

The beginning of this week had the minors emulating conditions at the big league park, with seven of the 12 games happening in the daylight hours.

Peoria’s Oliver Zapata had his hitting streak stopped at eight, but Peoria received great pitching performances from PJ Francescon and Kyler Burke. Daytona continued to scuffle, but pooled their resources on Sunday for a win. Tennessee keeps on battling, and had an unlikely source come through on Monday. Iowa started out well, as Chris Rusin may have had the organization’s best start of the season.

To see how it all unfolded, look inside today’s Down on the Farm Report.

Note: Monday’s report will cover games from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (8-11)
With the first place Lansing Lugnuts in town, Peoria had to be at the top of their game, which they were in a 2-0 victory on Sunday. PJ Francescon took matters in his own hands and struck out five batters in seven shutout innings. Lefty Andrew McKirahan has yet to give up and earned run all season, and struck out two in an inning of work. Jeffrey Lorick closed things out by also striking out two batters.

The Chiefs’ offense seems to ease up when they get pitching like this, and Sunday was no different. Zeke DeVoss paced the club by going 2-for-2, while Oliver Zapata increased his hitting streak to eight games. Ryan Cuneo, Paul Hoilman, Taiwan Easterling, and Brad Zapenas also had hits.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Peoria’s Jose Rosario suffered from another poor start on Monday, as the Chiefs tried to fight back, but ended up losing 7-3 to Lansing. Rosario kept the Lugnuts off the board for the first three innings, and then allowed two earned runs in the fourth. The night ended for Rosario in the sixth, when he was responsible for three more run (two earned) and failed to record an out. Luis Liria struck out two in two scoreless innings, while Bryce Shafer kept Lansing in check for another inning. But Austin Reed finally let the game slip away by giving up two earned runs in the ninth. Taiwan Easterling (1-for-4, triple) and Wes Darvill (1-for-2) had an RBI each.

It was a day of firsts for Peoria on Tuesday, as the Chiefs took the series from league leading Lansing with a 6-2 victory. There was no scoring until the ninth inning, when the Lugnuts went up 2-0. Wes Darvill (1-for-3) tied the score in the ninth with his two-run double. Former Northwest League home run champ Paul Hoilman hit his first for Peoria, a walk-off grand slam, ending the day at 2-for-5 with four RBI. Yaniel Cabezas saw his first action of 2012 and was 2-for-4, joining teammates Brad Zapenas, Eduardo Gonzalez, and Pin-Chieh Chen at that mark.

Outfielder-turned-pitcher Kyler Burke got his first career start and struck out four in six scoreless innings. Ben Wells finished the game, and almost ended up the goat by allowing two earned runs in three innings. However, the heroics of Darvill and Hoilman made Wells’ two strikeout performance a winner.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (5-13)
It was all-hands-on-deck for Daytona on Sunday, as a “bullpen day” worked to near perfection in a 5-2 win over Lakeland. Starter Matt Loosen was recalled from the disabled list prior to the game, and was pulled after pitching two scoreless innings. Brett Wallach took over for another two innings with the same result, no runs and a strikeout. It was then Ty’Relle Harris‘ turn, but he allowed two earned runs in his two innings. Brian Schlitter got the staff back on the right track, blanking the Flying Tigers for an inning. Tony Zych answered the final call by striking out two in his two scoreless innings.

The offense for the D-Cubs still sputtered, but was at least coordinated. Rubi Silva was back after a couple of days rest and was 2-for-4 with two RBI and an outfield assist. Matt Szczur was 1-for-3 with an RBI and three stolen bases, while Elieser Bonne drove in a run with a solo home run, going 1-for-3.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

The D-Cubs had the misfortune to face Detroit Tigers’ top prospect Jacob Turner on Monday, as they lost 7-2 to Lakeland. The Flying Tigers limited Daytona to three hits, with Matt Szczur, Richard Jones, and John Andreoli with one apiece. Starter Zach Cates had his best outing of 2012, allowing three earned runs in four innings. Joe Zeller continues to impress, as he went four innings with an unearned run and three strikeouts. However, it was a different story for Larry Suarez, as he gave up three earned runs in an inning of work.

Only one word can describe Daytona’s 13-5 loss to Lakeland on Tuesday: AWFUL. Hayden Simpson started and walked seven while giving up eight hits, including a home run. Simpson lasted 4.1 innings and allowed six runs (five earned) while striking out two batters. Eduardo Figueroa came in next and two earned runs in 1.2 innings. Five more earned runs came in as Brett Wallach pitched two innings. Dustin Harrington led the D-Cub batters by going 3-for-4 with a double, while Matt Szczur was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Sergio Burruel was 2-for-4 with a double, and Rubi Silva was 2-for-5, including a triple and an RBI.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (10-10)
Even though the Smokies were a little short-handed on Sunday, they fought back twice, only to come up short in a 7-6 loss to Chattanooga. With two players promoted and one placed on the disabled list, Ryan Searle was named emergency starter. Given the situation, he performed okay, allowing four earned runs in four innings. The game was then handed over to the bullpen, with mixed results. Casey Weathers only pitched 0.2 innings, letting in an earned run. Fresh from Daytona, Casey Harman was pressed into service and delivered a one earned run, three strikeout performance in 2.1 innings. The reins were then handed over to Dan Berlind, who couldn’t find the plate. Berlind walked three and gave up an earned run in two innings. Rebel Ridling is beginning to round back into his 2011 form, and was 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI. Logan Watkins and Justin Bour were each 2-for-5, with Watkins legging out a triple. James Adduci was 2-for-2 after coming on as a pinch-hitter.

Tennessee had an unlikely hero on Monday, as they edged Chattanooga 5-4 in 12 innings. Jonathan Mota was 2-for-4 with a home run, and kept the game in reach by pitching a scoreless 12th inning. Keystone combination Elliot Soto and Logan Watkins swapped positions for a night, and paced the Smokies’ attack. Soto was 2-for-4 with a double and a triple, while Watkins went 1-for-4 with a triple and two RBI. Justin Bour (1-for-2) helping out by playing the outfield for probably the first time since little league, had the game winning RBI.

Starter Dallas Beeler deserved a better fate, and he was charged with four earned runs as he struck out three in 5.2 innings. Needing only to get one out in order to keep the score at 4-3, Alberto Cabrera gave up a single to the first batter he faced to tie up the score. Cabrera ended his night by tossing two more shutout innings, while Kevin Rhoderick struck out two in his scoreless inning. Regaining his form, Marcus Hatley also struck out two and kept the Lookouts off the Board for two innings. Jonathan Mota’s inning was aided by a great catch and throw by third baseman Nate Samson to end the inning with a double play.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

It was a get-away day for Tennessee, as the afternoon contest on Tuesday ended with a 7-5 loss to Chattanooga. Dae-Eun Rhee had his second consecutive poor outing, as he allowed seven run (five earned) and struck out five in five innings. With a short bullpen Scott Weismann was called-up from Peoria and tossed three scoreless innings. Casey Weathers appears to be settling down, as he shy down the Lookouts for an inning. Jae-Hoon Ha appears to be out of his slump, as he was 3-for-5 with two doubles. Pinch-hitter James Adduci drove in three with a double.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (8-12)
In what may be one of the best performances by a minor leaguer this season, Chris Rusin took matters in his own hand for Iowa on Sunday and delivered a 2-1 victory over Memphis. Rusin delivered eight shutout innings, striking out four and driving in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly. Blake Parker made things interesting in the ninth, allowing an earned run. But Parker got things together well enough to record his third save.

The offense seemed to shrink away again for the I-Cubs with a good pitching performance. However, they were able to eek-out just enough for the win. Adrian Cardenas was 2-for-3 with a triple, while Welington Castillo drove what prove to be the winning run.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Iowa had a rare weekday day game on Monday, and almost wished they would have slept in as the lost to Memphis 6-2. The Redbirds were all over starter Jay Jackson, scoring five runs (four earned) in four innings. Nate Robinson did nothing to put out the fire, allowing an earned run in his two innings of work. Frank Batista made his Triple-A debut and shutout Memphis for two innings and struck out two batters. Anthony Rizzo was 2-for-3 with a double, while Brett Jackson was 2-for-4 and a stolen base. Welington Castillo (1-for-4) had an RBI.

With another matinee scheduled for Tuesday, the I-Cubs looked like they really needed their off-day on Wednesday in their 4-0 loss to Memphis. Travis Wood was able to work himself out of jams in the first, second and fourth innings. But an Anthony Rizzo error in the fifth opened up the floodgates, leading to two runs. Wood ended the day allowing two runs (one earned) while striking out eight in six innings. Jeff Beliveau bounced back from a rough previous outing to keep Iowa in the game with two scoreless innings. However, Esmailin Caridad let the game get away as he gave up two earned runs in the final inning. The I-Cubs couldn’t coordinate their attack as they scattered seven hits. Both Luis Valbuena and Welington Castillo were 2-for-4, with one of Valbuena’s hits being a double.

News and Notes
Left-handed pitcher Scott Weismann was assigned to the Tennessee Smokies from Peoria. Left-handed pitcher Gerardo Concepcion was assigned to the Peoria Chiefs from Daytona. Catcher Yaniel Cabezas was assigned to the Peoria Chiefs from Boise.

CCO’s Prospect Watch

  • Javier Baez (IF) – Extended Spring Training
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – Extended Spring Training
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .254, four doubles, triple, home run, seven RBI, Stolen Base (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Reggie Golden (OF) – is currently on the disabled list
  • Junior Lake (IF) – is currently inactive – 7-day DL with back injury
  • Dillon Maples (RHP) – Extended Spring Training
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .225, two doubles, four RBI, eight stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .240, three doubles, two triples, RBI (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) – .258, two doubles, eight RBI (Iowa Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – Extended Spring Training

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Quote of the Day

"Don't wish it were easier. Wish you were better." - Jim Rohn

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  • Dorasaga

    Tom, I don’t know how the pitching rotation works at each level Say, if there is a five-man rotation for the Iowa Cubs, then wouldn’t it be easier to keep track of most pitchers if you post a report every 5 games? This is assuming that the more promising position players play most of the week. Just a thought…

    • Tom U

      Dorasaga, the minor leagues appear to be going with set rotations this season, rather than the piggy-back system they used a year ago.

      That said, there is still enough variance in the rotations, even this early. 

      Your idea has merit, but it also has to include many other factors, such as, the schedule of the writer. :-)

      • Dorasaga

        Interesting, perhaps a philosophy change? And I can’t complain: Two reports per week from you are more than what I was asking, a 5d or maybe a wkly interval, and my glass is full now. :-)

  • Ripsnorter1

    Yanks lost a starter: Michael Pineda. They paid a lot for this guy, too.

    Wonder if they want Lopez or Coleman or Garza…..

  • Binyow

    Hayden Simpson is a BUST. I called it the day he was drafted.Tall pitchers are less of a risk.Austin Kirk is MLB material.

  • Zonk

    Might be a bit early to speculate on trades, but……

    I think Dempster would be a better fit on both sides.  He is pitching well, but probably won’t be part of any Cubs rebuild. 

    Yanks could have had Lopez 2 days ago if they wanted off waivers

    • Chadaudio

      Good thought but… I just don’t think Dempster would waive his no-trade clause this early in the season.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Two days ago, Pineda wasn’t hurt. And they don’t want Casey Coleman. They want a winner. And that would be Garza or Dempster, except that the Yanks don’t want to pay money anymore. 

      Do you want to deal Dempster to the Yanks, pay his entire salary except for the ML minimum, and in return receive a DFA’d pitcher?
      I do not see any profit in it.

      • Zonk

        Well, we’re speculating that Demp would waive his 5 and 10 rights, but let’s assume he would to go to Yankees…….

        Unless he completely collapses in performance, Demp is worth alot more than Marlon Byrd.  He is a proven ML starter, and positive clubhouse presence.  He would be a good get for a contending team.

        Based on that, I think the Yankees would pay all his salary, AND cough up a prospect.  And we shouldn’t trade him without getting good value back.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Yes. Maybe. Remember Marlon wasn’t any problem at all, either. 

          I think Dempster will pitch okay the rest of the year. 

  • Josh

    Top Performers in
    System (minimum 55 PA)

     

    HITTERS

     

    Catcher

    Wellington Castillo (25) AAA: 333/431/542 — 4 2B, 2 HR

     

    Infielder

    Anthony Rizzo (22) AAA: 373/420/693 — 3 2B, 7 HR, 1 SB

    Adrian Cardenas (24) AAA: 324/360/544 — 6 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 1
    SB

    Luis Valbuena (26) AAA: 333/415/519 — 4 2B, 2 HR

    Greg Rohan (26) High-A: 311/395/568 — 4 2B, 5 HR

    Paul Hoilman (22) Low-A: 286/365/444 – 7 2B, 1 HR

    Rubi Silva (23) High-A: 350/409/500 — 5 2B, 2 3B

    Zeke DeVoss (21) Low-A: 264/361/431 — 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 1
    SB

     

    Outfielder

    Brett Jackson (23) AAA: 244/341/449 — 6 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 4
    SB

    Nelson Perez (24) High-A: 236/394/473 — 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 2
    SB

    John Andreoli (22) High-A: 341/482/432 — 4 2B, 3 SB

    James Adduci (27) AA: 304/350/429 — 4 2B, 1 HR, 1 SB

     

    PITCHERS

     

    Starters (ERA/WHIP
    K/BB) – minimum 3 starts

    Michael Jensen (21) Low-A: 1.50/0.71 18/5

    PJ Francescon (23) Low-A: 2.57/0.76 18/4

    Nicholas Struck (22) AA: 2.45/1.23 21/10

    Dallas Beeler (23) AA: 2.42/1.34 12/4

    Trey McNutt (22) AA: 0.77/1.29 11/7

    Austin Kirk (22) High-A: 1.54/0.90 9/5

    Brooks Raley (24) AA: 3.65/1.09 13/4

    Chris Rusin (25) AAA: 3.38/1.13 9/4

     

    Relievers (ERA/WHIP
    K/BB) – minimum 5 games/6 innings

    Yao-Lin Wang (21) Low-A: 0.00/0.25 6/1

    Blake Parker (27) AAA: 1.23/0.68 4/2 — 3 SV

    Jeff Beliveau (25) AAA: 3.09/1.29 9/5

    Alberto Cabrera (23) AA: 1.74/0.87 12/4 — 1 SV

    Frank Batista (23) AA/AAA: 0.00/0.92 11/2 — 5 SV

    Tony Zych (21) High-A: 2.70/1.20 7/3 — 2 SV

    Kevin Rhoderick (23) AA: 2.00/1.00 12/3 — 2 SV

    Scott Weismann (22) Low-A/AA: 2.53/0.94 7/0

    Austin Reed (20) Low-A: 3.86/1.14 8/3

    Joseph Zeller (24) High-A/AA: 1.64/1.18 12/6

    Jeffrey Lorick (24) Low-A: 0.00/0.75 11/4 — 2 SV

    Andrew McKirahan (22) 0.00/0.90 7/1 — 1 SV

    Casey Harman (23) High-A/AA: 0.77/0.94 8/3

    Kyler Burke (24) Low-A: 1.59/0.97 9/1
     

  • brent carmona

    Tom, could you help explain why Simpson is in high A daytona and not at a lower level? He struggled badly last year and they chose to raise him another level this year anyways…perplexing!

    • Tom U

      I really can’t Brett. The only thing I can do is speculate. 

      Simpson is a four-pitch pitcher (fastball, slider, curve, change) that wasn’t know for overpowering stuff, but good control. We’ve seen how having that control can be a big plus. Frank Batista, a pitcher in a similar style to Simpson, is all the way up at Triple-A because he can throw his pitches where he wants to, when he wants to. 

      The thought process must have been that Simpson can get by with his control until consistent work built up his strength. His first two starts reflected that. However, his control has escaped him in his last two outings. 

  • Aaron

    Anyone else notice a common theme in this organization?

    That’s right, apparently “LOSING” is the new…old “Cubs Way”.

    I wonder if there is any research out there that shows the correlation between an organization’s success and their minor league system. I seem to recall Theo, Beane, or someone like that drawing a comparison.

    Obviously, I personally believe there is a correlation. If you come up through the system, and all you’ve experienced is losing, then, naturally, you get complacent and you’re fine with it.

    When Barney first came up, he mentioned this, because all he knew was winning from his days at Oregon State, the minors, etc. In fact, most Cubs top prospects have been on winning teams their entire careers, except this year. Look how competitive Boise, Daytona, Tennessee, and Iowa have been in recent years. I believe Daytona has won a few championships in between. This year, they’re mirroring what the  parent club is doing (5-13)

    In light of that, I have developed a list of decent performers at each level to show just how bad it’s gotten:

    PEORIA:
    Hoilman
    DeVoss
    Chen
    Zapata
    Burke
    Jensen
    Francescon
    Lorick
    Wang
    McKirahan
    Liria
    Reed

    DAYTONA:
    Torreyes (rising now after rough start)
    Rohan
    Andreoli
    Silva
    Harman
    Schlitter
    Kirk
    Harris
    Zeller
    Weismann 
    Figueroa
    Zych

    TENNESSEE:
    Wright
    Adducci
    Watkins (even though his avg has dropped recently)
    Zeller (promoted from Daytona)
    Weismann (promoted from Daytona)
    Batista
    McNutt
    Cabrera
    Rhoderick
    Beeler
    Struck
    Searle
    Raley
    Harman (promoted from Daytona)

    IOWA:
    Castillo
    Rizzo
    Cardenas
    Valbuena
    Tolbert
    Amezaga
    Campana (promoted to Cubs)
    Batista (promoted from Tenn.)
    Parker
    Maine (promoted to Cubs)
    Beliveau
    Rusin
    Rowland-Smith
    Coleman
    De La Cruz

    *I tried to only include hitters (though some cases that wasn’t the case, but I based it on projection) that would be hitting .300 now or the end of the season, and pitchers that had ERA’s under 4

    If you look at the system, it’s quite obvious that pitching, which once was a problem, is now apparently a strength, particularly with relief pitching.

    Ironically, if you look at the big league club, they’re bad all around, except the 1-3 starting pitchers. The offense is terrible, and relief is terrible.

    It does not appear as if they’ll get any relief from minor league hitting prospects, so relief pitching is the only chance they have with improvement.

    Technically, they could trade Marmol, Wood, Russell, and DFA Camp, leaving just Dolis, Castillo, and Bowden, and keep Maine as well, then bring up a combination of Beliveau, Rhoderick, Batista, Parker, etc., and try to get some hitting prospects out of those trades.

    In reality, the only other option is dealing Garza and Dempster out of the rotation to help with the dearth of hitting prospects now in the system.

    • Tom U

      Aaron, I know the phrase “its early” is wearing a little thin, but from what I see, the lack of success has to do more with consistency than any lack of ability.

      On days when the clubs at all levels seem to get good pitching, they don’t hit, and most times, vice-versa. Like I said last week, there is a huge chunk of offensive talent currently inactive and working rehab in EXT. The teams at all levels are suffering from not having Junior Lake, Pierre LePage, Evan Crawford, Micah Gibbs, Anthony Giansanti, Dustin Geiger, and Reggie Golden available. 

    • Zonk

      Garza and Demp are the only players that would net prospects in return.  Marmol, Wood, Camp are all zero or even negative value relative to salary.  Russell has some value, but he’s under club control for awhile; I would retain him. 

      Our overall talent isn’t good, but even taking out the AAA guys, we have more hitting talent at low levels than pitching.  Thinking of Lake, Candelario, Baez, Szczur, Ha, I guess Golden if we still think he is a prospect.  Other than McNutt, there isn’t any pitching that projects to a high ceiling.

      The farm system is in bad shape, and we don’t have much at the ML level to trade out to restock it.  We’re going to have to rebuild through the Draft.  This will take time, unfortunately.

      • cubtex

        That is exactly what I have been saying. There will be no top free agent pitchers like Yu Darvish to sign this offseason. Garza and Castro are the only 2 major league players with excellent value. Where will they be able to get another top of the rotaion starter if they hold onto Garza? Dempster won’t bring back a top pitching prospect like Jacob Turner. Therefore….you need to trade Garza and try and get back 2 young starters with upside with a couple of other pieces. Build for another 3 years and maybe by 2015 they could be competitive.

        • Chadaudio

          I agree that there will be no free-agents to be had.  But, I’m just not comfortable yet with the risk involved in trading away Garza for two prospects.  You know what the chances are of even ONE of those prospects turning out to be as effective as Garza is?… Jacob-Turner-like-prospects bust all the time.

          I haven’t decided if it’s the right or wrong way to go (trading Garza) but the thought of just gambling with two other prospects in exchange for Garza doesn’t sound that exciting either.

          • cubtex

            I agree. I think Garza is a great young pitcher but who will they have to team with him? Shark? Travis Wood? Volstad? You might disagree with my thought on how they missed out on Yu Darvish….but if they could have signed him they could have had a great 1, 2 with Darvish and Garza right away. Bring up Rizzo and BJax later this year. Add a couple of free agent position players this offseason and you can compete in the NL Central next year. The way it looks now….this is a 4 year process.

          • cubs1967

            they could of signed Cespedes too.
            .269 5HR 18 RBI
            who is also under 30 like Darvish.

          • Dorasaga

            As much as I enjoy reading this debate, I don’t see how you can compare Garza to Darvish. We are talking about a Persian prospect into his 4th start (and inconsistent performance) IN ANY American games, while Garza is an established Major Leaguer once hailed as a future ace.

            So goes Jackson and Rizzo. They are “starting prime hitters” in the making, but we yet need to watch those 500 at-bats.

          • Chadaudio

            Trading Garza just doesn’t seem to help anything.  

            In fact, it seems like we have to sign him to an extension, because there are no options in free agency (or our farm system for that matter).  Is Garza enough?  No, but it’s better then dumping him for prospects who just turn out to be another Volstad.

          • cubtex

            The other option you would have is keep Garza and trade Castro for starting pitching. I wouldn’t do it but that is the other option.

        • Ripsnorter1

          That’s how the Pirates have thought for 21 years.

          • cubtex

            Don’t misunderstand. I don’t agree with the small market rebuild. It is what it is. You already know my thoughts on this.

        • GaryLeeT

          I usually agree with you, but the 6 year plan you suggest, stinks. My dad never saw a winner on the North Side, and nobody has forever, to wait. They need to hold on to the hard to get pieces now, even if the future FA market looks bleak. They should be rewarding players like Castro, and Garza with extensions, not shipping them out, for a roll of the dice. If they don’t start rewarding good players now, who in the heck is going to want to play for the Cubs? I know your true feelings in this matter, and in reality, I am voicing my opinion with you, not against you.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Look at the Pirates. They have given up the 2nd fewest runs in MLB. Yup. That means that, thus far, they have had the 2nd best pitching on the planet–right behind the Texas Rangers, and the best pitching in the NL. Rangers have given up 48 runs; Pirates 51.

      And of course, they have the worst hitting on the planet, too. They have scored a lousy 41 runs. Next up is Miami & Oakland with 59, and the beloved Padres, at 63. The Cubs have 66 scores. 

      A little offense sure would be nice. But having said that, the Pirates have been rebuilding for 21 years. How many prospects and draft choices have they been through with very little to show for it? Prospects are suspects until they prove something at the ML level. 

      Even Jim Hendry put the skunk over on Tampa with the Garza deal.

      • Zonk

        “The Pirate Model” doesn’t work; they never retained good players.  Prospects are suspects.  No argument there.

        I do think the Cubs shouldn’t blow big $ in FA until there is a core of players to build around.  We need some young talent, then add a star and fill holes with FA.  We are so many FAs away from contention right now, we would have to spend a Billion $, and that would just make it worse.

        The Pirates also have had no luck at all.  Pedro Alvarez was universally lauded as a great pick for them, and he stinks.  Who’s to say Rizzo isn’t Pedro II.  We’ll find out pretty soon.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Exactly. I saw where Pedro has hit BA up to .122 now….

        • GaryLeeT

           But whose to say you can add to the “core” when the moment arrives? That’s why it’s important to keep the hard to get pieces now, and add when you can. Like the Rangers did, when Hamilton first arrived 2008. Even though they only won 79 games that year, did they trade him for prospects at his peak value after knocking in 130 runs?

      • Dorasaga

        Please don’t use one “adding stat” (accumulative) to argue pitching performance, though agreed. I do like the Pirates starting rotation and expect Buc lineup to help earn a postseason ticket.

        • Ripsnorter1

          I do not expect the Pirates to earn a postseason ticket.

    • GaryLeeT

       The previous years’ minor league winners are missing one common thread. Ryne Sandberg.

  • Redlarczykg

    Tom U,

    Michael Jensen has had 5 good starts at Peroia.  Do you know what kind of stuff he’s throwing?

    • Tom U

      Redlarczykg, since Jensen is pitching tonight, it will mean that I will miss him next week when I go to see Peoria. I have not been fortunate to see him in any of the live-streaming games. Scouting reports say that Jensen has a low to mid-90’s fastball and a curve.

  • paulcatanese

    I’m going to post on something I believe is relavent to “rebuilding”.
    This is not based on stats just observation since the season has started.
    True Byrd was traded, but not because his stock was high, but probably because it was evident that it would not be by the middle of the season,plus did not figure for the future, and would open center field for Jackson later on.
    Of the outfielders left to fill that spot in center are Johnson, Mather, and Campana. Supposedly all three are fillers for the moment.
    Johnson is older and does not figure in the rebuilding of the Cubs,(at least I don’t think so) and may or may not bring a return at the middle of the season.
    Mather has played pretty well, but again because of age, doubtful he will bring a return.
    Campana, and this is what I think.
    He is young, but very aware of the pressure he has to perform. As Sveum has said “if he hits,it’s hard to keep him out of there”.
    He in my estimation if given the shot to play on a regular basis(only when of course Jackson comes up) would be the only one of the three that could be a decent return if traded.
    Playing for a guaranteed amount of time, I think he will produce. With his speed any increase in contact will make him a valuable commodity.
    That gets me back to Mather.
    While he has played mostly the outfield he can play a number of different positions, 3b, 1b, and of course the outfield.
    That brings up Stewart, who is really not hitting , at least not where someone cannot catch it. I would rest him and put Mather there.
    The bottom line, Campana has more hits in two games than Byrd had for the year and more stolen bases than Byrd had for the whole year including his total for last year.. But he still was run out there everyday
    until this year when I believe Sveum had seen enough and was an embarrasment to Sveum, himself and the orginization.
    Of the three Campana has the most upside, period.

    • Zonk

      Campana certainly has more upside and value to other clubs than Mather or Reed.  Reed is about done.  No ML clubs offered Mather a ML contract heading into spring, he made the club as an NRI.  He is purely a bench guy.

      Campana hasn’t proven at any level that he will be able to hit enough to play every day in the majors.  We should play him to see if he can get on-base at a .350+ clip like he did in the minors, which would make him serviceable.  But he is going to have to hit over .300 to play every day, because other than excellent speed, he has nothing else; he is a middling CF, and has no power whatsoever.

      But let’s see what we have; I would play him every day right now.  If he falls a little short, he still brings some value as a 5th OF/Pinch Runner. 

      Not sure what to do about Ian Stewart.  Mather, DeWitt, or Baker can play there, but none of them are really a big upgrade.  May as well play Stewart and see if he can break out; he at least can field the position. 

      • paulcatanese

        Agree Zonk,point being until Jackson gets here and Rizzo, Campana is an interesting gamble. At least he has fan support even if only to see him run.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Angels–spent the big dough on Pujols and CJ Wilson–now have a record of 6-13. C-ould yo-U, B-aby, S-ometime think of any other team with such a lousy record? 

        Pujols now 1 for last 23….

        • SuzyS

           Rip, although I expect Pujols to right the ship a bit…His contract length and $$$ amount is atrocious.  When the Cards let him hit FA…I was fearful we would try to sign him…thank God JH wasn’t around.
          Baseball really does not lend itself to 8 – 10
          year contracts…the vagaries of the game dictate there are going to be some horrible performance years there…ala Soriano.
          Cards got the performance…and the Angels got an anchor of a contract.
          You’d think the owners would learn.

      • Dorasaga

        I actually started to enjoy Stewart’s play. He still may turn around. Apparently, the Cubs need a better 3B to compete… On Johnson, I stand by my observation that he got value, and is tradable by July.

  • paulcatanese

    Pitchers. Pitchers are going down at an alarming rate. American League, National League, makes no difference. Ironicly it’s usualy ealy in the year, even in ST.
    Rarely does a pitcher have arm problems from the middle of the season on, but I don’t have figures on that.
    The suggestion I would throw out would be to separate pitchers from games in the spring to a longer time before they have to perform in game situations.
    I truly believe more time should be spent developing arm strentgh early in the year.And definatly limit the amount of pitches they throw
    in April, don’t know,but maybe they will stay around longer before surgery.
    Conditioning(modern) may be lacking also, but something has to be figured out to cut back on the injuries.

  • Amy

    Is Ryan Rowland-smith invisible?

  • Ripsnorter1

    Shawn Marshall blows save #2, and takes loss #2.  

    Better setup guy than closer, eg. Marmol.

    • gary3411

      How can you be good at one and not the other? Both have pressure, both need to get guys out late in games. Only difference IMO is the number in the innings box.

      If Marmol got moved back to setup man would his slider magically start biting again? Would he be able to magically throw a fastball for a strike? Not buying it.

      Only reason Marshall would maybe be better at setup than closer was if you choose between 7 and 8th innings which has more lefthanders, whereas in the ninth you get what you get. Otherwise they are essentially the same job.

      • Ripsnorter1

        As Steve Stone says, “The last three outs of a game are the most difficult of all. It takes a special mindset to handle the pressure.” 

        Look at Matt Thorton, ChiSox. Great arm. Great success as the setup guy. Disaster as a closer. Marmol has not had great success as the closer, either. And then Marshall is looking ugly, too. 

        • paulcatanese

          Like him or hate him Steve Stone knew what he was talking about, and that will get one fired every time.:)

  • Tom U

    Tonight’s minor league starters:

    Peoria – Michael Jensen ( 3-1, 1.50)
    Daytona – Austin Kirk (1-0, 1.54)
    Tennessee – Nick Struck (2-1, 2.45)
    Iowa – Frankie De La Cruz (0-1, 3.97)

    Tonight’s spotlight game: Pick’em
    Three of the organization’s brightest pitching prospects in Michael Jensen, Austin Kirk, and Nick Struck go tonight. Peoria and Daytona’s offenses have shown some life recently, while Tennessee battles and stays in every game.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Friday: Maholm vs Halladay.  Accuscore gives us 27% chance of winning.

    On the other hand, the team against which Halladay has the worst career record….Your Chicago Cubs!

    • SuzyS

      Which Chicago Cubs team are you talking about?
      Tinkers to Evers to Chance??? :)

      • Ripsnorter1

        Halladay is 1-4 vs Your Chicago Cubs!  3.72 lifetime ERA, too. 

        IN-credible, isn’t it?

        Maholm has 7 starts vs. Philly: 4 games he went a minimum of 7 IP, allowing 1 or 0 runs.

        3 games he got shellacked. 

        Which Maholm will show up?

  • Tom U

    One thing I would like to add about all of the Cubs’ minor league teams. With the exception of Iowa, due to a quirk in the schedule, every team in the organization has faced some of the top teams in their respective leagues so far this season. For all of the teams to have records hovering near .500, with the schedule possibly getting easier, bodes well.

  • SuzyS

    I was just thinking about Dempster.  The die for this year is cast…hopefully he comes back healthy and he has a decent season for tradeability.
    On the other hand…Do you think he might consider going back to closer to increase his longetivity ala Dennis Eckersly????
    Probably not for us…but just a thought to ponder.
    Thoughts?

    • Ripsnorter1

      Great idea, Suzy. Marmol is a setup man and always has been. 

    • Chadaudio

      I was thinking about that too.  But, it looks more and more like he’ll have an additional year as a starter on the FA market.

  • Rpjstevens

    Does anybody know about Daytona Player Development Contract? The Cubs, Big Game and the City of Daytona have not signed yet. Contract ends after this 2012 season. Whats Up? Don’t they usually get this done before the start of the season?