Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 05/21/12

The mid-May shuffle is now having an impact on all levels of the organization. Unfortunately, it is injuries, and not performance that is causing the shake-up. However, that doesn’t mean that some players haven’t deserved some consideration. Anthony Rizzo is posting MVP-type numbers, while Matt Szczur and Jae-Hoon Ha are bouncing back from rough stretches at Daytona and Tennessee respectively. And the organization has gotten excellent pitching from PJ Francescon, Frank Del Valle, Travis Wood and Frankie De La Cruz.

To see how this all came about; a trip inside today’s Down on the Farm Report will set you straight.

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

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (19-24)
Peoria’s climb in the standing hit a bump on Wednesday, as they fell 5-4 to Clinton. Michael Jensen looked to have clear sailing, holding the Lumber Kings scoreless through four innings while striking out three batters. But a Wes Darvill (2-for-4) error led to four unearned runs in the fifth inning, wiping out a 3-0 lead for the Chiefs. Darvill would help make up for the error by singling and coming home on a Ryan Cuneo (3-for-4, double, three RBI) RBI single in the sixth. But Sheldon McDonald surrendered the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning with an earned run, as he pitched two innings. Luis Liria tried to keep the Chiefs close by shutting down Clinton in the eighth inning, but the offense couldn’t rally. Taylor Davis joined Darvill and Cuneo in having a multi-hit game. Davis was 2-for-4 with an RBI.

The Chiefs inched closer to being the first team in the organization to 20 wins on Thursday with a 4-3 win over Clinton. Staff ace PJ Francescon was on the mound and continued his success, only allowing an unearned run over six innings while striking out three batters. In his return to Peoria, Larry Suarez was the victim of two unearned runs in his two innings. Lefty closer Jeffrey Lorick struck out two in the ninth to pick up his sixth save.

One of the hottest hitters for the Chiefs is Marco Hernandez, who has a .356 average over his last ten games. Hernandez was the focal point on Thursday, as he was 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs scored. Pin-Chieh Chen was moved back into the leadoff spot and was 2-for-5, including a stolen base and an RBI. Wes Darvill and Oliver Zapata were each 1-for-4 with a stolen base.

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The race for 20 wins had a setback on Friday, as Peoria fell to Clinton 8-2. Jose Rosario had another good outing, allowing two earned runs and striking out nine batters in 5.1 innings. But newly acquired Hunter Cervenka wasn’t able to pitch around a Wes Darvill (1-for-3, double, RBI) error in the seventh, giving up four runs (one earned) in 1.2 innings. Austin Reed came on to pitch the last two innings, but the usually reliable Reed had an off-night, letting in another two earned runs. Rafael Lopez was 2-for-4, while Ryan Cuneo drove in the other run with a sacrifice fly.

The elusive 20-win mark will have to wait another day, as the Chiefs defense abandoned them in a 7-6 loss to Cedar Rapids on Saturday. Starter Kyler Burke did well enough, allowing only three earned runs in five innings, but three unearned runs also crossed the plate while he was pitching. Sheldon McDonald was also a victim, as another unearned run scored in his two innings. While Yao-Lin Wang finished up with a scoreless eighth, the damage had been already done. Pin-Chieh Chen (1-for-3) topped a four-run second inning by belting his first home run of the season, a three-run shot. Taylor Davis was 2-for-2 with a double and triple, while Paul Hoilman was 2-for-3, including a double and an RBI.

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (16-24)
The now streaking Daytona Cubs were only able to get in the first half of a doubleheader on Wednesday, just ahead of the weather, but were able to prevail against Brevard County 6-2. After a few games rest, Matt Szczur (2-for-4) tripled to lead off the game and came home on a Nelson Perez (1-for-3) RBI single. Perez came around as an Elieser Bonne (2-for-4) single brought him in. That’s how things stayed until the Manatees were able to tie the score in the bottom of the sixth. The D-Cubs put on the winning kick in the top of the ninth, as Sergio Burruel (1-for-3) doubled to lead things off. Burruel touched home on a Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-4) RBI single. Alcantara promptly stole two bases and was able to walk home on a single by Greg Rohan (1-for-3). Rohan would eventually come home on Bonne’s second RBI single of the game.

After starting the year on the disabled list, Matt Loosen looks as if he is finally rounding into form as he went 5.2 innings while giving up and earned run and striking out six batters. Tony Zych relieved Loosen, but allowed Brevard County to tie the score with an earned run in 1.1 innings. However, Zych was awarded the win after Ty’Relle Harris slammed the door with a scoreless eighth.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

While the D-Cubs were four-hit by the Palm Beach Cardinals on Thursday, the pitching staff can take the bulk of the blame for an 8-2 loss. It’s time to tell it like it is, and Zach Cates appears to be totally overmatched by the level of play in the Florida State League. Cates wasn’t able to complete three innings, as he allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks. Hayden Simpson was asked to try and bail Cates out, and gave up another two earned runs in 2.1 innings. Eduardo Figueroa and Joe Zeller were able to restore order for an inning apiece, but Ryan Searle let in the final two earned runs in his return to Daytona. Nelson Perez (1-for-4) got the D-Cubs on the board with a solo home run in the second, while Greg Rohan (2-for-3) tripled in Matt Szczur for the other run.

Daytona’s offensive attack now seems to be kicking into high gear as they defeated Palm Beach 8-4 on Friday. However, Frank Del Valle posted another impressive outing, striking out eight while allowing four runs (one earned) in six innings. AJ Morris also has done well this season, as he pitched a scoreless inning and struck out two batters. Scott Weismann finished things off with two perfect innings to get his first save.

The D-Cubs’ first baseman Richard Jones has scuffled all year, but broke out in a big way as he was 3-for-4 including a double and three RBI. The Florida State League leader in RBI, Greg Rohan, also added to his total as he drove in two by going 3-for-4 with two doubles. Joining Jones and Rohan, Arismendy Alcantara was also 3-for-4 while Matt Szczur was 2-for-5 and added two more stolen bases to his league leading 18.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

The usually reliable effort of Daytona starter Eric Jokisch just wasn’t there on Saturday, as the D-Cubs lost to Palm Beach 5-3. Jokisch was staked to an early lead, thanks to Matt Szczur (2-for-3, double, home run, two RBI), who hit a solo home run in the first inning. Daytona would add two more runs, as Szczur and Richard Jones (1-for-4) were able to bring runners home. But as Jokisch was sailing through four innings, striking out four batters, he was unusually wild in the fifth, allowing five earned runs that could have been more, if not for a nifty 1-2-3 double play. Ty’Relle Harris got Daytona out of the fifth without any further damage, and was able to toss another scoreless inning. Ryan Searle shutout the Cardinals the rest of the way, but the offense could not rally.

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (19-23)
An off-day and reshuffled roster brought good results on Thursday, as Tennessee opened a series against Mississippi with a 3-2 win. Brooks Raley has displayed improved command this season, as his home run rate has dropped dramatically. Raley went five innings, striking out three while allowing two earned runs. Returning from Iowa, Frank Batista picked right where he left off by firing a scoreless inning. Casey Harman followed suite, while Kevin Rhoderick earned save number five the hard way by keeping the Braves off the board for two innings. The offensively challenged Smokies made the most out of five hits, with James Adduci going 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Logan Watkins drove in two and was 1-for-4.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

A new batting order still failed to produce a consistent offense, as Tennessee dropped a 4-2 loss to Mississippi on Friday. Junior Lake was moved down to the three spot in the order, while Logan Watkins and Jae-Hoon Ha move up a spot. The positive effect was that Ha went 2-for-4 in a spot he’s comfortable hitting in, while Watkins and Lake were hitless. Luis Flores drove in both runs as he was 1-for-2. Michael Burgess was 1-for-3 with a double. Starter Nick Struck did his best to keep the Smokies in the game, but ended up allowing four earned runs in 6.1 innings while striking out four batters. Brian Schlitter went scoreless the rest of the way, but the offense was never able to get on track.

As the Smokies swapped starters on Saturday night, their ten hits were enough to produce a 3-2 victory over Mississippi. Trey McNutt had been listed as Saturday’s starter, but he was pushed back a day and Dallas Beeler came in a day early. Beeler gave a solid effort, allowing two earned runs and striking out two in two innings. The bullpen then did their work, as Marcus Hatley shut down the Braves for two innings and struck out two batters. After Jeffry Antigua walked a batter, Alberto Cabrera came in and had things going for him, striking out three batters in two innings to record the long save, his third of the season.

Jae-Hoon Ha returned to the third spot in the order and was instrumental in jump starting the Tennessee offense, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored. Rebel Ridling was 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Justin Bour drove in the other two runs and was 2-for-4, including a double.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (18-23)
The I-Cubs could be referred to as the “Cardiac Cubs“, giving fans a scare on Thursday by once again nearly throwing one away as they outlasted Salt Lake City 7-5. Moved to the sixth spot in the order, Brett Jackson displayed some of the offense that becomes a top prospect by going 3-for-4 with a triple, home run, and an RBI. Anthony Rizzo also slugged his 14th homer, as he was 1-for-3 with two driven in. Also plating two was Ty Wright, whose two doubles were part of a 2-for-4 night. Dave Sappelt was also 2-for-4, including a double and a stolen base.

Travis Wood continues to work his ERA down, as he went seven innings, allowing two earned runs while striking out three batters. Jeff Beliveau stung the Bees for two strikeouts in a scoreless inning. However, Manny Corpas helped make a game of it, giving up three earned runs in the ninth before finally slamming the door.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

As the shuttle from Chicago to Iowa remained in high gear, the I-Cubs weren’t able to sustain any offense and received shoddy relief work in a 5-4 loss to Salt Lake City on Friday. While seven Iowa players collected hits, none were able to have more than one, with Alfredo Amezaga’s (1-for-4, RBI) third inning solo homer being the biggest. Anthony Rizzo and Josh Vitters each had doubles, while Dave Sappelt, Ty Wright, and Juan Apodaca drove in runs. Frankie De La Cruz may be the next player the parent club turns to if they continue to have problems with their starting rotation, as he allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out four in 6.2 innings. Nate Robertson showed that in small doses, he might still be able to contribute as he struck out the only batter he faced. Jay Jackson, on the other hand, continues to baffle as he allowed the Bees to tie things up in the eighth inning. After Scott Maine set down Salt Lake in the ninth, the offense couldn’t come through. In the tenth, Maine gave up two earned runs to let the Bess walk away a winner.

After posting a run in the first inning, the Iowa bats fell silent as they lost 6-1 to Salt Lake City on Saturday. Brett Jackson (1-for-3) tripled to lead off the game, and scored on an Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3, double) fielder’s choice. Josh Vitters (1-for-4) would be the only other I-Cub to record a hit. Chris Rusin wasn’t as overpowering as he had been in his previous two starts, but allowing three earned runs and striking out four in six innings placed Iowa in a good enough position to win, if his teammates had come through. Mike MacDougal followed Rusin and served up two home runs in two innings, while Esmailin Caridad tossed another gopher ball in the ninth.

News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled LHP Scott Maine from the Iowa Cubs; outrighted IF Blake DeWitt to the Iowa Cubs. The Chicago Cubs selected RHP Blake Parker from the Iowa Cubs; optioned LHP Scott Maine to the Iowa Cubs. The Chicago Cubs selected C Blake Lalli from the Iowa Cubs; optioned RHP Chris Volstad to the Iowa Cubs. Infielder Nate Samson was assigned to the Iowa Cubs from the Tennessee Smokies; RHP Frank Batista was assigned to the Tennessee Smokies; IF Gioskar Amaya was assigned to the Boise Hawks. The Chicago Cubs recalled RHP Randy Wells from the Iowa Cubs; assigned C Brian Esposito to the Iowa Cubs from Extended Spring Training.

The Tennessee Smokies assigned RHP Ryan Searle to the Daytona Cubs. Catcher Micah Gibbs was assigned to the Daytona Cubs from Extended Spring Training. The Daytona Cubs assigned RHP Larry Suarez to the Peoria Chiefs. The Peoria Chiefs released RHP Charles Thomas; LHP Hunter Cervenka was acquired from the Greenville Drive; RHP Bryce Shafer was assigned to Extended Spring Training.

CCO’s Prospect Watch

  • Javier Baez (IF) – Extended Spring Training
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – Extended Spring Training
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .235, six doubles, triple, two home runs, 11 RBI, 11 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Junior Lake (IF) – . 273, three doubles, triple, home run, four RBI, three stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Dillon Maples (RHP) – Extended Spring Training
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .265, 10 doubles, three triples, home run, nine RBI, 18 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .162, three doubles, two triples, five RBI, four stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) – .246, seven doubles, four home runs, 18 RBI, stolen base (Iowa Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – Extended Spring Training
  • Tony Zych (RHP) – 2-1, 3.54 ERA, 20.1 innings, 17 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1.28 WHIP, 4 saves (Daytona Cubs)

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  • Aaron

    It’s extremely rare that nearly all the guys we follow on this site in the minors are doing bad. 

    Just look at that list Tom…it’s downright ugly. The only two guys actually doing above average in the minors are Candelario and Baez, and both of them are receiving limited AB’s in EXST.

    Pretty pathetic wouldn’t you say?

    • Cory

      Pathetic and not encouraging in the slightest.

    • Tom U

      Yes and no. Its one of the pitfalls of having a fan list, Sometimes the more popular players aren’t the most interesting to follow. 

      While it sounds like hindsight, here’s some of the players I would have chosen:

      Arismendy Alcantara

      Frank Batista

      Paul Hoilman
       
      Austin Kirk

      Rubi Silva

  • Ripsnorter1

    The Cubs can’t score runs. We are 28th in the league. Only the Twins have a worse record.

    We are going to see Rizzo in Wrigley very soon. The league has adjusted to LaHair. He just went 1 for 16 with 7Ks on this past 0-5 homestand. He was 1 for 14 vs last Milwaukee series. He went 0 for 7 vs ChiSox with 5 K.

    Here’s his line in May:.238 BA…1 2B…5 HR…7 RBI…10 BB….17 K…
    Here’s his last seven days….
    .154 BA…0  2B ..0 3B…2 HR…3 RBI…8 K…3 BB

    LaHair is not going to hit for average. He has fanned 43 times in 124 AB. That’s 35%. You can’t live at the ML level with such a low contact rate.

    He is the only power bat we’ve had in the lineup until Soriano has hit 3 HRs since he changed his bat–but he can hardly run to 1B. Sveum has promised changes. Sveum went on to say that the front office and coaching staff will consider moving Rizzo up when they need a DH for road interleague games that start on June 8 in Minnesota. That DH would be either LaHair or Alfonso Soriano.

    LaHair just has to platoon now–look at his stats vs LHP:
    .100 BA,..1 HR…1 RBI…5 BB.,…10 K…that’s it. 

    And here’s Soriano’s splits:
    RHP….277…3 HR…18 RBILHP….227…0 HR…4 RBI

    Look at these non-productive regulars:
    Stewart……201 BA…4 HR
    Soto……….161 BA…3 HR…

    Rizzo will be up very, very soon.

    • daverj

      While I agree with you to some degree on LaHair in that his average will fall a bit more, his contract rate is actually 29% when you look at his plate appearances (he’s walked a lot).  29% is not good, but certainly better than 35%.

      And looking any baseball stats over a 7 day period is absolutely meaningless …

    • Zonk

      LaHair is actually making more contact in May than he did in April.  The main difference is that he was extremely lucky in April (.600 BABIP), and he hasn’t been in May (.262 BABIP).

      The reality is that LaHair is a .250-.260 hitter with decent power, and can take a walk.  He is just regressing back to his mean, where he should be.  He just had a great first month.

      A .260 hitter with power is still a good asset. 

  • Aaron

    Alright…prediction time…see what you think of this, Tom…

    For the minor leagues…

    -De La Cruz will make his Cubs debut
    -Rizzo will make his Cubs debut
    -Brett Jackson will remain in Iowa all year, or he might be a September call-up, but just not have but a handful of AB’s so they can gauge him for next year
    -Rusin will make his Cubs debut
    -Valbuena will make another appearance in July
    -Rhoderick will make his Cubs debut
    -Batista will make his Cubs debut
    -Luis Flores will make his Cubs debut (with the one caveat being if injuries continue at the catching position)
    -Jay Jackson, Rebel Ridling, Larry Suarez, Hayden Simpson, Brett Wallach, Brian Schlitter, Ryan Searle, and a few older guys like Adducci, Wright, Mota, Robertson, etc. will all be out of the organization by the end of the year or the offseason.

    The following Cubs will be traded/released by the end of August:
    Baker
    Soto
    Soriano
    Johnson
    Stewart
    DeJesus
    Maholm
    Wells
    Dempster
    Garza (if he refuses to sign a reasonable extension)
    Marmol
    Russell (because he might be one of just a handful of guys with any trade value whatsoever)
    Bowden
    Camp

    In case you were counting, that’s over half of the roster traded/released, and I would not put it past them at all to do something like that. It’s smart baseball in my opinion. All they’d be doing is getting rid of dead weight, aside from Garza, Russell, and Dempster (for the moment, but last 2 starts indicating his stats are correcting themselves to his 2011 form…or close to it)

     

    • CubsTalk

       End of July should be interesting for trades….Johnson & Baker will get you a low A player….Soto needs to stay healthy  to get value……Camp, Wells & Bowden are a bag of balls….Marmol is a wild card…..Soriano, are you willing to waive this guy with all the money due?……Dempster, Garza, DeJesus, Russell & Stewart have value for any playoff club…..

      but where are your replacements coming from besides trades?……this Cubs team is three years away from a playoff picture.

    • Ripsnorter1

      They are not going to release anybody, imo. 

      Baker, Soriano, Johnson, DeJesus, Maholm, Russell will remain here for sure. And it is doubtful that they’ll deal away Dempster, Bowden (who wants him?????), Camp (please….there’s a love story going on here. He ain’t going anywhere). Soto is hurt, but he isn’t going anywhere either, imo. 

  • CubsTalk

    Hayden Simpson, wasn’t he a #1 pick?
    Who is our best catcher in the minors?
    If our best prospects are hitting .250 in the minors, they will never be able to hit MLB pitching.

    • Tom U

      CubsTalk, Hayden Simpson was a number one pick. He had a bad case of mono last season that he is just starting to come back from. He still has enough talent ti keep around and see if it develops.

      The Best catcher depends on your definition. The best defensive catcher in the organization is Sergio Burruel, however he is very young and offensively challenged. Micah Gibbs reminds some of Damon Berryhill as he is a switch-hitter that does everything okay, but doesn’t stand out in any area. Rafael Lopez is a bit over-aged, but is a defensive catcher who is surprising offensively. His mirror opposite is Taylor Davis. Neftali Rosario is a young player that has potential.

      If you’re talking about Brett Jackson, it has been discussed in the past that he is having a bad season.

  • CubsTalk

    Cardinals Lance Berkman will retire after tearing his knee up.   What a great ball player he was.  

    • cc002600

       one thing is for  sure….the NL Central is weak….really weak.

      I am not at all that impressed with the Cardinals, and yet I guess they have the best team….how long before the rest of their overachieving, aging, injury prone players come back to earth ?  (Furcal, Beltran)

      Too bad the cubs are not good enough this year to take advantage, but keep in mind, as bad as the cubs look right now, it really won’t take that much to turn things around a little bit and be a contender in this horrid division.

      Teams come from nowhere EVERY YEAR that no one expects.

      ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS.

      This year’s versions are the Orioles, Indians, Braves, Dodgers….

      That’s the beauty of baseball

      • Ripsnorter1

        And maybe, just maybe, the Astros!  

  • John_CC

    Tom, Neil, et al,

    Soriano has been an issue for at least a year and half now.  While he is actually an improved player this year and is contributing a little more with the bat in May.  His OPS is ~ .930 with 3HR/11 RBI in 16 games.  Yet, I think the team would be better with LaHair-Campana-DeJesus L-R across the OF with Rizzo at 1B. 

    If indeed Rizzo is on his way by June 8, Epstein’s and Hoyer’s decision on Soriano is close to being made up. 

    I am speculation that he will sent to the DL first.  That will give a little time to see how LaHair works in the OF and if he continues to hit at least more than Soriano.  If it goes well, I wonder what the odds are that the team encourages Soriano to have the knee scoped now rather than waiting till season is over?  He could return by mid-August and by then the team could look a lot different, giving Soriano a chance to play 4 days a week and see what he can do.  In the dream scenario he would come back and being strong and healthy again, hit the ball all over and be attractive to a contender.

    • cc002600

       the upside is so limited in terms of Soriano’s value …..if they are LUCKY, maybe they can find someone to take him off their  hands and pay $1M / yr of his remaining salary…..but nothing more than that.

      I mean think about it, if you were another team, why would you want him ?  he’s an aging player with bad knees and can only DH.  He can’t run anymore and still strikes out a ton….all he really does is hit an occasional HR.

    • paulcatanese

      John,You have said what I had said earlier, I also think Soriono will be put on the DL as that seems to be the way that the Cubs can move players up and down.
      Bringing Rizzo up sooner than later and the input that Sveum has with that decision tells me that they are really acting as a team with these things.
      Good idea with Rizzo up and LaHair in left while Soriono is on the DL.
      Soriono is not getting any younger and if he is going to have the knee scoped now is the time to do it.
      The alternative for Soriono after surgery would be to retire with a cash settlement from the Cubs, not the amount he is owed but a buyout.
      If it were me and in that position, I would strongly consider that option, both by the Cubs and Soriono, it would benefit both.
      Whether LaHair works in left field or not it does open up a spot for a younger player, and after all isn’t that what re-building is all about?
      Of course all would change if Soriono refuses surgery, but at the least he could be o the DL at least for 15 days and possibly longer, giving LaHair and Rizzo a legitmate look.

      • John_CC

         No doubt it will be an interesting few weeks coming up.  Sveum also seem to want to get Mather more PT, which he should.  LaHair/Mather platoon in LF? 

        I really do respect Soriano’s heart and will to play through pain, it’s admirable.  But he isn’t helping anyone playing at 75%. 

        I wonder if Woody’s decision and the subsequent praise and adoration he received has played in Soriano’s mind?  Big difference between going out on one’s own terms and fading into the dust piles of stat’s books.  It is hard to imagine that even Soriano believe he will be able to keep playing everyday two years from today. 

        • paulcatanese

          Totaly agree with the platoon idea, gives the Cubs a good look at both at the same time.

          Have to think Soriono’s knees are about the same as Joe Namath’s were in regard to strength. They are not going to get better, at least not without surgery.

  • cubtex

    Here’s my issue with moving LaHair to LF when Rizzo is brought up. Does anyone think LaHair will be starting in LF or any other position for the Cubs 2 years from now? If he is not part of the future….why would you just eat Soriano’s contract now to put a player out there who will not help this team in the future? Soriano is not playing poorly. He has more RBI’s than LaHair. He might interest a team at the deadline and they could salvage several million of his contract. LaHair had a nice month. He is starting to come back to earth. He cannot hit lefties(I pointed that out) and he strikes out an awful lot. Do the kid a favor and try to move him to another team where he can DH or play 1st base.

    • daverj

      I actually think there is a decent chance that LaHair is in left for the next few years.  He should provide more production than his salary while under team control and will allow the Cubs to spend more elsewhere (and we all know there are lot of elsewhere’s that need help).

      If LaHair can hit .270 with 25 HR and 80 RBI’s from the 6 spot in the line-up, then even with below average defense, I’ll take that production for $500,000 (or a bit more over the next couple years) all day long.

      After all, we’ve been paying $18,000,000 for that player profile for the last couple years.

      • John_CC

         Guess I should have read your post Dave, before saying the exact same thing (below).

    • CubsTalk

      I have been saying that LaHair is playing above his numbers…..if Jed/Theo can get something for the future in exchange for LaHair, do it……….I doubt if the Cubs can move Soriano until the final months of his contract…..Ricketts can eat up so much of these Tribune salaries…….next big trade i expect will be Garza…..Garza will sign nothing less than $16 million per year for 5 years……only player Cubs can build on is Castro……Cubs have a long way to go on building up a championship team……only a few veteran players we have can  bring in a few prospects.

      • cc002600

        I will never understand this mentality.

        Why do we want to just trade every good player that is on the team ?

        You want to trade Garza for what ?  To get a couple minor league pitchers that COULD be good in 4 to 5 years ??  Key word is “could”

        Do you want to keep watching this team go through a perpetual rebuilding cycle that MAY produce a contender by 2015 or 2016 by continually trading off its best players ?? I don’t get it.

        Here’s my point The NL Central is so bad that if you make a couple decent trades and spend some money in the winter on a couple good FA’s, you could EASILY contend in this division next year. EASILY. And once you get into the playoffs, as we have seen a million times, ANYTHING can happen.

        Not only that, to just “give up” for the next 5 years waiting for prospects to develop is just ludicrous. Teams come out of nowhere and contend when you least expect it EVERY YEAR in baseball.

        Did you expect the Orioles to be 27-15 at this point ?
        What about the Dodgers ?? or Indians ??

        What about the D-Backs last year ?  Went from last to first.  HAPPENS ALL THE TIME !!!!
         

        • Brp921

          The Cubs are going to have a lot of flexibility, salary wise, next year. I haven’t looked at any free agent lists but with the success the top of the starting rotation is having this year, adding another decent starter and a little bit of offense next year could make the Cubs contenders in their division. I just wouldn’t want them to alter the plans of the total rebuild or the build up of the farm system to do so.

          • cc002600

             High five, my brutha !!

            You are speaking my language :-)

          • John_CC

             I want Anibal Sanchez first, then maybe Grienke.  Hamels is FA too, if the Phillies don’t lock him up he will be the sweepstake.

        • CubsTalk

          Lets see, how many “good” players do we have on thi steam?……anyone….anyone…..

          I really don’t even count Castro as good yet…..above average at this point…..but a keeper……same with Samardzija..

          Dempster is too old…..Garza will be too old when this team starts to click by 2015……LaHair?…..he will be 30……..Barney is a “back-up”……the rest of this team are bench players or lucky to be in the majors at this point……….

          Just review this roster…..11-13 players should be in the minors….3-4 players should be out of baseball…..the rest are average – good players….only Castro can start on any other team…..no one else.   We have very few trade chips to build on (Dempster, Garza, LaHair)

          We don’t have a #1 pitcher…no stopper…..no leaders.   Put the Blue Kool-Aid down and think from looking on the outside.

        • Ripsnorter1

          You trade every good player on your team to remain in last place. It’s really simple. 

    • cc002600

       You will NEVER get a thing for Soriano.

      It is sunk cost.

      What value does he have to another team ?

      He’s 37 and can’t run

      • cubtex

        Is LaHair the future in LF? Will Soriano prevent this team from making the playoffs this year? Does Soriano not try anymore? Is Soriano a problem in the clubhouse?
        My point is……Why would you take Soriano out of LF now for LaHair? LaHair is not a future LF. LaHair will not ever become a huge trade chip to get back any top tier prospects. It makes no sense to me. If this was for BJAX, Sczur, or one of your top prospects who he was blocking……but this is for a 29 year old 1st baseman who is starting to get exposed and will be below average defensively.

        • cc002600

           So if a guy is 29 years old, he’s basically washed up ? 

          I’m not sure I understand.

          Why do you say LaHair is not the future in LF ?

          Do they have better alternative right now?.

          If he hit 25 HR, 80 RBI’s would you be disappointed ? Is that bad ? 

          If he gave us that for the next 3 to 4 years, is that bad ?  I don’t get it.

          Soriano CANNOT run.  Have you seen any games recently ?  He is limping.  He clearly has a problem with one of his knees.  And did I say he was a problem in the clubhouse ?  Jeff Baker not a problem in the clubhouse either, should we put him in LF ?

          • cubtex

            How many HR’s and RBI’s did Soriano hit last year? You have to pay him anyway…… why not play him until he is blocking someone who is considered “the future”

            LaHair is a 1st baseman/DH moving forward. No…you are not washed up at 29 but you will not have much value being a 29 year old who has played very few games in the mlb. Why put a square peg in a round hole?

          • cc002600

             Who’s the future that you keep talking about ?  Szczur is hitting .250 in A  ball with 1 HR. He is 3 years away at a MINIMUM. At least.

            BJax can play RF or CF.

            Again, have you seen any games recently ?  Soriano is limping. He cannot go back on any balls. Its painful to watch

            And there is NO WAY that LaHair could be any worse in LF than Soriano has been.

            Just because you have to pay a guy, that doesn’t mean you have to play him.  Were you were sad when they cut Silva and ate his dough ?

            I find it funny that as soon as a guy (LaHair) has 1 bad week, everyone’s ready to dump him. Fans are so fickle. My gosh, its a long season, there will be ups and downs. Can we at least give him 500 AB’s and see what he can do before we’re ready to dump him ?  What do we have to lose ?

          • cubtex

            You are a lot higher on LaHair than I am obviously. I would not bench Soriano for LaHair is all I am saying. The “future” doesn’t have to be Szcur or anyone else currently in the minors. It could be for a guy they pick up in a trade for Dempster or Maholm(for example) What future value does playing LaHair in LF give the team? I am saying nothing while you disagree. Fair enough…..we disagree on this.

          • cc002600

            Yes, Agree.  If they can acquire another guy to play LF, that’s fine.  But until they do, I would play LaHair out there to see what he can do.  We know what Soriano can do, which isn’t much anymore. We have nothing to gain by playing him anymore.

          • John_CC

             Soriano 2011:  .244 BA w/ .248 OBP, 26 HR / 88 RBI.  That was in 137 games. How many games do you think he can play this year on that knee? Do you think he is getting better, e.g. will he be able to repeat the 26/88 this year?

            Do you think the LaHair can hit at least .245/26/88? 

            I certainly do and so do most. 

            Since when did you become such a Soriano fan anyway? O yeah, when Epstein took over and might replace him. Last year Hendry should have DFA’d him…right…

    • John_CC

      It is impossible to know if LaHair is LF for another year without seeing him play there and hit for the rest of the year. What if he hits .270 and 30HR this year?  That’s better than Soriano has done in 3 years and about $18M cheaper.   Here is a better question: Do you see Soriano as the LF in 2 years? 

      • cubtex

        I am just so quick to throw millions and millions of dollars out the window. If you are going to do that….at least do it for someone who might be a long term player. No I don’t see Soriano in LF in 2 years and I don’t see LaHair there in 2 years either….that is my point!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Roster move today as PJ Francescon (5-1, 1.86) promoted to Daytona. No replacement on roster yet

  • cubtex

    Tom, I’ve read some reports about how well Robert Whitenack has been pitching this year. Very high strikeout rate. Do you have any idea on how they will promote him through the system this year? Any chance we could see him in September if he proves to be 100% recovered from TJ surgery?

    • Aaron

      I know you asked Tom but I will definitively answer the last question…NO way he gets to Wrigley this year….team Theo views AAA as a finishing point. He is still at EXST increasing pitch counts, so he’d have to go all the way to AAA when he gets back…bottom line, otherwise he goes AA then AAA and you’re suddenly out of time for the season

      • cubtex

        Thanks. I thought it would be a long shot to see him this year but was encouraged to see his numbers at EXST.  

        • Tom U

          I agree with Aaron, it is far too early in his rehab to talk about moving him that high. You’l probably see him in the low minors for a while until he gets his game shape back.

  • CubsTalk

    Garza is a good pitcher, but he is not part of the future with this Cubs team.  Why pay a pitcher $16 million per year, if your team is a near last place team?   Garza can easily bring in two near ready MLB prospects to build this franchise on.  Dempster can also help out the Cubs if he “waived” his no trade clause.  Or will he play hard nose like the way Aramis Ramirez did last year?  As for Soriano, his big contract will keep him in Chicago to the end.  If Soriano cannot play on a playoff team before he retires, that is his and his agent’s fault.   Soriano will have to rough it out in LF with those sore knees at Wrigley.  All that money he is getting will be used for knee replacement operations after his playing days are over.  

    Some of  you are falling into the “Zambrano”  trap of over paying a pitcher who really has done nothing for this franchise.  I rather build this team on youth than over paying for  non-HOF type players.   We heed to avoid bad contracts and get done with the ones that Theo took on from Hendry. 

    I also believe if this Cubs payroll drops big time, then ticket prices need to be lower.   Will that happen?….maybe at some point where Rickett’s will reduce prices on certain game days and sections in the ball park.

    Dodgers, Rays, Orioles all built their teams from within.  Not from free agency.  All of you people want to go the way of spending similar to the Angles.  That Angels team will be in a financial mess down the road. 

    Cubs bread & butter will be how much they will get when the existing cable contract is done.   Cubs need their own network to make those big dollars like the Yankees have.  

    Jed & Theo have a plan.   Stay on course men.   Some of these “panic” Cubs fans here here have fallen in that mode of “we want to win now”, no matter what the cost.   This is not the way of how to build a Dynasty.    Scouting, farm system, great coaching, fundamentals, baseball knowledge……..this is the formula for the future. of the Cubs. 

  • Zonk

    Tom, what is the scouting report on Alcantara?  I didn’t notice him until you mentioned it; he is 20 years old and having a decent year at A+, which can be a tough league for hitters.  Looks promising.

    Help me out on Paul Hoilman though; what don’t I see?  I see a 23-year old who is way old for his level, and has 50 strikeouts against pitching he should murder.  Sure, he’s hitting .300, but with little power, and an unsustainably high BABIP.  And he only plays 1B.  What am I missing?

    • Tom U

      Zonk, I’ve seen Alcantara play in person and he has a great initial burst with his speed, and it looks like he is learneing to run the bases. Like Starlin Castro, he’s a bit of a slasher at the plate, but you can see he makes good contact. It is a mystery as to where he will play defensively. He has an arm for third, the range for short, but plays the best defensively at second.

      Paul Hoilman set a Boise club record in leading the Northwest league in home runs with 17 last season (in only 71 games). He’s a big, strong guy that has opposite field power. However, knowing that the advanced reports are already out on him, Hoilman has taken what pitching has given him, as he’s second in the league in doubles. An OBP of .366 for a slugger is pretty good. I also saw him in agility drills, and he is able to keep up with middle infielders. He has some ability to work with.