Sing When You’re Winning

By virtue of an 11-2 rout (recap, boxscore, play-by-play), the Cubs beat the Marlins in the playoffs. Or, to be more precise, they swept the Marlins in the playoffs. And Dusty Baker was nowhere to be seen. No, I'm not day-dreaming about October 2003 and what could have been, but rather I'm talking about the Cubs' Double-A affiliate, the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, who yesterday completed their three-game sweep of their Marlins' counterpart, the Carolina Mudcats. They'll now progress to the Southern League Championship Series for the first time since 2000, where, starting Wednesday, they'll take on either the Jacksonville Suns (Dodgers) or the Birmingham Barons (White Sox) in another best-of-five series [Update: Suns it is, they completed their own sweep of the Barons on Saturday]. The protagonist in yesterday's crushing win over the Mudcats was Brandon Sing, who homered in his first two trips to the plate. The first was just a first-inning solo shot; the second, an inning later, was a grand slam that well and truly blew the game open; and both were absolute monster shots to left field. It was quite a show of power from the 24 year old right-handed first baseman/corner outfielder. Sing, who grew up a Cubs fan from Joliet, Illinois, was drafted out of high school by his favourite team in the 20th round of the 1999 draft. But through 2003 he struggled horribly just about everywhere he went. And he went places - Mesa, Eugene, Lansing, Daytona and West Tennessee, shortstop, third base, first base and the outfield, Sing did the rounds, invariably completely failing to hit for average because he struck out so frequently while showcasing power and patience that were merely good rather than great. To top it all, Sing's 2003 was ruined by mononucleosis - he lost the last 3 months of the year, and 25 pounds in body weight. But last year things began to click for Sing. His strikeouts didn't go away, but his power and patience literally went from merely good to very great as he drew 84 walks and hit 32 home runs in 122 games, all career highs (and the 32 home runs fell just one shy of a Florida State League record that had stood for 54 years). Those improvements combined with the uptick in his average to a decent .270 gave him on-base and slugging percentages of .399 and .571 respectively, and he was named the FSL MVP. Were Sing not old for a league he was repeating a third time, his achievements would have caused quite a splash. Instead, Sing's had to mash for another year, hitting .276 and setting all-time Jaxx records with his 91 walks, 26 home runs, .404 on-base percentage and .538 slugging, to garner himself some real attention. Sing has truly prodigious power, and he doesn't mind waiting for his pitch, but that's not to say he's necessarily a top prospect. He has some very considerable handicaps - he still strikes out at a very high rate, so doesn't project to hit for average, he's defensively limited and, at 24, for a high school draftee he's very old for Double-A. But do watch out for him in the years to come, because as the Mudcats found out last night, when he hits a ball, it stays hit. Perhaps better still, because this is the Cubs we're talking about, throw this guy four balls and you won't get a double play grounder.
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Comments

offtopic for this post, yet interesing...and bleh...

cedeno's xrays were inconclusive...more due monday...

aka, it dont look good and he could be out for quite some time.

you can hold you stupid "dusty wouldnt..." observations cuz its not very observant given he's been given chances and even expanding his game and there was no sign he wasnt gonna play at least 3-4 times a week as it is.

"We'll have him seen Monday by our hand specialist,'' trainer Mark O'Neal said. "We X-rayed him here, and one of them was a little suspicious for a hairline fracture, just off the notch of the fifth metacarpal. But the site of the suspicious fracture is not where he is tender to the touch.''

The Jacksonville Suns swept their series vs the WSox Birmingham Barons...Go DiamondJaxx !!!

from the Jacksonville Suns website:

The Suns will face the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx at 7:05 p.m. (eastern) Tuesday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville in Game 1 of the best-of-five Championship Series. It is a rematch of the 2000 SLCS, where the Diamond Jaxx beat the Suns, three games to two.

J. Hairston Jr. cf
N. Perez ss
D. Lee 1b
J. Burnitz rf
N. Garciaparra 3b
T. Walker 2b
M. Barrett c
M. Murton lf

Why did Dusty put Patterson in this game...?

Murton has proven that he can really hit. Hairston hit an important one too...late in the game Dusty goes with Macias - just like clockwork.

Lets hope Dempster can come through for us.

8-2 roadtrip in September should have us all in a state of euphoria. Too bad it doesn't mean crap...ahh, what might have been.

Patterson was put in a well executed double switch of sorts. Murton had just bat in the 8th, so it was only a possibility that he would have batted again. Also, it strengthened our defense. I don't think that was a bad move.

good news, we win our final 19 games...we have a good shot at making the playoffs!

Overall, The Cubs have played VERY WELL on this road trip (where they went 8 and 2)...I liked the big 2 out base hits and the solid relief pitching...And closer Ryan Dempster has been amazing with his 27th save this afternoon. The Cubs are still keeping things interesting as tomorrow night they can get back to .500...Right now they are tied with Milwaukee and the Mets @ 5 1/2 games out of the Wild Card spot...Of course they only have 19 games to go so they are still an incredible long shot...;-)

I was afraid of this. The Cubs will never quite threaten to win the wild card but they will finish a mere three or four games out - close enough that we might go back and relive every blown game for six months. What are your five favorites?

It will all be spelled out by: can we keep winning up to the houston series. We have 10 not so easy games till then. Can the Cubbies go 8-2? And then can we kick their ass. If we hand Houston 5 losses out of 7 games, thats pretty interesting.

What will really be interesting, is the houston-florida series. They play 4 starting tomorrow.

What will also be interesting, is regardless of how we play, the last 4 games are against Houston. We might have a big chance to decide their fate. That would be pretty fun to knock em out of the playoffs.

This season is not over. Its unlikely we can bounce all the way back. BUT, at least give it the best shot possible. Its the only way to go into this offseason somewhat satisfied with a disappointing year.

My props to Cedeno btw. Its really too bad you got hurt. You gave us all a glance at something that I think we can all say peaked our interest. Get well and get ready for Spring.

Tbone,

Here is my top 5 of devasting losses:

1. The Barrett game in Phily.
2. the game vs. the Sox that C-pat forgot how to close his glove.
3. The 2nd game of that DH in Atlanta
4. Hawkins hitting the phillies guy in the head on the throw.
5. That meltdown in Cincy in the Maddux start previous to getting his 3k K.

Chifan,

I was on the road and missed the Barrett play though I read about it the next day. The Hawkins/Phillies game was unreal. I have to agree with your five. Also in play: the loss of the first game at Yankee Stadium (I was there so it was particularly painful)

Not to mention games they didn't exactly blow, in that they had a lead and lost it, but games they were never quite in that they should have won. I think of the weekend here when they played Washington. I went to the Saturday and Sunday games. If memory serves this was during the Korey/Neifi 1-2 experiment. I saw DLee bat eight or nine times that weekend and there was a man on base once.

Here's a shout-out to the DJaxx, what a season! Our AAA team sucks wind so bad, there are no legit ML prospects in Iowa now that JVB and Cedeno are in Chicago. But Jackson, oh my!

Murton (now Chicago), Pie, Sing, Theriot, Nolasco, Pinto, Ryu, Aardsma. Maybe McGehee, Craig, Shipman and Greenberg, too.

And to think, were it not for injuries, Sean Marshall, Jon Connolly, Billy Petrick and maybe Luke Hagerty too, all could have spent time in AA this year. Wow.

We should have a lot of young help coming to Chicago in 2007.

Oops, I forgot Carlos Marmol for WTenn too, wow. And even Coats and former 1st round pick Luis Montanez. And now E-Patt is promoted to AA late in the year. What a load of prospects!

If the Cubs go 15-4, then...

Marlins 10-9
Phillies 11-8
Astros 10-10

Again, this is the same situation from a couple weeks ago. None of those teams individually are locks to beat their mark by 2 games, but all of them collectively certainly will do it (to say nothing of the fact that the Cubs won't go 15-4). The season is every bit as over now as it was a month ago and as a poster commented above, the most fun we have left is messing with Houston's shot.

As for five games, I'm going with:

1) Opening Day, where defensive sub Todd Hollandsworth misses a surefire opportunity to Wendellize Junior Spivey for the 27th out. The debit is immediately placed on Latroy Hawkins' ledger.

2) Two days after that: the Cubs win the battle but do a good deal of war-losing when Todd Walker gets taken out by Carlos Lee. In the remainder of April, the Cubs will lose five games by two runs or fewer. In these games, their second basemen hit .238 with no walks and a double.

3) Two weeks after that: the Cubs win another battle and lose the season's second war as Nomar is injured in St. Louis, guaranteeing a huge dose of Neifi! over the coming months. Cubs fans are shocked and disappointed when Neifi falls somewhat short of the 950 OPS they expected after his brilliant acquisition in 2004.

3(a) At some point, Enquire Wilson gets 25 PAs.

4) Derek Lowe embarrasses the Cubs by throwing a no-hitter after giving up a leadoff single to Jerry Hairston.

5) Corey Patterson, batting #2, goes 0-for-3 in a 3-1 loss to the Brewers on May 3. It is his sixteenth consecutive start without a walk. (In only one of these games does Patterson bat lower than third.)

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2005 Chicago Cubs: a reminder of why our 89-73 teams look like world-beaters.

Tbone,

Now that you brought up that July 3rd game vs. Washington I have to say that should go to number 2 on my list. If we win that game maybe we got some momentum and win at least one game against the Braves. We end the first half over .500 and within like 4 of the WC.

I don't understand how Baker makes these changes.

Bats Patterson for Wuertz in the 8th, who promptly strikes out, Patterson takes over CF from Hairston, who replaces Murton, who is promptly sat after hitting his third major league homerun.

Next inning bats Macias for Williamson, who promptly strikes out, moves Macias to 2B to take over for Walker.

Uhhhh, does anybody see any logic in this?

He removes a kid (Murton) who had just hit a homerun and puts an infielder (Hairston) in his position. Then he takes an outfielder (Macias) and replaces the every day secondbaseman (Walker) at 2B. Right.

Don't pinch hit Patterson. Don't move Murton. If you're going to do anything, put Macias in center and Hairston at second, for Christ's sake.

God damn.

unless something goes odd on the team it seems hairston is probally the CF next season...it'll take an offseason to sort that out, but its looking like he's there to stay as far as an everyday role unless something very weird happens with patterson.

he'll be around next year if not traded...he hasnt played 2nd in a while...honestly, he's about the best thing the team has going for CF as of now even though he's still very much a work in progress there.

*shrug*

yeah, its not the easiest thing in the world to watch him patrol out there, but at least he's got a sticky glove for anything hit in front of him...its that whole chasing stuff down past where he sets up that's tripping him up.

but yeah, he is a better 2nd baseman than anywhere in the OF...

Ive been saying for a couple of weeks now that the season is not over. Look at the matchups. We must keep winning and if we do I think the teams to worry abour are Florida and Houston. I'm all for Houston winning 3 out of 4 in Florida. If we go 4-0 we gain 3 games on Florida and 1 game on houston taking us to 2 games back of florida and 5 games back of houston. Florida still has a tough schedule after houston and houston has to play stl 2 more games and us 7 games. Think though IF we were to win the wildcard we would be the hottest team in baseball entering the playoffs............

notes from the papers

* Trib reports Murton will take over Pat as a starter. Rusch's spot will get skipped if Maddux still need wins.

* Daily Herald says Rusch and Neifi want to return next year as a starter.

Trib reports Murton will take over Pat as a starter. Rusch's spot will get skipped if Maddux still need wins.

Well it's nice to know that it's more important to get an individual an accomplishment than see if a couple guys are viable options next spring to help the team.

Daily Herald says Rusch and Neifi want to return next year as a starter.

I really don't want to see another 500 PAs from Neifi. Maybe we can move for the DH to go into the NL over the offseason. Then we can DH for him, Lord knows that Prior, Wood, Rusch and Zambrano are better hitters than he is.

"It depends on who Murton is facing,'' Baker said. "He hasn't faced a bunch of tough righties, so you don't really know that. I know what I'm doing with matchups."

Obviously, Dusty, you don't. Murton has faced harder pitchers than any other position regulars on the Cubs, and while that's not *exactly* what Baker said ("tough righties"), it's sure as hell close enough.

What exactly is it with Baker? Why does he get all these free passes when he says things that are demonstrably far from the truth?

WOW, that was stupid. I didn't realize I had that sorted incorrectly. Total mea culpa, and a tip of the cap to Dusty for having said the opposite of what I accused him of.

good to see the bash-dusty reflexes are still sharp here. take some valium and call me in the offseason.

Yea, what gives? Dusty should be manager of the year! Yaaaaayy

your comprehension skills are impressive, young padawan.

...but have you mastered the piledriver?

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