Big Billing, Small Performance

The West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx opened their first Southern League Championship Series in four years last night, and I missed it, because the scheduling change slipped my mind. But at least the Jaxx won (recap, box, play-by-play), and how! With the recent promotions of Felix Hernandez, Francisco Liriano and Matt Cain to the big leagues, yesterday's starter for the Jacksonville Suns, Chad Billingsley, is most probably the best pitching prospect in the minors right now. He throws a lively fastball anywhere from 93 to 97 and has superb secondary stuff in the shape of his plus-plus slider and hard curveball. In his last seven starts prior to yesterday's contest, Billingsley had a 46.2 IP, 17 H, 3 HR, 15 BB, 46 K, 0.96 ERA line, and if 17 hits allowed in his last 46.2 innings pitched wasn't ridiculous enough, try 12 in his last 40.2. Or 0 in his last 7, for it was only last Thursday that Billingsley combined with reliever Jonathon Broxton to pitch a no-hitter, in the process picking up his sixth consecutive win. All in all, I think it's fair to say that the kid, for he's only 21, was on a roll. And did it bother our Jaxx one bit? Well, let's just say that... Top 1 Patterson walks (I repeat, Patterson walks, Eric Patterson that is!). Patterson steals 2nd base. Greenberg singles, Patterson scores, Greenberg to 2nd on throw, 1-0 Jaxx. McGehee strikes out swinging. Craig hit by pitch. Sing homers (well over 400 ft mark in LF/CF), Greenberg and Craig score, 4-0 Jaxx Coats walks. Reyes grounds out, Coats to 2nd. Rojas walks. Ryu strikes out swinging. Top 2 Patterson strikes out swinging (oh, boo!). Greenberg grounds out. McGehee walks. Craig homers (second row of the RF bleachers), McGehee scores, 6-2 Jaxx. Sing strikes out swinging. Top 3 Pitching Change: Beltran Perez replaces Chad Billingsley. Though the Jaxx's starter, Jae-Kuk Ryu, gave back two runs in the bottom of the second with three consecutive doubles, and another two in the bottom of the third on a two-out two-run homer, the Jaxx found it plain sailing from there, and they now have a 1-0 lead in the series. Furthermore, the next three games see Renyel Pinto, Ricky Nolasco and Carlos Marmol, the three starters in the last round of the playoffs, matching up favourably, on paper at least, with what the Suns have left to throw at them. Jae-Kuk Ryu (pronounced "You"!) is one of the more interesting pitchers in the Cubs' system, signed out of Korea by the Cubs in 2001 for $1.6m as an extremely raw but exciting young arm. Ryu though had a tough time settling in America, as might be expected of any teenager thrown into a completely different culture without a word of the language or anyone to turn to. He had a few reported run-ins with teammates, among them Andy Sisco, but he shot to notoriety when he deliberately threw at, hit and killed an osprey in spring 2003. A grave and misguided mistake, certainly, but, America seemingly ignorant of the fact that there aren't many 19 year olds that haven't done things they deeply regret, Ryu was relentlessly villified across the nation. He has since suffered further setbacks in the form of arm injuries, which have cost him velocity on his fastball. All the same, now working around 90-91 (as opposed to 93+) while mixing in a splitter, changeup and a good curveball, Ryu, still only 22, has put together a nice season for the Diamond Jaxx this year, with 28 starts and a 176.2 IP, 161 H, 13 HR, 51 BB, 136 K, 3.41 ERA line. He's one to watch out for, and the Cubs have a decision this winter as to whether or not to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Let's talk a little about Eric Patterson, Corey's younger brother, who's had a nice first season in the Cubs' system. Drafted in the eighth round in 2004 out of Georgia Tech, the 22-year old "E-Pat", a second baseman that bats from the left-side, spent the majority of the year at the Low-A Peoria Chiefs, where he put up a .333/.405/.535 line in 110 games, with 26 doubles, 11 triples, 13 home runs, 53 walks, 94 strikeouts and 40 stolen bases in 51 attempts. His reward for such a season was a double promotion to West Tennessee for the last week of the season and a spot on their playoff roster. In 13 games with the Jaxx now, he's hit .311/.396/.444 with 6 doubles, 7 walks, 12 strikeouts and 3 steals in 5 goes. Patterson plays very good defence at second base, with excellent range both to his left and right, good balance, soft hands and a decent arm. He also turns the double play well and made just 9 errors at Peoria, comfortably leading the Midwest League in fielding percentage among second basemen. On the basepaths, while he's not quite as fast as his older brother, he can still most definately run, and he's very much a spark plug on the bases, capable of and eager to make things happen, stealing bags, stretching doubles into triples, going first to third, and scoring from second on singles, from first on doubles. He's an exciting player in the field and on the bases. But it's his bat that will decide whether he has a major league future. While Patterson's hitting numbers look superficially impressive (in a "who can argue with .333/.405/.535?" sense), there are some legitimate concerns. Firstly, Patterson's numbers at Peoria need to be taken with a pinch of salt, for, as a college draftee, Eric was old for his league. The Midwest League is mostly populated with much younger players that, while they may have the talent, are invariably raw, unpolished and have a lot of developing still to do, guys either fresh out of college or a year or two out of High School, like Ryan Harvey, Sean Gallagher and Mike Billek. A more appropriate level for Patterson given his three years at college would have been Daytona, which for hitters is something of a step up from Peoria, with more advanced pitching and a slightly friendlier pitching environment. Patterson though may be skipping Daytona all together, just like his brother, if Fleita decides that he's held his own well enough in this short end of season stint at West Tennessee and re-assigns him there to begin next year. The jump from High-A to Double-A is more than big enough, a jump that a lot of players struggle with as quality off-speed stuff and patient and refined hitters become much more commonplace. But the jump from Low-A to Double-A is enormous, and indeed it was I believe the beginning of Corey's problems at the plate. Eric, while a different player, one a lot less preoccupied with power for starters (because he's not as strong), and one much more willing to wait for his pitch and take walks, worryingly has numbers that in some respects are similar to his older brother's. He strikes out a lot (92 times in 432 at-bats at Peoria, and 12 times in 45 at-bats at West Tenn so far), which is alarming for a non-power hitter, and has only been able to maintain his high .300+ averages with off-the-chart .400+ averages on balls in play. Together, those strikeout and ball in play numbers point to a plummeting average at some stage in the future. All of which reminds me of last year's second base prospect of choice, Richard Lewis, the man acquired alongside Andy Pratt in the Juan Cruz trade. He had a big year at West Tenn in 2004, hitting .329/.391/.532 with plenty of doubles, enough walks, very good defence, but lots of strikeouts and he was a bit old for his league too. In fact, statistically, it was pretty much Eric Patterson's year without all the baserunning fun. Lewis' 2005? .222/.299/.312 in nearly 400 plate appearances, most of them at Iowa. Beware, Eric, beware.
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Comments

Why didn't I hear Ryan O'Malley's name in the starting rotation there for AA? Was he left off of the roster? I thought he was one of their starters and did pretty well, at least the last time I saw his name on the "Minor Matters" of chicagocubs.com....

O'Malley's in the bullpen. He'd been filling in whenever necessary as the fifth starter with Sean Marshall on the DL, but the Jaxx only need four starters in the playoffs, with Pinto who goes tonight not having pitched in a week now.

Oh yeah, wanted to say thanks to Houston for laying an egg so far at home vs. FL. It would of been nice to have them take 3 of 4.

Thanks John

It's okay that Houston lost. They've got Clemens going tonight, and after all, we're just a sixteen-game winning streak from being in the driver's seat.

While I hope WTenn does well I must say for me, anyway, that the idea of closely following AA playoff games only puts an exclamation mark on the hopelessness of being a fan of the Chicago National League Ballclub.

I think that's part of my point, Tbone.

John H wrote: "The Midwest League is mostly populated with much younger players that, while they may have the talent, are invariably raw, unpolished and have a lot of developing still to do, guys either fresh out of college or a year or two out of High School, like Ryan Harvey, Sean Gallagher and Mike Billek. A more appropriate level for Patterson given his three years at college would have been Daytona, which for hitters is something of a step up from Peoria, with more advanced pitching and a slightly friendlier pitching environment."

-

JOHN H: Eric Patterson WAS "fresh out of college." This is E-Pat's first year of pro ball (he signed too late last year to get a chance to play at Boise or Mesa), so I don't think he was "too old" for the Midwest League. There are a number of players in the MWL who fit the same age-experience profile as Eric Patterson (Sam Fuld would be a good example) who did not have the kind of MVP-type season E-Pat had. My question regarding Eric Patterson this season is not why he was assigned to Peoria out of Spring Training, but rather why he was left at Peoria as long as he was. The Cubs easily could have moved him up to Daytona at the end of June, since there were no other second-base prospects of note at Daytona blocking his path.

I also would be hesitant to compare what Richard Lewis did at West Tenn last season (and Iowa after that) with anything Eric Patterson did or will do. When Lewis was at West Tenn in 2004, he was spending his second consecutive year in AA and second consecutive year in the Southern League (he played for Greenville in 2003, before the Cubs acquired him from the Braves). In his first season in the SL (at Greenville), Lewis sucked (239/305/341). Then he went to the Arizona Fall League after the 2003 season and hit .400, before going back to AA (Southern League) last year and tearing it up (329/391/532). And then he went to Iowa and struggled (239/274/402) just like he did in his first year at AA (Greenville) in 2003, before breaking his leg in the last game of the season, and he hasn't been the same player since. (Watching Lewis gimp his way around Fitch Park this past Spring, I find it hard to believe his leg is 100%).

Actually, the player I would compare to Richard Lewis is Scott Moore, because like Lewis, Moore was a first round draft pick (Patterson was not), and had an all-star year only after he had the chance to play in the same league two years in a row (in Moore's case, the Hi-A Florida State League).

The whole idea of minor league baseball is to keep moving forward, and not repeat the same level twice (as was the case with Richard Lewis and Scott Moore). As long as E-Pat continues to progress, he is meeting (or as was the case with this season, exceeding) expectations.

Also, E-Pat's "ball in play"/K/BB composite would be a problem if he plays the "uppercut swing cum fly ball" game all the time, but he seems to be more of a "slasher" than his brother (from what I saw of him in Spring Training, anyway), and thus should be able to use his above-average speed to get more than his share of infield hits.

I like a lead-off hitter who get on base at least 35%-40% of the time, and once they are on base, are enough of a threat to steal to provide at least a modicum of distraction for the pitcher & catcher, and also enough of a threat to steal to motivate the pitcher to throw more fastballs to the 3-4-5 hitters than he might otherwise be inclined to do. The best use of a lead-off hitter with speed is to use him at the front end of a hit & run with the #2 hitter, or to attempt to steal second with two outs and the #2 hitter at bat. Otherwise, I don't like the stolen base.

More than the ability to steal an occasional base, I like a lead-off guy who can score from 1st on a double into the gap, or go from 1st to 3rd on a single to RF, or score from 2nd on a single to the outfield. What made Rickey Henderson such a successful lead-off hitter wasn't so much the base-stealing, but rather the high number of walks he was able to draw (resulting in an out-friggin'-standing OBP), and then once he got on base, simply the THREAT that he might steal second that got Canseco and McGwire more fast balls to it.

I've seen E-Patt play a few times for Peoria. He's pretty patient at the plate and not anywhere as big as C-Patt, as far as trying to be a power hitter. He's much skinner and not as bulky.

He plays a very slick 2nd base and has good range there. If he can keep hitting, like was said above, he could be a very solid MLB player.

"I've had my eyes open already about Murton," Baker said. "I just don't jump on bandwagons. He's played outstanding. He's hitting the ball hard and running the bases. I believe, unless you have a superstar like Miguel Cabrera, that you get young players in against guys they can have success against to build their confidence. This young man is performing well. He works hard and he's a smart player."

Robr,

Nice to see Baker is seeing the light.

AZ Phil,

What is your opinion on Nolasco? Are you as high on him as I and Jeff Francouer are or do you agree with John Hill that he is a back of the rotation guy or are your feelings on him somewhere in the middle?

On E-Pat;
I posted most of this a few months back (July I think) when I watched him in person. While he may have similar K rate to Korey, he, as some have said above, is a much different type of hitter. From what I saw, he doesn't have hint of the long looping I-wish-I-was-Ken-Griffey-Jr. uppercut. As AZ Phil said he slashes looks to make more contact. He looks much more patient and selective. In one AB he got to two strikes and "Gasp!" shortened his stroke to make contact and punched one up the middle for a hit. He looks taller than Korey (hard to tell as I've never gotten close to Korey in person)and lankier, but I would guess Korey would win a 90-foot race. He was never in a base stealing situation so I can't really comment on that and his fielding chances were handled cleanly and effectively. It's really not fair to compare him to older bro, but, unfortunately for him, that's going to be the reality that he has to deal with (especially in the same org.). He probably will never be the star that Korey was supposed to be, but it won't be for the same reasons. Let's just hope he hears "you sure are different from your brother" more than "you're just like your brother."

CHIFAN3887: Did you know that the Cubs were going to trade Ricky Nolasco to Texas for Rafael Palmeiro in August 2003 (before the Cubs acquired Randall Simon from Pittsburgh), but that the trade didn't happen only because Palmeiro refused to waive his "no trade" rights?

I'm impreseed by what Jeff Francoeur said about Nolasco, but I would still like to see how Nolasco fares in AAA before I form any firm opinions about him. Same goes for Sean Marshall (he needs to stay healthy for an extended period), Carlos Marmol, and Jae-kuk Ryu, and I'd also like to see Renyel Pinto go back up to AAA next season and throw strikes before I pencil him into the Cubs future plans. I feel a LOT more confident about Murton, Cedeno, Pie, and E. Patterson as potential future Cubs stars than I do about any one of the AA pitchers.

I will say this, though. If they can stay healthy, I believe all five of the best AA pitching prospects (Nolasco, Pinto, Marshall, Marmol, and Ryu, not to mention Angel Guzman and Rich Hill) will have better MLB careers than the three pitchers who will be out of options next Spring Training (Sergio Mitre, Todd Wellemeyer, and Jon Leicester). BTW, of the three pitchers who will be out of options next Spring Training, I believe Leicester has the best chance to make the Cubs bullpen coming out of Spring Training next year. Wellemeyer's mechanics are atrocious, and Mitre doesn't have the "right stuff" to work out of the bullpen and is (at best) a #5 starter. Leicester pitched well enough last season to make me think he can get it back together and pitch effectively out of the Cubs bullpen in 2006. Maybe. Hopefully.

If I had to rate the Cubs Top 20 prospects right now, they would be...

TOP 10:
1. Felix Pie
2. Angel Guzman
3. Mark Pawelek
4. Matt Murton
5. Rich Hill
6. Ronny Cedeno
7. Eric Patterson
8. Sean Marshall
9. Renyel Pinto
10. Ricky Nolasco

NEXT TEN (alphabetical):
David Aardsma
Bobby Brownlie
Brian Dopirak
Sam Fuld
Sean Gallagher
Ryan Harvey
Carlos Marmol
Juan Mateo
Jae-kuk Ryu
Andy Shipman

RobR, todays' Tribune has essentially the same quote, but the slight difference appears significant.

"I've had my eyes opened about Murton," Baker said. "I don't brag right away or jump on any bandwagons. He opened my eyes from the beginning."

The last line does not appear in RobR's quote. If it's true, why didn't he play Murton?

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/a...

"He's a guy who's gotten better," Baker said. "I remember my old general manager Al Campanis telling me that a player doesn't reach his peak until he's somewhere between 32 or 36 [years old] and beyond, and it depends on how his legs are and his desire and if he keeps his weight down and his waistline down. I don't see D-Lee having any problem with that.

"You're playing against guys who are younger than you, so you can set them up," Baker said. "You get to a certain point in your career and you almost know what's coming. You learn to trust your feelings. Hank Aaron told me you don't become a great player until you learn to trust your feelings."

Ha ha haaaaa killmepleasesomeone

I don't know if I would continue to place Angel in the top 5 still. Yes, his pure stuff and the way he pitches warrant that spot, with ease. However, he has only started more than 15 games in a season once in his career, way bck in 2003. I'd probably put him down at 6 or 7 because his injuries might be the biggest downside on any of the players in your top 10. I would probably knock out Pinto and put in Marmol. The rest of the list I agree with for the most part, I might flip-flop Murton and Pawelek because Murton is major league ready and Pawly is a couple of years away at the earliest.

Eh, it was 2002, not 2003 for Guzman.

ryan harvey will make most people's top-5 even for the most negative of observers...it is a personal list, though...we'd all place different people in different places.

pie/murton/harvey/hill should be a hell of a confusing matter for people making top-10 lists this offseason for who belongs up top.

murton's definately showed he's closest to ready...harvey's got unreal power...pie is pie...hill's the sharpest pitcher who hasnt been given an extended chance yet dominated his minor league work.

be interesting to see where van burren lands, too.

Like Harvey, Dopirak will get consideration for some top 10 lists.

I almost put Ryan Harvey in the Top 10. I didn't number the second group (11-20), but if I had, Harvey would have been #11. I would certainly rate him as the #5 position player prospect in the Cubs organization (behind Pie, Murton, Cedeno, and E. Patterson).

As for Jermaine Van Buren, I didn't list him in the Top 20 because he would have been a six-year minor league free-agent after this season if he hadn't been added to the Cubs 40-man roster last month, and once a guy reaches that point, I don't define him as a "prospect" anymore. (Van Buren spent several years in the Rockies organization, then played indie ball for a year, and then was acquired by the Cubs prior to the 2004 season). I see Van Buren sorta like Joe Borowski circa 2002. And by that I mean, just because he isn't really a "prospect" anymore, that doesn't mean he can't pitch (and pitch effectively) in the big leagues. It's just that he has passed the point of being a "prospect" (as I would define the term).

I took the same approach with Brandon Sing, because he will also be a six-year minor league free-agent if he isn't added to the Cubs 40-man roster after the end of the 2005 season. Sing has spent seven seasons in the Cubs organization (six fuil seasons), and he is just now finally playing in AA. So I consider Sing (like Van Buren) to be more of a "career minor leaguer" rather than a "prospect," but that doesn't mean he can't play in the big leagues someday (he very well might) or that he shouldn't be added to the Cubs 40-man roster after this season (he definitely should be).

There is one player I didn't put into my Top 20 that I want to mention, and that is Casey McGehee. I saw McGehee the first time in Spring Training 2004 when he was invited to the Cubs major league camp as an extra catcher, and I saw him again this past Spring Training in the minor league camp. He is a line-drive machine, folks. He smokes line drives to all fields. He isn't a Gold Glove defender, but he does have the versatility to play at least three positions (3B-1B-C). I believe it's likely some team will select Casey in the Rule 5 draft. If the Cubs had room on their 40-man roster, I'd want Hendry to protect him, but there are just too many pitchers who need to be protected after this season to have any space left for McGehee. But he will make a nice "extra man" for somebody.

Totally off topic but I found this interesting:

http://www.baseballmusings.com/cgi-bin/Compar...

Care to see why Mark Prior doesn't look like he did in 2003 (or the end of 2004)? It's the HR like we all know - but the problem is more pronounced than I thought. Since the all star break he's given up 12 HR, less than only 6 other pitchers ( min innings 50 ). Greg Maddux has only given up 10.

He's also pitched 76 2/3 innings - good but not great (Chris Caprenter has pitched 90 2/3 in 11 G, Prior took 12 to reach his number).

His other numbers are better than I expected (10.57 K/9, 3.29 BB9). He lowers that HR rate back to normal he'd be fine.

Arizona--"Eric Patterson WAS 'fresh out of college'."

By "fresh out of college", I mean in the sense that a player's drafted, signed and assigned to Low-A all within the same year, maybe even the same month. In other words the operative word is fresh, a quick and smooth transition from college to the minor leagues. Patterson, who this year I'd define as being "a year out of college", didn't sign in time to play any ball in 2004, because contract negotiations dragged on a little.

Ultimately though, like you, I wouldn't have had a problem with the Cubs starting Patterson off at Peoria if he'd been promoted to Daytona upon him getting into his groove. But I think the target level for players that are a year out of college should be High-A ball.

Regarding the comparison to Richard Lewis, I appreciate that there are some definite differences, primarily that Eric Patterson has no history of minor league failure prior to this year, and that Richard Lewis broke his leg. But I think you're hiding your head in the sand if you want to attribute all of his dropoff to his leg not being 100 percent.

Arizona--"E-Pat's "ball in play"/K/BB composite would be a problem if he plays the "uppercut swing cum fly ball" game all the time, but he seems to be more of a "slasher" than his brother...and thus should be able to use his above-average speed to get more than his share of infield hits."

Infield hits only go so far. Look at some of the best speedsters and their averages on balls in play. Using stolen bases as an extremely crude measure of speed, take a look at the top ten in stolen bases this year, for instance: Scott Podsednik (career .320 on balls in play), Jose Reyes (.306), Chone Figgins (.338), Juan Pierre (.322), Carl Crawford (.320), Rafael Furcal (.314), Julio Lugo (.322), Jimmy Rollins (.299), Willy Taveras (.342) and Ryan Freel (.321).

Now a figure around .320 does seem to be something of a repeating theme there, and when you consider that the major league average is roughly .297, you can clearly see the effects of being quick to first base, of beating out cheap hits. All the same, no one there is at all close to hitting anything like the .403 on balls in play (excluding sac flies for a lack of data) that Eric Patterson did at Peoria. You rob Patterson of 80 points on balls in play, and his overall average drops to .271. At Peoria, Low-A. Aged 22, a bit too old for his league.

JJ, for the record, E-Pat is 5 foot 11. Corey's 5 foot 9. Corey's definately stronger though.

Dusty--"I remember my old general manager Al Campanis telling me that a player doesn't reach his peak until he's somewhere between 32 or 36 [years old] and beyond"

BillT, I thought that when you wrote this you were spoofing. But I followed the link and that's what it said. Good Lord, this explains a lot. I've got news for you Dusty: players reach their peaks around 27.

Arizona Phil, if you could tell me all you know about Juan Mateo and Andy Shipman, what they throw, how they project, I'd appreciate it. Mateo in particular really interests me.

Missing from Arizona's list and definately deserving a place ahead of Bobby Brownlie - Billy Petrick, Grant Johnson and Randy Wells. I'm sure more names will come to me.

AZ Phil,

Considering Guzman's Injury problems and that Pawelek has all of 46 IP as a pro don't you think 2 and 3 might be too high? My top 20 would be:

1-10

1. Murton
2. Nolasco
3. Pie
4. Cedeno
5. Aardsma
6. Pinto
7. Pawelek
8. Gallagher
9. Marshall
10. Patterson

11-20

11. Ryu
12. Harvey
13. Marmol
14. Guzman
15. Hill
16. Shipman
17. Dopiriak
18. Johnson
19. Fontenot
20. Fuld

I still have a fundamental problem with ranking Cedeno so high when looking at his body of work in the minors.

1. Murton
2. Nolasco
3. Pie
4. Cedeno
5. Aardsma
6. Pinto
7. Pawelek
8. Gallagher
9. Marshall
10. Patterson

David Aardsma 5th? Are you kidding me?

Quick question for those who know our minor leaguers better than I do (esp. for AZ Phil) -- one of the spots the Cubs have lacked this year, and last also, I believe, is a backup 1B/3B. A player like this could keep both our IF stars fresh, be an option when (not if) ARam gets a minor injury, and also be a solid bench bat. Casey McGehee, from Phil's description, sounds like he could fill this role well. Do you guys believe he is too young/not good enough for this role, or is there any chance he could play this role for the Cubs late in '06 or by '07?

no offense to anyone's personal opinion, but i find it kinda shocking r.harvey's not cracking anyone's list here...

personally, i'd have a hard time not putting him in my top 3.

my list...for the hell of it

1. murton
2. pie
3. harvey
4. hill
5. nolasco
6. guzman
7. e.patterson
8. marshall
9. guzman
10. pinto

actually, you could take 7-10 and put them in any order you want without much arguement from me, but the 1-6 i'd have to say are pretty much 100% my feelings.

*if* murton gets his 130ab's we all might have to change our lists heh..

thanks, # 32, i am so good you liked me twice. wanna be my agent?

sigh...its been a long stupid day...

replace the 1st guzman with cedeno

heh

RE MANNY TRILLIO

Agreed. I hate Houston. Can't win when Im pulling for them.

"David Aardsma 5th? Are you kidding me?"

INEPW,

Aardsma has a hell of a FB, and if he could get a breaking ball going he could be an excellent closer. Look at where Farnsy ranked as a prospect and you will see that I am not out of line with where I put Aardsma. I thought it would be putting Nolasco ahead of Pie that would draw attention. I did that because of Pie's ankle and concerns over his OBP.

We aren't going to catch both Florida and Philadelphia without any head to head games...I think our last vestage of having something to root for is that we jump Houston and end up 2nd in the division...we are 4.5 back with 7 games left against them...if our starting pitching continues their hot streak, it's reasonable to think we have a chance to catch them.

The other thing to root for is taking at least 1 game from the cards to win the season series.

Philly and florida have 3 head to head and 6 and 5 against Atl. We can catch them

we CAN go 17-0 to finish the season. We won't, just as we won't catch both Florida and Philly. The 3 head to head games means we can't gain ground for those 3 days. So that leaves 14 games left to make up 6 games+. If we go 17-0 there is still a decent chance we won't get in. All Florida needs to do is go 11-6 to tie. Imagine if we go 14-3, Florida needs to go 8-9 to tie, and certainly some other team would jump ahead if that happens.

Playoffs are completely out of the realm of reality...but trying to beat up on Houston is not.

ohman #1

As long as Dusty used Will Ohman out of the Bullpen the Cubs will have a good chance of losing the game...Ohman helped give up 2 runs in a row just when we couldn't afford to do that...If Dusty wants a left-hander why won't he give Rich Hill a chance...? He wouldn't do any worse...In fact, I think Hill would be more consistent than Ohman...Jerome Williams pitched a great game but our Bullpen has really not been delivered when we needed them to.

fabulous bullpen work there.
3 Pitchers, 1IP 4H, 3ER, 1 Balk,

WHOOPS! Season's over.

you gotta be kidding me...this was not dusty's fault.

it was the pitcher(s) fault.

and if you wanna do some "unpopular" blaming...murton has made 2 throws where he doesnt hit the cutoff man enabling runners to advance...one of those runners scored off a hit to give the reds the lead in the 8th.

there was a lot going wrong in that inning and if the manager is all you saw making trouble i dunno what to say.

TIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YEAH!#!@#!

Way to go Walker...Tie Game...!!

Scott, what the hell are you talking about? Ohman has a 2.72 ERA and has been one of the highlights of the bullpen...the same can not be said for Hill.

I just don't have a clue how you determined that Ohman was the problem in that inning when Novoa came in and gave up 2 hits and a run without recording an out.

Nice Walker

the other day when Maddux was the starter Dusty eventually went to the Bullpen and After Ohman walked back-to-back batters with two outs in the ninth, Baker called on Mitre who killed the Cubs' chance at a ninth-inning comeback, serving up a three-run home run to Pena on an 0-2 curveball...that's our Bullpen this year...Dusty has gotta try some different pitchers...The current Bullpen pitchers just CAN'T seem to throw strikes when they need to.

2nd time Burnitz failed to get a run in from 3rd with less than 2 outs....although, I really can't complain considering he is responsible for half our runs.

isnt mitre a "different pitcher"?

and at least he's a ground ball pitcher...

jesus christ...barret just got drilled :/

Lets hope Barret is Ok...Blanco will have to come in...Bases are loaded...Murton is the hitter - lets hope he can come through for us.

Scott, you can't in your right mind blame Dusty for that. Ohman had been great before those two walks...using Mitre in the 9th was doing something different. Anything and everything Dusty has done in the bullpen aside from Dempster has failed...that's a damn good sign that the relief staff sucks.

Prior to the 2 runs the other night, Ohman gave up 1 ER in his previous 14 outings.

You can't just irrationally blame Dusty everytime something bad happens. It makes you sound whiny and foolish.

How about the 9 games we won in the past two weeks where the bullpen had been great?

Drilled in the head? Did it hit his helmet?
Wow, Murton is having a horrible day at the plate, leaving 5 men in scoring position.

Will it be Dusty's fault if we can't score the go ahead run with men on 1st and 3rd and no outs?

"Anything and everything Dusty has done in the bullpen aside from Dempster has failed..."

I totally agree with that statement...;-)

nailed off the helmet...got up after a minute and walked off...think we'll be seeing blanco/soto for a few days, though. he wasnt bleeding or etc...

When you try 37 combinations of pitchers to get a job done...and none of it works. Is it your fault, or does it mean your pitching staff's fault.

There is one right answer to that question.

Sure, Dusty fucked up in the bullpen earlier in the year, particularly with Hawkins and Remlinger...but come on, things have been working for the last 2 weeks, and Dusty didn't change anything today...if 3 pitchers can't get the job done, each failing at their assigned task...then blame the pitchers, not Dusty.

Ohman is one of our best options in the pen...if he can't get the job done, we are fucked no matter what.

Why in god's name are we arguing about this...the season ended a month ago.

Now I have a good criticism for Dusty...why in the world did he leave Dempster in the next batters spot without making a double switch. Now we lose him for the 10th.

Payback on Aurillia?

doubt he wants to give the dumpster 2...dunno though..

I'd still think he would want to leave his options open, and putting in Grieve or anyone in Left Field for Murton wouldn't have hurt...we likely wouldn't have seen his bat again, and we wouldn't miss his fielding.

anyway, hopefully the Cubs make that decision irrelevant in the 9th.

let's play 2!

The White Sox just lost to the Royals 10-9.

SOX LOSE!!!! SOX LOSE!!!!!!!!!

Only up 5 over Clev after today....I can hear the wheels coiming off!!!

Dusty makes a double switch and Rich Hill will get his first chance to pitch for the Cubs in weeks...Lets hope he can retire the Reds and we can take care of this game at the bottom of the inning.

What the hell was Hill doing on that bunt??? he took all day to throw it...DAMN!!!!!!

sigh..so scott...wanna blame dusty for that one...or hill?

dont even answer that..that's flamebait, probally...im just kinda down about this game and its been a long day.

Bullpen was good tonight......DAmn you Dusty!!!

AH... WHOOOOOOPS! Season's over!

But you knew that...

The Bullpen pitchers (including Hill) have made some very costly mistakes...Yet, Dusty chose not to give Rich Hill any playing time in the last few weeks -- there were opportunities when the Cubs were ahead in a number of games (and there was less pressure) to use a left hander like him. Tonight Rich Hill was put in at the worst time of the game and he has not pitched in the month of September...Some pitchers are only good when they are used on a regular basis...The Cubs are on their 8th pitcher tonight -- I'm not sure how many more we can go through. Of course the Cubs will have to score 3 runs to keep this game alive...I wouldn't bet on it BUT maybe they will surprise us...;-)

you're still sticking to "its dusty's fault"

umm...wow. that's all..just wow.

Cubs "relief"
7 Pitchers, 4IP, 6ER, 6H, 5BB

8-4 against the Cardinals
6-9 against the Reds

Go figure.

Adam-
You forgot about the balk...:)

Scott, you really are making a fool out of yourself. Quit while you are behind.

In case you haven't noticed, over the past 15 days or so, the Cubs have been in a string of very tight games...and they won most of them, without Rich Hill's help.

You wanted Hill to be put in when the game was on the line in the 8th...and then when he comes in in extra's, you still manage to blame Dusty. That goes beyond irrational, and into stupidity.

Scott, pay more attention to what the real problems are, otherwise you do yourself a great disservice.

Cubs used 7 Relief pitchers, and 5 of the 7 failed at doing their jobs...that goes far beyond the manager.

IMO, part of a Manager's job is to attract, develop and retain top talent...He and his pitching coach need to make sure they get the most out of their starters and their Bullpen...Tonight Jerome Williams pitched a great game but the Cubs' Bullpen didn't come through for us...the late inning walks and the costly balk are tough...I still feel that Rich Hill has not been effectively groomed as a relief pitcher - he could develop into one though...A lot of young pitchers were put in tough situations tonight...The Cubs also left too many runners on bases...Lots of missed opportunities on the offensive side...Unfortunately, Murton did not have his best night. Yet, at least the Cubs are giving some of their younger players a chance to play. It looks like the Cubs will have to play a few more games to get back to Dusty's target of .500...;-)

"He and his pitching coach need to make sure they get the most out of their starters and their Bullpen...Tonight Jerome Williams pitched a great game"

Do you not see the irony in that statement?

This one is even better:
"A lot of young pitchers were put in tough situations tonight"
"Yet, at least the Cubs are giving some of their younger players a chance to play"

You wanna talk about an overall problem with Dusty throughout the year that's one thing...but the way you call out individual moves and have no even remote logic behind your criticism, you lose a lot of credibility. As I, and it appears someone else, are sitting here saying to ourselves "what in the fuck is he crying about now?

Who really gives a shit?
Nevermind, I forgot... they only have to go on a 16 game winning streak to secure the wild card.
It's inevitable... the NL should just surrender now instead of face the wraith of the 2005 Cubs.

"Unfortunately, Murton did not have his best night."

yea, very unfortunate. A fucking meaningless game in mid-September to prepare him for next year. This is the best time for him to not have his best nights. Unfortunately, Neifi wasn't looking at the catcher's location tonight or he might've had a "clutch" hit.

Exhibit # umpteenth thousand of using stats poorly to prove your point:

Class A BABIP
Crawford 0.423
Furcal 0.507
Pujols 0.444
Sandberg 0.321
Podsednik 0.387

Now tell me how Furcal's BA is going to translate into major league average, please.

The Wild Card Race is clearly over for the Cubs so lets not get too worried about those commenting on the team...;-)

Two things I really can't figure out, though.

1. How Dusty manages to post during the games- I never see him with a laptop.
2. Why he chose the name mannytrillo. He could have at least gone hard core and pulled out a lenrandle.

Oh and players don't peak at 27, they peak 31 to 33. At 27 they establish what they're going to do for the next 6 years.

I got curious and looked this up in google - check this out:

http://bradbury.sewanee.edu/wordpress/index.p...

It purports that the peak age for the average player is 29, but for a superstar 31, 32. Other sabermetric studies (Bill James, Tangotier) show an age younger, generally 27, however I believe that while 27 might be the "average" peak season, it is also followed by a very gradual decline.

And of course everybody is different. Kerry Wood started this season at 27 - I doubt he'd call this his peak year.

The Real Neal-
Another classy post on TCR. Thanks!!

Aardsma has a hell of a FB, and if he could get a breaking ball going he could be an excellent closer.

I know all about the guy. I've been following him since he was at Rice. I don't understand how you be this high on a guy who just posted a 43:32 K:BB in 50.2 innings in AA. I am really only using his West Tenn numbers because they should be in his favor since he switched to the pen for most of the season. Overall it was 73:45 in 96.2 innings. He's not exactly young for the league and he spent the majority of last season in the Pacific Coast League where he had a better strikeout rate and a lower ERA. If you want to use just pure stuff, then Ryu could be one sick closer. He just hasn't done enough. Will he probably end up being a fine major league reliever? Yes. Is he one of the top 5 prospects for the Cubs? Probably not. Why is he better than someone like Pinto, Marmol or Hill? All three have quality stuff. All three had better seasons. I don't exactly believe in ranking them 1 thru 10, but giving them out in tiers. Especially in a system like the Cubs where there are quite a few high upside guys, but almost all of them have considerable drawbacks which could stunt their development.

Top Prospects (no order)
Felix Pie
Matt Murton
Angel Guzman
Mark Pawelek
Rich Hill
Eric Patterson

Good Prospects (no order)
Sean Marshall
Renyel Pinto
Sean Gallagher
Ricky Nolasco
Brian Dopirak
Carlos Marmol
Ryan Harvey
David Aardmsa
Ronnie Cedeno

Highest Upside
1. Angel Guzman
2. Felix Pie
3. Mark Pawelek

Safest Bet
1. Matt Murton
2. Felix Pie
3. Ricky Nolasco

Highest Risk of becoming nothing
1. Angel Guzman
2. Renyel Pinto
3. Rich Hill

And by safe bet for Pie, I mean Corey Patterson.

wow...does anyone like ryan harvey?

he's the best pure power prospect in the cubs system, most likely...he plays a hell of a RF...he's got a nice arm...he's not slow...

he's young. he seriously is a 30-40hr+ candidate in PROJECTION...

i've already made my list (and my complimentary error and correction) above and i just cant bring myself not to make him a top-3 prospect no matter how i wanna shuffle it.

hey, its all subjective opinion anyway...

Real Neal--"Exhibit # umpteenth thousand of using stats poorly to prove your point:

Class A BABIP
Crawford 0.423
Furcal 0.507
Pujols 0.444
Sandberg 0.321
Podsednik 0.387

Now tell me how Furcal's BA is going to translate into major league average, please."

I have no idea who this is directed towards, what you're going on about or where you got those numbers from, but, being one that loves to inanely prattle on about average on balls in play, this is an opportunity I can't pass up. Let's look at these players...

Carl Crawford was drafted out of High School in 1999. He signed quickly and was assigned to Rookie Ball for the rest of the year. Thereafter Crawfordís path to the big leagues was relatively simple, with him spending entire years at Low-A and Double-A followed by a half year at Triple-A that was interrupted only by his big league callup. His minor league numbersÖ

Rookie: 83-for-260 (.319) with 0 HR, 47 K and .390 on BIP
Low-A: 170-for-564 (.301) with 6 HR, 102 K and .360 on BIP
Double-A: 147-for-537 (.274) with 4 HR, 90 K and .323 on BIP
Triple-A: 105-for-353 (.297) with 7 HR, 69 K and .354 on BIP

Total: 505-for-1714 (.295) with 17 HR, 308 K and .351 on BIP

Crawford has now spent a full three and a half years in the majors, and has amassed the following numbersÖ

Majors: 608-for-2118 (.287) with 31 HR, 301 K and .320 on BIP

As you can see, Crawford has lost 31 points on his average on balls in play. Pitching and defence is simply that much better at the major league level. However, that .320 mark is still comfortably above average, almost certainly because of his speed to first base. Furthermore, everything that Crawfordís lost on his average to balls in play has been offset by him developing more home run power and lowering his strikeout rate, neither of which are particularly unusual as raw, skinny youngsters mature, fill out and work on their game with the best hitting coaches. As a result Crawford can now naturally hit for an average in the high-nineties.

Signed out of the Dominican Republic aged 16. Rafael Furcal spent his first two years in the Atlanta organisation in Rookie Ball. His third year he was promoted to Low-A, and mid-season again to High-A, and that, with the exception of a 10 at-bat stint at Double-A the following year, was the sum of his minor league career. Furcal essentially made a jump from High-A to being a major league regular aged 19, and won the National League Rookie of the Year award too. Impressive stuff. Anyway, his minor league numbersÖ

Rookie: 137-for-458 (.299) with 1 HR, 50 K and .334 on BIP
Low-A: 113-for-335 (.337) with 1 HR, 36 K and .376 on BIP
High-A: 54-for-174 (.293) with 0 HR, 42 K and .380 on BIP

Total: 306-for-987 (.310) with 3 HR, 128 K and .354 on BIP

And his major league numbers in six seasons sinceÖ

Majors: 904-for-3203 (.282) with 56 HR, 471 K and .314 on BIP

After his impressive debut year, Furcal endured a sophomore slump in the first half of 2001, and missed the second half with a severe shoulder injury. Since heís come back, heís been a slightly different hitter in that he appears to have made a conscientious decision to be more aggressive at the plate, to the extent that heís now a regular 15 homer guy that doesnít walk as much as he used to. Anyway, Furcal lost 40 points on average on balls in play, and his average has settled in the high-seventies.

Albert Pujols is probably the most ridiculous prospect story in the game. He spent his first year out of high school at a community college and when he was eventually drafted, it was only in the thirteenth round. But he spent just one season in the minor leagues, mostly at Low-A, with 21 game stint at Double-A and a 3 game one at Triple-AÖ

Low-A: 128-for-395 (.324) with 17 HR, 37 K and .326 on BIP
Double-A: 23-for-81 (.284) with 2 HR, 8 K and .296 on BIP

Total: 154-for-490 (.314) with 19 HR, 47 K and .318 on BIP

Just two and a half years out of high school, just a year and a half removed from the draft, Albert Pujols, the man seemingly no-one was that interested in, was one of the greatest hitters in the game, with a debut year so good that not only was he a unanimous selection as Rookie of the Year, but he finished fourth in the National League MVP voting, won a Silver Slugger award and was voted to the All-Star Game. Every year since has been at least as good, and if he keeps going for a few more years heís a lock for the Hall of Fame.

Majors: 967-for-2900 (.333) with 199 HR, 340 K and .321 on BIP

Incidentally, the fastest to 200 home runs in major league historyÖ

Mel Ott, 25 years 144 days
Albert Pujols (199), 25 years 242 days today
Eddie Matthews, 25 years 243 days
Jimmie Foxx, 25 years 267 days
Mickey Mantle, 25 years 280 days
Alex Rodriguez, 25 years 289 days
Frank Robinson, 25 years 361 days

Iíll be rooting for Pujols to homer off the Cubs today if heís playing (he strained a muscle in his right leg a few days ago, sat out on Monday and Tuesday but played yesterday).

Scott Podsednik is a very different case to any of these other hitters, for whereas Pujols was an instant hit, and Furcal and Crawford made a steady march to the majors, Podsednik was on his way to being a career minor leaguer before the Brewers rescued him. Podsednik was drafted out of high school by the Rangers in 1994, but he wasnít 22 until he escaped A-ball, 25 until he made it to Triple-A or 27 until he got meaningful playing time in the majors. His numbersÖ

Rookie: 55-for-228 (.241) with 1 HR, 37 K and .284 on BIP
Low-A: 214-for-783 (.273) with 3 HR, 103 K and .312 on BIP
High-A: 186-for-685 (.272) with 4 HR, 97 K and .312 on BIP
Double-A: 78-for-360 (.217) with 2 HR, 57 K and .252 on BIP
Granted minor league free agency, signed with Mariners
Triple-A: 200-for-707 (.283) with 12 HR, 116 K and .325 on BIP

Total: 733-for-2763 (.265) with 22 HR, 410 K and .305 on BIP

Podsednikís big break came when the Brewers claimed him off waivers from the Mariners, and he broke into the majors. He was then traded to the White Sox along with Luis Vizcaino and a minor leaguer for Carlos Lee. Nice work by the Brewers.

Majors: 465-for-1663 (.280) with 22 HR, 269 K and .321 on BIP

How does all this relate to Eric Patterson then? Well, not very well, because weíre talking about different types of prospects, players drafted out of High School that by the time theyíre 22 are well clear of Low-A ball. All the same, the two that had high averages on balls in play in the minors have seen them drop off to much more normal levels, with Furcalís average going with it and Crawford making enough advances elsewhere to offset the dropoff. If Patterson doesnít make similar advances, his average too will fall away, potentially extremely sharply.

Regarding Ryno, I don't really know enough about the late-1970s minor leagues to comment in detail, and I don't know why you brought him up, but in the minors he hit .285 (with a .333 average on balls in play), and in the majors he hit .285 (with a .304 average on balls in play). Like Carl Crawford then he made the adjustments, more home runs and a lot less strikeouts, to weather the dropoff and maintain his average. Patterson must do the same, that's all I'm saying. Patterson though is a lot older than any of these players were at the same stage of their careers, which doesn't help him.

#25 of 88: By John Hill (September 14, 2005 03:11 PM)

Arizona Phil, if you could tell me all you know about Juan Mateo and Andy Shipman, what they throw, how they project, I'd appreciate it. Mateo in particular really interests me.

---

JOHN H: Andy Shipman (like Matt Murton) was another Hi-A youngster Jim Hendry ripped off from the Red Sox. After an undistinguished college career pitching out of the bullpen at Missouri, Shipman was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Red Sox in 2003. He became a part-time closer in the Florida State League in 2004, before the Cubs acquired him from Boston in a deal for Jimmy Anderson. This year at AA West Tenn, Shipman has been the #1 closer, and has actually outpitched David Aardsma.

I read a scouting report on Shipman a while back on-line somewhere but, I can't find it to provide the link. As I recall, it said he threw a fastball that topped out at 93, painting the corners with pinpoint control. He also throws two breaking balls, but he spots his fastball to get ahead of the hitter. He works fast and throws strikes. Sounds like a Joe Borowski (pre-shoulder injury) or Jon Leicester (circa 2004) to me. In other words, he projects as a solid major league middle relief prospect, ETA sometime in 2006 (or 2007 at the latest). Presuming he will be left off the 40-man roster, I believe Shipman is the Cubs #1 prime candidate to be lost in the Rule 5 Draft. "Have-not clubs" LOVE AA pitchers who throw strikes. The Milwaukee Brewers are especially good at drafting AA pitchers and turning them into major league relievers. Look for Shipman to end up in Milwaukee, Colorado, Cincinnati, or Kansas City.

I've seen Juan Mateo pitch at the minor league camp. He's one of those lanky Dominican guys with a fluid delivery and nice "pop" on his fastball, but I don't know exactly what kind of velocity is involved. What really caught my eye was what he did over his last nine starts this season at Daytona:

4-1
1.79 ERA
55.1 IP
36 H
10 BB
53 K
2 HR
.178 OBA

He put up better K/IP numbers when he was used out of the bullpen the first couple months of the season, but he was outstanding over his last nine starts once he was put into the starting rotation and just left there. I would figure Mateo would be another candidate to be lost in the Rule 5 Draft, although of the two (Shipman and Mateo), Shipman is more polished.

You mentioned Randy Wells, and he is an interesting case. Like Carlos Marmol, Wells is a convertee catcher, and has only been pitching for a couple of years. And like Marmol, Wells has improved in leaps and bounds, and is about at the point Marmol was a year ago, poised to possibly develop into a solid major league prospect. I figure Wells will be a rotation starter at AA next year, but he could be moved to the bullpen.

As far as Randy Wells, Grant Johnson, and Billy Petrick versus Bobby Brownlie is concerned, I was prepared to write Brownlie off... until he was moved to the bullpen mid-season. Since then, he apparently has regained his lost velocity and is back to where he was a couple of years ago. The reason I put Brownlie into my Top 20 (leaving out Wells, Johnson, and Petrick) is that all things being fairly equal, I give greater weight to pitchers who have progressed to the higher levels of the minor leagues over those who have not established themselves above "A" ball. But I like Wells and Johnson a lot, and hope Billy Petrick can get healthy and proceed with his development. If Brownlie is left off the 40-man roster, he will almost certainly be lost in the Rule 5 Draft.

I figure Hendry will add Brownlie, Nolasco, Marshall, Ryu, and Marmol (as well as Pie and Sing) to the 40-man roster prior to next December's Rule 5 Draft, but if there is a way to do it, I would like to see Shipman, Mateo, and Casey McGehee protected as well. I believe Shipman, Mateo, and McGehee are the three Cubs prospects most likely to be lost in the Rule 5 Draft, and each of the three (especially Shipman and McGehee) could easily stick with the drafting team for the entire 2006 season.

Would you rather have Mitre, Wellemeyer, and Leicester on the 40-man roster through Spring Training and take a chance that they won't make the Cubs 2006 Opening Day roster and that you will lose them on waivers, or would it be better to trade Mitre, Wellemeyer, and/or Leicester before November 19th (when 40-man rosters need to be finalized in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft) for prospects further down the pipeline who don't need to be protected, and then use Mitre's, Wellewmeyer's, and/or Leicester's roster spots to protect Mateo, Shipman, and/or McGehee? I'm not sure...

At present, the Cubs 40-man roster is full, plus two others (Chad Fox and Kerry Wood) on the 60-day DL. I would expect Garciaparra, Perez, Dempster, Grieve, and Fox to file for free-agency, Rusch to exercise his player option to be a free-agent, and the Cubs to exercise their club option and buy-out Burnitz's contract for $500,000. That gets the roster down to 35.

Then I expect the Cubs to drop Richard Lewis, Russ Rohlicek, and Scott McClain (for sure), plus either John Koronka or Ryan Theriot, from the 40-man roster (although I find it odd that Koronka will pitch in the Arizona Fall League if the Cubs intend to drop him from the 40-man roster, since he would be a free-agent if that happens), getting the roster down to 31. If unclaimed by another club, McClain and Koronka would be FAs, while Lewis, Rohlicek, and Theriot would remain in the Cubs organization through 2006 (Theriot and Rohlicek) or 2007 (Lewis) before they becomre six-year minor league free-agents.

Then seven prospects (presumably Pie, Brownlie, Nolasco, Ryu, Marshall, and Marmol, plus potential six-year minor league FA Brandon Sing) will be added to the 40-man roster, bringing the roster back up to 38, and leaving two spots open for free-agents (a closer and a RF). One more spot will likely become available on December 20th when Jose Macias will likely be non-tendered rather than be offered arbitration, although I would expect Hendry to try and re-sign Macias to a AAA contract and invite him to Spring Training as a "non-roster" player. As long as Dusty is manager, Macias will probably have a job.

Last night wasn't Dusty, folks. I am one of the first to blame him when he screws up, which means I do a lot of blaming, but not this game.

The only Dusty move last night I can really find fault with is his use of Jose Macias... but he always makes that mistake. Why use him as a pinch hitter, he's been terrible in that role? Then leave him in the game for Walker, who's been hitting well laterly and was hitting well last night? The bullpen stuff, however, was about right. Novoa and Wuertz have generally pitched well over the last few weeks; Wuertz induced a grounder that Nomar couldn't handle. Once you get past Dempster in the 10th there aren't a lot of options anyway.

Taking a step back, one thing I see on here a lot is that people look at the immediate outcome and then judge the correctness of a decision based on that, which is of course wrong. Just because it worked this time does not mean it was the right move to make. Conversely, if it doesn't work this time it still may have been the correct move.

On a related note, separating out individual decisions from trends is important. Has Dusty misused the bullpen this year? Sure, I even think Manny might agree with that. But did he tonight? I don't think so.

At the end of the day, I still think that Dusty costs the Cubs games, and this year probably enough games to keep them out of the wild card hunt. Tonight wasn't one of them.

And Crunch is right... how about some love for Ryan Harvey?

I can't show any love for Harvey, sorry crunch.

You see last year Dopirak was my boy ...and well that didn't turn out well. And I thought Pie was gonna collapse, bad K/BB ratio....

So you see crunch if I love Ryan Harvey, he's doomed.

Morpheus:
"Has Dusty misused the bullpen this year? Sure, I even think Manny might agree with that."

He might of misused the bullpen slightly more than the average manager, but the bullpen has been so bad in talent most of the year, just like last night, it didn't matter much what he did.

I see three sources of the Cubs ongoing success or failure:

1) GM
2) Players
3) field manager

I see three flaws to the 2005 Cubs that have kept this season from being successful:

1) lack of OBP and timely hitting
2) lack of fundamentals and execution
3) poor in-game management and lineup construction

Coincidentally, or not, one of the flaws listed above matches with each of the components of the team.

Lack of OBP and timely hitting falls to Hendry and the cast of characters he's provided. Guys who have had low OBPs for their career were likely to have them again this year. Also, I believe in clutch, but only a little bit. Guys who get on base a lot will also tend to get on base a lot in key situations.

Lack of fundamentals and execution falls (in the end) to the players. Hairston missing signs, Barrett in rundowns, pitchers walking leadoff hitters repeatedly, etc,etc,etc.

Poor in-game management and lineup construction is Dusty's department.

LOOKING FORWARD, the Cubs will undoubtably be successful if they solve all three flaws. This is unlikely.

The Cubs will probably be successful if they solve two of the flaws. Imagine a high OBP, fundamentally sound set of players on the Cubs. They would (I believe) still win despite Dusty's in-game shortcomings. Alternatively, imagine this years talent playing solid fundamental baseball under a tactically superior manager. Still competitive.

If the 2006 Cubs break camp with the same 3 flaws outlined above, they will produce about the same as they did this year. Occasional 8-2 streaks where talent wins out, but no long-term success.

Since I very much believe that Dusty will be back next year, the other two flaws MUST be addressed for the 2006 Cubs to be successful. We'll know by the time camp breaks next spring whether Hendry has done his part in getting some OBP. After a month of the season we'll be able to see if the players have committed to fundamentals and execution.

Arizona--"I read a scouting report on Shipman a while back on-line somewhere but, I can't find it to provide the link. As I recall, it said he threw a fastball that topped out at 93, painting the corners with pinpoint control. He also throws two breaking balls, but he spots his fastball to get ahead of the hitter. He works fast and throws strikes."

Thanks, that's the kind of info I'm looking for. Sounds encouraging. He was of course the guy stolen in the Jimmy Anderson exchanges.

Regarding Juan Mateo, pretty much all I knew was that, according to the Daytona announcer, he has "a filthy slider that he throws low and away to righties". But before this year Bryan Stroh labelled the slider "inconsistent", and an old BA article from March 2003 talks about Mateo in a very positive light but comments that he's "an arm-strength guy...[who] still needs to develop his breaking ball". It sounds to me as though he's been doing some development.

Thanks for the information on his fastball, late life on it sounds pretty useful. I've done some further research just now on it, and the Daytona announcer thinks that it's "slightly above average", not exactly a ringing endorsement, and Bryan Stroh wrote before the season began that he "showed a low-nineties fastball that hit 93 once and that stayed down". Pop, low nineties, down in the zone, slightly above average, that's pretty good as long as he locates it and has the off-speed stuff.

Still in the same piece, Bryan Stroh also wrote that he has "an impressive split-fingered changeup with good downward action". So three pitches, numbers like those both in the bullpen and rotation, I'll keep an eye on the guy. Even though he aged two years (and had his name changed from Luis to Juan) when his details were corrected, he only turns 23 in December, so he's still pretty young.

I heard the exact same thing about Brownlie's velocity being suddenly all the way back, and it's just not true. While some of the velocity has returned, the way Brownlie put it was that "I got up to 92mph the first couple of innings". The way I read that is that he's topping out at 92mph early on (so sitting high eighties), but then his arm fades. Which is a million miles away from sitting in the mid-90s throughout, which is what he used to be able to do.

I still like Mitre every bit as much as I did back when the memory of his two great starts was still in the mind, but he has no future in the organisation since he can't pitch relief and there's not a starting spot available. But Hendry doesn't seem to get it with perceived value relative to actual value, and Mitre's perceived value now with Dusty Baker's brand infrequent bullpen abuse is a long way away from what it was just a few months ago, and with Mitre out of options next year, the boat is sailing.

I wish someone would just make John Koronka go away.

A good manager will find ways to win despite a team's shortcomings (see: Bobby Cox).

The subtext of Jackstraw's post is that we need to build a team to compensate for the deficiencies of the manager.

Good managers find a way despite their team's deficiencies (Bobby Cox). Bad managers find excuses (Dusty Baker).

What does it say that we need to contruct a team to account for our manager's shortcomings.

That's the Manny I know... Dusty defendin' to the end...

Here is Arizona Phil's 2005 Top 10 Cubs organization Rookies of the Year (first year of pro ball was this season):

1. * Mark Pawelek, P (HS - Utah) - MESA/BOISE
2. * Eric Patterson, 2B (Georgia Tech) PEORIA/WEST TENN
3. * Sam Fuld, CF (Stanford) PEORIA
4. Grant Johnson, P (Notre Dame) PEORIA
5. * Jeff Culpepper, LF-CF-RF (Gonzaga) BOISE/DAYTONA
6. Mike Billek, P (Central Florida) BOISE/PEORIA
7. * Donald Veal, P (Pima CC) MESA/BOISE
8. Deryck Lewis, LF (L. A. Valley CC) MESA
9. * Davy Gregg, CF (South Carolina) BOISE
10. Michael Hyle, P (Georgia) BOISE

* bats or throws left

Morpheus:
"That's the Manny I know... Dusty defendin' to the end..."

That's the majority of TCR posters I know...Dusty bashin' to the end...

See it can go both ways...:)

Touche, Manny...

"He might of misused the bullpen slightly more than the average manager, but the bullpen has been so bad in talent most of the year"

That's because Dusty & Hendry purged all the talent out of the bullpen. THE TALENT is now pitching for other teams.

dusty is a GM?

and borowski was such a foolish move 28 teams, including compeitive teams, missed the boat on him and he ended up with tampa bay. wow...yeah, that one was obvious...where does that leave boston's GM when he passed up borowski and picked up remlinger?

hawkins...same crap, different city...and hell, look what the cubs got for him...im thrilled, personally.

sisco, an A-baller who at the time of being lost in the rule 5 was tipping 300+lbs. with a huge attitude problem...yeah, he was the #1 guy expected to help the pen this year, what a shortsighted loss.

Bluewater Pennant,

Who is this "talent" that the Cubs got rid of that you're refering to?

Remmy, who's since been picked up by Boston, posted an ERA of nearly 15!, and then DFA'ed again.

Hawkins, who's blown 3 saves for the Giants, has an ERA of 4.09 with SF (even higher than he had with the Cubs), and whose trade away from the Cubs you praised as being a great move by Hendry.

or Borowski, who after a very nice start with the DRays, has now blown 4 saves, and has reverted to to "Not 2003 JoBo" giving up 7 Earned Runs in his last 6 Outings.

Which one of those guys are you refering to?

Crunch, you are dead rightabout remmy and borowski and hawkins.

But, how can you continuously defend the Sisco f&ckup in this manner. I agree he wouldn't have been a Cubs' major leaguer this year (which doesn't say much about the Cubs' as an org), but everyone in the world knew Sisco had value. This is not after-the-fact 20/20 vision. People called the Sisco abomination the day they saw he wasn't protected. Lots of people.

A GM that cannot retain talent of his level OR trade it for some kind of return value is in serious trouble. We are talking about a bonus baby 6' 9" flamethrowing lefty that was very high profile for a minor leaguer.

Frankly defending that move undermines credibility. Even Dontrel Willis I can accept as 20/20 hindsight with no problems. Who knew he would be this good?

But people called the Sisco deal on the spot and it was a major mistake.

Manny your analogy is sad. You are defending a manager who is clearly ineffective, paranoid, and arrogant.

The reason 95% of the people on this list are frustrated to some degree with Dusty is that, whether he is the SOLE REASON or not for these last two crap-ass seasons, he is doing a poor job and especially for the money he makes.

You clearly enjoy playing the Devil's advocate, but your objectivity is laughable.

I believe that you simply hope you are annoying people to some degree. And I suppose I can respect that.

But people have every right to blast on this public figure that is Dusty Baker. And trust me justabout every Dusty critisiser here wishes the team was running on with all pistons firing. I sure as hell do.

But this guy is a tool and he is driving our organization to the ground. Plain and simple: he is doing a bad job and he should be held accountable.

His double talk and false theories and screwy lineups and disrespect of the fans and blaming of players and announcers and innability to instill fundamental oriented solid baseball is pretty clear.

Kyle Farnsworth has been absolutely lights-out this season.

As a closer. In a pennant race.

Amen, Jim. I agree wholeheartedly. Dusty isn't the only problem, but he certainly isn't earning his $4mm paycheck.

superj...the sisco thing went well beyond just his weight...his leaning toward violence, drinking, and political reading material all played a part in addition to his conditioning in his lack of being on the 40-man.

his teammates werent too keen on him, the club wasnt too keen on his attitude, and beyond all that...not many clubs are keen on taking an A-baller with his baggage to keep around a full year.

this has a lot to do with off-field activity well more than anything he ever did on the field.

if you think farnsworth has some horror stories attached to him, the sisco saga spans a few countries and involves the likes of david wells (of all people) mentoring him to get his head straight.

Exactly right, Closing Time.

Kerosene Kyle's done a nice job in Detroit/Atlanta, but considering he had 5-6 years to get his act together in Chicago, and we ended up with Novoa, probably our most consistant set-up guy this year, and a couple other prospects, I'd say that's a wash.

Bluewater Pennant, if that's all you can come up with as "purging all the talent out of the bullpen" you're grasping at straws.

"the sisco thing went well beyond just his weight...his leaning toward violence, drinking, and political reading material all played a part"

What's that about? Google gives me nothing.

sisco's interest in WW2 literature/history lent itself to a bit of tension. chalk it up to whatever you want. i heard nothing of straight up racism, but it was one of many things that kept things distracted away from the game itself in the clubhouse.

I guess I'm missing the point cause I don't see how that would be a problem at all. I'm a bit of a WW2 geek myself, normally that would make me think higher of the guy.

Unless your saying he read Mein Kampf in the clubhouse and went around Nazi salute-ing everyone...

i wasnt in the clubhouse, i only know what i was told. jeff kent causes tension with his motocross magazines...it doesnt take much. its not really what your interest is as much as it is your focus of discussion about the material and how your teammates feel about it. blame sisco or blame his teammates lack of understanding...either way it was an issue.

I think I understand what you're saying, but I don't really "understand", you know.

I miss Good Mark Prior.

JH:

My point was that BABP in low A ball doesn't mean much, it's too much extrapulation. You've got hall of famers that had crappy ones, and future hall of famers that had high ones. By but by your logic, Albert Pujols would have been playing in High A the year he won rookie of the year, because his BABP in low A was .326 which isn't sustainable. You've also seem to be saying that Patterson's season should be downgraded because he's come out of college.... I assume you mean so far as his 'true outcome' #'s because obviously a ball in play isn't any more or less likely to be caught depending on the age of the hitter. But 'True Outcomes' of course isn't an reliable stat at all- your 'true outcomes' can be affected by the umpire's strike zones, the wind, the ball park you play in compared to your fly ball chart, blah blah blah.

It looks like I messed up the #'s because I was drunk, and MILB doesn't use the same ordering as the baseball cube.

Should have been something like:
Pujols0.326
Crawford .360
Podsednik.316

Next Year Pujols ROY (big mistake there)
Posednik goes up one level to the FSL and adds .074 to his OPS
Crawford skips High A and struggles a bit as a 19 year old in the Southern league

Now I'd like to know where you got your Patterson scouting report from, because it comes off a bit like it was made up.

John Hill said.

'Patterson's numbers at Peoria need to be taken with a pinch of salt, for, as a college draftee, Eric was old for his league.'

Patterson had just turned 22 when the season started.

Here is the age of the average infielder for three teams in the midwest league:

Peoria: 22.3
Kane County: 22.4
Burlington 21.9

Those are the average ages of the players who are on the season ending rosters(Patterson having been promoted is not included), at the start of the season.

Although you've got the authoritative part down, I wish you could get as firm a grip on the factual part.

I believe the point is that E-Pat played college ball, which gives him a bit of an advantage over a lot of the just-out-of-high-school pitchers in low-A. He's had a few years of playing against better competition -- so it isn't his age so much as his experience. I would be interested to know the mean age of pitchers in the Midwest League. Oakland notwithstanding, there's still an infatuation with high school arms, which leads me to believe the mean age would be younger than that of position players. Just a hunch.

Justin,

'I believe the point is that E-Pat played college ball, which gives him a bit of an advantage over a lot of the just-out-of-high-school pitchers in low'

Maybe you're from South Carolina or Mississippi, but for the majority of the states in the union, we graduate highschool at the age of 17 and 18.

Go to : http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/app/index....

Just from my spot check, the pitchers seemed to be older than the position players in the league.

The Midwest league (despite what John Hill, who has no idea where the Midwest actually is ,might tell you) is not a league of 17 and 18 year olds. From the three rosters I spot checked, I think there were only 3 teenagers.

From my perspective, if you play three years of major program college ball, that's roughly equivlant to one year of pro-ball. The seasons are shorter, the coaching is worse, the competition is worse, and if you're a hitter, they give you a goofy bat to play with.

So Eric Patterson, at the age of 22, has equivalent baseball experience of a 19 year old who signed out of high school.

Real Neal--"My point was that BABIP in low A ball doesn't mean much, it's too much extrapulation. You've got hall of famers that had crappy ones, and future hall of famers that had high ones."

And the thing that's common to all those Hall of Famers is that once they reached the major leagues, they were no longer hit anywhere near .403 on balls in play. The major league average is roughly .299. You can achieve higher than that by being fast, by hitting the ball hard, preferably as a line drive rather than a flyball, by having good hands, good bat control, by being willing to hit all manner of pitches to all fields. But you do all that and, because pitching and defence at the major league level are that much better, you're simply still not going to get anywhere near to hitting .403 on balls in play over the course of any significant period of time. Ichiro Suzuki is fast, he hits his slappy, golfish but hard line drives, to all fields, and he has terrific hands and thus astonishing bat control. And I'm telling you that Eric Patterson is simply not that good. But at .352, Ichiro owns the best career batting average on balls in play in the history of the game of baseball, and there's no-one else within ten points.

Every single Hall of Famer that hit for a ridiculous average on balls in play at A-ball either saw their average dropoff or they made adjustments to their game that saved their average by offsetting the hits they quite naturally lost to far better pitching and defence at higher levels. The typical adjustments - adding home run power, making more contact, or improving in the areas I've already mentioned about that'll help push their average on balls in play back up a bit.

And Eric Patterson needs to do the same. The trouble is that that's a lot easier said than done - just look at his brother - and that Eric Patterson is already 22, which isn't yet old or anything, but it makes him a good few years older, more set in his ways and therefore less malleable than he was at the age when all these people you're comparing him to were going through the same things he was going through at Low-A ball. He's got less time to make the adjustments, the adjustments are going to be more difficult for him to make, and the difficulty of adjustments in the first place cannot be overstated.

Real Neal--"But by your logic, Albert Pujols would have been playing in High A the year he won rookie of the year, because his BABP in low A was .326 which isn't sustainable."

Firstly, you're using one of the biggest prospecting extremes to try and say something about a much more mainstream and common player, which is simply ridiculous. This is like me saying that all Americans are like Michael Jackson.

Secondly, .326 isn't necessary unsustainable, it's just getting towards the stage where if you know nothing about the player you're a little suspicious of it. But, given Pujols' all-round hitting ability, there'd have been absolutely nothing to suggest that that's an unreasonable figure, and, even if it were (and it wasn't), you adjust his average on balls in play to .300 and Pujols still would have hit .302 overall at Low-A. Aged 20. Do the same for Eric Patterson and you end up with a .256 hitter. Aged 22. There's just not a comparison here. There's not a comparison with Podsednik or Crawford either. They're high school draftees for starters, apples and oranges.

Patterson--"You've also seem to be saying that Patterson's season should be downgraded because he's come out of college...."

In a way, that's what I'm saying. But I'm not so much penalising him for coming out of college as I am for him being too old, which is a consequence of him going to college. There's a slight distinction there.

Simply put, because he's 22 and he's had more baseball experience than most people at his level, and I suppose there may be an argument that because he went to Georgia Tech as opposed to Rookie Ball he's had better baseball experience too, he ought to be ripping up Low-A ball. That he is is good, it's a lot better than him struggling there. But it doesn't mean you should get your knickers in a twist just because he did rip it up. It's Low-A ball. Brian Dopirak, anyone?

Real Neal--"Here is the age of the average infielder for three teams in the midwest league:Peoria: 22.3
Kane County: 22.4
Burlington 21.9"

Ooh! Let me play. Beloit, 19.8; Fort Wayne, 20.8; Southwest Michigan, 21.3.

Look, you can quote all the numbers you like that involve all manner of half-baked prospects, future org guys, whatever, but if you're an actual prospect and you're playing your age 22 season and you're still in Low-A ball, you're too old for the league. Ask anyone. Or, alternatively, find me another proper prospect that played this year in A-ball aged 22.

Real Neal--"your 'true outcomes' can be affected by the umpire's strike zones, the wind, the ball park you play in compared to your fly ball chart, blah blah blah."

Of course. So? What are you saying? Also, when you swing and miss a lot, as Patterson does, I don't think any of that really comes into it much.

Real Neal--"John Hill...has no idea where the Midwest actually is"

Is this something I have to take your word for?

Real Neal--"The Midwest league...is not a league of 17 and 18 year olds"

Now that is actually true. But if you're out of high school and you want to be considered a legitimate prospect, you're normally aged 19 or 20. Like Ryan Harvey, like Brian Dopirak last year. If you sign out of college and you're a proper prospect, you don't want to be hanging around the Midwest League for any longer than it takes you to find a good groove and move up to the next level. Look at the college hitters drafted in the first few rounds last year (Patterson was a projected fourth round choice, but fell due to signability concerns) and where they've spent their season...

Stephen Drew - a special case since he was a holdout from 2003
Joshua Fields - Double-A entire year
Landon Powell ñ DL entire year, probably Double-A otherwise
Richie Robnett - High-A entire year
Danny Putnam - High-A entire year
Brandon Szymanski - Low-A entire year, disappointing numbers
Garry Smith - no idea, may not have signed
Brian Bixler - Low-A entire year, disappointing numbers
Eric San Pedro - High-A entire year, but almost entirely on the DL
Jonathan Zeringue - Double-A, entire year
Curtis Thigpen - Low-A, promoted to Double-A in July
Donald Lucy ñ Low-A entire year, disappointing numbers
Michael Ferris ñ Low-A entire year, mixed numbers (low average, rest fine)
Jason Jaramillo ñ Low-A entire year, solid numbers
Hunter Pence ñ Low-A, promoted to High-A in July
Dustin Pedroia ñ Double-A, promoted to Triple-A in June
Kurt Suzuki ñ High-A entire year
Eduardo Martinez Esteve ñ High-A entire year
Jeffrey Frazier ñ Low-A entire year, solid numbers
Craig Tatum ñ Low-A entire year, disappointing numbers
Jeffrey Fiorentino ñ High-A entire year, but had brief stint in Majors in May (!)
Adam Lind ñ High-A entire year
John Bowker ñ High-A entire year
John Holt ñ Low-A entire year, disappointing numbers
Aaron Hathaway ñ Low-A, disappointing numbers, promoted to High-A in June anyway
Chris Iannetta ñ High-A, promoted to Double-A in July
Brandon Boggs ñ Low-A entire year, mixed numbers (low average, rest fine)
Robert Johnson ñ Low-A, bleh numbers, promoted to High-A in August
Louis Santangelo ñ Low-A entire year, solid numbers
Clay Timpner ñ High-A entire year
Michael Butia ñ Low-A, disappointing numbers, promoted to High-A in July anyway
Paul Janish ñ Low-A entire year, disappointing numbers
Carl Smith ñ Low-A entire year, disappointing numbers
Matthew Macri ñ High-A, promoted to Double-A in June
Michael Nickeas ñ Double-A entire year
Cesar Nicolas ñ Low-A entire year, excellent numbers
Ryan Klosterman ñ Low-A entire year, disappointing numbers
John Raglani ñ High-A entire year
Wesley Swackhamer (!) ñ Low-A entire year, disappointing numbers
Kevin Melillo ñ Low A, promoted to High-A then Double-A in July
Bradley Davis ñ Low-A entire year, disappointing numbers

Thatís the entire first five rounds of college hitters from 2004. Do you see a trend? Most hitters either avoid Low-A all together or theyíre moved up as soon as itís obvious that theyíre doing pretty well. The only real exception to that is Cesar Nicolas, a 23-year old Diamondback who hit .302/.428/.594 at Low-A this year, with 52 extra base hits, 58 walks and 60 strikeouts. The only reason I can think of as to why he wasnít promoted is that heís blocked, because those numbers are crying out for him to move very fast, both because theyíre good and because heís very old.

Or do you think Iím just making all this up?

Find me some proper prospects that are 22 years old and in Low-A.

Maybe then youíll be in a position to tell me who has and hasnít got a grasp of the facts.

Real Neal--"From my perspective, if you play three years of major program college ball, that's roughly equivlant to one year of pro-ball. The seasons are shorter, the coaching is worse, the competition is worse, and if you're a hitter, they give you a goofy bat to play with.

So Eric Patterson, at the age of 22, has equivalent baseball experience of a 19 year old who signed out of high school."

I find your perspective an extremely uncommon one.

Also, which part of my assessment of Eric Patterson do you find "made up"?

"Wesley Swackhamer" sounds like a pornstar name...

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