Arizona Fall League ‘06

With the Cubs season not going too well, I just can't help but look forward to the 2006 Arizona Fall League. There is nothing like consortium baseball to get the juices flowin'! The Arizona Fall League (AFL) will be celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. It began play in 1992 (Derek Jeter was the AFLís first MVP) as an alternative to Latin American Winter Ball, where a hyper-competitive playing environment and occasional violent crimes against players off the field made assigning top prospects to Latin Winter clubs an increasingly scary option. Also, many players (especially young players) playing in Latin Winter ball would sometimes be discouraged from trying to improve some aspect of their game (with the possibility that they might struggle and maybe fail in the process) while their team was ìunder the gunî to win. And scouts were sometimes hard-pressed to cover all the games, what with having to trek across the back-roads of Hispanola and Venezuela in order to see some of the games. Along with the Hawaiian Winter Baseball League (which was in operation for five years 1993-97, and which will be reactivated this year), the AFL was created to allow young players to compete against tougher competition without the accompanying win-at-any-cost mindset and threat of violence sometimes encountered in Latin America, and to enable teams to be located in the same geographic area to allow scouts easier access to the games. (BTW, in its new format beginning this year, the reactivated Hawaiian Winter Baseball League will have fewer teams and smaller rosters than the AFL, and the HWBL will also be inviting players from professional leagues in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan to participate, in addition to prospects from MLB). Although it might seem odd, not all players assigned to the AFL by an MLB club are necessarily that organizationís best prospects. Sometimes an AFL team needs a certain organization to furnish a shortstop or a catcher or a lefty pitcher, and that organization just doesnít have a true ìprospectî available for the AFL at that position. So the MLB club might have to contribute a journeyman ìorganizational playerî to the AFL team instead. The AFL was designed primarily for AA players who are expected to move up to AAA the following season (hence its informal ìAA+î classification), but it also is a place for ìhot shotî prospects from Class-A to get some experience against more-advanced competition, and also for older AAA players looking to get noticed and MLB rookies looking to improve some aspect of their game that needs work (like Matt Murton, who was sent to the AFL mainly to work on his outfield defense last year). The AFL season runs only about six weeks (it was cut back to 32 games from 38 last season). Games are played Monday through Saturday, with no games on Sunday. There is a single ìAFL Championship Gameî played between the two division winners on the Saturday immediately following the close of the AFL regular season. AFL games are heavily-attended by scouts (a typical AFL game has about 70 or 80 ìfansî and about 15 or 20 scouts), and if a ìborderlineî AA or AAA player does well in the AFL, it could mean heíll get added to his clubís 40-man roster (as happened somewhat unexpectedly with Russ Rohlicek and Geovany Soto a couple of years ago), or possibly get selected in the Rule 5 Draft (as happened with potential N. L. Rookie of the Year Dan Uggla last year). And if a hot-shot youngster from ìAî-ball handles himself well in the AFL, it could mean that he will be able to skip a level (as happened with Corey Patterson a few years ago), and maybe even get an NRI to the big clubís Spring Training. HEREíS HOW IT WORKS: 1. The six AFL teams are located at various Spring Training sites in the Phoenix area. The six teams are divided into two divisions, three teams in each division. Each one of the six AFL teams is a consortium of five MLB clubs. The Cubs are presently associated with the AFL team known as the ìMesa Solar Sox,î and the Solar Sox play at HoHoKam Park in Mesa (where the Cubs play their Spring Training games). The other four MLB clubs that will be associated with the Solar Sox this year are the Houston Astros, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Minnesota Twins. Last year, the White Sox, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (and the Cubs) were associated with the Solar Sox, so the consortiums change from year-to-year. (In 2004, the Solar Sox were an amalgam of the Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, and Detroit Tigers, and in 2003 the Solar Sox received players, coaches, and trainers from the Cubs, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Colorado, and Baltimore). Because they play at HoHoKam, the Cubs usually are associated with the Mesa Solar Sox, but in three of the first 14 AFL seasons, they were not. In addition to providing players, each of the clubs in the consortium contribute either a manager, a pitching coach, a bench coach, or a trainer (there are two trainers per AFL team), and these assignments rotate each season. This year, the Cubs get to provide the manager, and so AA West Tenn skipper Pat Listach will be at the helm of the Solar Sox. Six current MLB skippers managed in the AFL before getting big league gigs, including Terry Francona, Mike Scioscia, Bob Melvin, Ken Macha, Grady Little, and our very own Dusty Baker. 2. Each AFL club has a 30-man roster, with each of the five parent organizations furnishing six players. MLB clubs may add additional position players to their AFL team, but the additional players are assigned as ìreservesî to a so-called ìtaxi squad,î and they are eligible to play on Wednesdays and Saturdays only (again, there are no AFL games on Sundays). A member of the ìtaxi squadî can be elevated to ìfullî roster status to replace an injured player. Not all MLB clubs take advantage of the "taxi squad" option, but the Cubs usually do. 3. Sometime this month, the Player Development Directors from each of the five teams assigned to a given AFL consortium will engage in a conference call, where they will ìhash outî their AFL teamís rosters. (Up until a couple of years ago, rosters were established by a more-formal ìdraft,î where farm directors from each of the parent MLB clubs would be able to place players on the roster one at a time in order of preference). The primary 30-man AFL rosters (not including the ìtaxi squadî) usually consist of three catchers, one or two players for each of the other positions (not including pitchers), and at least 13 pitchers. (And for the pitchers, ìpitch countsî are strictly enforced!). 4. ELIGIBILITY: To be eligible to play in the AFL, a players must: A) Have accumulated less than one year of active MLB service time (not including time spent on the DL) as of September 1st, or no more than two years of accrued MLB service time (including time spent on the DL in previous seasons). B) Be on a AA or AAA minor league roster or MLB 25-man roster as of August 1st. C) Be activated from Disabled List prior to the last 45 days of the MLB regular season. D) Be on the parent MLB clubís major league or minor league off-season ìReserve Listî at the beginning of the AFL season and continuing through to the end of the season (ìFree-Agentsî are NOT permitted to play in the AFL). 5. EXCEPTIONS/RESTRICTIONS: A) Each MLB club is permitted to place no more than one player who was not on a AA or AAA roster or MLB 25-man roster as of August 1st on its AFL team. (That is, either one Class-A or Rookie League player, or one player selected in the June Rule 4 Draft who has yet to play a pro game, or one player signed as a free-agent out of a foreign country but who has yet to play in MLB or in a National Association--AKA "Minor League Baseball"--league, or one player acquired from an independent professional league). B) Each MLB club is permitted to place no more than one ìforeignî player on its AFL team. (NOTE: ìForeignî is defined as being from Australia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, or Venezuela, but does not include Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Canada, EU countries, Colombia, Panama, the Bahamas, or Cuba). C) Each MLB club is permitted to place no more than one player selected in the previous Rule 5 Draft on its AFL team. D) Clubs can assign a player to the AFL more than one time, as long as the player continues to qualify. --------------------------------------------------------- Depending on whether the individual player is interested and/or invited, the potential 2006 AFL (and HWBL) candidates from the Cubs organization should come from this list: David Aardsma, RHP Thomas Atlee, RHP Federico Baez, RHP (Foreign) Justin Berg (from Class ìAî) Bobby Brownlie, RHP Freddie Bynum, OF Matt Craig (from Class ìAî) Rocky Cherry, RHP Brian Dopirak, 1B Mike Fontenot, 2B Jake Fox, C Sam Fuld, OF (from Class ìAî) Sean Gallagher, RHP Angel Guzman, RHP (Foreign) Ryan Harvey (from Class îAî) Rich Hill, LHP Micah Hoffpauir, 1B Lincoln Holdzkom, RHP Mark Holliman, RHP (from Class ìAî) Richard Lewis, 2B Carlos Marmol, RHP (Foreign) Sean Marshall, LHP J. R. Mathes, LHP Casey McGehee, 3B Scott Moore, 3B Miguel Negron (Foreign) Ryan Norwood, 1B (from Class ìAî) Ryan O'Malley, LHP Angel Pagan, OF (Foreign) Eric Patterson, 2B Isaac Pavlik, LHP Felix Pie (Foreign) Clay Rapada, LHP Jose Reyes (Foreign) Tony Richie, C Carlos Rojas, SS (Foreign) Jae-kuk Ryu, RHP Chris Shaver, LHP Andy Shipman, RHP Geovany Soto, C (Foreign) Jemel Spearman, IF-OF Ryan Theriot, INF Donald Veal, LHP (from Class ìAî) Chris Walker, CF Randy Wells, RHP NOTE: Any player eligible to be a six-year minor league free-agent on October 15th (like Buck Coats, Nic Jackson, or Luis Montanez, for instance) who re-signs with the Cubs prior to the start of the AFL seasonóas happened with Brandon Sing last yearówould also be eligible to play in the AFL (or HWBL). ------------------------------------------------------------ Here are the Cubs who have played in the AFL over the past 14 seasons: x - injured t- Taxi Squad 1992: John Gardner, RHP Mike Grace, 3B Jeff Hartsock, RHP Jesse Hollins, RHP Jim Robinson, C Dave Swartzbaugh, RHP NOTE: Before Kerry Wood, there was a time when Jesse Hollins was the Cubs #1 pitching prospect. 1993: Matt Franco, 3B Mike Hubbard, C Brooks Kieschnick, OF Geno Morones, RHP Dave Stevens, RHP Turk Wendell, RHP NOTE: Stevens (Twins) and Wendell (Mets and Phillies) had success as MLB closersóbut not with the Cubs, Franco (Kurt Russell's nephew) went to the Mets and became an ace PH, and 1993 #1 draft pick Kieschnick ended up in Milwaukee as a quirky hybrid RHP-PH for a while. 1994: Terry Adams, RHP Mike Carter, OF Doug Glanville, OF Brooks Kieschnick, OF Chris Petersen, SS Ottis Smith, LHP NOTE: Adams was thought at one time to be a future Cubs closer, but he just didnít have the stomach for it, and 1994 #1 draft pick Glanville was a better architect than baseball player. 1995: Mike Hubbard, C Robin Jennings, OF Jason Maxwell, SS Jon Ratliff, RHP Wade Walker, LHP NOTE: Ratliff was a top pitching prospect who turned out be a bust, Maxwell would eventually become an MLB utility INF for a couple of seasons in Minnesota, and Jennings turned out to be a decent 1B-OF-PH for a while with the Reds. 1996: Pat Cline, C Brandon Hammack, RHP Jason Maxwell, SS Scott Moten, RHP Kevin Orie, 3B Marc Pisciotta, RHP Steve Rain, RHP x - Brian Stephenson, RHP NOTE: Rain was a closer, and like Rich Hill, put up awesome numbers in AA and AAA, but never could cross the threshhold to the big leagues. Orie looked like he would be a good MLB 3B, but he flopped after being traded to Florida in the Felix Heredia deal, and Cline was a power-hitting catcher who struck out way, way, WAY too much. 1997: Richie Barker, RHP Marty Gazarek, OF Terry Joseph, OF Jose Nieves, SS Steve Rain, RHP t - Brad Ramsey, SS Justin Speier, RHP NOTE: A converted shortstop, Speier was still learning how to pitch when the Cubs sent him to the AFL (and then he got traded), and Nieves was (at one time) the Cubs sure-fire shortstop of the future. 1998: t - Roosevelt Brown, OF Chad Meyers, 2B Chad Ricketts, RHP Jay Ryan, RHP Nate Teut, LHP Danny Young, LHP Julio Zuleta, 1B NOTE: Ryan was a decent pitching prospect whose stock soared after pitching in the AFL, and he was eventually traded (along with Kyle Lohse) to MIN for Rick Aguilera, Chad Meyers was the Cubs 2B of the future in 1998 (he is still playing, BTW, in the Mexican League), the power-hitting Zuleta looked (for a while) like he might be the heir to Mark Grace at 1B (but he wasnít), and Roosevelt Brown went to Japan, came back to the U. S. and had a shot with the Braves, but got released. 1999: t - Pat Cline, C Eric Newman, RHP Corey Patterson, OF Chad Ricketts, RHP Brian Stephenson, RHP Jeff Yoder, RHP Julio Zuleta, 1B NOTE: As a result of tearing up the AFL after the 1999 season, C-Pat got jumped directly from Lo-A Lansing to AA the next season. (Maybe he should have played a year at Daytona first?). 2000: t - Hee Seop Choi, 1B Jeff Goldbach, C Eric Hinske, 3B Will Ohman, LHP Jaisen Randolph, OF Jason Smith, SS Nate Teut, LHP NOTE: Goldbach was a supposed top catching prospect who flamed out at Hi-A, Hinske got traded to OAK for Miguel Cairo and the rights to Rule Fiver Scott Chiasson and eventually won the A. L. Rookie of the Year Award in Toronto, Jason Smith was traded to TB for Fred McGriff and is now in AAA with the Rockies after going back-and-forth between AAA and the majors for several seasons while playing in the Devil Rays & Tigers organizations, Choi was traded to FLA for Derrek Lee and is currently unemployed (recently released by the Red Sox after hitting .207 at AAA), lightin' fast base stealin' fool Jaisen Randolph got traded to the Mets where he went into the Witness Protection Program, and Ohman is a member of the Cubs bullpen and is a pretty decent LOOGY. 2001: x - Scott Chiasson, RHP x - Chris Gissell, RHP Nate Frese, SS Bobby Hill, 2B Nic Jackson, OF Ryan Jorgensen, C David Kelton, 3B Mike Meyers, RHP NOTE: Hill, Jackson, and Kelton were each rated Top 100 prospects by Baseball America at this point in time, but Hill never really recovered from his torn hamstring (ST '03) and was traded to PIT in the Aramis Ramirez & Kenny Lofton steal deal, Jackson tore his labrum and is just now this year getting back to playing OF again (and he is playing very well, albeit at AA), Kelton was a head case who couldnít make throws from 3B to 2B without throwing the ball into RF who is now unemployed after getting released by Atlanta's AAA Richmond club, Chiasson never came back from TJ surgery (but before he got hurt he was a definite closer prospect), Jorgensen went to FLA in the Willis/Clement deal and is presently a AAA back-up catcher, and Mike Meyers was thought to be dead, but resurfaced as a member of Team Canada in the WBC. 2002: Hee Seop Choi, 1B Ryan Gripp, 3B Ferenc Jonjegan, LHP Jon Leicester, RHP Ray Sadler, OF Todd Wellemeyer, RHP NOTE: Gripp was traded to MIL for Paul Bako after the 2002 season, Sadler was traded to PIT for Randall Simon in August í03, and the once-promising Leicester and Wellemeyer were both traded prior to the 2006 after they ran out of minor league options. (BTW, the pitcher the Cubs got from TEX for Leicester--LHP Clint Brannon--recently retired from baseball). 2003: David Cash, RHP x - Ben Christensen, RHP Jason Dubois, OF (AFL MVP) Brendan Harris, 3B Casey Kopitzke, C Jason Szuminski, RHP t - Ryan Theriot, INF John Webb, RHP NOTE: Dubois won the AFL MVP Award and after a fine year in AAA in 2004 was expected to be the Cubs everyday LF in 2005, but he struggled and got traded to CLE for Jody Gerut. Szuminski looked good in the AFL and so the Padres took him in the ë03 Rule 5 Draft (although the Cubs got him back), but the Cubs released him earlier this seasonÖ last heard from, he is a Captain in the USAF on active duty at Edwards AFB. Harris was thought to be the Cubs 3B of the future at one point, but then got traded to MON in the Nomar 4-way and has since been traded again (to CIN) where he remains in AAA. Cash was the replacement for damaged goods (Jeff Verplancke) in the Bill Mueller deal with the Giants in í02 and just got released by the Cubs a couple of months ago after failing to comeback from TJ surgery. Christensen suffered a torn tendon in his elbow and then a torn labrum in his shoulder (bad karma maybe?), and Webb was never the same pitcher after he broke his leg while walking his dog during the off-season the year the Cubs placed him on their 40-man roster. Ryan Theriot is presently on the Cubs 25-man roster. 2004: Ronny Cedeno, SS Brian Dopirak, 1B t - Jake Fox, C t - Adam Greenberg, OF Sean Marshall, LHP Russ Rohlicek, LHP Jae-kuk Ryu, RHP Geovany Soto, C NOTE: Cedeno has been the Cubs everyday SS and has been moved to 2B, Marshall is a Cubs rotation starter currently on the DL with a strained oblique, Ryu got a chance to start a game for the Cubs this season but soon found himself back in AAA, Dopirak suffered a broken foot on Opening Night in AA and has been struggling at the plate since he got reactivated, Fox was demolishing FSL pitching and was promoted to AA where he is struggling at bat and his defense is still pretty bad, and Soto and Rohlicek looked good enough in the AFL that the Cubs placed both on their 40-man roster to keep from losing them in the í04 Rule 5 Draft (Soto could be the Cubs back-up catcher as early as next season, but Rohlicek was released this past ST). And of course Greenberg got beaned in his very first big league AB (very first pitch!), never really recovered, was released by the Cubs a couple of months ago, and now is a 4th OF in AA with the Dodgers. 2005: David Aardsma, RHP t - Buck Coats, IF-OF Angel Guzman, RHP John Koronka, LHP Matt Murton, OF Eric Patterson, 2B Brandon Sing, 1B NOTE: Aardvark is on the Des Moines-Chicago shuttle but needs to develop some constency, Guzman is a rotation starter at Iowa who (if he stays healthy and doesnít get traded) could very well be in the Cubs starting rotation next season, Koronka was traded to TEX for Fredie Bynum and is a rotation starter for the Rangers, Murton is the Cubs #1-A LF but has struggled off-and-on at the plate this season, E-Pat is possibly the Cubs 2B of the future (2008?) and is having a fine offensive year (but just so-so defensively) in AA, and Coats and Sing will be six-year minor league FAs after this season and while Coats MIGHT be retained (becoming less likely as time goes by), Sing will almost certainly not be.
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Comments

So candidates for the AFL this year:
Jake Fox
Sam Fuld
Mark Holliman
Ryan Norwood
Chris Walker
Chris Shaver
Scott Moore
JR Mathes
Rocky Cherry
Ryan Harvey

Maybe Eric Patterson again?

So candidates for the AFL this year:
Jake Fox
Sam Fuld
Mark Holliman
Ryan Norwood
Chris Walker
Chris Shaver
Scott Moore
JR Mathes
Rocky Cherry
Ryan Harvey

Maybe Eric Patterson again?

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DUSTY B: Yes. That's a good list. Actually, it sort of matches mine. There can be only be one player per organization who played below AA prior to August 1st, so I think the Cubs would probably prefer to get Sam Fuld some PT in the AFL (that's if he doesn't need off-season back surgery), although the way Ryan Harvey has been hitting recently, he is becoming more and more of a candidate for the AFL. If not Fuld or Harvey then I would think Ryan Norwood or possibly even Donald Veal might get the slot.

I would think if Oneri Fleita could get his way 100%, he would most like to place these six guys on the '06 Solar Sox:

AA/AAA/MLB:
Jake Fox (repeat customer from '04)
Scott Moore (definitely for sure)
Eric Patterson (even though was there last year)
J. R. Mathes (VERY likely)
Chris Shaver (VERY likely)

EXCEPTION ("A" ball)
Fuld (unless he needs surgery), Harvey (the Cubs may want to "challenge" him), Norwood (who should have been promoted to Daytona weeks ago), or Veal.

Holliman is giving all the signs of a pitcher who has hit the wall in terms of throwing too many innings, and Cherry is on the DL (post-TJ surgery) and the Cubs may want to just shut him down.

It wouldn't be totally impossible that the Cubs might want to place Felix Pie in the AFL, just to keep him playing where he can be under greater control (with Pat Listach as Solar Sox manager) than is the case if he plays Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic again.

From previous post...

Arizona Phil: Tied with Ryan Harvey for the organization lead in strikeouts, Scott Moore is no sure thing, and the only other "in house" possibility anywhere close to being ready is Casey McGehee (at AAA Iowa), and although he is a fundamentally sound player, he lacks the extra-base "pop" the Cubs need out of their third-baseman.

Not that it's relevant, but doesn't Reyes play 3B as a secondary position?

And... there's always Auggie. [grin]

Thanks Phil..
I'm intrigued by Norwood, who can hit for average, and is developing power. He's a big guy..6'4"..230...I don't think he's any great shakes in the field though.

Fuld is another guy who should have been promoted earlier this year, to West Tenn.
He's a player that I like..a little power, patient at the plate..good speed, good D..

BTW, about Brandon Sing. Some of you may remember last year, when Sing was going to be a six-year minor league FA, that he re-signed a minor league deal with the Cubs.

I don't know what Jim Hendry offered Sing to stay with the Cubs, like the particulars of his 2006 salary (although he probably got what a guy on the 40-man roster gets as a minor league "split," and maybe a little bit more), but placing Sing in the AFL and giving him an NRI to ST were part of the package.

If Sing had performed well in the AFL last Fall, he conceivably could have been added to the Cubs 40-man roster prior to November 20th, or else could have been selected in the Rule 5 Draft. Well, he did not hit well in the AFL, and has done even worse this season at AAA and now at AA.

But something to keep in mind is that Hendry may try and re-sign one of the Cubs 6Y MLFAs (like Nic Jackson, Buck Coats, or Luis Montanez), by giving the player a 2007 minor league contract with "40-man roster money," a Cubs-sponsored spot in the AFL, and a guaranteed NRI to Spring Training, with the added possibility of being added to the Cubs 40-man roster later (prior to 11-20) or perhaps getting selected by another MLB club in the Rule 5 Draft if the player does well in the AFL.

#3 of 5: By Ryno (August 7, 2006 12:47 PM)
Not that it's relevant, but doesn't Reyes play 3B as a secondary position?

---

RYNO: Did you mean Jose Reyes? He's just a catcher. But he's probably the best all-around defensive catcher in the Cubs minor league system. Too bad he can't hit a lick.

Now, Geovany Soto was orginally a 3B, before the Cubs made him into a catcher. He can play C-3B-1B, although he doesn't have anywhere near enough power to play a corner INF spot.

On a somewhat related note. The Iowa Cubs should be loaded with prospects in the 2007 season. As it stands today this will be the lineup.

cf Pie
2b Patterson
3b Moore
1b Dopirak
Ss Theriot
C Fox/Reyes
Lf Montanez?
Rf Jackson/coates?

and a pitching staff of

Shaver
Gallagher
Mateo
Marmol/Guzman ?
Mathes
Rapada
Aardvark?

I am sure I am leaving some guys out. But none the less it is a prospect laden team. I personally prefer prospects to the Vet retread rosters that alot of teams have in AAA.

Randon FYI... Livan Hernandez is now a Diamondback.

AARON B: Unless the Cubs re-sign Jackson, Coats, or Montanez (still too early to tell), I would project the AAA Iowa Cubs starting OF next season as Walker-Pie-Negron LF-CF-RF, with Culpepper-Fuld-Harvey the starters at AA.

I would think the AAA infield will likely be Moore-Rojas-Patterson-McGehee/Hoffpauir 3B-SS-2B-1B, with Craig-Simokaitis-Spears-Dopirak at AA. And Jemel Spearman (Chris Walker's one-time teammate at Georgia Southern) needs to be developed as a super-sub IF-OF utility guy.

I believe Geovany Soto will likely return to Iowa as the #1 catcher in 2007, with an experienced six-year ML FA catcher (preferrably with some big league experience) signed to be his back-up. I would think Jake Fox will start the year at AA as the #1 guy, backed-up by Tony Richie, with Reed/Muyco at Daytona, and Mario Mercedes #1 at Peoria.

Speaking of Geovany Soto, I had been thinking that Soto would probably get a good shot to be the Cubs back-up catcher next season (just to save money), but now I believe Hendry will likely try and re-sign Blanco for one more season with a club option for '08, just because of Blanco's "Venezuelan Brotherhood" relationship with Zambrano & Guzman. (Hendry might want to try and keep "Z" happy and stay on his good side, since he can be a FA after next season).

Thanks AZ Phil, maybe I was confusing the Reyes & Soto. Yes, I was referring to the Jose Reyes who is a AAA Iowa catcher.

Thanks Phil, always impressed with the depth and detail of your reviews.

You noted that Ohlman is now a pretty decent LOOGY. It's been bugging me, I assume it's a Bill James reference, and means a spot LH out of the bullpen (I think), but does it stand for anything? Lefty out of good yarns? Maybe DC can give us the appropriate Haiku?

Phil-
I'd like to see the Cubs resign Nic Jackson. he's really perservered with that labrum injury, and is having a solid year in AA. I could see him being a good 4th OF guy...maybe more if he finds his power at all.

Lefty One Out GuY?

AZ Phil,

I've been intruged with Sam Fuld ever since you brought him to my attention earler this year. What sort of back injury does he have that could/might require surgery?

intruged = intrigued. sorry.

#14 of 14: By Jobu (August 7, 2006 01:41 PM)
AZ Phil,

I've been intruged with Sam Fuld ever since you brought him to my attention earler this year. What sort of back injury does he have that could/might require surgery?

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JOBU: He has a bulging disc/pinched nerve and apparently it isn't getting better. He came off the DL for a few games, but he's back on it again.

Fuld has had a couple of other significant injuries in the last three years or so, including shoulder surgery and a broken wrist, but he was able to recover 100% from those issues. Hopefully, he can get his back problem "straightened out" so he can put it behind him (so to speak), too.

(CA) Phil: As Dusty Baylor posted, LOOGY = "Lefty One-Out GuY," but "lefty specialist" or "spot lefty" works just as well.

Thanks Dusty and Phil!

I would be really shocked if Harvey goes to the AFL - I can't really think of anything good that would come from it, unless the Cubs organization is itching to have the AFL strike-out record owner.

I would like to see Peoria Chiefs pitcher Mitch Atkins in the AFL, any thought Phil?

So far this yr he's tossed 113 innings in 21 starts. 2.53 ERA, 10-3 record. 101K's 45 BB's.

Too many innings for a 20 yr old to warrant extra work? What do you consider too many innings to start backing off on post season leagues?

Port-side flamethrower
Just needs to get the one out
Call the guy "LOOGY"

Thanks for the list, but it's striking ... that's a lot of guys we thought might be good, and it's not a lot of guys who were actually good. I really wish we didn't suck so much at signing and developing talent.

"occasional violent crimes against players off the field"

Come on, it's not Hell down here. Please name me four different incidents in which a prospect was injured, mugged, spit on, anything while playing in a Latin Winter League.

Yay for stereotypes!

AZ Phil:

Will Jake Fox eventually have to move to a different position? I haven't seen him play, but reports on his defense are not good.

I'd like to see the Cubs develop a a top-notch "receiver" who can dominate a game from behind the plate. For example, while he's not much offensively (at least yet), I really like Yadier Molina of St. Louis.

I thought Billy Petrick might go, but he's still in Hi-A. For all I know he's injured again.

Holliman probably won't go, other than being Hi-A, he's been healthy all year, they probably won't extend his arm that much.

Lincoln Holdzkom is a candidate, in AA, been on the DL part of the year, etc. Miguel Negron seems like a possibility too.

Carlos,

I've seen "Man on Fire" and that's exactly how things are down there. The movies don't lie. :)

I'm wondering if Walker has become somewhat of a prospect. I don't know how old he is, but he seems to have been around a long time. He is having a very good year at AA and has speed to burn. Possible starting CF, reserve OF, or neither?

Rob:
That movie is terrible, but the sad thing is that it does portray Mexico City accurately. I love that city, it's a beautiful place to visit, but I don't know if I could survive there for more than a year or two. The crime rate is going down, but it's still comparable to NYC.

Anyway, my point is that Winter Leagues are played, at least in Mexico, in the quietest towns in Mexico, the pacific coast ones. They're lovely, small-town-America-ish ports that have a truly immense love for baseball. I think Venezuela and Dominican Rep share our baseball love; it's hard to think that any violent incident would be commited against their idols, the baseball players.

#20 of 28: By cubster (August 7, 2006 03:01 PM)
I would like to see Peoria Chiefs pitcher Mitch Atkins in the AFL, any thought Phil?

So far this yr he's tossed 113 innings in 21 starts. 2.53 ERA, 10-3 record. 101K's 45 BB's.

Too many innings for a 20 yr old to warrant extra work? What do you consider too many innings to start backing off on post season leagues?

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CUBSTER: I like Mitch Atkins, and he really seems to have "turned the corner" this season, but I don't think he is a candidate for the AFL this time around. And it's not so much because he's thrown a lot of innings (although that CAN be a factor, depending on the pitcher), but mainly because MLB clubs don't like to allocate their one "Class-A" spot in the AFL on a pitcher who is probably three years away from the Show.

When you think AFL, you need ro think "How far away is this guy?" If it's more than a year or two, then probably the AFL is not for him. That doesn't mean that a "Class-A" player or pitcher can't do well in the AFL. It just means that any player or pitcher selected to play in the AFL with only Class-A experience needs to be somebody like Sam Fuld, Donald Veal, or Mark Holliman, or PERHAPS Ryan Harvey, somebody who can be projected as possibly ready for a big league opportunity sometime in the next year or two. And I don't think Atkins would be expected to "arrive" MLB-ready anytime before 2009 or maybe even 2010. He doesn't even need to be added to the 40-man roster until after next season.

#24 of 29: By ALLEN (August 7, 2006 03:55 PM)
AZ Phil:

Will Jake Fox eventually have to move to a different position? I haven't seen him play, but reports on his defense are not good.

I'd like to see the Cubs develop a a top-notch "receiver" who can dominate a game from behind the plate. For example, while he's not much offensively (at least yet), I really like Yadier Molina of St. Louis.

ALLEN: The thing about Jake Fox is that if he is moved to different position and no longer catches (even part-time), his value is diminished. A slugging catcher is a valuable commodity; heck, even a slugging BACK-UP catcher is a valuable commodity. And if a catcher is an offensive force, (see Mike Piazza or Michael Barrett), he doesn't have to be more than just passably adequate defensively. either.

That said, I would like to see Fox learn other positions, while still continuing to catch. Jake has a problem with his catching mechanics. He just does not look like he knows what he's doing back there. He has improved some, but he still has a ways to go to be just good enough. I believe he will always be an OFFENSIVE-oriented catcher.

But still, I would not move him to a different position. I would continue to have him be primarily a catcher, while playing 1B-3B-LF-RF on days when he's not catching. Because even if he does not become a front-line catcher, he could have value as an extra man who can catch and play other positions.

BTW, after struggling mightily at the plate after his promotion to AA a few weeks ago, Fox has been on fire. Any question about whether he can "handle" AA pitching is becoming a non-issue.

In West Tenn's last ten games, Jake Fox is 12-26 (.461) with 3 HR & 12 RBI and four 2B. But even so, I still think he will return to AA to start next season, with perhaps a mid-season call-up to AAA. I also believe he is a strong candidate to be selected to play in the AFL, and also a very likely candidate to be added to the Cubs 40-man roster before November 20th.

And for those of you not aware of it, Jake Fox was Rich Hill's catcher at the University of Michigan.

CARLOS: I wasn't trying to insult Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, or the Domincan Republic, but the fact is, one of the reasons the AFL exists is because of concerns MLB execs have about crime in Latin America. Maybe not in Mazatlan or Acapulco, but certainly in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.

However, violent crime is not the NAIN reason that MLB clubs prefer the AFL for AA players. The MAIN reason is that MLB execs do not like the hyper-competitive atmosphere that is present in Winter League baseball. If you ever get a chance to attend an AFL game, the first thing you will notice is that you can hear everybody talking in the stadium. It's very quiet, almost like a library. The players are there to learn, and the distrations are at a minimum.

Now, that does not mean that some Cubs prospects do not play Winter Ball in Latin America. Many do, especially players who are native to those countries. It just means that the AFL is offered as an alternative to Latin Winter Ball, especially for U. S.-born players.

#25 of 31: By Rob G. (August 7, 2006 04:00 PM)
I thought Billy Petrick might go, but he's still in Hi-A. For all I know he's injured again.

Holliman probably won't go, other than being Hi-A, he's been healthy all year, they probably won't extend his arm that much.

Lincoln Holdzkom is a candidate, in AA, been on the DL part of the year, etc. Miguel Negron seems like a possibility too.

----

ROB G: Yes. Lincoln Holdzkom is a definite candidate. Holdzkom is a load. Reminds me of Rob Dibble, but I'd like to see him pitch just once when he's not on a rehab at Fitch.

Holliman has gotten rocked his last few starts, so I can't see him going to the AFL.

And I think the Cubs are going to be REAL careful with Billy Petrick. Maybe AFL in '07 for him.

#19 of 32: By The Real Neal (August 7, 2006 02:50 PM)
I would be really shocked if Harvey goes to the AFL - I can't really think of anything good that would come from it, unless the Cubs organization is itching to have the AFL strike-out record owner.

----

REAL NEAL: Although you or I wouldn't send Ryan Harvey to the AFL this year, the Cubs just might. You may remember The Cubs did the same thing in 2004 with Brian Dopirak. I would imagine after the multi-million dollar investment the Cubs have in him, they do not want Harvey to stall-out at Daytona or West Tenn, and pushing him harder and giving him some motivation by surrounding him with #1 draft picks from other organizations (as is the case in the AFL) is one way to try and avoid that.

And like Jake Fox (and Felix Pie), Ryan Harvey has been on fire the last three weeks or so. He still strikes out too much and won't take a walk, but his recent hot streak has certainly served to bump Harvey back up onto the prospect radar, that's for sure. And while Felix Pie and Yusuf Carter have good ones, too, Ryan Harvey has THE best outfield arm in the organization, no question about that.

AZ Phil:

Thanks for the info on Fox.
He kind of sounds like Phil Nevin in the early stages of his professional career.

I wouldn't go as far as to call Michael Barrett an offensive force. Even if he hits .330 this year, he's not much of a run-producer. Unless he drives in 100 runs as some point in his career (and he's never come close), it doesn't make up for the fact he's a liability behind the plate.

lol, Kurtis, you win.

#27 of 34: By TJ (August 7, 2006 04:13 PM)
I'm wondering if Walker has become somewhat of a prospect. I don't know how old he is, but he seems to have been around a long time. He is having a very good year at AA and has speed to burn. Possible starting CF, reserve OF, or neither?

----

TJ: Chris Walker is 26, and he has moved very deliberately through the Cubs system after the Cubs drafted him out of Georgia Southern in 2002. However, he has shown improvement each and every year, especially the last three seasons, and so he keeps getting promoted to the next level. No question he will be ready for AAA next year, but then he will have to prove himself there.

Walker is a "small-ball" guy who steals bases. Sort of a right-handed Freddie Bynum, but without Bynum's occasional power. But Walker is a better defender. He is a legitimate CF. If he could walk more often and not strike out so much, he might have a future as an MLB lead-off hitter. Maybe. But probably not with the Cubs. That doesn't mean the Cubs won't add him to their 40-man roster after the season, though. If they do add him to the 40, look for Walker to be used at some point as a trading chip.

If Walker does get a slot in the AFL (and he is a candidate), it would be a big chance for him to show his stuff in front of all the scouts.

Allen,

"Unless he drives in 100 runs as some point in his career (and he's never come close), it doesn't make up for the fact he's a liability behind the plate."

NL Catchers don't drive in 100 runs in a season, especially when they're batting behind the likes Neifi Perez, Jacque Jones and Cesar Itzuris after serving 10 game suspensions.

Samardzija has been promised a spot at MLB camp next Spring. He is going to go to the combine and then afterwards come to Mesa for a few weeks. This is all according to ESPNews.

100 RBI's in 130 games would be pretty impressive to for Barrett.

It would also help if he didn't spend the bulk of his career batting eigth. Even if he did play 150 or so games, with his home run power, I'd say he'd be good for 90-100 RBI's even if he batted in the middle of the order.

Ivan Rodriguez had all of one season of 100 RBI's in 1994 in 600 AB"s (144 Games)

Bench did it a bunch of times, he also payed between 142-160 games in those years.

Fisk only did it twice and he played 150+ games both years.

Piazza did it a bunch of times, but Piazza's probably the best hitting catcher of all-time and no one thinks (or at least no one should think) that Barrett is comparable to Piazza.

Samardzija has been promised a spot at MLB camp next Spring. He is going to go to the combine and then afterwards come to Mesa for a few weeks. This is all according to ESPNews.

Jeez they're really going all out to convince this kid to give up football. Well he does throw in the mid-90's supposedly.

I think ten minutes with Chad White Guys Can't Run (Its a Native American surname as my great great grandfather on my mother's side converted) and he'll be in camp alright!

samzilla better be in camp next spring.

he's not gonna play a full year in the minors as it is.

get him in camp around the pros, wow him, teach him, whatever...cost, a hotel room and some meals.

besides...someone has to carry aram and dlee's luggage.

"and Cesar Itzuris after serving 10 game suspensions."

Yup Cesar Izturis batting in front of him Barrett has really affected his numbers. 5 whole games.

From the publicly available portion of a BP article today (http://tinyurl.com/fbuu7) briefly surmising Donald Veal's highlight reel season:

Donald Veal, lhp, High Class A Daytona (Cubs)

Ho hum, another great start out of Veal. On Saturday, Veal allowed one run on four hits over 6.2 innings and struck out seven against Lakeland, which raised his Florida State League ERA to 1.20. Just another day at the office for the power lefty who has allowed one or zero runs in eight of nine starts since getting promoted from Peoria where he had a 2.69 ERA in 14 starts. Overall, he's allowed just 77 hits in 126.1 innings and clearly established himself as one of the top lefthanders in the minors. Only 21, he'll likely begin 2007 in Double-A, and could be showing up at Wrigley Field by mid-season, where if Dusty is still there he'll find a way to screw this all up.

Samardzija better get use to the critism-

http://www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com/?p=2340

ìIím going to where Iím wanted, where I feel accepted. Some people say Ultimate Frisbee isnít a real sport, but Iíd challenge them to come out and try to hang with us for thirty minutes.î He smiles, pauses.

hahahahahhahahhah. ah, that's like that humor sports site i forget that's a bad onion ripoff...only this article had actual humor in it.

it wins at the internet.

just read over a good chunk of the site...seems they take a non-politcal dailyshow style take on their site.

real issues and/or news delivered via humor...nice.

Its spreading like a fungus. Check out this site and check out the comments too.

http://cwraa.blogspot.com/

My point on Barrett is he needs to drive in 90 to 100 runs to offset his catching.
He has only himself to blame for a 10-game suspension and hitting eighth most of his career.

Ivan Rodriguez may only have one 100-RBI season, but he's a great player even if he drives in only 60 because he can dominate the game behind the plate.

What's with the prospects that suddenly go nowhere?

Take Dubois and Choi - both guys who at one time could hit a TON in the minors - now they can't even hit at AAA. Do they get too messed up by "player development"?

dubois wasnt a prospect...he's just a guy who's power developed, yet nothing else did.

even on team top-10 lists he barely broke in the bottom of the rankings...and not at all on some lists.

choi seems be the victim of not being able to handle the inside or inside/high pitch...a really really really strange thing for a left handed power hitter...that's all some some handed power hitters can do, pull crap.

why choi hasnt adjusted yet...no f'n idea.

speaking of choi...

duzaro got released by AAA yanks today =p

brainfart...i mean, just got released by the twins...

AAA twins...whatever...he's barely been there 2-3 weeks or so anyway. slow bat...dead power...can only DH/1st...slow as hell...blah blah blah.

Longtime reader, first-time poster...(I think)

Three of the eleven nominees for comeback player of the year are recent ex-Cubbies -- Corey Patterson, Nomar Garciaparra and Joe Borowski. So I was wondering do ya'll put this factoid down to bad coaching, bad management, or just bad Cubbie luck?

Finally, how much different do you think the Cubs would be win-lose wise if they had stayed?

"I really like Yadier Molina of St. Louis."

Uh. YEAH! Can't compare Jake Fox to any of the Molinas (There are 3 bros. catching in the majors!)

The bloodlines are certainly a good indicator of potential future success according to "Moneyball"

Steve-Nick Swisher. Griffeys. Who else?

Kinda off topic - but Are Jody Gerut and Jason Dubois out of baseball?

Or - are they playing in Canseco's league?

Its amazing that ON ONE TEAM'S OUTFIELD, in the same year was Corey Patterson, Jeremy Burnitz, JODY Gerut and Jason Dubois.

Thsi current group is DEFINETLY an upgrade over this. BUT - it has to get even better to compete for a World Series.

E-Man:
"Are Jody Gerut and Jason Dubois out of baseball?"

Gerut is on the 60-Day DL (right knee) with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He didn't play any this year before getting hurt.

DuBois is playing in AAA for the Cleveland Indians (Buffalo Bisons). He hasn't been called up all year and his numbers down there this year are: .267/.331/.499, 19 HR, 75 RBI, 107 K and 33 BB.

dubois is having a weird ass amazing turnaround in cleveland's AAA after spending the first couple months absolutely sucking it up.

the downside, a K rate dangerously close to 1:3 (107/363).

his power is still very much in effect...no idea if his D has improved.

oh yeah...and gerut had surgery the team felt he didnt need so optioned him him AAA and took him off the mlb payroll and he filed a grievence with the player's union over it blah blah blah...aka he hasnt played.

Livan Hernandez was traded to the D'backs for 2 pitching AA prospects. The kind of interesting part...

Bowden said Mock and Chico instantly become the two best pitching prospects in the Nationals' talent-starved farm system. He said both should be ready for the big leagues in 2008, the year the Nationals are scheduled to move into a new ballpark.

Mock (117) and Chico (112) lead the Diamondbacks' minor league system in strikeouts this year, both pitching for Double-A Tennessee. Mock went 4-8 with a 4.95 ERA in 23 starts, while Chico was 7-2 with a 2.22 ERA in 13 starts.

"Our goal is to trade for pitching, pitching, pitching," Bowden said. "And hopefully top pitching prospects that are close to the big leagues."

Good deal for the D'backs. Livan's knee has bothered him most of the year but over his last 4 or so starts the knee has felt fine. He should post strong second half numbers.

The two pitchers the Cubs purchased from clubs in the CanAm (INDY) league last month are pitching very well.

Diminutive (5'8) LHP Isaac Pavlik (Rockies 2002 10th Round pick out of Seton Hall) has been moved into the starting rotation at West Tenn, and RHP Ryan Bicondoa (Yankees 2002 NDFA out of Western Kentucky) is in the starting rotation at Daytona.

The 27-year old Bicondoa had a 12 K performance the other night for Daytona, and has 25 K and only one BB in 18.2 IP, while Pavlik, 26, has a sub-1.00 WHIP and .208 OBA at West Tenn.

Bicondoa and Pavlik previously had not pitched higher than A+ leagues prior to this season, and both took advantage of an opportunity to play Independent baseball to resurrect their careers. They were probably the two best pitchers in the CanAm League when they were acquired by the Cubs last month.

Obviously they are older than the typical pitcher you'll usually find at West Tenn or Daytona, so they need to be moved up quickly if it appears that they are overmatching the competition (as is the case in particular with Bicondoa). But you take pitching where you can find it (Joe Borowski and Jermaine Van Buren were a couple of other guys the Cubs found pitching in Indy ball), and at least Pavlik and Bicondoa are both healthy AND getting it done on the field, which is more than some of the (once) highly-touted pitching prospects in the Cubs organization (like Grant Johnson, Bobby Brownlie, Chadd Blasko, and Luke Hagerty) can say.

As with Borowski and Van Buren before them, I find it easy to root for guys like Pavlik and Bicondoa, fellows who love baseball enough to play for peanuts in an independent league just to get one more chance to realize their dream. Good luck to Isaac Pavlik and Ryan Bicondoa. Keep up the good work.

Offer the Marlins Rusch and his Shoneys Credit Card-

Close Call for Joe Girardi?

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2...

Arizona Phil, thanks for the update on Walker. He is not the reincarnation of Chico Walker is he?

"Mock went 4-8 with a 4.95 ERA in 23 starts"

4.95 ERA in the Southrun league makes you the Nationals' 2nd best pitching prospect? That pretty much sinches up their worst system in the bigs award.

"The 27-year old Bicondoa had a 12 K performance the other night for Daytona, and has 25 K and only one BB in 18.2 IP"

I noticed that start of Bicondoa and did a little research on him: he was traded with a couple of other prospects for Benitez in a NY-NY trade and was described as a control pitcher. He had one decent K/IP season and a couple of pretty bad ones. But because he's a Cub I hope he's added 6 MPH to his fastball and is going to Hiawatha Wade the FSL.

Liriano likley to DL:
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2...

You pitch count police can turn off your sirens and take a deep breath. Liriano averages only 93.5 pitches per start and has thrown over 105 pitches only once. See people can get hurt without throwing lots of pitches.

well there goes my fantasty team....

Girardi Gets into it with Owner:
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2...

You'd think with Girardi coaching in NY under Big Stein that he would know not to mouth off to the guy who signs your check. I assume he expects something similar from his players.

CUBS ORGANIZATIONAL CATCHERS DEFENSE (THRU 8/7):

CUBS:
Michael Barrett 18-96 CS (19%) ñ 5 E, 8 PB
Henry Blanco 12-26 CS (46%) - 1 E, 1 PB

IOWA:
Geovany Soto 31-112 CS (28%) ñ 8 E, 3 PB
Jose Reyes 24-61 CS (39%) - 1 E, 3 PB
Casey Kopitzke 9-22 CS (41%) ñ 0 E, 2 PB

WEST TENN:
Jake Fox 25-91 CS (27%) ñ 6 E, 17 PB
Tony Richie 12-43 CS (28%) - 1 E, 2 PB

DAYTONA:
Jake Muyco 41-84 CS (49%) ñ 7 E, 6 PB
Alan Rick 13-47 CS (28%) ñ 0 E, 8 PB

PEORIA:
Mark Reed 30-77 CS (39%) ñ 3 E, 3 PB
Blake Lalli 6-14 CS (43%) ñ 3 E, 2 PB

BOISE:
Matt Canepa 5-28 CS (18%) ñ 1 E, 8 PB
Mario Mercedes 7-23 CS (30%) - 2 E, 5 PB
Adam Hackstedt 9-14 CS (64%) ñ 0 E, 3 PB

MESA:
Carlos T. Perez 14-42 CS (33%) - 5 E, 4 PB
Cory Vanderhook 13-24 CS (54%) ñ 0 E, 2 PB

CUBS ORGANIZATIONAL OUTFIELD DEFENSE (THRU 8/7):

OUTFIELD ASSISTS LEADERS:
Felix Pie ñ 14 (AAA)
Ryan Harvey ñ 9 (DAYTONA)
Luis Montanez ñ 9 (AA & AAA)
Sam Fuld ñ 5 (DAYTONA)
Davy Gregg ñ 5 (PEORIA)
Miguel Negron ñ 5 (AA)
Matt Camp ñ 4 (BOISE)
Yusuf Carter ñ 4 (PEORIA)
Gary Cates ñ 4 (AA)
Buck Coats ñ 4 (AAA)
Michael Restovich ñ 4 (AAA)
Jesus Valdez ñ 4 (PEORIA)
NOTE: Juan Pierre has no outfield assists, one of only two regular (everyday) outfielders in MLB (Vernon Wells is the other one) with zero OF assists (BTW, Alfonso Soriano has 17).

MOST OUTFIELD ERRORS:
Jesus Valdez ñ 8 (PEORIA)
Ryan Harvey ñ 6 (DAYTONA)
Jacque Jones ñ 5 (CUBS)
Luis Montanez ñ 5 (AA & AAA)
Clifford Andersen ñ 4 (AZL MESA)
Yusuf Carter ñ 4 (PEORIA)
D. J. Lewis ñ 4 (BOISE)
Aron Weston ñ 4 (AA & DAY)
Matt Camp ñ 3 (BOISE)
Davy Gregg ñ 3 (PEORIA)
Felix Pie ñ 3 (AAA)
Chris Walker ñ 3 (AA)
NOTE: Juan Pierre also has no OF errors.

You know Phil outfield assists is a dubious stat. You don't run on guys that you are afraid of. Juan "Howitzer" Pierre is that guy. OK, I kid. Its obvious that Juan can't have an assist as he cannot throw the ball past the mound, however, 17 from Soriano is actually embarrassing as no one is afraid to run on him.

*OFF TOPIC* I'm a Dodger fan coming out to Wrigley for the Thursday 9/14 day game. I'd like to score some box seats. Are scalpers easy to find outside the ballpark or should I buy in advance from stubhub or otherwise? Thanks! I can help with Dodger tickets if any of you come out here.

bigcpa,

Manny is a scalper.

The real trick to getting outfield assists is catching balls that the 3rd base coach thinks are going to fall. You don't need a particuarly strong arm to do it, and a bad defensive reputation can actually help you there. 17 for a left fielder is a pretty nice number, though.

jacos: Offer the Marlins Rusch and his Shoneys Credit Card-

Thanks to the brilliant deal the Cubs gave to him the Marlins can not afford Rusch.

Pierre is hitting .340 since June 1. Pierre has more extra-base hits (34-33) and more stolen bases (39-26)than R.Furcal. Furcal has a higher average (.287-.276) and on-base percentage (.355-.326). Furcal has 131 hits to Pierre's 129, both in the Top 10 in the league. I'm starting to think Pierre will get more than $8m per year and if the Cubs do wind up resigning him and on the off chance they do sign a Carlos Lee or Soriano to play LF, it's going to be difficult to give him more than a 2 year deal if they are planning on going with Pie in 2008. I know they can move Pie to a corner OF position but if Murton is in the plans and Hendry does sign a big name LFer one of them is an odd man out...and like Paul Sullivan pointed out during the trading deadline, Ozzie and Kenny Williams are big fans of Pierre and it certainly seems that they've soured on Podsednik...that would make for some noteworthy PR by the TribCo this winter...a press release on why Hendry couldn't resign Pierre and why he left for the southside.

For Peter Gammons readers...short blurb in the Boston Globe today on his recovery...

"longtime Globe baseball guru Peter Gammons continues to make considerable progress in his recovery from a brain aneurysm, said a friend of the family who had lunch with Gammons recently. Gammons is at his home on Cape Cod, continuing his rehab on an outpatient basis, but he's up and around, walking, talking, and getting stronger".

I don't think Felix Pie (for example) has 14 OF assists because teams choose to run on him. Along with Ryan Harvey (who has a howitzer) and Yusuf Carter, Pie has one of the three best OF arms in the organization, and other teams know that. (I haven't seen Miguel Negron's, but he is supposed to have a strong arm, too). And Luis Montanez always had a plus-arm when he played SS, and I would think that would still be the case with him playing mostly LF.

I would agree that there is a knack to deking out the 3rd base coach and/or the base-runner, but still a lot (most) OF assists happen because the outfielder simply guns down a runner going from 1st to 3rd, or trying to score from second on a single to the outfield, or trying to score from 3rd on a sac fly. God knows the Cubs have been the victims of that kind of thing a lot down through the years!

To me, an OF assist is like a pickpocket steal cum slam dunk in basketball, or returning an interception for a TD in football. It energizes your team, it can energize the crowd (if you are playing at home), and it can demoralize the opposition. I like OF assists a lot.

BTW, I wasn't trying to diss Juan Pierre. He plays a pristine vanilla CF (no errors, but no assists), he is fast and surehanded, and he doesn't do anything stupid to hurt his team. But there is just something about a big play clutch shut-down outfield assist that I really like.

Vernon Wells and Juan Pierre may have the same number of assists, but they are for different reasons.

The Cubs lead the league in HRs allowed, and it's hard to throw somebody out when they're trotting around the bases.

Real Neal:
"Manny is a scalper."

I am not a scalper, I am a season ticket holder that can (and does most of the time) sell his tickets over face value. But I don't have extras tickets that I scalp, just my seasons.

Anyways, I only have my seasins for the Tuesday, Sept 12 game.

"I am not a scalper, I am a season ticket holder that can (and does most of the time) sell his tickets over face value"

Fine, you scalp your season tickets.

"I'm not a scalper, I just scalp tickets."

Bogey:
"I'm starting to think Pierre will get more than $8m per year"

I agree. If he continues to hiw well the next 2 months, I think he can get $9-10 per year. If Hendry does resign him, then he will only have like $14 million or so left to spend (based on a realistic Opening day payroll of $100 million) on 5 positions (2 SP, backup C, 5th OF, backup 1B/3B). And of course this is all under the assumption Hendry can get ARAM to stay. And if he gets a raise, which is likely, then he will be down to about $12 million to spend. And that is not counting any upgrades to LF or 2B, which is greatly needed.

Unless, Hendry is going to be given a much higher payroll for Opening day, I can't see how he can sign anymore than 1 top FA. He better get very creative via trades.

Speaking of Manny, I've been waiting for his 'Fire Hendry for not trading Hill when his value was highest' post. I haven't seen one in 8 days or so.

And Manny isn't a scalper, he's a season ticket owner who scalps. Sort of like a weekend warrior version of a scalper.

See people can get hurt without throwing lots of pitches.

So if a young pitcher with a significant injury history gets hurt without throwing a lot of pitches that must mean that overthrowing an otherwise healthy young pitcher can not possibly lead to injuries.

Gotta love that logic.

But I don't have extras tickets that I scalp, just my seasons.

Not that I'm blaming you for it at all, but Manny, don't you also usually try to buy up some bleacher tickets that you also resell?

The Dude and Vorare,
I hope you guys understand the CLEAR difference. If not, I can try and explain it to you.

furcal is a SS.

royce clayton wouldnt be making 1m a year if he was a CF'r.

furcal and pierre are not DH's and their money will not be determined by how they bat.

Real Neal:
"Speaking of Manny, I've been waiting for his 'Fire Hendry for not trading Hill when his value was highest' post. I haven't seen one in 8 days or so."

That is not the only reason Hendry should be fired, but just example. And yes, hill has had 2 very good starts recently, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't of made him "untouchable" this offseason.

Bleeding Blue:
"don't you also usually try to buy up some bleacher tickets that you also resell?"

I have in the past, but I didn't this year.

Manny:

I understand quite well. Buying tickets directly from a vendor and reselling them for more than face value is scalping. When you're buying tickets fully intending to scalp "most" of those tickets, I'd say that makes you a scalper.

Crunch:
"furcal and pierre are not DH's and their money will not be determined by how they bat."

While somewhat true, they are both leadoff hitters. And if I am not mistaken there are no top tier FA leadoff hitters this offseason. But anyways, Pierre made $5.75 this year in his last year of arbitration. He will DEFINATELY get a raise. If he continues to hit like he has lately, $9-10 million is realistic. What do you think is realistic?

Vorare-
When I think of a scalper I either think of brokers or the guys standing around the stadium before the game trying to buy and then sell tickets. I am neither. Oh well...

i think the pulse on pierre's worth is closer to 7-8m.

lugo's in a strapped place himself, has more power, a bit less speed, but is looking at a 8-10m market for him as of now.

it could tumble into total obsurdity like furcal did this past offseason, but pierre plays CF (and not like a GG'r), he has no power, and he's not exactly young.

i think the biggest issue the cubs might have with pierre is fear of his limited tools as he ages...right now he's cruising, but he's only a leg injury from being almost useless. when you dont have a killer bat or power to fall back on and you're living off your speed, years/security may become more important.

I think Hendry thinks Pierre's worth is in the $7-8 million neighborhood, but I think it is clear that Pierre and his agent think it is much higher and that is where the problem will lie.

Like I have said for awhile now, I think we will offer him arbitration and sign him for only 1 year to use as a stop gap for Pie.

Even so, that $8 million or so will knock away at the money Hendry can spend on the upgrades he so desperatelty needs. It is looking more and more like we will have to rely on trades to truly upgrade this team for 2007.

There is no monetary reason the Cubs can't resign ARam and Pierre while giving a raise to Z AND sign a bat like Carlos Lee.

Hendry may not do it, but that will be for other reasons.

New deals for Zambrano and Aramis could easily be backloaded. I doubt that'll handcuff Hendry at all.

Chad:
"There is no monetary reason the Cubs can't resign ARam and Pierre while giving a raise to Z AND sign a bat like Carlos Lee. Hendry may not do it, but that will be for other reasons."

Absolutely...But they will most likely stop him from signing more than 1 top FA (or highly paid player via trade).

"There is no monetary reason the Cubs can't resign ARam and Pierre while giving a raise to Z AND sign a bat like Carlos Lee. "

I know of 3.8 million monetary reasons the Cubs can't do that, and they'll standing between 2nd and 3rd at Miller park right around 7:20 tonight.

Just have Pagan and Bynum play center, if they stink it up throw 2 arms and Pie at the Jays for Wells.

I'm late to this topic, but Vernon Wells does have an assist this season -- in the all-star game (http://tinyurl.com/msn79) absolutely nailing soriano at home from CF (I remember being impressed with his arm and wishing my team's CF had half of his). Turned out to be a pretty important run too.

Eric S,

That's pretty much the definition of the "Scoutin vs Statistics" argument. If you were a cross-checker and saw Vernon Wells in only that game, you would say "strong accurate arm" whereas the statistical analyst would say "either a weak or innacurate arm" based on his lack of assists.

The Real Neal...but stat heads don't look at outfield assists, as they realize that they are overrated, or at least circumstantial.

we did have a cf with a good arm, just a ten cent head.

personally I'd rather have my cf with the strong arm over the other 2 spots. I know everyone says RF cause of the throw to 3B, but CF's get to so many more baseballs that I think it's vastly more important to have a CF with a strong arm. Not to mention the throw to home is a bitch with the mound in the way.

Just my honest opinion....

Hey, c'mon guys, we do not need any free agents. Just re-sign Wood to an incentive-laden contract and Prior is coming back. Those guys surely will get us to the promise land! Oh yeah, I forgot, we tried that the last two years and it did not work. Sigh.

Jim Hendry treats his payroll like the guy making $60k a year who buys a $4 Frappuccino everyday, and then when he wants to buy something nice, he realizes he's broke and can't figure out where all his money went.

If he just gave all of the backup jobs and most of the bullpen jobs to young guys making at or near the major league minimum, he'd have plenty to spend on good free agents and might even find a few diamonds in the rough as backups. But instead, he buys the proverbial Frappuccinos named Glendon, Neifi, Mabry, Eyre, Dempster, et al and winds up with nothing left to spend.

Does anyone know who would be likely to start for the Cubs vs. the Rockies Saturday? Hill is announced for Friday and I assume Marmol would go on normal rest Sunday. I would guess Mateo would be the likely choice but he was officially named to the pen earlier this week.

Just curious as I will be hitting all three games (with tickets purchased in March). Looks like I might get to see three rookies in a row for the Cubs.

CRUNCH: "i think the biggest issue the cubs might have with pierre is fear of his limited tools as he ages...right now he's cruising, but he's only a leg injury from being almost useless. when you dont have a killer bat or power to fall back on and you're living off your speed, years/security may become more important."

I TOTALLY disagree. Kenny Lofton, Age 39, MLB time: 15 yrs. Still ticking...well.

Juan Pierre, Age 28, MLB time 6 yrs!

The speedy leadoff-type guys DO NOT have the longer-term/career-ending injury scenarios as often.

They are the Energizer Bunnies. Ricky Henderson STILL wants to play! Brett Butler, Vince Coleman, Both Ozzies, et. al., ALL had lengthy/productive careers.

Any player is "only a leg injury away from being useless".

What is THAT supposed to mean??

Conservatively, Juan Pierre, with his work ethic and conditioning regimen, could play effectively for AT LEAST five more years.

As far as I know he has no major injury history which has made him miss extended periods of time in the last 6 years.

Based on the market that's out there for leadoff men - he's gonna get paid - whether its by the Cubs or someone else.

Bet on it!

I agree with Dascenzo, except the part about Dempster. As bad as the Cubs have been, imagine what kind of melt-down they'd have if Novoa was closer.

T-Dubs, they've announced it's going to be Rusch.

Rob I totally disagree with you. I would rather have a guy that can patrol the vast expanse of centerfield with no arm then a guy who covers less with a cannon.

Perfect example

Young Jeromy Burntiz
Current Juan Pierre

(judged on defense only)

Look at what we got for our money from a bunch of our starting pitchers this year:

1) Wood: got what, in the 10-12 million range? And we basically got zero from him.

2) Prior: got what, in the 5-7 million range? And we basically have gotten zero from him.

3) Miller: got what, 1 million? And we have gotten nothing for him other than to get him ready to pitch for another team next year.

4) Williams: granted, not paid a lot but that is basically what he have gotten out of him, not a heck of a lot.

5) Rusch: got what, 2 million? And we basically have gotten nothing from him.

That has got to be about $20 million right there, about one-fifth of our payroll, and we have gotten basically nothing for that money. Then you throw in what, $5 million between Eyre and Howry? They have had their moments but, without the starting pitching, that money has not done us a whole lot of good.

If this team is going to go anywhere next year, we desperately need some starting pitching, either for the young guys to step up (wouldn't that be amazing!) or for Hendry to come through with some trades or free agent signings. There is just no way we can win by throwing away one-fifth of our payroll.

lofton has SOME power and likes taking walks. Why would you compare him to Pierre?

and that's not what I was going for Chad, I was just commenting on that I think a strong CF arm is more important than a strong RF arm. Range in any OF position is more important than an arm though (IMO).

Pierre's range isn't world class as is. He's got great speed which he needs because he's pretty good at misjudging baseballs.

"Any player is "only a leg injury away from being useless".

What is THAT supposed to mean??"

well, you give pierre a hammy tweak, a groin tweak, a sore knee, a sore calf...im not even talking about a broken leg or a torn knee here.

his game is gone in a leg injury, even if temporary. his game is singles, not walks...he has to cover CF...he's not a guy who's gonna hit a ton of doubles/gappers, he's gonna put it on the ground and run like hell.

Pierre - speed = Neifi

Pierre - speed = Neifi

INCORRECT.

Pierre - speed

Oh and Rob, I love a strong armed centerfielder but I'm just saying that a guy like Pierre saves a lot of extra bases.

However, give me Jim Edmonds anyday.

Chad:

Eh? Pierre - speed = nothing? I'd agree with that, too.

How about acquiring a CF with both speed and an arm?

I think Hendry should dump Pierre and go after the Braves hard for Andruw Jones in the off-season. Braves were shopping Jones pretty damn hard before the trade deadline - and Jones was none to pleased about it. Cubs could then go after a SS or 2nd baseman to hit leadoff, etc. Braves are pretty desperate for starting pitching. Would you trade Prior (assuming he starts coming around to his career norms the final two months) and another pitching prospect (Marshall, Hill) for Jones straight up (also assuming you get Jones to commit for 4-5 year deal)?

OH CRAP!

DAMN HTML!!!!

It was supposed to read:

Pierre - speed (symbol for less than) Neifi

whatever Juan saves with his speed, he gives up with his arm. He's an average CF, most any decent defensive metric or scouting report will agree.

I much preferred Corey Patterson defensively, well Corey from the last 2 years at least. I much prefer Andruw Jones, Edmonds from 2 years ago or Mark Kotsay, but you know, they aren't coming.

its pretty much hunter or pierre...or pie...or a trade with TB who has 237498237 OF'rs and is begging for usable cheap SP...or something else =p

Man, Kotsay rules. Remember when we thought we could get him for about 10 mins?

Crunch,

You forgot Rowand who brings all of Hunter's intangabiles (Defense and clubhouse guy) at 1/2 the price plus he likes Chicago and is a solid #2 hitter. They can sign Castillo to play 2b and bat leadoff.

didnt realize rowland was a FA...yeah, he'd be in the mix.

07:$3.25M player option or $5M club option...

he's also got a year of club control left...dont look too good for him hitting the FA market.

its also probally worth mentioning that hunter has a no-trade to the cubs cuz of...wait for it...yup...day games.

next year's CF market....

Cameron
Edmonds
Erstad
Finley
Hunter
Lofton
Matthews Jr.
Pierre

I'm all for Lofton on a one year deal with Pie waiting in the wings when Lofton eventually hits the DL at some point. Pierre for 3 years seems like a waste of time.

actually I think hunter's no-trade to the cubs is because of the brick wall, I recall him saying that he'd consider waving it earlier this year and the only reason he put the Cubs on it was he didn't want to kill himself going into the ivy.

ah...i heard otherwise, but if he's on the record, that's better than hear-say.

well I'm just going off my memories from May, so I certainly could have remembered that wrong.

Either way if he's a FA, he'd probably not want to come here if he has any issues with the park or day games. Not unless him and Jones are really good friends. Hunter and the Cards actually seem like a good fit.

And why does Garrett Anderson suddenly start hitting home runs as soon as I booted him off my fantasy team?

Rob,

I can't find a link, but I do remember reading an article and Hunter specifically saying he had a no-trade to the Cubs because of the wall, and at that point in time, he would waive the no-trade clause.

With the Braves new ownership looking to cut corners, look for Andruw Jones to have a new address before spring training next season. He's got one year remaining on his contract ($13.5M) and he's represented by Boras.

jones is a 10/5 man, he has to go nowhere unless someone is willing to extend his deal. Not saying it won't happen, but Jones has the leverage in that situation on where he wants to go

For those Murton fans, Jones is the way to go. We get the power from CF instead of LF and it all comes outin the wash. After watching Murton lately it would be a risk to give up on him.

T-Dubs, they've announced it's going to be Rusch.

Paul Sullivan says it going to be Mateo in this morning's Tribune.

http://tinyurl.com/f3qop

(all the way at the bottom of the column)

I was trying to get him to sell his tickets : (

It cracks me up some of the things i read you guys posting on here

Like the guys who are going through slumps in the minors

you dont think that it could just be the good old cubs organization trying to screw up a good thing do you??

think about it

No one really knows what goes on before the games start... during BP, etc.

These guys have coaches, managers, etc for a reason

There's a BIG reason why there's been a lot of switching and changing of managers.

Id like to point out especially the slumps in the past years and current of AMAZING power hitters such as Brian Dopirak, Jake Fox, and Ryan Harvey.

All in high a.

All have the same hitting coach

All went through hitting slumps and had to drag themselves out of it.

Not everything is the player's "fault" when it comes to hitting, so domt jump to such conclusions when you say things about the player's....until you're there and you know what's going on, you can blame slumps on players 100%.

It cracks me up some of the things i read you guys posting on here

Like the guys who are going through slumps in the minors

you dont think that it could just be the good old cubs organization trying to screw up a good thing do you??

think about it

No one really knows what goes on before the games start... during BP, etc.

These guys have coaches, managers, etc for a reason

There's a BIG reason why there's been a lot of switching and changing of managers.

Id like to point out especially the slumps in the past years and current of AMAZING power hitters such as Brian Dopirak, Jake Fox, and Ryan Harvey.

All in high a.

All have the same hitting coach

All went through hitting slumps and had to drag themselves out of it.

Not everything is the player's "fault" when it comes to hitting, so domt jump to such conclusions when you say things about the player's....until you're there and you know what's going on, you can blame slumps on players 100%.

Id also like to point out the cubs are NOTORIOUS for turning horrible hitters into good hitters, and horrible pitchers into......DECENT pitchers, and AMAZING hitters and pitchers into horrible hitters and pitchers

THERE IS A REASON WHY THE CUBS ORGANIZATION IS LEADING THE MLB IN INJURIES

Let's look at it this way

when you learn how to hit, you pick up your own patterns, your own manerisms, your own way of hitting

Let's say 20 years after you learn how to hit, someone comes along and tries to change everything about your hitting. "put your elbow up,..." Two days later: "put your elbow down more, move your hands here, widen your stance, stand closer to the box, turn your right knee in, turn it out, close your stance more, choke up on the bat more, choke down," EVERY DAY you hear something different to do

And as a player, you do it. Because you're getting paid to make it to the majors and to listen to your coaches because they know what's best

The result? your muscles freak out, you're tense, you get spasms, aches, etc. The SAME with PITCHERS....

Another result? you get frustrated, mad, nervous, keeping your thoughts on how you can stand and swing in order to make your coach happy

You cant hit like that.

If you go back and really look at and RESEARCH these minor leaguer's careers, you start to notice a few simularities,... and fromlistening to interviews and reading up on these guys, ive noticed a LOT of subtle hints to a lot of changing going on and as a result--- a slump

Sorry im off my soapbox now.

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