School’s Out!

Extended Spring Training (EXST) came to an end today, as the EXST Cubs (Boise/Mesa) played an intrasquad game at Mesa's Fitch Park Field #3 this morning. The EXST Cubs didn't have enough healthy position players to staff two squads, so the game was played with a free-form, open substitution approach, as position players came and went from offense to defense. There was no no batting order (just batting disorder). Only the pitchers and catchers were assigned specifically to one squad or the other. EXST Cubs manager Tom Beyers (who will be the manager at Boise) called the game in the 5th inning (it was a 3-3 tie at the time) after all pitchers scheduled to throw in the game had reached their pitch limit. The EXST players will get two days off before they will reassemble, together with players who sign after being selected in tomorrow's Rule 4 Draft and Non-Drafted Free-Agents (NDFAs) signed after the draft, beginning on Saturday, forming two separate and distinct teams--the Boise Hawks (NWL) and the Mesa Cubs (AZL). The two short-season clubs will have pre-season work-outs for about a week to ten days before they each begin league play the week of June 18th. 18-year old Dominican RHP Alberto Cabrera (who was probably the ace of the EXST Cubs staff) got the start for SQUAD "A" today, and pitched fairly well over his four inning stint. Carlos Perez was the catcher for SQUAD "A." 23-year old Korean RHP Simon Lee (signed by Cubs Pacific Rim scouting coordinator Steve Wilson earlier this year) got the start for SQUAD "B," and worked 2.2 IP before being relieved. 2006 16th round draft pick C-1B-3B Blake Parker, who had been the EXST Cubs best power hitter and run producer before (surprisingly) being converted to pitcher last month, finally got into his first game action as a hurler, but did not have a good outing. Lanky side-slingin' RHP Matt Maradeo (signed by the Cubs as a 2005 NDFA 5th year senior a year ago out of Kutztown State) retired the only four men he faced. Steve Clevenger was the catcher for SQUAD "B." On offense, 22-year old Dominican Sammy Baez (who was converted from SS to OF this year after struggling with his infield defense, most notably an inability to make accurate throws from SS to 1B) went 3-4 with a triple and a stolen base and three runs scored, slick-fielding 18-year 2006 32nd round draft pick SS-2B Cesar Valentin went 2-3 with an RBI and a stolen base, and 21-year old Venezuelan 1B Jesus Reyes was 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. So here is today's EXST Cubs intrasquad game abridged box score. Again, there were no specific "lineups" or batting orders, as all the players except the pitchers and catchers played defense and took their swings for both squads. POSITION PLAYERS: Nathan Samson, SS (1-3, RBI, CS) Gian Guzman, 2B-SS (0-3) Marwin Gonzalez, DH (0-1) Andres Quezada, RF-CF (0-1, BB) Jovan Rosa, 3B (0-1, SH) Mario Mercedes, DH (0-1) Cesar Valentin, SS-2B (2-3, RBI, SB, CS) Elvis Lara, 2B-RF (1-2, 3B, R, BB, SH) Francisco Tirado, 3B-1B (0-2, K) Nelson Perez, CF-LF (0-1, SF-RBI) Sammy Baez, LF (3-4, 3B, 3 R, SB) Jesus Reyes, 1B (2-4, RBI, 2 R) Drew Rundle, RF-CF (1-3, RBI, K) Carlos Perez, C (0-3, RBI, K) Steve Clevenger, C (No AB) PITCHERS: SQUAD "A" Alberto Cabrera - 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 B, 3 K (6/2 GB/FB) SQUAD "B" Simon Lee - 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K (3/5 GB/FB) Blake Parker - 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 0 K Matt Maradeo - 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (3/0 GB/FB) ATTENDANCE: 3 (including AZ Phil and Oneri Fleita, although they did not sit together) Weather: Sunny and mild, with a temp in the 80's In EXST roster news, RHP Brad Clipp (2006 33rd round pick out of Point Loma Nazarene University) has been promoted to Peoria, as 2006 23rd round pick RHP Chuckie Platt (who was at EXST prior to his promotion to Peoria in April) goes from Peoria to Daytona, and RHP Rocky Roquet (2005 NDFA out of Cal Poly who was signed by the Cubs a year ago as a 5th year senior) gets promoted again (he just got promoted from Peoria to Daytona a couple of weeks ago!), this time from Daytona to AA Tennessee. Clipp's promotion leaves RHPs Matt Maradeo and Andrew McCormick as the last of the college pitchers signed by the Cubs a year ago who have yet to get their tickets punched out of Fitch Park. 2007 CUBS EXST ROSTER: * bats or throws left # bats both PITCHERS (ACTIVE): Francisco Acosta Alberto Alburquerque Michael Bartek Alberto Cabrera Julio Castillo Brad Clipp (just got promoted to Peoria) Wily Garcia Marcus Hatley Chris Huseby Kevin Kreier Jordan Latham Simon Lee Matt Maradeo Oswaldo Martinez John Muller Andrew McCormick Blake Parker * Mark Pawelek Cedric Redmond Audy Santana Larry Suarez Brett Summers Brandon Taylor Harol Tolentino PITCHERS (REHAB): Jose Ceda (shoulder – limited activity only) Rafael Dolis (elbow – limited activity only) Adam Harben (post-’06 TJ elbow surgery – limited activity only) Junniol Lami (sore arm - limited activity only) Billy Muldowney (elbow – limited activity only) * Taylor Parker (elbow – limited activity only) Leonel Perez (elbow – limited activity only) PITCHERS (INACTIVE): Todd Blackford (TJ elbow surgery) Michael Cooper (torn rotator cuff – awaiting decision on surgery) Brett Jackson (shoulder surgery – torn labrum) Kitt Kopach (shoulder surgery) Roberto Novoa (fractured shoulder – off-season car crash) Mark Prior (shoulder surgery) Kerry Wood (torn rotator cuff – no surgery) CATCHERS: * Steve Clevenger Mario Mercedes Carlos Perez INFIELDERS: # Marwin Gonzalez Gian Guzman Elvis Lara Anthony Morel Jovan Rosa Nathan Samson # Francisco Tirado Cesar Valentin OUTFIELDERS: Sammy Baez * Nelson Perez # Andres Quezada Jesus Reyes * Drew Rundle POSITION PLAYERS (REHAB) * Cliff Andersen, OF (lower back strain – BP only) Ryan Harvey, OF (hamstring – BP only) Andy Lopez, OF (quad – BP only)
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Comments

WOW! Its the "Dominican North" team!

Good work Phil.

I hope you at least exchanged pleasantries with Oneri!

Can Sammy Baez play CF well (and if so, do you see him with Rundle and Andersen in the Boise OF)?

Samardzija made his $16 million dollar debut as a middle reliever tonight...

2.0 IP 0 Runs 0 Hits 1 K 0 BB

Tomorrow Morning's New York Post will say

THE METS WANT ZAMBRANO IF THE CUBS WANT TO TRADE HIM. They'll "go hard' after him.

Navin — June 6, 2007 @ 10:08 pm
ICan Sammy Baez play CF well (and if so, do you see him with Rundle and Andersen in the Boise OF)?

===========================

NAVIN: Baez played CF when he was first moved to the OF at the beginning of EXST, but he had so much trouble tracking fly balls and line drives that he was eventually moved to LF.

Andersen is an excellent defender (a young Jim Edmonds) who can play any of the three OF positions, and Rundle can play all three OF positions, too, although he is probably best at a corner spot.

If all three were on the same team, I would think the manager would normally play Baez-Andersen-Rundle LF-CF-RF. Andersen is the best defender of the three.

Ironically Jim Edmonds was a pretty bad left fielder when I watched him play in ST his rookie year. I think they were just then converting him from 1st base (Mo Vaughn? I cannot remember why).

Here's the NYPost article CWTP mentioned:

http://www.nypost.com/seven/06062007/sports/m...

I don't really know what they have to offer that the Cubs really want or need.

Thanks, Arizona Phil. One last question - how severe are Ceda and Dolis' injuries? Will we see them again in Peoria this season?

Z goes from "no comment" to "I still love Barrett"... and proceeds to makes some comments which my pseudo-homophobic mind found "uncomfortable".

Link

The conspiracy theorist in my thinks the Cub's were like, look Z, we can trade you, but we're going to need you to show you're a team player to help your value, otherwise no one will want you... go out there and show there's no bad blood between you & Barrett.

The rumor being spread around is setup man Aaron Heilman and their best pitching prospy Mike Pelfrey would come our way for Z. That would fix two of our problems, really.

Heilman would fit nicely into our bullpen and Pelfrey is the Mets best prospect (9th overall pick in 05. Ranked #36 by BA.) Fastball at 97 with a change that is developing into a plus pitch and an average curve. Sounding like he's really got legimate stuff to be a good front end of the rotation guy. He's starting to get Sheets and Halladay comparisons by the Mets folks.

By the way, I think the "it was over the moment it happened" statement might be an exaggeration. You know, since they resumed their fighting in the clubhouse.

If they included Milledge with Pelfrey and Heilman, then I'd be interested. Otherwise, Cubs should sit tight for awhile and see if another team (e.g., Angels) wants to ratchet up the bidding.

D'Backs are another possibility, if they think they can make a run at it this year. Would Carlos Quentin (RF) and Stephen Drew (SS) get anyone excited? That would immediately fill two holes. Then simply draft Matt Wieters and boom--are three biggest problems are solved.

Yankees have no one not named Rodriguez or Hughes I'd be interested in. Hendry wouldn't trade him in NL Central. And I don't think Atlanta wants to play the big budget game anymore.

So Mets, Angels and Dbacks seem like the three best suitors to me. Not that I expect anything to really get done.

How about a smaller deal--Matt Murton for Scott Linebrink?

Milledge, Pelfrey, Heilman for 4 months of Z? That sounds grossly lop-sided.

You have to keep in mind, whoever receives Z is only going to be getting 4 months of service for him (about 19 starts). If the Cub's keep him, they will only be getting 4 months of service. In other words, he's a rental.

Pelfrey & Heilman for Z sounds about right, granted I know absolutely squat about Pelfrey other than what Wes said.

I have no problem with the Cub's trading him. Even if he cranks it up, which is doubtful considering the way he's looked this year, and he goes 11-5... a .500 pitcher will go 7-7... that's what? 2 losses approximately? If the Cub's lose the division by 2 losses, you can say I was wrong.

Navin — June 7, 2007 @ 7:57 am
Thanks, Arizona Phil. One last question - how severe are Ceda and Dolis’ injuries? Will we see them again in Peoria this season?

===============================

NAVIN: I don't have any info regarding Ceda's shoulder or Dolis's elbow or their estimated date of return. I do know that they haven't had surgery, and they are participating in PFP and PBP drills, so that's a good sign.

Of course the same thing was true when Michael Cooper first arrived at Fitch (he was even throwing in EXST games), and then about three or four weeks later they discovered Cooper had a complete tear of his rotator cuff. And Todd Blackford went on the DL at Daytona for a couple of weeks with a sore elbow, then was reactivated, and after he returned from the DL and started pitching again, then his torn elbow ligament was diagnosed.

They wouldn't give Pelfrey and Milledge away. No way. Not for a rental. Minaya will probably end up getting in the bidding war at season's end, but you don't trade away your best pitching prospect and position player prospect for that.

The Cubs would get plenty of value out of Heilman and Pelfrey.

No one likes Z for Abreu? I don't think the Yanks can afford ignore a pitcher like Z on a year like this.

Also the team option for '08 on Abreu gives the new owners some options when the time comes.

AZ Phil -

Have you seen / heard anything about our 17(?) year old "phenom" Larry Suarez's EXST performance thus far?

Abreu worries me a little.
He power is in steep decline...he is 33, and isn't the most hustinlg player around.
I love his OBP skills, but I dunno...

No one likes Z for Abreu?

Abreu is becoming the Brian Giles of the East.

He still has a high OBP, but he has completely lost his power. And he is WAY overpriced. I would never trade Z for Abreu.

How about we stop trading our young players for older players on the decline? We have more then enough of them earning large backloaded contracts.

Let me toss this in to bed and see if Madonna sleeps with it?

Carlos Zambrano to the mets for:

Lastings Milledge and Phillip Humber

Why are people so enthralled with Milledge?

With everyone wanting to trade Murton for a middle reliever. Why on earth would we want to get a 33 year old Murton with a 15 million dollar salary? Is it because Abreu is a proven vet, or because he hits lefthanded?

Probably for the same reason people are so enthralled with Pie. He is athletic and looks like he should be good.

Who put the Cubbie Kool-aid in the coffee machine @ the Yes! network?

Girardi on 670 The Score saying the Cub's will still win the division.

well... from what it sounds like and looks like, the mets are not so enthralled with milledge. and it is not because of his rap cd.

Girardi on 670 The Score saying the Cub’s will still win the division.

Yea... he said the same thing on ESPN 1000 yesterday.

But it isn't that far-fetched. This is still a VERY winnable division.

aaronb:
Let me toss this in to bed and see if Madonna sleeps with it?

Brilliant! lol!

dave:
This is still a VERY winnable division.

Worst... division... ever.

Worst… division… ever.

Maybe... but it is still winnable, which is the most important thing right now.

The other day, someone mentioned trading Zambrano and someone else (I can't remember who) to Seattle for Ichiro and Johjima. I dismissed it at the time, but have been thinking about it since. Is getting Ichiro and Jojihma in a trade even a possibility?

This team won't win any division anywhere, without changes. Felix Pie is a start and I like the kid, but eventually, and sooner rather than later, pitchers are going to start taking their chances on throwing him off speed and breaking stuff off the plate, whether Derek Lee is behind him or not. There are very, very few impact rookies in the MLB. If Pie slows down, all the naysayers will begin to hammer him for his pitch selection, and he'll get dropped down the lineup.

The bottom line is the team is still in need of the things it needed at the beginning of the year -- better OPB guys and a decent catcher (most good teams have good catchers for obvious reasons).

You'd think of all people Girardi would know that. Can he still catch?

Rynox — June 7, 2007 @ 9:41 am
aaronb:
Let me toss this in to bed and see if Madonna sleeps with it?

Brilliant! lol!
.........................................................................

I stole it from Al Bundy

Sweet Lou:

That would be me. I suggested JJ and Z for Ichiro and Johjima. I was only half serious, as I don't know if the M's consider themselves "in the hunt" enough to do a rental deal on Z. They do need pitching, though, and it would be a pretty even swap (Ichiro and Z are both FA's-to-be, and JJ and Joh each have one year left on their deals).

Cubs trade Carlos Zambrano (p) to Indians for Rafael Betancourt (p) and minor-league pitchers Adam Miller and Aaron Laffey. Zambrano may be the Cubs' ace, but his recent fight with catcher Michael Barrett and stalled contract negotiations are two of the biggest reasons the right-hander's also another three-letter word starting with 'A'. New York's probably a perfect destination for him, but the Yankees are probably reluctant to trade the little young pitching they have and the Mets are a league rival.

Link

And... interesting division info...

Pirates trade Zach Duke (p) to Yankees for Kyle Farnsworth (p) and minor-league pitcher Jeff Marquez. Pittsburgh's in a lot of games, but they struggle to hold leads. Not that Farnsworth hasn't, but the big right-hander does have a pedigree as an NL closer. Who knows? Duke's been down since his stellar debut in 2005, but he'd be a new look for pitching-poor New York. The addition of Double-A fireballer Marquez would ease the Pirates' pain.

Can't post link due to spam thing.

The people in Philly wanted Abreu gone, and now they hate him in NY. Apart from his declining production (and monster slump), he's a horrible fielder.

NYM would never let go of Umber and Millege for a rental. And why do we need more OFers, especially since we have two Milleges already in Sori and Pie.

It amazes me that you guys are talking about trading Z. The minute you trade him, your #1 righthander becomes Jason Marquis. You're not a serious team any more.

How do you get serious? By acquiring a righthanded ace. But that's what you just traded!

Since neither Zambrano nor his agent have said a peep about free agency since the season started, I'm going to continue to assume that there is an agreement between Z and Trib higher-ups that can't be announced yet for accounting reasons. If I didn't think that, I wouldn't have much hope for the Cubs.

Trade him to the Mets, sure. And then when would we plan on beating the Mets?

It's not really about wanting Z gone; it's about wanting value for Z if he ends up leaving. I'm not sure if he is/isn't going to stay at this point, but if the Cubs don't have some sort of double secret contract already in place with him, I sure as hell hope they're actively shopping him.

Glowacki, check your e-mail.

Weeghman — June 7, 2007 @ 9:05 am
AZ Phil -

Have you seen / heard anything about our 17(?) year old “phenom” Larry Suarez’s EXST performance thus far?

=============================

WEEGHMAN: Yes, I've been posting his EXST games over at Road to Wrigley every time I see him pitch, and I've seen him throw several times. I have yet to see him have a good outing. Every one has been poor.

First of all, he looks like Carlos Zambrano from a distance. He needs to watch his weight.

Secondly, his command has been terrible (so far). His two-seam fastball tops out at 93 and he has an OK breaking ball, but he needs a LOT of work. He needs to trust his stuff and throw strikes. But he has no clue whatsoever on the mound.

Among the pitchers I saw at EXST, I like 18-year old Venezeulan RHP Robert Hernandez (who got a promotion to Peoria ten days ago) and 18-year old Dominican RHP Alberto Cabrera more than Suarez (or Huseby or Pawelek).
.

I disagree with the majority. If you can go to the playoffs (we somehow still can), play for this year. Hendry's got 7+ weeks to sit and think. Unless Z punches out George W. Bush or wretches his back thanking god after a strikeout, his value isn't going anywhere. 4-month rental... 2-month rental... every GM will say the most important thing is October rental.

I firmly believe the mets would trade Milledge and Humber for Z. Minaya has shown a willingness to deal Prospects for vets. Pelfrey is probably out. Heilman and Milledge for Z and Eyre is another possible deal I could see happening. With the Of injuries in NY it really isnt out of the realm of possibility to swing a Z,Eyre,Jack Jones for Milledge,Humber,Heilman deal. Then you are killing 3 birds with one stone. Sort of speak.

Chad pointed out in the Ramirez MRI thread that Scott Moore has a pretty good OBP of .407 against righties.

This prompted me to look at other righty-lefty splits among the I-Cubs, who are so lefthanded at the plate that they must get a look at every southpaw out of every bullpen.

The numbers are very good for Fontenot and Patterson.

Fontenot 55 AB vs left: 349/379/527
Fontenot 144 AB vs right: 340/392/563

Patterson 49 AB vs left: 286/345/429
Patterson 149 AB vs right: 315/377/510

And just for good measure--

Kroeger 62 AB vs left: 323/417/516
Kroeger 118 AB vs right: 407/478/678

Lou is looking for lefties who hit lefties, by the way. He doesn't like an all-righthanded lineup against southpaws. This is from a Wittenmyer piece in the Sun Times on May 26:

'One of the secrets to beating left-handed pitching with consistency is to have a couple of left-handed hitters who hit left-handed pitching,'' Piniella said.

"The reason that I like left-handed hitting in the lineup against left-handed pitching is it makes the pitcher pitch to both sides of the plate instead of just getting in a groove and staying on one side. If he has to throw here [to one side] and then throw here [to the other side], he's going to throw a lot of them down the middle, too, while he's trying to adjust."

Why would the Cubs trade one head case in Z to get another head case in Milledge?

I hate trading for relief pitchers, but Heilman's WHIP is only 1.024, meaning his ERA is probably going to drop again quite a bit once he stops with the HRs. He's young enough to be a decent choice along with Pelfrey.

The other wild card in this would be Z not wanting to go to the AL because of no hitting. So, not sure if Seattle, the Indians or anyone else would be a possibility.

but if the Mets do not feel they can lock Z up, they can likely get D.Willis for less than Humber or Pelfrey + Milledge for 2 months of Z...because if the Cubs deal Z it's going to come near the deadline and they'll have to be out of contention. If the Cubs were to acquire a Milledge/Pelfrey package I'd hope Hendry quickly moves him to OAK for a package that would include K.Suzuki (if the Cubs pass on Wieters today) and another prospect such as....well since it's Hendry it would have to be Javier Herrera since he's a "5-tool" guy.

VA Phil:
How do you get serious? By acquiring a righthanded ace. But that’s what you just traded!

Calling Z an ace... that's becoming more of an opinion than a fact.

"Worst… division… ever."

Didn't the Pads win the NL West with a sub-.500 record - or maybe a game over, a couple years back?

I know they got summarily trounced, anyway.

Rynox, don't worry, he's an ace, as he proves every season. 46-21 the last three years on crappy teams.

Don't be fooled by sportswriters. They don't like him because he has a rule, he doesn't talk to them except on days he's pitching. Any time a player has a rule like that, they go after him and try to run him out of town.

Screw them. They're toads. They're not even fans. The only Trib or Sun Times writer worth a nickel is Phil Rodgers, who seems to genuinely care about the Cubs and Sox.

Z's doing a fine job of making himself look like anything but an ace without the help of the sportswriters, I'd say.

"Minaya will probably end up getting in the bidding war at season’s end, but you don’t trade away your best pitching prospect and position player prospect for that."

Minaya traded Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Phillips to rent Colon. Although Colon was signed for the following season he knew MLB would force an offseason trade cause of his salary. So the Z stuff isnt far fetched.

Can Fontenot play 3rd base? I mean it would be for a short period of time.

"Didn’t the Pads win the NL West with a sub-.500 record - or maybe a game over, a couple years back?"

2005 82 - 80. and yes they got swept by the Cards. Pissed me off too, my Padre fan boss offered me a raise if the Pads won that series.

Chad, I hope all your raises don't depend on the Padres winning a playoff series.

Va. Phil -- I'm not sure it is accurate to call Z an ace anymore. I don't see any of the true aces in the game struggle the way Z has. Even if he is an ace, there's no guarantee that Z is going to stick around next year. If it doesn't look like he'll be signed, the Cubs would be smart to get something for him. And if other teams think Z can help them win this year, I don't think they are going to get too hung up on him just being a rental.

Can Fontenot play 3rd base?

He doesn't need to. Mark DeRosa is more than serviceable as a 3b. Theriot/Fontenot/Izzy can cover 2b/SS.

DAVE: DeRosa really does play the "hot corner" very well. Not worried in the least except it means we will be treated to more Izzy than we need.

Did you happen to see the killer play he made during ST, line drive down the line? Was terrific.

"Can Fontenot play 3rd base?

He doesn’t need to. Mark DeRosa is more than serviceable as a 3b. Theriot/Fontenot/Izzy can cover 2b/SS."

I wasn't advocating starting Fontenot but rather calling him up to back up 3B.

Ahahaha, the Mets not trading top prospects for mediocre players?

Scott Kazmir, 07/30/2004, never forget.

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