Howard Street, Far as This Train Goes

Today was "getaway day" for the Cubs Arizona Instructional League team, and when I say "getaway" day," I don't mean an overnight trip to Tucson. I mean the end of the line, far as we go, everybody off the train. Many of the Cubs players had mid-afternoon flights scheduled out of Sky Harbor Airport, so the start time for the final game was moved up to 9 AM. So naturally, it's 9 AM, the umpires have arrived, the Cubs are loose, but there's no opponent. No Giants. Apparently they weren't aware of the game time change. So while the Cubs players and coaches anxiously waited for the Giants to show up, one of the umpires put on a baseball glove and played catch with one of the Cubs players, while CF Jonathan Wyatt gave unsolicited pitching tips to LHP Chris Siegfried (not sure Siggy was paying much attention, though). But eventually the Giants did arrive (about 30 minutes late), and so the two teams decided to play only seven innings or until noon, whichever came first. Chris Siegfried and Donnie Veal were orginally supposed to pitch two innings each, but with the game cut-back to seven innings, all Cubs pitchers scheduled to throw today were limited to just one inning. Siegfried continues to shine, as he appears poised to move from the bullpen to the starting rotation next season, probably at Peoria. It might have seemed like a questionable pick at the time (he was a walk-on at the University of Portland and his college numbers weren't pretty), by I believe the Cubs made an astute choice by selecting Siegfried in the 11th round of this past June's draft. He is an advanced pitcher with quality stuff. But Donnie Veal was "Bad Donald" today, struggling to throw his fastball for strikes. After it looked like he might not ever get out of the 2nd inning (and remember, several Cubs players had planes to catch), pitching coach Tom Pratt (he be the father of ex-Cubs pitcher Andy Pratt) signaled to catcher Carlos Perez to have Veal throw only curve balls, and just like that, Veal got himself out of the inning. RHP Ryan Acosta (son of the late former Cubs pitching coach Oscar Acosta) gave up back-to-back doubles with two outs in the third, but he has an arsenal of three pitches, and he throws them all for strikes. He seems like a natural. The Rabbit may be raw, but he has a lot of potential as a rotation starter. Physically, he resembles a young Greg Maddux. RHP Marcus Hatley is another former two-way player (RF/RHP at Palomar JC) who was converted to full-time pitcher after signing with the Cubs as a DNF this past May, and he had a much better outing today than he did on Wednesday when he gave up eight runs on eight hits in just two innings of work against the White Sox. Hat looks like he may have played some basketball and/or football somewhere in the past. He's a big dude. RHP Yuri Higgins is still another former two-position player (CF/RHP at South Florida) who has been converted to full-time pitcher by the Cubs (he actually reported to the AZL Cubs this past June with a broken left wrist suffered while attempting to make a diving catch in CF in a USF game). He's diminutive for a pitcher (5'8), but he throws gas and has a pretty decent breaking ball to go with it. RHP Marcos Mateo was acquired from CIN as the PTBNL in the Buck Coats deal, and he is the cousin of Cubs RHP Juan Mateo. Marcos throws a nice heavy-sinker, hard-slider combo that tends to work best out of the bullpen. He will likely be a member of the potentially awesome Daytona Cubs pen in 2008, probably along with Jose Ceda, Casey Lambert, Alessandro Maestri, Jeremy Papelbon, Matt Maradeo, and Jayson Ruhlman. RHP Hernan Ramos is from Venezuela via Ellsworth CC in Iowa (like Iowa's Indian Hills CC, Ellsworth recruits players from all over the world), and was signed as a NDFA just before the August 15th deadline. If he had not signed with the Cubs, Ramos would have transferred to Wayne State. Offensively, the Cubs didn't do much today. Lots of antsy "I-wanna-get-outta-here" first-pitch swings. SS Darwin Barney was 3-3 (including two infield singles), and scored the only Cub run on a WP. CF Jonathan Wyatt made an outstanding running catch in deep left-center-field (and it wasn't his only outstanding defensive play at instructs, either, which is why it's easy to see how it was he won a Rawlings Gold Glove his senior year at Georgia). Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only): LINEUP 1. Leon Johnson, LF (0-3) 2. Darwin Barney, DH #1 (3-3, R) 3. Jonathan Wyatt, CF (1-3, SB) 4. Ty Wright, DH #2 (0-3) 5A. Carlos Perez, C (0-2, K) 5B. Steve Clevenger, C (1-2, 2B) 6. Marwin Gonzalez, SS (0-3) 7. Jovan Rosa, 3B (1-3, K) 8. Gian Guzman, 2B (1-2, 2B) 9. Drew Rundle, RF (1-2) 10. Mark Reed, 1B (0-2, GIDP) NOTE: Clevenger was permitted to take an extra AB between Johnson and Barney in the bottom of the 6th. PITCHING: 1. Chris Siegfried: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (14 pitches) 2. Donnie Veal: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 0 K (22 pitches) 3. Ryan Acosta: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K (14 pitches) 4. Marcus Hatley: 1.0 IP, 1 H 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K (27 pitches) 5. Yuri Higgins: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (20 pitches) 6. Marcos Mateo: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (8 pitches) 7. Hernan Ramos: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (9 pitches) ERRORS: NONE CATCHERS DEFENSE: Carlos Perez: 0-2 CS ATTENDANCE: 8 (including former Cubs GM Ed Lynch, who turned around at one point and saw Ryne Sandberg standing behind him, exclaiming "Hey, look who's here!").


AZ Phil,

Why is Veal so erratic? Are they changing his mechanics or is he just one of those guys that when he losses the strike zone it takes him several at bats to find it again? Also which Cub minor leauger not on the 40 man roster currently has the best shot to make the team next year out of Mesa?

chifan3887 — October 13, 2007 @ 2:55 pm
AZ Phil,

Why is Veal so erratic? Are they changing his mechanics or is he just one of those guys that when he losses the strike zone it takes him several at bats to find it again? Also which Cub minor leauger not on the 40 man roster currently has the best shot to make the team next year out of Mesa?


CHIFAN: The Cubs AZ Instructional League pitching coaches have been working hard with Veal on his mechanics, but it comes and goes. When he's right, he looks great, and when he's off, he's maddening. His main problem is with command of his fastball He sometimes gets into a funk where he can't throw it for strikes.

As for which player not currently on the 40-man roster with the best chance to make the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster, it all depends on who gets an NRI to Spring Training and if there are any injuries in ST.

Like if Geovany Soto and Henry Blanco are the two catchers and Blanco isn't ready on Opening Day, some catcher on an NRI will likely get the back-up for a while. Like maybe Chris Robinson or Tony Richie.

Otherwise, I would say a relief pitcher, maybe Rocky Roquet. He's pitching for the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL but does not have to placed on the 40-man roster until after the 2009 season, but if he throws well in the AFL, he could get an NRI to ST, and then he would have a shot at claiming a bullpen slot with the Cubs. He has a 95-96 MPH fastball and 84 MPH slider combo.

I don't like Bad Donald.

Ed Lynch still on the cubs payroll?...yeeecch, next we'll hear that Matt Karchner has been given a roster spot for the Mesa Solar Sox bullpen.

Clint Hurdle B-slaps Eric Byrnes:

Joe Sheehan (from Baseball Prospectus) take on the Cubs-Dbacks series:

This just in: Chris Young can hit high fastballs. The Cubs’ Rich Hill apparently didn’t learn from Ted Lilly, and opened the last game of the Cubs’ 2007 season by testing out the theory. 1-0, Diamondbacks.

That isn’t why the Cubs lost, of course. Hill didn’t pitch well, on the heels of Lilly’s poor start in Game Two, but his start would have looked a lot better had the Cubs taken advantage of the eleventeen opportunities Livan Hernandez afforded them. They had multiple baserunners in every one of the first five innings. The Cubs grounded into double plays in the first, third, and fifth (and seventh off of Tony Pena). They went 2-for-14 with runners on base, 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. We talk about this every October: clutch isn’t a skill, players and teams don’t show the ability to time their actions, so we evaluate them without regard to timing. However, at the game level, timing is very important, and having a .500 OBP for five innings means nothing if you don’t have some of those guys cross home plate. The Cubs had lousy timing in this series, and combined with the two poor starts and the Diamondbacks’ power and bullpen, they lost in three.

The Diamondbacks did a very good job of showing how they’d played all year. They got just-good-enough starts, hit some home runs—with a team OBP of .321, they don’t string together long innings very often—and turned games over to a great bullpen. The D’backs hit six bombs and slugged .532, which set up the bullpen: 8 1/3 innings, no runs allowed, five hits, two walks, seven strikeouts. In these three games, they drew 13 walks and posted a .358 OBP. That doesn’t make them a good OBP team, it means they had three games with an above-average OBP. Stephen Drew hit .500/.500/1.143 in the series; does that make him the greatest player who ever lived? Carlos Marmol hadn’t allowed runs in consecutive outings all season; he allowed runs in both his NLDS appearances. It happens.

There’s a theme developing in the coverage of this series that the Diamondbacks are defying the “computer analyses” that say they shouldn’t have been in the playoffs or shouldn’t have had a chance of beating the Cubs. It would be nice if the people so quick to point to “computers” when they’re wrong would embrace the thing that the guys who use the computers have been saying for years: anything can happen in a short series. It would also be nice if these by-the-numbers, let’s-get-a-quote-from-Byrnesy pieces acknowledged that the guys doing analysis have explained some of the Diamondbacks’ success by looking at Bob Melvin’s use of the bullpen, by acknowledging how bad the dregs of their staff have been, and noting that the D’backs have had unusual success in pinch-hit and late-and-close situations.

Building storylines around three games or five games or seven games, facile tales that the players themselves desperately want to buy into, does nothing to advance our knowledge of the game. The Diamondbacks played better than the Cubs did over three games; play three more, and it could well go the other way. Put the Pirates in a best-of-five, and they’ll win some of the time. That’s the nature of best-of series. The Diamondbacks aren’t special people; they’re baseball players who played well enough to get this opportunity, and using the work of talented, hard-working people who love the game as a set-up for easy quotes demeans everyone involved.

We’re all professionals here, right? Wait, I might not be. Ask me again in three months.

Steven Goldman (also from Baseball Prospectus) has a writeup on the cubs-padres playoffs in 1984...for which I'm still in the denial stage of grief (therapy never helped).

...and here's Nate Silver's take (again BP) on what the NL Central teams will/should do in the offseason. Mostly it seems he want's to replace Theriot with Renteria (or A-Rod).

Chifan, i'm not trying to split hairs here but if that's getting bitch slapped, then consider my wife George Forman. I've been hit harder by girls scouts.

alright Schilling sucks, who else is available?

Uncle Az Phil: Do you have any anecdotal stories about what function Ed Lynch serves for this organization? Don't tell us if he's your next door neighbor though.

Its official...

Dusty to Cinci - 3 year deal

(source: ken rosenthal - on fox during the boston/cleveland game)

mr baker, 3 years, CIN...according to mr rosenthall

Rosenthal on Fox announcing Dusty has agreed to a 3 yr deal with Cincy

...time to get their young-uns!

#12 and #14 are total b/s...only #13 is true.

Chicagosports reporting Dusty to Cincy also...

Yep, Baker to Reds -- three years.

"Ash" from the Red Reporter is not happy.....

"I hate the Reds so damn much."

"I woke people in my neighborhood up with my bloodcurdling screaming, I'm sure."

"A three year deal. Three years. THREE YEARS."

Whew. FA Neifi Perez finally has a home...

so any updates on Dusty since Thursday?

Dusty an MLB manager again? Can't be. I was told on here by more than a couple posters he would NEVER manager again.

Dusty an MLB manager again?

Is Cinci a major league team? :)

*Dusty an MLB manager again? Can’t be. I was told on here by more than a couple posters he would NEVER manager again.*

Dude, he's managing for the Reds--they're hardly major league anymore, are they.

Thank goodness. With Dusty in Cincy, no more worries about them rising, since it's not like they have enough for him to inherit and get lucky with.

Shame for Pete M. who did a pretty good job with a pretty shot team in the second half of the year.

In the 11th, the Red Sox bring in a lefty who gets hit hard by lefties to face a lefty. Turns out the lefty (Nixon) singles in the lead run. Somewhere Dusty takes a sip of his scotch and thinks, "Unreal, dude. Lefty up with the game on the bases? That's just where I would have used Remlinger."

i know some of this is just extending dusty's scope for the sake of humor...but damn...he's just another elderly fat man.

wonder how much they overpaid this one.

Well Dusty always defended his lack of playing kids by saying he never had any great ones. Which as someone who hates Baker with a deep passion, I have to say he has a point on that one, Well now he has a cant miss stud pitching and hitting prospects in Bailey and Bruce. If they were to decline Dunn's option and use the money to get some good pen arms they could could be good.

dusty with the reds means only one thing to me....the 10% chance that they were going to keep dunn for next year just went to 0%.

just a shame the cubs don't have an open position where he can play.....the cubs desparately need OBP to get to be an above average offense.

to me, it has to come from much as I like theriot he's not a starter for a team that wants to win it all. need to find a SS who can hit more, as theriot's last few months were pretty brutal. i'll love him as a utility/pinch runner guy.

i doubt the cubs make the change though unless the new owner is approved pretty quickly and decides he's going to spend a ton.

You can live with Theriot at short if they get a full season of offensive production from center, right and catcher.

Well the Reds are now guaranteed losers for three years. Dusty is so predictable with his in game management. Sweet Lou will eat him alive when they meet.

I'm so happy to see Dusty in our division. My one regret is that he's managing the Reds and not the Redbirds.

And Dick Pole likely to be retained as Reds' pitching coach giving them, as the Cubs had, a coaching staff with a great names for a male (Dick Pole) and female (Dusty Baker) porn star.

The most amazing thing about the last BP article, is that the Cubs were fourth in NL attendance with 3.3 million fans. Just from ticket revenue that gives them $100, right? Another $25 Million from national broadasting and $15 million from local broadcasting and $20 million from licensing. Like a movie theatre concenssions costs pay for Wrigley, $12 million in scouting and development, $8 million in adminstrative expenses, including Lou's salaries... what else am I forgetting? I would guess the break even point for the Cubs payroll would be around $140 million. To show a healthy return, maybe $128 million.

Schilling would be the Cubs #2 starter if he were to sign, but he may pitch between Hill and Lilly for pratical reasons.

all kidding aside, if the Reds find 2 league average pitchers to compliment Bailey, Arroyo and Harang and fix the pen they'll make some noise next year, Dustbag or not.

Of course they'll probably screw all that up by giving up Dunn and then watching Griffey get hurt on April 10th, but I think that's a better team than they showed this year.

Rob, I'm with you on that. I will bet anyone that the Reds finish higher than the Brewers.

Chad's Brewers Death Spiral still pending.

Well... So much for Votto's ROY chances...

What is the over-under on Harang's Tommy John surgery?

I heard Tony Womack was staying on a friends couch in northern KY.

Lucky him.

Is Darren Baker too big now to sit on Dusty's lap at after-game press conferences? Or will Dusty just have him sit in a chair next to him after Reds losses?

Also, I agree with Tbone about Theriot. If the Cubs get more than 14 HRs from CF and RF next year and Soto hits at C, they can live with Theriot/Cedeno at SS. Is Renteria measureably better at SS?

"Chad’s Brewers Death Spiral still pending."

83 wins. I just missed my prediction.

Thanks for all the updates at instructs, AZ Phil. You said Chris Siegfried has quality stuff, what is his arsenal like?

If the Cubs get more than 3 HR's out of short, they can live with Pie in center - it cuts both ways.

Sigried's arsenal is pretty good, just don't let him pitch against the Tigers.

Navin — October 14, 2007 @ 2:56 pm
Thanks for all the updates at instructs, AZ Phil. You said Chris Siegfried has quality stuff, what is his arsenal like?


NAVIN: I didn't see Chris Siegfried throw during the season because he was at Boise and then Peoria, and he was used mostly all in relief at both places so I would imagine he was probably considered by the Cubs to be just a "two-pitch pitcher," but in instructs, he was throwing a fastball, a breaking ball, and a change, and he threw them all for strikes.

He might end up back in the bullpen in 2008, but it looked to me like the Cubs were converting Siegfried into a rotation starter at instructs.

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  • What a loss to baseball, which I'm sure pales in comparison to the personal loss to his loved ones.

    Charlie 1 hour 23 min ago view
  • Somehow I am sensing alcohol was involved. The highest number of boating accidents by a wide margin...

    The E-Man 2 hours 7 min ago view
  • crunch 3 hours 49 min ago view
  • Reports this morning that Marlins' pitching ace Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident - just horrible news.

    Eric S 7 hours 41 min ago view
  • Check out John Arguello at Cubs Den for great analysis & photos from Cubs AZ Instructs


    Arizona Phil 19 hours 56 min ago view
  • soler + hammel for mike trout is pretty much a sure thing. *nods*

    crunch 1 day 1 hour ago view
  • Not an inspired outing by Rondon. Seemingly got ahead of every hitter but had no swing and miss pitch today, slider had no bite.

    Somebody give Soler some smelling salts - yeesh

    Eric S 1 day 1 hour ago view
  • that runner scores on a single...

    The E-Man 1 day 1 hour ago view
  • So where do you think Soler will be traded to this off season?

    jacos 1 day 1 hour ago view
  • And right on cue he throws to third with no chance to get runner on 2nd so the batter takes 2nd easily. How long has he been playing baseball??

    The E-Man 1 day 1 hour ago view
  • Man you cannot put Soler out there late in games for Playoffs. Yuch...

    The E-Man 1 day 1 hour ago view
  • Such is the life of a fatted calf...

    JoePepitone 1 day 1 hour ago view
  • fowler with a triple in the 4th...he's a HR away from a "natural" cycle

    crunch 1 day 2 hours ago view
  • ...and contreras takes one off the hand and he's in obvious pain. sigh.

    he's staying in the game, though he's wringing his hand out during breaks in the action. aside from that he seems to have no issue giving signs or tossing back to the pitcher.

    ...and he's batting in the cubs half of the following inning. sweet.

    crunch 1 day 2 hours ago view
  • his collapse started on august 21st this it's a slight improvement.

    but wow, what a collapse since then...only 2 out of 7 can be considered good/decent.

    crunch 1 day 2 hours ago view
  • I'm really going to enjoy watching Hammel watch the playoffs.

    Jackstraw 1 day 2 hours ago view