What the Fox!?

Ordinarily I have little to say while the I-Cubs are on the road. My commentary usually takes the form of eyewitness accounts. But one big club is wandering the desert [both literally and otherwise] which means a long day's journey into gametime and another big club is in Nashville laying waste to PCL pitching staffs. I thought we might kill some time with a closer look at the latter.

After last night's two-homer game Jake Fox has a pile of stats like the stack of chips in front of the big winner at a poker game.

In 18 games he's hit 11 trotters and knocked in 29 runs! 19 of his league-leading 31 hits have been for extra bases. He's batting .443 with an OPS of 1.549. He already has amassed 73 total bases, just over four per game! True, he's fanned 20 times against only eight walks, but he's also played errorlessly so far at 1B.

For the sake of some perspective it might be useful to note that Big Jake's competition at the top of some of the PCL's hitting categories is none other than Matt Murton. Murton's off to a .411 start with Colorado Springs but 20 of his 30 hits have been singles. His OPS is 1.133 but he has, get this, swiped five bases without being caught. Fox is 1-1 in that category, he being more of a distance runner than a sprinter.

Last year Micah Hoffpauir totaled 100 RBI in just 70 games with Iowa. Will Fox be here long enough to find out if he can equal or surpass that remarkable rate of run production?

IN OTHER NEWS:

Jason Waddell, the bullpen lefty, is pure no more. He gave up his first three runs of the season and took the loss in Saturday's road trip opener...Is Jose Ascanio being stretched out or just exiled? Last year's sometimes I-Cub closer has had four starts and leads the league with a somewhat misleading ERA of 0.54. But his innings pitched have been four, four, four and two thirds and four. The corresponding pitch counts were 55, 54, 74 and 68. Are they extending him to be a long reliever? Mission accomplished...Bobby Scales has played 3B in all three games since Aramis Ramirez was hurt on Saturday afternoon in St. Louis...MW

Comments

Another Fox is tearing it up at AAA. Chad Fox is 2 for 2 in saves and has an E.R.A. in the low 2's. Dump Patton and bring up Chad Fox. The Cubs bullpen is not great.

The difference between the Cubs current bullpen and a great bullpen is Chad Fox?

If we lose Patton and bring up Fox, who do we bring up next Tuesday when Fox is out for his bi-annual TJ surgery?

What about former Indians pitcher Jeff Stevens?

Please no more Chad Fox..no more broken down 36 year old pitchers...

The Cubs need to either bring up Jake Fox now or trade him while his value is somewhat high.

Instead, the Cubs will probably wait another few weeks and bring up Fox just in time for him to completely cool off. This type of production can't last forever, and it's being wasted in minors.

The problem is that Lou has decided Hoffpauir is not allowed to play the outfield anymore. Who goes on the DL so we can have 13 days of Fox pinch hitting?

Does anyone really think that Fox has more value today than he did two weeks ago? Or than he will in two weeks?

Teams are smarter than that...

Oh, voice of reason, go away. This was a fun video game before you got here.

Ryno: Color me uninterested in Joe Beimel. Yay! A loogy! My life is complete. I just don't see how a loogy is all that important. I like AZ Phil's idea of letting some Cubs minor leaguers compete for that role. John Gaub seems like he might be able to make something of it.

Yes, I think 11 HRs in 70 ABs will raise your value. I don't think he's suddenly a top prospect, but I'm sure other teams have noticed what he's doing and would be interested in having a cheap power option to pinch hit or fill in at 1B.

If you replace Fox with Soto or Hoffpauir in this scenario during their breakout years in the minors you could have said the exact same thing. Sometimes guys just finally put it together. I'm not sure Fox has put it together 100%, so that's why I suggested trading him while his value is at its peak. There's no spot for him on the Cubs current roster, so why not send him to some small market team looking for a cheap power option in return for a decent middle reliever?

I'm sure other teams have noticed what he's doing and would be interested in having a cheap power option to pinch hit or fill in at 1B.

If you say so. But I am also sure that other teams know about hot streaks and sample sizes and bad defense.

If you replace Fox with Soto or Hoffpauir in this scenario during their breakout years in the minors you could have said the exact same thing.

Sure... but again, no team is going to give more value for Fox after 15 games or so.

Trade him. You bring him up, he hits a mediocre 265 with little power and then nobody wants him. Trade him to DET for Nate Robertson. Or to the Nats for Joe Beimel. Not sure why the Nats would want a 3rd DH, though.

Submitted by The Real Neal on Tue, 04/28/2009 - 9:33am.
The difference between the Cubs current bullpen and a great bullpen is Chad Fox?

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REAL NEAL: It's not that the difference between the current Cubs bullpen and a great Cubs bullpen is Chad Fox (or anybody else at Iowa). It's a matter of trying to improve the current Cubs bullpen to make it better.

BTW, I was at the Cubs game last night, and it was not good. As usual, there were a lot of Cubs fans at Chase Field to help cheer them on ("Let's Go, Cubbies!!!") and give them a road game "home field advantage," but the Cubs played like they were in the Astrodome circa 1968.

On the brighter side, Aramis Ramirez took pre-game ground balls at 3rd base and looked OK, making solid throw after solid throw to 1st base, and then he hit some bombs in BP, and Milton Bradley took BP from both sides of the plate and ran the bases a bit, too, between his BP rounds. No sign of Derrek Lee, though, although Carlos Zambrano hit with the position players in BP and put on quite a power display from both sides of the plate. He's fun to watch.

 

Everyone can see that the Cubs bullpen is bad. If Hendry's intention was to pitch Patton in high leverage situations, he should have never drafted him. He should only be pitching in games like last night, where we have little to no chance to win. As long as he's not facing Pujols with the game still in question he's been fine. You don't draft a Rule V guy out of A and expect him to dominate in the big leagues. You expect him to be your mop-up guy. He hasn't done anything, in my mind, to merit losing him for the privilege of watching Fox give up home runs to Albert Pujols.

Az. Phil, I am dying for one of your fabulous Fitch reports.

Submitted by Ryno on Tue, 04/28/2009 - 10:02am.

Trade him. You bring him up, he hits a mediocre 265 with little power and then nobody wants him. Trade him to DET for Nate Robertson. Or to the Nats for Joe Beimel. Not sure why the Nats would want a 3rd DH, though

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

RYNO: As an Article XX MLB FA who signed after the conclusion of the post-2008 Free-Agency Filing Period, Joe Beimel got automatic "no trade" rights through June 15th. He can waive this right, but even if he did do that, he could only be traded for cash and/or player contracts with a maximum aggregate value of $50,000. And as a player on a 40-man roster who is on optional assignment to the minors, Jake Fox is making at least $65,000.

Looks complicated, but if AZ Phil says it can't be done, who am I to disagree? Thanks.

Submitted by Charlie on Tue, 04/28/2009 - 10:29am.
Oh, voice of reason, go away. This was a fun video game before you got here.

Ryno: Color me uninterested in Joe Beimel. Yay! A loogy! My life is complete. I just don't see how a loogy is all that important. I like AZ Phil's idea of letting some Cubs minor leaguers compete for that role. John Gaub seems like he might be able to make something of it.

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

CHARLIE: The Cubs have three legitimate LOOGY candidates at AA and AAA (John Gaub, Jeremy Papelbon, and Jayson Ruhlman), and since there are six slots open on the 40-man roster and since all three will be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft post-2009 anyway and would need to be added to the 40 by 11/20, might as well give one of 'em a two-week try-out right now to find one if he can get big league left-handed hitters. And if the first one doesn't work out, option him back to the minors and try one of the other ones.

Ruhlman just got promoted to Iowa, so it will be interesting to se how he fares against the more-experienced hitters he will face in AAA (especially left-handed hitters).

Thanks, Phil. What do you know about Waddell? Wouldn't he fit the LOOGY role, too? He seems to have been doing pretty well in Iowa...

Ruhlman fared poorly. This afternoon his line was 1/3 IP, 4 hits, 3 ER, and a BB. Ouch.

In Fox's shadow, Brad Snyder is having a good first month: 5 homers and 18 RBI.

Daytona got no-hit today, by a Brevard County (Brewer) pitcher named Anundsen. Nine innings, one walk, 10 K's. Final score 1-0 (8th inning run).

Anudsen sounds Danish.

They should call up Vitters, he always gets hits.

Anudsen sounds like a donut without a hole.

the problem with Jake Fox is everyone else in baseball knows he's no more than a DH and only 14 teams need one and most of them already have DH's. We went through this with Dubois.

The problem with guys who can't play the field is that to have any value at all, they better be seen as potential 40 HR, .900+ OPS guys. Frank Thomas is still sitting around waiting for his phone to ring and I would bet that Frank is probably still just as good a hitter as Jake Fox will ever be.

Not a big Fox fan, but I can count. If he hits 40-50 this year, he'll get a shot somewhere. For one thing, there will be a lot of pressure to move Derrek Lee.

Fox hit his twelfth this afternoon, BTW.

sorry if 3/44...

Ramirez still not quite ready and Soto going to do some sitting...

http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/spor...

Fox just doubled in the 9th of this game today, too...

Ridiculous.

half a dozen more TB's; all in a day's work...as for defense, there aren't many more gold glove winners than there are DH's...I see Fox as a RH Matt Stairs

Dude is he bashing everything or is he picking on fastballs?

Also, is he a strict pull hitter? The kind that extends on the outside pitch and yanks the ball or does he go with it and put it over the RF fence? Any idea where this power came from? I wish I had paid more attention to Fox during ST now.

Anyways, you can bet if he saw big league time he'd see, at least initially, a ton of breaking balls on the outside corner.

Fox has always had power.

In 2006 he hit 21 homeruns between A+ and AA.

In 2007 he hit 24 homeruns between AA and AAA.

In 2008 he hit 31 homeruns between AA and AAA.

He's hit a new level with the 12 homeruns in the first month AND this is the first time he's really hit much at AAA. Well, he did pretty well in 2007, but he stank up Iowa in 2008.

Should we be surprised that he's hitting better now that he no longer has to worry about catching?

Well, minor league stats are nice, but as we all know, it doesn't mean squat if you have a train wreck of a swing a la Felix Pie.

also today, Ruhlman, the newly promoted lefty, got tagged for 3 in 1/3 of an inning & Scales was again @ 3B [0-5]; C. Fox tossed another scoreless frame w/ 2 k's...

The Rockies had this guy, Jack Cust, that Jake Fox reminds me of. It took him years before he made the majors, because all he could do was hit... He plays for the A's now. Certainly is good for plenty of power, but I don't think anyone can say that he has set the world on fire...

Cust and Fox's power output in individual minor league seasons is pretty comparable. So is their defense, I think. But this year Fox is on pace to completely outdo any of Cust's seasons. Of course, that on pace thing is kind of ridiculous; he's also hitting over .440. But Cust really has more in common with Adum Dunn. They both posted .425ish and .520ish OBPs and Slugging percentages in the minors. Jack Fox has a .351 OBP and a .521 slugging percentage--he's always been up there looking to hit the ball. Cust and Dunn leave the bat on their shoulders a lot more often, and though Fox strikes out a lot, he doesn't strike out at the rate that Cust does.

Hmm. This was off point. Just carrying the example farther, I guess.

Fox, except for his breakout half season in Daytona, hasn't shown the patience that Cust did, is what you were going for.

cust can play OF, too...his arm is pretty deadly.

As I recall, Cust K's a lot.

Thanks Lou, for sitting Soto. I did not think I'd be saying that for a while.

Anyone think Pudge would have come to back-up in Chi if he was offered a contract by Hendry?

Didn't that one guy Jake Fox catch?

Not really... though he tried.

cust has an amazing OF arm, too.

Back when he was with the Rockies, Cust could play OF like Fox could play catcher. I don't care what anyone said about his arm, you have to get the ball for the arm to come into play. He rarely did...

5 assists in about 140 games in the outfield.

just saying...the guy has more than 1 tool at his disposal besides his bat.

his arm really is that "plus" that it's part of his game when you consider placing him somewhere. that said, yeah, he's not exactly a gazelle going after the ball.

This is not purely about minor leaguers. There's a DeRosa connection.

Besides, this is a minor-league thread.

The Peoria Chiefs played two 7-inning games today, and Cedar Rapids put up 14 goose eggs. The starters for Peoria were Chris Carpenter and Chris Archer.

Archer's line: 5 innings, 1 hit, no runs, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts.

Carpenter has got about a K and inning and a 1.71 GO/FO ratio after four starts. Looks like Hendry may have finally hit on one of his injured pitcher drafts.

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  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 1 hour 3 min ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 1 hour 4 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 10 hours 45 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 13 hours 43 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 13 hours 55 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 14 hours 4 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 14 hours 9 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 14 hours 28 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 15 hours 4 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 15 hours 21 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 15 hours 23 min ago view
  • soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.

    he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.

    crunch 15 hours 41 min ago view
  • j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.

    crunch 15 hours 48 min ago view
  • so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.

    im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.

    crunch 16 hours 44 min ago view
  • That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.

    johann 17 hours 2 min ago view
  • 9 pitches in and this game already rules.

    HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).

    ...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.

    crunch 17 hours 6 min ago view