Cubs Lose Thursday's "Other" Game: Fish 8, Cubs 2

In short:

The Bulls game was great.

The Blackhawks game became compelling.

And the Cubs game...made me glad the Bulls and Blackhawks games were on.

Why the Cubs lost: The Cubs unraveled in the Marlins' half of the 10th inning, allowing six runs to cross the plate, with an error by shortstop Ryan Theriot, who simply missed a toss from Derrek Lee, in the middle of it all. After Theriot's misplay allowed the lead and eventual winning run to score, Jorge Cantu put the game out of reach with a bases-clearing double against Aaron Heilman, who pitched to six batters without retiring a one and saw his ERA jump from 0.82 to 4.91 in taking his first loss as a Cub.

But there was plenty of badness before the 10th inning. Carlos Marmol came on in relief of starter Sean Marshall, who allowed just 1 run on 6 hits and 2 walks in 7 IP, to start the eighth. He walked the first two hitters he faced, then made an errant throw on an attempted sacrifice bunt which allowed the tying run to score and deprive Marshall of a victory.

From Paul Sullivan's game story in the Tribune:

Marmol now has walked six batters and allowed five runs in his last two
innings of work since returning from a knee sprain. Piniella didn't
think the knee was affecting him and theorized it was because of four
days of not pitching while letting the knee heal.

"I don't
feel very good," Marmol said. "I don't know what happened to me. I have
to get back to throwing strikes. My knee feels good. There's no problem
with that."

And then there's the Cub offense, which is currently just a rumor. Back-to-back home runs by Milton Bradley and Mike Fontenot in the fifth inning accounted for all of the Cub scoring and two of the Cubs' paltry five hits. (Ryan Theriot had two hits and Carlos Zambrano, who pinch-hit for Marmol in the eighth, had the other hit, a sharp ground ball single.)

Derrek Lee, who went 0-for-4 and struck out with the potential winning run at second base in the bottom of the ninth, looks especially feeble. He is now hitting .189.

Per Sullivan's game story, Lee blamed the loss on his inability to drive in any runs. It's good that Lee knows how bad he has been, but Thursday night, he had a lot of company in the failure department.

Double-take Moment: If you were hopscotching between the various games Thursday night and thought you saw Koyie Hill playing third base for the Cubs, you did. Hill started the game behind the plate but moved to third base as part of a double switch after the eighth inning. It was the first time in Hill's 105-game Major League career he has played the infield, though he did play one inning in the outfield in a one-sided loss to the Cardinals in '07.

An even more marvelous Marshall: This seemed like it had to be one of Marshall's best starts ever, but with just a couple mouse clicks, I found a better one. Ironically, this one, also in Wrigley Field, also in late April, in another game the Cubs only had five hits, was also against the Marlins.The difference is, the Cubs won that game.

 

 

 

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Uncle Milty looked like a garbage truck that couldn't get it into gear going from first to second on Johnson's groundball up the middle. The Marlins weren't holding the baserunners close at all. He could have taken a lead halfway to second base but I clocked him taking a full five seconds trying to get there. Then he did a weird bellyflop thingee and the inning was over.

I think he hurt himself some more.

http://florida.marlins.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?con...

used the stopwatch on my cellphone and came up with 3.5 seconds just about each time from contact to ball hitting the glove. Try it at home yourself.

Marmol with the arm slot problem again. I don't know why this has to be such a problem with him. It always makes me worry but he always seems to get it right in the end. Makes me worry about potential injury when you hear that a player apparantley can't repeat his motion some of the time, which in turn will cause him to compensate with other parts of his body.

Ok well I'm no kiniseologist but thats what comes to mind.

This team just has to turn it around completely. Only the starting pitching can be judged as 'good' at this point of the season.

Patton - 9.35 ERA
Guzman - 3.97 ERA
Samardjiza - 6.75 ERA
Heilman - 4.91 ERA
Cotts - 5.40 ERA
Marmol - 6.00 ERA
Gregg - 5.59 ERA

Fuck this pen. Blow it up, make some trades. Call some guys up. I don't understand why Scott Eyre walks a few guys and Lou decides to shit on him, but Cotts walks guys on a daily basis and Cubs management continue to give him chances as if Neil Fucking Cotts is a closet Cy Young contender...

Eyre (2008, when traded) - 3.18 BB/9
Cotts, Currently - 10.80 BB/9

Not a typo. If you have any doubts about it, know this... Neil Cotts is not a good pitcher.

The only logical conclusion is that Lou in reality LIKE to have relievers walk batters. That or Lou came home one night last year only to find Scott Eyre screwing his wife.

Jesus, I mean Patton & Guzman are not doing any better than these other guys, but at least Patton & Guzman are doing it for around $400,000/year. Fuck, give me the ball for $400,000/year and I can throw four pitches in the dirt. Might as well sign my wife, too.

Put another way, of the 13 quality starts provided by Cubs starting pitching... the Cubs have won exactly...

6

Fuck.

That.

I don't understand why Scott Eyre walks a few guys and Lou decides to shit on him, but Cotts walks guys on a daily basis and Cubs management continue to give him chances as if Neil Fucking Cotts is a closet Cy Young contender...

Not sure what is difficult to understand. LouPa/Hendry felt that there were other viable options last year when Eyre was bad. This year? Not so much.

How do you really feel about all this? And what's with the little six.

That said, I really enjoyed reading the Little 6 post.

Cubs starters own only 6 of the 11 losses.

I'll wait until Ramirez comes back and hopefully Hoffpaiur and Lee platoon full time before I get too worried, but it is bothersome that no one in the bullpen seems to have it going. Even if your bullpen is bad, typically there's one or two guys you can count on. Right now, the starters are probably going to try to get CG's if they want wins.

cubs.com mlb.com and milb.com are down.

Grrrrrrrrrr Mt. Saint Lou's gonna blow real soon. Damn I hates the losing loserish stuff. fail.

I keep saying it, and keep getting blasted for it, but Chad Fox is blowing it up at AAA. Yes, it's just AAA, and the hitters aren't the same, but..... stats don't lie.

This pen sucks. Pull your head out, and bring in some better arms. Dump Patton and the like, or soon the Cubs will be fighting it out with the 'Stros for last place.

majcne:
"This pen sucks. Pull your head out, and bring in some better arms. Dump Patton and the like, or soon the Cubs will be fighting it out with the 'Stros for last place."

Well, they are already fighting HOU for last place. The Cubs are in 5th place (10-11) right now 5 games back of STL. HOU (9-13) is in last place 6.5 games back. Yeah pretty bad month of April for the Cubs. Couldn't be much worse.

Couldn't be much worse? Really? Pretty much all of their best hitters are either injured or in serious slumps (except Sori), and they're only 1 game below .500.

Obviously not where we'd like them to be, but I highly doubt Lee, Soto, and Bradley are going to stay below .200 for the entire year.

I agree. It couldn't be much worse.

I think the point was that the overall wins and losses COULD BE MUCH WORSE, even if the individual stats for many of the teams hitters and relief pitchers look like they couldn't realistically be much worse.

10-11 for one month? It wouldn't be cause for panic if it weren't the first month of the season. In September of last year the Cubs went 11-12, didn't they? They still managed to win 97 games. In 2007 they started off 22-29, and of course we all panicked, yet they managed to win the division. I'm not sure 85 wins takes the division this year, but lets give them a break.

Yes, the bats need to come to life. Yes, Soto needs to get healthy. Yes, the bullpen needs to get more outs. Give them time, maybe they will do that. I think the bullpen might need some personnel changes, but I don't think it needs to be exploded based on one month (especially when there is not a plethora of quality relievers available on the cheap or ready in the minors—releasing Gaudin and Wuertz were both mistakes, but what's done is done).

Right you are.

I'd say it's a bit of a moral victory to be 10-11 despite so many guys below the Mendoza line and the bullpen putting up Little League ERAs.

Oh, and unrelated -

Has Jorge Cantu taken the title of MLB's ugliest player from Julian Tavarez? Dude's face looks like a cobblestone street.

Does anybody want half price bleacher tickets for today? I'm going to work instead. My job sucks. The Cubs suck more. Email me at ferris2001 at the hotmail if you want the tickets.

http://muskat.mlblogs.com/
Lineup - Sori, Riot, Bradley, Lee, Johnson, Soto, Miles, Fonty, Harden

What the hell Johnson is doing as the 5th hitter in the lineup will have to wait, since ARam is still hurt, and should be on the DL. Johnson, just like Lee, Soto, Miles, and Bradley, has really been shitty from the plate. He is good in the field, though...

Third lefty this year. 0-2 so far against them...

Well, this lineup sucks.

Lineup BA - .240?

Surprisingly, Aramis has managed to appear in fewer games than Milton Bradley.

And it's hard to believe but he's only been driven in by someone other than himself 3 times this year.

Reed batted 5th vs. most lefties last year as well....

Cubs are starting 4 posiiton players today hitting under .200.

On May 1st, that's not a good thing.

On June 1st, it would be a very bad thing.

Minor league transactions:

Iowa puts Matt Matulia on the DL, calls up Matt Camp from AA Tennessee.

Marquez Smith is promoted from A+ Daytona to take Camp's spot on the roster.

No transactions re: Bobby Scales. Yet.

How long will the Cubs be willing to play with only one infielder (a first baseman!) on the bench? If we count Koyie as an infielder we've got a backup 3B and 1B, but no backup 2B or SS.

Let's trade for Derosa.

Let's trade for Figgins.

Does that clear a spot for Vitters in Daytona?

Is there a Bulls game on at 1:20 today?

Good Lord. This is unbelievable.

Marlins radio broadcast: "You can run on Soto. Runners are 13-16 on him this year..."

Well, this one's over.

Is the Bulls game on ESPN Classic?

This game appears over considering the way the Cubs have been hitting and that lineup they have today. Let's just hope Harden isn't hurt.

Thanks, Manny. I'll just turn it off now.

Send Lee for God's sake. No one else is going to drive him in... ugh.

And now... bases still loaded, 2-outs. I swear to God. Sometimes we have trouble getting our 3-year old and 2-year old to sleep at night. Next time they have trouble, we'll just sit them in front of the TV to watch Cub's batting. It will lull them right to sleep.

why he got pinch-hit for against a lefty...

EPIC FAIL.

And Harden draws a bases loaded walk? Well, they have that method of scoring runs down. I think I've seen the Cubs take as many bases loaded walks this past 30 days or so as I have in any other half a season.

Fontenot swung on 2-0, infield pop-up on what looked to be ball 3. Then a wild pitch to score Lee, and Harden walked in 5 pitches to load them up again (laying off the same 2-0 pitch that Fontenot popped up btw). Soriano hit a hard grounder up the middle but Uggla was positioned perfectly behind the bag to get the force at second.

Well, my inability to read box scores really only exacerbates my regret that I don't get WGN here.

Did Len just announce a 'Sara Poontang' who works for the Cubs?

1st base camera on Jorge Cantu in the batter's box.

Denise Richards sitting in the front row right behind him.

Lou to bench bats:

"F*** you, Zambrano hits."

Love it.

shame Harden was off tonight...

Z pinch-hitting....

long fly to CF

another great defensive play...2nd one today.

Wow... Pat and Ron are having way too much interviewing Denise Richards...

Ryan Theriot?!?!?!?

THE RIOT

bwhahahhahahah!

awesome!

Theriot grand slam...

Cause for celebration!

If I hadn't started drinking in the top of the second, I would say I'd get liquored up to celebrate.

If Ryan Theriot hitting a grand slam isn't the turning point in the season I don't know what could possibly turn this club around.

Cantu throwing Theriot onto scoreboard?

It worked for the Bulls.

Agree 100%. That was a big hit and if they hold on to win this game, we could be looking back in September remembering this hit. Great job the Theriot!! Glad to be wrong that this game was over....Go CUBS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Len: "Well, he didn't get all of it, but he got enough of it."

No, Len, anytime Ryan Theriot takes one yard, he got all of it.

Then of course there is Neal "F'ing" Cotts....aka The Walk Master.

I knew Theriot was going to do that.

Geo gets an RBI with a very good at bat.

It's contagious.

1350ab 8hr

you go riot.

at least 1/8th of his HR production was mighty f'n impressive.

Back to back walks by Marmol. He has totally lost his control since he got hurt. Come on guys, hunker down...

And just like that, he finds it again.

ZEUS!

It is amazing, following up the 2 BB's with K, K, K....ZEUS!!!!!!!!!!!

Let's go Gregg, close the door.

You're striking out today.

marmol with 64 pitches over 3 days in a row. gregg with 73 over 3 days in a row.

okay...sure.

Ouch, that is a pretty big load to carry this early in the season. Lou has gotta tone that down some if they are going to be fresh and effective down the stretch or in the playoffs.

Manny, you're of the opinion that this is not a playoff bound club, and that they should be panicking right now. What's the point of worrying about October games, when clearly the Cubs are bound for a 73 win season?

When did I say this was not a playoff bound club?

When did I say they should be panicking right now?

When did I say the Cubs are bound for a 73 win season?

You were 0-3. Try again!!!

When have you ever said anything good about the Cubs? You are 0 for the last 3 months. Try again!!

You are right I have never said anything good about the Cubs...NEVER...100% correct...:)

I don't see anyone but you disagreeing with me...

Oh, and I almost forgot, have to add one of these - :)

Let me know when Bizarro Ball is over. My nerves can't take this. Awesome outcome, though.

Can't wait to see the highlights with Amezaga's plays and Theriot's granny.

I've seen Theriot's Granny. She's not that hot.

Nice to see Theriot take an aggressive swing for once. That was definitely a money play.

Speaking of aggressive swings. Skinny Dick doesn't have an XBH on the season. He hacks pretty hard, though.

"Theriot had been a bust since being installed at the top of the Cubs' lineup, but with one swing, he changed that."

...nevermind he's been a #2 hitter for a vast majority of his career ye olde world o roto.

they must have grabbed the 1-year spreadsheet rather than the career one. damn paperwork.

Yeah, I think they were only talking about his recent move from the 7th/8th spots to the 1st/2nd spot. As in the last couple of weeks.

yeah, i just like picking on ye olde world o roto because some of the writers there love slamming the cubs with bad jokes or just straight up venom.

I find them to be pretty level and reasonable, but I just skim and pretty much never read the columns, so that might make a difference.

oh, their info is top notch.

some of their writers like to inject their brand of humor into their little reviews below the straight news. i have no issue with this cuz they give the info and the link...and their own commentary is a nice cherry on top. the cubs get their share of digs and stabs in those commentaries, though...sometimes over the top or reaching to make their joke/point.

They should have said 'returned to the top of the lineup', but anyway, Wiscgrad will be along shortly to tell everyone how great Theriot has been hitting.

And The Real Neal will be along shortly to tell us Theriot sucks despite today's heroics.

When have I ever said Theriot sucks? But don't let reality intertrude on your fanaticism, carry on.

Actually, he's been slumping terrible lately - hitting just .229 over his last 10 games - despite the recent outburst of power.

Submitted by Romero on Fri, 05/01/2009 - 11:24am.
Minor league transactions:

Iowa puts Matt Matulia on the DL, calls up Matt Camp from AA Tennessee.

Marquez Smith is promoted from A+ Daytona to take Camp's spot on the roster.

No transactions re: Bobby Scales. Yet.

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

ROMERO: Also, 2008 12th round pick 2B-3B Jake Opitz (U. of Nebraska) was promoted from EXST to Daytona (replacing M. Smith), 2008 13th round pick CF Tony Campana (U. of Cincinnati) was promoted from Peoria to Daytona (probably the fastest player in the organization, Campana was leading the MWL in SB with 11), and OF Drew Rundle was demoted from Daytona to Peoria (completely overmatched at Daytona, Rundle had 19 K in just 49 PA).

Any scuttlebutt on why Vitters didn't get the nod? Wasn't Smith the starter? Looks like Opitz was overmatched in Peoria last year (6' 180 LH Hitter according to MILB)>

I know this question is directed toward Phil, but I wonder whether Vitters stays in Peoria because, while his average is good, his OBP and Slugging are nothing special. Might they just want to let him settle into one place, one team, until he performs well enough that it makes sense for him to move up?

vitters is most likely attached to coaches/location working on his progress.

the minor league moves rarely make sense when it comes to "earned" movements through a system...esp. when it comes to minor injuries facilitating the movements.

Thanks for the additional information, Phil!

I wasn't interested in Campana until about three days ago when he started talking a few walks AND got his first TWO professional XBHs in successive games (one might be able to draw some conclusions about these kinds of things).

Submitted by The Real Neal on Fri, 05/01/2009 - 5:48pm.
Any scuttlebutt on why Vitters didn't get the nod? Wasn't Smith the starter? Looks like Opitz was overmatched in Peoria last year (6' 180 LH Hitter according to MILB)=======================================

REAL NEAL: I don't think the move was any reflection on Josh Vitters. Jake Opitz struggled at Peoria last year and he is more organizational player than prospect, but the fact is he was one of the better hitters and hardest workers at EXST, and so Oneri Fleita probably wanted to reward him for his hard work and use his promotion as a carrot for the other older guys who are still stuck at Fitch Park (guys like Jericho Jones, Sean Hoorelbeke, Ryan Keedy, Chris Siegfried, et al) who are probably beginning to think they'll never get out of there. Also, Opitz was one of the last three position players cut from Peoria at the end of Spring Training (Luis Bautista and Carlos Perez were the other two, and they both got released)

With Marquez Smith moving up to AA (BTW, Marquez Smith and Russ Canzler were the last two cuts at Tennessee in Spring Training, and neither of them belong in Daytona), Jovan Rosa should get some PT at 3B (his "natural" position) at Daytona, in addition to playing 1B. And Josh Vitters still could get a mid-season promotion from Peoria to Daytona, but I wouldn't be too surprised if he spends the entire season at Peoria. He's only 19.

Also, Tyler Colvin (November 2008 TJS) has begun playing CF at Daytona, although he will probably continue to DH part-time, too. But barring any setbacks with his elbow, I would think he will probably be moving up to Tennessee fairly soon.

Submitted by Romero on Fri, 05/01/2009 - 7:31pm.
Thanks for the additional information, Phil!

I wasn't interested in Campana until about three days ago when he started talking a few walks AND got his first TWO professional XBHs in successive games (one might be able to draw some conclusions about these kinds of things).

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

ROMERO: In addition to being extremely fast, Campana is a hyper-active nervy baserunner and a crash & bun type defender in CF. He's a real water-bug out there. But he also has zero power. He's a pure slap hitter who tries to hit the ball on the ground and then outrace the infielder's arm to 1st base. And he wins a lot of those races.

I think Oneri Fleita probably wanted to move some offensive energy up to Daytona. They got no-hit the other day and aren't scoring many runs. I would think Campana's college teammate IF-OF Josh Harrison will probably get promoted to Daytona pretty soon, too. Campana and Harrison are like brothers from a different mother.

Also, I think it's pretty obvious that both Josh Harrison and Ryan Flaherty should be at Daytona, and Starlin Castro should be at Peoria. But Oneri wanted to challenge Castro and Marwin Gonzalez by starting them out at Daytona.  

Same goes for Nelson Perez and Junior Lake getting Opening Day roster slots at Peoria instead of being kept at EXST and then being assigned to Boise in June.  Lake took Opitz's slot, and N. Perez took the roster slot that probably should have gone to Jericho Jones.

BTW, as I mentioned during Spring Training, Matt Matulia and Mario Mercedes are being used as "reserve" player-coaches, going back & forth from the 7-day DL to the Active List whenever necessary to replace injured guys. Matulia covers Iowa & Tennessee, and Mercedes covers Peoria & Daytona. The Cubs do this every year with a couple of their "organizational players" so that they don't have to keep moving guys back & forth from Fitch Park to Daytona or Peoria, or signing veteran minor league free-agents just to fill-in for a couple of weeks at AA or AAA. 

Thanks again, Phil.

Harrison's numbers suggest he can hit (although his BB ratio has really gone down since being promoted from Boise), what's he like in field? Can he really play second base?

And interesting about Fleita's decisions with Castro, Lake, Gonzalez, Perez, etc. Has this strategy worked? It looks like Lake *might* have turned a corner in the past ten games or so by really reducing his K rate and dropping a couple XBHs into play).

Also...Kyler Burke seems to have figured something out this year. I've heard, from you, he has a good arm in RF. How excited should we be about his season so far?

Thanks for all you do, Phil.

Not to rain on a win, but...

Gregg has had 11 outings. He has given up at least one run in 6 of those outings.

I expected mediocrity, but that appears to be an aspirational notion for Mr. Gregg.

Feels like it's going to be a long, long year with him as the closer.

it's a darn shame that the guys i want healthy (ramirez, bradley, and soto) are injured, and the guys I wouldn't miss if they were injured (gregg, cotts, and miles) are healthy.

hello may, good-bye april. won't miss you a bit.

Submitted by Romero on Fri, 05/01/2009 - 8:00pm.
Thanks again, Phil.

Harrison's numbers suggest he can hit (although his BB ratio has really gone down since being promoted from Boise), what's he like in field? Can he really play second base?

And interesting about Fleita's decisions with Castro, Lake, Gonzalez, Perez, etc. Has this strategy worked? It looks like Lake *might* have turned a corner in the past ten games or so by really reducing his K rate and dropping a couple XBHs into play).

Also...Kyler Burke seems to have figured something out this year. I've heard, from you, he has a good arm in RF. How excited should we be about his season so far?

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

ROMERO: Josh Harrison is another Cub prospect in search of a position. Like Tony Thomas, Harrison is an offensive-first second-baseman with defensive shortcomings, although (unlike Thomas) at least Harrison has the athleticism and versatility to play other positions. So Harrison probably needs to become at least passably mediocre at several positions (2B-3B-LF-CF and possibly SS & RF too) if he hopes to make it to the big leagues, and even if he can do that, he still needs to prove he can hit at the higher levels.

.
It's too early to tell if pushing S. Castro, M. Gonzalez, N. Perez, and Lake was a good idea. The assumption was apparently if they can't stay at the level they started at in 2009, there won't be any long-term harm if they eventually get demoted to a lower level. But some kids get sidetracked by that kind of negative experience and never really recover. One thing about Nelson Perez is that if he fails as an outfielder, he can always go back to pitching. He has a golden arm.

Kyler Burke appears to have finally mastered Peoria (and it's about time), and so he will probably get promoted to Daytona as soon as there is a slot open for him there. He has one of the top three OF arms in the organization (Nelson Perez and Brad Snyder have the other two), and he also has natural plus-power, but in order to improve as a hitter he had to cut down his swing, and so his HR power suffered as a result. The problem is, if he doesn't hit a lot of HR, he will have to hit .300+ with 40+ doubles (and he is easily on a pace for that at Peoria), but he still might have to be a 25 HR man in order to progress
to the highest levels.

Thanks, Phil.

Is Tony Thomas that defensively-challenged as well? I remember reading an interview with him just before last season about how he spent the entire off-season working on his defense. The result was that his offense really tanked. This season, as I'm sure you know, he's hitting really well, and at a higher level (Tennessee vs. Daytona). Is he not good enough to stick at 2B? Is he a right-handed version of E-Patt?

And I'm sure you've answered this before, but maybe your thoughts have changed since the season has started-- of all these young middle infielders, who do you like most?

"It's too early to tell if pushing S. Castro, M. Gonzalez, N. Perez, and Lake was a good idea."

Not sure Perez and Lake were pushed. Perez is 21. Did you want to hold them back at Mesa until Boise started up, several weeks after the June draft? You have to kick them out of the nest (Mesa) some time, Phil. Perez must have read your comment and gotten annoyed. He hit a grand slam last night and has 4 HRs and 12 RBI.

As for the shortstops, the Cubs have a very welcome glut right now, and must distribute players among teams accordingly. Lake and Flaherty are listed as shortstops at Peoria and both get starts there. Castro and Gonzalez are listed at shortstop at Daytona. Lee will probably go to Boise but may be upwardly mobile from there. The question at this age is not how they're hitting but who can really play the position. It's not a good idea to bunch them together and move them to different positions, until you've determined who can play short.

AZ PHIL: Just had a thought this week as I watched several miserable Cub games, a couple you attended:

If, let's say, Tom Ricketts comes in and, if the team does not make the Playoffs, decides, "Screw it! Let's do a Marlins approach. Trade everyone of value, save a couple pitchers, and maybe one or two position players with "lighter" contracts..use our draft picks..strategically sign USEFUL free agents..."

Could the team, with our current minor league system, have a chance to be competitive, or CONTEND?

I mean - IF a team is unsuccessful with a $140MM payroll, and has a "hit-and-miss" GM replaced, could this approach work on the North Side?

Submitted by The E-Man on Sat, 05/02/2009 - 8:21am.
AZ PHIL: Just had a thought this week as I watched several miserable Cub games, a couple you attended:

If, let's say, Tom Ricketts comes in and, if the team does not make the Playoffs, decides, "Screw it! Let's do a Marlins approach. Trade everyone of value, save a couple pitchers, and maybe one or two position players with "lighter" contracts..use our draft picks..strategically sign USEFUL free agents..."

Could the team, with our current minor league system, have a chance to be competitive, or CONTEND?

I mean - IF a team is unsuccessful with a $140MM payroll, and has a "hit-and-miss" GM replaced, could this approach work on the North Side?

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

E-MAN: For the Cubs to take the Marlins approach, they would have to trade for prospects, because the Cubs farm system as it is presently constituted is pretty weak when it comes to legitimate MLB prospects. It would take a while for the Cubs to fix that, because too many of their MLB players have "no trade" rights and would be unlikely to waive them. Now, when and if D-Lee, Lilly, Fukudome, and Ramirez (and maybe Bradley) leave as FAs after 2010, the Cubs could change the look of their team, but I don't think that team would be better than the 2009 version, it just would be younger.

I would say any MLB club that spends $140M a year (in 2009 money) on payroll should be able to make the post-season at least four out of every five seasons, and if you make the post-season four out of every five seasons, the team should be able to get to the LCS at least twice and to the World Series at least once in that five year period. There is no excuse for spending $140M and not making the post-season AT LEAST 80% of the time.

Submitted by Romero on Sat, 05/02/2009 - 9:57am.
Thanks, Phil.

Is Tony Thomas that defensively-challenged as well? I remember reading an interview with him just before last season about how he spent the entire off-season working on his defense. The result was that his offense really tanked. This season, as I'm sure you know, he's hitting really well, and at a higher level (Tennessee vs. Daytona). Is he not good enough to stick at 2B? Is he a right-handed version of E-Patt?

And I'm sure you've answered this before, but maybe your thoughts have changed since the season has started-- of all these young middle infielders, who do you like most?

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

ROMERO: Tony Thomas is an offensive-first second-baseman. He could improve himself enough over the next couple of years to make himself a passable defensive 2B, but he's never going to win a Gold Glove. If he makes it to the big leagues, it's his bat that will carry him there.

I wouldn't compare Thomas to Eric Patterson, because E-Pat actually had the physical tools to be a good defensive player at 2B-SS-CF (speed, plus-range, plus-arm), but he lacked the ball-handling skills necesssary to play middle-infield (he had the "yips") and never really got an extended opportunity to learn CF, the position he probably should have played from the gitgo.

Thomas isn't like that. Thomas is a more consistent and stable defender than E-Pat, but he doesn't have E-Pat's tools (arm or range), and he isn't particularyly smooth turning the DP, either (yet). Now, Thomas could improve enough to play 2B in the big leagues, but he still will have to get there with his bat. He is now and will probably always be an offensive-first second-baseman, where you just have to accept and live with his defensive shortcomings.

Of the young middle-infielders in the Cubs organization, I like Ryan Flaherty most, although I believe he will end up at 2B rather than SS. (Actually, he would probably end up at 3B instead of 2B, but not if Vitters is moving along with him). Flaherty is a left-handed version of Mark DeRosa, but he could possibly develop into a Chase Utley type 2B, or MAYBE even a Stephen Drew type SS IF he can become more consistent defensively at shortstop.

Darwin Barney is a legitimate SS, although I'm not sure how much he will hit at the higher levels (AAA and MLB). He's doing pretty well so far at AA, though. He's not particularly fast and he doesn't have much power, but he makes all the plays at SS (and he would be a defensive upgrade over Ryan Theriot because he has a strong arm and can really turn the DP). And he is the proverbial "field captain," a coach on the field. Depending on how much he hits, he could end up being just another Andres Blanco (a "4-A" guy), or he could be a Jack Wilson type MLB shortstop.

Starlin Castro is another legitimate SS, but I also question how much he will hit at the higher levels. He reminds me a lot of Jonathan Mota, and I don't consider Mota to be much of an MLB prospect. Castro is kind of like Barney, but without Barney's considerable college experience.

Nate Samson's best position is 2B, but he doesn't hit enough (so far) to project to be more than a utility middle-infielder at the higher levels.

Marwin Gonzalez is a switch-hitting multi-positional guy with pop who reminds me of Geoff Blum. His best position is 3B, but he is a big, athletic kid who can play anywhere in the infield & outfield. I think Gonzo could eventually make it to the big leagues as a "super-sub" utility guy, especially if he can develop his power stroke. .

Junior Lake is a very raw toolsy player with a plus arm and plus speed (and Lake is the guy most like Eric Patterson, BTW), but he bails out against RHP and he tends to want to show off too much (he will sometimes try to take the extra base when he shouldn't or dare runners to run on his arm). He needs to play under control.  

18-year old Korean SS Hak-Ju Lee (presently at EXST rehabbing from 2008 TJS) looks like he has grown a couple of inches during the off-season and put on some muscle. Whether he remains at SS is still TBD (because he may not be finished growing), but if I had to project his future right now, I would say he will probably end up in CF.

And 2008 21st round pick Logan Watkins could be a decent prospect. He looks like he might develop some HR power, and he has the athleticism to play several different positions. He has been playing SS (the position he played in HS) at EXST, and looks fairly comfortable there, although 2B would probably be his best spot. Over time, he could develop into a Ryan Flaherty-type left-handed hitting infield prospect, but we won't know about that for a couple of years.

Thanks, Phil. It is REALLY fun to read your thoughts on these players.

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