Gimme the Sausages; Hold the Goose Eggs...

The Iowa Cubs haven't scored since practically before Sam Fuld got married and that was over a week ago here in Des Moines. While Fuld's big league honeymoon continues his ex-mates have been one-upping the C-Cubs in offensive futility.

Last night the team dropped its second straight 1-0 tilt, and this one went 14 innings. Post-game fireworks displays scheduled for the next two nights may have to wake up the expected large crowds if the silly between innings sideshows can't keep them alert.

Josh Hamilton's in town but the Okey City Redhawks didn't take batting practice last night [glad I got to the park early for that]. Neither did the home team. Hey, after more than two dozen zeroes were hung on the scoreboard, I can see why neither team felt the need to do some pregame hitting.

Hamilton went 1-7 as the leadoff DH. Tonight he'll play CF. I wonder what the Cubs did with the 50k they got for doing the Reds the courtesy of snatching Hamilton in the '06 Rule V and routing him to Cincy. The guy's been out for a couple months with a torn stomach muscle and still matches up pretty well with our man from the Pacific Rim in HR's & RBI's, though The Fuker does a much better pirouette coming out of the box. 

Freshly demoted Jose Ascanio started last night as the organization's majors/minors/rotation/bullpen cha-cha featuring he and Samardzija [Little Z?] plays on. If he was angry at all he took it out on the Redhawks. In the first three innings Ascanio fanned seven, four of 'em looking. Apparently the plate ump was the only one who could see the ball since the pitcher was in the sun and the batters in the shadows for the first few frames. Plus, Ascanio was repeatedly registering 97 on the scoreboard radar screen, the highest number I can remember seeing posted there. It's usually thought to be 2-3 mph slow.

In the 4th he tired visibly so I finally got a chance to see Darwin Barney and his touted glove go to work. First impressions were mixed. He just did get a fleet runner on his first chance, a routine grounder to short. The next batter bounced one over the mound which Barney scooped up and then threw wide of the bag. The play was scored an infield hit but wasn't particularly impressive for someone whose glove is supposed to be their calling card. Later in the inning he made a nice dig and just late tag on a steal of second before nearly sneaking in behind the runner and picking him off of the base he'd just swiped. Suddenly Barney was getting almost as much action as the catcher.

At the plate he went 1-5 in his Triple A debut. He gets bonus points because the song they play when he bats is "Gimme Some Lovin."

In contrast to Ascanio's dart and flame throwing display were the two perfect innings of work turned in by none other than El Duque. The left leg kick isn't quite as high these days but it's still fun to watch the guy pitch. He tossed everything but the kitchen sink up there, none of it faster than 85. One especially lethargic offering finally reached the hitting area putt-putting along @ 53 mph. It was taken for a strike.

Let me just tell you that last night was a beautiful one here with temps in the 70's and a northwest breeze perfuming the whole ballpark with aromas wafting from the grills on the main concourse. The sausages went very well with the goose eggs.

Finally, remember Mitch Atkins? He took Tuesday's 1-0 loss, going the route. The start before that he took a no-hitter into the 8th. For the year he still carries a 5-8 log with a 6.14 ERA. But over his last five starts he's thrown 34 innings, allowing only 23 hits while walking four and fanning 26 to the tune of a 2.38 ERA. Guess he's back from wherever he was all spring.

Oh yeah, Neal Cotts was disabled with elbow trouble and Guzman's supposed to toss the first two innings tomorrow night...MW

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Comments

Good to see Atkins has finally got it going. He can be coupled with Fox to get us a reliever who walks less than a batter per inning to handle the 8th.

Barney's calling card isn't supposed to be his defense, it's supposed to be his 'ballplayerness', from what I gather. It was probably his bat that got him up to AAA, though. He seems like another Theriot. A guy who won't embarrass you at short, but who will be spending the All-Star breaks back home fishing.

thought I'd read otherwise somewhere but he does present as another sort of Scrappy-Do type, a la Theriot, Fuld, Fontenot, etc.

out of college, there was some thought that he might be a good glove at short. Darwin Barney and Brian Friday were sort of linked that year as 2nd-4th round shortstops, the former being considered more skilled defensively but with a weak bat, the latter considered an offensive guy (Friday's now considered more of a glove guy). That said, TRN is right. For the most part, it's Barney's headiness that'll help him at the position. He has enough athleticism to be alright defensively, with enough range and a decent enough arm, but he doesn't look like he'll be a great defensive guy, and it seems like he still has some consistency issues to iron out. He profiles more as a utility infielder at the next level.

Atkins has really gotten on a roll of late. The LOB% is startling, tho. He's still a possible end of the rotation/long man/middle relief type if he gets the right opportunity, imo.

You guys sure do your homework! Barney himself seems to have been told by somebody that if/when he gets to the bigs it will be his glove that takes him there...whether that was his dad, his girlfriend, his HS coach or one of the geniuses in the ballplayer factory that is the Cub farm system, I have no idea; also, if he is capable of doing a handspring into a round-off back flip as he takes the field, he didn't show that last night; might have been Triple A jitters as he gazed out at the diamond where so many greats of the game have gone before him...

I am sure you're being a bit sarcastic, but you have had the pleasure of watching the league's best hitter for three years in a row with Soto, Hoffpauir and now Fox. Not too bad for the worst farm system in baseball.

Sounds like a murderers row of future HOFers right there!

kidding aside, in the pre-Cub affiliation days the Iowa Oaks were the pipeline for the Oakland dynasty of the early '70's...Vida Blue, Gene Tenace, Joe Rudi, et. al all played here...I can remember watching Blue standing on the mound grinning from ear to ear while he mowed 'em down like Ascanio was in the first 3 innings last night...

Larussa played for the Oaks too!

I'm a bit late here, but I wanted to put my own 2 cents in on this game. The lovely wife and I went out to watch the game, not because of Hamilton's presence, but there were definitely a large contingency of Hamilton watchers there. That made for long concession lines, but oh well.

My observations were these:

1. Hamilton just LOOKS like a major leaguer compared to the rest of these guys. I know that sounds like a bit of BS, but he's just bigger, moves with more confidence, has a swagger. Not that he did anything at the plate, mind you, but he certainly made the pitchers think a little more.

2. Ascanio looked real good, but then again, all the pitchers did in this game! But he looked fired up and ready to prove the Cubs' brass wrong about being sent back down. I think he belongs in the majors, but so go the vagaries of the 25- and 40-man rosters and the accompanying options rules.

3. Barney is pretty slick with the glove. He gets himself into good position and has a nice arm, pretty good quicks (that's a basketball term, can you use that in baseball?). He really does fit into the Theriot/Fontenot mold like toonsterwu said. I don't know if he'll be able to hit, but he should be able to at least be a good bench utility guy in the majors.

4. One guy who really stood out to me was Jeff Stevens. He was really fooling everyone in his 2 innings. I heard (on this board, I think) that he hasn't been using his full repertoire in AAA, and that the Cubs were a little upset about that. But he looked impressive to me - he sure looked like he could help out the big club in a bullpen that has had plenty of failures this year.

5. It was a gorgeous night, but we couldn't make it through 14 innings - had to get home to relieve the babysitter.

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