Running Into Trouble in Des Moines

After losing 5-4 yesterday to their neighbor and nemesis, the Omaha Royals, the Iowa Cubs are languishing in the cellar at 9-14. They are a league worst 1-7 in one-run games and have now dropped nine straight to the Royals.

Thomas Diamond has been one of the bright spots amongst the pitchers. After Sunday’s no-decision he has allowed only 16 hits in 27 innings to the tune of a 1.65 ERA and a .170 BAA.

Right with Diamond has been Jay Jackson. Jackson has surrendered just 19 hits in his 29 IP while walking only seven to go with 20 strikeouts. His ERA stands at 2.48 with a .188 BAA.

The offense has yet to get untracked for more than an occasional game. RBI machine Micah Hoffpauir is hitting below .200 and journeyman Jason Dubois has seen his assault on the club’s career home run record stalled by back spasms that have him doing a stint on the DL. After starting the year one for his first 18, Brad Snyder has gotten hot and was named the PCL Batter of the Week for the stretch from April 19-25.

Ryne Sandberg has been managing somewhat on the aggressive side to try and offset the team’s sluggish start at the plate [until Bryan LaHair‘s 7th inning homer yesterday the team had gone 24 innings between extra base hits], but the team is a poor 17-27 so far in the stolen base department, a figure that may improve now that Sam Fuld has been activated after nursing an injured thumb for most of April. Yesterday, with the team trailing by a run in the bottom of the 9th and Jim Adduci on 2nd after a sacrifice bunt, Sandberg called him to 3rd from his coaching box on a short passed ball with one out. Adduci was out easily.

On the other side of the SB department, Wellington Castillo has nailed five out of the eight who’ve run on him. Last year he led the Southern League by catching 44% of those trying to steal on his watch. Castillo also has four homers.

Attendance so far is running a modest 4% ahead of last year’s pace. If Sandberg is to have much of a positive impact in terms of either the standings or the turnstiles, the stretch between May 20 and July 11 will be telling. Between those dates the weather will warm and the I-Cubs will play 34 of 52 games at home in Des Moines.

Darwin Barney hasn’t done much to block Starlin Castro’s climb up the ladder. 19 of his 22 hits are singles, he’s fanned more than three times as often as he’s walked and his OBP is sub .300.

Frankly, if it’s true that a team reflects the personality of its manager, the I-Cubs to this point have been as collectively vanilla as Sandberg used to be off the field until his acceptance speech at Cooperstown. Usually it’s the players whose development you’re monitoring in the minor leagues, but in this case the manager too is openly auditioning for a ticket to the big leagues.

Too soon to tell in that department.

 

Comments

I wonder how much playing to win - versus how much training Sandberg is trying to do with is players in Iowa. Take a guy who can hit alright for AAA but is going to be asked to bunt more often in the majors comes to the plate in a "bunt or hit" decision area. Does Sandberg solely look at what is going to help the I-Cubs win, or does he have him bunt (or try to steal etc), in hopes of preparing him for what he'll be asked to do in the bigs.

the bunting obsession has followed sandy through all levels so far.

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  • E-MAN: I don't think Dallas Beeler has a long-term future with the Cubs, but (when healthy) he has gotten the call over the past couple of years as the "26th man" when the Cubs needed an extra starter in a doubleheader. 

    Arizona Phil 7 min 24 sec ago view
  • PHIL: Thanks for the wrap. A 2010 early-ish round Hendry draft pick, why do you surmise the new management team just doesn't cut bait on Beeler? Not shown that much as a starter. Does he have a power arm when right? Is he another Schlitter? Or, is he rosyer filler while the org waits out the lower-level arms to surpass him?

    The E-Man 52 min 59 sec ago view
  • Ryan Kellogg is still a fringy prospect despite being very old for low-A. He's putting up very good numbers no matter who he's facihg.

    John Beasley 4 hours 10 min ago view
  • Great article on Yosh and Nobe. Thanks for including it Trans.

    Hagsag 4 hours 28 min ago view
  • Phil, it looks like Kevonte Mitchell has made some progress this Spring. Your thoughts please, thanks.

    Hagsag 4 hours 32 min ago view
  • so far ryan williams (AAA) is the only system prospect on the "could be ready soon" horizon doing well...that said, he's not very exciting and he's assumed to be an end-rotation talent at best.

    paul blackburn is getting great early returns in AA, but he's getting surprisingly low K numbers doing it. he throws lot of low/sinking stuff with good control...also assumed to be an end-rotation guy, but he's got room to be better, especially given his control as base to build on.

    crunch 9 hours 49 min ago view
  • Speaking of pitching -- another ugly outing for Underwood at AA. Through 6 starts: 5.19 ERA, WHIP 1.69. Yikes!

    Man, do we need starting pitching depth. Our best hopes are still hanging with AZ Phil in Arizona. Very scary.

    billybucks 10 hours 46 min ago view
  • jeebus... that's terrible.

    Ryno 11 hours 47 min ago view
  • *clap* *clap* *clap*

    Brick 13 hours 49 min ago view
  • Thanks AZ. If you like him, I like him.

    Old and Blue 14 hours 43 min ago view
  • Awesome report, and good to see Beeler on his way back.

    I'm also very happy to hear about the bi-level bump for Daniel Lewis. In the Name of Theo, he was the Last of the Full-Season Cuts, and There Will Be Blood for those who unnecessarily slow his development. Sure, he might end up in independent ball pitching for Lincoln. But if everything breaks right, he may even have a shot at joining up with the Gangs of Chicago. I wouldn't bet My Left Foot on it, though.

    John Beasley 15 hours 10 min ago view
  • CHARLIE: The Cubs did the same thing with LHSP Eric Jokisch last month, and it has nothing to do with needing the player's 40-man roster slot. 

    The hope is that another MLB club will claim the player, so that you aren't on the hook for any termination pay (which you would be if you release him) AND you pick up $20,000 from the claiming team, all for a guy you don't want going forward anyway.  

    Arizona Phil 15 hours 12 min ago view
  • Moosetacos, I like it. All I can think of is a bearded lumberjack dude operating a Mexican style taco truck with a Canadian accent.

    Sonicwind75 15 hours 48 min ago view
  • How strange is this for May? Is it insignificant, or does it suggest some sort of trade might be in the works?

    Charlie 15 hours 53 min ago view
  • The Cubs have sent LHRP C. J. Riefenhauser outright to Iowa. 

    Cubs MLB 40-man roster now stands at 37 (three slots open). 

    Arizona Phil 16 hours 36 min ago view
  • yow...the a.gordon/m.moustakas collision now makes the schwarb collision look minor in scope.

    gordon broke his wrist, expected to miss 4+ weeks...and today moosetacos has been diagnosed with a torn ACL. fun times in KC.

    crunch 18 hours 10 min ago view