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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  • good news is now 5 K's for Lester through 4 (in a quest for 200 for season). Bad news is he's already at 86 pitches.

    Rob G. 1 min 32 sec ago view
  • be curious how long Maddon sticks with Lester to try and let offense get back into it and get him the win (4-2 as I type, was 4-0)

    Fwiw, he needed 2.1 IP to cross 200 for season so he got that at least. He also needs 9 K's for 200K's on season and he has 4 through 3.

    Rob G. 7 min 21 sec ago view
  • cubs score 2 runs thanks to predictable reds pitching and horrible CIN defense...cubs only down by 1 now. heyward even got a gift 2rbi double out of an easy popout. neat.

    crunch 7 min 39 sec ago view
  • something named Ty Blach has outpitched Clayton Kershaw through 6 innings (1-0 Giants).

    #fuckingbaseball

    Rob G. 10 min ago view
  • not that finishing 2nd place will matter much nor did this game, but have to think if Hendricks pitches well tomorrow, he could leapfrog Lester in Cy Young voting. Don't see anyway Scherzer doesn't win it regardless and it doesnt' look like Lester has any incentive clauses that matter. Also might give Cueto some votes.

    Rather remarkable how many teams have really good 1-2 options this year.

    Nats: Scherzer and Roark (and Strasburg was great before injuries)

    Cubs: Lester and Hendricks (and Arrietta is still damn good just not as consistently lately)

    Rob G. 17 min 17 sec ago view
  • pretty much what I'm gathering from this thread is that it doesn't matter who you play in  5-game series, but no one wants to have to deal with Cardinal fans if we end up losing.

    I can respect that.

    Rob G. 21 min 9 sec ago view
  • first game for lester giving up more than 2 runs since july 24th. hell of a run.

    crunch 52 min 50 sec ago view
  • doh, yes...dunno what happened there. jake arrieta is all "bro wut?"

    crunch 1 hour 24 min ago view
  • lester going for #20...cubs haven't had a LH (thanks jpep for the correction) 20 game winner since d.ellsworth in 1963.

    crunch 1 hour 26 min ago view
  • fwiw, all the games are free on mlb.tv

    crunch 1 hour 27 min ago view
  • Short rest for MadBum would be 2 days. WC game is Wed., Games 1 & 2 are Friday/Saturday.

    billybucks 1 hour 45 min ago view
  • A left-handed one...

    JoePepitone 3 hours 37 min ago view
  • J-Hey not finishing with an offensive onslaught.

    If Geoff Blum could be a Playoff hero, there is hope still...

    The E-Man 7 hours 26 min ago view
  • Giants scare me. I think you're wrong about Bumgarner, he would pitch on short rest for Game 2 and then full rest for Game 5. Cueto would go Game 1, then short rest in game 4. Add in some really tough outs in that lineup and I want nothing to do with them. With that rotation they can easily steal a series.

    Cards are a tough matchup. The rivalry evens out their comparable lack of talent. And like someone said, they love HRs, which is how to beat the Cubs. The upside is that I would feel really good about Lester twice against STL.

    John Beasley 8 hours 12 min ago view
  • j.buchanan with a nice start...5ip 2h 1bb 3k, 0r/er

    zobrist with 2HR and a double through 8

    heyward 0-4 :(

    crunch 20 hours 12 min ago view
  • Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales

    Soler likely to return Sunday, Maddon says

    crunch 22 hours 50 min ago view