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.

Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • if you save the lumber from your constant trips to the cross you can build your very own safe space to view my posts.

  • @billybucks you speak the truth and it's precisely what me and others have been saying for over a year. It's an unfortunate hitch in his game, one that seems correctable, but so far has not been corrected. Also a hitch that is going over 3 seasons now and no one has been able to truly exploit in any meaningful way (except sort of the Royals in that Wild Card game although they stole plenty of bases off the other pitchers in that game and the rest of the playoff teams the rest of that run).

  • AZBOBBOP: Nothing new on Oscar de la Cruz. Still shut down with elbow issues.

  • I nominate Sean Rodriguez.

  • who's this guy being all reasonable and stuff?

    pick someone on the board who's literally worse than hitler and start screaming about it. cubs 2016!

  • It's not pathetic -- it's what we've been waiting for!

  • Yikes -- I was off the site for a short while and it blew up.

    Gentlemen -- it is apparent that Lester has a weakness in his game. Everybody knows about it. He has, apparently, tried to work on it, but without success. Fortunately, he is talented enough that he is able to largely overcome his shortcoming.

    I am amazed that other teams don't try to bunt on him, but, as has been said, bunting is not a skill many players have.

  • Interesting that Hendricks is going tomorrow -- so, he wasn't really "skipped", just moved back a few days so Jake and Lester could deal against the Pirates. I'm OK with that.

  • PHIL: Thanks for your updates.

    One thing that we are seeing come to bear is that Theo's obvious strategy has been to stockpile young, power arms in the lower levels while owning bats that are much nearer to MLB ready - then, buying the arms the org needs in order to be highly competitive.

  • It's fun to watch the cards shit the bed anytime of the year

  • I really thought he would be the one getting the call-up. This must be a favor to the player from Theo.

  • I'm already scoreboard watching and it's only the start of May. How pathetic is that?

  • Glad to see Hudson having another good outing. He is so impressive for an 18/yo. Surprised to see Shane V. still there. I thought he would be gone this week. I can picture today. Thanks Phil!

  • stats don't lie. *nods*

  • 2016 Cubs are 0-1 on day after Trans recaps, 20-5 in other games. I enjoy his recaps, but there is a price to pay.

  • He's the Albert Pujols of recaps and has gotten a huge contract based on past performance. He doesn't need to do anything the rest of his days and he'll still get love.