Dodger Miscues Just Keep On Giving
Xavier Batista rapped out three singles and an RBI double and scored four runs, and his teammates took advantage of six errors, as the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Dodgers 11-5 in Arizona League action at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.
RHP Hector Mayora got the start for the Cubs and had a strong outing, allowing just one unearned run on two hits and two walks over the course of four innings (63 pitches - 40 strikes) while striking out five. Mayora struggled during Extended Spring Training, but he has pitched very well so far in four AZL appearances (13.1 IP), racking up a 1.35 ERA and 0.71 WHIP.
18-year old RHP Austin Reed (2010 12th round pick out of Rancho Cucamonga HS - Rancho Cucamonga, CA) followed Mayora to the mound, and had major control problems in his two innings of work (38 pitches - 19 strikes), walking four. He was the beneficary of two line drive DPs that got him out of jams in both innings, the latter a spectacular diving catch & throw by CF Anthony Giansanti (2010 NDFA - Siena U.) that doubled a brain-dead Dodger runner off 2nd base. Reed is a big, strong kid with electric stuff, but he was behind on every hitter and at one point threw 12 consecutive balls. He reportedly had issues with his mechanics in HS, and you can see why. Once he gets out of whack it's hard for him to recover.
The Cubs offense scored in five of their eight ABs.
With the Cubs trailing 1-0, Giansanti laid down a beautiful bunt single up the 3rd base line to open the 2nd inning, stole 2nd base, and scored on a one-out RBI double to right by Xavier Batista. Then with two outs, Dustin Harrington split the gap in right-center with an RBI triple, scoring Batista. Harrington has been playing mostly SS (the position he played in college at East Carolina) so far, but (like Brandon May) he has the thick lower-body of a 3B or catcher, and I would think he will be moved to the hot corner once a true SS arrives (assuming one does actually arrive before the end of the AZL season).
Albert Hernandez and X. Batista opened the bottom of the 4th with line drive singles and advanced a base a piece on a WP, before both runners scored on a Vismeldy Bieneme two out RBI single plus an E-9 errant throw to the plate, giving the Cubs a 4-1 lead.
Up 4-2, the Cubs scored five more runs in the bottom of the 6th, as X. Batista rapped out a lead-off single, and advanced to 2nd on an infield hit by Dustin Geiger (2010 24th round pick out of Merritt Island HS - Brevard County, FL). Geiger just reported to Mesa last week, and while the Cubs drafted him as a RF, he has been playing only 3rd base so far (3B being the position he played in HS, and where he feels most-comfortable right now). Harrington then laid-down a sac bunt that the Dodger pitcher proceeded to throw into right field, scoring Batista, with the other runners advancing to 2nd & 3rd on the overthrow. Bieneme then looped an RBI single to CF to score Geiger, and Harrington came around to score when the CF over-ran the ball, which also allowed Bieneme to move up to 2nd base. Pin-Chieh Chen walked, and after Bieneme advanced to third on a fly out, Chen stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on the catcher's E-2 overthrow that also allowed Bieneme to score, and then Chen scored the fifth and final run of the inning on a Chad Noble one-out F-8 SF.
The Cubs scored their 10th run in the 7th when X. Batista ripped his third single (and fourth hit) of the night, advanced to 3rd base on an errant pick-off throw, and scored on a WP.
2010 20th round draft pick Ryan Cuneo (U.of Delaware) hit a solo HR over the RF fence (his 2nd AZL HR) with two outs in the bottom of the 8th to complete the Cubs scoring. Cuneo is now hitting 348/400/580 in 17 AZL games (he's 6th in the AZL in SLG, and 10th in BA).
Besides Anthony Giansanti's outstanding diving catch in CF that helped save Austin Reed's night, Dustin Geiger made a fine stop & throw at 3rd base, throwing out the Dodger lead-off hitter in the top of the 3rd.
In AZL Cubs roster news, 22-year old LHP (and ex-OF) Drew Rundle has been released. Rundle was the Cubs 14th round pick in 2006 out of Bend HS - Bend, OR, but received "over-slot" 3rd round money to give up his baseball scholarship to the University of Arizona. He was converted to a LHP at the AZ Instructional League last October after failing as a hitter (227/338/380 in 941 minor league PA 2006-09), but he just did not develop on the mound as was hoped. (Prior to October 2009, he had last pitched when he was a junior in HS).
Rumor has it that the Cubs are looking to move their Hi-A affiliate from the Florida State League to the more hitter-friendly California League. The weather in Florida is very erratic, especially once hurricane season starts in August (at one point last season the Daytona Cubs had about a week's worth of games rained out). And playing in more of a hitter's league might help the Cubs young sluggers develop more of a HR stroke than is the case for those toiling in the cavernous parks of the FSL (where long fly balls go to die).
At present there are ten teams in the California League, 12 teams in the Florida State League, and eight tems in the Carolina League (the third Hi-A league), so the Cubs moving their Hi-A affiliate from the FSL to the Califiornia League would require either expanding the California League to 12 teams (with the FSL losing two teams), or else the Cubs could replace another MLB club with an affiliate presently in the California League (perhaps the Astros in Lancaster?), with that club then transferring it's Hi-A affiliate to the Florida State League.
FWIW, the Cubs are one of only two MLB clubs with a Hi-A affiliate in the Florida State League where the MLB club does not have its Spring Training base and Minor League HQ in Florida (the Milwaukee Brewers are the only other one), and the Houston Astros are the only MLB club with a Hi-A affiliate in the California League that does not have its Spring Training base and Minor League HQ in Arizona.
Apparently the Yankees had the choice of either Gleyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez in the Chapman deal, and they chose Torres.
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.