Coming Soon to a Ballpark Near You

bird flippersWhen I see Robert DeNiro in a movie these days I can hardly believe it's the same guy I saw in Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. That's sort of how it was watching Alfonso Soriano go through the motions of his injury rehab assignment in Des Moines today. As if there's any rehabbing this guy.



Granted, it wasn't much of a day for long-legged ballplayers testing tender quadriceps; chilly and overcast. But I hustled more getting the dogs walked and the lawn mowed this morning and I've got twenty years on him!


When at last he emerged from the team's clubhouse beneath the left-field suites carrying two of his magnificent clubs the pod of seekers had been long in place. He flashed them that $18 million grin and a wave before making them wait a little longer while he put himself through his pregame paces. Those consisted of a couple of lackadaisical trots in the outfield and a quick game of catch. In between he enjoyed an intermission with someone from the Round Rock retinue he seemed genuinely happy to see. Then he detoured to the wall near the I-Cub bullpen for a brief PR session with local fans.


Give him credit for manning a post in LF as well as filling the #3 hole in the lineup. He wasn't tested defensively, called upon only to retrieve a couple of singles and return them to the infield, one of which you want to - but don't - believe he would have tried to shoestring grab had the game situation been more meaningful, and beat a retreat to the wall behind him and watch a couple of homers sail over and out.


He made three trips to the plate and they resolved as follows: with two outs and nobody aboard in the bottom of the first he took a fastball for a strike before grounding out, 4-3. The crowd groaned when the ball was momentarily bobbled and Soriano, cantering at a pitcher's pace, was still out by three steps. In the bottom of the third, again with two out and the bases empty, he popped a foul out of play behind the first base dugout and then popped the next pitch to the first baseman. In the bottom of the fifth with the I-Cubs trailing 3-1 he came up with two outs and two on. He took a fastball away and then caught an 89 mph fastball from the southpaw with the 6.29 ERA on the end of the bat and flew out routinely to left. The crowd groaned again to see the fly ball struck by the big league meganame fall so pitifully short of those off the bats of anonymous minor leaguers.


And with that, having apparently gotten his groove back, he took his bats and went home. Well, he probably wishes. Today he only got as far as the home team's clubhouse. I was glad to see him call it a day inasmuch as I was underdressed in shorts and a t-shirt. By the time he was out of the shower I was sitting down to this.


Driving home I pondered what I'd ask if I could put a question to him. I decided on this: "Would you consider foregoing the remainder of your contract for the greater good of the organization?"


I bet that would get one of those grins out of him; maybe a $54 million one!

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Comments

i've had it...lost the whole thing once, then tried to add the photo of soriano flipping the bird several times, to no avail, then inserted the page break a couple of times & none of it works so %^&$@ it! i'm going to eat some lasagna!

What's the deal on Beliveau? He's putting up some absurd numbers this year. Is he a prospect or is he doing it with mirrors?
Also, Vitters apoears to be figuring out AA. Isn't it time to jerk him around and screw up his development by advancing him a league like the Cubs have done before?

command has been his only issue.

low 90s lefty who suddenly finds his command (his big knock on missing the zone is he misses high in the zone rather than low)...ka-ching. he's got a curve, too.

old for A ball, a little old for AA. keep an eye on him if his control holds. he should be AAA bound by year's end...at least an august taste of AAA i'd imagine at the very least.

Beliveau is hands down the most effective reliever in our system right now. He's had a 9+K/9 every year and the worst BA against him was .216. This year it's .169. They initially looked at him as a starter but since have moved him to relief.

Rhoderick also looks like he might have a chance to solve some of our pitching woes.

Yeah, he (Vitters) is batting .452/.471/.677 (1.148 OPS) over the last 10 games and is up to .289 on the season. Still not walking much (8 BB's), but not many K's either (17 K's) in 201 ABs.

Maybe Ricketts could offer Soriano $54 million dollars of Cubs debt (@3% interest-secured by Wrigley Field) to quit.

i let the bullpen counter go through wed/thurs without updating it...then forgot about it until today (sunday).

still it sits on tuesday. i'll get to it later if no one else does.

the lack of interest in the 2011 cubs isn't helping anything get done on a timely manner, it seems.

I'll try to do it in the morning. i have it bookmarked at work. You're right, though, I could hardly care less about seeing exactly how this team decides to lose day in day out.

Now if there was a minor league bullpen tracker...

yeah, i'd do it now rather than posting about it if i didnt have to dig up 5 pages of box scores.

i'll probably have a 10-15 minute block later on i can devote to it before you or someone else gets to it. no biggie.

i just noticed things were still stuck on tuesday.

fwiw, next mon-??? i'll be unavailable...no more than 5 days, hopefully less, and probably only 2-3 days.

Taking that peyote trip?

ha.

hospital trip. no biggie, just gonna be out all day monday. the next day or 2 i'm going to be on a variety of meds that might as well be peyote as far as how i'll be able to use my motor skills.

Hope all goes well. I can't live in a world without Moononite middle fingers

Your jambox is now his, by way of our actions. Hope all goes well!

barring something weird you can sue a hospital megabucks for...it should go all smooth. thanks.

If anything happens can I get in on that lawsuit?

no doubt...we'll have TCR dropping flowers on my grave from the official TCR helicopter.

That's an awesome moononite line

Soriano is a convenient target, but it is important to remember he didn't give himself that contract.

The funny thing is, neither did Hendry.

That may or may not be... it doesn't change that Hendry has done a terrible job getting value for money spent (this is opinion). 2nd largest payroll in the NL-2nd worst record in baseball (this is fact). You can't ignore this disparity.

Not going to argue the current product. Hendry definately deserves some blame for the Z/Aramis/Fukudome deals, but the Soriano blunder was reportedly all on Zell.

Hendry has had some great deals as well, though. Lilly/1st Dempster deal/DeRo/Byrd. His problems start when he all of a sudden has some cash burning a hole in his pocket.

Bradley,Miles, Grabbow, Gregg, Smarninja bonus and deal.

Every GM will have examples of good and bad acquisitions and this will serve as ample evidence to feed one's confirmation bias, no matter which side of the fence you fall on.

When examined on the whole, however, Jim Hendry has a very weak case: Lots of money, poor results.

For all we know, all of the poor decisions made by Hendry were forced on him. It still doesn't change the facts and Hendry will still take the fall. Personally, I think these claims that Hendry's hands were tied sounds desperate. It sounds like something said by someone who's trying to defend poor results.

Let me review this one more time.

Hendry and his lackies had a meeting and decided the one player they really wanted was Soriano (and wanted him to play center field) but they were pretty sure they couldn't get him.

Hendry was interviewing Lou Piniella for the manger job. Lou said he thought he could convince Soriano to sign. Hendry hired Piniella.

Soriano was back on the burner thanks to Lou. Hendry signed him.

Soriano DID play center field and injured himself doing it. Has never been the same since.

Hendry now claims he didn't sign Soriano.

Never mind. Carry on.

And he didn't not force himself to go on the DL. Or force himself to hustle when his bat hits the ball. The guy is a slug - I can't believe that he's working hard every day on his defense when he sucks as bad as he does. He's been a LF for 4 years now? 5 years? You'd think if he never practiced he would just get better from playing 500 games there. Whatever - I'm starting to piss myself off

forgot to mention the running catch f. perez made in left-center yesterday; it was fairly routine but if he had slipped it would have been an inside-the-parker standing up cuz guess who never moved?

Smokies and D-Cubs can clinch playoff berths this week by winning first-half titles. Smokies (40-24) lead Jackson Generals (Mariners) by 3 games with 6 to play. D-Cubs (44-19) lead Clearwater Threshers (Phillies) by 6 with 7 remaining.

Tyler Colvin is 3 for 33 (0.91) since returning from Iowa, and two of those hits were infield choppers. His BA was 1.13 when he was sent down, but now, as he nears 100 at bats, he is beginning to explore territory that is relatively uncharted in the major leagues. Koyie Hill's .239 is more than two-and-a-quarter times Colvin's current .105.

Is anybody else curious what someone else might have done with Colvin's recent 33 at bats? I'm thinking in particular of Colvin's 0-4 yesterday and his 0-9 in the two extra-inning losses in St. Louis.

Colvin was hitting .260 in 12 games at Iowa when the Cubs handed him his old job back. For comparison, Bryan LaHair--a lefty hitter who can play corner outfield--is hitting .356/.437/.688/1.125 for the season at Iowa, with 16 home runs.

No, I'm not curious what someone else might have done with Colvin's recent at bats. Who else do we have ready to play CF? Campana? Fernando Perez? Brad Snyder? It's not like Brett Jackson is lighting it up after the injury. The Cubs are going nowhere this year and Colvin is probably a starter for the next few years. They need to just play him regularly and suffer through the slump--and emphasize staying back on the ball and using all fields in BP.

ahh, Bryan LaHair is the new Brad Snyder who was the new Josh Kroeger.

anyway, LaHair has about 150 games in the outfield(just 5 this year) to 600+ at first base. Cubs probably think he can handle the outfield as well as Micah Hoffpauir did.

I'd like to see Matt Spencer get an extended shot.

more interesting than LaHair sure and his 216 PA's this year have been good.

The rest of his minor league is just okay for a corner bat and the Cubs don't have a corner spot at the moment they're willing to give up.

His ML stats are a bit better than Colvin's. He's younger than Colvin.

If we are earmarking a corner spot for Ty Colvin, then Matt Spencer should have the same shot at said corner spot.

Just sayin

I'd like to see Matt Spencer get a gamma-radiation shot and turn into The Chicago Hulk.

"ahh, Bryan LaHair is the new Brad Snyder who was the new Josh Kroeger."

I never said any of those guys was the new anything, but they could all hit .105 in 100 at bats in the majors. On the long road trip, we could have used some decent at bats from someone who didn't look like a sick puppy.

Like Lou said, "It's not that hard!"

My idea of cubbery is to expect a young player to do something in the majors that he didn't learn in the minors. In Colvin's case, it's hitting with two strikes. Obviously, he can't hit at all this year, but even last year, his numbers with two strikes are interesting. Look at his ball/strike-count splits for 2010:

After 0-1: .205
After 0-2: .096
After 1-2: .140
After 2-2: .169

With a 2-2 count, you're a .169 hitter? All you have to do is take one more ball and it's a hitter's count again. (This sort of thing doesn't give me a good feeling about Rudy, either.)

I feel sorry for Colvin. He could have been spared the humiliation of these most recent 33 at bats. When the Cubs were on a network broadcast a few days ago and Colvin came up, they put up a graphic about how he has the lowest BA in the majors. So that's who he is now.

A couple of weeks ago, when everyone here was saying, he just needs at-bats, I said, no, he needs more than that.

Submitted by Rob G. on Mon, 06/13/2011 - 1:13pm.
ahh, Bryan LaHair is the new Brad Snyder who was the new Josh Kroeger.

anyway, LaHair has about 150 games in the outfield(just 5 this year) to 600+ at first base. Cubs probably think he can handle the outfield as well as Micah Hoffpauir did.

=======================================

ROB G: If and when the Cubs become sellers and trade Carlos Pena somewhere, I wouldn't have a problem with the Cubs bringing Bryan Lahair up from AAA and giving him a couple of months to show what he can do.

There are numerous examples of Rule 55 minor league FA (6YFA) "4-A" players (especially 1B/OF) who have taken advantage of an opportunity and grabbed a job for a while. Ryan Ludwick and Garrett Jones are a couple of recent ones that immediately come to mind, but there have been a lot of others over the years in MLB.

What you don't want to do is COUNT ON a 4-A guy to solve a problem. When it happens, it's just serendipity.

they can give all those guys in the world a try as the season winds down, but as you indicated, don't expect anything out of it, just be thrilled beyond belief if something good happens out of it.

Although I'd argue in the Cubs case, it's best it doesn't, because the Cubs will immediately count on them the next season to repeat the good fortune and thinks it's a long term fix.

Some draft signings from Baseball America:

18th rounder James Pugilese, RHP, Mercer County CC
19th rounder Paul Hoilman, 1B, East Tennessee St
20th rounder Ben Klafczynski, OF, Kent St
32nd rounder Peter Levitt, RHP, Mt. Olive (NC)
33rd rounder Sheldon McDonald, LHP, British Columbia
36th rounder Travis Garcia, U, Martin Methodist (TN)
38th rounder Casey Lucchese, RHP, College of Charleston
40th rounder Patrick Francescom, RHP, Trevecca Nazarene (TN)
42nd rounder Brad Zapenas, SS, Boston College
44th rounder Kenny Socorro, SS, Marshall

I'd be interested in how much Hendry overpaid them.

Also, in case anyone hasn't heard this, MLB is warning visiting teams about Chicago downtown violence.

WLS
http://www.wlsam.com/Article.asp?id=2211334

As long as they don't go to the beach, they're fine. Seriously, that's where most of this nonsense seems to be happening lately, or at least most of what the media covers.

Or Michigan Ave, Chicago Ave. And I'm pretty sure these punk kids won't rob a MLB player of his iPhone.

Some draft signings from Baseball America:

18th rounder James Pugilese, RHP, Mercer County CC
19th rounder Paul Hoilman, 1B, East Tennessee St
20th rounder Ben Klafczynski, OF, Kent St
32nd rounder Peter Levitt, RHP, Mt. Olive (NC)
33rd rounder Sheldon McDonald, LHP, British Columbia
36th rounder Travis Garcia, U, Martin Methodist (TN)
38th rounder Casey Lucchese, RHP, College of Charleston
40th rounder Patrick Francescom, RHP, Trevecca Nazarene (TN)
42nd rounder Brad Zapenas, SS, Boston College
44th rounder Kenny Socorro, SS, Marshall

=========================================

Q-MAN: Paul Hoilman hit a 450-ft+ HR over the CF Green Monster off Jin-Young Kim in a "live" BP session this morning at Fitch Park Field #2. As some of you probably know, Hoilman won the HR Derby at the College World Series in 2010, and was tied for third in NCAA D-1 in HR in 2011.

Hoilman and Brad Zapenas will be on the Boise Hawks Opening Day roster, Dustin Geiger and Blair Springfield have been assigned to the AZL Cubs, and Jesus Morelli is on the Boise DL with a broken hand suffered when he was hit by a pitch in the final EXST game a week ago Saturday.

Jin-Young Kim, Yao-Lin Wang, Kyler Burke, Colin Richardson, Jean Sandoval, and Santo Rodriguez threw "live" BP today.

Also as a point of info, eight of the ten draft picks who have signed with the Cubs are college seniors (that's everybody except Pugliese and Zapenas), leaving only two college seniors unsigned (Florida State C Rafael Lopez and TCU RHP Steven Maxwell, with Lopez playing with Florida State in a Super Regional).

The easiest draft picks to sign are college seniors, because they essentially have no leverage. So expect Maxwell to sign soon and Lopez to sign as soon as Florida State's season is over.

Then it gets a lot tougher.

Wood officially DL'ed. Jeff Baker activated. Hopefully Barney gets some days off now.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

Lineup vs. Wolf

ss castro, 2b barney, rf baker, 3b ramy, c soto, lf montanez, 1b lemahieu, cf campy, p dempster

Not that it really matters with this going nowhere team/season, but has lemahieu had more pt at 1st base than baker the past year or so. given his height, maybe more range for scooping castro's throws than baker.

Lemahieua's first time at first in a professional game.

Mike Quade, local idiot.

Submitted by jacos on Mon, 06/13/2011 - 6:45pm.
Lemahieua's first time at first in a professional game.

Mike Quade, local idiot.

===================================

JACOS: It would make more sense to play Baker at 1B, Montanez in RF, and LeMahieu in LF, if you want those three guys in the lineup at the same time.

right as always

Brenley ripping the decision in his own special way

lately, both brenley and especially o.hershiser have been using the booth to audition for manager jobs it seems.

hersh has been dropping some really advanced situational thinking/reasoning and speaking on things a manager might consider in a particular situation all season on the mic.

"It would make more sense to play Baker at 1B, Montanez in RF, and LeMahieu in LF, if you want those three guys in the lineup at the same time."

First base is more like second, third and short than it is like the outfield. Left field would be a completely new environment for LeMahieu.

He looks like a first baseman, anyway. His problem there is he needs more pop. His problem at second has only arisen recently. It's Barney.

Submitted by VirginiaPhil on Tue, 06/14/2011 - 8:10am.
"It would make more sense to play Baker at 1B, Montanez in RF, and LeMahieu in LF, if you want those three guys in the lineup at the same time."

First base is more like second, third and short than it is like the outfield. Left field would be a completely new environment for LeMahieu.

He looks like a first baseman, anyway. His problem there is he needs more pop. His problem at second has only arisen recently. It's Barney.

=========================================

VA PHIL: Prior to last night, D. J. LeMahieu had never played 1B before in his career. He also has never played LF. But if you are going to play a guy at a position he's never played before, LF is a better place to play him than 1B.

That said, it would make sense for the Cubs to give LaMahieu reps at 1B-2B-3B-SS-LF-CF-RF once he is sent back to AA (or AAA) so that next time he comes up to Chicago he at least has some familiarity with the position he is being asked to play, just as Ryan Flaherty has been moved around a lot over the past couple of years to give him experience at a lot of positions.

I agree that LeMahieu looks like a 1st baseman and I would say that it probably wouldn't take him very long to learn what he needs to know to play 1st base, but it is different than playing 2B, 3B, and SS. He shouldn't have to do OJT in a big league game, but if he does, LF would be a better place to do it than 1B, especially when Jeff Baker was available to play 1B and Lou Montanez could have played RF.

I disagree that LeMahieu was out of position last night. Of the two defensive positions that slugging stiffs are relegated to, first base is the more challenging, but any shortstop could learn the position quickly. LeMahieu's natural defensive skills do you more good at first than they would in left. He needs power to play at either position, but for an added righty bat against Wolf--and to have him do something besides spectate in what will be a brief call-up--I think Quade made the right call.

Ok..so a guy who has never played 1B in the minors, and was put there in the majors was not out of position?

Submitted by VirginiaPhil on Tue, 06/14/2011 - 8:58am.
I disagree that LeMahieu was out of position last night. Of the two defensive positions that slugging stiffs are relegated to, first base is the more challenging, but any shortstop could learn the position quickly. LeMahieu's natural defensive skills do you more good at first than they would in left. He needs power to play at either position, but for an added righty bat against Wolf--and to have him do something besides spectate in what will be a brief call-up--I think Quade made the right call.

==============================

VA PHIL: If you are going to play a guy at a position he's never played before and you choose to do it in a regular season MLB game against the 1st place team in your division, LF would be better than 1B. Neither are good options, but LF would be the better choice, especially when Jeff Baker was available to play 1B and Lou Montanez could have played RF.

Especially with a groundball pitcher on the mound in dumpster, although I haven't looked at his numbers this year

But then again the Cubs are like 50 games behind that first place team so it really doesn't matter.

I've been watching Soriano play left field and it appears to be an extremely difficult position.

Hahaha

Blake DeWitt agrees

Hopefully Barney gets some days off now.

Nope.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

Hendry has a lot to say...

says there been no indications or talks about not pursuing free agents next offseason

"And i think it will be a great franchise, and better than it's ever been, down the road."

Sounds like Hendry's accepting his fate after this year.

You may ask yourself, am I right, am I wrong?
You may say to yourself, my god what have I done?
...
Into the blue again, after the money's gone.

same as it ever was

Same as we ever stinks

David Byrne in 1981 -- speaking the prophetic word regarding the future of the Cubs. It's like reading some of the Old Testament prophets.

That last sentence was ominous.

are the Cubs better than they were when when Hendry took over as GM? Given the Cubs revenue and payroll over those years, Can JH defend his overall record?

this game is moved slow as all hell through the 1st for a 0-0 game with 2 hits and 1 walk...

2-5-1-6-4-2 pickoff.

awesome.

sandberg explodes in AAA...

kicks dirt and throws the ump out Z-style and everything.

here is Sandberg's first ejection as Ironpigs manager (May 13th)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yne4QSyaV60

woah...

he's throwing a lot of arms up in people's head area.

MLB rule at least:
bases.
7.08
Any runner is out when --
(b) He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball;

I actually thought running out of the baseline would have been the call, but apparently you can to get out of the way of the fielder.

Any runner is out when --
(a) (1) He runs more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/official...

Good arm motion and head bobbing, but starting to get a bit over-the-top. He's going to have to reign that in a bit.

shame that Dempster is gonna end up losing this game or a ND.

oh good Ninja is in...

This lineup has produced the exact amount of offense tonight that one would expect.

Thank you ryan braun

Yes. He did his best Soriano impression.

Granted I'm listening on the radio, but how did Barney not score on the double?

He went about 2/3 of the way to 2B, then decided Braun was going to make the catch and started heading back to 1B. About 1/2 way back to first he sees Braun not making the play and turns around.

He would have had plenty of time to return to 1B if Braun catches it. Not enough time to get to 1B and tag up. I would say base running error.

It was really only a double because Barney was in front of Pena and Braun misplayed it. Braun went back like he was going to catch it, then went into the LF well and missed it by a foot or more. Barney had to wait and see if it was caught. I was mildly surprised he went to third on it because they did have a swipe at him but he was in there easily. He had no chance to score. If nobody was on base and Soriano or ARam were the hitter it would have probably been a single with their lazy butts.

Definitely disagree. He should have scored if he had run the bases correctly. There is absolutely no reason that Barney shouldn't have been standing on 2b when that ball hit the wall.

Terrible base running.

Yup

Nice head first slide to score on the Ramirez FC.

Barney brought up that he made a mistake on the Pena double in the post-game press conference. Good to hear.

That's more like what the radio described.

Jeter pulls a calf muscle running to first tonight and got taken out of the game, Roto says he's getting an MRI. 6 hits away from 3000.

Guess he could still get it in Chicago unless he's heading to the DL.

Nice win for the Cubs tonight. I'm enjoying the one win a week program that project .500 has morphed into.

Nice score by Barney. He definitely has some good baseball playing skills.

he's great D and a decent contact bat...only problem is his contact bat produces singles and not much else. too bad he's not good for at least 50-ish walks...that would put him at/near theriot territory for a starter. too bad he's not faster, too...at least he's not slow.

if he only had a little more speed, a tad more patience, or a bit more power.

Dear Brewers:

Haha, you got beat by the Cubs... lol lol lol, you suck.

Now go away or we shall taunt you a second time.

http://espn.go.com/blog/SweetSpot/post/_/id/1...

A nice review of Hendry and the Cubs future prospects.

"The long-term outlook is bleak: The only decent players younger than 28 are pitcher Matt Garza and the middle-infield combo of Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney. The trouble with that combo is that Castro’s fielding may turn him into a second baseman and Barney isn’t really that good or even that young (25)."

"Barney isn’t really that good or even that young (25)."

Interesting Cub prospects under 20: Na, Alcantara.

Under 22: Ha, Kirk, Lake, Castro, Struck, Vitters, McNutt, Szczur.

Under 23: Gonzalez, Whitenack, Rhoderick, Crawford, Jackson, Gibbs, LeMahieu.

When Ha and Na come up, this will be Bob and Len in the booth

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlHNC73VUZQ

They could also have Starlin, Marwin and Darwin in the infield.

~head explosion~

My favorite time was in 80's when Cubs had Sandberg, Sundberg and Scott Sanderson.

I was waiting for Harry to go "I f'ing give up"

**The only decent players younger than 28 are pitcher Matt Garza and the middle-infield combo of Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney.**

Making the cutoff at 28 is a good way to ignore people like Soto (28), Marshall(28) , and Marmol (28).

MORE: Ok... just read the whole article. Its pretty lousy. If Neifi Perez is one of your biggest mistakes, you are probably doing okay. And again, any GM in baseball would have given Z that contract. And the Pena signing was hardly a major mistake.

BTW-Pena bottomed out on May 2nd. Since then his OPS is .907.

Daytona clinched last night. Tennessee got its magic number down to 2 with 5 games to go.

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