Archive - May 2009

The Cubs split versus the best team in the league and head out for a 9-game road trip, where they've played ever so well.

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CF Albert Hernandez singled and doubled and drove in two runs, and five Cubs pitchers combined to throw a two-hitter, as the DSL Cubs #1 defeated the DSL Tigers 7-3 yesterday afternoon on Dominican Summer League (DSL) Opening Day at Baseball City, near Boca Chica, DR.

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In other DSL Opening Day action, Miguel Gonzalez had three hits and drove in two runs, but the bullpen could not hold a 4-1 8th inning lead, as the DSL Orioles/Brewers co-op team took advantage of five errors to rally and edge DSL Cubs #2 5-4.

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May 30th

Larry Suarez threw four shutouts innings and struck out seven, and Jose Made smacked a bases-loaded triple, leading the EXST Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the EXST Giants at Fitch Park Field #1, in one-half of an Extended Spring Training simultaneous doubleheader played this morning in Mesa under partly cloudy skies.

In the other game on Field #3, ex-OF (now RHP) Andres Quezada threw three shutout innings and the Cubs rode the extra-base hitting of John Contreras en route to an 8-3 victory over a second squad of EXST Giants.

Carrie Muskat wrote yesterday that Alfonso Soriano has been playing with a sore knee since April 23rd, when he "banged his knee against the wall" while running after what turned out to be a Joey Votto home run.

"It hasn't been the same since,"
Soriano said. "It's getting better."

Lou Piniella said athletic trainer Mark O'Neal hasn't told him that Soriano can't play. He'll take it day by day.

"Soriano is a tough kid and wants to play," Piniella said. "If it
persists, we might have to get him out of there for a few days."

In 31 games since April 23rd, Soriano, has hit .233/.266/.431/697 (AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS).  He has hit 7 HR, though none in his last 10 games. His current line of .253/.313/.495/807 is a season low, across all categories.

Cubs SS Ryan Theriot officially qualified for post-2009 salary arbitration yesterday, and Aaron Heilman hit five years of MLB service time a week ago, meaning that although he has two minor league options left, he can't be sent to the minors without his permission.

Also, the Cubs have released OF Richie Robnett from AAA Iowa and RHP Jesse Estrada from AA Tennessee, and have signed minor league FA OF John-Ford Griffin, with Griffin replacing Robnett on the I-Cubs roster. 

Robnett was one of two players the Cubs got from Oakland for Michael Wuertz in February. The other one (INF Justin Sellers) was traded to LAD at the end of Minor League Camp for a PTBNL (or ca$h) and is presently at AA Chattanooga. I wonder how Wuertz is doing at Oakland?

Now 28, Griffin was the Yankees 1st round draft pick out of Florida State in 2001, and was rated by Baseball America as a Top 100 prospect and one of the Yankees Top 10 prospects in 2002, and one of the A's Top 10 Prospects in 2003 after he was traded to Oakland along with Ted Lilly in the deal that sent 1B Carlos Pena and RHP Franklyn German from OAK to DET and RHP Jeff Weaver from DET to NYY.

Griffin hit 310/386/527 at Las Vegas (Dodgers AAA) in 2008, but was released by the Dodgers recently after hitting only .122 with 13 K in only 41 PA in his first 16 games in AAA in 2009. He has logged 13 games in the big leagues (with Toronto 2005-07), and he will be a Rule 55 minor league FA post-2009 if he is not added to the Cubs 40-man roster by the end of the World Series.

In addition, LHP James Russell has been promoted from Tennessee to Iowa and LHP Jayson Ruhlman has been demoted from Iowa back to Tennessee, and RHP Marco Carrillo has been promoted from Daytona to Tennessee (replacing Estrada). The son of ex-MLB closer Jeff Russell, James Russell was the Cubs 14th round draft pick of out the U. of Texas in 2007, although he got "3rd round money" to give up his college career (he dropped to the 14th round only because he was considered to be a "tough sign," because he was telling everybody that he wanted to return to Texas for his senior season). Along with 2008 draft picks RHP Jay Jackson and RHP Casey Coleman (who is also the son of an ex-MLB pitcher), Russell is one of the more-polished pitchers in the Cubs system.  

Drafted by the Cubs out of a Texas JC in 2004 but signed as a "Draft & Follow" in May 2005, the now 25-year old 6'8 300+ Estrada progressed steadily through the Cubs system over the past few seasons, and was considered enough of a prospect that the Cubs sent him to the AFL last fall, and he looked OK there. But he was not added to the Cubs 40-man roster in November, and then he pitched poorly at Minor League Camp in march with Iowa, where he was given every opportunity to nab a spot in the I-Cubs starting rotation. So instead he began the 2009 season in the Iowa bullpen, but he was demoted to Tennessee earlier this month, and he continued to perform poorly when given a chance to start at AA. 

Besides the PTBNL the Cubs are yet to get back from the Dodgers for Sellers, the Cubs are stilled owed a PTBNL from BAL (for LHP Rich Hill), one from OAK (for RHP Rocky Roquet), and another from TOR (for RHP Dumas Garcia), although I wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs will get ca$h instead in all four cases (probably around $20,000, which they could use to claim a player off waivers at a time & place of their own choosing).

And Rule 5 LHP Donald Veal is still on the Pirates 25-man roster. although he has appeared in only one game in the last three weeks (and he has pitched in just five games & logged only 6.1 IP so far in 2009), although he did throw two innings in relief versus the Astros last night. 

May 29th

Matt Cerda reached base three times on a single, a double, and a walk, but there just wasn't much other Cubs offense on display, as the EXST Angels defeated the EXST Cubs 3-1 in Extended Spring Training action at the Angels Minor League Complex at Diablo Park in Tempe this morning. 

May 28th

Today at Baseball Prospectus (subscription), Joe Sheehan wrote about how the Cubs have become one of baseball's most home run-dependent teams and tonight, we saw, yet again, where that generally gets you.

A pinch-hit home run by Bobby Scales in the eighth inning against Randy Wolf accounted for all the Cubs' scoring Thursday night in the team's most recent, painful defeat.

RF Jesus Morelli threw a strike to catcher Matt Cerda with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, nipping the potential tying run at the plate and preserving the victory, as the EXST Cubs edged the EXST A's 4-3 in Extended Spring Training action at Papago Park Field #2 in Phoenix this morning.

As expected, Carlos Zambrano was handed a six game suspension for his antics yesterday. Unlike Milton Bradley, pride isn't an issue for Z as he said he won't bother appealing the suspension and will begin serving it immediately. He'll miss the Dodgers series and the first two games in Atlanta next week. Conveniently the Cubs have an off-day Monday, so some minor rotation juggling and Z should be starting next Thursday in Atlanta.

Some more news has trickled out on the impending sale of the Cubs and Sam Zell is hinting that the Ricketts may not be the new owner afterall (emphasis added).

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Granted, any lineup that undergoes a triple crown-ectomy is gonna be sore. But Jake Fox's promotion to Chicago leaves the Iowa Cubs really hurting.

The team hadn't even homered in Fox's last six games on the roster. After yesterday's doubleheader split and today's 9-1 matinee loss to the Sacramento River Cats on getaway day the dubious streak is at nine and counting as the team heads south for a road trip versus its divisional rivals in Memphis and Nashville.

Fox left town with 17 homers.

Today's lineup had 10 [14 if you count the four hit on behalf of the Tennessee Smokies]. And that included a DH!

A pitcher with 10 strikeouts in 22 innings+ fanned nine I-Cubs this afternoon in seven frames. At one point Dana Eveland whiffed five straight.

The defensive effort was lowlighted by Jason Dubois in left field. In the top of the 3rd he camped under a fly ball off the bat of Eric Patterson, straddling the foul line. It appeared that the ball bounced off of his noggin into the seats behind the Iowa bullpen for a ground rule two-base error! Scowling and scuffing at the chalk like a golfer tapping an imaginary spike mark after missing a gimme, Dubois returned to his post. Patterson stole 3rd on the first pitch before scoring on a sacrifice fly to, you guessed it, Dubois, who made the play of the game with a leaping catch while banging against the wall.

You just never know what you're gonna see at the old ballpark.

GOTTA HAVE HART DEPT. - Kevin Hart continued to rebound from a poor start to his season with four more scoreless innings in yesterday's nightcap. It was his second straight impressive start after 16 appearances out of the bullpen. For the year Hart has now fanned 33 in 28 innings while walking only nine...MW

May 27th

An eventful afternoon at Wrigley as the Cubs take their first series in two weeks and climb back over the .500 mark.

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Robert Hernandez was clubbed for seven runs in a nightmarish bottom of the 1st inning and the EXST Giants cruised to 9-3 victory over the EXST Cubs on Indian Bend Park Field #4 in Scotsdale this morning, but not to worry too much, because Logan Watkins and Matt Cerda drove-in two runs apiece and Su-Min Jung and Toby Matchulat combined to throw six innings of two-hit shutout ball, as the another squad of EXST Cubs defeated another squad of EXST Giants 5-1 at Indian Bend Park Field #3, in a game played simultaneous to the one on Field #4. And I was able to watch both games simutaneously, too.

Jake Fox and his 17 PCL home runs are on their way to Chicago for today's game. To make room on the roster, Aaron Miles will be put on the disabled list with a sore shoulder that has apparently bothered him since spring training. Miles is barely good enough to play major league baseball when healthy, he certainly didn't need to be struggling through an injury all this time.

Fox - even with all his defensive misgivings - was putting up a line that he probably hadn't put up since his days in the Pony League: .423/.503/.886 for a 1.389 OPS.

Bruce Miles also says that Neal Cotts could be on his way out, possibly to Iowa as he states that Cotts still does have an option left. Arizona Phil and other outlets have been saying he's out of options, so we'll see what the loophole is here if the roster move does indeed happen. And if he did have an option left, what the fuck was the hold-up on sending him down?

UPDATE: Muskat says lefty Jason Waddell and infielder Andres Blanco are at the park as well and also says that Cotts should be looking for a Des Moines apartment.

UPDATE #2: Fox, Blanco and Waddell called up, Scales and Cotts optioned to Triple A.

May 26th

The Cubs end their eight game losing streak with a 6-1 rain-shortened victory over the Pie-rats.

Why the Cubs Won: The offense continued where it left off yesterday with a six-run outburst in just five innings of play. Fukudome started the fun with a home run in the first, his first home run in May after four in April in what should be his only other start this homestand besides Friday against Chad Billingsley as south-paws are scheduled to face the Cubs the rest of the month. Sean Marshall then came through in the second with a single to score the Cubs second run and and a Hoffpauir double to deep right netted the Cubs third run in the first three innings. They tacked on three rather meaningless runs in the bottom of the fifth and then the clouds opened up to ensure the win and end this rather dreadful losing streak.

Marshall on the mound was effective as well, including a few defensive gems to help himself out. He finished with the easy 5 inning pitched complete game with 6 K's and just one run allowed.

Fun Stat: 5.14 Runs per game at home for the Cubs, 4.04 on the road.

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