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Before we begin, if anyone is interested in writing a blog about the Cubs farm system, MVN is looking. Please contact Evan Brunell, writer of Fire Brand of The American League and owner of MVN. Be prepared to submit a writing sample. There are currently 3 minor league blogs on MVN that you can check out, a general minors blog, a D'Backs one and a Red Sox one. You should also be prepared to be able to write once a week. Back to our regularly scheduled programming. Team Records updated through 8/14/05; Individual Stats updated through 8/14/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10
Chicago Cubs57-61(Div)17.0/3rd
Iowa Cubs55-6311.0/4th5-5
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*26-235.0/2nd3-7
Daytona Cubs22-279.0/5th5-5
Peoria Chiefs24-244.0/5th6-4
Boise Hawks22-312.0/2nd3-7
AZL Cubs3-115.5/9th3-7
Cubs Ex W/L: 57-61; (2003) 61-57; (2004) 63-55 * West Tennessee clinched the first half North Division title of the Southern League
The Tribune reported last weekend that Felix Pie, the undisputed number one prospect in the organisation, would be back playing for the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx (Double-A) as of Tuesday. But it's now Saturday, and as yet Pie has still not returned. It appears not that Pie's situation has worsened, but that Paul Sullivan had some pretty poor sources, and that Pie was never slated to return this week at all. Instead, he's still in Mesa, and remains a ways away, as the deep bone bruise to the inside of his sprained right ankle is taking its time healing. Pie sustained the injury trying to stretch out a triple on June 16th. The injury has so far cost him the chance to go to the Futures Game and the Southern League All-Star Game. That said, Pie would have attended neither had he been called up to Chicago in early July, as was Jim Hendry's crazy plan. The injury got in the way of that, thank God, because Pie is nowhere near close to being ready, and Greenberg got the call instead. Speaking of Greenberg, he has still not fully recovered from his first major league pitch, July 9th, which of course hit him in the head. Greenberg returned to play a few games for West Tennessee, but, suffering from dizziness and headaches when he plays, he's been sent to Mesa for further tests. His only consolation is a career major league on-base percentage of 1.000. Greenberg projects as a very useful fourth outfielder, for he can hit for average, draw walks, run the bases well and play defence at all three outfield positions. At least Adam Greenberg has had a taste of the majors, even if it was a short and very painful one. Angel Guzman tore the labrum in his right shoulder in 2003 in what was supposed to be one of his final minor league appearances before promotion to the big leagues. Fully healthy again in Spring Training this year, and expected to be up for good by May or June, Guzman then went down with a strained right forearm and later developed inflammation in his elbow. The injuries had kept him sidelined all year, but on Thursday Guzman was finally back. He started for the Arizona League Cubs in Rookie Ball, throwing 2 innings and 25 pitches, allowing one single and striking out four, his power-sinker of a fastball averaging 94mph, just a tick or two down on his velocity before the injuries. Guzman will now pitch every fifth day the rest of the year, and then head to the Arizona Fall League. If he can stay healthy, his three plus pitches (fastball, curve, changeup), his superb control and his well-regarded makeup on the mound make him an extremely good bet to be an above average major leaguer.
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
8-5, 3.30 ERA
134/65 K/BB, 12 HR in 150 IP
Jason Marquis, RHP
9-10, 4.24 ERA
68/55 K/BB, 19 HR in 142.1 IP
SS Little Davey Eckstein LF *Matt Lawton
3b #Abraham Nunez 2B *Todd Walker
1B Albert Pujols 1B Derrek Lee
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B Aramis Ramirez
LF *John Rodriguez RF *Jeromy Burnitz
2B Mark Grudzielanek C Michael Barrett
RF So Taguchi SS #Neifi Perez
C Mike Mahoney CF *Corey Patterson
P *Jason Marquis P #Carlos Zambrano
I hope the Cubs don't face too many more lefties. I can't handle Jose Macias at the top of the order like he was yesterday, and I don't care that got two hits yesterday or that he's hitting nearly .300. resident Pollyanna, Carrie Muskat, writes of how the Cubs are now "unburdened," like the fact that the Cubs managed to string hits together a few times will suddenly turn the season around and put them on the road to a stirring last-minute grab of the wildcard prize. It must be tough to be continually upbeat about your team like that, and never question them. At least the Cubs managed to end the losing streak before the double shot of national TV this weekend, so we'll be spared Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan droning on about the problems of the team, like they have any freaking clue what's wrong with them. I'm sure Morgan will have lots to say (or, more precisely, he'll have one thing to say and he'll say it over and over again) about Corey Patterson coming back; Patterson strikes me as just the type of player that a guy like Morgan, forgetting everything about what got him into the Hall of Fame, loves. On another note, keep a good thought for Mike Cameron; he's in the hospital after the most horrific collision I've seen in a game and even though he's a Met I wish him a speedy recovery.
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Greg Maddux (9-9) L: Mark Mulder (13-6)
Well thank god that's over and I knew that it would take some sort of bizarro world where Maddux pitches a complete game, Noseferatu (Neifi/Macias) go a combined 4 for 10 with 3 runs and an RBI and Korey manages to go a game without a K. Take them any way we can get them.
Greg Maddux, RHP
8-9, 4.57 ERA
91/26 K/BB, 20 HR in 147.2 IP
Mark Mulder, LHP
13-5, 3.79 ERA
79/50 K/BB, 15 HR in 147.1 IP
SS Dave Eckstein RF #Jose Macias
3b #Abraham Nunez 2B #Neifi Perez
1B Albert Pujols 1B Derrek Lee
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B Aramis Ramirez
2B Mark Grudzielanek SS Nomar Garciaparra
RF *John Mabry C Michael Barrett
LF So Taguchi LF Matt Murton
C Einar Diaz CF *Corey Patterson
P *Mark Mulder P Greg Maddux
So are our arch-rival Cardinals the antidote to this poisonous play that has afflicted our poor Cubbies? I'd say we'll have to wait one more day. Z is due to pitch tomorrow and happened to be on the mound the last 2 times we ended long losing streaks. Save your energy complaining about the lineup, at this point, you might as well try anything. There's a bunch of rain in the forecast today, so they might not even play this one. If the game is rained out, we can try and lose 2 games tomorrow. Twice the fun! Also, John Koronka was called back up today and Rich Hill sent back to Iowa. Another interesting choice by the Cubbies. Todd Wellemeyer is actually pitching well, Sergio Mitre is a better pitcher, Glendon Rusch should be in the rotation, but the Cubs choose Koronka, I assume only cause his day in the rotation coincides with Hill's. If anything I hope for some good baseball this weekend, cause the last week or so has been anything but that. Go Cubs!
I have been, in my own small way, banging the drum for Davey Johnson to manage the Cubs since April of 2002. For the last few years, I've used all of my less-than-considerable resources to try to track Johnson down and figure out what he was doing, and why whatever he was doing was more important than becoming the Cubs' manager. Thwarted, I briefly turned my attention to Buck Showalter, but in my heart of hearts I always knew that Johnson was the right guy for the job. He finally surfaced in 2003 as the coach of the Dutch national basebal team. OK, I figured, he'll spend a year there, get fully re-infected by the managing bug, and be back in the majors in 2005. That didn't happen, though, and again I put his name out of my mind. Until now, when the manager-replacement talk is heating up on TCR again. When I asked Will Carroll about Davey the other day, he mentioned that Ray Knight told him on Baseball Prospectus radio that Johnson had heart problems. As this article points out, he did have health problems, but they weren't heart-related and they've been taken care of. Thom Loverro leaves all of us Davey-lovers with a tantalizing close to his article:
I asked Johnson if he would consider managing again, without referring to any job in particular. "I wouldn't rule it out," he said. "I really have enjoyed my time off. There are other things in life." But ... "I am getting a little bored," he said. "It would have to be someone I know and respect."
I don't know if Johnson knows Andy MacPhail and Jim Hendry, but I have to imagine he at least knows who they are. Does he respect them? I have no idea, but surely a few meetings with them would give him the oppotunity to get to know them a little better. I can't imagine that his work with Vantage Sports Management is really as challenging and rewarding a position as a guy like Johnson wants.
Rich Hill, LHP
0-1, 7.00 ERA
19/9 K/BB, 2 HR in 18.0 IP
Eric Milton, LHP
5-12, 6.75 ERA
87/40 K/BB, 33 HR in 133.1 IP
2b Ryan Freel LF Matt Murton
SS Rich Aurilia 2B *Todd Walker
CF *Ken Griffey Jr. 1B Derrek Lee
LF Wily Mo Pena 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *Adam Dunn SS Nomar Garciaparra
RF Austin Kearns RF *Jeromy Burnitz
C Jason Larue C Michael Barrett
3B Edwin Encarnacion CF *Corey Patterson
P *Eric Milton P *Rich Hill
Another day, another random lineup. The team is actually closer to last place in the division then it is to gaining a playoff spot. Mighty, mighty sad. PLAY WITH SOME PRIDE boys. You know what you do when you're in a losing streak? Other then pull out the old Mark Grace slump buster. You make things happen, steal when no one is expecting you to steal, force the action, what do you think the smartest player on our team was trying to do on Saturday? And don't give me, we don't have the talent to do it with. Yes we do. You don't need a bunch of gazelles to know how to run the bases or realize which pitchers and catchers are easy targets to run on. Hit and run once in awhile, you have a lineup full of guys capable of putting the bat on the ball (besides Corey and Burnitz). Do something, the Reds are third from the bottom in defensive efficiency, make THEM score runs for you. My second favorite team are the Anaheim Angles, mostly due to the AngelFan wife. I watch them quite a bit (probably more then the Cubs since they're on everyday), and they're a joy to watch. Every single player on that team knows how to run the bases, knows when to take an extra base. Scioscia will send ANYONE on ANY count, just to keep the other team on their heels. It's a fun brand of baseball to watch and it's a winning brand of baseball. The Angels have HAD MORE INJURIES then us this year and are still in first place. Every single starter, minus Darrin Erstad and Garrett Anderson, has spent time on the DL. (and Erstad has been out the last few days as well) Their second and third best pitchers are on the DL right now, their closer was on the DL, but still they're in first place, weak division or not. Sorry for the rant, I'm beyond frustrated. I can handle losing, I can't handle a total lack of effort. A loss today and we match our season long eight game losing streak along with the dubious distinction of getting swept AT HOME by the god-awful Cincinnati Reds. If that's not enough to get some people fired, I don't know what is. Has anyone figured out how many days until Opening Day 2006?
Mark Prior, RHP
7-4, 3.64 ERA
112/35 K/BB, 17 HR in 106.1 IP
Aaron Harang, RHP
7-10, 3.90 ERA
118/41 K/BB, 12 HR in 145.1 IP
SS #Felipe Lopez LF *Matt Lawton
C Jason LaRue 2B *Todd Walker
CF *Ken Griffey Jr. 1B Derrek Lee
LF *Adam Dunn 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *Sean Casey RF *Jeromy Burnitz
RF Austin Kearns SS Nomar Garciaparra
3B Edwin Encarnacion CF *Corey Patterson
2B #Ray Olmedo C Henry Blanco
P Aaron Harang P Mark Prior
Looks like they're still playing games at Wrigley, I mean the Cubs stopped playing baseball about a week and a half ago, but they still dutifully put on the uniform and sleepwalk through 9 innings so as to pretend to make an effort. Well at least seeing Corey back up gives us something to watch for the remainder of the season. It would bring me great joy if he would return to being a useful part of this team. If we could only ship off Matt Lawton or Jeromy Burnitz and get Matt Murton some regular playing time and then find a way to get Sergio Mitre back in the rotation (I'm looking at you Maddux), we can start working on next year. In due time I suppose. And can we give Derrek Lee a day off? Is Dusty just waiting for him to actually collapse on the ballfield before he realizes he could use a day of rest? Because I would very much like for him to muster up one more hot streak and make a run at the Triple Crown. Harang made us look silly last time and a look at his peripherals say that he's a MUCH better pitcher then the ERA and win/loss record show. For you folks who play fantasy baseball, keep an eye out for him next year. Chances are that ERA is a result of a whole lot of bad luck and bad defense which tends to equal itself out in ensuing seasons. Prior tries not to suck as much as he did in Philly and maybe he's got another 16 K game in him like last Septemeber versus the Reds. Amusingly enough the opposing starter that day was Aaron Harang. Go Korey!!!
The Cubs have recalled Corey Patterson from Iowa, sending Ronny Cedeno down. It's a good, bad and ugly wrapped up in one single transaction. Good When the Cubs first promoted Cedeno on April 21st, I commented...
Cedeno, still only 22, is not yet ready for the major leagues, and at this stage sitting on the major-league bench and getting infrequent playing time [Ö] is the last thing his development needs. The major-league bench may well be where in the long-term his future most probably lies, but, here and now, as long as thereís a still chance that Cedenoís bat may be good enough to ultimately justify something more than that, the Cubs have to give it that chance. If that means a woeful veteran instead, for once, so be it.
Thankfully, the Cubs soon signed Enrique Wilson on May 17th, and Cedeno was allowed to return to the minor leagues, where he unfortunately hit so well that the Cubs decided on June 28th to outright Wilson and give Cedeno another chance in the majors. Then I wrote...
Regarding Cedeno, my take on him is this: whatever happens, I want him playing everyday this year, working on his game, upon adding the walks and the power that in the long-term he needs if heís to not precariously rely too heavily on average as his sole source of offensive productivity. Obviously that is something that would assuredly happen at Iowa. But whether thatíll now happen in Chicago with Dusty around is much more debatable, and whether it should happen, whether Cedenoís capable of outperforming even Neifi right now by an extent large enough to justify the service time heíd accrue doing so, is another matter too. Iím sceptical on all counts, and as bad as Wilson was, he did have two things going for him: he wasnít just 22, and he had fully established his performance level, albeit at ìuselessî. Thereís a danger Cedeno could go the same way if the Cubs arenít careful, but letís hope the Cubs know what theyíre doing.
Apparently they didn't, or they disagreed on what they were doing, because Cedeno amassed a meagre 7 starts and 41 plate appearances in six weeks on the major league roster. And, for what it's worth, those six weeks, in conjunction with his stint in the majors earlier in the year, mean that Cedeno has more than fifty days of major league service time, and thus he'll not be eligible for Rookie of the Year honours next year. This is, officially, his rookie year, and the Cubs have had him waste it as Neifi's bat boy. Cedeno now, finally, goes back to the minors. So that's the good aspect to this transaction. He'll doubtless be back up again if Garciaparra re-injures himself or when rosters expand in September, whichever comes first. Bad Well, the Corey Patterson bit of the transaction. I wrote about this just last Friday...
It's possible the Cubs for a while considered recalling Corey Patterson [to replace Hairston on the roster]. Such a move would be a mistake. The Cubs sent Patterson down in order that they could work on his game and get him to the stage where he could once again be a good major league hitter. While Corey has reportedly been working on the processes - being more selective, laying off the high fastball, going the other way and not pulling everything, and so on - the results as yet haven't been entirely forthcoming. His walk and strikeout rates have importantly both headed very much in the right directions (7 walks and 15 strikeouts in 86 plate appearances), but he's still not hitting the ball particularly well, as evidenced by his .234 batting average. Given that we've heard all this talk about Patterson working on his game before, in camp this spring for instance, waiting until Corey's supposed new processes are yielding exactly the kind of results that'd make even Corey sit up and take notice is the right way to go. It's only that way that the processes will stick and the confidence return.
Corey Patterson has had a good four days since, with a couple of multi-hit games (including a multi-homer game last night) boosting his line at Iowa to .297/.366/.505 with 8 walks and 19 strikeouts in 102 plate appearances. All the same, that's still more strikeouts than is preferable, reports from those at the games suggest that not much has changed as far as Corey's approach goes, and the fact that three or four days can have such a profound effect upon his numbers is proof that the sample size isn't particularly significant, nor the success or the confidence anything more than transitory at this stage. He should have stayed in the minors as long as was necessary for them to become a little more permanent. Ugly It's the only word to describe the way this season has turned these last few games. And because things here have become so ugly, it wouldn't really have mattered had Corey stayed in the minor leagues, because, contrary to Dusty's assertion over the weekend, we don't need him in Chicago at all. Murton, Burnitz and Lawton from left to right is acceptable in every aspect save outfield arm, and even if it wasn't satisfactory, with the Cubs not making the playoffs, what difference would that make anyway? What freaking difference will Corey make? The biggest one as far I can see is that Matt Murton will find his backside glued to the bench once again. Murton isn't a great prospect, for he lacks the customary power of corner outfielders, but he's a decent one, and he deserves a shot this year to prove he should be here next year and beyond. In limited time so far he's been passing with flying colours. As a reward, he'll now sit and watch, seen and not heard, unloved.


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