Pie Tastes Bitter
Felix Pie went 2-3 with a lead-off first-pitch double roped down the RF line, a bases loaded RBI walk on a 3-2 pitch, a grand slam HR hammered over the CF fence, and a hard-hit 4-3 GO, as the AZL Cubs thumped the AZL Royals 18-1 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in hot and sunny Mesa.
So do I really think Pie was sent to Fitch Park to "rehab" a "sprained thumb"?
... from what I've heard, he did have a thumb injury, but it wasn't particularly significant, and it certainly wasn't the type of injury that would normally warrant a trip to the hell that is Fitch Park in June.
Reading between the lines, it appears that Pie being sent to Fitch Park was more for disciplinary reasons than it was to rehab an injured thumb, with the so-called "sprained thumb" the excuse needed to justify the DL stint and the Fitch Park rehab assignment.
What the exact nature of Pie's transgression at Iowa was, I don't know. Maybe Mike Wellman can find out. But I have heard whispers that he sulked big-time after being optioned to AAA by the Cubs in May, and that part of the reason behind the Cubs decision to option the Pie man to Iowa in the first place was related to his becoming a bit of a "party animal" in Chicago, staying out until all hours of the night and then showing up at the ballpark not necessarily "ready to play" the next day.
As a further tidbit of bizarro information, Pie had what sounded like an argument with someone from the Cubs brass (I couldn't see exactly who it was, but I could probably guess) who was sitting up in the Fitch Park Tower that overlooks the four fields as Pie was walking to the clubhouse after he left the game in the 6th inning.
I didn't understand the complete nature of the "discussion," but I believe it had something to do with Pie expecting to leave town immediately (like "who is driving me to the airport?"), but being told instead that he would be staying in Arizona for at least one more day.
Pie did not look happy, that's for sure.
As for the rest of the fellows, the AZL Cubs had a really poor performance yesterday (Saturday) versus the AZL Angels in Tempe, especially the hitters (OK, the defense sucked, too), leaving men on base all over the place and failing to advance runners into scoring position. All this in front of Cubs Organizational Hitting Instructor Dave Keller.
Well, Coach Keller (who is making his once-every-six weeks visit to Fitch Park) apparently was none too pleased with yesterday's effort, as he held a closed-door 90 minute meeting at the Fitch Park clubhouse with the hitters this morning at 7:00 AM, followed by an extended BP session that ran until almost game time.
I guess it must have worked, though, because the AZL Cubs slammed out 21 hits (the AZL Royals had only three).
On the pitching front, two AZL Cubs pitchers who were at the Fitch Park Infirmary made their first AZL appearances, and both looked VERY sharp.
RHP Cedric Redmond (torn labrum, but no surgery) threw a 1-2-3 1st inning, striking out two and keeping all three Royals hitters off balance with his fine screwball.
And then Ryan Acosta (injury unknown) threw a masterful 14-pitch (13 strikes) two-inning shutout stint (he was only supposed to throw one inning) where he just toyed with the Royals hitters. Acosta actually looked like a young Greg Maddux out there today, the way he threw strikes and with lots of movement on his fastball. And he worked VERY fast, too.
And please note that there were two mistakes made by the AZL official scorer (as appears in the "official" MiLB box score -- see above).
First of all, the AZL official scorer identified Ryan Acosta as Francisco Acosta (they are two completely different AZL Cubs pitchers), and then the official scorer had "F. Acosta" (who did not pitch today) working three innings, when actually "R. Acosta" (that is, Ryan Acosta) worked two innings, and then Toby Matchulat made his pro debut, working one inning. (The official scorer didn't even list Matchulat!)
See, this is the problem with the AZL official scorers. They don't have a clue. Maybe Oneri Fleita could yell at them, too.
So anyway, RHPs Toby Matchulat (2008 11th round pick out of Wabash Valley CC) and Justin Bristow (2008 5th round pick out of East Carolina) both made their pro debut today, throwing one inning a piece.
Working out of a wind-up, the long and lanky Matchulat walked his first hitter on four pitches as he appeared out of whack (please keep Rich Hill away from the young'uns!), but then once he got into the stretch, his mechanics became much more compact and he struck out two and got the other batter on a ground out FC.
Bristow retired the first two hitters he faced easily on infield grounders, before giving up a walk and an RBI double that resulted in the AZL Royals one and only run of the day.
Julio Pena (who normally would have started the game) worked the final four innings and looked very sharp, allowing no runs on just one hit and a walk, with two Ks.
On offense, Dutch-Aruban 2B Dwayne Kemp (signed out of the MLB European Baseball Academy last year) got his first three "official" pro hits (including two doubles) and first RBI. Also, Nelson Perez (a single, a double, and a triple, plus two RBI), Bryan Jost (a single, two doubles, an RBI, a walk, and three runs scored), Sean Hoorelbeke, and Jose Guevara also had three hits each.
In AZL Cubs roster news, INF (now C-INF) Robinson Chirinos has completed the Cubs six-week catching course at Fitch Park and has been assigned to Daytona, where he will alternate at catcher with Steve Clevenger and Blake Lalli (Mark Reed has been promoted from Daytona to AA Tennessee). .
The AZL Cubs don't play tomorrow, and let me tell you, I can really use the day off!
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump