More Than a Very Minor Matter
Not counting NRI RHP Mike Smith (who flunked his physical and got released the day the pitchers & catchers reported in February), the Cubs made their first roster cuts today, sending nine players to the minor league camp at Fitch Park.
Somewhere upwards of around 150 Cubs minor leaguers report to Fitch Park at the beginning of March each year, as the "big league" club moves a half-mile up Center Street to HoHoKam Park and begins Cactus League play.
The minor leaguers at Fitch Park are divided up into five groups (or squads) that correspond to the Cubs minor league clubs at Iowa, Tennessee, Daytona, and Peoria, plus the short-season clubs (Boise/Mesa combined) which is also the Extended Spring Training (EXST) team and Daytona/Peoria replacement cadre that is based at Fitch Park during April-May.
The minor league managers assigned to each club during the season command the corresponding "group" at Minor League Camp (so Pat Listach is in charge of the AAA group, Buddy Bailey is in charge of the AA group, Jody Davis is in charge of the Daytona group, Ryne Sandberg is in charge of the Peoria group, and Tom Beyers and Franklin Font are jointly in charge of the Boise/Mesa group).
Thus there are five squads (groups) of Cubs minor leaguers at Fitch Park right now, but there are only 4-1/2 fields (the 5th is a "half-field" infield-only that is limited to Pitchers Fielding Practice, and bunting and base-running drills), so horns are sounding and the players are constantly running from field-to-field for the next drill, sort of like a Chinese Fire... well, you get the drift.
With most of what will eventually be the Iowa Cubs initially in "big league" camp with Lou Piniella's Chicago Cubs, the Minor League Camp rosters are very-much subject to change, and the players know it.
Many of the players who are initially assigned to the Iowa (AAA) group at the beginning of Minor League Camp will get demoted one level or even possibly released as the players cut from big league camp begin to trickle down Center Street to Fitch Park from HoHoKam.
And as players are demoted from "big league" camp to AAA, and some of the players initially assigned to AAA get demoted to AA, some of the players who were initially assigned to AA get demoted to Daytona, some who were initially assigned to Daytona get demoted to Peoria, and so forth down the line. It runs downhill.
There are only 24 regular season roster slots available at Iowa and Tennessee, and only 25 at Daytona and Peoria, so the competition for jobs at Minor League Camp is intense.
And so you can expect to see maybe as many as a dozen or more players who are presently at Minor League Camp at Fitch Park get released at the end of Spring Training (or EXST), in many cases just because there is simply no room for them on any of the Cubs minor league regular season rosters. A player can do OK, but still get caught by a number's game at the end and get cut.
Here are the CUBS MINOR LEAGUE CAMP ROSTERS (all five groups) as of today (and SUBJECT TO CHANGE!):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
* Derrick Ellison
Jim Henderson (limited physical activity - unknown-type injury)
* Geoffrey Jones (just got sent down today)
* Scott Koerber
* Tim Layden
* J. R. Mathes
* Ryan O’Malley
Billy Petrick (just got sent down today)
* Chris Shaver (had shoulder surgery last June)
Todd Blackford (had TJ surgery last June)
Esmailin Caridad (just got sent down today)
Jose Ceda (just got sent down today)
Michael Cooper (had labrum surgery last May)
* Darin Downs
* Casey Lambert
Billy Muldowney (had TJ surgery last August)
* Jeremy Papelbon
* Jayson Ruhlman
* Chris Siegfried
* Donald Veal
* Zach Ashwood
Rafael Dolis (limited physical activity – injury rehab)
* Arik Hempy
* Mark Pawelek
Jose Pina (limited physical activity – injury rehab)
* James Russell
Audy Santana (limited physical activity – injury rehab)
* Michael Bunton
Jon Mueller (limited physical activity – injury rehab)
* Dustin Sasser
* Jeffry Antigua
* Taylor Parker (limited physical activity – injury rehab)
Carlos E. Rojas
* Alan Rick
* Steve Clevenger
* Mark Reed
Welington Castillo (just got sent down today)
* Matt Hudgins
* Blake Lalli
Josh Donaldson (just got sent down today)
* Alvaro Sosa
# Matt Craig (1B)
* Kyle Reynolds (3B)
Robinson Chirinos (2B)
Carlos R. Rojas (SS)
# Bobby Scales (3B-2B) - just got sent down today
Joe Simokaitis (SS)
* Nate Spears (2B)
Brian Dopirak (1B)
Josh Lansford (3B)
* Ryne Malone (2B)
# Matt Matulia (SS)
Jonathan Mota (SS)
* Jeffrey Rea (2B)
Darwin Barney (SS)
Russ Canzler (1B)
* Dylan Johnston (2B-SS)
# Nathan Samson (2B-SS)
Marquez Smith (3B)
Tony Thomas (2B)
# Marwin Gonzalez (SS)
Gian Guzman (SS)
# Jose Made (2B)
Jovan Rosa (3B)
* Drew Rundle (1B-OF)
Josh Vitters (3B)
Starlin Castro (SS)
John Contreras (3B)
# Dwayne Kemp (2B) - speaks Dutch, communicates mainly by sign-language
* Bryan Jost (1B) - limited physical activity - knee surgery rehab
Junior Lake (SS)
Elvis Lara (2B)
* Matt Camp
* Corey Coles
# Min-Kyu Sung
# Andres Torres (just got sent down today)
# Chris Walker
* James Adduci
* Tyler Colvin (just got sent down today)
* Jonathan Wyatt
* Kyler Burke
* Leon Johnson
* Brian Leclerc
* Cliff Andersen
* Clark Hardman
Jesus Reyes (limited physical activity – injury rehab)
* Nelson Perez
# Andres Quezada
* Luke Sommer
THE "MILK CARTON GANG"
I have not seen the following players on the field at Fitch Park so far. Each was listed as a minor league player in the Cubs organization as of 2-5-08.
Possible reasons for absence:
1. Player is injured to the extent that he is not able to participate even in a limited form, or
2. Player could have failed to report to camp, or
3. Could have reported but failed his physical and got released, or
4. The player could have retired, or
5. Maybe the player received permission from the Cubs to report to camp late due to a visa problem, or because the player is attending college, or ???
WHEREBOUTS... UNKNOWN (to me, anyway):
Luis Bautista, C-1B
Marco Carrillo, RHP
Hung-Wen Chen, RHP
Rafael Cova, RHP
* Jeff Culpepper, OF
Dumas Garcia, RHP
Kitt Kopach, RHP
Oswaldo Martinez, RHP
Marcos Mateo, RHP
Mario Mercedes, C
* Billy Mottram, 3B
Chris Robinson, C
Issmael Salas, INF
* Marc Sawyer, 1B
Chi-Hsiang Wen, OF
There are two other players who are listed as "active" in the Cubs minor league system as of 2/5/08, but both are (unfortunately) in reality functioning as de facto Spring Training assistant instructors.
Danny Fatheree was Kerry Wood's catcher in HS, and he spent several seasons in the Astros organization but never got out of AA. Danny was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs this past off-season (possibly at the suggestion or request of KW?) after missing most of the past three seasons with a life-threatening illness that killed two of his uncles. He must weigh well in excess of 300 pounds, and although he was signed as a player, he mainly just throws BP for Peoria--all while wearing his catcher's mitt!
RHP Leo Perez (a converted SS) is another player who has been injured the past couple of years, and he is unable to throw a ball more than about ten yards. So he is working as an "assistant coach," hitting ground balls to the kids in the Boise/Mesa group.
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
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.