Lieber and Eyre Rehabbin' at Fitch
Jon Lieber and Scott Eyre threw in rehab outings with the AZL Cubs at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning, as Larry Rothschild, Lester Strode, and Carlos Zambrano (who was visiting buddy Angel Guzman) watched from the bench, and a gaggle of Cubs brass watched from the observation tower.
And the AZL Cubs took advantage of having a couple of big leaguers throw shutout ball for the first four innings of the game, as they whitewashed the AZL Mariners 7-0.
Lieber got the start and threw three innings, and it was typical Lieber (33 pitches - 24 strikes, no runs on four hits, no walks, one strikeout, one GIDP, 5/2 GO/FO).
Then Eyre threw one inning (14 pitches - 8 strikes, no runs, no hits, one walk, no strikeouts, and one GIDP), although he did throw an additional 10 or 15 pitches in the bullpen after his one inning of work, possibly to tinker with his slider (otherwise he just could have thrown a second inning).
Neither Lieber (on the DL with a sore foot) nor Eyre (on the DL with a strained groin) showed any outward physical indication of injury, and both appear about ready to return to full-activity and game action.
Lieber looked like Lieber ("pitching to contact" on every hitter), but Eyre was a bit spotty with his control and had trouble commanding his slider, although he did throw with decent velocity. I would think Eyre would benefit from one or two outings at AAA, perhaps with the Iowa Cubs while they are in Tucson (they'll be there starting tonight through Friday night).
There was no sign of Alfonso Soriano at Fitch Park today, meaning he'll either go on a one or two game rehab with the Iowa Cubs in Tucson starting tonight, or I guess it's possible that he could be reactivated for tonight's Cubs-Diamondbacks game at Chase Field (or probably more-likely tomorrow night's game, when lefty Doug Davis gets the start for the D'backs)..
Soriano put on quite a power display in pre-game BP before last night's Cubs-D'backs at Chase Field, attacking the ball with relish, hitting line-drive ropes and towering long flies all over the yard. But his timing looked to be slightly off when he was the DH for the AZL Cubs at Peoria yesterday morning, so he might benefit from a few more minor league ABs at AAA game-speed before he faces an MLB pitcher throwing in anger.
Today's game marked the professional debut of the Cubs 2008 21st round draft pick, 17-year old SS Logan Watkins (Goddard HS - Goddard, KS), and their 37th round pick, 21-year old RHP Erik Hamren.
The left-handed hitting Watkins PH in the bottom of the 8th inning, and proceeded to slam a single into RF. The kid was a star baseball and football player in HS, and and had already accepted a full-ride scholarship to Wichita State when the Cubs drafted him last month. But he somewhat unexpectedly gave up his chance to attend WSU when the Cubs threw "3rd round money" at him (a reported $500K plus another $100K in college tuition).
As for Hamren, he had transferred to Saddleback CC for his sophormore year, after attending the University of the Pacific as a freshman. He was going to enroll at UC - Irvine for his junior year (2008-09 school year), before deciding to sign with the Cubs.
Hamren hasn't pitched much over the last couple of years, so the Cubs did not make an offer until they had a chance to follow his progress with Mankato in the Northwoods League (a summer "wood bat" college league), where he was the MoonDogs closer. I guess the Cubs liked what they saw. And he looked pretty good today at Fitch Park, too, throwing a shutout inning (with one hit allowed and one K) in his pro debut.
The Cubs have now signed 32 of their first 38 picks from this year's Rule 4 Draft, including 26 of their first 27. The "Big Fish" unsigned pick still out there is 10th rounder RHP Alex Wilson (Texas A&M). Wilson had Tommy Johnn surgery after injuring his elbow while pitching in the Cape Cod League (the premiere "wood bat" collegiate summer league) in the Summer of 2007, and he missed the entire 2008 college baseball season. But he is currently back pitching with Falmouth (the same place he was last year when he got hurt), and it's possible that the Cubs will offer him 1st or 2nd round money (that's what it will probably take to sign him) if they feel he's back 100% from the TJS.
Although the Cubs drafted him out of Texas A&M, Wilson last pitched at Winthrop, where he was (pre-TJS) a very highly-regarded prospect, projected as a possible 1st or 2nd round pick.
What the Cubs did with Erik Hamren and are now presently doing with Alex Wilson (and a few other draft picks from the lower rounds) is the new version of "Drafdt & Follow." It used to be that clubs could draft a player in June (especially JC players, or HS players who were going to go to a JC) , and then be able to sign him all the way up until a week before the next year's draft. Such players signed just before the deadline the following year were known as "DNFs" (or Draft & Follows"). Now the "DNF" period lasts only two months, until the new August 15th signing deadline. So following unsigned draft picks while they play in summer collegiate leagues or with post-HS traveling all-star teams has become very important.
BTW, Carlos Zambrano drove one of the Fitch Park golf carts around the place like it was a go-cart. It's lucky he didn't kill somebody (like maybe himself).
And RHP Dae-Eun Rhee has arrived at Fitch Park to begin his long rehab from Tommy John Surgery. So far he's wearing one of those custom TJS splints on his elbow, and a khaki-colored "We're Broke" t-shirt (with the picture of a bear with it's leg in a sling on the back) that the rehab guys receive when they arrive. (I'd like to get me one of those).
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).
I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.