Cubs Lose First Series of the Year
The Cubs dropped their first series of the year losing two of three to Dusty and the Reds. The unfortunate details after the jump.
Why the Cubs Lost: Micah Hoffpauir's glove was the main culprit, costing the Cubs two to three runs. He badly misplayed a flyball by Chris Dickerson into a triple that made the game 1-0. The wind had something to do with it, but a decent RF'er definitely makes the play. Then in the 7th, with runners on 1st and 2nd, he tried to come up throwing on a single by Alex Gonzalez and the ball bounced off his glove making sure two runs score(one may have scored anyway) and Gonzalez made it to third base. A nice play on a suicide squeeze attempt by Zambrano did erase Gonzalez though.
Z pitched well for the most part, but he did throw away a pickoff throw to first base, although it did look like a play Derrek Lee could have made. Wily Taveras made it around to third base on the error and after Z struck out Dickerson, Lou came out to see if Z wanted to walk Joey "Cub-Killer" Votto and set-up the double play with the righty Edwin Encarnacion up next. Z's hubris won out and they brought the infield in and Z got ahead quickly. With Geovany Soto setting up low and outside, Z let one up on the inner half of the plate right at the belt and Votto ripped a double to left-center. The fantastic movement on Z's pitches can be a curse as much an asset at times.
After giving up that second run, the Cubs mounted a rally on a hit and error that put Alfonso Soriano at second base and a Ryan Theriot single up the middle to make it 2-1. The first pitch to Kosukue Fukudome saw Theriot stealing and get this...he was thrown out. A great throw by the catcher right on the bag, but nonetheless, Theriot stealing hasn't been a good idea since 2007.
And the bullpen gave up 3 runs in two innings....so great effort all around.
The Good: The Cubs finally scored a run and Z pitched much better than the boxscore shows, a victim of poor defense for the most part.
Death Pool: Luis Vizcaino surprisingly took the first honor but I still think Neal Cotts leads the way for the next victim. He came in to face Joey Votto and fell behind 3-1, making it 3-2 and then - afraid to walk anyone - left a few pitches down the middle that Votto fouled off and then eventually took out to left center.
Up Next: The Cubs try to find their bats in St. Louis this weekend who just finished off sweeping the Mets.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.