Hart-Fox Battery Charges I-Cubs

Two things of note from the Iowa Cubs' road win in Salt Lake City yesterday:

1. Jake Fox played catcher after a game at 3B earlier on the trip. Is his versatility on display for potential trade suitors?

2. Kevin Hart threw three innings of perfect relief highlighted by five strikeouts in easily his most encouraging outing of the season.

In more routine news, Fox also slammed his 17th homer of the year, drove in four more runs and was named the PCL Player of the Week for last week. Ho-hum...MW

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If he can channel Lloyd McClendon in his "ability" to catch for 3-4 batters when a team is losing and a double-switch is needed, and to stand once every three weeks at 3B when David Wright needs a day off or there's a blowout, he would be a good fit for the Delgado-less Mets. But do the Mets have anybody we'd want back in return?

Even the Mets would have to have someone better than Neal Cotts...

heck ... we might have better than Neal Cotts (I wouldn't be against Casey Lambert getting a look ... I still think his future is in the pen, and I think he has pen ready stuff right now).

As for Fox, I think an AL team is probably the best fit, for obvious reasons. He can DH, play some first, occasionally pinch in the corner OF, act as the emergency catcher, and every blue moon, play 3rd.

The Mets plan seems to be, based on an article that came out last week (forget where) to go with what they have and see how far along FMart is come June. If he's ready, Dan Murphy could pinch at first. If not, maybe they'd investigate the trade market, but this being New York, and Omar, I'm not sure they'd go after a minor leaguer unless Fox got some big league AB's.

Why the big hurry to trade Jake Fox? This team has lost its best hitter for an extended period of time and are trying to patch it up with three guys who weigh a total of 450 pounds. Why not bring Fox up, cut Patton loose, and put Fox out there for a couple 7 inning games a week at 1B and 3B? Is Patton that good that the Cubs can afford to carry a spare part just to have a reliever next season? I find it almost embarrassing that Jake Fox still sits at Iowa with those numbers while we tread water with an underperforming infield (minus the shortstop). At worst we'd have a pretty good lefty/righty pinch hit tandem with Hoffpauir and Fox that might negate a bullpen move or two.

The Cubs aren't treading water, and a good month of hitting in AAA doesn't make you Aramis Ramirez.

No, Fox is not the hitter that Ramirez is, but it's a possible asset to use in place of a known non-asset (Patton). Fox > Miles? Fox > Fontenot? Fox > Scales? Why not find out? Strike while the iron is hot.
Maybe it's early to call this stretch "treading water", we'll see what they do against teams a notch above Houston and San Diego before that terms settles in. Piniella seems to think the term fits.

just to be clear, I'm in no hurry to trade Fox, was just responding to the post.

While it is much, much too early to evaluate the DeRosa trade, I was curious to see how the three pitchers the Cubs got back were doing so far.

John Gaub is a 6'2" 200lb lefty, pitching in relief for AA Tennessee. In 11.2 IP he has 20 Ks, a 1.54 ERA, and a .154 average against.

Christopher Archer is a 6'3" 180lb righty, starting for A Peoria. In 25 IP he has a 1.80 ERA with 30 Ks and a .181 average against.

Jeff Stevens is 6'2" 205lb righy, pitching in relief for AAA Iowa. In 16 IP he has a 2.16 ERA with 13 Ks and a .143 average against.

It was never as bad a deal as people made it out to be, although it was certainly disappointing when it happened as DeRosa was a good team guy. Haven't heard velocity reports on Gaub - up until his junior year, he was in the low-mid 90's, but then got hurt, iirc, and since then, was only low 90's. Off the top, a plus slider. Very solid LOOGY prospect.

Stevens is sort of in that Kevin Hart mold for me - capable of filling some role in the bigs, but not sure how key of a role it would be.

Archer was the prize of that trade, with the plus fast/plus curve. Love how he's done so far, and love his starting potential. Definitely has work to do with, um, the change, along with command, but Archer and Carpenter have been excellent down in Peoria (wouldn't mind seeing Carpenter get a look in Daytona soon - Archer has a ways to go and is young enough to keep him in Peoria for the whole year, imo).

Someone asked AzPhil's thoughts in a post yesterday, and I just wanted to ask it again. I was messing around with a list, just my own fan's take, for fun. As with all lists, more for discussion value. But I was messing around and in a quick run through, a possible top 10 I came up with is below.

1. Josh Vitters, A-. Power has been showing up.
2. Jeff Samardzija, B+. Easy to forget his 3rd full pro season. Control in AAA has been sharpened but more work. I hated the call up..
3. Jay Jackson, B. Slow start, but has gotten it going. I was one of those that had him highly ranked entering this year (had him 3rd, same order as above) and don't see a reason to change it.
4. Dan McDaniel, B. I was huge on him last year, but this has been better than I thought. Yes, I'll take his value ahead of Cashner. Cashner's got better stuff, but I don't think it's by enough to offset McDaniel's starting potential.
5. Andrew Cashner, B. I'm still not huge on Cashner due to the control.
6. Ryan Flaherty, B. Hasn't had the huge season, but I'm not worried as the discipline is there.
7. Tony Thomas, B. Very disappointed with the SB%. That's just eh. Other than that (and defensive concerns), excellent season that's sort of gone under the radar nationally, IMO.
8. Starlin Castro, B-. If he simply stayed afloat after the huge jump, I would've been happy. The fact that he has a 7 game hit streak and has gotten his offense going is just pudding.
9. Marcos Mateo, B-. Control has been better last couple of times out.
10. Dae-Eun Rhee, B-. Wary of ranking him higher until he gets back out there, but that's me being conservative.

Anyhow was wondering what folks thought on that quick run through. I think the system is improving, and I think there's hope, particularly lower down. Had a bunch of names that I pondered in the last few top 10 slots (Jose Ascanio, Hak-ju Lee, Chris Carpenter, Tyler Colvin, Jake Fox, Casey Coleman, Steve Clevenger, Welington Castillo).

Unfortunately I fear that Vitters is really over-rated at this point.

His walk rate has been Ryan Harvey-esque up to this point.

Even Brian Dopirak put up big Midwest league numbers in his 2nd full pro season.

As Corey Patterson,Felix Pie,Harvey,Dopirak have all shown us over the years. If you can't control the strike zone, you can't be a consistent offensive force at the major league level.

the low walk rate concerns me, but almost all the scouting reports suggest he controls the zone real well and that it's a case of the pitching at the lower levels basically not being challenging enough. At some point, one wonders if his plate coverage can really compensate, or if he can learn to take more walks as he mvoes up, but I'm not too worried yet. That's why I think, within a month's time, I'd really like to see vitters at Daytona. Keedy doesn't interest me all that much, tbh, and Rosa's future may be at first anyways (big fan of Rosa, but he had an injury and those swing problems this year so he has struggled). I was more concerned about Vitters' power, to be honest.

Only time will tell.

I really think for guys at that level it's more about what they are capable of rather than what they actually do and Vitters is very nicely built and has nice potential. Now it's up to Cubs coaching to teach him how to be a real ball player.

Vitters's low BB rate bothers me a little, but less so since his K rate is pretty low. The dude seems to be hitting everything he's swinging at.

Ryan Harvey, for example, swung and missed a lot. The numbers seem to say that Vitters is swinging a lot, but not missing anything.

Ryan Searle should at least be in the conversation.

yeah, he's been a nice surprise. after the ba comments about him, i wasn't sure what to expect.

Completely unrelated question. I used to watch the Daily Rewind on MLB.com all the time. It would be a 25 minute video with 2-3 minutes of highlights per game, that would recap every game from the day before. Basically, Sportscenter without all of the other crap I don't really care that much about. It's been a couple of summers since I watched it regularly, but I can't find it now. Does anyone know if MLB.com did away with it?

Dopirak this year in AA:
.306/.370/.569, 8 HR, 30 RBI.

Did they really fix his swing?

May 9,
MANCHESTER – Brian Dopirak clobbered the Defenders in a career night, leading the Fisher Cats to an 18-6 slugfest win at Merchantsauto.com Stadium last night.

The hulking slugger homered twice, doubled twice, tripled and finished with eight RBIs in the 5-for-6 outing. All eyes were on Dopirak in the eighth inning to see if he'd single for the first-ever cycle in franchise history.

He doubled, leaving him with a mere 15 total bases, easily the best single-game hitting performance in Fisher Cats history.

Rewind=Unwound

If you get the new MLB Network on your cable/satellite line up, they have a show like that, all extended highlights of each game, late at night and rebroadcast the following day over and over until 11 am with no analysis. It's called Quick Pitch.

Good to know, but it won't help my particular situation. I no longer have cable, basically because they took away WGN. I kept it mainly just to watch some of the Cubs games on real TV rather than MLB.TV. Now I am just watching them all online and canceled my cable. But I did enjoy watching sportscenter during breakfast to see what else was going on in baseball. Now it seems my only option is to watch each highlight individually on MLB or watch each games very short highlights (with commercials to start) on ESPN, which is simply not doable. I want something I can play and leave on for a while I am getting ready in the morning.

What's the problem? The MLB highlights play automatically once you start with one.

looks like it's gone...closest option would be to bookmark this page:

http://mlb.mlb.com/search/media.jsp?text=recap

and then click on each 2 minute highlight package for each game in the morning...hopefully they continue to order it by the latest posted.

He is not a major leaguer and he is not playing for the Nats. He hit 7th and played LF for the Syracuse Chiefs last night.

195/263/264 in 87 AB's.

He's a five tools player: hammer, wrench, screwdriver, blowtorch and sickle.

Seriously-- is Jake Fox going for the best AAA season of all-time?

34 G, 126 AB, 54 H, 13 2B, 2 3B, 17 HR, 50 RBI, 16 BB, 26 K.

.429/.513/.968 (1.462)

I realize that there's not really any place to put him-- the only positions he can play (poorly) are already blocked by people making a lot of money (LF Soriano, RF Bradley, 1B Lee).

But those offensive numbers are SICK.

I suppose it might make sense to try him out at 3B, which is what Iowa did a couple nights ago (Fox caught last night and had 2 PBs), but I guess the Cubs aren't feeling they need him there right now (which I understand because, well, the Cubs are playing fairly well at the moment).

I wonder would be see Fox only if Lee had/has to go on the DL, or if Bradley or Soriano get injured (not that I'm advocating more injuries, just wondering).

Mike Wellman-- are you able to watch Fox in the field? What's he like out there?

My guess is that Fox is an insurance policy right now and if he continues to rake, he might be worth a missing part or two around June/July.

"toonsterwu"??

ROMERO, welcome to the site - lol!

Thanks Mike for the "Heart-full" report. Unfortunately, to this point, as soon as Kevin gets to a major-league ballpark, and makes it to the mound, he forgets his control - and that hitters in the MLB sit on fastballs with no movement.

He does not suffer from lack of talent. With Hart, its all "upstairs". If the team had a sports psychologist, like the Red Sox and a couple other teams, it would do him some good, imo.

I want to nominate "toonsterwu" for the most weird "handle" of the month!

Yeah, it's weird.

It's Say-"It's Weird"-In-A-Nic-Cage-Voice Day in my office.

Fox at third for a month? Count me in.

...just to see if he can outhit Fontenot. It would put Fontenot in a role he's more useful at (backup IF) and gives Miles even less playing time which I'm all for. Unfortunately it would probably end the warm and fuzzy feelings of Bobby Scales being up here.

Might be an ugly glove but I see it as an improvement for the offense until ARam returns. He can't be too much worse than Ryan Braun was (or this years Matt Gamel experience at 3B) and it just might upgrade his trade value (to an AL team) as well as helping as righty DH in the interleague games coming soon.

I endorse the Mat Gamel comparisons to Jake Fox. I'm a big believer in pitching & defense over offense, but at this point you almost have to give him a chance and see what he can do. He's absolutely destroying the PCL.

And PS --
Bobby Scales is here to stay. ;)

I hate to burst the Bobby Scales bubble, but he can't field 3b, and if teams consistently start throwing him breaking balls he's already proven he can't lay off them and can't hit their either. So he's a mediocre 2b, which Hendry seems to collect by the bunch.

Sounds to me like you relish it.

No, I was happy for the guy getting his shot, and his hitting has been a pleasant surprise, but opposing pitchers seem to be having brain cramps when they pitch to him. His first week he showed repeatedly he can't lay off a breaking ball and can't hit them, looking terrible taking weak half swings. But they keep throwing him fastballs and he's been doing a good job hitting those.

If I were pitching to him and could get my breaking balls over the plate for strikes, I would never throw him a fastball. And those scouting reports will get around.

I just don't think there's a bubble to burst. He's performed well for a 54 year old backup who's been called upon to play regularly due to an injury. Does anyone really think he's the answer to anything?

He's definitely the answer to the question: what does regression to the mean look like?

Question:

What do Bobby Scales and Felix Pie have in common?

Answer:

They both strike out in a quarter of their at bats.

They're both 5-tool former top prospects who were destined to be superstars?

Oh, wait, that's just Pie. Scales is a backup.

Don't worry, TRN is just looking for a way to reconcile Scale's success so far b/c he looked at Scale's minor league stats and didn't see it coming.

I did.

Yes, Ryno, the amazing super scout who knows more than all the major league GM's.

He has a nice stroke, you're right about that. He also has very poor bat speed. In the majors he's just a guess hitter, and as we will see over the next few weeks guess hitters with JuCo level bat speed won't be very successful in the big leagues.

A new Inbox will be posted later Monday -- I know the hirejimessian people will be happy to read that. I get a lot of repeat mailbag questions so will try to address some here: The Cubs abandoned the high tech batting helmets they used last year because they were always breaking. They also have dumped the red-billed caps because it's easier to deal with one. There's nothing I can do to get more games on WGN or to realign the divisions. And Matt P. of Tampa will be happy to know the equipment guys are working on straightening out the crooked "C" on some of the batting helmets.

glad Muskat knows her fans...

She forgot: "Why do you suck so much?"

Let's see, who can we hate today? There's always Muskat.

She did a nice job the other day when she interviewed the Japanese coach who helped Fukudome in the offseason.

The walking Pulitzers in the dailies missed that story. I guess they've been distracted by other things, like the suspicions surrounding Theriot.

Virgiana Phil disagrees with me. The best validation I can hope for.

Hilarious. I just thought she ignored that blog but now I have a newfound respect for her. Good for her -- I'm really glad she took it lightly.

Regarding the Bobby Scales talk and breaking balls and such...

He's outhitting Fontenot big time.

End of story.

The Real Neal:

Question:

What do Bobby Scales and Felix Pie have in common?

Answer:

They both strike out in a quarter of their at bats.

I'll go out on a limb and wager $5 virtual dollars that Scales will outproduce Pie at the big league level this year in terms of OPS.

And it's no mistake or mystery. Scales knows how to hit and Pie does not. Sure Pie might have more ability or raw talent, but when you're swiping the bat around like a retard that doesn't really matter much.

there's not a GM out there who'd take scales over fontenot, though.

scales don't project for much. he has todd-walker-like defense (the older version) and is pretty much a slap hitter who's gonna swing a ton.

he's got 4xbase hits out of his 8 hits and that's a hell of a lucky start. it's a bit misleading, though.

I hope Scales becomes our Pujols, but I suspect he's only a darker Dan Rohn.

Speaking of Pujols, Garry Meier on WGN Radio today was having people come up with their best Pujols nicknames. One of the few he said he could read on the air was Albert "Cleans My" Pujols.

Carrie's mailbox article this week has an interesting name. Hmmm, Harden deeper, better leave that one alone.

Sori, Riot, Fukudome, Lee, Bradley, Fontenot, Soto, Miles, Lilly vs. Ryan, Rasmus, Pujols, Molina, Duncan, Stavinoha, Barden, Pineiro, Thurston

Hot.

I'm feelin it. I think Aaron Miles goes DEEP tonight. Deeper than Harden.

4th straight game with a HR for Vitters.

Many are saying that McGuire's tuteledge of Chris Duncan is in part responsible for the player's resurgence this year. The dude is raking big time.

So far, he's not come up with a positive test result, either.

mcguire on a ballfield outside his private residence?

i'll believe it when i see it.

Beliefe it. Mc Guire is a private batting instructor for two Cards, and two A's. I think Giambi is one of them as well.

oh, i'm just playing around.

still, the guy hates going anywhere in public. i know he's still doing offseason drills/camps/whatever with players on his property, though.

Who the fuck is McGuire?

the only thing that could have made tonight's game worse would be a crapload of errors.

lilly didn't pitch that bad. his curve was pretty damn nice tonight.

Yes that was embarassingly feeble, maybe Piniero had the night of his life but the guy doesn't usually have dominate stuff and usually bad control on top of that.

I hope this isn't the kind of game that sends the offense into a funk. Just have to move on tomorrow and hope Carpenter isn't 'old Carpenter' tomorrow.

Given the crappy Cub performance vs Joel Fuggin Piniero, The Blackhawks losing in OT, 3-2...

Kerry Wood caps a bad night...

enters bottom 9th vs KC with a 5-2 lead.

Guillen GO 4-3
Jacobs HR
Teahen HR
Olivo BB
DeJesus Triple, RBI...Blown save 5-5
Bloomquist SF. Loss 6-5.

Maybe the Indians will get so sick of him that they'll trade him back to us for Aaron Miles and Neal Cotts, and eat about 75% of his salary.

Ahh, wishful thinking.

Hey, at least the Farns got the W.

i think larussa took pinearo off the scrap heat there should be no way he shuts us out oh wait a minute he did.

scales,fontenot,miles two of them have to start each night
cubs definately need a better option for third,i would guess fontenots struggles are worse, because he is playing third.

i would have iowa start fox at third base a few games in a row,his numbers are much better then other three mentioned.

which pitcher goes on friday?

If we swing at the first pitch all the way through the lineup all game long, it almost doesn't matter who's pitching. No way to really know if Piniero had a great night, the way the Cubs hitters handed it to him. Jeez

Cubs hitters musta had a bachelor party or some shit to go to. Jeez. It was like Dusty was managing.

yeah i just saw where he threw 92 pitches in nine innings.

maybe we need to dust off freel and let him start a few in a row at third.

where am i going to find fontenots batting splits for playing third vs second ?

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cg...

Only a marginal difference:

213/340/685 at 2nd
203/424/707 at 3rd

4 out of 5 of his homers at 3rd.

thanx

New RSS feed headline:

Piniella: 'We need Fontenot to hit' (AP)

Um, just take him out of the lineup and replace him with Scales. Who plays baseball like it runs his groin?

Why the fuck is this so hard for managers?

And I hate it when they say, "He hasn't been there".

I was there dude. Played wide out and got my face creamed into the soil. So don't ever say that again.

I mean, I love Lou but I don't like him talking like he's a fucking God cuz he was there and I wasn't.

Okay then

Need Fox Now

this is ridiculous that we have Miles, Scales, Freel, Johnson, Hill on the bench - that has to be the lightest hitting bench of all time. Hoff is the only respectable bat on the bench.

Fox was a catcher all through college and his first seasons in the minors - I can't believe he can't be serviceable there given the bench is calling every pitch. Give Soto/Lee some days off and get Hoff and Fox some at bats!

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