Rich Looks Hardened; Aaron's Miles Away

He doesn't exactly pack 'em in like Wood and Prior used to.

A crowd of about 7,000 gathered last night at Principal Park. Some portion of it was there for the express purpose of watching Rich Harden tune up for his return to the big leagues this weekend.

I watched Harden warm up in the bullpen before he took the mound. From less than 10 feet away he sure doesn't look the 6'1" or the 195 # attributed to him in the media guide.

The other thing I noticed right away was that his pant legs went all the way to his shoetops. The rest of the team tucks 'em below the knee, knickers style. I'm guessing he paid for the fashion privilege with a post-game clubhouse spread before catching the first plane out of town.

He retired the first six batters he faced on only 22 pitches without topping 90 mph. The second inning required only eight.

In the 3rd his velocity rose noticeably and he struggled a bit. I'm not alleging  cause & effect there - just reporting.

A sharp leadoff single was followed by a dribbler to short that went for a hit. After his Round Rock counterpart laid down a sacrifice bunt, Reggie Abercrombie singled in the only earned run Harden gave up. Abercrombie hit the first pitch and it looked like a changeup. In the 1st & 5th Harden fanned him with a steady diet of high fastballs. The changeup and splitter were more effective as out pitches once Harden got hitters down in the count. A Round Rock hitter [think his name is Hyperbole] is quoted in the local paper this morning as saying that Harden, "threw me a split-finger...that was probably one of the best pitches I've ever seen." My goodness!

Anyway, after Abercrombie stole 2nd, Harden issued one of his two walks to load the bases before bearing down and getting out of the jam on two weak flyballs to So Taguchi in right. He threw as many pitches in the 3rd as he had in the first two innings combined.

All six of his strikeouts were swinging. I had him for first-pitch strikes to 10 of the 20 hitters he faced. 44 of his 70 pitches were strikes.

Here's an inning-by-inning breakdown:

1. Strikeout swinging [four pitches]

2. Strikeout swinging [five pitches]

3. G3; unassisted [five pitches]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. F7 [two pitches]

5. L9 [one pitch]

6. Strikeout swinging [five pitches]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. Single to right [seven pitches]

8. Infield single [three pitches]

9. Sacrifice bunt [two pitches]

10. Single to left [one pitch]

11. Walk [five pitches]

12. F9 [one pitch]

13. F9 [three pitches]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

14. Strikeout swinging [five pitches]

15. Walk [four pitches]

16. FC; 1-6 [three pitches - should have been a DP to end inning; SS dropped a perfect throw on the pivot]

17. Strikeout swinging [five pitches]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

18. E3 [five pitches]

19. Strikeout swinging [three pitches]

20. 5-3 [one pitch; call it a night...]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Harden was a little slow covering first on the grounder to the right side that began the 5th inning. Luis Rivas ranged wide to field it before throwing it way behind Harden. The whole play was out of sync and it led to the other [unearned] run charged to Harden.

As for the other rehabber in town...

Miles played 3rd last night after two games @ 2B. The good news is that he made a real fine play on a bunt in the 5th that looked like a sure hit.

The bad news is that he went 0-5 with three strikeouts, one of those on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 3rd. At least he went down swinging. I don't look for him to fill the clutch-hitting shoes of Aramis Ramirez, but at least the I-Cubs will get one of their better players [Scales or Blanco?] back.

Last & Least: I got a kick out of Jason Dubois lining a screaming single off the wall in right-center [last time I saw him a routine foul pop to left caromed off his melon into the stands]. He ultimately got where he was supposed to be by scampering [?] to 2nd on a blocked WP. Later in the game he also scored from 2nd, hustling all the way on a more garden variety single by Matt Camp...Samardzija throws today against Bud Norris [future NL Central mound opponents] in a noon matinee...MW

Comments

I may very well, literally, pull the hair out of my head if Miles gets called up after going 0-5 with 3K in a freaking PCL game. It really grinds me that someone can suck so much and make over 2 million dollars-per. Player A-Player B:

Player A: 254/266/343, 2 HR
Player B: 204/250/265, 0 HR

One is Neifi! Perez in his last year (partial year) as a Cub, one is Aaron Miles in the first 1/3 of this season. They both have a lifetime 979 FPct, still I consider Neifi! the superior defender.

In nearly every aspect of the game, Neifi! Perez is either better or nearly the same as Aaron Miles, yet Neifi! doesn't have a job in the MLB.

I can't believe there were no better options out there. Hell, don't sign anyone and call up some douchebag from AAA to hit 204 in June. Blanco has shown he can really flash the leather in the infield, why not just use him.

Sorry, went off on my bitch fest and forgot to say nice work on the Harden recap. That is some insanely detailed reporting.

PS-

Neifi! '05 (Full year) 274/298/383, 9 HR.
Aaron Miles won't top these numbers, either.

I am confused, because Miles just came off a full year where he hit .317 .355 .398, following a year where he hit .290 .328 .348, 2008 being better than Neifi's MVP 2005 season and the 2007 season being about the same.

Could it be, and I don't know I am just spitballing here, that Miles was playing injured and that affected his numbers?

That's wonderful, but Miles didn't play for the Cubs in 2008 or 2007, he's playing with them in 2009 and ... have you watched him swing the bat? Dude is wasted.

Jesus, he was hurt. Why is that so difficult to grasp?

Miles was also batting 9th (Larussa Leadoff)last season, got plenty of ABs, and had Ankiel/Pujols/Ludwick hitting behind him. As well as Ryan hitting over his head. Personally, I think the lack of reasonably steady at bats is affecting him the most.

So full year = 379 at-bats? Also, just spitballing here, but could it be possible that his .342 BABIP in 2008 had something to do with his career year?

The entire debate is stupid anyway. Ryno is not trying to "prove" that Neifi is in fact better than Miles. He is just using Neifi, someone we all think sucks, to illustrate that Miles is pretty terrible. It's like arguing which turd smells worse. It's pointless...

So, Marmol didn't play a full year for the Cubs last year? That's interesting. I mean he couldn't have, he didn't throw even 200 innings.

Miles has a .312 career BABIP, and he's hitting 68 points below that this year... wonder why you didn't mention those two salient points?

You are comparing a pitcher in the bullpen to a starting position player as far as games played? That is interesting.

Miles had a BABIP of .342 in 2008 - I already mentioned that salient point.

Bottomline. Is he as bad of a player as he has been so far in 2009? No, probably not, he has been injured. Is he as good of a player as he was in 2008? No, he was lucky. Objectively, he is a .285 hitter with no power or speed, who is not a great defender either. That's what he is, plain and simple.

Mile isn't a starting position player, he's a utility man. Do you follow baseball?

No, I don't follow baseball at all. You are right.

You always resort to semantics when you get to the end of your argument. So let me just restate my previous post for you then, with corrections.

You are comparing a pitcher in the bullpen to a position player who played 80% of the games last season as far as games played? That is interesting.

Miles had a BABIP of .342 in 2008 - I already mentioned that salient point.

Bottomline. Is he as bad of a player as he has been so far in 2009? No, probably not, he has been injured. Is he as good of a player as he was in 2008? No, he was lucky. Objectively, he is a .285 hitter with no power or speed, who is not a great defender either. That's what he is, plain and simple.

Objectively, he is a .285 hitter with no power or speed, who is not a great defender either.

Fair enough.

I always resort to semantics? This from the guy who joined the discussion with trying to correct me about 371 at bats being a full season. Doesn't it bother you being a hypocrite?

"Objectively, he is a .285 hitter with no power or speed, who is not a great defender either. That's what he is, plain and simple."

Right, you figured something out. It was the same thing I was implying with my original post. It just took you 2 hours to come to the same conclusion. Congratulations, you're up to speed. Try to stay there for a week.

alright, that was fun....

let's just go ahead and put an end to all the insults and condescending comments from everyone...

Thanks.

Shut up, jerk.

Oh - would that include your comment directed towards me of "brilliant insight"?

Practice what you preach, please.

"let's just go ahead and put an end to all the insults and condescending comments from everyone... "

Rob's statement was forward looking -- so as long as he refrained from making any insults or condescending comments after that, he was, indeed, practicing what he was preaching.

TCR: thin skin need not apply...

apologies for my earlier comment though, I thought you made a particular obvious observation and I made a joke at your expense that has clearly insulted you...I take it all back...with sugar on top.

I came to hate Neifi, but the real problem was that he played all the time. He's not an everyday player. 154 games in 2005. That was the year that Garciaparra went down. The following year, we got Izturis and Neifi's playing time dropped some.

Miles was only supposed to play one or possibly two games a week. Aramis got injured so he became a starter, but I can't imagine Lou starting Miles in 100 games under any circumstances. He's just not Lou's type: no speed, no pop. Dusty's type--that's a different story. Dusty was the problem, not Neifi.

I never thought I'd hear myself defending Neifi, but role players get a lot of abuse around here.

When the Cubs parted company with DeRosa, they needed a backup infielder. The choices at the time were Cedeno and Nate Spears. So they latched on to Miles. What's complicated?

Thanks, Mike!

Great report, thanks a lot.

"The other thing I noticed right away was that his pant legs went all the way to his shoetops. The rest of the team tucks 'em below the knee, knickers style. I'm guessing he paid for the fashion privilege with a post-game clubhouse spread before catching the first plane out of town." As far as I know the Cubs require all minor leaguers to go "knickers style"......Harden got a pass on that rule.

As far as I know the Cubs require all minor leaguers to go "knickers style"

Anyone know the reason why?

Looks scrappier.

Nice work Mike.

http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/draft2009/insider/n...

anyone tell me who Law picked for Cubs in his 2nd mock draft? much obliged...

I know that the I-Cubs have gone all-knickers the past two years but don't recall it prior to that & haven't read or heard that's it's an organizational edict. Seems like there might be higher priorities...

let's just go ahead and put an end to all the insults and condescending comments from...
---
and yer ugly too.

from Judd Sirott on the Cub broadcast, 5th inning:

Aramis Ramirez was taking grounders today

Miles will be brought up for the Wednesday game (didn't say who goes down but it's either Scales or Andy White, probably Scales)

Cubs ahead 7-0 going into the bottom of the 9th

...and Milton Bradley went 0-6 with 10 men left on base. Sheesh.

Recent comments

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  • ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.

    cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/

    crunch 4 min 23 sec ago view
  • HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC. 

    Arizona Phil 3 hours 34 sec ago view
  • ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels. 

    M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores)  the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating. 

    Arizona Phil 3 hours 3 min ago view
  • E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.  

    Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).  

    Arizona Phil 3 hours 12 min ago view
  • PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.

    The E-Man 3 hours 55 min ago view
  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 8 hours 41 min ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 8 hours 42 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 18 hours 23 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 21 hours 21 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 21 hours 33 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 21 hours 42 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 21 hours 47 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 22 hours 6 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 22 hours 42 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 22 hours 59 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 23 hours 1 min ago view