Derby Champ Does Des Moines

Epifanio [Sandy] Guerrero has a new nickname. It’s Derby, courtesy of the apprentice ballplayers he‘s been working with this season.

That, a ring and a late dinner are his rewards for being what I guess you’d have to call the winning pitcher in MLB’s slugging orgy in St. Louis on Monday night.

Guerrero was Home Run Derby champ Prince Fielder’s hand-picked soft-server. His regular gig is hitting coach for the Nashville Sounds, Triple A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Last night I talked with him while the Sounds prepared to face the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines.

Derby fielded the good natured ribbings of the Sounds players in between swatting them fungoes and tossing a round of BP. He hits left and throws right, patrolling the field with baseballs bulging in his back pockets like giant warts. They suggest big pains in his ass.

When he hits infield the ball goes exactly where he wants it to off his bat. Each position winds up with a hard grounder to one side or another, a slow chopper they’re forced to charge and a truly major league popup; the guy is Rod Carew with a fungo bat in his hands. It’s a treat to watch after another little league season of layman volunteers who can’t so much as loft a fly ball in the general direction of a pod of shaggers.

Guerrero said that Fielder had been disappointed with his showing at the 2007 derby when Guerrero’s brother Mike [currently managing the Brewers’ High A team at Brevard County - they’re the sons of famed Dominican scout Epy Guerrero] pitched to him. Sandy was the 1st choice then too, but wasn’t available because of his duties at the time with the Brewers’ Double A team in Huntsville, the place where the two met as Fielder climbed the ladder of the farm system.

“We talked this year in spring training that if Prince was in the derby and I was free, he would ask me to pitch for him again.” Guerrero said. “He called last week and asked if I could come to St. Louis with him.”

Guerrero did more than serve up a steady diet of juicy fruit on Monday night. He and Fielder formulated a game plan in the NL clubhouse before they took the field.

“I told him it was a muggy night and to save his energy.” Guerrero explained. “No matter where the pitches are, take a few after every swing. Otherwise you’ll get tired in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Some of the other guys were yelling at him, ‘hey, what was wrong with that pitch,’ but he stuck to the plan and saved his energy. He wasn’t even tired at the end. He could have gone another round.”

Guerrero also told Fielder that he wouldn’t be pitching him low and in, normally the chubby slugger’s preferred sweet spot.

“I wanted to throw more out over the plate so he could extend his arms. When he hit the 500 footer I motioned to him to look up at the crowd and listen. The St. Louis fans were cheering him even though the Brewers and Cardinals are fighting each other. They’re good fans.” [I believe the red-clad crowd booed lustily when Cub token Ted Lilly was announced in the pre-games on Tuesday, but I granted Guerrero’s point.]

So how did the newly crowned sultan of swat show his appreciation for the customized pitching performance?

“Everybody wants to know if he gave me money or something. No, it was just an honor that he asked me and I was happy to do it for him because he’s one of the best hitters in the game.” Guerrero claimed.

“I did get a nice ring though and I’ve been wearing it. It’s in the clubhouse. And we went out to dinner with Prince and his wife that night. The next morning I had breakfast with him and I said, ‘man, can you believe we just won the Home Run Derby?’” Guerrero recalled.

It’s clear that he truly thinks Fielder is a [sorry] prince of a guy, noting that it’s hard not to cross the line drawn between coaches and players when the ones who are not only talented but eager to learn come along. Guerrero puts the misleadingly surnamed Fielder solidly in that category. Now that the two toil for different teams in the same organization it’s easier for them to just be friends.

Last night, while Derby sat in a dugout in Des Moines watching the Iowa Cubs beat Nashville 11-4, the great slugger named Fielder blasted a three-run shot off of a pitcher named Homer in Cincinnati.

Guess King Prince did still have another round in him.

Comments

Cool report Mike. Thanks!

P.S. - Gaub is off DL & Miles is back in town; went 0-3 last night, indicating that he is ready for reinstatement in Chicago...

Aaron Miles is the worst hitter the Cubs have had in about a decade. Why do they insist on playing him, putting him on the roster, pretending that he is serviceable? This whole thing with Aaron Miles drives me completely bonkers.

What? Enrique Wilson? Maybe he was worse... maybe.

Jesus, they're probably just calling him up because the I-Cubs can't stand him in the lineup anymore.

Cedeno (former Cub), Gerut (former Cub), Ronnie Belliard, and Edgar Gonzalez...

The only 5 guys with a worse OPB than Aaron Miles and > 100 AB

damn you dusty *shakes fist*

i demand a 100+ post thread debating miles vs. blanco and their merits of how either will ruin the cubs for the next 100 years or drive the team to victory in 09 and beyond.

Mike:

how has Darwin Barney looked to you?

Submitted by Mike Wellman on Fri, 07/17/2009 - 8:50am.

P.S. - Gaub is off DL & Miles is back in town; went 0-3 last night, indicating that he is ready for reinstatement in Chicago...

===============================================

MIKE W: And Iowa Cubs LHP J. R. Mathes (strained groin) and OF Brad Snyder (broken wrist) have been rehabbing at Fitch Park the last week or so.

The Cubs will have to make some roster decisions involving Iowa when Kevin Hart is recalled on Monday and Aaron Miles is reactivated from the DL. Unless the Cubs continue to go with 11 pitchers and/or trade or release Miles, I would think Sam Fuld and Mike Fontenot could get optioned to Iowa next week, meaning a couple of currently active I-Cubs position players would have to be disabled, moved down, or released at that time.

If the Cubs were to option Fontenot to Iowa for at least 20 days, he would use up his last minor league option, but it also would take him below 2+120 MLB Service Time post-2009, making it very unlikely that he would be eligible for salary arbitration as a "Super Two," saving the Cubs about $500K in payroll in 2010. (NOTE: Like Theriot, Marshall, and Marmol, Fontenot would have to clear Optional Assignmemt Waivers before he can be optioned to the minors, but Optional Waivers are generally just a formality because they are revocable).

 

Little Nate; you're welcome!

That was a serious WTF moment for me.

News of the Weird.

Brett Jackson walked four times, in one game, yesterday.

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stat...

who followed up a 4 for 5 game with a 5 for 6 game. Overall, he is 16 for his last 23 (though with little power, only 2 2bs in that period) and .344 overall on the season (.415 OBP, .409 SLG).

I kinda like the new version & eagerly await his next step up the managerial ladder here in Des Moines...

Cubs signed BJ Ryan is that 3/44?

Yes.

hehe

Cubster; sorry for the delay...so far Barney looks overmatched @ Triple A; he's 8/50 w/ 3 walks & 11 k's @ the plate & defensively, looks like he works hard [which you kind of appreciate]but nothing really comes easy for him - the good ones make stuff look easy; the marginal make everything look as hard as it actually is...

Mike -- Nice piece on "Derby." Your writing is terrific.

WARNING: Blatant plug coming...

In case people don't know, Mike has a book out called "Far From the Trees" about his old neighborhood in Des Moines and the characters he grew up with. It's well written and a very enjoyable read.

...end of plug.

In case people don't know, Mike has a book out called "Far From the Trees" about his old neighborhood in Des Moines and the characters he grew up with. It's well written and a very enjoyable read.
---
I've read MW's book too. Well done Mike, thanks for putting together such a personal view into your life even though many of the real events must have been painful to put into the book. Makes me appreciate how much (little) control parents have over their kids even back in the 50's and 60's. You had great parents and the pictures you painted of your mom and dad were wonderful and very real.

Belated but sincere thanks to Cubster & Sweet Lou!

Also, a bulletin from Des Moines: AARON MILES GOT A DOUBLE LAST NIGHT!

Bulletin #2: He got another one today! [sorry about the all caps in bulletin #1...

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  • Hmmm, my math might be fuzzy but if he retired 3 batters with 3 pitches, how did he get a 1/1 GO/AO ratio?

    bradsbeard 6 min 35 sec ago view
  • Pls DFA Peralta when Richard comes back. Richard 1 IP, O R, O ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks in first rehab appearance. We really need to trade for a LHRP.

    chitownmvp01 23 min 51 sec ago view
  • "The Boston Red Sox were banned from signing any international players for the next year and had five of their teenage prospects declared free agents on Friday after a Major League Baseball investigation showed they circumvented signing-bonus rules last year, a source familiar with the situation told Yahoo Sports."

    https://www.yahoo.com/sports/news/source-red-sox-b...

    Rob Richardson 4 hours 3 min ago view
  • The thing with Heyward is its not just free agency. He is way under performing his career #s. He's making the same % of contact but his soft contact is much higher and hard contact much lower than all his previous years so there is something very specifically going on this year causing the issues. Chances are he will eventually get back to his previous #s and it's better to get the slump now and get that hot run later but I wish I knew what is different about this year. He's either just not seeing the ball as well or a swing change is causing it.

    johann 4 hours 18 min ago view
  • Only 3 pitches for Leathersich. Not much of a rehab outing.

    Thanks for the reporting Phil.

    QuietMan 4 hours 30 min ago view
  • He's the nastiest pitcher I've seen in awhile. I'm gonna give them all a mulligan on this one.

    Coghlan's strike out was more disappointing. He was fighting off a lot of pitches and not swinging at crap, and on the last pitch, he swung at stuff he was laying off, and struck out.

    And Heyward, too. I don't blame Heyward - I blame free agency. I hate it. You almost never get a valid return on the investment.

    I look forward to the day when ball players own the teams. The current economics are not sustainable.

    Old and Blue 5 hours 31 min ago view
  • Oh, I'm sure you're right. He's not 27-27 in saves for nothing. But, man, I hope they learned last night that he didn't throw a single pitch in the zone to KB, Contreras or Baez, and they all just kept swinging.

    billybucks 7 hours 39 min ago view
  • Sounds like a much better game than last night's fiasco in Flushing.

    Old and Blue 7 hours 56 min ago view
  • I'm pretty sure it looks like a sweet pitch on the way in. How many sinkers like that are there at 98 mph? I agree that they should just do a Lackey and stand their with their bat on their shoulders until he throws a strike next time, but I can see how that's hard to do.

    The bullpen, on the other hand, is a mess, and Heyward is starting to piss me off.

    Old and Blue 7 hours 57 min ago view
  • I noticed that too. He's getting to everything, but when he gets right under it on a high flyball he looks uncomfortable

    cubbies.4ever 16 hours 31 min ago view
  • Did you expect anything different?

    billybucks 17 hours 1 min ago view
  • Wow, did they blow this game. Stupid plays by the kids in the 7th -- Almora throwing to 3rd instead of 2nd to keep the DP in order (when a DP probably wins the game) and Baez throwing to 3rd (to a backpedalling KB) instead of getting the easy 2nd out at first - cost them the game. Also, Contreras almost throws the ball into RF on a nonexistent pick-off play. And Maddon, for using Peralta in the first place. Did they do a bunch of shots in the dugout before the 7th? Unbelievably bad baseball. I thought Almora had a high baseball IQ?

    billybucks 17 hours 23 min ago view
  • men on 2nd/3rd, 0 out...and nothing.

    cubs lose :(

    crunch 17 hours 56 min ago view
  • UH OH! RALLY TIME!

    crunch 18 hours 6 min ago view
  • Getting tired of this Heywood weak sauce

    jacos 18 hours 16 min ago view
  • Yep, can't say I disagree with that. His first batter and resulting walk was just brutal. Reminded me of a bit of Jacque Jones spiking his throws into the ground from RF.

    Eric S 18 hours 25 min ago view