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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  • Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.

    The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.

    Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.

    Old and Blue 55 min 4 sec ago view
  • If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.

    billybucks 9 hours 57 min ago view
  • Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."

    billybucks 10 hours 40 min ago view
  • This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.

    Charlie 10 hours 51 min ago view
  • I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.

    They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.

    However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.

    The E-Man 10 hours 58 min ago view
  • I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
    - They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
    - Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.

    billybucks 11 hours 1 min ago view
  • new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup

    crunch 11 hours 12 min ago view
  • Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.

    .500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.

    blockhead25 11 hours 18 min ago view
  • ...i hate espn.

    nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.

    oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.

    crunch 11 hours 33 min ago view
  • I'm liking this rookie Nathan.

    CTSteve 11 hours 34 min ago view
  • Richard DFA'd. Meh...

    The E-Man 14 hours 25 min ago view
  • Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.

    Charlie 16 hours 58 min ago view
  • The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.

    chitownmvp01 17 hours 30 min ago view
  • If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.

    If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.

    Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.

    chitownmvp01 17 hours 32 min ago view
  • The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.

    billybucks 19 hours 29 min ago view
  • I'm with you, Rob. You pretty much summed up how I feel about it.

    JoePepitone 21 hours 49 min ago view