I-Cubs, Samardzija Break Even
For the Iowa Cubs the final tally is six dozen up, six dozen down. For Jeff Samardzija it's half a dozen of each after today's season finale at Principal Park in Des Moines.
The team finished with an even split of their gross of games in 2009 after their struggling pitching prospect lost to Albuquerque this afternoon to even his personal slate in what's been an up and down season in more ways than the win/loss ledger.
The last game of the year was clipping along at the ultimate getaway day pace through four innings. The 1st frame required only seven minutes. Both teams scored little league runs in the 4th. Albuquerque broke through in the top when Samardzija bounced a wild pitch that ended up on the concourse behind the box seats. Iowa tied it in the bottom when Matt Camp drew a walk, stole his 18th base in 21 tries and came all the way around on wild throws to both 2nd and 3rd.
In the top of the 5th Samardzija labored [lower case] and finally broke down in the face of the Isotopes' daunting lineup. The Dodgers' top affiliate parades a statistical juggernaut to the plate one through six in the persons of Tony Abreu, Xavier Paul, Blake DeWitt, Mitch Jones, Hector Luna and Dee Brown. Iowa's depleted squad looked like a high school team taking on professional athletes.
A two-run double by Paul and a two-run homer by Jones finished Samardzija's day and season after he got in trouble with a walk and a squibber between the plate and the mound that he threw away down the right field line. I watched him trudge dejectedly from the dugout to the showers after the bottom of the 5th before I left too. He may as well have walked backwards because that's the direction his career seemed to go in 2009.
Both the organization and Samardzija himself must be wondering what exactly is in store for him in 2010 and beyond. Can he be a big league pitcher or not and, if so, is he a starter or short reliever?
The big question for me personally is whether or not his next manager might be Ryne Sandberg. As a Des Moinesian I'm banking on Ryno climbing the farm system ladder to Triple A after taking Tennessee to the Double A playoffs this year. Next year he'll replace Bobby Dickerson here before returning to Wrigley Field in 2011.
As of this afternoon his chances look better than Samardzija's.