What a Guy!-er
Brandon Guyer ripped a two-run home run over the LF fence in the 5th, made a spectacular run-saving diving catch in right-center in the 7th, and sliced a game-tying single to right with two outs in the top of the 9th, but the A's took advantage of a Ryan Flaherty error in the bottom of the 9th to score an unearned run and edge the Cubs 5-4 in AZ Instructional League action at the Oakland A's Papago Park Sports Complex Field #2 in Phoenix this afternoon.
The 23-year old Guyer is one of the most experienced players at Instructs (he has a half-season of AA experience), and he was invited to Instructs specifically to work on improving his arm strength, HR power, and outfield play in CF and RF.
Guyer was a third-baseman in HS before enrolling at the University of Virginia in 2004, where he was moved to LF because some guy named Ryan Zimmerman had already staked-out 3B for the Cavs. The Cubs drafted Guyer in the 5th round of the 2007 Rule 4 Draft, and kept him in LF at Boise.
Guyer began to display HR power at Peoria in 2008, hitting 14 dingers in just 88 games (he missed the first half of the season rehabbing an elbow uinjury at Extended Spring Training),.and he was so impressive at Minor League Camp this past March that he was jumped to AA Tennessee to start the 2009 season.
But Guyer struggled at Tennessee and was demoted to Hi-A Daytona in May. Then after hitting 347/407/453 in 73 games for the D-Cubs, Guyer was moved back up to Tennessee again in August. Combined at Daytona and Tennessee in 2009, Guyer hit 282/339/385, with 28 doubles, five triples, 3 HR, and 30 SB (7 CS) in 130 games.
Even though he is not a "natural" outfielder, Guyer plays OF with the "crash & burn" spirit, energy, and enthusiasm of a football free-safety (like a Reed Johnson or an Eric Byrnes), which has (unfortunately) resulted in all too-frequent injuries But when healthy, Guyer can make the run-saving or game-saving spectacular catch, as happened today.
It's likely that Guyer will begin the 2010 season back at AA Tennessee (where he finished the 2009 season), probably playing all three OF positions to help him develop the versatility he will likely need once he reaches the big leagues. The fact that he has also played 3B in HS and both 3B and 1B occasionally in college could mean that he might morph into a super-sub IF-OF at some point, especially if he can learn to play 2B.
Although I have no specific reason to believe this will happen, it's possible that the Cubs will add Brandon Guyer to the "taxi squad" of the Mesa Solar Sox next week, once Instructs is over and the AFL season commences. They did this two years ago with Steve Clevenger, after he completed Instructs. (Players on an AFL team's "taxi squad" are permitted to play in games on Wednesdays and Saturdays only, although taxi squad players often will end up being elevated to "full time" status to replace an injured player).
Besides Guyer's big day, 2009 6th round pick Brooks Raley got the start in this afternoon's game, and threw three shutout innings. The 21-year old lanky 6'3 lefty struggled with his command (throwing 56 pitches, but only 29 strikes), although he did get lots of ground ball outs, especially when he really needed them.
Raley is not overpowering (89-91 MPH sinker, with a decent breaking ball and an OK change), and while he is not as polished as fellow LHP Chris Rusin (Cubs 2009 4th round pick out of the U. of Kentucky), he does seem to understand the concept of mixing his pitches and working hitters. As things stand right now, I would expect Raley to begin the 2010 season in the Peoria Chiefs starting rotation, with Rusin probaly getting jumped to Daytona .
What's interesting about Raley is that he was probably the best "two-way" player in college baseball in 2009, a "draft-eligible" sophomore who played OF on days he wasn't pitching (Raley is a good hitter with plus-speed and an outstanding OF arm). Of the scouts out here who saw Raley play at Texas A & M, about half liked him better as an outfielder (CF), although (obviously) the Cubs see him as a pitcher (at least for now).
Raley's $750K signing bonus was more than what most 2nd round picks got this year, so his bonus was WAY above the slot where was selected (6th round, #200 overall selection in the draft). In fact, among the Cubs 50 draft picks in 2009, only 1st round pick Brett Jackson received a larger bonus than Raley,.But the Cubs had to pay over-slot to persuade Raley to turn pro (and he didn't sign until July), since he had two years of eligibility remaining at A & M. Now it's up to Raley to prove the Cubs weren't fools.
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only):
1. Kyung-Min Na, CF: 1-4 (K, K, 4-3, 1B), R
2a. D. J. LeMahieu, 2B: 1-3 (L-4, 1B, 6-3), CS
2b. Logan Watkins, 2B: 0-0 (BB), R
3. Ryan Flaherty, 3B: 1-4 (F-7, 1B, F-8, 1-3), R
4. Rebel Ridling, 1B: 1-4 (F-9, P-6, 1B, 5-3), RBI
5. Brandon Guyer, RF: 2-4 (4-3, HR, 5-3, 1B), R, 3 RBI
6a. Michael Brenly, DH #1: 0-2 (K, 5-3)
6b. Runey Davis, PH-DH: 2-2 (1B, 1B), SB, PO
7a. Brandon May, C: 0-2 (K, K)
7b. Jae-Hoon Ha, C: 0-1 (K)
8. Blair Springfield, LF: 0-2 (K, L-9, BB)
9a. Wes Darvill, SS: 0-2 (K, 4-3)
9b. Hak-Ju Lee, SS: 1-1 (1B)
10. Pin-Chieh Chen, DH #2: 1-3 (K, 2B, F-7)
1. Brooks Raley - 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 6/1 GO/FO, 56 pitches (29 strikes)
2. John Mincone - 1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 2/1 GO/FO, 33 pitches (18 strikes)
3. Yao-Lin Wang - 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 28 pitches (16 strikes)
4. Julio Pena - 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 16 pitches (13 strikes)
5. Corey Martin - 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 BALK, 1/1 GO/FO, 27 pitches (19 strikes)
ERRORS (1): Ryan Flaherty (E-5) - juggled ground ball allowing batter leading off the bottom of the 9th inning to reach base, and the runner moved up to 2nd base on a WP and to 3rd on a balk, before scoring the (unearned) winning run on a one-out line single to CF.
1. Brandon May: 1 PB
2. Jae-Hoon Ha: 0-2 CS
WEATHER: upper 80's & sunny (it's getting hot again!)
ATTENDANCE: 36 (SRO)
BLOCK: Of course any advantage is an advantage. An MLB, NBA, or NHL team getting the extra game at home in a seven game series is an advantage, I just don't think it is enough of an advantage for winning a division and/or having the best record in a conference or league over the course of an 82-game season (NBA and NHL) or 162 game series (MLB).
TEX takes the opening game from TOR (@TOR) 5-3.
TOR lost bautista + donaldson in-game due to injuries...TEX lost beltre...dunno if any will be lingering issues leading to missed games.
Ride the Kid Magic! Schwarber hadn't homered in a long time before last night.
Greg Maddux was 8-18 in his rookie season. Kyle has the 8 wins down pat.
Think Baby Maddux.
Prof. Harold Hill's THINK system at work.
Kyle is on the far left.
I support this. Hendricks has not only looked better lately but seems to start struggling after a few innings which is better than the 1st in the playoffs.
Just tweeted via Jesse Rogers: Hendricks starting Game 2. Wow. Just wow.
That was good!
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.