Anticipated Pitching Duel Fizzles into Slugfest at HoHoKam

With two of the AFL's top starting pitchers on the hill, naturally the game turned into a slugfest, as the Mesa Solar Sox scored eight unanswered runs in the middle innings to overcome a 4-0 deficit, only to blow a four-run 8th inning lead, before scoring the game-winning run on a two-out single in the bottom of the 9th, en route to a 9-8 victory over Surprise Rafters in Arizona Fall League action this afternoon at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.

(And next time you come by, bring my stomach!)...  

box score

Cubs RHP Andrew Cashner got the start for the Solar Sox, and went just three innings. He left a lot of his pitches up in the zone, allowing four runs on seven hits (including three doubles and a home run) in what was his worst outing of the 2009 AFL season. 

Ike Davis (Mets 2008 1st round pick out of Arizona State) was Cashner's main tormentor, ripping a two-run double into the right-field corner in the the top of the 1st, and a two-run homer over the right-centerfield fence in the top of the 3rd, as the Rafters took an early 4-0 lead.

Cashner did strike out five and walked just one, but he had to throw 69 pitches (44 strikes) to get through his three innings.

Meanwhile, Rafters RHP Ian Kennedy (NYY) sailed through his first four innings, before falling apart in the bottom of the 5th. Like Cashner, Kennedy allowed four runs on seven hits, although at least he was able to get one out in the 5th before he was relieved. .

Red Sox CF Ryan Kalish clubbed a three-run homer off Yankees LHP Michael Dunn to cap the five-run Mesa 5th, and then the Solar Sox added two more runs in the 7th, one of the runs scoring on a Josh Vitters RBI single. 

Vitters returned to the Mesa lineup today as the Solar Sox DH, having missing five games after suffering a muscle strain while taking BP last week. 

Vitters grounded out to short in the 2nd, popped up to the catcher in the 4th, and lofted a singled over the third-baseman's head in the 5th, before ripping his RBI single to left in the 7th. (Vitters was called out for interfering with the catcher's throw to 2nd on a stolen base attempt in the bottom of the 9th--a VERY questionable call by the ump--leaving him 2-5 for the day).  

The Solar Sox took their 8-4 lead into the top of the 8th, but Doug Hogan (TEX) clubbed a two-run home run over the scoreboard beyond the fence in LF off Red Sox LHP Dustin Richardson to narrow the gap to 8-6, and then Cubs RHP Blake Parker blew the save, surrendering a towering game-tying two-run home run to Yankees 3B Brandon Laird off the light-standard in left-center with one out in the top of the 9th. Parker struck out two (including Ike Davis) in his one inning, while walking one and allowing the game-tying HR.  

The Solar Sox pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the 9th, on a two-out RBI single by Cuban defector SS Jose Iglesias (BOS) following a walk and a single (overcoming the Vitters interference play), edging the Rafters 9-8. 

Michael Brenly entered the game as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the 7th, as Hank Conger (LAA) pulled up lame at 3rd base, and scored on the Vitters RBI single. Brenly then stayed in the game at catcher, and grounded out 6-3 in his one AB in the 8th.  

Starlin Castro had the day off, although he and Angels OF P. J. Phillips alternated as the Solar Sox 1st base coach (good experience for when their playing careers are over). 

LHPs John Gaub and James Russell threw yesterday at Surprise, and Gaub had a very bad outing, immediately walking the bases loaded and throwing a WP after entering the game in relief, before allowing an F-9 SF and an RBI single. Gaub was yanked out of the game after retiring only two hitters and throwing 26 pitches (only ten strikes).

If it's possible to pitch yourself off the 40-man roster by throwing piss-poor in the AFL, Gaub might be doing just that. Now, I personally do not believe what Gaub does in the AFL should have a bearing on whether he is added to the 40 on 11/20, but it might influence Jim Hendry. 

Remember, Donald Veal appeared to be a virtual "lock" to get added to the Cubs 40-man roster this time last year, but then he stunk it up in the AFL, got left off the 40-man roster, and was selected by Pittsburgh in the December 2009 Rule 5 Draft. (And Veal has been the best pitcher in the AFL so far this year, too).   

Although Gaub had a poor outing yesterday, James Russell had another fine one, throwing 1.1 IP of shutout ball for Mesa in relief of Gaub. The 21-year old Russell has now thrown 9.1 innings of four-hit shutout ball (2/7 BB/K) over his last eight appearances for the Solar Sox.   

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Comments

I think Gaub's inclusion in the DeRosa trade will protect him from the Rule V draft.

from Rotoworld

Mike Fontenot became the final super-two eligible player, MLB announced, winning a tiebreaker with Adam Jones and Micah Owings.
All had two years, 139 days of service time. This is terrific news for the Orioles, who would have spent millions of dollars more over the next few years had Jones been eligible now. Whether it's good news for Fontenot remains to be seen. He's a candidate to be non-tendered by the Cubs, though it's possible someone will want to trade for him. Other super-two players this year include Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence and Matt Garza. Mark Reynolds barely missed out.

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=2...


Fontenot had 2 years, 139 days of service time to tie Orioles center
fielder Adam Jones and Reds pitcher Micah Owings but won the tiebreaker
for "Super Two" status because he had more service time last season.

~snip~

Other Super Twos include Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, Rays pitcher Matt
Garza, Cubs pitcher Tom Gorzelanny, Royals third baseman Alex Gordon,
Orioles pitcher Matt Albers, Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens, Astros
outfielder Hunter Pence, Rangers pitcher Dustin Nippert and newly
acquired Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez. 

I think there are a few more, at least according to AZ Phil's list...

http://thecubreporter.com/2009/10/23/tcr-friday-notes

He had B. Morrow at the 2+139 as well, but no mention in the article.

Trade thoughts: The Cubs need a lefthanded power bat. Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez would be perfect. In my opinion moving DLee now would give us the ability to go after Gonzalez. The lefthanded hitting options in center or right are limited.

maybe Utley and Hanley will be available too...

I think Hendry should look into acquiring Mauer. The Twins would like Aaron Miles, right?

The _________ would like Aaron Miles, right?

No.

my snarky response aside...

Fielder doesn't sound like he's going anywhere and it sure as hell wouldn't be to the Cubs. Gonzalez would be fantastic, but the logistics don't sound realistic. 

First you have to move Lee and get him to waive his NTC. Then you have have to get enough prospects that the Padres want plus some of your own prospects. Then you have to outbid the 3-5 other teams that would certainly make a run at him. At the end you could be without Lee, Gonzalez or a first basemen....

but you know, if you Hendry can pull off trading Lee, Dempster and maybe Fukudome and get enough prospects and payroll space to turn them into Gonzalez and Halladay...then I totally think he should do that :)

Phil Rogers is out of his freaking mind, and that's saying something since he's mentally challenged to begin with. The Tigers reportedly are willing to deal Curtis Granderson, and Rogers says the Cubs have to go all out to get the .240 hitting outfielder.

Here's a quote that should scare the crap out of anyone...

"If Dombrowski wants to talk about Carlos Marmol, potentially a closer for the next two or three years, and Starlin Castro, who could have a Shawon Dunston impact and tenure at shortstop, Hendry should be willing. Granderson -- at this point in his career -- is worth paying a huge price to get."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs...

I think it's difficult for Cubs fans to practice the art of "buy low." We advocate for it all of the time and scream when Hendry misses his window to trade away a guy with value or trade for/sign a guy right after he has a break out season (i.e. Bradley). We're good at preaching a "buy low" strategy, but piss poor in practice.

My point is that Curtis Granderson is a potential "buy low" candidate. After two very good years in 2007 and 2008, he had a down year in 2009 hitting just .249/.327/.453, all below his career averages. If the Cubs are going to trade for a guy like Granderson, now is the time to do it.

It's kind of like buying stocks. Everyone wants in when the stock is at it's high point, but the guy who makes money on the stock is the one that buys when the stock price is down, before it heads to its high. Buying low is easy to say, but hard to do.

I'm for buying low on Granderson--I love his defense and he was strong offensively in 2008 and 2007 (note his significantly lower BABIP in 2009).

I'm not sure I can justify giving up Marmol and Castro for him, though. That seems like a lot, especially considering we don't have other closer candidates.

I'm also not sure that Granderson is really the leadoff hitter than Hendry reportedly wants--his OBP usually tops out around .360 and he hasn't blossomed into an especially good base stealer.

The question for me is more how badly do the Tigers want to deal Granderson away. I'm not good at deciding how much a player is worth, but again Marmol and Castro seems like a bit too much for a buy low candidate.

We don't have any promising center field candidates on the way in the next year or two, though, so that's another pro for Granderson.

The Tigers are trying to shed payroll, but not rebuild, which means they are going to want pre-arb guys who can fill their vacancies. The Cubs don't seem to have many players who fit that description, unless you want to start talking about Soto and Wells.

I would gladly discuss Wells, Marshall, Gorzo, Hoffpauir, Fox, Fontenot, Fuld, Guzman, and Gaub with them. Maybe even Theriot if the Cubs could pick up a 2-year SS to fill time until we have a better idea what our current SS prospects might actually be able to do.

I'm sure other teams could come up with more interesting players though.

I understand buying low, but dealing Marmol and Castro for Granderson isn't buying low in my opinion. Everyone seems to be raving about Castro as a franchise caliber talent, and it's not like we have an all-star SS now.

I look at Granderson's stats and see a very athletic player who runs well but k's way too much, and last season struggled to make contact, and is owed $23 million over the next 3 years. In today's climate, $8 million per isn't really a bargain if his .249 average isn't a fluke. I wouldn't gamble Marmol and Castro to find out. If they wanted some other combo, like Bradley and a prospect, sure, I'd be interested, but I'm not out of my mind in love with Granderson like Rogers seems to be.

Everyone seems to be raving about Castro as a franchise caliber talent, and it's not like we have an all-star SS now.

That's the selling high part. Granderson is undervalued due to a low BABIP. Marmol is also at a low value right now though (too bad we didn't trade him one of the last two off-seasons like some poster here suggested).

Unfortunately, Hendry is our GM so he will hang on to Castro until the bloom is off the flower, then bundle him up with another couldabeen and turn them into a middle reliever three years from now.

*Point of Fact- Granderson K'd less, walked more and hit more HR's last year than he did in his 'breakout '07 season. The James people have projected him to hit .275/.353/.491 next year which is probably pretty accurate.

I agree with everything that has been said. I was simply responding to the comment about Granderson having a .240 average. It's true that he had a down year, but it seems to me that that is the time to buy if you believe he is going to bounce back.

I disagree with Phil Roger's suggestion that Starlin Castro should be included in the deal. One of the beauties of buying low is that you don't overpay for a player. Including Castro is too high of a price to pay.

Granderson is Soriano from his prime with better defense and better appeal to the media and the fanbase. I think that teams are salivating over him more for marketing reasons more so than his overall performance. He is an exciting player with speed and power. While I really like Granderson and I think his defense would vastly improve this ballclub, I would bawk at the idea of ridding Marmol and Castro. Maybe I am still hangning onto the threads of homegrown players like Grace,but I want to see at least some movement from the player development front. Marmol on the other hand to me would be expendable for the right price if we had other options. We don't, which is partially why we have been hearing about Hendry adding to the seesaw bullpen from last year. I do not think anyone can honestly say that they would feel comfortable with the 7-9 guys in a NLCS series.

your Soriano comparision fails when you look at their defense and walk rates...and Soriano has more power.

First, Phil Rogers is a dumbass. That's pretty obvious from anyone who reads the Tribune here daily or watches him on Comcast's 'Chicago Tribune Live' every week.

Second, I don't think Phil or anyone else really knows if Granderson is available let alone what it would really take from any team to get him.

Third, how does trading your only viable closer candidate for 2010 and your #1 position prospect help your team get better in 2010? Yes, you solve CF and maybe your lead-off position but who's going to close out the 35 to 40 wins you need to make the playoffs (Grabow, Guzman, Blake Parker?).

Fourth, I'm not infatuated with Marmol (he's got a boatload of flaws with the biggest being he can't find home plate with a search party many times) or Castro (I'd trade the whole farm system if I thought it would get the Cubs to the World Series). But here's a moment when it sure would be really nice to have a competent GM who could work inside the $140M budget he has, make a real good trade, and still realize where his team has depth and where it does not.

Fifth, this is where a team like the old Dodgers would trade a Joe Ferguson because they had Steve Yeager, or Billy Grabarkewitz because they had Davey Lopes. In other words, you keep Castro but you package Vitters (AZ Phil calls him the Cubs mostly likely prospect to flame out). Or you trade a Carpenter or Wells instead of a Cashner.

Of course, going back to Hendry and his whiz kids, it would really help if your baseball 'brain-trust' could really evaluate talent - both present and potential.

Shortstop prospects are the Cubs position of strength right now, with Barney, Castro, Lee and another couple guys who are nominally shortstops. You're not going to get an All-Star caliber player for Barney though.

I think a player like Elvis Andurus is more what the Tigers would be looking for, not some guy with a half season of AA ball. The Tigers are in contend mode, not blow up mode.

speaking of a good trade fit, they wanted to move Hamilton to a corner spot

Hamilton, Granderson, Cruz would be pretty neat for them...

They are both speedy lead-off caliber players in their prime that hit for power. Granderson walks much more, but his strikeout total increased this year due to the power number surging. His power production may also be limited to his home field. This guy would hit more homeruns if he were to play in Arlington or Yankee Stadium.

Phil Rogers is always wrong. Capt Peter Wrongway Peachfuzz was correct more often.

Doofus.

Bradley-for-Burell being discussed, but money's an issue — 9:35 p.m.

The Cubs and Rays continue to discuss a Milton Bradley-for-Pat Burrell trade, but money remains a major obstacle.
Burrell will earn $9 million next season, while Bradley is owed $21 million over the next two years.
The Rays want the Cubs to pay the vast majority of the difference.

One source described the negotiations as "worse than Chinese water torture."
Another said, "I wish cattle prods were legal."

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/10353396/Wednes...

Len and Bob's blog has a video interview with Hendry from the GM meetings.

http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/len-and-bob/2009/1...

If the only deal is with tampa for bradley then cubs should split difference
and pick up 6 million of bradleuys contract then tampa gets 2011 for 6 million.

Then we can move on to Hendrys next move.

Hendry's next move would then be paying some team $3 million to take Burrell of the Cubs hands.

Unless Hendry has a suitor for Burrell, then the Rays can keep him. Another defensive inept outfielder who swings out of his jock is much needed on this roster.

Levine speculated on 1000 yesterday that Hendry would do the deal hoping to then flip Burrell to another team, but even failing that, would do it anyways.

agreed...I want absolutely nothing to do with Burrell

my money says Bradley has a better year than Burrell next year anyways

the guy hit 30 HR's in Yellowstone National last year and walks at a 10% or higher rate, think we could find room for him in our lineup, even with all the K's...

that being said, I think Marmol and Soto would be the starting points as suggested...

he's also a waste of space versus lefties

I think the only trade the cubs and tigers make is Bradley for Ordonez, which I would do.

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/11/olney-on-aus...

Olney says he'll audition for scouts this offseason, throwing off flat ground

You left out the funniest blurb from the highlights: Brad Ausmus is quoted for 2010, "I could end up playing if somebody wants me."

who the hell is mark prior?

How about Milt Bradley and Ty Colvin to KC for Jose Guillen?

Solves KCs CF problem and gets us out from under Miltons 2011 money.

KC is not looking to add salary and they have already said they want no part. Their biggest problem is defense and Milton will not solve that problem.

Why in the world would the Cubs want Burrell. They are already afraid to play Fox in the outfield, and he would likely hit and field at least as good as Burrell.

And he costs almost nothing.

40 homer power and 380-400 On base skills would be a legitimate reason for Pat the bat.

Move Alfonso to Right and hope for the best.

Sure sounds better than 3-4 Years of Marlon Byrd or Randy Winn loading down future payrolls.

That being said I have zero faith in this front office not to bungle this thing to lynchian proportions.

interesting numbers you got there for mr. burrell.

Baseball reference is a useful tool.

380 or above obp 3 times. 30 or more homers 4 times.

His track record is twice that of Kfuk and Milton Bradley combined.

i stand by my statement.

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