Running Into Trouble in Des Moines

After losing 5-4 yesterday to their neighbor and nemesis, the Omaha Royals, the Iowa Cubs are languishing in the cellar at 9-14. They are a league worst 1-7 in one-run games and have now dropped nine straight to the Royals.

Thomas Diamond has been one of the bright spots amongst the pitchers. After Sunday’s no-decision he has allowed only 16 hits in 27 innings to the tune of a 1.65 ERA and a .170 BAA.

Right with Diamond has been Jay Jackson. Jackson has surrendered just 19 hits in his 29 IP while walking only seven to go with 20 strikeouts. His ERA stands at 2.48 with a .188 BAA.

The offense has yet to get untracked for more than an occasional game. RBI machine Micah Hoffpauir is hitting below .200 and journeyman Jason Dubois has seen his assault on the club’s career home run record stalled by back spasms that have him doing a stint on the DL. After starting the year one for his first 18, Brad Snyder has gotten hot and was named the PCL Batter of the Week for the stretch from April 19-25.

Ryne Sandberg has been managing somewhat on the aggressive side to try and offset the team’s sluggish start at the plate [until Bryan LaHair‘s 7th inning homer yesterday the team had gone 24 innings between extra base hits], but the team is a poor 17-27 so far in the stolen base department, a figure that may improve now that Sam Fuld has been activated after nursing an injured thumb for most of April. Yesterday, with the team trailing by a run in the bottom of the 9th and Jim Adduci on 2nd after a sacrifice bunt, Sandberg called him to 3rd from his coaching box on a short passed ball with one out. Adduci was out easily.

On the other side of the SB department, Wellington Castillo has nailed five out of the eight who’ve run on him. Last year he led the Southern League by catching 44% of those trying to steal on his watch. Castillo also has four homers.

Attendance so far is running a modest 4% ahead of last year’s pace. If Sandberg is to have much of a positive impact in terms of either the standings or the turnstiles, the stretch between May 20 and July 11 will be telling. Between those dates the weather will warm and the I-Cubs will play 34 of 52 games at home in Des Moines.

Darwin Barney hasn’t done much to block Starlin Castro’s climb up the ladder. 19 of his 22 hits are singles, he’s fanned more than three times as often as he’s walked and his OBP is sub .300.

Frankly, if it’s true that a team reflects the personality of its manager, the I-Cubs to this point have been as collectively vanilla as Sandberg used to be off the field until his acceptance speech at Cooperstown. Usually it’s the players whose development you’re monitoring in the minor leagues, but in this case the manager too is openly auditioning for a ticket to the big leagues.

Too soon to tell in that department.

 

Comments

I wonder how much playing to win - versus how much training Sandberg is trying to do with is players in Iowa. Take a guy who can hit alright for AAA but is going to be asked to bunt more often in the majors comes to the plate in a "bunt or hit" decision area. Does Sandberg solely look at what is going to help the I-Cubs win, or does he have him bunt (or try to steal etc), in hopes of preparing him for what he'll be asked to do in the bigs.

the bunting obsession has followed sandy through all levels so far.

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  • I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.

    Tito 1 hour 55 min ago view
  • I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.

    And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.

    When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 59 min ago view
  • Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.

    billybucks 2 hours 4 min ago view
  • I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.

    Tito 2 hours 7 min ago view
  • Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.

    My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 20 min ago view
  • Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 24 min ago view
  • HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.

    Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 30 min ago view
  • Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?

    Hagsag 6 hours 14 min ago view
  • It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.

    Still impressive.

    John Beasley 6 hours 16 min ago view
  • Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.

    He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.

    billybucks 13 hours 11 min ago view
  • Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.

    Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.

    billybucks 13 hours 15 min ago view
  • 101 wins...most since 1910 (104).

    neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.

    crunch 13 hours 31 min ago view
  • Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?

    billybucks 13 hours 33 min ago view
  • Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump

    jacos 13 hours 37 min ago view
  • Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.

    billybucks 13 hours 42 min ago view
  • j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.

    felix pena, your turn.

    crunch 13 hours 44 min ago view