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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  • Now pitching for the Cincinnati Reds:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwbUCI9bEvA

    QuietMan 4 min 38 sec ago view
  • Sorry if I made it sound like a Schwarber for Sale straight up deal was reasonable, obviously Cubs would need to give up more than that. You don't trade Sale unless you're rebuilding and if you're rebuilding you want more than one piece. Easily 3-4 pieces with Schwarber being the main one...but that type of an ace arm or All-star talent with a few years of control is the type of return the Cubs should look for if they move Schwarber. I don't think they'll move him until he's healthy though. TheJedi are pretty good at maximizing trade value.

    Rob G. 8 min 16 sec ago view
  • I think you're very much overvaluing Schwarber if you think he can fetch Sale by himself. An unproven rookie with demonstrable offensive flaws he hasn't had the chance to show he can overcome and with no defensive upside will never fetch an ace of the quality of Sale in today's market where pitchers are fetching insane prices, especially with Sale's team friendly contract. You'd for sure need to throw in a pitching prospect in return at least.

    johann 59 min 51 sec ago view
  • best relievers in baseball tend to not be the best relievers for very long though...

    also, when you start just trading away guys for marginal benefits, that window will shrink. The window is easily through 2021, just have to look how long Rizzo is signed for and how long they have rights to Bryant, Russell and so on down the line.

    Can't say I'm too worried about the SP, they've done nothing but land guys on the cheap and on the expensive since they've arrived. TheJedi will figure that out.

    Rob G. 1 hour 36 min ago view
  • Not sure I agree with this logic. The Cubs are one of the best teams in baseball, they have spent heavily on the team over the past couple of seasons, have more hitting prospects than they have places for them to play (and more on the way), a clear weakness in the bullpen, and have a 1.5 year window with Arrieta (to say nothing of the likely declines of Lester and Lackey).

    Unless you think (maybe even if you do think) Schwarber is the next coming of Babe Ruth, I would certainly consider trading him if it brought back a couple of the best relief pitchers in baseball.

    Rob Richardson 4 hours 18 min ago view
  • Miggy was going to sit anyway with Lester starting.

    In related news, do any of the Cubs pitchers want to throw to Contreras?

    Rob G. 4 hours 31 min ago view
  • Only Russell and Miggy failed to reach base yesterday. Both sit today.

    billybucks 4 hours 39 min ago view
  • Trading Schwarber actually makes a lot of sense because his actual position is currently being taken by Anthony Rizzo, unless they vote in the DH this offseason.

    Trading him for a reliever is never going to happen though. I don't think you can trade Schwarber unless you get a CF'er for a few years (presume Fowler finds his multi-year deal next offseson) or a couple of high end young starters...or an established starter...a good one like Chris Sale.

    Rob G. 4 hours 51 min ago view
  • I don't see what the Yanks have that the Cubs need.

    Ryno 4 hours 55 min ago view
  • peter gammons on MLB network pushing the yanks/schwarber angle...says insiders from the yanks say brian cashman highly covets him.

    unless that conversation starts with a.miller (2/18m left on contract) i dunno how you even start that conversation given the "not trash, but no stars" state of the yanks minor league system.

    they got corner OF'r aaron judge, C gary sanchez, RHP james kaprielian's questionable elbow, RHP domingo acevedo...all interesting, none expected to impact the game like schwarber's power potential.

    crunch 5 hours 29 min ago view
  • Zo, Heyward, KB, Riz, Contreras (LF), Baez (SS), Szczur (CF), Ross, Lester

    Cubster 5 hours 37 min ago view
  • damn. low sample size blah blah whatever, but that slash got sneaky good. 10 hits, 4 walks, 2hr, 1 double through 39 PA...nice

    crunch 5 hours 56 min ago view
  • Buddy Ryan takes his place alongside George Allen as the great Bear head coaches who never were.

    VirginiaPhil 8 hours 51 min ago view
  • Well, at least he can still hit: Jake slashing .294/.368/.868. Forget hitting 8th -- he should hit 6th.

    billybucks 9 hours 9 min ago view
  • Curious to see today's lineup vs. a LHP: Ross needs to catch Lester, Joe likes Javy at 3B when Lester pitches. Heyward with back-to-back good games at the plate, and is actually hitting a little better against LHP (.247/.341) than RHP (.232/.321), although neither is much to write home about. But, tomorrow is an early day game, so some regulars will probably sit either today or tomorrow.

    Maybe Willson in LF, KB in RF and Almora in CF? If so, Albert Jr., assume every ball is yours.

    billybucks 9 hours 14 min ago view
  • "Pitching prospects not looking so hot"

    That reminds me that Lucas Giolito will start for the Nats tonight.

    VirginiaPhil 9 hours 17 min ago view