Coleman & Deep Threat Deep Six Round Rock

The Iowa Cubs swept the Round Rock Express last night behind the strong starting pitching of Casey Coleman in the opener and Jeff Samardzija in the nightcap.

Coleman retired the last 21 men he faced after the first two got hits in going the route [PCL doubleheader games last only seven innings].

Samardzija ran his record to 5-0 with five scoreless innings in game two. It was his second straight start after pitching out of the I-Cub bullpen since his demotion from Chicago in April. His return to the rotation was brought about by the brief promotion of Mitch Atkins who's now been returned to Iowa in exchange for John Grabow.

So now what happens with one of the highest paid players in MiLB? He's thrown 30 innings on this go 'round in Des Moines to the tune of a 1.80 ERA and a sparkling .154 BAA. But he's surrendered more walks than hits [19/16 respectively]. Granted, it's a very limited basis for comparison, but most of his splits are better in his two starts, which span a mere nine innings, than in his 21 IP out of the pen.

There are more intriguing prospects than spots in the rotation right now. Jay Jackson took a no-hitter deep into a recent start. Thomas Diamond has been very solid all year. Coleman has been more good than bad. Atkins is back. Samardzija remains as enigmatic as ever. And then there's reliable old strike-thrower J.R. Mathes and the possibility of a Randy Wells demotion to enable the return of Tom Gorzellany to the Chicago rotation, either as a replacement for a traded Ted Lilly or to showcase himself as a hunk of trade bait.

Speaking of trade prospects, if Derek Lee gets moved, would the Cubs let Micah Hoffpauir man first base for at least the rest of this summer? He's still hitting only .227 but has somehow managed to produce 39 runs while becoming the all-time leading doubler in I-Cub franchise history. Whenever and however Lee departs, I for one vote for the acquisition of a young replacement as opposed to the transfer of Soriano to that post. A hop in receipt of throws from across the infield would cost the Cubs a lot of putouts on bang-bang plays.

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Comments

There are some roster issues with some of the guys at Iowa.

Sam Fuld, Jeff Gray, Micah Hoffpauir, and Jeff Samardzija will be out of minor league options next Spring Training, Thomas Diamond and Brad Snyder (plus Jason Dubois, Mark Johnson, Bryan Lahair, J. R. Mathes, and Bobby Scales) can be Rule 55 Minor League Free-agents (6YMiLFA) post-2010 if not added to the Cubs 40-man roster by the end of the World Series, and Darwin Barney, Matt Camp, Scott Maine, Chris Robinson, Brian Schlitter, and Marquez Smith will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if not added to the 40-man roster by November 20th.

Hendry has a history of trading guys without near-certain MLB jobs who are out of options before the start of Spring Training, so I would expect Fuld, Gray, and Hoffpauir to get moved during the off-season.

However, Samardzija can't be traded because he has a NTC at least through the 2011 season (the Cubs can exercise a club option to terminate the contract for 2012, getting rid of the "no trade" and making Samardzija just another pre-arbitration player). But Samardzija will essentially be a "Rule 5" guy next season (actually with even more restrictions than a Rule 5), where the Cubs can't send him to the minors (he'll be out of options, and he can't be placed on Outright Waivers unless he waives his "no trade"), and can't trade him without his permission, leaving Outright Release as the only other alternative if he is not kept on the 25-man roster for the entire season (and if he gets released, the Cubs are on the hook for his $2.8M in 2011 salary, minus the pro-rated MLB minimum salary if he gets signed by a new club).

I would expect the Cubs to add Barney (for sure, possibly even before the end of the season), Diamond (probably, because he has a minor league option left if he is on the 40 in 2011), and Snyder (but only maybe, because he is out of minor league options, which would put him in the same class as Fuld, Gray, and Hoffpauir going into the 2011 season) to the 40-man roster post-2010, and then send some combination of Iowa Cubs RHRP Brian Schlitter and Tennessee Smokies LHRP Ryan Buchter, RHRP Hung-Wen Chen, OF Brandon Guyer, 1B-OF Matt Spencer, and/or OF Ty Wright to the AFL (Mesa Solar Sox) to help decide which other Rule 5 eligibles will get added to the 40-man roster post-2010.

Besides Barney, I would say Daytona RHP Chris Archer is the only other lock to get added to the Cubs 40-man roster post-2010, with Diamond, Spencer, and Schlitter less-certain but probably #3-A, #3-B, and #3-C, respectively.

Tennessee RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx might get added to the 40, too, because otherwise he is eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league FA post-2010 (he was released previously in his career, so he doesn't have to wait seven seasons before he can be a FA). And if the Cubs were to re-sign Diamond and/or Bibens-Dirkx to minor league contracts for 2011 instead of adding them to the 40-man roster, they would be eligible for selection in the December 2011 Rule 5 Draft, and both would likely get selected.

After this well written post by AZ Phil, which of those guys do you see as most likely to get added to 40 man? I'd love to see them package up a lot of those guys that haven't really gotten a shot and try to go out and get Cameron Maybin. It really doesn't look like he has a future left in Florida and with the Cubs almost undoubtedly needing to trade a lot of these players, why not package them to try to get an extremely and highly talented player who could use the development time.

Why would the Marlins want our 40-man roster leftovers? Camp, Maine, Robinson, Snyder, Fuld, Hoffpauir, Gray....they are all worth next to nothing on the trade market. And you can't squeeze them all into Maybin's roster spot.

Phil, obviously the Cubs will want to protect Archer, but you don't make clear why they need to protect him, when he's only 21. Is it because he was drafted by the Indians in '06?

I agree with you that Barney is not chopped liver, but I don't see him having much of a future with the Cubs, although they could use someone new at second base. With Lou, it's either speed or pop or you don't get in the lineup (unless your initials are KH). Barney has never hit 25 doubles or stolen 10 bases. The Cubs need middle infielders to bat 1-2 and be able to run. Right now, only Castro and Theriot qualify. A couple of years, you'll have Lee, Watkins, LeMahieu, Flaherty, etc., but the only middle infielder I can see at AA or above who could possibly make the starting lineup of a major-league team is Tony Thomas, who is actually having a decent season at AA but still has a long way to go. He does have some speed and some pop--the league minimum, at least.

What may matter next year is what Sandberg thinks, and he sees Barney every day, so wait and see, I guess.

Submitted by VirginiaPhil on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 11:38am.
Phil, obviously the Cubs will want to protect Archer, but you don't make clear why they need to protect him, when he's only 21. Is it because he was drafted by the Indians in '06?

I agree with you that Barney is not chopped liver, but I don't see him having much of a future with the Cubs, although they could use someone new at second base. With Lou, it's either speed or pop or you don't get in the lineup (unless your initials are KH). Barney has never hit 25 doubles or stolen 10 bases. The Cubs need middle infielders to bat 1-2 and be able to run. Right now, only Castro and Theriot qualify. A couple of years, you'll have Lee, Watkins, LeMahieu, Flaherty, etc., but the only middle infielder I can see at AA or above who could possibly make the starting lineup of a major-league team is Tony Thomas, who is actually having a decent season at AA but still has a long way to go. He does have some speed and some pop--the league minimum, at least.

What may matter next year is what Sandberg thinks, and he sees Barney every day, so wait and see, I guess.

====================================================

VA PHIL: Howdy cousin.

Generally speaking, among those who are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft, pitchers coming out of Daytona and above and position players coming out of AA and above are the ones who are considered for spots on the 40.

Chris Archer has pitched very well at Daytona in 2010 (especially recently), and barring injury, his would appear to be the one arm the Cubs would definitely want to protect as a long-term investment among Cubs minor league pitchers eligible for selection in the December 2010 Rule 5 Draft.

Darwin Barney has moved very quickly through the system, and would project as an MLB everyday SS on some teams, or at least a back-up middle infielder on others. If he remains with the Cubs, I would suspect that he would have a good chance to be the Cubs middle-infield back-up in 2011.

The Cubs Player Development people have major doubts about Tony Thomas because he has so many holes in his game (he is a below-average defensive 2nd baseman, he lacks the versatility to play other positions, and he is an erratic baserunner and a very streaky hitter). While I think it's entirely possible that Thomas will (finally) make it up to AAA in 2011 and be the everyday 2B there, I question whether he will ever make it as an everyday MLB 2B. Thomas literally played himself off the Iowa Cubs Opening Day roster this past March with a horrendous minor league camp, especially in the field and on the bases.

As for the long-term future (2012+) of the Cubs middle-infield, Hak-Ju Lee at SS and Starlin Castro at 2B (and probably with Lee-Castro hitting 1-2 in the order) is the Master Plan, although others such as D. J. Lemahieu (if he can turn on the ball and drive it with HR power like he was doing the last week of Instructs last October), Logan Watkins (who probably projects more as a utility 2B-SS-CF-LF), and Ryan Flaherty (who could play 2B, but more-likely will morph into a platoon corner IF-OF), could contend for front-line jobs at SS or (more likely) 2B at some point. And then further down the pipeline, Ping-Chieh Chen could develop as an offensive-first 2B, and Arismendy Alcantara has outstanding range and a plus-arm at SS. And Wes Darvill showed improvement at the plate and in the field during the course of Extended Spring Training (he led the EXST Cubs in walks, albeit with zero XBH), and looks like he might develop into a decent 2B as he matures (he probably doesn't have enough arm to remain a SS). And there is always the possibility (however remote) that the light inside Junior Lake will suddenly illuminate and he will realize his enormous potential.

AZ Phil, thanks for clarifying Samardzija's status.

If you look at his minor-league record, there is nothing remarkable about the numbers he has put up at any level; it seems like he got through the system more on reputation and potential than actual results. I wonder if he'll ever be an effective ML pitcher, and I am curious what your take is on that subject.

I think he got through the system primarily on Jim Hendry's need to justify having overpaid him.

Submitted by Q-Ball on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 1:03pm.
AZ Phil, thanks for clarifying Samardzija's status.

If you look at his minor-league record, there is nothing remarkable about the numbers he has put up at any level; it seems like he got through the system more on reputation and potential than actual results. I wonder if he'll ever be an effective ML pitcher, and I am curious what your take is on that subject

==============================================

Q-BALL: If he does make it to the big leagues long-term it will probably be as a 5th starter, and the Cubs have several other starting pitching prospects with higher ceilngs than The Shark, such that I can't see him remaining with the Cubs beyond next season (when they will essentially be stuck with him, unless he agrees to waive his NTC).

as soon as they saw any glimmer of hope with Ninja, they moved him up, seems to be a Wilken/Fleita thing as they've done the same with a bunch of their early draft pics. Vitters, Cashner, etc all got pushed up the ladder a little earlier than their performance suggested.

Ninja had a nice run in 2008 in Iowa and it continued in the majors for a month, been kind of living off that that now. Injuries were the only reason he made the team this year out of spring training.

Giant noodle outside of Wrigley.

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/06/...

It's good to see some music changes at wrigley. That's been needed for a long time. Now if only they would stop playing the gayest song on Earth between innings. I'm sure YMCA really fires up the players, but it's got to stop.

Yeah, the 1100 new empty seats this year are really enjoying it.

if hendry hadn't made so many dumb moves i would be wondering if he & az p had ever been seen in the same place @ the same time...

Hendry wishes.

Ricketts and his family embarked on a 15-day photo safari in Africa on June 13. A source close to Ricketts told ESPNChicago.com that Ricketts has the ability to communicate with his front-office executives while he's away.

The source also said Ricketts informed his front office before leaving what direction he preferred the team takes.

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/news/st...

He left explicit instructions for the team to head South.

noodles.

Did he mention they ought to head that way in a handbasket, or was that Lou's choice?

From the same Levine piece which Cubster linked to above...

Cubs have hired Ari Kaplan as the team's "statistical analyst manager."

Kaplan has created statistical profiles of players and organizations for the past 20 years. The 40-year-old Chicago native has blended scouting with statistical analysis for 21 major league teams.

I'm guessing that the new man's responsibilities might include telling Lou Piniella the things that heretofore he could only hear through Bruce Miles.

http://www.arikaplan.com/

he indeed exists.

http://www.arikaplan.com/ari_press_cp_oct99.html

and he's gunning for Hendry's job and is a Mets fan.

Kaplan's long-term goal is to become general manager of a major league baseball team. He's taken the first step by writing several new chapters for the book on baseball statistics. In so doing, he has captured the attention of major league management and scouts.

Ari Kaplan is quite the self promoter. He let the guy writing his bio believe he invented a system of baseball statistics he calls SABERMETRICS (no mention of Bill James). He claims he co-authored the O'Reilley book "Baseball Hacks" which lists only Joseph Adler as the author (Kaplan is listed among many "contributors" to the book). And early on he convinced the Orioles to hire him. How's that worked out for the Orioles?

All in all he impresses me as kind of a Jim Hendry of baseball stats.

it pays if I actually read the articles....

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/3...

but the most important note in Levine's column is that the Ricketts hired Kaplan and apparently did it pretty much on their own.

The hiring of Kaplan is significant in the sense that Tom Ricketts is now beginning to hire baseball personnel after concentrating on the business/marketing side of the franchise during the first eight months he’s owned the team. Ricketts informed the baseball operations department of the hiring three weeks ago.

"Which is why I think Kaplan's hiring is significant in another sense ... In the sense that Ricketts' willingness to hire his own guy in a position of some importance suggests that Jim Hendry's on a terribly (or wonderfully, if you're a Cubs fan) short leash. I suppose this was obvious even before Kaplan's hiring; the Cubs are losing and Ricketts inherited a general manager with a recent history of vexing moves."

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/3...

O's interested in Showalter

that always lasts about 2-3 years before the teams turns on him and then hires a manager to win it all.

Wait, get his number Cubs!!!

The most upsetting thing about that article is that Sullivan seems to have pretty good taste in music. I hope it was some hot 23 year old intern who actually made the list for him.

Brenly practicing his managerial interview...

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/news/st...

I've never rooted for the Cubs to lose but I'm almost there right now. I wouldn't mind seeing this team in last place when da Family gets back from their little African squirrel chase. I'd like to see Castro and Colvin do well, however, assuming Colvin gets a couple more at bats.

O's interested in Jake Fox

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/06/orioles...

They've become the Land of Misfit Cubs Toys.

Jackson LF, Barton 1B, Sweeney CF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Suzuki C, Cust RF, Rosales SS, Ellis 2B, Gonzalez P

lefty so I assume no Colvin again...

-edit- #Cubs lineup wed nite is 2b riot, 3b baker, cf byrd, 1b lee, rf nady, lf sori, c soto, ss castro, p demp

allegedly getting mad at fans...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCokXNCXP-Y

hehe...sounds like casual cussing while he was going out of his way to sign some autographs.

wonder what they were trying to hand lou when the dude said "here you go lou."

14th round pick RHP Colin Richardson out of high school

“We gambled on Colin in the sense that we thought he would drop a little bit because there were some (teams) that think he’s just a normal pitcher. We thought he was much deeper than that,” Wilken said of Richardson. “There will be more in his tank later. He’s got nearly four average to better than average pitches and the command and feel for his pitches we thought was pretty good.”

apparently not,

a full list plus the Richardson guy
http://muskat.mlblogs.com/archives/2010/06/61...

Round 4: LHP Hunter Ackerman
Round 8: LHP Cameron Greathouse
Round 10: RHP Aaron Kurcz
Round 11: LHP Eric Jokisch
Round 19: RHP Dustin Fitzgerald
Round 20: IF Ryan Cuneo
Round 22: C Jeffery Vigurs
Round 23: RHP Matt Loosen
Round 28: RHP Joseph Zeller
Round 32: LHP Brent Ebinger
Round 34: IF Dustin Harrington

ackerman's a local kid...he's getting a bit punished early in 'prospect league' ball in west virginia.

for those looking to track him for whatever reason:

http://prospects-wvminers.bbstats.pointstreak...

As long as we got Jokisch, that's all that matters.

A little Tinactin will take care of it.

awesome.

expect No. 1 draft pick, pitcher Hayden Simpson, to be all but signed and delivered by the weekend if all things go well with the physical.

http://blogs.dailyherald.com/node/4233

Derrek Lee compared Tue's #Cubs game to Class A play. Said Lou: I didn't know Class A teams played that bad."

http://twitter.com/CarrieMuskat/statuses/1634...

bwhahah

Become Traveling Comedy Troop for Remainder of Season

http://muskat.mlblogs.com/archives/2010/06/61...

"It's not early anymore," GM Jim Hendry said Wednesday. "It's not disastrously late but it's time to play better baseball. You can't play baseball like we have the last two weeks and think you're going to be a contender, not at all."

Brilliant. Maybe he's just trying to hang on to his job until Joe Morgan's job is available.

sounds to me like he's bracing the fans for players being dealt we'd consider important to complete this season as a competitive team...well, unless the cubs go on a winning streak

yeah dlee!

Soriano sac bunt?

okay...

It ended up a sac bunt, he was trying for a hit. He caught everyone by surprise. Took an excellent barehand snag, spin, and throw by the pitcher to get him by a half step.

slightly reassuring, when's the last time you think Soriano practiced bunting? or tried to bunt in a game?

Hopefully this isn't a repost:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKOJVpdT6SI&fe...

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

I have no intention of firing Lou Piniella," Hendry said Wednesday. "Lou and I have a great relationship. Lou has done a lot of good things here. We're just going through a tough snag. It's the middle of June. I still feel comfortable we're capable of getting back in it.

your move Ricketts

Capable and likely are two different words, Jim. Alarming that anyone can say anything about the Cubs is comfortable. Maybe the lockeroom is too relaxed?

or tried to bunt in a game?
---
per Muskat tweet: Alfonso Soriano's sac bunt was his 1st with #Cubs and 1st since June 25, 2006, when he played for #Nationals

So Rob G is the family looking forward to the big matchup this weekend?

eh, the Angelfan Wife might be, nothing about this Cubs team excites me much.

I'd be more interested in Rodney getting holds and Fuentes getting saves for my fantasy team. Although I have Marshall and Colvin as well.

~sigh~

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/columns...

nothing like some good solid passive-aggressive blog criticism...

"Where's the empirical evidence that bench coach Alan Trammell would do anything better than Piniella, besides taking grounders at short?"

hahah

Followed up with: "I try not to look back, but Lou has a history of being able to rally the guys and get it going," Hendry said. "I think all of us can look at ourselves and say it's time."

Never heard of this "writer" before but he and his editor should go to school and get a degree, since they think:

In their ranks, amateur baseball arsonists abound, conspiring to blow up this middling team, the peaked Lou Piniella era, and the head of the Jim Hendry regime.

Should have been written, and then "printed". I've read it six times. What is that sentence supposed to mean? Arsonists don't blow up things, and no one wants to blow up Jim Hendry's head.

http://twitter.com/JoeFrisaro/status/16355417827

Fish DFA Renyel Pinto.

somehow he's connected to Lilly losing his no hitter (6 degrees of separation)

A victim of his severe reverse splits, fattish WHIP and "bad luck?" (BABIP vs LH batters .467)

A decent middle innings guy misused as a LOOGY & Late inning stopper.

Pinto's got a body and delivery that scream out "injuries." That front knee of his, I think, is probably going to be very achy when he gets older. That has nothing to do with the DFA, of course.

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