Playing Out Strings

The team, the economy and the schedule all stunk. This looked to be the year when the Cubs’ winning streak at the turnstiles would snap.

 fireworksBut, in the tradition of neighborhood taverns everywhere, ownership resorted to cheap beer and even cheaper hot dogs to keep ‘em comin’ in and now, with 12 home dates remaining in the season, if the current average of just over 37,000 is maintained Team Ricketts will again have suckered/entertained in excess of three million guests. Maybe somebody slipped the fire marshal a free pass to a skybox suite to get him to look the other way so they could cram the joint when the schedule called for it, as when the Yankees visited over a weekend in June. Suddenly the place holds 42,000+.


I personally visited only once, my lowest total in years. I came for an unveiling and stayed for the dollar dogs and free sunset in the bleachers.


Business remains good down here on the farm, too. Despite the smallest market in the 16-team league to draw from, and that they’ll finish in the PCL North basement with their first losing record since 2005, the I-Cubs are still running 4th in the league attendance derby. Omaha is the crown jewel of the Royals’ top-ranked farm system and leads its division while playing this summer in a brand new ballpark. Still, the Storm Chasers are 9th in attendance. Guess maybe the name change didn’t take…


Fresh from dropping the finale of a nine-game series with Oklahoma City [four here; five there]Iowa comes home tonight for the final stand of 2011. The only unfinished business is Bryan LaHair’s assault on Joe Hicks’ club record for home runs. Stalled for a few days at 36, he remains one short. I’d like to be there when he ties and breaks it before collecting his reward of a September call-up. When that happens LaHair might be the happiest Cub at Wrigley Field all summer.


Meanwhile the I-Cub website has already posted the tentative schedule for 2012. Shuffle the cards.

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Comments

http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman/status/108218...

ricketts had 9-min conf call w/ #cubs employees. no further shakeup. hope is wilken/fleita stay. seek young, analytical gm

heyman also says grabow cleared waivers, he has had a decent 2nd half

http://www.news-journalonline.com/sports/base...

Matt Cerda on his LLWS experience

they say you can't really grade a draft until 5 years later...

http://ht.ly/6fJMN

Callis ranks Cubs 2005 draft as dead last

says Mariners changed their mind at last minute on Tulo to take Jeff Clement (whoops).

As for LeMahieu, the Cubs believe he has 15-homer power in him but he hasn't shown it. Even when he sizzled at Double-A (.358/.386/.492) in the first two months of the season, he hit just two homers in 50 games. LeMahieu is a gifted pure hitter, but he lacks the quickness for second base (he's much bigger than Altuve at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds) and the pop for third base. He looks like a tweener unless he starts hitting enough homers to project as a regular at the hot corner.

Bring in Jim Frey to give LeMahieu a pep talk on turning on the ball. He's a big kid, he could hit 15 hr's easy. I don't want him to be the infield version of Derrick May.

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/artic...

LaHair named to PCL post-season All-Stars

Peoria Chiefs twitter feed says no Chiefs will make Midwest League

That seems like two fair decisions.

I am just so glad we held onto Pena, so that LaHair sur le Feu didn't get a chance to show what he could do. I guess they want him to break the record though...

Over under on his big league PA's this year: 27

I go way under on that...Quade is managing for a job, no way Pena sits much.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php...

11 disastrous acquisitions, yet only one by Hendry

Jim Hendry’s credit card approach to roster building reached its limit in 2008 when the Chicago Cubs were not only the best team in the National League but the winningest Cubs team since Operation Crossroads. However, a quick playoff exit left the team scrambling for answers, and Hendry landed on precisely the wrong one when he signed Milton Bradley to a three-year, $30 million contract. Even setting aside questions about Bradley’s health (both mental and physical) and his reputation as a clubhouse cancer, what the enigmatic outfielder was likely to provide between the lines was unlikely to fix the problems his signing was purported to address.

The Cubs were looking for a left-handed bat to help balance their lineup—a problem that the media had lit upon as the explanation for two successive playoff sweeps. The switch-hitting Bradley, however, had always been weaker from the left side. The Cubs needed to replace the lightning-in-a-bottle production of superannuated center fielder Jim Edmonds; Bradley could only play a corner, thereby transforming Kosuke Fukudome from a defensive asset in right to a liability in center. Mostly, though, the Cubs needed a missing piece to finally push them over the top; marketed that way, Bradley was probably less equipped to shoulder the burden of a century of failed expectations than any player in baseball. It was no surprise that a slow start for both player and team led to boos, recriminations, charges of racism, clubhouse fights, banishment, and all the other trappings of a relationship gone disastrously wrong. The epitaph for Bradley’s brief tenure in Chicago was a straight-up trade for the desiccated remains of Carlos Silva; the biggest indictment of Bradley’s stay is that the Cubs were pleased with that return. —Ken Funck

I think the biggest mistake in that deal wasn't the player himself so much as that they didn't scout out what Bradley would be like when he struggled. It was also really weird that he couldn't make sliding catches.

Anyway, we paid $10 million for his .264 TAV that year (0.7 WARP), and paid $16 million for 0.4 WARP from Soriano, so he may not have been the most disasterous acquisition on the team.

Rebel Ridling named SL hitter of the week

rumor is Reds intend to play Yonder Alonso at third base tonight

Cubs in the 6th spot for the draft, Mariners and Twins just ahead of them at the moment

Cubs 57-77
Mariners 56-76
Twins 56-77
Royals 55-79

Astros, O's seem to have 1-2 spots sewn up

We'll finish in 12th. :) Then Tim Wilken will draft some pitcher with mono who will never make it to AA.

Cubs win
Mariners win
Twins lose
Royals win

1st cubs complete game shutout of 2011...yeesh.

and last...

Anyone watch the game? Was he still topping out at 88 MPH? I realize it wasn't exactly the '27 Yankees he faced.

SS Castro, 2B DeWitt, 3B Ramy, 1B Pena, CF Byrd, RF Colvin, LF Soriano, C Soto, P Wells

vs.

Torres CF, Keppinger 2B, Beltran RF, Sandoval 3B, Huff 1B, Cabrera SS, Belt LF, Stewart C, Lincecum P

first run wins the game

Cashner goes for AA again

Second year in a row that I haven't visited, and I don't mind at all. Last year was the first season I hadn't been I started attending in 1987. I did catch the Cubs in Mlwk this year (L), but let's just say the lure of new bathrooms didn't exactly get me scrambling for tickets. If I want to drink in the sun I'll go to a beer garden.

I can't believe that Wilken picked Simpson, when he KNEW he was going to get mono.

I know!

Cashner 16 pitches, strikes out the side

Cashner's one IP (first inning)...Tenn vs Jacksonville

K. Mattison (.265, CF): called strike, foul, swinging strike
P. Gran (.264, SS): called strike, Ball, Ball, Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, Swinging Strike
J. Negrych (.307, 2B): Ball, called strike, Ball, Swinging Strike, Called strike.

16 pitches, 5 balls. 3 strikeouts.

No speed gun for AA game day.
McNutt's night starts with 2nd inning.

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/gameday/in...

Vitters 2-run HR in Smokies game

Trey McNutt hits one as well

any parachat tonite?

not for me, although I'd love to see Lincecum try to strike out 20

some words on the Angles consistent defying of expectations

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/6898193/h...

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/artic...

Bour (1B), E.Crawford (LF), F. Batista(RP) and Buddy Bailey(1 of 3 managers) named to FSL post-season All-Star team

as was Hak-Ju Lee of course

LaHair hits #37 for Iowa

I'd love to see that dude get a shot in Chicago the rest of the season. Worst case is Pena production at MLB minimum.

If we are saving money till the books are clear then what do we have to lose?

the Cubs are fooled that he's a legit option and pass up on Fielder or Pujols?

Passing up on Fielder or Pujols: Not such a bad thing.

Agree. I'll join you as being a stick in the mud.

Were playing for last place or something we need the Vets!

AZL Athletics OF Kelvin Rojas was pulled from today's AZL game after going 0-2. As a result, Rojas is the AZL Batting Champion, finishing with a .379 BA, ahead of AZL Cubs INF Gioskar Amaya (who finished at .377).

The AZL Cubs played their last AZL game yesterday, so Amaya was stuck at .377. If Rojas had stayed in the game and made another out, his batting average would have dropped to .376 and Amaya would have been the AZL Batting Champion.

No doubt Ted Williams is spinning in his cryonics container.

I don't mind the .300 thing so much, but that is a bit chickenshit.

6-0, Cubs pouring it on.

Feels like a McNutt goes 6 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 5 K, 3 BB

Brett Jackson 1/3 with 2 BB, 1 2b and 3 Runs Scored and 0 K's

since July 23rd which is when he went back to throwing starter innings

44 IP, 20 ER, 57 H, 1 HR, 35 K, 14 BB

4.09 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 7.15 K/9, 2.86 BB/9

it's a 3.60 ERA since August

castro magic # = 29

(needless to say I won't be reading the DH anymore)Goodbye Bruce!

The Daily Herald will become the first newspaper in the Chicago area to charge regularly for digital access, the company is announcing today in letters to its readers.

In making the announcement, Ray also outlined details of a Subscriber Total Access package that will give print subscribers access to Daily Herald content on all digital platforms at a discounted $1-per-week rate, compared to a $19.99 30-day fee that will be charged to digital-only subscribers.

Read more: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110830/b...

Read more: http://www.dailyherald.com/#ixzz1WWrznsgf

They're trying to make money.

Actual newspaper subscriptions have never costed $20 a month. I don't know where they get their idea for what to charge for digital-only access. It should be cheaper for consumers than what they pay for a printing press to print a paper and have it delivered to your house/newstand.

Yep, the new DH fees are way out of line with the industry. I can get the WSJ online for $59/yr
My local paper's online edition is free to print subscribers or $60/yr for non subscribers.

I think you get an Age of Conan account with the digital access.

edit

I'd rather have a really good porn subscription. $20 a month for a shit suburban newspaper? As the kids say these days, lolz.

they certainly have the right to charge whatever they want for their services and eventually all newspapers will do something similar.

but the price points are a bit wacky...

Bruce Miles on Wscr -
Not bringing up bjax " due to adding him on 40 man" cubs want to wait until ST.

Also don't want to bench Byrd might try to trade

an actual smart move

Playing Byrd is going to boost his value?

guess it depends on what kind of month he has, doubt it will really matter ultimately with Byrd.

if there's a team that wants a vet CF, with decent defense on a cheap 1-yr deal, and allegedly a good clubhouse guy, they'll come knocking either way. He's not gonna be netting any 4-star prospects anyway.

I was speaking more of not wasting a 40-man spot on Brett Jackson quite yet.

Brett Jackson will certainly get an NRI to Spring Training, and unlike most NRIs, he'll very likely get a legitimate chance to make the Cubs 2012 Opening Day 25-man roster as the starting CF and lead-off hitter.

I doubt that the Cubs would want him to be a bench guy, though, so if Jackson doesn't win the starting CF job coming out of ST, I would think he would go back to Iowa at the start of the 2012 season so he can play everyday.

If B-Jax does win the Cubs starting CF (and lead-off hitter) job next year, Byrd could take-over the Reed Johnson 4th OF job in 2012 (if he isn't traded).

One thing the Cubs really need to do post-2011 is acquire a middle-of-the-order power-hitting RF, and a Byrd/Colvin platoon does not meet that need.

One thing the Cubs really need to do post-2011 is acquire a middle-of-the-order power-hitting RF

Had to laugh at that one. The Curse of the Sambino continues.

Anyway, I count 7 guys the Cubs could drop from the 40 man without affecting the ML team. It would be nice if Jackson had some experience against MLB pitching before being handed a job. It's also possible a new savy GM tries to stow him in AAA for two months to postpone his arb clock.

Agreed it would be nice if Jackson got some experience against MLB pitching. Wouldn't bringing him up Sept 1 would do just that...giving him 15-20 games to get his feet wet a little. Then coming into spring, if he played well he could be the CF. Should the Cubs really be worried about the arb clock with Jackson? It's not like he's 19 and in Hi-A ball....

he just turned 23, odds are the best years of his career are going to be from 2015-2019...best thing for an organization is to make sure he's a Cub then and as cheap as possible.

I'm in no rush especially on a guy I think will need a big adjustment period.

Also, Q-Ball won't play him much. If I really thought he'd play everyday, i personally would be fine with a call-up. Better to ship him back to AA to play in the playoffs and see how he plays in spring training (in which he struggled badly last year).

.269/.345/.462 is struggling badly Rob?
26 at bats, 3 Walks/4 K's, 2 doubles, 1 HR.
Well whatever...I'd rather see him get a shot next year than another year of 100 OPS+ from a 30 yr old+ stopgap OF. It's not like the Cubs are going anywhere in 2012-2013...may as well see what you've got on the farm.

I agree...sadly, that Q-ball would rather get Johnson and Byrd their time.and DeWitt in OF before playing Jackson regularly.

my bad then, must have been thinking of someone else...

I'd rather see him get a shot next year than another year of 100 OPS+ from a 30 yr old+ stopgap OF. It's not like the Cubs are going anywhere in 2012-2013...may as well see what you've got on the farm.

a line of thinking I don't quite understand, if you're certain they're not going to compete next year, isn't it best to maximize the arbitration and service time of one of the very few prospects that could be there when they are ready to compete?

as we all learned under Hendry, this shit adds up and 2-3 months of Jackson in 2012 won't matter one damn bit if you've predetermined they're not going anywhere next season

Michael Cuddyer

That's an interesting name...I just don't see signing him unless it's fairly cheaply...he'll be 33 before the season starts..and is solid...but pretty unspectacular production for an OF.

One thing the Cubs really need to do post-2011 is acquire a middle-of-the-order power-hitting RF,

every year since 2004...

I wonder if the Blue Jays would be interested in a Colvin for Travis Snider swap? Both guys have had terrible years offensively. Colvin is older but has 2 more option years. Colvin is the better defender. Snider has much greater offensive upside.

Maybe Colvin and John Gaub for Snider?

Maybe Colvin and John Gaub for Snider?
---
Colvin and Gaub for Alex Anthopoulos?

It would be worth investigating. Can Snider nominally play right field? The defense is probably the first thing the new GM tries to address... OK, second thing after handing Quade a check.

Looks like he's about average for his career in Right field. He's been yo-yo'd back in forth for 4 years now in Toronto. So He should be out of options at the beginning of next year.

Good buy low guy.

Submitted by Dr. aaron b on Tue, 08/30/2011 - 12:20pm.
Looks like he's about average for his career in Right field. He's been yo-yo'd back in forth for 4 years now in Toronto. So He should be out of options at the beginning of next year.

Good buy low guy.

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

DR AARON B: Travis Snider will still have one minor league option year left next year.

I'm going out on a limb that no one is interested in Tyler Colvin at this moment, even the Cubs unless he has one helluva September

I think it's likely that Brett Jackson will play in the AFL this year.

He was initially assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox (AFL) last year, but (along with RHP Chris Archer) he got diverted to Team USA and played in the Pan-Am Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico, and then he developed a leg infection once he finally did arrive in Mesa, so he was sent home.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php...

Josh Vitters, 3B, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee): 2-for-4, HR (13), 2 R, 2 RBI, K. Does he have enough of these games? Taking away reputation and expectations, does a 22-year-old at Double-A with a .283/.323/.442 line excite you?

another prospective GM list, this time by Wrongway with a focus on Kim Ng

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

Phil thinks Kim Ng is an Asian man. Imagine his shock when he found out its a woman?

I don't get it.

Focus on the picture... it's apparent why she didn't choose "fashion model" as her career choice.

on how Aramis is not everything that is wrong with the Cubs

http://www.csnchicago.com/08/30/11/Cubs-see-a...

Lou Piniella made a point to run things by his third baseman when he wanted a veteran perspective. Ramirez has done enough behind the scenes – particularly among the Latin players – that Carlos Marmol once asked Ramirez to be the godfather to his daughter. Castro credits Ramirez for helping him develop into an All-Star shortstop.

“That Hollandsworth thing,” Ramirez said. “I can’t control what guys like him think about me. What I can control is what the guys in here think about me, especially the young guys that I try to help. Some of the stuff – you guys (in the media) or the fans don’t know about it. It’s just inside the clubhouse.

The media, not to mention the fans, also seem to forget that because of injuries the Cubs brass actually asked both Ramirez and Soriano to take it easy running the bases in order to keep them in the lineup. The two of them have licenses to "loaf."

You can look it up--but you may need to pay for the archived articles.

in which Jonah Keri schools Bill Simmons...fun read though on Desmond Jennings.

http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/po...

http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/i...

Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts hired Stephen J.K. Walters to be a top consultant on all expenditures for the organization.

http://www.calvertinstitute.org/?p=326

Issue Specialities:
Industrial organization, regulation, economic analysis of law, public policy analysis, privatization, monopolies, utility deregulation, protectionism, labor unions, sports franchises, baseball research.

Specialty must have a different definition in Maryland that it does here, but I like the out of the boxish hire.

Ricketts has had his good and bad moments. The baseball guy watching my baseball guy watching my baseball guy thing was a low point, for example, or when he said 'if we had a strategy we wouldn't tell the media...", or his delay in firing Hendry could be seen as a low point (on the other hand you don't want management to act fickle and fire guys on a whim)

But in my opinion he's handled the Wrigley Field public fund pursuit brilliantly. He refused the "pony up the money or we're leaving" strategy by committing to stay in Wrigleyville. The sports radio world had a fit about this (at least WSCR), but it's not wise to make enemies and false threats. No one would believe the Cubs would move.

Instead, Ricketts pulled strings in the form of Bud Selig and the possible 2013 All-Star game which would bring money into Chicago, but not before improvements are made.

I assume J.K. Walters is being brought in to manage the politics & PR of the Wrigley Field improvements & public funds.

All things considered, I grade Ricketts a B- so far and I would say I'm happy with him. His GM hire will be very telling. Unfortunately it sounds like he wants a computer nerd rather than a baseball person. I hope they get a legit baseball guy.

2016, rather.

Is Epstein a "legit" baseball guy? Cashman? Hahn? Friedman? Note: Not under your definition, yet successful.

What have said "legit" baseball guys done for the Cubs? Hendry was one of these, as was/is Ed Lynch.

Ricketts pulled strings in the form of Bud Selig and the possible 2013 All-Star game which would bring money into Chicago

Wasn't this story already debunked?

Actually... just read the story that you linked to, which basically debunks it (i.e. "the National League hosts the midsummer event in odd-numbered years").

Been through this before//

It's not really a strategy. Ricketts is forced to stay at Wrigley Field because that is the collateral for the loans they took out to buy the club and have been repackaging into private instruments for sale to investors. If the Cubs leave Wrigley its value plummets and more collateral would be needed to make the investment loans good.

how financed is wrigley field? didn't hear anything about that...then again i wasn't looking. frank mccourt has like 200m in loans tied up in dodger stadium.

-edit-

according to "Investment News" there's about 375m tied up in loans using wrigley field as partial collateral.

added a draft pick standings sidebar on the right below the twitter feed box

Russ Canzler wins International League MVP

I guess we should be equally as upset about that as Seattle fans will be about the Pacific Coast League MVP... why does their season end a week early, though?

IL goes through another week+...into sept.

fwiw, i dunno anyone who likes him long term...esp. in the bigs.

he knocked a lot of linedrives off the short wall in durham, though...doubles power and nothing more.

hell, you can probably just look at his numbers alone and tell there's not a lot going on there except a utility bench guy...shame his K numbers are so high, you want a guy off the bench who can put the ball in play a bit more.

....of course his splits this year are:
Home: .304/.383/.527, 10 HR's
Away: .321/.414/.539, 8 HR's

fwiw, i talk to guys who see pretty much every game he plays...the home games more-so.

the TB minor league organization is silently being what "moneyball" is supposed to be. they use scouting and technology as a tool to battle BOS/NYY.

not like everything is pure open/shut science, though...no one knows for sure what anyone's got.

he's just not got the power to do it everyday at 3rd/LF...not like he'd be doing anything at 3rd with TB, though. if he could cut those swings-and-misses he'd be ka-ching bench. he'll probably be up with TB on the bench next year, fwiw.

btw...canzler is a VERY likable guy. i've not met him...i've been a medical shut-in all summer.

he's going to make it to the bigs and get a chance to show something for someone...it just might not be in a starter role.

he's a great guy to have around the clubhouse and he makes time for the community. he also makes it look/seem very easy and has a wonderful proud family.

technology being used by baseball teams and how the Ipad is being used

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/6908844/inf...

It makes you wonder why more teams don't devise defenses the way the Rays do. They employ so many unique shifts on so many hitters that 120 more balls in play have been hit into one of their shifts over the last two seasons than any other team in baseball, according to Baseball Info Solutions.

Think it's some kind of fluke that they've also "saved" many more runs this year than any other team in baseball? They're currently up to 62 runs saved, Baseball Info Solutions reports. The next-closest team, the Angels, is at 34.

I haven't completly given up on Vitters, but I think he went from a top prospect to just a prospect. My definition of prospect is someone that could potentionally play in the majors, even as a regular, but not much produciton is expected. Average player as his potential, if he reaches it.

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