The Scrap Heap is Our Roster Depth?
We still must not have any pitching prospects that are ready to be promoted. Jay Jackson, who's dog did you kick or what the hell happened to you in 2011? As recently as last January, Fangraphs had JJax ranked as the Cubs #5 prospect.
Cubs Insider reports:
The Cubs have agreed to terms with RHP Manny Corpas and RHP Andy Sonnanstine on non-guaranteed split contracts for the 2012 season.
We've had some time to discuss the many corpses that are being wheeled into the catacombs of Wrigley Field of late. The newest name added to that group is Andy Sonnanstine.
Sonnanstine 28, was non-tendered by the Rays in December after posting an ugly 5.55 ERA and 12/12 K/BB ratio over 35 2/3 innings at the major-league level this past season. The soft tossing right hander will serve as insurance for the bullpen and starting rotation.
I'll dig deeper, after the jump...
Until 2009, Sonnanstine was known as a crafty righty and back end of the rotation guy with the Rays. Something happened to the Rays rotation during that season or were they just upgrading their mediocre talent with better pitching prospects? In 2008, Sonnanstine had a strong season, pitching 193 innings over 32 starts and went 13-9 with an ERA 0f 4.38 and a WHIP of 1.29. Was that smoke and mirrors? Nowadays, the Rays seem to have a never ending pipeline of high end pitching talent that has been bumping guys like Sonnenstine to the sidelines. Names like Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis and Matt Moore made the decision to unload Sonnanstine this offseason an easy one for Tampa's GM Andrew Friedman. I don't see any track record for Sonnanstine having what I'd call success out of the bullpen either.
per MLB Trade Rumors...
He's made 80 starts and 52 relief appearances during his five seasons with Tampa, though his career strikeout (5.7 K/9) and walk (2.3 BB/9) rates are identical in the two roles. Sonnanstine is a fly ball pitcher and is very homer prone (career 1.3 HR/9), though his ERA is a full run lower when coming out of the bullpen (5.43 vs. 4.40)
He was non-tendered the same day as former Cub, Koyie Hill.
Here's how Sonnanstine originally got Wally Pipped:
On August 19, 2010, Sonnnastine was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Jeremy Hellickson was called up to make his MLB debut that day against the Twins.
I don't know whether 2010-11 was injury plagued for Sonnanstine or that he was just a washed up pitcher. In 2011, he only pitched 35 innings with 4 starts, an ERA of 5.26 and a WHIP of 1.45. His current baseball reference.com comps evoked Brandon's Duckworth and Backe. I think the Cubs saw a version of this act in 2011 in a younger and very hittable Casey Coleman. In Sonnanstine's final start for Tampa on June 4th, here was an article from after that game:
Sonnanstine has allowed homers in each of his last five appearances and Tampa Bay is 0-4 in games he has started. It was the 5th time in his career he's allowed at least 3 homers in a game. He allowed 11 total HR's in 2010 and has given up 10 already this season.
"By the end of the day I have to throw strikes. I've always been a guy that can make in-game adjustments but tonight that wasn't the case," Sonnanstine said.
After that outing, Sonnanstine had 3 more relief outings in June he was sent to triple-A Durham. Ironically, former Cub prospect Brandon Guyer was called up to replace him.
Manager Joe Maddon said Sonnanstine was sent down because “it’s really been difficult to get him usage.”
Subsequently, Sonnanstine didn't distinguish himself in Durham. He had 9 starts, a 3-6 record in 56 IP there with an ERA of 4.82 and a WHIP of 1.41. He resurfaced from triple-A with the September callups and his only work was on Sept 20th against the Yankees with a lonesome shutout inning with 2 hits and 2 K's.
Didn't the Cubs see the mirror image (as in lefty version) of that act last season on May 20th in Boston?
Doug Davis made his second start in a Cubs' uniform and could not complete four innings of work. Davis pitched from behind in the count for a majority of his outing. The veteran southpaw surrendered seven runs on eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Davis threw 89 pitches in 3 2/3 innings, 47 for strikes.
I guess Jedstein must have fond memories of Sonnanstine craftily beating the Redsox in 2008. On September 10th, Sonnanstine pitched 7 innnings of one unearned run ball with no walks and 7 K's. That game was won by Tampa on a 14th inning 3 run HR by Carlos Pena.
Later, in the 2008 ALCS playoffs, Sonnanstine beat the Redsox again to put the Rays within one game of the pennant. Again at Fenway, Sonnanstine held the Bosox to 3 runs in 7 1/3 IP (helped by another Carlos Pena HR) in a 13-4 win. Some managerial quotes from that post-game on Sonnanstine's effort:
from Terry Francona...
Sonnanstine "has a lot of deception in his delivery, but what he does really well -- there's a lot of movement in that delivery, and he keeps it intact," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He throws a ball or two and starts to get out of whack, he gathers himself, stays over the rubber, and he's obviously very confident against us right now. You can tell he feels good about himself, as he should."
from Joe Maddon...
[He] really threw strikes," Maddon said. "I always pay attention to the radar gun readings with him. He was a lot of 87, 89 [mph], which was really good. Actually a lot of 88s and 89s.
"When he's pitching at that velocity, there's a bigger disparity between that and his offspeed stuff, and that's when he does really well."
I have fond memories of Jon Lieber and Mark DeRosa in 2008 too but that doesn't mean they should be back in Chicago for 2012. Is Sonnanstine more likely to be rotation depth for Iowa than a long man in the Cub bullpen? Could it mean he's the 2012 version of Rodrigo Lopez or Ramon Ortiz? Those are two names I was hoping not to hear in any form during 2012. I recall the Jim Hendry quote after the Lopez acquisiton, "we've been scouring (the minors) for a guy like him (Rodrigo) with veteran experience."
I'm thinking that the Cubs version of the Carmine software program that now guides the Cubs braintrust must have a virus. Now here's a notion, Cubbery meets Moneyball.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.