Tale of Two Prospects
Thursday night I invited myself to the Triple A debut of Kyle Hendricks. He was neither exciting nor disappointing. He is a pair of blue jeans, not a tuxedo. He is a home cooked meal, not a night on the town. He is someone we could get used to.
The highly touted are said to have electric stuff and mound presence. Hendricks’ repertoire is manually operated and he is not imposing. Maybe it works to his advantage that he strikes no fear. Subconsciously, maybe hitters’ guards come down and, next thing they know, they’ve been TKO’d by the middleweight standing opposite them.
Hendricks is things like workmanlike, efficient and methodical. Unlike so many with perhaps livelier arms he appears in command of his arsenal and to pitch with a plan.
Thursday night he was the 18th man to bat in the game and the first to reach base when he drew a walk and later scored the game’s first run. He almost robotically retired the first 12 Fresno hitters before a hit, a Mike Olt error and a barely nicked batsman resulted in the only unearned blemish against him in the run column.
As an aside, Hendricks’ opposite number, the aptly named Mitch Lively, threw a quality start in defeat, and went about his business more a la Mark Fidrych than Kyle Hendricks. Most of the time he threw from what amounted to a stretch whereby, as he came set he’d pull his hands around behind his hip as though keeping the ball away from someone trying to grab it from him. But every once in a while he’d launch into a full-blown, old school windmill windup, rearing back with both arms sometimes once, sometimes twice or more before coming home. He was funner than Hendricks to watch but, as mentioned, he was also the losing pitcher when all was said and done.
Hendricks might last, like a good pair of boots.
And then there’s Jake Arrieta.
He’s listed only an inch taller than Hendricks but, pitching the game right after him, he seems bigger, maybe because he’s heavier; stouter through the buns and thighs. On top of that he throws noticeably harder. Hendricks touched the low 90’s; Arrieta sits at 94/95.
Where Hendricks looks and feels dependable, if unspectacular, just about anything might happen with Arrieta and just about everything has. In his two best I-Cub starts combined he’s thrown 11 innings, allowing five hits, one run and fanning 20. In his three poorest, including last night, the totals are 12, 22, 13 (nine earned) and nine.
He breezed through the first last night with two swinging strikeouts. But he was gone before he retired anyone in the top of the 4th having allowed six hits, all singles, and walking as many (three) as he’d whiffed. Nobody hit anything hard off of him, he just stopped getting people out. He walked the pitcher leading off an inning, for chrissakes. How I hate when that happens. Kyle Hendricks would never do such a thing!
Arrieta reminds you of the old axiom about the kid with the million dollar arm and the ten cent head. So we’ll see about him. If he pans out the Feldman deal really starts to glow. The upside is way high. The downside is way low. Somewhere in between, steadily, is Hendricks.
Two asides from last night’s action: Denny McClain was on hand for some reason and they mingled him in with all of the birthday kids and civic hotshots tossing ceremonial first pitches. Ye gods, man! The poor old bastard, looking fat and mottled, wobbled out to the mound, drew in on the grass, and lollipopped one that barely managed to cover the remaining distance to the plate on the fly. Anyone there not old enough to remember when he was racking up 30 wins and 350+ innings per season must have had a hard time believing that this broken down shell was ever capable of such things.
The other thing I noticed as the players took the field and came to attention for the anthem was that the I-Cub outfielders numbered 2-5-3 from left to right. When’s the last time you saw a team deploy an all-single digited outfield? Struck me as unusual...
Maybe Theo will sign Shark just so he can call Billy Beane and say: "Let's see...Russell? Check. McKinney? Check. Hammel? Check. Ninja? Check. Any other deals?"
To be fair to Emery and Trestman the foreshadowing of last year started happening well before them with the failure or mismanaging of multiple draft classes forcing the team to overspend in a free agency market that is even worse than baseball. Kyle Long seems like a good pick but they traded away another good one in Olson because of Martz's stupidity and inability to change his offense to fit the team talent.
HAGSAG: I think Domonic Brown does fit the criteria of a reclamation project, but unless he is willing to accept a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training, I don't think the Cubs would be interested given where the Cubs are right now. A couple of years ago? Yes. But probably not now.
Brown would be better-off going to a club that is rebuilding and re-establish his value there, like Chris Coghlan did with the Cubs. And if he can re-establish his value, he could get traded to a contender at the trade deadline and take it from there.
"they just fade away"
(Except in the cases of no-fade lefties like Moyer, Orosco and Rich Hill.)
Amazing to me how quickly it fell apart under Trestman. Year 1, they were a Chris Conte brain fart away from making the playoffs. Year 2 -- coach, staff and GM all fired.
I am sure Jonathon Mota will be signed next.
AZ Phil, what is your thoughts on Domonic Brown as a reclamation project?
He also played LF in deference to Curtis Granderson.
Meh... other moves to make...hope to see a move or two soon.
I haven't seen much Bears football this year - difficult to watch the games out here, but the game I saw the week before I was watching in shock as I saw them actually make tackles. And Cutler has looked really good, too.
I guess people can quibble about play calling, but the team I saw is way more than 50% better coached (my only very minor disagreement with your comment).
Under Trestman, the team didn't do anything right. This team played like a well coached team when I saw them play the Rams.
"What is sometimes overlooked about Vogelbach because of his "bad body" and because he has struggled so much defensively is that he is a hard worker, has a great attitude, loves to play the game, and is very well-liked by his teammates, and while that may not seem important, teams do actually value stuff like that. "
As well they should. Replace a word here and there and you are describing any worker someone would hire.
Hak-Ju Lee signs a minor league contract with SF Giants.
Some closure on the 6 degrees of Separation for Matt Garza/Chris Archer
-0.3 WAR in 7.1ip last year...
-3 WAR projected over the course of a season.
the cubs just added an all-star reliever's worth of work by losing b.schlitter.
Rockies sign Brian Schlitter to a minor league contract. Good luck in Coors Field. Enough said.
i'll take him over frandy since it's unlikely he'll progress as a SS (and 2nd isn't looking much better).
i hope patton's delivery deception skills play well in the bigs over time. cubs need pitching options that are MLB-ready and dude fits the bill for a MLB/AAA mix...both needed.
I'm not saying he's great, but can we agree on the word "decent"? Became a pro at 23, called up at 26; nothing wrong with that trajectory, he hasn't been knocking around. Even in the majors his SO9 is 9.7. In the minors it's 12.2, so he's always missed bats, and without being a wild man: his walks are low. He cost the Cubs an unheralded A-ball middle infielder and a roster spot.