Attack of the Soler Powered Headlines

 

Well, he passes the eyeball test with flying colors. Entering the ballpark in the top of the first you know something new has been added to the home team as soon as you fix on the leggy right fielder. Clear from the mezzanine behind home plate you can’t help but notice that pair of long, thick Cuban stogies as he lopes under the game’s first out.

The lineup now has some real heart to it, what with serial sluggers hitting third, fourth and fifth.

Baez fanned meekly to end the 1st. Bryant reached on an error leading off the 2nd and swiped a base (two in effect since the surprised, belated throw ended up in the outfield and advanced Bryant to 3rd) while all attentions were on the new kid in town hitting behind him. Soler had to be anxious but he never swung before walking on a pitch that nearly beaned him. Next time up, though, he followed Bryant’s single with one of his own, guided right back up the middle on the first pitch he saw. Then later he would accept another base on balls when he passed on a close 3-2 pitch. He appears to have what used to be known as “a good eye” before it was euphemized into “command of the zone.”

By their third turns Baez must have been chomping to reclaim some spotlight. So he launched an OMG moonshot over and out of the playing premises into the leftfield parking lot. There was some wind behind the blast but still it was something to behold. Maybe a better barometer of his prodigious power was the double he swatted on Wednesday afternoon when he took an outside pitch off the base of the wall in center, sans breeze. The crack of the bat registered somewhere between a literally cracked bat and the thunderous boom of last night’s homer. It was kind of a brittle sound like the taking of a small bite; the peep of a popup. And it went off the base of the wall in dead center.

Suddenly the club that’s been trailing the PCL in hitting most of the summer looks the most dangerous on paper. Don’t forget that Mike (all or nothing at all) Olt has also been stirred into the mix. Last night he laced a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double and got to soak up some cheers from a nice-sized crowd for the first time in what must have felt like a mighty long time. And in another at-bat he bounced a, wait for it…single (gasp)! He also botched a play defensively at first base but that hardly matters.

It was a good night at the ballpark quite apart from all of those goings-on. The breeze felt refreshing and carried an almost narcotic aroma mixed from grilling sausage and popping popcorn. If you listened close you could hear the pwoosh of beer vendors popping open their merchandise. By the middle innings when the sun was calling it a day the field and sky looked through naked eyes the way they do through sunglasses at midday. It was one of those nights when I fell into trances between innings. Except when the t-shirt bazooka fired a round straight at me. I caught it, banded up like a cowboy’s bedroll. I figured it was probably something from a realtor or insurance agent; probably in a medium or a large so I didn’t even bother to unroll it until I got home. It was fun just to be one of the few among nearly 10,000 to actually win something for free! The fact that it turned out to be a genuine I-Cub t-shirt, size XXL, made it almost hard to fall asleep, even way past regular lights-out; even sporting that brand new pajama top. But I managed, with visions of back-to-back-to-back soaring in my head.

 

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The breeze felt cooling and good and carried an almost narcotic aroma mixed from grilling sausage and popping popcorn. If you listened close you could hear the pwoosh of beer vendors popping open their merchandise. By the middle innings when the sun was calling it a day the field and sky looked through naked eyes the way they do through sunglasses at midday.

Waxing baseball poetic. You should write a novel, oh wait...

http://www.amazon.com/Versus-Demons-Michael-Wellma...

http://www.amazon.com/Far-From-Trees-Troubled-Neig...

http://www.amazon.com/STUBS-Fathers-Tickets-Greate...

Mike: Let me know when you miss seeing Mendy Alcantara. I have a ticket waiting for you.

Thanks, Cubster! Couple things I forgot to mention: The disabled ManRam spent much of the game hanging out in the I-Cub bullpen where he appeared to enjoy being one of the guys, making the rest of the gang laugh and even signing stuff for kids between innings despite the ushers' instructions that no autographs are allowed until the game ends. Also, I-Cubs now have 5 games in 3 days w/ the Memphis Redbirds while the parent clubs go at it over the weekend @ Wrigley.

http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2014/7/25/5937383/greg-maddux-best-pitched-g...

Some Maddux love

"The game started at 7:05 p.m. in Atlanta, and it ended before sunset."

and this...

The Madduxiest game ever

Date: July 22, 1997
Teams: Braves at Cubs
Time of game: 2:07
Pitches: 76
Strikes: 63

david cone's 88 pitch (10K) perfect game approves.

fwiw, don larsen was in attendance and threw out the first pitch of the game.

Watched Vizcaino warm up @ close range last night & he seemed very loose (the ManRam effect). When he came in he was throwing 96 but the first 2 hitters he faced singled...dunno the problem but his arm appears strong & he doesn't appear worried...

maybe we should worry that he isn't worried?

While this look is not predictive when looking at the Cubs and each team that met this criterion had its own unique competitive cycle, it indicates that the majority of teams in a similar situation to the Cubs have gone on to periods of success, most of them quickly

http://www.baseballamerica.com/draft/history-indicates-cubs-competitive-...

Definitely a first in my lifetime, this minor league thing.

I remember reading the Sporting News long ago and every year looking to see how their ONE good prospect was doing. Then he'd come up to the majors, back in the day when there was no Internet, and you'd see a huge hitch in his swing, ala Pat Bourque. No warnings from forum posters, nothing. Just this awful hitch, and you knew, right then, that the guy you'd been watching in the minor league stats sheets was going to bomb badly.

Today, the Cubs almost have too many prospects - not that there really can be such a thing. But it won't be long until we see the team competitive and then some prospects like Villanueva and Vogelbomb get traded for a veteran pitcher, and they'll go on to great things. It's probably inevitable that a lower level prospect or two gets traded and TheoCorp will take some heat for it, but it's also unavoidable because they will eventually have to package some for starting pitching. I see this as a good thing.

Look at the list, http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/mlb/news/prospects/ind...

More talent in that group of 20 than all of the Hendry years combined. The really sad part is when Hendry left, Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters were the crown jewel of his farm system.

I think we can finally see what it means to invest in scouts, have a GM that knows how to evaluate talent, and have the coaches in place to work with talent. All of that was missing under Hendry, and Theo has done a damn fine job so far into making it a real minor league system. Instead of just a couple jokes (Jackson and Vitters) and a whole lot of nothing behind it.

Kind of the lost in the shuffle are guys like Schwarber, and McKinney who I think could be just as good as the names we all know.

I agree with you about the unprecedented depth of the talent pool today, but let's not forget that Wilken also drafted Donaldson, Cashner, Samardzija, Baez and Vogelbach, while Fleita's side of the house signed Castro and Alcantara.

It might be interesting to contrast Alcantara and Corey Patterson, smallish prospects with similar toolsets that included speed, power and defensive ability. I might give Alcantara a slight edge in toolsiness for his infield skills and for hitting from both sides of the plate. Patterson was a big deal when he was rising in the minors, where Alcantara was mostly under the radar until this year, and he is still excluded from groupings like the Core Four and the Fab Five. The bar has obviously been set much higher in the Epstein era.

[Rob, I haven't been able to log in fully to TCR for several days, at least using Chrome. This morning I thwarted your attempt to silence me by switching to IE!]

Good points all VaPhil! I'd point out that Alcantara had a lot more success in AAA than Patterson did.
Still can't believe how they rushed him through..seemed like Patterson could've used a full season at AAA.
Oh well...

Patterson doesn't have Daytona on his resume, either. It's tough down there in the FSL--ask Almora and Schwarber. Trying to read Hendry's mind, here's what I get: Patterson is heading to the majors anyway, so why make him slow down at speed bumps?

Well, maybe Schwarber stopped scuffling last night, we'll see, but that was the point of sending him to Daytona when he was barely out of Indiana U. Hoyer on Baez earlier this year:

He's in a big slump. He'll have to figure his way out of it. He'll be stronger for having gone through this.

Exactly. why skip a step on the development process? It wasn't like Patterson destroyed AA and AAA.

eh...hindsight and all I suppose...but I know there were those that questioned his readiness to leave AAA so quickly.

Pat Bourque. There's a name from the past that gives me the heebie jeebies. How about another like Gene Hiser (Cubs' 1st round pick in 1970)? They REALLY didn't know how to draft and develop position players back then.

To compound that, they made a bunch of bad trades in the '70s. In some cases, they gave up young talent for older players.

November 2, 1972: Billy North to A's for Bob Locker. North, 24 at the time of the trade, became the starting center fielder for the A's, who won the world series in each of the first two years after the trade. Locker, 34 at the time of the trade, had a good year for the Cubs in 1973, going 10-6, with 18 saves and a 2.54 ERA over 106 innings pitched, and was then involved in two subsequent Cubs-A's trades (i) November 3, 1973, traded by the Cubs to the A's for Horacio Pina and (ii) October 23, 1974, traded by the A's with Darold Knowles and Manny Trillo to the Cubs for Billy Williams. Locker did not pitch in 1974 and posted a 4.96 ERA for the Cubs in 1975 before getting released in June of that year.

May 2, 1975: Burt Hooton to Dodgers for Geoff Zahn and Eddie Solomon. Solomon pitched 6-2/3 innings for the Cubs in 1975, and was traded prior to the start of the 1976 season to the Cardinals for Ken Crosby, who posted an ERA of 8.41 over parts of two seasons for the Cubs. Zahn pitched 62-2/3 innings over the rest of 1975 for the Cubs, with a record of 2-7 and an ERA of 4.45, then got hurt the following year. The Cubs released Zahn in January 1977. Hooton, 25 at the time of the trade, went 18-7 for the Dodgers over the rest of 1975, and was a mainstay of the Dodger rotation for the next 6 years, winning 70 games over such period, finishing second in NL Cy Young voting in 1978 and pitching in three world series.

May 17, 1976: Andre Thornton to the Montreal Expos for Steve Renko and Larry Biittner. At the time of the trade, Thornton was 26, Renko 32 and Biitner 30. Biitner's career OPS+ was 88. Renko went 8-11 for the Cubs in 1976 with an ERA of 3.86. Renko was traded in August 1977 to the White Sox for Larry Anderson and cash. Thornton had a career OPS+ of 122 and hit over 200 home runs in the ten plus years he spent in the majors after leaving the Cubs.

February 11, 1977: Bill Madlock and Rob Sperring to Giants for Bobby Murcer, Andy Muhlstock (minors) and Steve Ontiveros. At the time of the trade, Madlock was 25 and had just won his second consecutive batting title (in three full major league seasons), with OPS+ numbers of 123, 141 and 150 during his 3 years with the Cubs. Madlock played 11 more years, finishing with a career batting average of .305 and a career OPS+ of 123 and winning two additional batting titles in 1981 and 1983. Murcer was 30 at the time of the trade and his latest three seasons (at the time of the trade) in terms of OPS+ were 107, 127 and 123. Murcer played 2 full years for the Cubs, going 27HR 89RBI .265 in 1977 and 9HR 64RBI .281 in 1978. Murcer was traded to the Yankees in June 1979 for Paul Semall, a minor leaguer. Ontiveros, 25 at the time of the trade, became the Cubs' starting 3rd baseman and had a decent year in 1977, hitting 10HR 68RBI .299 with an OPS+ of 109. He fell off significantly after that and cut by the Cubs in 1980. His career OPS+ was 95 and he was below that number in each of his last three years with the Cubs. He may have been injured for the better part of 1978 and 1980.

Only Hair Line Creations benefited with the arrival of Steve Ontiveros.

I believe the Madlock trade was related to salary demands and some discrimination on the part of PK Wrigley who died in April 1977 only 2 months after the Madlock trade. PK wasn't used to feisty players like Madlock (think Billy Williams and Ernie Banks). To add to the context, this was still fresh on the heels of the Curt Flood reserve clause challenges (1971) and the Seitz decision (Dec 1975). Finally, there was the new 1976 MLBPA agreement permitting free agency after 6 years of service.

Personally, I was always dumbfounded by that trade, as Murcer was the embodiment of the failed hype as the next Mickey Mantle with warning track power (and the aggressiveness of a sea slug. Also known for his locker room rocking chair.

and the Cubs, who had found their replacement for Ron Santo would once again continue that search until ARam (excluding a brief visit by Ron Cey).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seitz_decision

and although I hate citing BCB, here is their writeup on Madlock:

Old Phil Wrigley stated his case succinctly in 1977, when the Cubs decided to trade Madlock to San Fransisco, saying, "When these players are impossible to deal with, I'd rather let somebody else have them."

http://www.bleedcubbieblue.com/2006/12/24/52252/776

I think Wrigley was just pissed that Madlock put the nail in the coffin of the Carmen Fanzone era.

I believe the Madlock trade was related to salary demands [And he was a black guy] and some discrimination on the part of PK Wrigley who died in April 1977 only 2 months after the Madlock [who was black] trade. PK wasn't used to feisty [and black] players like Madlock [who was also African American] (think Billy Williams and Ernie Banks). To add to the context, this was still fresh on the heels of the Curt Flood reserve clause challenges [also black] (1971) and the Seitz decision (Dec 1975). Finally, there was the new 1976 MLBPA agreement permitting free agency after 6 years of service.[but really, being feisty and black outweighed batting titles]

Hooton came in with a lot of hype, sort of Mark Priorish at the time if I remember right. I never did figure out why they traded him. Thanks for all of those recaps!

Addison Russell with 2 HR (4 rbi) in the first two innings vs former Cub farmhand Mitch Atkins (Miss. Braves). Smokies lead 6-0

Back online...

Head scratcher, Neil Ramirez to Iowa for Blake Parker.

Peavy to sf for prospects

Pierzinski to cards, in today's lineup

His era is under 1.00 ??!!

Discipline problem? Health problem? ML service time problem?

Very weird.

It's gotta be service time. If he stays down until September 1, it will probably delay his Super 2. If stays up he would definitely qualify after 2016. Considering how well he's pitched, it's a shitty move.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140726&content_id=86410954&not...

says he's being sent down to get a bit of a rest, won't report to Iowa immediately, Renteria thinks he'll be back in 10 days. We'll see...

Says Schlitter and Grimm may get the same treatment.

Former GM,Salty Saltwell throwing out today's first pitch. Az Phil tells some good Saltwell stories.

Sutcliffe throws a pitch too.

these past 2 days of games vs STL has been great...tie game in the 6th

pinch hit HR by sureholds...first PH homer of the season for the cubs.

...and then the 7th inning happened and this game sucks again.

Russell and Baez both HR. Soler seems like he's a man on a mission.

Bring 'em up!!!

Soler homers.

Dan Vogelbach is hitting 317/378/561 over his last ten games at Daytona, and he has gone 31 consecutive Plate Appearances without striking out and has struck out just once in his last 38 PA.

BP writeup on 3 of the Cub farmhands not in the core:

Marco Hernandez, SS, Cubs (High-A Daytona)
There is no system in baseball with more shortstop depth than the Cubs', which is unfortunate for Marco Hernandez, who is as blocked as any minor leaguer in the game. Hernandez will never be Chicago's starting shortstop, but he probably won't be anyone else's starting shortstop either because he doesn't profile to have any impact with the bat. He's a slap hitter from the left side who makes no effort to drive the ball, understanding his role as a speed-based player. He puts the ball on the ground repeatedly but he will never have better than an average hit tool with no power. Where Hernandez makes his name is in the field. He's a plus-plus shortstop who can be a true asset both with his glove and his arm. Smooth and fluid on routine ground balls, he also features plus range to either side and natural creativity on tough plays, regularly flipping the ball behind his back or between his legs on double play turns when necessary. Hernandez won't hit enough to play regularly on a good team and is about the fifth best option for the Cubs at the position, but his glove should be enough to carry him to the majors and allow him to carve out a Freddy Galvis–like role. —Jeff Moore

Duane Underwood, RHP, Cubs (Low-A Kane County)
Underwood works with a simple step-back delivery and a 3/4 arm slot. The arm whip is fast and crisp, though he does create an inverted W with his upper body. Underwood worked in the 92-95 mph range with his fastball. It had two-seam action lower in the velocity band, but he had trouble locating it all night. The curveball had some sharp bite beneath the strike zone but he was unable to locate it effectively for strikes. Underwood showed a few changeups, including a few backdoor changes that flashed plus fade, but overall it looked like a show-me pitch that will require work. The raw ingredients are there for Underwood to succeed but he’s going to have to work on fastball command first and foremost; everything else will play up if he can locate his fastball effectively. The curve command will have to come along as well, as he will have to learn how to throw the pitch for effective strikes. At present, it’s just a chase pitch and the higher levels will lay off. Underwood is intriguing, but he’ll need refinement. —Mauricio Rubio

Shawon Dunston, OF, Cubs (Low-A Kane County)
An 11th-round pick in the 2011 draft, Dunston was clearly selected to be a slow burn. His first couple of seasons brought moderate success in short-season ball, but the jump to full-season wasn't so kind. He'd been playing sporadically and didn't look comfortable at the plate, finding it hard to get in a groove. After the All Star break, however, especially in the wake of Jacob Hannemann's promotion to Daytona, Dunston has found himself getting everyday reps and the results have followed. In July, he's hitting .410/.426/.525, and it hasn't just been BABIP luck: In the last two games, Dunston has stung the ball five or six times. As the son of a major leaguer, it's no surprise that Dunston is a good athlete, running times around 4.2 seconds to first. He doesn't feature his father's 80 arm; it's average or a tick below. Overall, Dunston does not have an impact profile, but he has put himself firmly on the prospect radar. Even though there isn't much power potential, as the hit tool manifests, there's the possibility he becomes a solid extra outfielder. —Jordan Gorosh

I went to see Kane County yesterday. For those of you in the Chicago area, I recommend the experience. The ballpark is a nice modern facility and it is a nice family atmosphere.

Skulina started and was relieved by Concepcion. Each gave up a solo homer and the Cougars lost 2-1 to West Michigan, a Tigers affiliate. Skulina pitched decently, with 7K and 1 BB in 7 IP; his fastball seemed to top out at 91-92.

Dunston hit 3 balls pretty hard and had two nice singles. The rest of the team only had 2 hits, a double by Candelario (which frankly should have been a single if the outfielder could throw) and a double by Penalver. The starting lineup: Dunston lf, Pelalver ss, Candelario 3b, Rogers 1b, Brockmeyer c, Brown dh, Young 2b, Baez rf, Martin cf.

If Dunston is a corner outfielder, he will need to develop some power.

"If Dunston is a corner outfielder, he will need to develop some power"

It will be with another organization

How did Brockmeyer look? He had a couple hits the day I was out there.

No hits. Struck out looking to end the game with the tying run on third.

He's a big man, tall for a catcher, maybe 6'4" or so. Seemed to move reasonably well behind the plate. I did not have a chance to see much from him defensively.

Boston Globe Nick Cafardo (praying he's not gone insane):

The Cubs would love to keep trading off and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the struggling Edwin Jackson depart.

TCR collective: "Oh, Yes it Would."

Barney to the Dodgers according to Levine
Ptbnl for cubs

Sweet.

the list of players Cubs will have to choose from:

Dinero, Cash or Moolah

 

The Fabulous Moolah?
/wwf

Dinero Navarro, Norm Cash, or Candy Moolahnado? Sweet ... I'll take the one who's still a baseball player, thank you.

Moolahnado's best days are behind him. I'd still like to see if there is some way they could get the Tigers involved and get Norm Cash.

Norm Cash was traded in a 3 way deal to Detroit from the Whitesox. The WSux re-acquired Minnie Minoso.

12-06-1959 Traded by Chicago White Sox with John Romano and Bubba Phillips to Cleveland Indians in exchange for Minnie Minoso, Dick Brown, Don Ferrarese and Jake Striker (December 6, 1959).

Cash in 1959, hmmm. Technically that's old money.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_money

Also I'm willing to bet 10 bucks and my left nut, Barney does not make play off roster.

/Hi Ryan!!

You just bet a nut that Hanley Ramirez is going to be healthy the rest of the season.

seeing boni lead off again (which it seems "speed leads" is in play at this point) had me wondering about this season's production out of the leadoff slot.

.248/.294/.350

also...the 5/6/7/8/9/1 slots are all playing out sub-.300 ob% on the season.

ouch.

mark appel (HOU) called up to AA a couple days ago.

9.74era/1.92whip in 12 outings (44.1 ip) in high-A.

neat.

He's on fire.

I'm picturing him as literally on fire, which is NBA-Jam-esque.

Top three or four picks, I'll always want a position player over a pitcher.

Maddux scouting reports through the years-

first one typical Cubs scout at the time

http://deadspin.com/the-scouting-reports-said-greg...

"CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs have "rebuffed inquiries" from the Yankees and others for Justin Ruggiano.

Heyman says the Cubs plan to hang on to both Ruggiano and Chris Coghlan, as they value their bats next year more than the second-tier prospect that they'd receive in return."

rotoworld

I was just reading the same thing - and I actually agree with the cubs. If they are gonna start pushing forward next year those two guys are my choice to hang around because 1.) they are outfielders a which we'll need, and 2.) they've been through the ups and downs of success and failure personally - especially Caghlan which is a nice perspective to have with a lot of kids coming up.

Obviously if it's a decent prospect you trade them, but they are good guys to have around and young enough too.

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