Please Destroy Your Priceless Cub Souvenirs: TCR Friday Notes

-- Tigers, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Astros; that's your complete list of the teams which ranked lower than the Cubs in Kevin Goldstein's organizational rankings at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required).

Goldstein's comments about the Cubs, who stood 16th in his '08 rankings:

"Josh Vitters is one of the best pure hitters in the minors; 2008 top pick Andrew Cashner's post-draft struggles were a fluke and his stuff will play; Jeff Samardzija finally began figuring things out."

"Other than Vitters, there is
really not a single hitter in this system that excites anyone; the
weakness in terms of the organization's depth is the key reason that
the long-rumored Jake Peavy deal never went down."

"Samardzija is the only player who is likely to lose his prospect status; there's no reason to see (the Cubs) moving up considerably (in the rankings)."

--We all know that spring training numbers mean next to nothing, but since Opening Day is, what, another 11 weeks away?, they're the only numbers we have, so let's enjoy them, dammit!

Marshall is the Man; Koskie Victimized by TCR Curse

Paul Sullivan reports in the Tribune that Sean Marshall has been officially anointed the Cubs' 5th starter.

Says Manager Lou:

"Marshall is going to be the fifth starter, and [Aaron] Heilman is going to pitch in that seventh-eighth inning role."

Less positive news on Corey Koskie, subject of our earlier post. Koskie came out of today's win over the Mariners in the third inning.

How Far Koskie Has Come

Haven't seen a lineup yet for this afternoon's Cubs-Mariners game, but Lou Piniella's stated plan with Corey Koskie is to "probably play him every couple days and see how he does..."

Koskie started Tuesday's game against the Dodgers and ripped a double off the centerfield wall in his first at-bat. He also walked and grounded out.

In looking for some information on Koskie, I came across an article from April of last year, when the longtime Twin, still suffering from the after-effects of a concussion he suffered as a Brewer, dropped by the Metrodome.

Cubs' Non-Baseball Business is Booming

"...Elton John's going to help us win some ballgames."

So says Crane Kenney in explaining how the extra revenue the Cubs will realize from three Wrigley Field concerts this summer, including the Elton John/Billy Joel event in late July, will translate into additional payroll flexibility.

More from Kenney:

"The CBOE [seat] auction last year paid for Rich Harden. The 'Road to Wrigley' game sponsored our Asian scouting operation. That's the way, from the business end, we look at these things. All
these elements really help our business move forward. My view is if
you're a Cub fan, you should enjoy the concerts whether you're an Elton
John fan or not."

High Noonan Dooms Cubs, Two More Get Sent to Minor League Camp

Nick Noonan capped a five-run 9th with a two-out grand slam, as the Giants rallied to defeat the Cubs (and leave a lot of Cubs fans speechless) before a record crowd of 13,024 under sunny skies at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.   

box score

Also, the Cubs sent have sent non-roster RHPs Esmailin Cardidad and Ken Kadokura to minor league camp. This brings the Cubs Spring Training roster down to 43 (including Ted Lily and Kosuke Fukudome, who are still playing in the WBC) 

The 35-year old Karokura was making his U. S. debut after spending 13 years playing in Japan, and I suspect he will be released (or will request his release) prior to Opening Day and will return to Japan. He probably isn't at the point in his career where he would want to spend a year playing AAA ball. He didn't really have a bad Spring with the Cubs, but he had a tendency to get ahead of hitters 0-1 or 1-2 and then nibble, nibble, nibble. I don't think Manager Lou Piniella likes that approach too much.  

Caridad is a different matter, however, I have him rated as one of the Cubs Top Ten prospects, and he pitched very well so far this Spring and could surface sometime this season in Chicago. Now 25, Caridad was (like Alfonso Soriano and Timo Perez) originally signed by the Hiroshima Carp and was assigned to their Dominican Academy, before pitching in Japan in 2007. But Caridad became a free-agent on a technicality after that season, and Cubs Player Personnel Director Oneri Fleita personally signed the right-hander while on a trip to the Dominican Republic in December 2007  Caridad pitched at Daytona and Tennessee in 2008 (going a combined 13-7, 3.73 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), and then pitched in the AFL with the Mesa Solar Sox in October-November '08. He can start or relieve.

As for today's game...      

Cubs Cut 9

Muskat says nine have been cut and they are (drumroll please)....

Pitchers Mitch Atkins, Justin Berg and Jeff Stevens have been optioned to Triple A, with Marcos Mateo headed to Double A(for now).  NRI's C Welington Castillo, INF Luis Rivas and Darwin Barney and OF Doug Deeds and Jason Dubois have been assigned to minor league camp.

Gameday Open Thread/Cubs @ Dodgers

The Cubs travel to Glendale to play the Dodgers, Carlos Zambrano gets his fourth start of the spring.  Randy Wolf goes for the Dodgers.

The batting order from Muskat:

LF Alfonso Soriano, 2B Miles, CF Reed Johnson,
1B Derrek Lee, RF So Taguchi, 3B Koskie, C Koyie Hill, SS Andres
Blanco, P Carlos Zambrano.


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