June 2009

Nothing too exciting last night, Rich Harden worked out of a lot of trouble his last three innings, but did strike out 9 in 7 innings without giving up a home run. Milton Bradley went 2/4 with an RBI, a ricochet short of going 3-4. Soto and Fox continue to hit as well and the Marmol/Gregg combo actually did their job. Then we all remember it's the Pirates.

- The Southern League annouced their All-Star rosters and the Tennessee Smokies placed six:  Position players Jim Adduci, Darwin Barney and Blake Lalli will join teammates Casey Coleman, Jay Jackson and Brian Schlitter. 

- Barney will be headed to Triple A though along with a number of other promotions yesterday. Top picks Andrew Cashner and Josh Viiters will each move up a level, Cashner to Double A Tennessee and Vitters to Hi A Daytona. Cub Carpenter will  join Vitters on the ride to Daytona. 1B John Contreras makes the jump from Boise to Daytona, 2b Nathan Samson goes to Tennessee and 1b Ryan Keedy has been released.

-  I stumbled across this old Q&A with Bill James which touches on a wide variety of topics, some Cubs related.

UPDATE: Bill James and Joe Posnanski more recently talked about the age 33 fall-off. Cubs that are 33 this season: Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Freel. So is Ted Lilly, but the discussion focuses on offense.

- Milton Bradley is going to get a few days off to work on his left-handed swing with Von Joshua. The Cubs will likely go with Sam Fuld in center and Kosuke Fukudome in right field.

- 57% of Cubs fan agree with Phil Rogers that the Cubs should put Carlos Zambrano on waivers and see if anyone will take his contract off the Cubs hands. Probably the same 57% that applauded Mark DeRosa each time he came up in Wrigley.

- Barring any setbacks, Aramis Ramirez will begin a rehab assignment on Thursday, it's unknown which lucky affiliate will benefit from the added gate receipts.  If all goes well, he could be back in the lineup against Atlanta next Monday.

- A poll of players around MLB conducted by Sports Illustrated came up with Lou Piniella as the manager players would least like to play for...Ozzie Guillen finishing second.

- If you're looking for a write-up on Aaron Miles elbow problems from Dr. Hecht...

I'd do an ortho writeup on Miles hyperextended elbow... but honestly, who cares other than Sam Fuld.

Our pal Tim Souers was inspired by Saturday's post and gave me this awesome graphic. And I don't really care to harp on the trade, but let me give you my final thoughts. The Cardinals got a good player and it should help them...a little. DeRosa was a 3.8 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) last year, he's been 1.1 so far this year as his defense at third hasn't been too great (at least according to UZR). The Cardinals are going to get him for a little over a half year and the 2 main guys he's replacing are Joe Thurston and Brian Barden who have combined for 0.8 WAR to this point. You can't just simply add and subtract it though, so my rough back-of-the-envelope guestimating says he's probably gonna be good for anything between 1-3  more wins on the year for the Cardinals, which is indeed significant for an individual player.

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired former Cub super-utility Greek God Mark DeRosa for RHP Chris Perez and a player to be named later.

I wonder how many standing ovations he'll get from the Wrigley faithful before they realize they're cheering for the Cubs most bitter rival to beat them.

I'll make this brief, but wanted a place to discuss the latest in "As Milton's World Turns". First though, the Cubs won, they hit a 2-run home run and a 3-run home run. It's nice to know those haven't gone extinct. Jake Fox and Geovany Soto did the damage and no truth to the rumor that Soto was promised White Castle if he hit one out today.

Randy Wells got his second win on the year, two solo shots being the only marks against him.  After 98 pitches and 7 innings, the increasingly baffling Lou went to Carlos Marmol and he predictably walked two of the first three hitters, gave up a couple of hits with some assistance from Soriano losing a ball in the sun (which I admittedly didn't see) and was mercifully pulled for Sean Marshall who got out of the jam by inducing the 3-2-3 double play by A.J. Pierzynski with the bases juiced.

Please feel free to add or make up your own.

Here's my attempt:

5 Runs on the Road, Lilly Pitching, Not Enough.
W - Galarraga (4-7)
L - Lilly (7-5)
S - Rodney (16)
Things to Take from This Game


1. Fox, Fukudome lead Attack
Jake Fox staked the Cubs to a 3-0 lead on a big home run in the first.  Fukudome had a triple and a double in the game, while Hoffpauir hit an impressive opposite field home-run in the ninth.  An encouraging day from the supporting cast, but also a day with continued futility when there were RISP.


2. Lilly is Ineffectively Wild in the Strike Zone
Lilly got hurt on several breaking and offspeed pitches that got up into the heart of the strike zone. Just one BB to 6 Ks, but10 hits an 6 ER in 6 IP.  Santiago and Ordonez each hit two-run homers off of him, and Raburn had two RBI hits. Cabrera also hit a homer that was incorrectly ruled a double.


3. No Dramatic Comeback, Today.
Rodney gave up the homer to Hoffpauir, but otherwise slammed the door by striking out the side.


The one-run-short details, below.

11 Hits, 7 BB's for the Cubs offense....just 3 runs. One of those 11 hits was a solo home run by the somewhat rejuvenated Geovany Soto, meaning the Cubs needed 10 hits and 7 bb's to score the other 2 runs. The Yahoo box score says the Cubs left 13 on base as a team (seemed like 130), with Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir leading the way with 8 and 7 left on base each (some of those the same baserunners).  The offensive ineptitude and Rich Harden's gopher ball won't keep me from making fun of the bullpen though, who managed to walk in the two deciding runs.


I watched just two innings of last night's affair, tuning in as Micah Hoffpauir gave the Cubs the lead and turning it off right before Ryan Raburn's ball landed. The saying goes something like "a picture is worth a thousand words"...well here's my word quota for the night.


Not the way to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Sandberg Game.

A Loss, or a Metaphor?
W - Vazquez (5-6)
L - Dempster (4-5)
S - Soriano (6)
Things to Take from This Game


1. An Evening Full of Singles and Scoring Opportunities...
The Cubs had 9 hits off of Vazquez, all of them singles, and another hit off of Soriano in relief. 


2. ...That Leads to Nothing but a lot of Getting Left Stranded on Second Base.
The Cubs left 12 men on base.  Perhaps most
confounding was the decision to let Blanco bat with the bases loaded
and two outs in the sixth. 


3. But at Least there are Consolation Prizes?
We can be happy that Dempster had a fine performance, gutting out 6.2 innings in the Atlanta heat.  He still had some control problems, but other than McLouth, the Braves struggled to do much against him.  And that has to make up for some of the frustration at getting shut out, right?


The futile details, below.

Dwayne Kemp ripped an RBI single to drive-in Robert Bautista with the game-wining run, as the AZL Cubs rallied with three runs in the bottom of the 9th to defeat the AZL Angels 6-5 in Arizona League (AZL) Opening Day action at Fitch Park on Sunday. Kemp also clubbed an RBI triple earlier in the game, and Bautista drove in three runs with a squeeze bunt, a FC grounder, and a single, while also stealing three bases.


20-year old 2B D. J. Fitzgerald had a memoraable pro debut, going 4-4 with two doubles, two runs scored, and a stolen base. The Cubs 22nd round pick in the 2009 Rule 4 Draft (First-Year Player Draft) out of Dyersburg State CC, "DJ Fitz" was a star baseball player at Ocean Lakes HS in Virginia Beach, VA. He signed an NLI with Georgia Southern, but ended up at a Tennessee JC instead.

20-year old RHP Toby Matchulat got the start for the AZL Cubs, and was stellar, throwing four shutout innings (7/1 GO/FO), while allowing just two harmless singles and no walks, with four strikeouts. Matchulat just missed making the Boise Opening Day roster, after having an impressive Extended Spring Training at Fitch Park. An 11th round pick out of Wabash Valley JC in 2008, the lanky 6'5 right-hander struggled big-time with his command in his pro debut last year (29 BB in 18.2 IP), but he has really turned it around this year. Kudos to AZL Cubs Pitching Coach Rick Tronerud and Minor Leagure Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins for helping Matchulat find a better arm slot and a more consistent release point.

Roster Update: Angel Guzman to the DL with a right triceps strain, Kevin Hart called up from Iowa.

Happy Father's Day everyone.

I've mostly been shoulder shrugging since the story came out that Sammy Sosa was on the positive test list for PED's that the MLB Players Association didn't destroy. To me it was old news. After the "Steroid Era" cloud passes and everyone in it washs off the stink, I wonder what will be the impact on what baseball should consider one of it's most important assets, the kids who fall in love with the game because of their father's (or mom's, but today is father's day) love of the game.

On this father's day, one of the things I treasure most is that my son is a Cubs fan and a Baseball fan. So when I read this brief Fred Mitchell article in the Tribune, it made more impact on me than when the Sammy news was leaked in the NY Times.

"The worst part for me is that I don't know what to tell my son [Darren]," the Reds manager said after Saturday's Civil Rights Game luncheon at the Duke Energy Center. "He asks me, 'Dad, are there any good hitters not on something?' I just tell him that everyone is under suspicion. I will just be glad when it's all over."

Single in the Gloamin'


W - Gregg (2-1), the bullpen, hopes for a good second half, belief in the Ex-Cub Factor, TCR authors who predicted "seven runs shall not win this game."
L - Vizcaino (1-3), anyone who went home early. 


Things to Take from This Game


1. Cleveland Scores Seven Unanswered
Harden didn't have it today, and gave up three-run homers to Luis Valbuena and Victor Martinez in the second and third.  DeRosa added an RBI single in the fourth.


2. Cubs Score Eight Unanswered
The Cubs began their comeback in the fifth with a solo HR by Johnson, and another by Lee in the sixth.  They scratched out four in the eighth, featuring a two-run single by Blanco, but the highlight of the game had to be Derrek Lee's second homer of the day, a game-tier in the bottom of the ninth off of Kerry Wood.  The game ended in the tenth with Luis Vizcaino giving a two-out walk to Soriano, who then stole second and scored on a generous "hit" as Theriot smashed one off of Victor Martinez at first base.


3. Signs of Life
Patton and Heilman gave us three easy innings of relief, Marmol worked out of a jam of his own construction and Gregg one of the defense's construction, for five shut-out innings total.  Soto and Soriano looked a lot more comfortable today, and of course Lee is red hot. Blanco also looked surprisingly good at the bat.


The exciting details, below

(Hallway somewhere in Wrigley Field, two players emerge from the visiting team's clubhouse dressed to the nines in their gray road uniforms)

KW: Man, I sure miss this place...this city.

MD: Well, when you move to Cleveland, there's a good chance you'd miss living in Kazakhstan.

(They share a laugh as a portly gentleman comes towards them, head down, cell phone glued to ear)

The Boise Hawks begin play tonight, kicking off their 2009 season. They will play 77 games (76 "league" games plus tonight's Opening Night exhibition game versus Treasure Valley CC) up through the first week of September, with one game scheduled each and most every day (they get only three days off for the entire season!). 

es, Six.
W - Gregg (1-1)
L - Thornton (4-2)
Things to Take from This Game
1. Eventful day for Getz
Sox second-baseman Getz doubled in a run, made a fine run-saving catch at second, but also had two errors.  The second one was notable because...
2. Big 8th for Cubs
...it came at the start of the Cubs' half of the eighth, letting Hoffpauir get on.  Without that, the inning would have ended with a Bradley strikeout with one man on base.  Instead, Lee had a chance to save the rally, and hit a three-run homer to bring the Cubs within a run at 5-4.  Soto made it back-to-back homers off of Linebrink, tying the game.
3. Z, Bradley, Lee look fine
Z gave up a two-run homer to Alexei Ramirez and the Getz double, but otherwise looked like he was in command of his fastball and pitched well.  Bradley, other than that strikeout, continued to show a good eye and had a couple of sharp singles. Lee of course continued his hot hitting.
4. Most everyone else does not
Marmol kept getting hit on sliders up in the zone, giving up a couple of Runs.  Soriano kept hitting from behind in the count, Theriot kept swinging from his ass, Fukudome and Blanco failed to spontaneously transmogrify into major-league hitters.
5. However...
After the exciting 8th, Reed Johnson led off the bottom of the ninth with a pinch-hit single, Blanco bunted him to second, and Soriano got just enough of one to bloop a ball into right-center for the game-winning hit.
All the late-inning heroics follow....

Thursday's Chicago vs. Chicago showdown at Wrigley Field will be the first Major League game to be streamed live to mobile phones, specifically to iPhone and iPod Touch users who have installed the MLB.com At Bat 2009 app and the new Apple 3.0 operating software.

Beginning with the White Sox-Cubs Interleague Play matchup from Wrigley
Field at 2:20 p.m. ET, up to two live games per day, subject to
blackout restrictions, will be included in MLB.com At Bat 2009. The
other game scheduled for Thursday is Detroit at St. Louis at 8:15 p.m.

Those who have already installed the $9.99 At Bat app this season will be able to receive the video streaming at no additional charge. Otherwise you can purchase the app at the iTunes store and enjoy it, video included, for the rest of 2009 for $9.99.

Chad Evans of MLB Advanced Media puts the whole story into something resembling perspective:

"I'm hoping there will be a generation of kids that grew up saying, 'Oh
yeah, I got box scores and watched games on my phone -- it was just
part of the experience of baseball.'"

Yeah, "part of the experience." Sort of like when you heave your remote control across the room after the Cubs have failed to score another runner from third with less than two outs.

A Dank Day.
W - Danks (5-5)
L - Dempster (4-4)
S - Jenks (15)
Things to Take from This Game

1. K to BB
Danks walked none and struck out nine.  Dempster walked six and struck out four.  You tell me how the day went.

2. The Cubs' "Offense"
Was "led" by two bloop singles by Milton Bradley.

3. Sox scratch it out
Dempster almost was effectively wild.  Alexei Ramirez hit a home run in the first, but the other runs were products of some effective small ball played by Guillen and the Sox - a couple of impressive bunt plays, a sacrifice fly, and a squib triple accounted for the rest of the Sox scoring.  The story here isn't a weak performance by Dempster or Danks looking unhittable;  it's Cubs hitters continuing to swing from their asses and producing nothing.


The "I bought a bad-ass new computer, and all I have to show for it is this stinking recap?" details, below.
W - Nature
L - Humans
Things to Take from This Game
1. It got rained out.  No reschedule date set, yet.
The soggy details, below.

There was always one brief glint of hope for Sammy Sosa to wiggle his way into the Hall of Fame and eventually get his number retired by the Cubs and that was to cover his tracks better than the other nincompoops who abused performance enhancers. Well...he didn't or so it seems.

No official word yet as to whether or not the mysterious "fuzz machine" made the trip from Des Moines to Chicago along with Von [when there's somethin' wrong in the neighborhood who you gonna call?] Joshua. The unorthodox device is a pitching machine contraption that somehow both accelerates and decelerates a batter's swing, according to Carrie Muskat's expose earlier in the season. If Joshua couldn't get it through security at Des Moines International he may have just rented a car, thrown it in the trunk and headed east.

The Sun-Times has a piece this morning about "three Cubs to watch." In that spirit, here are three I-Cubs who currently bear a little closer watching:

The Cubs struggles offensively are obviously no secret and it's been a team wide affliction that I don't even think a roll in the hay with Amy Winehouse could fix. I took a quick look at their OPS numbers since May 1st:

The Cubs fired hitting coach Gerald Perry today and promoted Triple A hitting coach Von Joshua.

"Every day, we have five guys in the lineup who have played in the All
Star Game. For whatever reason, we're just not performing anywhere
close to the level that they all have performed throughout their
careers. Sometimes you have to try something different."

I don't know enough about Gerald Perry's techniques or his batting cage-side manor to be honest, although I would say that it would seem that Lou took it upon himself a lot when guys were really struggling to help their swings. We just recently heard about looking at video with Milton Bradley and their have been half a dozen or so incidents like that of Lou saying that he's now involved. 

If Joshua can bring the "get-a-hit-with-runners-in-scoring-position" technique with him from Iowa, then it will be all worth it.

Though we're in early June, the Cubs are still very much in the thick of the division race (mathematically, at least), and Milton Bradley's bone-headed play in right field didn't cost the Cubs a victory on Friday or even a single run, the symbolic potential of this play is truly awesome.

Be forewarned—the entire downtown area is overrun with Nordic boys wearing Kirby Puckett jerseys. I know; I have seen it for myself!

This afternoon's Twins starter, Kevin Slowey (8-2, 4.21), is prone to the gopher ball. (That's "gopher" as in home run, not Golden Gopher.) Cubs starter Randy Wells is prone to getting screwed by the non-performance of his offense and/or his bullpen.

Go Cubs!

The Boston Globe is reporting that the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs seem to have the most interest in Pedro Martinez. Both teams have sent scouts down to the Dominican to see him pitch (hitting 94 mph with his fastball) and are beginning to explore just how much it might cost to sign the future HOF'er (I would hope). It's said he's looking for $5 million.

On the surface, it certainly wouldn't make much sense for the Cubs to be looking for another starting pitcher, considering that's been the strongest part of the team. But if the Cubs could sign Pedro, that could open them up to move another starting pitcher for a much needed bat...or two...or five. I would think Z and Dempster are pretty much locks to stay. Lilly would certainly draw interest from contenders but they would probably want to move prospects and that's probably not what the Cubs are looking for and Lilly does have some sort of no-trade clause. Rich Harden is a free agent at the end of the year, so he could be moved to a contender at the deadline, but you run into the same problem of that contender probably wanting to move prospects rather than established talent. So that leaves guys like Sean Marshall or Randy Wells or both and now you might be able to make some moves with teams out of the race and be left with Z, Dempster, Lilly, Harden and Pedro as your rotation. I know I could live with that starting staff.

All just a bit of fun speculating, but we need some fun after the last two days (Thanks to Wes for the link).

ROUND 31 (950): Andrew Clark, 1B (Louisville) 

L/L, 6'3, 220, 21 years old

COMMENT: College junior... Transferred to Louisville after spending freshman year at Ole Miss... Hit 350/479/555 with 9 HR & 55 RBI, with 21 doubles and two triples, and 55/27 BB/K in 317 PA for Cardinals in 2009... 2nd Team All-Big East... Was named Gatorade "Indiana High School Player of the Year" and was an AFLAC All-American his senior year in HS...


ROUND 32 (980): Trey McNutt, RHP (Shelton State CC)  

R/R, 6'4, 205, 19 years old

COMMENT: JC freshman... Helped lead Shelton State to 2009 JUCO World Series... Went 7-2 with 3.38 ERA, with 42 hits allowed in 61 IP, and 31/75 BB/K for the Bucs in 2009...   


ROUND 33 (1010): John Lambert, LHP (NC State)  

L/L, 6'7, 220 21 years old

COMMENT: College junior... Struggled in 2009, going 1-5 with a 7.05 ERA in 20 games (8 GS), allowing 47 hits in 47.1 IP (254 OBA but only one HR), with 36/52 BB/K, 10 WP, and 7 HBP... Started college career at Wright State, then spent sophomore year at Santa Fe CC, before transferring to NC State for junior year... Was named a PUMA High School All-American and 1st team All-State his senior year at Chesterton HS - Chesterton, IN... Was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2006 draft and by the Washington Nationals in 2008 draft, but did not sign...  


ROUND 34 (1040): Rett Varner, RHP/OF (UT - Arlington) 

R/R, 6'4, 190, 21 years old

COMMENT: College junior... Went 2-3 with a 3.95 ERA in 16 games (10 GS) for the Mavericks in 2009, with 65 hits allowed in 57 IP (.286 OBA), and 24/44 BB/K... Transferred to UTA after spending freshman year at BYU... 


ROUND 35 (1070): Kevin David, C (Oklahoma State)  

R/R, 6'1, 190, 21 years old

COMMENT: Draft-eligible sophomore... Hit 311/390/529 for Cowboys in 2009, with 6 HR & 47 RBI, a team-leading 23 doubles, two triples, and 23/44 BB/K... Threw out only 13% opposing base-stealers in 2009... Missed 2008 season due to arm injury, which gave Luis Flores (Cubs 2008 7th round draft pick) the opportunity to be the #1 catcher at OSU... Older brother Brad was a teammate of Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot on LSU National Championship team in 2000...   


ROUND 36 (1100): Brandon May, IF-OF (Alabama)  

R/R, 6'1, 205, 21 years old

COMMENT: College junior... Hit 347/424/608 for Crimson Tide in 2009, with 12 HR & 69 RBI, 18 doubles and two triples, and 30/52 B/K in 256 PA... Versatile player, has played 2B-3B-1B-SS-LF-RF in college career... First-team All-SEC in 2008...


ROUND 37 (1130): Peter Mooney, SS (Palm Beach CC)  

L/R, 5'8, 168, 18 years old

COMMENT: JC freshman... FCCAA "Defensive Player of the Year"... This is the type of player clubs used to draft when the "Draft & Follow" rule was still in effect (where clubs would retain the rights to a drafted JC player until one week prior to the next year's Rule 4 Draft)... 


ROUND 38 (1160): Bobby Wagner, 3B (Panola JC)  

L/R, 6'6, 230, 22 years old

COMMENT: Big lefty power-hitter batted 313/418/615 with 13 HR & 52 RBI, 12 doubles, two triples, and 29/30 BB/K, with 9 SB (2 CS), for the Ponies in 2009... Is from British Columbia (Canada)... Attended Douglas JC in BC prior to transferring to Panola...  Was drafted by Angels in 2006 but did not sign...   


ROUND 39 (1190): Nick Struck, RHP (Mt. Hood JC)  

R/R, 5'11, 195, 19 years old

COMMENT: JC freshman... Named NWAACC All-Star in 2009... Was the Oregon 6-A Player of the Year his senior year in HS in 2008... Will transfer to Hawaii if he doesn't sign with Cubs...  


ROUND 40 (1220): Eric Whaley, RHP (Cardinal Gibbons HS - Ft. Lauderdale, FL) 

R/R, 6'3, 175, 18 years old

COMMENT: Signed NLI with LSU...


ROUND 41 (1250): Jake Schmidt, RHP (Concordia U. - St. Paul)  

R/R, 6'3, 200, 22 years old

COMMENT: College senior... Went 7-2 with 3.78 ERA for Golden Bears in 2009, allowing 69 hits in 69 IP (.258 OBA), with 26/103 BB/K... Was NCAA Division II Honorable Mention in 2009...  


ROUND 42 (1280): Trey Ford, SS (Chaparral HS - Scottsdale, AZ)  

R/R, 6'2, 200, 18 years old

COMMENT:  A 4-A Desert Sky Region "Player of the Year"... Will attend Chandler-Gilbert CC if he doesn't sign with Cubs... Would be a perfect "Draft & Follow" candidate, if D&F still existed...


ROUND 43 (1310): Colin Kaepernick, RHP (Nevada)  

R/R, 6'6, 180, 21 years old

COMMENT:College junior... Hasn't played baseball since high school... Is star QB on Wolf Pack football team... Threw for 2,849 yards in 2008... Was named WAC Freshman of the Year in 2007...  


ROUND 44 (1340): Frank DeJiulio, RHP (Daytona State JC)

R/R, 6'3, 185, 19 years old  

COMMENT: JC freshman... Went 6-4 with 5.27 ERA for Daytona State in 2009... Father says they want "3rd or 4th round money"...  


ROUND 45 (1370): Addison Dunn, RHP (Warren Area HS - Warren, PA)  

R/R, 6'0, 18 years old

COMMENT: Has signed NLI with Kent State...


ROUND 46 (1400): Glenn Cook, OF (U. of Miami)

L/L, 6'1, 220, 24 years old

COMMENT: College senior is oldest player selected by Cubs in 2009 Rule 4 Draft... Was a starting LB on the Cane football team for several seasons after being rated the No. 26 LB prospect in the nation by Super Prep coming out of HS in 2002... A P/OF at Chaminade-Madonna Prep, he did not play baseball at "The U"...    


ROUND 47 (1430): Joey Jocketty, 3B (Ladue Horton Watkins HS -  St. Louis, MO)

R/R, 5'10, 165, 18 years old

COMMENT: Son of Reds GM Walt Jocketty... Was third-team All-Conference at LHWHS... This was obviously a "fun" pick for Hendry/Wilken...


ROUND 48 (1460): John Nasshan, RHP (Niles West HS - Skokie, IL)  

L/R, 6'6, 195, 17 years old

COMMENT: Signed NLI with Bradley University... Went 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA, 6/46 BB./K in 44 IP in his junior year at NWHS... Also a member of the Nles West golf squad...   


ROUND 49 (1490): Christian Segar, CF (McQuaid Jesuit HS -  Brighton, NY)

R/R, 6'1, 185, 18 years old

COMMENT: Also has signed NLI with Bradley University...


ROUND 50 (1520): Zach Cleveland, RHP (Central Arizona JC) 

R/R, 6'1, 20 years old

COMMENT: JC sophomore... Went 3-2 with a 0.50 ERA for the Vaqueros in 2009, allowing just 27 hits in 36.1 IP, and 15/31 BB/K... Throws 88-92 MPH fastball & a slider... Will transfer to New Mexico if he doesn't sign with Cubs... Was drafted by Phillies out of Golden HS (Golden, CO) in 2007, but did not sign...

Reader Real Neal breaks down the first round of the draft in a variety of ways to see if there's an optimal strategy and how have the Cubs done relative to their drafting position.


Two topics are always
in hot debate this time of the year, when it comes to the MLB draft.
How have the Cubs done, and who should they pick?

With that in mind, I am
taking a look at 10 years worth of first round picks to try and help
answer those questions. I am only looking at the top 30 picks each
year (yeah I know the Cubs draft 31st), just to simplify
things. The 10 year range I used was ’96 to ’05. It’s just
too early to tell what is going to happen with highschoolers only
drafted three years ago. I used WARP3, even though Baseball
Prospectus has got something a bit wonky going on with their WARP3
scores for 2009, which seem exaggerated. I figured since the
majority of these players are still playing, though, that the slight
wobble could sort of build in a little projection.

To start off with, here
is some general charts, which should be self explanatory.

As mentioned earlier, Aaron Miles has been activated and slugger Jake Fox has been sent down giving the Cubs the worst bench that has ever been assembled. Okay, tonight's actually isn't so bad with the lefty Wandy Rodriguez on the mound: Fontenot, Hill, Blanco, Fukudome and Hoffpauir. But for the next couple of weeks, assuming the normal starters of Fukudome, Fontenot and let's say Miles at second base, the bench will be: Hill, Johnson, Hoffpauir, Scales and Blanco. 

Wittenmyer though says the plan is to give Jake Fox regular at-bats so that they can call him up in 11-12 days so he can sit on the major league bench again when interleague games begin. I suppose he'll DH a bit, but he'll have to fight Hoffpauir for those at-bats and Fox is on the short side of that platoon.  Also, don't be too suprised if Lou changes his mind on all of this in a week and a half and realizes he wants to give some regulars a break by DH'ing them and Fox's defensive limitations get him passed over by the Miles, Scales and Blancos of the world.

Lineup for tonight: Soriano, Theriot, Bradley, Lee, Johnson, Soto, Scales, Miles, Zambrano


Bourne, Tejada, Pence, Lee, Berkman, Blum, Kata, Quintero, Wandy.

Also, the Astros have been flipping starters for tomorrow's finale between the originally scheduled Mike Hampton to Roy Oswalt back to Hampton and currently settling on Russ Ortiz. It's like Cecil Cooper wants to get fired.

ROUND 4 (140): Chris Rusin, LHP (Kentucky)
L/L, 6'2, 190, 22 years old
COMMENT: College senior was the Wildcats' "Friday night starter" (#1 starter)... Workhorse went 7-4 with a 4.20 ERA, 14 games (14 GS, 4 CG), 94.1 IP, 95 H, 27/108 BB/K, and a .258 OBA for Wildcats in 2009... 87-89 MPH fastball and decent curve, but change-up needs work... Had elbow surgery in 2008...  


ROUND 5 (170): Wes Darvill, SS (Brookswood SS - Langley Blaze Baseball Club - Langley, BC)
L/R, 6'3, 175, 17 years old
COMMENT: Member of Canadian Junior National Team... One of the best teenage (secondary school) position players in Canada... Fast runner (6.87 60) with a line drive stroke... Signed NLI to attend Bossier Parish CC (Bossier City, LA)...


ROUND 6 (200): Brooks Raley, LHP/OF (Texas A&M)
L/L, 6'3, 185, 20 years old
COMMENT: Draft-eligible sophomore... Two-way player in HS and in college... Was Aggies "Friday night" (#1) starter... Went 7-3 with 3.76 ERA, and allowed 80 hits (.237 OBA) with 26/95 BB/K in 93.1 IP in 15 GS (1 CG)... Throws 90 MPH sinker, 93 MPH four-seam fastball, slider, curve, and change-up, although no pitch stands-out... As position player, has plus-speed, plus-arm, and gap power... Played OF and hit 304/420/424, with 1 HR & 26 RBI, 19 2B, 2 3B, 41/32 BB/K in 273 PA, with 25 SB (4 CS) and 11 SH on days he wasn't pitching... Played corner OF at A&M, but would project as a CF in pro ball... Was named "Big 12 Freshman of the Year" in 2008... My guess is Cubs will probably try him as CF, and then move him back to pitcher if he struggles with the bat...


ROUND 7 (230): Blair Springfield, CF/SS (MacArthur HS - Decatur, IL)
R/R, 5'10, 187 18 years old
COMMENT: "Athletic" defender and aggressive hitter with good bat speed... Has signed NLI to attend Illinois State...


ROUND 8 (260): Robert Whitenack, RHP (SUNY- Old Westbury)
R/R, 6'5, 185, 20 years old
COMMENT: College junior was named 2009 ECAC "Pitcher of the Year"... Went 5-2 with a 2.87 ERA, with 79 K and only 46 hits allowed in in 67.1 IP... "Out" pitch is a knuckle-curve... Had his usually high-80's fastball up to 93 MPH this Spring...


ROUND 9 (290): Richard Jones, C (The Citadel)
L/R, 6'0, 210, 21 years old
COMMENT: College junior is big-time lefty power-jacker, hitting 378/449/673 with 17 HR & 69 RBI and 27/52 BB/K in 285 PA for the Bulldogs in 2009... Offensive-first catcher who only threw-out 13% of opposing base-stealers... Was used as a DH quite a bit...


ROUND 10 (320): Charles Thomas, 3B (Edward Waters College)
R/R, 6'4, 225, 20 years old
COMMENT: College junior is a powerfully-built corner infielder... Hit .336 with 8 HR and 30 RBI in 45 games for EWC in 2009... Played 3B in college, but may be moved to 1B in pro ball...


ROUND 11 (350): John Mincone, LHP (Suffolk County CC West)
L/L, 6'1, 215, 19 years old
COMMENT: JC sophomore went 6-0 with a 0.92 ERA, allowing just 32 hits in 59 IP, with a 13/91 BB/K for the Longhorns in 2009... Good hitter, played1B & DH on days he wasn't pitching... Transferred to SCCC after spending his freshman year at James Madison...


ROUND 12 (380): Runey Davis, OF (Howard JC)
R/R, 6'0, 185, 20 years old
COMMENT: Selected by Pirates in 11th round of 2007 draft, but did not sign... Transferred to Howard JC after spending freshman year at the University of Texas... Was hit by a pitch 14 times and stole 34 bases for JUCO World Series champion Howard JC in 2009... Will transfer to Mississippi State if he doesn't sign with the Cubs...


ROUND 13 (410): Chad Taylor, SS/RHP (Jefferson HS - Tampa, FL)
R/R, 6'1, 175, 18 years old
COMMENT: Tremendously-versatile and athletic all-around baseball player, he made his HS All-Conference team as a shortstop, but he also has played CF and has been used both as a starter and as a closer on the mound... Signed NLI with South Florida...


ROUND 14 (440): Danny Keefe, RHP (U. of Tampa)
R/R, 6'4, 185, 21 years old
COMMENT: College senior... Spot-starter and part-time closer for Spartans in 2009, Keefe went 4-5 with a 4.13 ERA and two saves, allowing 69 hits (.264 OBA) with a 19/70 BB/K in 65.1 IP...


ROUND 15 (470): Cody Shields, CF (Auburn U. - Montgomery)
R/R, 6'4, 190, 21 years old
COMMENT: College senior... NAIA 2nd team All-American was the Southern States Athletic Conference "Player of the Year"... Hit .461 with 7 HR and 43 RBI for the "other" Auburn in 2009...


ROUND 16 (500): Keenyn Walker, OF (Judge Memorial Catholic HS - Salt Lake City, UT)
B/R, 6'2, 185, 18 years old
COMMENT: Hit .517 in his senior year at JMCHS... Also played safety on Bulldog football team... Has signed NLI to play baseball at Central Arizona JC...


ROUND 17 (530): B. J. Dail, RHP (Mt. Olive College)
R/R, 6'2, 205, 21 years old
COMMENT: College junior was 1st Team All-Peach Belt Conference... Was ace of Mt Olive staff, going 7-0 with a 2.97 ERA in 63.2 IP, 18/64 BB/K and 43 hits (.188 OBA)... Transferred to Mt. Olive after spending two years at U. of North Carolina...


ROUND 18 (560): Matt Williams, C (Duke)
R/R, 5'11, 220, 22 years old
COMMENT: A typical veteran college senior backstop with strong receiving skills and a questionable bat, hit 345/421/475 with 5 HR & 47 RBI, 12 2B, 1 3B, 24/20 BB/K in 261 PA, and threw out 48% opposing base-stealers for Blue Devils in 2009...


ROUND 19 (590): Sergio Burruel, C (Trevor Browne HS - Phoenix AZ)
L/R, 5'11, 17 years old
COMMENT: Lefty slugger hit 15 HR with 55 RBI for TBHS in 2009... Member of Class 5-A All-State team... Like Cubs 16th round pick Keenyn Walker, Burruel has signed NLI with Central Arizona JC...


ROUND 20 (620): Eric Erickson, LHP (U. of Miami)
R/L, 6'0, 174, 21 years old
COMMENT: Freshman All-American... Had Tommy John surgery post-2008 and missed his junior season (2009) at "The U".. Was a combined 19-5 3.27 ERA with 34/131 BB/K in 168 IP and 26 GS pre-TJS (2007-08)... Cubs took a similar gamble on another pitcher rehabbing from TJS a year ago, drafting RHP Jon Nagel in the 17th round of the 2008 draft and then having him continue his rehab at Fitch Park... 


ROUND 21 (650) Greg Rohan, 1B (Kent State)
R/R, 6'0, 205, 23 years old
COMMENT: 5th year senior... Oldest player selected by the Cubs through the first two days of the draft... Hit 349/436/609 with 15 HR and 63 RBI, and 29/32 BB/K in 282 PA for the Golden Flashes in 2009... Was 2008 MAC Player of the Year and was also an All-American in 2008... Was college teammate of Cubs 2008 3rd round pick RHP Chris Carpenter...


ROUND 22 (680) D. J. Fitzgerald, SS (Dyersburg State CC)
R/R, 5'11, 195, 20 years old
COMMENT: Speedy middle-infielder, has played both 2B and SS for DSCC... Hit .304 in 2009...  Was a two-time PUMA All-American at Ocean Lakes HS in Virginia Beach, VA... Was a Georgia Southern recruit out of high school, before ending up at a JC... 


ROUND 23 (710) Jeffrey Pruitt, CF/RHP (Cal Sate - Northridge)
R/R, 6'5, 220, 21 years old
COMMENT: College junior has plus-arm & plus-speed, is a solid defender in CF, and has the look of a power hitter, but he can't seem to do anything with the bat, hitting just 212/332/268 with two doubles and four triples, no HR, and 26/53 BB/K in 215 PA, and 24 SB (only four CS)... This guy is what hitting instructors call a "project"...  


ROUND 24 (740) Gerardo Esquivel, RHP (De La Salle Institute - Chicago, IL)
R/R, 6'1, 170, 18 years old
COMMENT: Has signed NLI with Kansas State, so Cubs will have to pay over-slot to sign him...


ROUND 25 (770) Justin Bour, 1B (George Mason)
L/R, 6'4, 250, 21 years old
COMMENT: College junior... First team All-Colonial Athletic Association... At 6'4 250, Justin Bour is this year's Rebel Ridling... Bour hit 339/420/633 with 17 HR & 66 RBI and 14 doubles, with 24/33 BB/K in 257 PA (not a high "K" total for a power hitter) for GMU in 2009... Just turned 21 last month...


ROUND 26 (800) Steve Grife, RHP (Mercyhurst College) 
R/R, 6'0, 177, 22 years old
COMMENT: College senior.. Went 5-1 with a 3.24 ERA for Lakers in 2009, with 33/73 BB/K and 62 hits allowed (.244 OBA) in 66.2 IP...


ROUND 27 (830) Corey Martin, RHP (Western Carolina)
R/R, 6'3, 195, 22 years old
COMMENT: College senior had a disappointing 2009 season at WCU, going 7-4 with a 5.56 ERA for the Catamounts, with 29/56 BB/K and 76 hits allowed (.283 OBA) in 68 IP...


ROUND 28 (860) Jordan Petraitis, INF (Miami of Ohio)
R/R, 6'3, 225, 22 years old
COMMENT: Hit 343/434/478 with 0 HR & 13 RBI, seven doubles, one triple, and 9/11 BB/K in 83 PA for Golden Flashes in 2009... College senior will turn 23 in August... Was selected by the Cubs in 41st round of the 2008 draft but did not sign, so the fact that the Cubs drafted him again at a higher slot than last year must mean they are almost positive he wants to sign this time around (a player must give his permission before he can be drafted again by the same club)... Probably projects as a utility infielder, presuming he ever gets out of "A" ball... ...


ROUND 29 (890) Tim Clubb, RHP (Missouri State)
R/R, 6'2, 195, 22 years old
COMMENT: College senior... Was the Missouri Valley Conference "Pitcher of the Year" in 2008 when he went 11-0 with a 2.52 ERA, but he dipped to 4-5 with a 5.11 ERA in 2009, allowing 98 hits in 88 IP (.284 OBA), with 36/74 BB/K.... Cubs will have to hope that the 2008 Clubb was the real deal, and that the 2009 Clubb was just an anomaly... Was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 but did not sign... Younger brother Ryan is pitching for the University of Missouri...


ROUND 30 (920) Daniel Sheppard, C (Downers Grove North HS - Downers Grove, IL)
R/R, 6'0, 180, 18 years old
COMMENT: Star football player (MLB/QB) and baseball player at DGNHS, Sheppard is headed to the University of Iowa and it is unlikely that the Cubs can sign him, mainly because what Sheppard would probably want to give up his free ride to Iowa is more than what he is worth as a baseball prospect right now... Look for the Cubs to watch Sheppard's progress at Iowa and maybe revisit this in 2012, next time Sheppard becomes eligible for the Rule 4 Draft...


The draft resumes tomorrow, with the final 20 rounds (31-50).

ROUND 1 (31): Brett Jackson, OF (Cal)
L/R, 6'2, 210, 20 years old
COMMENT: College junior was named 1st team All-PAC-10 in 2009... Also was a pre-season All-American... Above-average defender with enough arm to play CF or LF, but not RF.... Above-average speed... Aggressive baserunner... Outstanding bat speed, but he strikes out a lot... Hit 321/407/564, with 8 HR & 41 RBI, 17 2B, 6 3B, 29/61 BB/K in 253 PA, and 11 SB (5 CS) for the Golden Bears in 2009... A similar type player as Cubs OF prospects Cliff Andersen and Drew Rundle...


ROUND 2 (79): D. J. LeMahieu, INF (LSU)
R/R, 6'4, 190, 20 years old
COMMENT: Draft-eligible sophomore... Played SS as Freshman at LSU, then was shifted to 2B as Soph... Has power potential, but so far has been intent on hitting ball to opposite field... Will probably have to learn to pull the ball if he wants to progress... Has average speed... Below-average arm for SS, and struggles with footwork at 2B... Might have to be moved to a corner IF-OF spot at some point... Hit 340/408/462 for Tigers in 2009, with 4 HR & 39 RBI, 12 2B, 3 3B, 27/38 BB/K in 286 PA, with 10 SB (3 CS), and nine errors... Played HS ball in Michigan... Follows in the footsteps of LSU Cubbies Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot...


ROUND 3 (109): Austin Kirk, LHP (Owasso HS - Owasso, OK)
L/L, 6'1, 205, 19 years old
COMMENT: Went 9-1 with a 0.45 ERA and 21/111 BB/K in 62 IP for the Rams in 2009... Showed an overpowering fastball that was clocked at 95 MPH in state semi-finals, as well as a sharp breaking ball and solid change-up... Has signed NLI with University of Oklahoma... Played OF & 1B when he wasn't pitching, and hit .400+ with 5 HR in 2009...

The draft will resume tomorrow, starting with Round #4.   

The 2009 MLB draft is going to be a three day event this year starting tonight with round 1 moving into prime time on the MLB Network. That seems pretty dumb. They're going to put a press conference of guys announcing names against actual baseball games. I know I'll be watching the Cubs vs. Astros games instead. In their quest to emulate the NBA and NFL drafts, MLB forgot to notice that the other two sports do their drafts in the offseason when people have no football or basketball to watch. Granted, it would be hard to do it in the offseason, but they should at least put the first round on a Monday or Thursday and jerry-rig the schedule so there's very few games that night or make them day games leading up to the draft (I've copyrighted that idea Selig, don't try and steal it).

The Cubs have the 31st pick in the first round thanks to a few players being unsigned last year by other teams and thus getting two draft picks. The Cubs don't draft again until the second round and pick #79. This is Tim Wilken's fourth attempt at trying to pump up the Cubs system and although the only major league return so far has been Jeff Samardzija, Josh Vitters is quickly working his way to the top of the minor league prospect charts and Josh Donaldson was one of the key pieces in the Rich Harden trade last year. Wilken avoided the topic of who the Cubs might draft in a recent interview at Scout.com but did say he almost always picks the best player regardless of positional need, but if there is a hole in the system it's left-handed pitching. He does prefer shortstops and center fielders in general, feeling they have the athletic ability to move around the diamond, although he does feel the system is pretty stocked at shortstop and catcher right now in terms of depth.

Who will the Cubs pick with their first pick? I've listed below a few players that have been mentioned in mock drafts and whispers. AJ Pollock's the name you'll see the most but Jim Callis at Baseball America in his morning mock draft doesn't believe he'll last to the Cubs.


He doesn't exactly pack 'em in like Wood and Prior used to.

A crowd of about 7,000 gathered last night at Principal Park. Some portion of it was there for the express purpose of watching Rich Harden tune up for his return to the big leagues this weekend.

I watched Harden warm up in the bullpen before he took the mound. From less than 10 feet away he sure doesn't look the 6'1" or the 195 # attributed to him in the media guide.

The other thing I noticed right away was that his pant legs went all the way to his shoetops. The rest of the team tucks 'em below the knee, knickers style. I'm guessing he paid for the fashion privilege with a post-game clubhouse spread before catching the first plane out of town.

He retired the first six batters he faced on only 22 pitches without topping 90 mph. The second inning required only eight.

In the 3rd his velocity rose noticeably and he struggled a bit. I'm not alleging  cause & effect there - just reporting.

On the day of the rule 4 draft, I'll keep this short. It's based on a Sun-Times article by Gordon Wittenmyer about why Kosuke Fukudome is surprising the Cubs management with his solid performance so far in 2009. I guess the surprise is they had virtually written him off when they went out and got another multi-year contract, free-agent,  left handed hitting right fielder (OK, Bradley is a switch hitter) for the second year in a row. The article implies that the reason Fukudome was bad the second half of 2008 was that he was having subconscious mechanical problems with his swing, related to his 2007 elbow arthroscopy for the removal of bone chips.

But perhaps the most important reason and least known publicly was the affect his surgically repaired right arm had on his swing.

Fukudome had elbow surgery late in the 2007 season, and the elbow started bothering him last season right about the time his decline began in May. By the end of the season, his hitting mechanics were a mess.

''I didn't feel the pain physically, but I must have been subconsciously feeling the pain of the elbow,'' said Fukudome, still reluctant to openly admit pain. But when asked if it was a factor last season, he said, ''Probably it was.'' 


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