September 2010

Xavier Batista smashed a solo HR and threw a runner out at the plate, leading the Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Angels in AZ Instructional League action at Diablo Park Field #3 in Tempe this afternoon.

San Francisco Giants 2010 1st round pick Gary Brown (Cal State - Fullerton) blasted a three-run home run to key a six-run 2nd inning, and the Giants went on to wallop the Cubs 17-6 in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this afternoon.  

Michael Gilmartin laced a double off the right-field fence with one out in the bottom of the 9th, knocking-in the tying run and the winning run, as the A’s Split Squad #2 rallied with three runs in the 8th and two in the 9th to edge the Cubs 7-6 in AZ Instructional League action at Papago Park Baseball Complex Field #2 in Phoenix this afternoon.

Rolando Gomez hammered a two-run home run and a two-run triple to help overcome an early seven-run deficit, as the Angels rallied to edge the Cubs 10-9 in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this afternoon.

Hak-Ju Lee stroked RBI singles in the 6th and the 8th to help carry the Cubs to a 6-2 victory over the A’s Split Squad #1 in AZ Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.

Michael Choice and A. J. Kirby-Jones crushed back-to-back home runs to cap a five-run 5th, leading the A’s Split Squad #1 to a 9-3 victory over the Cubs in AZ Instructional League action at Papago Park Baseball Complex Field #2 in Phoenix this afternoon.

Cubs 2010 2nd round draft pick Reggie Golden slugged a two-run HR over the LF scoreboard and onto 8th Street to give the Cubs a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the 6th, but the Brew Crew rallied for four in the 8th as the Cubs and Brewers played to a 7-7 tie in the Cubs 2010 AZ Instructional League opener at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this afternoon.


There are 47 Cubs minor leaguers participating in Instructs at Fitch Park (22 pitchers, five catchers, 12 infielders, and eight outfielders), including eight players who are making their U. S. debut after spending the 2010 season playing in the Dominican Summer League, four draft picks and one non-drafted free-agent who signed too late to get into game action in August, and one Korean bonus baby. Also among the 47 is Cubs 3B prospect Josh Vitters, who is at Instructs rehabbing his broken hand and preparing for play in the Arizona Fall League next month.


Two of the newcomers made their pro debut in today's game, as LHP Casey Harman (2010 29th round draft pick out of Clemson) threw 1.1 IP of hitless shutout ball, walking one while striking out two, and catcher Max Kwan (2010 NDFA - U. of Washington) went 1-3 with a single and an RBI.


Harman was Clemson's #1 starter ("Friday night starter") in 2010 and beat #1 ranked Arizona State at the College World Series in June. Although he was selected in the 29th round, Harman received a $150,000 bonus (equivalent to "5th round" money) when he signed with the Cubs at the August 16th deadline.


Kwan suffered through an injury-plagued college career at Tulane and then later at Washington, but he has good size for a catcher (6'3 220), and helps provide depth at the catching position going into the 2011 season.


The Cubs will be playing a 21-game AZ instructional League schedule, with the last game on October 16th (they play every day Monday-Saturday up through 10/16, with no games on Sundays).


Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only)

Some day olds news for everyone...

Muskat Round-up

- Hendry flew out to Arizona yesterday to interview Ryne Sandberg for the manager's job in 2011. I like to imagine that hiring the owners choice in Sandberg is the only way Hendry keeps his job, but I've been surprised before.

- Tyler Colvin is out of the hospital and back home in South Carolina after surviving the Flying Bat of Death.

- Tom Gorzelanny will pitch Friday against the Cardinals with Coleman and Samardzija pitching the other 2 games. Carlos Silva is still attempting to make one more start before the season ends. I hear the starting pitcher gets to go first for the post-game spread.

Tags: 

Maples are my favorite kind of tree. They are at their best this time of the year. I grew up in the shade of a huge one and one of our two pooches is even named Maple. But someday a maple baseball bat is going to be the cause of death. What a way to go.


I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that one of the games in the season-ending series between Iowa and Memphis included five shattered bats. I don’t know how many of those were maple, but there is a growing body of evidence that maple bats crack differently than ones made of ash. A game which has always featured balls as hard as stones being hurled around at high speeds and being swatted with wooden clubs is becoming even more dangerous with metallic mallets at amateur levels and maple ones in the major leagues...


   


What’s to be made of Mike Quade’s 17-7 record as the Cubs’ skipper? What a shame that the best series the team’s had in St. Louis in over 20 years and the best road trip it’s ever enjoyed benefit no one in the Cub legions with the possible exception of Mr. Clean. Will Jim Hendry attach any significance to this run? The games are barely facsimiles of meaningful ones when pennants and playoff berths are still at stake. Here’s a thought: maybe hiring Quade would so underwhelm the masses that attendance would stay down next year and keep the pressure relatively low on the youngsters. They’ve been thriving under more or less those conditions this month.


Phil Rogers mentioned Seattle as perhaps another logical spot for Ryne Sandberg in yesterday’s Tribune. It makes some sense. Sandberg hails from Washington. There are going to be a lot of jobs open this winter and Sandberg will get one of them, I’m betting. I hope it’s the one he’s best-suited for in the organization he’s most familiar with in all ways, especially organizational history and personnel.


Recent remarks by Mr. Ricketts can easily be interpreted as Sandberg stage-setters. The best combination of the new ownership’s business instincts and fondness for the Cubs would seem to be #23. The combination of a philosophical downshift to homegrown young talent and a no-name manager will cost the royal family a lot of money in the short-term. More, I hope they decide, than they can afford.


Pay no attention to the man behind the meaningless lineup cards!

The 2011 schedule is out and the Cubs get a mix of the AL East and Central during interleague play. Ben Affleck* can mug for the cameras between May 20-22(fine by me as long as he brings his wife with him) as the Cubs wrap up a 7-game road trip with a trip to Fenway. Good luck getting tickets. It's the first Cubs trip since Babe Ruth beat them in the 1918 World Series.

*Go see "The Town" though, 90% of it is excellent.

Speaking of May, the Cubs get 17 home games that month and 11 on the road, which seems like some sort of important milestone in how the season should be going.

Other highlights include:

- The season starting on a Friday(April Fool's to be exact) and it will be the season and home opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates, followed by a three game set versus the Diamondbacks. Hope it's warm.

- Cubs wrap up their home/road series for the year versus the D'Backs and the Rockies in April.

- The friendly home May schedule turns quickly into a 10-game road trip through St. Louis, Cincy and Philadelphia.

- The Yankees visit Wrigley Field June 17-19, then the Cubs "travel" to play the White Sox and Kansas City Royals. They'll finish up their home and home with the White Sox the first weekend in July.

- The season ends with three at St. Louis and then three in San Diego with the final game on Wednesday, September 28th. The shift in starting and ending days of the season is an attempt by the league to make sure the post-season doesn't go into November again.

The rest of the Cubs news fit to print after the jump...

A nice night for the Golden Boy last night as he throws 5.2 shutout innings against the fading Cardinals to further deter their playoffs hopes. Samardzija did give up six hits and four walks against just one strikeout, so he was constantly working out trouble, but he got 8 groundballs and two timely(as if they are never not timely for a pitcher) double plays by Pedro Feliz to help the cause.

Mike Quade and Geovany Soto came away impressed.

"To me -- and I haven't seen him since Spring Training -- he did a lot of damage with his soft game," Quade said. "He threw some good splits, some good sliders. ... He did a good job against a nice club. It's a real good start."

"He looks more aggressive, throws with more conviction and isn't afraid to baby it in the zone," Soto said.

Ninja says he worked on his offspeed pitches while down in Iowa and mastered picking up groupies for a hopeful 2011 run around Wrigleyville.

"Being down there all year, you get a lot of opportunities to throw [offspeed pitches]," he said. "It's not live or die situations all the time. Not only that but [catcher Geovany Soto] calling pitches [Monday], he showed confidence in me to throw those pitches. A lot of times that's what it takes -- throw it two or three times in a row and that gets it going for the rest of the game."

He'll throw again Saturday against the Marlns and the Cubs say Ninja will be considered for a starting spot no matter how he fares the rest of the season.

In draft pick news, the Cubs slightly improved play has them at the 8th spot right now and in danger of catching the Brewers for the 9th spot as they're just 3.5 behind them with 18 to play.

10 pts for catching the title reference.

The Cubs named outfielder Brandon Guyer their 2010 Minor League Player of the Year and Chris Archer was named the pitcher of the year.

Guyer and Archer are still competing for the Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League champioship that begins tomorrow against the Jackson Suns.

In 410 PA's during the regular season, Guyer hit 13 over the fence with a slash line of 344/398/588. He topped the Southern League in slugging percentage and finished 2nd in batting average. He was a 5th round pick by the Cubs in 2007.

Archer was one-third of the package received for dealing Mark DeRosa to the Indians before the 2009 season. The 21-year old put up a 2.34 ERA between AA and Hi-A in 28 games (27 of them starts). That includes an 8-2 record and 1.80 ERA at AA in 70 IP with 67 K's and 39 BB's. Overall, he ended up 15-3 with that 2.34 ERA in 142.1 IP with 149 K's, 65 BB's and just 6 HR's allowed and a 1.173 WHIP.

For as full of a list as I have been able to compile at this point of minor league players of the year, check out Wiklifield. Guyer and Archer have joined the esteemed ranks of Brian Dopirak, Kevin Hart, Eric Patterson, Micah Hoffpauir, Kyler Burke, Sean Gallagher, Rich Hill and so on (Geovany Soto at least earned one in 2007). If you can assist in filling out any missing info on that page or any other, feel free to drop me a line or throw it in the comments.

 

I found some old photos in a box.

Crappy, from an old point and shoot in the pre-digital days.

I asked a buddy if he thought that was crazy Mitch Williams on the mound for the Cubs, he said he thought it was Rod Beck.

And then I simply had to find out what the shots were from.

I scanned 'em at high resolution and you know what? Fuzzy shots scanned at high resolution still look pretty fuzzy. But blown way up you'll see two #30's (starting pitchers) in the shot of the scoreboard. That would be Geremi Gonzalez and Todd Stottlmyre. 

The batters, of course you'll remember Cardinal  #25 and Cub #21.

Jim Hendry says that he is in no rush to settle on and name Lou Piniella’s successor as the Cubs’ manager. Really? Then why travel all the way to Albuquerque to have lunch with Ryne Sandberg as Hendry did last week? Just to break the news gently that Ryno wouldn’t be called up to Chicago to peer over Mike Quade’s shoulder once Iowa’s season ended? I have a feeling that Sandberg believes, whether he’s been told so or not, that his laidbackness as a player has been a perceived weakness while he’s earned his managerial chops, so he’s sought to demonstrate that he can be fiery on an as needed basis. One of the things he may have been working on during his apprenticeship is the art of the timely ejection. As for Quade’s self-serving auditional mystery tour in Chicago, I’d be more inclined to give him points for a grandstand benching of Alfonso Soriano than the recently ballyhooed one of young Mr. Castro…

Long story short, Mark Hamilton's solo homer with two out in the top of the 9th gave Memphis a see-saw 7-6 win over Iowa today that also advanced the Redbirds to the PCL playoffs and ended the Cubs' season. The teams deadlocked for their divisional crown with records of 82-62 and split their season series 8-8 but the playoff berth goes to the visitors on the basis of their superior intra-divsional record.

It was another pulsating game in a pulsating series. I would say that the umpiring left a little to be desired, not necessarily in terms of the accuracy of calls, but in the length of fuses. After all, these were two teams in a dead heat with 140 games down and four to go. Thicken the skins and stop tossing people in the early innings. More on that later.

What a strange day at the ballpark. I arrived about 11:30 A.M. in time to see the Iowa Cubs' GM unloading champagne out of the back of his SUV. Special shampoo for the clubhouse showers. I had to leave five hours later for a wedding reception with the potential pennant-clincher still unresolved after 10 innings. Turns out I'd only seen two thirds of the game.

On my way into the ballpark a team official in a championship frame of mind mentioned to me that 18 of the players had been to the clubhouse chapel service that morning. It wasn't clear if he thought that somehow boded well for the game ahead. I asked him if Jeff Samardzija, the appointed starting pitcher, had been there. No, apparently he has neither a prayer nor a clue. What would Touchdown Jesus think?

Thanks to a 33 year-old journeyman who's probably had all he's likely to get of the big leagues, what remains of the Iowa Cubs took another big step toward a division pennant and the PCL playoffs with an 8-5 win over the Memphis Redbirds last night in Des Moines. Jeff Samardzija will take the mound this afternoon and try to toss the clincher.

The newly named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year, Iowa's Ryne Sandberg, must be assembling his lineups at this point like Mr. Phelps uesd to put together his teams on Mission Impossible. The Phelps character would listen to the tape describing his task, should he choose to accept it, and toss 8x10 glossies on the table of the available personnel best suited to accomplish it.

Last night Sandberg was without Sam Fuld due to an injured foot in addition to all the horsepower already summoned to Chicago. His starting pitcher was Chris Carpenter, a touted prospect yet to throw well since his promotion to Triple A. The opponent was the Memphis Redbirds who arrived in town deadlocked with Sandberg's club for the top spot in the PCL American North. This weekend's games are the last four of the regular season.

Iowa scrounged a gutsy 4-2 win to nudge a game in front with three to play.

You may have thought I've been on vacation since May, but really just the last week and next. Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things when I return.

In the meantime, the Mets visit Wrigley for this weekends exhibition. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and his surprising 2010 season start off the set against Randy "Sophomore Slump" Wells.

Fukudome, Castro, Byrd, Ramirez, Nady, Soto, Soriano, DeWitt, Wells

vs.

Pagan, Duda, Carter, Wright, Davis, Arias, Thole, Tejada, Dickey.

Gorzelanny has a hairline fracture in his pinkie and will miss his next start, hints are that he'll avoid the disabled list and pitch again this season.

Welington Castillo was called up.

The Cubs are currently tied for the 7th spot in the draft with the Nationals, a half game from the 6th spot owned by the Royals, 2 games from the 5th spot owned by the Dbacks and 3 games from the 4th spot owned by the Indians. I think the Pirates, O's and Mariners are pretty safe to take the first three picks. On the other side, it doesn't look the Cubs could do much worse than the 8th spot in the draft as they're 5.5 games behind the Astros and Brewers for the 9th spot.

Happy Weekend everyone.

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