August 2011

Cubs Send Some Talent to Arizona Fall League

According to a Paul Sullivan tweet, the Cubs will send Andrew Cashner, Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt, Chris Carpenter, D.J. LeMahieu and Junior Lake to play for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. Bruce Miles adds that P Jeffrey Beliveau will be added to the taxi squad meaing he's only eligible to play on Wednesdays and Saturdays. That seems to be one of the better crews of talent they've sent to Arizona over the years.

This is the second year in a row that Jackson and Carpenter were sent out to play. It's also Cashner's second go-round, although not in successive years, his first visit being after the 2009 season.

You can check historical Arizona Fall League rosters over at Wiklifieid.

While not set in stone, I assume this means Brett Jackson will not get a September call-up and I'll tell you why I'm okay with that after the jump.

Cubs Roll a Big Five in 8th to Edge D-backs at Fitch

Javier Baez, Dan Vogelbach, and Rock Shoulders hammered back-to-back-to back doubles and Gioskar Amaya ripped an RBI single to cut the deficit to one, and then Gregori Gonzalez slammed an RBI triple to tie the score and scored the go-ahead run (eventual winning run) on a suicide squeeze play (pitcher threw a ball in the dirt and past the catcher), as the AZL Cubs rallied for five runs in the bottom of the 8th to edge the AZL Diamondbacks 5-4 in Arizona League action at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.

 This was the final 2011 game for the AZL Cubs, who were eliminated from contention for the AZL Wild Card last Thursday.

Vogel-Jack Bomb Not Quite Enough to Overcome Giant Attack

Cubs 2011 2nd round draft pick Dan Vogelbach crushed a tape-measure three-run HR over the RF fence to cap a five-run 4th, doubled and scored to key a five-run 8th, and reached base four times to lead the Cubs back from 8-2 and 14-7 deficits, only to see the AZL Giants score twice in the top of the 12th on two consecutive two-out balks and go on to defeat the Cubs 17-15 at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning, as the AZL Cubs were officially eliminated from contention in the AZL Wild Card standings.

Carlos Pena Claimed On Waivers

Buster Olney tweets that a claim was awarded on Carlos Pena. Depending on when that actually happened, the Cubs and the mystery team at the moment have about 48 hours to work out a deal. If nothing can be hammered out, the Cubs can pull Pena back off waivers or they can just let him go to the team and save the remaining salary left on his contract which includes the $5M deferred money he's owed on January 1st, 2012.

Tuesday Cubs News Round-Up

Some bits of news from the latest news cycle, most of it mentioned in the comments in the thread below.

- I admit missing out on this rather crucial piece of information, but apparently Aramis Ramirez 2012 option is a mutual option. Technically, if the Cubs exercise the $16M option, he can void it and forfeit the $2M buyout, and his agent suggests that with Hendry gone, that's looking more likely now.

I'm not sure if that's good or bad news yet. $16M for one season is a bit expensive for Ramirez, but there's not a lot out there to play the hot corner either.

- Tracy Ringolsby goes after Cubs team president Crane Kenney today over on Fox Sports.


Mr. Rogers Not So Friendly at Fitch Park

On an injury rehab assignment in the Arizona League, veteran AAA 3B Ed Rogers doubled twice and drove-in two runs, leading the AZL Diamondbacks to a 7-1 victory over the AZL Cubs at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.

Beefy Cubs 2011 2nd round draft pick Dan Vogelbach (Bishop Verot HS - Ft. Myers, FL) made his pro debut in the game, serving as the DH and batting clean-up. 

Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Now that the gauntlet has been dropped and there will be a new sheriff in town - eventually - let me take a look at what a new statistically inclined general manager may think of the current crop of Cubbies with the predisposition that the Cubs are not going into some full 3-year rebuild mode. That may be a faulty assumption on my part, but I assume the Ricketts would at the very least like to make the appearance of contending and with nearly $50M coming off the books and even more after 2012, no reason a savvy GM could not make things a lot more interesting, rather quickly.

Let me preface this with the explanation that this is intended more as a look at who may stay and who may go, then who will they try to bring in, although they'll certainly be some of that mixed in.

Ryno Part Deux

This sounds like an article about a Cub fan's primal desire to bring back an old Cub to manage the team next year. Maybe, maybe not. Consider it an invitation to speculate about the next Cub GM and the first few trades the next Cub GM will make. The key to my thinking is that Tom Ricketts said the next GM was coming from outside the organizaton as in: the club management desparately needs a breath of fresh air.

That's where Sandberg comes in. In 1981, new Cub ownership, aka The Chicago Tribune, brought in GM Dallas Green from the Phillies organization only one year after the Phils won the 1980 World Series. Green raided the Phils for players he had some hankering for. His first trade (12-8-81) was sending pitcher Mike Krukow to the Phils for Keith Moreland, pitchers Dickie Noles and Dan Larson. A year later (1-27-82) out went Ivan DeJesus (SS and current 3B coach) and in came oldster, Larry Bowa and youngster, Ryne Sandberg.

If we are to believe the media speculaton about the top GM candidates, we should be looking at the Red Sox, Rangers, Braves, White Sox, Yankees, Rays and Giants for that first trade.


Jim Hendry Fired

This is one of those times I wish I could adjust the headline size so it could fill the whole front page.

Anyway, ninja Hendry finally bit the bullet as Ricketts wasn't kidding when he said a major announcement was coming. Hendry says he was informed as of July 22nd that he wouldn't be retained for next year.

"He never missed a beat; it's a credit to his character that we were able to operate the way we did and get the job done," Ricketts said. "We had the trade deadline coming up and I didn't think it made any sense to change horses in mid-stream."

Followed by this little quip...

Hendry, 56, said Cubs Chairman notified him July 22 that he wouldn't be retained. He indicated that was one factor in deciding not to trade away veteran players at the deadline, figuring he should leave those decisions to his successor.

That, along with just naming Randy Bush as the interim sort of defeats the whole purpose of keeping him an extra month, but who am I to question the reasonings of billionaires.

A's Score Often and Late to Trump Cubs at Fitch

Chris Bostick, Kelvin Rojas, Rhett Stafford, and Miguel Marte ripped consecutive two-out RBI hits in the top of the 8th to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 lead, as the AZL Athletics scored six runs over the final two innings to defeat the AZL Cubs 8-4 in Arizona League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.

Reds Long Balls Doom Cubs at Fitch Park

Carlos Sanchez, Steven Selsky, and Brennan May hit back-to-back-to back home runs in the top of the 8th to put the game away, as the AZL Reds throttled the AZL Cubs 9-1 in Arizona League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning. 

Selsky (the Reds 2011 33rd round draft pick out of the University of Arizona) also clubbed a solo HR off the LF foul pole to give the Reds a 1-0 lead in the top of the 2nd.  

The game was a battle for the AZL Wild Card lead, as the Cubs and Reds came into the game tied in the AZL Wild Card standings. (The three division winners and the second-place team with the best record will qualify for the AZL playoffs). By winning today, the Reds take a one-game lead over the Cubs with ten games left to play (and the Reds own the tie-breaker, having defeated the Cubs three out of four times).   

Z and His Agent Finally Get Story Straight Plus Draft Signing Updates

If you were following the Z drama through the papers or through our comments, you would have noticed the healthy amount of spin his agent Barry Praver was putting on the situation, because there is nothing worse for an agent than losing out on the 10% commission of the $24M or so he's still owed. It went something along the lines of, he said nothing about retiring, wait, yes he did, but it was not meant for public consumption. He came back Friday and returned his stuff, no I meant Saturday...he never punched Michael Barrett, Michael Barrett fell on his fist, etc, etc...

Kapman today scored the first interview with Z and it appears they finally found the narrative they plan to go forward with. Essentially, yes Z did make comments about retiring, but they were all intended to be private (counterpoint: Cubs claim to have text messages saying "good-bye and thanks" from Z). He also tried to return to the team Saturday with his belongings, but was not allowed and naturally, does not agree with the Cubs punishment. They intend to file a grievance by the end of the day.

Anyway, the idea of Z gifting the Cubs $18M next year seems out the window, but give credit to the Cubs for seizing the opportunity to save $3M or so this year by putting him on the disqualified list. Him leaving early means nothing to me, but obviously it rubbed many of his teammates the wrong way and in the end he gets a longer vacation and Cubs fans get Casey Coleman.

And now for the rest of the story...

Big Z: "I received text messages of support from Sosa, Byrd, Ozzie, Jason Giambi, Pena, and Soriano." Also said he and Soriano are cool.

Surprised Derrek Bell didn't think to drop him a note...

Zambrano Hints at Retirement, Cubs Ready Gold Watch

Since this will be the talk of the weekend comments, let's recap tonight's festivities...

Carlos Zambrano started the game, he gave up five home runs in 4.1 IP and 8 ER, then decided he didn't want to wait for Q-Ball to take him out and just threw at Chipper Jones.  At least he had the deceny to not throw at his head. With the calmness of a serial killer, he walked off the mound, seemed to say a few words to someone on the bench and then proceeded to pack up his locker, go home and apparently told a few folks he's retiring.

There's even a silver lining in the Cubs 2011 cloud.

Because if he retires, he saves the Cubs $18M next year, not to mention the roughly $4.5M he's owed for the rest of this year.

Jim Hendry's comment from Tennessee where he was watching the Smokies play was, ""We will respect his wishes and honor them and move forward."

(Ominous drum hits)

Thanks for the Memories...

statueThere are more than a couple hundred players enshrined at Cooperstown and they are paid homage by something like 350,000 annual visitors to baseball’s Hall of Fame. At Wrigley Field a mere three Cubs have been immortalized in statuary and only half a dozen’s numbers flutter atop the foul poles. This Mecca draws in excess of three million pilgrims per season. Maybe Ron Santo was on to something when he listed the corner of Clark & Addison in Chicago as the address of his personal HOF.

Angels Late Rally Flips Cubs at Fitch

Welington Castillo reached base five times on three walks, a single, and a double, but the AZL Angels rallied to score three runs in the 9th and one in the 10th to edge the AZLCubs 8-7 in Arizona League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.

Cubs Walk-Off with 7-6 Decision at Fitch

After Neftali Rosario was walked intentionally to load the bases and set-up a potential game-ending double play, Taylor Davis drilled a one-out two-run game-winning walk-off single on a 2-2 pitch past a a diving 3rd baseman into LF to score Marco Hernandez from 3rd base with the tying run and Gioskar Amaya from 2nd base with the winning run, as the AZL Cubs rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 9th to edge the AZL Rangers 7-6 in Arizona League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.  

Hernandez Extends Hit Streak to 15, Kim Throws Blanks

Marco Hernandez extended his hitting streak to 15 games and Jin-Young Kim threw five shutout innings, as the AZL Cubs edged the AZL Dodgers 2-1 in Arizona League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.  

BJ Bookends Not So Subtle Hints


The street that runs behind the right-center field wall of Principal Park in Des Moines is no Sheffield Avenue. Ballhawks do not roost there nor are there rooftops from which knotholers eavesdrop on the ballgames. Beyond it runs the Des Moines River which has been known occasionally to swell up and invade the playing field.

When Winning Is A Bad Thing

Gee, you get tied up for a full day and the comments explode and forget to put Matt Garza and James Shields in your fantasy starting lineup.

(kicks dirt)

Anyway, the Cubs have managed a 4-game winning streak, in close proximity to a 3-game winning streak (wth a 5-game losing streak in between) and it's about the most enraging thing that could happen besides Hendry sleeping through the trade deadlne. If Q-Ball goes on another second half run, Hendry and him are gonna be validated that it was just the injuries and the pieces are in place to be a good team. Not to mention screwing up their draft spot for next year.

(heavy sigh)

That being said, nice to see the Pirates falling back to Earth a little. Neat story and all, but the offense is bad (of course so is the Giants), but I don't really believe in their pitching talent much, unlike the aforementioned Giants. That being said, they're seemingly on their way back to respectability and can start considering diving back into free agency in the upcoming offseasons.

Perplexing, Isn't It?

So the trade deadline came and went, not with a bang, but a whimper. The only move that Hendry sought fit to make was trade Kosuke Fukudome and about $4M for a couple of non-descript minor leaguers. Ones that must be better than what the Cubs already have per Hendry's reasoning below. It was also a move Hendry indicated had to happen so they could make room for Tyler Colvin, whom promptly sat on Sunday night versus a right-handed starter.

Hendry's reasoning behind the rest of the inaction...

“There’s not somebody waiting to take [Pena's] place for next year
in-house like Tyler is hopeful to do that in the outfield in moving
Fuke,” Hendry said. You have to look at it that way, too.

“The other factor, if you get a second-tier or two prospect back
and you already have people better than that in your own system, then
you really haven’t done anything to help the organization, and then
you’re also put in the spot where if you add minor-league players today,
that means somebody’s going to be sent backwards in our system or
eliminated. That’s just the way I looked at it.”

Recent comments

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  • i don't know what their roster plans are, but j.herrera is out there practicing with the team.

    i can't imagine him making any roster, though. dude had 4 PA the entire month of sept. him being a good dude to be around while keeping the clubhouse loose seems to be his main role at this point.

  • I know it's my own personal dead horse to beat --but Bryant has been a lousy hitter when playing the OF this year. Given that it's his first playoff game, I really hope they keep him in his natural position and don't mess with his routine.

    Lousy as in 8-for-45 with one XBH and no HR. Small sample and all that -- but why take the chance?

  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.

  • Dallas Beeler, Corey Black, David Garner, Pierce Johnson, Steve Perakslis, James Pugliese, Duane Underwood Jr, and Rob Zastryzny threw early-morning bullpen side-sessions at Riverview yesterday.  

    Underwood threw last, and received specific one-on-one instruction from pitching coach Mike Mason. 

  • HAGSAG: There are only five advanced instructs squads left, and presently the only "co-op" team operating is the Angels/Cubs.

    The league was originally established as a "parallel" league to the AFL (a sort of "junior AFL"), for players too advanced for traditional ("basic") instructs but who were unable to get placed on AFL rosters due to AFL player-limits.

  • He is but I would think it'd be better to start out with offense and then bring in Jackson and LaStella once they have a lead. Stella has very good PH #s too.

  • most likely cost sharing + the league is short on players anyway. not many teams are chipping in on 'advanced instructional.'

  • I'm glad this is a one game playoff coming up, because McCutchen is one of my favorite MLB players. And as a baseball fan, I rather like the Pirates. I hope we beat them bad, of course. No mixed feelings here. And, I don't want a nail biter. Too old for that shit. The team of moran fans is easy to hate, though, and more suitable for a longer series.

  • A Jurickson Profar sighting!!!!???

  • I'd guess Jackson over Coghlan for the defense.

    EDIT: Now that I think about it, is Jackson a better defender?

  • Less stress on the pitching staff?

  • I recall earlier this season when the Cubs played Bryant in center instead of left due to the weirdness that is the PNC outfield.

  • AZ Phil, what is the reason the Cubs are co-oping this team? They seem to have plenty of talent that would fill a roster.

  • RF is actually easier to play than LF in PNC so I'd guess Schwarber is there and that's why he was playing it Friday but yeah I'd say that's hopefully accurate.